32 — THE MERCURY Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Taste Eating in JUDITH SWEET Fast ITH the hectic pace in W OME children are creatures of S many families’ lives and habit and would be happy with more mothers working full the same filling in their time, even the most health- sandwiches for all their school conscious parents find it lives. just too easy to fall into the Others get bored and need the trap of relying on fast foods. stimulus of a variety of foods to keep them How often do you stop at the drive-through, interested in eating lunch. settle on a takeaway pizza or grab a pre- A packed lunch need not be restricted to packaged meal from the supermarket for sandwiches, although they’re still the most dinner? popular choice for lunch. The lunchboxes that accommodate a freezer block are great to keep Fast foods are tasty, quick and easy to fillings cool and fresh even when they’re consume but they equal empty kilojoules. stored in a schoolbag until lunchtime. Drink They fill you up but are usually very high in bottles filled with juice or water can also be fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar and frozen and will still have a refreshing chill kilojoules and lack the essential nutrients and when it comes time to drink them. fibre we need. I’ve been amazed by the vast array of boxes While they’re fine every so often, many and bottles available in the stores — small people bolt down these meals with little ones, large ones, some insulated, some with consideration for the cost to their future freezer blocks, others with divides and health and well-being. Even the healthier sporting the latest TV heroes. The challenge is alternatives now offered by many fast-food to make what’s inside as enticing as the chains are still frighteningly high in sugar outside. and salt. There are many choices, most of them You can make your own fast meal at home, simple to prepare, easy to eat and healthy. cutting the kilojoules and fat in half. All it Cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrot sticks, takes is a little planning. lettuce parcels, hardboiled eggs, cheese sticks A homemade pizza can be ready in about 10 or cubes, hummus and other dips with minutes. suitable dippers, ham rolls, bread rolls, Pitta bread is a perfect quick and easy low- cooked chicken, cold sausages, grilled lamb fat base for pizzas. Grill one side lightly cutlets and rice-paper rolls are all great for (watch closely as school lunches and snacks. they can burn easily), For those with a sweeter tooth, add some then add the topping. grapes, sliced watermelon, apricots, Think creatively and nectarines, strawberries, apples or pears. If put on lots of fresh, it’s going to be a very hot day, freeze the colourful ingredients. grapes and they’ll be like little ice blocks. If The possibilities are Lunching your child likes the skin removed from apples endless: grated and pears, roll the peeled fruit in orange juice carrot, creamed corn, to prevent browning. Pack the pieces in low-fat cottage resealable plastic bags or small containers cheese, smoked that pack neatly into the lunchbox. salmon, low-fat fetta, Yoghurt and jelly made with unsweetened hommos, mustard, fruit juice are also favourites. Try packing tomatoes, chopped some poached fruit in small easy-to-open broccoli — all can be containers or set poached fruit in jelly. combined. Put back with class Fruit leathers, which are made from pure under the grill and fruit with no added sugars, are available in a cook until hot. variety of flavours from Salamanca Market. They make a chewy, flavoursome extra in the It’s easy to make a fast fish and chip meal. lunchbox. Dip fish fillets in beaten egg white, seasoned To prevent sandwiches from going soggy, herbs and then crumb with crushed put the wet fillings, such as tomato slices, cornflakes, oats or breadcrumbs. Bake in the tuna and beetroot, in between lettuce leaves. oven for 20 minutes. Peel some large potatoes The recipes below will most likely appeal to and cut lengthways into wedges. Par-boil older students and those with an adventurous 250g bean sprouts these, spray with olive oil and bake in the palate. For those who don’t need to think oven for 30 minutes until crispy. 1 bunch chives about packing lunches, you’ll find these Make your own crumbed chicken nuggets. recipes are great for an easy, healthy lunch. 1 tsp fish sauce Coat bite-sized pieces with a homemade Reduce how much chilli is in the avocado seasoning and breadcrumbs and bake in a hot 1 tsp light soy sauce dip if it’s for very young ones. oven for about 40 minutes. You can add fast- Rice-paper roll-ups are a favourite with Sweet chilli sauce food side dishes and condiments such as children who like to help in the kitchen. They homemade healthy coleslaw and corn cobs. To Peel and cut the carrot into fine julienne. Cut make onion rings, slice onions thickly into can pick the leaves off the parsley, roll the the capsicum and zucchini into julienne vegetables sticks in the sauce mixture and fill rings, dip in beaten egg white, roll in strips. Finely chop the coriander, parsley, breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for about and roll the rice-paper covering. chives and spring onion. Put the coriander, The white bean and parsley mash is great 20-25 minutes. spring onions, parsley, chives, capsicum, bean Home-cooked meals don’t have to be time- spread on crusty bread, as a sandwich spread sprouts, carrot and zucchini into a large bowl, and as part of a salad platter. consuming. It just takes a little planning. mix through the fish and soy sauces. Soak the You’ll be surprised how easy it is when you rice-paper in a little water to soften, drain and have healthy ingredients on hand and these White bean and parsley mash then place a spoonful of the vegetable mixture recipes will prove the point. into the centre of each sheet and roll up. Extra virgin olive oil Serve cold with sweet chilli or plum sauce. 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed Fish burgers 2 or 3 cans (each 300g) butter or small lima Guacamole FISH PATTIES: beans drained and rinsed 2 avocados 600g firm white fish fillets 1 cup finely chopped parsley 1 red chilli, seeds removed 4 egg whites 1 tsp sea salt 2 limes or lemons, juiced 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce Squeeze lemon juice POPULAR: Rice-paper roll-ups. 3 tbsp olive oil ½ cup dried breadcrumbs Warm a quarter of a cup of oil in a frying pan over the lowest possible heat. Add garlic and 2 spring onions, finely sliced ½ tsp dried parsley cook gently until cloves are just beginning to Vietnamese rice-paper roll-ups 3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped ¼ tsp onion powder colour. 1 packet rice-paper sheets Stir in beans and heat through gently. Stir in Black pepper salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste parsley and sea salt. 1 carrot Cut the avocados in half and remove the TO SERVE: Remove from heat and press mixture with a 1 red capsicum stones and skin. Cut roughly and place into a 2 Turkish bread rolls, halved and toasted potato masher or the back of a spoon to give a processor with the chopped chilli, lime juice coarse mash. 1 zucchini and spring onions. Process until smooth and low-fat tzatziki (available at supermarkets) Spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle with slowly add the olive oil. 1 bunch coriander ½ red capsicum, sliced lemon juice, a little more olive oil and freshly Put into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the ground black pepper to taste. ½ cup Italian parsley coriander and fresh black pepper. 1 tomato, sliced Serve at room temperature with fresh or Serve with crudites (crisp vegetable sticks), 3 spring onions baby lettuce leaves toasted Turkish bread. Grissini sticks or rice crackers.
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