We all know the routine. The morning rush. The alarm goes off. And you’re on a split second timing to be out the door and at the office in time for that 9 a.m. meeting or appointment. Who’s got time for breakfast, let alone packing and preparing a healthy vegan lunch?
Those lucky enough to work at Google are exempted from these concerns, or so I am led to believe from that movie where the “interns” help themselves to free healthy food all day. For the rest of us mere mortals in less enlightened workplaces: relax! We’re got you covered. Here are five perfect lunches to see you through the working week in healthy, cruelty-free, epicurean style:
1. The Zen Lunch: Roasted Buddha Bowl
This one requires some “night-before” preparation. But the results are definitely worth the effort! There are 3 key ingredients to this recipe: roasted vegetables, a grain such as quinoa, and the creamy white bean sauce. If you are organized enough to cook the quinoa and roast the veggies the night before, the rest is a breeze. Note: Quinoa can be cooked in a rice cooker the same way you would cook rice – rinse well first (to remove the bitter coating) and use equal quantities of water and quinoa for a slightly chewy texture. You could even skip the quinoa if that looks too tricky and go with the roasted veggies and bean sauce. Blending the creamy lemon white bean sauce is a 2-minute job. Don’t forget the cracked pepper! This lunch would be just as good cold if you want to bypass the microwave in the workplace kitchen and head straight outdoors for a bit of uninterrupted zen time.
2. The Plant-Powered Sandwich
Fresh, clean, light, fragrant, and utterly delicious, the Vietnamese do vegan so very, very well. And here is the proof: the Vietnamese tofu banh mi sandwich. Much mouth-watering pleasure may be had by simply reading this recipe: a heated crusty white roll layered up with mushroom pate, thinly sliced tofu fried in sesame oil, pickled radish, vegan mayo and sriracha sauce, garnished with a healthy pile of cilantro (coriander to those of us not born under the stars and stripes). But I urge you to go that extra step and prepare this glorious ensemble for the ultimate in lunchtime happiness. A raft of other vegan sandwich recipes can be found here, including a bad-ass “lamb” burger and, its equally wicked cousin, the bad-ass vegan fish sandwich. For a Big Bang with vegan bacon and sauerkraut, what’s not to love about Mayim Bialik’s scrumptiously tasty reuben sandwich? And for the gluten-intolerant, there is no need to miss out on the sandwich action: most health food stores will sell gluten-free vegan bread, or you can dive in and make your own by following these helpful tips and recipe here.
3. Veggie Fritters
Lunch box perfect, oh so tasty, and equally good hot or cold, these Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream are a light and tasty gluten-free option, as are these ravishingly irresistible Indian onion and kale fritters (made from besan or chickpea flour). Grated zucchini and carrot, broccoli, spring onions, and corn are the main ingredients of this vegetable fritter recipe. Mix the vegetables into a seasoned batter of flour and soymilk, spoon into fritters, and fry until deliciously golden. You can be a bit experimental with your choice of veggies and liven it up by adding fresh chopped herbs to the mix. Serve with spicy tomato relish. Add some fruit to this lunch box for a healthy balance.
4. Wrapped Veggie Power
Anything tasty wrapped up in flat bread is a lunchtime winner. There are no less than 12 mouth-watering taco and enchilada recipes to be found here. The fillings vary from caramelized onion and lentils, to spicy nutmeat, to mashed avocado and cayenne chickpeas, to chili butternut squash and tempeh chorizo – all made fresh and zesty with leafy greens or a tomato based salsa. This recipe for a falafel and hummus wrap in pita bread is about as tasty as it gets. There are 4 components: pita bread, cooked falafels, salad (shredded lettuce, tomato, and cucumber) and hummus. Add sweet chilli sauce, mustard, vegan mayo, or any further condiments you may wish. Assemble and wrap. Cooking the falafels from scratch is for the time rich, the food purists, or the fastidiously (and admirably!) well organized. But it is quite permissible to cheat. You can buy ready made falafels from the supermarket or, if you’re up for a bit of kitchen adventure, try the packet falafel mix: just add water and fresh herbs, let the mixture set, then roll into balls, and cook. Warning: do not attempt this in the morning – this is strictly a night before operation.
5. Chili Bean Lunches
A nutritious, tasty, and easy lunchtime standby, a chilli bean dish is also a great budget option and one that does not require too much pre-planning. Perfect with avocados and a dollop of vegan sour cream or, coupled with crisp lettuce and salad, it can double as a filling for tacos or burritos for a Mexican-inspired lunch. Imagination is the only limit to the possibilities. You will find no less than 5 perfect lunchtime chili recipes here, and for the weight conscious, a fat-free zucchini version here.
With a bit of strategic planning (preparing a list of ingredients and shopping on the weekend), you are well on your way to a working week of lunchtime bliss – all the while impressing your colleagues with your exceptional organizational ability, superb culinary talents, and supreme lunchtime happiness. Those at Google may watch and weep!
Image source: Roasted Buddha Bowl