Cooking meals isn't really at the top of the priority list when you're a student. The order is more like:
- Attend toga party
- Be horrendously hungover
- Try to catch up on lectures
- Complete and submit assignments at 11:59pm
But if you've had one too many sausage rolls or bowls of mi goreng and two-minute noodles, it's about time you try these easy, quick and delicious meals by Jessica Sepel -- nutritionist, health blogger and cookbook author.
Plus, these recipes are super healthy, so you can tell mum every time she calls that you are in fact eating enough veggies and not living on a liquid-only diet.
1. Stuffed sweet potato with avocado, lentils and goats cheese
"There's just something so comforting about a cooked sweet potato, filled with wholesome lentils, smashed avocado and soft, melted goats cheese," Sepel said.
"Perfect for chilly winter nights when you want a no-fuss, simple but nourishing dinner. Have fun with topping ingredients too -- I love adding hummus, pesto or tahini to the mix."
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 2 avocados
- 2x 400g tins canned, organic lentils
- 150g goats' cheese, crumbled
- Handful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 2 tablespoons parsley or coriander, chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chilli flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Line a baking tray and place sweet potatoes on it, evenly spread. Using a fork, poke holes in the sweet potato.
- Place sweet potatoes in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until soft and cooked through.
- In a separate bowl, mash the avocado with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Drain, rinse and dry lentils from can.
- Once cooked, remove sweet potato and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut in half and scrape about half of the sweet potato out of the peel using a spoon, leaving enough room for the lentils, avocado and goats cheese.
- Fill each sweet potato with lentils and crumble goats cheese over the top. Return to oven for a further 10 minutes, until the cheese is golden.
- Meanwhile, evenly spread the pumpkin seeds on another lined baking tray and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until toasted and slightly golden.
- Remove sweet potato and top with avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped herbs and some chilli flakes.
Notes: You can use any salty, soft cheese in this recipe -- a nice marinated feta, for example. Save the leftover sweet potato for another meal, like making it into this delicious mash.
2. Creamy broccoli pasta
"Years ago my friends and I went to this Italian restaurant in Melbourne and shared the creamiest broccoli pasta that we still talk about," Sepel said.
"So of course I started brainstorming a healthy and easy version of that to-die-for broccoli pasta. This dish just proves how deliciously indulgent healthy food can taste.
"Just omit the Parmesan and you have a completely dairy free, gluten free and guilt free delicious winter meal."
- 2 heads of broccoli
- ¼ cup milk of choice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)
- Salt, pepper, chilli flakes -- as desired
- 1 packet of mung bean or brown rice pasta
- Grated parmesan and chopped basil, for topping
- Steam or boil the broccoli heads until soft and then cut them into florets.
- While the broccoli is steaming, boil the pasta in a pot of water on the stove.
- When the broccoli is cooked, add the broccoli to a food processor. Slowly add in the milk, olive oil and warm water -- add enough warm water so that the broccoli becomes pureed.
- Add the seasoning and Parmesan to the broccoli while it is being pulsed in the food processor.
- Strain the pasta once cooked and add to a bowl.
- Add the broccoli sauce to the pasta in a bowl. Top the pasta with extra Parmesan and chopped basil.
3. Healthy fried rice with kale, garlic and chilli
"With just a few simple ingredients you can turn the not-so-healthy traditional fried rice into a superfood-filled complete meal," Sepel said.
"Add an egg for extra protein or top with some organic grilled chicken or salmon -- yum!"
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 cups kale, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons vegetable/coconut oil
- 1-2 organic, free range eggs (optional)
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- Cook the brown rice according to instructions, set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, stirring until soft and translucent (4-5 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the kale and stir until wilted.
- Add the rice and cook for another two minutes, stirring.
- At this stage, you may choose to add 1-2 organic eggs. If so, crack two eggs into a separate bowl and then add to rice. Stirring the egg through the mixture until completely cooked.
- Add the tamari and cook for another minute. Divide into two bowls and serve.
Note: Pre-cooked rice can be found in most supermarkets and makes for an even quicker meal.
4. Easy green eggs
"When you need a meal that's ready in a flash, this is my go-to," Sepel said.
"It's great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be made using whatever green veggies you have in the fridge -- I love kale, spinach and brussels sprouts most. Add some pesto or chilli flakes to finish it off."
- 1 organic, free range egg
- ¼ leek, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of mixed green veggies
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan on medium-heat.
- Add the leek and garlic to the saucepan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until leek turns translucent.
- Add greens to the saucepan and sauté until wilted and well cooked.
- Crack the egg into a separate bowl.
- Make a hole in the centre of the greens and slowly pour in the egg so it sits in the middle. You may want to reduce the heat so that the egg cooks through.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat, until the egg white has set but the yolk is runny.
- Remove from heat and serve as is or on a plate, top with chilli flakes and a generous pinch of salt.
Notes: Adjust the cooking times of the greens depending on what you're adding -- while spinach or kale don't take too long to wilt, brussels sprouts take 3-4 minutes to brown.
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