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Barley Salad with Corn, Capsicum, and Baby Spinach

27 Nov
Barley Salad

Barley Salad

Pearl barley for lunch once again! This time with corn, capsicum, and baby spinach, with lemon juice drizzled over the top. Yum! The pearl barley and corn were cooked in the rice cooker, and then other ingredients were added. This salad is super easy and fast and a great way to add a serving of whole grains into the day.

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Healthified Sausages and Tomato Sauce

26 Nov
Sausages with tomato and green salad

Sausages with tomato and green salad

Something about sausages just reminds me of summer. Maybe it’s because sausages are a barbecue staple. Maybe it’s because they’re easy and no one feels like doing much cooking during the warmer months. I’m not sure.

Sausages with tomato sauce are delicious, but they’re not that good for you. Sausages can be quite high in salt and fat, and commercial tomato sauce is super high in sugar. The back of the bottle listing the sugar content is quite ridiculous. Commercial tomato sauce is basically jam (jelly) made with tomatoes and watered down a little bit.

If you are craving sausages and tomato sauce, my first suggestion to you, is to use gluten free sausages. Although a bit more expensive, gluten free sausages don’t have quite as much added material and so are a little bit healthier than normal sausages. If you’re an extra smart shopper, you could probably also find sausages that had no added salts or preservatives and that are made from organic meat. Sausages themselves can be quite healthy, it’s usually the added ingredients that make them unhealthy.

My second suggestion is to replace the commercial tomato sauce with either homemade tomato sauce, or chopped up tomatoes. For the pictured meal here, I served my sausages with fresh sliced tomatoes and salad greens. It was simple, yet tasty. The tomatoes had all the flavour and sweetness I needed. Tomatoes are also easy to prepare – all you need to do is chop them up.

If you prefer sauce, there are plenty of recipes online for tomato sauce, and by manipulating the ingredients you can cut out a lot of the sugar content. If you’re in a hurry, another alternative is to just use a can of diced tomatoes as your sauce, or try salsa.

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Summer Barley Salad with Avocado, Apple, Baby Spinach, Capsicums and Cucumber

22 Nov Oh yeah! Barley Salad!
Oh yeah! Barley Salad!

Oh yeah! Barley Salad!

For lunch today we had a lovely barley salad. First, we cooked the pearl barley in the rice cooker in the exact same way you’d cook rice. Then we added the barley to baby spinach, chopped and peeled apples, chopped avocado slices, orange capsicum, and sliced cucumber. We chose those veges based on what we had to hand, and it would have tasted just as nice with other veges too. We mixed the whole thing up and drizzled some fresh lemon juice over it (we picked the lemons out of the garden, mmm so good). This salad was hearty but fresh and light. A great summer meal.

Koha loved it, including the spinach. Baby spinach is so good because it doesn’t have the bitter taste that spinach sometimes has, so it tastes more bland like lettuce, which makes it a lot easier to feed to those who are a little more picky.

If you are planning a summer barley salad, I’d recommend this one. Alternatively, it would be really tasty to have lettuce or spinach, with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese with a balsamic dressing.

Lavender Cookies

22 Nov lavender biscuits
lavender biscuits

lavender biscuits

Today we were playing outside in the garden, inspecting all the different flowers. Koha was very interested in which flowers were edible. The rule at our house is that no plants are edible, unless you ask Mumma and she says it is edible, but you must always check, even when you’re sure you’ve eaten it before.

One plant that Koha discovered could be edible, was lavender. She was very keen to have a taste of this plant, but it needed to be prepared in a certain kind of way – either as a tea or in some baking. She asked so politely whether she could make some lavender cookies, so, we made some!

These treats are not healthy, but they are delicious. And sometimes its better to explore and try new foods, especially ones that grow outside, then it is to worry too much.

lavender biscuit mix

simply mix the chopped lavender flower into the batter

We picked some lavender, and took it inside. Inside, we made up some cookie dough, using a standard Edmond’s basic biscuit recipe, and then added the chopped up lavender flowers (no stems or leaves). The recipe was quick and easy and it only took 12 minutes to bake in the oven. The cookies were large and the flavour of the lavender was just perfect. We ate two each, with tall glasses of cold milk. It was such a treat, and so exciting to eat something from the garden.

By the way, if you live in New Zealand, you should own an Edmond’s Recipe Book. It’s full of basic and easy recipes and is great for those who are just starting out with baking and cooking. A lot of the recipes are easily modified to fit your diet goals too – for example with this recipe you could modify it by replacing the flour with a healthier flour, and replacing the sugar with a substitute, and substituting half the butter with applesauce. We didn’t do that today, though.

Lavendar flower

Lavendar flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Easy snack from the supermarket: Porridge pouches

29 Jul
Baby Food Porridge Pouch

Baby Food Porridge Pouch

I sometimes buy these baby food porridge pouches when they’re on special at the supermarket. My favourite ones to buy are actually the organic ones (not the one in the photograph, which was just the one on special at the time) because the organic ones seem to have the best ingredients. These are really convenient as snacks or small meals and Koha loves having them in her lunch box to ‘sip’ on. They are also pretty yummy and nice for adults too 🙂

Koha’s Lunch: Steak, Peas, Hard-boiled egg, Banana, Mandarin

29 Jul

Koha’s Lunch

Koha’s lunch – leftover steak pieces and peas (she doesn’t mind them cold but can always ask at creche for them to be heated up if she wants them hot), a hard-boiled egg, a mandarin, and a banana. Lately Koha has been enjoying peeling things like mandarins and eggs, and she even peels my eggs for me when we eat them together. That’s why the egg and mandarin are not peeled for her, perhaps with another child you might peel those for them to make it easier for them to nibble during the day.

 

I can’t cook – healthy snacks

22 Jul
Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables make great snacks (Photo credit: nutrilover)

If you aren’t able to cook for whatever reason, that’s no reason to forgo healthy meals. These snacks and lunch box ideas are all easy and require minimal or no preparation.
Prepared by the Earth
Mother nature can be so kind, as she’s already prepared the following snacks for us ready to eat. All we need to go is buy them from the supermarket, or pull them off the tree or out of the ground.
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Carrots (or baby carrots for extra cuteness)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
Minimal Preparation at Home 
  • Sandwiches
  • Wraps
  • Salads
  • Baked potatoes
  • Porridge
  • Eggs
  • Barley

Store Bought Snacks

  • Baby food pouches of porridge or organic veges or fruit (really easy to eat for adults too)
  • Cheese
  • Marinated mussels
  • Smoked chicken
  • Smoked eel
  • Sushi
  • Sandwiches, wraps, salads
  • Deli meats

Perfect hard-boiled eggs without a timer

10 Jul
A dozen boiled eggs with lion marks visible in...

A dozen boiled eggs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I regularly make hard-boiled eggs because they are so cheap and easy, and a great source of portable protein. Koha loves it when I add them to her lunch box (she won’t even let me peel them as that’s part of her fun), and my husband regularly grabs them for quick snacks.

This is my never fail method, passed down from my mother, for how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs every time, on any stove, without a timer.

Step one:

Get some eggs, put them in a pot, cover them in cold water, and toss in a pinch of salt. The salt prevents the eggs from cracking while boiling.

Step two:

Put on the stove top and turn the heat on high.

Step three:

Wait for the water to boil.

Step four:

As soon as the water is boiling (as in properly bubbling away furiously, not just starting to simmer a little), take the pot off the element.

Step five:

Go dance, or put a load of laundry in the washing machine, or make a coffee. Basically ignore the pot of eggs.

Step six:

When the water has cooled back down to a temperature you would be comfortable sticking a baby into (ie room temperature or a little bit warmer but not hot), drain the water from the pot.

Step seven:

Run cold water over the eggs. This prevents them from getting blue yolks as it stops the cooking process before it goes too far.

Step eight:

Eat, or put the eggs in the fridge or lunch box. Eggs in the fridge last maybe about 3 or 4 days.

 

Image

Koha’s Lunch: Sandwiches, Egg, Blueberries, Carrots, Olives

2 Jul
Koha's Lunch

Sandwiches (homemade hummus spread on Freyas bread), blueberries, hardboiled egg, carrots, olives.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: Protein Pancakes! (Gluten & Lactose free)

29 Jun
Blueberry Pancake

Yum Yum Blueberry Pancakes!

Koha is obsessed with these blueberry pancakes, and if she had her way we’d have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Luckily these pancakes are also very nutritionally dense, and while I wouldn’t recommend them for every meal (way too many egg whites for one day), they are a healthy everyday meal option and can be slipped into the lunch box and eaten cold. This recipe doesn’t have any dairy and, depending on the brand of oats used, are also gluten free. I always laugh when Koha takes these pancakes in her lunch box to creche because they look like they are less healthy than the standard jam sandwiches other children at creche have, but they are actually much healthier. We will post a video of us making these delicious pancakes soon (as I’ve promised Koha we will).

Ingredients: (makes about 4 serves)

– rolled or quick oats, 2 cups
– stevia, 1/4 cup
– baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
– salt, 1/8th teaspoon
– egg whites, x 6-8 eggs (size dependent) *
– vanilla essence – 1 teaspoon (optional)
– water about 1-1.5 cups, cold or warm but not hot
– blueberries 1 handful 
– canola oil spray

Method:

1: Turn the oats into oat flour by putting them through the blender until fine. Doesn’t need to be perfect, just sorta like flour.

2: Mix all the dry ingredients well.

3: Add in the vanilla & egg whites & mix.

4: Slowly mix in water. You should have a batter about the same as for normal pancake recipes, perhaps slightly thicker

5: Fold the blueberries into this batter. Try not to mix too much because it looks better if you don’t.. otherwise they become blue pancakes instead of white ones with blueberries inside them.

6: Heat frying pan, and lightly spray bottom of pan with canola oil spray.

7: Pour batter into pan. I like to do dollops which are small enough so that the resulting pancake can fit into the toaster.

8: Like with normal pancake recipes, turn when bubbles appear.

9: When cooked remove from pan (when you have made pancakes before you become good at judging this, if you are still unsure of your abilities, the best way is to cook one smaller pancake on one half of the pan, and when it gets bubbles you flip it and pour some more batter on the other half of the pan, when that second one gets bubbles you flip the second one and remove the first one.. and continue that way… at most you burn 1 pancake.)

10: DONE! Either eat immediately, or pop into the fridge and toast them later in the toaster (that’s what my husband will do every morning as I make these babies in bulk), or eat them cold later. You can eat these plain, or add a topping like honey, butter, or peanut butter.

We initially started making these because my husband and I were following a weight training program and diet from www.bodybuilding.com, which required breakfasts of egg whites and oats. This pancake incorporates those main ingredients in an appetizing way. The addition of blueberries (super food!!) packs these pancakes with additional antioxidants, which are really good for maintaining a healthy body and which also support recovery when training or exercising.

Because these protein pancakes do not have any additional protein powders added to them, they are fine for children to have. * To make them even better for children, you should half the number of eggs and use whole eggs instead of just whites, because the yolks of eggs are an excellent source of healthy fat and nutrients which support brain development. You could also try them as waffles by cooking them in a waffle iron, or you could switch the blueberries for something like bananas for a new flavour.