Healthy Low-Carb Lunch Ideas for Diabetes
Carbohydrates break down into glucose once they enter the bloodstream. Therefore, they become greater contributors to high blood sugar levels than fats and protein combined. As a result, most people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are often advised to adopt a low-carb diet. This diet presents many challenges, though, considering that most ‘health foods’ have a high carbohydrate content. Here is the solution to part of your daily dilemma, with 5 hassle-free and healthy low-carb lunch ideas for people with diabetes:
1. Two-Bean Beef Chili
Carbohydrate Content: 27 g per serving Total Cooking Time: 1 hour
What You’ll Need:
- Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
- Chopped onion, 1
- Ground lean beef, 1 ½ pounds
- Pinto beans, 14 ounces (396 g)
- Black beans, 14 ounces (396 g)
- Crushed or pureed tomatoes, 14 ounces (396 g)
- Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon
- Table salt, ½ teaspoon
- White vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons
- Chili powder blend (red chili powder mixed with cumin, oregano, and garlic powder, to taste), 3 tablespoons
- Grated cheese, sour cream, chopped red onions, and/or hot sauce (for topping)
After heating the oil in a pot over medium-low heat, add onions and sauté for 10 minutes or until very light brown. Now increase the flame, add the ground beef, and intermittently break the clumps with a spatula until the meat starts browning and sizzling in its own fat. Next, add chilli powder, garlic powder, salt, and white vinegar, and stir for 15 seconds on low flame. Add in the beans and tomatoes while stirring. Let the mixture simmer uncovered with occasional stirring for 30-45 minutes, or until it thickens. Take off the flame and serve while hot.
2. Beef Fajita
Carbohydrate Content: 11 g Total Cooking Time: 20 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- Beef strips, 0.4 kg (400 g)
- Red onion, 1 (medium-sized)
- Red and yellow bell peppers, 1 each
- Cumin, ½ teaspoon
- Chili powder, ½ teaspoon
- Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Freshly squeezed lime juice and chopped coriander (for garnish)
Wash and de-seed the bell peppers and slice them into thin, long strips. Now peel and slice the red onion, and set both vegetables aside. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium flame and add the oil once the pan is hot. After heating the oil, add the beef strips and sprinkle salt and pepper over them. To ensure full, even frying, add the beef strips in 2-3 batches and keep the strips from touching each other.
Cook for 1 minute, flip, cook for another minute, and remove from pan. Now add the sliced vegetables, cumin, and chili powder to the residual meat juice in the frying pan and stir-fry for 5 minutes or more until desired consistency. Add to the beef strips, garnish with coriander and lemon juice, and enjoy!
3. Smoked Salmon Wrap
Carbohydrate Content: 18 g Total Cooking Time: 10-15 minutesWhat You’ll Need:
- 8-inch low-carb flour tortilla/pita bread, 1
- Smoked salmon, 2 ounces (56 g)
- Low-fat cream cheese, 2 teaspoons
- Finely sliced red onion, ½
- Your choice of salad green
- Fresh or dried basil, ½ teaspoon
- Pepper, 1 pinch
Place the tortilla/pita bread between 2 pieces of a moist paper towel and warm in the microwave to keep it from drying out. Now mix the cream cheese, basil, and pepper and spread over the bread. Next, add in the salmon, onion, and salad greens. Roll up the bread, and munch away!
4. Curried Chicken Salad with Apples
Carbohydrate Content: 9 g Total Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- Cooked and diced chicken breast, 450 g
- Diced apple, 1
- Diced green onions, 2
- Chopped cashews, ½ cup
- Plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup
- Curry powder, 4 tablespoons
- Ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
After mixing the yogurt, curry powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl, add chicken, green onions, apple, and cashews, and stir until properly mixed. Eat it on its own, spread over wholegrain bread (though that will increase the carb count), or scoop with cucumber or papaya slices for extra flavor.
5. Spinach Rolls
Carbohydrate Content: 20 g Total Cooking Time: 45 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- Spinach leaves, 450 g
- Eggs, 3
- Onion, 1
- Carrot, 1
- Low-fat mozzarella cheese, 28 g
- Fat-free cottage cheese, 113 g
- Parsley, ¾ cup
- Garlic, 1 clove
- Curry powder, 1 teaspoon
- Chili flakes, ¼ teaspoon
- Salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon each
Preheat the oven to 200oC (400oF), place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray or oil lightly. Now mix the spinach, 2 eggs, mozzarella, garlic, pepper, and half the salt in a bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over the parchment and press flat to ½ inch thickness. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool.
Next, sauté the onions in a pan for 1 minute, then add in the carrots and parsley and let simmer for 2 minutes. Now add in the cottage cheese, curry, chilli powder, and the remaining salt, and mix lightly. Take the pan off the flame, add 1 egg to the mixture, and mix. Evenly spread the filling mixture over the now-cooled spinach mat, but take care not to spread to the edges in order to avoid spillage. Roll up this mat carefully and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut into round slices, and serve.
Note: All of the above recipes can be made in larger batches and refrigerated for quick lunch options on the go.
Since carbohydrate restriction when combined with insulin or blood sugar-lowering medications can result in severe drops in blood sugar, always consult with your doctor before starting a low-carb diet in case a dosage adjustment is required.
Note: Images only for reference. Food item may not look like the ones shown in the images.