This post is in collaboration with the Health Star Rating system
I used to really struggle with judging how ‘healthy’ food was when doing my big food shop for the week. Sure – fresh fruit and veggies is a no brainer but as I started venturing into the middle aisles of the supermarket I found myself becoming more unsure of what to buy to make sure I got home with everything I needed to have healthy, wholesome meals.
I started looking into how to read the back of the packets – learning what to look out for and what to avoid (goodbye 36gms of sugar per 100gm serve!) but when in a rush, I sometimes made bad decisions and would end up with work lunches that were white pasta bake with a creamy white sauce. Delicious? Yes. A really great lunch option for your mid week lunch? Not really. Cue sluggish 3pm drop in energy and focus at work.
Until… a few weeks ago I noticed those little star ratings on packaged products at the supermarket. Those are the Health Star Ratings that help guide shoppers to make healthier choices quicker when shopping.
So, what exactly is this Health Star Rating (HSR) you ask?
The HSR is a front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
The HSR is calculated based on standards set by the Food Standards Aus and NZ and takes into consideration the energy (kilojoules), risk nutrients (saturated fat, salt and sugars) and the positive nutrients (dietary fibre, protein and the proportion of fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content).
I wanted to put the HSR rating to the test so I trotted off to the shops with the intention of making a simple quick work lunch with ingredients that had high star ratings.
I settled on making vegetarian falafel lunch wraps with some Havarti cheese, homemade tzatziki and veg. The veggie part was easy – the HSR only applies to packaged foods. I grabbed some rocket, rainbow salad (shredded beetroot, cabbage and carrot), cherry tomatoes, garlic, dill and cucumber.
Next on the list was some wraps, yoghurt for the tzatziki, falafels and cheese. In the bread isle (aka heaven) I was perusing the wraps based on their star rating. Plain white wraps were 3.5 stars while the wholemeal wraps had 4 stars. I then spied some barley wraps that had a whole 5 stars! Into the trolley they went. They had the highest fibre content of all the wraps. Off to a good start.
Next on the list was yoghurt for the tzatziki. Full fat Greek yoghurt was 2.5 stars due to the fat content but the light Greek yoghurt was 4 stars, which made it easy to compare and decide to purchase the light Greek yoghurt. I had a mad craving for beetroot dip so I made my way to the dip aisle. I noticed the pre-made tzatziki was 2.5 stars due to it being made with full fat yoghurt and some added sugar, so I was glad I was making my own tzatziki.
Beetroot dip was in the trolley at 4 stars and I gave myself a mental high five. I bought some sesame falafels (the falafel range has not been ‘starred’ yet but I’m sure they will get there) and was onto selecting a cheese.
I recently had Havarti at work and oh my… it basically tasted like butter. I knew Havarti cheese wouldn’t be rated very high due to the fat content however being guided by the rating of 2.5 stars ensured I was reasonable in my serving portions – another great way to apply the star rating to your ‘sometimes foods’. I only used two very thin slices of cheese in my wraps.
The wraps were delicious, made better by the fresh homemade tzatziki. I’m confident that this is a really tasty, healthy lunch decision that I would be comfortable adding to the rotation of work lunches and quick meals. It didn’t weigh me down and I felt really good about my lunch choices.
Have you seen the Health Star Rating in the shops yet? Or are you a read the back-of-the-packet kinda shopper?
- 4 wraps
- 8 falafels
- 12 diced cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup rainbow salad or shredded veg
- ½ cup rocket leaves
- 1/3 cup beetroot dip
- 4 slices Havarti cheese
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- 1/2 small cucumber diced (English or Lebanese)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
- salt and pepper
- To prepare the tzatziki, mix the yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Lay down your wrap, leaving 2 cms at the bottom and spread some beetroot dip
- Lay the rocket, rainbow salad and your quartered falafels
- Top with the cherry tomato, cheese and season with a good crack of salt and pepper
- Fold the bottom, then the sides, then tuck the top in. Wrap in baking paper and twist the ends to keep your wrap secure for lunch