Recipe for lunchbox: Salmon and herb filo parcels, wholemeal pasta in pesto sauce

Dear son came home  and burst into the kitchen… urrr well… the rather messy kitchen as I was trying to get dinner done and on the dining table. I was cooking Asian food, and you know how messy that can get… grrrrr. However, the interruption was worth it, as his next sentence was:

“Mama, I really, really, really, really looooooooove my lunch today! Thank you.”

Apparently he loved everything that was in his lunchbox and wondered when he could have it again. Whether this was due to the fact that the food was really nice, or because he was ravenous after his 2 hours of pre-school swimming session, I will never know. I am just happy that he enjoyed the meal enough to let me know that the lunchbox combo was a winner.

I use the same base for the herb marinade and pesto sauce – not just for the sake of convenience, it also ensures that the flavours are complementary. Here are the recipes for the said lunchbox menu:







Salmon and herb filo parcels:

  • 200 – 250 gms skinned salmon fillet – cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 sheets of filo pastry
  • some olive oil for brushing

Blend fine the following:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash and pat dry the prepared salmon
  2. Rub 2 tablespoons of the blended mixture on salmon pieces
  3. Cut each of the filo pastry into 2, and brush with olive oil
  4. Place a piece of the marinated salmon in the middle of one of the filo pastry half – wrap and brush the  outside with more olive oil. Repeat till all salmon is wrapped.
  5. Bake the salmon parcels in pre-heated 180 degree celsius oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet.

Wholemeal Pasta in Pesto Sauce:

To the remaining basil and coriander marinade above, add the following and blend fine:

  • 10 raw almonds
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. If mixture is too thick, adjust with more olive oil.
  2. Boil half a cupful of dry wholemeal pasta according to package instructions. Drain and toss in pesto sauce. I sprinkle the top with some grated emmental cheese for extra flavour.
  3. Serve with grilled cherry tomatoes.

Round-up: Lunchbox ideas for the week – part 7

Finally, we are getting down to the last set of photos… We had to say goodbye to the last Thermos insulated lunchpack. The top of one of the containers broke, so we got another Thermos insulated lunchbox set. Though rather pricey, it does keep dear son’s food hot until lunch time. The cost saving and health benefits of packing his lunch far outweighs the cost of the lunchbox, imho.


Monday: Chicken, oat and vegetable soup, steamed broccoli, cheesy tortillas. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad.


Tuesday: Traditional Malaysian Vermicelli Soto – Blanched rice vermicelli, spicy chicken soup, potato croquettes,  shredded chicken, blanched beansprouts & minced scallions, chinese parsley. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.



Wednesday: Buckwheat soba salad, vegetable soup, baked Thai chicken nuggets. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.




Thursday: Salmon and herb filo parcels, pasta with pesto sauce and grilled cherry tomatoes. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.


Round-up: Lunchbox ideas for the week – part 6

We are at week 6… hmmm almost halfway through! Have I been away THAT long??? Just realized… this was the week before the school vacation, and wow! I must have been burnt out or something – poor son had 3 rice days? It goes to show how important planning is prior to the start of the week 😦



Cheesy tuna and wholemeal pasta bake, steamed asparagus, cherry tomatoes and tempeh chips. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt. Snack to share: wholemeal lamb pesto pizza



Tuesday: Brown rice with spinach and mushrooms, salmon teriyaki, veggie spring rolls. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad.



Wednesday: Flavoured rice, sweet and sour chicken, pickled veggies. Mid-Morning snack: Fruit salad and raw almonds

Thursday: Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with wholemeal spaghetti, sesame sugarsnap peas. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad. Post-swim snack to share: Sweetheart brownies.


Friday: Malaysian roasted chicken rice and condiments, salad and chicken broth. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad.



Round-up: Lunchbox ideas for the week – part 4

As a mother to a 12 (going 13) year old boy whose schedule is packed with school and competitive swimming, healthy eating is important. By packing him lunches everyday, it gives me the confidence that my child is getting his nutritional needs met. It does require some planning, and mornings are a total chaos at times, however, seeing the difference that it has made on his health, energy levels, even mood regulation – it has provided me with the motivation to carry on with early morning cooking, even if at times the warm bed seems to be the best option. It has to be mentioned too that the cost of preparing food at home is just a fraction of getting this type of meals from restaurants.

Here is another weekly round-up of dear son’s packed school lunches:

Monday: Cheeseburger with broccoli, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Mid-morning snack: Granola, fresh berries and yoghurt. (Special naughty menu for Monday morning blues…)


Tuesday: Home-made cream of mushroom soup, toastie cheese squares, sesame sugar snap peas. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad, yoghurt and oat crisps.



Wednesday: Crockpot rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghur



Thursday: Chicken broth with shredded chicken, veggies and wholemeal pasta. Mid-morning snack: Berries, granola and yoghurt.



Friday: Spiced carrot and lentil soup, cheese tortillas and cherry tomatoes. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad.


Round-up: Lunchbox ideas for the week – part 3

Ideas for healthy school lunchboxes for another week:

Monday: Cream of broccoli soup with low GI bread, warm quinoa salad with carrots, grilled chicken tenders with asparagus. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.

Cream of broccoli soup with low GI bread, warm quinoa salad with carrots, grilled chicken tenders with aspsragus. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.


Tuesday: Buckwheat soba in Asian basil pesto sauce, veggie rolls, Thai meatballs and pesto dip. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.

Buckwheat soba in Asian basil pesto sauce, veggie rolls, Thai meatballs and pesto dip. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.



Veggie chili with oven-baked yellow corn tortillas, fresh cherry tomato salsa. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.



Thursday:  Assemble your own falafel wraps and tahini sauce. Mid-morning snack: Fresh berries parfait and raw almonds. To share after swimming: Tuna puffs.



Friday: Tuna and wholemeal pasta bake, steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.


School Lunchbox Idea: Brown rice with cumin and broccoli, vegetable kofta korma

Brown rice with Packed lunch: broccoli and cumin, vegetable kofta korma and grilled salmon

Brown rice with Packed lunch: broccoli and cumin, vegetable kofta korma and grilled salmon

I am really excited to share this recipe for vegetable kofta with everyone. It is a-mayy-zing-ly scrumptious! If it were up to me, we would be having this on the menu every other day. I can have it with rice, flat bread, even on its own. Ouf, yumm-o. Who needs meat? But wait… didn’t the child say that he did not want any rice in his packed lunch? Right…

It all started last week, when dear son came home ravenous. Apparently he finished his snack and main lunch dish at the first break, and only had rice veggie rolls for lunch. He had to wait till 4.40 pm before sitting down for dinner at home, which was wolfed down within minutes. As a mother, I felt like a failure. Another plan had to be hatched. He obviously is going through some sort of growth spurt and couple that with the 15++ hours of swimming per week, we may need to put in more calories via nutrient dense food to fuel growth and recovery activity.

So, we had another minor consultation and I requested him to re-think the idea of having rice once in a while for lunch, (this was his deal breaker before.) He had really enjoyed the cumin and broccoli rice experiment last week so, he agreed to the idea as long the rice is not just plain steamed. Right-o! The plan is to go for wholegrain and fresh veggies for 55% carbs and vary protein sources to include more legumes on top of lean meat for fibre and other nutrients. The meals have to be broken down as well to allow for a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

So, this is what his meal plan looks like:

meal plan

From what I have read, a boy going through puberty needs about 2,400 calories a day  and an athlete may need an extra 500 – 1000 calories a day depending on level of activity – just as a guideline. However, it is important to also check the weight to track gains and losses and make adjustments accordingly. Whatever it is, I am pretty sure that if my child is continuously ravenous, he probably needs the extra sustenance. At the moment, I am aiming to provide around 2,400 – 2800 calories for him a day via 3 main meals + 3 snacks for days where he has 2 training sessions, and 3 main meals + 2 snacks on days with 1 swim session. We will see how we get on.

Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt. Wholemeal pesto pizza for post swim to share with friends.

Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt. Wholemeal pesto pizza for post swim to share with friends.

So far, since the the inclusion of the mid-morning snack, dear son seems to experience a higher level of satiety. I sincerely hope that we are on the right track.

Now, back to the yummy vegetable kofta korma…. I got the recipe from veggienumnums and with minor alterations, here is my version:

Orangey yumminess!

Orangey yumminess!

Kofta Balls (makes about 12 balls):

  • 1 egg
  • 200 gm sweet potato – grate fine
  • 170 gm carrots – grate fine
  • 1 small red onion – grate fine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I used Adabi curry powder)
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons  plain flour
  • salt to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

– squeeze excess liquid from grated carrots and sweet potato.

– mix the egg, sweet potato, carrots, red onion, ginger, curry powder, oil and plain flour. Add more flour if the mixture is not sticking.

– roll into balls and fry on medium heat until golden.

Korma Sauce

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick about 1 inch long
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 80g  raw almonds, ground
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • prepared kofta balls

– heat oil to medium, saute cardamoms and cinnamon with onion. When onions turn slightly golden, add garlic and ginger. Stir.

– Mix all powdered spices and add a little bit of water to form a paste. Add this paste to the onion, garlic and ginger mix in the pan. Lower heat. Stir till incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of water and let the paste cook until thickened and the oil starts to separate.

– add ground almonds, tomato paste and the rest of the water. Let it simmer till thickens. Add salt to taste.

– When the sauce is thick, add the coconut milk and let it cook again til the sauce reaches the right consistency. Taste again and adjust the seasoning.

– Add the kofta balls and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Brown Rice with cumin and brocolli

  • 1/2 cup brown rice – cook with 1 cup of water and some salt (do this the night before). Let it cool.
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small brown onion – sliced.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

– Heat oil in pan. Add cumin seeds and onions. When onions turn golden, add the broccoli florets.

– Lastly add the brown rice and stir till all incorporated.


However, I must say, after all that cooking so early in the morning… this is how I feel like…

No cat was hurt in the taking of this photo... zzzz

No cat was hurt in the taking of this photo… zzzz

School Lunch Box Idea: Buckwheat soba with vegetable and Thai basil pesto

Buckwheat soba with veggies and Thai basil pesto, Pomelo and prawns salad, Dipping sauce for Veggie Rice Rolls

Buckwheat soba with veggies and Thai basil pesto, pomelo and prawns salad, Dipping sauce for Veggie Rice Rolls

Hello… it has been a quiet month on this blog. Actually, the reason for the quiet is simple – I have been so fascinated by the subject of teenage nutrition and cancer prevention through food that most of my free time has been spent on reading and website hopping. Between this, housework, and early morning chauffeur duty, the time for blogging has more or less trickled to none.

So what have I learnt? There are just so many ideas and theories out there and at this point, I know so little that it would be an embarrassment to disclose how little I know by trying to start a discussion on this. However, there are a few main themes that are sound as featured in Hadiths and outcomes of scientific research that I feel compelled to start putting the principles into practice. These are:

  • Eating more plant based food
  • Diversity in food choices
  • Food grouping

Undoubtedly,  as I learn more and feel more confident of putting into words what I am learning, the theories will be discussed in this blog. However for now, I will just share the outcome of my reading via the lunchbox menus and recipes. I do believe that one of the biggest acts of love for my child is by giving him foods that nourish and heal, setting him up for a great start in life.

Today, the menu for his school lunchbox is as follows:

Morning snack:


  • Fruit salad (an orange, grapes, red dragon fruit, nectarine, strawberries,) and low fat yoghurt


  • Buckwheat soba with vegetables and Thai Basil Pesto
  • Pomelo and prawns salad
  • Veggie rice rolls with dip

Buckwheat Soba with Vegetables and Thai Basil Pesto (adapted from vintagemixer and


  • 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves (pluck and discard stems – I planted the stems hoping for the best!)
  • 1 tablespoon dry roasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove

Place all ingredients in a mill and blend fine. Chill till ready for use.

Soba Noodles:

  • 1 portion soba – prepare according to package instructions, leave to cool
  • 1 1/2 cup prepared veggies – I used broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and strips of red pepper (same veggies for rice paper rolls)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Basil Pesto

Prepare vegetables. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in pan. Stir fry all veggies till cooked but still crunchy.

Mix pesto to soba and add vegetables.

Pomelo and Prawns Salad

  • 2 segments of pomelo – remove from pith and break up into small chunks
  • 6 prawns – peel, de-vein and poach in boiling water for 2-3 minutes
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • fresh mint and coriander leaves – sliced thin
  • Dressing – 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar – mix till sugar is dissolved.

– Toss all of the ingredients with the dressing and chill till ready to serve.