And healthy too!
While breakfast has healthy mainstays such as eggs, yogurt, and fruit-filled smoothies, and dinner has lean, protein-packed options like perfectly cooked steak and roast chicken, lunch is a bit of a free-for-all. Sure, you have your standard salads, sandwiches, and soups, but oftentimes these dishes are underwhelming and can be made with less than ideal ingredients.
That’s why we put together this roundup of low carb lunch ideas that are healthy, delicious, and won’t leave you feeling tired and sluggish come 3 o’clock. Nutritious lunch options include Zesty Chicken Salad, Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps, and more, and each one has fewer than 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Keep reading for two dozen ways to upgrade your boring lunch game!
Speedy Steak and Blackberry Salad
This salad looks fancy (thanks to the steak) but comes together in just 30 minutes. Aside from the meat, this lunch dish is packed with healthy ingredients including fresh blackberries, arugula, roasted pistachios, and a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese.
Grilled Honeynut Squash Salad
Sweet, honeynut squash is the star of this fall salad, and with good reason. Inside, you’ll also find nutritious ingredients like Napa cabbage, radicchio, pepitas, and mint, and don’t even get us started on the punchy miso-and-spicy brown mustard dressing. In addition to topping the salad, the dressing also coats the squash and cabbage before they hit the grill, infusing them with even more flavor.
Red Lentil Squash Soup With Lemon
Soup can be a great low-carb lunch option, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Inside each bowl you’ve got nutrient-packed lentils, carrots, butternut squash, a cornucopia of spices, and harissa paste. Additionally, you’ll find warm ginger and a sprinkling of chopped almonds. While you can toast some bread for dunking, you really don’t need it.
Zesty Chicken Salad
There’s nary a carb in sight here, but you will find plenty of protein. Here, poached chicken is cubed and joined by just enough mayonnaise to bind, dill pickles for a briny punch, shallot pieces for a kick, lemon juice for a fresh zing, and—an excellent wild card—fresh tarragon. Serve with a side salad and enjoy.
Chard and Herb Frittata With Cherry Tomatoes
Who says eggs can only be enjoyed at breakfast? This meal is proof that eggs for lunch is an excellent idea, especially when they are coupled with fresh Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, and plenty of herbs and spices. The healthy mix-ins mean there are few carbohydrates and plenty of protein.
Crunchy Salad With Chicken and Ginger
If a salad made with wilted lettuce isn’t your jam, give this one a try instead. This healthy recipe features strips of marinated and seared chicken, shredded cabbage, carrots, and red bell peppers, as well as a topping of sliced almonds and fresh mint leaves. A dressing made with orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint, and grated ginger ties the whole thing together.
Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
One trick to keeping your meals low-carb is replacing wheat wraps with fresh lettuce instead. In this recipe, the lettuce is filled with a little white rice, as well as grated tofu flavored with shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, and sweet hoisin sauce.
Warm Chicken Shawarma Salad
In this 30-minute salad, chicken is flavored with a shawarma-inspired spice blend made with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, and allspice. The lean, flavorful meat is then paired with peppery arugula, a shower of herbs, creamy yogurt dressing, and warm pita. Skip the pita if you want even fewer carbs, but even with it this dish is still satiating and healthy.
Steak Salad With Herby Dressing
In this easy weeknight dinner salad, half of a chimichurri inspired-dressing is used to marinate steak while the grill preheats. Meanwhile, the other half dresses a salad of creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, crunchy radish, and crisp greens. With just 18 grams of carbohydrates per serving, this meal deserves a spot in your weekly lunch lineup.
Salmorejo with Prosciutto and Hard-Boiled Egg
Similar to gazpacho, this cold no-cook soup is made with tomatoes and bread, yet it still only has 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Pair it with prosciutto and a hard-boiled egg for plenty of satiating protein.
Slow-Cooker Black Bean and Zucchini Chili
Since chili is basically ground meat, beans, and spices, it’s no surprise that it contains relatively few carbohydrates but plenty of protein. Feel free to add healthy, flavorful toppings such as sliced avocado, hot sauce, and cilantro.
Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad
This sweet and savory salad is as fresh as it gets. Here, thick slices of feta, chunks of sweet cantaloupe, slices of crisp mini seedless cucumbers, and chopped buttery Castelvetrano olives are bathed in a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Enjoy this on its own for lunch, or pair it with grilled meats or fish for dinner.
Green Salad With Cornichon Vinaigrette
Simple yet delicious, this salad gets extra dimension thanks to briny pickles. In addition to the chopped cornichons that mingle with the greens, there’s also a bit of the pickling liquid whisked into the shallot-studded dressing, giving it quite the flavorful punch. Throw some grilled chicken on top (or even leftover rotisserie chicken) to add more protein if you’d like.
This dish reimagines melon and prosciutto—a classic Italian combo—as a salad. In addition to that sweet and savory duo, you’ll find crisp Little Gem lettuce, buttery Castelvetrano olives, creamy burrata, and crunchy pistachios. Since this salad is so packed with flavor, the only dressing you need is a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Coconut-Marinated Shrimp With Cucumber and Jicama
The star of this dish is cooked shrimp, which are marinated in a flavorful mixture of coconut milk, Fresno chili, and lime. The scrumptious shrimp are then mixed with sliced crisp cucumbers, fresh cilantro, and jicama matchsticks, yielding a light dish that calls for just 20 minutes of hands-on work.
Parmesan Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled eggs are typically enjoyed for breakfast, but if you have 15 minutes to spare around lunch time, go ahead and enjoy these Parmesan-studded eggs in the middle of the day. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, while the cheese adds plenty of flavor and keeps the carb count low.
Sliced-Tomato Salad With Dill Pickle Relish Vinaigrette
If you’ve got a haul of summer tomatoes, go ahead and put them to good use with this bright and briny salad. Here, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are sliced and dressed with a homemade dill pickle relish vinaigrette. To fancy this salad up, add some dollops of burrata, torn mozzarella, or shavings of Parmesan and enjoy!
Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps
This low-carb meal, which is also a stellar dinner option, is loaded with flavor and is ready in just 25 minutes. Here, a delicious coconut-peanut sauce is the star that brings the other ingredients together, including chicken, rice vermicelli noodles, sliced cucumber, and lettuce to wrap everything in.
Smashed Cucumber Salad With Spicy Feta and Olives
If cucumbers are one of your favorite salad ingredients, this dish is for you. Here, hydrating and crunchy cukes mingle with feta and olives for a flavor-packed 25-minute lunch. The key here is to smash, salt, and drain the cucumbers, which makes them crispier and crunchier for the most satisfying bite.
Japanese-Style Shrimp Salad
Ready in just 15 minutes, this salad is about to become a new favorite for lunch or dinner. In this dish, crunchy romaine and cucumbers, juicy shrimp, and avocado chunks get coated in an irresistible creamy soy-mayo dressing you’ll want to slather on everything. To save time, keep some pre-cooked shrimp in the fridge.
While gazpacho often has bread blended into it, this version is made almost entirely from fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and an onion, Other ingredients like lime juice, sour cream, cilantro, and pepitas add flavor and texture while still keeping the carb count low.
Tuna salad is often loaded with mayonnaise, but not this version. This lighter take is vinegar-based, and uses marinated chickpeas to add flavor and texture to oil-packed tuna. And that’s not all! Radicchio, red onion, kalamata olives, and capers bring the flavor. Serve on a bed of hearty lettuce for the perfect low-carb lunch.
Summer Squash With Scallions, Chile, and Parsley
If you've never eaten a raw summer squash salad, you're in for a treat. This one packs a double whammy: It tastes delicious and there's no need to cook. Tossing the summer squash and zucchini with salt helps them soften and absorb every bit of flavor. Top with a chopped almond dressing for a light and flavorful finish to this healthy, low-carb dish.
Steak and Beet Salad With Cheddar and Pistachios
If you’re a fan of the classic beet and goat cheese salad, we suggest giving this similar dish a whirl. In this protein-packed recipe, golden beets, crumbled aged white cheddar, and sliced flank steak come together to create a delightful dinner salad or satiating lunch option.
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