Parents all over South Africa are breathing a sigh of relief with the recent good news that schools will be reopening next month. But with the start of learners going back to their desks, comes the pressure to provide them with healthy, appetising lunchbox treats on a daily basis.

It’s a struggle to come up with something different, yet tasty, that will keep them happy and focused, so we asked the chefs at Capsicum Culinary Studio – many of them parents themselves – to give us their favourite go-to recipes for school children’s lunchboxes.

Here’s what they sent us…

 

Blueberry Oatmeal Bites

(makes 20)

(Courtesy Chef Charne Wylie from Capsicum’s Pretoria campus)

 

Ingredients

1 ripe banana

1 cup almond milk

1 large egg

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil (in liquid form)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup fresh blueberries (or berries of your choice)

1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)

 

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place the banana in a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the almond milk, egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut oil, lemon zest and juice, and whisk until smooth and well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredient to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir in the blueberries.

Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the prepared mini muffin tin, filling the wells almost to the top. You should have enough oatmeal for 20 bites.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until the oatmeal has set and the tops of the bites are lightly browned. (At this point you can simply let your bites cool, but I like to sprinkle the bites with a little brown sugar and then pop them under the grill for a couple minutes until they get nicely browned and crispy on top.)

Let the bites cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Refrigerate in an airtight container.

 

Banana Weet-Bix Muffins

(courtesy Chef Caren Marimuthu from Capsicum’s Durban campus)

 

Ingredients

4 bananas

4 Weet-Bix

250ml milk

100g butter

45ml brown sugar

3 eggs

5ml vanilla essence

500ml cake flour

1.25ml salt

10ml baking powder

250ml dark chocolate chips

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin tray with paper liners. Mash bananas, crumble over dry Weet-Bix, mix in milk and set aside for 10 minutes. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix in beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir in banana mixture, then mix in sifted flour, salt and baking powder. Lastly mix in chocolate chips. Scoop mixture into paper liners and bake for 15-20 minutes.

 

Chef’s Notes

Dark chocolate chips add flavour without adding too many unwanted calories but can be substituted for milk or white chocolate chips or caramel chips.

For an even healthier snack, add diced dry fruit or nuts to the mix.

For added sweetness add a crumble topping before baking and drizzle honey over the top of each muffin immediately after removed from the oven. (crumble topping is made by crumbing 60g butter into 60g flour and 60g brown sugar)

 

Bacon and cheddar muffins

(makes 12)

(Courtesy Chef Bradley Wright from Capsicum’s Durban campus)

 

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 rashers rindless bacon, finely chopped

2½ cups self-raising flour

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

50g butter, melted

 

Method

Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crisp. Let it cool.

Combine sifted flour with cheese, chives and bacon in a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined well.

Spoon mixture into paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch. Let them cool in the muffin pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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