The life of a working mum can be very demanding. We try to put the kids first, doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible and providing them as healthy a food as we can. Unfortunately our own needs – including a healthy diet – often fall by the wayside.
Balancing kids activities, household and a job can leave us exhausted and doesn’t leave much time for extended cooking on weekdays, let alone paying attention to a healthy diet. So we often chose something that’s easy and quick but it’s not always the best choice to meet our nutritional needs. Relaying on fast food, ready meals and sweet and fatty snacks to avoid hunger pangs also means we’re not doing the best to prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Starting the day with a good breakfast e.g. a yoghurt and a banana if you’re in a hurry and having a fruit as a snack in between meals can already make a difference. Adding a salad to our main meals adds to the 5-a-day and provides us with extra vitamins – good to boost energy.
Here are some quick, easy and healthy recipes for your lunch or dinner which fuel your body and also protect your heart.
Quinoa salad with feta cheese and courgettes
Serves 2 as a main dish; cooking time: 15 minutes; as an alternative try it with bulghar wheat or couscous
300g quinoa (or bulghar wheat or couscous)
1 tsp olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled
20g parsley, chopped
Juice 1 lemon
Cook the quinoa according to pack instructions. Cut the courgettes into thin slices.
Heat a griddle pan or grill. Drizzle the courgette slices with oil, then season. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn over and cook 1-2 minutes more until softened and golden brown. Tip into a large bowl along with the cooked quinoa, then mix through the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature or chill and take to work the next day.
Delicious and super healthy salmon salad
Serves 2 as a main dish; Ready in 25 minutes. High in omega-3 and protein, and counts as 2 of your 5-a-day
2 salmon fillets
1 tsp olive oil
300g broccoli, roughly shredded, larger stalks removed
Juice 1 lemon
Seeds from half a pomegranate
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 handful watercress
Heat water in a tier steamer. Season the couscous, then toss with 1 tsp oil. Pour boiling water over the couscous so it covers it by 1cm, then set aside. When the water in the steamer comes to the boil, tip the broccoli into the water, then lay the salmon in the tier above. Cook for 3 mins until the salmon is cooked and the broccoli tender. Drain the broccoli and run it under cold water to cool.
Mix together the remaining oil and lemon juice. Toss the broccoli, pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds through the couscous with the lemon dressing. At the last moment, roughly chop the watercress and toss through the couscous. Either serve the warm salmon with the salad or cool the salmon down, shred it and mix it with the salad – a good option when taking it for lunch to work.
Chicken and broccoli pasta dish
Serves 2, cooking time:15 minutes, low in fat, rich in fibres
160g whole-grain pasta bows (farfalle)
200g broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice 1 orange
1 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Three minutes before the pasta is cooked, throw the broccoli into the pasta water and continue to boil.
While the pasta is cooking, gently heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. Tip in the chicken and fry, stirring occasionally, until the chicken pieces are cooked and golden, about 8-10 minutes, adding the garlic for the last 2 minutes.
Mix the mustard with the orange juice in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the chicken, and gently simmer for a minute or two. Drain the pasta and broccoli, reserving 3 tablespoons of the pasta water. Toss the pasta and broccoli with the chicken, stir in the pasta water and the almonds, season well and serve.
Beef stew with polenta – Italian style
Serves 2, ready in 30 minutes, a healthy and protein rich dish; double the recipe and freeze it in portions so you save time on an extra stressful day.
Half an onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
200g pack beef stir-fry strips, or use lean beef steak, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
200g can chopped tomatoes
Sprig of rosemary, chopped
Handful pitted olives
150g quick cooking whole-grain polenta (cornmeal)
In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes until softened and turning golden. Tip in the beef strips, pepper, tomatoes and rosemary and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the meat is cooked through, adding some boiling water if needed. At the same time cook the polenta according to the package instruction. Add the olives to the beef stew, stir through and serve with the polenta.