After a long shift, what you’re going to have for dinner is probably one of the last things on your mind. We know it’s important to take care of ourselves but with very limited time in our day, sometimes it’s easier to choose the speedy option and grab a ready meal or whack something in the oven. For many of us, the idea of cooking something healthy is the most difficult option because there’s usually a lot of ingredients and prep involved.
Nutritionally, we benefit the most from natural fresh and frozen ingredients. Processed foods can have things we don’t need, like added salt, sugars and fats, which contributes to poor diet and health. By selecting what individual foods you’re going to cook you can make sure your body and mind are better prepared for the next working day.
There are many delicious and easy-to-prepare ingredients you can add to your meals that release natural energy-boosting nutrients and vitamins. These include: Fatty fish, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oats, eggs, leafy green vegetables (kale and spinach), sweet potatoes, beetroot, seeds, nuts, fruit (such as apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, goji berries and avocados), beans and legumes (lentils, edamame and chickpeas), to name a few.
Here are five of our favourite easy-to-cook and quick meals. Click on the dish names to take you to the full recipe.
1. Tofu and Edamame Noodles (Delicious Magazine)
Not just for vegetarians, tofu is a tasty and versatile addition for anybody’s shopping list, containing protein and a host of other essential vitamins. Easy to season and fry, when paired with energy and fibre rich whole wheat noodles, sesame seeds and edamame beans, this simple vegan dish has a great mixture of benefits to set you up for the next day. Add extra vegetables or substitute the soy sauce with a different flavouring to make this dish your own.
2. Chicken, Broccoli & Beetroot Salad with Avocado Pesto (BBC Good Food)
Perfect for dinner and leftover lunches, this luscious salad contains several of the ingredients in the above list. Beetroot is great for you and may decrease blood pressure and increase exercise performance. A food processor is required to make the pesto, which we highly recommend doing, but you can purchase your own to save time. Alternatively, add the individual pesto ingredients in your own preferred way to the dish. Don’t miss out on adding the extremely nutritious avocado and walnut to your diet!
3. Sesame Salmon, Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Sweet Potato Mash (BBC Good Food)
Fatty fish, seeds, vegetables and sweet potato… It doesn’t get much healthier than this. Salmon is cooked in the oven for up to 12 minutes while the sweet potato is placed into the microwave for extra quick cooking time. It’s a simple dish packed full of hearty benefits, with soy sauce, sesame seeds and ginger bringing the scent and taste of Asia.
4. One Pan Couscous Chicken (BBC Good Food)
The beauty of this meal is that it’s all cooked in one pan (exactly what it says on the tin), so less washing up is required. It also uses a good amount of everyday flavoursome ingredients, including couscous – packed with protein, carbohydrates and an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrient called selenium – it’s a perfect alternative to rice and pasta. The healthy, sweet apricots and chickpeas also fall into the category of high-energy foods.
5. Keralan Curry (Jamie Oliver)
This mild spiced vegetarian curry contains some ingredients you might not normally cook with, but all readily available in supermarkets. The cauliflower makes this a light meal and the canned pineapple mixed with coconut milks gives it a sweet taste. The chickpeas and wholemeal (brown) rice are packed with slow releasing energy, and the mustard seeds have a variety of health benefits including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, protein, fibre, omega 3 and are also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.