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Jul 21, 2012 07:07 PM

Low Carb Vegetarian Meal (and snack) Ideas

In response to the thread drumming up ideas for new threads: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858988

As I posted in that other thread: "I tried going low carb a few months ago and it was as dull as dull can get. Part of the problem is l need one pack-able, non refrigerated (and importantly, not any chance at all of leaking or oozing and it must be compact) meal four days a week for school. I ended up eating cheese and celery with a few almonds. I love celery but I started to absolutely despise it." (Is it kosher to quote oneself? Man, oh man, I've just written so many freakin' quote-laden papers in the last year).

I am at the end of summer session right now (last final Monday), and after that I want to get back to trying low carb. In an effort to get as much fiber as well as protein I admit my diet was a little weird last go-round. For instance, eggs and broccoli was a breakfast staple.

I would like ideas for school lunches (limited space in a backpack that holds my super-expensive textbooks and laptop), but I welcome any and all ideas for all meals and snacks.

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  1. Low carb vegetarian is really tough!

    I snack on pistachio nuts alot ( I love them!) but you have to deal with the shells...or I also make my own "trail mix" with different seasoned almonds, macadamia and pepita's mixed with a chocolate protein bar cut in little squares. A handful in a baggie or lidded coffee or tea beverage container makes a nice snack. I mix up a batch and keep it in a mason jar so I can "grab and go".

    A whey protein shake in a stainless steel bottle might work for you. I use a stainless bottle with a big screw cap and it has a ring in the top so you can hang it from a backpack if you want. I also put cold soup in my bottle as well. I also don't trust thermos type containers for leaking. The only draw back with stainless is that they sweat, so hang it on the outside of your bag if carrying something really cold. I am a hiker so I have alot of different leak free sturdy bottles.

    Low carb veg wraps are easy to pack. I spread a LC tortilla with a bit of herbed cream cheese, add colorful peppers and pickled asparagus or artichoke. If you cut them in half and put them in a baggie then put them into a lidded coffee mug, they won't squish.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      Lc tortillas are also good rolled up with cheese, baked tofu, or seitan.

      Kale chips, roasted Brussels sprouts, zucchini chips, or roasted baby carrots are all good snacks. Can be packed with hummus for more of a meal. Sabra makes portable hummus cups.

      Consider investing in a good Tupperware or container to hold salads.

      1. re: cheesecake17

        I agree about the LC tortilla's with anything! Today I made a LC tortilla with a schmear of cream cheese, herbs from the pots outside, ground pepper and hard boiled egg halves and a handful of spring mix lettuce. Very nice!

        1. re: cheesecake17

          I agree with the LC tortillas. I nuke them with the filling inside and I think they're awesome, but I found out about them when my co-worker bought them, couldn't stand them, and gave them to me. So ymmv.

          1. re: choctastic

            There are a lot of brands, some good, some kind of bitter or rubbery.

      2. Bean or lentil salads that you can put in a Tupperware container make a great low-carb lunch. I also spend a few minutes in the morning making carrot, celery, and/or bell pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes, and other easily-snackable vegetables to take to work.

        1. Check these out, and no BPA in the can's lining: http://www.edenfoods.com/store/produc... I sometimes have them as a summertime lunch with vinaigrette. I'm not vegetarian, but I've been eating low carb for 14 years or so.

          I also use Joseph's middle eastern bakery low carb sandwich thins, tortillas and pitas to make wraps. One thing that's really good is mozzarella or cheese of your choice with grilled veggies. I like to make a lot of the veggies eaten hot, room temp or cold with meals. They make a great addition to a cheese wrap, no other condiment required. Cheese can go hours unrefrigerated and tastes better than way.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mcf

            Good suggestion about the black soy beans, mcf. I love those and use them all the time. They are great for dips, spreads, I puree them for black bean soup, use in chili, salsa, etc. and have even used them for the beans in LC brownies.

          2. I would suggest tofu and tempeh centric dishes.. like veggie wraps. If you line the wrap with some greens they won't get soggy. A crust less quiche, with Eggs, or if vegan, with tofu or chickpea flour is also very portable. Nut based spreads, pates or fake meat is also an option for wraps. I love using walnuts to make raw tacos!


            1 Reply
            1. re: blinknoodle

              I forgot too add seitan, too. Very high protein. Chorizo seitan sausage can liven up cabbage stir fries.


            2. This sounds like a bit of a punishing diet you've got yourself on! May I ask why you've chosen to go low-carb? I have to say, I have been veggie a lot of times and generally found that as long as I chose high-fiber and nutritious carb sources (bran cereal, non-fried potatoes, brown rice, rye bread) I felt great and didn't put on weight or anything - and the amount of health-compromising stuff I was avoiding by not eating meat meant that I was making up for the supposed bad points of carbohydrates (at least, that's what I liked to think!). Cut yourself a wee bit of slack at least maybe, and let yourself have some carbs at breakfast if you're tiring of broccoli and eggs, the body does need a good deal of energy just to keep you warm and alive after all! Having said all this, edamame beans are a really nice snack whether shelled or not, and are full of protein - a foil-sealed pot of cottage cheese can be perfect for a lunchtime frontrunner, and as for a meal try making a lo-carb pizza: slice an aubergine into 1/2 inch planks from tip to tip, brush them with oil, lay them out on a baking sheet and cover the tops with tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella and basil, yuuurrrrmmmm...only needs half an hour in the oven. :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: Elster

                I'm pretty sure the OP didn't ask for advice about what diet to live on, just what *low carb* foods to eat. And those things you listed are fiber impoverished compared to veggies, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.

                The body needs sustained energy for best performance, and protein, by converting slowly over hours instead of a sugar spike and gone like carbs, is the best fuel. The brain actually runs better on ketones from fat burning, and switches from glucose to them whenever they are present.

                Metabolically, carbs at breakfast are far more glycemic than later in the day due to biological/diurnal cortisol rhythm which pushes glucose highest in the a.m. and wanes to nil over the course of a full day.

                I've been eating very low carb for many years, and it's the least punishing way of eating I've ever been on.

                1. re: mcf

                  Thanks, all.

                  When I first started school last summer, my first class was remedial algebra. (Somehow, in the 40 or so years since I had taken algebra, it had all fallen out of my head). My teacher had many years not only as an algebra teacher but also running the Learning Center. For our first test she gave us a handout with tips on taking tests. First and foremost was making sure we had a high-protein breakfast on the day of our test, after getting a good nights sleep. I can't tell you what a difference that made and how eye-opening it was for somebody who routinely had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast. Since then, I have dabbled in low-carb eating.

                  I've been a vegetarian for 38 years now, so it's not likely I will revert to being an omnivore. That said, I surely don't know everything there is to know about nutrition. I have come to realize that low carb eating is better for the way my body and brain work, especially when my brain is taxed on a daily basis. I have also come to realize that my body is very unhappy without legumes in my diet and that is where I get most of my carbs, from beans. Even low-carb tortillas seem very carb-y to me.

                  The school changed the schedule for one of my classes this fall, so I had to switch it for another class. I couldn't envision two four-hour classes in one day. So, at least for the time being, I won't need to pack any meals.

                  Thanks for the great ideas. I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs these kinds of packable lunches.

                  1. re: mcf

                    well that's very interesting. I have been assuming that if I'm going to eat carbs it should be at breakfast as it gives me the whole day of activity to use them up. Maybe I should read to the end of the Gary Taubes book I bought...

                    1. re: gembellina

                      Or just look up the effects of cortisol or steroids on blood glucose. Our endogenous ones are highest in the a.m. between about 6-8 a.m., tapering all day, to about zero by midnight.

                      The first precipitous drop is between 3-5 p.m. That's when I often start to feel chilled or fatigued in winter afternoons.

                      1. re: mcf

                        That's a useful place to start, thanks.