Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Tolerable zero-carb foods for breakfast

Of course if you decide to switch for some time (or forever) to a zero-carb diet, the options are endless. On the other hand, who has the energy to track down a whole bunch of zero-carb ideas for breakfast? And I say that as a morning person who likes to cook and owns more than 100 cookbooks. *Even I* dislike dealing with a low- or no-carb breakfast. *All* my favorite breakfast foods are definitely heavy on the carbohydrates. Coconut chocolate-chip scones! Chocolate chip oatmeal pancakes! Over-easy eggs with, and this is the important part, cream biscuits!

Sigh. All those things have now been relegated to mere treats. Even the over-easy eggs. What’s the point of frying eggs over-easy if you’re not going to have biscuits to dip in the yolk?

On the other hand, I’ve learned to make a decent omelet.

On the other other hand, one does get tired of bothering with omelets. Here is an easy, quick alternative to an omelet that yields a breakfast that somehow seems more substantial and worth eating than mere scrambled eggs.

Breakfast “frittata” for one

2 eggs, beaten with a little water or milk
Some cooked, crumbled bacon or sausage, or diced ham, or whatever
Some diced cheese, such as sharp cheddar
A pinch of salt
A good pinch of pepper

Preheat the broiler.

Heat a little oil (or bacon drippings)over medium heat in a small skillet. Saute the bacon or whatever just enough to heat it up (or cook it if it’s not already cooked). Pour in the eggs. Do not stir. Scatter the cheese over the top. Don’t stir. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let cook for a minute or two without stirring.

Take the skillet off the burner and put it under the broiler for a minute or two, until the top is set or as browned as you like it.

Slide the frittata onto a warmed plate, where it will look like a pretty credible breakfast even by itself.

Stuff to serve with this: obviously biscuits are out; that’s the whole point. But you could have fruit. Bananas and grapes are often considered bad news if you’re trying to cut carbs, but apples seem pretty safe for me, at least.

Other things that would go with this even though they aren’t specifically considered breakfast foods: creamed spinach or, if you’re an overachiever, spinach soufflé. Having an egg thing AND something else is one way to beat the feeling that you are on a deprivation diet, even though obviously you are.

Another possibility: A crustless quiche. For example, something like this:

Broccoli Quiche

3 C steamed broccoli florets or spinach
1 ½ C of shredded cheddar or other cheese
6 large eggs
½ C light cream
1 tsp freshly-ground pepper, or 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Spread broccoli in a 9″ pie plate and sprinkle with the cheese. Beat together the eggs, cream, pepper or cayenne, and salt. Pour over the broccoli and cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or so, until set in the middle.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

If you are going to try a high-protein, low- to no-carb diet, *do not go low-fat.* A high protein / low fat diet is exactly what nearly drove the Lewis and Clark expedition into fat starvation. A no-carb diet is *instead of* a low-fat diet, not something you try at the same time, despite decades of trained guilt about high-fat foods.

Also, when a product is made “reduced fat” or “low fat,” the stuff put in to replace the fat is generally some kind of carbohydrate. Using low-fat mayonnaise means you are probably consuming more carbs than you think, in order to avoid fat that is not harmful.

I think one of the best books out there about diet and low-fat vs low-carb diets and so on is Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat, which is why I posted about it a year or two ago.

Second, if a food item is wrapped in a tortilla or made with flax seed replacing wheat flour, or whatever, then it is probably not low-carb. Flattening out the bread does not make it low carb. All seeds and beans and so on contain a lot of carbohydrates, even if they are also high protein or high fat or both.

Of course you may personally find that beans and seeds don’t affect your weight as badly as wheat does. That seems to be true for me, and I sometimes use chickpea flour to make socca as a bread substitute. It just annoys me to have websites and other diet advice imply that these kinds of things are low-carb, when they clearly are high carb even if they are not wheat.

Socca would be fine for breakfast, I’m sure, but I usually make it for lunch or a snack. The trick to it not sticking is to follow the advice in the recipe linked in the paragraph above and get the well-oiled pan (I use a nonstick skillet and a generous amount of olive oil) absolutely blazing hot before you add the batter.

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3 Comments Tolerable zero-carb foods for breakfast

  1. pete mack

    Allow me to recommend fresh spinach instead of broccoli. I have hit my lifetime USRDA of broccoli. (My grandmother hated both, probably because of the then-prevalence of creamed spinach in a can:
    “Broccoli…
    is exoccoli
    with in an inich
    of being spinach”)

  2. mona

    Note to self: must try socca. I recently saw a similar recipe on thekitchn.com, so the universe must be speaking to me.

    I can’t fathom any form of eggs without something carb to swallow too.

  3. Rachel

    Yeah, eggs without carbs, non-ideal. I guess that counts as a #firstworldproblem, though.

    Pete, cute rhyme! Luckily I haven’t yet overdosed on either broccoli or spinach. But as far as I’m concerned, if you put a green bell pepper in the fridge, it contaminates everything else in there.

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