Quick and Easy Lunches (Vegan and Gluten Free)

plate of avocado toast and tomato tahini toast

Most of us have grown up with the idea of eating three meals a day which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though lunch is now established as the second meal of the day, it hasn’t always been this way. According to Denise Waterman of BBC News Magazine, during Roman times to the Middle Ages, “lunch as we know it didn’t exist – not even the word.”

Today lunch is generally a light meal eaten around midday and usually includes foods such as soups, salads and sandwiches. I have always tended to eat the same thing for this meal which is a salad with some form of bread on the side. Even though eating similar meals day after day can make it easier when grocery shopping for a small household, it can become limiting when trying to provide the body with a variety of nutrients. For this reason, it helps to have some quick and easy ideas on hand.

plate of avocado toast and tomato tahini toast

Origin of the word “lunch”

The origin of the word lunch is “mysterious and complicated”, says food historian Ivan Day. Waterman indicates that one theory is that lunch is derived from the word ‘nuncheon’, an old Anglo-Saxon word which means a quick hand-held snack eaten between meals. Others theorise that it comes from the word ‘nuch’ which was used in the 16th and 17th Century and means a big piece of bread.”

The evolution of lunch

During the Middle Ages, daylight often shaped working hours and mealtimes. As workers had often laboured for up to six hours by midday, the main meal of the day referred to as “dinner” was eaten. Dinner started to shift to a later time for the wealthier as artificial light developed resulting in a light meal being needed during the day.

Waterman believes that the Industrial Revolution helped shape lunch as we know it today as the middle and lower-class eating patterns were defined by working hours. As many were working long hours in factories, a noon-time meal was essential to sustain them and so by the early 19th century, lunchtime had become ingrained in the daily routine.

plate of avocado toast and tomato tahini toast

Recipes for Quick and Easy Lunches

A nutritious lunch can help us stay full, alert and energized throughout the afternoon and so there is less temptation to snack. However, as a healthy lunch can sometimes be challenging to plan for, these savoury toasts are quick and easy to prepare and can include a variety of tasty and nutritious toppings to provide a satisfying healthy meal with a variety of nutrients.

close up of avocado toast on black plate

Avocado Toast

  • 2 slices toast
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 tbs hemp seeds
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • sprouts for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Mash avocado
  • Mix ingredients and spread on two slices of your favourite toast .
vine of red cherry tomatoes and a variety of colours of cherry tomatoes in background on chopping board

Tomato Tahini Toast

  • 2 slices toast
  • 100 g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh coriander for garnish

Instructions:

  • Roughly chop tomatoes and place in large bowl. Stir through olive oil, tahini, nutritional yeast, lime juice, chopped garlic, coriander and a large pinch of sale. Cover and leave to one side for about 10 minutes to marinate.
  • Spoon mixture on top of toast and sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and chilli flakes.
plate of avocado toast and tomato tahini toast

Closing Thoughts

For one, I am grateful that lunch does exist and relish the meal even if just to break up a working day. As lunch is intended to be a light meal, Samuel Johnson’s definition that lunch is simply “as much food as one’s hand can hold” is probably a reasonable guide to use today to determine just how much food to consume.

Waterman talks about research from the University of Westminster which suggests that the average time taken to eat lunch today is about 15 minutes and usually takes place in front of the computer. With this in mind, perhaps the original meaning of lunch “as a small, quick snack between proper meals” is just as appropriate today as it ever was!

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Other similar recipes:

A Toast to Toast (toast with sweet toppings)

23 Comments

  1. Excellent suggestion, and so colourful that the tasty toasts seem to be able to slide unaided to their intended destination.

    Thank you.

    Joanna

  2. These look beautiful!

  3. Okay. I’m a meat guy and not embarrassed about it. Will grant you, such as this (and my wife and my sons) are showing me I can be satisfied by a well-planned and well-executed veggie repast. I learning, I’m learning. Still, you sunburn a piece of meat and offer me a choice… On the other hand these here do look real good… Garlic? Avocado? I’m in!

    • Thanks for your comment and glad to hear you enjoy some of these ingredients – I must admit I never used to like avocado but grew to like it when I discovered all these different ways of eating it. I find it interesting that since I moved to a whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet – which is more about restricting processed foods and can include meat – that I feel like I have never eaten so well and get lots more variety. In the end it probably comes down to a bit of balance and variety so hope you continue to enjoy!

  4. Lovely sandwiches and interesting background!

  5. Both toast spread recipes are so good! Really nice combination of spices✨ Thank you for the inspiration and the information, I had no idea about the evolution of meal times👏

  6. Yummm avocado toast is the BEST!! 🥑

  7. Looks delicious and healthy

  8. Interesting historical note about the origin and evolution of lunch. Love the recipe.
    Thanks for the follow 🙂

  9. Beautiful and healthy

  10. I will definitely try these recipes. thanks for sharing!

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