Make it Through the Dark Tip #8 - Healthy School Lunch Pots

I have got into a pretty good routine this year of making healthy school lunches as a way of saving money and eating properly throughout the week. Its so easy in winter to get stuck in the habit of eating heavy food for lunch and then again for dinner, which I find does not help at all with things like Seasonal Affective Disorder and general energy levels in the cold weather. Eating fresh salad pots for lunch every day helps me stay awake in the afternoons at work and spending an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night is a nice piece of routine which I find helps me set myself up for the week ahead. Bonus.

There is no recipe to follow here but the basic layering rule I follow is healthy grain base, carrot, green and red in the middle, orange on top.
For a grain base I (as with everything) use whatever I have in. Cooked and cooled pearl barley, lentils, this week I'm trying out bulgar wheat, you could use chickpeas or quinoa as well. I tend to add a couple crushed cloves of garlic to any of these as I'm cooking them to give it a bit of flavour (also because I love garlic). This layer is mostly to bulk the salad out so you feel like you've eaten something. Into this I mix some quinoa flakes, milled flax seed and maybe some seeds. I even added some porridge oats one time, it was good.
I then make a nice fresh carrot salad - grating 2-3 carrots, a little fresh ginger, some chia or poppy seeds, olive oil and lemon juice. This can be mixed through the grain base or layered on top depending on how fancy you feel. Then add basic salad greens - cucumber, mange tout, chopped green beans, spring onion. A handful of mint or coriander doesn't go amiss either. Maybe some red things, cherry tomatoes and red peppers - I call this the Vitamin C layer.
I use this as an excuse to use up any winter vege I have floating around the fridge. The end of a butternut squash or the last couple of sweet potatoes are easily peeled, cubed and fried for 20min or so until they are crispy and delicious. Pro tip - add a teaspoonish of paprika. Amazing stuff. Cool these off and on top they go with a sprinkle of chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice to add Z E S T.
BOSH. No more falling asleep on Thursday afternoons.

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