Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can.
A. Luxury Foods
Butter might seem a simple thing to list as a luxury, but it makes almost everything taste better and more luxurious. For example, lobster without butter is good, but lobster with butter is fantastic. The same is true with many foods. Green beans are fine. Green beans drenched in butter, with crunchy, sliced almonds toasted with butter, are exquisite. If you can find real Irish butter, then it will be even more amazing (in my biased opinion).
Before I started a low carb diet, butter played a part in most of my favourite foods — croissants, mashed potatoes, cookies, cake, toast with melted butter and so forth. Sometimes I wonder whether those foods were just an excuse to eat butter, and I can still do just that. When I mash cauliflower with enough butter (and cream), I don’t miss the potatoes too much. It’s like losing the wrapping paper but keeping the present.
Some things I do with butter:
- Add to coffee
- Cook vegetables
- Cook fish
- Add to sauces
- Make ghee – clarified butter
- Add to toasted nuts, especially pecans
- Spread on low carb psyllium bread
- Make garlic butter
- Make herb butter
- Whip it (see below)
Fat is fabulous
Fat is one of the micronutrients that keep us alive. Without fat, we would not survive. Fat has been unfairly demonised, although it is coming back into fashion now that there is more understanding of the role of sugar in obesity. Fat helps us feel full when we aren’t stuffing ourselves with carbohydrates, and it makes food more luxurious. In case you are worried about your heart, the often-repeated warning that it’s unhealthy doesn’t seem to have any validity. Butter does not make you gain weight, and it does not clog your arteries. So dump the margarine and add butter for more enjoyment in life.
I definitely suggest making butter yourself. It’s a simple process, and not strenuous if you have an electric mixer. I never tire of witnessing the miraculous transformation of cream into golden goodness. Old, soured cream (as long as it’s not mouldy) can be repurposed as butter – in fact, it will taste better. I like to whip the butter, since whipped butter is not usual here in Ireland. I grew up with it in New York, and I miss it. One of the benefits is that it is a joy to spread, even when cold.
From ‘Churning Day,’ by Seamus Heaney
…Their short stroke quickened, suddenly
a yellow curd was weighting the churned up white,
heavy and rich, coagulated sunlight
that they fished, dripping, in a wide tin strainer,
heaped up like gilded gravel in the bowl…
Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.