Food Prep

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“Fail to prepare or prepare to go hungry!!”

20170801_093019.jpgWell that’s my motto in life anyway! Of course you won’t starve as there are shops, cafes and restaurants in abundance only ready to soothe your hunger but also deplete your wallet.

Every day can be tough when living on a budget, travelling frequently, juggling a hectic schedule or just trying to make improved food choices for you and your family. This is where planning and preparation come into play. We plan and prepare ourselves everyday for a variety of tasks and activities. Sometimes to the outside world we can display ourselves as extremely organised but behind closed doors and particularly in the kitchen it can be chaos.

This is normal life for many and can be easily altered by following my top tips for each mealtime of the day.

Breakfast

I love breakfast and kind of can’t understand how people can leave the house without something eaten or a meal packed to eat on the commute. My favourite breakfast options can all be prepared in advance and take only minutes.

Top my homemade granola with some yoghurt and fresh fruit. Prepare an overnight oats pot the night before to grab and go in the morning. Freeze a batch of cupcake quiches for a quick protein hit in the morning. Blend a colourful juice or smoothie to get your day off to a colourful start. Overnight oats, bircher muesli, meal prep, Delalicious

Lunch

Depending on the time of year and my plans for the day my go-to lunch options are leftover dinner, salads and soups. Soup is a great option as it can be frozen in batches and defrosted quickly in the microwave. Have the soup on it’s own or add a slice of oat bread on the side. Salads can be eaten everyday, all you need to do is rotate your fillings. Store your salad contents in a jam jar to stop it going to mush with the more delicate items like salad leaves on top and the juicer contents like beetroot and tomato on the bottom. Here are my favourite combinations:

Dinner

You arrive in late from work, starving and don’t have the energy to cook, this is where your freezer becomes your best friend! Batch cook a big curry, lentil stew or risotto at the weekend, then simple portion and freeze. All you need to do is allow it to defrost in the fridge during the day or when you get home in the microwave. Revitalise this dish by adding some fresh leafy vegetables or adding a grilled protein source to a vegetable dish. Tinned fish is another great protein option to add to a frozen vegetable dinner. Here are some of my tried and tested batch cooking options:

Snacks

My mother used to describe me as a “grazer” at home and unfortunately I haven’t changed. Snacking is important for everyone but ensure you are eating correct portions.

Nuts are such an easy option, pop a bag in your car, handbag or desk drawer to always have them on hand. A whole bag of nuts can disappear before you know it so check out this great infographic for nut portions.

Vegetable sticks and hummus I find are great for travelling. Snacking before exercise, I tend to eat a plain banana or some of my Banana & Nut Bites made ahead. Homemade muffins baked in advance, frozen and defrosted are perfect for outdoor adventures.Nuts, snack, meal prep, DelaliciousAs you can see, there are plenty of recipe options for each and every mealtime. Now it’s over to you. I challenge you to make one thing on this list and freeze or store it for later. Schedule some time during the next week or month to plan what meals you need to prepare in advance, what you would like to cook and the ingredients you need to purchase. By writing these things down, you formulate a plan and consciously make decisions about your mealtimes.

Before you know it, a healthy habit will be formed. Not only will this habit reward you with a full belly but also save time and money, keep you well nourished and in control of your mealtimes!

Keep an eye on my Instagram story where I often share the contents of my lunchbox.

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Grated Carrot, Courgette & Pumpkin Slaw

Salad

If you haven’t figured it out already, I love salads!! It’s not just because they are healthy but I love the texture of salads, the crunch of cabbage, the burst of flavour that fresh herbs add and the juicy sweetness of sun-ripened tomatoes. This recipe is a very colourful slaw that combines lots of vegetables, seeds and a simple vinagerette that will add a serious burst of colour to your plate.

  • 200g red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 medium courgette, coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley or coriander, roughly chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the seeds and combine well.
  3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until well combined.
  4. Combine the dressing, lemon juice and freshly chopped herbs to the vegetables and stir together until well coated using a fork.

Broccoli & Cashew Soup

Lunch, Soup

Most store bought soups are laden with hidden cream and salt. Making your own allows you complete control of seasoning and creaminess. The best cream substitutes I’ve found through trail and error are coconut milk, cashews and avocado.

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 2 leeks/celery stalks, trimmed and de-stalked
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 50g cashews
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • coconut oil
  1. Divide the broccoli into florets and finely chop the stalks. 
  2. Melt 1 tsp coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
  3. Once melted, gently saute the onions, leeks, broccoli stalks and finely chopped garlic. 
  4. When the onions and celery are translucent, add the cumin And coriander and cook for a further 2-3 mins.
  5. Add in the stock, broccoli florets and cashews. 
  6. Bring to a boil, return to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins until florets are soft through.
  7. Blend the soup to a smooth texture and serve.

Chicken Quinoa Bake

Dinner

This dish is a twist on Derval O’Rourke’s version. The sauce also works great as a gratin base to make a healthy cauliflower cheese type dish. Serve it alongside a green leafy salad, steamed vegetables or a baked sweet potato. The recipe includes the weight of cooked quinoa, just half this weight to get the uncooked equivalent.

IMG_2636

Serves 4-6 depending on hunger levels.

  • 300g cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 300g broccoli florets
  • 200g cauliflower florets
  • 300g yoghurt (natural or Greek)
  • 100g creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • handful of flaked almonds
  1. Gently steam the broccoli and cauliflower florets until tender and set aside to cool.
  2. IMG_2630 Prepare the sauce by mixing together the yoghurt, creme fraiche, mustard, flour, curry powder, spices and lemon juice. IMG_2617
  3. Evenly spread the cooled quinoa over the base of a large oven-proof dish.
  4. IMG_2628 Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and gently brown in a frying pan with a little coconut oil.
  5. Place the browned chicken pieces in a large saucepan, add the broccoli and cauliflower and mix through the sauce until everything is well coated.
  6. Spoon the chicken and vegetable mix over the quinoa. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake in an oven at 180°C for 30-40 mins until it begins to brown.

Chickpea & Ginger Chicken Curry

Dinner, Lunch

Curries are great for feeding friends, freezer dinners and as a simple lunchbox filler! Simply swap sweet potato, butternut squash or parsnip in place of the turnip as you wish. I tend to serve this curry on a bed of quinoa, bulgur wheat or steamed green vegetables.

Serves 6.

IMG_2422

  • 1 medium-large turnip
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch length of fresh ginger
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tsp vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato relish/chutney
  • 2 heaped tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 5 chicken fillets
  1. Peel and chop the turnip into bite-sized chunks. Finely dice the onion, garlic and ginger. Chop the carrots into semi-circles. 
  2. Heat 2 tsp coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and gently saute until softened.
  3. Add the carrots and turnip and stir through the turmeric and curry powder. 
  4. Pour in the coconut milk, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes until the turnip is soft through.
  5. Chop the chicken fillets, brown in a pan over a medium heat, season with some pepper and add to the vegetable mix. 
  6. Drain and rinse the chickpeas before stirring through with the relish/chutney to the saucepan. Gently simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off to cook the chicken through.
  7. Serve as you like.