Four 20-minute healthy and tasty recipes

Four nutritious, ‘fast food’ alternatives that can be whipped up in less than 20mins and help satiate the munchies

Credit: Steve Sayers

Cooking nourishing meals from scratch every night doesn’t have to take the whole evening. With a well-stocked store cupboard you can rustle up some pretty impressive training suppers without too much forethought, using ‘longer life’ ingredients such as frozen peas, red cabbage, beetroot, polenta and dried mushrooms.

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No matter how quick you cook these ‘real fast food’ recipes (the target is sub-20mins if you’re feeling competitive), take a moment to ‘eat slow’; sit down, relax and really savour your food. It will help your digestion and put a smile on your face.

First, try this speedy version of a Pad Thai – not exactly authentic, but utterly delicious and a doddle to throw together  on a weekday evening. Packed with good quality protein for healthy muscle growth and repair, as well as slow-releasing carbohydrate for sustained energy and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, it’s rich in nutrients to keep you on top form for training.

Next up are Flatbreads with halloumi and crunchy slaw. Cabbage is loaded with fibre, vitamin C and minerals such as calcium and potassium. Red cabbage contains antioxidants called anthocyanins, which can help boost circulation, protect your cardiovascular system, and offset damage to your body’s cells.

Soft polenta with wild mushroom ragu is an incredibly quick-to-prepare source of carbs. Delicious and comforting this is an excellent recovery meal if you need to replace depleted glycogen fast. Real fast food at its best!

Studies show that consuming beetroot juice can improve athletic performance. If you don’t like drinking the juice, you could try getting your beetroot fix in this strikingly purple Beetroot orzotto with smoked salmon. Although it looks like rice, orzo is in fact pasta – it’s delicious, nourishing and sustaining and, although high in carbs, surprisingly light on the stomach.

Pad Thai

Prep: 5mins

Cook: 15mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

200g linguini-shaped rice noodles

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsps fish sauce

1 tbsp chilli sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, thinly sliced

200g beansprouts

3 spring onions, finely sliced •

3 tbsps unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

50g dried coconut flakes or desiccated coconut

25g fresh coriander, chopped

1 lime

Method

1. Heat a drop of oil in a large wok and add eggs. As soon as they begin to set, gently stir until they form an omelette. Transfer to plate and cut into strips.

2. Cook noodles according to pack, drain and rinse. Set aside. In a bowl, combine garlic, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, chilli sauce and sugar. Set aside.

3. Pour remaining oil into wok, and fry chicken for a few mins until just cooked. Add beansprouts and onions, fry for 1min. Add noodles, fry for 2mins. Add peanuts, coconut, coriander, egg and sauce.

Halloumi Flatbreads with Crunchy Slaw

Prep: 10mins

Cook: 5mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 tsp caraway seeds, crushed

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar •

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

1 small red cabbage, finely shredded

1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, grated

20g pecan nuts

4 large flatbreads

2 x 250g blocks halloumi, cut into 1cm slices •

Two handfuls rocket leaves

Small tub hummus

Sweet chilli sauce

Method

1. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 1 tbsp oil and caraway seeds with a fork. Season. Combine with the cabbage, pepper, carrot and pecans. Set aside.

2. Heat oven to 130°C and warm the flatbreads. Brush the halloumi with the remaining oil. Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle and, when really hot, fry in batches for 1-2 mins each side until golden. Don’t overcook or they’ll turn to rubber!

3. Arrange wraps as desired – hummus, halloumi, crunchy slaw, rocket leaves and sweet chilli sauce. Tuck in!

Soft Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragu

Prep 5-10mins

Cook 10-15mins

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

125g mixed mushrooms, sliced

Handful dried rosemary, or thyme

Splash of dry white wine or sherry (optional)

10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

200g instant polenta

1-2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

50g grated parmesan

Method

1. In a pan, gently fry shallots and garlic in oil until soft. Turn up the heat. Add mushrooms and fry for 5mins. Stir in herbs, wine, tomatoes and gently simmer for a further 5mins. Add balsamic vinegar.

2. Cook the polenta according to pack for soft polenta. Stir in a good glug of oil, season and dish up. Top with mushrooms, more oil and parmesan.

Beetroot Orzotto with Smoked Salmon

Prep: 5-10mins

Cook: 10-15mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

Knob of unsalted butter

250g pack cooked beetroot plus its juice

300g orzo pasta

800ml hot vegetable stock

25g pack parsley or dill, roughly chopped

100g smoked salmon, torn into pieces

Squeeze of lemon juice

Toasted pine nuts

50g feta or goats cheese, crumbled

Method

1. Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan. Gently sauté the onion for 5mins until soft. Stir in the beetroot, beetroot juice and the orzo.

2. Add the hot stock to the pan. Bubble for about 15mins, until the stock has been absorbed and the orzo is cooked through, stirring frequently.

3. Add the parsley or dill, saving a little to serve. Remove from the heat, add the smoked salmon and lemon juice, and taste for seasoning.

4. Serve in bowls with plenty of black pepper, cheese, pine nuts and reserved herbs.

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Nutritionist and keen amateur athlete Kate Percy set up the #GoFaster campaign in 2009, and now has a
website (gofasterfood.com), several books and a new range of Go Bites – all-natural energy balls