Back to school

The school holidays are nearly over, but for some parents that means the battle to send children off to school with an interesting and healthy lunch box is just about to resume.

Alison Lambert has come up with some great options that you can make at home using fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.


Photos: Simon Lambert
Photos: Simon Lambert
Salad in a jar

I love making salads layered in a jar or deep container as you can use leftover rice, pasta or potatoes from the previous night's dinner and layer it with any number of your favourite ingredients.

Serves 1

1 400ml jar
100g cooked rice, quinoa, lentils, pasta
1 tomato, diced
50g cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
alfa sprouts
grated raw carrot and beetroot
4 lettuce leaves, torn

1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey (optional)
pinch salt and cracked pepper
pinch cumin (optional)

To assemble
Pour your dressing in first so it sits at the bottom of the jar. Then layer with a grain, such as rice or quinoa.

Then add a layer of carrot and beetroot, more grains, top with tomato and cucumber, finish with lettuce and sprouts.

Seal securely and store in the fridge until required.

When ready to eat simply turn the sealed jar upside down to allow the dressing to flow through the salad ingredients.

Turn upright and enjoy!

Other salads

  • Pasta, shredded spinach, tomato, pesto, parmesan cheese
  • Cucumber, tomato, olive, feta cheese
  • Carrot, raisin, celery, orange
  • Layered salad jar


Roast vegetable dip

Vegetable dips are fantastic as they have loads of flavour and nutrition. I simply change the vegetables as the seasons change.

Serves 6

1 medium-sized eggplant, with skin on and cut into small cubes
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and cut into smaller pieces
1 courgette, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, peeled and chopped into big chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 Tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp salt
cracked pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
small handful fresh parsley or basil

Heat the oven to 200degC. Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper.

Place the vegetables on the baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Give them a gentle toss.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, making sure to give it a toss halfway through the baking. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the roasted vegetables, lemon juice, parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Other dips

  • Hummus (vegan, dairy free)
  • Pesto
  • Roasted vegetable dip (vegan, dairy free)
  • Cannellini bean, lemon and rosemary


Brown rice balls

These little balls are fantastic for lunches as they are packed with protein, low in fat and high in flavour. This recipe never fails as the rice is perfect every time.

Makes 6

2½ cups water
1½ cups short grain brown rice
1 tsp salt
1 cup nori (toasted), cut into small strips
½ grated carrot
1 cup finely chopped raw broccoli

Heat the oven to 180degC.

When the water boils, add the rice and salt. Stir a little and cover tightly with a lid or foil. And cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Remove the dish from the oven. I like to let it stand for about 10 minutes before uncovering and fluffing the rice with a fork; this will help it to cool and allow the rice to fluff up a little.

When cool enough to handle, add the nori, carrot and broccoli and mix together well.

Mould into desired shape, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until required. These will last for a couple of days.

Other fillers

  • Brown rice and vegetable balls
  • Wrap suggestions — grated carrot, cheese, diced capsicum, sprouts, diced tomato, lettuce, cold cuts etc
  • Quesadillas suggestions — cheese, ham, pineapple, creamed corn, tomato, vegemite etc 
  • Toasted burrito with corn, salami (optional), grated cheese, cooked beans, coriander


Energy balls

Snacks for lunch boxes need to be fun and exciting but that doesn't mean they have be full of sugar and/or junk foods. These little balls are full of sweetness in an unrefined way. You can add dried fruits and seeds to make them more interesting.

Makes 15-20 balls

1 cup of medjool dates
¾ cup almonds
¾ cup of dried fruit (raisins, diced dried apricots or mango)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
3 Tbsp coconut

Start by placing the almonds and chia seeds in a food processor. Blend for 1 minute, until a flour-like texture forms.

Add the remaining ingredients. Blend for another minute until a dough forms.

Use your hands to roll the mixture into little balls. Place the coconut in a bowl and roll the balls in it until covered.

Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.

Other snacks

  • Popcorn with dried fruits
  • Mini oat, raisin and chocolate cookies
  • Chia and fruit pots
  • Energy balls

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