Tuesday, May 3, 2016

vegan lunch box

Well, it's finally here! One week of vegan lunch ideas that are easy to make, take, and enjoy. I think that a lot of people get intimidated by the idea of packing a lunch everyday. They make up excuses in their heads: it's so much work, I don't know what to make, I don't have time, I'm sick of sandwiches. All valid excuses... or are they?

In order to do this properly, you are going to have to start on Sunday. It's all about preparation. I usually go to the farmer's market on Saturday morning and stock up on fresh produce. This way I don't have to plan out every meal, but I have lots of options on hand to improvise and make whatever I have time for or feel like! Dinners throughout the week are the main source of lunches throughout the week-- I am BIG on leftovers. I always try to make extra, even if it is just extra rice, roasted veggies, or salad dressing, it is always something that can be used in lunch the next day.

Sunday preparations can include a grain salad, a hummus, energy balls or bars for snacks, and a tasty salad dressing. Or it may be convenient for you to make a big dish of curry or chili that you can take for the next two days. My schedule is a little strange (I work on Sundays) so you'll just have to figure out what works best for you. Here are a few ideas for your week of vegan lunches:

hummus + spinach + cucumber roll ups

There are so many variations of hummus, you don't even want me to get started. My go-to classic hummus goes a little something like this:
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (optional, I make oil free all the time, just use more water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2-4 Tbsp water (depending on desired consistency)

Place all ingredients except the water into a food processor and begin to blend. Add water while blending, this way you can make it as thick or thin as you want. I often add fresh parsley, sun dried tomatoes, or roasted jalapeños (recipe coming soon) to jazz it up.

A few more hummus variations from the blog to whet your pallet: beetroot hummus, white bean + pea hummus, rosemary + lentil hummus, and black bean hummus.

As for the tortilla roll ups; spread a thin layer of hummus over an entire tortilla, cover with thinly sliced cucumbers and a thin layer of spinach. Roll it like a yoga mat and cut it like a sushi roll! Lunch is served.  

this roll up features sun dried tomato hummus

quinoa salad

And of course, there is a quinoa salad on the menu. Or any grain salad really. There are endless variations for this as well, but all should contain the basics:
  • grain (cooked quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • fresh veggies (something crunchy, flavorful, and/or colorful)
  • greens (spinach, kale, or fresh herbs)
  • nuts, seeds, or beans (to bulk it up!)
  • dressing
This particular salad is inspired by the Live Dirty Eat Clean plan by Robynne Chutkan. You can find it in her amazing book about bacteria, The Microbiome Solution. I suggest making extra quinoa to keep on hand for a protein packed quinoa breakfast bowl sometime during the week.

spicy margarita quinoa salad
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry + 2 cups water)
  • 1 english cucumber
  • 2 jalpeños
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2  cup fresh cilantro 

Core and de-seed the jalapeños (if you don't do this it will be way to spicy!). Chop the cucumber, jalapeños, and dried apricots to relatively the same size. Combine lime juice, salt, cumin, and olive oil in a small jar and shake. Finely mince the fresh cilantro leaves and toss everything together in a large bowl. Portion into containers and top with avocado slices! Enough for some now, and some later.

Some other quinoa salads found on the blog: lentil + radish + rosemary quinoa salad and quinoa salad salsa. 

collard wraps

Collard greens are nature's perfect tortillas. The sturdy leaves are easy to handle and easy to eat! Their mild flavor makes them a delicious way to incorporate something super green and full of nutrients into your lunch. Some of my favorite things to wrap up are leftovers such as chili or curry and brown rice, roasted veggies and hummus, or even some of that quinoa salad! This collard wrap however is stuffed with lentils, homemade sauerkraut, and tahini + honey mustard dressing. If you need some guidance in prepping and rolling collard wraps, visit this post.

tahini + honey mustard dressing
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup water

And for dessert... 

chocolate mint chia seed snack pack
  • 1 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 3 dates
  • 3 tsp cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (sub for vanilla extract if you're not into peppermint)
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
This is another one to do a day ahead of time in order to let the chia seeds set. Blend the almond milk with the dates, cacao, salt, and peppermint extract. In a bowl whisk together with the chia seeds. Portion out into small bowls, jars, or containers. Sprinkle with cacao nibs if desired and chill overnight for a chocolate pudding snack pack full of omega-3's and protein. 

Alright, so that may not be a whole week of vegan lunches, but I'm hoping that throughout the week you made some bomb dinners and had enough for leftovers the next day, because that's how I fill up my vegan lunch box!

If you need some more ideas, browse the blog! Here are a few more lunch ideas to add to your box: smashed garbanzo salad sandwiches, veggie packed spring rolls, quinoa nori wraps, and eggless salad sandwiches.

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