Column: What on earth should I eat for lunch?


Photo credit: Anna Allgeyer

A Chickpea Salad setup. The unconventional salad is a highly convenient lunch to pack for school.

I have packed my own lunch ever since the fourth grade. It’s taught me a lot of important skills — most importantly, the value of planning ahead.

I’d like to say that every single week of the year I plan my lunches for the entire school week and prepare them on Sunday nights, but in reality, I’m fairly busy and don’t always have ample time to pack a lunch. Some mornings, it’s a rush to get out of the house and pack something remotely edible.  I’ve found that the key is to make lunches for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then re-stock for the rest of the week. But what to make?

After graduating my last NOLS course, I’ve come to realize one of the most important lessons that they teach: all food is portable if you try hard enough. Maybe shy away from seafood to be safe, though. This means that leftover breakfast and dinner from the night before is fair game, and last minute concoctions with uneaten rice and seemingly random vegetables should be safe.

And, after doing some research, I have discovered my new favorite lunch item that exists on the planet. It is vegan, gluten-free, full of protein and packed with vegetables: Chickpea

Unmixed ingredients for a chickpea salad.
Photo by Anna Allgeyer
Unmixed ingredients for a chickpea salad.

Salad. I have devoured this for lunch almost every week since school has started this year, and could not be more happy with the quick and easy solution to my meal predicament. You may be wondering, what is a chickpea salad? Is it like chicken or egg salad?

First off, I absolutely detest all conventional “salads” that aren’t really salads. Frankly, the overwhelming amount of mayonnaise in traditional tuna, pasta, chicken or egg salads disgusts me. But this recipe was where it all changed for me. Free of mayonnaise, slimy texture or any of the other characteristics of traditional salads, this chickpea mash is the stuff of dreams.

I discovered this recipe while perusing the Simple Veganista blog and have adapted it only slightly to my tastes. Feel free to change it up: a curried version, a sweeter version or adding in additional ingredients such as wheat berries or fruits could work nicely. 

Chickpea Salad Recipe

Chickpea Salad Toast, plated over whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes.
Photo by Anna Allgeyer
Chickpea Salad Toast, plated over whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes.
  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • Small handful of sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste



Add chickpeas to a large bowl, and mash them with a fork until the desired consistency is reached. Incorporate the rest of the ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. More lemon is never a problem. Serve on a bed of lettuce or over toast with lettuce, tomatoes and avocado. My favorite way is inside of a whole grain pita, with whatever toppings are available.

Happy lunching!