With a three-day weekend and (hopefully) sunny skies in your future, your Memorial Day weekend can be your official kickoff to a summer of healthy, delicious low carb eating. To start, I suggest you cut out added sugar from meals and snacks. Unlike natural sugar, which is found in food like fruits, added sugar is used to boost flavor and sweetness. Added sugars include table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and numerous other caloric sweeteners, both manufactured and natural. Obviously, added sugars significantly raise both the carb count and the calories in obvious sources such as cookies, candy, ice cream, but sugar is also hiding in barbecue sauce, low-fat salad dressings and breakfast cereal. Even a whole-wheat bagel or hamburger bun or a so-called “healthy” low-fat, fruit-sweetened yogurt will cause your blood sugar to spike. We call this the Hidden Sugar effect. There may not be added sugars in these items but the carbohydrates in them convert to sugar in your body. And these added and hidden sugars can be responsible for obesity, heart disease and more.
Fortunately, if you stick with the following tips, you can avoid hidden sugars in summer dishes, plus there are plenty of low carb swaps you can eat instead:
- Go bunless. Ready to fire up the grill? You can still chow down on burgers and brats. Just swap out your hamburger or hot dog bun for a lettuce wrap, portabella mushroom or slices of avocado and tomato, and spicy mustard for a kick of flavor.
- Pass on the juice. Fruit juice is a sneaky source of hidden sugars, but fresh fruit is a fiber-rich sweet treat that has less impact on your blood sugar. Pair your berries with Greek yogurt or a dollop of heavy cream, you can wrap chunks of cantaloupe with prosciutto for a savory-sweet appetizer or end your meal with a slice of watermelon.
- Get smart about salad. Summer is the season of salads, but low-fat and fat-free salad dressings are lurking with added sugars. Stick with oil- and vinegar-based dressings or low carb salad dressing recipes such as Creamy Italian Dressing, Blue Cheese Dressing or Feta Ranch Dressing.
- Skip the chips. Chips and crackers are summer barbecue staples, but are also full of empty carbs. Almonds, pistachios and other nuts provide a crunchy boost of protein and fat. You can also satisfy your craving for chips with Kale Chips or Savory Popcorn and Nut Mix.
Here’s a low carb and low sugar summer barbecue menu for the upcoming holiday weekend and throughout the summer. Any of these dishes are perfect for a potluck as well.
This rich dip is bursting with sundried tomato, red bell pepper, jalapenos and cilantro. Serve it with sliced veggies.
Traditional coleslaw very often contains sugar, but this tangy slaw is low sugar and features broccoli and cauliflower, plus bacon and cheddar cheese.
We swap out potatoes for cauliflower in this Atkins-friendly version of potato salad.
It’s not a barbecue without finger-licking good ribs! You can marinate the ribs and make the glaze the day before, so all you have to do is man the grill when it’s time to cook.
Colorful kebabs are bursting with sweetness. This simple dessert is a hit with adults and kids alike.
Rhubarb is in season right now. Make the most of it with this perfect pie.