By Janelle Healy – Dietitian APD, HBF Member Health Coach

Pear and walnut salad

After working out at an afternoon HBF Fitness session, you’ll want to serve up a healthy dinner. Preferably one that is also tasty and takes less than 30 minutes! With a little bit of planning and some pantry staples, a healthy meal will help to complete your day well.

The Eat for Health Australian Guidelines recommend 5 serves of vegetables per day. Starting your meal around seasonal veggies will help you achieve this. Plan half of your meal as vegetables (2-3 serves of vegetables, where 1 serve is equivalent to ½ cup frozen mixed vegetables or 1 cup of salad), which are laden with the vitamins, minerals, fibre and starches needed for fuelling a healthy body. Adding a small amount of protein (100g of lean meat, 1 cup legumes or 2 eggs) to your meal adds flavour and the requirements for muscle structure and function. Filling the remaining quarter of your plate with 1 cup of rice, pasta, boiled potato or corn will complete your well balanced meal.

How do I get this done in 30 minutes?

It all starts with planning! Go with a shopping list built from a quick meal plan for the week. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Our healthy recipes contain some great ideas, and are a good place to start if you require a bit of inspiration. The chicken pear and walnut salad is a complete meal especially if you add a small bread roll or a cup of a cooked grain.  You can also enjoy a serve of dressing separately.

Another option is to make a batch of turkey and quinoa patties to have with half a plate of veggies. Then you have also got leftovers for a quick and healthy lunch the next day.

Pantry staples can complete your meal

Frozen or dry foods that you are hiding in your kitchen should be used, not hoarded. Items such as frozen mixed vegetables can be added to stir fries, pastas, casseroles and steamed on their own to accompany your baked chicken breast, for instance. Also, tossing in a tin of chickpeas or lentils adds high protein and fibre to any meal.

Some key pantry essentials to use might include:

  • Pasta, rice, noodles, and grains (such as quinoa, black rice or barley)
  • Dressing ingredients to add flavour in a hurry (like balsamic vinegar or olive oil), spices you enjoy or even a squeeze tube of blended herbs to keep in the fridge
  • Nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds and pine nuts to liven up a salad or stir fry
  • Frozen mixed vegetables
  • Tinned fruit in juice
  • Fresh season vegetables based on the meals you have planned over the week
  • Lean meat cuts, frozen or tinned fish, tinned chickpeas, lentils or kidney beans and eggs

For further information on recommended Australian healthy eating guides visit the Australian Government’s Eat for Health website.

The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.