Sunday 16 June 2019

Healthy and easy recipes to make the perfect after-school dinners

Making balanced, tasty lunches doesn't have to be difficult
Making balanced, tasty lunches doesn't have to be difficult

It's that time of the year again when the kids go back to school and you start to get back into the routine of early mornings, lunch boxes and school pick-ups.

Things like misplaced textbooks or missing PE kits may be outside your control but one thing that you can control is the preparation of your children's dinners.

A recent survey conducted by Safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland found that families with children spent 19pc of the average weekly food shop on what are classified as 'treat' foods. These 'treat' foods refer to processed food and, for the most part, sweet food like chocolates, sweets, sugary drinks, crisps and biscuits.

September is a perfect time to start a healthy eating routine and ensure that your kids have a balanced diet and are getting part of their recommended intake of certain important nutrients, such as vitamins, iron, calcium and protein.

"Healthy, active kids need plenty of fuel to keep their energy levels up," says Sarah Keogh, dietitian and John West nutrition consultant. "With growing bodies, it is important that children get a balanced diet which includes carbohydrates, lean proteins, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, and a small amount of healthy fats.

"Protein-rich foods, in particular, are important in a school child's diet and protein is found in many foods - in beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, red meat, chicken, turkey and in fish."

Fish is a natural source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids and Sarah advises parents to aim to include fish in a child's diet at least twice a week. This should be alongside other recommended food groups on the food pyramid so they can get the right balance of nutritious foods in the diet.

Children can be fussy eaters but using the right recipes is one way to win them over when it comes to healthy food. The new John West No Drain Tuna Fridgepot range makes it easy to get a serving of fish into their daily diet, while also avoiding the mess you sometimes get with canned fish. Not only do you not have to drain any liquid from the Fridgepot, but you can also reseal it and store it in the fridge for two days to avoid any waste.

The following recipes offer inspiring taste combinations that are easy to make, balanced and perfect for when your kids get back from school.

Chipotle Tuna Burger


For the tuna burgers:

1x 110g John West No Drain Fridgepot

1 egg

4 tortilla chips, finely crushed

1/2 a small green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2tsp ground cumin

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

For the chipotle mayonnaise:

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or oil, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

Juice and zest of 1/2 a lime

50g light mayonnaise


To serve:

Vegetable oil, for cooking

1 brioche bun

Shredded cabbage

Sliced avocado



1. Combine all of the ingredients for the burger. Shape the mixture firmly into a uniform patty about 4cm thick. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up.

2. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the chipotle mayonnaise in a food processor. Season with black pepper and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat a grill pan or frying pan over a medium heat and coat lightly with oil or cooking spray. Cook the burger for three minutes on each side.

4. Serve the burger on a burger bun with the chipotle mayonnaise, shredded cabbage and sliced avocado.


Spicy Tuna Pad Thai

Pad Thai.png


150g wide rice noodles

2 tbsp tamarind paste

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1tbsp vegetable or peanut oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 shallot, finely chopped

1tsp dried chilli flakes

1 large egg,beaten

2 x 11Og John West No Drain Fridgepot

1 handful of bean sprouts

2 spring onions, finely chopped

30g unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve


To serve:

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges



1. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and pour over enough warm water to cover. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes or until soft, then drain well.

2. In a small bowl, mix the tamarind paste with a splash of hot water. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar.

3. Heat the oil in a wok or large pan over a medium­ high heat. When hot, cook the garlic and shallots for 30 seconds. Add the chilli flakes and drained noodles to the wok and cook for 2-3 minutes, then push to one side.

4. Add the eggs to the pan and allow to set, then scramble and stir through the noodles.

5. Add the tamarind mixture and stir to combine well. Add the tuna, bean sprouts, spring onions and half of the peanuts. Toss well and cook for 3-4 minutes longer.

6. Divide among four serving bowls. Sprinkle with the fresh coriander and the remaining peanuts and serve with some lime wedges for squeezing over.

For more inspiring recipes, check out the John West Ireland website or YouTube channel.

Sponsored by: John West

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