Cronx Kitchen: healthy packed lunches for school


By - Wednesday 3rd September, 2014

Sahara Quli, founder of social enterprise Mum’s The Chef, welcomes readers to our new Cronx Kitchen recipe series


Chefs in training.
Photo by Mum’s the Chef, used with permission.

In April 2013 I founded Mum’s The Chef, a social enterprise aimed at tackling long-term unemployment among ethnic minority women.

We know what great chefs so many mums are, but sometimes they face barriers to employment such as a lack of work experience or qualifications, or poor English language skills. At Mum’s The Chef we offer women training in catering, in many cases building upon great knowledge they already possess, so that they can use these skills to enter the workforce.

All working parents understand the pressures of juggling work and family life. However busy we are, we still want our kids to eat good food – and that’s how this series got started.

Cronx Kitchen will help you prepare quick, simple, healthy and delicious dishes, and we’ll make sure that they don’t break the bank. Later on in the series we’ll be looking at family meals, healthy eating for people with diabetes and other common conditions, after-school snacks, kids with allergies and other special nutritional requirements as well as the needs of certain ethnic groups.

But as the new school year begins this week, we thought we’d start with lunchbox recipes to keep children going through a whole action-packed day at school.

Grilled chicken.
Photo by Mum’s the Chef, used with the permission.

Recipe: Home-made tortillas for lunchboxes

Ingredients: plain flour, butter, baking powder, salt (to taste)

Method: Mix flour with baking powder and salt. Rub in butter, to create a polenta-like texture. Add water slowly, mixing with your hands to make a soft dough and rest this for 10 minutes.

Divide into small balls then roll out into desired size. Cook in a dry heavy frying pan until bubbles appear on the surface then turn over and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

Keep the tortillas stacked and warm inside a clean tea towel.

Gluten-free tortillas: Instead of plain flour, use either buckwheat flour, rice flour, gluten-free white bread flour or gluten-free brown bread flour.

Then you can offer a choice of delicious, healthy fillings:

A. Chickpea salad with a homemade tomato sauce

Ingredients: chickpeas, raw or tinned; onions, cucumber, lettuce, tomato and other salad veg

Method: soak, wash and boil chickpeas (if raw) then mix with onions, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and other vegetables

Homemade tomato sauce

Ingredients: tomatoes, dried red chillies (optional), brown sugar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, ginger (grated), garlic (finely chopped), extra virgin olive oil

Method: Roughly chop tomatoes, blend together with other ingredients in a food processor. The puree should be smooth but a little chunky.

Add puree to a large shallow pan and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring frequently for 45 minutes. Cook until the texture resembles jam.

Cool and store in airtight containers. Fill your tortillas with salad and top with sauce.

B. Grilled chicken with a homemade mayonnaise substitute

Grill a chicken breast seasoned with whatever herbs and spices you enjoy.

Mayonnaise substitute: Strain plain yoghurt so it becomes a thick sauce and season with salt/garlic and any other herbs. Spread on bread and top with sliced chicken.

Sahara Quli

Sahara Quli

I am the founder of social enterprise, Mum's The Chef. I was one of the first Asian women to reach director level in publishing, having spearheaded the popularity of customer focused magazines, such as British Airways’ High Life magazine. In 2008 I was appointed as CEO of KnowHowNonProfit, an online service that offered free toolkits for small voluntary sector groups unable to afford either the time or money on training.

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  • Stephen Giles

    We were allowed to take sandwiches only for lunch at QE Boys Grammar School Barnet (you know, the one that keeps topping the A Level table!!) but who wanted that when school lunch provided jam roly poly or spotted dick for pud!!! This was late 50s – early 60s of course.