Berlin Fast Food Reconstructed, Cancer-Protective (and Vegetarian) Style

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I love to travel and gather food inspiration from trying new cuisines – that Smørrebrød from Denmark was my addition to the article Cancer Fighting Foods from Around the World.

While there are several ways to make better choices when traveling that I wrote about here, I also enjoy trying dishes as they are and later adapting them to a healthier version at home. During that same Smørrebrød-filled trip through Northern Europe, I tried several exotic foods, but one of the absolute best things I ate was actually fairly simple: a roasted vegetable döner kebab in Berlin.

Kebob2Döner kebab (originally Turkish) is a very popular fast food item in Berlin. It’s traditionally made with shaved lamb, beef or chicken in a thick white flatbread or wrap, topped with cabbage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and usually a yogurt sauce. The dish is generally far from healthy due to the high-fat meat, thick white bread/pita and creamy sauce.

The one I had was a bit healthier than a standard döner kebab since it was made with roasted vegetables instead of meat, and the combination of flavors and textures was incredible.

Sandwiches often get a bad rep when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, but with some modification you can easily make a more nutritious, but great tasting version of a dish like this on your own. When modifying recipes, aim to increase the plant foods while decreasing the meat, carbohydrate and added fat.

For the döner kebab, I added more veggies (and kept it meatless), made a lower-fat sauce and used a thin whole wheat type of bread (pita or wrap) instead of white bread. These swaps lead to a dish that is lower in fat and calories while including more of the good things – fiber, vitamins/minerals, and other cancer-fighting compounds found in whole grains and vegetables.

With a few tweaks, even ‘fast food’ can be part of a cancer-protective diet! Here’s my reconstructed, healthy take on a German döner kebab:

Homemade Vegetarian Döner Kebab

Step 1 – Rinse the assorted vegetables and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Coat them very lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and pepper, and spread out over a baking sheet.

Veggies_SG_KabobStep 2 – Roast at 400⁰F for 15-20 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Step 3 – While your vegetables are roasting, combine the yogurt-dip ingredients in a small bowl to make a healthy, high protein yogurt sauce.

VeggiesDip_SG_IMG_1679[3]Step 4  Toast your whole wheat pita, fill with roasted veggies, top with the remaining raw vegetables and add a dollop of the yogurt-sauce to the top.

Kebab3Tip: you can make the roasted veggies and yogurt dip ahead of time and refrigerate for a quick roasted veggie kebab on the go.


  • Small whole wheat pita
  • Assorted vegetables such as zucchini, summer squash, onions, red bell peppers and carrots
  • Dried herbs (e.g. basil, thyme)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Yogurt Dip:

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic


  • Thinly sliced red cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomato
  • Chopped cucumber

How have you adapted your favorite foreign dish at home?


Author: Sonja Goedkoop

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is the lead registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on Twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

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