If you’re following a low-carb diet it’s important to make the quality of carbs count, and include whole-food sources like whole grains and sweet or regular potatoes. These lunch recipes feature healthy carbs, colorful veggies and plenty of protein — all under 402 calories and 23 grams of carbs or less per serving.
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1. Avocado Sweet Potato Toast with Poached Egg
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 147; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 170mg; Sodium: 86mg; Carbohydrate: 10g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 7g
This easy and balanced breakfast uses toasted sweet potato slices instead of bread for a satisfying, gluten-free alternative. Topping the sweet potato slices with smashed avocado and a poached egg provides a great source of healthy fat and satiating protein, making this a nutrient-rich breakfast that will keep you full all morning long.
1 sweet potato
4 Eggland’s Best eggs
Red pepper flakes
Microgreens for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Wash the sweet potato and trim off pointy ends. On a cutting board, lay sweet potato on its side and slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices (you’ll be looking for at least four slices). Place the sweet potato slices on prepared baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
While the sweet potato is baking, scoop out the flesh of the avocado into a bowl. Season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mash with a fork until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Poach your eggs: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Crack one egg at a time into a small serving dish or measuring cup so you don’t have to crack it directly into the simmering water. Slowly stir the water in a circular motion as you gently slide the egg into the water, cooking for 3–4 minutes. Remove the egg with a strainer ladle and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.
When sweet potato toasts are ready, remove from the oven and place each slice on a serving plate. Spread the mashed avocado over the sweet potato toast and top with poached eggs. Season with sea salt and red pepper flakes, and garnish top with micro greens.
Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 toast
2. Cauliflower-Crusted Spinach Feta Pie
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 136; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 68mg; Sodium: 330mg; Carbohydrate: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 13g
Rich, buttery spanakopita is a favorite at Greek restaurants, but a slice packs a hefty caloric punch. Luckily, the delicious combination of spinach and feta is just as alluring when lightened up and baked in a cauliflower crust. Naturally gluten-free, cauliflower makes a great alternative to flour-and-butter crusts and adds even more veggie servings to the pie.
For the crust
1 large head cauliflower, cut into 8 cups (1200g) florets
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 large egg whites
For the filling
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
10 ounces (284g) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 cup (100g) feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup (25g) green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the crust
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200ºC), and coat a a deep, 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray, reserve. Spread a clean tea towel on the counter for draining the cauliflower.
Place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and heat 5 minutes on high. The cauliflower should be tender. Transfer half of the cauliflower to a food processor and process mincing finely. Dump the cauliflower on the clean tea towel, and repeat with the remaining cauliflower. Use a spatula to spread the cauliflower in a loose layer over the tea towel and let cool for 10 minutes.
While it cools, whisk the 2 egg whites with the parmesan in a medium bowl. When the cauliflower has cooled, pull up the edges of the towel and make a bundle, and press and knead the cauliflower over the sink to remove as much water as possible. Wring and twist the towel to squeeze out all the moisture; it will take a few minutes. When nearly dry, transfer the cauliflower to the bowl with the egg whites and stir to mix. Spoon into the oiled pie pan and press down with the back of the spoon to form a crust, making a rim about half an inch above the edge of the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The edge will be browned and the bottom will look dry.
For the filling
Whisk the remaining egg whites and the whole eggs in a large bowl. Wring the water from the spinach and add to the eggs along with the feta, green onions, oregano and pepper. Stir to mix, and pour into the baked shell. Smooth the top and bake for about 35–40 minutes, until the top is puffed in the center and the eggs are cooked through. Cool on a rack for five minutes before slicing into 7 pieces.
Serves: 7 | Serving Size: 1/7 of a 9-inch pie
3. Low-Carb Chicken Florentine,
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 392; Total Fat: 17g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 105mg; Sodium: 616mg; Carbohydrate: 23g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 8g; Protein 37g
This lower-carb version of a favorite pasta dish is just as hearty and satisfying. Roasting spaghetti squash at a high temperature makes it tender and lightly caramelized in just 35 minutes. While it might take longer than microwaving, the buttery-toasty flavor payoff is worth the wait.
The major benefit of this dish is it incorporates two functional vegetables in spaghetti squash and spinach. Spaghetti squash provides fiber, while spinach contains antioxidants, iron and even a bit of protein. It’s always smart to mix up and combine your vegetable sources to ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients.
Active time: 24 minutes Total time: 50 minutes
Low-Carb Chicken Florentine
2 2-pound (907g) spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 pound (454g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups (473ml) unsalted chicken stock
3 tablespoons (21g) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (113g) Neufchatel cheese, cut into pieces
5 ounces (142g) fresh baby spinach
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230ºC). Cut each spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Brush the cut sides of squash evenly with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange squash, cut side down, on a foil-lined sheet pan. Bake until tender, 30–35 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the chicken to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic to pan; saute garlic with chicken for 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken stock and flour. Add stock mixture and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until bubbly and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Gradually add spinach, stirring until wilted.
Scrape squash halves to create spaghetti-like strands inside the shell (about 1 1/2 cups each). Top each squash half with about 1 cup chicken mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 chicken-mixture topped spaghetti squash half
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 335mg; Iron: 7%; Vitamin A: 2%; Vitamin C: 2%; Calcium: 9%