Vegetables are probably the most difficult part of being on a low carb diet in modern times. We just aren’t used to cooking with fresh vegetables any more. On a low carb/keto diet, the protein and fat can keep you full and productive, but it is the vegetables that offer the micronutrients that can boost your health markers. I have found that a low carb breakfast using vegetables is the easiest way to make sure I get them in daily.
Which Vegetables are Best for Low Carb Diets?
All vegetables are not created equal in the low carb world however. It is primarily the non-starchy vegetables that are considered “compliant” or desirable for low carb diets. That means potatoes, yams, and root vegetables are not allowed.
The best options, in terms of nutrient value per amount of carbs are going to be the leafy greens and the cruciferous vegetables (i.e., broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc.).
Tomatoes, peppers, onions and many other veggies are allowed, but they tend to have more sugar so you just need to be aware of that aspect.
The low carb breakfast below uses fresh asparagus spears and frozen artichoke hearts, both of which are high fiber low carb vegetables.
A Low Carb Breakfast with Asparagus and Artichokes
Asparagus is in season now, and I thought artichoke hearts might just work as a vegetable bed for the asparagus and protein, instead of grains.
I’ve made something similar to this with quinoa as a bed and with romano cheese grated over the top. It was great, but grains are not allowed on most low carb diets, unless it is a cheat day of course.
This mash-up of vegetables, spices and eggs turned out to be just as delightful to the taste buds as the cheese and grains version. If you follow a more Mediterranean style of diet however, just substitute red quinoa in as the bed, or add it to the artichoke hearts for more texture.
*Note on frozen artichokes: they do contain 5 grams of carbs per 3/4 cup, but most of it is dietary fiber. Watch out for canned artichoke hearts if you are counting carbs…some brands are pretty high in carbs and some add sugar. Learn to read and compare labels and you will be an expert in no time.
Recipe for a Low Carb Breakfast on a Bed of Artichokes
- 9-oz package of frozen artichoke hearts
- olive oil (6 Tbsp, divided)
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, minced (optional)
- smoked paprika, to taste
- red pepper flakes, (optional)
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh lemon quarters
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Chop the artichoke hearts (easier to do while still partially frozen) and place in a bowl with 3 Tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, paprika, and pepper flakes (if using). Toss until artichokes are well coated. Dump out onto sheet pan, and move the mixture to cover only 1/2 of the sheet pan, keeping the other half reserved for the asparagus.
- Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, and peel the remaining stalks if they are large and woody (small, tender ones don’t need to be peeled). Snap them into 2″ pieces (optional). Place the asparagus spears on the empty 1/2 of the baking sheet, toss them with a couple Tbsp of olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Warm a non-stick skillet over low heat (may want to add a little oil, eggs tend to stick to even non-stick skillets). Crack eggs into bowl, taking care not to break yolks (if you want them to be pretty, crack each egg into its own individual cup).
- Place vegetable mixture into oven and start roasting. It will take about 10-15 minutes, but keep an eye on the vegetables so they do not burn, turning or shaking the pan occasionally.
- After the vegetables have roasted for about 10 minutes, start the eggs. Slide the eggs into the warm skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a pinch of paprika, and place cover over the skillet. Cook over low heat until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, about 4-5 minutes.
- Serve: Squeeze fresh lemon juice over roasted artichokes, and place on plate as the bed. Arrange asparagus spears on the bed of artichokes and place baked eggs on top. Garnish with thyme.