Friday, 25 May 2012

Healthy, fast, no excuses!

One of the biggest reasons I hear for not eating healthy or for eating take away is that cooking takes too long or is too hard.  You know what I'm going to say to that - nothing could be further from the truth!!!
Yes the Thermomix has made things even quicker for us here but even without it, there are some really quick ingredients and cooking methods that make eating healthy a breeze.  And obviously like everything, the more you do it, the quicker it becomes.


Its about having some staple ingredients on hand in your pantry, and knowing a few tips to be able to boost recipes (or if you're like me - more of a throw-things-together-without-a-recipe kinda person!) with some healthier ingredients, and you will be pumping out healthy brekky, lunches and dinners before you can get to the shop and back with a pizza!!!
Here are some ideas that will boost and reduce - boost the nutrient content of your meals/overall diet and/or reduce the additives and less healthy ingredients.

Breakfasts


 As I've mentioned in previous posts, it is hard to find breakfast cereals that are actually healthy for you and the kids, even though a whole aisle of the supermarket is dedicated to cereals.  Brekky is the first meal of the day so it is important both nutritionally and mentally to have a substantial and nutrient rich solution.  Its also the meal that people skip the most and often I hear reasons being they don't feel like eating anything first thing in the morning, or that there is no time.  So here are some ideas:
  • Bircher muesli is such a great breakfast solution for a few reasons.  It is made the day/night before which alleviates the time issue.  It is jam packed with healthy goodness and the ingredients are all raw foods which maximises the nutrient content.  Simply throw together rolled oats, not from concentrate apple or orange juice or a squeezed lemon, and natural yogurt and leave in the fridge overnight.  If you have time in the morning grate an apple and stir through with any other ingredients that take your fancy such as chopped hazelnuts or almonds, sultanas/currants, honey, banana, berries or stewed fruits in the winter.  If you dont have time in the morning, just throw it all in together the night before and it will still taste great the next morning.   This dish is bursting with fibre, antioxidants and many other vitamins and minerals, not forgetting the well documented benefits of oats for lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Smoothies are a great solution for people not big on eating toast/cereal first thing in the morning and even for kids rushing to school/you rushing to work!   Just throw into the blender (or Thermomix) a small tub of natural yogurt (or a few tablespoons), a banana (freeze peeled super ripe bananas in a zip lock bag or container and use them in the summer), some frozen berries (which can be bought really cheaply these days as they are often on a half price special), reduced fat milk, a spoon of honey and a tablespoon or two of either chia seeds, LSA mix, wheat germ or oat bran (all of which are readily available in the supermarket).  In a minute you will have a meal to go.  If you are travelling in the car - or kids sitting in the back - plastic cups with a straw and lid (found in supermarkets or homeware shops) make it spill proof and easily transportable. 
  • To boost nutrient levels in whatever you are eating currently, swap white bread for wholemeal-multigrain (preferably additive free), add a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds, LSA mix, wheat germ or oat bran to your current cereal, check the brands of peanut butter and jam you use and make sure it is the lowest sugar, salt and fat offering, with the most nuts/fruit.  (If you are a Thermie owner like me, its just as simple to make your own).  Swap full cream milk for reduced fat, change your juice to one that is not made from concentrate (to achieve the most amount of nutrients possible), reduce the amount of cereal and add a couple of dollops of natural yogurt, add sliced up fruit to your cereal.

   Lunch

  • A corn cob is such an easy lunch solution (or part of it anyway) and very nutritious.  Minimal cooking means minimal nutrient loss and they are so easy to prepare.  Just remove the husk and wrap in plastic film (if you were BBQing you could even just throw it on husk and all and it will steam itself inside the husk!).   Microwave for 1 minute, turn over and cook for a further minute (depending on power of microwave a few extra seconds may be needed) and you will have yourself one corn cob ready to eat!!  Now I would like to know what could be easier than that?! 
  • Whenever you are making grains for dinner (rice, quinoa, cous cous, pasta) cook up extra for the base of a lunch  in the following day or two.  Throw in some chopped veggies (carrot, capsicum, frozen peas etc), a tin of tuna or leftover meats from dinner, feta or ricotta cheese, boiled egg, dressing if you like and you have a healthy, hearty, delicious lunch!
  • Spread bread with ricotta cheese or avocado instead of butter, adding nutrients and reducing saturated fat.  
  • Try my flatbread - add extra seeds to further increase nutrient intake.  
  • Green smoothies are a good idea for lunch on the run.  They are smoothies with added spinach leaves, avocado etc.  Be open to it!!  The 'green' flavour is not strong at all.  Quirky Cookings blog has some great recipes and keeping the greens raw give a great antioxidant boost (helpful to combat all these colds going around!) 
  • Sticks of veggies, tofu, flatbread, and chicken breast pieces can be dipped in hummus dip, ricotta mixed with herbs, natural yogurt.  Cut up enough for a couple of days and store in fridge.
  • To boost nutrient levels in whatever you are eating for lunch, change bread choice as per breakfast, finish lunch with a piece of fruit, use smooth ricotta or philly cheese instead of mayonnaise and butter, swap chicken schnitzel sandwich for grilled or poached chicken, swap creamy nori rolls (ie cooked tuna) for raw fish or vegetable choices.

Dinner


  •  For a quick Friday night no-fuss meal, mix together ricotta cheese, spinach (either fresh baby leaves or thawed chopped spinach), semi sundried tomatoes and grated parmesan.  Stir through cooked pasta and warm through. Add a tin of tuna too if you wish!
  • Fried rice doesn't have to be drenched in oil with fluro pieces in it like what is offered in food court bain maries!  And it can be quick and easy!  If you are really pressed for time you could even buy the precooked sachets of plain rice (preferably brown or basmati) from the supermarket and add to sauteed chopped veggies (carrot, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, beans, mushrooms, onion) and garlic, lean bacon sliced and frozen peas.  Stir through a lightly beaten egg until set and drizzle over soy sauce to taste.
  • Don't make soups harder than they need to be.  They can be nutrient packed and are perfect for these freezing cold days!  A lot of soups can be made from scratch within 30 minutes.  The less time you have the smaller you chop your veggies, if you are blending them to a smooth consistency at the end of  cooking a lot of veggies' skins can be left on (adding nutrients and cutting prep time), add 1/2 - 3/4 c red lentils which cook quickest of all dried legumes (about 20 mins).  Leftover thick soups make flavoursome bases to casseroles.  Just add meat cubes and extra veggies and cook until meat is tender. 
  • To boost nutrient levels in whatever you cook for dinner, swap regular white rice with basmati or doongara (these are lower Glycaemic Index options), try using quinoa or cous cous instead of pasta or rice for a change and a boost in nutrients, serve a side salad or bowl of steamed veggies with any meals that mainly consist of meat and grains,  don't add salt until the end of cooking as flavours intensify during cooking and it may be that you don't need as much salt after all, use smooth ricotta or low fat philly cheese instead of cream in sauces.
  • NEVER boil veggies (surely noone does that anymore??!!)  Nutrients leech into the water and also boiling generally results in overcooking killing the majority of nutrients too.  Bamboo steaming stacks are sooooo cheap from the Asian supermarkets and work well.  Steaming is a quicker process which retains more nutrients, colour and flavour.   
  • Replace puff or shortcrust pastry dishes (ie pies, quiches etc) with filo pastry.  So much less fat and a nice light crispy result.  Or try this - layer a few sheets of filo (lightly sprayed with olive oil) and fill with a mix of grated veggies, cheese of your choice and diced cooked meat.  Fold into parcels and cook for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees until browned.  Most leftovers could be put into filo parcels for a different spin on the meal so make double of your casserole, risotto, bolognaise sauce, and you'll thank yourself two nights later when all you have to do is spoon it onto filo sheets, fold them up and bake them!!
The kilojoule, salt, fat and money savings you would make by choosing a quick healthy meal over takeaway all adds up!
What's your quickest healthy meal solution??

6 comments:

  1. What about boiling potatoes for mash?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amy. Most of us do default to boiling potatoes for mashing but you know you can actually steam the potatoes successfully too. Just make sure they are cooked through to avoid a lumpy texture but once steamed just mash through milk and whatever else you usually add. ( :

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  2. Thanks will give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
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