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How To Pack Your Vegan Lunch

Written By DC EcoWoman Katharine Eaton

When the air gets cooler and the leaves turn color, we tend to crave heartier meals. Cue the soups and stews! But these can be precarious on your commute and a hot lunch might give you an afternoon slump.

The recipes below are easy to pack, store well in the fridge, and do not need to be reheated. In fact, they’re best served at room temperature. They are also healthy, flavorful, protein-rich and gluten-free.

All portions serve one but you can easily multiply the ingredients for more.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Autumn is gourd season! This recipe calls for butternut, but you can use any other kind of winter squash or pumpkin instead. Note that this single serving- sized portion will not use the whole butternut squash.

1 small butternut squash
½ cup chickpeas, cooked or canned
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped mint
Bread or crackers, for serving

Peel the butternut squash, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes until you have 1 cup of cubes. Save the remaining butternut squash for another recipe – or for more hummus.

Steam the butternut squash cubes until they’re tender. Peel and crush the garlic.

In a food processor or blender, blend the steamed butternut cubes, chickpeas, garlic and olive oil into a smooth consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and fold in the fresh herbs.

At lunchtime, give the hummus a good stir and eat it on your choice of bread or crackers.

Raw Beet Slaw

No roasting or boiling, just the season’s sweetest root vegetable in its purest form. This recipe also makes a great Thanksgiving side dish.

1 medium-sized beet (about 1 cup shredded)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp stoneground mustard
1 tsp raspberry jam (or any berry jam you have on hand)
Salt and pepper
¼ cup hazelnuts
1 cup mixed salad greens

Peel the beet and shred it with a box grater or a food processor with a grating blade, using the large hole grater. Put the shredded beets in a bowl and fold in the chopped parsley.

Mix the oil, vinegar, mustard and jam into a paste and thoroughly stir it into the beets. The juice from the beets will thin out the dressing; so don’t be tempted to make more. Season the slaw with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat and dry-roast the hazelnuts, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and their skins start to blacken. Remove the nuts from the pan and let them cool. Place the cooled hazelnuts on a clean kitchen towel, roll it up and rub off the skins through the fabric. Pick out the clean hazelnuts and discard the skins. Roughly chop the nuts.

To pack your lunch, pack the hazelnuts, salad greens, and the beet slaw separately. Combine all components right before you eat.

Kale, Potato and White Bean Salad

Ah, le kahl… The summer pests that feast on leaves are gone and kale flourishes once again. Potatoes and white beans add creaminess and celery adds crunch.

2 small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 cup cubed)
2 large kale leaves (about 2 packed cups chopped)
2 tsps olive oil 2 tsps apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsps stoneground mustard
¼ cup white beans, cooked or canned 1 stalk celery
1 tbsp capers or chopped pickles, optional
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the water and cook them for about 10 minutes, until they’re tender but still firm. Drain the potatoes (do not run them under cold water or put them in an ice bath).

Remove the kale stems and cut or rip the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Put the kale in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Using your hands, knead the kale for at least 1 minute. The vinegar will break down the green and you’ll be left with about 1 cup of kale.

Whisk the remaining olive oil and vinegar with the mustard. Chop the celery stalk into small dice.

Carefully toss all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. The still-warm potatoes will absorb some of the dressing.

Let the salad cool before storing it in the fridge for next day’s lunch.

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