We’re always on the lookout for a new workday lunch recipe that’s equally easy to make, nutrient-dense, and satisfying, and we’ve found all three in this 10-minute vegan buffalo chickpea salad sandwich recipe by Emilie Eats. It's made with everyday ingredients that you probably already have on hand, plus you can prep the buffalo chickpea salad ahead of time. So whether you're brown-bagging it you’re in dire need of a delicious, fuss-free meal you can whip together between Zoom meetings, this plant protein-packed filling can take center stage in a sandwich or on top of a salad in seconds.
- Brierley Horton, MS, RD, co-host and co-creator of the Happy Eating podcast
Best part? Emilie encourages customizing this dish to your heart's content. This might mean heavily mashing your chickpeas or choosing to leave them chunky for added texture. You can also sub in whatever veggies are in season (or in your crisper drawer), and go ham on whatever spices you love most.
“This is a fantastic plant-forward solution for a ‘brown bag’ lunch,” says Brierley Horton, MS, RD, co-host of the Happy Eating Podcast. “Hello, this recipe has more than half of your daily recommended target for fiber. Plus, the combination of fiber and prebiotics—which is the food that feeds the good bugs in your GI tract—can promote a healthy gut microbiome.” (FYI, if you are taking it on the go, just make sure to follow Emilie’s advice and pack the salad separately from the rest of the sandwich to prevent it from getting soggy in between slices of sandwich bread.)
Beyond the simplicity and meal prep-readiness, this recipe has so much to offer in terms of nourishment, particularly for gut health. Follow along to find out how every ingredient in this recipe can benefit both your microbiome and your overall health.
Horton loves legumes, as they offer a double-punch of both protein and fiber to give any recipe some extra staying power. Chickpeas are also low on the glycemic index, which means they help keep your blood sugar stable (thanks to that protein-fiber combo), and also steady your mood as you power through the rest of the workday.
Horton notes that if you’re watching your sodium intake, look for cans of chickpeas with “no added salt” on the label. You’ll also be getting some sodium from the hummus and hot sauce, so she says you may not need to add extra salt at all. You can taste along the way to reach your desired sodium level. “I'd also add some pistachios or almonds on the side for an extra hit of healthy fat and also added potassium, which will help offset the higher sodium count,” Horton says.
Learn more about the many health benefits of chickpeas from an RD by checking out this video:
2. Fresh veggies
While we all know that vegetables are good for us, it’s important to consume different kinds, as different colors contain different types of polyphenols, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. As we begin to discover more links between gut health and longevity, consuming an array of colorful, fiber-rich veggies is a major component of boosting our microbiomes and lifespans.
“I like how there's added texture and nutrition from the carrot, celery, and red bell pepper,” says Horton. “While there aren't a lot of those veggies added, it still pumps up the health factor of the salad.” You could also pack along a few other slices of celery, carrots, and bell peppers on the side to up the veggie intake.
Speaking of polyphenols, our spice racks are bursting with these anti-inflammatory compounds. This recipe calls for garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper, all of which are great for the gut. Garlic and onion have been shown to help fight infections throughout the body, while culinary herbs as a whole are tied to staving off inflammation and chronic health conditions, like cancer.
4. Sprouted grain bread
“I love that the recipe calls for sprouted bread—that'll pump up the protein count of this meal,” says Horton. Sprouted bread also offers a nice nutritional boost beyond protein: You’ll also find fiber, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, and opting for a sprouted option will also make it easier to digest.
Vegan buffalo chickpea salad sandwich recipe from Emilie Eats
Makes 6 servings
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup hummus
3 Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
12 slices sprouted grain bread
Toppings: spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
1. In a medium bowl, add chickpeas. Mash with a fork or potato masher until all are mashed, leaving a bit of texture. Add carrots, celery, green onions, bell pepper, hummus, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Mix until ingredients are completely combined.
2. Toast bread slices.
3. Scoop chickpea salad onto a piece of bread, top with desired sandwich toppings, and then another piece of bread.
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