There are so many low carb lunch options! Check these out!
Lunch can be challenging for low carbers, as it’s most often loaded with carbohydrate. In the 1970s and 80s, school lunches were most usually pies and sausage rolls, potato chips (hot or packet), and it’s easy to fall into the adult-hood trap of just grabbing the first easy thing close to work!
But those high carb easy lunches full of breads, pastry, potatoes and of course lots of added sugar, will play havoc with your lower carb life….
From low-carb salads, lovely left overs, purpose made mini meals, meatballs and lowcarb pizzas, and creative bento boxes – there’s so much choice!
The low carb salad
For the warmer months, low or no-carb salads are simple and easy! Use the leaves of your choice (so many lettuce options, rocket, baby spinach), with some quality protein (fish – fresh or canned, beef, chicken, turkey, pork) with the added extras like eggs, grated cheese, bacon bits, etc.
Then it’s easy to spice it up with a red wine vinegar dressing (make your own, as the commercial ones usually contain sugar!).
So, here’s your buildings blocks for low carb lunch options… Just choose any six or eight ingredients plus the vinaigrette!
- Leaves (lettuce, rocket, endive, spinach, kale – mixed as you like!)
- Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines: Canned or fresh
- Cooked prawns
- Sliced meats: Beef, chicken, turkey, pastrami
- Spiced mince: Mexican, Kofta, etc
- Shredded roasted meats: Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Pork.
- Bacon bits, or cubes of Speck, fried
- A handful of nuts or seeds (sliced almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, roasted lower carb nuts (do these yourself in the pan and avoid the extra salt)
- Cheese: So many options from crumbled fetta, grated cheddar, chunks of blue cheese, or even cubes of fried halloumi, cooled!
- Eggs: usually boiled and sliced/diced, but up to you!
- Avocado: Important fat, but don’t over do it!
- Tomato: This has some carb so keep it to a small tomato only!
- Other low carb veg of your choice: Some grated carrot, zucchini (grated raw, or cubes of baked zucchini, asparagus, watercress, capsicum, cucumber and any other water-based veg
- Antipasto: Olives, roasted capsicum (or even jalapeno if you like it), capers, caperberries
- Dressing: Preferably home made as salad dressings often contain hidden sugar. Simply mix red wine vinegar with olive oil and a pinch of salt!
- PLUS: Make a warm salad by choosing protein/egg that you can heat to mix in with the other ingredients!
By varying the included ingredients and changing the theme, there are SO many varieties of salad to make!
Protein with vegies
From leftovers to stir-fries and warm salads, there are so many ways to combine Protein and Veg, to make them a little different to the standard cold salad.
- Create a simple stir fry with some chicken breast, bok choy or choy sum, capsicum and a dash of fish sauce and soy sauce for flavour (there’s some carb in soy sauce, but a tablespoon or so is fine).
- Cook more of your evening meal to take the extra for lunch: Great on time saving and budgets, too!
- Pre-cook some steak, and slice and warm at lunch and place over a salad of baby spinach, mushrooms, and a vinaigrette or mustard vinaigrette dressing.
- Add a fillet of grilled fish (tuna, salmon, barramundi) to a bed of rocket, baby spinach, or even pre-cooked bok choy! Flavour with some soy and sesame oil…
No carb sandwich & sandwich alternatives
If you’re Australian, you might be old enough to remember that kids party food staple – a slice of devon rolled around some mashed potato, and held together with a toothpick! As funny as that may seem in post 1970s Australia, the idea itself is a good one. It’s easy to use luncheon meats and salad leaves to create low-carb or even no-carb roll ups that can be flavour packed and in same cases have a delightful crunch – perfect low carb lunch options!
Here’s some ideas around roll-ups and vegie boats, for quick lunch creations!
- Use a large lettuce leaf as a wrap (iceberg, cos/romaine or whatever is large enough) to hold a combination of protein, veg and fats. A good example is a burger patty, some melted cheese, and grated carrot or sliced capsicum.
- Mix canned fish with a little chopped celery, a sprinkle of dill, a tablespoon or two of lower carb mayo, and use smaller lettuce leaves as boats. There are so many low carb fillings you can use for this
- Lay out the flexible section of a larger cos lettuce leaf, place a slice or deli meat over (beef, chicken, roast pork etc), spread over some seeded mustard along with grated cheese, and roll up! Secure with a couple of toothpicks to keep it in place until lunch!
- If you like the strong taste, endive is a sturdy ‘boat’ that can be filled with lots of different ingredients! Fill with an egg/mayonnaise/herb mix, cream cheese mixed with chopped ham with a sprinkle of paprika; or chicken mixed with goats cheese or a soft blue!
Meatballs and pizza!
Meatballs make great low carb lunch options, and used in so many cultures to mix shredded or ground meat into a shapes that can be cooked in a sauce, fried, baked, placed on a skewer, used as a dipping object for sauce, etc.
And similarly, any usable base with meat/veg and cheese melted on top becomes a pizza! The taste combinations seem almost endless, and can be made in simple ways for tasty lunches….
- Mix ground beef with a little grated carrot, finely chopped capsicum, a small onion finely chopped, add some dried parsley leaves, a tablespoon of tomato paste, some salt, and form into balls. Add a half cup of tomato based sauce, or marinara, and a little grated cheese. When it’s time to eat, heat in the microwave and ready go go!
- Greek koftas are a flavour sensation! Just mix half a kilo of lamb mince with some fresh chopped mint and parsley, diced onion and garlic, a tablespoon of paprika, and half a teaspoon each of ground ginger/cumin/coriander. Mix into balls, or form into palm length cylinders and thread onto short bamboo sticks. To serve, make a simple mix of greek yoghurt, generous pinch of salt, with some dried mint mixed in. These are awesome warm or cold!
- Using a mandolin (carefully!), slice zucchinis lengthways, lay out on a baking sheet, and cover with some lowcarb tomato pizza sauce of your choice, mozzarella and parmesan, slices of pepperoni, a few kalamata olives, and maybe slices of capsicum. Bake and cool, and take for lunch!
- Or, if you like, google “Fat Head Pizza recipe” and you’ll find loads of entries and instructions, videos tips and hints for making this popular pizza base from almond, cream cheese and mozarella!
The lower carb ‘bento’ box
There are so many bento box style divided plastic containers available now, that it’s easy just to mix and match simple ingredients for low carb lunch options. Just select the low-carb items of choice, and fill the different compartments of the box!
- Protein: Cold meats, tinned fish, prawns, etc
- Tuna or salmon salad using a low carb mayo, salt and pepper
- Smoked salmon
- Some fried, dried and crumbled bacon bits!
- Slices, cubes or grated cheese of your choice
- A few baby tomatoes
- Slices of cucumber, or baby cucumber “cuces”
- Celery sticks +
- A dip made of yoghurt and dried mint
- Baby spinach leaves
- A few slices of beetroot
- Eggs, boiled, sliced, diced!
- A handful of your favourite lower carb nuts! (Walnuts, pecans, macadamas, almonds)
- A few teaspoons of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds – to eat separately or mix in!
- A serve of berries for that sense of sweetness (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- Include a low carb muffin, either savoury or sweet
- And you can even add a handful of dried coconut ‘chips’! Great fibre content with those!
There’s so many lower carb items you can include! You might also want to check these great lunch lists!
What did I miss?
Last week, we posted our first and second breakfast blog post, with loads more info and recipes on luscious breakfasts at home, as well as breakfasts on the go! Click these images to visit the two posts!
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