Low Carb Lunch Ideas on the Go: Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange

A Mediterranean salad is an easy, low carb side that you can whip up in minutes. This particular salad features the unique flavour of fennel, along with tangy Navel oranges and salty black olives.

This recipe is elegant enough to serve at a fancy dinner, but it’s also a great way to introduce your kids to a new vegetable. Trying juicy orange slices in a savoury dish can be a new flavour adventure. And if they love olives as much as my kids do, they’ll be happy to gobble the salad up!

Remember Mediterranean salad when you’re looking for low carb lunch ideas on the go, too! This salad can be made ahead and stored in the fridge overnight. Or if you have to go out last minute, you can throw everything together quickly before you leave home. I’ve even brought whole fennel bulbs on road trips, and cut them up for a meal on the go!

Need low carb lunch ideas on the go? This crisp, refreshing Mediterranean salad can be made ahead or thrown together in minutes before you leave the house! | #24CarrotDiet
The cold, crisp flavour of fennel blends beautifully with citrus in this easy Mediterranean salad


Have You Ever Tried Fennel?

Chances are, you’ve seen fennel in your grocery store. But have you ever bought some so you could try cooking with it?

This vegetable is extremely popular with the Italian community in Montreal, where I lived most of my life. But I must admit, for the longest time I never thought to buy fennel and taste it myself. Like many North Americans, I usually cooked what I was used to eating. Since fennel wasn’t a vegetable we ate when I was growing up, I never thought much about it.

I didn’t try it until a friend at university offered me some. She had brought raw fennel sticks in her lunch, so I gave them a try. They looked an awful lot like celery, but they had a licorice flavour that really surprised me. At first, I found the taste a bit overwhelming. I later discovered the flavour is milder when you cook fennel. It’s also less bold if you slice the fennel thinly and eat it with other foods. This makes it a perfect choice for salads!

Fennel can be used almost anywhere you would normally use celery. Substitute fennel for celery in your spaghetti sauce or in chicken soup. You can also saute it with Italian sausages and bell peppers. Or try roasted fennel with sweet baby carrots. It’s a very versatile vegetable!



Fennel Nutrition

Fennel is a good source of both fiber and potassium, providing 10% of your daily requirement for each in a cup of sliced vegetable. It also supplies modest amounts of magnesium, calcium, and iron. As green vegetables go, fennel is fairly low in vitamin A at only 2%. (Celery supplies 9%, by comparison.)

Fennel also supplies 14% of your vitamin C, compared to about 4% for celery. And since our Mediterranean salad also includes oranges, it’s a great vitamin C booster. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, this salad is a great choice as a side with your dinner or for a lunch on the go.

But what really surprised me when I looked at fennel nutrition is the vitamin K content. One cup of sliced fennel provides just over 68% of your day’s supply. Which means that a serving of fennel – say, in a Mediterranean salad – supplies more vitamin K than green beans, garden peas, kiwi, or avocado. It’s not way up there with broccoli, kale, and the rest of the leafy green vegetables. But it’s respectable all the same. And all of this is in a low sodium, very low fat package that supplies only 27 calories per cup!

Oranges Add Nutrients to Mediterranean Salad

The Navel oranges in this Mediterranean salad bump up its fiber and mineral counts. You may not be aware that an orange supplies roughly 6% of your day’s calcium. It also contains 6% of your vitamin A, which helps to make up for the fact that fennel is lower in that vitamin. Oranges also add a modest amount of vitamin B6 to the salad. This vitamin is important for your metabolism and adrenal functions, as well as for a healthy nervous system.

Some recipes for this type of Mediterranean salad call for blood oranges. You can substitute them for the Navel oranges if you prefer. They supply pretty much the same nutrients, but they bump up the anthocyanins. But since I’ve added red onion to my Mediterranean salad recipe, we already have that covered. And of course, there are anthocyanins in the olives too.

Easy Mediterranean Salad Recipe

Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange
5 from 3 votes

Fennel & Orange Salad

Fennel is a crunchy vegetable with a unique licorice flavour. This classic Mediterranean salad is refreshing and loaded with vitamins. It's perfect for impressing guests at home, or for a lunch on the go!
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 160 kcal
Author Kyla Matton Osborne


To make the salad:

  • 1 large fennel bulb sliced thinly
  • 3 Navel oranges peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion sliced very thinly
  • 12 pitted Kalamata or other black olives cut in half lengthwise


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk vinegar, honey, and mustard together in a small bowl. 
  3. Gradually pour in the olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Pour up to half of the vinaigrette onto your Mediterranean salad and toss lightly before serving. The rest of the vinaigrette can be stored in a sealed jar or bottle in the fridge for up to 4 days.


More About Fennel

Want to know how to grow fennel in your garden without spending a lot of money? You can grow fennel herb from seed and regrow bulb fennel from the part of the plant you’d normally discard. Learn more!



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This easy Mediterranean salad makes a great lunch on the go
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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users congerdesign, silviarita, and stevepb
Tabouleh photo by cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

I am not a nutrition expert or health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Please seek out a licensed health professional as needed. For more information, see the health disclaimer linked in the sidebar.


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Are You Looking for a Whole Grain Vegan Recipe for Your Kids’ School Lunches? Try Tabouleh!

Tabouleh is a meatless dish from the Levant that has spread throughout the Arab world, the Mediterranean, and is now popular in the West as well. It was traditionally served as a  mezze (a sort of appetizer served with drinks) as was hummus, another Middle Eastern food that has become a staple in Western households today. Tabouleh is a salad made with vegetables and bulgur.

Bulgur is whole grain wheat that has been steamed and cracked. Many people call it a healthy fast food, because it can be cooked in just minutes. Another way of preparing it is to soak it. A cup of cooked bulgur provides up to 32% of daily fibre for an adult. It’s also a good source of protein, healthy carbs, iron, and vitamin B6.

If you want to make this recipe gluten-free or Paleo, just substitute riced cauliflower for the bulgur.

Tabouleh Recipe

1 cup medium-coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water

3 cups chopped flat leaf parsley (or carrot tops)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2-3 leeks, cleaned well and diced
6 tomatoes, seeded and diced

6 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
few leaves of Romaine lettuce (optional)

Put the bulgur and water into a small saucepan together and stir. Cover and set aside to soak while you prepare the vegetables, at least 15 minutes.

Clean your parsley and mint, and then remove the stems before chopping the leaves finely. (Save them for your next batch of stock!) It’s a large bunch of herbs to prepare, so you might want to use this trick:

Cut off most of the green on the leeks. (Again, keep this part for soup stock.) Clean and dice the leeks. If you aren’t sure how, check out this video. (Note: The video says you need to cook the leek first, but it’s really not necessary with this salad.)

Cut your tomatoes into manageable pieces and remove the seeds. (Save the jelly and seeds to throw into a soup or pasta sauce.) Set the tomato pieces with the skin side down, and chop into dice. Here’s another video, in case you need some help:

Once the bulgur is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess water. Add lemon juice, oil and pepper. Mix in the parsley, mint, tomatoes and leeks; stir well.


Get your leafy green #veggies with tabouleh #salad | #mint #freshvegetables
Mint is an important ingredient in tabouleh (Image: boria/Pixabay/CC0 )


Let the salad sit in the fridge a few hours for the best taste. Just before serving, line a plate with a few lettuce leaves, and scoop the salad onto the lettuce. Tabouleh is a beautiful accompaniment for grilled meat or fish. It can also be eaten as a main dish salad. If you want to boost the protein content and miss your meat, try adding a little cheese, some hard cooked egg, or a bit of candied salmon for an easy summertime supper.

Tabouleh makes a great basis for a back to school lunch. Because tabouleh has a portion of whole grains it’s an ideal substitute for sandwiches, and you don’t have to worry about it getting soggy before lunchtime! Tabouleh is just packed with vitamins and minerals for a healthy meal. The low glycemic index of the main ingredients means this little salad can really keep you or your child going until suppertime!

Tabouleh is a refreshing Middle Eastern salad made with herbs, vegetables, and whole grain. It is rich is vitamins and minerals, and also in dietary fibre. Parsley is an excellent source of folate, iron, and vitamins A and C. A portion of parsley counts for a serving of dark, leafy green vegetable – and it provides more than a full day’s amount of vitamin K.



Tabouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad made with whole grains. This vegan recipe makes a great back to school lunch! | 24 Carrot Diet
Traditional tabouleh salad made with bulgur is a healthy lunchtime choice



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Original content © 2014-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

Graphics made in Canva using a licensed photo from cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY SA 2.0
First published by the author in August 2014 on Bubblews
Last updated 07/09/2017

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!