Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way: Healthy Menus, Recipes, and the Shopping Lists That Will Keep the Whole Family at the Dinner Table

Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way: Healthy Menus, Recipes, and the Shopping Lists That Will Keep the Whole Family at the Dinner Table

by Leanne Ely

ISBN: 9780345478061

Publisher Ballantine Books

Published in Calendars/Diet & Health, Calendars/Cooking

Are you an AUTHOR? Click here to include your books on

Sample Chapter

Chapter One


Every time I turn around, it seems something new has appeared, making fabulous low-carb claims, whether it is a book, product, spokes- person, or what have you. The never-ending hit parade of all things low carb doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. As a matter of fact, the business of low carb is escalating faster than the national deficit—not quite in the trillions of dollars, but definitely billions. For a long time I thought this was just a Dr. Stillman déjà-vu deal, until the flashback wouldn’t go away.

As the Dinner Diva of, I want to know what my subscribers want. A while back, I began getting hit with a ton of requests for a more low-carb-friendly Menu-Mailer. The last straw came when one of my subscribers who had been with me from the beginning e-mailed me and told me that her husband had been diagnosed with diabetes. And yes, she asked the fatal question: Would I please do a more low-carb-friendly Menu-Mailer?

Like a lot of people, I believed the low-carb fad diets would hit the skids anytime soon, and I couldn’t wait. I pooh-poohed the idea and scoffed at the notion of those limiting their carbs. In my mind, eating low carb was eating bacon, eggs, and steaks. You call that healthy?

I did a little research and discovered going low carb didn’t need to look like steak for every meal. Quite the contrary—it could be a lifestyle of variety and flavor, could actually contain vegetables, and be outright healthy. In the meantime, I tried going low carb myself. Not only did I feel better and more satiated, while eating less food, but I began to read and read some more on the actual, real-life, not-manufactured-for-your-viewing-pleasure science. There really is something behind this low-carb phenomenon. It is here to stay, and I’m very glad it is. I guess you could say that I’m a believer.

In August 2003, I realized this was something exciting and introduced my first Low-Carb Menu-Mailer (for more information on Menu-Mailer, go to I realize now, more than a year later, that low carb isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle and it is here to stay.

It is in that spirit that I offer you the next Saving Dinner book. While the recipes are low carb (and that is 10 or fewer net grams of carbs for the entrée—not counting the Serving Suggestions), there are certain members of your household who aren’t going to want to do low carb all the way, so there are regular, non-low-carb Serving Suggestions offered as well for that person or persons. You don’t have to make two dinners so you can low carb it, while the kids eat a regular, non-low-carb meal. Isn’t that great?

Just as the first Saving Dinner book offered you the recipes, menus, and shopping lists divvied up by weeks and seasons, so does this book. I think this is the way to go in today’s world—having the hard work of menu planning already done and ready to go. The shopping lists are again at your convenience, on my website in a printer-friendly format, just go to and click on Shopping Lists. You don’t need to schlep your book to the grocery store and take a chance on losing it.

A big caveat to those who may be following certain low-carb diets with big lists of do’s and don’ts. This book does not adhere to any one low-carb diet plan. It’s just low carb, end of story. You won’t find oddball ingredients like pork rinds, weird ketosis-inducing, low-carb mixes made with strange things you’ve never heard of. I use regular ingredients and admittedly, I’ve been skewered for it. People have written absolutely unprintable e-mails denouncing my low-carb ideas because I had the audacity to add 1 tablespoon of whole-wheat flour to a recipe—even though I’ve kept the recipe very low carb. Apparently, in their eyes I’ve committed the carbinal sin (get it?) by using big no-no ingredients.

But the issue in my mind, is keeping the recipes low carb (they are) and using real ingredients, easily accessible and found at just about any market, to carry out this goal. I’ve held true to this principle for years: that the more natural and real your ingredients are, the easier it is to accomplish and keep up as a lifestyle.

Consider this book as another weapon in your arsenal to keep you organized and on target to help you get dinner on the table. With this tool, you can accomplish that without having to sacrifice your time, health objectives, or sanity. Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is all about helping you meet your goals.


Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is designed to give you everything you need to do dinner. The recipes, serving suggestions, and, most important, categorized shopping lists are all contained within this book. Speaking of shopping lists, for your convenience, I have also added printer-friendly shopping lists to my website ( so you can print out the appropriate list without having to lug your book to the store.

There are two types of Serving Suggestions in the book: LC (low carb) and just Serving Suggestions (regular ones for non-low- carbing family members). The Serving Suggestions are asterisked on the grocery lists because I don’t want you to feel roped in by any of my suggestions. However, the LC Serving Suggestions are not asterisked, as I am trying to help you put together a complete, low-carb meal.

I would strongly suggest that you read the recipes before you hit the grocery store each week with the list. It helps to know what your menu is about before you head out the door. That five minutes of reading through the menu and recipes may help you make a quick decision if your store is out of something or if you would prefer a substitute. You can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re shopping for!

This book is chock full of sidebars . . . read them! There is a ton of information to help you take full advantage of these menus and to make the recipes your own. As I was writing these recipes out, I would think of something else that would empower you in the kitchen, so I made a sidebar out of it. The more you know, the faster you’re able to do the recipes and shopping. That’s a good thing!

When appropriate, I have added Do-Ahead Tips to help make dinner easier the next day (e.g., precooking turkey or chicken for a salad, etc.). However, there are all kinds of things you can do the day before, if you so desire. I kept it basic, you might want to do more—it’s totally up to you. You also can move days around if you want—just remember that the Do-Ahead Tips may no longer be appropriate if you do.

If you do want to make substitutions (due to allergies, preferences, etc.) on some of the grocery items, feel free! For those who are more kosher minded, the pork and shellfish recipes can easily be substituted out with any poultry, chicken being a very easy fit.

Just remember, Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is another weapon in your arsenal to help you conquer the drive-thru and keep your family at the dinner table. Enjoy! SAVING



Week One

DAY ONE: Sweet Teriyaki Pork Chops

DAY TWO: Low-Carb Mexican Casserole

DAY THREE: Jack Fish

DAY FOUR: Bourbon Chicken on Spinach

DAY FIVE: Happy Family Beef Stir-Fry

DAY SIX: Crock Goulash



4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 pound beef flank steak

4 boneless pork chops (4–6 ounces each)

11/2 pounds boneless pork (cut into 1-inch cubes)

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound cod fillets (if not using frozen, other firm white fish can be used instead)


olive oil

sesame oil (dark; sometimes called toasted; comes in a small bottle)

teriyaki sauce

soy sauce (low sodium, if available)




**lc salad dressing—your choice


1 small green bell pepper

1 small red bell pepper

1/2 pound snow-pea pods

2 bunches green onions (you’ll need 1/2 cup + 4 teaspoons)

3 pounds onions (keep on hand)

2 medium tomatoes

1 head garlic

1 piece gingerroot (you’ll need 1 tablespoon grated)

1 bag spinach (you’ll need 4 cups); **lc (1 meal)

red cabbage (you’ll need 3 cups)

**lc 2 heads lettuce (not iceberg) (2 meals)

**lc salad veggies (2 meals)

**lc spaghetti squash (1 meal)

**lc green beans (1 meal)

**lc turnip (1 meal)

**lc broccoli (1 meal)

**lc cauliflower (1 meal)

**lc pumpkin wedges (purchase a small pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin) (1 meal)

**russet potatoes (1 meal)

**red potatoes (2 meals)


1 141/2-ounce can chicken broth (you’ll need 1/2 cup)

1 jar salsa (you’ll need 3/4 cup)

black olives (you’ll need 1/4 cup chopped)

apple juice (you’ll need 4 tablespoons, if not using bourbon)

**black beans SPICES

garlic powder



caraway seed



half-and-half (you’ll need 1/2 cup)

sour cream (you’ll need 4 tablespoons + 1/2 cup)

Cheddar cheese (you’ll need 1 cup shredded)

Monterey Jack cheese (you’ll need 1/2 cup shredded)

**lc 8-ounce package cream cheese


whole-wheat flour



1 package taco seasoning mix

**2 pounds brown rice


1 pound cod fillets (if not using fresh)


**lc low-carb tortillas


bourbon (you’ll need 4 tablespoons, if not using apple juice)


Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small green bell pepper, cut into strips

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 boneless pork chops

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and sauté till crisp-tender. Turn on the broiler.

In a small bowl combine the teriyaki sauce, honey, vinegar, and garlic powder, mixing well. Place pork chops in a broiler-safe pan, and puncture all over with a fork (go easy—you aren’t trying to ventilate the thing). Then evenly drizzle teriyaki mixture over the top of the chops. Give it a few minutes to marinate a bit (finish making the rest of your dinner). Broil 6 inches from the heat for about 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your chops. Make sure you watch them under the heat—you don’t want them turning into shoe leather.


202 Calories; 8g Fat (37.6% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 51mg Cholesterol; 733mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

LC SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with sautéed green beans (see sidebar on page 251) and Turnip Fries (page 248).



Serves 4

1 pound ground turkey

1 package taco seasoning mix (or 2 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning blend; see sidebar)

1/2 cup chopped green onion, divided

3/4 cup salsa

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped black olives

4 tablespoons sour cream

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, cook turkey. Stir in seasoning mix and remove from heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread cooked turkey mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch-square baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 the green onions over the turkey and top with salsa, then sprinkle cheese over top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and hot. Garnish with the rest of the green onions, olives, and a blob of sour cream.


368 Calories; 23g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 126mg Cholesterol; 1172mg Sodium. Exchanges: 31/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

LC SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Make taco-chips from low-carb tortillas. You want the equivalent of 1 tortilla per person. Add a big green salad, and you’re set.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Add some black beans.


Serves 4

1 pound cod fillets, thawed if necessary

Salt and pepper to taste

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 teaspoons green onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon basil

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place fish fillets in lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine tomato, onion, and basil; spoon over fish.

Dot fish with butter. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Turn off the oven. Sprinkle fish with cheese and return to oven just to melt the cheese.


160 Calories; 5g Fat (30.0% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 61mg Cholesterol; 143mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

LC SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with Mashed Faux-tay-toes (page 246) and steamed broccoli.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Add baked potatoes.


Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour, for dusting

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 small onion, chopped

4 tablespoons bourbon (can substitute apple juice for bourbon)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup half-and-half

4 cups spinach

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust in flour. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm. Turn the heat to medium.

Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook till tender, but don’t let garlic brown. Add the bourbon and cook another minute. Now add chicken broth and half-and-half and reduce until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes or so. Be careful not to let boil too vigorously, or sauce will break.

Return the chicken to the sauce to reheat.

Place 1 cup spinach on each plate, and carefully add chicken on top. Pour sauce evenly over the top. The heat from the chicken and sauce will perfectly wilt the spinach.


266 Calories; 9g Fat (34.2% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 210mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 11/2 Fat.<


Excerpted from "Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way: Healthy Menus, Recipes, and the Shopping Lists That Will Keep the Whole Family at the Dinner Table" by Leanne Ely. Copyright © 2004 by Leanne Ely. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Thanks for reading!

Join BookDaily now and receive featured titles to sample for free by email.
Reading a book excerpt is the best way to evaluate it before you spend your time or money.

Just enter your email address and password below to get started:


Your email address is safe with us. Privacy policy
By clicking ”Get Started“ you agree to the Terms of Use. All fields are required

Instant Bonus: Get immediate access to a daily updated listing of free ebooks from Amazon when you confirm your account!

Author Profile

Amazon Reviews