Slow Carb Recipe for Morrocan Chicken Thighs

Moroccan Chicken & Lemon

Moroccan Chicken & Lemon

 

After living under the Slow Carb Diet lifestyle for 3 years now, I have decided it is an effective and sustainable way to lose weight, and it might be time to take what I’ve learned and develop a range of menu plans.

Where to Find More Slow Carb Recipes

I’m starting with Dinner plans and you can view a portion of the first one by clicking on the “join” button after clicking here:  Low-Carb Dinner Plan.  It’s 99 cents to join and get the dinner plan and it includes nutritional analyzes and shopping lists for each of the 21 dinners.

The Free Q and A Section of the Slow Carb Community on Coach.me

After you’ve looked at the Low-Carb Dinner Plan (even if you don’t purchase it) check out the free Q and A section of the Slow Carb Diet on the Coach.me platform.  It’s a great community of slow carbers from newbies to “been there done that” folks to coaches, and they ask and answer all kinds of questions related to slow carb living.

Moroccan Chicken – notes on the specifics of this Slow Carb Recipe

So, on to the Moroccan Chicken!  This is one of the low carb meals on the plan, and it packs a lot of flavor into a one-pot meal.  When this dish is made in a specific Moroccan clay cooking vessel it is known as a “tagine”.  I don’t own a tagine, so I make it in a dutch oven and I’m pretty sure the taste is just as good.

The spice combinations are what distinguish the Moroccan dishes and can turn ordinary dishes into something truly special.  This “stew” includes harissa paste along with the range of Moroccan dry spices.  If you don’t have harissa, you could substitute in Sambal or another chili paste.  Or, of course, you could order a great jar of harissa from HeathGlen Organic Farm.

With respect to the spices, it does make a difference to buy the cumin as whole seeds, give them a quick toast in a dry frying pan and then grind fresh in a coffee grinder.  If that is too much to wrap your head around, just use the pre-ground spices from the supermarket, but try and get them as fresh as possible.  You will notice the difference.

I have listed this recipe as a “dump” type of recipe where you just toss everything into a pot after the chicken is browned and turn on the heat for an hour.  This makes it really quick and easy.  If you are the type of cook that likes to spend some time bringing out the flavor of each ingredient you may want to layer the ingredients in more slowly after browning or sauteing them.

On with the recipe….

SLOW CARB RECIPE FOR MOROCCAN CHICKEN with LEMONS & OLIVES

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs and/or legs (6 thighs)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock
    2-3 Tbsp Harissa (or other chile paste)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1-2 fresh lemons, cut into wedges
  • 8 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
  • 1/2 cup coarsley chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 onion, coarsley chopped or 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
  • 3/4 cup black olives, pitted
  • 1-inch ginger root, grated
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in dutch oven (or large skillet). Salt and pepper chicken thighs and brown in the hot oil (skin side down). Remove chicken thighs and drain some of the oil out of the pot.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients except mint into the pot and stir together thoroughly. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add back in the chicken.  Tear up about 1/2 cup mint and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
  3. Just before taking the pot to the table, scatter the remaining mint leaves over the chicken.

 

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Easy Bok Choy as Slow Carb Side Dish

sauteed bok choy & harissa

sauteed bok choy & harissa

Leafy greens is one of the cornerstone vegetables of the Slow Carb Diet, and that includes spinach, kale, swiss chard and bok choy.  I love vegetables of all kinds, but I don’t have a lot of experience cooking them in creative ways.  I bought the book “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi thinking I would learn all about cooking veggies in new and wonderful ways with more exotic ingredients than I was used to.

While the recipes looked absolutely incredible, I found myself just not feeling all that creative and time-rich around the dinner hour.  So, as a step up from microwaving frozen spinach but not quite to the Ottolenghi stage yet, I compromised and learned a few great sautes for greens.  This Bok Choy Saute is one that I love, it is quick and easy and it makes a great Slow Carb Diet side dish.  It’s also very inexpensive at the farmers markets right now ($1.00 a bunch at St. Paul Farmers market).

I served it with some Harissa Sauce, but it would pair wonderfully with a Romesco Sauce also.  Both sauces are available online or at several Twin Cities farmers’ markets.  Click here for details on the Harissa and Romesco sauces.

 

Recipe for Bok Choy Saute as a Slow Carb side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 bunches Bok Choy (about 8 cups), chopped
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring the oil to a fairly hot temperature (not smoking however) over medium-high heat
  2. Add garlic and ginger and saute very quickly (30 seconds), careful not to burn garlic
  3. Add Bok Choy and soy sauce and cook until wilted (about 5 minutes).  Stalks will be crisp but tender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a side of Harissa or your favorite hot sauce.

 

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Cucumber Avocado Summer Salad

Cucumber & Avocado Summer Salad

Cucumber & Avocado Summer Salad

This is a great cucumber avocado salad for a slow-carb diet, a low-carb diet, or no diet at all.  It’s just plain great.  It is very easy to adapt, as are most salads.  Change the creamy dressing to an Asian dressing if you don’t use mayonnaise or greek yogurt.  It makes a wonderful, cool accompaniment to any protein you want to make on the grill.

Cucumber Avocado Summer Salad

(serves 4 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (or greek yogurt)
  • freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 large lime)
  • your favorite hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt & pepper
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Gently mix together the cucumber, scallions and avocado in a medium size bowl.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, lime juice and hot sauce in a small bowl.
  3. Dress the salad by gently folding in the dressing with a spatula when ready to serve.  Top with cilantro if using.  Can be refrigerated (covered) overnight.
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Dairy and the Slow Carb Diet (4-Hour Body Diet)

1/2 cup 4% cottage cheese

1/2 cup cottage cheese

The Scoop on Dairy on the 4-Hour Body (aka Slow Carb) Diet:

Before I give you my interpretation of how dairy fits in to a slow-carb (and low-carb) diet, I want to quote the author of the 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss.  This quote is from this post on his website:

“Do not eat the following, except for cheat days:

  • Yams,
  • Sweet potatoes,
  • Quinoa,
  • Dairy (this includes cheese and yogurt of all kinds)

 I mention cottage cheese at one point as a last resort. It is low in lactose, which is what you need to avoid. Ghee and cream (for coffee) should contain little or no lactose, hence you can use them. The same goes for effectively lactose-free, unflavored whey protein, etc..

 [Note for the PubMed readers: It’s true that whey is partially (or wholly) responsible for the insulinemic response of most dairy, but avoiding lactose seems to be more directly correlated to faster fat-loss in the diet subjects I’ve tracked. Needless to say, avoiding all dairy is the simplest solution.”

Now, while simple rules are easy to follow and give you a great boiler-plate for initiating a high-protein-low-carb diet, the devil is in the details after you get going, particularly if you want to make this way of eating a lifestyle change rather than a short-term diet.

Many nutritionists will tell you that any diet that excludes an entire food group is faulty.  This seems logical and valid if we are talking about a long-term, sustainable diet.  For short-term weight loss, or for kickstarting your entry into a lower carb world, you may need to avoid three food groups for a while: fruit, grains and dairy.  The rest of this post is my interpretation of how dairy does or doesn’t fit in to a slow-carb and low-carb diet.  More on fruits and grains later.

Cottage Cheese and Yogurt on Slow Carb and Low Carb Diets:

The bottom line on dairy is you want to avoid lactose, which is also called milk sugar, and acts on insulin in the same way as other sugars.

That said there are some dairy products that are made in a way as to be limited in lactose.  This would include aged hard cheeses, butter, and cream (note that they may be dense in calories even if low in lactose).  There are also some dairy products that are allowed in small amounts, or intermittently, because they are very high in protein even though they contain lactose.  This would be cottage cheese and greek yogurt.

Cottage Cheese:

The interesting thing about cottage cheese is that the process it goes through to become cottage cheese results in there being almost no lactose present at all. This explains why mysteriously some lactose-intolerant folks can happily eat cottage cheese without a problem. The lack of lactose coupled with the high amount of protein is why Tim Ferriss included it in the ‘grey area’ of slow carb foods.

So can you eat it on the SCD or not?  Ferriss notes you can have 1/2 cup and not every day.  The answer comes down to the rest of your diet and experimentation. Getting protein is a key to success, so if you’re in a tight squeeze or can’t tolerate other high protein foods for breakfast, then it’s better than not getting enough protein.  However, including it into a regular meal routine could mean slowed fat loss, as the lactose is a milk sugar, and one key to SCD success is controlling glycemic load, and essentially reaching a point where fat is being used for energy rather than carbohydrates.

I personally have used cottage cheese once or twice a week without any weight gain (note that I have already reached my goal weight however, and have been stable for 2 1/2 years).  My daughter, who is on SCD, regularly eats cottage cheese with spicy salsa and is continuing to lose weight.

Greek Yogurt:

Greek yogurt supplies less than 6.8 grams of lactose (the milk sugar) per 6-ounce serving,  compared to cottage cheese at 3 grams of lactose per half cup.  They’re both rich in lean protein, with cottage cheese having slightly more;  27 grams per cup cottage cheese versus 20 grams per cup for greek yogurt, and only 12 grams for plain yogurt .

The carb count of cottage cheese (4%) and greek yogurt is a wash, with greek yogurt coming in with fewer calories (98 calories per 100 grams cottage cheese vs. 59 calories per 100 grams greek yogurt).  Greek yogurt also has a slight edge over cottage cheese in terms of calcium, it has less sodium, and it contains probiotics.  You do need to avoid flavored yogurts and many people add fruit to greek yogurt, which is definitely not allowed on SCD and will up the sugar content quite dramatically.

BOTTOM LINE:  From the horse’s mouth (horse being Tim Ferriss):  ” In the end, the point of 4HB is intelligent and responsible SELF-EXPERIMENTATION.

MY TAKEAWAY:  Try your cottage cheese or greek yogurt for a while, but make sure you’re getting 30g of protein with breakfast. If you plateau on the diet, try ditching the yogurt.

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Slow Carb & Low Carb Snack Ideas

Cornchicons - SCD snack

Cornichons – SCD snack

Low-Carb Snacks (or lunch) – Quick and Easy

Low carb snack foods are often the most difficult food to deal with on a low carb or slow carb diet.  Many people will turn to protein bars, but although they are high in protein, they are also quite high in carbs.  Quest seems to be the best protein bar out there if you must, but here is a list of ideas for low carb snacks that are just as easy and almost as convenient.

PORTABLE LOW CARB SNACKS (Easy to take to work or in car)

  • hard boiled eggs
  • cornichon (tiny, crunchy pickles)
  • nuts (no more than 1/3 cup – **see note  for best varieties)
  • sugar-free jello tubs
  • pepperoni  slices (zap in microwave for “chips” **
  • chicarrones (pork rinds)**
  • aged hard cheese only (no soft cheeses or cheese with lactose)**
  • olives
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cold meats
  • seaweed (It is available salted and dried from many Asian grocers, and is nice and crispy)
  • protein shake in a blender bottle

FAST FOOD LOW CARB LUNCH OPTIONS

  • Jimmy Johns – lettuce wraps (no cheese)
  • Chipotle – salad bowl with meat, beans, veggies, salsa and guac (no rice and no tortillas)
  • Most Restaurants – large salad with protein (chicken, shrimp, etc.), dressing should be oil and vinegar or sometimes blue cheese if necessary (no ranch, french, etc.)

LOW CARB SNACKING OR LUNCH AT HOME

  • Celery with peanut butter (easy on the peanut butter)
  • Tuna (I usually get tins of tuna in olive oil or brine, dress it up with capers, mustard, mayo, etc.)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Deviled eggs
  • Dill pickles
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (full fat cottage cheese)
  • Nuts (keep this to minimum, easy to overdo)**
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Baba Ghanoug (eggplant dip from Holy Land)  with zucchini sticks as dippers
  • Jerky (beef or turkey — try to find low-sugar varieties – often this has a lot of nitrates however)
  • Sugar-free Jello, alone or with cottage cheese and a sprinkling of nuts
  • Make sugar-free lime Jello with part coconut milk — For a large package, dissolve the powder in a cup of boiling water, add a can of coconut milk, and then add the rest of the water. Stir well.
  • Smoked salmon on cucumber slices
  • Lettuce Roll-ups — Roll luncheon meat, egg salad, tuna or other filling and veggies in lettuce leaves
  • Microwave a can of black beans (rinsed), add some salsa on top and some sliced avocado if you have it.
  • Spread a low carb bean dip or spread on the lunch meat or lettuce and then roll it up
  • Raw veggies and humus (jicama works well for dipping sticks)
  • Pork rinds**
  • Pepperoni Chips — Microwave pepperoni slices until crisp. Great with bean or salmon dips
  • Avocado is low in carbs (4-8 g net carbs per 1 avocado) and high in fat, so makes a very satisfying snack. Mash it up with a bit of salt and pepper (drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar for a treat)
  • left-overs from dinner

**NOTES:

NUTS:  The best options are nuts with higher fat content: macadamia, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds. Net carb content is around 2-5 g net carbs per 50 g (1.8oz). Stay away from cashews and chestnuts, as they are much higher in carbs.

CHEESE:  Aged hard cheeses do not have the lactose (milk sugar) that makes cheese non-compliant on a slow carb diet.  They are dense in fat and calories however, so be careful.

COLD MEATS:  Choose sliced whole meats such as ham or turkey breast, rather than processed unidentified concoctions. Carb count should be below 1 g per 100 g / 3.5oz. My favorite choices are prosciutto and Wiltshire cured ham.

JERKEY & PEPPERONI:  Most shops sell small pepperoni sticks as individual snacks. These are highly processed and not the healthiest thing you can eat. However, there should be hardly any carbs in them (0-1 g total per 1 stick). So if you are in a bind and stuck with gas station food you may have to resort to something like this.  Any time you have a choice, always go for whole foods over processed foods).

DARK CHOCOLATE:  It is the sugar in chocolate that is a problem, not the cocoa. Some sugar-free chocolates products are available.

CHICHARRONES:  Crispy, fatty, salty, zero-carb .  They turn some people off, but they can be a great snack to fill the gap left by potato chips.  Also known as Bacon Puffs or Pork Rinds.

PROTEIN SHAKES:  Protein shakes with limited sugar can be an easy snack.  Just make sure and get a protein powder that is a whey isolate.  A tsp. of cinnamon added to vanilla-flavor shake adds a lot of flavor plus health (no more than a tsp of cinnamon a day though – it is a blood thinner).  Some people add coconut milk (unsweetened) instead of just water.

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