6 speedy low carb recipes, from simple snacks to dinners and desserts

Cutting the carbs? Check these fast-fix ideas with nutrition counts included. A time-savvy taster from Annie Bell’s new book…

Easy fishy toast-toppers, two ways

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Coconut almond bread


Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Using melted coconut oil, liberally grease a large non-stick loaf tin, about 1.2 litre capacity or near equivalent. In a large mixing bowl combine 200g ground almonds, 40g coconut flour and a large pinch of fine sea salt. Sift in 1 ½ tsp baking powder (gluten free if wished) and 1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda. In another large bowl whisk together 7 large eggs, 40g melted coconut oil, 1 generous tbsp runny honey and 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar until combined. Pour this over the dry ingredients and beat or whisk until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, smooth the top and dust with a few golden linseeds if wished. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and shrinking from the sides. Run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a wire rack or board to cool, standing the loaf the right way up. This nutritious protein-rich loaf (similar to cornbread in texture) toasts well and is especially good with a knob of unsalted butter, crisp grilled pancetta and drizzle of hot sauce.

CARBS PER SLICE 2.6g (1.7g sugars); CALS 151; PROTEIN 6.5g; FAT 12.2g (3.7g saturated); SALT 0.3g.

Smoked mackerel pate

Place 150g skinned smoked mackerel fillets in a food processor. Add 1 tsp chopped shallot, 100g quark, 50g soured cream, 1 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Whiz
all the ingredients to a textured paste. Transfer to a dish or pot for serving. Dust with a little extra cayenne. The pâté will keep in the fridge for a day or two. I like to serve it on slices of my protein-rich coconut almond bread, with thinly sliced radishes and salad sprouts. It’s also great with a poached egg on top or with batons of raw veg.

CARBS PER SERVING 1.5g (1.4g sugars); CALS 163; protein 11.8g; fat 12.1g (saturated 3.8g); salt 0.7g

Potted sardines

Have ready 2 x 115g cans sardines or equivalent (I love the French brand Connétable; you can find it in delis and online and – increasingly – in supermarkets). Drain the sardines of oil and coarsely mash them in a medium bowl. Add 1 tsp grainy mustard, 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp cider vinegar. Continue to mash to a textured pâté. Transfer to a serving bowl or pot and scatter over a little more parsley. Cover and chill until required. Best eaten on the day. Very good on toast with slivers of gherkin or cucumber (nutrition counts are for the potted sardines only).

CARBS PER SERVING 0.4g (0.3g sugars); CALS 214; protein 18.3g; fat 15.4g (3.2g saturated); salt 1g

Thai curried chicken soup

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All the zing of a Thai curry but lighter. If you like, you could extend it with some soya or edamame noodles. It’s also good made with leftover roast turkey instead of chicken.

2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 rounded tsp green curry paste
3 banana shallots peeled and thinly sliced
400ml chicken stock
400ml light coconut milk
1½ tbsp lime juice
1 level tsp palm sugar or light
muscovado sugar
1½ tsp Maldon sea salt
300g cooked chicken shredded
300g beansprouts
1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
4 tbsp coarsely chopped

extra chopped coriander
basil leaves (optional)
finely sliced deseeded medium-hot green or red
chilli, seeds discarded (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the curry paste and stir it around, then add the shallots and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften and are coated with the paste. Pour in the stock and coconut milk and add the lime juice, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil (you can turn up the heat for this) and then simmer over a very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the soup is creamy.
Add the chicken and beansprouts, bring back to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and coriander and serve in warm bowls scattered with extra coriander and, if wished, basil leaves and a slice or two of chilli.

CARBS PER SERVING 5.2g (3.9g sugars); CALS 206; protein 20.3g; fat 11g (4.9g saturated); salt 1.1g

Avocado and coconut dip

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This works beautifully as a side with curries and spicy dishes, as well as with crudités or other dippers. Finely sliced baby courgettes scattered over, as in the picture, will add some extra crunch.

juice of ½-1 lime
flesh of 2 ripe avocados (about 200g)
1 heaped tbsp coconut yoghurt
½ tsp ground cumin
1 spring onion trimmed and sliced
small handful of fresh coriander plus a little extra chopped to serve
sea salt and cayenne pepper

Adding the juice of just ½ lime to start with, whiz all the ingredients to a smooth purée in a food processor. Taste for seasoning and add a little more lime if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, dust with a little more cayenne pepper and scatter over a little extra chopped coriander. Cover and chill until required. It should keep well for up to a day.

CARBS PER SERVING 0.8g (0.6g sugars); CALS115; protein 1.3g; fat 11.3g (3.3g saturated); salt trace

Rainbow ‘spaghetti’ with parmesan, parsley and crispy bacon

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A good advertisement for spiralised veggies. Ideally, do your own spiralising if you can. I know it’s a bit more fiddly, but buying pre-prepped veg noodles isn’t quite the same!

80g unsmoked streaky bacon cut into 1cm dice or bacon lardons
30g salted butter
1 small garlic clove peeled and crushed to a paste
sea salt and black pepper
300g courgette noodles (3mm)
100g carrot noodles (3mm)
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley plus extra to serve
50g freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges to serve

Gently heat the bacon in a large, nonstick frying pan over a medium heat and fry in the rendered fat for 4-7 minutes until golden and crisp, stirring frequently. Transfer to a double thickness of kitchen paper to drain.
Bring a large (unsalted) pan of water to the boil. Melt the butter with the garlic and some seasoning in a small saucepan.
Add the noodles to the boiling water, blanch for 1 minute, then drain into a colander and shake dry for about 30 seconds. Return these to the saucepan, pour over the garlic butter, scatter over the parsley and half the parmesan and toss to coat.
Divide between two shallow soup bowls. Scatter over the remaining parmesan, a little more parsley and the bacon, then drizzle over some olive oil. Accompany with lemon wedges.

CARBS PER SERVING 6.6g (6.2g sugars); CALS 336; protein 9.6g; fat 28.9g (12.2g saturated); salt 1.6g

Dutch-style omelette

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Trim and tear or slice 75g assorted mushrooms. Trim 1 leek, halve it lengthways and slice thinly. Prepare 1 heaped tbsp each finely chopped chives and finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Have ready 50g grated mature gouda and 75g diced roast ham. Heat 10g unsalted butter with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the leek and mushrooms, season and fry for 5-7 minutes until softened and starting to colour, then remove to a small bowl. Meanwhile whisk 4 medium eggs with 3 tbsp skimmed milk and some seasoning in a medium bowl, then stir in the chopped herbs. Tip the egg mixture into the pan and briefly scramble with a fork until half-set. Cook for about 2 minutes, while scattering the cheese, ham and leek mixture over the top. The omelette should be nice and golden underneath and softly setting on top to your liking; fold it over using a spatula and slip on to a serving plate. Scatter over a little more parsley.

CARBS PER SERVING 2.3g (2.2g sugars); CALS 402; protein 31.9g; fat 29.1g (12.5g saturated); salt 2.2g

Apple and blueberry frittata

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A clever eggy dessert (reminiscent of clafoutis) with just a little stevia for added sweetness, otherwise relying on the natural sugars in the fruit and spices traditionally used in baking.

4 medium eggs
100ml skimmed milk
1½ tbsp granulated stevia (equivalent to 1½ tbsp sugar)
small pinch of saffron filaments (about 10) ground and blended with 1 tsp boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon juice
20g unsalted butter
1 eating apple peeled, cored and thinly sliced lengthways
75g blueberries
25g ricotta or young goat’s cheese
1 tbsp dark rum
ground cinnamon for dusting

Whiz the eggs, milk, stevia, the saffron liquor and vanilla extract in a blender until foamy,
then add the lemon zest and juice and whiz again.
Preheat the grill. Melt half the butter in a 24cm nonstick frying pan with a heatproof handle over a medium heat and fry the apple slices for a few minutes until translucent and lightly coloured, turning the slices and stirring frequently, then transfer these to a bowl.
Add half the remaining butter to the pan and swirl to melt, then tip in the egg mixture and cook for 3 minutes. Just before the end of this time, scatter the apple slices over the surface, along with the blueberries, and dot with the remaining butter and ricotta or goat’s cheese.
Place under the grill for about 3 minutes or until golden and puffy at the sides.
Remove from the heat, drizzle over the rum, lightly dust with cinnamon and let the frittata stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

CARBS PER SERVING 6g (5.3g sugars); CALS 128; protein 7g; fat 7.5g (3.5g saturated); salt 0.3g

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Recipes from Low Carb Express by Annie Bell, to be published by Kyle Books on 5 April, price £16.99. Annie is an award-winning food writer with a master’s degree in nutrition. Her new book explains the principles behind low-carb eating and offers 100 carb-aware recipes that celebrate this approach without sacrificing flavour or deliciousness, showing that easy-to-prepare, quick-to-cook low-carb food can still be filling and enticing. Each recipe can be made in 30 minutes or less and includes a nutritional profile listing carbs, calories, fat, salt and protein content. To pre-order a copy for £13.59 until 1 April, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.