Tuesday 16 January 2018

Mayday meals

Banana and peanutbutter on bread
Banana and peanutbutter on bread
Butter beans
Overnight oats
Chicken stock
Stir fry

There are times, in our awfully busy lives, when we are not as prepared as we would like. It's during those moments where we opt for takeaways or rely heavily on the foods that we keep within our homes. We want to stick to the latter, so here are some cupboard essentials that you should buy on your next trip to the supermarket so you can throw together a nutritious meal at short notice.

1 Butter beans

Butter beans

Butter beans are incredibly versatile so a handy option for your household. They provide slow release carbohydrate, a plant source of protein, are naturally high in fibre, and research confirms how filling they are. Have you ever coated them in rapeseed oil with a sprinkling of smoked paprika to roast for 30-40 minutes at about 200 degrees? They're lovely as a healthy alternative to popcorn or added to a salad.

Or perhaps you may prefer them blended with olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic and seasoning to prepare a quick alternative to mash potato that just needs to be heated up in a pan?

If that doesn't tickle your fancy enough, mash the beans with an egg, a little garlic, ground coriander and cumin, before moulding into burger shapes and frying.

2 Stock

Chicken stock

Stock is incredibly easy to make. Simply get your leftover roast chicken bones and boil them. If you want it to taste really lovely, add roughly chopped celery, carrots, garlic, onion, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and parsley. After a few hours, remove the bones from the water. Freeze in separate containers.

This is fantastic for making soup. A simple soup that you could make in a curry would be pea and mint soup. Simply fry an onion with a clove of garlic and after a few minutes, add one large potato that has been peeled and cubed as well as a portion of your stock.

Cook for 10 minutes before adding a bag of frozen peas and a small bunch of mint (can store in the freezer too).

After a few minutes, blend your mixture and serve. It may be a good idea to set a portion aside to freeze. However, if you arrive home and want dinner quickly, you can use this stock as a base. Simply add chicken or turkey slices when the stock is boiling. After about 10 minutes add extra veg and even noodles for an all-in-one meal.

3 Frozen stir fry mix and a bag of Quorn

Stir fry

Meat-free Monday is really starting to take off. For those that are unfamiliar with vegetarian meals, you may wish to start with something simple, such as cooking with meat alternatives. Having Quorn and a stir fry mix in your freezer provides a quick solution to a 'hangry' situation.

Simple fry a bag of Quorn in 1 tbsp of sesame oil and add finely chopped chilli, ginger, scallions and garlic. Alternatively these are now available in pastes. This part takes 10 minutes to cook, so start making your rice or noodles now. Once they are boiling away, add your bag of frozen vegetable mixture.

When the vegetables are hot, pour over a mixture of 100ml water, 2 tbsp soy sauce and 3 tbsp peanut butter.

4 Oats

Overnight oats

Oats are extremely good for you as they are a great source of soluble fibre which boasts benefits such as lowering cholesterol and keeping our blood energy levels stable. People tend to buy oats to make porridge. However there is so much more to give from this wonderful grain.

Bake your porridge by putting your oat and milk mixture into the oven to cook, or else mix with egg and yoghurt to make a more cake-like porridge. For a refreshing option, mix oats with milk, yoghurt, your favourite fruits and nuts to leave overnight in the fridge and eat cold the next day.

If you'd prefer a bread option, you could always mix a tub of yohgurt with 2 tubs-worth of oats, a tsp of salt and 2 tsp baking powder to bake for about 50 minutes at 180 degrees into a lovely loaf of wholesome bread.

5 Peanut butter and banana

Banana and peanutbutter on bread

Fats were shunned by many for far too long. Certain types of fats, particularly monounsaturated fats as found in peanuts, are heart-healthy. Evidence continues to promote the health benefits of nuts and their protection against many common diseases.

Peanut butter and banana belong together. Why not enjoy smeared on some porridge bread as a healthy breakfast option? If you'd prefer, mash 2 bananas with 1 cup of oats and 3 tbsp of peanut butter to shape into biscuits that require just 12 minutes at 175 degrees C in the oven.

Another option is mashing one banana with 2 tbsp of peanut butter. Then simply spread this mixture on a sliced banana and freeze to enjoy an after dinner sweet treat.

When you're hungry, you neither feel like taking your time to think about what you're having nor time to make it. It's also more of a challenge to make the necessary healthy choices. By having essential ingredients you can have many breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks at your fingertips, in minutes.

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