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Seasonal Eating

Get energized with low carb vegetables

Whitney Danhof
Posted 4/24/21

Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and play a role in brain function. Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. So for diabetics, controlling the amount of carbohydrates and when they are eaten becomes critical in managing blood sugar levels...

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Seasonal Eating

Get energized with low carb vegetables

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Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and play a role in brain function. Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. So for diabetics, controlling the amount of carbohydrates and when they are eaten becomes critical in managing blood sugar levels.

A registered dietician can help people with diabetes in planning out how much carbohydrate to eat. However, in controlling the amount consumed, one tool that can be very helpful is knowing how to prepare healthy, low carbohydrate vegetables.

The farmers markets will open soon, bringing a variety of fresh, low carbohydrate vegetables. Look for the Bedford County market to open in June.

Some commonly eaten low carbohydrate vegetables include asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, okra, onions, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, greens and lettuces. All of these have approximately 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving which is ? cup cooked or 1 cup raw.

Roasting is a great, lower fat method for preparing many of these vegetables. We don't often think of roasting green beans or okra but both of these are excellent in the oven. The outside gets browned and the flavor is enhanced. Just toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400-425 degrees until tender. The okra will crisp up and doesn't even need a coating like when deep frying.

Asparagus, beets and carrots are more commonly roasted but even cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms do well with this method. Another advantage of roasting is that you can add a piece of lean protein, like a chicken breast or pork chop, to the pan at the appropriate time and have a sheet pan dinner all ready at one time and with easy clean-up.

Steam saut?ing is another useful method for cooking low carbohydrate vegetables. In this technique, the vegetables are steamed in a covered skillet with water and just a little fat (about 1 tablespoon) until just tender and then the cover is removed and the water is evaporated. The vegetables are saut?ed in the fat remaining in the pan until the flavor intensifies and they are just starting to brown. You can add flavoring ingredients like dried herbs, spices, garlic and onion while they steam or you can add fresh herbs, citrus zest, soy sauce or Dijon mustard while they saut? for an extra kick of flavor.

Asparagus with lemon and parsley, carrots with nutmeg or green beans with onions and thyme are all good combinations to try.

Low carbohydrate vegetables also make good stir-fried dishes. Carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, summer squash and peppers all do well when cooked over high heat with a little bit of oil and a flavorful soy based sauce added at the end. If you have a wok, that works fine, but you can also just use a large skillet on the stovetop.

Start by adding the firmer vegetables that take longer to cook such as the carrots. Next come the medium firm vegetables like celery and mushrooms which need to release all of their liquid. Finally comes the fast cooking vegetables like summer squash, onions and peppers. For a low carbohydrate option, serve your stir fry over riced cauliflower instead of regular rice.

So when needing to control your blood sugar, try some low carbohydrate vegetables in your meals. For more information about programs to help manage diabetes or the Bedford County Farmers Market, check out the UT/TSU Extension Office webpage at bedford.tennessee.edu under family programs.

**Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

1 lb. beef sirloin steak (or flank, flatiron, round, etc.), cut into matchsticks

2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1Tbsp. sherry

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

3 ribs celery, cut into matchsticks

1/2 onion, cut into matchsticks

1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks

1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger root

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

Sauce:

4 1/2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. sherry

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

In bowl, combine beef, soy sauce and sherry. In another bowl, combine all ingredients for sauce; set aside. In wok, heat oil to smoking point, add beef and cook until done. Remove beef. Add carrot and cook for a few minutes, then the celery and onion and cook for another minute. Finally add the bell pepper and zucchini and stir fry until the vegetables are tender. Add the sauce and cooked beef. Cook for a minute until heated through and

sauce is slightly thickened. Serve over cooked cauliflower rice. Serves 8 with 11 grams carbohydrate per serving.

**Oven Roasted Okra

1 lb. okra

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Rinse the okra and then dry well with a paper towel. Cut off the tops and then cut the remaining pod into 1/2" slices, crosswise. In a bowl, toss together the okra and oil. Pour onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees until browned and crisp on the outside. Start checking them at about 10 minutes and stir often until well browned. Serve immediately.

Whitney Danhof is with the University of Tennessee Extension in Shelbyville.

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