It’s that time of the year again. It’s back to school!
Here at Doha Family we’ve been busy in the kitchen whipping up some lunch box recipes that are healthy and easy to prepare. Coming up with yummy meals that your children enjoy can be challenging at the best of times. Packing a healthy lunch box for your child needn’t be stressful. So we’ve designed some tasty treats that are simple to make and delicious too.
It’s important to provide a balanced lunch that helps to maintain your child’s energy levels throughout the busy school day. A healthy lunch helps to keep your child active and focused whilst supplying important nutrients for optimal growth and development. Our recipes have been designed with childhood nutritional guidelines in mind. We’ve also included the five recommended food groups—dairy, protein, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables. We’ve made
the recipes completely nut-free and school-friendly. As an added bonus, no refined sugar or salt has been added.
Chicken and smashed avocado salsa wrap with lemon mayo
A great alternative to every day sandwiches. Fill with veggies such as grated carrot and sliced cucumber.
- 1/2 cup of cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup avocado
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tomato
- 2 small whole wheat wraps
Chop the chicken and set aside. Peel, deseed and chop the avocado. Lightly smash the avocado (whilst retaining the chunkiness) in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. This will help to prevent the avocado from turning brown. Stir in the mayonnaise. Remove the seeds and pulp from the tomato and dice. Add the chicken and tomato to the mixture and mix lightly. Then place the mixture into the wraps, folding the sides inwards and roll the
wraps until fully closed. Cover with cling film.
Oven-baked root veggie crisps
A yummy treat that’s also healthy. Try other roots veggies such as parsnip, golden beetroot, yucca or rutabaga. For best results use a mandolin for uniform thickness.
- 1 cup peeled and thinly sliced beetroot
- 1 cup peeled and thinly sliced sweet potato
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius (fan forced electric oven) or 160 degrees Celsius for conventional electric oven. (Please note that oven temperatures and cooking time may vary according to the oven manufacturer). Slice the beetroot and sweet potato very thinly, about 1/8th inch. Lightly coat the slices with olive oil and lay each slice separately onto a baking tray.
Place the tray into the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes turning the slices over at 10 minutes.
When cooked, place slices separately onto paper towels. As they cool, the chips will become crunchy and crispy. Store in an air tight container.
Easy hummus dip with veggie sticks
A Middle Eastern classic that can be served with whole wheat pita bread.
- 1 x 400g can of chick peas
- 2-3 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of ground cumin (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
- 100 ml of tahini
- 4 tbsp water
- Mixed carrot, celery, red pepper and cucumber, sliced into sticks
- Brown rice cakes (optional)
Chop all veggies into sticks. Set aside. Drain the chick peas and rinse. Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, tahini and water in a food processor and blend into a creamy consistency. Add more lemon juice or cumin to taste. Store in an air tight container. Serve with veggie sticks and brown rice cakes.
A refreshing smoothie packed with vitamin C. For a tropical treat replace the laban with fresh, unsweetened coconut water.
- 1/2 cup mango chopped
- 1/2 cup pineapple chopped
- 1 cup plain drinking laban
- Water (optional)
In a blender, add the fruit and process until smooth. Add the laban and mix until well combined. If the smoothie is too thick, add small quantities of water until the desired consistency is achieved. Pour into a smoothie pouch or drinking bottle and store in the refrigerator until needed.
For more lunch box ideas, we recommend the following:
Fruits: Make delicious fruit compotes, smoothies or serve sliced fruit with cubes of cheese.
Veggies: Add grated veggies to sandwiches and wraps or roasted veggies to dips and sauces.
Dairy: Use cheese sticks, fromage frais, yoghurts and cottage cheese dip. Choose low sugar options or yoghurts made with acidophilus or bifidus cultures. These help to aid healthy digestion and gut bacteria.
Proteins: Lean meats are ideal. Try home-made chicken nuggets, meatballs or curries. For vegetarian options use beans, lentils, chick peas, egg and mayonnaise sandwiches or veggie quiches.
Carbohydrates: Choose whole-grain and high-fibre cereals such as breads, wraps, pita bread, pasta, noodles, rice and muffins. There are many other grain alternatives on the market to choose from such as spelt, buckwheat and millet. Try adding pumpkin and sunflower seeds to your baking for extra flavour and crunch.
Here are our top tips for a healthy and stress free lunch box
- Make the freezer your friend. Prepare big batches of food, separate into containers and mark them with the ingredients and date of preparation. This will help you avoid unhealthy options.
- Find inspiration on the Internet. There are some very informative websites that contain healthy lunch box recipes using nutritional guidelines. We recommend the website for the U.S.-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), which has a dedicated section for children’s nutrition and recipes.
- Choose seasonal and locally grown fruit and vegetables when available.
- Offer a variety of food during the week to supply a wide range of nutrients and to keep boredom at bay.
- Add pieces of whole fruit such as apple, banana or pear for good lunch box fillers.
- To help fussy eaters, add cooked and puréed veggies into dips (hopefully the kids won’t notice).
- If sandwiches are a staple in your child’s lunch box, use different types of wraps, breads, rolls and tortillas. Try buns topped with seeds, oat or buckwheat wraps and olive bread. These are all available in supermarkets such as Carrefour and Geant.
- Reinforce positive eating habits by discussing healthy food options with your child.
- Encourage your child to prepare the lunch box with you.
- Remember to keep lunch box food simple, healthy and bright.
- Water is always the best source for hydration.
- Keep sugary or high fat foods to a minimum.
- Check ingredients and labels on packaging for hidden additives, flavourings and sugar.
- Insulated lunch bags, smoothie pouches and bento boxes are fun, functional options for packing school lunches. Check with Virgin, Lakeland and Amazon.com for a plethora of choices.
- Have fun in the kitchen and remember to keep it simple.
KIM WYATT IS THE FOOD CONTRIBUTOR TO AHLAN! QATAR MAGAZINE AND IS PASSIONATE ABOUT HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS FOOD FOR ALL THE FAMILY. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM: MAMA_BABA_GANOUSH OR FACEBOOK: MAMA BABA GANOUSH.