I wanted to give you a few ideas on how to keep up with eating healthy. Whether you’ve done a New Year’s resolution and have declared 2022 YOUR year, or just need motivation to actually eat substantial meals, I hope these recipes help you stay nutritious and full. In honour of Veganuary last month, there will also be options for making these meals vegan, since the vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to stay in January. Including some vegan meals in your everyday diet can have many benefits, like preventing diabetes, ingesting more nutrients, and reducing the risk of diseases. Below, I’ll link videos that take you to the preparation of these meals, and you can find the list of ingredients and description of these meals within this blog.
Overnight Oats (Click here to watch a preparation video).
You’ve probably heard about this a million times, but when I tell you I am addicted, I am not kidding. This meal is very handy for when you just have to run out of the house or want to get a head start to your day with breakfast already made. Overnight oats are also healthier than regular oats because nutrients and fibre are higher in rolled oats as compared to instant oats, which are the general go-to choice. Also, because the oats aren’t cooked, the nutrients remain and make the oat more filling.
So… what do you need? These are the must-use ingredients.
- Oats (I know, shocker). But choose rolled oats over quick oats for better consistency and more health values.
- Milk. Plant-based milk or dairy milk works fine, so make it vegan if you wish!
- Yoghurt. I like adding it for consistency, creaminess, and that extra boost of protein. Plant-based or Greek yoghurt are my personal favourites.
And then, you can get creative! This breakfast is so dynamic and easy to mix and match, which makes it hard to get bored of. My favourite add-ons are:
- Sweeteners: Honey or maple syrup if you want to make it vegan! Oats tend to have a bit of a bland taste, so this makes them pop a little. Cinnamon is also a good one!
- You can literally add any fruits you want, but I personally love strawberries and blueberries, and bananas. Or banana chips to give it a crunchy feel.
- Jams and spreads. I like adding these because they mix well within the oats and makes them very tasty.
- And I mean it, nuts, chia seeds, almonds, nutmeg, anything you want to throw in there.
Some of my favourite combinations are:
- Nutella and Bananas with Almonds: Maybe not the most nutritious, healthy, option, but a great treat to sweeten up the start of your day.
- Strawberry and Peanut Butter: I counter the peanut butter taste with some strawberry jam and also dice some strawberry bits in there.
- Blueberries and cinnamon: The cinnamon taste is so different to the blueberry, that there is something interesting about having them clash together and it’s so good!
Breakfast burrito (Click here to watch the preparation video)
So, with this one, you can either make it ahead or make it on the spot, whichever works for you and your time management. These burritos have a good balance and are a savoury meal to start the day with all the necessary nutrients you’ll need to function at high capacity.
You will need:
- A tortilla or wrap. Very straightforward, you need something to wrap the ingredients in.
- Scrambled something. You can use eggs or tofu as a substitute, and season to your liking. I personally like pairing with veggies like tomatoes and mushrooms and some onions.
- Breakfast sausages. Meat or vegan sausages, cook these on their own and cut them into bits to add to your wrap.
You can also add cheese, any sauces you like, breakfast baked potatoes, anything you fancy.
Lunch and Dinner ideas!
This category I’m putting together because I realise that sometimes these meals can be interchangeable or be one in two, like an early dinner or late lunch so here go three options for you! I’ll refrain from the general spaghetti and rice meals that we all have as our go-to’s and share some other options.
Stir fry noodles (Click here to watch the preparation video).
There are a lot of optional ingredients here like sauces, spices, etc., but these are the non-negotiables.
- Noodles. I personally love egg noodles, but substitute for rice noodles to make it vegan!
- Keep it a balanced meal by adding veggies. You can get precooked once at most supermarkets or chop up any of your liking to throw in there. I personally like broccoli, carrots, and courgettes with my noodles.
- The protein. You can add pork chop or chicken, make it veggie by scrambling an egg in there and make it vegan by going with tofu or plant-based chops or mince.
Making loads of this in one go can save you some meal prepping time, store in the fridge and eat sometime in the next 5 days.
Rice or salad bowls. (Click here to watch the preparation video).
- Salmon or Chicken bowl. Protein is very important, so add one of these options or change for eggs if you want to make it veggie. The three options of protein already give you an option to have three different bowls, brilliant! And a fourth vegan option, tofu, or legumes such as lentils.
- The Carbs. The carbs will make you feel fuller. You can go with rice, which can be high in fibre like brown rice or in proteins like wild rice. You can also substitute for couscous or quinoa or keep it veggie and use lettuce and spinach to make it a salad bowl instead.
- Again, get creative! Anything goes in this bowl, as long as you think it tastes nice.
These are my two-favourite bowls:
- Rice Bowl: Salmon with wild rice, with a hint of lime. Include avocado, black beans, chickpea, and corn.
- Salad Bowl: Lettuce and spinach as the base, topped with plant-based mince marinated in Cajun sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and aubergine.
Quesadilla Pizza (Click here to watch the preparation video).
This one is super-duper easy, and fun to make as well. You can add as many things as you want, or as little as you want. This is the only non-negotiable.
- You need at least two, because one will be the base, and then you’ll put another on top.
That’s it. Add tomato sauce, cheese, meat, plant-based chops, tofu, olives, tomatoes, corn, cream cheese, pesto, whatever you feel like. The concept here is like you’re making a loaded quesadilla with a pizza shape. I like adding cheese on the top layer and using the first tortilla for spreads, veggies, and whatever protein source. This means the ingredients are held together by the two tortillas and the cheese melts on top.
Lastly, here are a few snack ideas that need no hard preparation and can be a good idea to have in your bag in case your day runs over, or you get a craving.
Hummus and whatever.
Literally whatever, hummus is so good with baby carrots, breadsticks (a personal favourite) crackers, pita, celery, etc. I saw someone eat it with a pickle outside the ASS the other day, so maybe there’s something to try.
Cheese and crackers
Cut some cheese pieces and pair with crackers, salted, plain, black pepper, any type. For example, as I write this, I’m munching on some garlic crackers with mature cheese slices.
As someone who goes to the gym before studying, I tend to crave something refreshing. And yes, I shower at the gym so I’m not smelly next to other students, don’t worry. Anyways, I like cutting up some apples, oranges, and grapes, and adding some vanilla yoghurt to eat as a snack before I get cracking with work.
And there you have it! Some ideas to stay healthy and kick start eating nutritiously. Many times, when uni gets overwhelming, we forget to take care of ourselves, so making sure you’re eating the nutrients and proteins you need is essential for keeping up your performance and maintaining your wellbeing. All these recipes have vegan alternatives, which makes every recipe at least two meals if you think about it! Switching up ingredients and alternating can make eating fun and something to look forward to and motivate you to cook which will ensure you eat healthier and save money. What’s not to love?
Written by Victoria Cornelio Diaz, Student Champion