Low Carb Charlie

From Morbidly Obese to Wow!

Low Carb Charlie - From Morbidly Obese to Wow!

Once a Month Low-Carb Cooking?

For me, there’s always been several Faustian trade-offs between dining out versus dining in: while dining out is more convenient, it’s usually more expensive (though not always) and you consume a lot of other cheap, questionable, hard-to-pronounce ingredients (owing to oddities of industrial mass food production demands) that you didn’t ask for.  Many of these ingredients also aren’t regulated all that well, too, so who knows what the long-term implications could be to one’s health.  On the other hand, with home-cooked meals, you have better control over what type and the quality of ingredients you consume, but it also costs time and effort, which is becoming a scarce commodity.  However, the less difficult-to-pronounce ingredients one’s foods has–a.k.a. the less processed it is–the better it probably is for one’s health in the long-term.

I used to not view food in this way, which is probably why it was so easy to rationalize ordering off the fast food dollar menus en route to becoming 350+ pounds at one point in my life.  But I literally can’t go back to that mindset.

So how do I balance real food nutrition with the constraints of cost and convenience?

One answer came from a few blogs I read about slow cooker freezer recipes.  The idea is that one buys food in bulk or when it’s on sale, prepares some or all of the ingredients in a freezer bag or container, thaws a bag the night before, and cooks on low for 8+ hours in the slow cooker.  The concept is informally known as “once a month cooking.”  It was mostly some family’s mom that seriously used this method of food preparation on different blogs and YouTube videos I’ve seen, which makes sense.  Although I’m not a mother and don’t face nearly the same constraints, I would love to adapt the simplicity, cost, and convenience aspects and figured I would experiment soon and adapt this to low-carb cooking.

Freezer

Currently, I usually take a few hours during a weekend to prepare meals for the upcoming week in the fridge, but if I could invest the same amount of time to prepare even more meals, then that would help free up a few more weekend afternoons for me.

I’ve seen low-fat, Paleo, and gluten-free incarnations of slow-cooker freezer recipes but not any particular website or cookbook that I know of at least that focused exclusively on low-carb preparation in this particular way.

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker

So here’s part 1 of some recipes I’ve modified that I could probably adapt to this method of freezer bag/container preparation–>thaw night before–>cook in slow-cooker for 8+ hours.  Usually each recipe makes two one-gallon freezer bags.  So in order to do this type of once a month low-carb cooking, I would need 15 bulk recipes to freeze and store 30 one-gallon meals for a month.  Luckily, I have an extra freezer in the garage!

1. Spaghetti: <4g net per serving

2 X 2lbs. 85% lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed when possible)

2 X 1 lb. Italian sausage (I like Purnell’s @ Kroger due to no MSG in ingredients)

2 X 1 TBSP minced garlic

Seasonings

2 X 1 16oz. Jar of Rao’s Arrabiata Sauce (18g net carb for whole jar @ Walmart)

2 X 2 7oz. bags of Spinach Angel Hair Miracle Noodles (these store well in the fridge for some time)

On two burners simultaneously, while mixing in the garlic and other seasonings, I would spend about 15-20 minutes cooking the meat mixture only until it was no longer pink.  Then I would drain the mixture, let cool for about 10 minutes or so, and finally into two evenly distributed one-gallon freezer bags.  Label it “spaghetti” and place into the freezer, squeezing as much air out as possible and laying as flat as possible.

The night before I want to have this spaghetti, I would set from the freezer into the fridge to allow it to thaw.  Then the following morning I would dump into the slow cooker with one jar of Rao’s sauce and 2 bags of angel hair miracle noodles (drained and cut into smaller strands), then set for 8-10 hours on low.

The only carbs should really come from the sauce and a tiny bit from the minced garlic, about 19g net carbs for the entire pot, but makes about 5 servings (so less than 4g net per serving).

2. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo: ~6-8g net carbs per serving

Similar in concept to the spaghetti….

2 X 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast, diced (I usually can call my local butcher ahead of time to dice it for me at no extra charge–a real time saver!)

2 X 1 160z. bags of frozen broccoli florets

2 X 1 16 oz. jars of light alfredo sauce (~2g net per 1/2 cup serving is pretty good)

Seasonings

2 X 2 7oz. bags of Spinach Angel Hair Miracle Noodles (these store well in the fridge for some time)

Unlike the spaghetti, I’m not going to cook the chicken ahead of time.  I’m simply going to mix the seasonings with the diced chicken breasts, place 2 pound’s worth in each one-gallon freezer bag (again, 2 bags total), along with one pound of frozen broccoli florets.  Label, squeeze the air out, and freeze.

After thawing the day before in the fridge, I simply dump one bag’s content into the slow cooker with one jar of alfredo sauce and 2 bags of the angel hair miracle noodles (drained and cut).  Set on low for 8-10 hours.

The main sources of carbs in this dish would come from the broccoli and then the alfredo sauce.

3. Chicken Adobo: ~0-1g net carb per serving

2 X 2.5-3 pounds of chicken wings

2 X 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 X 1/2 soy sauce

2 X 1 cup water

2 X 3 bay leaves

2 X 1 TBSP of minced garlic

Seasonings

A Filipino classic done easier.   For each one-gallon bag (2 total), put 2.5 to 3 pounds of chicken wings with 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 TBSP of minced garlic, 1 cup water, and seasonings.  Seal tightly and stick in the freezer.

Same routine as above in terms of thawing in the fridge the day before.  And on the day of, just add 3 bay leaves to the slow cooker along with the freezer bag contents, then set on low for 8-10 hours.

The only real source of carbs would be a miniscule amount found in the minced garlic.

Instead of white or brown rice, I might use the food processor to make some cauliflower rice the day of, or more likely, ahead of time.  See this recipe for details.

4. Texas Chili: <1g net carbs per serving

2 X 3lbs ground chuck

2 X 1/4 cup chili powder

2 X 1 TBSP red pepper flakes

2 X 1 TBSP oregano

2 X 1 TSP cumin

2 X 1 TSP salt

2 X 4 oz cream cheese

2 X 1 TSP pepper

2 X 2 cups of water (1 cup = 8oz)

On two burners simultaneously, cook ground beef with dry seasonings until just no longer pink.  On the day of cooking in the slow cooker, pour in the water and cream cheese, then set on low for 8-10 hours.

The only real source of carbs would come from the 4 ounces of cream cheese (about 4g net) and makes about 6 hearty servings.

5. Pork Chops: ~2g net carbs per serving

2 X 1 family pack of pork chops (about 10 each)

2 X 1 can of cream of mushroom soup

2 X 1/2 cup of low-sugar ketchup

Salt

Pepper

Mix the soup and ketchup together, then add the salt and peppered the pork chops, throw in a freezer bag.  Then dump in slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours.

Each pork chop would be about 2g net carbs.

6. Beef Stew: 2g net carbs per serving

2 X 2.5 lbs beef stew

2 X 0.5 lbs bacon (just oven bake for 20 minutes at 400F, then dice into smaller pieces)

2 X 1 chopped green pepper (Kroger)

2 X 1 TBSP minced garlic

2 X 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

2 X 3 TSP salt

2 X 1 TSP black pepper

2 X 1 TSP garlic powder

2 X 1 TSP onion powder

2 X 1 TSP oregano

2 X 3 cups of beef broth

Mix all ingredients into one-gallon freezer bags, squeeze out excess air, and throw in freezer.  After thawing for a day, just set slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours.

Only real sources of carbs would be in the green peppers and then the beef broth.  I’d say this makes about 5 – 6 hearty servings for about 2g net per serving.

7. Chicken Parmesan: 4.5g net carbs per chicken breast serving

2 X 6-7 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 X 1/2 cup almond flour

2 X 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 X 2 eggs, beaten

2 X 1 TBSP salt and pepper

2 X 1 16 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

2 X 1 TBSP olive oil

Shredded Parmesan cheese or mozarella

Create an egg bath for the chicken in one bowl.  Mix flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese together in another bowl.  Coat the chicken in the egg bath and then coat in the dry ingredients. Then place coated chicken breasts into freezer bags. Dump the rest of the dry ingredients into the bag. Squeeze out excess air and store in freezer.

On the day of slow cooking, pour the TBSP of olive oil to lightly, evenly coat bottom of ceramic insert bowl, then carefully place chicken on top of the oil, then the cheese, and finally the jar of spaghetti sauce. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

The sources of carbs would be some in the almond flour (depending on brand, assuming Bob’s Red Mill here) and then the spaghetti sauce.  About 4 – 5g net carbs per chicken breast.

8. Curry Pork Roast: ~2g net per serving

2 X 3 lbs pork loin roast

2 X 2 TSP red or yellow curry powder

2 X 2 TSP salt and pepper

2 X 1 TSP cayenne pepper

2 X 1 TBSP minced garlic

2 X 1.5 cups of water

2 X 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar

2 X 3 TBSP low-carb ketchup

2 X 1 TBSP red pepper flakes

Evenly coat dry ingredients (except red pepper flakes) and garlic into the roast.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, sear roast, turning every 30 to 60 seconds to lightly brown all sides.  Allow to cool and set in freezer bag.

On day of cooking, add water to ceramic insert bowl and set to low for 8-10 hours.  Make sure internal temperature is about 145F.

To make the sauce that lightly covers the roast, mix red pepper flakes, ketchup, and balsamic vinegar together.

Main sources of carbs would be the sauce mixture and a tiny bit from the garlic.  Should make six hearty servings, or about 2g net per serving.

I’ll try to come up with 7 more recipes next time so I can fully do the 30 day experiment.

Category: Uncategorized
  • Kelly says:

    I love your recipes!.

    07/27/2013 at 11:15 PM
  • Des says:

    Thank you thank you! Cant wait to try the pork roast especially!

    09/06/2013 at 9:17 PM
  • Bobby says:

    Charlie you have got some great ideas, and much like you I am wanting to live the low-carb. life yet i find it hard to find the time to cook at the house. I hope with these recipes and the bulk size i will be able to minimize my time spent in the kitchen and maximize my living. Thanks again. PS I just started the Atkins Diet and only have a couple days left of the induction phase. Everyone keeps asking when we can go out n I try to help them understand Low carb is not a diet its a way of life and thus far its been a good journey. I just hope i can keep with it and follow through like you have. Congrats on the weight loss. sorry if im a lil late i just recently found you at Livinlavidalowcarb site Oh jimmys thats another inspiration. anyway. thaks for the informative post. and i will check back.

    11/03/2013 at 5:50 PM
  • Allison says:

    Wondering what you use to package the meals not to get freezer burned in a month. I have been considering getting a freezer storage system. Do you ever have trouble with things tasting freezer burned?

    01/14/2014 at 1:15 PM
  • brittany says:

    I love this! Super helpful for planning and good ideas in general. :)

    03/30/2014 at 9:34 PM

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