Build your lunchbox... recipes from a Harley Street nutritionist
In her new book, Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert shares tips on finding a simple way to eat well, starting with suggestions for creating your bespoke, healthy lunchbox
I know all too well how easy it is to fall into the trap of buying your lunch on-the-go every single day. If budget isn't an issue, then it's not the end of the world, as there are now tons of healthy options to buy. However, it's not ideal when you need to watch your wallet, so let's get organised. For those of you with families, this is also super-useful as you can do your children's lunchboxes and just make extra for yourself. I often keep leftovers from the night before and use them for lunch.
Quinoa is a complete source of protein, making it ideal for vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Serves 4 - you should get 24 falafel
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
20g parsley, finely chopped
½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Salt and black pepper
Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions, drain, rinse and allow to cool off a little.
Put the chickpeas into a bowl and mash until broken down but still retaining some texture. Stir through the quinoa, white and spring onions, parsley, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Transfer all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the ingredients start to stick together, but not so much you puree them. You may need to do this in batches.
Using your hands, form the mixture into balls just larger than a golf ball. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/ gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Transfer the falafel to the baking tray and lightly brush the tips with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the outside is crispy and the inside cooked through.
QUINOA-CRUSTED MACARONI CHEESE
I am sure I am not alone when I say mac 'n' cheese was a childhood favourite. With a few tweaks, this old has classic has been reworked to contain more fibre and protein and, if portioned correctly, can be a stand-alone dish or a small side dish.
30g butter (or use lactose-free butter or olive oil)
30g plain flour (or use gluten-free brown rice flour)
500ml milk of choice
3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole and lightly crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
80g Cheddar, grated (or use a vegan or dairy-free version)
35g Parmesan, grated (or use a vegan or dairy-free version)
Pinch of grated nutmeg
300g brown rice pasta (I like elbow macaroni)
90g breadcrumbs (or use gluten-free breadcrumbs)
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
First cook your quinoa following the instructions on the packet (usually around 15 minutes). If not all the water has been absorbed, drain well and put to one side.
Next make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter or oil in a medium pan over a low heat, add the flour and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Add the garlic and mustard and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Take the pan off the heat, remove the garlic and stir in the Cheddar and half of the Parmesan. Add a grating of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta following the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the béchamel sauce. Stir well and pour into an oven dish.
To make the quinoa crust, combine the cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Scatter this mixture over the mac 'n' cheese and then bake for 20-24 minutes, or until golden and crispy on top.
BUILD YOUR LUNCHBOX...
Choose your protein
Chicken drumsticks with a satay side sauce
Leftover quinoa-crusted macaroni cheese
(see recipe above)
Peanut butter porridge
Cooked turkey slices
30g cheese (I love feta)
Fillet of poached or smoked fish (poached salmon is lovely)
Leftover meatballs or koftas
Quinoa falafel (see recipe above)
Choose your vegetables
Veg sticks (peppers, cucumber, celery, carrot, courgette) with nut butter or hummus
Vegetable soup (take in a separate flask)
Choose your fruit
Piece of fruit with yoghurt
Pomegranate seeds or chopped apple for salad toppings
Dried fruit such as raisins or chopped apricots to add to grains
Choose your carbohydrate
Choose your good fat
Olive oil based dips, such a hummus