I am IN LOVE with food and I love every one of my meals, but at the same time I am very lazy with recipes. I prepare almost all my food from whole ingredients at home every day so if there’s a mile-long list of obscure ingredients and 27 steps, I lose interest. I’m also apparently in the minority who hates baked goods made out of protein powder. When are we as a niche going to stop pretending protein pancakes, muffins, cookies, etc. actually taste good without a grocery-list of other high-calorie ingredients that basically turn them into regular baked goods plus some protein? And don’t even get me started on vegetable buns & baked zucchini fries… I digress.
Anyway, here is a collection of some of my favorite, SIMPLE, macro-friendly staples, all low in carbs, mostly unprocessed, and great for those of us with the curse of the poverty macros. I hate the cliché that is the word “hack” at this point, but I supposed you could call these hacks more than “recipes.” You’ll notice I never provide specified amounts of ingredients because that type of cooking instruction approach is a pet peeve of mine – stop overthinking something as simple as combining things that taste good into other things that taste good until they taste good to you!
Outside of critical proportions specified for the sake of texture, use as much as you like of any ingredient, tailor the specifics to YOUR nutrition goals, and experiment! One of the greatest joys is creating meals you absolutely love, exactly how you like, that you get to look forward to every day… especially when you don’t get to have much total food!
If you like regular dark chocolate you’ll like this because it tastes just like that without the sugar! My bratty sweet tooth guarantees it.
- Place your chosen amount of 100% unsweetened baker’s chocolate on a double-folded sheet of foil on top of an oven-safe plate (the foil makes it easy to eat later – the plate keeps it from cooling too fast afterwards as you mix!) and preheat your oven to 400
- Take it out at the MOMENT it’s preheated – any longer cooks it too much to mix, I learned this the hard way! It should look only slightly melted
- Keeping the foil on the plate (use a towel or mitten to hold the plate still), immediately add sugar substitute of choice and a tiny pinch of salt and blend together with a spoon on the foil, be sure not to use too much because that will make it cake up; I use Truvia and the perfect amount is 1.5 packets per square (Truvia is granulated like sugar so it adds volume and mixes well, try others at your own risk, I have not)
- Spread thinly across foil and place in fridge to re-harden
Peanut butter on this is DIVINE.
Chocolate Protein Mudslide
Make this in advance, it has to thicken in the freezer!
- Melt and sweeten 100% baker’s chocolate the same way as above, except in a bowl, no foil
- Add chocolate protein powder and anything else you’d like such as more sweetener or peanut butter
- Slowly add water and mix with a spoon until smooth and watery – this can take a little time but it’s worth it, get rid of all the protein chunks, and don’t be afraid of it being too watery, a watery consistency in the beginning results in a nice syrupy consistency after a few hours in the freezer
- Place in the freezer uncovered, take it out and stir it around once thoroughly after a couple hours, put it back in for a few more until you’re ready for it
This is something you’ll need to experiment with as far as texture and extra ingredients to get it just right for how you like it! If you want a thicker, more ice-cream-like texture, use less water so it’s more of a thick pudding texture before freezing.
Very much like you pulled all the toppings off a pizza and ate them! I accidentally invented this when my husband left for Korea for six months and I didn’t want his package of pepperoni to go to waste. Needless to say, I’ve been buying my own pepperoni ever since.
- What pizza toppings do you like? Get those. I like mushrooms, pepperoni, and cheese for this. Prepare them to taste, such as browning mushrooms in a pan
- Scramble eggs separately, put on your plate, add your toppings from step 1 and any condiments you like (I like salsa and ranch or queso, and of course the whole seasoning rack)
As an alternative I also like to have my eggs on the side made the way I’m about to describe next, with spaghetti squash to mix with my toppings.
I was never a huge egg fan until one day I decided to let them cook sunny-side up and really crisp up until I could just pick them up like a slice of pizza and eat them. I have eggs every day now, sometimes multiple times.
- Heat the pan first, use a type of oil or spray that withstands high heat such as coconut
- Crack your eggs, add seasonings/toppings of choice, and just let them go for a few minutes, re-spraying if needed and shuffling around/rotating once they’re stiff enough to hold together (this helps keep them from burning to the pan). I like mine VERY crispy, as with all my food, so mine go until quite browned but the yolk is generally still a little liquidy. Use your own judgement!
- Plate them when you’re ready, let cool for a minute, then eat with your hands! My initial reaction when I first did this was that it tasted just like McDonald’s fries. The yolks even had a potato-like texture and flavor if they weren’t still runny
Roasted Squash Seeds
Speaking of spaghetti squash… do you love homemade roasted pumpkin seeds after pumpkin-carving night every Halloween? Well, all squash seeds can do that! After you cook your spaghetti squash (which you do not have to cut in half beforehand, by the way):
- Pull all the seeds out and put them right on a sheet of foil sprayed with nonstick spray (and no, you don’t have to wash, strain, and dry them – that’s another step I’ve proven to be a waste of time)
- Add desired seasonings (except garlic – that burns immediately in the oven)
- Bake at 350 until browned to your preference
Voila.. roasted seeds all year every time you make your spaghetti squash! Extra points for not being wasteful.
- Crab meat (imitation is fine, that’s what I use, way cheaper)
- Sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots – or whatever you usually like in your sushi
- Asian sauce/seasonings of choice (tip: orange chicken sauce and ranch is an AMAZING combo, and a little lemon juice adds an awesome tang)
- Mix together in a bowl!
You can certainly have rice in this as well, but from the perspective of a diet not high in carbs, a riceless sushi bowl is awesome!
Sour Patch Shakes
- Brew some large amounts of fruit-flavored herbal tea with a bit of lemon juice and sweetener added and keep that in the fridge in advance for these!
- Set up a protein shake to blend how you like, with fruit-flavored protein of your choice, and for the liquid base use about 3 parts of your cold tea to 1 part pure lemon juice – play with it how you want though!
- Blend to taste
I am so thankful I decided to try lemon juice in my fruit-flavored protein shakes, because it saves me an enormous amount of sweetener – I have a rabid sweet tooth and a high flavor standard! I go through a SAVAGE amount of lemon juice now but it cuts my Truvia use to about a third of what I would use otherwise, and we all know which of those two things are more expensive. As far as specific protein flavors, I’ve done this with the Raspberry-Blueberry as well as the Strawberry Impact Whey and both are amazing! Flavdrops also really kick it up a notch, especially Apple.
Something about pineapples makes them totally appealing to grill!
- Heat a pan and coat with high-heat oil/spray such as coconut
- Add pineapple chunks and let brown as much as you like, stirring them around and rotating to brown on all sides
- When they’re almost done, add lemon juice to the pan liberally – really enhances their flavor and leaves sort of a glaze for no calories! I even like to add some Truvia as well, it browns a little on the pieces
- Let them go a little more until the juice is gone and they’re browned to your liking! Don’t be afraid to really let them roast like marshmallows, the insides stay juicy
And one for carbs… rice cakes and PB2
This is a recent staple on my refeed days!
- Rice cakes of choice – I love caramel
- PB2 mixed with more water than recommended so it’s more watery (unless you’re so lucky that your macros can afford half a can of PB2 to make a large amount), sweetener of choice if desired
- Crumble up your rice cakes into the PB2 bowl & mix until coated – a surprising amount of rice cakes can go into this, I use almost a full small bag with only 3 servings of PB2
Some bonus stand-alone hints…
- I’ve discovered Walden Farms balsamic dressing creates a very cool savory flavor in a pan with anything you’re browning
- Stir-frying, browning, sauteeing, searing, etc. never actually requires added fat – just a liquid to keep it from burning to the pan and in some cases a nonstick spray
- If you love soda but don’t love chemicals and agree with me that sparkling water is not and will never be soda: use that chilled fruit-flavored tea from the shake recipe and mix a bit of it with sparkling water
- Spaghetti squash takes on the flavor of salsa ESPECIALLY well!
- Pork rinds are the universe’s gift to low-carbers, and so is your whole spice rack to shake onto them
And my final… [sigh]… HACK: Popcorn seasoning. On everything. Well, not your sweet stuff… I mean unless you want. As the Hodgetwins say… it’s just advice…