Did you eat all your lunch today? That is the question on many parent’s lips as kids start back at school. This year, make their answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ with a little bit of lunchbox inspiration from The Dairy Kitchen.
Packing a healthy lunch and that’ll be all gobbled up is a daily challenge but the benefits of packing a healthy school lunchbox are enormous. A good diet is essential for growth and development in children, but also for simply giving them the energy to be kids!
Fuelling them with the right balance of nutrients will play a part in keeping them energised and focused throughout the day.
Amanda Menegazzo from The Dairy Kitchen says “Keep it simple by remembering to include something from each of the five core foods groups.
Plenty of veggies, fruit, meat or meat alternatives, dairy and wholegrains.
“Pay special attention to packing enough vegetables and dairy into the lunchbox.” She adds.
If you’re worried about adding dairy to the lunchbox in the hot weather, opt for harder cheeses such as cheddar, or simply pop a frozen ice pack or flavoured milk in the lunchbox to keep it cool until lunchtime.
The Dairy Kitchen’s nutrient boosting lunchbox recipes:
- Bake up a batch of surprise egg and cheese muffins for a protein packed lunchtime treat
- Use up stale bread and leftover veg to create this Compost slice fabulous cold the next day in the lunchbox. Packed with four of the five food groups: veg, grain, dairy and eggs!
- Cheesy broccoli gems are perfect for dinner one day and lunchbox tucker the next
- A pick n’ mix snack made with air-popped popcorn, cubes of cheese, grapes and dried apricots makes for fun lunchbox treasure chest!
- Try these easy zucchini and corn muffins and freeze for a future lunchbox emergency
- Cheese and Vegetable fritters make a brilliant lunch box snack, offer them with a little natural yoghurt for dipping
Cauliflower and Cheddar Fritters with Kiwi Salsa
1 cup tri-colour quinoa 1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets 1/2 cup rolled oats 4 eggs, lightly beaten 6 spring onions, sliced 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese finely grated rind of one lemon oil, for shallow frying
250g punnet red and yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and diced 1 tablespoon olive oil
Rinse quinoa, place in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to a simmer, add a pinch of salt and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork and set the lid ajar to rest.
In a food processor, pulse the raw cauliflower until it resembles cous cous. You will need 2 cups cauliflower crumbs. Remove from the processor.
Process rolled oats in the food processor until fine. Add quinoa, cauliflower crumbs, eggs, onions, cheese and lemon to the food processor and pulse until just combined. Season to taste and set mixture aside.
Make salsa by tossing together all ingredients. Set aside.
Thinly cover the base of a large frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Drop 1/4 cups of mixture into the pan and fry, in batches, for 3-5 minutes on each side, turning carefully with an egg flip. Cool slightly before serving with salsa.
Handy Hints: Tri-colour quinoa is a blend of white, red and black quinoa. Substitute any coloured quinoa if unavailable. If you don’t have a food processor try grating the cauliflower, use quick oats and toss everything together in a bowl.
Cheesy Broccoli Gems
1 medium head broccoli, cut into florets 2 spring onions, finely chopped 1 cup grated cheddar cheese 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley salt and pepper, to taste 1 egg lightly beaten
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute then refresh in iced water. Drain well. Place all the ingredients except for the egg in a food processor and ‘pulse’ until finely chopped and combined. Add the egg and pulse to combine.
Shape approximately 2-3 teaspoons of the mixture, into nugget shapes and place on a baking paper lined tray. Spray the gems with oil and bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream or thick yoghurt.
Handy Hints: To “pulse” in the food processor is to use short bursts of power (most food processors do have a pulse button, otherwise use the on/off switch) to chop the food. It prevents over processing so ingredients don’t become too fine.
Cheese and Egg Muffins
6 small (50g) eggs 1 cup self-raising flour 1 spring onion, finely sliced 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese ½ cup milk ¼ cup (50g) melted butter 1 large (59g) egg, lightly beaten, extra 1 teaspoon English-style mustard good pinch of salt 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese, extra
Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced). Line the bases of 6 x 1/3 cup muffin pans with muffin paper cases or baking paper that overhang at the top at least 2cm.
Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer for 3 minutes. Run under cold water until almost cold. Peel, discard shells and reserve boiled eggs.
Combine flour, spring onion and cheese in a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Combine milk, butter, extra egg, mustard and salt in a separate jug and pour into the well. Gently stir mixture with a large metal spoon until just combined. Do not over mix.
Place 1 tablespoon of muffin mixture into the base of each muffin case. Top with a boiled egg. Top with remaining mixture to cover. Sprinkle with extra cheddar cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and cheese is golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or cool.
These muffins are best eaten on the day they’re made.