When you come home from the gym late at night, the last thing you probably feel like doing is cooking a huge, complicated meal. Often ‘healthy’ is perceived as complex – but ensuring adequate nutrition each day is essential in order to help you to stay on track with your fitness goals. Here’s our run-down of lean, easy meals with something for everyone – from veggie delights and roasted chicken to seafood salads.
Paprika-roasted chicken with sweet potato wedges and pan-fried greens
This one-tray recipe is quick, easy and inexpensive. It’s also low in fat and packs a potent nutritional punch with lean chicken, vitamin-rich sweet potato and antioxidants from fresh greens.
Benefits: Chicken is packed full of protein, especially lean breast meat. Meanwhile, sweet potato provides fibre, vitamins A and C and manganese in significant quantities. Greens like spinach and kale are high in iron, thiamine, potassium and zinc.
Method: Begin by mixing smoked paprika with cold-pressed rapeseed oil and cracked black pepper. Coat the sweet potato and rub the mix into the chicken. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Pan-fry greens (spinach, kale, pak choi and collard are best) just before serving.
Smoked salmon and avocado salad
Salads are one of the easiest ways to eat healthily – but they can quickly get boring if you’re eating them often. This basic recipe can easily be jazzed up with your choice of dressings and accompaniments.
Benefits: Protein-rich salmon is high in polyunsaturated fats as well as potassium, selenium and vitamin B12. Avocado is also a good source of healthy fat and fibre. Choose your greens wisely – as raw baby spinach and kale will be more beneficial than iceberg lettuce.
Method: Lightly pan-fry or roast the salmon with your favourite combination of spices and herbs (turmeric, pesto, lemon and garlic work well). Slice up the avocado and toss everything together with the leaves and your chosen dressing.
Succulent steak with Mediterranean roasted veg and skin-on roast potatoes
Steak is a go-to for fitness fanatics – easy to cook, it’s packed with protein, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc. Choose grass-fed, organic cuts where possible to avoid hormonal disruption. Roasting vegetables can release some of their additional nutritional properties. Skin-on potatoes provide the perfect hit of carbs for this post-workout treat.
Benefits: Steak is high protein, tasty and rich in iron, niacin and B-vitamins. Roasted tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidant lycopene – shown to help tissue repair. Onions also provide a host of health benefits. The skin on potatoes is rich in fibre and vitamin C.
Method: Thinly slice a whole potato, add your chopped veg (red onion, courgette, peppers, whole tomatoes) to a tray and drizzle with cold-pressed rapeseed oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables and fries in the oven until golden. Pan-fry or griddle steak to your liking and serve.
Spicy brown rice with tofu and sesame
Brown rice is a healthier alternative to processed, refined white rice. Tofu provides a vegetarian source of protein and healing amino acids. Sesame seeds bring flavour and crunch to this oriental-inspired dish.
Benefits: Tofu has long been a favourite of vegetarians and vegans – but it’s also enjoying wider consumption thanks to a host of attached health benefits. Protein-rich, it’s also a good source of iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and zinc, as well as all eight amino acids. Asian greens provide fibre and a healthy hit of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Method: Start by frying the tofu lightly until brown. Cook the rice in a pan until almost done, then drain and transfer to a wok with the tofu. Fry with soy sauce and spices of choice until golden. Add the greens and when wilted toss in black and white sesame seeds and toast for a few minutes before serving.