Need some variety and easy healthy choices for packing lunches for work and school? Hopefully you’ll find some ideas below that will ensure your kids won’t want to trade their lunches, but all their friends will want to have what they’ve got. If you don’t have kids, these also make great brown bag lunches or snacks for you.
Salads in a jar or in a wrap-layering a salad in a jar is best done backwards from how you would typically layer it in a bowl. doing this keeps the greens from getting soggy. So in this order add dressing, chopped peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots, chick peas or chicken, seeds, mixed greens, spinach or romaine. When ready to eat, shake the jar or pour into a bowl. For a wrap, place salad fixings in a tortilla and roll. Wrap in cling wrap until ready t eat.
Hummus and veggies- Make hummus by blending 1 cup of cooked beans and 1 cup of spinach, broccoli, squash or sweet potato with a spoonful of tahini, a clove of garlic, one tablespoon of lemon juice and olive oil. Add herbs and salt to taste. Eat as a dip for veggie sticks or gluten free crackers or rolled into lettuce or collard leaves.
Mashed pea puree- Make a pea puree by mixing 1 cup of peas and 1/2 an avocado with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a few leaves of fresh mint chopped or add cumin instead. This can be stuffed into cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers or bell pepper halves. Also used as a spread in a tortilla with chopped vegetables or chicken.
Zucchini, apple and root noodles- Use a spiral slicer or a julienne slicer or a peeler to make zucchini, apple and /or root vegetable noodles. Beets, jicama, turnips, and carrots make good noodles. Toss noodles with any salad dressing, pizza or spaghetti sauce, or an Asian sauce made with tahini or nut butter, lemon juice, garlic, tamari, garlic and water. Or try blending an avocado with a handful of spinach and a kiwi to make a sauce (add a little water if needed) and toss with apple or zucchini noodles.
Banana roll-ups- There are several variations with this sweeter treat, but a basic recipe would be a seed or nut butter spread on a tortilla topped with a banana and then rolled. Try replacing seed butter with chocolate avocado pudding, or adding granola, or sliced berries in addition to the banana or adding a berry chia jam, made by blending 1 cup of berries with 1/3 cup of chia seeds and allowing it to jell. Use as a topping, dip or spread. For tortillas try Teff tortillas, or dehydrated vegetable or coconut tortillas.
Chia seed puddings- Chia puddings can be made with pretty much any liquid or fruit puree. For a vanilla pudding use 1 cup of almond or coconut milk with 1/3 cup chia seeds and 1 tsp of vanilla. To this you can add a scoop of protein powder and/ or 1/4 cup of oats for optional nutrient boost. For a chocolate pudding add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder and 1 tablespoon of honey or coconut sugar. Shake or mix thoroughly to prevent chia seeds from clumping. Let set up for 10 to 30 minutes. Once you have a pudding texture, transfer to a container and layer with nuts, seeds, dried and/or fresh fruit or berries.
Zucchini pizza boats or minis- For boats, cut zucchini lengthwise and spoon out some of the seeds center to make a trough. fill with some dairy free cheese, chopped veggies and pizza sauce. Or slice zucchini widthwise and make mini pizza bites. These can be baked for a few minutes to melt the cheese, but then wrapped and eaten at room temp.
Asian rolls- Spread almond or sunflower seed butter on a lettuce leaf and place on a sheet of nori. Place chopped peppers or cucumber and two cut cherry tomatoes down center. Roll nori around lettuce and vegetables and wrap in plastic until ready to eat.
Apple stacks – These are a great crispy snack or light lunch. Core an apple and then slice it into 1/4 inch rounds that look like apple doughnuts. Mix nut-cheese or nut- butter with a tablespoon of ground flax seed and spread over one apple slice and top with another slice to make a sandwich. Try spicing up the nut butter with some curry or cinnamon. You should be able to get 3 to 4 apple sandwiches from a medium to large apple.
Fruit or veggie crepes – Make vegan crepes by mixing 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, 1/2 cup chickpea flour with 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Allow batter to sit for 10 minutes or refrigerate overnight. Place 1/3 cup batter in a hot non stick pan and spread thin. Cook over medium heat, flip when bubbles appear or cover until set. These are essentially very thin pancakes that can be filled with a sweet or savory filling and either rolled like a tortilla or folded into a triangle. Allow crepes to cool, store in a sealed container layered with wax paper. When ready to eat, fill with nut cheese and fruit, roasted squash or sweet potatoes, nut butters or sautéed vegetables. Or fill with desired filling and pack in a container for lunchbox.
Smoothies or blended soups- These make great take along eats. You can pack a lot of nutrition into an easily blended smoothie or soup. For a power smoothie: choose an orange, banana or cup of berries, then add a large handful of spinach or kale, and 1/2 cup of nutmilk or coconut water. Blend. Add in any superfood powders: hemp protein, greens, maca, lacuma, tocotrenols, ashwaganda, acai, flax, etc. Spice it up with a little cinnamon and ginger. For a Soup: Add 2 cups of spinach, 1 zucchini, 1/2 red or yellow pepper, any fresh herb you might have, 1 cup water and 1/2 avocado. Blend. Taste and add salt and pepper. If you want more savoriness add 1/2 garlic clove or powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin or curry powder. Pack these is a jar and carry along for a power snack or lunch.
Try these ideas and recipes for on the go lunches and snacks and let me know how you like them.