If you’re like me and you sit around writing all day (and really, who doesn’t do that?), you are probably in the category of Americans known as “sedentary.” This label means you spend most of the day sitting, i.e. a desk job, bank teller, writer, etc. Sitting for eight hours or more a day means you burn far less calories than someone whose career keeps them more active like a teacher, a waiter, or a mailman. As such, watching one’s diet is that much more important, and most doctors and nutritionists would recommend limiting calories derived from carbohydrates and fats. That being said, I have found that limiting my carbs dramatically but not my fats is a very effective tool for weight loss, and I have lost 10 pounds in the past month doing so. For someone like me who likes to nosh all day, having some quick, delicious low-carb snacks on hand to curb my cravings are essential to success in my battle against the bulge. Below is listed my top five classic low-carb treats that will take you five minutes to make.
Celery With Natural Peanut Butter
Many people don’t know it, but most peanut butters are chock full of sugar, even the ones that have re-branded as “natural” or “organic.” If you compare the sugar labels on regular ol’ peanut butter with the new “natural” versions, you will find that they have the same amounts of sugar, and in some cases the “natural” peanut butter will actually contain more sugar. These peanut butters are no-nos. What you want in following a low-carb lifestyle is peanut butter that only lists roasted peanuts and maybe salt as the ingredients. Many brands such as Smuckers, Koeze, and Trader Joe’s make a no-sugar, all natural peanut butter like this which will be perfect for you low-carbers.
As far as which celery to use, I prefer to use celery hearts as they tend to be crispier and have more flavor than celery stalks. Either way you go, it is free of carbs and full of fiber, which can help subtract from the net carbs you ingest for the day (total carbs (g) – total fiber (g) = net carbs (g)).
Strawberries and Whipped Topping
“But wait a second, I’ve always been told to stay away from fruit on a low-carb diet!” While this used to be the attitude of many low-carb gurus, things have changed and there are several low-sugar fruits that you can have when cutting carbs. These fruits include raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, melon, cantaloupe, and rhubarb. For this specific treat, a half cup of sliced strawberries contains only 5 net grams of carbs, which is around 2 percent of the daily allotment of carbs one should have per day.
As far as the whipped cream goes, it needs to be “whipped topping” like Cool Whip or a store brand. They come in tubs and can be found in the freezer section of your favorite grocer. I use the Meijer or Kroger brand of whipped topping, as it is less expensive than Cool Whip, and tastes exactly the same. Whipped topping has 2 grams of carbs per serving, so don’t go wild on it.
I literally whooped for joy and danced with great vigor when I discovered I could have a smoothie and keep it low-carb, In this treat you use ¾ cup frozen berries (my favorites are blackberries and raspberries), 1/2 cup coconut or almond milk, ¼ cup half and half, ¼ cup water, 2 teaspoons of Splenda, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I tend to follow it up with a dollop of whipped topping on top for some extra fun. And I know, peanut butter sounds like an odd thing to add to a shake with berries in it, but the tastes mix incredibly well, and the extra protein from the peanut butter will keep you satiated. Throw it all in a blender (except the whipped topping) and shoot that bad boy onto the “Chop” setting for about a minute. Altogether, the shake has about 10 grams of carbs, it is loaded with protein, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamin C.
Okay, so deviled eggs may take a little longer than five minutes to make, but they can be made in larger quantities so you can just pull them out of the fridge and mow down. The key here is using a sugar free sweet pickle relish for the filling to keep the carbs low. Here is a great recipe for low-carb deviled eggs. The end result only has 2 g of carbs per four deviled eggs, and it is loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting carotenoids to keep you going through the day. Deviled eggs can be used as a great on-the-go meal as well. I have them for lunch twice a week, and they keep me full until dinner, which is usually six hours later.
If you’re not a coffee drinker, skip this one. You can get a soy latte at any coffee shop and, if you have an espresso maker, you can make it at home. Use one cup of light soy milk and as many shots of espresso as you desire. I usually use three because I’m a caffeine addict, but some can’t handle the strength of my witches’ brew. Also add 2 teaspoons of Splenda for a sweet flavor or sugar-free syrup if it’s available. Total net carbs will vary by soy milk, but should clock in around 9 to 13 grams per serving. Bring it with you in the morning on your way to work and watch as the commuters around you stare in jealousy at your amazing sweet treat. Not only will a soy latte satisfy your sweet tooth, but it will give you a joyous jolt of sweet, sweet caffeine.