It’s all very well talking about eating healthy, but healthy food is more expensive, takes ages to prepare and is boring, I hear you say. Well, not necessarily! Although I will admit that a plate with only white ingredients (think endives, farro and white fish) might not look very exciting, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste good. Let’s face it, the bright images are all about creating big impact and trying to get you to eat the food. It’s called marketing. Years in the field has taught me that between the reality and the image there is often a gulf, and many shades of colour in between. Normal people, with normal lives, don’t have time to plate their foods like chefs. Do you remember eating your grandmother’s special dish and thinking: “Wow, she should go on Masterchef, her presentation is impeccable!” I didn’t think so. Yet, the taste….oh the taste! You can still remember it after all these years, right? So, no excuses. The aim is a quick HEALTHY lunch not a Michelin starred presentation platter!
Having said that, every little bit helps and I am here to tell you that even when you are rushed off your feet, don’t have more than 15 minutes to prepare a meal, and you only have a few ingredients left from last week’s grocery shopping in your fridge, it is still possible to rustle up something not only nutritious, but tasty and pleasant on the eye.
Still not convinced? Let me give you a practical example. Take me at lunchtime yesterday. I came home a little later than expected, and to be honest I couldn’t really be bothered about cooking (yeah, it happens to me, too). Knowing full well that the longer it takes for my food to cook, the higher the likelihood of me “cheating” and grabbing that piece of leftover cheese, then the crackers (strictly wholewheat though), the salty nuts (oooh the salt!), and then some more salty nuts, and more nuts again…until I’m stuffed before I have even started on my lunch!….Well, lunch had to be a quick affair. So this is what I came up with.
White Quinoa Salad with Radish
Ingredients (per person)
approx 50 gm White quinoa
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
2 to 3 red radishes
¼ yellow pepper
3 to 4 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds
4 to 5 organic cherry tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1 tsp sea salt for cooking
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil and fresh lemon (to season)
1. Wash the radishes, pepper, cucumber and tomatoes in a water and bicarbonate soak for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Measure the white quinoa into a pan, add twice the amount of boiling water, plus a pinch of salt, and cook for approximately 15 minutes (or follow the packet instructions). When cooked the quinoa should look translucent and should have absorbed all the water.
3. In the meantime, dry, trim and chop the vegetables into small cubes, and slice the radish.
4. Soak the coriander in a clean bowl of water and bicarbonate. Then pat dry with kitchen towel before finely chopping it with a sharp knife.
5. Put the ingredients together in a bowl, mix well and season with olive oil and fresh lemon to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.
All ready in 15 minutes, (ok maybe 16, the length it took the kettle to boil!). It contains the grains, the protein, the fibre, the vitamins. I added the bresaola at the last minute (half a pack, so only 45gm). I keep it in the fridge for desperate moments like this, and among the processed meats available, it is the healthiest option. I got a bit carried away and washed and chopped way too much coriander, as usual, so rather than throwing the extra away (it wilts very quickly once washed), I served it on the side like you would with tabbouleh. Sprinkled some olive oil over it and voila! Lunch was served. Finished it off with an apple, to keep any hunger pangs away with the extra fibre and tide me over until dinner. Simple, quick, delicious and healthy.
What are you cooking?