I had an overwhelming response from my last Clinic Chat, ‘Going Low Carb Alone’ (read it here). Many members of our type 1 community related to the struggle of trying to decrease their carbohydrate intake in a household that eats differently. People emailed me to ask for more easy swaps and substitutions that could help them to manage their carb consumption. Thankfully, navigating food choices to support different health needs and palates is not only my professional passion but also plays out in my own life every day. While I prefer a low-carb lifestyle, I have a fussy daughter who likes simple food and a hungry husband who is a carbohydrate-eating machine. Here is a list of regular meals in my house, and how I adjust what’s on the plate to accommodate everybody – while also staying sane. Roast meat and vegetables One of the easiest meals around – all you need are some roasting trays and a hot oven. Everyone can share the meat, but carb-heavy sides can trip you up; try these ideas: Sides for them: roast pumpkin and potatoes. Sides for you: on a separate tray, try roasting cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, red onion, capsicum or zucchini. They need a little less time in the oven than spuds and pumpkin, so pop the tray in the final 30-40 minutes of your roast. A generous dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic and onion powders and they’ll come out caramelised and full of flavour. Top with a creamy sauce, made in the microwave in a mug for one, such as cream with some Dijon mustard stirred through. Stir-fry, bolognaise and curries Sides for them: noodles, pasta rice, pappadums or naan. Simple to prepare, these can be cooked separately and added to each individual plate right before serving. Sides for you: Bulk the protein element of the dish (meat, fish or tofu) with vegetables so you can have a main-sized portion of the dish without requiring an extra side. If you’d still like a side, add konjac/slendier noodles, cauliflower or broccoli ‘rice’ (bought already prepared or blitzed in your food processor), zucchini noodles, a bed of spinach, sautéed mushrooms or some roasted chunks of cauliflower. Watch out for sugary sauces: I go for cream, pesto or stock-based sauces when making them from scratch. For a quick and easy meal I buy sauces and recipe bases from Celebrate Health, The Spice Tailor, Passage Foods, Ayam and Pataks – all are low in sugar and taste delicious! Meat and veggies One of my favourite low-carb meals is meat with salad or veggies with a large dollop of a flavoursome low-carb dip and some nuts sprinkled over the top. It’s delicious, easy, and satiating, and it provides me with a healthy dose of protein, fibre and fat. Isn’t that already low-carb? Yes, it is - so this time the question people ask is ‘but what will my family eat?’ If your family wants more than meat and veggies, then some simple carbs on the side will keep them happy. Simply top their meals with corn cobs (slice the kernels off for salads), bite-sized pieces of roasted sweet potato or pumpkin, croutons, fried noodles, chickpeas or four bean mix – easy.
Treat night Home-made pizza is our family treat, and we even do this two ways. My husband and daughter use store-bought pizza bases or flatbreads, while I make a low-carb base using The Protein Bread Co pizza packs – all you need to do is add water and an egg (use the discount code 'type1familycentre' to get 10% off!). Our toppings are the same: proteins like chicken, ham or pepperoni, mushrooms, capsicum, olives and of course, cheese. Making it work with a lower carb approach in a family setting doesn’t have to be hard work. Build your meal bases with protein and veggies, keep the carbs separate and you can structure meals to suit everyone's needs and preferences. Image credit: Shrimp Lo-mein from Eating Bird Food