I was searching for low carb recipes for clients and was shocked what I was finding. Major well known websites were categorizing recipes inaccurately (or so it seemed) – actively marketing “low carb recipes” that clearly did not looks like low carb recipes. The million dollar question is how can you know for sure your low carb recipe is really a low carb? Well, it is much easier than you think. In this blog I will share 5 steps to determining if your recipe is truly low in carbohydrates.
This picture is a screenshot of a recipe I ran across while in search for low-carb meals. At first glance, I was not liking this meal and even got a little angry at first. Look at all that rice in the photo. Wait, are those carrots too? It was time to investigate it for myself to come to a real solid conclusion.
First, you have to start with ingredients. An easy giveaway is that the recipe includes a high-carb item like rice, potatoes, pasta, grains or fruit. The second thing to analyze is the portion size for any higher carb ingredients. Then, we have to look at the number of servings the meal has to divide out how much one person would be eating of that one high-carb ingredient. Next, I need to look for any other carbohydrates in the recipe since they all add up even if they are not high in carbs and calories. Finally, the last thing you should ask yourself is “what is the main ingredient in this recipe?” This is how we determine the overall percentage of carbs for this meal.
Low Carb Recipe Check #1: Ingredients
For instance, I saw this “Low Fat Low Carb Fried Rice Recipe” and immediately thought – “NOT”! How could any rice dish be low carb when rice itself is not low carb. The answer is it can’t, unless it isn’t rice at all. So, the first thing I checked was the ingredients. Did this recipe have rice or was it cauliflower rice? Well, low in behold, it was rice. More investigation is needed though.
Low Carb Recipe Check #2: Portions
The next thing I looked at as the amount of rice. This particular recipe included one cup of rice. One cup of rice is not low in carbs but it will depend on the next few steps – servings, other carbs and the overall main ingredient.
Low Carb Recipe Check #3: Servings
This Fried Rice recipe says it serves 8 people. Hmmmm. Ok. Well, that means I’m only getting 2 tablespoons of rice. Now, that is not bad and truly would be considered low carb but what about the other ingredients. What about the carrots?
Low Carb Recipe Check #4: Other Carbs
When I examined the recipe there was no sign of carrots so I guess that was just added to make the photo look good? Who knows. But, sugar snap peas were in this recipe. Since snap peas are carbs, it was important to look at portions and calories. This recipe called for 2 cups of snap peas which is a pretty hefty amount but they are not super high in calories (only 26 calories a cup), so that is only 6.5 calories per serving. So no biggie here.
Low Carb Recipe Check #5: Main Ingredient
Finally, we get to look at the main ingredient. This recipe’s main ingredient was 1 pound of ground beef. So, clearly, this is mostly a protein rich meal. Not to mention it also called for egg (more protein). If you noticed, this recipe was entitled “low fat and low carb” so I would choose a leaner meat and take the high-fat yolk out of the equation if you are watching your fat intake too.
All in all, this turned out to be lower in carbs than I initially thought – but, it took a bit of prying to come up with an educated conclusion.
Although this recipe turned out to be ok, I saw other “low carb” dishes (like a low-carb Sweet Potato dish) that totally bombed. Maybe they should have properly labeled some of these low-carb recipes as “LOWER in carb” recipes.
The moral of this story is we have to take the time to do the homework required to make educated decisions based on facts not hunger or blind trust. No one cares about your health or waistline as much as you do. 🙂
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