Meal Prep for Professionals # 2

As a busy shift worker, I am a fan of making and freezing meals in bulk, particularly when I know I have a hectic week or two of work ahead. Following on from my original Meal Prep for Professionals post, here is another collection of make-ahead ideas!


Healthy Fish and Chips – Salmon with Sweet Potato and Pretty Tahini Slaw 

Ingredients (makes 4 servings) 

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 300g dry coleslaw salad mix
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 200g spinach
  • 4 x salmon fillets, skin off

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Roughly chop the sweet potato into wedges, spray with olive oil and bake until just soft (15 minutes). Add the salmon onto the same tray and return to the oven until the salmon is baked through (12 minutes).
  2. Place the coleslaw mix, tahini, salt and mustard in the food processor and blend until finely chopped and mixed through.
  3. Serve the slaw with the spinach, salmon and sweet potato.

Broccoli, beetroot and balsamic salad 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 200g fat-reduced feta cheese
  • 200g tin beetroot slices, drained and rinsed thoroughly (or alternatively, roast and slice 2 large beetroots yourself)
  • 200g can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 200g spinach
  • balsamic vinegar (I used Pukka Estate fig balsamic for this recipe)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the broccoli into florets and bake until soft and slightly charred around the edges.
  2. To assemble the salad, place the spinach on the bottom, followed by the beetroot, broccoli, chickpeas and feta. Drizzle with balsamic and add the almonds just prior to serving to ensure they stay crunchy!

Chicken with Teriyaki Quinoa and Greens 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 bunch pak choi
  • 1 bunch bok choi
  • 4 large kale leaves
  • 1 glove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup tricolour quinoa
  • 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 4 chicken breasts (skin off)
  • Nori seaweed to serve

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Place the chicken breasts on a tray, season with salt / pepper to your liking, and roast until cooked through (~ 15 minutes). Set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the vegetables and sautee in a fry pan over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil and garlic until just wilted. Set aside.
  3. Place the quinoa and 1 cup of water in a microwave proof dish and cook for 12-15 minutes until the quinoa is soft.
  4. To serve, place the vegetables on the bottom, top with the quinoa, drizzle with teriyaki sauce, then add the chicken (sliced) and top with crushed nori seaweed or bonito flakes.

Spiced Potato and Pumpkin Salad 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 large potato, skin on
  • 1/4 large pumpkin
  • 300g can corn kernels, drained
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly torn apart with stems removed
  • 200g feta or goat cheese
  • Moroccan style seasoning (I used Sahara by Mingle Seasoning)
  • Dukkha to serve (choose something earthy and ideally sesame / tomato based here)

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Slice the potato and pumpkin into small chunks, coat in a spray of olive oil and seasoning, and bake until soft and golden (~ 20 minutes).
  2. To assemble the salad, place the kale on the bottom, then layer the corn, pumpkin and potato on top. Add the cheese and sprinkle with the dukkha.

 

Gluten Free Cacao Banana Bread

All the taste of chocolate and banana bread without the nasty hidden sugar! Adapted from Sarah Wilson’s iQuitSugar gluten free banana bread recipe with the added deliciousness of cacao.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of yogurt (I used plain Chobani but coyo or flavoured greek yogurt also works)
  • 1/8 cup cacao nibs

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Mash the banana together with the yogurt and the oil.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Eat while still warm with your favourite peanut butter on top!

Buddha Bowls

Good enough for you to say ‘Namaste in for dinner tonight’, these vegetable based bowls are bursting with nutrition, and make for a terrific ‘throw together’ meal when you’re short on time. They have the added benefit of being largely plant-based (see note below) and contribute significantly to your required 5+ servings of vegetables of day.

When constructing the ultimate buddha bowl, try to experiment with textures and tastes (refer to my The Secret to Sexy Salads!) and remember, the greater variety of colours, the better your micronutrient profile.

Note some of these bowls are vegetarian rather than vegan, but most have a vegan alternative.


Tahini Tofu Bowl (Vegan) 

Tofu, tahini, sauerkraut, roasted pumpkin and sweet potato, pistachios, cranberries and leafy greens.


Black Bean Bowl (Vegan) 

1/2 cauliflower rice mixed with 1/2 avocado, 1 tbsp vegan spinach cream (a mixture of spinach and crushed sunflower seeds), 1/8 red cabbage and 1/2 stalk broccoli; topped with 1/3 can black beans and served on leafy greens.


Apple Broccoli Bowl  (Vegan option)

1 cup spinach and 1/2 stalk broccoli tossed with 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt, 2 tsp mustard and 1 tsp maple syrup, topped with 1 small green apple. Substitute the Greek yogurt for almond milk yogurt for a vegan alternative.


Za’atar Cumin Pumpkin and Pomegranate Bowl (Vegan option) 

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend including sesame seeds, thyme and sumac. Some versions also include marjoram, oregano and sea salt, while I’ve seen others throw in fenugreek and coriander seeds. To make this version above, use 1 tsp each of dried thyme and sumac with 2 tsp of toasted sesame seeds. 

Roast 1/4 kent pumpkin with 1 tbsp za’atar and 2 tsp cumin, then toss with 1/4 small roasted cauliflower, a handful of rocket and spinach, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds, 75g Bulgarian feta cheese and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil. Substitute the feta cheese for cashew cheese in the same quantity for a vegan version.


Bean Burger Bowl  (Vegan)

Bean Supreme black bean burger pattie (but any vegetarian pattie will do!), with roasted pumpkin, zucchini and kale, fresh tomato, carrot and cumcumber, and a side of hummus.


Lemon Goat Cheese and Peas Bowl 

1 cup of peas mixed with 10 chopped green beans, a handful of cranberries, 1 roasted zucchini, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves and lemon myrtle goat cheese (but you can substitute with regular goat cheese and 1 tsp lemon myrtle).


Black Eyed Beans and Buckwheat Bowl (Vegan option) 

Mix 1/3 can of drained black eyed beans with baby spinach, 50g of feta cheese, 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (herbed, in oil) and 1/4 cup of buckwheat groats (cooked or raw). Substitute 50g of cashew cheese instead of feta for a vegan option.

Breakfast On The Go

This is a follow on from my ‘Sexy Salads’ and ‘Meal Prep for Professionals’ pieces, as I am out to prove that if a sleep-deprived and ridiculously busy doctor can make the time to organise her food, then there’s nothing holding you back too!

My colleagues at work have both teased and praised me for my breakfast choices at work. I tend to arrive hurriedly at 7 am, still in my gym clothes, madly eating a jar of breakfast while attempting to change into my scrubs and make my hair and makeup presentable. Yes I did say a jar of breakfast.

The breakfast parfait / layered breakfast jar is one of the ultimate nutritious breakfasts on the go, and surprisingly easy to make. Some of the most beautiful breakfast jars on social media have to be seen to be believed, but us mere mortals don’t often have the time for that. But if you’re keen to start the day on the wholesome foot, here are a few ideas to get you started!

Overnight Oats 

Essentially the cream-less version of Bircher Muesli. Place 1/4 cup of oats in the jar and mix with a yogurt of your choice (stick to the plain ones with less sugar, I like the plain fat reduced Chobani or Paul’s natural style yogurt) and add a scoop of your favourite protein powder if you’re that way inclined. You can also kick start the metabolism with a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric or ginger, or really mix things up with some matcha powder or grated carrot / zucchini (don’t knock it until you try it!). Then top with fruit (frozen berries work well here but also try banana, mango or stonefruit) and your favourite granola or nuts. These don’t have to be left in the fridge overnight but they thicken when they do. You can easily make a stash of them a few days in advance and enjoy a run of less-stressful morning rushes to work!


Chia Pudding

Similar to overnight oats in terms of the process, however it does require the added step of being mixed with a fork. Soak 1/4 cup of chia seeds in a milk of your choice (I find the nut and soy milks work better here for some reason) and mix well with a fork. Let it sit for five minutes and stir with a fork again and you’ll notice that the seeds develop a gelatinous coating and stick together as pudding. Allow to rest for another five minutes before topping with fruit, granola, nuts and / or yogurt, and let it sit overnight in the fridge for the ultimate thick consistency.

Want a decadent breakfast without the calories and guilt? Try 1/4 cup of chia seeds mixed with 1/2 cup of almond milk and 1 tablespoon cacao. Top with coconut yogurt, cacao nibs and a dollop of your favourite natural peanut butter – absolute bliss!

Baked Eggs

A less fancy but no less tasty variation on Eggs en concotte or Shakshuka. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C or so. For a single serve, take a large oven proof jar or ramekin and spray with olive oil. Line the base with spinach, kale or silverbeet, then add whatever tidbits take your fancy (like leftover roasted vegetables, fetta cheese, haloumi, sundried tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms etc). Then crack two large free-range eggs over the top (don’t scramble!) and season with salt, pepper, dukkha / dried herbs / a sprinkle of cheese, then bake until the whites are firm. These can be made en-masse and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days ahead, or can even be frozen. Just reheat when ready to eat, although many combinations actually taste good cold too!


Vegetable slice alternative: Preheat the oven to 200*C and line a small brownie tray with baking paper. In a bowl mix 6 eggs, 1/2 cup of plain flour of your choice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tsp baking powder and then throw in 1 cup of whatever finely chopped vegetables you like – chopped spinach, rocket, tomatoes, mushroom, roast potato / pumpkin, steamed broccoli, grated carrot, zucchini etc. Sprinkle with your choice of cheese and seasoning, then bake until just set (10-12 minutes). The result is 4 servings of a portable, delicious, fluffy, quiche-like slice!


Smoothie Jars 

As long as you use an airtight jar, these can be made the day before for the ultimate portable liquid breakfast (and you usually get two servings out of each). Try blending 1 cup of nut milk, 1 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup of frozen berries and a 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to increase your daily intake of leafy greens. Need refuelling after your morning workout? Try blending 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, a scoop of protein powder, 1/4 cup of oats and 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter. Skip the banana bread and instead use 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 banana, 1/4 cup of oats, and 1/2 tsp each of cinnamom, cardamom and ginger. It’s pretty hard to stuff these up nutritionally, just use fruit instead of sweeteners and limit the amount that goes in. Also stick to blending rather than juicing as this tends to extract the flavour and sugar from the fruit / vegetables without retaining the amazing fibre that helps to keep you full (and your bowels regular!).


 

The Secret to Sexy Salads

There is nothing sexy about soggy lettuce (unless you have a niche fetish for damp foliage, in which case, best of luck to you!). We’ve all had those superb salads that make us revalidate healthy eating as a delicious life decision, as well as those other inferior salads that leave our souls and stomachs empty inside.

So what is the secret to constructing a truly sexy salad? It’s all to do with balance. Balance the textures, balance the flavours, and rejoice in the tasty nutritious harmony that results!  For the novice home cooks, this may sound easier said than done, but fear not – follow this simply guide and you’ll be well on your way to salad stardom.

Balance the macros
First of all, make sure to include a mixture of carbs, protein and fats; this will ensure your salad will actually keep you full. Some suggestions include;

  • – carbs: quinoa, rice, buckwheat, pasta, freekah, potato, pumpkin
  • – protein: beans, lentils, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean cuts of red meat, haloumi, tofu
  • – fats: avocado, olive oil, nuts



Add the foliage 

There’s no rule saying you must use lettuce! Try different varieties of fancy lettuce, beetroot leaves, spinach or kale for something mild, rocket for something spicy, or celery leaves for a more aniseed flavour.



Balance the flavours

This is the slightly tricky part but it gets easier with practice! Aim for three of the five tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. Some suggestions include;

  • – sweet: mango, orange, peaches, tomatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, a drizzle of honey
  • – sour: apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • – bitter: lemon, lime, grapefruit
  • – salty: salt obviously, seafood
  • – savoury: miso, grains


Balance the textures

Now this is how you boredom bust your salads! Think about what you’ve already got and go through a little mental checklist. Have I got something crunchy? If not, add nuts or seeds. Have I got something soft / squishy? If not, add soft cheese, tofu, avocado, pumpkin etc. Have I got something in between? If not, think about your vegetables like capsicum, corn, beans etc.



Dress your salad

Always leave the dressing until you’re just about to serve to prevent your bottom from going soggy (the salad I mean). Rather than the calorie laden high sugar dressings from the supermarket, I often choose for a small sprinkle of oil (try macadamia, avocado, olive or rapeseed) and a spritz of vinegar (like balsamic, apple cider or white / red wine vinegar).

Ta-dah! You are now well on your way to slaying at salads. See, you can make friends with salad after all!

Breakfast Bowls – an update

As someone who works long and busy hours, sometimes without a meal break, I am an advocate for having a healthy start to the day regardless of what shift I’m working. If that means eating oats and yogurt before work at 9 pm then so be it!

I am a huge fan of the breakfast bowl (and breakfast in a jar for that matter), because why have just boring old processed breakfast cereal when you can have something much more filling, with more texture, more protein and more flavour, without all the hidden nasties?

I like to keep my yogurt plain because I enjoy the tartness of it, and I tend to use Chobani 0.5% fat plain natural yogurt because of the protein content. However, if you’re looking for something sweeter, just add a drizzle of honey or sweetener of your choice to the yogurt in each of these recipes, or use a brand that you enjoy. If you’re dairy intolerant or vegan I highly recommend the Luz Almond range which taste much nicer than the soy alternatives I’ve tried!

To thicken the yogurt to make a pudding-like consistency, I add pea protein powder (which also helps to keep me full for longer).

A few of my recent favourites;


Yellow Overnight Not-Oats 


Mix 1/4 Lupin flakes, 2/3 cup plain natural yogurt, 1/8 cup shredded coconut and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and leave soak overnight. Top with whatever you like, but I chose flaked almonds, nutritional yeast (from The Source Bulk Foods) and freeze dried mango pieces.


The Pink and Green Scene 


2/3 cup of plain natural yogurt swirled with 2 tsp Matcha Maiden matcha and 2 tsp Just Blends freeze dried dragon fruit powder, topped with flaked almonds, buckwheat and the Coles ‘Power and Go’ seed mix (which includes linseeds, chia etc).


Choc Beetroot 


2/3 cup plain natural yogurt mixed with 2 tsp raw cacao and 2 tsp Healthy Life beetroot powder, topped with almonds, walnuts, cranberries, buckwheat and strawberries.


Matcha Apple Ginger


2/3 cup plain natural yogurt mixed with 2 tsp Matcha Maiden Matcha, topped with green apple, flaked almonds, Bask & Co granola and pieces of Ginger Party ginger.


Choc Greens 


2/3 cup plain natural yogurt mixed with 1 scoop Isowhey vanilla pea protein, a pinch of stevia,  1 tsp greens powder and 1 tsp matcha, topped with tigernuts , cacao oats+chia mix from The Chia Co, cacao nibs and a squeeze of Sweet Freedom Choc Shot (a fruit based clean cacao sauce).


Peanut Butter Jelly Time 


Blend 4 large strawberries with 1/3 cup coconut water, then mix with 1/4 cup white chia seeds and leave set overnight to make a strawberry ‘jam’.

Mix 2/3 cup plain natural yogurt with 1 scoop vanilla pea protein, 1 tbsp powdered peanut butter and 1 tsp maca powder, then swirl with the strawberry mix and top with smooth peanut butter.