Low Starch March – Why?
After a lot of over-indulging and many birthday celebrations, I decided to kickstart March with a plan to get me back on track to feeling better within myself and eating well alongside the regular keeping fit that I do.
As research shows, quick fix diets just don’t work, and dieters who lose weight this way, end up putting the weight back on and more within the year! I was looking for more of a long-term way of eating that maintained my desired body weight without feeling deprived. This is when I decided to look at cutting down on carbs and try more of a low starch eating plan.
The fact is starchy foods generally have a high glycaemic index (GI). High glycaemic index (GI) foods cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn causes an increase in the amount of insulin. High amounts of insulin in the bloodstream increase fat storage. Not good! So keeping starchy foods to a minimum regularly, is only going to benefit our health!
I did have the odd “bad day” (we all have our bad days right?), however I managed to significantly cut down on a various starchy foods that I had got used to eating on a regular basis, and discovered some really healthy yet very tasty recipes along the way. This was, for me, a way to discover how to introduce more of a balanced daily diet into my life for the long term. And yes, it gives me something to talk to you guys about 🙂
What is a “low starch eating plan”?
Reduce starchy foods including; pasta, bread, oats, crackers/biscuits and rice. Some fruit and vegetables are also advised to keep to small portions such as bananas, grapes, potatoes, etc. It’s hard to cut these foods out of your diet completely (and it’d be boring haha!), so try and stick to only one meal per day containing starch.
- Avoid added sugar absolutely (in processed or packaged foods, sugar should be no more than 5g per 100g of product)
- Eat only two small servings of starchy food a day, preferably not at the evening meal
- Eat no more than 3 pieces of fruit daily and, although not ‘starchy’, avoid the sweeter melons, grapes and dried fruits
- Eat protein with every meal.
- Milk (cow, soy, almond) half a cup daily maximum to be added to tea or coffee
- Drink plenty of water!!
- All fruit except bananas, melons, grapes, dried fruit
- All vegetables except: peas, potatoes, corn, parsnip, pumpkin.
- All protein foods: meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese, legumes, tofu
- Protein powders: pea protein, soy protein, rice protein, whey protein
- Fats and oils: walnut oil, sesame oil, cold pressed olive oil, macadamia oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil
- All spices and herbs, soy sauce
Low starch recipes
Italian Seared Beef – (From Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick & Easy Food, slightly tweaked)
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 x rump steak
- 2 heaped teaspoons green pesto
- 2 large handfuls rocket
- 15 Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
- Put a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat, toasting the pine nuts as it heats up. Stir regularly and remove when golden.
- Cut the fat off the rump, finely chop the fat and place in the pan to render and crisp up whilst you season the steaks.
- Place the steaks between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash to 1cm thick with a rolling pin, tenderising the meat.
- Scoop out and reserve the crispy bits of fat, then sear the steak in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side, until golden but still blushing in the middle. Remove to a board to rest.
- Spread the pesto over a sharing platter. Thinly slice the steak at an angle, then plate up.
- Pile the rocket on top, then scatter over the pine nuts and reserved crispy fat.
- Mix the steak resting juices with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and drizzle over.
- Shave over the Parmesan, and enjoy!
Beefy Butternut Squash (From Joe Wicks’ The Fat Loss Plan, slightly tweaked)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- Coconut oil
- 500g lean beef steak mince
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoon tomato puree
- Salt & pepper
- Large handful of basil, chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 100g mascarpone cheese
- 250g ready-made butternut squash noodles or courgetti
- Melt the oil in a wide non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the beef mince and stir-fry for 3 – 4 minutes, or until sealed and browned.
- Stir in the garlic, chilling flakes, tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir and cook over a medium heat for about 6 – 8 minutes, ensure it is bubbling.
- Season well, remove from the heat and stir in the basil and mascarpone. Cover and keep warm.
- Cook the butternut squash noodles according to packet instructions, and pile them into your warmed serving plates/bowls.
- Spoon over the beefy sauce and top with basil leaves.
Moroccan Salmon & Prawn Fishcakes (From Joe Wicks’ The Fat Loss Plan, tweaked slightly)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 1 x 120g skinless salmon fillet, roughly chopped
- 100g raw peeled tiger prawns, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon harissa spice paste
- 1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped
- Zest of 1/2 lime
- Salt and pepper
For the salad:
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/4 cucumber, peeled into thin shreds
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon each of mint & coriander, chopped, plus extra leaves to serve
- 2 tablespoon harissa paste
- Juice of 1/s orange
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon each of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Place the salmon, prawns, harissa, coriander and lime zest in a food processor. Season and pulse until well combined, but still a little chunky.
- Divide the mixture into three portions and form each one into a patty, about 1.5cm thick.
- Place on a grill rack and cook under the grill for about 8 minutes, turning halfway through, or until cooked and lightly golden.
- Meanwhile, make the salad by chucking the carrot, cucumber, red onion and chopped herbs into a bowl.
- Whisk together the harissa and the orange juice with the garlic and pour over the vegetables. Season well and toss to combine.
- Pile on the plate with the seeds and pine nuts and serve with the fish cakes.
As a result…
So as a result of trying out Low Starch March, I have maintained my desired weight, been able to improve my fitness levels and I have definitely felt better within myself. If you’re looking to take on a more balanced diet long-term, without taking drastic action, I really would recommend choosing a low starch eating plan. Let me know what you think?
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