Chopped salads are a great fast food trend with outlets like ‘Chopped’ and ‘The Green Kitchen’ but why not do your own – very handy to eat with just a fork and loads of room for creativity… choose from the following and fill your lunchbox!
Vegetables (300g total, approx. 100kcal)
- Baby leaf spinach
- Salad leaves
- Grated carrot,
- Shredded cabbage
- Roast / grilled veg like courgettes etc…
Protein (portion size is for cooked weight)
- 120g chicken or turkey
- 150g prawns
- 150g tuna (in water)
- 100g tuna (in oil)
- 2 hard boiled eggs
- 150g chick peas, beans or lentils
- 50g houmous
- 40g Cheddar cheese
- 50g Brie or goat’s cheese
- 60g Feta cheese
Healthy fats (approx. 100kcal)
- 2 teaspoons balsamic dressing and 2 teaspoons seeds
- 1 tablespoon Caesar dressing
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Light mayonnaise and 2 teaspoons seeds
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil and 2tsp Parmesan cheese
Choose your 300g vegetables and your protein choice, chop finely on a big board, place in a large bowl and mix with healthy fat choice – that’s it! If you’ve followed the indicated portion sizes you will have a balanced meal of about 350kcal 😊
A simple, quick and tasty dinner. Sweet potatoes are a ‘low GI’ carbohydrate, meaning they release their energy more slowly than our traditional Irish potatoes and they’re loaded with potassium! Serve with a steamed green vegetable such as green beans or broccoli to complete the meal
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (red or white), peeled and chopped into small dice
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 350g) peeled & cut into bite sized chunks (about 1cm)
450g chicken breast fillets (or mini fillets) cut into bite sized chunks (about 2cm)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½tsp chilli powder (optional)
1tsp each of balsamic vinegar, honey and Worcester (Lea & Perrin’s) sauce (OR 3 tsp ready-made barbecue sauce)
½ chicken stock cube dissolved in 125ml boiling water
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 scallions, finely sliced (or chopped chives)
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season
- Prepare all the vegetables ready for cooking and cut up the chicken
- Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan or wok
- Add onions, chicken, sweet potato, garlic and chilli powder, stirring until all is well mixed and chicken changes colour.
- Add balsamic vinegar, honey and Worcester (Lea & Perrin’s) sauce (OR 3 tsp ready-made barbecue sauce), stock and tomato puree.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently – add a little water if necessary.
- When the liquid has evaporated and you have checked the chicken is cooked and sweet potato tender, season and serve with a sprinkle of scallions and green vegetables.
Cauliflower is probably the low-carb dieter’s best vegetable friend and this is a quick, easy and versatile way to add to your dinner plate!
1 Fresh Cauliflower
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Optional extras: finely chopped scallions, fresh parsley, garlic or ginger puree, spices such as ground cumin, coriander, fresh or dried chilli….
First prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves, cutting it into quarters and removing most of the thick stalk, then cut each quarter into two or three large florets. Blitz in a food processor for about 30 seconds or so, until the cauliflower looks like rice. Alternatively you can grate the raw cauliflower on the coarse side of the grater.
To microwave: Place the amount of ‘rice’ you want to cook in a bowl, covered with a lid or cling-film, and microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes (4 if cooking from frozen). Season to taste.
To ‘pan-roast’: Preheat a heavy-based pan without adding any oil. Add ‘rice’ along with seasoning (I liked it with a pinch of ground cumin and 2 pinches ground coriander just for one person but you can use your own creative skills and optional extras as above)
To oven roast: Place the rice with a little drizzle of olive oil in a roasting tin with added seasoning if desired (see suggestions above). Spread it out to a thin, even layer. Roast at 200C for 12 minutes, mixing it in the tray halfway through cooking.
Any leftover prepared cauliflower ‘rice’ can be frozen raw and cooked from frozen. It can also be cooked in a steamer.
This goes well with plain grilled or roast meat or fish, or it can be eaten instead of soup for lunch with some low carb bread or crackers and cheese. It freezes well and keeps in the fridge for 3 days
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 aubergine, cut into bite sized chunks
250g mushrooms, quartered
2 courgettes, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 green or yellow pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water
1-1½ tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
- Prepare all the vegetables ready for cooking
- Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan or wok
- Add aubergines and leeks and stir fry for a couple of minutes
- Add rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes
15ml/ 1 tbsp olive oil
5-15ml/ 1tsp-1tbsp red, green or yellow curry paste (optional)
15-30ml/ 1-2 tbsp soya sauce
150g/ 1 leek sliced
500g/ 1 cabbage, finely shredded
150g/ 1 courgette sliced
100g/ 2 celery sticks sliced
100g/ 1 red pepper chopped
250g broccoli chopped into florets
1 vegetable stock cube or 15ml/ 1tbsp marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon
dissolved in 150ml boiling water from kettle
- Wash and chop all the vegetables.
- Heat the olive oil in a wok or non-stick pan. Add curry paste (if using).
- Add cabbage and stir fry for a minute. Add stock. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.
- Then add the remaining vegetables and soya sauce.
- Stir frequently and cook about 5-7 minutes (depends on size of vegetable pieces) until tender but still slightly crunchy.
A very mild curry with grated courgette to add healthy fibre. Add some chilli sauce if some like it hotter! Serve with ‘Slim Rice’ or make ‘cauliflower rice’ by grating and steaming your cauliflower.
300g chicken mini fillets
1tbsp rapeseed, sunflower, coconut or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper
1cm cube ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 medium courgette, grated
2 tbsp Patak’s korma spice paste
2 tbsp water
½tsp sweetener (eg Xylitol, Splenda, Stevia) or sugar
1 level tbsp. ground almonds or desiccated coconut
100ml coconut milk (you can freeze the reminder of the tin)
Sea salt / ground black pepper / chilli sauce to taste
- Fry onion in oil over a medium heat until golden.
- Add ginger and chicken and continue to cook over a medium heat until chicken turns white (not too hot otherwise the outside of the chicken will toughen).
- Add spice paste and water, stir until well mixed and the sauce starts to bubble then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Add red pepper and courgette, stir to combine and then cover and leave to cook again for 5 minutes. Add a little extra water if it seems too dry.
- Add coconut milk, ground almonds or desiccated coconut and sweetener or sugar.
- Cover again and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Check seasoning, add a little salt, black pepper and/or chilli sauce to your liking
‘Courgetti’ is a great substitute for pasta, quick and easy to make with a spiralizer. The basic tomato sauce recipe can be made in bulk and frozen and adapted for different meals using different vegetable / herb / spice combinations.
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1½ tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pushed through a garlic press
1tsp dried oregano
1tbsp tomato puree
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch xylitol sweetener
1 large or 2 small courgettes
1 (400g) tin Cannellini beans, rinsed with cold water and drained
1-2 peppers (red, green or yellow), cut into small dice
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 200ml water
- Fry onion in 1tbsp olive oil over gentle heat for about 3 minutes. Add peppers and cook for a couple of minutes then add garlic and oregano, cook for a further minute.
- Add tomatoes, tomato puree and xylitol, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Sauce is now ready to use. If you want a smooth sauce, ensure vegetables are really soft and push through a wire sieve or liquidize in a goblet liquidizer.
- Add stock and cannellini beans, simmer gently for 10 minutes
- Spiralise courgettes using a spiralizer or spiral slicer (a potato peeler can be used to make ‘ribbon noodles’ by ‘peeling’ slices lengthwise along the courgette if you don’t have a spiralizer)
- Heat the remaining ½ tbsp. olive oil and sauté the ‘courgetti’ for a couple of minutes until well heated. Serve the bean & tomato sauce on a bed of courgetti noodles – filling and healthy!
These can be served with rhubarb and sugar free jelly for added fibre and sweetness (recipe below) , or just with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little 0% fat natural yoghurt with a sprinkle of seeds for a tasty breakfast. Make in advance and freeze and you can reheat in a toaster for convenience
3 tbsp (30g) oat bran
2 tbsp 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt, soy yoghurt or 0% fat fromage frais
1 medium egg
1 tsp olive, rapeseed or coconut oil or spray oil for cooking
- Whisk the ingredients (except the oil) together with a pinch of salt
- Heat pan on a medium heat and add oil, brush around the pan and discard any excess
- Place 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes
- Turn the pancakes and cook a further 3 minutes or so until golden brown.
Rhubarb in Sugar-Free Jelly
4 stalks rhubarb chopped
1 sachet Hartley’s sugar-free jelly
Boiling water from the kettle
- wash and chop rhubarb.
- Place in a saucepan with a tablespoon of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until tender.
- Strain rhubarb and reserve cooking liquid in a measuring jug. Make up to 1/2 pint with boiling water and add one sachet of jelly. Add cold water or ice and stir until dissolved and then pour over the cooked rhubarb. Cool down and refrigerate or eat lukewarm.
These are baked in muffin cases and are handy to freeze for breakfast-on-the-go (170kcal per portion of 2) or with soup for a low carb lunch. Just microwave for 30 seconds to heat. If you prefer, substitute the smoked salmon for feta cheese, and any leftover green vegetables can be used.
Makes 6 ‘muffins’ – serves 3
4 large eggs
2 slices (75g) smoked salmon (or cubes of cheese)
200g cooked green vegetables (eg French beans, broccoli, spinach, kale…)
3 cherry tomatoes
Good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to its 180oC
- Finely chop the cooked vegetables (make sure they are very well drained, squeezing out any excess water) and scallions
- Cut the smoked salmon (or Feta cheese is nice instead) into small squares
- Beat the eggs in a fairly large bowl and add all the other ingredients, not forgetting the seasoning
- Prepare a muffin tin with 6 muffin cases (paper or silicone). Spoon the mixture evenly into the cases, they should be filled to the top.
- Pop half a cherry tomato on top of each and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until firm
- Eat hot or cold, keeps up to 4 days in the fridge. To reheat, just microwave for 30 seconds.
This makes one smallish loaf and should give you 10 portions. This lovely wholesome bread contains around 150 calories a slice but is very low in carbs so it will keep you feeling full for much longer than ordinary bread as well as being easier on the digestive system and loaded with cholesterol-reducing and heart-healthy oils and fibre. Perfect with soup for a complete meal as there’s a good amount of protein in this bread
150g milled flaxseed / linseed (some have berries added which gives a nice flavour)
3 tbsp. water
60g ground almonds or coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp mixed seeds (eg pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame, poppy)
1. Preheat oven to 200oC (fan oven)
2. Mix dry ingredients together.
3. Lightly beat eggs, add water and mix into dry ingredients.
4. Pour into a small greased loaf tin, sprinkle seeds on top and press down lightly (avoids them falling off!). Bake for 25 mins.
5. Carefully turn out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing
6. Can be frozen