Step away from the take-out menu! Those quick meals aren’t doing anything for your hair, skin, and nails. Instead, you can have meals that really pack a nutritional punch by making quick vegan lunches to take with you before you head out the door. It’s the perfect way to ensure that your body stays nourished and that your favorite vegan beauty products have the best possible canvas to work with.
Don’t know where to start with your meal planning? Registered dietitian, and fitness specialist at Duke University, Aubrey Jarman suggests turning to your preferred protein options as the foundation of your meal. “I like to emphasize protein in the vegan diet because it can be a little tricky and hard to get enough. Since our hair is made up of keratin (a protein), ensuring enough protein in our diets can help us maintain healthy manes!” says Jarman. She recommends reaching for protein-packed ingredients such as quinoa, tofu, and tempeh to help add bulk to your meal. Not only can these proteins help to keep you full, but they can also replenish the body with the nutrients it needs. Here are five easy vegan lunches that can help to improve your hair, skin, and nails.
“I like to emphasize protein in the vegan diet because it can be a little tricky and hard to get enough. Since our hair is made up of keratin (a protein), ensuring enough protein in our diets can help us maintain healthy manes!”
- Aubrey Jarman, Duke University
1. SWEET POTATO SANDWICH
Need to add some luster to your hair? According to Tara Mackey, author and founder of The Organic Life, sweet potatoes are a must for those looking to add shine to their strands. These yummy starches are filled with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A once ingested. The meal also features nutritional heavy hitters like avocado and coconut oil, which are great sources of healthy fats.
- Gluten-Free "White" Bread
- Sweet Potatoes
- Ripe Avocado
- Coconut Oil
- Cover sweet potatoes with coconut oil and roast at 350 degrees in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft.
- Remove sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
- Toast your bread for 2 minutes.
- Open avocado and spread onto toast.
- Add Kale.
- Top with cuts of sweet potatoes.
- Enjoy open faced or traditionally!
2. BUCKWHEAT SALAD
Here’s a lunch idea that’s perfect for long days at the office. Created by Miryam Quinn Doblas, RD, of Eat Good 4 Life, this buckwheat salad is filled with over 15 grams of protein and nearly 20 grams of dietary fiber. It’s certainly a lunchtime meal that will help keep you satiated throughout the day. Not to mention that this salad is filled with tomatoes, which is one of the best beauty foods out there. Tomatoes are filled with vitamins A, C, and K as well as Biotin, which is known for improving the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Aside from the tomatoes, the pumpkin seeds add another great source of protein and crunch that make the meal that much tastier. Here’s how to recreate it below.
- 3-4 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup buckwheat
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
- To cook buckwheat, combine 1 cup of buckwheat groats with 1.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Set the buckwheat aside to cool.
- Once cool, combine the buckwheat and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.
3. VEGGIE QUINOA CASSEROLE
Looking for a one-pan meal that’s filled to the brim with healthy grains and veggies? Then this is the meal for you. This easy casserole created by Doblas hosts both bell peppers, a great source of vitamin C, and cherry tomatoes, which are a good source of vitamin A. Together, this tasty duo sets this casserole over the top.
- 2 cups pre-rinsed quinoa, uncooked
- 16 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
- 3 colored bell peppers, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large non-stick pan, over medium to high heat, combine the olive oil and cubed tofu. Cook until the tofu starts to become brown.
- Add the chopped bell peppers and cook further for 2-3 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Add the spices, chopped tomatoes and salt, and stir. Add the rinsed quinoa with 4 cups of hot water and stir.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until the water is absorbed. At this stage, the quinoa should be cooked but if you find that it is still hard, add 1/2 cup extra water and cook until ready.
- Turn the heat off, stir and serve while hot. Enjoy!
4. SPICED APPLE WALNUT SALAD
Ever wonder why your doctor always told you to eat an apple a day? It’s because they are filled with so many nutrients including vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and B-complex vitamins. Apples are also known to brighten and lighten your complexion, hydrate your skin, and provide UV protection, according to Mackey, the creator of this recipe. Beyond the apples, this lunch contains walnuts, which are a high source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential to healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- Spring Salad Mix/Spinach
- Coconut Oil
- Cut apples into slices. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of nutmeg in a bowl.
- Add this mixture to apples and coat apples thoroughly.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until crispy on edges.
- Add apples to a bowl of salad mix or spinach.
- Add walnuts on top.
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