Mind for Life

NUTRITION
COOKING FOR ONE
By Nilofar Doran
Dietitian (APD), Nutritionist at Mind For Life
Spending time alone for long periods of time and not seeing others can feel strange and very anxiety inducing as well.
How about focusing on those things you always liked to do but have never achieved due to not having enough time and living a very busy lifestyle. Why not fill these lonely hours in a positive way by looking for a new hobby. Since you may be spending weeks on end inside the house with nothing to do, it’s a perfect time to learn a new skill for yourself.
For some of you, this might mean reading a good book, painting, sewing, or for others cooking and creating new recipes. Cooking is the best remedy and activity to wind down and relax. It is also one of the best self-reliant skills anyone can have.
During this unprecedented time, relying on one income and dealing with making ends meet all by yourself can be challenging. Buying takeaway foods is uneconomical, financially unsustainable and certainly not the healthiest either.
Admittedly, I understand living alone, cooking for one is not the most exciting activity for most and doing it takes up a lot of time and effort. A simple way to keep you interested and enjoy cooking alone is to keep things simple and uncomplicated.
As a rule of thumb, healthy habits are formed when your diet is not too complex. Preparing healthy meals is not hard, and they don’t have to be trendy or always Instagram-worthy! It just needs to be balanced with good amounts of healthy macro and micronutrients. Remember, if you find yourself slipping up, spending hours preparing meals, or spendingmost of your paycheck on your groceries, your diet may be too complicated to become a sustainable healthy lifestyle habit.
Instead, maintain healthy cooking habits in simpler ways by preparing simple meals and uncomplicated, fuss free dishes. Of course, you still have other foods you may crave and enjoy that are not that healthy for you, but the occasional treat in moderation is fine, just not every day.
Ideally, cooking for one means developing healthy eating habits and meals that work best for you and fit into your normal schedule without blowing your budget. As long as you have all the components of healthy eating covered and use simple strategies to produce your meals, then you will be well on your way to a sustainable, healthy eating lifestyle that is not too difficult to maintain.
Here are some handy tips to develop healthy eating habits:
Here are some easy, healthy meal suggestions that are quick to make
Lamb steak and jasmine rice
Plate components: ¼ protein (Lean Beef, veal or Lamb steak), ¼ CHO (rice, corn) ½ vegetables(stir fry mix or fresh) of your choice. Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Marinade: 1 spoon low salt soy sauce and 1 spoon olive oil, rub around the steak.
Cooking method: Use a frying pan and once it is hot, cook the steak for 3-5min each side and apply seasoning and lemon after it is cooked.
Use the same pan to stir fry the vegetables.
Microwave the rice and add a spoon of olive oil when it is cooked.
Chicken and
Chicken and tabouli style salad
Plate components: ¼ protein (Duck, chicken, quail), ¼ CHO (couscous, bulgar), ½ cup vegetables of your choice. Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Marinade: Small amount of Chicken marinade sauce. Soak couscous in hot water and cover for 10min. Soak the red cabbage to make pickle in vinegar overnight (you can make it in bulk, keep it in the fridge for later and even add it to your wraps) add a bit of pepper and olive oil before serving.
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, once it is hot, cook the meat, for 5-6min each side and season with oregano, pepper, vinegar, olive oil and sauce.
Drain all the water from the couscous add a small 1tsp of peanut or olive oil margarine and toss around the vegetables.
Salmon and rice Plate
Plate components: ¼ protein (salmon, barramundi,), ¼ CHO (rice), pasta, noodles, ½ Vegetables of your choice. Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Marinade: not required
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, once it is hot, cook the fish on the skin side, leave it for 3-5min not needed to turn, once fish is white remove season and leave on a plate to rest. Toss the vegetables in the same pan for 1 min and serve with rice.
Salmon and rice Plate
Plate components: ¼ protein (pork, chicken, mince), ¼ starch CHO (potato), ½ Vegetables(lettuce, cabbage) Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Marinade: not required
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, once it is hot, add 1 spoon oil. Add a chopped onion until translucent then add meat and cook for 6 mins, then add stir fry or frozen vegetable mix and cook for 3 mins and then season and let it cool.
Stuff the cabbage or lettuce leaves and enjoy. For extra flavour splash a bit of lime juice on top.
Steak and potato wedges:
Plate components: ¼ protein (pork, chicken, beef, lamb), ¼ starch CHO (potato), ½ garden salad and rosemary for garnish. Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Marinade: not required
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, once it is hot, add 1 spoon oil. Add steak and cook for 6 mins each side and let it rest.
Boil potatoes until soft but not too much. Toss a bit of olive oil and cook in the oven on 220C for 10-20min until golden and serve. Use black pepper, lemon and vinegar for extra flavour on the plate.
Mince and veggie skewers Plate
Plate components: ¼ protein (pork, chicken, beef, lamb mince), ¼ CHO (potato, pumpkin, fruit), ½ vegetables (cherry tomato, zucchini, spinach). Healthy fat: olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.
Preparation: Add seasoning, spices, flour, onion, garlic and ginger to mince. Knead well until sticky. Then shape into balls and skewer them in with your favourite veggies.
I would also have a chargrilled corn cob on my plate.
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, once it is hot, add 1 spoon oil. Place the skews and cook. Then serve next to your favourite salad adding blueberry, mango, beetroot, apple, peaches whatever your taste buds prefer.
Fish and salad
Plate components: ¼ protein (fish and black seeds), ¼ CHO (fruit), ½ vegetables (asparagus, cupsicum, parsley, red onion). Healthy fat: olive oil, seeds.
Preparation: rub olive oil and seeds around the fish.
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, Then cook fish on each side for 2-3 mins and leave in a plate to rest. Toss the asparagus in the same frying pan and then serve them with the salad of your choice.
Here are some Brekky suggestions
Boiled or cooked egg
Plate components: ¼ protein (fish and black seeds), ¼ CHO (fruit), ½ vegetables (asparagus, cupsicum, parsley, red onion). Healthy fat: olive oil, seeds.
Preparation: rub olive oil and seeds around the fish.
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, Then cook fish on each side for 2-3 mins and leave in a plate to rest. Toss the asparagus in the same frying pan and then serve them with the salad of your choice.
Vegetarian or vegan meal ideas
Pasta salad
Plate component: ¼ protein (tofu ), ¼ CHO (pasta), ½ vegetables (green beans, tomato, asparagus, mushrooms, herbs), Healthy fat: Avocado, peanut butter.
Marinade: Not required
Cooking method: Use a pot. Add water and once brought to boil, add pasta and cook for 10 mins. Drain and set a side.
Use the same pot, add 1 spoon of oil, then the vegetables, toss and add herbs, seasoning then add pasta and tofu mix and serve.
Mexican Salsa toast Plate
Plate components: ¼ protein (beans, baked beans, chickpeas ), ¼ CHO (beans and toast, rice or corn cakes, tacos), ½ vegetables (onions, tomato, herbs), Healthy fat: Avocado, peanut butter.
Marinade: Not required
Cooking method: Use a frying pan, add a spoon of oil, then chopped onion and once translucent add beans, spices and water then cook for 1-2 mins and remove. Serve on your toast with lime juice and avocado, add salad and herbs on top.
Vegetable stuffed Burrito wraps
Plate components: ¼ protein (beans), ¼ CHO (beans and wrap), ½ vegetables (cupsicum, lettuce, tomato, herbs), Healthy fat: Avocado.
Marinade: Not required
Cooking method: Drain and rinse beans, Add seasoning, make a salad of your choice and wrap all with avocado and enjoy for lunch or dinner.
Chickpea and couscous sala
Plate components: ¼ protein (chickpeas, low fat cheese, lentils, beans), ¼ CHO (coscuse, barley, pasta, noodles), ½ vegetables (tomato, cucumber, mint), Healthy fat: olive oil
Marinade: Not required
Cooking method: Drain and rinse chickpeas, add olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 mins. Make a salad of your choice and serve with couscous and cheese.
Sandwich of the day
Plate components: ¼ protein (whole grain, low fat cheese), ¼ CHO (bread, toast, fruit), ½ vegetables (tomato, cucumber, carrot, onion), Healthy fat: olive oil.
Marinade: Not required
Cooking method: Not required. Use whatever leftovers or work with your fridge/pantry ingredients.
Healthy snacks and serving size suggestions
By adopting these simple and effective eating habits, cooking
quick and tasty meals for one will be a piece of cake!
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