Healthy Easy Lunches…and a Competition!

…PLUS…COMPETITION TIME….KEEP READING…!

Days at work can sometimes get so busy that many of us forget to stop for lunch or just eat at our desks. This results in being overly hungry at night or to a 3pm blood sugar slump which leads us to choose sugary snacks to get our energy back up. Taking a lunch break is not just important for our diets, but is also a critical part of stress management at work. Taking a break away from your desk, even if it’s just for 15 minutes can help reduce daily strain quinoa saladand will actually make you more productive and focused for the afternoon. The ideal work day lunch provides lean protein, a high fiber carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. It is best to bring your lunch to work if you can, so you can control exactly what you are eating and are less likely to be tempted by high fat, high calorie restaurant choices.  Here are some lunch ideas to keep you productive and healthy during a busy day at work:

1. Salmon salad. Canned salmon is an easy, nutritious source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Mix together 1 small can of salmon (approximately 100 grams), 3 cups of greens such as lettuce, baby spinach, kale etc (your choice), ½ cup beetroot,  a whole grapefruit or orange in sections, and ¼ cup of nuts (your choice).  Add a small can of four bean mix or chickpeas for some low GI carbohydrates. Drizzle with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and chili powder for dressing.

2. Leftovers. Leftovers from the night before always make a great lunch the next day. If you are cooking chicken or fish, make a little extra for lunch. Rice and beans or a bean soup keeps for about 5 days in the fridge and makes a filling-high fiber lunch. Make a large batch on a Sunday and eat it all week.

3. Wholemeal pita sandwiches. Pita bread is a great pocket for just about any lean meat, vegetable, or healthy fat. Pita can get soggy easily, so pack the bread separately from the fillers and make your sandwich when you are ready to eat. Some suggested toppings: hummus with roasted red peppers and cucumber slices, the salmon salad above, or turkey with tomato slices, lettuce, and olives.

4. Frozen or pre-packaged meals. Although it may be tempting to just throw a pre-packaged or frozen meal into your lunch bag, be careful with what you choose. These choices can be high in sodium and low in nutrition. Look for choices that have less than 500mg sodium per serving. Choose those that include whole grains and vegetables. Avoid frozen pizzas, pastas, or fried choices. If you do find a healthy option that is low in calories and sodium add a side salad, fruit, or low fat yoghurt to balance out your meal.

5. Quirky quinoa salad. Quinoa is a great whole grain that provides a significant amount of protein and fiber. Our recipe has chickpeas for additional protein and a ton of vegetables. It can be made ahead of time and tastes even better the next day. Get creative with quinoa, toss in leftover chicken and vegetables along with your favorite dressing.  The combinations are endless!

Lunch can give you more energy, help you save money, and make you a more productive worker. Remember lunch doesn’t have to be a traditional sandwich, it can be whatever makes you feel healthy and well-nourished to make your work day more productive. Feel free to start with these ideas and create your own energy boosting lunch.

 

 COMPETITION TIME!

We love food…and we also love quinoa!  To celebrate our love for both of these things, New Life Nutrition has teamed up with a new wholefoods business in Brisbane to bring you a great giveaway.

Andes Mills is a Brisbane based family owned business who source and sell natural products and superfoods traditionally used in South America for their health benefits. Their products currently include maca and amaranth however they have announced that they will be launching their quinoa product at Brisbane’s Good Food and Wine Show in November!  The most awesome thing about this product is that the Andes Mills family actually grown their own quinoa on their farm in South America and  import it for sale.  I love that not only do they know where it came from, they have actually grown it themselves!

Andesquinoa_launching_small-01

To celebrate the launch of their quinoa, Andes Mills and New Life Nutrition are giving you the opportunity to win a double pass to the Good Food and Wine Show in Brisbane (8-10 November).  The winner will receive both a double pass as well as a 500g bag of quinoa (so you can whip up our Quinoa Salad for your lunches!).  Two runners up will each receive a 500g bag of quinoa.

 

good food and wine

To win, tell us what your favourite family food memory is.  Please comment either below or on our Andes Mills competition facebook post .

Competition closes Wednesday 30th October at 10pm (Brisbane time)

 Please also show the love by checking out the Andes Mills facebook page! I love a family business so please support this great business!

Bean & Beetroot Brownies

  These densely succulent morsels of beaniness (yep, that’s a new word!) come after many requests for ideas for healthy, chocolately sweet treats. You all said it couldn’t be done – but here it is – a healthy brownie! And trust me, even my doubter of a husband who loves proper brownies with all their fatty goodness, said they were delish.  You get all that yumminess, plus it is high in fibre and allergy friendly too! This also comes at a great time as the school year is almost ready to start again (wow, where did the school holidays go…bet the parents out there don’t quite agree with me there). Great for a low sugar treat for everybody but see the hint down the bottom if you want a little more sweetness to start with. ENJOY!

These brownie are DAIRY FREE, EGG FREE, VEGAN, LOW GI, SUGAR FREE & HIGH FIBRE.  Could be GLUTEN FREE if the flour is substituted for a good quality gluten free flour like White Wing’s plain flour.  Could be NUT FREE if nuts are left out.

brownies

What you need…

  • 2 cup/250 g dates
  • 1 small beetroot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup/180 g unsweetened applesauce (IXL brand has no added sugar) … OR make your own in your Thermomix by blitzing cored apples with a few tablespoons of water for 10 seconds at speed 8, then cooking at 90º for 8 minutes at speed 4 with the measuring cup off, then blitzing on speed 8 for another 10 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoons/15 g ground flaxseed/linseed (grind prior in Thermomix or food processor)
  • 400 g cooked or canned beans (equiv to 2 x 400g cans, drained) – any variety is fine but I used 1 can of butter beans and 1 can of red kidney beans)
  • 2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup/30 g cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup/100 g flour (could use gluten free flour)
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 cup/110 g walnuts or macadamias (optional)

 

How the magic happens…

Doing it the traditional way:

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C
  2. In a food processor, roughly chop nuts, then set aside.beetroot and date
  3. Chop the dates into small pieces (either by hand or in food processor).
  4. Combine black beans, beetroot, dates and applesauce in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Add cacao, ground flaxseed and vanilla. Blend again.
  6. Fold through the flour and bicarb soda. If mixture is too dry, add another few tablespoons of apple sauce.
  7. Gently stir through nuts (leave some aside to put on top)
  8. Spoon the mixture into a 30 cm x 25 cm slice tin.  Top with extra nuts if desired.
  9. Bake at 180º for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Slice while still warm. Best when chilled before eating.

 

Thermomix magic…

  1. Roughly chop the nuts for 3 seconds at speed 4, then set aside.puree
  2. Blend dates with peeled, halved beetroot for 30 seconds at speed 10.
  3. Scrape down the bowl and lid, then add applesauce, flaxseed, beans, vanilla and cacao. Blend for 30 seconds at speed 8, using the spatula to scrape the bowl while processing. Remove the lid and scrape it and the bowl again, then blend for another 20 seconds at speed 8. Mixture should be thoroughly homogenised.
  4. Add the flour and baking soda, and mix on Reverse at speed 3 for 20 seconds, using the spatula to push the mixture down into the blades. Remove the lid and scrape it and the bowl again, then mix for another 10 seconds at speed 3. Repeat as necessary until all the flour is mixed in.
  5. Add the chopped nuts and mix for 10 seconds on Reverse at speed 3.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a 30 cm x 25 cm slice tin and bake at 180º for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Slice while still warm. Best when chilled before eating.

Hint:   If you’re weaning your children (or yourself) off sweet foodS, you may want to substitute 1 cup of a relatively unprocessed sweetener such as coconut sugar or rapadura for 1 cup of the dates.

 

Zucchini, Carrot and Sweet Potato Slice

I love eggs! And I love zucchini slice even more!  To be honest, my Mum makes the best zucchini slice in the world (doesn’t everybody’s mum?)…pretty surprising considering my Mum absolutely hates egg. 

I think the reason I love zucchini slice so much is that it is such an easy food to eat at any time of the day – meal or snack.  It also freezes beautifully for those (many) times when you just haven’t had enough time to prepare lunch/dinner – all you need is some salad to put with it.  As well as all this, it is a great source of protein and fibre and an easy way to hide vegetables for the big and little kids. 

So here we go, my take on zucchini slice…and trust me, it is VERY easy…and VERY tasty…in fact, my husband told me it tasted better than my Mum’s (but don’t tell her that because she may not feed him any more).

 

zucchini slice

 

Ingredients

6 eggs (could use 3 eggs + 3-4 egg whites)

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour (or gluten free flour), sifted

350g (approx 3) zucchini, grated, excess moisture squeezed

250g (approx 2) carrots, grated

1 small sweet potato, grated

1 large onion, finely diced

150g salt reduced ham, chopped

1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, cubed if thermomix, grated if normal recipe

60ml (1/4 cup) olive or rice bran oil

1-2 tsp mixed dried herbs

1 tbspn parsley, finely chopped (optional)

1 tbspn fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

 

How the magic happens…

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a lasagne dish.
  2. To grate/dice vegetables, add vegetables to food processor and chop until finely diced.  If no food processor, grate or chop as described above.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Add the flour and beat until smooth
  5. Add zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, onion, ham, cheese, oil, herbs and spices and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

 

Thermomix Version…

  1. Grease a ceramic or glass lasagne dish.
  2. Cube cheddar cheese, place in the TM bowl and grate on 5 secs / speed 6.  Set aside.
  3. Place onion and bacon in the TM bowl and chop on speed 5 for 2-3 seconds.  Set aside with cheese.
  4. Place zucchini, carrot, sweet potato in the TM bowl and chop on speed 5 for 3-4 seconds
  5. Add SR flour, oil, eggs and salt/pepper to the TM bowl and mix on speed 4 for 20 seconds.
  6. Return cheese, zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, onion and bacon to the TM bowl and combine all ingredients on speed 3 for 30-40 seconds on reverse (or until combined).
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared dish and bake in a pre-heated moderate oven for approximately 40 minutes or until browned.  
  8. Serve warm (or cold!) with salad.

 

ENJOY!