7 Low Carb Side Dishes You Need To Try


Whatever you think of low carb diets, they work for a lot of people.

I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan at first. But, since doing some research on it, and a few experiments myself, I now know they can be a very effective way to lose weight, as long as it’s done in a healthy way.

One of the main reasons a lower carb diet works is because the extra protein intake keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and therefore you eat less.

I do, however, think it can be quite a challenge to shift from always having starchy carbs, like potatoes, at main meals. It’s often difficult to know what to replace them with.

So, as a bit of an experiment, I’ve recently been trying out a few different low carb side dishes myself, and I’ve found some which we find very acceptable as a family.

Low Carb Side Dishes

So, here are a few of the low carb side dishes I’ve discovered work just as well, if not better, than higher carb regulars.

1. Cauliflower “Rice”

I think this is a fantastic idea, particularly if you enjoy foods like curry or chili, and you just can’t imagine eating them without rice.

Cauliflower "Rice"

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 medium sized cauliflower, grated
2 handfuls of bean sprouts, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add everything but the green onions. Stir fry until the cauliflower and bean sprouts are tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Finally, add the green onions and stir fry for a few more seconds. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Makes 4 servings

2. Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

I find mushrooms are a very filling and satisfying alternative. They are definitely one of my favorite low carb side dishes.

Spinach and Mushrooms

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
200g fresh spinach leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the onion until clear, then add the mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender.
  2. Finally, add the spinach, and keep tossing around until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 3-4 servings

3. Mashed Root Veg

Mashed root vegetables are a very good alternative to potatoes. This mash can also be used as a topping for dishes like cottage pie.

Root Veg Mash

1 cup vegetable stock
1 small turnip (swede, rutabaga), peeled and diced
2 small carrots, pealed and diced
1 small parsnip, pealed and diced
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
2 teaspoons butter (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Pour the stock into a large pot over medium heat. Add the turnip, carrots, parsnip and cabbage. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender. Add more water, if necessary.
  2. When finished cooking, reserve a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the vegetables in a colander and transfer back into the pot.
  3. Using an electric hand blender, mash the vegetables with the reserved liquid and butter, until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 4 servings

You could also try adding celeriac, similar to this recipe.

4. Skillet-Seared Tomatoes With Melted Cheese

Skillet-Seared Tomatoes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large ripe but firm plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (low fat)


  1. Heat a heavy skillet until hot. Add the oil, then arrange the tomatoes cut-side down in the pan and cook, uncovered, until just tender and the undersides are darkened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the parsley and garlic in a small bowl.
  3. Carefully turn each tomato cut-side up. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle each tomato salt and pepper, followed by equal portions of the parsley mixture and shredded cheese. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings

5. Whipped Cauliflower and Peas

Recipe source

Cauliflower Pea Mash

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon mint, fresh or dried
1 medium cauliflower, steamed
200g frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon butter
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onion, mint, cauliflower, and peas and cook, covered for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Using an electric hand blender, blend the vegetables with the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings

Jennifer and Jaclyn offer a similar version of this recipe, with coconut oil and curry powder.

6. Spaghetti Squash

This is another fantastic idea, perhaps as a substitute to pasta for dishes like bolognese.

Spaghetti Squash

1 small spaghetti squash
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)


  1. Halve and seed the squash, then place cut side down, on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 200°C for about 1 hour, or until the flesh is easily pierced.
  2. Cool for 10 minutes. Then, take a fork and scrape inside the squash to remove the “spaghetti.”
  3. Heat a large saute pan, add a little more oil and the garlic; cook until it becomes fragrant. Add the parsley, salt, pepper and squash strands. Toss well, and sprinkle in the parmesan cheese.

Here is a video on how to make spaghetti squash

7. Mashed Cauliflower

The texture of mashed cauliflower is similar to mashed potatoes. It’s great with garlic, but would also be good with dijon mustard, chopped herbs, or grated cheese. Another option is to cook your cauliflower with one cup of stock added.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 large cauliflower head, trimmed and cut into small florets
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and garlic, and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain and return the cauliflower to the pot. Add the oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and puree until smooth using an electric hand blender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, vegetables should always be a cornerstone of a healthy diet. So, these low carb side dishes offer tasty alternatives to change things up a little from your normal meal plan.

What low carb side dishes can you share with us? I’d love to hear your suggestions…

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth June 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Thankyou for these recipes Melanie!! They sound absolutely delicious!!


Melanie July 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I hope you like them, Ruth :-)


Cipto July 5, 2012 at 12:17 am

It’s really tasty, safe and healthy without worsening to my body weight. I’ll try it at home, thanks Melanie.


Melanie July 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Kristie September 11, 2013 at 1:38 am

These recipes are great! I had been using a few but you gave me more ideas. A low carb staple for us would be cottage cheese with sliced tomatoes and onions and Italian dressing on top, or spaghetti squash I, recipe from allrecipes(yum). Saturday night onions by Paula Deen are great too, but add some worstershire sauce on them before cooking. I also love to use a Julienne peeler on zucchini and make faux spaghetti noodles to use under pastas, etc.


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