Health

Packed to perfection!

A nutritionally balanced packed lunch can do wonders for your child’s learning and development. Making some food swaps can prevent brain fog, boost energy and improve concentration in class. Nutritionists at Bulk.com share top packed lunch superfoods.

Published

KEFIR

A cultured and fermented milk that tastes very similar to yoghurt and is naturally high in calcium and gut-supporting probiotics. It can prevent and treat upset tummies. Fruit-flavoured Kefir can be purchased from supermarkets and replace standard fruit-flavoured yoghurt or fromage frais.

BABY/YOUNG SPINACH

This is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K1, folic acid and iron. Iron is great for energy, as it helps create red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Replace lettuce in your child's sandwiches with washed and dried baby spinach leaves which are more tender and sweeter than mature spinach.

BANANAS

These are the ultimate healthy convenience food as no preparation is required. Bananas are great for energy, as they have fibres that help the body absorb the natural sugars slowly, preventing an energy crash.

AVOCADO

A nutritious fruit containing vitamins C, E, K, B3, B5, and B6. Avocado is also an excellent source of CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) which is believed to help with cognitive function. Homemade guacamole with oven-roasted pitta or tortillas can be a healthier alternative to a packet of crisps.

TUNA

An excellent source of protein and extremely low in fat. Its main benefit is that it is high in long-chain omega 3’s, which is vital for brain development and promote eye health. Studies have also shown that Omega-3's can reduce symptoms of ADHD. Tuna in spring water should be used, rather than those canned in brine or oil, as these are high in salt and fat.

WHOLEGRAIN BREAD OR PASTA

Many children don’t get enough fibre in their diet, and these are an excellent source. Wholegrain foods are high in manganese, a mineral essential for calcium absorption vital to bone health. Surprisingly, popcorn is a wholegrain and a great source of fibre, manganese, zinc and iron. Why not replace it for crisps in your child’s packed lunch

CHICKPEAS

Protein is vital for children, as the amino acids help them grow and develop properly. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and can be turned into hummus to dip into with carrots, bell peppers and cucumber. Vegetarians or vegans must give their children two sources of plant-derived protein (beans, lentils or tofu) each day instead of just one animal protein source (egg, chicken or fish) each day.

WHITE BEANS

If your child is a vegetarian, white beans provide a useful source of protein, great for growth and iron to promote energy. They are filling too and help your child to keep going through the long school day. Try serving white beans such as cannellini beans or haricot beans in a cold wholegrain pasta salad.

CITRUS FRUITS

Citrus fruits, specifically grapefruit, are high in vitamin C and A to help boost your child’s immunity in the flu season.

Studies have also shown that grapefruit can prevent insulin resistance, which can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. If grapefruit is too bitter for your child, oranges or easy peelers are a good alternative.

DRIED MANGO

This is a great alternative to sweets, as mango are extremely chewy and sweet. Dried mango is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre which helps to stimulate immunity, and the sense of a full tummy!

Visit www.bulk.com/uk/protein.html

TEMPT THEIR TASTEBUDS!

Looking for some fresh inspiration when it comes to filling the lunch boxes? Ocado has been working with its chefs to create these easy-to-prepare and taste-tempting recipes for kids.

Picnic sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bread
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or butter
  • 1 slice cheese
  • 1 slice ham

Method

  1. Spread the bread with mayonnaise or butter and place a slice of cheese on one and a slice of ham on another.
  2. Take the remaining two pieces of bread and use a knife or small biscuit cutter to cut four ‘windows’ out of each slice (cut any shape you like but make sure it’s smaller than 3cm. To make a bear, cut a circle, then carve out the ears with a knife). Pop these slices on top of the ham and cheese, so the fillings show through.
  3. Trim the crusts off the sandwiches and cut each into four. Don’t waste the cut-out pieces of bread – fry them in butter and serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon powder and sugar.

Chicken and Red Pepper Pittas with Tomato Yoghurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 white or brown mini pitta breads, halved
  • 50g plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 little gem lettuce, separated into individual leaves
  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and white pitch removed, cut into thin strips
  • 60g sliced roasted chicken breast

Method

  1. Lightly toast the pitta breads in the toaster, then set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt and the tomato ketchup, then season with pepper. Set aside.
  2. Spread 1 tsp of the sauce in each pitta half. Layer in a gem lettuce leaf, folded in half if needed, a few strips of red pepper and a few slices of chicken. Finish with a drizzle of the remaining sauce.
  3. Pack the pitta sandwiches into the lunchbox upright, stacked tightly against one another. Alternatively, wrap in food-safe wrap to ensure the pitta sandwiches hold onto their delicious fillings until lunchtime.

Banana Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas, the more ripe the better
  • 25g honey
  • 80g apple sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g plain flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 120g strawberries, roughly chopped into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5. Place 12 paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the honey, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. In another smaller bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Add in the chopped strawberries and stir well.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 paper muffin cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until risen and golden. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before packing them into the lunchboxes.

Strawberries with Choco-vanilla Yoghurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 50g vanilla yoghurt
  • 60g strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

  • In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the yoghurt until smooth and well-combined. Transfer to a small airtight container to pack into the lunchbox along with the strawberries and this deliciously healthy snack is ready for dipping come lunchtime.

Picture credits: Ocado

Visit www.ocado.com

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