From pizza and tacos to gyros and buffalo wings, fast food is a tasty treat – and a part of modern life for people on the go. But these restaurant favorites can be nutritional disasters thanks to their high content of fats, carbs and salt, which makes them largely off limits to health conscious dieters hoping to avoid simple carbs and other unhealthful ingredients.
Best Ways to Make Your Own Low-carb Fast Food Meals
Carb watchers don’t have to give up their fast food favorites, though. With a long list if inventive substitutes for burger buns, French fries and even waffles, inventive cooks from around the world have re-imagined standard fast food and restaurant meals for low-carb dieters, while keeping the flavor and style of the originals.
Just about any fast food or restaurant meal can be tweaked at home to create low-carb fast food options that reduce simple carbs and boost the nutritional content. Key substitutions for low-carb dieters and the gluten sensitive include versatile cauliflower for a range of carbs including pasta, rice and potatoes, and everything from egg patties to lettuce leaves can wrap sandwich fillings.
For those choosing to avoid dairy products, many recipes substitute homemade mayonnaise or hummus for ingredients ranging from salad dressing to cheese sauces. And while low-carb fast food ideas rely on lean meats like chicken and beef, many low-carb recipes can be made vegan and vegetarian friendly with just a few substitutions.
1. Wraps in Peanut Sauce
Rich in vitamins A, E and K, collard greens have been called one of the world’s healthiest foods. Stuffed with fresh vegetables and fiber rich quinoa or hummus, fresh collard leaves make a sturdy, nutritious substitute for high carb sandwich wraps such as pitas or tortillas. Accompanied by a simple peanut sauce of peanut butter and a touch of maple syrup, these wraps make tasty quick low-carb meals.
2. Spicy Asian Chicken Salad
Taking just five minutes to prepare, this spicy salad is free of gluten, dairy and sugar – and carbs. Shredded rotisserie chicken and prepared salad mixes combine with Asian style seasonings including soy sauce and ginger for a quick low-carb fast food meal that gets a kick from a bit of jalapeno. The entire dish can be tossed together in a plastic freezer bag to mix ingredients before serving this salad – one of the healthiest low-carb fast food ideas.
3. Veggie “Sushi” Rolls
An Asian restaurant staple, sushi rolls consist of raw fish wrapped in sheets of nori, a nutrient rich seaweed. This quick variation on traditional sushi rolls combines avocado and fresh vegetables with a tamari and mustard based sauce for a nutritious and filling low-carb meal. Like traditional sushi, these rolls are wrapped in nori, a seaweed rich in vitamins and antioxidfants. Mashed avocado delivers healthy Omega 3 oils and fiber, and alfalfa (or any other sprout you like) adds protein and fiber in one of the easiest low-carb fast food options.
4. Chipotle Turkey Burgers With Guacamole
Spicy peppers and guacamole add a southwestern kick to a low-fat, low-carb turkey burger that can be garnisheed with bacon as well as standard burger toppings. Lean ground turkey is mixed with chipotle peppers and garlic into patties and then grilled. Sprouted grain hamburger buns make this dish low-carb, not no-carb, but also add filling fiber and protein for a Mexican style burger that’s an easy way to enjoy one of these healthy low-carb fast food options.
5. Low-carb Baked Chicken Tenders
A savory crust made of Parmesan cheese, parsley and spices replaces the breading in traditional chicken tender recipes and keeps this version virtually carb free. Fresh chicken tenders are dipped in butter, rolled in the crust mixture and then baked, not fried, for a healthy low-carb fast food option that ‘s an alternative to regular chicken tenders.
6. Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Lettuce is a favorite addition to many low-carb food ideas. Lightly sautéed shrimp and fresh vegetables are wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves for one of the easiest low-carb fast food meals. These wraps combine antioxidant rich carrots, cucumber and cilantro with leafy romaine lettuce and high protein shrimp. Olive oil and avocado add heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Dip wraps in a spicy peanut-ginger sauce for a fast meal that’s virtually carb free.
7. Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks
Cheesy breadsticks make a tasty fast food appetizer with a hefty serving of simple carbs and calories, but this version delvers breadstick taste without a bit of bread. Versatile and nutritious, cauliflower substitutes for carb-rich pasta and rice in many low-carb fast food meals. Here, riced cauliflower combines with eggs, garlic and mozzarella cheese to make a bread free breadstick that’s baked, then topped with more cheese for one of the easiest low-carb fast food options for lunch or a snack.
8. Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a fast food staple, but the bread adds carbs. This version replaces bread with a crusty alternative made from that low-carb staple riced cauliflower mixed with eggs and spices. This cauliflower mix is than shaped into bread-style slices and baked until golden. The “bread” slices are topped with sharp cheddar cheese and grilled for a carb-free and fiber rich alternative to traditional grilled cheese sandwiches.
9. Egg and Avocado Wrap
Sometimes a bread substitute just won’t do. But there’s a paleo and low-carb friendly alternative from Flatout that still meets the requirements of low-carb cooking. Rich in protein and healthy oils, this egg and avocado wrap relies on Flatout’s low-carb sandwich raps to keep it low-carb and high fiber. Boiled egg and avocado slices combine with hot Sriracha sauce onions, cilantro and bacon for a healthy fast breakfast that’s low in carbs.
10. Low-Carb Cauliflower Hummus Recipe
One of the most versatile low-carb foods, high fiber cauliflower is a major player in low-carb cooking. It can substitute for pasta, rice, or just about any starch. In this easy recipe, it fills in for the relatively high carb chickpeas in an easy hummus recipe. Cooked pureed cauliflower is mixed with olive oil, tahini and spices to create a quick basic hummus that could be easily enhanced by the addition of roasted red peppers, garlic or other spicy veggies. Use it as a spread or sandwich topping for a low calorie and low-carb addition to other recipes.