Today I’m sharing some back to school vegan lunch ideas that are both easy and healthy. I made a Youtube video for these recipes, so check it out here.
I used to LOVE back to school season. Mostly because I was a materialistic eight-year old who loved her 96 box of Crayola crayons. I loved perusing the aisles of Wal*mart and picking out loads of unnecessary school supplies, like staple removers and industrial whole punchers.
My school lunch game was also pretty dope. And by dope, I mean incredibly unhealthy. My mom, bless her soul, bought us whatever we wanted, and usually that was Lunchables. You know, those yellow boxes that contain an entire day’s worth of sodium and highly questionable sources of meat.
That’s why I’m sharing some healthy plant-based lunch ideas for back to school in the hopes that you or your children will have a better chance at avoiding high blood pressure and diabetes than eight-year old Nisha did.
Thai Noodle Salad
Fresh veggies, rice noodles, lots of protein and a flavorful Thai peanut sauce
- 2-3 oz. rice noodles
- 1 handful of shredded purple cabbage
- 1 handful of broccoli sprouts or alfalfa sprouts
- 1 handful of shredded carrots (I buy pre-shredded carrots at Trader Joe’s)
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup edamame (preferably organic)
- 1/2 cup extra-firm tofu, diced
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or soy sauce
- 1/2 of a small lime, juiced
- 2-3 squirts of Sriracha
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Cook your rice noodles according to the package instructions. Usually, you’ll just cover the noodles with boiling water for a few minutes and then drain them. You may need to toss the cooked noodles with sesame oil or olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- In a bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, sprouts, shredded cabbage, whole basil leaves, edamame and tofu. Stir in the cooked rice noodles.
- Garnish the noodle mixture with peanuts and sesame seeds.
- To make the peanut sauce, whisk together the peanut butter, maple syrup, tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, Sriracha, garlic powder and pepper. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings. The soy sauce adds a good amount of sodium, but if it’s not flavorful enough, you can add a tiny pinch of salt.
- You can dress the noodle mixture with the sauce now or serve the sauce on the side and mix it in when you’re ready to eat.
Greek Couscous Salad
A plant-based Greek salad mixed with white beans and pearl couscous
- 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 of an English cucumber, diced
- 1/4 of a red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 of a red onion, diced
- 10-15 pitted olives, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon of capers, drained
- 3/4 cup of canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup pearl couscous or Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- A few handfuls of mixed greens
- Cook the pearl couscous according to the package instructions. I like to heat a medium saucepan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil and then sauté the couscous for 5 minutes until it’s lightly browned. Then, I add in the water–about 2/3 cup–and lower the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the water has evaporated and the couscous is fluffy.
- In a bowl, combine the sliced cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced pepper, diced onion, sliced olives, capers, and the drained cannellini beans. Drizzle in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. The olives and capers are quite salty, so you probably don’t need much salt.
- Add the cooked couscous to the Greek salad mixture and toss to combine. Adjust for seasonings.
- Serve couscous mixture of a bed of greens.
Avocado Chickpea Sandwich + Tahini Salad
A hearty sandwich packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats
Vegan, Gluten-Free Option
- 2 slices of whole grain bred (or gluten-free bread)
- 1 very ripe avocado
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 lemon, divided (use half for the sandwich, half for the salad)
- 4 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red chili flakes (spicy, optional)
- Sandwich toppings: cucumber ribbons, pickled onions, broccoli sprouts
- A few handfuls of mixed greens (for the salad)
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds (for the salad)
- Slice open the avocado and remove the pit. Spoon out the flesh and mash up roughly with a fork.
- Add in the canned chickpeas and mash those up using a fork or a potato masher. You’ll want to leave some chickpeas whole for texture.
- Add in the tahini, the juice of 1/2 of the lemon, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste and red chili flakes if using. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
- Spread chickpea avocado mixture onto both slices of bread. Top with desired sandwich toppings.
- To make cucumber ribbons, use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler and peel down the length of a cucumber until you get wide cucumber strips.
- To make the salad: combine 1 tablespoon of tahini, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of warm water to thin out. Whisk until you have a creamy dressing. Add in your mixed greens and toss to coat the greens. Top the salad with remaining cucumber ribbons and sprouts. Top with hemp seeds if desired.