Give ’em lunch boxes they’ll love
Tuesday 04 September 2007
Forget soggy sandwiches – turn your kids’ lunch boxes into a healthy treat with Tana Ramsay’s top tips
Gordon Ramsay might be one of the UK’s most famous chefs, but when it comes to home cooking, his wife Tana wears the apron.
She’s such a firm believer in healthy eating she has forbidden eight-year-old Megan, six-year-old twins Jack and Holly, and Matilda, four, from having processed chicken nuggets:
“They’re under strict orders from me never to eat them – or burgers!” says Tana.
As well as cooking her children healthy food at home, Tana’s a staunch supporter of kids eating well at school.
That’s why she’s created five ultra-healthy and super-tasty packed-lunch suggestions, especially for Closer:
“It doesn’t take hours to prepare healthy food,” says the 32 year old. “The right packed lunch is essential for kids – it’ll help them concentrate and stay alert in lessons. And of course, a nutritious meal will help them grow into healthy adults.”
• Organic wholemeal pitta bread filled with spicy sausage, lettuce, spring onion and a creamy vinaigrette.
• Dried mango, mixed seeds and dried cranberry.
• Orange juice.
• Salami and rice salad.
• Greek-style yoghurt topped with toasted oat flakes and burst blueberries.
• Bottle of water.
Salami and rice salad.
• 200g cooked brown rice.
• Drizzle of olive oil.
• 200g cooked kidney beans.
• 6 spring onions, chopped.
• 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped.
• 340g tin of sweetcorn.
• 200g salami, cut into chunks.
For the dressing:
• 5tbsp olive oil
• 4tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 2tbsp crème fraiche
1) Rinse the cooked rice under the cold tap. Stir through the olive oil.
2) Place the rice in a large mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Mix the oil, vinegar and crème fraiche in a separate bowl, and then stir the dressing through the rice. Serves 4.
• Fresh baguette or crusty roll filled with coronation chicken.
• Eat Natural bar.
• Bottle of water.
• Tuna and sweetcorn sandwich with light mayo and iceberg lettuce on granary bread.
• Home-made apricot and oatbran muffin.
• Pineapple juice.
Apricot and oatbran muffins (makes 12)
• 100g dried apricots
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 100g plain flour
• 75g oatbran
• 1tsp baking powder
• 250g butter/margarine
• 250g caster sugar
• 4 large free-range ggs, beaten
• 1/2tsp cinnamon (optional)
1. Blitz the apricots in a food processor with the lemon zest and juice.
2. Mix the flour, oatbran and baking powder in a bowl.
3. Beat the butter and sugar in the mixer until fluffy. With the mixer running, gradually add the beaten eggs.
4. Turn off the mixer and add half the oatbran mixture. Use the lowest setting to gently mix it in. Add the rest of the oatbran and the cinnamon. Mix gently. Add the apricots.
5. Spoon the mixture into a 12-hole muffin tin lined with muffin cases. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.
LUNCH TIP: Make these muffins in bulk and freeze the remaining ones
• Savoury ham and cheese muffin.
• Home-made coleslaw crunch.
• Brain-boosting fruit salad.
• Apple juice.
Ham and cheese muffins (makes 12)
• 300g self-raising flour
• 1/2tsp mustard powder
• 1/2tsp paprika
• 75g butter
• 6 slices ham, chopped
• 185g mature cheddar, grated
• 1 egg, beaten
• 250ml milk
• 6tbsp finely grated Parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 190°C
2. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
3. Sieve the flour, mustard powder and paprika into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ham and cheese, then stir in the egg and milk.
4. Spoon the mixture into the 12 muffin cases and sprinkle a little Parmesan on top of each.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. Cool muffins on a wire rack.
LUNCH TIP: Disguise veggies in a coleslaw of chopped veg and mayo
Tana’s tips for child-friendly cuisine
• Have dinner ready as soon as the kids are back from school – it stops them reaching for unhealthy snacks.
• Cook meals to suit both kids and adults. I make Bolognese for the kids, then I turn the leftovers into a spicy chilli for Gordon.
• Dilute fruit juice with water for children when you can – it will help stop sugars damaging their teeth.
• If your kids hate vegetables, purée some and add to sauces and soups – they’ll never notice!
• If they prefer white bread, give them baguettes or fresh loaves. The quicker a bread goes stale, the healthier it is for them.