Pimp up your lunch boxes!


I develop recipes on a daily basis, to keep the food my family thrives on exciting. I especially develop a lot of new recipes to keep school and work lunch boxes exciting. However this is easier said than done. The pressure of producing a wholesome, delicious and OMG lunchbox is full on! Social media has a lot to answer for, all those beautiful lunch box photos in their cute little bento boxes - its FULL ON!!!

Lunch boxes have come a long way, I can remember going to school with a vegemite sandwich and piece of fruit for years!!

So......with all this pressure and the amount of processed food on the supermarket shelves that are target marketed to our precious young children, it is my duty of care to develop recipes that are easy for mums to replicate at home, and recipes that will become family favourites.

Today, I welcome you to the classic 'Spinach + Ricotta' pastry. This filling is super easy, and can be used in a number of various menus. Hear are some ideas;

Spinach + Ricotta Cannelloni - for a simple, quick & easy dinner meal, take piece of mountain bread, add filling and roll into a cannelloni. Pop into a rectangle baking dish, top with some pasatta that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, chopped herbs [parsley & basil] a little drizzle of olive oil, mix well & spoon over the top of cannelloni. Top with a handful of parmesan cheese & light sprinkle of mozzarella - bake in moderate oven 180°C, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Spinach + Ricotta Pie - This is a family fave! Grab yourself a pie dish, grease the base with melted butter or coconut oil spray. Line with filo pastry that has been brushed with a little melted butter in between sheets. When laying the sheets into your pie dish, make sure you rotate the sheets so that you have a circle of pastry that is evenly overlapping the outside the dish [as this will be folded back into the centre of the pie to create the lid]. Pop spinach + ricotta filling into dish over the top of the filo. Cover the pie with 2 more sheets of filo, and start to fold the pastry that is overlapping the pie dish to create a rolled border around the pie. Brush top & edges with a little more butter, bake in hot oven 200°C for 25 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.

As you can see, this recipe has a number of uses, which is what I love!
For me cooking should be an enjoyable experience, the more you love it, the more you will do it. If you fall out of love with cooking because you are frustrated with food rejection from your family - just go back to basics, re group as a family and plan your family meals together. I find when we empower our kids to help with meals, acceptance levels to the meals prepared increase, and happier conversations are had around the dinner table.

Enjoy my latest recipe that I share with you. 

Makes approx 4 large rolls + 5 turnovers

1 x brown onion
1 x clove garlic
20 grams salted butter
1 TBS olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 x bunch silverbeet or english spinach, washed, remove harder larger outer stems, leaves and inner white viens finely chopped
600gr Full fat ricotta cheese, [the best one to buy is the fresh variety found in most delis]
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
70 grams danish feta cheese
3 x sheets puff pastry.

1. Add onion & garlic, chop speed 5 / 3 seconds. Wipe down side of bowl
2. Add butter & olive oil, season with salt & pepper. Cook 4 minutes / 90 degrees / speed 1
3. Add chopped spinach, pich of salt & pepper. Cook 15 minutes / 100 degreese / speed 1
4. Once cooked, transfer mix to steamer basket [make sure it is sitting on a bowl] to strain away excess moisture and allow to cool - approx 10 minutes.
5. Without washing your bowl, add ricotta, cooled spinach mix, nutmeg, egg, crumbled feta & a pinch of salt & pepper. Mix 10 seconds / Rev / Speed 3. Check, wipe down side of bowl and repeat if necessary.

METHOD [Traditional method]
1. Finely chop garlic & onion. Melt butter & olive oil in large frypan over medium heat. Add onion + garlic, season with salt and pepper, slowly cook for approx 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and creamy.
2. Add chopped silverbeet/spinach, mix well and continue to cook on medium heat. Place lid on frypan, stirring occasionally, to ensure silverbeet/spinach cooks evenly. Continue to cook for 15 minutes or until silverbeet/spinach has softened.  
4. Once cooked, transfer mix to colander [make sure it is sitting on a bowl] to strain away excess moisture and allow to cool - approx 10 minutes.
5. In a clean bowl, add ricotta, cooled spinach mix, nutmeg, egg, crumbled feta & a pinch of salt & pepper. Using a wooden spinach gently mix filling until spinach, feta & egg is evenly mixed throughout.

To Assemble your pastries:
* To make triangle pastries - simply cut pastry sheet in quarters, so you have 4 equal sized square. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the ricotta mix to the centre of the square, fold the pastry to form a triangle. Press edges down firmly with a pinching action. As you pinch, twist pastry upwards to create a ripple effect. Place on baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.
* To make long rolls - Cut a large pastry sheet in half. Add a small amount of ricotta filling in the middle section of the pastry. Take care not to over fill your sheet, as this will make your next step difficult. To encase your roll, fold the outside edges into the centre, pinching and stretching the pastry taking care not to rip your pastry. crimp the outside edges, using the twisting method mentioned above. Continue to crimp along the top. Carefully transfer to the baking tray.
* Cook in a preheated oven - 220°C for 25 minutes or until golden, crunchy & flakey. For longer pastry rolls, cut into slices.
Serve hot with a nice salad or save for lunch boxes!

Pastries freeze well - or can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for lunchboxes the next day!

Share your pastry creations with me, I would love to see them! Tag me on instagram @maddierace_healthwellness or Facebook @Maddie.Race.Health.Coach


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