EASY AND HEALTHY MEAL PREP
We all know that an integral part of keeping healthy is eating home-cooked, healthy food. You know exactly what’s in it, you’re in control of the cost, and you can determine the portion size. Living in single person household, I’ve found myself gravitating towards quick and easy but unhealthy quick fixes – not good for the waist line. (I’ve even found myself having a bag of kettle crisps for dinner, oops!)
My excuses were always the same. Not enough time to grocery shop, too much effort to cook just for one person, not sure about my schedule, etc etc. The list just went on and on. But then I realised that I didn't need to reinvent the wheel and make every single breakfast lunch and dinner from scratch. Even just a few home-made meals is a good start.
How to get started:
Make it easy to prep by pre-determining your recipes and shopping list.
Keep it simple! You don’t need elaborate meals or to eat something different every single day.
Start slow. You don’t need to prepare every single meal in advance, even a few meals will help.
Take a look at your lifestyle. How often do you eat out typically?
Include snacks. If you’re a snacker and this is your downfall, make a gluten free banana bread or paleo granola to munch on
Go to a big supermarket that will have everything you need. I like to go to Fairprice at Valley Point for all the basics, then Little Farms for coconut yoghurt and other hard-to-find items. Or order everything online on Redmart.
Now for the nitty gritty and a few of simple recipes that I like to make ahead. Some aren't even recipes, more like 'assembling ingredients' - but hey, that's ok too!
I’ve been making this for years for myself, as well as gifts for my friends and it’s always a hit. There is no reason to buy granola at the store, it’s usually expensive and filled with sugar in quantities that would make you balk. I eat this with Coyo coconut yoghurt, or if you can tolerate dairy just buy a family sized portion of greek or natural yoghurt. Add fresh blueberries or sliced banana too.
2 cups gluten free oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1. Preheat oven to 250°F. 2. Pour all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. 3. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. 4. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. 5. Remove pan from oven, toss granola around, rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes. Repeat until granola is completely dry and light golden brown (about 1 hour total).
Easy Peasy Coconut Yoghurt Chia Seed Pudding
This is the chia seed pudding recipe to end all other chia seed puddings. I can never go back to using just liquids - adding yoghurt provides an extra element of creaminess that's just so satisfying. Recipe and image courtesy of Blissful Basil.
1 1/3 cups homemade vanilla coconut yogurt* (I recommend Coyo Vanilla Coconut Yogurt or Coconut Bondi Yoghurt)
1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I usually use Inside Out's fresh, unsweetened coconut milk)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup chia seeds
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut yoghurt, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and sea salt. Add the chia seeds and whisk until evenly dispersed. Cover and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours. Decant into mason jars and layer with freshly chopped berries and toasted nuts and seeds if desired.
Gluten free Banana Bread
This is a great option for breakfast on the run, or as a snack. I love heating it up and slathering it in organic butter with sea salt and cinnamon sprinkled on top – heaven! This recipe is found on the back of CocoRoselle’s organic coconut flour.
400 grams ripe banana
6 free range eggs
4 pitted dates (less if you want to cut down on sugar in fact I sometimes omit them entirely)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I sometimes double because I love cinnamon)
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup chia seeds
Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius for fan assisted or 170 without fan. Combine banana, dates, oil cinnamon vanilla, egsa nad baking powder into a blender. If not using dates, you can just blend using a hand-held beater Add the coconut flour and chia seeds and mix through. Rest for 10 minutes to allow the chia and coconut flour to expand. Lightly oil a loaf tin and spoon the batter into the tin. I like to decorate the bead with sliced bananas and coconut flakes. Bake for 50-55 minutes, and cover the top with foil if over-browning Remove from the oven and allow to cool before tunring out the load, serves about 12 and keeps in fridge covered for up to a week.
Sweet Potato Cottage Pie
The ultimate comfort food, there’s nothing like cottage pie, it’s like a hug on a plate! This recipe is from The Lean Body Coach.
1kg beef mince
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
1 zucchinis, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, chopped
500g of frozen peas
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp rosemary
4 large sweet potatoes, quartered and skin-on
½ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp ghee or butter
sea salt and pepper to taste
You can either steam, boil or bake the sweet potatoes and allow them to cool. I usually peel and chop them, Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the garlic and cook the beef until browned.
Once the meat is browned, transfer it to a plate, and cook the onions, carrots, zucchini and celery until the veggies are soft.
Add the meat back to the pan, stir in the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Cook until all of the excess liquid has cooked off, then stir in the peas. Pour the meat mixture into a large baking dish – I used a 22×33 cm Neoflam ceramic dish.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
In a large bowl, mash together the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper and spread on top of the meat mixture.
Bake the shepherd’s pie for 20 minutes, or until the sides are bubbling.
There are so many variations on these! You can mix and match whatever you like to create a daily lunch box.
Quinoa or another grain like brown rice
Sweet potatoes or pumpkin (make extra mash or cubes when doing the Cottage Pie.)
Roasted vegetables: Carrots, beetroot, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers
I love this quick and easy tahini dressing that packs a flavourful punch and adds creaminess.
1/3 cup well-stirred tahini (Middle Eastern sesame paste)
1/3 cup water.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
2 garlic cloves, chopped.
3/4 teaspoon salt.
Toasted nuts and seeds like pine nuts, sesame seeds etc for crunch