Have you climbed aboard the low-carb bandwagon? There’s a lot to be said for these diets, as they’ve helped scores of people reach their weight loss goals. Several studies indicate considerable health benefits from such eating plans. For example, over 50% of Type 2 diabetes patients successfully reversed their disease on a low-carb diet.
However, there is the pesky problem of how to brown-bag it. No bread? No problem! You can enjoy all the flavor you crave with these five low-carb, packed lunch ideas.
1. Keto-Friendly Tacos and Wraps
No need to remove Taco Tuesday from your weekly menu! Instead, improvise. A single leaf of butter lettuce makes an excellent shell substitute, and the meat, cheese, tomatoes and peppers fit your meal plan.
What’s the easiest way to carry this dish to the office? Keep everything separated until you’re ready to eat, chopping your desired veggies into serving dishes on Sunday night — or cheat and take salsa. Are you cutting down on red meat for health or environmental reasons? Try this crockpot chicken taco meat recipe and keep it in individual serving packets in your freezer:
- 2 pounds frozen chicken breast
- 1 taco seasoning packet
- 1 can mild diced green chilis (or spicy, if preferred)
- 1 1/2 cups salsa
Cook chicken until it shreds easily with a fork. Separate, let cool and place in storage bags. This recipe is awesome for office potlucks — and it’s so easy to make you won’t mind the contribution.
2. Crustless Quiche
Since quiche relies on eggs as the primary ingredient, most of these dishes are keto-friendly and low-carb — when you eliminate the pie crust. They also make handy, portable slices for your packed lunch, almost like cold pizza.
Here’s a bacon, mushroom and feta version that’s sure to please. Best of all, it can double as breakfast on the go:
- 8 slices thick bacon or turkey bacon
- 1 pound sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 8 eggs, beaten well
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Coarse black pepper and any seasonings you like
Cook the bacon and drain, saving the fat to saute the mushrooms. Layer the bacon, feta and browned mushrooms in a baking pan. In a separate dish, whip the cream and eggs. Pour the mixture over the other ingredients and blend. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the quiche begins to brown on top.
3. Scintillating Salads
Even on low-carb diets, you need to get your veggies. Fortunately, most herbs and vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers have relatively few net carbs, anyway. You have endless possibilities — try this Indian spiced salad as a side or a complete lunch with a piece of chicken or fish:
- 2 large diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 medium red onion
- 1/2 stick celery
- 2 sliced green chillis
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Himalayan salt and ground pepper to taste
If you have access to a kitchen, you should heat the oil before serving it as a side dish. However, you can also make this dish in advance and take it cold as your packed lunch.
4. Scrumptious Soups
Going low-carb doesn’t necessarily mean giving up Meatless Mondays. It’s still beneficial to the planet to cut back. Fortunately, you can find some hearty soups that are low-carb and vegan, like this coconut carrot version. While carrots are a root vegetable, they contain fewer net carbs on average than other varieties like potatoes and provide a hefty dose of beta-carotene for bright eyes and multiple other health benefits:
- 2 peeled and sliced carrots
- 3 diced shallots
- 2 diced red chillis
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the carrots until slightly soft, then add the shallots and chilis until mildly brown. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Let cool and pour into easy-to-transport containers.
5. Finger Food Fantasy
Finger food is a fabulous lunchtime treat. Who needs French bread when you have zucchini? Try this fantastic boat recipe that you can pickup with your hands and munch while at the keyboard:
- 4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1/2 diced yellow onion
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce (no sugar added)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the center from the zucchini, spray it with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. While they cook, brown your turkey and onion, adding the marinara and blending well. Spoon this mixture over your zucchini, top with cheese and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until melty and enjoy — or refrigerate for your next lunch.
Low-Carb Packed Lunch Ideas
Did you think it would be impossible to pack lunch without bread on a low-carb diet? Think again.
These five fabulous low-carb, packed lunch ideas will keep you full and sated until the dinner bell rings. Avoid the 3 mid-afternoon doldrums that often follow a big carbohydrate energy crash with these recipes that nourish your body.