Five healthy ideas for your lunchbox
Ditch shop-bought sandwiches, ‘healthy’ salads and sugary cereal bars and perk up your lunch with our delicious lunchbox ideas.
Feta, beetroot and winter leaves
A scrumptious sweet and tangy salad combo rich in fibre and antioxidant nutrients. Beetroot is also great for supporting digestion. To add variety to your lunches substitute the feta with smoked mackerel or poached salmon. Makes 2 servings
4 medium beetroots
100 g feta cheese
150 g young spinach leaves
50 g watercress
50 g rocket leaves
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Trim the leaves from the beetroots, taking care not to cut the skin. Rinse under running water and place in a large pan of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes or until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork.
Lift the beets out of the water and leave to cool for a few minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut into thick slices.
Toast the caraway seeds in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes.
Make the dressing by mixing together the oil and vinegar, a little salt and the toasted caraway seeds.
Wash the watercress and remove the hard stalks. Wash the spinach and rocket leaves, mix with the watercress and divide between two plates.
Dice the feta. Top the leaves with the cheese and the beetroot. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
Tuna and mixed bean nicoise
This tasty gluten free salad takes minutes to assemble and makes a balanced lunch rich in protein, fibre, antioxidant nutrients and healthy fats. Makes 1 serving.
50 g Mixed salad leaves
1 large egg
5 baby plum tomatoes
1 green chilli (optional)
75 g tinned tuna in spring water
A handful green olives
2 tablespoons mixed beans we used butter beans and borlotti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
Boil the egg. Find out how to cook perfect boiled eggs here. Wash the salad leaves. Peel and julienne the carrot. Wash, deseed and finely chop the chilli. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Drain and rinse the beans. Slice the olives.
Mix the oil with the mustard, wine vinegar, a little sea salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.
Put the prepared vegetables in a container, add the olives, beans, drained flaked tuna and halved boiled egg.
Drizzle with the mustardy dressing and refrigerate until ready to eat.
A deeply satisfying winter warmer and an excellent source of fibre and antioxidant nutrients. Make a big batch and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Makes 4 generous servings.
1 kg squash
1 red chilli
350 g floury potatoes
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
400 ml tin coconut milk
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
TURN THE OVEN ON TO 180˚C/160˚C fan/gas 4
Wash the squash but don’t peel it. Slice it and place in an oiled roasting tin. Roast for 30 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion, potatoes and carrot. Wash, deseed and chop the chilli. Peel and crush the garlic.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the chopped vegetables, ground coriander and bay leaf, season with salt and mix thoroughly.
Cook over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan.
Boil a kettle and make up the stock according to the packet instructions.
Spoon the roasted squash away from its skin and add to the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut milk and the stock.
Leave the soup to simmer for 5 minutes then discard the bay leaf.
Blend in a liquidiser or with a hand-held stick blender.
Add a good grind of black pepper, garnish with fresh coriander if you have it and serve with crusty bread.
This comforting, bright salad makes a delicious balanced meal rich in phytonutrients from the brightly coloured vegetables and spice and iron and protein from the chickpeas. Makes 2 servings.
200 g butternut squash
1 Bunch fresh coriander
200 g tinned chickpeas
100 g wholemeal couscous
1 teaspoon teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon teaspoon chilli flakes
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon harissa paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
TURN THE OVEN ON TO 190˚C/170˚C FAN/GAS 5.
Peel, deseed and cube the butternut squash. Peel the carrot and parsnip and cut into chunks. Peel and halve the shallots.
Put the carrot, parsnip and shallots in a shallow baking dish. Add the cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, star anise, turmeric, ginger, bay leaf and chilli flakes, mix well and roast for 10 minutes.
Add the butternut squash, sprinkle with some salt and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and a little water and continue roasting for another 5 minutes.
Ten minutes before the vegetables are ready, place the couscous in a bowl, cover with boiling water, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the harissa paste.
Wash and chop the coriander.
Divide the couscous between two bowls. Spoon over the roasted vegetables and sprinkle with plenty of chopped coriander./five_sixth]
Warm salad of rice and sweet chilli salmon
A delicious, beautifully balanced light meal rich in protein and essential Omega 3 fats from the salmon, fibre and B vitamins from the rice and antioxidant nutrients from the veggie and herb combo. Great as a healthy lunch or a light after-work supper. Makes 4 generous servings.
3 skinless salmon fillets
2 large carrots
Bunch of spring onions
A handful of basil leaves
1 red chilli
225 g brown basmati rice
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Wash and trim the spring onions and finely slice. Squeeze the lime. Wash, deseed and finally chop the chilli. Peel and dice the carrots. Wash the basil leaves.
Wash the salmon fillets and pat dry with kitchen paper. Put the fish in a glass or china bowl. Mix the lime juice with the sweet chilli sauce and fish sauce. Pour the marinade over the salmon, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Rinse the rice in a sieve under running water. Put it in a large saucepan, cover with water (about twice the volume of the rice), add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain the rice and return to the pan. Add the wine vinegar and mix thoroughly to combine.
TURN THE GRILL ON TO HIGH
Cover a baking tray with foil. Lift the salmon fillets from the marinade and put them on the prepared tray. Pour the marinade over and grill for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
Flake the cooked fish into chunks. Put the salmon, diced carrots, chilli and spring onions into a salad bowl. Tip in the warm rice and stir to combine. Tear the basil leaves and scatter on top. Serve immediately.
To make life easier follow these simple tips and you will enjoy food that is hearty, healthy and kinder to your wallet too.
- Prepare your lunch for the next day, whilst preparing the evening meal or just after dinner. This way it won’t feel like another chore to add to your daily list.
- Make large batches of soups and grain salads so you can have enough for more than one day or use as side dishes.
- Prepare batches of dressings and store in glass jars in the fridge to use throughout the week.