After a long day at work and a draining commute we can all feel a bit lazy, so dinner usually consists of whatever we can get our hands on first. It’s easy to chuck anything into your mouth without thinking about whether it’s actually good for you. However, it seems it's an approach that is affecting the food choices and long-term health of today's young people.
A poll of 5,000 adults for the BBC's Good Food magazine has revealed that those between 16 and 24 are spending more on food than any other age group becase of a lack of cooking skills, spending on average £63.65 on food per week compared to £57.30 for all adults. Takeaways and eating out are partly responsible for this with fewer than 20% of young adults cooking from scratch every day.
With the poll also revealing that the average 16 to 24-year-old knows how to cook only four recipes compared to the average adult's six, here are three healthy and quick supper ideas devised by nutritionist Vicki Edgson to provide some tasty dinner idea inspiration which can whipped up in no time at all.
Butternut squash, tomato, ginger and sweet potato soup with black-eyed beans/ butter bean
1/2 medium butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
4 large tomatoes , quartered
1 large sweet potato , scrubbed and diced to match the butternut squash in size
2" root ginger , peeled and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil to roast (if roasting in oven)
1pt Marigold of Kallo stock (if cooking in a slow-cooker)
Salt and pepper to flavour
1 tin black-eyed pea or butter beans , rinsed
Roast all the vegetables in the oven with olive oil or place in slow-cooker with vegetable stock powder, adding the beans of your choice. Blend into a soup and heat gently for a few minutes.
Tip: You can spritz this up with added cayenne pepper to boost metabolism if you are on a training programme to boost your fitness goals.
Combining a vegetarian source of protein such as black-eyed beans or butter beans completes the protein part of the meal, keeping you fuller for longer and balancing out your blood-sugar levels. All the vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, a potent anti-oxidant that is great for maintaining skin health and protecting you from the sun's harmful rays.
Butternut squash and sweet potato are also rich in fibre, and B vitamins, releasing their energy slowly to create a longer-lasting meal. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, which protects the integrity of the skin (both inner and outer), while ginger wards off opportunistic viruses and bacterial infections.
Shredded vegetable salad with brown rice noodles
I call this my healthy 'Pot Noodle' alternative. All you need is a mandolin set on a fine shredding plate, or sharp potato peeler that has a crinkle cut blade (I got mine in a Cambodian retreat whilst learning their cooking methods, but I know that John Lewis and Lakeland have their own versions). This won't take you longer than seven minutes to prepare - I timed myself doing it last night!
For the salad
1 large carrot , scrubbed, topped and tailed
1 bulb fennel , outer leaves removed and finely sliced
1 handful mange-tout , trimmed and washed
4 radishes , sliced
1 handful mixed sprouted beans and seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 bunch rice noodles , soaked and softened in hot water
For the dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp Yuzu citrus dressing (waitrose oriental section)
1 dstsp walnut oil
First, drain the rice noodles and rinse in cold water to separate. Set aside.
Grate, shred, or mandolin the carrot and mix with sliced fennel and radishes.
Add a handful of mixed sprouts, pumpkin seeds and mange tout.
Mix dressing ingredients, and pour over noodles first, mixing with your hands to separate the noodles.
Finely add vegetables and noodles together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: You may add several prawns if you want a higher protein meal.
Carrots, fennel and radishes are all nutrient-packed, crunchy and breath-sweetening as they are alkaline.
Carrots are also rich in beta-carotene, fennel in folic acid and fibre, while radishes are rich in vitamin C.
Brown rice noodles do not contain gluten, and yet provide energy through abundant B vitamins, making this a delicious and nutritious, yet slim supper salad. Adding a handful of cooked prawns increases the protein content and provides abundant zinc to support the immune system through regeneration and repair.
Poached salmon, mixed greens and superseed mix sushi
1 fillet poached salmon from day or night before
Generous handful of mixed salad leaves (arucula, watercress, baby spinach or other)
Juice 1 lemon or lime
1 tsp mixed seeds (Food Doctor, Superseed, or other)
2 sheets nori seaweed (oriental section of supermarket)
Salt and pepper to taste
Divide all ingredients into two, to allow for two sushi rolls.
Mash the avocado and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Spread this evenly down the length of each sheet of Nori seaweed towards the edge closest to you.
Top with lightly mashed salmon, more lemon juice, leaves and seeds.
Carefully but tightly, roll the sushi away from you, until you are nearly at the far end.
Use your index or middle finger to rub some cold water down the length of the far end or the Nori sheet, and then roll and press down gently to 'seal' the sushi roll.
Get into the habit of poaching your fish in green or white tea, with sliced ginger and lemongrass and you will always have succulent, juicy and light fish to eat, rather than ruining the delicate essential fats just under the skin which happens when you grill or pan-fry fish (not to mention the odour that lingers throughout your house afterwards.)
We teach sushi-making on my retreats in Ibiza, and use many ingredients that are a far cry from the traditional Japanese versions, as these are great, quick and easy to prepare. The Nori seaweed is rich in iodine, that supports the thyroid and increases your metabolic rate, helping you to have more energy, and burn more fat. Avocado is not fattening, but is packed with vitamin E for beautiful skin and essential fatty acids that help you to break down stored fat. Salmon is one of the richest foods to provide you with the anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils - while the mixed seeds provide all the omega nutrition you need.