This mock chicken salad made with chickpeas is just one version of a versatile favorite. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Two of my grandchildren are in the midst of soccer season, with many of their games happening right at dinnertime. I’ve had plenty of practice with eating on the run. So these days, I’m helping out the family by putting together healthy, take-along food that can be made ahead of time and packed up to munch during the games or immediately after at the playing field.

Chicken salad of all sorts is always a hit because it’s so versatile and can be sandwiched between bread or crackers, eaten with greens and other veggies, or rolled up in a wrap.

This is also an optimal idea for road trips, leisurely al fresco dining and school and work lunches.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Our family also enjoys a vegetarian version made with chickpeas. This is gluten-, nut-, sugar- and grain-free, and soy-free if you use vegan mayonnaise. We like this filling salad rolled up in a big crunchy leaf of romaine or stuffed into a lovely ripe tomato.

After you’ve sampled your favorite version of chicken salad, you may want a bit of chocolate. This chocolate zucchini cake is a repeat recipe, by request. This is a favorite family recipe that has been made hundreds of times by all my kids, some of my grandkids – and yes, I still mix it up, too.

Most often made as an old-fashioned, plain and simple snacking cake topped with extra chocolate chips, this recipe also makes a layer cake that you can frost with your favorite chocolate or vanilla buttercream. I most recently made cupcakes that are the easiest for packing in a picnic basket. Just adjust the baking time accordingly and go ahead and make a double batch to share with the whole team!

Chicken Salad I

1 pound cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving. Yield: 6 servings

Chicken Salad II

1 1/2 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
1/2 cup apple, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place chicken and all ingredients except vinegar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Blend oil and vinegar and pour over chicken mixture. Mix well and chill. Yield: 4 servings

‘Chicken’ Salad III

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pickle relish
1/4 cup colored bell pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons fresh dill, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toast, crackers, wraps or lettuce for serving

In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until flaky. Stir in vegetables, mayonnaise and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients, adjusting to taste. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups zucchini, shredded
2 cups chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine milk and vinegar if using in place of buttermilk and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan. With an electric mixer, cream butter and oil with sugar in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in zucchini and 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Sprinkle the other cup of chocolate chips on top. Bake for 1 hour. Yield: 10-12 servings

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