Tag Archives: low-carb

BBQ These 30-Minute Low-Carb Mint Lamb Burgers for Dinner Tonight

“This heavenly, satisfying burger is one of the many reasons I look forward to eating dinner at your house.” A true quote from my dear mother, who is also happy being my guinea pig whenever I’m testing meat recipes. These juicy, hot off the grill, zesty mint lamb burgers will have your mouth watering before they even hit your plate. Added bonus: they’re low-carb and can be made in 30 minutes!

Related: Satisfying Weeknight Recipes Where Veggies Replace Carbs

Zesty Mint Lettuce Lamb Burgers

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

Burger
1 lb (454 g) ground lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (6 g) chopped mint leaves
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch kosher salt and ground black pepper

For Serving
1 head butter lettuce
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 cups (400 g) store-bought zucchini chips (optional)

Related: Our 80 Most Popular Burger Recipes

1. To make the burgers, fire up the grill or grill pan to medium heat. I used a grill pan for this recipe. While the grill pan is heating up, mix the ground lamb with garlic, mint, shallot, lime juice, salt and pepper. Form 4 equal-sized lamb patties.

2. Now comes the fun step: grill the lamb burgers for approximately 4 minutes per side, making sure to only turn them once. You can also enjoy listening to the lovely sizzle in the pan while these burgers are cooking.

3. When the burgers are ready, it’s building time. Layer the lamb burgers on the lettuce leaves with red peppers and onions. Serve with zucchini chips, if desired.

Want more summertime grilling recipes? These pork banh mi burgers and grilled stuffed zucchini boats are sure to impress.

Reprinted with permission from 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners by Valerie Azinge, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Valerie Azinge, Yasaman Shafiei and Kabir Ali.

30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners, Amazon, $23.

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Comforting Three-Cheese Cacio e Pepe in Spaghetti Squash Form

Cacio e Pepe translates to “cheese and pepper”, and is the ultimate no-nonsense pantry pasta consisting of freshly ground pepper, noodles, and good quality cheese. Spaghetti squash presents much like spaghetti noodles and is generally available all year-round, making for an excellent alternative for gluten-intolerants (more gluten-free dinner inspiration here) or those looking for a healthy low-carb twist on the classic. So grab your cheese grater, and start prepping tonight’s dinner.

Three-Cheese Cacio e Pepe Baked Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes (includes squash roasting time)
Servings: 4 (raw veg = 5 cups before mixing in cheese)

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 ½  tsp coarsely ground black pepper, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup mascarpone cheese or smooth ricotta (optional)
Chopped parsley or basil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and strands with a spoon. Brush inside with 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Place cut side down on the prepared pan.

Tip: Don’t forget to save the squash seeds and roast them as a snack. Here’s how to roast tamari and sea salt pumpkin seeds (follow the same instructions).

3. Roast until a paring knife is easily inserted in the centre, about 45 minutes. Let cool.

4. Using a large spoon, spoon out and shred into long strands. Spread on a double layer of paper towel or clean kitchen towel to absorb any liquid.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and then the squash, remaining ¼ tsp salt and remaining 1 ¼ tsp pepper and toss. Stir in mascarpone (if using), stirring until just melted and combined. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, tossing to combine.

Tip: Like its namesake, this dish is all about pepper and cheese. For the best pepper flavour, toast whole black peppercorns in a skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, shaking the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool and crush with the bottom of a heavy bottom pot or skillet.

6. Divide among plates and sprinkle with parsley and more cheese, if desired.

Another cheesy pasta recipe with a twist: this winter greens mac & cheese will make you feel healthy. You’ll also devour this vegetarian spaghetti puttanesca with cauliflower. Lastly, test out these weeknight dinners where veggies replace carbs.

I Went Keto for 3 Months and Got Gout. Here’s What I Wish I’d Known

My friend walks into a bar – glowing, leaner and the happiest I’ve ever seen her in our 12 year friendship. “Keto,” she says, anticipating the ‘What are you doing?’ question, “I basically eat a lot of Caesar salad – I’ve lost 25 pounds.”

We’re in our thirties, and every year it feels like there’s another ring around the trunk. While I’ve picked up rec sports like ball hockey and practice yoga semi-regularly, I’ve never been on a diet and haven’t put any actual effort into slimming down. My friend, Janna, and I have always had similar palates: we love bread, pasta, sandwiches, sauce, potatoes and most comfort foods on the regular. “You should do it,” she said, “You can eat so many things — I feel amazing.”

Why I went keto

As an intersectional-feminist who promotes body positivity, I hate how this story starts. It was one long look into my bathroom mirror after a shower when I cried — unhappy with the aged, unfamiliar woman staring back at me. I decided, at that exact moment, that I was going to try keto, as Janna had done.

So, I started the following Monday. I took the weekend to consult with Dr. Google so I could hunt and gather at the grocery store for my new and very first diet.

The ketogenic diet is attractive to people like me (read: who have the palate of a 13-year-old boy in the 90’s with a love for beige food and grease) because you never have to go hungry or calorie count, and you’re allowed to eat bacon, burgers, butter and other foods typically considered unhealthy. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, zero-sugar, low-carb diet. I don’t even like baked goods or sweets.

But I do like bagels, dumplings, corn and other carbs you’re not allowed on keto. Starchy carbs were off the table — so were fruits (including the melon family, mangoes, pineapple, apples etc.) and even a variety of vegetables had to be limited.

Related: From keto to whole30 to vegan. What is the best healthy diet? 

What a typical day of eating looked like for me

Like Janna, I ended up eating a lot of Caesar salad with chicken on the regular. Breakfast was all about bacon, eggs (cooked in butter), spinach and avocado. On offer at lunch was usually more leafy greens, roast chicken (sometimes hot, other times cold), cheese and nuts. For snacks, I ate more nuts, more cheese, and sometimes I’d even eat raw spinach out of the bin and call them “keto chips”. Blackberries were a green-lit treat, and very dark chocolate is also OK in moderation. I learned to like cream, and sometimes butter, in my keto coffee.

I also learned to drink so much water, and I peed on a keto strip every morning to make sure I was still in a state of ketosis. Being in the state of dietary ketosis is key to the weight loss benefits of the diet — it means your body is no longer fueled by carbs and is instead running on stored fat (hence the high fat part), producing ketones, so your brain still gets the energy it needs. To enter ketosis, I had to deprive my body of carbs (keeping the serving under 20g per day). The process took about three to five days, which is when I got what’s dubbed the keto flu and lost seven pounds by day six.

Some challenges I faced while on keto

I made the mistake of going on a road trip to Michigan within my first weeks of keto. Translation: burgers with lettuce, meat sticks, cheese and nuts were pretty much all I consumed that weekend. My mother commented on my appearance: “It’s working. I can see it in your face.” I was thinning out.

Related: How to develop healthy eating habits that actually last.

They say you stop craving carbs — that never actually happened for me. I didn’t need them, but if I saw my co-worker eating pizza, I knew I’d rather be sinking my teeth into a slice than stabbing at a bowl of cold, raw vegetables.

Keto became a way of life. At post ball hockey drinks, I’d have water and eat a burger in a lettuce bun with celery (no illegal carrots because of the sugar). But I knew this couldn’t go on forever. While editing a story on celebrity diets, I discovered the 80/20 diet and decided to try carb cycling.

Related: What is the flexitarian diet, and why are people doing it?

What I wish I knew when I got gout

Carb cycling and keto may increase the risk of gout. I wish I’d talked to an actual expert and registered nutritionist before I’d participated in a fad diet to explore the potential risks for myself. For this article, I talked to Julie Mancuso, the weight-loss expert and owner of JM Nutrition.

My friends are doing it, my coworkers are doing it — it works great for them, so it’ll work great for me, is something Mancuso hears all the time from first-time dieters. “Even though we have the same composition, we all have a different makeup, and your friend may not have any pre-dispositions to health issues,” she explains.

It turns out gout runs in my family. I was the first female to get it in my known bloodline — a glass ceiling I really didn’t need to break. But after attempting (and failing) carb cycling, drinking wine and building up too much uric acid, I found myself hopping on one foot with the rich man’s disease. I gave myself gout. It was already in my genes and it was triggered by my diet.

“With keto, you actually get most of the calorie consumption from fat,” says Mancuso. “If someone is predisposed to gallstones and you’re eating an abundance of fat — and [the] body can’t keep up with that — that will cause a problem.” Another thing to note is that spinach is very high in oxalate, the number one cause of kidney stones. So, at least I didn’t get gallstones or kidney stones, right?

Related: A nutritionist reveals 10 best natural foods for glowing skin.

How I would do keto differently

The next time I submit to my insecurities and decide to attempt a drastic diet change, I will consult with a nutritionist or dietitian to help me better my relationship with food.

According to Mancuso, there are many healthy and sustainable changes people can make to their diet that will help with weight-loss — people don’t need to jump into keto. But many lean towards diets like keto, including Atkins, Paleo and South Beach, because the results are typically fast, and starting something so strict and seemingly effective can be motivating.

“Our culture is like that — when we want something, we want it now,” says Mancuso, who often works with clients and encourages them to start slowly with new diets. She likes to take the time to assess and provide people with a better understanding with how diets and weight-loss actually work.

“What I don’t like about keto is that it’s very restrictive,” explains Mancuso. “The biggest problem is that people have trouble sustaining this diet… what diet restricts broccoli?”

Related: Nutritionist reveals 10 secrets to keeping energy levels up all day long.

What people should keep in mind if going keto

“Keto works for weight-loss” says Mancuso. “What I like is that it steers people away from eating carbs and sugar.”

She would recommend nutritionally balanced keto — which, according to the weight-loss expert, is moderate protein and plenty of vegetables. If the aim is weight-loss, the sugar has to go, and the carbs have to be cut down. As it turns out, there really aren’t any shortcuts or hacks for leading a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Feature image courtesy of Getty Images. 

How to Make Keto-Style Stuffing for Thanksgiving (That Tastes Heavenly)

Sticking to a keto, low-carb or paleo diet throughout the holidays certainly does not mean missing out on all the Thanksgiving classics, like stuffing. And here’s the best part about our keto stuffing: it actually tastes like the real thing! Using a keto bread, either from the grocery store or homemade, still provides that wonderful moist, stuffing texture and nicely soaks up all the delicious, flavourful juices. Keto bread has become so popular that it’s available at most conventional grocery stores and almost all health food stores; if you can’t find it, check the freezer section.

Keto-Style Cauliflower Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes (or 1 hour 45 if drying the bread)
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups (about 1 loaf) store-bought or homemade keto bread, sliced into 1 ½ inch cubes
¼ cup butter
1 large shallots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 ½ cups beef or chicken broth
1 egg

Directions:

1. The keto bread must be dry or stale before you begin this recipe so it can soak up all the juices. If it’s not stale, dry it by placing the bread cubes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and ensure the bread is not overcrowded. Bake in the oven at 250°F for 1 hour. Toss halfway.

2. Place a large, wide skillet on medium-high heat, add the butter, and as it begins to sizzle and melt toss in the shallots, celery, garlic and cauliflower, cook for 10 minutes until softened. After 10 minutes add in the herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Take off the heat.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a casserole dish (9×13 works well but any medium to large casserole dish will do).
4. In a bowl, crack and whisk the eggs and stir in the broth.
5. Transfer the shallot mixture into a large bowl, fold in the dried keto bread, pour over the egg and broth mixture and stir to combine.

6. Place the mixture into the buttered casserole dish, cover it and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncover it and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

More reasons to do a happy dance at the Thanksgiving table this year: this keto cheesecake, these fudgy keto brownies and our collection of the best keto-friendly appetizers.

These Chocolate Avocado Keto Cookies Are Healthy Enough for Breakfast 

A decadent, delicious breakfast cookie is the ultimate grab-and-go morning meal. But these are far from normal cookies. These keto-powered baked goods only have 3.2 net grams of carbs, along with a super, secret ingredient: avocado. The ketogenic diet is all about eating tons of fat, and these cookies really deliver, helping to fuel you with good, clean fats. Eating lots of healthy fat, especially in the morning, regulates blood sugar, keeps insulin levels low and promotes fat burning and loss. So, basically you’re eating a nutritious cookie that helps you lose weight – can you think of anything better?!

Chocolate Avocado Keto Breakfast Cookies

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 cookies

Ingredients:
2 small ripe avocados
2 large eggs
½ cup almond flour
⅓ cup raw cacao
⅓ cup erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
½ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp sea salt
¼ cup cacao nibs or stevia sweetened chocolate chips
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, to use as garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel the avocado, place it in the bowl and mash it until smooth.
3. Add in the almond flour, raw cacao, sweetener, baking soda and sea salt and combine all ingredients. Whisk in the eggs.
4. Fold in the cacao nibs. Don’t be alarmed if the batter does not resemble traditional cookie dough, it will be fudgier.

5. Scoop about 1 ½ Tbsp of batter onto the baking sheet to make one cookie and lightly flatten with your hand or a spoon. Leave quite a bit of space between the cookies, since they spread.
6. Top with shredded coconut to garnish.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in.

For more healthy low-carb recipes to keep on hand, check out these 20 Easy Keto Dinners to Make Right Now and 14 Keto-Friendly Snacks That Are Super Simple to Make.