Cooking a lot more of your meals these days as we endeavour to stay in and flatten the curve of the pandemic? We feel you! A lot of us are turning to home-cooked meals during this period which not only provides sustenance but also comfort. A lot of our readers have also shared that given the circumstances, they're looking for healthy meals that will be satisfying and nourishing as we go through these exceptional times.
Well, we wanted to help out by sharing some yummy yet delicious healthy recipes that can easily be whipped up at home! We've got more easy recipes to keep in your back pocket, be it meals to prepare for your family or scrumptious Korean recipes for a taste of Seoul, so add these to your list of things to try out when you're in the kitchen.
Looking for a balanced meal that covers all your macros while also including a serving of fresh veggies? Sounds like the perfect excuse for fajitas! This Mexican dish usually uses chicken breast as its main protein, which is sauteed with onions, bell peppers, spices like cumin and chilli powder as well as lime juice, before it's piled into a tortilla along with fresh veggies, salsa, and any other topping you'd like. To keep it healthy, it's best to go easy on some of the popular toppings like sour cream and cheese, but feel free to load up on chopped lettuce, cilantro, salsa, corn, and more! There's also plenty of shortcuts you can take - I often by ready-made salsa (available in canned jars) along with wraps at the supermarket, meaning you just have to cook the chicken and chop up the veggies you need. In addition, fajitas are often really forgiving - I usually use this recipe by Nigella Lawson as a base, but feel free to browse online for other recipes that meet your fancy!
#HHWT Tip: For those that want to take it up a notch, you could even try making your own (healthier) whole-wheat tortillas! Check out this easy recipe over on The Lean Green Bean that uses just 4 ingredients!
2. Cauliflower fried rice
I started making cauliflower rice last year and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it as a substitute for rice. You can pretty much use it to do all the same things as you do with rice, whether you serve it with dishes or stir-fry it like fried rice. It's a great way to lighten up on the starches for a lot of your meals.
To make cauliflower rice, you need to grate up the florets of a head of cauliflower - you can do this using a food processor, or you can grate it by hand using a box grater. Since it's raw, you'll need to cook it up by lightly sauteing it in a pan, then it's ready to go! See this easy recipe by Downshiftology for a step-by-step look at how to make basic cauliflower rice. The possibilities are endless in terms of recipes - for example, check out this recipe by Butterkicap for how to get your Malaysian fried rice fix using cauliflower rice!
#HHWT Tip: Nowadays you can find frozen bags of cauliflower rice (i.e. ready-grated and ready to go) in some supermarkets in both Singapore and Malaysia. It's not as cost-effective as grating it yourself, but definitely convenient!
3. Stuffed bell peppers
Bell peppers make for the perfect (and healthy) vehicle to stuff with delicious ingredients that are then baked in the oven, resulting in a warm and comforting meal. A classic stuffed bell pepper recipe (like this one over at Delish!) usually involves ground beef cooked in a tomato sauce that's spooned into bell peppers before being topped with cheese and then baked in the oven. While that is definitely delicious, don't limit your imagination! Swap out the ground beef for leaner proteins if you'd like a lighter option, or you can omit the meat altogether and go for fillings like quinoa and beans (such as this recipe for Mexican quinoa stuffed peppers by Minimalist Baker).
4. Roast chicken
Roast chicken is a staple of many a well-rounded diet, and given how easy it is to make it, it makes complete sense! If you have an oven, there's no excuse not to try roasting chicken, as all you need is said chicken, some oil, salt and some salt and pepper. That's it! Anything else, whether it's lemon, garlic, herbs or butter, is just for extra flavour. If you're cooking for a family or want to have extras on hand (always a good idea!), can I suggest roasting a whole chicken? It's nowhere near as daunting as you think, and it'll make you feel super accomplished ?I usually follow this Bon Appetite recipe which has always yielded good results (using olive oil instead of butter for a healthier option). But for those who'd prefer roasting up cut-up chicken parts instead, that's totally doable too (check out this recipe by Give Recipes as a simple example).
P.S. Looking for more easy recipes to cook for the family? Check this list out!
5. Baked salmon
By now we all know the nutritional benefits of salmon, and while it's not the cheapest source of protein out there, it's nice to splurge and change it up every once in a while. You can often find frozen salmon fillets in the freezer at the supermarket too, which makes for a great food item to have on hand to throw a meal together. I think the easiest and most delicious way to cook salmon is by baking it in the oven, and much like roast chicken, you don't need much to make it work! The site Well Plated has an easy recipe to cook salmon in foil in the oven that's a good guide - roast some veggies in the oven too and you'll have a full meal! For some different flavour, I love this gochujang-glazed salmon recipe by Gina over at SkinnyTaste (I use apple cider vinegar instead of mirin the recipe calls for, and it tastes great!).
#HHWT Tip: While baking is my go-to method for cooking salmon, you can also steam it too!
6. Chicken and avocado soup
We're going back to Mexican flavours with this chicken soup that's served with fresh avocado! A nice refreshing twist on chicken soup that includes the flavours of cumin, lime juice, tomatoes and chilli powder for a bit of kick, it's simply delicious. The avocados give some nice healthy fats, and to bulk up the dish further you can serve it over rice (or alternatively, brown rice or cauliflower rice) to make it a full meal. I first came across this dish by trying out this recipe by Gina at Skinny Taste and loved it, but you'll find many variations of it online too. Add some fresh chopped chillies in place of the jalapeno or serrano peppers if you want to take it up a notch!
7. Kimchi stew with tofu
If you love Korean food, you probably adore kimchi-jjigae, or kimchi stew. This spicy soup uses kimchi and gochujang (Korean chilli paste) that make for a flavourful kick. It can also be a nice healthy meal when made with lean proteins (like tofu) and served over brown rice (or cauliflower rice!). Best of all, it's pretty easy to do! The main ingredients you'll need are the tofu, kimchi, gochujang (you can find halal-certified versions of both at select supermarkets or you can also find it online), soy sauce, aromatics like garlic, ginger and scallions, and some broth. All you need to do is saute the garlic, ginger and scallions in some oil, followed by adding the rest of the ingredients and letting it simmer for a while. This Cooking Light recipe breaks it down step by step, but it's pretty hard to mess up!
#HHWT Tip: Worried about sodium content? Try and get low-sodium soy sauce and broth.
P.S. Looking for more easy Korean recipes to make at home? Check out this list!
8. Steamed fish in ginger and soy sauce
When I was still living at home, I loved whenever my mom made this (she would steam a whole fish like sea bass or grouper) - this Chinese-style dish made with soy sauce, ginger, scallions and of course, fresh fish is a crowd-pleaser, and for good reason! Now that I've moved into my own place, I'm not so great at buying and cleaning whole fish (?), so I make do with fish fillets instead. You'll find variations of recipes for this dish (such as this one from The Woks Of Life or this one from Marion's Kitchen) that are easy to make with ingredients you probably already have at home. Even if you don't have a steamer, don't worry, you can do it on your stove too!
#HHWT Tip: You can buy frozen fish fillets to keep in the freezer so you'll have it on hand for this dish too! For other food and household essentials you should buy on next trip to the grocery store, check this list out!
Thinking of incorporating some meatless dishes in your meal plan? Are you a lover of veggies like eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers? If the answer is yes to both those questions, then it's time to make ratatouille! And don't worry, it won't be a super finicky dish like the one made in the movie - ratatouille actually just calls for a bunch of chopped up veggies, cooked in a tomato sauce over the stove. Check out this recipe by Cookie and Kate for an example of how to cook it. Serve with some crusty bread and you're done!
P.S. Besides eating healthy meals, keep your fitness up while staying home with these easy tips!
10. Beef and broccoli stir-fry
A stir-fry may sometimes require cutting and prepping a few different ingredients, but on the flip side, the dish comes together super quick in just one wok or pan. Stir-fries are super forgiving and you can add an endless variety of ingredients, but a popular combo is beef and broccoli! When I'm not in the mood to fuss about I just sautee some onions and garlic in a pan, add some thinly-sliced beef, saute further until the beef is cooked through, add broccoli, oyster sauce and some water and cook everything for a couple more minutes before calling it day. For a slightly more detailed recipe (but still super easy!) recipe that uses soy sauce for the stir-fry, check this one out from The Spruce Eats. Throw a little rice on the side and you're done!
Bonus: Protein or grain bowls
Rounding up this list is not so much a recipe, so to speak, but a suggestion - sometimes when I have a myriad of leftovers in the fridge, I throw everything together to make up a grain or protein bowl, which I think is just a fancy way say that we put a bunch of ingredients in a bowl for a meal ? The key is to make sure your bowl is balanced in its components and has a good combination of protein, some sort of healthy grain (be it rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, etc.), some fats (in the form of things like avocado, nuts, or boiled eggs) and veggies. To tie it all together, you can make a dressing to drizzle over (though in all honesty, I usually just add some of the Kewpie sesame sauce I have in my fridge at all times), and boom! One protein bowl ready to go.
During this current situation, it's important we keep ourselves nourished with good food to stay healthy and keep our spirits up. Having balanced meals filled with veggies and good nutrients don't need to be super challenging to prepare either, as evidenced by the recipes above! So the next time you're in your kitchen, prepare something healthy and delicious for yourself!