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…)

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

Wednesday:

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

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

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

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Round-up: Lunchbox ideas for the week – part 2

Week 2 of the packed lunch round-up. Another rather short week due to long-weekend and 1 day off school for son who was feeling unwell.

Tuesday:  Pumpkin and spinach lasagna, twice-baked low GI crostinis with broccoli and walnut pesto spread. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.

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Wednesday: (son stayed home as he was feeling unwell – no packed lunch)

 

Thursday:

Salmon cakes with steamed broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt. Post-swim snack to share: Malted milk chocolate cookies.

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Friday:

Brown rice with cumin and broccoli, vegetarian kofta korma, chicken and spinach stirfry. Fruit cocktail jelly to share with friends (it was a very hot week!) Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.

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Round-up: Lunch box ideas for the week – part 1

Wow, I need to be better at organizing my time. Between family and friends visiting, school hols, illness – I have not had the time to even update this blog regularly. Lunches are still being packed, photos are still taken, however, the time to upload the photos daily have just slipped by. I will be putting up the round-ups of lunch boxes packed for dear son for the past few months for  now… Enjoy:

 

Day 1:

Roast chicken, steamed veggies and wholemeal pasta for lunch. Fruit salad and yoghurt for mid-morning snack.

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Day 2:

Crunchy buttermilk chicken tenders with honey mustard dip, steamed veggies and mashed potatoes and carrots. Mid-morn snack: Dragon fruit and pomelo.

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Day 3:

Brown rice with broccoli, teriyaki salmon, steamed veggies. Post swim snack to share: Cheese swirl brownies (to share) & choc milk. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad

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Day 4:

Buckwheat soba, vegetable soup, Thai beef and lettuce wraps. Mid-morning snack: Fruit salad and yoghurt.

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This was a four-day week due to holiday on Monday.

 

 

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.

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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

Beet Brownies – naughty but nice

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I made these a while ago and have only just now managed to get to post about it here.

One day, while blog hopping, I came across a wonderful website : foodsforthesoul.net and the writer was introducing “sweet and sneaky ways to eat your veggies”. She made these wonderfully, fudgy looking brownies and the recipe looked exceedingly healthy. The only thing that I worried about was the taste of beets. It can be rather earthy and yet, there have been many cake recipes with chocolate where beets had been added to increase its moistness (is there such a word?) I had also tried making red velvet cakes with beetroot, however, the amount was so little, there was hardly any taste, yet, yes… the red velvet cake was very moist.

Looking through the list of ingredients, it looked so wholesome that I just had to run out and get a can of beetroot and make a batch to try.

How did it turn out? They were fudgy! Not too chocolaty or sweet, and I loved these brownies precisely because of this. Fudgy and not too sickeningly sweet. There is that earthy flavour from the beetroot, but it is more of an undertone as the chocolate flavour is at the forefront. I am not sure if all kids would like this though… maybe it is more suited for a ladies’ afternoon tea thing. However, do give it a try – dear son enjoyed two slices of it, however his visiting friend had difficulty finishing his portion, while the other finished his with no complaint. As for the mothers, we enjoyed our brownies, and I will definitely be making them again soon. The recipe, with very minor changes is as follows:

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  • ¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats – ground fine to make oat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 450 gm can of sliced beets, drain and blend till smooth
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoon plain fat-free yoghurt
  • 1 egg white)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 170 C and lightly grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
  2. Whisk the oat flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in a baine marie and stir in the blended beets, sugar, cocoa powder, oil, yoghurt, egg white and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add the oat flour mix to the beets mixture. Stir until just blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake  for 35-40 minutes. Cool overnight and cut into squares.

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School Lunchbox Idea: Assemble your own falafel wraps

Chicken and Oat Soup, assemble your own falafel wraps for lunch. Fruit salad and yoghurt for mid morning snack

Chicken and Oat Soup, assemble your own falafel wraps for lunch. Fruit salad and yoghurt for mid morning snack

Middle eastern food opens up a whole new world of beans, pulses and different types of grain for anyone who wants to add a little more diversity in their diet. The salads are filled with the freshness of parsley and mint, garlic, olive and olive oil, nuts – all heart healthy ingredients worth exploring for its health benefits.

Last weekend, we had our little treasure hunt around the city of Kuching in order to re-stock our larder and as we are now rather plush with grains and legumes, today was the time to utilize what we had. A middle eastern fare was in order, and it all began with the bread.

I love making bread. There is nothing more satisfying than kneading the dough as it comes together. Knead, knead, knead – the smell of  yeast and honey, the texture of the dough as it becomes more elastic and silky..the thump, thump, thump of the work top in symphony with the movement of your arms. See.. I can get up at 4.00 a.m. just to mix a batch of dough. It also helps that you get such a lot of dough that you can save some in the fridge (in a resealable ziploc bag, but let some air out or the bag might explode! – Don’t ask how I know,) so that you can make mini pizzas for the following day. As the dough matures, the flavour develops… That’s the beauty of the Arabic flat bread dough.

The first time you have your home made Arabic flat  bread… you will never settle for store bought pita bread again …

The recipe is as follows:

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Arabic Flat Bread (adapted from Arabicbites.com)

  • 2 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 11gm sachet instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (add whole cup and the other half add little by little, depending on the flour)
  1. Mix all ingredients together – and knead until the dough is soft and silky, definitely not sticky. Oil a bowl and place dough in it and cover. Let rise till double in size – 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Put a pan on medium heat, take a ball of dough and roll into a circle – not too thin, about 3 mm. Put in pan and leave for 30 seconds, flip – let it puff and nicely coloured.
  3. Remove from pan and place on a plate, cover with clean cloth. Work with the next ball of dough.
  4. If you are not using all the dough, put the leftover in a ziploc bag, leave about 2 cm of the seal open and leave the dough in the fridge for later use.
Falafel "paste" after processing

Falafel “paste” after processing

Falafel Patties – healthier when baked

  • 1 can of chickpeas (about 415 gm)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 garlic
  • a handful of fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley (if fresh is available go for fresh – use a handful)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

  1. Place all ingredient in a food processor – pulse till all veggies are chopped but the chickpeas should not be too smooth. Form into patties.
  2. Oil a baking sheet and place patties on the sheet -bake till golden on one side, flip carefully to  brown the other side.
  3. Serve with arabic bread, sliced lettuce, tomatoes and a drizzle of tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce

  • 1 clove garlic – pounded fine
  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste
  • juice of half lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above together to form a sauce.

My lunch which turned into breakfast... it was too good to wait :(

My lunch which turned into breakfast… it was too good to wait 😦