Quick and easy organic low carb?
July 9, 2007 11:20 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any suggestions for quick and easy organic low carb meals, where "quick and easy" takes into account washing up time?

I want to go low carb to lose weight. I'm currently avoiding artificial additives as much as possible due to a suspected (unconfirmed, but looking increasingly likely) allergy. Also because it's a good idea. I got "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Quick and Easy Low-Carb Meals", but it fails on two counts; It ignores the preservatives typically found in most (if not all) packaged, sliced meat and it makes a lot of things (kitchen utensils, bowls, saucepans, various electric cookers) messy such that cleaning up afterwards is likely to take as long as the original preparation.

So, I'm looking for low carb ideas that are actually quick and easy, and don't rely on (heavily) processed foods.

Bonus round: Both tuna and crab are also on my potential allergy list. And I'm trying to cut down on dairy products (mostly due, though, to the junk cows are pumped full of, so I can always use organic milk).
posted by krisjohn to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Eat more beans and vegetables. For instance: boil (salted, if possible) water, cook broccoli florets for about 1 or 2 minutes. Heat a skillet with a small amount of fat (olive oil or bacon fat or butter or whatever is the most OK on your diet; you don't need very much at all) and some chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic starts to color, about 1 minute, and add the broccoli. Toss until hot, and still crisp-tender.

Depending on what kind of carbs you are eating, you could toss this with a small amount of whole-wheat pasta or wild rice (it's ok for it to be mostly or all broccoli). It's also a general guide to cooking small, hard, green vegetables.

If you are trying to avoid using lots of pans, you can do what I do: use the same pot for boiling the water as you do for sauteing. You can do it all in a small sauce- or fry- pan (you don't need much water to start), drain off the water, and add the oil and garlic right to the pan with the veggies.
posted by rossination at 11:36 PM on July 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Eggs are fast, versatile, 0 carb, and easy to clean up after. Low carb without cheese is a hair shirt, so you might want to re-think that, although I suppose you can find "organic" cheese, if you're willing to pay. Fresh meat and a gas grill or charcoal hibachi are quick and very low mess, not to mention tres tasty. Keep some chicken breasts, hamburger, steaks, pork chops, and some marinade on hand. Buy a package of Ziploc gallon bags to use as marinade containers, for no mess, no fuss fast 5 minute marinading. Freeze the pork for 2 or 3 days to eliminate any threat of trichinosis, and then don't grill the bejesus out of it. A good but inexpensive charcoal hibachi can cook 2 to 4 medium pork chops on 10 to 12 charcoal briquets, and be ready to cook from scratch in about 7-8 minutes with a chimney starter.

There are few vegetables that are allowable on a low carb diet, that can't be deliciously grilled, or steamed in foil packages on the grill too. Zucchini, squash, green beans, etc, all work well just sliced up a bit, and tossed into aluminum foil, with a little butter, salt and pepper, which is then folded into a pouch and thrown on the grill or hibachi. Start them a bit before the meat, if you like your meat rare, or with the meat or shortly after if you like meat more done. Nothing to wash either - just toss the 2 tenths of an ounce of aluminum foil you use. Or grill directly on re-usable skewers, basting with oil or butter as necessary.
posted by paulsc at 11:44 PM on July 9, 2007

Wild salmon and green beans and wild rice! Boy, i could eat that every day. I do the green beans in a wok with salt and butter, the rice in a rice cooker, and the salmon on some foil in the toaster oven. 20 minutes from thawed fish.

Salmon Caesar salad! So good, so low-cal.

Meat+Vegetable casseroles... Milk is usually needed, with some cheese or cream soup. I don't eat chicken, but adding chicken to my favorite broccoli florets+cream of broccoli casserole with bread crumbs would be low-carb and comforting.

Stews or soups are easy to make lots of, and you can just chop and dump into stock, so you can get three meals or more out of one pot and tupperware. I love a big chunky minestrone or clear-broth peasant soup.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:52 PM on July 9, 2007

If you don't already have one, I would suggest investing in a Braun handblender with chopper attachment.

Hummus and raw veggies might fit the bill. Hummus is easy to whip up with a handblender.

Omelettes are useful too- you can stuff them with spinach, avocado, whatever.

Cabbage & daikon/carrot slaw with apple cider vinegar and olive oil, add some smoked salmon chunks/strips for protein. Yum!

If you're hankering for cheese (especially on eggs)- try nutritional yeast instead (a fine source of vitamin B-12).

Black bean soup is good too. Diced tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, water/stock, a chipotle pepper- you're cooking with gas! (sorry:-P)

Here is a good, decent-tasting recipe for a low-carb protein shake.

2 cups of Almond Breeze (non-dairy beverage- get the unsweetened kind)

1 cup of frozen blueberries

3 tbsp. hemp protein powder

Bonus tip: Raise your metabolism (and wake yourself up) by drinking matcha (green tea x10!) in the morning- but only on a full stomach.

Now you know all of my secrets~

Good luck!
posted by solongxenon at 11:53 PM on July 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I found Dana Carpender's 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes cookbook very helpful for quick, basic meals. All her cookbooks are good, but this one might fit your requirements the best!
posted by platinum at 1:26 AM on July 10, 2007

Get a roaster or slow cooker. I'll slow roast a pot roast or a pork roast on the weekend and depending on the size of the roast, I'll have anywhere from 10-15 portions. I'll get some of those plastic gladware containers and I'll put a serving of some kind of veggy, usually green beans, I'll season the green beans and top with a portion of roast plus the juices. Yum. If the roaster is non-stick, clean up is easy.

The other thing I do is cook in batches. I'll buy a tray of chicken legs and roast those in the oven. Takes 5 mins to prepare and if you line your pan with heavy duty foil, clean up takes 2 mins. I'll keep 4-6 legs in the fridge and then the rest portioned out in the freezer. You can do this with fish as well.

Ditto the eggs suggestions, eggs are a staple in my diet and there are a million ways to cook eggs.

You might also want to try Dreamfields pasta unless of course, you have a gluten allergy. It only has 5 grams of effective carbs per serving and tastes just like "real" pasta. This opens a whole lot of doors. You could make a quick chili with ground beef, pre-chopped frozen onion & peppers (I love this stuff) and the macaroni pasta and if you make enough of it, you can have a bunch for later. I wouldn't eat the pasta everyday, but when you're craving something carby, it fits the bill without killing your diet.

My strategy with low carb has been to cook in quantity so that my day to day life isn't bogged down in trying to find good stuff to eat every day. I'd rather kill a weekend morning cooking a bunch of stuff and getting it out of the way and not have to worry too much the whole rest of the week or two. Popping something in the microwave for 3 mins is as quick and easy as it gets.
posted by SoulOnIce at 5:39 AM on July 10, 2007

I make eggs in the microwave. I butter the dish and mix them every 30 seconds until they are done. Taste as good as eggs on a stove? No.

Actually, eggs cooked on a stove could be quicker with a non-stick pan, but it depends on your willingness to use non-stick and cooking skills.

I also hear salmon can be done in the microwave.
posted by melissam at 6:46 AM on July 10, 2007

Trader Joes sells organic broccoli+cauliflower+carrots in mixed bags. Drop the contents into a bowl, rinse and leave a small spoonful of water behind, and pop the bowl in the microwave with a plate on top. All the taste stays in each piece in the bowl. Yum.
posted by anadem at 7:57 AM on July 10, 2007

When you say low-carb, do you mean Atkins induction-style low-carb (under 20 grams/day) or just lower carb? I've done both....when I was eating under 20 a day, I lived on salads (prewashed, prebagged organic greens are available in the US) with grilled chicken breasts. The George Foreman grill was a saving grace. (With cukes, sprouts, olives. Watch out for carrots, though...really high in carbs.) Cook enough for a couple salads.

I ate a ton of avocados, plain with salt and pepper, or splashed with olive oil/vinegar (or orange juice if you're past the early stages).

Salmon fillets (or any fish fillet, really) cooked in parchment paper. What's great about this method is that you can throw in a bunch of vegetables (asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms) and some olive oil, salt, pepper, and they all cook together, and it's very no-muss, no fuss. (Here's the general idea, though I do 450 degrees for 20 minutes.) The prep time is under 15 minutes, for sure.
posted by veronica sawyer at 9:07 AM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I also just tried this recipe: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/breakfast1/r/breakfstpudding.htm
and it wasn't bad at all. Almost no clean-up time, I just rinsed out the bowl. Tasted fine with honey and figs even if the texture left something to be desired. I used organic flax seed meal, which is very healthy, and local organic eggs.
posted by melissam at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2007

Meat in a frying pan is quick and easy. Find a good source of organic beast and learn to cook them in a frying pan. Or use the broiler. Eggs fry.

Steamed veggies is easy with a pan of water and a colander. Eggs also boil.

Nuts, berries, and fruit. Make a variety tray with tupperware and just leave it out for grazing or sprinkling on some spinach or lettuce for a salad.

(Note that none of these things has ingredients. That's the quick way to avoid processed foods and preservatives. I used to read labels but eventually found it easier to just buy things without labels. If has ingredients, skip it.)
posted by nonmyopicdave at 10:29 AM on July 10, 2007

I'm on a low-carb diet, and I like no-bean chili. It's easy to make, and messes up only 1 pot, 1 knife, a spoon, and a cutting board. Best of all, you can make a ton and freeze it, for microwaving later. Here's what you need:

1 or 2 lb. ground or cubed organic meat (you can use anything, I've made it with lamb, beef, pork, and chicken before)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 head garlic, chopped
2 large cans of tomato sauce OR equivalent amounts of water and chopped fresh tomato
Between one and one hundred fresh, spicy peppers (jalapeno, serrano, or habanero), chopped
Tons of chili powder and ground cumin (I usually just add these until it tastes right)
1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat the oil on the stove, in the bottom of a big sauce pot. Put in the meat, cumin, and chili powder, and stir to mix. Cook, turning, until the meat is nice and browned. Then put in the onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook, turning, 'til the onions are slightly translucent. Dump in the tomato sauce, stir, and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat to low and leave it simmering for at least 1/2 hour. The longer you cook it, the more the flavors will meld. Before you serve it, taste it and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
posted by vorfeed at 11:10 AM on July 10, 2007

As others have mentioned, the simplest thing (and for me, the only way low carb diets are tolerable) is to cook a slab of high quality meat for dinner every night. Steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, etc. Stock a variety of seasonings/rubs, or just use salt and pepper. Sear both sides on the stove over high heat, throw in a medium-hot oven to finish. 1 pan, no sweat.

If you want a vegetable side, lightly steam broccoli, green beans, zuchinni, brussel sprouts, or whatever in the microwave (covered bowl, a little water, 2 minutes) then drain and finish in the pan you cooked your meat in (high heat again to brown).
posted by hihowareyou at 3:17 PM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers.

To address/answer some things:

* I already eat heaps of vegetables.
* Cheese isn't ruled out, I just try to minimise dairy products that would come from standard modern farms
* No, I don't mean Atkins, just low-carb in general. I also like to increase my Omega-3, but not fats all round.

In general, the I'm already getting the meat + vegetables many of you are suggesting, it's just that since those sorts of meals were traditional in the house way before the term "low carb" was coined I'm looking for new stuff.
posted by krisjohn at 4:12 PM on July 10, 2007

Buy extra-firm tofu (or firm tofu and squeeze out excess liquid with paper towels), cut it into small strips. Drizzle some olive oil onto a baking sheet, put the tofu strips on the baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, organic tamari sauce, and lemon juice. Add organic spices (I prefer garlic, chili powder, and nutritional yeast) and broil until the top is browned. Consume with heaps of vegetables.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 5:53 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

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