103 LOW CARB FOODS, NUMBER 6 – Truffles

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 on luxury foods.

Truffles – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #6


George Sand called truffles ‘the fairy apple,’ and Alexandre Dumas called them ‘the holy of holies for the gourmet.’ They need a specific soil to grow, rich soil found in forests in Piedmont, Tuscany, Marche, and in the Périgord region of France. Truffles usually grow under an oak, linden, or hazel tree, and they have a symbiotic relationship with them. Known as ‘tartufo’ in Italian, they grow underground, sniffed out by the sensitive noses of dogs or pigs. The Italians prefer the former, for dogs are less likely to swallow the precious find.

Truffles come in principle colours – white and black, and there are two seasons for each – summer truffles and winter truffles. Both reach peak flavour late in the season when they have matured. White truffles have a notoriously short shelf life – they must be consumed within a few days of harvesting. Black truffles last a bit longer. Because of this, white truffles carry a higher premium in terms of price.

If you locate them in a shop or on a restaurant menu, they will be a luxury, but they are delicious, low carb, and full of nutrition. I was lucky enough to spend time in and around Alba, Italy in truffle season. There, I enjoyed a variety of dishes with their famous white truffles. Although white truffles are perhaps most famous paired with tajarin pasta, they are also sliced and served on eggs and carpaccio of beef. I enjoyed it most on the eggs – I found the combined flavours irresistible.


A few notes:
  1. White truffles have a strong aroma but subtle flavour, so they don’t take kindly to cooking. In Italy, they are usually washed and sliced raw as a topping or garnish.
  2. Black truffles, on the other hand, can take a bit of cooking and infuse dishes with flavour. You might be able to find a good quality black truffle oil that will enliven a variety of meals, but beware – many truffle oils include artificial flavours and should be avoided.
  3. While I have cooked with truffles, I haven’t done so with great success. This is one ingredient I will leave to the professionals and enjoy out of the house.

The weather is getting cooler, and I love Italy in Autumn. I’ll sit here at my dest, far away in Ireland, and dream of restaurants around Alba, thin slices of truffles falling gently on my plate.


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.


103 Delicious Low Carb Foods, Number 1 – Butter

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

1. Butter

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: 

  1. Add to coffee
  2. Cook vegetables
  3. Cook fish
  4. Add to sauces
  5. Make ghee – clarified butter
  6. Add to toasted nuts, especially pecans
  7. Spread on low carb psyllium bread
  8. Make garlic butter
  9. Make herb butter
  10. 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.

Recipe: Homemade whipped butter

1. Beat full fat (35+%) whipping cream.

2. After it is whipped, it will then begin to clump and turn yellowish.

3. Periodically scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure every bit’s included.

4. When the liquid separates, beware of splashes. Stop the mixer and discard the liquid.

5. Rinse the butter with cold water, then mix to push any fluid out. Discard the liquid. Repeat until the water stays clear.

6. Add salt if you prefer it (2% is usual in Ireland).

7. Whip the butter on high speed until airy and light in colour. 


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.