Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yes, Virginia, You Do Eat Veggies On a Low Carb Diet

Summertime Tomatoes Shine In This Easy Caprese Appetizer Bites Recipe

Caprese Appetizer Bites make a quick
and delicious low carb appetizer!
I always get a chuckle from some of the assumptions made about low carb living. One of the biggest gross generalities about low carbers is that we don't eat any veggies and that we eat SO much protein. People always want to know whether or not I eat veggies at all…and don’t get me started about the questions that usually begin with, “How can you eat all that fat?”

The irony is that I eat way more veggies on a low carb diet than I ever did eating SAD (Standard American Diet). And summertime with its vegetable bounty is one of my favorite seasons. Honest, this is straight from the mouth of a low carber!

*the crowd makes a collective gasp and swoons*

And tomatoes, a summertime superstar, offer great options for quick and easy recipes! From salads to ingredients in main dishes and veggie side dishes, tomatoes brighten the summertime plate. Every spring, my blood starts pumping as I plan recipes highlighting the new tomato season.

I’m going to focus the next couple of posts on quick and easy vegetable dishes that feature some of the summer’s brightest stars, and why not kick this off with the beloved tomato? I want to illustrate that our low carb lifestyle isn’t all about the meat, although it’s lovely to fearlessly chow down
on a delicious hamburger or eat the skin on the roasted chicken leg and thigh with abandon. I feel equally privileged to enjoy huge salads with luscious homemade vinaigrette and creamy yogurt dressings or eat big servings of low glycemic veggies of all kinds, tossed with olive oil and garlic.

In fact people are surprised I generally keep my protein servings in the 3-4oz range per meal and the 1-2oz size in the unlikely event I feel the need to feed on a snackalicious little something or other. You guys may eat bigger protein servings, I think it’s a highly individual thing. But I maintain, I probably eat more veggies now than I ever did during the days I ate a SAD style “nutrition”. I generally eat about 5-9 servings of veggies and low glycemic fruits daily.

(General Disclaimer - No offense to you R.D.'s and Nutritionists out there. I will just tell you that few nutritionists were harmed in the making of this blog post. All were safely released back into the wild.)

True story. And a funny one, to boot! I was sent over to the nutrtitionist – a PhD and R.D. (Registered Dietician) recently and he told me in the first 3 minutes of conversation that he DID NOT prescribe low carb diets and that I was killing myself with all that protein and fat and wasn’t giving my body enough carbs; that my body was cannibalizing itself and eating my muscles, because it wasn’t getting enough carbohydrate. He then went on to tell me he wanted me on a 1400cal/day diet with 20% coming from protein, 20% coming from fat and 60% coming from carbs.

So let’s look at his recommended numbers:
1400kcal/day x 20%Protein = 280 calories  ÷  4cal/gram = 70g Protein/day
1400kcal/day x 20% Fat = 280 calories  ÷  9cal/gram = 31g Fat/day
1400kcal/day x 60% Carbs = 840 calories ÷  4cal/gram = 210g Carbs/day

I laughed and asked him what made him think that I could magically start handling carbs without a spike in my blood sugar when I couldn’t do it during a 5 hour glucose tolerance test about 6 years previously? And then I went on to let him know that “all that protein” in my current diet averages around 60-80g Protein daily, about the same amount he recommends.

All I’ve done in my diet is reduce the calories so that it’s closer to 1100-1200kcal/daily and swapped carbs for healthy fats that don’t affect blood sugar. By eating my version of a low carb diet, which allows me plenty of veggies and some low glycemic fruits, I consume between 40-60g of Net Carbs.

Now, I hear ya, I shouldn't be talking about calories, 'cuz well, it's low carb. We don't talk about calories because calories-in = calories-out is a specious equation and means little to doodley-squat! But someone forgot to give the message to my little chubby-lover fat cells that calories don't count in low carb eating. I'm an over 40, post-surgical menopausal woman, unfortunately on many drugs for asthma and cancer with known side effects of weight gain. I'm a breast cancer survivor as well, and I'm just hear to tell you in my little n=1 corner of the world, if I WANT to lose weight, I must cut the calories. If I want to maintain? Well, eat away! The calories don't matter as much to me.

So let’s look at my numbers:
1200kcal/day x 25%Protein = 300 calories  ÷  4cal/gram = 75g Protein/day
1200kcal/day x 60% Fat = 720 calories  ÷  9cal/gram = 80g Fat/day
1200kcal/day x 15% Carbs = 180 calories ÷  4cal/gram = 45g Carbs/day

Yellow cherry tomatoes taste and look great in
Caprese Appetizer Bites.
You can pack in a wollop of low glycemic veggies and a bit of fruit for 45g of net effective carbs (those are carbs with fiber and sugar alcohols subtracted from them). I actually eat more servings of veggies using my numbers and plan than he suggested on his plan!

Oy veh! Archaic science. Gotta love it! Oh and did I mention his PhD is in epidemiological nutrition? Hmmm…can you say China Study? *snort*

Ok, so go visit your local farm stand and fall in love with summer tomatoes.

Plant a pot of basil out back or on your balcony or anywhere. It’s just a little pot, folks! Then go get a ball of fresh mozzarella or those fancy little bocconcini.

Bocconcini with grilled zucchini and red bell peppers.
Oh my! Here we are with MORE veggies. Are you
sure this is LOW CARB we're talking 'bout here, Susie?

Bocconcini are small balls of fresh mozzarella about the size of a golf ball or egg, about an ¾ ounce to 1 ounce each.

Try this quick little Caprese Salad recipe and use the "bites" for appetizers or a side dish. It’s great with all sorts of grilled and pan roasted meats! Mangia!

(Yeah, I know that’s not Texan!)

Caprese Appetizer Bites make a
great low carb side.
Caprese Appetizer Bites
Serves – 4
Prep Time – 10 Minutes
Cooking Time – 0 Minutes
Difficulty – Easy

16 Grape Tomatoes
(You can also use yellow or red cherry tomatoes.)
16 Basil Leaves
16 Cubes Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella
16 Wooden or Bamboo Mini Skewers or Toothpicks
2 Tbsp. House Vinaigrette
(See House Vinaigrette Recipe here - I’ve told you about a dozen times!)

You can use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes in the
Caprese Appetizer Bites.
Wash and dry tomatoes and basil leaves.

Place basil in a salad spinner or carefully dry leaves with a paper towel to keep leaves from turning brown when water sits on the leaves. Place in the fridge until ready to assemble and let the leaves crisp.

Cut fresh, Whole Milk Mozzarella into ½” cubes, or use small bocconcini size mozzarella. If using bocconcini, cut them in half or in quarters, depending on their size. You only want a mouthful of mozzarella on each skewer.

Zippy says to tell you, "Brown basil is yukky!"
Make mini skewers by piercing the edge of a basil leaf, then stacking a grape tomato and a cube of cheese. Pierce the second end of the basil leaf to make a “C” shape around the tomato and cheese stack.

Skewers can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container up to 4 hours before serving. Make sure all elements of the appetizer are dry! Take Zippy's word for it, brown basil is yukky…

Just prior to serving, arrange skewers on a serving plate. Drizzle with House Vinaigrette. (See recipe with Chopped Salad and House Vinaigrette).

Nutritional Information
Caprese Appetizer Skewer – Individual Skewer

Susie T Notes –These make a light and refreshing appetizer for the Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Garlicky Green Beans and Asparagus. I made this recipe for a Recipe Lion Memorial Day Recipe Rodeo and will re-post it on the Fluffy Chix Cook blog, soon.

Allow 4 Caprese Appetizer Skewers per person if this is the only appetizer being served. If you are serving other apps, then cut the per person quantity to 2-3 per person. If you are serving this as a side salad, allow 4-6 skewers per person (about 2oz of cheese/person).


  1. You really have great low carb diet plan here. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks! I love it!! And I hope some of the hijinx here at Fluffy Chix Cook help others get inspired and get cookin'!! :)

  2. I love the comeback to the RD! And this recipe? Oh, my tomato plants are in full swing and I can't wait to make these!

    1. Oh, Arlene! It's so easy! You will adore the House Vinaigrette and they look so festive!!

      Hahaha on the R.D. I'm not sure whether he fired me as a client or I fired him as an advisor.

      It's unfortunate, really. I don't understand where our system went so wrong. No two people are the same. We're unique! And that means we each have slightly different nutritional needs based on our metabolic health or disease.

      So why on earth do we get a cookie cutter diet prescription that doesn't take into account our unique food needs?

      He said the MINIMUM number of carbs I could eat daily was 130g. And from personal experience with T2 (in diet controlled remission), is that 60g of net carbs is an absolute max. I should be well under that in order to keep my blood sugar in check. My last A1c eating at that level was 5.6 and it went up from 5.3. So can you imagine how much higher it would go up eating 70g of more carbs per day?


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  4. Caprese appetizer bites from a cancer survivor? Thanks.

    1. Yes, I had that conversation with my Wizard of Oncology. I felt I needed to limit all kinds of things besides just soy in all forms and derivations. But he said, at this time, he wouldn't be asking me to limit things like dairy and other phytoestrogens.

      I do usually limit them on a daily basis.

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  6. my kids would love these with, right or wrong, thinly slices good salami :) another win :)

    1. Yes, this would be fabulous with salami or pepperoni!! Great kid food too!!


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