by Alinda van Dyk
2020 is a new year – as well as a NEW DECADE. Take this special new beginning on with 20/20 vision. Look into the future with positive, clear foresight of your personal goals. Take this opportunity to start a new chapter filled with health, happiness and FOCUS.
It is no longer a secret that the combination of healthy foods and enough exercise and fresh air results in healthy mental activity.
HEALTHY BODY = HEALTHY MIND
HEALTHY MIND = HAPPINESS, FOCUS AND SUCCESS
Our lives are very rushed and technology increases daily along with the speed of time. Both adults and children are challenged with modern times. We find that our children are inundated with work as school has become much more demanding – more than when we were children a couple of years ago. Us adults also have to stay focused as technology has increased the speed at which we need to complete our deadlines and goals.
We might not be able to change how quickly life goes by and demands increase, but we can control our health and mindset in order to achieve our goals without running our bodies down completely. One way – is by putting a little bit of effort into the thought of our lunchboxes – yes – for both adults and children.
If we pack well-thought lunchboxes, we can ensure that we replenish our bodies with energy-filled HEALTHY treats through-out the day. If we feed our bodies with the right energy nutrients during the course of our working and school days, we are able to stay alert with thoughts, focused and not completely bummed out by the time we get home.
It takes just a little discipline to sit down once a week and plan your grocery list properly. I decided that I am going to sit down once a week, look at the season and what is available and plan ahead for each week – making the daily rush of lunchbox ideas less stressful and complicated. I am going to share some ideas for both kids and adults that INCLUDE olive oil and olives.
Sometimes we are deterred by the fact that summer lunchboxes are restricted because of heat. This is no longer true. There are so many funky packs and containers that assist in keeping your food cool.
6 TIPS FOR KEEPING IT COOL AND SEPARATED
- FREEZE some 500ml water bottles – they double up as ice packs and you can drink the water!
- Some lunchboxes have lids filled with freezing gel
- Use containers with divisions – keeping cold foods separate from dry foods
- Use a variety of smaller containers if you want to prevent salads from making your sandwich soggy
- Invest in a good quality cooler bag that is large enough to hold various containers
- These days you can find THIN icepacks as well as MINI ones – making it easier to fit into lunch boxes.
7 HEALTHY FACTS ABOUT OLIVES AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
- Though olives are almost completely fat based – it is a healthy mono-unsaturated fat
- It combats and prevents bad cholesterol from building up in arteries
- Olives contain loads of anti-oxidants and are anti-inflammatory
- 5 olives contain 25 calories and 2g fat (good fat) therefore ENERGY BOMBS!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a mono-unsaturated fat with NO sodium and loads of Vitamin E and anti-oxidants.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil helps restore memory and aids in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Best served in it’s natural room temperature state, extra virgin olive oil is ideal to use as salad dressing
Though some people are concerned about the salt in olives – the health BENEFITS weigh much heavier. If the salt content of cured olives bother you, reduce other salty snacks like crisps or biscuits. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is tasty to use in dips and acts as preservative of your salads in your lunch box.
10 IDEAS HOW TO USE OLIVES AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL IN YOUR LUNCH BOX
1. CURED OLIVES can be used as they come as a snack to pick on, or can be incorporated into salads, paste and dips.
2. Make your own olive TAPENADE/PASTE and put it in a small container with dipping foods.
Dip into the tapenade with bread fingers, cheese sticks and pita crackers.
RECIPE: Homemade Olive Paste
- Take some olives of your choice (Black or Green) and REMOVE ALL THE PIPS
- Crush the de-pipped olives with a food blender while adding some olive oil slowly. You can blend it to a fine consistency or leave it slightly course, depending on your preference.
- Add and blend fresh herbs like basil or chili paste into the olive mixture to make the paste more exciting.
3. Make pastry SWIRLS with tapenade
Roll out puff pastry onto flat surface (Thawed)
Simply spread the pastry with tapenade (about 3 tablespoons) to cover the pastry surface
Sprinkle with parmesan or feta
Add some chopped basil leaves – optional
Roll the pastry into a tube
Cut the tube into slices of 1cm or thicker
Line a baking tray with baking paper
Pack the pastry slices on the tray and brush lightly with olive oil
Place in an oven at about 200 °C for 15 to 20 minutes
Once golden – remove from oven and let it cool
4. Use tapenade as SPREAD and make ciabatta sandwiches made from stone-ground flour or use any other healthy bread of your choice. It also combines well with cream cheese and feta cheese to add some protein.
5. Make a COLD PASTA SALAD using roasted veggies and top with tapenade and mix through – remember to pack a fork!
6. Make a “PICKING SALAD” with crunchy cucumber, feta and black or green olives and cherry tomatoes. This is easy to pick by hand or toothpick if you don’t feel like using a fork (especially for the kids) Drizzle with Willow Creek Directors Reserve and the Willow Creek Balsamic GLAZE.
7. QUINOA SALAD with olives
Quinoa has become very popular as a starch replacement. Consumed as a grain – quinoa is gluten-free and rich in protein – making it one of the superfoods that are ideal to use in your lunchbox as a salad. Used in combination with the benefits of olives and extra virgin olive oil – this is a 5-star choice to keep your tummy full and your mind focused.
- Rinse the quinoa
- Use 2 cups water for 1 cup quinoa.
- Add 2.5ml salt while cooking
- 5ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Should you feel like adding other spice and dried herbs – add while cooking
- The cooking period depends on the amount of water used. It takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Once the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and cook slowly while covered.
- Once the water has cooked through – leave it covered and let it steam for another 5 minutes.
Once your quinoa is chilled – you can add ingredients of choice. The following combination works well in a lunchbox:
– Finely chopped spring onion
– Chopped black olives or a couple of spoons of tapenade
– Sundried tomato
– Crumbled Feta
– A dollop of Willow Creek BASIL flavoured olive oil
8. Roll up some WRAPS with chopped olives, chicken breast, fresh basil leaves, spring onions and feta. Sweeten with some chili chutney.
9. BUTTERBEAN DIP with pita bread
Butterbeans is another super way of getting protein and non-fattening carbohydrates into your body. Make this easy butterbean dip and enjoy with some pita breads. This particular dip keeps really well – especially if made with a generous helping of olive oil and lemon juice. Both act as natural preservatives.
Recipe for Butterbean Dip
- 1 Can Butter Beans
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- Fresh chives – to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Juice of half a lemon
- Willow Creek Estate Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- Paprika to dress
- Drain the butter beans and rinse through a colander
- Place the beans together with the crushed garlic and lemon juice in a bowl. Process with a hand blender.
- Add the olive oil slowly as you blend the mixture. Mix until the consistency you desire. I prefer my dip to be well-blended, but still with a chunky texture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Chop some chives finely and add to the mixture
- Stir everything, tasting your dip. Add more olive oil or salt to taste.
- Put the dip into a serving bowl and sprinkle some paprika over the dip and drizzle with some more Olive oil
Variant tip: Use with Willow Creek Flavoured Olive oils like Coriander, Garlic or Jalapeno
10. CRUDITES with DIPS
- Children love dipping foods and when packing healthy snacks – DIPPING makes it so much tastier and fun
- Crudités – usually vegetables or fruit – provide loads of vitamins and minerals – all needed to keep your mind and body healthy
- Snacking and dipping also makes it possible for us adults to eat healthy – even when interrupted in the office for a while. You can “graze” your way through the day.
- Use sliced strips of vegetables, hard cheeses and healthy crackers to dip.
- Veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks, un-cooked cauliflower, green beans are great examples to name a few
TIP – not in the mood for cutting veg?
- Use baby carrots, baby corn, cherry tomatoes, mange tout or sugar snaps as “ready-to-dip” vegetables.
- When using AVO in a dip – remember to make it in the morning. Making it too long in advance can cause discolouring. Use LEMON juice to also combat discolouring and add some flavour.
Recipe : Yoghurt dip
- 250g Double cream plain yoghurt
- ½ teaspoon of crushed garlic (only for the brave who don’t mind having garlic at the office or at school)
- 1 Spring Onion finely chopped
- 10 Slices of cucumber chopped finely
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix it all together and season to taste. I sometimes add a bit of Paprika for love!
Remember – if you don’t have time to make your own tapenade, Willow Creek has 3 lovely tapenade /olive pastes. View our PRODUCTS page and also have a look at our range of olives and extra virgin olive oils.
Visit our TASTING ROOM and taste our selection of extra virgin olive oil and olives.