5 healthy quick fix meals

Ah the festive season… a time of goodwill, joy and happiness. Or should that be chaos, madness and trying to squeeze a gazillion things into every day? Whether it’s nativity plays, Christmas parties, family gatherings or just the usual mayhem escalated to festive levels, chances are there is going to be more than one occasion over the next month or so where you are going to want to turn to the easy option of a takeaway for dinner.

The good news is that finding something quick and painless for dinner doesn’t mean that you have to give up on getting nutrients. Because let’s face it, you’re going to need every nutrient you can get to avoid falling prey to The Festive Lurgy.

Here are my top five suggestions for healthy quick fix meals:

1. Sweet jackets. Jacket potatoes are super quick and easy, and provided you have some quick and easy fillings to hand, you’re on to a winner. Opt for a sweet potato for extra nutritional value. Just pierce it with a fork a few times and stick it in the microwave (yes, the oven would be more ideal but we’re in a rush here!) for roughly 8 minutes depending on the size of the spud. Great toppings might be:
– tuna and Greek yoghurt with sweetcorn
– cottage cheese with chunks of pineapple
– leftover cooked chicken mixed with pesto or avocado
Serve it all up with a big ol’ salad on the side and you’ve got a healthy and nutritious meal in under 10 minutes.

Eggsceedinglyposheggs2. Eggs is easy. Oh how I love these little oval beauties. I wrote an article about the joys of eggs which you can read here. Eggs are genuinely one of the healthiest and easiest options you can go for. Whether it’s a super quick omelette, scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes, boiled eggs and soldiers or a slightly more gourmet smoked salmon, scrambled egg, avocado and pesto (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it), eggs are a cheap and healthy option for those ‘someonepassmethechinesemenu’ moments. All you need to do is embrace the idea of ‘brinner’ (having breakfast for dinner) and off you go!

3. Pimp up a packet. This has been a lifesaver option for me recently during particularly busy times. I like to make sure that I always have a packet of something easy in the cupboard for emergency quick fix situations. The packets I’m talking about are things like Jamie Oliver’s Curried Chickpeas or Merchant Gourmet’s Puy Lentils… a lot of the supermarkets are bringing out their own versions now too. Check the labels to make sure that they don’t have any hidden sugar ninjas or ridiculously high salt levels, or any other nasties – Jamie’s are particularly saintly (well, they would be, wouldn’t they…) which is why I like them. Plus they’re already nicely flavoured up and just need a bit of bulking out and vegging up! I like to open the pack and tip out the contents into a saucepan and then just pimp it up with some added veg. So, using the curried chickpeas, all I added was a good handful of spinach, some chopped cherry tomatoes, some extra chilli flakes and a tablespoon or two of raisins to bring the curry to life. With the puy lentils, I’ve added roasted peppers (from a jar), loads of spinach and some leftover cooked broccoli, and some cheeky spices. You could add some feta cubes for a bit of creaminess too.

HeresoneIpimpedearlier-Jamiescurriedchickpeas4. Super speedy stirfry. Stirfries are the staple quick fix meal in our house – we have at least one a week. The bit that takes up most of the time is the chopping of vegetables – so if you’re really pushed for time, opt for the pre-chopped or frozen options that you can get from the supermarket. I know some of you might question the nutritional value of frozen or pre-prepared vegetables. To be honest, so many people struggle to get their recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day anyway – so if the option is to have frozen vegetables over no vegetables, that’s better than nothing! I like to make a really simple stirfry sauce by mixing some soy sauce or lemon juice, olive oil or sesame oil, chilli flakes and some maple syrup or honey in a mug and pouring it over the veg. Then simply chuck in a handful of cashew nuts or maybe some cooked prawns (although prawns take such a short time to cook anyway!) and you’ve got a healthy, balanced meal. The stirfry works great in a wrap, with courgetti or rice noodles, or with an express rice pouch to bulk it out.

5. Quick couscous. Couscous is a great option for a speedy dinner as it doesn’t need direct heat – just add boiling water! I like to use the wholewheat couscous for extra nutritional brownie points. Simply make up the couscous to packet instructions and add a few herbs or spices and a squeeze of lemon juice for a bit of extra flavour. You could boil up some frozen peas or edamame beans in the time that the couscous is cooking and then simply add them to the cooked couscous with some cooked chicken, spinach, chopped tomatoes and other salad veg. An extra squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil will help to dress it all nicely – and it’s done in under 10 minutes! Simples!

Hopefully that’s provided you with some inspiration to help you avoid falling into a takeaway habit over the festive season. I’d love to hear some of your easy go-to quick meals – pop on over to my Facebook page and share yours. And don’t forget, you can visit www.nutri-belle.co.uk to sign up to my newsletter for healthy recipes, hints, tips and news about my upcoming 4 week meal plan and support programmes.