Book review – "The Low Carb Gourmet" by Karen Barnaby

Book cover - The Low Carb GourmetThe Low-Carb Gourmet is written by Karen Barnaby, an executive chef at an award-winning restaurant in Vancouver, Canada. She herself has lost and kept off more than 5 stone through low-carb eating. She wrote this book to share her expertise of cooking low-carb food that is rich and satisfying.
However, I would not have chosen the word “Gourmet” to describe her recipes.

Although really lovely, most of them are very easy to make and not as sophisticated as implied by the word – which I think is a good thing.
Many of the recipes in the book are actually home-cooking classics, cleverly adapted for low-carb lifestyle. For example, there are low-carb recipes for shepherd’s pie, lasagne, moussaka and pizza – and they do not include a shred of potatoes or flour.
There are also some imaginative and unusual ideas in the sections for breakfast, side dishes and desserts – the areas which tend to be more difficult to adapt for low-carb dieting. My favourites include tofu fries and courgette cake.
To me, this is what a good low-carb cookbook should focus on – I get a bit annoyed if I get a cookbook that claims to contain hundreds of low-carb recipes, to find that most of them are variations of “meat plus veg plus a sauce”. Quite frankly, this part of low-carb dieting is very easy, and most of us have it figured out. The difficult part is finding substitutes for dishes that are traditionally carb-based. Karen Barnaby certainly manages that really well, and some of her recipes have become my staple meals that I cook regularly.
The book includes an in-depth introduction, describing Karen’s personal experience and providing some basic guidelines to low-carb dieting. There is a useful section on baking (clearly always a challenge for low-carbers) and an overview of common artificial sweeteners (sorry paleo followers, this part won’t be any good for you).
Another good point about the book is that all ingredients’ quantities are listed as the actual amounts in grams – so the provided carb count is precise. (Some other low-carb cookbooks I have list ingredients in vague terms like “one medium aubergine” – which is no good if you are trying to count your carbs precisely and keep to a very small amount a day, for example, if you are on Atkins Induction.)
Karen is based in Canada but I didn’t have any trouble finding the ingredients she uses in the UK.
Many recipes in the book would be suitable for Atkins diet (including Induction phase) and Dukan (from Cruise onwards).  Most recipes are also ok for paleo diets – except for baking/desserts section that tend to use sweeteners and other artificial ingredients.
Overall, this is a really great book of low-carb recipes that are delicious and easy to make. If you only buy one low-carb recipe book, I would definitely strongly recommend this one.
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