Are your kids heading back to school soon? Are you trying to decide on the lunch box menu? Before reaching for the pre-packaged foods, it’s time to consider popping fresh produce items into their lunch boxes. This week, your local fruit and veg shop is bursting with snack-sized autumn fruit and vegetables sure to please the kids and satisfy their healthy appetites.
Sliced pineapple, watermelon and rockmelon from Western Australia are plentiful and make colourful additions to lunch boxes. All apple varieties are also eating well, as are Williams and new-season Corella pears from Victoria, so be sure to add them to your basket this week.
The star performers in the citrus family are ruby red grapefruit from the Northern Territory and navel oranges and lemons and limes from Mareeba. There is a wide selection of exotic fruit coming out of your local fruit and veg shop, with passionfruit from Dimbulah, dragon fruit from Bundaberg, persimmons from Amamoor, as well as custard apples and pomegranates.
Have you tried finger limes? Currently arriving from Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, finger limes are small, sausage-shaped, unique Australian native citrus that offers a burst of refreshing, zingy flavour together with delightful crisp caviar-like texture. Try adding finger limes to soups, seafood dishes, cocktails, and granitas.
Luscious strawberries from South Australia and juicy and fragrant Imperial mandarins from Queensland will feature prominently as lunch box snacks along with bananas and Victorian plums and grapes.
Asian recipes will benefit from the abundant supply of vegetables such as purple cabbage from Lockyer Valley, green beans from Kalbar, red and green capsicums from the Granite Belt, red onions from Tasmania, Roma tomatoes from Bundaberg, snow peas and chillies.
Liven up your kid’s lunchboxes, swap out sandwiches for a tasty mini quiche. Add extra veggies like as broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, roasted pumpkins or zucchini, as they are all plentiful.
For after-school snacks, team up well-supplied baby carrots, beetroot from Blenheim, Bowen-grown cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices with hummus or creamy pesto dip. If you have a fussy eater and more time on your hands, try cauliflower-carrot cheesy tots as both cauliflower and carrots are value buys this week.
Antioxidant-rich ginger from North Arm on the Sunshine Coast is in good supply right now. Boost flavour by adding ginger to tea, biscuits, soups, curries, stir-frys or cocktails and remember to store it in the fridge to avoid moulding.
This week’s top pick is the ultra-versatile sweet potato from Bundaberg. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrate, fibre and potassium and a good source of vitamin E. Gold sweet potato is the most common variety in Australia, but other varieties such as red, white and purple are also becoming popular. Choose firm potatoes with brightly coloured skin and store them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Sweet potatoes are delicious and so versatile! Add them to pancakes for a nutritious, delicious breakfast. Use in a soup for a nourishing, comfort meal. Mix in with brownies for a fun take on a classic. Even mash up into a pie for an all-time crowd-pleaser.
– Produce report supplied by Brismark