Meal Prep: How To Plan to Eat Healthy
It's now February 1st and although you may have embarked guns blazing on a new flamboyant detox program at the start of the year, some of you may be flailing already! This year I've decided to try and get organised in terms of cooking healthy meals in advance of arriving home from work ravenous and grouchy. So far so good. It really does help to have meals ready and waiting, and last Monday I took full advantage and russled up some yummy treats.
Here are some quick and easy recipes to get you organised in the kitchen so it's easier to stay on track (or get you started if you haven't quite got there yet!). Here's to reseting your eating habits and making light of your healthy eating cooking regime!
BREAKFAST ON THE GO - SUMMER OATS
I'm generally a morning person but my weakness is that I've always been someone who needs a good breakfast. Without food before 9am I'm cranky, tired and pretty nauseous which is not the best way to start your day. At 6am for the last few weeks I have been completing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Workout program (more of that to come in another blog post) and I've found it hard to ensure I get a wholesome breakfast and make it to work on time. Last week I returned to an old classic, summer oats, prepping the night before to wake up to a super-tasty, filling and 'easy on the go' breakfast. Give them a try!
Old fashioned oats (not instant or quick oats)
Milk - soy, almond or regular
Chopped Fruits and Nuts/Granola Honey/Maple Syrup, and extra for toppings as desired
Mason jars (I used 1 pint sized jars)
Combine roughly 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1/4 cup milk and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into jar and mix thoroughly. Gently mix in chopped fruits - I used frozen berries and they worked well. Store in fridge overnight. Add granola, extra fruit or nuts to the top and a tiny drop of honey as desired. Enjoy!
This is such an easy recipe to use again and again with a variety of delicious and healthy mixes, and great to take to work with if you don't always have time for breakfast. If you like this and want more, here are some twists on summer oats that will keep you interested in eating healthy.
In a bid to eat healthier, I'm trying to cook more vegetarian dishes and suggest you do the same; much better for you to have a meatless meal every day! You won't even miss the meat in this hearty bake which is perfect for a dinner for four or dinner and yummy lunch leftovers for two!
3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
About 1.25 ounces parmesan, hard goat cheese, or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated
For the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 plum tomatoes
2 (14-ounce) cans chopped plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of brown sugar
Wash and slice the eggplants into 1cm slices. Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with a little salt. Leave to drain for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large, wide pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the sliced fresh tomatoes to soften, before adding both cans of tinned tomatoes and chopped fresh basil leaves. Bring to a simmer, then simmer briskly, stirring often, for about half an hour, or until the sauce is thick and rich. Season well with salt and pepper and a little sugar to taste.
Quickly rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, fry a batch of eggplant slices for about 2 minutes each side, until golden and tender. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding a little more oil to the pan before you fry each batch.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lay a third of the eggplant slices in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Cover with a third of the tomato sauce. Scatter a thin layer of grated cheese over each layer and repeat with the remaining ingredients so you have three layers in the dish.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
I served this with lots of fresh green spinach and a balsamic dressing. This is healthier take on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe from his cookbook River Cottage Veg which uses buffalo mozzarella too.
SWEET POTATO AND PEANUT GRATIN
This is one of my veggie staples, and comes out when there's nothing for dinner but some sweet potatoes lying around. It's easy, healthy and tastes like it isn't! It's another one from HFW that I've slightly modified - you're meant to use double cream but weirdly yoghurt works very well. If you can get your hands on the Pataks Satay Mix it really helps add a nice crunch to the top. Let me know your thoughts!
About 1kg sweet potatoes
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus a little more for greasing
1 red chilli (1/2 scotch bonnet if brave) seeds removed, finely chopped, or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cups yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g crunchy, no-sugar-added peanut butter
Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus about 2 tsp juice
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and lightly oil a large gratin dish.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into slices about as thick as a 25 cent peice. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato slices with a tablespoon of oil, the chilli, garlic, yoghurt and some salt and pepper. Arrange half the sweet potato slices in the gratin dish, spreading them out with your fingertips – you do not have to layer them piece by piece, but try to ensure they are mostly lying flat.
Beat the peanut butter with the remaining tablespoon of oil, the lime zest and juice. Spread this mixture in dollops over the sweet potato in the dish. Add the remaining sweet potato and spread out. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl. Sprinkle with Satay Mix for crunch (found at Hurleys ready to go!)
Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake for a further 30 minutes or so, until the sweet potato is completely tender and the top is browned and crisp. For extra crispness, finish under the grill for a couple of minutes, but watch carefully. Serve hot with a crisp, bitter salad to balance the gratin's sweet richness.