Carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice, form a staple part of our diet. But if you’re looking to cut down your carb intake, you’re not alone. Reducing the amount of carbs you eat is a popular way to encourage a healthy lifestyle and can also be effective in managing type 2 diabetes.
More than 415 million people worldwide have diabetes, and while it’s a complex disease, research shows that maintaining low blood sugar levels by eating a low-carb diet can significantly reduce the likelihood of complications.
So, whether you’re hoping to lose a little weight or manage 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, due to the tortillas, these dishes all tend to be pretty high-calorie. So if you’re in the mood for some Mexican but would like to make a lighter, lower-carb version, why not forgo the taco shells and make some lettuce wraps instead?
Large, sturdy lettuce is best to use here – either Iceberg 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 may want to try this beef taco lettuce wrap recipe by Home Cooking Memories, this chicken taco lettuce wrap by Gimme Delicious, or this low-calorie turkey taco lettuce wrap by Skinny Taste. Alternatively, check out Pinch of Yum’s spicy vegan lettuce taco wrap.
If taco lettuce wraps don’t appeal to you, you’ll find plenty more ideas in our article; 8 mouthwatering Mexican meals to cook at home. With a few simple swaps, these recipes can easily be made low-carb too.
2. Aubergine lasagne
Lasagne is one of the most popular comfort meals, but as it contains pasta sheets, it can be fairly high in both carbs and calories. However, if you love tucking into a lasagne’s tasty layers, there’s good news: with one simple swap, this recipe can become 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 lower-carb, gluten-free alternative.
Cut your aubergine into thin slices, sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture and any bitter flavours, leave for 10 minutes, then pat dry. Next, drizzle with olive oil and roast or griddle until soft – then simply use as you would regular lasagne sheets.
For more detailed instructions on how to make low-carb aubergine lasagne, have a read of this recipe by Tasty – or check out the video below.
3. Thai curry with quinoa
Fragrant, warming, and delicious, Thai curry is seriously comforting and satisfying. Because it’s packed with fresh veggies, as well as lots of herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, chilli, and lemongrass, it’s great for boosting your immune system too. But because it’s often served with large portions of white rice, Thai curry can be surprisingly high in carbs.
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 levels and increase the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, high in fibre, and rich in potassium and magnesium.
It’s also worth noting that Thai green curry uses coconut milk – and although this can offer a healthy dose of good fats, it’s known for being calorific. So, if you’re looking to cut calories, you might want to use a light or reduced-fat version instead.
You can choose to make your own Thai spice paste, 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 instructions, check out this Thai vegetable curry with quinoa recipe from Sainsbury’s, 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 hearty but don’t want to spend hours slaving over the stove.
Aside from chopping 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 very little washing up!
Sausage and vegetable tray bakes are versatile dishes which can be adapted seasonally. While a lot of recipes include potatoes, to make it lower in carbs you can swap these out for 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 the warmer months, as is this Italian sausage and pesto tray bake recipe from Olive Magazine. You can also swap traditional pork sausages for chicken, turkey, or veggie versions for a lower-fat alternative. For a plant-based sausage tray bake recipe, try this one from Healthy Living James.
For more sausage and vegetable tray bake ideas, have a watch of the video below.
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. 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 either blitzing chunks of raw cauliflower in a food processor or grating it. Aside from being super healthy, cauliflower adds a lovely nutty flavour to dishes.
Egg-fried cauliflower is a deceptively simple 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 watch the video below.
Alternatively, for more ways to cook with this versatile vegetable, you might like to check out our article; The health benefits of cauliflower and how to cook low-carb meals with it.
6. Courgetti bolognese
If you’re a fan of spaghetti, why not try the popular low-carb alternative, courgetti – spaghetti made from spiralized courgettes?
Replacing standard spaghetti with vegetable versions, or having half of each, has become increasingly popular 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 texture makes it easier to spiralize.
You can buy spiralizers online, but if you don’t fancy purchasing 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, watch the video below for inspiration.
A frittata is an Italian-inspired egg dish that’s high in protein and low in carbs. Essentially a crustless quiche, frittatas are really versatile and a great way to use leftover ingredients.
Plus, because they’re quick to cook and filling, frittatas are 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 much 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, before being finished off in the oven – so make sure you cook your frittata in an oven-safe pan.
When it comes to choosing additional ingredients you can add whatever you fancy, but onions, spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and tomatoes are popular choices. You might like 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 watch Jamie Oliver making his own below.
8. Naked burger
Most of us enjoy a juicy burger now and then, whether it’s beef, chicken, or veggie – and switching out the bun is a simple way to make it lower carb. If you think the idea of a burger without a bun sounds a bit sad, you probably haven’t tried the right recipe!
One option is to sub the bread for a mushroom ‘bun’, like this smoky beef burger on a mushroom bun from My Foodbook or these veggie cashew cheeseburgers in a portobello bun.
Alternatively, just skip the idea of a bun altogether and focus on your 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 mayo by SkinnyTaste. If you’d like to keep things plant-based, why not try this bunless black bean burger by Archana’s Kitchen?
For more inspiration, have a watch of the video below.
There are many reasons why cutting back on carbs can be good for us, but that doesn’t mean your diet shouldn’t also be delicious, diverse, and satisfying. The popularity of low-carb diets like the keto diet also means that there’s no shortage of delicious and innovative low-carb recipes to try!
If you’re looking for a sustainable diet to try that can support health and weight loss, you might find one that suits you in our article, 10 popular diets to try. And for more ideas of nutritious and tasty meals to make, there are plenty of recipes ideas in the food and drink section of our website.
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Are you following a low-carb diet? Or are you thinking about reducing your carb intake? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.