We're always in need of lunchbox inspiration, no matter what time of year it is.
Packing nutritious, waste-free, well rounded lunches is always our intention...but finding the inspiration can be tricky! So we turned to Luka from Boob to Food to give us some tips and recipes on creating a balanced lunchbox that can sustain the little ones (or us) throughout the day, and the school year. We'll let Luka take you through it...
A balanced lunchbox should contain all three macronutrients - carbohydrates, protein and fat. If you focus on incorporating these three macronutrients, then this should ensure your child stays fuller for longer and provide them with stable energy for the busy day at school!
The Seed & Sprout Crunchboxes are an easy way to do this as you can incorporate a different (or combined) macronutrient into each compartment.
I like to balance mine with also providing something savoury for the main lunch, some fruit/veggie with dip for ‘crunch and sip’ break, and a little treat like a bliss ball or banana bread for afternoon tea.
Plant-based foods high in protein include:
- Quinoa, seeds (sunflower, linseeds, flaxseed, pumpkin, chia), nuts (most school’s are nut free however), beans and legumes - lentils & chickpeas, brown rice, buckwheat, oats, pea protein powder and tempeh or tofu.
Focus on complex carbohydrates which are digested slower, will stabilise not spike blood glucose levels which will help your child concentrate and feel sustained longer. Complex carbs are also more nutrient dense. Complex carbohydrates include:
- Oats, spelt, rye, rice, root vegetables such as sweet potato and pumpkin, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, sprouted or sourdough bread, apples and bananas.
Plant based foods high in healthy fats include:
- Nuts and seeds (especially walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini), oils (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, MCT) and avocado.
Here are a few recipes I like to include in my sons' school lunchboxes:
Cherryish Ripe Bliss Balls
This recipe makes about 20 bliss balls, they will last up to 1 month in the freezer or 1 week in the fridge. These bliss balls incorporate all three macronutrients so even though they are a sweet treat, the protein and fats from the seeds will balance out the sugars.
- 1 x cup desiccated coconut
- 1 x cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup activated buckinis
- 10 x pitted medjool dates (fresh)
- 1 x cup tart dried cherries
- 1 x tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 x tbsp maple syrup
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- In a high speed food processor add the coconut, sunflower seeds and buckinis until they resemble a ‘meal’ consistency.
- Then add the dates, cherries and maple syrup until combined.
- Next add the cacao and vanilla paste.
- Roll into balls and place in an Eco Stow Set to store in the fridge until set.
Optional: Roll in extra desiccated coconut before placing in the fridge so they are not as sticky!
Serves 1 (can be doubled/tripled etc!) - will last 2-3 days in the fridge, not freezer friendly.
These overnight oats are amazing because they can be prepared the night before, the soaking breaks down the phytic acid which makes them very digestible, and they contain all three macronutrients!
- ½ x cup coconut milk or oat milk
- ½ x cup rolled oats
- 2 x tsp chia seeds
- 2 x tsp hemp seeds
- 1 x tbsp maple syrup
- ½ banana sliced
- Small handful of sliced strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries
- 1 x tbsp cacao nibs
- 2 x tsp cacao powder
- 2 x tsp flaxseed meal
- 1 x tsp tahini
- A handful of grated carrot
- Coconut yoghurt
- 1 x serve pea protein powder
- Add all base ingredients to your CrunchPot and stir until combined.
- If adding any additional flavors you can also add these now, or stir through the next morning if you prefer.
- Cover with the CrunchPot lid and place in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours) to soak.
Notes: This also makes a great breakfast idea before school. It can be served cold as is, or warmed up. If warming up, simply place in a small saucepan on low heat and stir until warmed through - add a splash more coconut/oat milk if the oats are too thick.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
Serves: 1 lunch (can make more if you wish) - will last 2-3 days in the fridge.
- 2 x rice paper wrappers
- 20g (small handful) vermicelli (glass) noodles
- 1 x small carrot
- ½ cucumber
- ⅛ red cabbage
- Small handful of fresh mint or coriander leaves
- ½ avocado
Optional: 100g fried sliced tempeh
- 2 x tbsp Tahini (hulled)
- 2 x tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 1 x tbsp Maple syrup
- 1 x tbsp Coconut aminos
- Soak the noodles in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes, drain well and then using kitchen scissors cut in half (pick up in handfuls to roughly do this).
- Chop carrot, cucumber, cabbage and avocado into very thin strips.
- Chop herbs finely.
- If using tempeh, cook as per instructions and cut into strips approximately 1cm x 5cm.
- Set all chopped ingredients onto a chopping board for easy assembly and set up a damp tea towel flat on your work surface.
- Fill a big bowl (large enough to fit the rice paper wrapper) with warm water. Place one rice paper wrapper in the bowl for about 30 seconds until it is very soft and pliable. Place the wrapper then straight onto the damp tea towel.
- Immediately start assembling - start with the noodles, then layer on your vegetables, herbs and (if using) tempeh. Arrange all ingredients on the top ⅓ of the wrapper.
- Gently pull the top of the wrapper and, holding the filling in position with your fingers, roll over tightly.
- Then fold both sides of the rice paper in and over the filling.
- Continue then rolling tightly until the whole wrapper is rolled up and place straight into your CrunchBox.
- Repeat steps 6-10 with each rice paper roll.
To make the sauce:
- Place all ingredients into a small mason jar, pop the lid on and shake until completely mixed.
- Once mixed, add the sauce to your small leak-proof pot.