Lunch or dinner these main meals are nutritionally balanced to give you lots of energy.
Meals don’t need to be complicated or time consuming. A little thought and prep in advance, as well as some batch cooking can make it easier to stick to our best intentions of healthy eating. Think of food as nourishment for the body and soul and try not to be too hard on yourself or restrictive (unless of course you have a certain health condition). Following some nutritional principles will make sure you get enough of what your body and brain need to function at its best- a combination of ‘good’ carbs and fibre, healthy fats, quality protein and lots of varied plants. A balanced plate that will keep your blood sugar and energy levels more stable has approximately 1/4 complex, starchy and fibrous carbs, 1/4 fats and protein and 1/2 vegetables. Processed foods, we know, contain additives that cause inflammation in the body so favour home cooked whole, clean foods. where possible. With modern mass farming methods impacting the nutritional value of produce it’s worth trying to buy locally, seasonally and respectably grown food.
The Ayurvedic philosophy suggests eating a larger meal between 10am- 2pm when your agni, digestive fire, is strongest and simple, soupy based vegetarian meal that is easy to digest in the evening around 6pm. Adapt to work to your rhythm though, just bear in mind eating a lot before bed may make it harder for you to sleep. But always important for balance is to celebrate delicious food and share with others- the odd treat on occasion isn’t going to cause long term harm. Bon appetite!
Mexican three bean soup
Perfect for a chilly evening this warming vegan soup is packed with healthy protein, fats and anti inflammatory spices.
- Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 50g dried lentils
- One medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into small chunks
- 2 x cans plum tomoatoes
- 300ml vegetable stock or water with stock cube dissolved.
- 400g mixed beans- you can use any combination of beans, I tend to choose kidney, canallini and adzuki from a can
- 100g chickpeas, from a can or if dried soaked overnight
- small handful of coriander
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and gently fry the onion for 5 mins or until soft. Add the garlic, chilli and spices and keep moving for half a minute.
Add the sweet potato and lentils and coat with the spices then pour in the stock or water and tomatoes to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the beans. Simmer for another 5- 10 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft, add more water if needed to keep it soupy. If you are eating straight away, ladle into bowls and mix in the coriander. The soup freezes happily or store in the fridge for 2- 3 days.
Make it a Mexican feast to share- serve with some fresh guacamole, corn tacos, brown rice, lime wedges and full fat yogurt.
Zesty quinoa and feta salad
This is a good one to make a coupe of batches of and keep in the fridge for an easy and portable lunch. Lots of fibre from the quinoa and veggies and good fats from avocado and seeds. Throw together any combination of what you have in the fridge!
- Approx 200g squash or pumkin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Half cup of quinoa
- Large handful of washed salad leaves, spinach or rocket at good
- Half a medium cucumber cut into chunks
- 1 avocado, cut into chunks
- Approx 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Half a block of feta, crumbled
- 1/4 cup mix seeds- pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, or pine nuts all go well
- For the dressing- Juice from 1 lime, 2 tbsp sesame or flaxseed oil, salt and pepper, squeeze honey
Heat an over to 180 degrees. Toss the pumpkin or squash in a tbsp oil and paprika and scatter on a lined baking tray, roast for about 25 mins until slightly golden and soft and then leave to cool. Boil the quinoa for approx 12- 15 minutes until cooked and leave to cool.
Mix together the dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the other ingriedients and then mix with the cooled squash and quinoa and toss together with the dressing. If you are storing, best to add the avocado and dressing just before eating.
Chicken udon noodle soup
This is a easy version of the Japanese classic made with gut health promoting chicken broth, greens . If you are feeling under the weather this is such a great pick me up.
- 1 whole chicken, ideally organic or responsibly farmed.
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 400g packet udon or noodles of choice
- One thumb size of ginger, peels and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- large handful or Asian greens or book choy
- 100g sliced mushrooms- ideally Enoki or button
- 50g beansprouts
- 3- 4 spring onions
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 5g miso paste
- 2 green chillies, seeded and sliced (optional)
- salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 160 deg and prepare the chicken for roasting, rubbing with a little oil. Roast according to weight, usually 1 hour 10 mins. Once cooled, take off the meat, shred the chicken breasts and add the bones to a large pot. Roughly chop the onion and carrots and add to the pot with enough water to cover. Boil for a couple of hours, topping up the water if needed. Allow to cool and remove the bones, carefully sieving the broth. You can leave to cool and store int he fridge or if using right away, remove the top later of fat and set aside.
In a large pan heat the sesame oil and add the ginger and garlic, cooking gently for a minute or less. Then add the broth with miso mixed in, mushrooms and greens and cook for 5 minutes. in a separate pan cook the noodles to packet instructions.
In large serving bowls place some noodles and shredded chicken and then spoon in the vegetables and broth and season with the soy and a sprinkle of spring onions, sprouts and chillies. Dive in.
Big green greek salad
More ‘greek inspired’ this is a twist on the original. Lots of phytoestrogens nutrients from the veggies, good fats from the olives and avocado. I’ve switched the feta for grilled halloumi because I love it! This is super easy lunch you can take to work.
- Two big handfuls torn mixed salad leaves like rocket, spinach and lettuce.
- 150g halloumi
- Two big beef tomatoes
- Half cucumber diced or two mini cucumbers sliced
- 100g kalamanti or equivalent olives
- One avocado sliced
- For the dressing- whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, black pepper, juice from half a lemon
- Optional topping of some baked or smoked salmon for an omega- 3 boost.
Cook the halloumi In a frying pan or under the grill until starting to brown.
Mix all the vegetables together and then dress with the vinaigrette. Top with the halloumi and salmon if you are having it.
Make it a greek mezze to share with some falafel, hummus, tzatziki and pitta.