I trained as a Landscape Architect, and what I loved most about my time in that field was that things would always be changing. No two jobs were ever the same, and creative inspiration is ever-evolving. Now running my own little catering and event styling business, I find that food and events are similar in this way – no two events, and in fact no two meals are ever quite the same! I also like the timelines better when working with food – it’s a quick turnaround, food is made, spaces created, enjoyed and experienced and completed in the space of a weekend.
I found that when I was working in landscape, I would be the one putting my hand up to organise the events and would always do little extra things, like make matching aprons or bespoke keepsakes for the guests at exhibitions. It took some time to find my way… but after a couple of stints overseas, I knew that my heart was in making food, meeting people, moving around and designing concepts. I look back on my 9.00 – 5.00 job and realise that my favourite conversations were ‘what have you got for lunch?’
For a time I worked in a landscape office in Amsterdam and they had a chef that came and made a hot lunch every day – I know, very spoilt, right!? He would ring the bell and all 30 of us would head upstairs and sit and share lunch together. I loved the equality in everyone taking time for lunch, where we all left feeling nourished (or wanting an afternoon nap after the extra pieces of bread and gouda I would eat!) and you had an opportunity to chat to people in the office that you might not get to know otherwise. This really inspired me to reconsider the importance of lunch!
Now that I work for myself and my job is to feed people, it’s pretty easy for me to get excited about food. From making a quick and simple pumpkin soup to a more intense 14-hour slow cooked beef cheek. I so look forward to lunch and am already thinking about it before I’ve finished breakfast or even dinner from the night before! I am on the go a lot, so I find that my lunches need to be easy and portable to eat on the run!
Everyone gets so excited and posts loads of pictures about breakfast bowls and dinner ideas (I am guilty of that too!) – but what about LUNCH? It’s the forgotten meal! With a little bit of extra love going into your mid-day meal, you will find that it’s much easier to get through the day. And who knows, maybe you can create a stronger community at your workplace by encouraging people to sit together and chat over their meal. There’s so many possibilities for lunch, how did we let it fall by the wayside? Let’s bring lunch back! Are you with me?
I understand the last thing on your mind in the morning when you are focussing on lots of tasks while trying to get out the door and dreaming of your first coffee for the day certainly does not inspire excitement for the preparation of lunch. But for this month’s Tasty Tuesday I hope to change this mentality, and have put together four tasty and inspiring ‘grown-up lunch boxes!’. You can prep and pack most of the lunchbox components the night before, and really, although we’ve ramped it up a bit with home made treats and other side dishes included, you can pick and choose your favourite elements and create your own combinations using store-bought ingredients or even leftover from the night before…. More than anything, I hope this series might inspire you to just think a little more creatively about your lunch!
We’re kicking off the series with the ‘free-fairing friend’ lunchbox, which contains heaps of options for those trying to avoid gluten, dairy and /or meat. I don’t mind cooking for my free-fairing friends one little bit (gluten free, dairy free, low sugar and vegetarian). In fact I enjoy it as it encourages me to think outside of the culinary box, or lunchbox so-to-speak. So this first lunchbox is for my vegetarian, low sugar, low dairy (besides the popcorn) and gluten-free friends. It will keep you feeling nourished and fulfilled, giving you enough energy to take on the second half of your day with gusto.
Kale cut roughly with scissors, and sautéed with one teaspoon coconut oil and salt
1 tablespoon roasted flaked almonds
I cup cooked Mt Zero Quinoa
Truss cherry tomatoes quartered
Lime, olive oil and salt for dressing
Pat’s Veg beetroot (a little goes a long way and the colour is amazing!)
Combine all ingredients together except the beetroot and dressing components and mix together. Dress the salad with the juice of one lime and a drizzle of olive oil, and salt for seasoning. I like to serve a little bit of Pat’s Veg betroot on the side as a garnish, and mix in my cumin roasted carrots with this salad for an extra unexpected but welcomed addition! (See recipe for carrots below!)
Baby dutch carrots
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Honey or rice malt syrup
In a small bowl mix the salt, cumin, coriander and paprika and set aside. Pour olive oil and honey (or rice malt syrup) over the carrots and coat. Then toss through the spice mix. Roast for about 20 minutes in a preheated to 180 degrees Celsius oven, until the carrots are soft and golden.
My New Roots ‘Life-Changing Loaf of Bread’ recipe here (or substitute with any store bought nutty / seedy gluten free loaf or crackers)
Pepitas Austrian or activated
Wedge of lime
As the name of this loaf of bread suggests, upon discovering this recipe on My New Roots, my life changed forever. It is so dense and delicious, and even better toasted. It is a great bread alternative for those who are gluten intolerant (make sure you used gluten free oats when making this bread). The best thing about this lunchbox component, is that you can bake the loaf on Sunday night and it will last you throughout the week.
I like to serve mine as an afternoon snack served with sliced avocado, pepitas (I like the deep green ones best) and a wedge of lime. To mix it up during the week I would also eat it with Meredith Goats fetta.
4 x tablespoons COYO coconut yoghurt
3 x sliced fresh strawberries
2 x tablespoons Firecracker CRUNCH
Everyone loves a yoghurt pot for a mid morning snack! Spoon your yoghurt into a bowl, then add some Firecracker CRUNCH, and layer your slice strawberries on top. Firecracker CRUNCH is my own little healthy mix I make – it is super crunchy and full of natural sustenance. You can buy Firecracker CRUNCH at Clay Fine Foods on Rathdowne St in Carlton North, The Common Good Store in Hawthorn and in our Firecracker online shop!
1 cup / packet popcorn
¼ cup butter salted (For a dairy free option, try olive oil in an aerosol can, sprayed lightly over your popped corn, then sprinkle with well combined dry salt / sugar / paprika mixture)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Pop the corn according to packet instructions, and pour into a container with a lid. Melt the butter on a low heat and add the salt, paprika and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved a bit and then pour it over your pre-popped corn.
Put the lid back on the container and give it a good shake. I’ve found it’s the best way to get good flavour coverage! Make a double batch of this one, it is so moreish. Trust me.