Standard lunch fare is often loaded with carbohydrates -- tacos, sandwiches, creamy soups, pizza and pasta salads contain grains, potatoes, milk and sugar that raise your intake of this macronutrient. Whether you're limiting carbohydrates to promote weight loss or to manage a health condition, you don't want to use up your daily allotment at lunch. It's possible to have a satisfying meal consisting mostly of protein and healthy fats, you'll just need to spend a few minutes planning.
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Salads are a natural for a low-carb lunch. Green leafy vegetables have only trace amounts of carbohydrates. Top them with a lean protein and a no-carb salad dressing, and you're ready to go. Mix romaine lettuce with shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped chicken breast and black olives. Go old-school and make a chef salad with iceberg lettuce, roast beef, turkey breast, chopped cheddar and eggs -- toss in some spinach leaves for more vitamin A and iron. A virtually no-carb Cobb salad contains green leaf lettuce, watercress, bacon bits, chicken breast and blue cheese. Leave out the avocado and tomato, because these raise the carbohydrate count by a few grams.
Use a jar or shaker bottle to mix a dressing using red wine vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Most commercial dressings contain at least 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving.
Protein With Vegetables for Lunch
A super simple no-carb lunch contains a serving of protein with a serving of green, fibrous vegetables. For example, have a roasted breast of chicken with sauteed bok choy, flavored with a tablespoon of soy sauce, which adds less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. Broil a fillet of salmon and serve it over raw baby spinach and mushrooms. Grilled steak -- sliced and served on a bed of raw arugula and sliced radishes -- also contains zero carbohydrates.
A No-Carb Sandwich
Low-carb wraps contain 4 or more grams of carbohydrates -- far less than traditional wheat- and corn-based wraps, but not low enough to qualify as no-carb. Satisfy your sandwich urge by using a large leaf of butter lettuce, collard, romaine lettuce or iceberg to wrap no-carb sandwich fillings. Mix a can of drained tuna with 1 tablespoon of chopped celery, fresh dill and a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Use sliced ham and cheddar cheese or deli turkey and Gouda as a filling. A lean ground beef patty topped with a slice of mozzarella wrapped in romaine makes a no-carb burger substitute.
No-Carb Endive Boats
A member of the chicory family, Belgian endive leaves make a perfect vehicle for tasty no-carb fillings. The leaves are concave and sturdy, with a crunchy texture and pleasant bitter bite. Fill each leaf with a mixture of finely chopped eggs, mayonnaise and fresh tarragon; cream cheese with chopped ham and paprika; or shredded chicken topped with goat cheese and minced chives. Each person can enjoy two or three of the filled "boats."