How to make the perfect sandwich

TERESA CUTTER
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2012
child eating sandwich
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WHAT A MOUTHFUL: Including quality protein and plenty of vegetables will keep your kids energised.

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The secret to preparing a healthy school lunch comes down to some basic strategic planning.

Chefs do it in restaurants and it's no different from preparing food for yourself or your kids at home.

Set out a basic menu plan at the start of the week. Knowing pretty much what you'll be eating for all meals and packing into a lunch box for the next five days is the key.

Try to keep it fresh and varied for each day and always include quality protein, fresh fruit and plenty of vegetables, because this forms the base of the eating plan and will help keep the little ones full and energised.

A small tub of natural or low-sugar yoghurt is a nice addition, as is plenty of water - tired kids are often dehydrated kids.

It's all about the kinds of foods needed to build a strong, healthy and active body.

BUILD THE PERFECT SANDWICH

Choose your wrapping

Stick to quality, low-GI, 100 per cent wholegrain breads or wraps that are high in fibre and free from preservatives or anything artificial. Check the ingredients, because many are loaded with sodium, sugar, colours and made with refined white flour. If you're feeling adventurous, try roasted vegetables, such as eggplant, or use large leaves of lettuce, cabbage or kale - perfect for those with wheat or gluten intolerances.

Choose your spread

Try using heart-healthy and natural plant-based spreads, such as smashed avocado, which is high in good monounsaturated/anti-inflammatory fats that can help cut cholesterol. Other great choices are roasted pumpkin, hummus or tahini.

Stuff it with protein

Add quality protein, such as roast chicken, grass-fed beef, meatballs, tinned tuna, salmon, boiled egg or a slice of frittata. The protein will keep them full and energised for most of the day. If using fish such as tuna or salmon, pack the tin or sachet to open fresh and you won't have a smelly lunch box. Go easy on processed meats, which are high in sodium and preservatives.

Add veges for extra goodness

Veges such as spinach, lettuce, rocket, alfalfa, carrot, corn, tomato, roasted capsicum, sweet potato, beetroot, avocado and pumpkin will add quality macro- and micronutrients to build a strong, healthy body. To avoid soggy-sandwich syndrome, stay away from watery lettuce and use roma or semi-dried tomato.

More healthy lunch box recipes at thehealthychef.com.

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-Sydney Morning Herald

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