Balanced lunches and snacks I eat every week
These healthy, flavorful lunches have been on the menu for my husband and me all winter and will surely continue as we enter spring.
I've included a few more ideas to mix up each of these easy-to-make at home bowls, pastas, salads and toasted sandwiches (plus snack ideas!) to keep your weekly lunches fun and balanced.
Every meal I make is mindfully packed with flavor for enjoyment and nutrient dense fresh whole foods to ensure a balanced array of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Watch the video right here and grab the recipes below, enjoy!
1. Chickpea Tuna Salad
My husband requests this for lunch every week. Unbelievable flavor, always a winner.
Chickpea Tuna Salad Recipe
- 1 can garbanzo beans (drain, rinse, then mash)
- 1/4 c. vegenaise
- 1/2 lemon (juice)
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 celery rib (dice)
- 1/3 c. red onion (dice)
- 3 tbsp. fresh parsley (finely chop) or 1/2 tsp dried
- 3 tbsp. relish (I like dill)
- Salt and pepper to taste
This recipe serves 2 and can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. and is best served after 30 minutes in the fridge as the chickpeas soak up the juices and flavors.
Ways to serve
Toast: Grab some bread, my go-to is Ezekiel 4:9 from Food for Life for how nutrient dense their bread is. I toast 2 slices for 7 minutes in my air fryer to get them extra crispy. With one minute left I add a slice of Violife cheddar cheese to each bread slice (you could add plant butter or vegenaise before adding the cheese to make it extra good). Once done, top with lettuce, then add the chickpea salad. This chickpea tuna salad recipe is also great baked into a chickpea tuna melt or open-face melt.
Salad: Add a light bed of greens with a drizzle of olive oil, chickpea salad, croutons, sprouted salted pumpkin seeds, diced celery, green onions, and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.
I like to make my own croutons using the same Ezekiel 4:9 bread from Food for Life. I'll cut the bread into small squares, toss in olive oil or melted plant butter plus a sprinkle of garlic powder and nutritional yeast before laying on a tray to toast for about 7 minutes in the air fryer.
Snack: Serve with crackers or mini pretzels.
The base of all my bowls are usually beans which are then cooked with or topped with a sauce or dressing, nuts or seeds, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables (plus the occasional fruit). Beans are high in protein, fiber, and a host of vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Ways to serve
Black bean avocado bowl: 1 can of black beans brought to a boil in a saucepan (with the liquid! Or you can drain and add a veggie broth instead). Then add roughly ¼ tsp garlic powder and onion powder, and top with avocado, cilantro, lime, jalapeño, and hot sauce. I will also warm up a tortilla or two on the side to eat with this savory bowl.
BBQ pinto bowl: sautée ⅓ of a yellow onion in a saucepan with olive oil. Once the onion has cooked down for a few minutes add a drained and rinsed can of pinto beans, then my favorite bbq sauce to taste. Top with avocado, celery, green onion, cilantro, and hot sauce (grilled pineapple is also a favorite topping of mine).
Chickpea salad bowl: Drain, rinse, and dry a can of chickpeas and top with sprouted salted pumpkin seeds, celery, cilantro, green onion, olive oil, juice of lemon, a touch of maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
Number one all time favorite alternative pasta brand is Explore Cuisine, with my go-to’s being their lentil, chickpea, and fava bean pastas. They taste almost identical to wheat pasta to me (when cooked according to the box) but are dramatically higher in fiber, protein, and minerals, and they have no filler ingredients compared with other alternative pastas.
These pastas are a great way to get a super nutrient dense food into your diet in an easy and convenient way and in a variety of noodle options: penne, spaghetti, lasagne, fehttuchini, rotini, fusilli, they even make a risoni!
Ways to serve
My main way: I cook Explore Cuisine's pasta according to the box instructions, but toss a handful or two of grape tomatoes in the water while it’s coming to a boil. The tomatoes should be perfectly cooked by the time the pasta is done, no matter which type of Explore Cuisine pasta you’re using. These grape tomatoes burst in the heat and it makes them so, so good.
Once the pasta and tomatoes are cooked I drain most of the water leaving a small amount, roughly 2 tbsps, to help the pasta from over-drying while adding toppings. One main way alternative pasta differs from wheat pasta is that they can dry-up easily.
I’ll then add in olive oil or plant butter letting the heat from the pasta melt the butter. Give it a toss to coat, then add extras like red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, and salt. Lastly I’ll top the pasta with either nutritional yeast or this plant parmesan cheese recipe from Minimalist Baker: 3/4 cup raw cashews, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, 3/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder all pulsed into a fine meal using a food processor).
Extra way: Shown in the video is my husband's leftover baked pasta for which he made his own mushroom pasta sauce (this will be for another video, it’s got lengthy instructions) and layered in Kite Hill’s almond ricotta, Beyond Meat’s hot Italian sausages, and cooked chickpea fusilli all baked in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes and served with Minimalist Baker’s plant parmesan (recipe written just above).
I also think these pastas would make great spring pasta salads. I’ll be working on those recipes for Spring!
These toasted sandwiches have the most prep work, but can easily be made in under 15 minutes and are packed with flavor and micronutrients.
Ways to serve
Veggie Toast: While two slices of Ezekiel 4:9 bread are toasting, peel a carrot and massage a leaf of kale in a bowl with salt, pepper and a drizzle of white vinegar. Once the toast is ready, layer Follow Your Heart’s vegenaise and a thin slice of onion on both toasted slices. On one side smash avocado and dijon mustard, then sprinkle both sides with a light layer of red pepper flakes. Throw in a slice of Violife’s cheddar cheese, add the marinated carrot and kale, then combine in a sandwich!
High protein toast: Similar to the sandwich above, both toasted slices have vegenaise, avocado, red onion, and kale but with hunks of high protein tofu air fried in olive oil, salt, and pepper for 14 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
While I rarely eat snacks and lunch at the same time since my lunches are usually quite filling, I always snack around lunchtime. I pair my snacks with a fresh brew of ginger peach tea from The Republic of Tea, add a touch of maple syrup, then ice it.
My current snacking combos
Bowl of fresh fruit: Some combination of apples, bananas, berries, clementines and/or kiwi’s.
Mix of mini pretzels, chocolate chunks, fresh fruit and a nut or seed: My current favorite combo is with clementines or berries and cashews or sprouted salted pumpkin seeds.
Chickpea tuna salad served with mini pretzels: I’ll often make a fast-version of chickpea tuna salad if I’m having it for a snack. I’ll use the same portion sizes from the chickpea tuna salad recipe above but with chickpeas, vegenaise, relish, lemon juice, and salt only.