Packed Lunch: Kale Salad with Goji Berries and Pumpkin Seeds; Cauliflower Parsnip Soup


90% of my packed lunches travel to school with me in my collapsible lunch box from Smart Planet. It’s roomy, light, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my bag. I’m loathe to carry glass or Pyrex containers of any kind to class because I carry so many books, and the weight is unnecessary. When it comes to transporting soups, however, nothing beats Snapware—far more secure than either my Tiffins or my lunchbox, and much better for re-heating soups on campus, too (to the person who was shocked that I suggested a microwave option for a recipe the other day: yes, sometimes I do use a campus microwave to reheat things. Sorry. It gets cold in the library).

It has been unseasonably hot in D.C., but yesterday was damp enough to bring on a chill. In the mood for soup, I decided to use what I had in the fridge (parsnips and cauliflower) to make something very, very quickly. I peeled, chopped, and steamed the five parsnips till tender, adding the 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower florets at the end and giving them a quick steam (1-2 minutes). I transferred the vegetables to my VitaMix, and I added 1/4 tsp sea salt, a cup of almond milk, a dash of paprika, two tablespoons of raw cashew, and two tablespoons of nutritional yeast. I blended, and I transferred half the soup to my to-go-ware (saving the other half for later).


So rich and creamy! This soup is very simple—a bare bones version of the very excellent roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup that I made some time ago—but it works for a busy day, and it’s easy for you all to make without having to remember a particular recipe!

Along with it, I had leftovers from a giant kale salad I’d made the night before: kale, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, red pepper, apple cider vinegar, hemp oil, salt, and pepper:


I’d eat kale salad daily for the sheer pleasure of it, but an added bonus is that it keeps better than regular greens for leftovers, so I can plan ahead and use it for packed lunches.


These got packed up with some of my chocolate, walnut and maca energy bites, because it’s nice to find something sweet at the bottom of your lunchbox. They’re quickly becoming a weekly staple!


So this was a heavy lunch, in the end (I don’t mean the food, I mean the actual weight of it in the containers) but well worth the effort of a heavy backpack. The soup warmed me up on campus, the salad energized me for a long afternoon of study, and the chocolate maca bites lifted my spirits. Just what a packed lunch should do.

And now it’s Friday, which means I’ll get to study (and eat lunch) from home. Off to it—happy weekend!


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Categories: Salads, Side Dishes
Ingredients: Kale
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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  1. Looks like the perfect lunch! And the kale salad looks so fresh and yummy!

  2. Just a little tip for others–you can find those lunchboxes at TJ Maxx (or similar places) for about $5. It’s where I found mine πŸ™‚ And they are so lightweight, which is a plus!

  3. this post made me laugh. i never thought there was someone like me that would actually walk around the city with a backpack full of food for the day. but most of the times its totally worth and you really enjoy your homecooked things, especially in the winter! also people are surprised why my portions are so huge.. but i just need A LOT of greens and veggies.. you know what I mean πŸ™‚

  4. Gorgeous kale salad, a comfort food for me and yours looks so good!

  5. I love this little peak into Gena’s world. Thanks for sharing and have a fantastic weekend! πŸ™‚

  6. i love any kind of salad. actually i have a lot of salad recipes collection.

  7. Yum Gena! As a fellow student I love seeing your packed uni eats – often they look similar to mine and are always a lovely inspiration x

  8. There is nothing wrong with microwaves. Those internet legends about the plant dying a) had a sample size of one and 2) have been debunked by a number of sources. The concern about microwaves seems to stem from some confusion about what kind of “waves” are at issue, and the mistaken belief that radiation is somehow involved.

    I can understand thinking that the taste changes, but the safety? No, not once one understands what is going on scientifically.

  9. Looks delicious! I fell head over heels for your butternut squash puree/salad dressing this week, I’m pretty the cauliflower parsnip soup would be right up my alley πŸ™‚

    My lunch bags are always super heavy. I try not to use plastic as much as possible so those jars and glass containers add up fast.

  10. I know how hard it is to try and bring healthy lunches as I’m a med student on a very similar path to you!

    A great idea to keep food warm without using microwaves is heat it up on stove at home in morning then put in thermos-Stanley works best I’ve found- and take with you. Soup and stews stay warm 6-8 hours this way in my experience!

    Happy studies:)

    • Carlin, what a great idea! I’ve just been eating food cold to avoid the microwave, I think I’ll be on the lookout for a Thermos this weekend πŸ™‚

  11. i just bought parsnips and made a bunch of ‘fries’ haha. my god do i love the vitamix, i make a coconut-curried-parsnip soup that is super thick and rich like that one looks! now if it would just start to feel like fall . . . πŸ™‚

  12. That’s one of the best parts about kale – it holds up! Other salads would be wilty and sad after a day. I do have some parsnips to use up somehow – I love instasoups like this, maybe I’ll do something similar. Have a good weekend!

  13. I love your soups. You have some of the most unique soups I’ve seen around. I’m a conservative soup person. I just don’t yet feel comfortable with that realm, which is amusing to many because it is said to be the simplest. I love the sound of this one and will certainly be making it now that the temps dropped from the 70’s yesterday to the 40’s today in Chicago. Yay soup! And, of course, I enjoy your musings on the purpose of each course in your lunch.

  14. I wish I loved me a salad more – I’ve just become so used to blending kale in smoothies. I need to train the taste buds to loooove all greens dressed in just a hint if vinegar n oil!

    Really love the soup idea., so easy! At first I couldn’t imagine enjoying blended cauli and parsnip, but the seasoning sounds superb. Nutritional yeast and paprika are my favs!

  15. Plus kale is so vibrantly bright that you can’t help but smile when you sit down to eat. Then again, maybe that’s just me… πŸ˜‰

    Have a great weekend, Gena!