We’ve been on Chef Steps again (one of my husbands favourite websites!) after making the appletouille which was a huge hit I wanted to make something that was AIP compliant but also the whole family could enjoy.
As anyone on AIP knows you have to cut out all nightshades, which means no tomato sauce, so we’ve come up with our own version which is just as delicious.
Roasted Root Vegetable Ratatouille with Nomato Sauce
Founded by Mum of three boys Skye Abrahams, Packed is a Melbourne business supplying real food lunchboxes to children in pre-school to grade 3.
Launching in February, Packed only uses the best quality local produce and organic wherever possible. A new menu is prepared each term based on seasonal ingredients and no additives, preservatives or refined sugar are ever used.
I caught up with Skye recently to find out more about herself and Packed.
How did the idea for Packed come about?
Packed has come about as a combination of a life-long passion for health and food, and noticing a gap in the market for truly healthy, sustainable lunchboxes. Packed will target Melbourne schools that either don’t have a tuckshop, or only have unhealthy options. I hear many parents complaining about the greasy corner milkbar without a single gluten free option and not a vegetable in sight. Parents deserve a day or two off the lunchbox treadmill, and the quality of their children’s lunches shouldn’t have to suffer in order to achieve this.
Will you be offering special dietary requirement options?
Yes! All our lunches are refined sugar free and free from additives including preservatives, colours and flavours. We also have plenty of gluten and dairy free options available.
What does “sustainability” mean to Packed and why should parents care?
I really didn’t want to create a take away option that put a further strain on the environment. We’re early days at Packed, so we’re currently operating using Greenmark compostable packaging, but the plan is to operate using a fleet of stainless steel lunchboxes that we collect and wash each day from school (watch this space!). Parents are more time poor than ever before, with many families having both parents working. It’s easy to see why readily packaged foods are so popular. I want to provide a convenient option that eliminates packaging entirely. Many schools are promoting “nude food”, so it’s great to be able to supply a lunch that is in line with this philosophy.
What’s your approach to feeding a growing family?
In a nutshell: Just eat real food. I have overcome some serious fussy eating in our family (think plain carbs only). I find consistently offering a broad, healthy, colourful spread of food and discussing the benefits of various food with the children has really helped broaden their palate. We also talk about the detrimental affects too much sugar and “fake food” full of numbers can have on our body. I notice behavioural side effects following high amounts of sugar and especially artificial colours, so I always use that as an opportunity to talk about how that food made them feel. I don’t like to demonise any food, so I try not to get too uptight about what the boys might eat at a party or a friend’s house, but educating them on the benefits of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins and having these foods at the centre of their diet is my mandate.
What’s your boys favourite lunch?
They all have different favourites! The older two love fresh fruit, especially berries. I craved raspberries during pregnancy and it’s easy to see where that came from! I caught one of them trading pocket money for the youngest’s left over egg and lettuce sandwich, so that is evidently a current fave! My youngest loves a hot meal, so in the cooler months I send leftovers in a thermos for him. I’m hoping to be out at schools with a pot of warm soup as part of our “Packed” lunch service in the winter months!
What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?
Another tricky one! I’m going to say avocado. How good are avocados?! Fortunately, all three of my boys like avocado, so that is a super easy lunch if I’m short on time. So full of vitamins and healthy fats to fill them up. I remember travelling overseas when my youngest had just started solids. Not wanting to rely on packet food, but not having access to a kitchen, bubs enjoyed many a mashed avo, mashed banana, natural yoghurt, or squashed peach!
I would like to give a very warm welcome to the lovely Georgia Harding from Well Nourished. Georgia is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience living in sunny Queensland with her two lovely children and husband.
As a background, I stumbled across Georgia, via her Well Nourished Lunchbox Facebook group (which has amassed a huge following!) and swiftly purchased her Well Nourished Lunchbox e-book which has now become a firm favourite in our household.
Fun question to start with! What was the last book you read?
Con Iggulden Conqueror Series – a series of five books that basically tell the life story of Genghis Khan, they were brilliant. The most fascinating part for me is learning how the Mongols survived trekking the harshest climate consuming mostly milk (from their horses and goats), dried meat and root vegetables (while they lasted) and when desperate, they nicked an artery and drank the blood of their mares. Even the heaviest reads come back to food for me – ha ha!
What was your inspiration for starting Well Nourished?
Definitely my kids. I really wanted to help families to feed their kids well. The predictions for the long term health and wellbeing of this generation is pretty dire. Starting my website was my way of sharing my experience as a Naturopath and my passion for making whole foods utterly delicious to make a difference.
How have your own health problems shaped the way you eat?
I’ve always eaten pretty well, I was very lucky to be raised by a very health conscious mum. I’ve been seriously ill twice in my lifetime and I suppose this has actually forced me to look beyond food to heal. On both occasions stress, unresolved grief and pushing myself beyond reasonable limits contributed a lot to my health decline. Eating well comes very naturally, I love cooking – but managing my stress, putting myself first occasionally is a work in progress!
Has your philosophy on food changed since having children?
I suppose I’ve been forced to loosen up a bit. I found with my first child I was very strict around food which was okay when she was little but when she began school and socialising with other kids I had to back of a lot in order for her to develop a healthy relationship with food. Kids are human, it’s normal for them to want what others have so I feed my family very well when I’m in charge, but at parties and sleep overs, they make their own choices (with my guidance and ongoing food education of course). When they don’t make good choices, we talk about how they feel and now my daughter is 12 (and has gorged herself on junk plenty of times) she is now very aware of how food makes her feel and I’m so proud of how she is able to make very healthy choices these days. Paves the way for her being able to self regulate as an adult.
What top 3 tips would you give to families looking to transition to a more wholesome way of eating?
Start slowly, choose one meal or food group and focus on that. Fill your pantry and fridge with mostly whole foods so there is less temptation to choose processed meals and snacks.
Talk to your kids (and spouse) about the importance of making changes and how eating whole food helps their body and brain to be stronger, smarter etc;
Get them involved, ask for their feedback and support. Encourage them to help you when shopping and cooking – kids who feel they have had some involvement in their meal are way more likely to eat it.
What advice would you give to parents whose children have food intolerances/allergies but are going through a fussy eating stage?
All kids will go through a fussy stage at some point. It’s important to never give in to it and substitute a healthy whole food with nutritionally void food (because ‘something is better than nothing’). I understand that it is tough, but in my experience preventing food fussiness is easier than reversing it and if you give in once, your kids learn that they choose (where as you choose what and when, they choose how much). I have a whole library of information and strategies written on this topic which I’m hoping to release this year.
What’s your go-to family meal?
We eat such a varied diet – the upside of having a compulsively creative cook in charge!! If I’m feeling lazy though it will be some kind of simply cooked protein and a big salad.
What exciting things have you got lined up in 2017?
My website is in the process of being rebranded and rebuilt. I’m also developing an online library (of mostly podcasts) to help busy parents to raise food loving kids (and banish food fussiness). I’ve teamed up with a fabulous psychotherapist to share this fabulous info with loads of actionable strategies to really get kids eating and loving whole foods like my own do. Also a small pictorial cookbook of easy, whole food recipes that even little kids can cook from. Busy year!!
Please note as an affiliate of Well Nourished I will receive a small commission from the sale of each e-book that is made via my website. This helps to cover some of the running costs with maintaining my blog and also go towards some of Gracie’s medical expenses.
I’m a one pot wonder kind of girl so this recipe really hits the spot, even better you can cook it slowly while you sleep! It’s extremely tender because it’s slow cooked on a low temperature for 12-13 hours and is covered to prevent evaporation and drying out.
This year my husband and I are trying get back on track financially. Last year we had a few hiccups so 2017 for us is getting back on our feet and trying to work towards setting some kind of budget to work with. We’re a single income family which has taken some adjustment, especially for myself the past couple of years.
Daddy bought his girls some flowers
Looking through all our bills it’s pretty clear that one of our largest spends is on food (as well as supplements – don’t get me started on those costs!). We tend to shop at various places to get different things and it all adds up, $50 here and $100 there…you end up losing track of what you’ve spent until you get a huge credit card bill at the end of the month.
As Grace and I have different but similar special dietary requirements at the moment, the main thing that we all eat A LOT of is vegetables and fruit, like ridiculous amounts!
So a couple of nights ago my husband said that he would get up early regardless of how many times Grace woke up throughout the night and leave around 5am on Saturday morning to go and shop at Flemington Markets! Well Grace must have a sixth sense as she woke up three times during the night and only wanted Daddy!!
So my tired husband arrived home a couple of hours later, high on caffeine buzzing about all the amazing produce he had bought for $146!! It took a good couple of hours to sort through and put away in the fridge and pantry, but we didn’t mind. I’m 100% certain if we had bought all this at the shops it would have cost double the price.
Was it worth it? Totally! Yes it took more time and my husband had to get up extremely early but the savings were incredible and justified. Eating healthily and continuing to be able to do so is a priority of our family, so we will definitely be making this a regular occurrence.
Would love to hear if anyone else regularly shops at their local Markets, do you make large savings? Is the produce better quality?
For more information on Flemington Markets, click here.
My husband bought a tray of lovely heirloom tomatoes from Flemington Markets. Some of them were already pretty over ripe so we decided to make a quick and easy tomato sauce which can be used as the base for many other delicious meals.
Even better it’s cheap to make, you can control the sodium levels and no refined sugar like the majority of store bought sauces contain.
In a mixing bowl, combine chickpea flour and salt. Gradually add water, whisking constantly, until a smooth, thin batter forms. Let stand, covered, at least 4 and up to a maximum of 8 hours
Preheat oven to 280C and position oven rack in second position from top. If you have a pizza stone or sheet pan, set it on the rack (it will help crisp the farinata from below, but isn't required).
Pour olive oil into well-seasoned large cast iron skillet and swirl to fully coat bottom in an even layer. Using a spoon, scrape any foam from surface of batter and discard. Stir batter to mix well, then pour into skillet. Stir gently to swirl oil on top of batter
Season all over with black pepper and sprinkle with rosemary leaves, if using.
Change oven setting to grill. Set skillet on pizza stone or sheet pan or on the oven rack if not using a stone, and cook until farinata has just set, no longer jiggles, and is browned all over, about 11 minutes. If your grill cycles off, you can prop the oven door open with a utensil to keep it on the whole time.
Let farinata cool slightly until set. Eat warm or at room temperature.