By Gabi Steenkamp and Jeske Wellmann (Tafelberg)
Packing children’s lunch boxes is a chore few parents enjoy – mostly because the battle to find healthy, yummy meals and snacks is difficult. And expensive. Shopping in Woolworths yesterday, I overheard a mum say to her son very earnestly – “But James if I buy this will you eat it? You promise? I don’t want it coming home again.’ Oh yes, the returned lunchbox with dry roll and soggy little treats loving packed that morning. The excuses vary – ‘No time, bell rang, teacher made us stay in class late, the strawberries/blueberries/banana/imported kiwi got bruised/mashed/soggy and the whole lunch box smells funny and I can’t eat any of it.’ Besides the half-eaten snacks, my battle is to find meals that can sustain their energy through a full school day and then a busy sports schedule after school.
Enter Snacks and Treats for Sustained Energy 1, which I found at my local health shop. Protein sustains energy as do low GI meals. The authors are both registered dietitians with much experience in this area. Steenkamp co-wrote The South African Glycemic Index and Load Guide (gifoundation.co.za) and Wellmann assists catering companies and school tuck shops to change their menus to healthier options. Although the book is not written specifically for school lunch boxes – many of the recipes work well for a mid day snack, from quiches, breads, savory dips and snacks to biscuits and muffins. A comprehensive shopping guide advises on the best low-GI brands and there’s also a full explanation of how the GI works. The meals are particularly good for diabetics, children with ADD and for those looking to lose weight and improve blood pressure levels. There are some lovely cake options for tea time too, perfect for play date treats. I’m starting with the Crustless Cheese and Vegetable Tart and will report back on my progress with the high-energy, healthy lunchbox challenge!
REPORT BACK #1: The tart was really good. It does tend to break up all over your plate as the crustless aspect obviously makes it less solid, but it’s tasty! We have discovered Quinoa – an amazing ingredient to invest in. Although it’s pricey, it goes a long way and can be used in so many variations. Use it to make salads, porridge, waffles and even as a main meal. We love Half-Baked Harvest, a food blog with seriously tasty and mostly healthy recipes. Try this version of a quinoa salad for school lunch boxes or this one for a delicious dinner option.