No doubt you’ll be well aware of the flack that carbs cop in the public eye. They’re made out to be the devil in disguise, innately fattening and downright bad for your health – but as a dietitian, I’ve got other news for you.
You see, carbohydrates actually contain the same amount of energy – gram for gram – as protein does. No joke. What’s more, some of the foods I’d consider the healthiest in the world are rich in carbohydrates (think: fruit and legumes).
There is, however, a big difference between the healthy carbohydrates I’m describing, and refined carbohydrates (read: the ones you get in pastries and hot chips). These refined carbohydrates aren’t good for your health in the long haul – and unfortunately, a lot of people eat far too much of this kind.
If you’re already onto healthy carbs (think: wholegrain bread and rolled oats), go girl! You’re doing your health a world of good. There can still be issues, however, with portion size – so my advice is to simply be sensible. For example, instead of diving into a mountain of spaghetti every Friday night, aim for just one cup of cooked pasta. Capiche?
If you find yourself struggling with either scenario – cutting down on carbs (but not eliminating them completely) can be a wise idea. So, to give yourself a helping hand, here’s five dietitian-approved dinners that take it easy on the carb front.
Eggs and veggies: one of my favourite combos. Not only is frittata super tasty, but super good for you, too. Eggs are a nutrient powerhouse, packed with high-quality protein and a range of micronutrients (Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and iron, to name a few). And veggies – well, it’s a no-brainer that they’re good for you, too.
Chicken tray bake
Just ten minutes to prep a delicious dinner? Yes please! Tray bakes take the hard work off your hands – all you have to do is chop up a few veggies, lay them on a lined tray with chicken and pour over a delicious (but healthy) sauce. Then pop it in the oven and voila! Dinner is served.
Salmon and veggie stir fry
Salmon: yum. Veggies: yum. Salmon and veggies mixed together: double yum. While it’s a pretty simple meal, it’s packed with good nutrition – a mix of healthy omega-3 fats from the salmon that support heart and brain health, as well as a boost of fibre from the veggies for a happy digestive system. It’s a win-win in my opinion.
This can be a good way to boost your iron intake if you’re not into slabs of steak. All you have to do is brown off some mince with onion in a pan, add in lots of veggies and a little stock, use the mixture to fill hollowed out capsicums and finish the cooking in the oven. Not only is this dish high in energising iron, but muscle-building protein and zinc to support your immune system, too.
Last but not least – lettuce wraps! It’s like a burger without the bun, wrapped in lettuce instead. Fill it with a lean beef patty, along with plenty of salad to bulk it up. While you’re at it, skip the sauce and mayo to keep the sodium and fat quantity low.
And there you have it! Five dietitian-approved dinners that are light on carbs. What are you going to pop on next week’s menu?
Melissa Meier is an online and Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.