GI Swan
March 26, 2016 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm starting to transition to a low-glycemic index diet, and am trying to come up with some meal plans as well as substitutions for the kind of white flour and white sugar-based cakes and cookies I've always baked. What are your favourite low-glycemic meal and dessert ideas and recipes? It has long been my practice to batch cook just once a week, so make ahead and freeze casserole-type meal ideas are preferred. No recipes containing artificial sweeteners, please, as I don't see them as an improvement on sugar.
posted by orange swan to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I don't tolerate white flour and white sugar too well. Here are a few things I like, but I don't know if it fits your low glycemic rule:

Potato based dishes.
Corn meal or other heartier flours.
I do better with "rich" deserts rather than sweet deserts. This seems to mean a) fatty recipes, like cheese cake and b) strong flavors, like chocolate or coffee, with a minimum of sugar. So, dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.

Potatoes also seem to keep well for freezing, etc.

I once created a low sugar recipe by crossing Apple pie with quiche. Homemade Apple pie has lots of sugar. This did not.

I eventually bought two flan pans, an Apple peeling gadget and an apple slicer and corer. Then I would make two at a time, using fresh apples, whole wheat crust, some egg, cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of sugar.
posted by Michele in California at 12:54 PM on March 26, 2016

If you miss Italian food, then chicken slathered in Costco pesto sauce is amazing. I eat that pretty frequently. Very low glycemic. It's oil based, thus high in fat.

I try to limit sweets things because it starts me on a sugar craving cycle. I like things that are very rich in flavor. For dessert I get these truffles at Costco (get the ones in the white box). One truffle has 3 grams of sugar which is a pretty small amount for something so decadent.
posted by 26.2 at 1:08 PM on March 26, 2016

Pick your favorite lower-GI substitutions for the three most common simplest starches you eat, and then continue to eat all the food you always did but with those swaps.

Cauliflower replaces pasta, rice, and potatoes, and except for providing thickener can be easily swapped in for pasta and rice in casseroles. (Potatoes are weirder, maybe your body is fine with potatoes, or half potatoes and half cauliflower or broccoli is a sufficient exchange.) You can generally add 1-2 eggs to your sauce liquid to reproduce the glue-power of the starch.

Shirataki noodles, once you get the hang of giving them a little pre-cook to take the seaweedy flavor off, behave fine under pasta sauces and in noodly soups. A quick boil or just a few tosses in a hot nonstick pan with a spritz of olive oil will do it. I order mine from Amazon.

Broccoli and green beans stand up well with tomatoey-type pasta sauces, and both are great roasted 98% to charcoal and tossed with mustard vinaigrette. Asparagus and brussels sprouts, plus good old cabbage, are very versatile.

A scrambled egg or two will provide a fast and easy base for almost anything.

There are hundreds of websites of low-carb desserts, though many use alternate sweeteners, and paleo desserts which are more likely to offer sweetener-free options. Very strong-flavored fats, like dark chocolate coconut oil candy (see every paleo site ever) and strong cheeses, will provide a lot of satisfaction.

I've stopped doing a giant cook on the weekends and switched to an electric pressure cooker every other day or so, which means I can turn around several pounds of meat in half an hour. Most green vegetables are easily ready in a few minutes, though I do usually cook and mash a head of cauliflower on Sundays to have on hand, plus boiled eggs or a quiche in the PC.

Don't forget to season. When you first make the switch you can find yourself inadvertently going blander and blander, but there's no carbs in dry seasonings, most herbs, chilies, and a number of vinaigrettes and dressings.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:26 PM on March 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Husbunny's putting himself on a healthier diet, going lower carb by avoiding white flour and white sugar, so we've been researching alternatives to white flour for baking and cooking. I recently picked up some other flours at Bulk Barn after reading this article from TheKitchn. There are also guidelines out there for substituting coconut flour. And as Husbunny's gotten into making crepes, we've picked up some buckwheat flour today for savoury buckwheat crepes.

From what I've learned, it's hard to do your regular "light and fluffy" baked goods without using *some* regular wheat flour, because the gluten is an important binder. But if you read up on the flour you're using, you can get some good guidelines on how to partially or fully sub in alternate flours for different recipes, and adjusting the recipe accordingly. They'll also tell you how the flours tend to taste in recipes.

If you want to go 100% away from regular white flour and you're not so concerned about gluten (which is the protein in wheat and a number of other flours) you can actually buy wheat gluten itself and experiment a bit to get the right texture with your flour blend of choice.
posted by lizbunny at 1:36 PM on March 26, 2016

You can buy white, whole wheat flour, there is such a thing as white whole wheat. You can buy whole grain pasta.

You can get a little kitchen device that makes pasta out of zucchini, by means of a circular grater. You can make whole grain pie crust that is 1/3 almond flour, it is really good. You can put up your own fruit, or make fresh fruit pies, as sweet as you like or not. You can use plain Greek yogurt to make desserts, raising the protein and keeping the creamy quality. Buttermilk pie with half the sugar, and using Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk is delicious. You can always go heavy on the lemon or lime zest to spike flavor that matches the tartness of plain yogurt.

Low glycemic index cooking is a good thing and can result in great meals with good fiber, and still plenty of carb. I make whole grain baked goods all the time. Almond croissants with whole grain flour are still totally delicious, and you can nearly always halve the sugar in most baked goods.
posted by Oyéah at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2016

Crustless quiche or mini-quiches (made in muffin tins) is tasty. I've never had problems getting it to come out of the pan if I use oil spray (like Pam.)

Sometimes I do stir-fry (with tofu 'cause I'm not big on meat) and just don't serve it with the typical rice. You'll have to eat more to feel full though.

Soups can be low-glycemic, but if you don't do some kind of protein with it, they won't be very filling. I make cabbage-tomato soup in the crockpot. The sausage helps it be more filling. You can leave out the handful of barley at the end if you want.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:32 PM on March 26, 2016

For dinner, searching for Whole 30 or AIP (auto-immune protocol) slow cooker recipes will turn up a bunch of stuff that will suit your low GI needs. These recipes have no sweeteners, grains, or dairy (or legumes or alcohol). For example, nearly every week we make a chicken chili verde in the crock pot and eat it for a few days, or freeze it. It's just chicken thighs, chicken broth, a bunch of different chilis, tomatillos, some spices, and white potatoes.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2016

Here is one of my favorite low glycemic things to bake: banana bread using coconut oil and almond meal. I generally just put a drizzle of agave nectar (maybe 1/2T or less) in it for sweetener, although you could cut the agave completely and it would still taste good. This site Your Lighter Side specializes in recipes that use low carb substitutions like the alternative flours and stuff to make carb-imitation stuff. Some of the recipes seemed hit or miss to me but they have a huge collection.

Buzzfeed isn't always useful but I liked this list of 'make ahead snacks'. Here's another list I liked of Whole30 friendly recipes from The Clothes Make The Girl, and some have non-W30 variations that are still low glycemic. This might be my all time favorite Well Fed recipe, "You're The Top" Tuna Salad.

When I was doing Whole30 (super strict no grains diet) I subsisted on this no oat oatmeal for breakfast when I got sick of eggs.

As far as meals you can batch cook, this quiche turned out really well for me. This creole chicken was pretty good too and it utilizes cauliflower rice which you definitely must try some variations on. There are some low carb wrap things you can pick up that would make these enchiladas worth a try! (I LOVE sweet potato). Here are two butter chicken recipes - one specifically from Mark's Daily Apple which is paleo oriented, but the second is just a regular butter chicken recipe that I have made many times, it's SO good and tastes restaurant quality. Don't use cornstarch, take the tip from the reviews section and use ground cashews.

those are all my faves! Hope you enjoy!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:09 AM on March 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Similar to the Banana Bread that treehorn+bunny listed, you can find easy recipes for carrot cake or zucchini bread that use almond meal instead of flour.
posted by CathyG at 6:14 PM on March 29, 2016

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