Healthy eating doesn’t have to be time-consuming, labour intensive and require 54 different ingredients per dish.
But if you come here often you probably know that already. Plus that's not exactly my secret...
In this blog I want to share with you my favourite fast and healthy meals of the moment, because it’s time I let (one of) my dirty secrets out of the bag and fully embraced it.
Here’s the thing. Even though I’m a dietitian, and my work day involves a LOT of talk about food, meal preparation, cooking and eating... I am actually really lazy in the kitchen.
At times I’ve felt guilt over not being a Nigella-esque nutritionista, or a 3-Michelin star raw food chef, or in any way exceptionally gifted in creating mind-blowing dishes. I like my food pretty simple, and I mainly cook to please myself... when I actually go to the bother of cooking!
I like my meals to take ten minutes or less to prepare. In and out of the kitchen in as little time as possible. Whiz it up in a blender and go. Let stuff cook itself. Chuck something in the oven and forget about it for an hour, then eat it with no extra fuss required. Chop up no more than five ingredients then run off to the garden to sit and enjoy the eating of my meal. I’m a blend, dip and chuck girl, not a sauté, broil and stir girl. A dirty secret no more!
Of course, there is the odd moment when you can’t keep me away from the kitchen. At these times I closely resemble a mad scientist constructing cauliflower crusted vegan pizza as if it were my personal Frankenstein, whipping up lemon almond macaroons, chipotle veggie stew, or teriyaki glazed portobello steaks with a big rocket, veggie and goats cheese salad. I would be a very sad nutritionist if I were banned from the kitchen for life!
But most of the time, I make my meals in the time a commercial break takes place. (I don’t own a TV, but I’m guessing the average ad break is five minutes these days.)
It doesn’t help that my partner is a highly experienced chef and a genius with wholefoods. This guy makes his own multi-national cuisine curry pastes, herb & spice mixes, scented oils, exotic reductions, gourmet chutneys, and elaborate vegetable salts. His Frankenstein dishes are more Japanese - Greek fusion than the blended green soups I toss into a bowl and call "cuisine". And while I easily and happily make do with my simple diet while we are apart (right now he’s in Thailand permaculture-ing it up) I’m more than happy to let him cut sick in the kitchen for a few hours and come out with a gourmet 7-dish vegan Mexican feast that s#*!s all over Montezuma’s.
I know, I’ve got a pretty raw deal.
This also means that my weight fluctuates a little according to whether or not I’m living with my partner. Being female, this alarmed me at first but now I'm (mostly) cool with it. I gain a few healthy kilos when he’s around and tend to be leaner when we are apart. That’s just how it goes and I can rest assured that my body functions perfectly either way. I enjoy my simple bachelorette diet just like I adore Palasis’ decadent yet healthy cooking – as long as I can occasionally forgo his richer vegan creations for a 1-minute blended kale, tomato and avocado salad. But back to the task at hand – nutritious fast food for those who do not have a resident chef on hand.
In honour of my (and I’m assuming, your) inner lazy foodie, I thought I’d share with you some of my easiest under-5-minute dishes. Despite being fast, these are brimming with minerals, phyto-nutrients and other nutritional awesomeness. No dehydrating, basting or multi-tray steaming necessary.
An unbeatable way of sneaking more greens into your diet, something I'm rabidly passionate about.
Any leftovers can be stored in a container in the freezer, but it's best eaten freshly made. A lovely alternative to frozen yoghurt and ice cream! I don’t use sweetener of any kind in mine as I find the banana sweet enough, but stevia would be my first choice. Bonus points if you know which video game the Forest of Illusions comes from… think old school :)
Prep time: 5 min
- 2 frozen bananas
- 2 big handfuls of baby spinach, baby kale or other leafy greens
- a few leaves of mint
- 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 2 pitted dates OR sweetener of choice (e.g. honey, stevia) (sweetener optional)
- juice of 1 organic lemon
- 2 tablespoons of my favourite nut & dried fruit mix to sprinkle on top (optional): I like a blend of Inca berries, goji berries, raw almonds, sunflower seeds, big dark green pepitas, raw cacao nibs, and organic sultanas
Blend all ingredients except the dried fruit and nut mix well in a powerful blender or food processor, adding SMALL amounts of water as needed. Pour into a bowl and top with the dried fruit and nuts. Grab a spoon and dig in.
Cures a mid-afternoon or pre-dinner savoury craving. All the crunch of chips without the bloat and lethargy! I often have these for lunch followed by a generous Green Dream Bowl if I’m extra hungry.
Prep time 5 min
Fancy Guacamole Dip: Keep it basic with avocado, lemon, garlic and salt with carrot sticks, or splash out and use all the ingredients here! It’s up to how gourmet you’re feeling, and how much time you have.
- 2 ripe avocados
- Juice of 1 fresh lime or ½ a lemon
- 1 tbspn fresh coriander, chopped
- ½ red capsicum, finely diced
- ½ cob raw corn, sliced away from stalk
- 1 tbspn finely diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Sea salt, pepper and chili powder to taste
- Raw organic carrots, cucumbers, celery and/or capsicum, chopped into finger-size pieces
In a bowl, combine the guacamole dip ingredients and mash with a fork until chunky or smooth – I like it chunky! Serve with the crudités on the side, sit in the garden and enjoy with a good book.
This requires that you bake a sweet potato in advance. If that sounds like too much hard work, breathe easy – you can throw the whole potato in the oven with no cutting, oiling etc required – just poke a few holes in it with a fork, chuck it in the oven and go have a shower. Too easy.
Prep time 5 min
- 1 baked sweet potato (1 hour at 180 degrees C) - must be done in advance
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tbsp dried herbs e.g celery, parsley, rosemary
To fold in after mashing:
- 4 handfuls of organic rocket, baby spinach or other leafy greens
- 1 vine grown organic tomato, diced (optional)
- 1 avocado, cubed
- Dusting of cinnamon powder
Peel the skin off the sweet potato (it comes off easily when baked the above way) and with a fork, mash the innards in a bowl along with salt, herbs and garlic. Fold in the green leaves. Top with the diced avocado and tomato. All the satisfaction and nutrition of a roast veggie spread with practically none of the work.
Key Lime Pie in a Bowl
I just love finding other ways to eat greens – as if salads, raw soups and smoothies weren’t enough! You feel clever, like you’ve done something very, very for you good in a naughty kind of way. I enjoyed this fresh and creamy meal for dinner tonight and am oh-so-satisfied.
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- juice of 2 limes (4 tahitian or key limes if available)
- 1 tsp lime zest (optional)
- 1 cup organic young coconut water
- 1/2 cup young coconut meat
- 15-20 drops liquid stevia
- 1/3 English cucumber (optional, for extra freshness)
- 1/2 tray of ice (optional)
- 1 tbsp. dried coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients but the coconut flakes and blend until smooth. Serve in a chilled short glass or a small glass bowl topped with coconut flakes. Delicious and simple! If you still feel like dessert after this dessert dinner (!), I suggest a raw Cacao-Orange Cashew & Sultana Bar. Like a nutrition-savvy boss.