As we know, carbohydrates are the bogey man of weight gain.
They’re targeted by the most popular rapid weight loss diets like Atkins, Paleo and Keto.
I don’t think those diets are good for long term weight loss, but carbohydrates have a lot to answer for. They’re the main culprit behind our nation’s collective expanding stomach.
But what if we can eat carbs without gaining weight?
There’s an excellent reason to think we can.
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first – how do carbohydrates make us fat in the first place?
How Carbs Make Us Fat
Don’t get me wrong. Carbs are necessary, and definitely should be part of any balanced diet.
But when we eat too many carbs, we start putting on weight.
Why does that happen?
Because carbohydrates contain sugars called glucose. Glucose powers our body and minds, so we need and love it.
But what if we have more glucose in our system than we can use?
Our superbly efficient bodies will store that excess energy as fat. The problem is, we don’t get around to using it!
That’s how something yummy, like a chocolate brownie, makes its way from our mouth to our hips.
Unfortunately, that’s only one of the problems introduced by excess carbohydrates.
When we have a lot of glucose swimming around our blood stream, our body releases insulin to mop it up. This returns our blood sugars back to normal.
This has two unfortunate consequences:
- Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, AKA Type 2 Diabetes.
- The dramatic drop in blood sugars caused by the insulin can make us hungry again!
That’s a lot of problems! How can we possibly make carbohydrates safer to eat?
Taming The Starch
There’s a simple – and surprising – trick to transform carbs to reduce their calories.
This includes three carbs we’re usually told to cut back:
- Wheat (think pasta)
Most of the carbs we eat are starches, and those starches contain the glucose we talked about earlier.
Recent research has found a way to transform these starches into ‘resistant starch’. It’s called resistant, because it resists our usual digestive processes.
This makes it act less like a carb, and more like dietary fibre.
The benefits of resistant starch include:
- Less glucose in our blood stream
- Healthier gut bacteria
- Greater feelings of fullness when eating
- A desire to eat less frequently
And turning your carbohydrates’ sugary starches into resistant starches couldn’t be simpler.
Cold Carbs for Health
That’s right folks, all you need to do with your carbohydrates is cook them and cool them.
This produces a moderate level of resistant starches.
But that’s not all.
The discovery that reheating cold carbs produces even more resistant starches shocked researchers.
Recent studies found that reheating white rice can reduce the absorbed calories by up to 60%.
Imagine a delicious fried rice, curry or risotto and making half the calories disappear.
Similar research has found that reheated potatoes and pasta have 50% less absorbable calories.
But Who Wants Reheated Food?
Maybe reheated food doesn’t sound that appetizing.
But you can pair this powerful strategy with weekly meal planning for incredible control over your calories.
Potatoes, rice, and pasta lend themselves to dishes you can cook in large amounts to eat throughout the week.
There’s nothing like having ready, convenient and healthy food available whenever you need them.
This reduces opportunities for last minute bad-food choices we can make when hungry and in a rush.
So let’s take a look at some simple, but delicious recipes that utilize potatoes, pasta and rice.
Super Resistant Starch Recipes
Note that we prepare the recipes over two days. On the first day we cook the carbohydrate, and then spends the night in the fridge. Then we continue the rest of the recipe the next day.
I’ve specified overnight because that’s what’s I’m following n the studies I’ve seen.
If you don’t want to wait a whole night, give them at least 4 hours in the fridge before continuing the recipe.
Finally: when you store a carb in the fridge I suggest you use air-tight tupperware. This will stop the carb drying out.
Tuna Pasta Bake (Serves 4)
In this recipe you’ll follow a very basic and classic tuna pasta bake.
The process is to cook the pasta, set it to cool in the fridge overnight, and then finish the bake the next day.
I recommend you use a pasta like macaroni, penne or rigatoni. Steer clear of long pastas like spaghetti and linguine.
You’ll note there’s an ounce of butter used in this recipe for a basic sauce.
Do not fear the butter, especially an amount as small as this. It’s one of the healthiest fats to cook with and has been unfairly demonized in the past.
I’ve left out the cheese you’d normally find in a dish like this to bring the calories down. Feel free to sprinkle a (very) small amount of grated cheddar while baking, but don’t go crazy 🙂
You can always add vegetables like broccoli, peas, carrots and beans.
Large pot for boiling pasta.
Ovenproof dish (8 cups capacity).
Saucepan for making sauce.
10oz of dried pasta
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup reduced-fat grated pizza cheese
15oz can tuna in springwater.
1. Rinse your pasta in warm water. Then cook it in plenty of salty water (about 3 quarts for 10oz of pasta) that’s reached a rolling boil.
Once it’s cooked, put a quarter of the water aside to use tomorrow. Then drain the pasta, let it cool slightly, and put it in the fridge.
2. The next day. Preheat the oven to 420°F. Grease an ovenproof dish that has an 8-cup capacity.
3. Melt the butter in your saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir it with the butter until it starts to bubble.
Remove it from the heat and gradually stir in the milk until it’s well combined.
Return it to the heat and stir it constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove it from the heat and season it with pepper.
4. Now combine your pasta, the sauce and the pasta cooking liquid you saved. Spoon it all into the baking dish and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. All done!
Fried Rice (Serves 4)
What do I love about fried rice? It’s a dumping ground for leftovers. Pretty much any unused vegetables and meat I have around the place is fair game for fried rice. It’s hardly an authentic recipe, but I hate throwing food out, and this is a perfect way to avoid it.
The general approach is pretty simple: boil the rice, put it in the fridge overnight, then fry it with the other ingredients.
Frying doesn’t have to be unhealthy if you use small amounts of healthy oils. I mention the best oils to use in the ingredient list.
Knife for chopping vegetables
Pot for boiling rice
Pot for boiling vegetables (steamer optional)
Wooden spoon or other hand-held stirrer
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
Your choice of vegetables (the classic veggies are carrots and green peas)
Your choice of protein (egg is traditional, but you can use any cooked meat you like. If you want to use uncooked meat, cook it separately first, in small pieces).
Tablespoon of oil (olive, coconut or avocado oils are best. Please avoid generic vegetable oils – they’re very unhealthy for cooking)
Soy sauce and sesame oil for flavor (sesame oil is optional, really)
1. Cook the rice.
Rinse the rice in warm water, and then boil it until it’s cooked. If it’s hard when you bite it, it’s undercooked. It’s overcooked when individual bits of rice start to look puffed out and fluffy. It’ll take 15-20 minutes to cook properly, depending on the rice.
Drain it and put it in the fridge overnight.
2. Prepare your vegetables.
If you’re just doing peas and carrots, chop the carrots into small cubes and boil them for a few minutes. Drop the peas into boiling water and drain immediately to blanch them. If you’re using other green veg, you can blanch are per the peas, or steam them.
3. Fry everything.
Put the wok over a high heat and add the oil. Add your protein. If you’re using an egg, crack the egg into the oil and move the egg around in the pan so that it scrambles. Add you veggies, and then the rice.
The rice may have clumped together overnight. If it has break it up as you move it around the pan and stir everything together.
Turn off the heat. Add sesame oil and stir it through the rice. Then add the soy sauce and do the same.
Now it’s finished and ready to serve.
Cottage Pie (Serves 4)
This recipe hails from the British Isles and is a favorite for cold, wintry days. Unfamiliar with cottage pie? It’s basically a yummy mince with mashed potato on top of it that’s baked in an oven.
I’m presenting a pretty simple version here. You can Google ‘cottage pie recipes’ for some pretty interesting elaborations.
A baking dish of 10-12 cups capacity (if you don’t have anything big enough, use a couple of dishes)
Large saucepan for potatoes
Smaller saucepan for vegatables
Chopping board, knives.
2lbs potatoes, chopped
1/2 oz butter
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 lbs beef mince
1 onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery sticks, chopped
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves (optional)
1. Cook the potatoes.
Put the potatoes in cold salted water that’s.
Heat until the water’s boiled and then simmer them until the potatoes are tender. Drain them, and then mash them. I get the best results mashing them dry, and then adding butter and the optional garlic. If they’re not smooth enough add a little water (milk is traditional, but can be problematic).
Cool potatoes in the fridge overnight.
2. Cook everything else.
Heat a large pan with the olive oil in it, and brown the mince, onion and garlic together.
Add the rest of the vegetables, the tomato puree, the stock and the bay leaves. Simmer everything until the stock has reduced. If it’s a bit runny, mix a little flour and water together in a small cup. Once it’s smooth, stir it into the mixture to thicken it.
That should be around 30-40 minutes. While it’s cooking, set the oven to preheat to 400F.
Put the cooked mince and veg etc into your baking dish(es). Then spoon the mashed potatoes you cooked yesterday on top of it. You can add a little grated cheese on top at this point, but once again, don’t go crazy with it.
Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the top browns. Serve immediately.
Resistant Starch Food Safety
We need to make one final point about preparing carbohydrates in this way.
Whenever we cool and reheat cooked food, we create an opportunity to introduce harmful bacteria. Especially rice.
This danger can be easily avoided by ensuring that cooled food is never left at room temperature, but stored in a fridge.
Finally, when reheating the food, make sure that it is thoroughly heated before serving.
That’s all there is to it!
We can see that this is a tremendous opportunity to reduce the number of calories we eat every day, without reducing portion size.
That’s a dieter’s dream come true!
Let us know in the comments below if you have any ideas for great recipes to use with reheated carbs like potatoes, pasta and rice.