FOOD

These 4 Low Carb Meals Are Actually Delicious

There's only so much steamed chicken breast and broccoli one can take.

27/03/2017 7:00 AM AEDT | Updated 01/07/2017 7:34 PM AEST

Whether you're following a low-carb diet or just wanting to reduce your carb intake, the most difficult question you face when cooking low-carb recipes is: How do I make this filling, delicious and not leave me craving carbs straight after?

The three key elements to making low-carb recipes actually tick all these boxes are variety, flavour and protein.

Protein because it helps us feel fuller for longer, variety because no one can eat steamed chicken for the rest of their life, and flavour because -- low carb or not -- what's the point of eating food without flavour.

Enter these four recipes from number one bestseller, The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet. Each meal uses lean protein, colourful veggies and flavoursome sauces in such a way that the low carb aspect goes unnoticed.

From soy and ginger salmon to chargrilled Cajun chicken and broccolini, these low carb recipes will help you stay on track.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet

1. Asian-glazed salmon with stir-fried greens

Serves four. Preparation: 25 minutes. Cooking: 15 minutes. Twelve grams of carbs per serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil spray, for cooking
  • 2 teaspoons kecap manis
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon julienned ginger
  • 4 × 150g salmon fillets, skin on and pin-boned
  • 40g raw unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded

Stir-fried greens:

  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 baby bok choy, halved, or quartered if large
  • 1 bunch choy sum, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths, stems and leaves separated
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
  • 200g snow peas, halved on the diagonal
  • 100g bean sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt-reduced soy sauce

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven grill to high. Line a roasting tin with foil or baking paper and place an ovenproof wire rack on top for grilling the salmon. Spray the rack with olive oil.
  2. Place the kecap manis, lime zest, lime juice, olive oil and ginger in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place the salmon on the wire rack, skin-side down, then spoon half of the kecap manis mixture over and rub to coat the salmon. Turn and spoon the remaining kecap manis mixture over the skin-side, rubbing it in evenly. Set aside while you start stir-frying the vegetables.
  3. Heat two teaspoons of the olive oil in a wok over high heat. Add the bok choy and choy sum stems and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes or until softened, then add the choy sum leaves and stir-fry until wilted. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add another teaspoon of oil to the wok and stir-fry the asparagus and snow peas for two minutes or until tender but still crisp, then add to the bowl with the bok choy and choy sum.
  5. Add another two teaspoons of the oil to the wok and stir-fry the bean sprouts for 1–2 minutes or until warmed through. Transfer to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  6. Add the remaining oil to the wok, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour in the mirin, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and bring to the boil, then boil for one minute. Return the vegetables to the wok, then turn off the heat and toss to coat in the sauce.
  7. Meanwhile, place the salmon under the hot oven grill and grill for 4–5 minutes or until the skin has become crisp and golden. Carefully turn each fillet over, taking care not to tear the flesh, and grill for another two minutes for medium, or continue until cooked to your liking.
  8. Place one-quarter of the stir-fried vegetables on each of four plates. Top with a salmon fillet, scatter evenly with the cashews and sprinkle with shredded kaffir lime leaves, then serve immediately.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Die

2. Portuguese chicken with cucumber and fennel salad

Serves four. Preparation: 20 minutes, plus refrigeration time. Cooking: 35 minutes. Twelve grams of carbs per serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 long fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 600g chicken pieces, fat removed
  • 4 small zucchini, halved lengthways
  • 1 lemon, thickly sliced
  • Olive oil spray, for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 40g pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tomatoes, halved lengthways
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 bulb baby fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 200g baby kale leaves
  • 40g raw almonds, toasted

METHOD

  1. Place the lemon zest, chilli, paprika and three of the garlic cloves in a mortar, and pound with a pestle until a paste forms. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, then add the olive oil and stir to combine. (Alternatively, blend in a small food processor until combined.)
  2. Place sauce in a large bowl or zip-lock bag with the chicken and rub over the chicken to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for three hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  4. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue to medium heat. Cook the chicken for 2–3 minutes or until well marked on one side. Turn and cook for a further three minutes or until well marked on the other side.
  5. Place the zucchini and sliced lemon in a large roasting tin and spray lightly with olive oil. Place the chicken on top of the zucchini and roast for 20–25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, crush the remaining garlic clove and place in a small bowl with the parsley, pecans and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Spread the mixture over the chicken as soon as it is removed from the oven.
  7. Toss the tomato, cucumber, fennel, kale and almonds together. Divide among four plates and serve with the chicken, zucchini and lemon.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet

3. Turkey and lemon meatballs with 'spaghetti' Napolitana

Serves four. Preparation: 20 minutes. Cooking: 35 minutes. Ten grams of carbs per serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil spray, for cooking
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Boiling water, to thin the sauce (optional)
  • 3 zucchini, spiralised
  • 100g radicchio
  • 100g rocket leaves
  • 1 bulb baby fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 40g parmesan, to serve (optional)

Turkey and lemon meatballs:

  • 600g lean minced turkey
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

METHOD

  1. To make the meatballs, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper. Divide the mixture into 20 portions and roll into balls.
  2. Heat a large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Spray the meatballs lightly with olive oil and, working in two batches if necessary, pan-fry the meatballs for 12–15 minutes, turning regularly until browned and cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat another heavy-based frying pan over low–medium heat. Spray the pan lightly with olive oil, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, for five minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one minute or until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until the tomato has broken down to form a thick sauce. Stir in the vinegar -- add a little boiling water to thin out the sauce slightly if necessary.
  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn to coat. Add the zucchini 'spaghetti' and toss to combine. Cook for 1–2 minutes or until just heated through.
  6. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar, secure the lid and shake until combined. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Combine the radicchio, rocket and fennel in a large bowl. Add the dressing just before serving and toss to combine.
  8. Divide the zucchini 'spaghetti' and meatballs evenly among four bowls and grate or shave the Parmesan over the top, if using. Serve the salad on the side.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet

4. Chargrilled Cajun chicken and broccolini with salad

Serves four. Preparation: 25 minutes. Cooking: 15 minutes. Ten grams of carbs per serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 600g chicken breast tenderloins
  • Olive oil spray, for cooking
  • 2 bunches broccolini, trimmed

Mixed leaf and avocado salad:

  • 2 baby cos lettuce hearts, trimmed, leaves separated
  • 1 green oak lettuce heart, trimmed, leaves separated
  • 2 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 2 cups mixed baby salad leaves
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, trimmed
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 160g avocado, diced
  • 40g pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

METHOD

  1. To make the salad, place the lettuce, rocket, salad leaves, spinach and cucumber in a large bowl and toss gently to mix.
  2. Place the garlic and mustard in a small bowl, season with freshly ground black pepper and stir to mix, then stir in the vinegar until combined. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Add the dressing to the salad just before serving and toss to lightly coat, then add the avocado and pecans.
  3. Place the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and thyme in a shallow bowl large enough to fit the chicken, season with pepper and stir to mix well. Insert a skewer (see note) into each chicken tenderloin lengthways, then place in the Cajun spice mix, pressing to coat each chicken tenderloin evenly.
  4. Heat a chargrill pan over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Spray the chicken tenderloins with oil, then add the chicken to the hot chargrill pan and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm.
  5. Spray the broccolini with oil, then cook in the chargrill pan for three minutes on each side, or until tender but still crisp and chargrilled on the edges.
  6. Pile the salad, chicken and broccolini onto a large platter and serve.

Note: You will need to soak twelve long bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes for this recipe.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet

Recipes extracted from The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet by associate professor Grant Brinkworth and senior research dietitian Pennie Taylor. Available now, Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99.

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