For people on a low-carb diet, the list of foods you can’t eat can seem endless. However, if you focus on fresh produce and lean protein, your cravings for starches and grains may diminish. Another trick is to incorporate a variety of flavors to keep your food interesting and tasty. This is where pantry items come in. For instance, condiments like vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, garlic, chicken broth, and mayonnaise made with olive oil have virtually no carbs.
Healthy Fats for Cooking
If you’re on a low-carb diet, you know you need to incorporate healthy fats into your cooking and recipes. Some fats have higher nutritional value than others. These include:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Ghee (clarified butter, which does not include the milk solids)
Most low-carb diet authors say to avoid oils that are high in omega-6 fats (soy, corn, most safflower, and sunflower). Partially hydrogenated oils should always be avoided as they contain trans fats.
Adding Flavor With Condiments
Many condiments are riddled with all kinds of sugar. Before you start reading labels, get familiar with sugar’s many disguises. Keep the following low- or no-carb condiments on hand to give your food flavor:
- Mustard, with the exception of sweetened mustards, especially honey mustard
- Cider and wine vinegars. You can also explore many infused vinegars, but be sure to check for carbs in any fruit vinegar.
- Dried herbs and spices. With the exception of some mixtures that have added sugar, all are acceptable.
- Fresh herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
- Seasoning salts and peppers
- Coconut milk
- Nut and coconut flours for baking and breading
- Most bottled hot sauces, such as Tabasco
- Most salsas
- Soy sauce or tamari
- Mayonnaise. Look especially for brands high in monounsaturated fat, rather than polyunsaturated fat and avoid soy oil if possible.
- Sugar-free salad dressings, preferably brands high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil (check labels carefully).
- Lemon or lime juice (1 gram of carb per tablespoon)
- Extracts (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.)
- Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth or bouillon
- Low-carb ketchup
- Dill pickle relish
- Sugar-free sweet pickle relish
- Low carb jams and preserves (check labels)