9 Steps to Great Low Carb Cooking From Home

You don’t need a written recipe to achieve great low carb cooking from home. One basic cooking method and the ingredients YOU desire are all it takes. Earlier this week, I showed you a low carb chicken recipe using sauté method. Today’s inspiration will follow the same procedure with different ingredients.

Written recipes won’t teach you to cook any more than having sheet music will teach you to play piano. Recipes have inherent flaws and variables that make them difficult to duplicate exactly. When a recipe calls for “one onion, chopped”, how big is this onion? Onions are different sizes, they’re from nature, not from a factory.

The written recipe dilemma continues if you’re pursuing a certain diet or style of eating. Searching for low-fat, gluten-free, high protein, or lactose-free recipes can be time consuming and frustrating. I guarantee you’ll waste a lot of time searching for “organic food recipes” when using organic ingredients can be applied to ANY recipe or basic cooking method.

Over the past three months, I’ve been scrutinizing everything I eat, drawing my best conclusions about why I’ve felt tired, listless, and cranky throughout the day. With the help of my friend, Ben Greenfield and some tips for healthy living, I’ve come to the conclusion that my diet included too many carbohydrates, too much pasta, rice, potatoes and bread that are weighing me down.

I’m starting to practice more low carb cooking from home by substituting more protein-rich ingredients for the carbohydrates that used to dominate my plate. I’ve begun using more beans, eggs, avocados, spinach, and complex grains like quinoa instead of pasta, rice or potatoes.

I don’t have to search for low carb recipes, I don’t have to buy another cookbook, I don’t have to hope the Food TV will give me the answers. That’s because with one simple cooking method, I can use any ingredients that I desire to reach my dietary goals. I can create my own dishes with the items already in my kitchen with a basic sauté method, no matter what my cooking and diet goals are.

The basic sauté procedure is the fastest and easiest way to get dinner done:
1) Heat your sauté pan until drops of water dance and evaporate immediately.
2) Add some type of fat or oil to the pan, but only enough to barely coat the bottom.
3) Heat the fat until it changes from perfectly smooth to getting swirls and lines to it. This is the indicator that it’s just about to break down and smoke.
4) Add aromatic ingredients like onion, garlic, ginger, or peppers.
5) Add protein ingredients like shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, or even tofu.
6) Add a flavorful liquid to the pan like broth, cream, or even coconut milk
7) Add steamed vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, carrots, string beans.
8 ) Add more protein like beans, eggs, avocados, or spinach. Or, add carbohydrates like rice or Asian noodles.
9) Portion onto your plate and garnish with sesame seeds, crushed cashews or sliced peppers.
10) You’re done in less than 10 steps.

When you learn to cook, you gain great power over your food choices. When you learn to cook without recipes, you save time and money as well. Cooking without recipes means learning a few basic cooking methods that you can duplicate no matter what the ingredients. My low carb cooking at home is quick and enjoyable because I’m not following someone else’s written instructions. I’m creating from the ingredients I desire in a way that makes cooking fun!

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Leave A Reply (55 comments so far)

  1. What's up everyone, it's my first visit at this website, and
    post is in fact fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these posts.

  2. Claudia Arthur

    I was really happy to see this today! My own recently health-based eating habit is to cut processed sugar almost totally out of my diet and to eat mostly gluten-free. For me it means no whole wheat or white flour but others are acceptible such as rice flour,or rye flour. As far as sugar goes, I use agave, honey, stevia and brown rice syrup. My personal reasons are digestion and fatigue problems (serious health issues already being ruled out). I have found that this has helped me so I would like to stick to it as much as I can. As you would know, this is challenging since so many ingredients I might like to 'add' contain sugar. So it involves a lot of label reading for sure. I was excited to find Bragg's Liquid Amino Acid which is a wonderful substitute for the sugar and sodium that is found in soy sauce and it tastes very similar. I loved the idea of adding the egg separately in this dish you prepared. .

    My help request would be to have more ideas of healthy combinations such as this along with suggestions of how to use various seasonings or spices in a way to punch up flavor to keep it interesting.

    A second major help I really need is to understand the differences in flours. I don't want to rule out all carbs or I find it hard to maintain this lifestyle but I am having difficulty figuring out what combination of flours I can use to substiture for for the amount of all-purpose flour. What can I use to still bake as a treat or to make homemade bread or a pizza crust? If you could do a few lessons on that it would be fantastic!

    I am enjoying your lessons much more than I imagined. They are simple and clear. I have always loved cooking and trying different foods. I love finding new ingredients and often wish I knew how to use various ethnic ones I come across and I am hoping you will cover some of these interesting things. You are definitely helping me answer so many WHY questions. It feels good to understand why I did certain things in cooking and it helps me take those answers and go further. You've been a great find and I thank you!

    • cheftodd

      Hi Claudia!
      It sounds like you're making great substitutions and decisions about your diet. I'm glad you are curious enough to explore the association between what you eat and how you feel. Good for you to make improvements!

      As for seasonings, I feel it's best not to over do it. Use no more than three seasonings that compliment each other and stay within a certain flavor or ethnic profile. You can watch my video "Ethnic Profiling Is The Key To Using Spices"

      In my WebBakingClasses Weeks 19, 20, and 21 I discuss and demonstrate bread making and the development of gluten in your breads. Gluten is what gives pizza crust and French bread its chewy texture. However, gluten is also an allergen to many people. So, using the correct combination of glutenous flour with non-glutenous flour is what makes bread that can still be acceptable to special diets.

      If you'd like to find out more about WebBakingClasses, go to BakingHowTo.com

      Thank you for your kind comments about my lessons. It's very fulfilling when I hear positive encouragement from people like you.

  3. Kelly

    Hey, Chef,

    Didn't mean to lambaste you there, but I have had good results with the Atkins diet, and not just in the short term. It is only in its earliest stages that it is so extreme as to be all fat/protein, and no carbs at all. I can very well see how that stage could be a real pain at your cafe, but probably no more so than any other extreme diet (like veganism) would be. And if your customers were washing things down with Coke, they were doing it wrong. 😉 Unfortunately, I am sure that mostly what you saw were Atkins dieters in the early stages, and often ones who chose their own interpretations. Many people seem to cling to their old ideas, and thus while claiming to be doing the Atkins thing are actually making up their own horrible diet which not only stands no chance of working, but also has a very good chance of making them unhealthy.

    When I was in my twenties, I was up around 225 pounds. That, for me, is really heavy. I am now in my fifties, much less active than I was back then, but I can still eat as much as I want, and easily stay around 190, which for my frame is not bad at all. And, no, I don't exclusively swill bacon fat, or anything like that. :) But the education I got really opened my eyes, as far as what I should be eating. It used to be that if I were still hungry and my choices for seconds were baked potatoes or more roast beef, since I thought fat was what made me fat, I would choose the potatoes, and put nothing on them. Yuck, and what is worse, that way of thinking made me fat, and wasn't even any fun. At least I could have slathered them with butter and sour cream with no change whatsoever to the effect they would have on my body.

    These days I usually choose another slice of roast beef, with a good deal of satisfaction and no guilt whatsoever. And if I opt for the potatoes once in awhile, you can bet they are going to be drenched in butter and sour cream, and, most importantly, flavor. Basically, the Atkins thing is not so much a diet, as it is a paradigm shift in what one perceives as being fattening and non-fattening. Once you get it, it is easy to stay with it, and not like a "diet" at all.

    And yes, I eat veggies as well. This seems to be one of the myths that surround the whole Atkins thing. "No veggies, ever." This, again, is just in the opening stages, and is not even really true then. It just depends on the veggies. You can't eat carrots and corn, but you can certainly eat a nice salad of Romaine lettuce with other low-carb stuff (like cheese, sliced hard boiled eggs, olives, and bacon) in Ranch dressing.

    I would still encourage you to read the book. I think it would disabuse you of some of some of the notions and knee-jerk reactions we have all been trained to in the last several decades.



    • cheftodd

      The real success here is not in the diet, but in your commitment to educating yourself and seeing it as a "paradigm shift" in the way you think, not just something to do for a while. Congratulations on your great success!

      Ultimately, the problem exists that the word "diet" should mean "what you eat regularly, as part of your life". Too many people think "diet" means a short-term fix to a long-term challenge.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. Kelly

    Chef Todd,

    Actually, the Atkins diet is not ridiculous. There is not much point in going low carb at all if you are going to do it halfway, at least in order to lose weight. I see so many people these days who have caught on to the fact that carbs are not all that good for them, and yet they are still clinging to their old ideas that saturated fat is bad, too. And this leaves them very little to eat. Regarding muscle and muscle tone, no vegetarian will ever win a body-building competition.

    As a chef, you know that fat is flavor. You also probably know that fat satiates the appetite, and keeps people from being hungry as soon, and that carbs have the opposite effect. Hence the old stereotype of getting stuffed on "Chinese" food (which in the old days was mostly carbs) and being hungry again 20 minutes later. You may have also heard of the "French Paradox," which I contend is not a paradox at all. The French refused to sacrifice flavor to the new ideas that low fat is the way to eat, and they have far less cardiovascular-related diseases, less diabetes, less obesity, and less assorted and related problems than do Americans who bought into the low fat thing. Why? Because it is healthier to eat good honest saturated fat than to eat all the chemical-laden high sugar crap we are told to eat here. We evolved eating fatty animals, after all.

    I know that excess weight is not something you worry about. You are obviously an intelligent guy, but I can tell you have not actually read the Atkins book. I would encourage you to do so before you pronounce it ridiculous. I think you would find it interesting and informative. It may be that you will still find it ridiculous after reading it, but at least then you will be working from an informed opinion.



    • cheftodd

      Thanks for keeping me honest, Kelly. I was too quick to tag the diet as ridiculous. I know it has helped many people shed weight. It's especially useful for people trying to lose a lot of weight. I thought it was ridiculous that some customers in my cafe at that time were using the diet as an excuse to eat as much bacon as they could and wash it down with a coke!

      I respect any diet that has a positive effect on someone's life and health. The mental commitment to any routine is the real battle. If you really think something will help you, it will!

      I appreciate the re-direct.

  5. Kelly

    Chef Todd, thanks for the tips, but you might want to research the actual protein vs. carbohydrate content of things like beans. Black beans are only about 27% protein, and are about 73% carbs. The shrimp, by comparison, contain about 3% carbs, and about 82% protein. Beans are not a low carb or a high protein food, nor do they give complete protein, despite what people say. It really bugs me when I see TV chefs telling people that beans are a good source of protein. They are not. I don't blame you for thinking so, this is just one of those things "everyone knows" that doesn't happen to be true. Of course they are better than potatoes or rice, but not by an awful lot.

    Oh, and carrots? Really bad news for low carb dieters. 92% carbs, 5% protein. And that whole thing about eyes? A cover-up for England's use of radar in WWII. Honest. 😉

    • cheftodd

      Hey Kelly!
      You're right on-the-money with your comments. Black beans are not carb-free, but my point is that they're a better choice than pasta, rice, or potatoes. Beans do provide much greater fiber and a lower glycemic load than heavy starches. Everyone must make their own choices.

      Now, many years ago there was that ridiculous Atkins Diet that urged ZERO carbs. I owned a cafeteria in an office building at the time and people would order 12 slices of bacon and 5 sausage patties for breakfast. I couldn't stomach a carb-free diet, but I'm giving the reduced carbs a try and it's making great changes in my energy level and muscle tone.

  6. Hi Todd!
    Love this video. I was just in a bookshop today looking for a low carb cookbook. I've been following the 4 Hour Body diet for a few months but needed some fresh ideas - especially on how to make all those beens interesting!
    I like the method you used, since I'm sure there must be a hundred different dishes that I could cook up with the guidelines you gave.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • cheftodd

      Hi Caroline!
      You've got the idea! With this method, there are hundreds of dishes you can make up. You can make it an Italian dish with Tomatoes and basil. You can make it Greek with Olives and some Feta Cheese, you could make it with any combination of ingredients you'd like. That's what makes cooking fun.

      I was following the 4 Hour Body as well, but Tim Ferriss is more on the extreme side than I want to be. His philosophies are interesting.

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