The school lunch challenge is never-ending. Trying to overcome dislikes and cater for constantly changing wants, requires planning. Lunches require protein to curb hunger pangs, the vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits are necessary to keep the brain alert and the body fully functioning and a little carbohydrate is required for energy.
These days there are some delightful carb choices for holding healthy fillings.
I’m a big fan of the mini milk brioche rolls from my local supermarket. They’re packed in lots of eight, each one individually wrapped. They’re soft and only about two mouthfuls. One is an ideal mid-morning snack for kids and the other makes a great lunch treat along with some additional fruit and vegetables such as cucumber or celery boats filled with a little cream cheese. I overfill the brioche so there is more protein and veg than carbohydrate.
Change out the carb as often as you can. Sometimes the same filling served in a different holder can appear new. For example, serving the following tangy chicken and apple recipe in baby brioche tastes quite different to when it is the filling for a toasted sandwich.
Scones with all sorts of goodies thrown in the mixture then halved and filled with crisp lettuce and sliced tomatoes are also novel. Or toasted waffles topped with cheese, well-drained canned pineapple and dried oregano, then grilled.
Serve plain or filled with crisp lettuce and sliced tomatoes or canned pineapple.
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch each: salt, white pepper
100g tasty cheddar cheese, diced
6 Kalamata olives, pitted
6 cherry tomatoes
3/4-1 cup milk
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 230°C. Lightly grease an oven tray or line with baking paper.
Place the flour and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper and process until well mixed. Add the cheese, whole olives and tomatoes. Pulse a few times. The cheese, olive and tomatoes should still be a little chunky.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add a 1/2 cup of milk and the parsley. Using a bread-and-butter knife, cut the milk into the mixture, being very careful not to over mix. Add just enough of the remaining milk to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured bench. Gently pat into a square, about 3cm thick. Cut into squares, brush the tops with milk and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and cooked through. Makes 10.
CHICK ‘N’ APPLE SANDWICH FILLING
This filling is versatile. Use in bread rolls, lettuce roll-ups or on toast. Or make sandwiches and toast them in a sandwich maker. Allow to cool before placing in a lunchbox. The mixture will keep for 48 hours in an airtight container in the fridge.
160g cooked chicken or smoked chicken, finely diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
Combine the chicken, mayo, lemon juice, cheese and apple in a bowl. Makes about 2 cups.
EGG & VEG SANDWICHES
Egg sandwiches are a fave with young and old. Sneak some vegetables in for extra goodness. The eggs can be hard-boiled the night before.
4 hard-boiled eggs
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives or parsley
Mash the eggs together with the seasonings and mayo. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Makes 2 cups.