Perhaps I should rename Philly Law Blog Philly Food Blog… but hey, it’s my law blog and I’ll write about what’s on my mind.
What people have been asking me for a lot lately are low carb recipes, and what I eat on a daily basis.
I don’t actually have a lot of “recipes.” Rather, what I use are flavor combinations and some basic ingredients.
This is what I tend to cook with:
Sauce and Flavor Combinations
Asian: Coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce), Tamari sauce (Soy sauce but gluten free), coconut oil, fish sauce (smells disgusting but makes everything taste delicious), duck fat (you can use coconut oil), Thai pepper, chili oil. Sriracha sauce has a little sugar in it but it’s not terrible. Avoid any sauces with sugar in them like hoisin sauce.
French: Garlic, olive oil, butter (I prefer Kerrygold), lemon, white wine vinegar, mustard (makes a fantastic dipping sauce), Worcester sauce, duck fat, salt, and pepper. High end cheese and red wine is acceptable in moderation. Key word: moderation. The beauty of French cooking is its utter simplicity.
Mexican: Any low carb hot sauce, Tajin Classico seasoning, radishes, lime, chili powder (St. Lucifer’s is my favorite), poblano peppers, habaneros, jalapeños, arbol peppers… basically any of these. Hard shell tacos and burritos are not really Mexican food, but Americanized stuff.
Greek / Mediterranean: Olive oil, red wine / red wine vinegar, feta cheese (good feta), apple cider vinegar (salads or olives tossed in olive oil and apple cider vinegar is delicious), macadamia nuts, dried figs (in moderation), tzatziki / hummus / baba ganoush (dip vegetables in it), honey (in moderation), Greek pepperoncini, sea salt. Greek spreads are especially good for entertaining.
Indian / Thai: Curry, turmeric, coconut milk, lime, Thai peppers, lemongrass, etc. Very simple yet tastes complex.
Avoid any sauces with sugar in them.
If you’ve never learned how to cook, I highly recommend reading “The 4 Hour Chef” by Tim Ferriss. While I thought the 4 Hour Workweek was gimmicky, this is one of the most influential books I have ever read. By reading it and making all the meals, I became very competent in the kitchen. Bonus: 90% of the recipes are all low carb, save a few.
Your Basic Ingredients on a Keto Diet:
- Steak / beef (I prefer to braise fattier, harder cuts)
- Chicken (breast, legs, thighs, anything as long as it’s not breaded. I like to get whole chickens. If the chicken has skin on it, coat in olive oil, salt, and cook at 425 degrees in the oven. It will taste crunchy.)
- Pork (I don’t eat pork but it’s for personal reasons. Haveatcha. Goes very well with apple butter).
- Fish (can include canned tuna in water, smoked salmon, canned sardines [they taste good with mustard])
- Boston Lettuce (used in place of wraps / bread. I make tacos on them, or Asian lettuce wraps).
- Salad mix (arugula, spinach,
- Bone broth (for consumption and for braising)
- Low GI fruits — apples, oranges (Mandarins, clementines), coconuts (or coconut flakes), dried cranberry, dried apricot, kiwi, avocado
- Raw nuts — Brazil nuts, almonds, Macadamia nuts, walnuts. Not peanuts. I also have found I will gorge myself on pistachios, so I don’t keep them in my house.
Don’t worry about fat or cholesterol. The trends in research are finding that saturated fat isn’t terrible for you, and the real culprits are sugar and trans fats. Eat those egg yolks and don’t trim the fat off your steak.
Your Basic Ingredients if you are a Vegetarian
I did the vegan thing for a few years, incorporated fish back in, and then went back to eating meat, provided its humanely raised. My diet is about 65% – 70% vegetarian, with a focus mostly on fish and vegetables. Personally, I did not feel great on a vegan / vegetarian diet. I do believe there are benefits to red meat, particularly for men.
- Salad mix
- Hemp protein
- Nuts and seeds (chia seeds are awesome)
- Hemp protein
- Raw nuts
It’s very hard to do a keto diet as a vegetarian / vegan. I’m not the best resource either, but I do like the stuff above. If all you eat are fake veggie burgers and fake tofu meat, this probably isn’t the right diet for you.
- Coffee (should be drank black if you are fasting; heavy cream and stevia are acceptable very moderately, but keep in mind the cream adds a lot of calories. Butter is also fine in your coffee, but only in moderation. Cream and butter will break your fast). If you can get it, nitro brewed coffee is the best.
- Water (add lemon or lime. I prefer lemon. You can also infuse fruit for taste [i.e., put water in a pitcher, throw some fruit in there, and let it sit in the fridge. I infuse mine with lemon, lime, and other stuff.) Bottled water is actually worse for you than tap water, so I just carry around a water bottle.
- Tea. Avoid fruit based tea if you are fasting. My goto is green tea with macha, Irish / English breakfast, and anything without GMOs or added calories. I drink it black. You can also put teabags in a pitcher, put water out there, leave it out in the sun, and then put it in the fridge for sun brewed iced tea.
- Seltzer / Soda Water. I prefer San Pellegrino because its a mineral water.
- Alcohol? Wine is okay in moderation; I prefer red over white. Dry mead is good. If you’re going to drink beer, dry ciders tend to be the best. Beer should never be drank as a “session”, as it’s carb and calorie heavy. Spirits are low carb (provided you don’t add sugary mixers), but who needs to be drunk on a Wednesday? Personally, I limit my drinking during the week. Alcohol messes with your sleep — even moderate amounts, and makes it hard to lose weight. Plus you’ll be too hung over to walk, go to the gym, or do anything active the next day. I try and keep alcohol contained to Saturday nights or Sundays.
First, learn flavor combinations and you won’t need recipes. From there you’ll be able to put together your own meals pretty easily without a cookbook. Read the 4 Hour Chef for an in depth tutorial about how to cook. It will change your life.
Second, learn what is acceptable on a low carb diet and mix it together with the flavor combinations and you’re good to go. (i.e., mix ground beef with Tajin, add radishes, throw on some hot sauce, put them on a piece of Boston lettuce, and you have low carb tacos.) Don’t eat anything with sugar in it.
Learning to cook is a great way to save money and lose weight.