I remember the daily grind of making school lunches. It wasn't so much the making, it was the thinking of something my children would eat.
I would have loved to have this handy little book. The recipes are simple, delicious and healthy.
Wick Nixon grew up on a farm just out of Dannevirke and went to secondary school in Havelock North for five years (Woodford).
"I feel very attached to the area. My parents have now retired to Meeanee and my sister lives in Taradale with her family so I'm frequently visiting the area. One day I'd like to move back there if I can convince my husband!"
The mother of three has done her homework, researching what the best foods were to increase her children's energy on the sports field and help their concentration in the classroom.
There's much more than lunchbox recipes in this book - there's also sweet delights, delicious dinners and "wickalicious desserts".
I asked Wick some questions.
Describe the perfect school lunch.
Something colourful, different and balanced - I know it's hard coming up with different ideas all the time but try to include something from each of the food groups below:
Protein - egg, roasted chickpeas, cheese slices, cooked meat, yoghurt, mini frittata or savoury muffin, hummus.
Carbohydrates - wholegrain sandwich, wholemeal pita pocket or wrap, Vietnamese spring rolls, brown rice sushi (kept cold), toasted kumara slices topped with bacon and cheese, homemade kumara and potato crisps.
Vegetables - vege sticks or cucumber/red pepper slices.
Fruit - anything in season.
Home baking - healthy afghan, no-bake chocolate macaroon, banana muffin, peanut brownie, nut-free protein ball, a slice of loaf, all of which are out of Healthy Lunchbox Love cookbook.
Healthy fats - nuts, avocado, coconut flakes, celery with peanut butter (if your provider allows nuts).
How important is it for children to have a healthy lunch?
So important! It keeps them sustained during the day and allows them to concentrate in the classroom and have the energy to perform on the sports field. I don't think some parents realise the effect packaged foods with additives and preservatives can have on their children, in terms of energy levels and concentration.
My goal is to make things so easy for parents that they enjoy cooking (and their kids can do it too).
What are the foods that increase their concentration? Any of these will help improve their concentration - wholegrains, oats/oatmeal, eggs, oily fish (salmon), nuts and seeds, good quality peanut butter, greek yoghurt, fruit and greens (sneak as much as you can into a smoothie).
Do your children help prepare their school lunches?
Yes, my 12-year-old makes his own. He's up at 6am getting himself organised and makes his own lunchbox. As long as I've got things in the fridge and freezer for him to choose from, he's done and dusted in five minutes. Occasionally I'll make his stuffed pita pocket or wholegrain bun while he's emptying the dishwasher. If my middle girl is on a mission to impress, she'll make hers!
What would you recommend for after-school snacking?
Smoothies are a great afternoon snack, a way of adding heaps of fruit and veges in in one hit, wholemeal pikelets, toast with avocado and sliced banana, or a warm batch of the Banana Oat Cookies out of my cookbook are always a treat.
Do you think parents are becoming more health-conscious?
Yes, I definitely do, but I also think there is a lot of confusion out there about healthy ingredients. I just try to keep things really simple, using everyday ingredients from the supermarket, but with a healthier spin. Healthy eating made easy is my motto! We're all too busy to be making things that take ages.
If there was one food you could forbid, what would it be? Lollies! I just don't like lollies ... but do you know what, I still let my children have them occasionally because I don't want them to rebel when they're older, but I do try and give them natural ones.
What is your favourite food to eat?
Initially I was going to say Vietnamese, and then I went, oh no, Mexican, but then what about Japanese, so I decided it was a really tricky question to answer because I have sooooo many foods I love to eat. Anything weird and wonderful though would be my cup of tea.
Six must-have ingredients in your pantry?
Now that's a really hard one. I'm going to group some things up so I get more bang for my buck! Nuts and seeds, dried beans and legumes, brown rice and quinoa, cacao powder, various types of flours, including spelt (a more nutritious choice than white flour) and wholemeal flour, anything coconut - coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coconut sugar and of course coconut water. Okay, I didn't do very well did I.
What's next for you?
I'm going to continue with my cooking workshops as that's what I love but I'm also going to look at working one on one with people who need personal guidance, kind of like a personal kitchen makeover. This is being developed at the moment. I'd also like to take my workshops online so I can reach more people and help spread the healthy eating message.
¦You can follow Wick Nixon follow her on her Facebook page - www.facebook.com/wickedwellbeing - and Instagram (Wicked Wellbeing), or if you'd like to grab a copy of her Healthy Lunchbox Love cookbook, head to wickedwellbeing.com.