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Healthy Cooking Time Savers

After a long day of work or study, crafting a healthy meal may not excite or delight you, but realistically, this is the time we need it most. To restore and replenish. We need to make sure energy levels and stress hormones are well taken care of through a proper, nourishing dinner. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be tricky. I know sometimes my meals seem extravagant, but I truly believe that is because of the variety of vegetables and spices I use, making it super vibrant and colourful. Truly, it’s never too difficult! Before studying nutrition I was no chef. I still am no chef. I am just a nutritionally-minded cook, who breaks all the rules, is very messy, and hates cleaning up. In light of that, let me share some tips and tricks to save you time and ensure that at 7pm you aren’t ordering in or settling for toast or oats 😉

Prep your leafys.

Slice or shave, wash and spin-dry bundles of spinach, rocket, lettuce, purple cabbage (this is my fav one), or pre de-stem kale, and keep in air-tight glass containers in the fridge. I try to rotate my options. That way when you are ready to make a quick lunch/dinner you can grab a handful for the base of your salad. You can also quickly access your greens for smoothies.

Bake your veggies whole.

Walk in the door, throw a whole pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic etc. in the oven on 180 C and let it cook whilst you shower, tend to children, or just simply put your feet up for a few moments. No need to peel or chop (especially if buying organic). Just let it cook for 20 mins – 1 hour (depending on your veg and the size), and either unwind, do some chores or prepare a side salad whilst it cooks.

Have a bunch of grains pre-soaked/cooked.

Soak grains in the fridge in glass tupperware for a few days, so it is at the ready for you to drain, rinse and cook. Soaking can help digestion and absorption of nutrients. I do 1 cup brown rice in one tupperware, 1 cup quinoa in the other. If this is simply ridiculously prepared for you or you don’t feel it necessary, quinoa is a quick 14 mins to cook, soaked or not, so should always be kept on hand for a fast food choice to bulk up your salads!

Spice up your meals!

Having spices on hand is essential to making meals more interesting and nutritious. Turmeric, cumin, curry, chili, cinnamon are my most used. Herbamare is also a great way to intensely flavour meals with no added salt required. You will be surprised how good your whole-cooked veggies, tempeh or boiled grains taste with some of these thrown on and some greens.

Try tempeh.

It is the easiest thing to cook. Honest! Simply slice or chop it up, mince some garlic and fry it in a pan with coconut oil and tamari, 3-4 mins each side. Ready in less than 10! Fast food!

Keep beans on standby.

I know clean-eating involves minimal packaging, but there is no need to cook beans and legumes from scratch (unless of course you wish to!). There is also little evidence to suggest that beans do indeed make you bloated, that could simply just be placebo. So give them a go! They are an easy, substantial addition to any meal. Be sure to drain and rinse them thoroughly to reduce the likelihood of a bad reaction.

Canned or bottled diced tomatoes.

This makes the easiest curry, soup or pasta sauce base! Add it to a pan with some cumin spice, garlic, salt and pepper (at minimum) and you are good to go in 10!

Pre-make a salad dressing on a Sunday.

Salads can take as quick as 15 mins of chopping. 2-3 cups leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, onion, avocado, seeds… Add ½ cup canned beans or legumes to that and you have a decent meal! The only thing sabotaging it is a lack of healthy salad dressing options at the market. Don’t douse your goodness in oil, have a big batch of clean salad dressing made up ready to use for the entire week. Find some easy recipes here.

Settle with a smoothie (late night).

If you get home later, don’t feel guilty about taking the easy route out. A smoothie is an quick and easy meal with minimal washing up and maximal nutrition. Including handfuls of greens is a good way to still get your vitamins and minerals in now that you are replacing a full meal with a liquid alternative. Fibre! My late night smoothie would look something like this: 1 banana, 2-3 cups spinach or other leafy greens of choice, almond milk, 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1 date, 3-4 brazil nuts or walnuts, ½ cup berries or mango (optional). Pinch of nutmeg to induce sleep might also help 🙂

7 Sunday Rituals for a successful week

There are a few reasons that things just don’t get done during the week… stuff pops up, life happens, I get it. You cannot prepare yourself for every little thing. However, there are some insurances you can implement, to ensure that when life gets crazy and you have little time, mentally and physically you are prepared (as best you can be). Here are 7 Sunday rituals that I think we should all make a habit of…

1. Schedule the week ahead I’m talking about work commitments, to-do lists, social occasions, workouts, time to yourself… everything you can think of! Add to this as the week goes on, but at least this way when a friend asks you to walk or dinner, you know what you have on and aren’t racking your brain madly, stressing yourself out and probably over-committing yourself! Another great thing to do here is look at your schedule and visualise a successful week!

2. Meal plan – this might seem obsessive, but I am talking about doing it from an economic and time-efficient perspective. If you plan your meals, you will have everything you need to cook them in your kitchen, and therefore not waste time going to-and-from the shops multiple times unnecessarily, or fall victim to the quick and easy take-out option because you don’t have all those beautiful fruits and veggies for what you really would like to make. Write out a list of 3 or 4 meals you want to cook for the next few days to 1 week, and that way you have the ingredients sitting there, know what you are having each night, and hopefully have leftovers for the next day’s lunch!

3. Food-shop – get in early to avoid the Sunday afternoon crowds! Sunday’s are pretty notorious for a stock-up. Better yet, head to your local farmers market for produce and leave the pantry items etc. for a quick supermarket run. Make an occasion of it! Take your partner, kids or meet a friend for a walk, chat and grocery haul. Once you have planned your meals, you can get everything you need so that a healthy meal is just waiting to be made from your fridge or pantry.

4. Food-prep – This one doesn’t have to be carefully planned, measured and portioned meals. Make some staples so that each morning you can throw some things together. I like to roast some veggies (sweet potato and cruciferous veg), boil some rice or quinoa, prepare a salad dressing/dip and make a sweet treat like my raw chocolate, bliss balls or granola. That’s me at a minimum most weeks. Sometimes I might whip up some almond milk,  others I might also make a batch of lentil bolognese or soup to keep in the fridge for a quick meal. You work out what works for you – but it helps to have these on hand for easy salad bowls, and those times when you are craving a sweet treat.

5. Something restorative for you – there are so many options, and I am not going to suggest them all because as I always say, that makes the wonderful things stressful! Whether it be exercise, meditation, yin yoga, spending 10 minutes dry brushing, a face mask at home, or time set aside to read a book… choose one that speaks to you and use it as your way of treating yourself before another busy week.

6. See friends or family over breakfast or tea not wine and cheese – self-explanatory. The weekend is a time to relax and refresh, but also a time to spend socialising. I get it, sometimes it’s hard to be healthy, as eating and drinking is “social”. But if you can’t or don’t want to choose a healthy cafe to venture to with a friend, get social in other ways- a hike or coastal walk to catch up with a friend, see your mum over juice or tea, a movie with your own healthy treats tucked away in your handbag, a picnic or BYO healthy plate dinner with the girls… don’t start Monday trying to undo the sins of the weekend.

7. Bed by 10pm – sleep is so integral to our body, not just our minds. It is required for proper detoxification, hormone function, metabolism, optimal energy levels etc. Don’t start your week already trying to play catch up! There is no such thing as catch-up sleep! Be in bed at 10pm to start a healthy sleep routine for the week ahead. Studies show that a good sleep regimen is linked to maintaining healthier weight, eating patterns and stress levels. Do not disregard this key component of a healthy lifestyle.

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