Making a resolution to change is quick and easy. It only takes a moment—a spark of inspiration—to decide that things can be different: that you don’t have to continue down the same path or make the same choices. Things don’t have to spiral out of control. You can resolve to make something better. Resolutions are so quick, so easy, that most people will make at least one every New Year…but we don’t always stick to them.
It’s been more than fifteen years since I made the resolution to live. I was 467 pounds with numerous health problems, including congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, and bout after bout of pneumonia. When you’re obese, you get used to doctors telling you that you’re going to die…that this is the path that you’re letting food take you down…a spiral that starts at the refrigerator and ends very grim. Doctors like to remind you of this. Confined to a wheelchair and sick with my third run of pneumonia in a little over a year, I finally believed the doctor. It no longer felt like just a nagging voice that was telling me how unhealthy I’d become. It truly felt like the truth. The doctor said I was going to die, and I finally believed him. My time was running out.
Somewhere along the line, my whole family decided to follow the example I had set for them. We had become a fat family, enabling each other in our bad eating. My wife Rachel—who had never struggled with her weight earlier in life—had reached 200 pounds. My two teenage sons were gaining more and more weight every year, with my youngest son Christian reaching 305 pounds at age 15. We all seemed to be resigned to the way things were going, and the size we had become.
We found out about low-carb eating at the perfect moment, when both my health and morale were at rock bottom. It was that spark I needed to make a resolution I would follow through on. The concept of low-carb seemed too easy. The food seemed too good to be true. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I was hopeful and willing to try anything. The fact that I could eat a steak on a “diet” seemed so foreign all those years ago, just as low-carb was first gaining awareness.
As a chef working in some of Florida’s best restaurants, I had always loved to cook. The downside of being a chef is that you don’t always want to come home and fire up the grill after 12 hours of cooking over a commercial grill. Once my health had deteriorated, I wasn’t cooking at home or in a restaurant. I simply wasn’t cooking at all. Low-carb gave me back my passion for cooking. It gave me the drive to cook for my family—and for myself—food of the quality I once cooked only for restaurant guests.
I soon learned that low-carb wasn’t a “diet” at all. It was a lifestyle, and one I had no problem sticking to…a lifestyle my whole family adopted together…a lifestyle change with real results…results that start in the kitchen, cooking fresh and delicious meals made from real food. To eat well, you have to cook well. It doesn’t have to be difficult. And it doesn’t have to take all day.
True success can only come when you’re enjoying the journey. Cooking should never feel like work, and eating should never be boring.
For us, success came quickly. My family lost over 560 pounds, and have kept it off for more than 15 years. Rachel and Anthony each dropped over 70 pounds. Christian lost more than half his body weight, going from 305 to under 150. I lost 265 pounds, got out of the wheelchair, and was finally back in restaurant kitchens—only this time I didn’t do all the cooking in the workplace.
I wasn’t just cooking at home; I was developing new dishes. I was reinventing comfort foods to fit into our low-carb lifestyle. My family never felt like we had to go without, and we kept perfecting our recipes every day of our weight loss.
It has been over a Dozen years since my first cookbook of low-carb recipes was published, and we’re still in the kitchen cooking. We’re still living a low-carb lifestyle and loving every minute of it. We’re still developing brand new recipes and perfecting old techniques.
I believe low-carb recipes can be delicious, satisfying and EASY all the while being made from fresh, naturally low-carb ingredients; everyday recipes that anyone can cook, no matter their skill level.
I have included a couple of my favorite low-carb recipes here that are proof that things can be different. A pasta alternative can be something better for you. A diet can be a “lifestyle.” Resolutions can stick. Lives can change. I’m living proof.
Keep On Low-Carbin’!
Anaheim Shrimp Scampi
Recipe by George Stella / StellaStyle.com
Prep Time 20 min | Cook Time 6 min | Serves 4
Calories:365 |Fat: 25g | Protein: 28.5g | Fiber: 2.5g | Net Carbs: 4g
(This nutritional info includes the “Scampi Butter” )
For nearly three decades now, I have been preparing this recipe for a California-inspired take… on shrimp scampi that features Asiago cheese and avocado. Though I usually say, “Don’t go without, reinvent,” that proclamation hardly even applies here, as this was always naturally low in carbs. While I used to serve it over pasta before my weight loss, I’ve now been enjoying it over low carb spaghetti squash (and not missing a thing!) for more than 10 years
- 6 tablespoons Scampi Butter (see recipe below)
- 1 small spaghetti squash
- 1 pound (16 to 20 count) peeled and deveined raw shrimp w tail on
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 2 ounces crumbled Asiago cheese
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
- Fresh arugula or spinach leaves, for garnish
- Prepare the Scampi Butter according to the recipe’s directions.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all seeds.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Completely submerge the squash halves in the boiling water and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until a fork can easily pull the squash into strands.
- Drain and run cold water over the squash to stop the cooking process. Use a fork to scrape the cooked squash out of its rind, fluffing and separating the pulp into spaghetti-like strands.
- Place 4 tablespoons of the Scampi Butter in a large sauté pan over high heat until melted.
- Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the white wine, which will sizzle in the pan, and cook until the shrimp are opaque, about another 2 minutes.
- Microwave the strands of spaghetti squash for 30 seconds, just until reheated.
- Remove shrimp from heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons Scampi Butter(the more the better though:), the Asiago cheese, and avocado. Serve over the hot spaghetti squash, garnished with fresh arugula.
Make extra scampi butter and keep it in your freezer. It can be used to cook most anything; my favorite is scampi sautéed whole button mushrooms!
Recipe by George Stella / StellaStyle.com
Makes 12 tablespoons
Prep Time 15 min | Cook Time n/a | Servings 12
Calories: 70 | Fat: 7.5g | Protein: 0g | Fiber: 0g |Net Carbs: 0
This “compound” butter is a staple that you can make in advance and melt over seafood, any cut of meat, or even stir into vegetables to add a full recipe’s worth of flavor all at once.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Dash of ground white pepper
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well blended. It takes a bit of work at first, but if you keep whisking, it will mix together.
- Spoon the compound butter onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a log about 2 inches around. Roll the plastic wrap up into a cylinder and twist the ends shut.
- You may store the butter in the refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for as long as 1 year.
If you have trouble combining the ingredients, the butter is most likely not soft enough. Microwave for just a few seconds at a time until the butter is soft enough to work with.
Shrimp Mock Fried Rice
Recipe courtesy George Stella / StellaStyle.com
Prep Time 15 min | Cook Time 8 min | Serves 4
Calories:180 | Fat: 11g | Protein:16g | Fiber: 1.5g | Net Carbs:3g
When we began our low carb lifestyle, we were not about to just give up on one of our favorite cuisines—who doesn’t like Chinese food, anyway? We came up with this recipe for exactly that reason by using grated cauliflower in place of the rice and keeping all those awesome flavors intact!
- 2 cups raw cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
- 4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- ½ cup cooked salad shrimp
- ¼ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- Salt to taste, if needed.
- Grate the fresh cauliflower using the largest holes of a cheese grater. You can also use a food processor fitted with a grating blade.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and 3 tablespoons of the green onions, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the cauliflower, shrimp, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
- Add the soy sauce and stir. Add the eggs to one corner of the pan but don’t stir for 1 minute. This allows the eggs to cook for a bit, which will prevent them from completely breaking up and disappearing into the mix.
- As soon as the eggs are soft-cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and gently fold the eggs into the mixture. Add salt or more soy sauce to taste and serve garnished with the remaining 1 tablespoon of green onions.
It’s completely normal for there to be extra liquid in the pan when this is finished. Use a slotted spoon to drain it as you serve.