Hearty and “Creamy” Slow Carb Tomato Soup

Slow Carb Soup Recipe

This soup is a lot more filling and a lot more kick than a traditional tomato soup, making it great for lunches.  The chickpeas add protein and fiber to keep you full, and they also give the soup a nice creamy texture.  The chilli flakes are what make it special and give it a little punch.  You can add less chilli if you don’t like spice.

The original recipe calls for white cannellini beans, and I later swapped it out for chickpeas by accident (I just happened to open the wrong can of beans.)  What was actually a mistake turned out to be an improvement.  The chickpeas give the dish a creamy texture, and there’s no white bean “skins” floating loosely in the soup which was a problem I had with the original recipe.

You can make a batch at the beginning of the week and portion it out into smaller pyrex containers.  It goes great with a small salad, and while it does have plenty of protein, you may want a side of grilled chicken breast, or you can even add some shredded chicken breast straight into the soup itself.

Source:  adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe  “Hearty Tomato Soup with Lemon and Rosemary”

Slow Carb Soup Recipe
Hearty and “Creamy” Slow Carb Tomato Soup

(Serves: 4-6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs olive oil or macadamia nut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped  more if you like garlic!
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken or veggie stockmake sure to check for sugar and other hidden additives if using store-bought stock!
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon, minced or dried rosemary or a dried Italian herb blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ~ more if you like things spicy!
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon zest (optional)

Directions

  1. Put olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, rosemary (or Italian herbs) and red pepper flakes.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
  4. Remove the bay leaf.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Alternatively, you can puree the soup in a blender in batches, but be careful – it will be hot and messy!
  5. Return the soup to a soup pot and keep warm over low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately or this will keep for a few days in the fridge.
  6. You can serve with a bit of crème fraiche and lemon zest to add even more zing.

Easy Veggie Stock – Give some extra flavor to your Slow Carb Lentils

The best way to add some variety to those lentils you’re likely or supposed to be consuming every day:  stock and spices.   With those two additions, they’re actually  quite addicting.

Now, two quick confessions.   1)  I normally prefer meat stock to veggie stock  2)  Until I started Slow Carb, I’d never made my own stock before.

Prior to Slow Carbing, I only really used stock for actual soups on the rare occasion I made a soup requiring it or to cook rice (much better than cooking in water if you’ve never tried it.)  With that said, I was pleasantly surprised with how good this veggie broth is.

After my accidental discovery that the stock I was using was full of all sorts of non-Slow-Carb-friendly nasties and I couldn’t find a better alternative, I decided I’d start making my own.  Since I don’t normally have 5lbs of chicken bones on hand in the kitchen, I decided to experiment with making a veggie stock.  I figured, at the very least, it’d be better than cooking or simmering lentils in water.

I reached out to a few friends for suggestions, and here are the results of my first attempt at veggie stock.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 onions, quartered
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, smashed or chopped coarsely
  • 2 stalks of celery, washed and chopped into a few large pieces so they fit in the pot
  • 3 or 4 carrots washed and chopped into a few large pieces (no need to peel, just wash first or throw in some baby carrots)
  • Any other veggies (or veggie scraps) you have on hand – turnips, cabbage, spinach, pumpkin, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.
  • Sea Salt or Veggie Salt
  • Italian Seasonings
  • 12 cups water

Directions

  1. Put 3 cups of water into a stockpot or any large pot.  Turn heat to medium-high heat until boiling.
  2. Add onions and garlic and simmer over medium heat until liquid reduces to almost nothing.
  3. Add the rest of the water and other vegetables.
  4. Add 1-2 Tbs of Italian Style Seasonings.  I’m partial to Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset, but any sort of Italian herbs with no sugar or additives will do.  Some people put their herbs in cheesecloth, but I don’t bother.
  5. Simmer for about 90 minutes.  Taste the stock.  If it’s full-bodied, it’s done.  If not, keep simmering a bit longer.
  6. Add  salt and pepper to taste.   Approximately 1 Tbs of Sea Salt or Veggie Salt should do.
  7. Strain veggies and collect stock in a jar or another pot if you’re planning on cooking right away.  The stock should keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.

TIP #1 – Keep a pyrex container in the fridge to save  your veggie scraps throughout the week to make a stock.

TIP #2 – Depending on what veggies you used for your stock, you can use the leftover, strained veggies in a lentil dish.  They’ll be nice an softened already.

TIP # 3 – Freeze stock into ice cubes or quart-sized ziplock bags to use.

Rich and Decadent Slow Carb Lamb Chops with Mushrooms and Herbs

Slow Carb Lamb Recipe

In case you haven’t guessed yet, I love lamb.  It’s not as common or cheap in the US as it is in Australia, and Tim doesn’t specifically address eating lamb in his book, but  a reasonably lean cut of lamb is likely comparable to eating a lean cut of beef.  

This  great meal for a special occasion or entertaining when you want to pretend you aren’t on a diet, this recipe is “lick the plate” delicious.  Seriously, I’ve had guests ask me if it’d be rude for them to lick their plates!

I initially started making this recipe because I wanted to find a way to use all the fresh herbs I was growing on my balcony.  Fresh is always best and more flavorful, but you can certainly used dried as well.

Slow Carb Lamb Recipe
Rich and Decadent Slow Carb Lamb Chops with Mushrooms and Herbs

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 6 -8 lamb chops (lamb bbq chops)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped thyme
  • 2 Tbs butter or ghee
  • 1 Tbs macadamia nut oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine

Directions

  1. If there’s a lot of visible fat on the edges, you can cut it off, but I usually leave a bit of marbling in the middle.   Perfectly OK for Slow Carbing.
  2. Season the chops well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium-high. When quite hot, put in the chops and sear them on both sides till golden brown. Remove the chops to a warm plate.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and remove any excess fat.  Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until caramelized a bit. Increase the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms. Sauté for until golden brown – about 5 minutes.
  4. Put the chops back in the pan, pour on the red wine, and sprinkle on the rosemary, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit.  You may need to turn the heat up a bit to get the sauce to thicken. Stir in the butter.
  5. Serve chops covered with mushrooms and sauce alongside a simple vegetable, such as green beans or a green salad.

30-Minute Easy Slow Carb Roast Chicken

Slow Carb Chicken Recipe
Slow Carb Chicken Recipe
Roast chicken carrots and onions served with steamed green beans

This recipe is ridiculously simple and very tasty.  A perfect inaugural roast chicken for a bachelor or bachelorette new to cooking.  So easy and so well received that my non-cook boyfriend asked me to teach him to make it.  This dish is great served with green beans and roast veggies.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 t ghee (optional)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 large chicken pieces on the bone (chicken Maryland is what I use)
  • Roasting vegetab les – whatever you have on hand (onions, carrots, parsnips or and ear of corn chopped up into two inch sections all work well and fit into Slow Carb.  If you’re aren’t Slow Carbing or have guests, it’s nice to add potatoes as well )
  • Everyday Seasoning Blend or other seasonings.   See below.  

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 220 C or 425 F.
  2. If you plan on roasting veggies, peel and chop into small pieces roughly the same size and put in a medium-large baking dish (it is important that the pan is big enough so that there is plenty of room for veggies to crisp.) Toss with a bit of macadamia nut oil.  Pop in the oven while you prep the chicken.
  3. Season chicken with seasoning blend.  I use a premade blend of sea salt, peppercorns, dried onion, garlic, parsley and oregano called Everyday Seasonings sold at Aldi in Australia.  You can make your own by filling a grinder with those spices.  Alternatively, I like Penzey’s Mural of Flavor or season on your own any way you like.   Any poultry seasoning free of sugar and fillers is fine.  Even plain old salt and pepper tastes great.
  4. Place ghee and oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken and brown for 2 minutes each side until golden.
  5. Transfer to baking dish with the veggies.  Reduce heat to 175 C or 350 F.  Roast for 15 minutes, and then stir veggies and flip the chicken pieces over. Roast for 15 minutes longer and then remove from the oven and serve.

**Note: I like crispy, caramelized veggies so I will sometimes stir more often, but this isn’t necessary.

Slow-Cooked Slow Carb Garlic Roasted Lamb

Slow Carb and Paleo Roast Lamb Recipe

Shoulder is a great alternative to a traditional fatty leg of lamb roast.  The shoulder is an often overlooked cut of meat because it tends to be tough, but when you slow cook it, it’s nice and tender.  If there was a bone, this meat would be falling-off-the-bone-tender.

An added bonus – due to the unpopularity of the cut, it’s usually much cheaper than a leg or other cuts.  I’d suggest cooking up a 2lb+ roast and keeping the leftovers in the fridge for fast leftover meals.

Slow Carb and Paleo Roast Lamb Recipe
Slow Cooked Garlic Lamb

Slow-Cooked Garlic Roasted Lamb

(Makes about 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 lb lamb shoulder (boneless is preferred)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2  whole bulbs garlic
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • White wine (just a splash!)
  • 1.5 c chicken stock

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.  Score the skin of the meat about 1 inch apart.  Place the roast in a large roasting pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Cut the garlic bulb(s) in half and place under the lamb to prop it up.  This will serve as a “rack” to allow the fat to drip off the lamb.  Poke the rosemary sprigs on top of the lamb, and cover the pan with foil.
  3. Place the pan in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 320F.  Set the timer for 4 hours and leave alone.
  4. After 4 hours, remove the foil from the lamb and turn the oven up to 425F.  Roast for another 20 minutes so that the skin gets nice and crispy.  Take the lamb out of the oven, and place on a platter.  Cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour out most of the oil from the pan, and squeeze the cooked garlic cloves out onto the platter.  Add a splash of white wine and chicken stock to the remaining drippings and stir well.  Let the sauce bubble well, and don’t let it evaporate too much.  About 5-6 minutes.
  6. Pull the lamb apart and drizzle the sauce over it.   Serve.

Cauliflower to go with any Slow Carb Meal (aka “Faux Rice”)

Not the usual low-carb cauliflower (a.k.a. "faux rice") - delicious cauliflower side dish

Not the usual low-carb cauliflower (a.k.a. "faux rice") - delicious cauliflower side dish Well over a decade ago I was introduced to “Faux Rice” and “Faux Potatoes” when my parents went on a low carb diet.  This normally consists of “ricing” a head of cauliflower, steaming it and then covering it in some sort of low carb marinara or meat sauce to mask the fact that it tastes nothing like rice or potatoes.

With a little bit of time and effort, you can create a cauliflower dish that doesn’t need to be disguised, covered or smothered by rice sauces.  These are great served like hash browns for breakfast or as side dish with any meal of the day.

I like to chop up an entire cauliflower at once (as well as extra onion and garlic) and keep the extra in the fridge so I can make it a few times throughout the week with minimal prep.

Cauliflower to go with any Slow Carb Meal

(Makes 2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 c raw cauliflower, grated using a cheese grater or chopped to the size of your pinky thumbnail
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Oil (macadamia nut oil or olive oil)
  • Sea salt, fresh ground pepper
  • Optional seasonings (You can spruce up the dish with a seasoned salt, herb blend or or paprika – Don’t try all of them at once!  I like to use a blend of  Italian Herbs or Turkish Seasoning and usually buy from Penzey’s because they’re high quality and don’t have fillers.)

Directions

  1. Pour a bit of oil into a frying pan, and set heat to medium.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent or even a bit crispy.  5-6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic.  Cook until fragrant.   1-2 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower.  Turn heat up a bit a cook until golden brown.  About 6-10 minutes.
  4. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
  5. Add other seasonings if desired.

Legumes I Actually Want to Eat Everyday on the Slow Carb Diet – Spiced Bacon Lentils

Legumes I Actually Want to Eat Everyday on the Slow Carb Diet – Spiced Bacon Lentils

Legumes I Actually Want to Eat Everyday on the Slow Carb Diet – Spiced Bacon Lentils
Spiced Bacon Lentils for the Slow Carb Diet
Getting on board with eating legumes 2-3 times a day has been the hardest part of the Slow Carb Diet for me so far.  It’s not that I don’t like legumes, I actually love black beans.  I  just don’t have the time to cook them from scratch normally, and they aren’t available in the can in Australia so due to the inconvenience factor, I’ve been forced to branch out.

I created this recipe for lentils that is just so damn good, I make a huge batch and use it for a few days, just reheating in the microwave to go with my meals.  The lentils have a bit of an Indian twist on them because of the spices, but I find they go quite well with the bacon.  You can vary the spice and garlic levels to suit your own preferences.

Spiced Bacon Lentils

(Makes 4-8 servings depending on how much you like to eat with your meal.  This usually lasts me 2 days worth of lentils, even with my boyfriend stealing some.)

Ingredients

  • 2-3  cans lentils
  • 1 cup of bacon, diced (or organic bacon crumbles – I believe these are available at Costco)
  • 1 Tbs ghee or macadamia oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ t ground turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ t ground ginger (or use fresh ginger if you have it on hand)
  • ¼ t cayenne (This will give the dish some heat.  Add less if you’re a bit of a wuss when it comes to spicy foods.  1/8 t is good for a bit of spice.  If you hate things spicy, just add a bit of paprika instead.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c water or chicken stock (make sure there is no sugar added if you’re using a store bought stock!) Note : I highly recommend using stock because it produces extra creamy and flavorful lentils.  If you use water, you’ll need to add salt to the dish.  I use a vegetable seasoning salt intended for stews to give the lentils some extra depth.

Directions

  1. Add ghee or macadamia nut oil to the pot.  About 1Tbs should be fine, but you can add more as needed at any point during the cooking process.  Add chopped onion to pot.  Cook on medium until onion is translucent.  About 6-10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and reduce heat a bit so as to not burn the garlic.  Stir until garlic becomes fragrant.  About 1-2 minutes.  ** I use about 6 cloves because I love garlic, but that may be bit intense for some people.  If you aren’t so keen on the dragon breath, 2 or 3 cloves should do.
  3. Add chopped bacon or bacon crumbles.
  4. Once the bacon is cooked through, add all the spices and heat until they become fragrant.  About 1-2 minutes.
  5. Rinse the canned lentils and add to the pot.  Stir.
  6. Add 1 cup or chicken stock or water.
  7. Simmer over low-medium for about 15 minutes or until liquid reduces.
  8. If you used water instead of chicken stock or you didn’t include bacon, you’ll probably want to add salt.
  9. Once most of the liquid has reduced, remove the bay leaf and enjoy.

Tip-  I keep a big batch of these in the fridge to have with breakfast.  They mix quite well with frozen spinach thawed in the microwave.

Why I’m doing Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet

I’ve been a fan of Tim Ferris for awhile now.  I read the The Four Hour Work Week  (4HWW) years ago when it first came out.   4HWW was part of the inspiration for me leaving my corporate job in San Francisco in 2008 and spending 2009 living overseas and starting to experiment with lifestyle design.

Last year, I proved to myself that I was able to work and support myself from anywhere so long as I had a computer in front of me, but without a steady routine in place, I also put on about 25lbs in the process.    On a female of 5’3” that’s not a pretty sight and surely not healthy.  That’s where The Four Hour Body Comes In.


A bit of history on me and my weight:

My weight has fluctuated between 120 and 130 since graduating from college.  I could work my ass off and weigh 120 but was pretty miserable doing so, or I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and weigh around 130 but wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror.  On a 5’3” frame, a lb of fat is way more visible than on someone who’s even just a few inches taller.  There’s just nowhere for it to go.

To borrow Tim’s idea of the Minimum Effective Dose (MED), I crudely assessed that I could maintain a reasonably in-shape body by doing some sort of work out about 4x a week, drinking only on weekends 2x per week and eliminating carbs during the week but eating whatever I wanted on the weekends.   This was all based on crude observation, but it seemed to work, it wasn’t too much trouble, and I wasn’t really willing to work much harder.

Fast forward two years from leaving my job in 2008.  I spent most of 2009 “on the road” in South East Asia and then all of 2010 “setting up camp” in Australia.  I ate whatever I wanted (by 2010 I was pretty much eating like an “Aussie bloke” because I was cooking food I knew my Australian boyfriend would like) and got almost no exercise.  I was a bit in denial of the weight gain.  I didn’t have a full-length mirror or a scale at my apartment, but I could tell from the way my close were fitting (or not fitting) that I’d put on a lot of weight.  I didn’t even want to guess how much.

When my last pair of jeans that still fit suddenly wouldn’t button one day in October 2010, I finally went and bought a scale.  I was horrified when the numbers on the scale wouldn’t keep up the lie for me.  149.

Holy Shit!

25 lbs?  In a little over a year?

I resolved to start a new way of eating the next day.  I’d dabbled in low-carb before and knew how quickly the body responds to that way of eating, so immediately I started the South Beach Diet, Phase 1.  I dropped 10 lbs in about 2 weeks and then decided I wanted to move to something more sustainable.  I wanted some carbs, and I knew I was probably eating way too much cheese.

I searched around on the internet and found Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure which focuses on controlling insulin levels by eating the “right” carbs and also eliminating “false belly fat” (basically stored up undigested food) that’s festering in your gut and making you fat.   Essentially, you can eat any carbs you want, but the quantity of sugar and carbs is monitored so it’s in your best interest to eat high quality carbs as you can have more of them in addition to taking in as much fiber as possible.

I tried to follow the plan the best I could based on directions I’d found on internet forums as I waited impatiently for 10 weeks to get the book I ordered delivered (some things take obscenely long in Australia.)  I felt pretty good on the plan (rarely hungry),  but my weight stayed the same, which was good in that I kept off the 10 lbs I lost, but it was really frustrating that for some reason my body seemed to want to hold onto the weight.

At this point I became convinced that either the Set Point Theory (the theory that an individual’s metabolism will adjust itself to maintain a weight at which it is comfortable) was inevitable or that my body was extremely sensitive to gluten so I started experiment.

When I replaced whole grain bread or tortillas with beans or even brown rice, I saw some movement on the scale.  I never got around to fully testing the theory before I had to head home to San Francisco for the holidays in December.  On a side note: Just a week or so before heading back, I’d pre-ordered a copy of The Four Hour Body without knowing anything about it.

When I got there, my copy of The Four Hour Body was waiting, and I skipped straight to the weight-loss sections.  After reading about Slow Carb, it really seemed to jive with some of the anecdotal discoveries I’d made recently as well as in the past, so I decided I’d give it a try once I returned to Oz in the new year.

The goal right now is 20lbs! I figure there’s no reason I shouldn’t try to look better at 30 than I did at 20.

So, here I go.  Wish me luck.