Looking to watch your waistline? Or do you prefer lighter dinners? Sometimes you want something a little less filling. It’s ok. We’ve got you covered. Today we will whizz through a list of low carb sides that are tasty, easy to prepare, and are super healthy too. Let’s jump straight in and show you what we like.
21 Low Carb Sides
1. Green Bean Bundles
Ok, we said ‘low carb sides,’ not no-carb sides. This is a recipe that is sure to keep those carbs to an absolute minimum. Green beans are easy to find and are really calorie sparse. There’s not much to this recipe. Three ingredients and that’s about it. If you haven’t seen a green bean bundle before, you are in for a treat. You have a stack of slightly crunchy green beans, lovingly tied up with a rasher of crispy bacon. You can add a splash of melted butter if you want…
2. Curly Kale Crisps
We’ve got a confession. We love nothing more than sitting on the couch, watching a great movie with a large bowl of snacks. The only downside? They can tend to be a bit carby. Well, here is the answer. Curly kale is super low in carbs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t taste great. It is also very quick to prepare. Just wash and dry some kale leaves, and give them a quick splash of olive oil, along with a pinch of salt. Bake them in a hot oven until they turn all crispy. Guilt-free low-carb sides? Amazing!
3. Cauliflower Rice
Rice is great because it has a mild flavor and is relatively easy to prepare. The only thing we don’t like is that it tends to be a little heavy. If you are looking for a lighter option to rice, you are in luck! Cauliflower rice is just as tasty, but it has about 5% of the carbs of white rice. If you haven’t made it before, all you do is pulse a head of cauliflower in a blender until it resembles coarse rice. From there, it is just a case of frying it in a skillet until it goes slightly soft.
4. Skillet Cooked Cabbage
After trying this recipe, we are pretty certain that we’ll forever say goodbye to boring boiled cabbage. Seriously, this is amazing next-level stuff. Finely shred either white or green cabbage. Add a small knob of butter and plenty of salt and pepper and place on medium to high heat. The cabbage might look quite bulky at first, but it softens and breaks down as it cooks. We like to get ours all soft and wilted before serving in a huge pile alongside grilled meat.
5. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Here’s another super quick recipe that transforms greens from something flat and mushy into a next-level dish. When you roast brussels sprouts, it changes the flavor and brings out a sort of sweetness. If you want them to cook quickly, slice them into thin discs, add a splash of olive oil, some pine nuts, and a little crushed garlic before roasting in a hot oven until the outer leaves turn all golden. We could eat a dish of these all on their own
6. Garlic Mushrooms
We’ll be honest. While we are talking low-carb sides, there is a massive temptation to serve these delicious garlicky mushrooms with a large chunk of crusty bread. But if you can resist, they are still a lovely dish to serve with various foods. Some mushrooms, seasoning, butter, and a pan. That’s about all it takes. If you aren’t too fussy about the fats, why not add a (small) splash of heavy cream to make something really opulent?
7. Zucchini Pasta
Pasta? We were supposed to be making low-carb sides! Hey, relax. The zucchini is the pasta. Because of its shape and texture, this zucchini recipe is the ideal low-carb veg to slice into super fine ribbons before frying and serving with your favorite pasta sauce. If you want a top tip to get perfectly even pasta ‘ribbons’. Use a vegetable peeler. You’ll be able to create perfectly shaped vermicelli-style zucchini pasta.
8. Zucchini Fritters
This one feels like cheating. It’s so good. Grate zucchini and squeeze out all the moisture. Combine with an egg, a tablespoon of flour, and a pinch of cumin seeds. It should make a fairly firm batter. From this point, all you need to do is heat a skillet with some oil and drop spoonfuls into the pan. About4 minutes each side will leave you with a golden zucchini rosti that is really low in carbs.
9. Grilled Eggplant
Eggplants are great for a few reasons. First, they are very low in carbs, second, they are just the right shape to hold other ingredients, and finally… They are really tasty. We like to top ours with a homemade glaze of lime juice and freshly chopped chilies. If you are barbecuing them, even better. Be sure to use high heat to get those delicious char stripes on the cut edges.
10. Cauliflower Mash
Potato mash is so nice… But it doesn’t fit the bill if you are trying to cut down on the carbs. Here’s the answer. Cauliflower cooks quicker, has more flavor, and is just as easy to make. We like to combine our mashed cauliflower with a single clove of pulverized garlic and a large helping of pepper to really bring out the flavor.
11. Minty Peas
If you check how many calories there are in peas, you’ll see that you can eat a bucket load guilt-free. The only downside is unless you show them some love, peas can get a little boring. Here’s how to make them magical. Boil the peas (either fresh or frozen) as you normally would and then drain them. Add a tablespoon of butter, and once they are all shiny and coated, go in with a teaspoon or two of jarred mint sauce.
12. Grilled Vegetable Skewers
If you are having BBQ and want to keep it fairly light, this is a great option. We assemble kebabs made of chunky and crunchy peppers, quarters of red onion, the odd mushroom, and some zucchini batons. From there, it is simply a case of placing them on a hot grill until they turn just the right side of crispy. If you want to add a touch of richness, give them the occasional brush with butter as they cook.
13. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
While we are on the topic of cooking vegetables, let’s focus on the humble tomato. If you slow roast a tomato in the oven, it releases sweetness and flavor we didn’t think was possible. Toss some fresh tomatoes in olive oil, give a little sprinkle of salt and pepper (and some Italian seasoning if you like). Place them on a baking sheet and cook until the skins begin to bubble and ooze. Because they are sweet, they work really well with savory grilled meat.
14. Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Ok, there is a bit of cheese in this recipe, but you deserve a little treat every now and again. We boil cauliflower until it is tender. While it is softening in the pan, we make a loose bechamel sauce and combine it with a low fat cheese. From there, we pour this cheesy sauce over the cauliflower and then bake until the top turns brown and slightly crispy.
15. Roasted Asparagus
There are a few ways you can cook asparagus. But let us tell you this. If you are boiling it, you are really missing out. Roasting is the way to go. You’ll find the taste of the asparagus intensifies, and it manages to retain some of its ‘bite’. Who wants to eat soft mushy asparagus? Not us! Yuck! This is a ‘bang in the oven and leave’ sort of dish. If you want to combine a couple of low carb sides, asparagus is another ideal candidate for making a packet with bacon (just like our first suggestion)
16. Pepper Parmesan Beans
This low carb side is a mix between a salad and a cooked vegetable dish. It is crunchy, tasty, and really fresh. You can really taste the goodness! We boil chopped green beans until they are al dente. While they are cooking, we cut a large red pepper into cubes and then add a crushed garlic clove along with a tiny amount of shredded parmesan. Give the entire lot a stir and watch in awe as the kids fight over who’s going to get the last spoonful!
17. Zucchini Wedges
Unfortunately, French fries and sweet potato fries are off the menu… But that doesn’t mean you can’t make something delicious and good for dipping! Once again, zucchini comes to the rescue! Cut zucchini into thick batons and give them a dust in corn starch and salt and pepper. Put the oven on high and bake them on a sheet until the edges turn dark and brown. The trick to this recipe is to avoid overcrowding the sheet, give each wedge room to breathe, and you’ll be good to go!
18. Bun-less Burgers
Look, low carb doesn’t mean boring. This is a real ‘keto’ meal. If you love a burger but can’t get over the fact that you need a bun, then we have the answer for you right here. You’ll find that two large leaves of good quality lettuce act as the ideal vessel to stop the sauces and fillings from your burger-making their way down your forearm. Lettuce is really low in carbs. That feeling of guilt that you get when you tear into a juicy quarter pounder has just disappeared, right?
19. Rosemary Root Veg
Root vegetables are fantastic to roast as they are robust and keep their color and texture. We like to combine calorie sparse things such as squash, zucchini, red onions, peppers, and perhaps a little swede or turnip. The key to getting this recipe is twofold. First, don’t skimp on the oil (trust us, you’ll regret it otherwise). Our second tip is to make sure you use plenty of seasoning. Give the entire mixture a dusting with dried rosemary, add a few sprigs of fresh for aesthetics and roast the lot for around 40 minutes. The beauty of this recipe is that it lets you do other things… Like, relax on the couch.
20. Summer Gazpacho
We’ve already seen that tomatoes are one of the kings of low carb sides. This takes it a step further. It is a little effort, but it is well worth it. All you need is a can of tomatoes, a little fresh basil, and some olive oil. We gently heat the tomatoes in a pan and add the basil. It infuses and begins to break down. From there, remove from the heat, allow the mixture to cool, and then blitz before adding a swirl of olive oil. If you want to look all fancy, serve into bowls with a dollop of pesto in the center.
21. Stuffed Mushroom and Blue Cheese
Mushroom recipes are some of my favorites. Cheese can be a little on the carb side but don’t worry, because blue cheese is really strong in taste, you will not need to use it a lot! We cook some mushrooms in a little butter before adding a spall teaspoon of flour. We stir until the mixture starts to turn golden, add a splash of milk, a small handful of blue cheese, and cook until the sauce thickens. From there, add a generous spoonful or two to some small ramekins before finishing off under a scalding hot broiler. This is one of the tastiest on our list!
There are several things you need to think about when creating low carb sides. As long as you stick to root vegetables that aren’t white (like potatoes), you will significantly reduce the number of carbs. Pretty much anything red or green should be your number one choice. Stop your sides from being bland with the inclusion of things like garlic or herbs, and you’ll be able to create impressive sides dishes that will keep everyone happy!