Memphis authors Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks have done it again — they created a vegetarian cookbook full of recipes so tasty you will never miss the meat.
The newest addition to their The Chubby Vegetarian collection, which includes cookbooks “The Chubby Vegetarian,” “The Southern Vegetarian” and The Chubby Vegetarian blog, has a healthy twist.
“Low-Carb Vegetarian Cookbook” is full of heart-healthy recipes to help readers introduce more low-carb dishes into their diet.
Dishes like Pad Thai, Avocado Toast and Kale and Artichoke Dip have all been given a tasty low-carb spin. Even desserts like cheesecake and peanut butter cups can be part of a low-carb diet.
“We wanted to create recipes that taste good,” Burks said. “Dishes you want to eat.”
Lawrence and Burks are quick to point out their new book is “low carb,” not “no carb.”
“It’s all about balance,” Lawrence said. “We don’t live the 24/7 low-carb lifestyle, but we wanted to write this book to give vegetarians or people who eat a mainly vegetable diet some low-carb options so that they can have a well-balanced diet.”
The duo worked with Memphis dietitians to educate themselves on the science behind carbs. Erin Dragutsky and Kristi Edwards, registered dietitians and nutritionists at 901 Nutrition, as well as Carolyn Nichols, a nutrition education educator at Church Health, taught the couple all about how carbs work.
“It was a steep learning curve for us as far as understanding carbs and what they do for your body and why we need them,” Burks said. “With that new knowledge, we were able to come up with creative uses for low-carb vegetables.”
The introduction to the book includes a detailed explanation of carbs and which foods are best for our bodies. Burks and Lawrence also included a detailed list of pantry items to help you start your low-carb journey as well as a 14-day kickstart meal plan.
The book contains 100 recipes — all are vegetarian, some are vegan and all are low-carb. If a recipe is not vegan, Burks, who has been a vegan for over a year, included a tip to make the recipe vegan.
“We took our years of writing cookbooks and tweaked some of our favorite recipes to be low-carb as well as came up with some new recipes,” Burks said.
The authors said one of their favorite recipes is the Bibimbap on the cover. Riced cauliflower is what makes this Korean rice dish lower carb. At home, they make the dish in a cast iron skillet to give it the color and flavor you would get from a traditional bibimbap served in a stone bowl.
As with each of their cookbooks, this one is a good balance of both authors’ personalities and cooking styles.
“Low-Carb Vegetarian” authors Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks prepare Pad Thai with Lemongrass and Shirataki Noodles.
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Burks said Lawrence approached the book thinking of recipes for entertaining. Dishes like a Watermelon and Feta Salad with Kalamata Olive Dust and a Grilled Halloumi Salad with Blackberry Dressing both would make an impressive starter at your next dinner party.
“My focus was on practical go-to dishes to feed a family in a hurry,” Burks said.
Dishes like Vegan Sausage and Roasted Cabbage can be made on a single sheet pan in the oven. Dinner is on the table in 30 minutes. Once all the veggies are prepped, Pad Thai with Lemongrass and Shirataki Noodles can come together in 10 minutes.
The common denominator is that all the recipes are easy to create at home, most in 45 minutes or less.
Tips and tricks
The book is full of tips for easy lower-carb substitutions.
Both Burks and Lawrence are now a big fan of monk fruit sugar substitutes. They now use these sugar-free sweeteners in all their baking. “It tastes better in foods than stevia sweeteners,” said Lawrence.
Shirataki noodles are another low-carb ingredient they discovered while writing the book. Made from soy beans and yams, these low-carb noodles come pre-cooked. “They taste like an al dente noodle,” Burks said. “All you have to do is reheat them.” You can find them in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores.
“You can also make noodles out of vegetables like zucchini and asparagus.”
The authors recommend oven roasting zucchini noodles, instead of boiling them. They also use the same technique for cooking riced cauliflower.
“As a longtime vegetarian, I learned early on that the secret to make a vegetable delicious is to get some of the water out of them,” Burks explained of his cooking trick.
The takeaway the authors want you to remember is that it can be easy for you to put healthy, delicious, lower-carb vegetarian food on the table.
Low-Carb Vegetarian author Amy Lawrence prepares chilled berry soup.
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Memphis book signing
Burks and Lawrence are the featured speakers at the Memphis Area Master Gardeners Spring Fling. The event is at 11 a.m. March 28 at the Farmer’s Market Red Barn at the Agricenter, 7777 Walnut Grove Road. —
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining Reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.
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