Friday, 21 October 2011

Delicious and healthy bento style lunch box- fennel & brown rice sushi

One thing Dorrie adores to snack on is nori. Fia is not so keen on it alone as a snack, but she really does love it as part of sushi, so yesterday's packed lunch was just that!

This is a great way to get the benefits of nutrient rich seaweed into your child's lunch as not only is it delicious, but they really enjoy using chopsticks and dipping their sushi in the tamari; it is a proper 'interactive' lunch!

Here is a really easy recipe for a fennel sushi that is popular with my girls, I make mine with untoasted nori sheets when I can find them, although the toasted will do just fine.

Simple cooked fennel sushi

1 cup of long grain brown rice
1 tsp of rice vinegar
3-4 sheets of nori
1 avocado, mashed with a squeeze of lemon
1/2 fennel bulb, finely sliced into matchsticks
2 inch piece of cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
Tamari for dipping


This is kind of tricky to describe without the pictures (my bad), so I really hope it makes sense! If you have any questions, please ask away!

First you need to cook the rice. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water to the rice. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed which takes about 40  mins. Stir in the vinegar, transfer to a bowl to allow it to cool quickly.

Place the nori sheet on a sushi rolling mat or piece of tin foil, or even a tea towel!
Spread some of the rice mixture over one sheet of nori, leaving about 2cm of space at the top. This should not be too thick of a layer otherwise the sushi will be too thick to roll very well!

Spread the first 2cm of the rice with some of the avocado. Where the avocado ends put 2 rows of cucumber and fennel matchsticks.

Next you need to roll the sushi up, starting at the end which is filled up to the edge, keeping the roll nice and tight as you go.

When you are nearly up to the gap, use a little water to wet the very edge and then seal the roll.
I like to then put this into the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours, or better still overnight so all you need to do in the morning is slice the sushi- this makes for a super speedy packed lunch!

Slice the nori with a sharp knife, into about 1.5-2 cm slices.
Serve with the tamari for dipping and enjoy!

Tamari dipping sauce, fennel sushi, home made sugar-free pumpkin pie, red pepper slices, pumpkin seed and cacao nibs!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

How to make a healthy cheats packed lunch......

So, we're only a few weeks into the new school year and I'm already feeling that my lunch box inspiration is drying up a little! I never had this trouble when Sofia was in preschool, but that was only 3 days a week...... Now I have 5 packed lunches a week to create for Sofia and 2 for Dorrie, the pressure is on!

Like everybody else out there having to take care of packed lunches for school, I really want to do my best. But with time pressure in our busy lifestyles, how do you make super quick lunches that are nutritious and tasty?! 
The answer is simple, if truly pushed for time, there is nothing wrong with cheating once in a while, don't beat yourself up about it! Remain aware that the fresher the food is and the more minimally processed it it, it is going to be much better for you, but, there are more and more products out there now that offer a pretty decent alternative when you simply do not have the time. Using  a mix of these carefully chosen products and  doing the remaining prep the night before, can free up some much valued time.

Yesterdays falafel 'snack style' lunch was very quick to prepare, you can make both the falafel and the dip the night before, and the rest of the bits just involve some cutting up and pouring out. Easy.

You can also speed things up with a healthy cheats falafel rather than make it from scratch yourself. I am a big fan of Hale and Hearty's falafel mix, which is pretty awesome for a packaged food! It is organic, contains no gluten, no artificial colours, favour and preservatives, and all you need to do is add water, make into balls and fry. Simple!

I also made a super yummy and easy dip the night before so it was all ready to go the next day! 
Just blitz together in a mini chopper 4-5 tablespoons of organic soya yogurt, 4 fresh mint leaves, a 2 inch piece of cucumber (roughly diced, seeds removed), a pinch of asafoetida (optional, but does add an extra something special), sea salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

*To make a super indulgent vegan dip, blitz 1/2 cup of soaked and drained cashew nuts with 8 tbsp almond milk in a blender until creamy. Use half this mixture and mix with the remainder of the dip ingredients. The other half can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and made into a sweet cream for desserts by mixing in some maple syrup and vanilla extract!
To go with the dip, I served up some crudites, seeds and some organic seeded tortilla chips. There are a few great makes of tortilla chips out there, look for organic, with no additives and flavoured simply with sea salt. We really like R.W.Garcia tortilla chips, especially the blue corn ones when we can find them!

Feta & cucumber dip, falafel balls, seeded tortilla chips, green pepper strips, sunflower seeds and a raw coconut-chocolate slice!
The pudding in this lunch is a delicious home made raw chocolate and coconut slice, I'll be posting the recipe on this very soon so keep an eye out for that, I promise it won't disappoint!
I hope this has given you some inspiration for your lunches and look forward to hearing about your creations :)

**Updated Veganized option Dec 2014