Need easy low-carbohydrate meal and snack ideas
February 2, 2011 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Those of you who keep your carbohydrate intake low: what are your go-to simple meals and snacks? Even better if it's easy to make ahead, to take to work, or to find when you're on the road.

Further info: I don't consume added sugar in any form. I eat meat, eggs, and cheese, but not beef. No food allergies or sensitivities besides feeling unwell when I eat sugar. Thanks for your help!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 157 users marked this as a favorite
Hard boiled eggs are very easy. You can chop them up and toss them in a salad. All the possible variants of tuna salad and chicken salad are good, too.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 10:22 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

1 container Fage strained yogurt (2%) + one stevia packet + one tbsp. of defatted peanut butter = creamy, delicious, just sweet enough, with tons of protein and very little fat.
posted by hermitosis at 10:24 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

For lunch, I commonly make "blackened" chicken on a bed of spinach with shallots or onion. Delicious, and so easy.

I quote "blackened" because it is really just chicken with a nice rub. It is also easy to pack, one container for the spinach, one for the chicken/onion topping.
posted by Invoke at 10:26 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

String cheese is portable. I also keep a bag of almonds in my desk. And for work lunches, I cook something on Sunday nights (usually) - poach or grill some chicken breasts, I grilled some tri-tip a couple weeks ago, or salmon filets - that I can take to work with some baby spinach or lettuce. I keep cottage cheese and yogurt (fage full-fat; it's lower in carbs, and I end up eating less because it's so rich) in the fridge there, and also a carton of eggs, which I scramble in the microwave.

I give myself a little more flexibility when eating out, but it's not too hard to order the fish but not eat the rice it comes with, order the roast chicken but leave (most of) the potatoes on the plate, etc.
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Boiled eggs
ham and cheese
cheese and mayo
vegetable sticks and mayo / cream cheese mix, with or without herbs and / or chilli
marmite on cheese
leftover meat
good sausages (eg little or no rusk), cooked, cold

any of the above on a salad with dressing (we always have salad in the fridge), or with cold cooked mixed vegetables with dressing or mayo

cooked brocolli, cold, with an orange vinaigrette and chilli bits, with soft boiled egg / feta / salami / panchetta

cheese and mixed nuts

cold curry (I kid you not), any sort, no rice
sag bhaji (fry spinach with garam masala, chopped onion and a little chopped tomoato, add chilli and salt to taste, great with any cooked meat or cold curry

cold or hot roast cauliflower (cut up, toss with oil and salt, and spices of your choice, they all work), roast till toasty brown

cold cooked green beans with almonds, dressing, meat or feta if you want
posted by dowcrag at 10:50 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hardboiled eggs sprinkled with cayenne.
Roasted mixed nuts (prepared a la Chex mix, without the Chex).
Greek yogurt.
Cold roasted chicken legs.
Farmers' cheese (or cottage cheese) sprinkled with dill or cayenne.
Salmon salad: Can of salmon over spinach leaves and tomato with raspberry vinaigrette.
Can of tuna with Italian dressing.
Sardines and crackers.
Microwave poached salmon with lemon (1/2 an inch water in the bottom of a ceramic bowl; add fish, nuke till done!)
Small apple, cut into wedges and sprinkled with cinnamon and Splenda.
Peanut butter and soy sauce melted over hot steamed vegetables.
posted by aquafortis at 10:52 AM on February 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

Meat/cheese rollups

Turkey/Beef jerky can be taken anywhere

Fage 2% with some mixed in protein powder for an extra kick of protein

I also make a lot of turkey chili and tend to freeze a bunch so I can take it with me to work.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:53 AM on February 2, 2011

Stir fry! Just leave out the rice. I generally toss in a quarter cup of cashews at the end to substitute for the rice. (Just pieces, I'm not made of money!)

Frittata - couldn't be easier. I use this recipe and leave out the potatoes. Once you've made a few, you can substitute in any sort of vegetables you like. Also, if you make them in muffin tins, they're a perfect fast breakfast.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:12 AM on February 2, 2011

And I just remembered this thing we made the other night, which is delicious hot or cold and pretty easy to transport:

Preheat oven to 375

6 eggs
splash of milk (or add some yogurt)
more spinach than you think
grated Parmesan, at least a cup
some feta (or cheddar or gruyere or...)
onion and garlic

Saute the onion and garlic. Steam the spinach and squeeze the water out, or if you don't care about that, chuck it in raw with the onion and garlic and cook until wilted.

Whisk the eggs with your milk/yogurt. Dump the spinach/onions/garlic into a pie dish; put feta/cheddar/gruyere on top. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Cover the top with grated Parmesan. Bake for about 30 minutes, until it's set and all golden brown on top and looks like this (yes, that's the one we made). Give it a few minutes to rest and then eat it. If I'd remembered to wrap a piece in tinfoil the next morning to take to work, I would have done so.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on February 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

I buy almonds in bulk at my local grocery store. They're far cheaper than the name brands on the shelves and they're completely unsalted. Buy a pound or two and store them in a Tupperware container. You can scarf down a couple handfuls on a whim and they last for months.

Also, I make no-carb egg creams using Hershey's no sugar chocolate syrup, a bit of milk and seltzer. OK, it's not as good as the REAL chocolate kind but it comes pretty close.
posted by Jamesonian at 11:18 AM on February 2, 2011

Edamame! Trader Joe's frozen salted in-pod edamame is my favorite, but any kind is good. Lots of protein & fiber.

Also Laughing Cow cheeses--pricey, but portable, satisfying, and low carb.
posted by smirkette at 11:19 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pepperoni sticks, although I really only like the locally made stuff.
posted by epersonae at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2011

I rely heavily on fritatta or crustless quiche or "egg pie thing" since I'm not good at naming things. Right now, because I'm trying out 4 Hour Body, it's 1 can spinach, 1 can black beans, two smallish diced baked chicken breasts, with enough eggs (right now I'm using a pint of Egg Beaters plus 1-2 real organic eggs) to cover, really well-seasoned, baked until set through. It's fine at room temp or nuked and tends to hold together pretty well when traveling.

Obviously you could replace the veg, legumes, and protein with anything that appeals to you. I'm partial to shrimp, cheese, and asparagus as well.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Olives (especially the nicer Spanish ones that come in small individual cans)
Apple slices with Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedges
White Cheddar Popcorn
Raw veggies (carrots, celery, red bell peppers)
Babybel cheese (in the red wax)

2nd hard boiled eggs, nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, macadamia...), Fage yogurt, and edamame.
posted by kathryn at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2011

Nuts, especially almonds, including almond butter.
String cheese. Also hard cheeses like aged gouda that can sit in my bag during the day.
Salmon jerky.

At work I have yogurt, ground flax seeds, and frozen raspberries for a quick meal. Also a few cans of tuna in oil which make a nice tuna salad with some mustard.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:15 PM on February 2, 2011

Mini-peanut butter crackers, raw almonds and a banana.
posted by Lynsey at 12:30 PM on February 2, 2011

For snacks, I love unsalted pecans, Babybel cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Chunks of melon are good and you can often find packages at the grocery store (though avoid watermelon if you're going for low GI foods). I'm also a fan of the grilled, marinated meat/fish on a spinach salad, which is really easy to take to work. I often do roast vegetables as an easy side dish. Roast cauliflower and broccoli are something I commonly prepare, but my favourite is 1" cubes of sweet potato roasted with cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
posted by flying kumquat at 12:47 PM on February 2, 2011

These are some great and helpful ideas! Making my shopping list now. Keep 'em coming, and thanks!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 12:59 PM on February 2, 2011

I favorited the fritatta comment above - I've been making big egg and veggie dishes in my large rectangular pyrex, then cutting them into ~ 12 squares and freezing them by fours or so. I use part egg whites, part eggs, and then whatever veggies sound good. 4 squares are easily 4 meals if augmented by other veggies and fruits.

Also nthing almonds, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, other unsalted nuts, cheeses like string cheese, sugar snap peas and other crudite.
posted by ldthomps at 1:13 PM on February 2, 2011

Brussels sprouts slaw: sauteed brussels sprouts, cooled and shredded, tossed with a dijon and minimal olive oil dressing, with almond pieces.

Smoked salmon/light cream cheese/cucumber wrap (easy if you do one long piece of cuke with a vegetable peeler)

Also--lately I've been eating buckwheat noodles with unsalted sesame seeds, a bit of sesame and olive oil, and nori (seaweed) with a bit of spinach. Although buckwheat isn't really a grain (I think it's a fruit, related to rhubarb?) I'm not sure how high-carb that would be; it's definitely high in nutrition and is hella easy to make.
posted by stellaluna at 1:21 PM on February 2, 2011

Creamed coconut (dried pulp) is an excellent little snack - the mouthfeel is like chocolate. Coconut anything is very good for low carb due to the MCT oils.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 1:58 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding can of tuna, but make sure it's in olive oil. I love Tonno Genova, it's readily available and inexpensive.
posted by Dragonness at 2:04 PM on February 2, 2011

Someone already mentioned Greek yogurt, but I would add that it goes really well with the sugar-free syrups made by Monin or Torrani. They're a little hard to find, but I found a few flavors at my local Central Market, and both companies make a very wide selection of flavors which you should be able to find online.
posted by shponglespore at 2:35 PM on February 2, 2011

I love toasted almonds a lot more than regular. Toast them in a pan, no oil, until you can hear/smell them.

Then throw on a combo of spices/some sort of liquid. The liquid will help the spices stick to the nuts and then evaporate, leaving a toasty spicy awesomey goodness. I've tried soy sauce + cayenne andd chili powder/salt/lime juice. Both are great.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 3:18 PM on February 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Keeping variety in a low-carb diet seems to be really, really tough. I recently loaded this book onto my kindle app and it's super. There are bread recipes! (breadmaker required). A slice of bread a day (usually 5 carbs) really helps with the almonds / cheese / tuna boredom. I've also enjoyed the cauliflower mashed potatoes as a side to whatever protein is for dinner, jambalaya and sweet and sour pork. She has a recipe for quiche crust, too. Oh, and there's a nice pancake recipe involving ricotta cheese, eggs and protein powder that reminds me of a kind of pancake I had in Russia. Yum, especially with no-sugar pancake syrup.

I made tacos last night with a low-carb tortillas recipe and they turned out great (you must have the wax paper, though). Also, look up chicken broccoli curry casserole on the web and pick whichever recipe - it's pretty good.

When I really need a quick snack, much like everyone else so far, I grab nuts, a cheesestick or a big spoonful of peanut butter. If I have time, I make a smoothie. Veggies with a full fat store-bought spinach dip are pretty good. Sometimes I'll have a little bowl of ricotta cheese.
posted by kitcat at 3:40 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention - sugar free jello!
posted by kitcat at 3:43 PM on February 2, 2011

True story: since Chicken McNuggets have been on sale and I have been eating them often, I have lost ten pounds just straight out of the blue. And feel great.
posted by gjc at 4:02 PM on February 2, 2011

Skip sugar substitutes for things like yogurt. It still affects you.

I'll second the recommendations for hardboiled eggs, and pouch tuna fish. (real) Jerky is great, but so is celery with almond butter. Check out some of the finer sausages in your deli. There's a great kind at Wegmans right now called Landjaeger that's high protein, high fat, low carb...they're like God's slim jims.
posted by carlh at 5:43 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make a pan or two of this flax "focaccia" bread a week, cut it into 16ths, then add a smear of hummus or Laughing Cow cheese or tuna salad. My biggest weakness (and beloved hobby) before going low carb was bread, so while this recipe wasn't a perfect substitute, I have to admit it's really grown on me. It's a great source of fiber, too.
posted by biddeford at 6:38 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love the pintos and cheese from Taco Bell. Yes, I know, taco bell. But seriously, it's a 90c cup of decently tasty beans and cheese, and you can add the sauce if you want. It's not a full meal, but it's a perfect filling snack that's easy and cheap to get on the road.
posted by mosessis at 3:10 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

"BLT" salad is one of my take-to-work lunch standbyes. Toss roughly chopped roma tomatoes with shredded red onion, field greens, and chopped bacon. Use your favorite dressing or the mayo version: 3/4 c. mayo. 1/4 c. milk, 1 t garlic powder, salt n pepper to taste.
posted by Kalatraz at 6:23 AM on February 3, 2011

I do the 40/30/30 ratio of carbs/protein/fat

Lentil curry stew with meat (carbs-lentils, protein-lentils and meat, fat-olive oil)
Chicken wrap (spinach, whole wheat tortilla, 1 cup of shredded chicken, and salsa, and I usually eat some almonds on the side)
If I'm really pressed for time I'll just grab a cup of some dairy product -- yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese -- and fill up the fat/protein quotas with nuts/seeds and whey
posted by aesacus at 12:41 PM on February 3, 2011

For lunch, I roll coleslaw up in ham and eat that as a kind of rollup. I also mix diced chicken breast with coleslaw as a sort if instant chicken salad/chicken mayoniase thing. For dinner we often make Nigella Slow Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken without the wine.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:45 PM on February 3, 2011

I'm not going to mark a best answer, as all of these are great ideas, and will keep me going for a long time! Thanks to everyone who posted!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 8:30 PM on February 3, 2011

I often slice chicken breasts into 1/8 inch slices, then throw them into a large pan with some hot sauce, oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and lemon juice. I sautee the chicken until it's cooked through, pour off the excess liquid, and there you have it: a mildly-spicy pile of cooked chicken that you can mix into salads right away, or keep for a couple of days in the fridge. In terms of amounts, I'd say it's probably something like:

1 chicken breast
2 Tbsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
posted by Greg Nog at 4:22 PM on February 5, 2011

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