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Jan 9, 2011 05:17 PM

Best cookbook for low carb? Chow and Low-Carb compatible?

Hi Everyone,

Currently trying low-carb as a no-medicine approach to better weight/health/diabetes. But, I can't figure out what low carb cookbooks to put in my library.

What have you tried?
What tastes best?
What can you live with, long term?
Cookbooks that would sit proudly on any Chowhound bookshelf?

I cook Jacques, Judy Rogers, BBQ, Bittman, Chinese, Indian, Southern US, Retro 50s-70s, Vegetarian, & can wing it with most any farmer's market veggie. Yes, I have fennel pollen in the spice drawer, but mostly let the food speak for itself.

Plenty of web-type sites out there, but I would really like a real book. Anything you love?


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  1. I do have a George Stella cookbook on order. Have spent some time wit Kalyn's Kitchen, and have checked out from library Dana Carpender's 500 Low-Carb recipes.


    1. I bet the loud silence is because no one has found one they like enough to recommend. I have two from Fran McCollough that I got some ideas from but have not used in a very long time. I think you will find that once you get the principles down you can cook as you always have from regular cookbooks, making adjustments. So I'd take a couple more books out of the library and then wing it. For example, I still make Indian and Chinese food but not the rice I used to make with it. If I really want something in place of rice I use coarse bulgur or quinoa. If you follow a very stringent low-carb regime for a few weeks to start, by the time you add in bulgur and quinoa they taste really good even if they are not rice! It is amazing how many recipes call for a tablespoon or so of flour and sugar that you can leave out without ruining the results -- I don't say the results are unchanged, only that they are not disastrous. Over time you will discover which things you can "cheat" on without messing up your system and which you pay a real price for. Of course, I am very fortunate because I have no sweet tooth at all....

      2 Replies
      1. re: GretchenS

        I have Fran McCullough's Good Fat book, but the recipes have not been exciting or very good. I'm working on getting the principles down - but find it counter intuitive not to immediately chop onion the minute I'm in the kitchen. Everything adds carbs! I can skip the TB of butter or flour, but am starting to really miss pasta. No sweet tooth here, either. A great blessing.

        1. re: GretchenS

          Agree with Gretchen that, the longer you do it, the easier it gets to work around favorite recipes, or to figure out how to adjust something. I did a lot of cauliflower as rice, or spaghetti squash for pasta. Eventually gave up the LC way of life, as I stalled for something like 9 months and figured I would rather just go ahead and eat the nachos. But I did it for a few years, and really - you do learn how to cook around the carbs and eat very well.

        2. I, too, have George Stella's book, but I agree that visiting the library is a good way to begin. I also get ideas from the many websites with recipes, though you've gotta be careful. Some low carbers don't have basic cooking skills. I hasten to add that many are great cooks. You'll probably know the diff. I do a modified low carb diet, and have recipes based on online recipes and ones in the books that I've made my own. Just because you're cutting back on carbs doesn't mean you can't have delicious food, so keep looking.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sancan

            I've noted the lack of cooking skills - some stuff just doesn't sound good at all. In addition, some people gaily add in higher carb ingredients as if it doesn't matter.

            1. re: bills

              In their defense,
              a) they may not truly understand what low carb is (or their particular LC guru isn't so LC); and
              b) you DO get to add some things back in as you move out of weight-loss and into the maintenance phase. You want a way of eating you can live with and feel good about.

              That said, some people want to "convert" low carbers back into high carb ways, too, and toss in high carb ingredients as though they think you won't notice.

          2. I have been on low-carb for the past 10 years and I have yet to find a low-carb cookbook that I can't live without. I have a few (Atkins, South Beach, a LC Slow-Cooker tome, etc.), but I find that a lot of them rely heavily on specialty products, artificial sweeteners and thickeners, and are generally aimed at allowing the cook to recreate their favorite carby treats with less carbs rather than promoting a truly new way of eating.

            I started LC before a lot of these products were widely available so I had to wing it, mostly, and just try to get creative with meat, spices, eggs, cheese and vegetables. Since that's how I learned I haven't really embraced the substitute foods and I still prefer to just not eat XYZ rather than try to mix vital wheat gluten and xylitol to create a passable substitute. That said, I do still use cookbooks, but I tend to take recipes that are already reasonably low in carbs and tweak them to make them even lower, as Gretchen said.

            4 Replies
            1. re: biondanonima

              Two of my favorite low carb cookbooks are "The Low-Carb Gourmet" by Karen Barnaby and "The Ultimate Low-Carb Diet Cookbook" by Donna Liner Rodnitzky. These are both clean recipes with mostly fresh ingreidients and herbs. A couple of recipe titles from Barbaby's book are; "Cucumber Salad with peanuts, coconut, and lime, Pancetta Wrapped Salmon With Red Wine Butter, Quick Korean Style Beef and Spinach Soup. From Rodnitzky's book; Pacific Rim Marinated Salmon (1 TBSp Splenda), Cornish Hens with Thai Rub, Balsamic Infused Cabbage and for desert, Hazelnut Cake Roll, Creme Brullee. I enjoy these books very much.

              1. re: Neta

                I found Karen Barnaby just yesterday. Looks like her book is out of print? I'll look up Rodnitzky.
                Many thanks,

                1. re: bills

                  The Barnaby book is prominently displayed at - maybe orderable?

                  The site has a new cookbook of sorts listed with several guest chefs that looks promising.

                  I'm finding it way easy to low- carb now thanks to 3 things:

                  1) Atkins moved to a net-carbs approach which lets you subtract fiber out of carb count (and it is working for me) ... so previously ruled-out veggies and specialty breads are in with very low net carbs, making the diet far less apt to lean to heavy meat-cheese-cream all the time, opening up a wealth of cuisine options.

                  2) Variety of foods available these days in major cities ... shirataki noodles, unsweetened almond milk, jicama and every known vegetable and type of oil, etc.

                  3) LC specialty products have gotten way, way better. There are still some awful ones out there but a local L.A. low carb store that also ships has a really decent bagel for 5 net carbs and bread for 1, and some of the bars and mixes are far better. (And now there is some choice for those who also want to go gluten free.)

              2. re: biondanonima

                Well said and well written.
                Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

              3. "The Drinking Man's Diet Cookbook," one of the original low-carb diets.