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A few months ago, I asked for your favorite lunch ideas, and promised I'd share some with you. The responses I received are a testimony to the ingenuity of Low Carb Luxury readers. Even though I can't include every suggestion here, I'd still like to thank everyone who took the time to send in their ideas. I'd also like to thank those who wrote in about what you miss the most. Stay tuned, because the "Make It Low Carb" mission is to help you find low carb ways to enjoy those things again! Now, without further ado, here's what's for lunch.
Pam's Chicken Salad
Soup makes an ideal lunch. While Progresso offers a few low carb varieties, it's often cheaper, easier, and tastier to make your own. Dawn B. makes a quick soup using the pre-seasoned fajita meat from her supermarket. She uses a cup of water, a bouillon cube, a handful of meat and some leftover or frozen vegetables, for a nearly instant soup. Dawn recommends eating stalks of celery with your soup if you miss the "crunch" of crackers or bread sticks.
For many of us, soup is only half a lunch: where's the sandwich? The 'net abounds with low carb bread recipes, but there's still hope for those of us (like me) who've never had much luck with them. While many commercial low carb breads have been discontinued, they're not extinct. The recent introduction of Sara Lee's "Delightful" breads, with 7 net grams per slice, means some of us can find room in our diets for a sandwich every now and then. Grilled cheese, tuna melt, even Monte Cristos are great choices if you?ve got the right bread.
What else? Wraps and tortilla pizzas are popular, too, especially with the availability of low carb wraps and tortillas. The key here is variety — if you do the same thing all the time, you'll get bored. Use different dressings in your wraps, and different toppings on your pizzas so you don't get into a rut.
Of course, salads are a midday staple. I've found the key to lunch-time salads is to have the ingredients ready to assemble so that you can put it together quickly. You can easily wash enough lettuce for a few days, then spin it dry, wrap it in paper towels, and store it in a ziplock bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Be sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible when you close it, and your lettuce will stay nice and crisp for several days. Keep wet ingredients away from things that don't like moisture (like lettuce); if you?re packing a salad to take to work, put the heavy, wet ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers on the bottom. Put your lettuce on the top and that way it will still be nice and crisp when you want to eat it.
More than one reader made the point that if you?re going to eat salad, make sure you include plenty of protein: cooked meat, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese make delicious salad additions. Pam B. sent in this recipe for her favorite salad:
- 3 cooked chicken breast halves, shredded
- 1 stalk of chopped celery
- 1/4 tsp chopped onion
- 1/3 Cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 Cup to 3/4 Cup mayonnaise
- 1 T Cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 Cup halved red grapes
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients; serve over mixed spring greens.
Pam?s salad is great because she?s got a lot of flavor elements (sweet, salty, sharp), and different textures, too. A salad like this isn?t a "ho-hum, salad for lunch again" kind of salad — it's something you really look forward to. Putting in just a little more effort can make a big difference.
For something completely different, try Dawn B.'s tuna burger. Dawn sent in a recipe roadmap, rather than a traditional recipe, so here's my translation of it:
Dawn's Tuna Burger
Serves 1 hungry person
- 1 can tuna
- 1 dill pickle, chopped
- 1 to 2 T chopped black olives
- 1 to 2 tsps minced onion (to taste)
- 1 egg
- 1 to 2 T Italian dressing
- Psyllium husks or Parmesan cheese
Drain the tuna well and put it into a medium bowl. Flake the tuna with a fork, then stir in the chopped pickle, olives, and onion. Mix well.
Add the egg and Italian dressing; stir to combine. Add psyillium husks or Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition; add just enough husks or cheese until the mixture holds together well enough to form a patty.
Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray, and fry the patty over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
Dawn says these are also delicious with cheese melted over the top, like a self-contained tuna melt. This recipe is the type that's open to tweaking; if you don't like dill pickles, olives, or onions, that's OK, leave them out. My father-in-law makes a great tuna salad with chopped apples and celery, I bet those would be great here, with a little mayonnaise instead of the Italian dressing.
Last but not least, don't forget about those leftovers. Planned leftovers make future meals a breeze — so fry up some extra bacon, or boil some extra eggs. You know you'll be happier and healthier if you don't leave yourself at the mercy of the fast food joints.
Summer?s coming, and nobody feels like cooking, right? Check back next month for one of my favorite summer recipes. I?d like to hear about yours, too. My mailbox is always open.
Copyright © June 2006 Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury