Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Low carb Christmas side dishes

I am feeling well and truly Christmassy at the moment, having spent the last week or so doing lots of things that made me feel extremely festive, including:

Christmas food shopping at Borough market in London

Spending evening wrapping presents and writing cards

Visiting a Christmas tree festival in a church

To name just a few!

All these activities have obviously got me thinking about food that will be festive but will also not be too high in carbs, though it's worth mentioning that I anticipate having quite a lot of carbs this Christmas both because I love Christmas and couldn't bear not too indulge but also because I will eating a lot of other people cooking and you can never guarantee what is in other peoples cooking.

Now, I am planning on doing separate posts on Christmas main dishes and party nibbles so this post will focus on side dishes. Though as you know with vegetarian food a main dish is not always quite as clear cut as all the food is pretty much comprised of vegetables so the meal tends to come together when all the different components are put together on the same plate. 

Keep reading for ideas that will be perfect for Christmas day and any meal this holiday...

Sprouts with buttered chestnuts and cranberries

This recipe is so delicious and you can of course add bacon or lardons for a non vegetarian version. Equally you can also substitute the butter for a vegan substitute for a vegan version. 

You will need:
  • 500g Brussell sprouts- trimmed 
  • 200g vacuum packed chestnuts 
  • 50g butter
  • A handful of cranberries- optional 
It's then very simple:
  • Boil a large pan of salted water 
  • Pop the sprouts in the pan and then boil for 5 minutes
  • Take the sprouts out, drain and then cover with cold water to stop them cooking. Repeat this a couple of times as they will warm the water up straight away the first time. You can of course cook for slightly longer if you like them very soft, but I prefer them to have some crunch. 
  • Add about 3/4 of the butter to a frying pan and add the chestnuts and the sprouts. 
  • Sauté together for about 5 minutes, add the cranberries for the last minute if you're using them
  • Put into a dish, season well and pop the last knob of butter on the top 
  • Enjoy!

Mashed cauliflower 

This recipe is so good and tastes so much like mashed potato that you really won't miss the potato at all! I add some roasted garlic but this is optional if you prefer a plainer taste- I just like garlic with everything!

You will need:
  • One large cauliflower broken into florets 
  • About 25g of butter- more if you like it richer- the amount you use really is optional. You can also use 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make the recipe vegan
  • A splash of double cream- this is optional but it will make it extra creamy!
  • A couple of roasted garlic cloves 
Then you prepare it basically in the same way that you would make mashed potato:

  • Put the cauliflower into a bowl with the butter or olive oil and cream if using. 
  • Put the bowl in the micowave and cook on hig for about 7 minutes, taking it out half way through to stir and coat with the melted butter/oil/cream
  •  Take out after 7 minutes and use a sharp knife to cut the cauliflower, the knife should slide through easily as the cauliflower should be very tender, if it isn't put it back in the microwave and cook for a minute at a time, testing each time until it is at the right consistency. 
  • Remove the bowl, add the roasted garlic by squeezing the garlic from it's skin if using, and use a hand blender to purée the cauliflower until completely smooth- you can do this manually with a hand blender if you prefer but it will be hard work to get it as smooth
  • Serve with a knob of butter and plenty of salt and pepper. 
Red cabbage with pomegranates 

I love red cabbage and a lot of the Christmas recipes that include it have a lot of sugar and apple in which make it very high in carbs, however this recipe doesn't have either and is equally delicious and so easy to make.

You will need:

  • 1/2 a red cabbage
  • A very generous knob of butter
  • A big handful of mixed herbs- dill and thyme work well, all chopped well 
  • 1/4 of a pomegranate 
  • A tablespoon of sweetener (you can of course use sugar if you prefer).
The method is then very simple:
  • Slice the cabbage into fine strips
  • Place in a steamer with the butter (saving a small amount to serve) and about 1/4 of the herbs
  • Steam for about 10 minutes until it's softened but still has some crunch 
  • Add the sweetener and stir in well untll it's all dissolved 
  • Place in a bowl and top with the butter, the remaining herbs then scatter the pomegranates over the top- easy! 


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Aubergine/ eggplant bruschetta

This recipe is so easy to make, especially if you cheated like I did (more of which later!) and tastes so so delicious. 

It is like a very simple very low carb version of bruschetta and though I’ve done it with only a few ingredients here it could certainly be jazzed up with cheese or anything else you may have hanging around. You can make extra of the salsa and keep it in the fridge and pop it on salads or into omelette mixtures. 

To make the basic recipe you will only need a few ingredients: 
 • Half an aubergine 
• A handful of cherry tomatoes
• A bunch of mint
• A bunch of basil- I used greek basil but any would do 
• A couple of shallots 
• Olive oil 

To make it you can either cheat like I did and buy ready chargrilled aubergine slices- mine were from the salad bar at Whole foods or you can chargrill them yourself.

• If you are not cheating, cut the aubergine into slices, brush both sides with the olive oil and place them onto a very hot griddle pan, leave them to cook for about 4-5 minutes, don’t lift them off during this time (unless of course you smell burning!) as you may get lots of conflicting lines. However if you are cheating then just take your pre chargrilled slices out of the packet and put them on your plate ready 
• Turn them over and cook on the other side for the same time. 
• Remove them and plate them up 
• Make the salsa- you might do this as the aubergine is cooking as it is so quick 
• Chop the tomatoes into about 4 pieces each and place in a bowl 
• Chop the herbs finely- or if you’re using the greek basil you can leave it as the leaves are already very small
• Pour a small-ish glug of olive oil into the bowl and add the herbs saving some to garnish and season the mixture well 
• Spoon generous amounts of the salsa onto the slices and enjoy!
© The Vegetarian Atkins Diary

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