Back to school, lunch box ideas
So it is September and that means lots of our kids are heading back to school. Now is the time to introduce healthier options in our lunch boxes and set the tone for the year. I’ve been brain storming with Julie-ann from Mojo Nutrition and wellbeing to come up with some simple options to keep young brain cells firing by providing a steady release of energy throughout the day and sneaking in some veg at the same time!
What about some home made vegetable crisps with a salsa dip? Thinly slice Carrots, sweet potato, potato, parsnip, beetroot or Turnip. Mix with a little olive oil and lay out on a baking tray, Bake at 150 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool on a cake rack. Serve with a salsa of Rohans sauce, diced red onion, coriander and lime juice.
You could also use vegetable sticks or wholemeal toasted pitta triangles.
Some left over pasta shapes with Rohans Pasta sauce, sweetcorn and shredded chicken or turkey. For a vegetarian option try adding some chickpeas to ensure they get some protein. Tinned chickpeas are fine to use and need a lot less prep work, just be sure to get them tinned in water.
Alternatively make a pesto pasta salad, blend up some basil and garlic with a little olive oil. Mix through some cooked pasta with some roasted vegetables. You could also add some Ham or chicken.
Soups and stews
Thermal lunchboxes are now very affordable and offer a great alternative to sandwhiches, especially on cold days. Just note some younger classes will not be allowed bring hot food into school.
You could make a tasty bean and chickpea soup or stew made with Rohans Sauces and some tinned beans and chickpeas. Just heat all together in a pot with some water and simmer for a few minutes until the beans are soft. Blitz in a blender to make a soup or leave as is for a stew. You could add some of those toasted pitta triangles for them to dip in also.
Make your own Yoghurt pots
It is difficult to get healthy yoghurts for children these days and I would suggest it is so easy to make your own. So many yoghurts out there are 0% fat and a child should always eat full fat dairy as they need 40% more fat in their diet then an adult does. Get some full fat Greek yoghurt mix through some fresh berries or fruit and give them some muesli to mix through when they are eating it.
5 big reasons to buy local
The local economy
You hear people saying support local businesses, but what does that actually mean?
When you buy a local product from a local shop, your investment in the local economy can be many multiples of what you spend.
For example, if you buy a €3 Irish product that uses Irish ingredients in your local Supervalu, every cent of that 3 euro stays local. It will be split between the local owner of the shop, the shop staff, the producer and the farmer. All of these people have an invested interest in local products and are likely to spend that money local again!
So lets say you buy that €3 local product every week, and that money gets turned another 2 times in the local community. You will have contributed €468 to the local community that year! Pretty impressive when you work it out!
The Environment and air miles
Big companies usually buy raw produce in the cheapest place possible, often 2nd and 3rd world countries, they then ship it to a central processing plant in another country and then on to a distribution centre and then on to a shop shelf. For example, one product I looked at had ingredients from South America and Sri Lanka, the products were manufactured in Holland and distributed from the UK. The Air miles on the product amounted to 21,836km of travel. Last week I bought a bottle of Wicklow Rapeseed Oil in Bray Supervalu with a total of 27km travelled.
Can you imagine the difference it would make to our emissions, if we bought all local products?
Use by dates
You may have noticed that a lot of the products in international multiples have short use by dates. This is because the products can often take a long time to navigate the massive distribution network. I have heard of Irish products being shipped to the UK to be put into their distribution channels and then sent back to Irish supermarkets. This may explain why your hummus in one multiple has 4 days till its best before, while the product in the food academy has 14 days.
This also leads to companies adding more and more preservatives to products to allow for long distribution times. You might buy a jar of sauce in the supermarket with the same best before date as my sauce, however it was manufactured 18 months ago, while my sauce was cooked 2 weeks ago. Which would you prefer?
Food produced in the EU and in particular Ireland are subject to the highest standards in the world. Our farms, manufacturing units, kitchens and shops comply with rigorous checks and constant reviews of systems and production methods.
The people that work in small local companies are passionate about the food they create, they are not just a factory worker that is part of a massive machine who doesn’t even know what the end product is. They are not adding in rubbish ingredients to stretch the product or make it last longer, they care about you, because you are part of their own community.
Health and taste
Fresh food that is ripened naturally and produced in quality farms locally retains more nutrients than foods that were picked early and ripen in transit across the world or that are artificially “ripened” with ethylene gas.
Then the simplest reason of all; fresh food tastes better!
5 tips for your New Year’s resolution
- Achievable – make sure your goals are realistic and are possible with your current time constraints, don’t decide you want to run a marathon in the summer if you have 2 spare hours a week and you haven’t got off the couch in 5 years, that will only end in tears.
- Measurable- You should set down a long term goal that can be measured, that way you can implement the short term steps to reach your goal. Your path is always easier to find when you know exactly where you are going! For example; next year I want to do a cycle holiday from Wicklow to Cork, you work out the distance and how many weeks away it is, you then start training each week to build up to that distance. Seems simple but you would be surprised how many people don’t prepare properly.
- Simple – make your resolutions simple and clear, never say I’m going to get fitter, or I’m going to lose weight, instead implement simple strategies. For example; I’m going to walk the dogs for an hour every day, I’m going to reduce my portion size and have one vegetarian meal a week. 3 really simple steps that will lead to a much healthier life.
- Do something you like- seems self-explanatory but it may take a bit of work and experimentation, if like me, you hate running don’t decide you are going to run a marathon next year, check out the local rowing club or find a yoga class. Getting fit is a challenge but it has to be an enjoyable one!
- Write it down! – Words are like leaves in the wind, don’t just say your resolution, write it down, and make goals and timelines. Take a picture of it and set it to the background of your phone, that way your phone can be the good voice on your shoulder.
Remember a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard. With some simple changes in your day to day you can make a major impact for the long term!
Stephen Coughlan is a Bray boxer, now residing in Greystones. Stephen is a former Irish Squad member and an all Ireland finalist. Currently he coaches in the Four Kings boxing club in Greystones!
My Own Experience in Sport
As with almost all Irish people I have always been interested in sport and as a chef nutrition was always high on my agenda. I played rugby until I got on to the under 18s and realised I really didn’t like being in pain all the time. Then at the age of 21, I took up archery and went on to compete for Ireland at 3 world championships through my 20s. I never had a proper coach and looking back I know I neglected my nutrition, which was the one aspect I should have known all about. I knew I needed high quantities of protein and carbs for muscle and energy, but it was always guesswork and never properly worked out.
The Four Kings
When a friend of mine Stephen Coughlan set up his own boxing club, I was delighted to help him out with some sponsorship and also ended up doing the occasional training session down with his club the “Four Kings” based in Greystones.
Stephen took up boxing in the Bray boxing club at the age of 11 and trained alongside many famous teammates through the years. Stephen showed a great aptitude for the sport but never excelled at it until the age of 23 when he was finally diagnosed as a coeliac, suddenly with the correct food plan for his body, he had more energy, more strength and more stamina.
Stephen got called up to the Irish squad on a number of occasions, but through unfortunate events such as the ashcloud, combined with a number of injuries, Stephen never managed to fight internationally for Ireland. It must be so hard looking at boxers you have beaten in the past, as they fight at the olympics, while you sit at home with an injury.
Stephen was delighted when I brought out Rohan’s Sauce as not only was it a super low calorie yet nutritious sauce, but also contained no gluten. Stephen told me “I wish this was around when I was competing, it would have been a tasty and healthy addition to my diet and as its so quick to make, it would have fitted in well with my busy training plan.”
Nowdays Stephen is putting his energy and talent into training the next generation of Irish boxers! Hopefully I can give him some help on his way, his passion and energy for the sport is infectious and his ability and knowledge is unquestionable. I hope the people of Greystones know how lucky they are to have him there!
Member Spotlight – From Newmarket kitchens blog -Rohan’s Pasta Sauce
When did you decide to become a chef?
I don’t think there was a single moment when I decided to become a chef, I always had a real love of food right from when I was a very young child. I would have cooked dinners at home from age 10, so the first part time job I got on weekends and summers during school, I went straight in to a kitchen and I never really looked back!
Did you have any former training?
I went to Cathal Brugha street and studied professional cookery full time, I qualified in 2001 finishing first in my year and won the JM perpetual trophy, which was pretty cool as it looked a bit like the Sam Maguire. After that, I went on to do an advanced course in ethnic cousin in Cathal Brugha street and a module in HACCP system design
Where have you previously worked?
I can honestly say I have worked in all parts of the catering industry, I started off working in Avoca, went on to Work in Rolys Ballsbridge and then the Vico in Dalkey, I also worked abroad in France and Australia. When I returned home, I worked agency and a lot of industrial catering. I currently work for the Park Academy Creche group which is amazing, all the food is made from scratch and we don’t use any processed products in our meals. I work on designing the menus and recipes there and it is really rewarding to have a chance to be an influence on the next generation in eating a healthy, balanced diet and educating the palate on all kinds of foods.
What gave you the idea for Rohan’s Pasta Sauce?
While I was working in the Park Academy crèche, one of the big challenges was to get the children to eat all their vegetables. So I started hiding the vegetables in the sauces and making the veg content through the roof. I realised that the children were not the only ones that weren’t eating all the vegetables they should be, and with the recent highlighting of the high sugar, salt and oil content in mainstream sauces, I really felt I could bring a great healthy alternative to the market.
When did you set up your business?
I set up Rohan’s Sauces at the start of 2018, I was lucky enough to be part of the Supervalu Food Academy programme which was great at helping me get the business up and running.
What prompted you to start your food business?
I guess I always wanted to work for myself, I have had some business ideas through the years but never really developed any of them. When I developed Rohan’s Sauces, I really felt I had a great product that was such a simple way to help people eat healthily, that I just had to get it out there.
Is there a chef you admire most? Who and why?
I don’t watch any chefs on TV, I guess it feels like working when I am at home. The chefs that I admire are the ones that taught me what I know in college and in the workplace, there are far too many of them to mention, but I am very grateful to every one of them.
Have you any tips that you think would help someone starting off a food business?
The biggest tip I would give people is know what you’re getting in to, I have seen so many people through the years who thought getting into the food business would be a nice, almost romantic idea. But it is bloody hard work, when you have been on your feet for 17 hour days like I have in the past few weeks, it is anything but romantic. Don’t get me wrong, it is hugely rewarding, but be prepared for the hard work.
Do you have any new or exciting plans for Rohan’s Pasta sauce?
Well in development we have Rohan’s Thai Curry Sauces and possibly a Mexican style sauce after that, but at the moment we have just started out so we concentrating on getting a really good quality and consistent product to market and getting the word out there that this is what everyone should be eating.
How have you found your experience at Newmarket Kitchen so far?
Newmarket has been great, the fact its open to me 24/7 is brilliant as I can work around a busy schedule. The equipment in there is fantastic, meaning I can make large batches at a go and saves a lot of time. Also Shane and all the staff have been so helpful in lots of ways, not just in the kitchen but in contacts for all sides of the business. It is also great to be in with other start-up businesses, already a few of us have started to help each other out and you can see how it’s such a great propagator for small businesses!
Mojo nutrition and wellbeing – Julie-Ann Brady
Julie-Ann has written up some interesting nutritional facts on some of our ingredient
- Best attribute is their high levels of antioxidants, particularly Lycopene which gives them their red colour. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals in the body. These cells naturally occur from both physical and emotional stresses in the body and poor diet. They damage neighboring cells causing physical aging we can see and by causing mutations to cells within the body leading to illness (including cancer). Antioxidants stop this process.
- Tomatoes also a rich source of flavonoids which lower inflammation, have anti bacterial properties and aid heart health. Inflammation is one of the biggest causes of illnesses including heart disease, arthritis and many more.
- Also contain beta carotene which the body can convert to vitamin A. This is also an excellent antioxidant and essential for healthy eyes, skin, bones, teeth, digestive system and protecting against infections.
- Tomatoes are high in vitamin C. One medium sized tomato contains 50% of RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to a healthy immune system and is also an excellent antioxidant. We also need Vit C to make collagen and it protects arteries and the heart.
- Tomatoes contain potassium and magnesium. These are essential electrolytes and we need them to control blood pressure and for heart health. Magnesium relaxes muscles so important for athletes to prevent cramp and also important for kidney function and potassium is involved in contracting muscles and it helps to improve insulin sensitivity (along with chromium and phosphorus) so would be important for diabetics. The body needs both of these minerals for bone health also.
- There is vitamin E in tomatoes. We need this for a healthy heath and blood. Vit E is a blood thinner so it helps reduce risk of heart disease. It is also an antioxidant that protects the cell membrane and nerves so a very important vitamin! The antioxidant properties are shown to reduce signs of aging and aid immunity.
- There are low levels of vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B12 and Folate (B9) in tomatoes. All B vitamins are essential to energy production in the body so if you’re lacking in B vitamins you would be fatigued a lot. They are all also essential to nerve and brain function. B12 and Folate are particularly important in pregnancy for neural tube development and healthy blood,
- Vitamin K is also found in tomatoes. We need this to aid blood clotting and for bone formation and repair. Most people don’t realise that bone is constantly being re-formed and re-built, it is actually a living tissue!
- Onions contain phytonutrients (major buzz word at the mo) called organosulfur compounds which help detoxify carcinogens.
- Onions are reputed to be good anti bacterial agents.
- Onions are quite high in vitamin C. 1 medium onion contains about 14% of the RDA of vitamin C. (see notes on vitamin C on tomato profile)
- Onions also contain good amounts of fibre with 1 medium onion providing over 2g fibre. This is essential for gut health leading to a strong immune system. Adequate fibre in the diet also helps lower cholesterol levels.
- Onions have a good amount of vitamin B6 in them which is essential for blood health,brain function and energy production from the food we eat. B6 is of particular importance for those suffering with PMS symptoms as it helps to relieve same.
- Also a good amount of manganese in onions. This is important for the formation of bone and cartilage and helps produce energy from the food we eat.
- Onions contain phosphorus, this is essential for the formation of bones, teeth, healthy blood. It also aids tissue growth and repair and central nervous system health as it aids nerve transmission.
- Potassium and magnesium also found in onions. These are essential for both muscle contraction and relaxing as well as blood pressure control. Very important for athletes.
- Red, orange and yellow peppers are high in beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. See notes on vitamin A in tomato and sweet potato profile.
- Also high in vitamin C, see notes on tomato profile.
- Good source of vitamin B6. See notes on onions and sweet potato.
- Good source of vitamin B5 which aids adrenal gland function and is refered to as the anti stress vitamin for this reason.
- Very good source of a number of anti oxidants, many of which also have anti inflammatory properties.
- Bell peppers also contain folate which is essential to central nervous system function and development and to brain health. This vitamin is of particular importance to pregnant women for this reason,
- Bell peppers contain vitamin E which is a major antioxidant in the body protecting cell membranes from free radical damage. Vitamin E is a heart healthy vitamin as it acts as a blood thinner within the body.
- Vitamin K found in bell peppers. This is essential to blood clotting and healthy blood as well as bone formation. (Bone is a living tissue)
- Trace mineral molybdenum in bell peppers activates anti oxidants in the body. It also plays a role in energy production and helps organs eliminate waste products.
- Super food category! Has anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral properties. Contains flavonoids that give it these properties and which are also reputed to be anti carcinogenic.
- Garlic is also an excellent anti inflammatory. Everybody needs more anti inflammatory foods in their diet!! Stress, poor diet and a high volume of exercise all cause inflammation and this can lead to a whole host of illnesses eg. heart disease, alzheimer’s etc.
- Heart protecting ability as it prevents plaque build up on artery walls.
- Garlic contains polysulfides which act as nitrates…they have a dilating/widening affect on blood vessels so it is good for reducing blood pressure but also for circulation by allowing more oxygen rich blood travel to repairing muscle tissues so good for athletes.
- Garlic is rich in antioxidants, but particularly those protecting neurons so protects brain function.
- There are also low levels of essential minerals manganese, calcium and selenium in each garlic clove. Selenium is particularly important for thyroid function. The thyroid gland controls so many hormonal functions in the body but of particular note would be in regulating metabolism so it is essential to have healthy thyroid function to aid weight loss.
- Sodium helps maintain fluid balance within the body.
- Sodium helps control muscle contraction and nerve function so is an important electrolyte particularly for athletes who would lose sodium while training or competing.
- Sea salt contains iodine which is essential for healthy thyroid function and the best sources are sea salt and sea food. Iodine helps convert beta carotene (from the other ingredients) to vitamin A.
- Contains lots of beta carotene which we convert vitamin A in our liver as it’s needed so is a safe option to eat plenty of. As with tomatoes, vitamin A is essential to eye, skin, digestive, bone and tooth health and for the immune system. Also essential for fetal development of same. 1 medium sweet potato can potentially provide 400% of the RDA of vitamin A when converted from beta carotene.
- Sweet potatoes are a great source of manganese, an essential mineral. We need manganese for the formation of bone and cartilage but it also aids the release of energy from foods we eat. It is also important in helping the body metabolise glucose. High glucose levels put a strain on the pancreas to produce insulin so glucose metabolism is essential to everyone.
- Good levels of vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes. This is essential to energy production in the body. Particularly important for women to help relieve PMS symptoms. Also essential for a healthy immune system and healthy blood.
- Vitamin B5 also found in sweet potatoes, this is important for adrenal function supporting hormone production to help the body’s stress response stay in balance.
- Fibre (mainly in the skin) essential for good gut health and for supporting immunity. Irish people notorious for not eating enough fibre. Fibre also lowers the GI impact of a meal and makes you feel fuller for longer…good for people trying to lose weight!
- Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C which supports immunity and is a vital antioxidant (neutralises free radicals). Also essential for producing collagen in all body tissues.
- Also provides small quantities of essential minerals such as copper, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Copper is needed for the formation of haemoglobin and iron absorption so is vital to oxygen delivery throughout the body. Copper is also needed to produce pigment of skin and hair.
EACH JAR OF ROHAN’S SAUCES CONTAINS ALMOST 4 1/2 PORTIONS OF YOUR 5 A DAY