Easy Low-Carb Recipe Conversions includes Low Carb Chunky Beef Chili

Easy Low-Carb Recipe Conversions

Hi, all. Let me introduce myself briefly. I’m an avid cook.

I enjoy food in all its richness, and I collect cookbooks of all kinds, especially regional and “antique” or traditional cookbooks. I’m Canadian, I’m curious (my favorite word is “why?”), and I’ve been a low carber for almost 3 years. I have a “day job” working as a business systems analyst and been working on and playing with computers since the early 1980s, but I’m no programmer. I’ve been active on several low carb listservers for the last 2 1/2 years and have “met” wonderful and actively curious people (uh, OK, nosy) like me, and enjoyed myself immensely in the process. (You may know me as Judi IslandGirl, which is the name I go by on the lists.)

You can tell I’m Canadian because I stick an extra “u” in lots of words, and the spellchecker (well, my spellchecker) says that’s legal! Well, the Britons and Ozzies and Kiwis might mistake me for one of theirs (mightn’t you?), but you Americans reading this won’t…

I share a very small house in western Canada, just north of Seattle and west of Vancouver, with an aging Rhodesian Ridgeback hound and my charming (if not chatty) first husband. I’m forty-something and blonde (for now). The most important room in the house is the kitchen; we’ve completed our 2nd renovation in the 11 years we’ve lived here. This is my reno; I planned it from the first step to the last and we struggled to execute it, slowly, over almost 5 years to get an operational kitchen with room to swing a wooden spoon!

I first ran into the concept of low carb dieting in a women’s magazine in July of 1998 – a 2-page spread of the Atkins Induction Plan (the “14 Day Diet”). I’d had a tendency to plumpness and have veered up and down between plumpness and fatness since puberty. By July 1998 it had steadily crept up for 10 years or so, and I was no longer responding to “calorie reduction” regimes. I had a particular weight spike in weight after attempting to quit smoking some 5 years earlier that had never gone away completely. I read the article and said to myself, “I’ve got to try it … it certainly can’t hurt me in two weeks to eat such low carbs.”

After the two weeks were up, I was amazed that my cheekbones were slowly emerging for the first time in many, many years! I became getting even more curious and started researching on the Web. The rest is history. I learned a lot and lost about 50 pounds (about 23 kilograms), in “fits and starts,” over the next year and a half.

Incidentally, I also lowered high ‘bad’ cholesterol, raised low ‘good’ cholesterol, and had my skin clear up in the process!

In the process of learning low carb for myself, and so I could play in my kitchen, I’ve converted a lot of recipes, mostly simple supper things and mostly on the fly. I’ve mixed in my fascination with software ‘toys’, and have been using MasterCook for food-logging (when I’m disciplined and have some time) and recipe tweaking and converting (for fun and when I have some time). I’m looking forward to sharing some of the results with others interested in health and in flavourful low carb cooking!

There’s a method to my conversion madness that’s developed over time, and I’m going to lay it out here so you, too, can see it’s really quite straightforward with a little practice. I’m going to assume that you understand the basics of low carbing, which are described quite thoroughly elsewhere in the CarbSmart Magazine.

The Big Three Recipe Conversion Questions

I call these The Big Three recipe conversion questions, and they go like this:

  1. If “IT” (an ingredient) isn’t leafy and green, or meat, or oil and/or fats, look up and write down the carb count;
  2. If “IT” is a filler, simply delete it. An ingredient is a filler if it’s not providing flavor or texture, or is often eaten as a side dish. For example, beans, unless mashed, get their flavor from other ingredients and don’t thicken anything much; rice, potatoes, and noodles also have very little flavor of their own. Watch for phrases like “serve with” or “pour over” … that’s the cheap filler.
  3. Consider substituting high carbohydrate flavorings and thickeners (this is where things get a little trickier) only if you can’t just delete them from the recipe without changing the recipe drastically. This may require you to change some of your culinary assumptions. For example, what part of a quiche is the tasty and nutrient-dense part, the pastry (NOT) or the yummy vegetable-laden egg and cheese filling? What part is of a quiche is merely there as a ‘holder’ and can easily be replaced by a plate?

An Easy Crockpot Conversion

Here’s an easy recipe, easy crockpot/slow cooker to convert and cook using “The Big Three” questions, and, it’s definitely easy to eat at the end of the day when you come home from your day job. I’ll walk you through the conversion process beginning with a recipe for Chunky Beef Chili, and will have more conversion recipes for you in the weeks to come.

Substitutions in the recipe ingredients are underlined.

Original Chunky Beef Chili (Not Low-Carb)

From: Canadian Living magazine Test Kitchen, February 2000

“Slow-Cook Suppers (CrockPot OR Stove Top)”

Nutritional information provided by MasterCook software.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pound (1 kg) stewing beef, cut in 2-inch (1 cm) cubes
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 can (19 oz/540mL) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (19 oz/540mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (250mL) beef stock
  • 1 can (5.5 oz/156mL) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (25mL) chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4mL) salt
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped

Serves 6 @ 483 calories, 18 grams fat, 42 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrates w/ 10 grams fibre (net: 33 grams carbohydrates) per serving.

Sodium per serving is 1,535 mg.; potassium per serving is 1,636 mg.

Conversion Notes:

  • The filler is the chickpeas. They can be “deleted” from the recipe completely.
  • Colour & flavor are provided by the stewed onions, carrots, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and sweet red pepper. These items can be replaced, reduced, or eliminated. Reduce the amount of onion; eliminate the carrots. Reduce the amount of tomato paste. To make up for the missing bulk from the eliminated carrots, increase the amount of celery.
  • Texture of the dish is fine with the noted replacements, reductions, and eliminations.

You can reduce the carbohydrate count even further by leaving the tomato paste out entirely and increasing the amount of chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt to suit your own personal taste. You may also add unsweetened hot sauce to taste.

If you are on induction, or simply want the lowest possible carb count, you can eliminate the diced tomatoes completely and reduce the amount of the onion and sweet red pepper by half or even eliminate them entirely.

Low-Carb Chunky Beef Chili conversion


Low Carb Chunky Beef Chili recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) stewing beef, cut in 2 inch (1 cm) cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 can (19 oz/540mL) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250mL) beef stock
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (25mL) chili powder (or more – to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) ground cumin (or more – to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or more – to taste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4mL) salt (or more – to taste)
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped



  1. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown meat in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to an 18 to 24-cup (4.5 to 6 L) slow-cooker or crockpot.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour them over the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are tender.
  4. Serves 6.


  1. Brown the meat in the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven until it is browned on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine and blend.
  2. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Increase heat to medium and cook for an additional l5 minutes.
  3. Serves 6.


  • Calories: 337
  • Sodium: 978mg
  • Fat: 16g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 13g (9g Net Carbs)
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 35g
Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes


Check Also

Low Carb Gluten-Free Chunky Beef Chili Recipe

Low-Carb Gluten-Free Chunky Beef Chili Recipe

This Low Carb Chunky Beef Chili recipe from Judith van den Broek is a great variation for a cold winter night. The hearty, thick chunks of beef mixed with onions, celery, tomatoes and spices makes the perfect Low-Carb Gluten-Free variation of healthy chili.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.