Low carb, high satisfaction

If those Covid-19 lockdown kilograms are not shifting, Australian wellness specialist and My Kitchen Rules finalist Luke Hines has some advice.

Hines, a nutritional therapist and personal trainer, calls himself a ‘‘passionate’’ healthy cook who believes combining intermittent fasting with low-carbohydrate eating helps to improve people’s health and weight.

In The Fast Low-Carb Kickstart Plan he says bringing the two concepts together creates an efficient, enhanced and time-effective approach to long-term wellness.

He hopes the book will cut through much of the hype around different dietary approaches to give people the tools to make ‘‘fast, realistic and lasting’’ changes that can be implemented for the rest of their lives.

‘‘Look, I get it. I know overhauling your health can feel daunting. But please know it is easier, more delicious and less restrictive than you think.

‘‘Fasting doesn’t mean you can’t eat. It’s just about being mindful of when you eat. And going low-carb doesn’t mean you have to count calories, cut out entire food groups and miss out on things you love. Instead you’ll be eating better, more nutritious and delicious food than ever before.’’

As well as the advice on fasting, approaches to sugar and a handy swap guide to carb-loaded snacks, there is a four-week meal plan to ‘‘kick-start’’ the approach.

He has included recipes for breakfast, vegetables and the main proteins. The treats section has makeovers of favourites such as carrot cake, crumble and lava cakes.

Seeded cauliflower loaf

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
I absolutely love this recipe as it’s a great example of a bread that is nut-free, low-carb and packed with the goodness of vegetables. What a delicious mouthful!

Makes 1 loaf

500g (about 1 small head) cauliflower,

outer leaves removed, broken into

small florets

185ml coconut oil, melted

6 eggs, at room temperature, plus 1

extra if needed

100g (¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp) coconut flour

1 heaped tsp gluten-free baking powder

2 tsp sea salt

60g (½ cup) pumpkin seeds

80g (½ cup) hulled hemp seeds (hearts)

80g (½ cup) sesame seeds, plus 1

tsp extra

To serve

grass-fed butter (optional)

Method

Heat the oven to 200degC and line a 22cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse into tiny rice-like pieces (this usually takes six to eight pulses). Warm 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a frying pan over high heat, add the cauliflower rice and saute for 3–4 minutes until softened and light golden brown on the edges. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and remaining coconut oil, then add the coconut flour, baking powder and salt and mix well to combine, adding an extra egg if the mixture looks a little dry. Using a spoon, gently stir through the sauteed cauliflower and the seeds.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, sprinkle over the extra sesame seeds and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the loaf is set. To test, press down gently on the top of the loaf – if it holds its shape, it’s ready.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning out, slicing and serving with some butter, if you like.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If not eating straight away, toast under the grill for best results.

Good to know: Being completely nut free, this is a fantastic recipe to make for school lunchboxes.

Health hack: I love sneaking pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) into as many recipes as I can, as they are a great source of monounsaturated and omega-6 fats.

Spicy coconut fish bites

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
This is a fantastic dish that everyone will love. The combination of chilli flakes and cayenne pepper really give these little bites a fiery kick.

Serves 4

60g (½ cup) arrowroot or tapioca flour

2 eggs, beaten

100g (1 cup) almond meal

45g (½ cup) desiccated coconut

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp sweet paprika

400g whiting, snapper or other firm white fish fillets, skin off and bones removed, cut into 5cm chunks

coconut oil spray

To serve

lemon wedges (optional)

spicy mayo

Method

Heat the oven to 180degC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put the arrowroot or tapioca flour in one bowl, the egg in another, and the almond meal, desiccated coconut, salt, chilli, cayenne and paprika in a third bowl.

Dip the fish pieces into the arrowroot or tapioca flour, then the egg, allowing the excess to drip off, and finally into the almond and coconut mixture to coat well on all sides. Transfer the fish to the prepared tray and lightly spray with coconut oil. Bake for 10–12 minutes, turning halfway and

re-spraying with oil if you wish, until golden brown and crisp.

Serve the fish bites with lemon wedges (if desired) and a bowl of mayo for dipping.

Good to know: To give these more of a mild spice hit, try replacing the dried chilli flakes and cayenne pepper with some ground cumin and turmeric.

Health hack: Coconut meat is the white flesh of coconuts and is edible fresh or dried.

This recipe celebrates it in its dried form as desiccated coconut. It is both rich in fibre and healthy fats, so it keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Crispy butter chicken salad

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
I am a massive fan of butter chicken. Here I wanted to show you a different way to eat it, turning it into a luscious salad stuffed full of all the flavours you know and love, but also bursting with an extra level of freshness.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp garam masala

250g (1 cup) coconut yoghurt

6 chicken thighs, skin on

1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into rounds

250g truss tomatoes, halved

2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 handful of coriander leaves

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

pinch of sea salt

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

80g (½ cup) cashew nuts, toasted and chopped

Tandoori paste

1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp sea salt

Method

To make the tandoori paste, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garam masala, half the coconut yoghurt and two-thirds of the tandoori paste. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat in the marinade, then set aside for 15–20 minutes to absorb all the yummy flavours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side up on the prepared tray.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown and crispy on top.

Meanwhile, combine the cucumber, tomato, green chilli, red onion and coriander in a bowl. Add the apple cider vinegar, salt and lime zest and juice, and toss to coat well.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining coconut yoghurt and tandoori paste.

When ready to serve, spread the yoghurt and tandoori mixture across your serving plates and pile the fresh, zesty salad ingredients on top. Slice the chicken thighs into thick strips and lay these on top of the salad, then scatter over the cashews and season with salt. Enjoy!

Good to know: For really lovely charred chicken skin, try switching the oven over to the grill function for the last few minutes of cooking time. You could also thread the chicken on to skewers, if preferred.

Health hack: The reason I want you to make your own tandoori paste is that most store-bought versions contain refined sugars, inflammatory seed oils, and artificial colours and flavours. It’s always best to stick with real food

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