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Going no-carb- some modern ideas

I'd like to revisit carb-cutting with my fellow hounds. Have had some great luck perusing the Weight Watchers boards and a few other threads, but since Atkins is no longer in fashion (although if you examine some of the newer diets it's obvious they follow the same rules) there aren't as many ideas as I'd expect so I'm posting to share a couple of my experiments here

The only thing I haven't come up with was a substitute carrier for bolognese! The thought of using spaghetti squash as an alternative grosses me out but I'll try it... Any other thoughts?

Pad Thai- sliced cabbage, sautéed on high with some sesame oil. Cabbage makes great noodles and can be flavored with the Thai flavor profile. Add shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts. Mmm May not be authentic but mimics the restaurant stuff and satisfies the craving.

Stroganoff- there goes that cabbage again. Slightly less thinly sliced, salted and sautéed in evoo, great noodles for that sour cream sauce!

Chocolate mousse- all the online recipes call for basically making whipped cream, then adding cocoa powder and Splenda. Not bad, but it's not quite there. I have modified it to use unsweetened baking squares incorporates using the traditional method. Chocolate has more carbs than cocoa powder so Careful measurement is necessary.

Anyone else have some original no-carb creations? I'm starting to run out of ideas!

Anyone know what I should use for bolognese? (or just wait for a cheat day)

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  1. Shirataki noodles or firm tofu cut into noodle shapes are the only decent noodle substitutes I've found, but please be aware that Bolognese has carbs from the tomatoes, wine, vegetables and milk that are used to make it, as do all of the other vegetable creations you've mentioned. If you truly want to do a NO-carb diet (and there are those that do), you are pretty much limited to meat and eggs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      I agree about the mushroom noodles. I find the fettuccine ones great fot pasta as well as Asian noodles. I am an insulin dependent diabetic & I find using whole wheat pasta beneficial as compared to the bleached flour pastas. I really prefer their nuttier taste.

    2. I usually choose not to count the carbs from most veggies as carbs (tho I know they have carbs in them, my low carb is just no bread/pasta, etc)....

      Anyway, I use green beans a lot as a base for things....lightly steamed green beans. And I like the spaghetti squash too - it's pretty good! Also, how about making "pasta" out of zucchini or some other type of squash?

      8 Replies
      1. re: jenscats5

        Using the veg peeler to make zucchini ribbons works great!

        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Agree with weezie, cheap and easy to make zucchini fettucini or wider noodles with a peeler.

          I have this also:


          which makes lovely spaghetti out of zucchini. Can warm your zucchini pasta or serve raw under sauce.

          Also, this site can be useful for determining carbs (edit: and other nutrients) in foods:

          1. re: DuchessNukem

            the spiralizer gizmos are SO FABULOUS!
            i'm not a gizmo person, but I bought this and i'm so glad i did! i only use it for "pasta" ribbons but it is incredible how important it is to me to still be able to eat pasta like this!

            I can do a whole huge bowl of raw zucchini with raw pesto.. delicious! (guess I shouldn't be bragging about that;)

            1. re: rmarisco

              Brag away -- zucchini is practically a free food in near-any diet. Amazing how it gives the feeling of eating a big satisfying plate of pasta. :)

        2. re: jenscats5

          You are smart not to count the carbs from most veggies as their benefits outweigh the minimal amount of carbs they contribute. When I was first diagnosed w/ type 1 diabetes waaay back when that is what I was told and it's good advice that I've always followed.

          As for wine, red wine generally has very little carbs and little affect on your blood sugar. In fact, most dry wines will lower your blood sugar. Most of the sugar has been converted into alcohol.

          I like the idea of zucchini ribbons, that's a great idea. Another option is an egg white omelet. Add some parm or pecorino romano cheese and top off w/ your bolognese.

          1. re: lynnlato

            Re: Lynn....I love egg white omelets!! I eat one practically every day! Also a big fan of red wine....

            As for the zucchini as pasta, there is apparantly a hand tool you can use to julienne the zucchini into thin strands if you don't have a mandoline.....

            1. re: jenscats5

              I eat egg whites daily too... and red wine is a very good friend of mine - distant relatives maybe? ;-)

              I'm going to have to try the thin zucchini "pasta". I could definitely dig that.

          2. re: jenscats5

            I've done this a little. I use green beans as a sub for pasta in a layered dish I call "green bean lasagna." I use canned tomatoes with restraint for the sauce.

            I don't care for spag squash as sub for spaghetti. Oddly, I'm not in love with actual spaghetti either.

          3. I use Dreamfields low carb noodles for all my pasta dishes. They are a little different than regular pasta, but I really can't tell the difference.

            When I was being more restrictive, I would use shirataki tofu noodles for Asian preparations and spaghetti squash for bolognese. The squash is slightly sweet, so you'll want to use a sauce that is a little saltier and a little spicier.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JungMann


              you may want to consider your use of dreamfields. many find it spikes their insulin just like regular pasta.

              i have been eating low-carb over 2 years. start googling low-carb, primal or paleo recipes. they may help your roadblock.

              as for pasta, you will stop missing it. i promise you.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Couldn't agree more about pasta, bread on the other hand was more difficult but I found manageable as well.

            2. Wonton lasagna cupcakes - not no-carb but def lower-carb. Here is one recipe (13 carbs per cupcake) but there are many more on the web. Works for taco as well.

              1. One low-carb but not low-calorie solution:

                String Cheese torn into noodles! Maybe go half cheese-half zucchini noodles for more balance.

                1. What you are describing is a low-carb diet, not a no-carb one. Meat, eggs and fat comprise a no-carb diet--if you want to be anal even an egg has .6 carbs so if you truly want to go no carb you have to ditch the eggs too. You can go on a low-carb board and find numerous recipes and tips and tricks but keep this in mind--with any new way of eating, if you try to recreate the way you used to eat you will fail. The fact that you're already planning cheat days doesn't bode well.

                  That being said, my all-time favorite low-carb recipe site is Linda Genaw's--I've been using it for years. She's actually honest about how a recipe comes out but will put it up anyway for people to tweak it if it sucks:


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MandalayVA

                    I appreciate this response. :-) Cheat days can be one's undoing if prone to bingeing.

                    1. re: MandalayVA

                      I just checked out this website - it's great! Thanks for posting!

                    2. One of my favorite low carb meals: chicken cutlets browned in a bit of butter, dressed up in the same pan afterward with a huge basil leaf, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella; covered on a low flame until the cheese melts and covers inside of the large skillet.

                      1. for your chocolate mousse, try adding a little gelatin dissolved in some cream and/or a little espresso, and warmed slightly. beat remaining cream with splenda (or i prefer Truvia) until soft peaks. add gelatin mixture and beat til stiff. fold in cocoa.

                        stuffed potato skins - filled with cheese, bacon, (egg), garlic, a sprinkle of chopped tomatoes and sour cream

                        egg crepes - i use egg (whites) to make crepes... fill as desired

                        cheese chips or cups filled or plain

                        white pizza - meat crust with egg, a little cooked onion, garlic and herbs, topped with olive oil, cheese, a few veg of choice and herbs

                        1. If you are cutting carbs to lose weight, then you need to be strict but only for a certain amount of time- not forever. At least the "strict" phase allows you to try different cooking styles and get rid of the reliance on carbs as "filler" and it changes your appetite for carbs as well. I would suggest staying away from "clearly carb obvious" recipes in the beginning. The substitutes change the dish, sometimes it is a nice change- but not if you "really felt like pasta".

                          That being said, eggplant and zucchini make terrific "versions" of familiar pasta dishes and turnips and cauliflower instead of potato. When I do these types of dishes, I change more than just the starch - to create a whole different dish. I am not a big fan of "healthier substitute" cooking, when I want pasta *now*, I eat it. I just don't want it much anymore.YMMV.

                          A new, interesting protein dish is usually served with a big salad at my house. I love experimenting and there are no shortages of specific recipes for proteins. It is a bit more difficult to find recipes for "complete dishes" that are low carb. Search for "roasted lamb", "grilled pork", etc. I also suggest you try out different techniques, this will give you endless variety. Don't forget plant protein and adding protein/animo acids/ extra nutrition onto veggies (sprinkling hemp meal on salads,etc).
                          Good luck! Make it fun!

                          1. Three low-carb things I find I actually like: 1) If you don't like spaghetti squash try your Bolognese or Marinara with plain sliced zucchini barely cooked. 2) If you make gazpacho by Cuisinart-ing 4 tomatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 onion, and 1 cucumber and adding that to a 46-oz can of tomato juice, then seasoning it to taste with salt, garlic powder, and cumin, and 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and vinegar, the only significant calories will be in that very small quantity of olive oil pro-rated through a huge quantity of gazpacho, which will be very low-carb. Have it ice-cold. 3) Saute sliced fresh okra in a tablespoon of olive oil with a chopped onion. Add a can of tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Salt to taste. And, in answer to your question, if you have a Trader Joe's get their Organic Marinara Sauce which is low-carb, very low-sodium, and tomato-y. One more: a lot of sliced fresh mushrooms sauteed in a few drops of fat, then add beaten eggs and scramble. And another: make a giant pile of salad with all kinds of raw vegetables that you like. Lay a slice of low-cal 100% wheat bread on plate. Butter it with horseradish. On top of this put a thin layer of deli roast beef (one slice) then pile all your salad on top and eat with a knife and fork so that each bite gets a tiny bit of the meat and bread on the bottom---makes greens seem more like a meal.

                            1. I've been on a low carb/no carb diet for over a year now (Dukan, it's great) and have several 'go to' recipes for quick dinner or lunches.
                              - larb gai, or vietnamese minced chicken, can be eaten with little gem lettuce for a bit of vege, or not.
                              - meatballs with tomato sauce, but ensure you get the sugar free tinned tomatoes if not using fresh
                              - a szechuan mince and tofu dish, recipe here: http://cuisine.co.nz/cuisine.nsf/reci...
                              - I eat a lot of stews/casseroles, so even coq au vin, lamb shanks, boeuf bourguignon, tagines are all fine - the tricky part is not having mashed potatoes/cous cous etc to soak up the juices!
                              - if you do love mashed potato, I find mashed or pureed cauliflower can be a pretty good substitute

                              that's just a few ideas, once you start to think outside the box (and as long as you love meat!) it's not such a problem, just a matter of adjusting

                              1. When I go on a fierce low-carb regimen: 1) Use tomato-based pasta sauce with zucchini instead of pasta. Better than you'd think. 2) I make a big pot of okra Creole (onions, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste, okra at the last minute) that I can dip into for a week. 3) Make a huge salad of any raw components you like then take one slice of 100% whole wheat bread and "butter" it with horseradish. Lay it on a dinner plate and top it with ONE thin slice of deli roast beef then pile the salad on top and drizzle VERY lightly with whatever low-carb dressing you like. The trick is to eat this with a knife and fork so it actually resembles dinner---get a bit of roast beef and bread with each bite. 4) I make a low-carb gazpacho by putting 4 peeled tomatoes, a large green pepper, a cucumber, and a medium onion through the Cuisinart, mixing this with a 46-oz can of tomato juice, and seasoning well with vinegar, a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, garlic powder, plenty of cumin, and a touch of hot red chili pepper. Keeps a week in the refrigerator and keeps getting better.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  Tomatoes can be pretty high carb, even some of the no sugar added tomato sauces have 4-6g of carbs per 1/2 cup serving. That adds up fast. Especially with onions (about 3g carb per ounce, 7-9 in a small onion.) Neither are usually even allowed on the "induction" phase of most low carb eating plans.

                                  Everyone's idea of what is low carb is different, though. I stay under 25g a day and never more than 9g in an hour.

                                2. If you've tried the spaghetti squash and hate it, I can respect that. But if you haven't tried it yet, please do! Very mild flavor, great texture - I think it's delicious! I also use green beans as a base quite frequently - frozen "french style" have a nice shredded texture that absorbs sauces nicely.

                                  I'm also wanting to experiment with jicama. So far, I like it raw so much that I haven't gotten into seeing how far I can go with cooking it. One of these days!

                                  I also read a Paleo recipe for enchiladas where the wrapper was egg white crepes. It's on my list to try, for sure.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Violatp

                                    My favorite sauce for spagetti squash is a roasted tomato, onion and bacon sauce. Basically roast roma tomato halves in the oven in some EVOO, add to this some spice, bacon, onions, garlic (whatever you want, but be mindful that the tomatoes need about an hour on medium heat to really roast, other items may take less time and burn). Top the dish with parm and basil. this dish is so yummy, I eat it even though I am not on a low/no carb diet. You could even use canned tomatoes if fresh didn't look too good.

                                  2. I don't eat pasta much anymore. Practically never, and I don't like spaghetti squash! So, I don't eat pasta except when I make spaghetti for Mr. Sueatmo a couple times a year. I have made a green bean dish which uses French cut frozen green beans layered with a sauce as a "lasagne" dish. The Frenched green beans sort of mat together to form a layer. I am very careful with the sauce. I use a small amount of canned tomatoes and lots of ground meat and the normal Italian seasonings. We like this in the winter when fresh veggies are less abundant. I also make a sort of creamed spinach with frozen spinach and ricotta cheese. Getting the taste I wanted was hard, but I found that some of the bagged bacon bits in the filling and salted sunflower kernels on the top do a nice job as a salty topping. (I have never written these recipes down. I need to do this. I can't remember exactly how I make the spinach dish. )

                                    On occasion I use shredded lettuce instead of a starch with a stir fry, but mostly I just eat the stir fry on its own.

                                    1. Try grating some raw cauliflower and then steaming it briefly. Use as a rice-substitute, it even works relatively well in a wok as fried rice. (Squeeze it dry beforehand if this is the intended application).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: OrigamiDuck

                                        This "fried rice" recipes is from the bestest Paleo foodie blogger out there (foodie as in real honest-to-bourdain foodie):

                                      2. Thin ribbons of zucchini for pasta in Italian dishes, sauteed bean sprouts in Asian dishes, grated cauliflower as a rice substitute, cauliflower or turnips as a potato sub, cauliflower, egg or meat crusts for pizzas...

                                        1. What about cauliflower for the bolognese? I've made a casserole with a red sauce and cauliflower before and it turned out delicious, so I'm sure bolognese would be good too. Thinly sliced zucchini might work also.

                                          I've lost almost 50lbs this year, and while I don't do entirely low-carb as I can't give up my pasta, I'd encourage you to check out http://www.kalynskitchen.com/. She has a ton of fabulous recipes for low-carbers. She does South Beach, so some recipes do have carbs for the later phases, but she has a number of recipes for "phase one" which is the no/very low carb phase http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2006/01/... Everything I've made from her site has been delicious.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            Veggies are carbs, don't forget! Even Atkins induction calls for several non starch/non sugar carb servings per day. I think the body of think eggplant noodles or the dried bean curd noodles from Asian groceries might stand up to bolognese really well. I'd lean toward the eggplant noodles.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              +1 on the eggplant. Good flavor and textural complement.

                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                Yeah, but "thin," not "think" eggplant strips. DOH. :-)

                                          2. In the first episode of "The Hairy Dieters" where the Hairy Bikers endeavour to lose weight, Dave and Si made a lasagne using blanched, unrolled leeks as the "pasta" sheets. They cut a slit down the length of a stalk of leek, detached each layer and then blanched each layer and flattened it out. It looked like a great success.

                                            1. Folks, we've removed some posts here focusing on debate of various diets. As we explain on the sticky at the top of this board, it's not a place to discuss the origin or value of these diets. Discussion should remain on topic: informative, helpful tips for people who are following these diets.

                                              1. I made a really great brunch for myself today by sauteing bitter melon and green onion in butter/oil combo, adding eggs and gently scrambling, then adding a bit of diced up cream cheese. It was very protein/fat heavy but balanced with the bitter melon-and lasted me through the day until dinner. Really good.

                                                1. I'll tell you a weird/random product I found at Trader Joe's that I'm obsessed with -- they take the stalks of broccoli that are presumably left over from bags o' florets, run it through a cutter and give you a bag of completely uniform matchsticks, I think with some carrots thrown in. It is perfect in place of noodles or rice, very sturdy and has a pretty good shelf life. I know I could try and reproduce it in food processor, but likely not so cheaply or simple.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Mandymac

                                                    broccoli slaw -- i love this stuff and sometimes get it a regular grocer too. just cooked up a batch with some ginger and hot sauce and it is a very good stand-in for noodles.

                                                    1. re: Mandymac

                                                      That sounds great! Thanks for tip. I love broccoli stalks!

                                                    2. 1) Saute' a chopped onion and a green pepper then add a bag of frozen sliced okra and a can of tomatoes and cook for just a few minutes. 2) Low-cal gazpacho: peel 4 large tomatoes and chop in Cuisinart, then do a green pepper, a cucumber, and a medium onion. Add this to a 46-oz can of tomato juice and season with 1-2 tablespoons each vinegar and olive oil and season with salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Keeps a week in the refrigerator. 3) Make a stir-fry with a bag of the shredded cabbage that they sell for coleslaw. I add a couple of teaspoons each of soy sauce, sherry, and sugar but for low-carb you might omit the sugar and improvise the seasoning. Add anything to this you feel like---maybe some shrimp or some pork---the slaw cabbage works surprisingly well as a base and is very quick.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                        Okay, but I'm confused, though I'm sure those are delicious, the ingredients (other than the possible addition of meat mention) are entirely carbohdrates.