Published 2 June 2022 ● Last Updated on 29 June 2022
Food and water are the very basis of life. Every living thing needs energy to go about their everyday work and this energy is provided by the food we eat. As human beings we get to choose from such a huge array of foods, hence as a responsibility to our body, it’s important to make healthy choices.
Planning a balanced and healthy lunchbox can be quite a challenge because not only does it have to be wholesome and nutritious but also appeal to the senses, since food is multi-sensory. Fussy kids and fussier adults can be an added challenge!
Presenting 5 simple and easy recipes that are flavourful and nourishing. Packed with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables, these recipes are perfectly balanced and scrumptious and will be great lunch time options for kids and adults alike.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Plan based Chickpea Salad Sandwich (Image credit – veggieinspired.com)
This is an easy and power packed recipe that is perfect for the lunch box. It’s flavorful and has a good balance of protein and carbs. This recipe works well as a salad as well and goes very well as a side with crackers.
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas drained and rinsed or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 2 green onions sliced
- ½ cup halved grapes or quartered if they are large or diced apple or pineapple
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayo
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning (a mix of dried sage and thyme, making up a bulk of it in addition to nutmeg, marjoram, rosemary and pepper) or any number of dried or fresh herbs you have on hand, plus mix and match spices
- dash of salt/pepper to taste to taste
- 4 slices multigrain bread
- In a bowl, slightly mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or fork.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Pile this on toasted bread to complete your sandwich.
A prefect lunchbox meal – vegan pasta (Image credit – loveandlemons.com)
This creamy vegan pasta is the perfect lunchbox meal that fuzzy adults and kids will love! Coated in a tangy, luscious white bean sauce, it’s comforting, healthy, and easy to make.
- 2½ cups small shell pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cups broccoli florets, chopped stems, and leaves (keep stems separate)
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- lemon wedges, for serving
For the pasta sauce
- 1½ cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup vegetable broth, more as needed
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make the sauce: In a blender, combine the white beans, broth, lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped broccoli stems and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add the broccoli florets and leaves and a splash of water or vegetable broth. Cover and turn off the heat.
- Allow the broccoli to steam for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender but still bright green. Add the pasta, then stir in ¾ of the sauce, adding more broth if the sauce is too dry.
- Season to taste with more salt, pepper and lemon juice, as desired, and portion into bowls. Divide the remaining sauce onto each bowl. Top with the pine nuts and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Healthy and tasty vegetable pulao or pilaf (Image credit – indianveggiedelight.com)
This is a tasty and healthy Indian-style one-pot dish made with quinoa and fresh-cut vegetable that can be prepared in under 30 minutes. It is both vegan and gluten free.
Make sure to rinse it under cold water to remove the natural coating, called saponin to avoid any bitterness before adding it to the Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf. You can also swap for other vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers.
- Quinoa 1 cup
- Oil 2 tablespoons
- Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
- Green cardamoms 5-6
- Cinnamon 1 inch
- Cloves 6-8
- Bay leaf 1
- Ginger finely chopped 1 inch
- Garlic chopped 1 tablespoon
- Onion finely chopped 1 medium
- Carrot cut into small cubes 1 small
- French beans diagonally sliced 6-8
- Green peas 1/3 cup
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable stock warm 3 cups
- Fresh coriander sprigs for garnishing
- Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds, cardamoms, broken cinnamon and cloves and sauté till fragrant. Add bay leaf, ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add onion and sauté till golden.
- Add carrot and mix. Add French beans, mix and cook for a minute. Add peas and mix.
- Add quinoa, mix and cook for a minute. Add salt and warm vegetable stock, mix and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat, mix, cover and cook till quinoa is fully done.
- Serve hot garnished with coriander.
Carrot and Spinach Wrap
Wrap a crunchy & colourful lunch (Image credit – tinnedtomatoes.com)
A vegan wrap full of colourful veggies and finished with the crunch that makes it scrumptious.
- 1 flour tortilla
- 2 heaped tbsp hummus
- A generous handful of fresh spinach
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 tbsp salted cashews
- Peel your carrot, then grate coarsely.
- Roughly chop the cashews.
- Spread your tortilla with hummus, then lay the spinach across the middle of the wrap, top with the grated carrot and nuts.
- To wrap your tortilla, fold in the sides, roll the top of the tortilla towards you, wrapping it firmly around the filling, tucking in the edges as you go.
- Cut your wrap in half and serve with a few crisps (chips) and some apple wedges, with some dressed salad or wrapped in foil if you are on the go.
Tangy and nutty rice meal (Image courtesy – hebbarskitchen.com)
This absolutely simple rice dish pairs well with potato cooked with Indian spices and is perfect for lunch.
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp fried peanut
- 2 tbsp cashew
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp urad dal
- 1 tsp chana dal
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 inch ginger (finely chopped)
- 2 green chilli (slit)
- pinch hing / asafoetida
- few curry leaves
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 2 cup cooked rice
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Coriander for garnishing
- In a large pan add the oil and allow it to get hot. Then add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Now add the urad dal, chana dal, dried red chilli and fry until the dal become golden
- In the same oil add fry the peanuts and cashew until they turn golden brown and crunchy.
Also add the ginger and slit green chillis, a pinch hing and few curry leaves and cook for a few seconds
- Turn the heat to low and add the turmeric powder and sauté slightly.
- Now add the cooked rice and required salt. Mix well making sure everything is well combined.
- Add the lemon juice and mix well.
- Garnish with coriander leaves
To ensure you are not overwhelmed by the idea of packing a healthy lunchbox everyday for the family (including yourself!) here are a few tips:
- Plan the menu in advance, always include a main dish, fruit, vegetable, and snack. Together they should cover the food groups of protein, fruits & veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.
- Keep it simple and prep as much as possible ahead.
- Make portion sizes age appropriate, a variety of smaller portions works better for younger children.
- Involve the children in planning the menu so there is a buy in from them and they feel responsible to finish their box
- As much as possible make the food fresh. Fresh food is healthier.
- Avoid store bought high in sugar snacks
Ever tried your hand at making healthy vegan desserts? Yup it sounds like an oxymoron, almost like of a dream, but it is possible, try one of the 7 healthy vegan popsicle recipes by our guest author, Nonita Verma. You will say bye to store bought ice-cream lollies right away!
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