Low Carb Side Dishes

diabetes dietHave you been caught out by the vegetable shortage in the shops? British supermarkets have run short of courgettes, spinach and other salad items thanks to bad weather in Spain and Italy.

If you follow a low-carb diet, you probably rely more on such vegetables than the average person. I decided to see what I could do with Scottish ingredients. The Diet Doctor website features a lot of cabbage, including main course and side dishes that use this vegetable. Most supermarkets stock Scottish or British-grown cabbage so there are no issues there with availability.

The Diet Doctor’s Cabbage Casserole can be made exclusively with Scottish ingredients, supporting our farmers and growers. I adapted the recipe slightly and here it is. Allow about 10g net carbs per serving and serve with pork chops, roast chicken legs or steak.

Please note – you’ll need a large saucepan because 450g cabbage is bulky. It reduces in size as it cooks.

Cabbage Casserole

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 450g green or white cabbage, shredded
  • ½ medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 50g butter
  • 75g grated cheese
  • 75g soft cheese, such as Philadelphia
  • Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the cabbage and onion and mix well to coat in the butter.

Cook gently for about seven minutes. You want the vegetables to be softened but not browned. Add salt and pepper and the garlic and cook for one minute more.

Mix the sour cream and soft cheese. Stir into the cabbage. Place the mixture in an ovenproof dish, top with the grated cheese, a good helping of black pepper and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

PS – I thought I’d try this on my green vegetable hating husband, convinced that the cream and cheese would convert him. It didn’t work…

New Year Resolutions – A Low Carb Diet?

Bacon, mushroom and poached egg salad.

Are you making New Year resolutions to diet?! It’s that tedious time of year when we are encouraged to self-improve – usually on a big scale.

Punishing diets and exercise regimes work for very few people. Why would you make yourself suffer in that way? But if you do want to improve your health and stabilise your blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, why not opt for the low-carb diet?

Low-carb diets can be easier to stick to than most diets because they tend to be higher in protein which keeps you feeling full for longer. Because they incorporate delicious ingredients like cheese, avocados, oily fish, cream, nuts and more there’s none of the deprivation feelings either.

Remember too that low-carb is a broad church. You can do anything from 45g of carbs a day to 130-150g. If you opt for the higher carb count, fill up on natural sources such as the higher-carb vegetables and fruits.

Resolutions – and any kind of change to the lifestyle – need preparation and planning to succeed. Here are our tips for how to adopt and stick with a low-carb diet:

Plan what you will eat and shop for the ingredients. Our book, The Diabetes Diet, has meal plans in it and you will also find plenty of suggestions online.

If you have type 1 diabetes or you use any blood glucose lowering medication, you need to start a low carb diet cautiously. Read our tips here about preparing to lower your carbohydrate intake and how to adjust medication to suit

Buy one good recipe book. A great example is Dana Carpender’s 500 Low Carb Recipes (left). This is an American recipe book, but most of the ingredients are available over here.

Buy yourself a set of measuring cups. Many of low-carb recipes are American – and Americans use cups to measure, rather than scales. Cup measures are widely available.

The above two suggestions depend on one thing – willingness to cook. Because low-carb diets don’t have many ready-made options, cooking is a necessity. Most low-carb recipes are really easy to follow, but quick and easy ideas are cooked meats and chicken with ready-made salads and dressing, good quality burgers with a slice of cheese, any kind of egg dish or prepared fish and prawn cocktail. You can also buy cauliflower rice these days for an instant accompaniment.

Spicy Peanut Pork

Try out our recipes! Here are some suggestions.

  1. Meatballs
  2. Pancakes
  3. Spicy Peanut Pork
  4. Spinach and Feta Crust-less Quiche
  5. Low-carb Chocolate Cookies
  6. Crab Cakes
  7. Easy Low-Carb Bread

Start following our blog. We update this blog regularly with recipes and health information about diabetes.

All the very best to you for 2017!


Dana Carpender: What Health Conditions Respond to Low Carb Diets?

Dana,  what is the range of health conditions that you have seen respond to a low carb diet in your readers?

The most exciting, perhaps, is polycystic ovarian syndrome, the most common cause of female infertility, and very definitely an insulin-driven illness. Back when I was still self-published, I got an email from a woman who had tried for years to get pregnant, but couldn’t because of PCOS. She read How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, went low carb, got pregnant, and carried the child to term. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me grinning for days.

Commonly, I hear of vastly improved blood work – one fellow had his triglycerides plummet by 1200 points in 2 weeks. People regularly report low trigs and high HDL.

Blood pressure reliably drops, too. It’s common for detractors to say “Oh, you only lost water weight on that diet.” That’s nonsense, of course, but it is true that the very rapid loss of 5-10 pounds in the first week or so is largely water. That’s because when insulin levels drop the kidneys resume excreting sodium properly, and with it the water it was holding. Because of this, blood pressure comes down quickly. (For this reason, people who are medicated for high blood pressure must be under a doctor’s care when they first go low carb. They may need a reduction in medication within days.)

By the way, the proper excretion of sodium means that many low carbers need to increase their salt intake – I’m one of them. If a new low carber is feeling tired, achy, dizzy, headache-y, the first thing to try is increasing salt – heavily salted broth or bouillon works wonderfully.

Energy swings vanish when the blood sugar swings stop. Many annoying symptoms of generalized inflammation, such as arthritis, are reduced or eliminated.

Gastroesophageal reflux, aka heartburn, generally clears up.

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And all kinds of little things – skin conditions, bleeding gums, stuff like that. My husband, who has a mouth full of crowns, hasn’t had a single new cavity since we went low carb 20 years ago. (I still have no fillings at the age of 57.)

Perhaps most surprising was the woman who wrote me to say that since she and her husband had gone low carb, a range of problems had cleared up, including that he had “stopped coughing up blood.” She finished with “You have been a miracle for our family.”

I have no idea how a low carb diet would stop the coughing up of blood, but I’m certainly glad it did.


Dana Carpender is the author of nine cookbooks, including the best-selling 500 Low-Carb Recipes.

Dsolve.com back in action




Ryan Whitaker, a Colorado IT specialist, set up the dsolve.com site nine years ago. The aim was to have an online site for low carbing diabetics to share news and resources and to host the educational course that we developed from the experience of Dr Richard Bernstein’s Forum members at the time. At the time this was the first comprehensive diabetes educational course to go online. And best of all it was free, and still is.  This course, the How to.. course now features on diabetesdietblog. com.

After an absence of two years we are very pleased to say that dsolve.com is back in action.

Feel free to pay a visit.

Ryan is one of the many type one diabetics who has had excellent blood sugar control as a result of following a low carb diet and using insulin techniques originally developed by Dr Bernstein.  These are explained in the course material and of course in our book Diabetes Diet.

Dana Carpender: What do you eat on a typical day?

4415406430_7a5ba031bb_o.jpgDana Carpender, author of several low carb cookbooks, generously gave her time to be interviewed for this blog site. Over several posts she will be sharing her wisdom about the low carb lifestyle.

My first question: What do you eat on a typical day Dana?

Honestly? Leftovers. 🙂 What with trying recipes, and only two people in the house, I eat a lot of leftovers. The summer I wrote The Low Carb Barbecue Book I ate chicken or ribs for breakfast every day for weeks.

In the absence of leftovers? Probably an omelet for breakfast, especially if there are ripe avocados in the house; cheese-and-avocado omelet with chipotle hot sauce is a big favorite of mine. Dinner will be a fairly simple protein — chicken, steak, burgers, pork steaks, something like that, with a low carb vegetable or salad with it if we feel like it. I confess we don’t always bother. If I want just a little something, I might well have shirataki with a fatty sauce – or just butter and Parmesan.

This is, of course, when I’m not working on a book. If I am, it’s a wild card! It depends on what sort of book it is, what I have in the house, what idea I’ve had.

If I snack, it’s usually on nuts. I’ve snacked less and less as the years have gone by, and as I’ve deliberately increased fat as a fraction of my calories.

Perhaps the most notable thing is that I have long since slipped away from the three-meals-a-day format. I rarely eat more than two meals a day anymore; I’m just not hungry enough. I try to do some intermittent fasting, so I often don’t eat until noon or one — a good 16 hours after I ate the previous night — although I drink copious quantities of tea.

Long-time readers will note that this violates a previously stated rule to always eat breakfast. I no longer consider that a hard-and-fast rule, but rather one that depends on circumstance. If someone works away from the house in a place where carby garbage is available, like the donuts in the break room or the candy bars in the vending machine, then I feel breakfast is imperative, even if it’s just a couple of hard boiled eggs or individually wrapped cheese chunks grabbed on the way out of the house. This is especially true for those who are just starting out, and not yet solidly in the mindset of “this is how I eat.”

But if, like me, you have more time freedom, and have achieved a blissful lack of regard for starchy, sugary stuff, postponing breakfast until you’re genuinely hungry is a good way to work in some intermittent fasting.

Too, I’ve lost the idea that some foods are “breakfast foods,” while dinner needs to be a protein and two veg. I’m perfectly happy having leftover chicken and coleslaw for breakfast, or whatever happens to be kicking around the fridge. And I’ve certainly been known to eat eggs for dinner, or just make something snack-y, like Chicken Chips. (Chicken skin spread on the broiler rack and baked until crisp, then salted. Yum. I buy 10-pound bags of chicken skin from my speciality butcher.)

One other oddity: I don’t feel any need to snack during movies or television. It’s common for people to feel that there should be something they can munch on mindlessly for hours while consuming entertainment, but low carb foods don’t lend themselves to that. They’re filling. Eat a bucket of mixed nuts the size of even a small movie theater popcorn and you’ll make yourself sick. People need to get away from the idea of food as entertainment.


Study Shows Success of Low-Carb Diet

low-carb diet mealThe Daily Telegraph reported this week that a large pilot study of low-carb diets has suggested that they can successfully control type 2 diabetes.

That’s no news to us here at the Diabetes Diet, but the study is interesting because it involved a huge number of people – 80,000 of them, who gave up low-fat, high carbohydrate diets and found that their blood glucose levels dropped after 10 weeks.

That study was carried out after what was described as “an online revolt” by patients in which 120,000 people signed up for the “low-carb” diet plan launched by the global diabetes community website, diabetes.co.uk. The low-carb plan goes against official advice given by the NHS and Diabetes UK.

More than 80 percent of the people surveyed said they had lost weight, with 10 percent of them losing 9kg or more. More than 70 percent of the patients experienced improvements in their blood glucose levels and a fifth of participants said they no longer needed drugs to regulate their blood glucose levels.

The people taking part had followed diabetes.co.uk’s 10-week low-carb plan.

The website’s low carb plan is available here, but you can find plenty of help and advice for following a low-carb diet in our book, the Diabetes Diet. Our website also has lots of low-carb recipes – from starters, to main courses, snacks and sweets. Use the search button or check out the recipe category to find what you want.

Seasonal Eating Ideas for Low-Carb Diets

Need some low-carb inspiration? We’ve got some seasonal eating ideas for low-carb diets.

seasonal eating ideas for low-carb diets
Green goodness!

There are lots of good reasons to eat seasonally: firstly, it’s better for you because it’s fresher and tends to be more nutritious; it’s more environmentally-friendly because out-of-season fruit and veg is usually imported from far-flung destinations and has therefore contributed to a great deal of CO2 emissions; and finally because it tastes nicer.

In season now are: broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, spring onions, spinach, watercress, bananas, kiwi fruit, rhubarb, sorrell, lamb, cockles, langoustine, lobster, mussels, oysters, plaice, prawns, salmon and shrimp.

For some seasonal eating recipes, try our:

African lamb stew – aubergine and spices make this a delicious and nutritious dish.

Gluten-free moussaka – the traditional Greek dish gets a low-carb make-over.

Broccoli and Stilton soup – combine two great British ingredients and this is what you get, gorgeous green-y goodness.

Spicy fish soup – swap the haddock fillets suggested in this recipe for plaice.

Creamed spinach – serve with any roast meat or a steak.

Cauliflower cheese – this goes really well with thick slices of good ham.




Low carb advocate Dr David Unwin named Innovator of the Year by RCGPs

Congratulations to Merseyside GP and College Fellow David Unwin who has been named ‘Innovator of the Year’ at the national NHS Leadership Recognition Awards 2016.


David, who practises at the Norwood Surgery in Southport, spent three years working on a project combining the benefits of a low carb diet with psychological support to help patients with diabetes. As well as having much healthier patients, the practice now saves around £45,000 a year on diabetes drugs!


David has been a GP for over 30 years yet this award shows that his mission to constantly improve care for patients and his enthusiasm for the job remain undimmed. As well as being a fantastic personal, achievement, it is excellent to see the work of GPs being recognised on the national stage.


The judging panel said that the results of his work were outstanding and that he was ‘passionate about sharing knowledge to achieve a healthier world’. Hear, hear! unwin

Low-Carb Diets Help People with Type 2 Diabetes

researchThis week’s round-up of diabetes in the news flagged up research carried out in Australia, showing that low-carb diets help people with type 2 diabetes to drastically reduce the amount of medication they need.

I’ll admit it. I’m very guilty of confirmation bias, i.e. I look for the research and the reports that back up my opinions and I would have made a rubbish scientist. However, in six months or so of weekly Google alerts for “diabetes news”, not once has my search term brought up research which proved a high-carb, low-fat diet worked…

Anyway, the latest research was carried out by CSIRO, Adelaide University, Flinders University and the University of South Australia.

40 Percent Reduction

Adelaide University researchers developed a diet and exercise programme which resulted in an average 40 percent reduction in medication levels for people with type 2 diabetes. The diet used was low in carbohydrates and higher in protein and unsaturated fats.

The programme was based on findings from a National Health and Medical Research Council funded study which compared low carb eating with the current Australia best practice approach of managing type 2 diabetes with a diet high in unrefined carbs and low in fat.


In a news report on the CSIRO website, CSIRO’s associate professor and principal research scientist Grant Brinkworth described the research results as “ground-breaking”, and that patients who followed low-carb diets reduced medication levels by more than double the amount of volunteers following a high-carb plan, with others managing to stop taking their medication altogether thanks to low-carb eating.

He said: “This research shows that traditional dietary approaches for managing type 2 diabetes could be outdated, we really need to review the current dietary guidelines if we are serious about using the latest scientific evidence to reduce the impact of the disease.”

Well. No new news here for us at The Diabetes Diet! We know the benefits of low-carb eating and are prepared to run the gauntlet of official disapproval. If you’d like to try out a low-carb approach to managing your blood sugar levels yourself, why not check out our book or any of the recipes on this website which will help keep meal carb counts low?


Picture thanks to MCM Science on flickr.


A Day of Low-Carb Eating

bacon and eggsMost of the time, I eat about 90g* of carbs a day but from time to time, I do ultra-low carb to get my blood sugar levels to behave impeccably.

What does ultra-low carb look like? Well, this is a 30g a day sample:

Breakfast – two rashers of bacon, two links sausages, scrambled egg and a thin slice of black pudding. (We were staying in a hotel and the buffet style breakfast is always easy for low-carbers.)

Lunch: prawns mixed with mayonnaise, salad leaves, chopped red pepper and broccoli and some grated cheese.

Dinner: Liver with fried onions and bacon, cauliflower and a slice of low-carb bread spread with butter.

Total carbs – 33g (fibre 10g), macro split – 10 percent carbs, 63 percent fat and 27 percent protein.

What do you eat when you’re trying to keep your carbohydrate count very low?


*I use myfitnesspal as my carb counter.