Tag Archives: healthy lunch ideas

Simple Chickpea Salad

 

Do you struggle with what to bring for lunch to work, or to eat at home, or to send with the kiddos?

Trying to incorporate more healthy food into your diet, like plant based recipes and legumes?

Need a new flavor combo after years of tuna salad sandwiches and chicken salad sandwiches?

Tired of spending $6 or more on lunch every day?

Have I got the solution for you!

Meet the magical, miracle, chickpea salad.

I cannot believe I went 3 decades without knowing what chickpea salad is, or ever eating it! This stuff is so delicious! It is:

  • salty
  • crunchy
  • creamy but with a bit of texture
  • filling – no more 3pm tummy grumbles
  • super simple to make
  • cheap af
  • ridiculously healthy for you
  • everything I’m looking for in a brown bag lunch

The cheapest option is to buy dried chickpeas and cook them yourself. Just put 1/2 pound in a bowl and cover with water. (LOTS of water, these babies plump up like nobody’s business).

After 6-8-12 hours, drain and either simmer on the stove for 4 hours or so, or put in a crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.

That’s it! Then you can store them in the fridge or freezer for whatever and whenever.

You can also totally use cans, no judgment here. Not everyone has time for that, or remembers to soak the night before, or has space on the counter or a crock pot in your house. Just drain and rinse.

However you do it, just get yourself about a cup of chickpeas, and get ready to make some magic happen.

chickpea salad sandwich ingredients

This simple base recipe makes enough for 2 good sized sandwiches or wraps, but I recommend double or tripling! And below I’ll add some ideas on how to further customize it to whatever flavor combo you’re feeling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup cooked chickpeas, or 1/2 can drained
  • 1 small-medium pickle, chopped (or 1 tbsp relish)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced small
  • 1 tbsp mustard of your choice
  • Optional: 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • Optional: Green onion or celery, diced

Step 1: Soak your beans ~8 hours and cook until soft, or open and drain the can. Put about 1 heaping cup in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. You want it mostly crushed but with some small pieces left for texture.

chickpea salad mixing

Step 2: Add your other fillings, and mix well.

Layer on bread, in a wrap, or on top of a mixed greens salad. Put inside or on top of biscuit mix and make puffs. I haven’t tried it yet with pasta to see if it can sub as tuna noodle salad, but if you have please report back!

 

If you want it extra salty:

  • Add 1 tbsp capers
  • Layer on seaweed (nori) sheets between the salad and the bread
  • Sprinkle with sea salt or garlic salt
  • Add a tbsp powdered kelp

If you want it extra crunchy:

  • Add a few tbsp chopped cucumber
  • Add a few tbsp sliced radish
  • Add a few tbsp diced celery ribs
  • Sprinkle in some slivered almonds or walnuts

If you want it to be creamier:

  • Add 1-2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • Add 1-2 tbsp thick coconut milk cream (the top part when you open a can of cold coconut milk)
  • Add 1-2 tbsp cashew cream

If you want it a little bit spicy:

  • Add chopped jalapeno or green chilies
  • Drizzle on a tsp or 2 of hot sauce
  • Sprinkle a little cayenne on top
  • Add a tbsp horseradish or wasabi

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

 

Ever get really tired of a certain kind of lunch?  Like say you always take a roast beef sandwich with cheddar and mustard.  Or a tuna salad pita pocket.  Or a certain type or brand of soup.  When you eat the same thing several days in a row, you can get bored easily.  But then you also want more ‘grown-up’ options sometimes than just peanut butter and jelly, or maybe you don’t have any leftovers to choose from at the moment.

This is a super simple recipe for a great tasting and healthy chicken salad sandwich mix.  It is designed to make just enough for one large sandwich or wrap, but you can easily increase the quantities to feed a family of four or a luncheon buffet for fifty.  It has a tiny bit of sweetness, which helps kids love it too, and a nice bit of crunch to make it interesting.  No one needs to know that you snuck in an extra serving of fruits & veggies.

For maximum healthy, use plain Greek yogurt to bind it, and serve as a lettuce wrap or on whole grain bread or tortilla with extra veggie toppings.  This is a great way to use up extra chicken meat from a whole bird, and is very frugal and versatile.  Try this the next time you need lunchtime inspiration, a quick after-school snack, or a buzz-worthy picnic dish.

Ingredients for Cranberry Cashew chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

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Step 1: Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink.  Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.

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Step 2: In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well.  This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.  Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery.  If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.

 

 

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

Instructions

  1. Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink. Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.
  2. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well. This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.
  3. Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery. If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.
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Quinoa & Bean Quesadilla

 

In the pursuit of creating meals which are both vegan and yet so delicious my total carnivore fiancee doesn’t even notice it’s vegan, you win some & you lose some.

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This was a definite win.

The way I see it, it has all the things a quesadilla should: meaty fillings (‘meaty’ like you feel full after eating it, not actual meat; in this case beans & quinoa), gooey stick-together-ness (avocado), and lots of flavor (roasted peppers & spices). Warmed up for a crunchy exterior with soft goodness inside, this will make everyone happy regardless of dietary preference.

This makes 2 servings. And best of all, you sneak in almost a whole cup of veggies per serving! I won’t tell if you won’t.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper slices
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Cooking oil
  • Optional: nutritional yeast

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Step 1: Cook your quinoa according to package. Likely you mix 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water, bring to a boil, then cover & let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set up your station.

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Step 2: If you have the time, caramelize your pepper pieces by heating in a frying pan over medium heat just until they begin to char. This brings out their innate sweetness. If not, raw pepper will work just as well, the finished product may be crunchier.

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Step 3: On one tortilla, cut half the avocado, &  spread it around. This acts like a paste to hold your quesadilla together. Layer on half the spinach, and season as you wish. (Basil, garlic salt, cilantro, lime…)

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Step 4: On the other tortilla, layer the quinoa, beans (cooked according to directions, or from a can), peppers, and if using sprinkle on some nutritional yeast. It is not required, it just gives an extra ‘cheesy’ taste & you guessed it, nutrition. (You can also use dairy cheese if not vegan).

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Step 5: Spray or grease a frying pan. Place the one tortilla on top of the other, carefully, and place in the pan. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, then carefully flip the whole thing. Use two spatulas if you need to. Crisp the other side 4-5 minutes.

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Cut with a knife or pizza roller, and enjoy! This baby is chock-full of good stuff, and creates a great taste & texture combo that really satisfies.

 

Quinoa & Bean Quesadilla

Ingredients

  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper slices
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Cooking oil
  • Optional: nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. Cook your quinoa according to package. Likely you mix 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water, bring to a boil, then cover & let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set up your station.
  2. If you have the time, caramelize your pepper pieces by heating in a frying pan over medium heat just until they begin to char. This brings out their innate sweetness. If not, raw pepper will work just as well, the finished product may be crunchier.
  3. On one tortilla, cut half the avocado, & spread it around. This acts like a paste to hold your quesadilla together. Layer on half the spinach, and season as you wish. (Basil, garlic salt, cilantro, lime...)
  4. On the other tortilla, layer the quinoa, beans (cooked according to directions, or from a can), peppers, and if using sprinkle on some nutritional yeast. It is not required, it just gives an extra 'cheesy' taste & you guessed it, nutrition. (You can also use dairy cheese if not vegan).
  5. Spray or grease a frying pan. Place the one tortilla on top of the other, carefully, and place in the pan. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, then carefully flip the whole thing. Use two spatulas if you need to. Crisp the other side 4-5 minutes.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegan/quinoa-bean-quesadilla/