June 11

Easy Low Carb Gyros Wraps


Gyros Sandwich

I love gyros, the spicy lamb wrap sandwich. I confess that I used to eat them often back in the dim and distant past, before my brain transplant, when I was young and invincible, before I understood that a big fluffy warm round of pita wasn’t really health food.

Nowadays, when I enjoy the flavors of a gyro, it’s usually as a gyro salad, just strips of the barbecued spicy lamb, alongside the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives on a bed of crisp greens drizzled with tzatziki.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; a gyro salad is actually quite delicious and what I typically have when our kids in Dallas decide we should all go out for lunch or dinner to their neighborhood Greek bistro, called Ziziki’s (one of several variant spellings of tzatziki). But, somehow, eating a gyro as a salad falls just a tad short of the full Gyros Experience: wrapping your hands around the warm pita and biting into the piping hot lamb, just sliced from the rotisserie, savoring the crunch of the onions and cukes, the sweet tomatoes, the tzatziki sauce dripping down your chin.

But a gyro isn’t something one can normally make at home, since the mixture of ground lamb (and sometimes beef) and spices traditionally gets formed into a large tightly-pressed, fine-grained cylinder of meat, roasted on a vertical rotisserie, and sliced right off the sizzling hunk into thin strips with a long, very sharp knife. Most kitchens, mine included, don’t include a rotisserie large enough to accommodate the giant cylinder of meat, nor the number of diners needed to consume it readily.

So the Gyro Sandwich, for me, has become pretty much a thing of the past. A fond culinary memory.

But the other day, while I was removing some link sausages from their casings to make patties to go with our fried eggs for breakfast, it dawned on me that I could probably do the same sort of thing with the spicy lamb and mint sausages always in the butcher’s case at my local natural foods market (Lazy Acres Market when we’re in Santa Barbara and Wild Oats when we’re at our home on Lake Tahoe). I could remove them from their casings, press them into thin, flattened rectangles, grill them, and without any muss or fuss or much preparation, have pretty much the same taste experience as a gyro, right at home, any time, without all the equipment. And further more, that if I wrapped it in a warm, seasoned, low carb tortilla instead of a pita, I could even do it in a low carb way.

So I did.

If, like us, you’re a fan of gyros, give this recipe a try. It’s easy and, as Mike will attest, delicious.
Note: If you can’t find fresh lamb and mint sausage links at your butcher shop or market, you can make your own ‘gyros’ meat with ground lamb (and beef if you like) and spices. Click here for a pretty good recipe I found on the net. I’d ditch the day old bread they recommend using; the mixture should bind well enough without it.)

Easy Low Carb Gyros Wraps

Makes 4 sandwiches (each one a serving)
(multiplies easily for bigger groups)


4 large low-carb tortillas

4 fresh lamb and mint sausages (about polish dog size, 7″ long)

1 medium tomato

1 small white or yellow onion, divided use

1medium cucumber, divided use

1/2 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek style)

1 clove garlic, crushed

8 – 10 large fresh mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Greek, if you’ve got it), divided use

juice of 1/2 lemon

Spice mixture for tortillas

1 teaspoon each fine salt; black pepper, garlic powder, cumin.

At least 30 minutes (but up to 1 day) in advance, make the tzatziki sauce:

1. Peel and seed the cucumber. Cut in half and reserve half. Chunk the remaining half and put into the workbowl of a food processor.

2. Add the mint leaves, crushed garlic clove, yogurt, salt, pepper, onion powder, vinegar and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a bit more salt, pepper and/or vinegar to achieve a piquant flavor.

3. Pour into a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to develop the flavors.

Make a condiment ‘salad’ as follows:

1. Peel and thinly slice the onion and place it in a small bowl; cover with water and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice and let it soak a few minutes to take away the ‘bite’.

2. Seed and dice the tomato and the remaining cucumber half; place them into a bowl and sprinkle with a little sea salt (to taste) and pepper.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and toss gently to coat.

4. Just before serving, add the onions and toss again to combine.

When ready to grill or griddle the meat:

1. Split the sausage casings lengthwise and peel away from the meat; discard casings.

2. Press the link into a flat, thin rectangle, no more than 1/2″ thick.

3. Grill the thin patties for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side; remove from grill to a plate and let them rest for a few minutes. Slice each in half lengthwise before serving.
4. Brush each tortilla on one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with a the spice mixture for tortillas. Wrap each of the tortillas in a sheet of paper towel, roll up burrito style.

5. Just before assembling the sandwiches, microwave all four on high power for about 40 seconds until warm and softened. (If preparing more than 4, do them in batches or stack them flat with lightly-moistened paper towels between and warm them on a baking sheet in a slow oven (180 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes.)
6. Put the platter of meat, the salad condiment, the tzatziki sauce, and the tortillas on the table for assembly by the happy gyros eaters.

To assemble the gyros:

1. Unwrap a tortilla and lay it flat on the plate.

2. Spread a tablespoon or two of tzatziki sauce onto the middle, lay on several strips of lamb, top with a mound of condiment salad and a bit more sauce.

3. Roll up, get your napkin ready, and enjoy!

4. Shout Opa!

Protein per serving: 28.8 grams
Effective carb per serving: 8.2 grams

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  1. I love gyros! I’m going to have to do some searching to see if I can locate lamb sausages in my town.

    We have no good gyro shots in Lexington, Kentucky. The only two restaurants I know of with gyros both fry the meat on a flat grill. They’re slimy this way. So far, I only like it cooked on a vertical skewer. I often travel to Nashville with work. There is a place near my “away” office called “Chicago Gyros” that I eat at a few times a month…. usually I get the gyro salad. I just love it… would give almost anything to have it located closer to home.

    Even with the lack of gyro shops in Lexington, we have a few restaurants that call themselves Mediterranean. They’re really Lebanese. These places have something very similar called a shwarma. The spices are very different than in gyros (often sumac) and they can be either lamb, chicken, or beef. They are usually served in a wrap but can come on a plate or on top of a salad. If you’ve got any middle eastern restaurants in your area, try them out. The meat portions are typically rather large.

  2. Yum! Every now and then I make Tzatziki sauce but I rarely have fresh mint on hand. In a pinch, snip open a peppermint teabag (I use Trader Joe’s, but any brand will do) and use the contents. No one will be the wiser and it will work just fine.

  3. Oh! NOW your making me HUNGRY!!! I love gyros!!! Thanks for the suggestion! I’d have to say that gyros is my all time favorite protein!

    Thankfully, at our local traditional greek resturant…you can order a gyros “appetizer” and they bring you a big plate of the meat piled high, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and sauce…minus the pita!! My mouth gets watering for on the trip accrossed town!! YUM!

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  You could take along a low-carb tortilla and enjoy the near-full experience, though just the meat and veggies is magically delicious.

  4. Mmmm. I love the gyro salad I discovered at the food court near work – it’s huge but with only the good stuff – lettuce, tomatoes, feta, olives, cukes…mmm. I can’t wait to get one at the pretty decent place near home (aren’t I lucky!) and add my own pita; what a great idea. There is also a pizza place near me that is owned by Greeks (I am also Greek, full disclosure), and they have a wonderful souvlaki. I’m going to do the same thing with that (oh, the pita is so good…)

    What is your favorite low carb tortilla?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  We usually use either the La Tortilla Factory low carb ones and the Mission low carb ones, because those are available in all the groceries we shop in.  The mission ones are whiter looking, which works better for some things, and perhaps they’re slightly more tender.  The LaTortilla factory were the first ones on the market and they have a heartier, whole grain look and taste.  Both are good.

  5. I’m curious about gyros. I live in New York and they are fairly common in Pizza parlors and on the street. I enjoy them as salads and feel that I’m low carbing. However, I am begining to think they are actually meatloaf (with bread as an extender/softener) but I don’t really want to find out.

    When it comes to gyros, I stick my head in the sand and eat.

  6. I just followed Dr. Mike’s blog to find you again! I had been thinking you’d given up blogging, so thank hubby for me!

    I thought I’d let you know there’s an excellent low carb pita bread on the market…toufayan pitas and tortillas (I haven’t tried the tortillas yet). Both are available at Netrition http://www24.netrition.com/toufayan_lc_pita.html or Amazon. The pitas as delicious. I’ve also used them as a low carb base for pizza.

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Sorry for the blog confusion; when I converted to the WordPress blog format back in April, something got switched on the ‘pointer’ and all my readers who had my specific blog address suddenly quit getting anything new.  Only those going directly through the mreades.wpengine.com website could find me.  Anyway, there’s a bunch of stuff in the archives that you can catch up on.  And thanks for sending the info about the low-carb pita; I’ll check it out.

  7. The key to a diet however is to eat the correct foods. This diet wants you to avoid high Carbohydrate foods. However, there aren’t a ton of recipes out there that cater to low carb diets. Now there is.

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