Delicious ideas for lunch on the go and super speedy suppers! The quick, easy and very tasty recipes that will help you kick your carb and sugar habit
- Karen Thomson lays out revolutionary approach for cutting back on carbs
- She shows how to kick your sugar habit with easy, healthy recipes
- Even well-chosen ready meals from M&S and Tesco can be good for you
This article originally appeared in the Daily Mail UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3674338/Delicious-ideas-lunch-super-speedy-suppers.html
Following a rigidly structured healthy eating meal plan to the letter is easy if you have all the time in the world to pre-plan, shop and cook three nourishing and delicious meals every day — or a chef to do all the work and worrying for you. But for many of us, life can so easily get in the way of our best intentions.
When we need food, we need it quickly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat more healthily in a hurry. In fact, there is a way to transform your diet that can be blissfully quick and simple.
All this week in the Daily Mail we are serialising a fascinating new book by Karen Thomson, great-granddaughter of pioneering heart transplant surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard, in which she lays out a revolutionary approach for cutting back on carbs and kicking your sugar habit, leaving you slimmer and feeling fabulous for ever.
Karen Thomson, great-granddaughter of pioneering heart transplant surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard, lays out a revolutionary approach for cutting back on carbs and kicking your sugar habit, leaving you slimmer and feeling fabulous for ever
The secret lies in ignoring all the conventional low-fat, carbohydrate-based dietary advice that has guided us for decades — but which is now accused of being at the root of a worldwide obesity epidemic — and switching to a super- healthy low-carbohydrate diet packed with healthy fats.
Yesterday, we explained the basic rules of the diet and showed how a typical week’s meal plan could be packed with delicious dishes that will never leave you hungry. Luckily, it is just as easy to live an LCHF life in a rush and on the hop. You just have to know what to look for — and what to avoid — when shopping and cooking.
Today, we’ll guide you through the process, and give you tips for every meal of the day, with wonderful recipes that you can prepare even if you’re pressed for time.
When you’re at the supermarket, try to pick simple, natural foods if you can — but if time is tight and you need to grab something pre-prepared, get into the habit of scrutinising food labels.
Steer clear of anything marked ‘lite’ or ‘low-calorie’ — it will almost certainly be heavily processed and packed with sugar, sweeteners and grain-based bulking agents. These are the kind of foods that got us into this sugar-addicted mess in the first place.
On the LCHF diet you have no need to count calories because you’ll be getting the perfect mix of proteins and fats without sugars to confuse your brain and body’s satiety (fullness) messages, so you should know naturally when you are properly hungry and properly full.
First, the ingredients list. Don’t buy anything that contains sugar in any of its many disguises. The higher up any ingredient is in the list, it follows that the more of it the pack contains.
But manufacturers have got wise to the fact that you can spot this, and now use a variety of different sugars to create the sweetness which allows the sugar words to drop farther down the list, making the product seem less intensely sugar-infused than it is.
Dried fruit and fruit juice are rapidly converted into sugar by your body, so don’t be tempted to buy something apparently ‘natural’ that has been sweetened with either of them.
Next, the nutritional label. Check the total carbohydrate content, not just the sugars. As a golden rule, avoid anything with more than 4g carbohydrate per 100g. It’s not easy and it won’t leave you with an abundant choice, but you’ll soon get to know which brands and which products you can trust to keep you sugar free.
Be really careful with prepared sauces — anything from pasta sauce to ketchup — as many can be much, much higher in sugar than you realise.
Even the teaspoon of sugar in a big dollop of ketchup could be enough, if you’re really sensitive to sugar, to tip you back into a cycle of cravings which could make it extremely difficult for you to stick to the plan.
THE BIG BREAKFAST
Without cereal or toast to rely on in the morning, many people worry that a low-carbohydrate breakfast could be a soulless, joyless way to start the day. But on this plan you can feast like a king in the mornings if you want to, or grab something ‘on-message’ to eat when you get to work. When it comes to breakfast, there’s no deprivation about this plan — in fact, it lends itself perfectly to a great big brunch with family or friends.
Aim to start your day with a proper meal to keep blood sugar levels stable and cravings at bay.
That means a good combination of protein (eggs, bacon, salmon, yoghurt), vegetables or berries, and fats (nuts, seeds or cheese if you fancy that). Here are some ideas for ways in which you can give traditional breakfast favourites a healthy LCHF twist.
If you’re missing the taste and texture of porridge, try making it with chia seeds, which are nutritious, high in protein and low in carbohydrate.
You can whip up a filling bowlful by pouring milk (or almond or coconut milk) over two heaped tbsps of chia seeds and leaving them to swell overnight, or for half an hour while you get ready for work.
Stir, add a handful of frozen berries, then pop the bowl in the microwave for a minute, finally adding a dollop of cream or Greek yoghurt.
Alternatively, prepare things the night before. Pour 100ml coconut milk and 100ml water into a microwaveable mug and stir in a pinch of cinnamon and 1 heaped tsp cacao powder with your 2 tbsp of chia seeds, then leave the mug in the fridge overnight so the seeds swell to absorb the liquid. In the morning, just pop the mug in the microwave for a 60-second blitz.
Although fruit juice and ordinary smoothies are too high in sugars (albeit fruit sugars) to have a place on the LCHF plan, if you love a nutritious liquid breakfast, try these:
- Whiz up 75g frozen berries with 60ml/3 tbsp cream, 60ml/3 tbsp coconut cream, 60ml/3 tbsp water and 2 tsp melted coconut oil to make a smoothie.
- Blend 75g frozen berries with a large handful of spinach, then add 100ml coconut milk, 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt and 1 tsp nut butter and blitz again. Add a 50g scoop of whey protein powder, 1tbsp coffee granules and ½ tbsp cocoa powder for the final blitz. Add a pinch of Stevia to sweeten if you like, and a little water, if too thick.
- For a great green smoothie, blend together 2 large handfuls of spinach, ¼ avocado, 4 stems of broccoli, a handful of kale, 1 slice of melon and 50g walnuts, then add 100ml coconut milk, 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt and 2 tsp nut butter (almond or hazelnut) and blitz again, then add 100ml unsweetened almond milk and a little water to get the consistency you like.
EGGS WITH A TWIST
Eggs couldn’t be speedier if you scramble them with smoked salmon or bake individual egg and ham cups (line a muffin case with a slice of Parma ham, crack in an egg, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 180c for 7-10 mins). However, if you have family and friends visiting, lay on a memorable breakfast.
Whip up a few protein pancakes (see recipe in yesterday’s paper or Mail Online) or serve a generous platter of eggs (cooked any way you like). Or try a plate of smoked salmon, sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes, or even a full English (eggs, bacon and 80 per cent meat sausages with mushrooms).
For something a bit different, try bowls of blackberries with cream cheese sprinkled with crispy bacon, or omelettes (stuffed with feta cheese and olives or spiced up with onion, red pepper, cumin and chilli powder).
- The Low-Carb Healthy-Fat diet (LCHF) is designed to keep carbohydrate intake low, depending on how active you are and how quickly you want to lose weight. If getting slimmer is your first concern, use weight-loss mode (below) as your model, switching to health mode when your aim has been achieved.
- Weight loss mode (total 50g carbs): three meals a day and up to two snacks (if you’re hungry). Each meal should contain protein (¼ of the plate) and non-starchy salad and vegetables (½ plate). The remaining ¼ should be healthy fats. In addition, eat berries (80g a day).
- Health mode (total 120g carbs): three meals a day and up to two snacks if you’re hungry. Each meal should contain protein (¼ of the plate), non-starchy salad and vegetables (¼ plate) and starchy vegetables, pulses or low-carb grains (¼ plate) with the remaining ¼ as healthy fats. In addition, enjoy berries (80g a day), a glass of wine or vodka (with slimline mixer) plus two squares of dark chocolate a day.
Each meal should contain
- Protein: Meat, poultry, fish: 100-150g (palm-sized portion) per meal, but relish the chicken skin and savour the fat on a juicy steak.
- Eggs: Up to three a day.
- VEGETABLES: As much as you like and as wide a variety as possible.
- Fats: A large handful of nuts (not peanuts) or 2-3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, coconut oil or nut butter, ½ an avocado, 3 tbsp full-fat yoghurt, 3 tbsp cream or coconut cream, 30-50g cheese (hard or soft).
- Drinks: Water (6-8 glasses per day), tea and coffee (ideally with milk or cream but no sugar).
- Fruit: Berries 80g a day.
- Carbohydrates: Avoid in weight-loss phase but if you are active, enjoy one tennis ball-sized portion (when cooked) per day of ‘dense’ vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, sweetcorn, peas, beans and pulses (lentils, beans and chickpeas) or ‘pseudo grains’ such as quinoa and buckwheat.
LUNCH BOXES MADE EASY
For lunches at home or at work, forget sandwiches and think ‘roll-ups’ — you really don’t need bread.
Simply take any no-sugar sandwich filling (egg mayonnaise, tuna and sweetcorn, chicken tikka strips, grated cheese, grilled halloumi), add your favourite salad and bind it all with home-made mayonnaise (see above) or cream cheese. Wrap up in sheets of smoked salmon, slices of ham, salami (for mini bites) or lettuce leaves.
If you have mayonnaise to hand, add it to mashed-up hard-boiled eggs, avocados, salmon or tuna. Just keep packs of cooked meat in the fridge with an iceberg or baby gem lettuce, plus a batch of mayonnaise, and you’re good to go.
Even the most expensive brands of mayonnaise tend to contain unhealthy vegetable oils and additives, possibly including sugars.
And don’t even think about a reduced-calorie or ‘lite’ version.
Instead, make a batch of your own.
Just whisk up four room- temperature egg yolks with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, then slowly drip in 165ml olive oil and 165ml melted coconut oil, allowing each drop to emulsify as you whisk.
Your mayo will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
You could also try scooping out the inner flesh of half a cucumber and packing it with sandwich filling. Alternatively, lift the stone out of half an avocado and pile some of the filling in the dip left behind.
SALADS IN A JAR
The super-trendy wouldn’t be seen with lunch in a Tupperware container any more. It’s all about the jar salad now. The narrow sides allow you to layer salad ingredients, keeping light leaves on top so they don’t get crushed and soggy.
Simply fill your wide-mouthed 1 pint/500ml preserving jar each morning. Start with home-made oil and vinegar dressing at the bottom, then add any cooked or raw vegetables and your choice of protein (fish, meat, hard-boiled eggs, cheese), top off with a big fist of leafy salad leaves. Season lightly and sprinkle over a few seeds or chopped nuts, then screw the lid on tight (or you can clip it closed) to keep everything sealed and fresh.
When you are ready to eat, just turn the jar over to distribute the dressing and tip on to a plate, or enjoy straight from the jar with a fork.
Made like this, your jar salad will last for days in the fridge. If you’re super-organised you could buy five glass jars and make a week’s worth of salad-based lunches ahead of time, to grab as you leave the house in the morning.
Perishable ingredients, such as avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and cooked chicken breast, should be added to the salad on the day.
If you know which places to visit, and which items to choose, you can enjoy a healthy LCHF lifestyle when you’re on the move or just haven’t time to cook it from scratch.
If you’re in London, look out for Pod restaurants which specialise in ‘protein power pots’ and no-carb salads.
The Leon chain, which is expanding across major cities, offers a variety of options (try the egg pots for breakfast or lunch). Pret A Manger has a great range of sugar-free salads and soups available nationwide.
Try to prepare three days of lunchboxes in advance — you’ll find it much easier to stay motivated
In supermarkets, look out for ‘breadless sandwiches’ and salads with no potatoes, rice or noodles. Pick any salad with quinoa, buckwheat or skinny (no-carb) noodles. Tesco sells egg and spinach protein pots (two hard-boiled eggs with spinach leaves) for £1.50.
You can also buy packs of cooked meats, prawns or fish, or cut up sticks of celery to scoop up sour cream dip — and if hunger hits, grab a snack pack of cheese or plain, unsalted nuts.
If you’re caught on the hop, find a no-sugar shop-bought sandwich filling and tuck in with a fork.
If you arrive home starving after a long day and — disaster — there’s no food prepared and very little in the fridge, don’t even think about beans on toast or ordering a greasy takeaway.
If you’ve been clever with your food shopping, you should have a freezer packed with options (ideally individually portioned to avoid over-eating), and the essential elements for emergency meals bagged in batches.
You can whiz up a portion of cauliflower rice, for instance (just grate or blitz cauliflower in the food processor) and freeze in individual bags ready to pan-fry in butter or coconut oil in seconds.
Look out for low-carb pasta on the fresh food shelves (made from ready prepared courgettes or butternut squash) and make sure you always have a stash of skinny noodles (made from yam) ready in your store cupboard.
Delicious ideas for lunch on the go!
Smoked salmon wraps
Makes up to 5 wraps
Spread up to 75g smoked salmon strips with 2 tsp full-fat cream cheese and cucumber slices, then roll up.
Spread up to 75g smoked salmon strips with 2 tsp full-fat cream cheese and cucumber slices, then roll up for smoked salmon wraps
For a variation on a Mexican favourite, stir-fry fresh chicken strips in coconut oil with ¼ a red onion and ½ red pepper, both sliced.
Season with salt, cumin and paprika. Serve in an iceberg lettuce leaf, and top with 1 tbsp guacamole and 1 tbsp salsa.
For a variation on a Mexican favourite, stir-fry fresh chicken strips in coconut oil with ¼ a red onion and ½ red pepper, both sliced for chicken fajitas
Caprese Salad in a jar
– 100g mozzarella
– 2 large tomatoes
– 7-8 basil leaves
– Salt and pepper
– 3 tbsp olive oil
Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into rounds 1cm thick. Now, arrange on a plate, alternating slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lots of olive oil before serving.
Alternatively, layer the ingredients in a small Kilner jar as a packed lunch, starting with the olive oil.
Shake gently before eating to coat the salad with the seasoned oil.
Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into rounds 1cm thick. Now, arrange on a plate, alternating slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves for caprese salad in a jar
Sweet potato frittata
– ½ large sweet potato
– Coconut oil, for frying
– 1 shallot, sliced
– 4 eggs
– 2 tomatoes
– 1 tsp basil
– 1 handful fresh chives, salt & pepper
For the salsa:
– 3 plum tomatoes, diced
– 1 spring onion, finely sliced
– Handful of coriander leaves
– Juice of ½ lemon
– 1 tbsp olive oil
To make the salsa, finely chop tomatoes, mix with other ingredients and set aside. Dice potato into small cubes and fry in a pan with a little coconut oil for 4-5 mins until softened.
Add shallot and continue to cook until soft. In a bowl, lightly beat eggs along with tomatoes, basil, chives and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour egg mixture over potatoes. Move eggs around pan to avoid sticking and cook through. Finish frittata under a hot grill and serve with tomato salsa. Eat hot if at home, or allow to cool, slice and package up for lunch on the go.
To make the salsa, finely chop tomatoes, mix with other ingredients and set aside. Dice potato into small cubes and fry in a pan with a little coconut oil for 4-5 mins until softened for sweet potato frittata
Mini salami ‘pizzas’
Serves 2 (3 per serving)
– 6 slices salami
– 2 tbsp sundried tomato paste
– 50g mozzarella, sliced (or goat’s cheese or halloumi)
– 30g Cheddar, grated
– Dried herbs of your choice: basil, thyme, sage, rosemary
Preheat the grill to medium and lay the salami slices on a baking tray, spreading an even layer of sundried tomato paste on each. Top with a slice of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Cheddar and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper if desired. Place the ‘pizzas’ under the grill for 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to prevent burning.
Preheat the grill to medium and lay the salami slices on a baking tray, spreading an even layer of sundried tomato paste on each. Top with a slice of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Cheddar and herbs for mini salami ‘pizzas’
– 2 ripe plum tomatoes
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 6 fresh basil leaves
– 1 tsp salt
– Olive oil, to dress
– Seed crackers or slice of nut and seed loaf
Peel and dice the tomatoes, chop the garlic and place in a bowl. Add the oil and vinegar and mix well.
Stir in the basil leaves and refrigerate for an hour. Serve on seed crackers or a toasted slice of nut and seed loaf. Drizzle with olive oil.
Peel and dice the tomatoes, chop the garlic and place in a bowl. Add the oil and vinegar and mix well for easy bruschettas
Super speedy suppers
Vietnamese prawn noodles
– Pack mini sweetcorn
– 1 tbsp coconut oil
– 1 tsp each, ‘easy’ ginger, ‘easy’ garlic and ‘easy’ chilli
– 1 small pack mangetout
– Handful frozen prawns
– 1 sachet coconut cream
– Pack skinny (no-carb) noodles
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Cut the mini corns in half lengthways and cook in a wok over a high heat with the coconut oil, then add the chilli, garlic and ginger and stir briefly.
Add the mangetout and the prawns, stir in the coconut cream, then the skinny noodles and cook until prawns (if raw) are cooked and everything is heated through.
Add the lime juice to taste and garnish with fresh coriander.
Cut the mini corns in half lengthways and cook in a wok over a high heat with the coconut oil, then add the chilli, garlic and ginger and stir briefly for Vietnamese prawn noodles
Baked Eggs with Mozzarella and Asparagus
– 100g asparagus
– Salt and pepper
– 2 eggs
– 50g mozzarella
– 2 tbsp Parmesan, grated
Chop the asparagus spears into bite-sized pieces, place in a small oven-proof dish, season and bake for 10 minutes at 180c.
Crack the eggs over the top and season again, then return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the eggs, then cook for 5 minutes more.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan before serving.
Chop the asparagus spears into bite-sized pieces, place in a small oven-proof dish, season and bake for 10 minutes at 180c to prepare your baked eggs with mozzarella and asparagus
– 75g pine nuts
– 200ml olive oil (leave 50ml aside)
– 1 large handful fresh basil
– 50g Parmesan
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 tsp lemon juice
Heat a small saucepan and cook the pine nuts until they are golden. Stir occasionally to prevent burning, then blitz in a food processor with 150ml of the olive oil and all the other ingredients.
Pour into a jar and add the remaining 50ml olive oil. Cover with a lid and keep in the fridge for 10-14 days, then serve with courgettini or butternut squash spaghetti.
Heat a small saucepan and cook the pine nuts until they are golden. Stir occasionally to prevent burning, then blitz in a food processor with 150ml of the olive oil and all the other ingredients to prepare the pesto for your pesto ‘pasta’
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure or are on medication, check with your GP before making dietary changes.
A lot of research shows an LCHF diet lowers blood pressure and can help to normalise blood sugar levels if you have diabetes (type 1 or 2).
So keep a close eye on your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and be prepared to adjust medication accordingly. Don’t do this without consulting your GP.
If you haven’t yet gotten your hands on a copy of the updated version of Sugar Free: 8 weeks to freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction now available in South Africa you can do so here by scrolling to the bottom of the Webinar sales page to find links to book sales in USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.