Protein, fat and vegetables are the staples of most of the current low carb and ketogenic diets. These food types include a fairly wide range of options, but if you are not used to cooking whole foods, the protein world can get monotonous very quickly. That’s where spices and sauces make a huge difference on a low carb diet, and it is also what tends to distinguish one culture’s cuisine from another. There are infinite combinations of spices that enhance low carb foods, but when cooking with low carb sauces, my favorites to-date are Romesco, Harissa and Chimichuri. I found these three sauces to have unique and exciting flavors, they were easy to make, and they stored well in the refrigerator, making them easy to grab and use at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Why Choose a Low Carb Diet?
For me personally, two health issues led me to try out the Slow Carb Diet, promulgated by Tim Ferris in his book the 4-Hour Body. First, I run a small farm and sell our produce at the larger twin cities farmers’ markets. Farming and the markets do take a toll on your body, and I am a long way from finished with the work that I love. It was time to practice some preventative medicine.
Second, and related to farming, my knees were starting to give out, and knee replacement was not an attractive option. Weight training and losing a little weight however seemed to be a place to start. I had given my son the 4-Hour Body book for Christmas, and after he put it down I started reading it and became intrigued with the whole plan. All diets have their pros and cons, their “research”, and their fan clubs. For me, it boiled down to which one would fit into my lifestyle and food preferences sufficiently enough that I would stick with it long enough to make the changes that I needed.
After being on the 4-Hour Body diet for three years, I modified it somewhat and have been living a more ketogenic lifestyle the last couple of years. All in all I lost 35 pounds, and have stabilized at that weight now for the past 5 years. My energy level has dramatically increased and my knee and back pain has disappeared. I feel great and look forward to spring planting with enthusiasm.
Following my success with this type of diet I went on to coach people in the array of low carb diets that have seen success for health and fat loss. One thing I have seen with coaching people on diet and nutrition is that many people these days do not cook, and that makes any kind of diet more difficult. People are either time-starved or it’s just not something they have learned how to do.
So, as an attempt to help people eat clean, even when they aren’t interested in creative cooking, I have developed a product line of low carb and keto sauces and spices that I sell at markets and online to enhance simple proteins and veggies. For those of you who do enjoy cooking, here are a few recipes for some low carb sauces that will take your proteins and veggies to new levels.
Low Carb Sauces for Enhancing a Low Carb Lifestyle
1) Romesco Sauce
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with back of knife
- 1/2 c. slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 of 8-oz. jar of roasted red bell peppers
- 1/4 c. tomato puree
- 2 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp hot pepper powder, I used my ground-up chipotles but cayenne pepper is fine
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Toast almonds and garlic in small, dry frying pan for a few minutes (do not burn!).
- Add toasted nuts, garlic, and the next 5 ingredients (up to the olive oil) in blender or food processor and process until finely chopped.
- With motor running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for up to 1 week.
Favorite uses: My favorite way of using this sauce has been to take it out of the refrigerator, warm it slightly in the microwave and top off scrambled or fried eggs with the sauce. It is also wonderful with roasted brussels sprouts.
2) Harissa Sauce
- 12 dried chile peppers, I used a combination of guajillo, pasilla and arbol but you can mix and match
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
- juice from 1-2 lemons
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- De-stem chile peppers and soak dried chile peppers in pot of water that has just been turned off after being brought to a boil. Soak for 20-30 minutes to hydrate.
- Toast spices 2-3 minutes in small, dry pan over medium heat.
- Grind spices and salt together in coffee bean grinder to fine grind.
- Drain peppers, reserving chile water, and add all ingredients to blender or food processor. Process until smooth, thinning with chile water if necessary.
Favorite Uses: 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 and grilled dishes. It is also used as a relish or condiment with all kinds of meat.
3) Chimichurri Sauce
- 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- With motor running, add olive oil slowly until it reaches desired consistency (make sure and cover top of blender or sauce will splatter all over).
Favorite Uses: Chimichurri is an important part of Argentinian cuisine, traditionally served with grilled chorizo and grilled steaks. It pairs nicely with chicken and fish too however. Chimichurri also works well as a marinade, and is delicious on vegetables. Any of these choices work with the Slow Carb Diet.
Most of these low carb sauces can be stored and used as convenient, creative meal enhancements by pairing them with just about any protein or veggie or egg dish you make.
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.