Growing and Cooking Your Own Food

Harissa, Romesco or Chimichurri Sauces for Low Carb Cooking

Protein, fat and vegetables are the staples of most of the current low carb and ketogenic diets. These food types include a fairly wide range of options, but if you are not used to cooking whole foods, the protein world can get monotonous very quickly.  That’s where low carb sauces and spices make a huge difference on a low carb diet. There are infinite combinations of spices that enhance low carb foods, but when cooking with low carb sauces, my favorites are Romesco, Harissa and Chimichuri.  I find these three sauces have unique and exciting flavors, they are easy to make, and they store well in the refrigerator.

low carb sauces
zucchini fritters with romesco & harissa sauces

Why Choose a Low Carb Diet?

For me personally, two health issues led me to try out the Slow Carb Diet, promulgated by Tim Ferris in his book the 4-Hour Body.  First, I run a small farm and sell our produce at the larger twin cities farmers’ markets.  Farming and the markets do take a toll on your body, and I am a long way from finished with the work that I love.  It was time to practice some preventative medicine.

Second, and related to farming, my knees were starting to give out, and knee replacement was not an attractive option.  Weight training and losing a little weight however seemed to be a place to start.  I had given my son the 4-Hour Body book for Christmas, and after he put it down I started reading it and became intrigued with the whole plan. 

All diets have their pros and cons, their “research”, and their fan clubs.  For me, it boiled down to which one would fit into my lifestyle and food preferences enough that I would stick with it long term

After being on the 4-Hour Body diet for three years, I modified it somewhat and have been living a more ketogenic lifestyle the last couple of years.  All in all I lost 35 pounds, and have stabilized at that weight now for the past 5 years.  My energy level has dramatically increased and my knee and back pain has disappeared.  I feel great and look forward to spring planting with enthusiasm.

Sustain a Low Carb Diet by Cooking & Enhancing Whole Foods

Following my success with this type of diet I went on to coach people in the array of low carb diets that have seen success for health and fat loss.  One thing that became apparent through coaching people on diet and nutrition is that many people these days do not cook. People are either time-starved or it’s just not something they have learned how to do. Lack of cooking makes any kind of diet infinitely more difficult as most restaurant and processed food is high in sugar and fat.

So, in an attempt to help people eat clean, even when they aren’t interested in creative cooking, I developed a product line of low carb and keto sauces and spices that I sell at markets and online to enhance simple proteins and veggies.  For those of you who do enjoy cooking, here are a few recipes for some low carb sauces that will take your proteins and veggies to new levels.

Low Sugar (low carb) Romesco Sauce

Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce
Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with back of knife
  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 of 8-oz. jar of roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/4 c. tomato puree
  • 2 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper powder, I used my ground-up chipotles but cayenne pepper is fine
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Toast almonds and garlic in small, dry frying pan for a few minutes (do not burn!).
  2. Add toasted nuts, garlic, and the next 5 ingredients (up to the olive oil) in blender or food processor and process until finely chopped.
  3. With motor running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and chill for up to 1 week.

Favorite uses:  My favorite way of using this sauce has been to take it out of the refrigerator, warm it slightly in the microwave and top off scrambled or fried eggs with the sauce.  It is also wonderful to add to vegetables or any sauce or skillet diner you are making to enhance the flavor profile.

If you want to make your life easier, check out the Romesco sauce we offer online.

Low Carb Harissa Paste

Salmon topped with harissa sauce
Salmon topped with harissa sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 dried chile peppers, I used a combination of guajillo, pasilla and arbol but you can mix and match
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
  • juice from 1-2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. De-stem chile peppers and soak dried chile peppers in pot of water that has just been turned off after being brought to a boil.  Soak for 20-30 minutes to hydrate.
  2. Toast spices 2-3 minutes in small, dry pan over medium heat.
  3. Grind spices and salt together in coffee bean grinder to fine grind.
  4. Drain peppers, reserving chile water, and add all ingredients to blender or food processor.  Process until smooth, thinning with chile water if necessary.

Favorite Uses:  Harissa is a wonderful North African sauce or condiment that is used to flavor many different kinds of dishes.  It is frequently used to flavor couscous and grilled dishes.  It is also used as a relish or condiment with all kinds of meat.

The Harissa sauce we offer online is a Good Food Awards winner. I believe it is because we use a variety of seven different fresh peppers from the farm.

Video Showing How to Make Harissa Spice Blend & Harissa Paste

Low Carb Chimichurri Sauce

Roasted cauliflower with a side of chimichurri sauce
Roasted cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. With motor running, add olive oil slowly until it reaches desired consistency (make sure and cover top of blender or sauce will splatter all over).

Favorite Uses:  Chimichurri is an important part of Argentinian cuisine, traditionally served with grilled chorizo and grilled steaks.  It pairs nicely with chicken and fish too however. Chimichurri also works well as a marinade, and is delicious on vegetables.  Any of these choices work with the Slow Carb Diet.

Most of these low carb sauces can be stored and used as convenient, creative meal enhancements by pairing them with just about any protein or veggie or egg dish you make.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 250-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

12 Comments

  1. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

  2. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

  3. […] but for a more traditional chimichurri sauce,  see this recipe.  Or try a romesco sauce  with this recipe.  They are all great sauces and they can go with just about any other protein or vegetable on a […]

  4. […] To make your own sauces see this recipe. […]

  5. Roast Pork with Romesco Sauce for Slow Carb Diet on January 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    […] is a dish to make for Sunday supper or when you have time to cook.  Alternatively, you can go here for a recipe to make Romesco sauce ahead of time to use on this and other […]

  6. […] Three Mediterranean Sauces that are Great on Proteins […]

  7. […] to mop up the sauce.   The recipe below started with the vegetables that I had on hand, added harissa and cumin as the primary spices, and baked the eggs in the simmering ragout in a hot […]

  8. Anonymous on March 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Love your blogging, Dorothy!!

    • dorothy stainbrook on March 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you Mr./Ms. Anonymous! I hope to keep it up and am encouraged when people get something out of it. Thanks!

  9. […] Tbsp Harissa, (or Sambal Oelek, or […]

  10. Anonymous on February 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    How would you rate each of these sauces in terms of spicy or not? TexMex, So Calif, rest of US or Minnesotan?

    • dorothy stainbrook on February 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      The Romesco and Chimichurri are not really designed to be really spicy, whereas the harissa traditionally is quite hot. I like spice and I smoke my own chipotles, which is what I used in these. The amount of the chipotle powder in the Romensco and Chimichurri would probably make them rank as medium. The harissa would rank as hot as I used quite a few arbol peppers.

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