Daily Archives: 18 January 2010

Lunchbox inspiration

So often in Britain our children are poorly catered for. In many of the child-targeted attractions we visit the only options available are burgers or hot dogs and chips (with our climate a packed lunch is not always a practical option!)

Even during a recent visit to a department store café (chosen specifically for its children’s-size spaghetti bolognaise) the only drinks on offer for my two-year-old were sweetener laden juice or sugary fizzy drinks. When I requested a glass of milk instead the server looked at me disgustedly as though I was asking for champagne!

Yet, in school where children’s food has been transformed beyond all recognition, so few parents take advantage of it. Half of UK children take a packed lunch to school but only one per cent of school lunch boxes contain food with that meets with nutritional standards (low in fat and salt, high in essential vitamins and nutrients). The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported that more than 25 per cent contained sweets, snacks and sugary drinks, which are banned in local authority prepared meals. It’s no wonder we have an obesity crisis. I know everyone is mega-busy these days but it makes me so sad that so many people don’t consider the implications of diet on their child’s health. Surely such poor quality food and drink must affect their concentration levels?

My son accidentally got his hands on some jellybeans a few months ago and I have never seen such erratic and extreme behaviour from him! I am not sure how much school meals cost, but surely it better to encourage children to eat these now that they are soundly balanced and regulated?

It’s very different to my school days when I asked for salad and I was told that they were “saved for teachers” and offered soggy cheese pie and lukewarm chips instead eeeuggggh. Pitta Pizzas are perfect for a lunchbox, they could be served raw with the topping inside the pitta or cooked and cooled for the lunchbox. For more lunchbox inspiration visit School Food Trust.

Pitta pizzas

Pitta breads make a quick and light pizza-style base which goes crispy in the oven. Topped with a selection of fresh vegetables, they make a filling, wholesome lunchtime snack. You can choose whichever vegetables you like best, such as artichokes or sweetcorn.

Pitta Pizza

Pitta Pizza

Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Calories per portion 293 Kcal
Fat per portion 8g
of which saturated 2.9g
Serves 4
Suitable for vegetarians + freezing

Wholemeal pitta breads 4
Tomato ketchup 8 tsp
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed, optional
Red or green pepper 1, quartered, deseeded and thinly sliced
Button mushrooms 110g (4oz), wiped and finely sliced
Spring onions 4, trimmed and finely sliced
Low fat Mozzarella 125g pack, drained
Tomatoes 4, chopped or sliced
Basil leaves about 20

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Split the pitta breads in half and put them on two heavy baking sheets. Spread each half with a teaspoon of ketchup and add a little garlic, if using, and divide the pepper, mushrooms and spring onions between them.

2 Season to taste and top with chunks of torn Mozzarella, then pieces of tomato and half the basil leaves, torn.

3 Cook for 20–23 minutes, changing the trays round in the oven half way through cooking. Serve two ‘pizzas’ per person garnished with basil and accompanied by lots of green salad.

Cook’s tip
If you do not have pitta breads then try this recipe using a wholewheat French stick, halved. It may take less time to cook so check from time to time.

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