Scrambo (Veggie Scramble) Recipe

I love creating new options for breakfasts, it makes this sometimes boring meal of the day interesting and exciting. This one is my twist on a scramble, which will be perfect for anyone with egg allergies or are looking to switch out eggs from their world. Let’s get scramblin’!

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Ingredients

  •  1 lg. pkg. 500g Organic Firm Tofu 

  • 1 ¼ Cup Green onions, finely sliced 

  • 1 Cup Fresh parsley, finely chopped 

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil 

  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional yeast 

  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder 

  • 1 tsp Sweet paprika powder 

  • ¾ tsp Salt 

Instructions

  1. Put the block of tofu on a chopping board. Using a fork, start at one corner of the block and progressively mash it into scrambled-egg-looking texture. 

  2. Set the tofu aside and chop the green onions and parsley. 

  3. In a hot frying pan, add the oil and the tofu. 

  4. Add all remaining ingredients and toss frequently until some edges have become a little bit crusty. 

  5. Serve on its own, or as you would a loaded brekky with the likes of toast, baked beans, tomatoes, avocado, cashew cheese etc. 

Notes

This is such an easy and delicious dish that even teenagers can make and enjoy it! Some may never need to know it's not egg, and you may never need to liken it to that in the first place. It's just "Scrambo". 

It also tastes good cold in lunchboxes or can go well in a wrap. Add some mayo to make 'no-egg salad' sandwiches even! 

As always with soy products, please try to only eat organic tofu. Otherwise, it could be heavily sprayed, or potentially genetically modified due the amount of "grey area" in the legal definition of "sufficiently processed" for being allowed in the Australian food system. 

Peanut Butter Cups Recipe

Back in my youth, when I was none the wiser, and sought out something sweet - I was in LOVE with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Unbeknownst to me they were full of refined sugar, additives, and low quality ingredients. So I put myself to work, I did cheat in this one though (this is a beginner recipe, so I didn’t use homemade chocolate, that’s for another time!), and used organic 80% dark chocolate. If you are confident in making your chocolate from cacao powder and cacao butter, then go for it as a substitute!

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Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (200g) Organic Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate 

  • ½ Cup (140g) Nut butter of choice 

  • 4x (75g) Medjool dates, pitted 

  • 3 Tbsp (30g) Hemp seeds 

  • 1 tsp (7g) Vanilla, liquid form 

  • ¼ + ⅛ tsp Salt 

  • 1 Tbsp (20g) Coconut cream IF needed 

Instructions

  1. Prepare the mini paper cupcake cups or silicone moulds that will form the shapes. My favourite is a silicone ice cube tray of square-shaped cubes. This recipe should make 20 of these ice-cube sized chocolates. 

  2. Prepare a double-boiler arrangement with a small saucepan and a heat-proof glass bowl to sit (and seal the edges) on top. Ensure the bowl does not touch the ~2cm of water you put in the saucepan. 

  3. Chop or break up the dark chocolate into small-ish pieces. The smaller they are, the less troubles you will have with heat control. 

  4. Put these small pieces of chocolate into the glass bowl over the saucepan but don't turn the heat on yet. 

  5. In a food processor, blitz all remaining ingredients (not the chocolate). Only use the coconut cream if your nut butter or dates are quite dry. 

  6. Scoop out this mixture onto a piece of baking paper. 

  7. Scrunch the baking paper around it to form a thin long roll that is well compacted. It should be easy to handle with your hands and not sticky but usuing the paper makes it easier. The ideal diameter of this roll will be slightly smaller than the cup size you have chosen. 

  8. Turn the heat on the double boiler and allow the chocolate to begin melting. Stirring frequently is recommended as we do not want the temperature to rise ANY higher than JUST enough to melt the last bit of chocolate. 

  9. As soon as you see only 2-3 unmelted lumps left, remove the bowl from the heat and away from the steam and continue stirring vigorously until it is all melted. 

  10. Now drizzle a just enough chocolate into each cup to be able to swirl it around the bottom and up the edges halfway. (A one-piece silicone mould makes this less work). 

  11. Cut the roll of filling into roughly the same number of cups you have by starting in the middle of the roll and estimating the number of pieces from there. 

  12. Place one piece of roll into each cup gently. 

  13. Pour the remaining chocolate evenly over all the fillings in the cups. Tap the cups/container gently on the bench until all bubbles have settled and the surface has evened out. 

  14. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hrs or until set. Save yourself a special stash otherwise they'll all disappear. ;) 

Notes/Tips

  • Once you have done these once, you'll see they are much easier than the instructions appear. Working with chocolate is only tricky if the temperature gets too high, or if water or water vapour of any kind comes in contact with it. 

  • Worst case scenario, even if you stuff up the chocolate, is you'll end with either fudge or a white colour and dull finish on it, but it will still taste great! 

  • This recipe will double well but won't freeze so well. I'm sure that won't be an issue though ;) 

  • Try to avoid setting chocolate in the freezer. The fridge is technically already pushing our luck but is still ok. You'll enjoy it much better and have better success if you use the fridge instead. 

Activated Granola Recipe

Many people have been asking me for a granola recipe for AGES! I’ve held off, I had the opinion that there are enough on the world wide web as it is - so why another one? I relented, and I’ve put together a delish, not crazy sweet granola recipe for you to enjoy!

Ingredients

Granola Mixture 

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  • ½ Cup 80g Sunflower seeds 

  • ½ Cup 80g Pepitas 

  • ½ Cup 80g Sesame seeds 

  • ~4 Cups 450g Almonds 

  • ~3 Cups 330g Walnuts 

  • ~4 Cups 300g Coconut flakes or shreds 

  • EITHER 

    ~6 Cups 700g Oatmeal 

    1 ¾ Cup 450g Coconut cream 

  • OR

    ~14 Cups 700g Cornflakes, "fruit juice sweetened" 

  • OR

    Half and half 

Flavour Sauce 

  • ~6sm. 700g Apples 

  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon 

  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla 

  • ¼ tsp Salt 

  • 3 Tbsp Maple syrup, date paste, or honey 

  • 4-5 Tbsp Carob syrup, or apple juice concentrate (optional) 

  • 2 Tbsp Rooibos, fine powder (optional) 

Instructions

This recipe has been designed for a dehydrator. If using an oven, please note that it will not technically be considered a "raw" activated product once finished. It may also not all fit in one batch in standard ovens so consider halving it at first. Although not technically still raw, it will still be far better for your digestion and probably healthier than what you would find in the shops. 

  1. Add sunflower, pepita, and sesame seeds to a bowl with at least 2cm of water above the level of seeds, to soak ~10hrs. 

  2. Add almonds and walnuts to a separate bowl with an extra 4cm of water, to soak ~10hrs. 

  3. If using oatmeal, soak it in the coconut cream now too. 

  4. Once they've soaked, drain the waters away. 

  5. In a food processor, blitz-pulse the seeds mixture a few times until it chops them up slightly (texture level is your choice). 

  6. Do the same for the almonds and walnuts but make sure there are no entirely-whole almonds or it will take too long to dry. 

  7. Transfer all seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, coconut-soaked oatmeal and/or cornflakes into a very large mixing bowl. 

  8. Cut the cores out of the apples and add the apple flesh (skin on) to the food processor, along with all remaining ingredients for the sauce. 

  9. Blend this sauce mixture as smooth as possible (not critical). 

  10. Mix the sauce evenly through the granola mixture with your hands. 

  11. Spread evenly over ~ 6 x square dehydrator trays or equivalent. If using an oven, it may require 3 shelves in a wide oven to fit it all 

  12. Set the dehydrator to 47°C for a raw granola and bake for 16+hrs. Alternatively, set to the max temperature on your dehydrator (~65°C?) and check back at the 12hr mark. See notes below for oven instructions. 

  13. Test that the biggest piece of almond or walnut is 100% crunchy with ZERO yield when you bite into it to know that it is done. If it is not 100% dry then it may go moldy before you have a chance to eat it from your pantry. Store in fridge if in doubt. It might be so delicious that this won't have time to be an option ;) 

Notes/Tips

For a granola that is approximately as sweet as the ones in the shops, you may need to double (2x) the maple syrup used or only 1.5x if using honey instead. Carob syrup is sweet but also contributes excellent iron, calcium-without-oxalates, fibre, no fat, and no caffeine. It will not leave an overpowering flavour once baked either, just nicely sweet. 

Rooibos powder is difficult to find and is therefore optional. It would contribute very high levels of antioxidants and a nice mild flavour. Other subtle flavour options could include lucuma, maca, chai powder, or more cinnamon and vanilla. 

The dehydrator is required to maintain enzyme levels and keep it a 'raw' product (under 47°C). You can however use the oven, set to 60-70°C (140-160°F) and check it at the 8hr mark. Open the oven every hour or so to let out excess moisture. 

Corn Bread Recipe

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Simple and easy! This cornbread is traditionally served both as a sweet treat or as a savoury accompaniment to chili, stews, or soups. It is best served fresh as it can dry out quickly over the next couple of days. Whilst the recipe is straightforward, the bread is super versatile, it can be lightly steamed or toasted to refresh, or grilled in a sandwich press. 

My favourite sweet toppings include tahini, nut butters, jam, honey, maple syrup, coconut yogurt and fresh fruit. They could be made in 'english muffin' forms and sent in school lunches like scones or english muffin 'sandwiches'.  To increase moisture even further, try substituting the non-dairy milk for 1 ¼ Cup of sweet potato mash instead. It may need a bit longer in the oven. 

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Ingredients

  • ¾ Cup 220g Non-dairy milk (coconut, soy etc.) 

  • ½ tsp Apple cider vinegar 

  • ⅓ Cup 85g Rice malt syrup, applesauce, or Maple 

  • ¼ Cup 60g Macadamia oil or light-flavoured oil 

  • 1 ¼ Cup 140g GF flour blend or, 

  • ½ Cup Buckwheat flour + 

  • ½ Cup Sorghum flour + 

  • ¼ Cup Besan (chickpea) flour 

  • 1 Cup 170g Organic polenta (cornmeal) 

  • 1 ½ tsp Baking powder 

  • ½ tsp Baking soda 

  • ½ tsp Salt 

  • ½ Cup 130g Aquafaba (juice from chickpea tin) 

  • ¼ tsp Apple cider vinegar 

  • ½ tsp Xanthan gum (or guar gum) 

Instructions

  1. In a measuring jug, add all liquids and stir to combine. 

  2. In a separate bowl, add all dry ingredients and stir to combine, ensuring no little chunks of baking soda or powder remain. 

  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). 

  4. Choose a baking dish, approximately 20cm (8") square, 22cm (9") round, or 12 cupcakes. 

  5. In a bone-dry and clean whisking machine (beaters, Thermomix with butterfly, mix-master, or other food processor with whipping attachment), add the aquafaba and vinegar. 

  6. Whisk on high (TM 3.5) for approximately 2 minutes or until egg-white froth forms and expands. 

  7. With the machine still running, slowly sprinkle in the xanthan gum. 

  8. Combine the first liquid mixture with the dry ingredients and mix well. Then fold in the aquafaba, gently but quickly to preserve as much lightness as possible. 

  9. Transfer immediately into the baking dish and smooth the surface. 

  10. Bake for ~26min (or ~19 for cupcakes) or until a toothpick, inserted into the middle, comes out clean. Overcooking will dry it out, undercooking slightly should be ok once it sits and cools a bit. 

© Copyright 2019, Kitchen Coaching Australia - The contents of this document are protected by copyright law. Copyright in this material resides with the authors and Kitchen Coaching Australia. 

The State of Our Lunchboxes

There has been a whole lot of discussion in the last two weeks in Australia with regard to school lunchboxes and their contents. Led by an article on ABC News by Margaret Burin titled “What’s in our kids’ lunch boxes?” - the article literally dove into the contents of school lunchboxes and discussed how there was a huge disparity between what many Australian children eat for lunch. This was followed up this week with an opinion piece by Emma Beckett, which discussed some of the “whys” that this is happening, you can read this article here (I will refer back to this article later in my comments at the bottom of this post).

I preface this blog post with this: this is not about shaming children or parents, this is about continuing the conversation about the food our children are eating. How have we ended up here? What are the fundamental deficiencies in our society that has led to this? Why are families led to believe that this is the only way? There are more questions than answers, and I hope to contribute some answers. If any of the lunchboxes in this blog seem familiar, it is OK, you are doing your best with the time, money and tools you have on hand. I also want you to know that there is a path that you can take that will provide you a better result with the same time and money. I truly want to help you and your family.

I shared my thoughts on this article on social media, and there was a more discussion about how many parents were in a space of struggle to escape the packaged foods in lunch boxes cycle.

This led to me doing some deeper research to help understand the cost, the nutrition and the reasons as to why some children are being sent to school with nutritionally-poor foods. So my team and I crunched some numbers, and came out with some incredible results. We took two of the lunch boxes from the article and priced them at a major supermarket AND we combined the nutritional panels to show the macro nutrients in each lunchbox. But here’s the kicker, we then created a lunchbox from some of the easiest recipes from my archive (and one’s that store well frozen and are perfect for big batching). It’s a big review, so buckle up and read on to find out what we discovered.

Source: ABC News - Margaret Burin

Source: ABC News - Margaret Burin

Example Lunchbox #1

Here is what I would have classified as the “worst” of the lunchboxes in the story - I feel for both the child and the parent in this example. All the food in the lunchbox is packaged, and the only vegetable in the mix is potato.

Within The Lunchbox (and What’s the Cost?):

  • Mini Oreo - $0.40

  • Shapes Mini Chicken Crimpy Flavour - $0.33

  • French Fries - $0.53

  • Twisties - $0.52

  • LCM Coco Pops - $0.50

  • Mini Wafers - $0.42

  • Juice Popper - $0.75

  • Wedges (from the Tuckshop) - $4.50

The total cost (true supermarket prices) for this lunchbox is $7.95. The time invested in this lunchbox is limited, literally the time to shop for the packaged foods and the time it took to put it in the lunchbox.

What’s in The Food?

I dug into the ingredient lists and have shared them verbatim here, where there are whole foods (i.e. foods that haven’t been modified dramatically from their original form) I have bolded them. I haven’t included sugar or salt in this, because I think added sugar is unnecessary and the quality of the salt is unknown.

Mini Oreos - Wheat Flour, Sugar, Vegetable Oil (contains Antioxidant (319)), Cocoa Powder (4.5%), Glucose Syrup, Raising Agents (500, 503), Salt, Maize Starch, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavour. 

Shapes Mini Chicken Crimpy - Wheat Flour, Malt Extract (From Barley), Baking Powder, Flavour Enhancers (E621, E635), Onion Powder, Natural Flavour, Maltodextrin (Maize), Chicken, Spices, Antioxidants (E304, E307B From Soy), Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin).

French Fries - Potatoes, Vegetable Oil, Salt

Twisties - Cereals (Corn, Rice), Whey Powder (Milk), Cheese Powder (Barley, Milk), Flavour Enhancers (621, 635), Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Yeast Extract, Mineral Salt (Potassium Chloride), Cream Powder (Milk), Milk Powder, Natural Colours (Paprika Extract, Carotene), Food Acid (Lactic Acid).

LCM Coco Pops - Choc Compound (18%)(Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Milk Solids, Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier [Soy Lecithin, 476, 4911, Flavour, Salt), Rice Bubbles (16%)(Whole White Rice, Sugar, Salt, Barley Malt Extract), Glucose, Fructose Powder, Invert Sugar, Hydrogenated Soyabean Oil (Antioxidants [304, 307Bll, Sugar, Glucose Solids, Cocoa (1.5%1, Skim Milk Powder, Humectant (Glycerol), Gelatine, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 471E), Salt, Natural Flavour.

Mini Wafer - Sugar, Wheat Flour, Vegetable Fat (Coconut Oil), Non Fat Milk Powder, Cornflour, Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier (Soy lecithin), Salt, Colours (Caramel I, Carmine, Paprika), Natural Flavours, Raising Agent (500). Contains Minimum 70% Cream Filling.

Juice Popper - Reconstituted Fruit Juice [Apple (63%), Orange (20%), Pineapple (15%), Passion Fruit (1.0%), Banana Puree (0.5%), Food Acid (Citric Acid), Flavours, Vitamin C.

Wedges - Potato (87%), Seasoning (Wheat Flour, Wheat Starch, Salt, Maize Flour, Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper), Canola Oil, Dextrose.

That is quite the menu of ingredients!!! There is over 60 ingredients in this lunchbox. SIXTY.

What is the Nutritional Value?**

Unfortunately the data available on the complete nutrition of these foods is unavailable, but I was able to use the nutritional panels on each of these products to compile a total of the panels required by law for macro nutrients. The numbers are astounding. I have also compared where Recommended Dietary Intakes exist for an 11 year old child and an adult male (1.8m tall). Interestingly there are no recommended dietary intakes for fat or sugar!

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This lunchbox, if all eaten, would have provided 80% of the energy requirements for an adult male - AND exceeds the energy requirements of an 11 year old child by 527kJ. Further, the sodium content is almost matching the recommended sodium intake for an adult male. The other concerning numbers are the high amounts of saturated fats and free sugars in the food (and not from whole foods).

Source: ABC News - Margaret Burin

Source: ABC News - Margaret Burin

Example Lunchbox #2

This lunchbox was a little further along the spectrum. It offered a homemade wrap and a banana with other packaged foods. Definitely a step in the right direction. Let’s look at this lunchbox in the same way.

Within The Lunchbox (and What’s the Cost?):

  • Le Snak - $0.46

  • Smiths Chips - $0.27

  • Juice Popper - $0.75

  • Kinder Bueno - $2.00

  • Banana - $0.88

  • Wrap - $0.63 (plus fillings of ham ($0.96) and cheese ($0.31))

The total cost (true supermarket prices) for this lunchbox is $6.26. The time invested is in the sourcing of the foods, the creation of the simple wrap and the packing of the lunchbox, marginally more than Lunchbox #1.

What’s in The Food?

I’ve done the same here, I’ve taken the ingredients lists verbatim and pasted below. I’ve also bolded the whole food ingredients.

Le Snak: Cheese Spread [Cheddar Cheese (45%)( Milk , Salt, Starter Culture), Water, Margarine (Vegetable Fats and Oils, Water, Salt, Milk Solids, Emulsifiers[ Soy Lecithin, 471], Antioxidants[304, 307b from Soy ]), Flavour [Lactose ( Milk ), Yeast Extract, Salt], Whey Powder ( Milk ), Milk Mineral, Mineral Salts (339, 452), Preservative (234)]. Cracker [ Wheat Flour, Vegetable Fats and Oils [ Antioxidants (307, 307b from Soy )], Wholemeal Wheat Flour , Sugar, Wheat Bran , Invert Syrup, Salt, Raising Agents (503, 500), Poppy Seeds, Wheat Germ].

Smiths Chips – Salt & Vinegar - Potatoes, Vegetable Oils (Sunflower And/Or Canola), Food Acids (Sodium Diacetate, Citric Acid), Lactose (Milk), Salt, Mineral Salt (Potassium Chloride), Sugar, Flavour Enhancer (621), Dextrose, Natural Flavours.

Juice Popper - Reconstituted Apple Juice (84.7%), Reconstituted Mango Puree (15%), Vitamin C, Food Acid (Malic Acid).

Kinder Bueno - Milk Chocolate (31.5%) (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Skim Milk Powder, Anhydrous Milkfat, Emulsifier: Lecithins (Soy), Flavouring: Vanillin), Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Palm), Wheat Flour, Hazelnuts (10.5%), Skim Milk Powder, Whole Milk Powder, Dark Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier: Lecithin (Soy), Flavouring: Vanillin), Fat - Reduced Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier (Lecithins) (Soy), Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Carbonate), Salt, Flavouring (Vanillin)

Banana – Banana!

Wrap - Wheat Flour (72%) (Thiamine, Folic Acid), Water, Mineral Salts (450, 500), Iodised Salt, Vegetable Oil [Antioxidant (320)], Sugar, Vegetable Gums (412, 466), Emulsifier (471), Acidity Regulator (297), Preservatives (282, 200).

Sliced Ham - Pork (73%), Water, Salt, Acidity Regulators (326, 262), Dextrose (Maize, Tapioca), Emulsifiers (450, 451, 508), Pork Protein (Herb Extract), Sugar, Modified Tapioca Starch (1412), Thickener (407a), Antioxidant (316), Sodium Nitrite (250), Potato Fibre, Citrus Fibre, Canola Oil, Smoke Flavour.

Sliced Cheese - Pasteurised Milk, Salt, Starter Cultures, Non-Animal Rennet

This is largely not much better than Lunchbox #1, there are more food additives than you can poke a stick at. It makes you rethink whether these “foods” are truly food. Or are they frankenfoods?

What is the Nutritional Value?

This lunchbox performs better than lunchbox #1 when it comes to energy intake, it leaves 1500kJ for the child to eat for breakfast, snacks and dinner (if they were 11 years old). However the sodium levels EXCEEDS the recommended intake for an adult male. This is scary. Too much sodium in the body can have dramatic impacts on the heart and blood pressure (see this report from Harvard). Food manufacturers have to shape up here, they are filling their foods with salt, fat and sugar without care for the child who is eating the food.

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The Kitchen Coach Lunchbox.jpg

Example Lunchbox #3

This lunchbox wasn’t in the article, searched through my easy recipe archive and pulled together what I thought was a tasty, easy and nutritious lunchbox. No packets, all real food, even with a sweet treat for the lucky kid! I also worked out the embedded cost in each home made item (based on supermarket ingredient prices) to help compare apples to apples!

Within The Lunchbox (and What’s the Cost?):

  • Savoury Pancake - $1.43

  • Hummus - $0.71

  • Choc Veggie Cake - $0.89

  • Carrot Sticks - $0.15

  • Celery Sticks - $0.29

  • Banana - $0.88

  • Apple - $0.57

  • Popcorn - $0.19

The total cost for this lunchbox is $5.11. Cheaper than both of the examples shared in the ABC article. The time invested is higher, but all the home made foods can be made in bulk batches AND stored easily in the freezer for easy grab for lunch box packing.

What’s in The Food?

In this case I haven’t bolded the whole food ingredients because they are ALL whole foods!

Savoury Pancakes – Zucchini, Carrot, Onion, Green Onions, Sweet Potato, Parsley, All-purpose Herb Mix, Celtic/Himalayan Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Olive Oil, Egg, Buckwheat Flour, Baking Soda.

Hummus – Chickpeas, Tahini, Olive Oil, Lemon, Garlic, Salt, Cumin 

Chocolate Veggie Cake - Beetroots, Zucchini, Chia seeds, Buckwheat Flour, Cacao Powder, Coconut, Baking Powder, Salt, Vanilla Powder, Coconut Oil, Dates, Egg, Tahini

Carrot Sticks – Carrot

Celery Sticks – Celery

Banana – Banana

 Apple – Apple

 Popcorn – Popping Corn, Salt

What is the Nutritional Value?

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This lunchbox brings a reasonable amount of calorific energy for the child, with ample protein, and significantly reduced sodium. The interesting thing to note with the nutritional panel is that it puts fruit sugars in the sugars category, making it appear to be “full” of sugar. In this case the sugar comes from the beetroot, dates, carrot, banana and apple - not processed sugar. The total carbohydrates will also include significant amounts of fibre compared to the previous 2 lunchbox examples, which is highly beneficial.

What’s the Verdict?

There is so much to unpack here, comparing apples to apples highlights some major things. The biggest take away is real food CAN be cheaper than packaged, processed foods. This review also highlights another major issue, processed foods contain too many ingredients that are not healthful to the body, sodium and fat levels are simply too high in these foods. I believe there is a need for a huge shift with food that targets children (i.e. the lunchbox section in the supermarket) - there are two approaches, 1) the government could regulate it to improve the health outcomes for the consumer or 2) the manufacturers face up to their practices and make changes to their offerings that have a net benefit to the consumer. There is a third approach that I advocate, and that is to cut out the packets and feed real, whole foods to your children - manufacturers would not be happy with this approach, but it wouldn’t take long for them to hear our “votes” with our dollars. Taking back control of what fuels our children is crucial for the health of our communities, our country, and our future.


An Addendum…

I wanted to comment on the opinion article from Emma Beckett. She made some valid points in relation to the why lunchboxes are the way they are, but I believe all of these are easily surmountable if a person is willing to do so (at very little cost).

Cost

The opinion pice mentioned that whilst processed foods cost more, they were beneficial due to their shelf life and less spoilage risk compared to fresh foods. The scary thing is she also identified the biggest issue with packaged foods, that they can last up to YEARS - if the packaged food is food it is completely unnatural for it to last years without spoilage!

Another point here is why our society has let our communities get to the point where affordability of food is an issue. This goes beyond this blog, but I believe that EVERYONE has the right to access fresh, real food - at a price that they can afford and thrive upon. Eating real food has a huge impact on the community, through better health outcomes, better school results and less drain on our medical system.

Real, whole foods are cheaper for the consumer, this is proven via the examples of the lunchboxes above. With a small time investment required to turn them into lunchbox worthy foods that can be stored for weeks in the freezer. PLUS the savings from the real food is significant, just from my lunchbox example above, a family would save $230 per child if they changed their lunchbox to whole food!!!

Storage

The opinion piece made some goods points around families not necessarily having the storage for fresh foods (or from meal preps) - whilst I see the point, when it comes to preparing whole food meals, these can be stored easily in a freezer (which can be bought on FB marketplace for ~$50!). The lunchbox example I gave, all the prepared foods can be made in advance and frozen for easy access when putting the lunchbox together. Many fruits and vegetables can store well in fridges, and if there is strategy to preparing meals, there will be minimal wastage.

Transport

There has been a lot of discussion around food deserts in Australia (i.e. more than 1600m to a grocery store for a family without a vehicle) - there has been little done to help rectify this. Filling the gap are convenience stores, which rarely stock fresh produce, and usually stock foods that are more snack foods rather than complete meals. Home delivery services are now beginning to fill the gap for those without time or transport, so hopefully this will kill the food desert issues. When someone has to make a decision that impacts on their health, rather than improves their health, this is a systemic failure on multiple levels - education, food distribution, government and the manufacturers.

Final Note

Saying that including processed and packaged foods in your diet is ok is potentially dangerous. When many of the foods on our supermarket shelves have levels of sodium, sugar and fat that are simply unhealthy, it is not ideal to have these feature in your diet (if at all!). There are however many packaged foods that are relatively healthy, and contain minimal artificial additives - these are items that should be given massive gold stars for thinking of the consumer’s health (NOT the bottom line).

The disparity in offerings poses one question, can food manufacturers be their own police when it comes to ingredients? When the same shelf can host a healthy snack bar and a processed sugar-laden treat, there is something that wrong with our food system.

Our kids deserve leadership on this issue, we are relying on low-nutrition foods to fuel them, and we wonder why the classroom is full of children that can’t hold attention and children who are under-nourished due to the food choices they are given. Something must change, and the question is, who will take the lead?

**RDI Values taken from https://www.nrv.gov.au/introduction