Generally used by people who have or are at risk of diabetes or those on a weight-loss diet, counting carbs means setting limits around the number of carbohydrates you eat in order to keep blood glucose levels low. Whether you're looking to cut carbohydrates for health reasons or to lose weight, yummy, low-carb meals will help make your quest more enjoyable.
Foods Containing Carbs
A variety of different types of foods contain carbohydrates, including some that you might not typically expect, like veggie burgers. According to the American Diabetes Association, the following foods contain carbohydrates: dried beans and soy products; starchy foods like bread, cereal, crackers and rice; milk and yogurt; fruits and fruit juice; sweets and snack foods; and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.
Choosing Good Carbs and Substitutes
When cooking low-carb meals, be sure to select the complex carbs that are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber over empty calories and simple carbs like white bread and rice. Try to find similar products to replace your old favorites – replace rice and noodles with quinoa, substitute low-carb fruit for sweets and add more veggies to your meal.
Typically, health professionals recommend eating a breakfast that has protein, carbohydrates and complex fats. So for a low-carb meal, reduce your carbohydrates and increase your protein with eggs. Try scrambled eggs with sliced cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese and a sliced turkey sausage link in a low-carb wrap. Or whip up a yogurt parfait using a non-fat yogurt, chopped walnuts and whole berries. For an even quicker meal, pack a bag of instant oatmeal and some nuts.
Leftover soups are filling and easy to take to the office. Make soups with meat and lots of veggies. Try chicken tortilla soup or Vietnamese-style beef and noodle broth that uses beef flank steak, low-carb glass noodles and Asian veggies. No time to make anything? Keep a stash of healthy frozen meals that contain a lean protein, non-starchy vegetable and whole grains, if any. Be sure to check the nutrition label to understand carbs per serving, and watch the sodium content.
For dinner, make meat and vegetables the stars with these yummy ideas. Try adobo pork chops with chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper with steamed zucchini and summer squash, or roasted chicken with green beans. Missing pasta? Try beefy tomato sauce over strands of roasted spaghetti squash. Make breakfast for dinner with a hearty veggie and cheese filled omelet and a small side of sweet potato home fries.
Have a sweet tooth? Going low-carb doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of desserts -- there are many ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Bake flourless peanut butter cookies by combining equal parts sugar and peanut butter and eggs, and bake until set. Substitute some of the wheat in cookies for other grains like oats, or add more nuts and dried fruit to reduce the amount of carbohydrates.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.