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!
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!
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!
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!
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!).
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!
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).
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.
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
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.