Packing lunches, whether for yourself or the hungry people in your care, requires some forethought, ingenuity, and ninja skills. Items need to hold up over the long hours between the frantic morning kitchen shuffle, in which bits of food are jammed into containers, and when containers are actually opened. Also, because lunch is often, sadly, a nano-slice of a school or work day, though charged with fueling the brain for super heroic afternoon focus, it helps if food is power-packed, nutrient-dense, and appealing enough to beckon through any distraction. And finally, extra points for those foods you can make in advance and store in the freezer. We hope you can meet all these needs with the following grain-free, vegetarian, dairy-free recipes. 

Spiced Almonds

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Makes 2 cups


2 cups almonds

1 ½  tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chile powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients in a bowl so almonds are fully coated. Spread almonds on cookie sheet. Bake for ten minutes, stirring once. Store for up to two months in 


Nutty Beet Dip

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20-30 minutes

Makes approximately 3-4 cups


1 lb beets (or four medium-sized beets)

1 cup walnuts

⅓ cup olive oil

  cup plain yogurt (optional)

2 tbsp lemon juice or balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove

½ tsp salt


Cut beets into chunks and steam until soft. Toast walnuts in toaster oven at 350 F for five minutes or until they become brown and rich with nutty aroma. When beets are soft place all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender and blend until dip is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Store in fridge for one week, or freezer for three months. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip 



Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Makes approximately 12-15 cookies


1 egg

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup sugar (brown or white or mix)

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup dark chocolate chips

½ tsp salt


Preheat oven to 335 F

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto greased cookie sheet, press down on raw cookies with fork (optional, but cute), and bake for ten minutes. Store, covered and unrefrigerated for five days, refrigerated for ten days, or frozen for two months.