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Top 15 Low-Carb and Paleo Meals to Try in Greece

28. September 2013|Martina|18

A month ago, we went for an amazing trip to Greece. It's a place known for beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, impressive architecture and delicious cuisine. Some of the traditional Greek food (Moussaka, Bougatsa, Yemista, etc.) is loaded with carbs. However, as I discovered, it's a perfect destination for all those following a healthy low-carb diet like myself.

You can choose from many foods naturally low in carbs such as fresh seafood, succulent lamb and fragrant vegetables and fruit. Unless you are still struggling with sugar or bread addiction, you will find it very easy to eat healthy in Greece. I actually didn't miss my almond flour muffins, coconut flour pancakes or any other foods common in low-carb cooking. Here is what I've realized about Greek food: the simpler the food, the tastier and healthier it is.

This is my list of some of the best low-carb meals to try in Greece:

  1. Souvlaki (lamb, chicken, beef, pork), I also have a recipe on my blog: Lamb Souvlaki (Greek Lamb Skewers)
  2. Gyros (without bread)
  3. Seafood (octopus, calamari, prawns, clams, mussels, lobster, langoustines, ...) either grilled or slow-cooked
  4. Fish (ask for "catch of the day")
  5. Kleftiko (slow-cooked lamb on the bone)
  6. Kokoretsi (seasoned lamb innards baked until crispy)
  7. Horta (boiled greens served with lemon and olive oil)
  8. Greek salad
  9. Grilled Haloumi cheese
  10. Tzatziki (yogurt salad & cucumber salad) great as dip with meat
  11. Melitzanosalata (aubergine salad) great as dip with meat, I also have a recipe on my blog: Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Salad) and Why Eat Eggplants
  12. Tyrokafteri (cheese, red pepper and garlic dip)
  13. Anginares A La Polita (artichokes with olive oil)
  14. Bamies (okra with tomato sauce, avoid potatoes)
  15. Greek coffee (black or with cream)
    +1: Traditional Soutzoukakia (Greek meatballs in tomato sauce) are not keto-friendly but I made this recipe both paleo and low in carbs :-)

Souvlaki is one of my favourites. These meat skewers are very simple: meat, olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and salt. Tzatziki and Melitzanosalata are traditional salads best used as dips.

Octopus is my absolute favourite seafood. Grilled or slow-cooked, with lemon & olive oil, garlic or tomato sauce - if done properly, it's the best meal you can try! Greek salad is known by Greeks as "Horiatiki salata" or "Rustic salad" made from fresh vegetables and feta cheese.

Haloumi cheese is naturally low in fat and I wouldn't recommend eating it by itself - it's too dry and plain. However, it's delicious when grilled with some olive oil and garlic!

Fresh fish is a MUST when you visit any of the Mediterranean countries! This one was Gilt-head (sea) bream with plenty of lemon & exra virgin olive oil.

I suggest you try boiled greens known as Horta which are served simply with lemon & olive oil. While often overlooked as some "weed", they're one of the best sides for meat or fish. My favourite type of Horta is Almira, they're very low in carbs and taste amazing! They're very hard to find outside Greece, but you can try a similar meal at home using beetroot greens or spinach. A healthy lunch at the seaside: Greek salad, Horta, grilled octopus and king prawns.

"One-tomato salad" made from beef tomato, soft goat cheese, capers and caper greens, extra virgin olive oil and oregano - true heaven!

More seafood: Arugula salad, prawns with mayo, fried shrimps and garlic mussels. Whole fried prawns are deliciously crispy, but be aware of flour - some restaurants may use it before frying!

Lobster and langoustines are delicious and great with melted garlic & herb butter!

What I love about Greece is all the fresh produce and street markets, where you can find anything from fresh fish to zucchini blossoms (great recipe here: Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms).

When it comes to my diet, I follow Mark Sission's 80/20 rule. I'm maintaining a healthy weight and tried a few meals I wouldn't call low-carb. Fried fish with wild rice is not a keto-friendly meal - rice, whether wild or white, is high in carbs. I wouldn't recommend it for weight loss but in most cases, it's not an issue if you are maintaining your weight and you are active. Cheese-baked mushrooms are a great starter and I have a similar recipe on my blog: Italian-style Baked Mushrooms.

Here is what you should be careful about when ordering meals:

  • Some foods, especially fish and seafood, may be covered in flour before frying. This adds crispiness but also carbs and gluten. The same applies to meatballs - some of them may have added flour.
  • Beware of added sugar and always ask for coffee with no sugar and no milk!
  • It may be difficult to find coffee with cream. In most cases, you can only get black coffee or coffee with foamed milk. I was lucky enough to find coffee with whipped cream. Again, make sure there is no sugar added in it.
  • Avoid Ouzo - this traditional drink is full of sugar.
  • Bread is served with everything. Avoid any unneccessary temptation by asking for no bread. Once it's on the table, it's easy to binge.
  • You may be tempted to order "yogurt with fruit" for a dessert. Although it's delicious, don't do it. It doesn't contain fresh fruit but fruit preserved in syrup and it's very high in cabs.
  • If you REALLY want to try something sweet, be reasonable with portion sizes and don't make it an everyday rule!

KetoDiet recipes: Eggplant rolls, Saffron "rice-stuffed" tomatos, Stuffed cabbage leaves, Moussaka

I hope you enjoyed reading my post. To find out more about the ketogenic diet and keto-friendly recipes, check out my apps KetoDiet, KetoDiet Basic and my Kindle book!

Is there any Greek / Mediterranean meal you would like to see on my blog? Let me know! :-)

Comments (18) -

Sonia 9/29/2013 9:55:46 PM #
Sonia

Great post! I would love to see some of these meals in your recipes

Reply

KetoDiet 9/29/2013 10:53:13 PM #
KetoDiet

Thank you! I have some of them on my todo list Smile

Reply

Katerina 9/29/2013 10:29:43 PM #
Katerina

Bougatsa! Can you make it low-carb? Pleeeeeease Smile)))

Reply

KetoDiet 9/29/2013 10:52:02 PM #
KetoDiet

I was thinking exactly that - low-carb Bougatsa and Galaktoboureko Smile

Reply

Nina H 9/20/2014 12:50:10 PM #
Nina H

Oh YES! BOTH of these please!

Reply

Martina @ KetoDiet 9/20/2014 11:38:34 PM #
Martina @ KetoDiet

You just reminded me I haven't tried to make these yet! I have to find a way to make filo pastry Smile

Reply

Katy 9/29/2013 11:21:27 PM #
Katy

Oh my! This food looks soooo delicious! Although I've never tried octopus, still haven't been brave enough... Smile

Reply

KetoDiet 9/30/2013 11:09:56 PM #
KetoDiet

Octopus is the best you can try from seafood Smile

Reply

Steve 10/4/2013 8:15:01 AM #
Steve

I'm going to Greece next weeks and have to try kokoretsi. I have some relative there and it's supposed to be one of their traditional delicacies. And it's low-carb!

Reply

KetoDiet 10/6/2013 1:39:58 PM #
KetoDiet

Kokoretsi is delicious, you definitely have to try it!

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Liza 12/21/2013 8:37:09 AM #
Liza

Hello there! I live in Greece and find it difficult to follow the keto diet (I just started, a week ago. I run out of ideas what to eat. I have souvlaki every other day, and also eat a lot of tzatziki, eggs, sunflower seed, peanuts, salami and cheese. How many eggs per week are safe? Thank you for your post,I love horiatiki salata, but thought that tomato is high carb?

Reply

Martina @ KetoDiet 12/22/2013 1:51:41 PM #
Martina @ KetoDiet

Hi Liza, I actually found it quite easy to be low-carb in Greece. All the fresh fish, lamb and vegetables really helped. Also, including avocado, coconut oil or macadamia nuts will help you get more healthy fats. I'm personally careful with nuts and dairy. I wouldn't worry about cholesterol and saturated fat in animal products. For more details, have a look here: ketodietapp.com/.../The-Obesity-Epidemic-and-the-Truth-about-Cholesterol

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Pat 2/15/2014 11:46:01 PM #
Pat

So happy I stumbled across this site tonight.  What a wonderful reference for low-carb/Keto Greek food.  The photos alone are fabulous and make my mouth water.  Who needs bread!  I'm going to bookmark this page and pray you don't archive anytime soon.  Thank you so much.  I look forward to browsing your recipes next.    

Reply

Martina @ KetoDiet 2/16/2014 4:59:37 PM #
Martina @ KetoDiet

Thank you Pat! I love Greek cuisine and because my partner is Greek, we often have seafood, Greek salad and eggplants. I'm planning to make low-carb "Moussaka" tomorrow Wink

Reply

Nina H 9/20/2014 12:47:01 PM #
Nina H

Martina,
Thanks so much for this great post! I've been Keto since mid July this year and I'm off to Greece next weekend for 11 days. While I was already confident that I could make the right choices faced with their gorgeous cuisine (we visit every year and are familiar with everything on a Greek menu!), I thought I'd do a quick internet search to see what others recommend.
So glad to have found your site AND to find that because you are UK based, your recipes include grams and ounces in their descriptions (not just the frustratingly US-centric 'cup' measurements!)
I'll be having a good look around this, and all the other social media sites where you pop up!
Thanks again!
Nina (Harrow, UK)

Reply

Martina @ KetoDiet 9/20/2014 11:35:30 PM #
Martina @ KetoDiet

Hi Nina, thank you! I realised how important it is to include all the measurements available, especially on a keto diet.

I love Greek cuisine - fresh seafood, vegetables and the way they make lamb! It's quite easy to eat healthy in Greece... if you avoid mpougatsa and all the gorgeous sweets they make Smile

We used to live in Berkshire before moving to Essex, so not that far!

Have an amazing time in Greece!

Reply

Tommi 11/6/2014 9:25:13 AM #
Tommi

Wonderful article and great pictures, brings back the holidayfeeling instantly.
Thank you

Reply

Martina @ KetoDiet 11/6/2014 10:25:32 PM #
Martina @ KetoDiet

Thank you Tommi Smile

Reply

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