Nicole Bando | Dietitian & Lactation Consultant

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Healthy and Balanced Family Recipes

‘My recipes are colourful, pretty, balanced and designed to inspire happy & sustainable eating habits’


Healthy and Balanced Family Recipes

‘My recipes are colourful, pretty, balanced and designed to inspire happy & sustainable eating habits’


5 healthier lunch box treats

It’s almost school time again and one of my friends from school (which was, ahem, a little while back now), requested some healthy lunch box treats. Whilst I can only take credit for one of these recipes, I can tell you that they will all be baked, frozen and appearing in my children’s lunch boxes.

1. Nicole Bando, APD – Pineapple and coconut wholemeal muffins
This recipe uses yoghurt instead of sour cream and wholemeal flour rather than white. A small amount of added sugar makes it a healthier alternative to other treats.
– 2 cups wholemeal flour
– 2 tspn baking powder
– 1 cup low fat Greek yoghurt
– 2 eggs
– 1 tspn vanilla essence
– 1/3 cup coconut or olive oil
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 3/4 cup shredded coconut
– 1.5 cups chopped fresh or drained canned pineapple (in juice, not syrup)

1. Whisk eggs, yoghurt, oil and vanilla.
2. Add flour, baking powder, coconut and sugar, stir.
3. Fold through pineapple (drain juice first), place into 12 patty pans.
4. Optional: sprinkle tops with coconut and bake at 180 degrees (fan-forced) for 20 mins.

2. The Biting Truth – Strawberry, Zucchini and Banana muffins
A great source of fibre, low in added sugars and a way to pack in some fruit and veg.
Serves: 10 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 minutes
2 Bananas
2 Zucchinis
1 Apple
250g Wholemeal self-raising flour
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Rice malt syrup, pureed dates or honey (optional)
Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Punnet strawberries, sliced
Shredded coconut, 1/2 cup

1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Line muffin tray with paper cases or spray muffin tray with olive oil.
3. Grate the zucchinis and apples. Use a tea towel to squeeze out any excess juice.
4. Using a fork, mash the bananas.
5. In a bowl sift the flour. Then add the rice malt syrup,cinnamon, apple and zucchini and stir to combine.
6. Add the bananas and mix together. (Note: be careful not to over stir the mixture).
7. Stir in the oil until the mixture forms together. (Note: add water if required).
8. Spoon the mixture into cases and press a slice of strawberry onto the top of each muffin. Then top with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.
9. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. The Nutrition Guru and the Chef – Sweet Potato and Oat bars
High fibre, low sugar and includes some veg in your child’s day.
Author: The Nutrition Guru and The Chef
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 16

2 cups of almond meal (or equal quantity of spelt flour, or equal quantity wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sultanas (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder (choose gluten free baking powder if coeliac or highly sensitive to gluten)
1 1/2 cups grated sweet potato (skin included)
4 eggs
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (optional)

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm baking tin with baking paper
Place almond meal, oats, sultanas and baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl
Stir well to combine
Grate the sweet potato and add to the mixture
Stir well to combine
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs lightly
Add the oil to the eggs and whisk lightly to incorporate
Add this mixture to the sweet potato and almond meal mixture, then add the honey or maple syrup
Stir well to combine all ingredients
Pour mixture into a greased and lined loaf pan
Optional: you may wish to sprinkle with crushed nuts or seeds such as pumpkin or sesame to decorate
Bake for 30 minutes, until brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven and leave in tin to cool.

4. Taste – Sugar-free banana bread
A healthier spin on the traditional banana bread (read: cake)
4 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 160C or 140C fan-force. Grease and line an 11.5cm x 22cm (base measurements) loaf pan with baking paper.
Step 2
Mash bananas in a large bowl with a fork until smooth. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and stir until combined. Sift flours, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt over banana mixture (tip in the flour kernels). Stir until combined. Spoon into prepared pan and level top with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Foost – Veggie scrolls
A great alternative to sandwiches that you can mix up to keep lunch interesting.
Makes 12-15 scrolls
1½ cups wholemeal self raising flour
1½ cups white self raising flour
2 Tbs reduced fat margarine
1 cup low-fat milk
½ cup pesto
low fat dip or tomato paste
½ cup olives
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
1 red capsicum
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
8-10 mushrooms
1 small zucchini
¾ cup reduced-fat cheese
Baking paper
Turn oven to 200°C
Line tray with baking paper
Halve olives
Wash vegetables
Dice mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and capsicum
Grate zucchini and cheese
Sift flours in bowl and combine with wooden spoon
Rub margarine into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add milk and mix into soft dough
Place dough on lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth
Roll out onto a 20cm and 23cm rectangle
Spread dip or tomato paste over dough, leaving a 1cm strip along 1 long side
Sprinkle dough with tomatoes, red capsicum, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini and cheese
Roll up, like a Swiss roll
Cut into 12 – 15 rounds, being careful not to squash roll
Lay scrolls flat onto prepared baking tray, about 3cm apart
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack
Try using a range of ingredients to flavour the scrolls, sweet and savoury.

wholemeal cheese & vegemite scrolls

These are a fabulous lunch box option, lower in fat and energy than their store bought counterparts. Did you know that 1 cheese & vegemite scroll = 4 slices of standard sliced bread? (e.g. Tip Top white/wholemeal), at 1400kJ/335cals. It is unlikely that anyone (child or adult) would sit down to eat 4 slices of bread in one sitting, so be mindful that for a meal or snack, this food is incredibly high energy and unlikely to be filling, given the load of refined carbohydrates.

Simple swap? Try a homemade vegemite and cheese sandwich on grainy bread, a mini store-bought scroll at 671kJ/158cals, or make your own. I freeze these uncooked and bake them for 15-20mins in a moderate oven as needed (may be cooked and then frozen).

1 cup wholemeal SR flour
1 cup white SR flour
50g butter
3/4 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup shredded low fat cheese
1 tbs vegemite

1. Combine flours, rub butter through with fingers. Stir through milk.
2. Turn onto lightly floured bench and roll into 30x20cm rectangle. Spread with Vegemite, scatter with cheese.
3. Starting from long side, roll into a log. Cut into 10-12 pieces.
4. Place closely together on tray, cut side up. Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.
(Alternative: top with tomato passata, chopped vegetables and cheese for a pizza scroll).


½ cup white self-raising flour
½ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1 zucchini, grated
Spring onions, finely chopped
2 cobs corn (cut kernels off the cob) or 400g canned corn
2 tbs rice bran oil for cooking
1 avocado
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
Basil leaves

1. Place flours in a bowl, make well in centre.
2. In a jug, whisk the eggs, add milk and oil. Pour egg mixture into flour and stir.
3. Add fresh or drained canned corn kernels, spring onions and grated zucchini into the mixture and stir to combine.
4. Season with pepper. Heat a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of rice bran oil and add ¼ cup of mixture to the pan in batches.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown. Serve with chopped avocado, cherry tomatoes and scattered basil leaves.
Makes 10-12. These are great for the next day’s lunchboxes and a yummy source of fibre, protein and monounsatured fats. Each serve of fritters (with salsa) contains 1.5-2 serves of vegetables.