Back to school

Giving kids the energy that they need

By: Lauren Boolkin

Life for me is a bit of an enigma, and definitely a case of trial and error. As for parenting…just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, along comes another curve ball.

Having said that, I do think I’ve mastered the art of feeding teenage boys. What I’ve learned over the years is that it is imperative to have a constant supply of satisfying, healthy, and sometimes not so healthy, snacks on hand to get them through exams.

Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is manufactured in the brain but mostly in the gastrointestinal tract. I have therefore found that a supply of low GI foods seemed to stabilise my kid’s moods, thus keeping serotonin levels regulated. We all need 5 to 6 small meals a day and careful planning along with a bit of forward thinking allowed me to have food on hand without keeping me locked in my kitchen.

Almond Butter Granola

I’ve adapted this recipe from one found in the Food and Home magazine. I keep a full jar in my kitchen and I’ve found that my family eats it throughout the day. It’s yum sprinkled on yoghurt or berries and is totally gluten free. (NB: Amaranth is an ancient grain. I found kosher amaranth at Dischem)


½ cup amaranth

1 cup rolled oats

3 tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp sea salt flakes

1/3 cup chopped almonds

3 tablespoons of cocoa nibs. (Kosher ones are sometimes hard to find. Leave them out if you can’t find them.)

3 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp maple syrup (Jacksons has a kosher one)

4 tbsp of almond butter

2 tbsp of peanut butter

1 tbsp of tahini paste

1 tsp water

1 tsp Vanilla

Dried berries to taste


Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place a single layer of amaranth in a small pot on a medium to high heat. It will begin to pop. Keep shaking the pot until the popping has stopped. (It should be white in colour. Sometimes mine goes a bit brown. Don’t worry.) In a bowl, mix together the coconut oil, maple syrup, nut butters, tahini, water, and vanilla. Add the other ingredients, excluding the dried berries. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, it should crisp up quickly. If it doesn’t, bake it a little longer. When cool, add the dried berries.

The Best Ever Shakshuka

The trick to this is having a huge supply of matboucha in the fridge. I make a pot on a Friday (it is unbelievable with challah) and keep it in a jar in the fridge. Shakshuka is great for breakfast or lunch. It’s carb-free and oh so satisfying. It’s simple to make, so the kids can do it themselves.



5 tablespoons grapeseed oil

6 red peppers diced

1 red chilli chopped

3 cloves garlic crushed

½ tsp cumin

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

Place the oil, peppers, and a pinch of salt in a large pot and sweat gently for about ½ an hour. Add the chillies, garlic, and cumin and cook for another 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Add your tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Finally, add the salt and paprika, and simmer for another 10 minutes.


Place a cupful of matboucha in a pan and add between ¾ and one cup of water. Stir to blend. Add 3 or 4 eggs to the pan, making sure that you do not break the yolks. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are set and season with salt and pepper.

Rare Roast Delight

I prefer not to feed my family processed foods, but there is truly nothing more satisfying than a cold meat sandwich. So…here is how I do it. A scotch fillet is comprised of two parts. The outer flap and the inner eye. Ask your butcher to cut an eye into 8 pieces. Vacuum pack it and leave it in your fridge for a week. This helps to tenderise the meat. Wash it well and marinate the pieces in the following marinade.


½ cup sunflower oil

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Worcester sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tsp Herbamare


Marinade the meat for two days. Preheat your oven to 220°C and cook your meat pieces for 10 minutes a side. Cool and then freeze each piece individually wrapped in plastic wrap.

Remove each piece on a need-to basis 1 hour before you’re ready to serve. Slice thinly using an electric knife or meat slicer and make a sandwich on some low GI bread with the toppings of your choice.

Mid-afternoon Banana Bread

Somehow, there are always left-over bananas in my house. I either freeze these to add to a berry smoothie or make banana bread, which I slice and freeze. It’s perfect for lunch boxes.


125g butter

1 cup of muscovado sugar (It’s the brown crawly one)

4 ripe bananas mashed

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tbsp. milk

A pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and then whisk in the mashed bananas. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and whisk well. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda and add gradually to the batter alternating with the milk. Bake for 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and then slice and freeze.

Stir Fried Rice with Chicken and Broccoli

I always double the quantity of rice and freeze half. My family uses this to make egg fried rice or as a base for left over steak, vegetables, or chicken. I try and encourage my sons to eat brown rice as the zinc content is high and supports prostate health.


¼ cup sunflower oil

4 spring onions chopped (set aside 2 tablespoons for garnish)

500g chicken schnitzels sliced

1 tsp salt

Black pepper

1 clove garlic

1 tsp fresh ginger

1 packet broccoli sliced in half lengthwise

1 1/3 cups brown rice (you can use white)

3 eggs

1 cup snow peas

½ cup edamame beans or fresh peas

3 tbsp soya sauce

Juice of ½ an orange (2 tbsp)


Rinse the rice well until the water runs clean (this removes the starch). Boil until al dente, or just cooked through. Drain off the water and allow the rice to steam, covered for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or non-stick pan and cook the chicken pieces in small batches until just cooked. Do not overcook, otherwise they will be dry. Without washing the wok, add another tablespoon of oil and cook the spring onions, garlic, and ginger for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the broccoli, salt, and black pepper and toss until the broccoli is soft. Remove from the wok and add it to your chicken.

Heat the remaining oil, and add the rice and another pinch of salt. Press the rice into the wok and cook for 2 minutes until it begins to crisp at the bottom. Move the rice over in the wok and add the eggs stirring to scramble. When they are just cooked mix it into the rice. Add the snow peas, edamame beans, soya, and orange juice. Add the chicken. Garnish with the remaining spring onions and drizzle with sesame oil.

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