Diet fads wax and wane, and this has been the case with the low-carbohydrate diet. Atkins, South Beach, The Zone and Sugar Busters have all had their days of glory. However, eating a lower-carb diet is often healthy eating and those wishing to eat in a healthy way may want to consider a lower-carb diet.
One of the bugaboos in dieting is meal planning. What, exactly, makes up low carb dinners, for instance? Low carb dinners are often the main meal of the day, so they require some attention. The main thing a diner should know is how many grams of carbohydrates he or she wants to consume at any given meal. This aids in meal planning. Since protein and green vegetables have few or no carbs, low carb dinners featuring these items will be the most helpful.
The cook should ideally plan low carb dinners that are 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates. That is, vegetables (minus starchy veggies) should fill up half the dinner plate. Many cooks rely on salads of various kinds to help fill up the plate, and fresh salads made with a variety of greens (except iceberg lettuce) are healthy and nutritious. Other vegetables to consider when planning low carb dinners are green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, eggplant and the like. Vegetable medleys may also be popular with the family.
Proteins should be lean meats such as fish, turkey, white meat chicken and lean pork. Variety is the spice of life however, and cooks should not relentlessly cut out all suspicion of red meat from the diet. Having hamburgers twice a month isn’t going to kill anyone, especially if they are made from a 90/10 ratio of ground round. Cooks can even occasionally oven-fry chicken, or pan fry pork chops in nonstick pans. Ruthless diet adherence breeds dissatisfaction and discontent with a healthier lifestyle. Children can tolerate a higher amount of fat in their diets, and indeed, need a little more fat for their still-developing nervous systems (nerves are 90 percent fat, by the way).
Low carb dinners can still include small amounts of carbohydrates, if the entire family tolerates them well. Brown rice, potatoes and whole wheat pastas are all good sources of fiber and better-for-you carbohydrates. This means spaghetti and lasagna are still on the menu. Low-carb pasta is available in most grocery stores, so macaroni and cheese can be an occasional treat as well. Using low-carb pasta, the cook can make a garden-style spaghetti sauce for spaghetti or lasagna. Cheese is a low-carb food, so a cheese sauce can be added to veggies to make them more palatable for picky eaters. Cheese, in fact, makes many foods taste better.
Fruit is good in small amounts, and should never be eliminated from the diet. A cook needs to remember, though, that most fruit is sweet enough without adding any sugar or other sweetener. Strawberries may need a touch of sweetener, but most fruits stand well on their own.
Breakfast for dinner is always a great option for low carb dinners. Turkey bacon can be substituted if desired but again, eating bacon once in a while is not harmful. Bacon, eggs and whole grain toast make a great, easy dinner. Omelets, frittatas and quiches are also good options, and when using a meat substitute, are good for lacto-ovo vegetarians, as well.
Low carb dinners are easier to prepare when the cook remembers the lean meats, veggies and carb ratios. Vegans and vegetarians will need to pay attention to the carb counts in items like tofu and tempeh, but can work around those issues. Veggies and lean proteins, however, are the keys to successful low carb dinners.