It’s lunch box time again. Although your children might relish the thought of peanut butter sandwiches, will that provide sufficient nourishment for them to cope with an afternoon of schooling? Peanut butter does contain some protein but adding a little grilled bacon, tomato and lettuce — a PBLT — provides a more rounded meal. Children need carbohydrate for energy, protein to make them feel satisfied and some fruit or vegetables for vitamins, fibre and crunch.
Some of my fave fillings for sandwiches, rolls, baps, pita bread, croissants, focaccia or wraps include: ham and coleslaw; Ploughman’s (ham, cheese and gherkin); cheese and bacon; pulled pork and lettuce (using leftover pulled pork); corned beef and piccalilli; chicken tikka, yoghurt and slaw; chicken and curried mayo; chicken and cranberry; mashed egg and watercress; cheese and mango chutney; and cream cheese, cucumber and grated carrot. Include extra veggies where you can.
Great fruits for lunch boxes include: mandarins, kiwifruit, strawberries, blueberries, small apples, grapes, cubed fresh pineapple or a small container of mixed fresh fruit. Add cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and celery sticks (filled with a little cream cheese, if preferred) for extra vitamins, colour and crunch.
And remember, food that travels should be kept cool. A small insulated chilly bag is ideal for carrying lunches or add a frozen drink to the lunch box. And keep them in a cool place prior to enjoying.
SUPER SPAGHETTI SALAD
Leftover cooked pasta can also be used.
1/2 cup French or balsamic dressing, divided
1 cup small spinach leaves, sliced
1/2 each: red and yellow capsicums
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced
100g feta or cheddar cheese, diced
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salt water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and combine with 2 tablespoons of the dressing and the spinach leaves. Cool.
Seed and dice the capsicums. Add to the cooled pasta with all the other ingredients.
Pour the remaining dressing into small containers suitable for the lunch box. Drizzle over the salad just before enjoying. Serves 3-4.
CHICKEN, CRANBERRY & CREAM CHEESE CIABATTA
A popular café filling for buns.
1 small ciabatta bun or similar
2-4 tablespoons light cream cheese
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup baby salad leaves
2-3 tablespoons cranberry sauce
Cut the bun in half crosswise. Spread the cut halves with cream cheese.
Combine the chicken with the mayo, juice and seasonings. Place the salad leaves on the base and top with the chicken. Cover with the cranberry sauce and the bun top. Makes 1.
Make for dinner and serve the leftovers in the lunch box the next day. If served with rice, any leftovers can also be included in the lunch box. Can be frozen.
400g lean minced beef, lamb or chicken
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, coriander, dried thyme, crushed garlic
Combine the meat, parsley, spices, thyme and garlic. Form into 8 logs and wrap around small wooden skewers. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Grill or pan-fry the koftas for 6-8 minutes, turning often. Great served with plain yoghurt combined with chopped mint. Serves 4.