Whether they come in the form of bread, pasta, potatoes or rice, carbohydrates often form a staple of our diets – but if you’re looking to cut down on your carb intake, you’re not alone. Reducing the amount of carbs you eat isn’t only a popular way to lose weight, it can also be an effective way of managing type 2 diabetes. More than 400 million people in the world currently have diabetes, and while it’s a complex disease, maintaining low blood sugar levels by eating a low-carb diet can significantly reduce the likelihood of complications.
However, it’s important to note that a low-carb diet shouldn’t mean no carbs – as some carbs contain vital vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.
So, whether you’re hoping to shift a few pounds before summer, or to manage your diabetes and better protect your health, here are eight low-carb recipes that are absolutely delicious.
1. Taco lettuce wraps
Mexican food is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and dishes like tacos, burritos and enchiladas are especially delicious. However, because they contain tortillas, these dishes all tend to be pretty high-calorie. So if you’re in the mood for some Mexican but want to make a lighter, healthier and lower-carb version, why not forgo the taco shells altogether and make some taco lettuce wraps instead?
Large, sturdy lettuce is best to use here – either Iceberg lettuce or Romaine lettuce. The outer leaves work best, as they’re crispy, pliable, and big enough to make good sized taco wraps! Inside your lettuce cups you can use your favourite taco filling: you might want to try this beef taco lettuce wrap recipe by Home Cooking Memories, this chicken taco lettuce wrap by Gimme Delicious, or this lower-calorie turkey taco lettuce wrap by Skinny Taste. Or, check out this spicy vegan lettuce taco wrap by Pinch of Yum. For more inspiration, you can watch the video below.
2. Aubergine lasagne
Lasagne is one of the most popular comfort meals around – but because it’s usually high in both carbs and calories, it’s not always the healthiest choice. However, if you love tucking into lasagne’s tasty layers, there’s good news: with one simple swap, this recipe can go from high-carb to low-carb!
Whether you like making a classic beef lasagne or a veggie version, swapping the lasagne sheets for slices of aubergine can turn this meal into a healthier low-carb, gluten-free alternative. Just cut your aubergine into thin slices, sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture and any bitter flavours, leave for ten minutes, then pat dry. Next, drizzle with olive oil and roast or griddle til soft – then simply use as you would lasagne sheets and make your favourite lasagne.
For more detailed instructions on how to make low-carb aubergine lasagne, have a read of this recipe by Tasty – or alternatively, watch the video below.
3. Thai curry with quinoa
Fragrant, warming and delicious, Thai curry is a seriously comforting and satisfying meal. Because it’s packed with fresh veggies, and herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, chilli and lemongrass, it’s great for boosting your immune system – and aside from being delicious, the coconut milk provides a healthy dose of good fats. But because it’s often served with a large portion of white rice, Thai curry can be surprisingly high in carbs.
So why not swap your rice for quinoa? While quinoa isn’t significantly lower in carbs than white rice (quinoa has 39g per cup compared to rice’s 44g), the quality of the carb is far superior. Quinoa is a low-GI food, which means it helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. White rice is high-GI, which means it can raise blood glucose level and is linked to an increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Plus, quinoa is also a complete protein, high in fibre, and rich in potassium and magnesium.
You can make your own Thai spice paste from scratch, but if you’re looking for a quick dinner, simply use a shop-bought spice paste: Thai green curry is spicier than red curry, but both are delicious! For extra protein, you can add chicken, fish or tofu. For more detailed recipe instruction, check out this Thai red curry with quinoa recipe from Running on Real Food, or watch the video below.
4. Sausage and vegetable tray bake
A sausage and vegetable tray bake is a great dish to make when you fancy something delicious and comforting, but don’t want to spend hours slaving over the stove. Aside from cutting the vegetables, there’s hardly any prep involved – and to make things even easier, you can always buy pre-prepared vegetables from the supermarket. Plus, because everything is cooked in one dish, there’s hardly any washing up to do, either.
Sausage and vegetable tray bakes are a really versatile dish, and can be adapted to the seasons. While a lot of recipes include potatoes, to keep it super low-calorie, it’s best to swap these out and bulk out with other veggies like peppers, onions, carrots, courgette, butternut squash and tomatoes.
This sausage and mediterranean vegetable tray bake recipe by Asda is a great choice for spring, as is this Italian sausage and pesto tray bake recipe from Olive Magazine. You can also swap traditional pork sausages for chicken or turkey versions for a lower fat alternative. If you’re veggie or vegan, simply swap meat sausages for veggie alternatives, or follow a plant-based sausage tray bake recipe like this one from Healthy Living James. Have a watch of the video below for more sausage and vegetable tray bake ideas.
5. Egg fried cauliflower rice
Egg fried rice is cheap, quick and delicious – and for many of us, it’s a go-to meal when we haven’t got much food in the house – or we’re not in the mood to cook anything fancy. Classic egg fried rice contains rice, eggs, spring onions, cooking oil and soy sauce, although the beauty of this dish is that you can throw in any ingredients you have sitting in the cupboard or fridge. But swapping the rice for cauliflower rice doesn’t just make this dish low-carb – it also gives you an extra dose of veg.
Cauliflower rice is made by blitzing chunks of raw cauliflower in a food processor – or grating it, if you don’t have a processor – and aside from being super healthy, it adds a lovely nutty flavour to dishes. Egg fried cauliflower is a deceptively simple and versatile dish – although like classic egg fried rice, it benefits from generous amounts of hot sauce drizzled on top! You can follow this recipe from Once Upon A Chef, or alternatively, watch the video below.
6. Courgetti bolognese
If you’re a fan of spaghetti, why not try the popular low-carb alternative, courgetti – which is spaghetti made from spiralized courgettes! Replacing standard spaghetti with vegetable versions has become increasingly popular over the past few years – and aside from reducing carbs, it’s a great way to get your five-a-day. Butternut squash spaghetti works just as well as courgette, but courgetti is quicker to cook, and its soft flesh means it’s easier to spiralize.
You can buy spiralizers online, but if you don’t fancy forking out for more kitchen equipment, you can also use a julienne peeler lengthways on the courgette; the shape won’t be exactly the same, but the texture will. To find out more about making courgetti, have a read of this guide by BBC Good Food, and to learn how to make a low-carb, low-calorie courgetti bolognese using turkey mince, check out this recipe by Sainsbury’s. Alternatively, have a watch of the video below to get inspired.
A frittata is an Italian-inspired egg dish that’s high in protein and low in carbs. Essentially a quiche without the crust, frittatas are also really versatile and are a great way to use up leftover ingredients – and because they’re quick to cook and filling, they’re a good choice for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. And even better, they only use one pan, so you don’t have to worry about washing up!
What makes frittatas different from other egg dishes is that they’re cooked in a pan on the stove until the edges firm up, and then the pan is placed in the oven to finish off – so make sure you cook your frittata in an oven-safe pan. When it comes to choosing your additional ingredients, you can add whatever you fancy, but onions, spinach, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes are very popular. You might want to try this spinach frittata from the Diet Doctor, or this pea, feta and summer herb frittata from BBC Good Food.
To find out more about making the perfect frittata, have a read of this article by VeryWellFit, or have a watch of Jamie Oliver making his own frittata below.
8. Naked burger
Whether you like a beef burger or a veggie burger, most of us enjoy a juicy burger now and then – especially when it’s cooked on a barbecue on a sunny day! Now the weather is warming up and restrictions are loosening, many of us are looking forward to having barbecues with friends – and being on a low-carb diet doesn’t mean you need to miss out on that. If you think the idea of having a burger without a bun sounds a bit sad, that’s probably because you haven’t tried the right recipe!
If you like, you can sub the bread for a mushroom ‘bun’, like this smoky beef burger on a mushroom bun recipe from My Foodbook, or these veggie cashew cheese burgers in a portobello bun. Alternatively, just skip the idea of a bun altogether and focus on your burger toppings. If you want to go all out, why not build a burger topped with bacon, avocado, cheese and a fried egg, like this one from Nyssa’s Kitchen? Or, to keep things lower calorie, you could make this naked salmon burger with sriracha by Skinny Taste, or alternatively, keep things plant-based with this bunless beetroot and avocado burger by Dora Daily.
For more inspiration, have a watch of the video below.
Whether you want to lose a little weight, or manage your diabetes as best you can – there are many reasons why cutting back on carbs can be good for us. The popularity of low-carb diets like the keto diet also means there’s no shortage of delicious and innovative low-carb recipes to try right now!
You might be watching your carb intake for health reasons, but that doesn’t mean your diet shouldn’t also be delicious, diverse and satisfying… and feel indulgent, even when it’s healthy.
Are you following a low-carb diet? Or are you thinking about reducing your carb intake? We’d love to hear about your food and health experiences! Join the conversation on the community forum, or leave us a comment below.