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Back to School Lunches | @gemswholesomekitchen

The concept of healthy eating has never been so at the forefront of family life. With more and more people choosing to become vegan or to adopt other alternative options for their families, children are becoming more aware of the importance of healthy eating. 

As children get ready to return to school over the coming week, we asked author of The Self Care Cook Book@gemswholesomekitchen, to share 5 easy to prepare packed lunch options - one for every day of the week.

28 Aug 2020

Savoury Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

These muffins are such a great packed lunch or after school snack option. You really can experiment with other veggies such as tomatoes, grated sweet potato or spinach. If you are vegan swap the eggs for 2 Tsp of chia seeds in 100 ml of water. Leave for 5 minutes and then use in the recipe as eggs. I like to cook these in a batch and freeze. You can take them out the night before to defrost.

Ingredients
- 2 eggs
- 250g plain wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 medium courgette grated
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 small tin of sweetcorn (drained)
- 100g cheddar cheese, grated
- 200 ml milk of choice (I use oat)
- 100ml natural yoghurt
- 100ml olive oil

Instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Place the courgette and carrot in a bowl with the peas and sweetcorn. Add the cheese, milk, yogurt, olive oil and egg and mix well.
- Now fold in the flour and baking powder and mix well.
- Grease 2 x 6 muffin tins with a little oil or line with muffin cases. Share the muffin mixture, equally, and bake for about 20-25 mins until golden and the muffins bounce back when touched.

Rainbow Wraps

Makes 2

These are a great alternative to a sandwich and most kids I know love a wrap. If you can get hold of beetroot or spinach wraps they look great and colourful. Feel free to put any of your favourite fillings in and I often get the kids to make these so they can choose their own fillings.
Avocado and hummus are great mood boosters as full of healthy fats to help support brain function so will really help for a busy school/nursery day. I make my own hummus by blending a tin of chickpeas with lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning.

Ingredients
- 2 tortilla wraps
- 1 avocado
- 1 tbsp hummus
- handful of spinach
- 1 tomatoes sliced
- 1 tsp pesto
- 1 carrot grated
- salt and pepper

Instructions:
- Lay the wraps on a clean surface and spread hummus over the wrap.
- Then mash the avocado in a bowl and spread over the hummus. Add the spinach, chopped tomato and grated carrot. Carefully roll the wraps tightly.

Sushi

Makes 18 small pieces

Sushi is such a great lunch choice. I always get my kids to help make these as they're so much fun. I use veggies and tofu as fish can smell a little. Rice is a great grain full of slow releasing energy and avocado is packed with nutrients and healthy fats to keep the brain healthy. It’s a real Friday treat and my kids always look forward to it. Being creative in the packed lunches will keep your kids interested and excited about lunchtime. Food should be something to be celebrated and something to look forward to.

Ingredients
- 6 nori seaweed wraps
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 1 firm block tofu cut into thin long strips
- 1 red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 mango, sliced into thin strips
- 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips

Instructions:
- Combine the 2 cups uncooked sushi rice with 4 cups water.
- Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn off the heat and allow to sit for another 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients by slicing them as thin as you can.
- When the rice is done cooking, stir in the rice vinegar and place it in a bowl to cool down slightly.
- Place a nori sheet on to a wooden board or use a bamboo rolling mat if you have one.
- Wet your hands in a bowl of warm water and place a small amount of rice on the nori and pat it into a thin layer to cover the nori. Make sure the rice is an even and thin layer.
- Add your fillings in a line about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the nori.
- Start to roll the nori up very tightly. Dip you fingers in a little water and spread like glue along the edge of the mori this will help it stick.
- Now slice into 3 with a very sharp knife.
- If this is going in a packed lunch box cover with a little wrap or foil to keep fresh.
- Serve with a little soy sauce if you like.

Pasta Salad

Makes 4 portions

What child doesn’t like pasta? It’s a great alternative to bread and using a wholewheat pasta will give your child bundles of energy for the afternoon. Get the kids involved in making this too as they tend to enjoy it more if they have helped prepare it. By adding butter beans you increase the protein and nutrients to this lunch and it will keep the kids filled up until hometime.

Ingredients
- 100g whole wheat pasta shapes cooked
- 1 cup of frozen peas defrosted
- 1 150g tin sweetcorn
- 1 200g tin of butter beans (drained)
- small jar of pitted black olives (drained)
- 1 tin of tuna drained
- 1 spring onion chopped finely
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- Handful of fresh parsley
Dressing
- 100 ml natural yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon mayo
- 1/2 lemon juiced

Instructions:
- For the dressing mix all the ingredients and whisk well. 
- Cook pasta per instructions and cool.
- Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and then pour the dressing over it and mix well, squeeze lemon and season well.

Mini Frittata

Makes 12

These are my kids favourite and really are so much fun and so easy to make. They are full of protein and I like to add extra carbs in the lunch box when I make these (roasted sweet potatoes in the pic). You can make these really colourful by adding a variety of veggies which always makes them look so appetising. If you are vegan swap the eggs for 100g of chickpea flour mixed with 200ml of water, whisk and you will have a batter that will work in the same way. Also use vegan cheese.

Ingredients
- splash of olive oil
- handful of baby spinach, shredded finely
- ½ small red onion, sliced
- 10 sliced pitted black olives
- 3 medium eggs
- 50g feta crumbled (or cheddar) grated
- 10 cherry tomatoes chopped
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup of frozen peas

Instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease 2 non-stick muffin tins by brushing the holes with olive oil.
- Now fill with the, olives spinach, onion, tomatoes and peas.
- Whisk the eggs together in a jug and season well with the salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture between the muffin tins and then sprinkle the cheese over the top.
- Bake the mini omelettes for 15 mins, until golden brown.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tins and then remove from the tin and leave to cool for at least 10 more minutes on a rack.

All images by @gemswholesomekitchen

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