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Low Carb Carnitas – Slow Carb Mexican

Mexican cuisine often has a bad rap in the diet world, but many of the food choices associated with Mexican food are actually quite healthy and fit with a slow carb diet beautifully.  It is more difficult to modify Mexican food to a low carb diet, and even more difficult to modify Mexican food to a ketogenic diet.  Difficult, but not impossible.  One of my favorite food memories were some perfectly cooked low carb Carnitas I had at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Riverside California.  The recipe below comes pretty close to replicating that food memory….crispy seared on the outside and warm and tender on the inside.  The only thing missing were the fresh avocados (a hard thing to come by in Minnesota!).

Low Carb Carnitas

Low Carb Carnitas

How are Low Carb Carnitas Different from other Mexican meat dishes?

Carnitas, literally means “little meats”, and is often looked at as just one of the “taco or burrito meats”.  Since tortillas and taco shells are not compliant with a low carb or slow carb diet, the meat itself takes on a more important role however, and you’ll never miss the tortilla if you treat yourself to carnitas cooked to perfection.  In fact, the tortillas and the rice tend to mask the flavor of the carnitas.  I think that’s why it was such a food memory for me.  It was simple and perfectly cooked and the flavor was allowed to shine through.  My dish was accompanied with fresh avocado, cilantro, sour cream and refried beans….all slow carb and all delightful.

The fact that it was a very authentic Mexican Restaurant with old seafood restaurant decor made it even more fun.  The Marlin and netting theme were still there from the last restaurant!

Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender (do not fear the lard).  The traditional way to cook carnitas is to simmer the meat slowly in lard in a thick-bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven), which disperses the heat evenly in a process reminiscent of confit.  Mexican spices are added as it simmers, and once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp.

The crisping of the outside of the pork is one of the things that distinguish carnitas from pulled pork.  At their best, carnitas are moist, juicy, and ultra porky, with the rich, tender texture of a French confit, and riddled with plenty of well-browned, crisp edges.

Pop sugar has put together this summary of the differences between carnitas and other Mexican meats, which I found really helpful:

  • Carne asada: Grilled, marinated pieces of beef (typically sirloin or rib) served inside burritos and tacos.
  • Carnitas: Shoulder of pork that’s been seasoned, braised until tender with lard and herbs (oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, garlic), pulled apart, and then oven-roasted until slightly crisp, then eaten alone or used as a filling for tacos, tamales, tortas, and burritos.
  • Al pastor: Crisp-thin shavings of vertical spit-roasted pork, marinated with guajillo chiles and achiote, then served on tortillas. Pastor means “shepherd,” the name given to Lebanese merchants who immigrated to Mexico City in the early 1900s, bringing the concept of shawarma with them.
  • Cochinita pibil: Whole suckling pig or pork shoulder that’s marinated in citrus with achiote, then wrapped in banana leaves and roasted. Historically, it’s buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom.
  • Barbacoa: Traditionally, beef cheek and head that’s covered in leaves from the maguey plant, then slow cooked over a wood fire in a pit in the ground. In America today, it also refers to spicy, shredded, slow-braised beef that’s been made tender, then pulled apart.

How to use Low Carb Carnitas for a full Low Carb Dinner

A classic accompaniment to carnitas is broiled red onions (Cebollas Encurtidas).  These onions are often broiled and then soaked in citrus juices and are a perfect foil with carnitas.  Add some avocados or guacamole and some refried beans and you will leave your slow carb dinner ultimately satisfied.  Other accompaniments might include salsa and coriander leaves.

Recipe for Low Carb Carnitas:

Makes 10 servings


  • 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp lard (olive oil if you must)
  • 3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chile pepper spice (choose a spice that meets your heat preference)
  • 1 Tbsp lard (or oil)


Zest an orange and then squeeze the juice from the orange.  Add them together in a bowl and set aside

  1. In a large Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot), heat 2 Tbsp lard over medium-high.  Add the meat, a little at a time, being careful not to crowd.  Cook first layer of meat until browned, remove and cook next layer of meat until browned and then remove.
  2. When meat is browned and removed to a plate, add the onion and garlic to the Dutch oven.  Cook until tender, about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Return meat.
  3. Add the reserved orange zest and juice and the next 6 ingredients to the Dutch oven (through the chile pepper).  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Bring back up to a gentle boil and cook, uncovered 15 to 20 minutes more or until most of the liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally.  Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves and either go to the next step or store the meat until ready.  The meat can be stored at this point in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  5. When ready to make the carnitas, heat 1 Tbsp lard over medium heat in a large skillet.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the sauce and spread it in a single layer in the skillet.  Cook 5 minutes or until meat starts to crisp, turning occasionally (may need to do this in batches).
  6. Serve with lime wedges, jalapeno pepper, guacamole, refried beans or broiled onions.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving):

  • 204 calories
  • 7 g fat
  • 2 g carb
  • 31 g protein
low carb carnitas

Low Carb Carnitas Dinner


Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.


Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas – slow carb snacks

Finding alternatives for chips is often problematic for people living a low carb lifestyle.  Some people crave sugar, but almost as many crave a salty, crunchy snack.  Protein, fat and vegetables don’t lend themselves to salty and crunchy.  I’ve recommended chicharonnes (pork skins) in the past, but this easy recipe for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas is another alternative for those that just can’t handle the idea of pork skins.  It’s really easy to make, but there is a new prepared convenience food currently in stores that is also great — Parmesan Crisps!


Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Recipe for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas with herbs and Parmesan:

This is the recipe I used in the photo above.  There is a plethora of different seasoning mixes to use with Roasted Chickpeas (just google Roasted Chickpeas), but the basic process is the same.  Here is my recipe for a low carb version, followed by an infographic with a few more ideas.

makes 9 servings of 1/4 cup each


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chile pepper spice (I used this Chipotle spice)
  • 2 tsp mixed dried herbs (I used a mix of oregano, thyme & rosemary)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients (oil, Worcestershire, chile spice, herbs and garlic salt).  Add the chickpeas and toss to coat.  Spread out the mixture onto a baking sheet.
  3. Roast 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in cheese and roast 25 minutes more or until brown and crisp, stirring twice (beans may pop during roasting).  Cool.
  5. To Store:  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.  To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees and roast 5 minutes or until crisp

Nutritional analysis:

  • 131 calories
  • 8 g. fat
  • 12 g. carbs
  • 4 g. protein

Variations on the Seasoning mixes for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas

The process for roasting chickpeas is pretty similar for all the various recipes.  What changes is the seasoning mix you might choose.  This link is a nice, clean infographic on how to make roasted chickpeas. using 5 different seasoning mixes.  Not all are low carb, but they offer some other ideas.  I like the idea of turmeric and

Also, here is a photo of the Parmesan Crisps I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  These are a great and convenient low carb snack…. slow carb also!

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan Crisps

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.


Low Carb Diet vs Slow Carb vs Keto vs Carb Cycling

Where is Your Best Fit on the Low Carb Diet Continuum?

low carb diet

choose your direction on the low carb diet continuum

Caveat of Low Carb Diet Approaches:

The premise of each of the low carb diet approaches summarized below is that the lower a diet is in sugar and refined carbs , the more health markers will improve and the more fat loss will occur. None of these diet approaches are designed to incur “rapid” fat loss.

Rather, I chose to highlight these particular approaches because they reflect the experiences I have had coaching a wide variety of people to success by focusing on the match between individual fitness goals, lifestyle realities and likelihood of long term sustainability.

Tracking Methodology:

Studies have shown that doing nothing more than tracking your food intake can increase fat loss by up to 33%. This is primarily due to the mindfulness that tracking stimulates, and to the knowledge base you gain by understanding where sugar is hiding in your food choices.

Getting a coach to troubleshoot and hold you accountable can increase your chances of success much more, but even without a coach, tracking is extremely valuable.

Tracking does not have to involve weighing food, using a heart rate monitor or measuring ketones. It can be as simple as photographing your food, checking in with an accountability partner or a coach, or journaling each morning.

Tracking sugar and carbs on the myfitnesspal app has been the most effective way I have found to troubleshoot and pinpoint problem areas, so it is what I will reference under each approach. Regardless of which tool is used, tracking of some sort is imperative to forming the habits that will remain when the motivation fades.

All-in or Small Steps? (know thyself):

Motivation is fickle, as is witnessed every New Years. It is critical to know your style and be clear on your goals when it comes to self-improvement and habit change. Whipping yourself when you fall off the wagon is painful, unproductive and to be avoided if at all possible!

In this post, I’ve outlined a progression of low carb diet approaches and tried to identify which is the best fit for certain goals and certain lifestyles. I’ve moved in and out of these approaches myself over the past five years and the purpose of this summary is to lay out the approaches in a gradation moving from easier to more ambitious.

Each diet is based on the best science I could find, some information is anecdotal from the internet. Most of the information is observational and based on a diverse range of client experiences I have had as a diet and fitness coach on

I. Entry Level: Decrease Sugar (aka Low Carb Diet)

Who is this for?

· people coming from a Standard American diet of high fat and high sugar together.

· people who are physically addicted to sugar;

· people who want to change their way of eating in small incremental steps.

The basics:

At first glance, this approach to fat loss sounds similar to the “No Sweets” diet, but actually it is much more nuanced. Because we have been so misinformed over the years through both the politics of health and the food industry, we tend to think of sweets as primarily desserts or candy; food that is high in sucrose (table sugar).

The entry level approach is focused on decreasing sugar in the diet from these well-known sugar culprits, but it also addresses the following types of questions:

· Where are the hidden sugars in your particular diet?

· Which types of sugar make the most difference to fat loss?

· How do you overcome the physical cravings that are so prevalent in a sugar addiction?

A few details:

There are basically two types of food that the body doesn’t see as sugar; that would be protein and fat. When people refer to a person as being either a fat-burner or a sugar-burner they are referencing the way the body processes different foods for energy. A diet that is high in sugar (or refined carbs) means you are most likely a sugar burner and receive your energy from burning glucose.

For example, a diet high in fruit on a daily basis, is a diet high in sugar (fructose), and this can stall a fat loss. Limiting fruit is a difficult concept to wrap your head around, primarily because fruit does have beneficial nutrients and it is therefore much more difficult to view it as unhealthy in the same way as a Snickers Bar.

However, most fruit is quite high in sugar. The sugar in fruit is called fructose, it is processed in the liver (like alcohol) and it can be very detrimental to fat loss. That is why many low carb or keto people refer to fruit as “nature’s candy”. Fruit is not in and of itself “unhealthy”, but a diet high in fruit can certainly stall fat loss. (Berries tend to be the exception in the fruit and fat loss equation due to the amount of fiber per sugar ratio)

The sugar in grains is glucose and the sugar in low-fat dairy is lactose. Sucrose is, of course, table sugar and used in most baked goods. Basically the body sees all of these as just plain “sugar” and if you are interested in fat loss or preventing diseases associated with inflammation, decreasing sugar is a good place to start.

Goal metrics to track for a low carb diet:

25 grams or less of sugar a day. If using Myfitnesspal (MFP) to track metrics, look at the daily total of sugar and if it is over 25 grams, scroll back up the sugar column and find out which food source(s) took you over.

In a nutshell: A low carb diet is….

Moderate Carbs — Moderate Protein & Fat- Low Sugar

II. Level Two: Slow Carb Diet

(and some similar versions like Paleo or South Beach)

Who is this for?

· people wanting to make a sustainable lifestyle change that will result in decreasing body fat%

· people that like the flexibility of scheduling cheating and/or having wine

· people that want to keep an active social life, but want to improve health benefits

· I believe this approach works best for people that are “all-in” types

· people that are not averse to tracking

· although many people on slow carb do practice serious exercise routines, it is not a requirement for fat loss

The basics:

Slow carb is focused on encouraging food choices that will not spike blood sugar rather than on a calories-in-calories-out approach. By opting for food that is high in protein and moderate in fat you are limiting an insulin response and it is that insulin response that causes food to be stored in fat cells. Since protein and fat are much more satiating, the amount of calories taken in drops somewhat naturally.

Tim Ferriss, designer of the slow carb diet, acknowledges that humans will cheat on any diet, so a cheat day is scheduled once a week to provide for delayed gratification.

As a diet coach, I have seen the highest success rates for fat loss with Tim Ferriss’s slow carb diet. It is simple to follow and the cheat day allows people more of a guilt-free social life.

A few details:

Ferriss lays out a set of rules but ultimately tells you to experiment with your own body using these rules as guidelines. The rules include: For 6 days in a row, avoid fruit, dairy, grains and try and get around 20–30 grams of protein with each meal. Moderate amounts of fats are allowed. The 7th day is a cheat day where any food or drink is allowed.

There are many more details, of course, all of which are laid out explicitly in a book called “The 4-Hour Body”.

Goal metrics to track:

Aim for a daily total of 100 grams or less of carbs and 25 grams or less of sugar. The protein metric will vary depending on the type and intensity of your exercise routine (or lack thereof). The lower you go in carbs the more fat you can add to keep you satiated, but it is not considered a high fat diet.

Avoid eating a daily meal plan that involves both high fat and high carb. That is the Standard American Diet that has caused the current state of affairs with the obesity epidemic.

In a nutshell: The slow carb diet is….

Low Carb — High Protein — Moderate Fat

III. Level Three: Standard Ketogenic Diet

Who is this for?

· people who have a lot of weight to lose or are obese

· people with certain health issues, primarily type 2 diabetes, PCOS, or a range of health problems caused by inflammation (joint pain, etc.)

· people that are insulin resistant and need to improve their metabolic health

· some information shows a relationship to improving endurance sports

The Basics:

There are many clinical, long term studies that are showing the benefits of a ketogenic diet for: type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons, acne and more recently, cancer. The ketogenic diet is also rapidly becoming known as one of the more effective and sustainable ways to lose a lot of weight if one is obese or has a lot to lose.

A ketogenic approach involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, and replacing it with fat (moderate protein is allowed and is based on your level of exercise). The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens consistently over time, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy and you are considered a “fat-burner” rather than a sugar-burner”.

The initial stages of this diet are quite difficult however, as it requires getting carbs to a very low level, and keeping them there consistently (no cheat days on keto). That is an extremely challenging change for many people, and this way of eating is often more successful when people ease into it through a slow carb or low carb diet first.

Goal Metrics to track:

Typical percentages of macros on a ketogenic diet that includes moderate to intense exercise is often quoted as: 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. The most important metric to track on MFP would be carbs, aiming for less than 30 grams carbs per day.

In a nutshell: The Standard Ketogenic Diet is…..

Very Low-Carb — Moderate Protein- High Fat

IV. Level Four: Cyclical Ketogenic Diet:

Who is it for?

· people that are willing to be meticulous in meal planning and very disciplined in compliance.

· People who travel a lot and find low-carb eating challenging while on the road;

· People with an active social life that cannot fit continuous low-carb eating into their lifestyle;

· People who experience prolonged negative side effects of a ketogenic diet. A cyclical diet may reduce some of these side effects through limited and scheduled carbohydrate intake;

· people that are bodybuilders or athletes tend to use this approach most effectively

The basics:

This diet involves periods of higher-carb or higher-calorie refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days. A nuanced approach to this cyclical keto diet is to target your higher carb days around intense workouts (aka the Targeted Ketogenic Diet).

A few details:

Like the keto diet and the slow carb diet, the fat loss premise revolves around hormones and the insulin response to sugars and carbohydrates.

Low-carb days keep insulin levels low, which means glucose isn’t taken up by cells and fat stores are used as energy instead of the preferred glucose. High-carb days cause insulin levels to spike which will prevent the body from adjusting to a lower metabolism that would accommodate a low carb or low calorie diet.

The very first thing you must know as you go about designing this type of diet program is that in order to see your best results, you should be doing your highest carb diets on the days you perform your hardest workout sessions (i.e., leg day or full-body workout day)

The second key is to understand FAT/CARB associations:

HIGH-FAT-HIGH-CARB is not part of any weight loss plan. It is bad for your health and your belly both.

LOW-FAT-LOW-CARB doesn’t work for sustainable fat loss or weight loss (you get too hungry);

This approach is all about balance, tracking and tweeking. Balancing a weekly calorie intake, balancing the high carb timing with your intense workouts, and balancing the macros against each other. Definitely the most complex form of a low carb approach, but if done right it can be quite effective and sustainable.

Goal metrics to track:

low carb days need to be under 30 grams carbs (ketogenic). All other metrics will vary based on the schedule of the individual and the intensity of the workouts. Intermittent fasting often fits into this regime following the refeed days.

In a nutshell: This approach needs to be customized. It is most effective for bodybuilders, athletes or people that like to experiment and get geeky with numbers.

Here are a few of the more popular protocols for a cyclic approach:

Weekend cycle: 5 days on a low-carb diet, then a 2-day high-calorie refeed.

Mini cycle: 11 days on a low-carb diet followed by a 3-day high-calorie refeed.

3 on, 1 off: A 3-week low-carb diet followed by a 5–7 day high-calorie refeed.

Monthly cycle: 4–5 weeks on a low-carb diet followed by a longer 10–14 day higher-calorie refeed


The amount of diet information out there is overwhelming. My focus is on low carb diet approaches because it helped me lose 35 pounds 5 years ago, it has been a sustainable lifestyle, and I have witnessed the efforts of 250 clients reach some degree of success.

The first key to success is to evaluate your lifestyle and decide where you might best fit on the continuum. The second key is to be clear on your true goals and tweek the plan as you go without losing sight of the goal.

Fitness Coaching:

If you want to view my profile or any of the other coaches on, click on this link and explore:

Low Carb Stir Fry: 4-hour body appropriate

Low carb diners tend to think they must avoid the cuisine of ethnic oriented restaurants because the dishes are often accompanied by rice, breads and various forms of “fillers”.   Asian, Mexican, and Indian cuisines are some of my favorites and they can be just fine for a slow carb, low carb or keto lifestyle!   Simply focus on the wonderful array of proteins, vegetables, sauces and spice mixes.  (sometimes a little sugar is slipped into restaurant sauces so that is something to watch for if you are being really strict).  If you are still wary of restaurants in your area, make your own version!  This low carb stir fry the hubby made for me the other night was wonderful, and since I didn’t have to cook it I felt like I was at a fancy schmancy restaurant (kind of).

Low Carb Stir Fry

Pork & Chard Stir Fry

Benefits of Being Low Carb when Eating Out:

I was at a Thai restaurant in Portland Oregon with a friend and ordered one of my favorite curry bowls and it wasn’t until we left that I realized I didn’t even “see” the bowl of rice on our table.  It was a memorable meal, both in flavor and in companionship and the lack of rice with my curry bowl did not diminish the meal one iota!

I’m convinced that tastebuds do in fact change after being low carb for a long time.  Sweets are sweeter, a plateful of carbs is unappealing as you envision the bloat and lethargy of tomorrow, and red wine stands in just fine for cocktails.  I haven’t lost the taste for a good beer, but you get satiated so much faster that one beer every so often is a reward that feels like Christmas rather than a given.  If cheat days are part of your program, add a martini and/or a dessert and you are living a very good life indeed.

Tips for Low Carb Stir Frys in General:

For some reason I’ve always been intimidated by stir frys and cooking in a wok.  For some people it’s baking pies or breads, for some it figuring out how to cook fish or game correctly….for me it is the stir fry.  Thank goodness for the husband who is a low carb stir fry pro!

Following a great stir fry the other night I asked him to repeat the recipe for me.  Well, as with many good chefs and cooks, a “recipe” is not something he was able to relay with total accuracy.  I pushed and asked questions and the recipe below should be pretty close to the wonderful low carb stir fry he made.

Generally speaking, these are the components that make a good stir fry:

  • get the wok (or pot) smoking hot
  • have all the veggies and proteins chopped up into bite size pieces ahead of time
  • use some overall combination of:  oyster sauce, dry sherry, fish sauce, vinegar, and chile pepper
  • work fairly fast (make sure everything you need is laid out – the mise en place as they say)

Cris’s Weeknight Low Carb Stir Fry:


  • sesame oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 lb pork loin, cubed (about 2 cups cubed)
  • 1 tsp chile pepper (your choice on how hot of pepper)
  • 2 Tbsp bottled garlic
  • oyster sauce (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cups chopped celery, large chop not mince
  • 1  small bunch chard. coarsely chopped
  • fish sauce (about 3 Tbsp)
  • apple cider vinegar (about 2 tsp)
  • dry sherry (about 1/4 cup)


  1. Make sure all chopping is done and ingredients are laid out
  2. Add sesame oil to the wok and get it smoking hot
  3. once smoking hot, add port and chile pepper and cook 5-6 min. or until no longer pink, stirring constantly
  4. add garlic for 30 seconds; then add oyster sauce and stir for a couple of minutes until it thickens a bit.
  5. Add celery for about 1 minute; then add chard, fish sauce, vinegar and sherry and cook for about 2 min. or until chard leaves are wilted.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 250-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.


Harissa Glazed Salmon for Low Carb, Slow Carb or Ketogenic Lifestyles

I’m a salmon fanatic, both because I love the taste but also because I think it’s a nutritional powerhouse. especially for people on a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle.  It is one of those things that is wonderful grilled, oven-baked, roasted, smoked, and/or poached.  Pretty hard to go wrong with salmon.  It also lends itself wonderfully to any range of sauces or rubs.  This harissa glazed salmon is one of my favorite recipes and can be a quick weeknight dinner as well as a fancy-schmancy dinner party!

harissa glazed salmon

Harissa Glazed Salmon

Harissa is a wonderful North African sauce or condiment that is used to flavor many different kinds of dishes.  It is frequently used to flavor couscous or as a glaze for grilled main dishes.  It is also popular as a relish or condiment to have on the side with any roasted vegetable or protein.  I like it stirred into scrambled eggs or into creamy winter squash dishes also.

Mixing it up with mayonnaise and a little lemon juice for this salmon recipe turned the harissa paste into more of a creamy sauce.  The mayonnaise is totally optional, as the harissa paste is great as a glaze for salmon all on its own.

Another excellent way to cook a creative but easy salmon dish with harissa is to glaze the salmon with the harissa paste and then make a creamy yogurt and dill sauce for a topping.  That saying “it’s all good” definitely works here.

I used our award-winning  Harissa sauce from HeathGlen, but there are alternatives in various gourmet-type stores.  They all taste quite different.  I prefer one that is complex and has a range of chili peppers rather than a sauce that is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at home.

Recipe for Harissa Glazed Salmon:


  • 4-5 salmon fillets (or 1 large salmon cut into fillets)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp harissa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp wine (red or white)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with oil or something like PAM  Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper and arrange salmon in baking dish
  2. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, harissa, and smoked paprika, stirring until smooth.  Spread the mayonnaise mixture over the fish as evenly as possible.
  3. Place them lemon slices around the salmon and bake in the preheated oven until the fish is hot and has begun to turn opaque (about 6-10 min).
  4. Remove from the oven, turn the oven on broil, and raise the oven rack to the broil position.  When up to broil temperature return the salmon to the broiler rack and broil until nicely browned, about 3 min.
  5. Enjoy the Harissa Glazed Salmon with a glass of wine and refrigerate any leftover for tomorrow’s lunch!

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 250-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

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