Vegan Lunch Boxes: Round 4 and a Pumpkin Smoothie

After a busy weekend filled to the brim by the Food for Thought Festival, a yoga workshop at Inner Fire, and piles upon heaps upon MOUNTAINS!…okay, really not too horribly much but still enough homework to keep me occupied, I found absolutely zero free time on Sunday to prepare a couple do-ahead lunch box staples. Surprisingly enough to me, however, nightly lunch-making proved an incredibly painless endeavor, aided by leftover dinners, canned beans, and the good ol’ veggie drawer of my refrigerator.

Monday: Leftover grilled vegetable panzanella, Eden black beans, and half an avocado served on a bed of mixed greens with two slices of Cress Spring Bakery kamut bread on the side.

Meal Checklist: Protein–black beans. Whole Grain–kamut bread. Vegetables–Avocado, red peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggplant. Leafy Green–mixed salad greens.

Local Ingredients: Kamut bread from Cress Spring Bakery, eggplant, tomatoes, and mixed salad greens from Happy Valley Farm, Italian frying peppers from the Plahnt Farm, Tuscan rossi onions from Jones Valley Farm, Spanish Roja garlic from the Dane County Farmers Market, and basil from my garden.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Leftover Deconstructed Hummus with Roasted Vegetables from Vegan on the Go-Go served atop mixed salad greens and an Ezekiel tortilla. (Sorry for the lack of photo!) I verily recommend Teneisha’s recipe—a yummy medley of roasted veggies and chickpeas in a tart sesame dressing. I won’t include a meal checklist or local ingredient summary because, well, you can’t see it.

Thursday and Friday: Leftover Ridiculously Healthy Millet, Kale, and Yam Burgers from Choosing Raw served atop a salad of steamed beets, sungold tomatoes, carrots, and mixed greens and an Ezekiel tortilla. Gena’s veggie burger recipe has definitely earned the top slot on my “favorite vegan burgers” list—how can I say no to a flourless patty filled with millet, sweet potatoes, and KALE, for goodness sake!

Meal Checklist: Protein–white beans in burger. Whole Grain–millet in burger and tortilla. Vegetables–beets, sungold tomatoes, and carrots. Leafy Green–kale in burger and mixed salad greens.

Local Ingredients: Sweet potatoes and beets from the Plahnt Farm, lacinato kale from Jones Valley Farm, sungold tomatoes from Singing Fawn Gardens, and mixed salad greens from Harmony Valley Farm.

On Thursday morning, I discovered the unthinkable: no more bananas in the freezer! How on earth could I possibly produce a satisfying smoothie without a banana—my staple fruit in every breakfast blend? Contemplating my pantry, I reached for a can of pumpkin which seemed appropriate for the transition into autumn. Could this supposedly unremarkable bright orange puree sufficiently replace a banana? Answer: yes, yes, one million times yes!

Pumpkin-Kale Smoothie (Gluten Free, Oil Free)

Serves 1-2.


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2-3 leaves kale, torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk of choice.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until very very smooth.


While this smoothie didn’t have the same creamy texture as my usual frozen banana smoothies, the pumpkin flavor shined through, complemented by the cinnamon and kicked up a notch with the ginger, while the dates provided adequate sweetness. Yum!

Breakfast Checklist: Protein–soy milk. Whole GrainEzekiel granola. Fruit–dates. Added Veggie AND Leafy Green Bonuses!–pumpkin and kale.

Local Ingredients: kale from Jones Valley Farm.

Comment Provoking Questions: What is your favorite veggie burger recipe? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to swim in a pool of avocados? Have you ever tried pumpkin in a smoothie? What is your favorite fruit to use in a smoothie?

Until next time, Ali.


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