Change to our daily life
The coronavirus and lockdowns have brought massive changes to our daily lives, especially our eating habits. Our food choices have always been influenced by many factors such as personal preferences, allergies, availability, price, affordability and time. Throughout the past few months, life has slowed down with many of us now working from home. This change in working environment has changed our eating habits and relationships with food. For some, lockdown has been a struggle, causing them to eat more junk/snack food as a way of coping with the changes. For others, lockdown has provided an opportunity for them to focus more on their diet and making new easy healthy meals.
Working from home has freed up a lot of extra time for many of us. Not having to travel to and from work, gyms and sports facilities being closed, shopping restrictions, all this spare time we’ve been craving for years and now we have it and don’t know how to use it! Similar to good and bad food choices during this time, our exercise habits have also changed. Especially during this second lockdown, when the days are shorter, darker and colder, it is hard to motivate yourself to get out for a walk or run. Lower levels of physical activity puts more importance on our diet and the foods we choose to eat. So, to see us through these dark and wet days, we have put together some quick breakfast and, working from home lunch ideas, as well as nutritious, low fat snacks and easy dinner recipes below.
Easy breakfast ideas
You can’t go wrong here! Smoothies have to be one of the quickest, easiest and most nutritious breakfast options to start off your day. Stock your freezer and cupboards with a few essentials like frozen fruit and vegetables. The Ambitious Kitchen has put together a list of 15 different smoothie recipes to try. From powerhouse, to immune boosting, to packed full of protein, there are bound to be a few recipes here that tickle your fancy. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate five fruit and vegetables a day into your diet. Consuming at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day lowers your risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent digestion problems.
All you need is 10 minute preparation time for these delicious fruit bowls. Taste of home has a great recipe using a perfect combination of pineapple, raspberries and banana. You can try these with other choices of fruit too. Prepare a few and keep them chilled in the fridge for the week ahead. Fruit parfaits are a great source of vitamins and minerals, as well as protein from the yogurt. Protein is important to ensure overall general health. It is a nutrient found in your organs, muscles, tissues, bones, skin and hair. It is also a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your body. Just make sure you understand your food labels while shopping for yogurt because many are high in sugar! Natural Greek yogurt is a good option.
Overnight oats is an easy convenient breakfast for anyone feeling a bit tired and lazy in the mornings before work. It is a no-cook method of making oatmeal. Prepare the night before and enjoy a ready-to-eat, delicious, creamy bowl of oats the next morning. Reap all the healthy benefits of oats and make it fun by adding in different toppings such as peanut butter, raspberry chia jam, fruit, natural yogurt or some seeds. Yumna has posted a whole blog on overnight oats with a recipe on her Feel Good Foodie page. Oats are a particularly good source of beta glucan, a type of fiber that reduces hunger and promotes feelings of fullness. Consuming foods high in protein is important for those working at home. It helps to fuel the brain and keep you away from too much snacking until lunch time!
Nutritious snacks for adults
Need a quick snack? There are so many different recipes online that you can use to make a batch of energy balls. Almost all of these recipes take about 15 to 20 minutes in total and can be done using an all in one method, meaning chuck all ingredients in the food processor and mix or blitz. Irish Olympic athlete David Gillick has created an easy to follow recipe by video for SuperValu. These snacks will help combat the midday slump. They involve zero baking, they are easy to meal-prep, they are packed with protein and fibre and easy to mix and match ingredients. Use dates, peanut butter, rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, even try adding some Blendi! Head over to the Fit Foodie page for a range of energy ball recipes.
Blendi is an ideal low fat snack to have in the cupboards at home to munch on in between meals or with your cup of tea / coffee midweek. It is high in protein and fibre and low in calories. The high protein content keeps you fuller for longer and helps you to work through to the next big meal of the day. Not only are they nutritious, they are also ridiculously tasty! The perfect alternative to a pack of nuts or crisps.
Work from home lunch ideas
Pesto pasta is so simple and a real crowd-pleaser for all ages. It is easily prepared a day or two in advance and kept in the fridge. Pesto pasta is a great recipe because it can be served either hot or cold and still tastes as good. Add some cherry tomatoes, spinach and Parmesan cheese for the perfect finishing touch. Use whole grain pasta which is typically higher in fibre and lower in calories. Fibre moves through the body undigested which ultimately leaves you feeling full and reduces appetite and cravings throughout the day.
Have you ever created your own low calorie pizza using a wrap? It’s a game changer! If you’re feeling a bit dull during the week, Pizza Wrap is definitely one to brighten the mood. It’s always important to have quick lunch ideas that you will look forward to! Make sure you have stocked up on some wraps, add tomato sauce, cheese and any other toppings, whack it under the grill and there you have it. If you don’t have tomato sauce you can even try using pesto as the base. Opt for wholegrain wraps, because like whole grain pasta, they are digested slower than refined grains. This has beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin. You can make your own tomato sauce by blending a can of tomatoes or try to find a shop-bought one without too much added sugar.
Tomato and Chickpea Salad
Tomato and Chickpea Salad is the type of salad that can be thrown together last minute. Sheela from the Kitchen website has shared a blog including this gorgeous recipe. It is simple, yet hearty and satisfying. The convenience is in the ingredients. Stock up on some cans of chickpeas and cherry tomatoes. Assemble the whole salad in one bowl, skipping the mess and dreaded wash up after. Chickpeas offer a variety of health benefits. They are high in protein and make an excellent replacement to meat in vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Easy dinner recipes
A stir-fry is always a good shout when looking to make a quick evening meal. Choose a colourful nutrient-dense mixture of vegetables such as peppers, carrots, sugar snaps, baby corn and mushrooms to chop up. Add in a source of protein, such as meat, prawns or tofu and serve on a bed of carbohydrates like rice or noodles. Bord Bia have shared a chicken stir fry with ginger. BBC Good Food have also shared a delicious stir fry recipe with prawns and noodles. Stir frys are healthy because vegetables usually retain a lot of their nutrients as opposed to boiling and other cooking methods. A very little amount of oil is needed, or you can choose a low calorie spray to cook your food in the wok. This reduces the overall calories of the dish.
Fish is super easy to cook in the evenings. Salmon is a popular choice for a reason. It is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is an essential fat which is responsible for the reputation salmon has as a valuable brain food. It is rich in a protective antioxidant, astaxanthin, and it is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12). Try out baked salmon by Erin Clarke, using only five ingredients. Baking salmon in foil locks in moisture and ensures your piece of salmon turns out flakey, moist and tender. Anything you add to your salmon, be it lemon, herbs or even soya sauce will infuse its way into every bit of your fish. Add some vegetables and potatoes on the side to complete the meal.
Spicy chickpea salsa salad
It is definitely a great idea to have some plant-based meal options in your daily diet working from home. Eating a plant-based diet improves the health of your gut so you are better able to absorb the nutrients from food that support your immune system and reduce inflammation. Plants are also very high in fibre. Fibre can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar and it’s great for good bowel management. For a plant-based evening meal option, try this spicy chickpea salsa salad by Sophie. You can whip this recipe up in a big batch and have it over a few nights for dinner. Bursting with nutrients and full of flavour, this salad is so filling and a real treat! So many people have chickpeas stocked away in their cupboards, forgetting to use them or maybe being a little too lazy to figure out some great recipes to use them with!
Don’t let the change in environmental circumstances stop you from making the most out of your diet and your exercise. We don’t know how long we may be working from home for. Use these dark and dreary nights to plan different meals, get up early and do some morning yoga, go for a walk on your lunch break. Trust me, you’ll feel the better of it!