Everyone has days when they don’t have a clue what to buy for dinner, let alone what to cook for dinner. I’ve even gone to a shop with the intention of buying something for dinner but ended up with a conglomeration of random foods, none of which had the potential to be put together to form a decent meal! That’s why it is never a good idea to go shopping after a day of revision and exams… Ah, university life! Way before I started this blog, I used Instagram as a platform for sharing many of my daily meals and culinary creations in the hope of inspiring others to eat healthily, and I still do. Now I have this blog, though, I thought it would be good to do a post, or perhaps a series of posts, of some pictorial inspiration for meals. As I’m a very visual person, I feel pictorial inspiration is the most effective and I hope it encourages each person who reads this to try something different for their evening meal.
I always try to come up with different meal ideas and I try rarely repeat a meal on Instagram. I love the variety that comes with creating new dishes and serving ideas. Now that I’m in my early 20s I find I’m happy to eat the majority of foods and certainly wouldn’t say I’m too fussy about food, providing it’s reasonably healthy and not full of chemicals! I used to really dislike olives, for example, but now will happily eat them. The reason for my initial dislike was that many years ago when I was at a childhood friend’s party, I mistook a bowl of olives for a bowl of grapes. Olives could not be more different in taste to grapes and so the hatred of olives was born! That is, until I tried them again a few years ago, the first time since the childhood incident, and discovered they are actually quite nice so long as you aren’t hoping to bite into a nice plump, sweet, juicy grape.
Digressions on olives aside, the following meal ideas consist of various sources of protein and a range of sides. Hopefully they will give you some idea as to what you would like to have for dinner:
1. Salmon with pea and lemon risotto
Simply bake salmon, seasoned how you like it, wrapped in foil for 18-20 minutes at 180C in a fan oven.
Bake tomatoes and yellow peppers too, with a little olive oil, in either the same or a separate foil parcel. Use a separate parcel if you’d like the side to have more bite and bake in the oven 10mins before the salmon is ready.
Side 2 (makes two sensibly-sized portions)
For the risotto, make up a quantity of stock from one low-salt organic vegetable stock cube (follow instructions on packet or use about 500ml of homemade stock). Then fry arborio rice in unsalted butter for a few minutes before adding the stock one cup at a time. Each time you add the stock stir well until it is all absorbed in the rice. Once nearing the end of the stock add a handful of frozen peas and the juice from a wedge of lemon (or more depending on your preferences). Stir in the remaining stock and add a little more lemon to taste. Finish by seasoning with freshly ground black pepper.
2. Ballotine of chicken breast
There are many ways to fill a ballotine of chicken breast. Some suggestions are as follows:
- caramelised onions and goat’s cheese
- asparagus and parma ham
- sun blush tomatoes, basil, and reduced fat mozzarella
Here is one of my recipes for ballotine of chicken breast with the full method of cooking: click here
Boiled white rice or, the healthier option, brown rice.
Baked peppers and tomatoes
Same as Dish 1. You can also add some balsamic vinegar before baking. Can you tell I like having that side? It is just so wonderfully simple yet scrummy and quick.
3. One pot clean-eat creamy veggie bulgar wheat
This dish is great on its own as a vegetarian dish or can be used as a ‘bed’ on which to serve a turkey breast steak or chicken breast. It would also be a nice accompaniment for a fillet of pork.
The full method and recipe for this can be found in one of my earlier blog posts: click here
NOTE: This dish can easily be made gluten free by using quinoa instead of bulgar wheat.
4. Duck with deliciousness!
Score the skin of the duck in a criss-cross pattern. Pan-fry the duck and keep draining the fat off (for timing see the packaging of the duck you buy, it varies with size – approx. 6-8mins). Transfer the duck to an ovenproof dish skin-side down and cook for to your preference of rare or medium or well-done. (Again consult the packaging of the duck for timings.)
Steamed fine green beans, boiled blend of puy lentils and quinoa, and salad leaves (including rocket and red chard). The salad and blend of grains was dressed with a simple honey and mustard dressing.
5. Tuna salad
This is ideal if you have under 5 minutes to prepare something to eat. It is very quick and really nutritious making it a perfect pit stop dinner in a hurry. It also contains 2 of your 5 a day.
The salad consists of a combination of a tin of tuna chunks, 1 portion of cooked pre-cooked quinoa (use a microwaveable packet or cook in advance), 1 portion of sweetcorn, 1 portion of peas, a tbsp dried cranberries, and homemade lemon juice, black pepper and natural yoghurt dressing. If you’d like less sweetcorn and peas half each quantity. Note: This will mean you only have 1 of your 5 a day rather than 2.
6. Three Bean Chilli
This is a really good nutritious meal packed with plant-based protein. It contains 4 of your 5 a day too. It can be as hot as you like or can easily be made milder by adding just a dash of chilli or excluding it completely and using smoked paprika instead of chilli for a rich smoky tomato and pepper flavour.
Note: If you like a lot of heat, why not add some tobacco sauce.
It is really easy to double or triple the ingredients in this and re-heat it the next day or you could serve it cold as a filling in a tortilla with some raw baby spinach leaves for lunch.
I have blogged the recipe for this dish in the past which you can see by clicking here.
7. Salad Nicoise style dish
The photo of this meal is pretty self-explanatory. I used flaked cooked salmon for this and served it with:
- 1 sliced boiled egg
- a handful of spinach
- approx. a 1/3 cup sweetcorn (either use frozen cooked then cooled or tinned that has no, or minimal, salt/or sugar added)
- 1/4 sweet red pepper sliced
- 2 medium-sized cold sliced new potatoes
Black pepper and lemon juice over the salmon and pepper on the potatoes.
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Have a great day,