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No Fuss, Few Carbs: Simple Recipes for Summer

Updated: 6/7/22 2:52 pmPublished: 8/15/18
By Catherine Newman

Guaranteed simplicity and speed for recipes low in carbs and high in flavor to make eating healthier easier

I am what I think is technically called a foodie. My 18-year-old son and I can lie around for literal hours drooling over online tasting menus at fancy restaurants we will never eat at. The Barracuda Crudo with Fennel-Walnut Foam and Chive-Blossom Petals! Bee-Pollen Flan with Candied Kumquat Peels! Okay, those both sound kind of nasty. And I don’t even want to eat it as much as look at it – and am somewhat famous for once identifying a single, unadorned plum as “the single best thing I have ever eaten in my life.” Here’s what I’m trying to say: I’m fascinated by all kinds of high-end food, but I am unfancy in my cooking and eating. I like things to taste delicious and be filled with nutrients, but this doesn’t translate into fussiness.

That’s what these recipes are based on: the principle of unfussiness. Yes, the “5 ingredients” constraint is kind of gimmicky, because I know you don’t really care what the exact count is, as long as you’re not scouring the aisles for macadamia-nut oil and spelt-fed venison. But it was a useful exercise putting a few recipes together with so few ingredients. A five-ingredient recipe pretty much guarantees simplicity, ease, and speed. Which these all have going for them. Plus, they are low in carbohydrates and high in flavor, which is a great combination as far as I’m concerned. They’re foods to eat and feel good about, and you won’t even curse me while you’re making them.

1. Everyone's Favorite Salad

The combination of the very slightly sharp onions and the very slightly spicy, vinegary peppers along with the salty, creamy cheese makes this pretty much magical.

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2. Flavor-Saturated Tofu

Are you afraid of tofu? Don’t be. As far as a high-protein, low-cost, nutrient-dense ingredient goes? It’s tough to do better.

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3. Caprese Salad

Also known as tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, this is a dead-simple late-summer classic. It is served traditionally as lunch or an appetizer, but on especially hot days we eat it for dinner, which might sound like not enough food, but we eat kind of a lot of it.

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4. Big-Batch Bacon

Here’s game-changing advice: Make your bacon in the oven. You’ll think it can’t possibly be as good, because if it were, why haven’t you done it before? But it’s great!

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5. Scrambled Omlet

Okay, these are just eggs scrambled with omelet-type ingredients, but I like the sound of it – and also, I prefer scrambled eggs because they’re unfussy and the eggs are fluffier.

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6. Cottage Cheese Pancakes

My daughter and I would basically eat these every morning – and sometimes, for weeks at a time, we do. It’s mostly only running out of cottage cheese that slows us down.

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7. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is not really like rice. But it is delicious and satisfying as its own thing – a cross between a vegetable and something vaguely grain-like, and it’s packed with vitamins and fiber instead of carbs.

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8. Perfectly Simple Guacamole 

Probably you think your favorite part of chips and guac is the chips, but if you make really excellent guacamole and serve it with an exciting assortment of vegetables, you might not miss those chips as much as you imagine.

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9. Salami Jerky

I initially called these salami chips, but the truth is that they’re more crispy-chewy than straight-up crisp: kind of like beef jerky – and just as addictively, salty, meaty, and delicious.

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10. Quesadizza

This versatile snack has the open, round look of a pizza, the cheese-and-tortilla ingredients of a quesadilla, and the topping opportunities of nachos.

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11. Cheater Deviled Eggs

If true deviled eggs were a practical snack, I would eat them every day. But they don’t actually keep well enough to be a go-to, and they’re too fiddly to make fresh daily. These, however, are entirely practical, and I do eat one most days.

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12. Rosemary Roasted Pecans

They’re great make-ahead snacks, of course – perfect for popping into a school bag or briefcase – but they’re crazily good when they’re still warm from the oven, so plan to eat some then too.

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13. Zucchini Noodles

So, yes, oodles of zoodles and all that – it’s true that spiralizing vegetables, i.e. slicing them into spaghetti-shaped strands, is kind of a food trend. But zucchini noodles are light and delicious, naturally low in carbohydrates, and naturally high in fiber and nutrients.

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14. Best Roasted Vegetables

10 minutes for broccoli; 15 minutes for cauliflower; 15-20 minutes for Brussels sprouts. 

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15. Perfect Slow-Roasted Salmon 

This is my very favorite way to cook salmon (or cod or striped bass, for that matter): the fish ends up meltingly tender, with a velvety texture and a very fresh, mild flavor. 

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16. Long-Roasted Chicken Thighs

One beautiful thing about this recipe is that, although it spends a long time in the oven, it requires almost nothing from you. Another is that it scales up beautifully: you can easily double or triple it to feed a holiday crowd.

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About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Last year they started the WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and are currently developing Seasoned, their senior version, commissioned by the AARP. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health and happiness at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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About the authors

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop... Read the full bio »