So, let’s talk meal preparation. Or, as it’s usually tagged on Instagram, #mealprep, #foodprep, etc. Preparing your meals in advance to power you through a busy day can seem strange to some. My family often look at me like I’m a crazy person (which I am – but only a little bit) when they see my five lunchboxes stacked in the fridge on a Sunday evening, ready for a week of work ahead. But to be honest, I find meal preparation is the best way to ensure you’re staying on track with whatever nutritional goals you might have, whether that’s to maintain, gain or lose weight, or simply just to eat what you want to eat to feel your best. It’s also a huge money saver!
For me personally, my job as a doctor generally results in pretty unpredictable days. As a result, what works best for me is to have a lunch and snacks prepped so that whenever I can grab a break to eat, my food is easily available. Sometimes, depending on my on-call rota, I will prep a full day’s worth of meals to take with me. Generally speaking, I prepare a post-workout breakfast, lunch, and a couple of snacks for each day. That might sound like a lot of work, but frankly it’s just something that becomes a habit once you do it regularly! On a Sunday evening, I usually prepare a big pot of a recipe that makes 4-5 servings, and that’s lunches sorted Monday-Friday. I stick to recipes that are quick and cheap to make, and pack a serious nutritional punch. I function better both as a doctor and a person (nobody likes Hangry Ciara, trust me!) when I’ve got wholesome meals to keep me going.
Anyway! This recipe is so so easy to make, and I know you’ll love it. I came across the grain Green Freekeh after first reading about it in a feature on wholegrains in the Sunday Times. I went hunting, and found it easily in my local Super Valu store. A 200g box (which makes up 3-5 servings for me with this recipe) cost me about 2 euro! I use the brand ‘Ancient Grains’ (they also stock quinoa, cous cous and chia seeds). Freekeh is an ancient grain enjoying a recent surge in popularity, despite it being a staple in Middle Eastern diets for many years. It’s derived from wheat, and is touted as a ‘supergrain’ due to its high protein, low fat content, as well as being classed as a low G.I. (Glycaemic Index) food. To give an example, a 42g serving has 6g fibre and 6g protein. Quinoa has 3g fibre and 5.5g protein per 42g serving. Freekeh also contains micronutrients like calcium, iron and zinc, and is classed as a ‘prebiotic’, thought to promote growth of good bacteria in the gut. Aside from all those great reasons, it smells so fab when you cook it – a really nutty, earthy scent and flavour. Now, onto the recipe!
Sample in a lunchbox with tuna 🙂
- 200g of Green Freekeh
- 1/2 head of raw broccoli
- 2 handfuls of kale
- 1 400g can of chickpeas
- 1 small can of sweetcorn
- 1 raw sweet potato, chopped into bite size pieces.
- 100g feta cheese (crumbled)
- Spices: Turmeric, Ginger, Chili Powder (my personal choices!)
- Dressing: This is optional guys. Sometimes I add soy sauce, tamari or a little balsalmic dressing to this salad, but feel free to play around with your favourites. I’m currently trying to work out a recipe for a clean Thai-style peanut-y dressing but that’s a work in progress!
- Optional: If, like me, you try to get a good dose of protein into your meals, then this is perfect to have with a serving of something like chicken, turkey or fish options such as tinned tuna.
- Set the oven to 200 C, and cook the sweet potato by roasting at this temperature for about 20 minutes or until a fork pierces the potato flesh without resistance.
- Combine the green freekeh with the appropriate volume of water in a large pot, and set to medium heat. (The package you buy the freekeh in should give instructions for volume of water per volume of freekeh. The ratio for my brand is about 2 parts water to 1 part freekeh).
- Continue to cook the freekeh according to the package instructions (generally involves getting the water to the boil, and then allowing a set simmer time e.g. 20 minutes or so).
- Wash your kale leaves & broccoli florets, pat dry with paper towels, and loosely chop.
- Once the freekeh is cooked, drain and place into a large salad bowl.
- Sprinkle your spices on top and mix well.
- Add your greens to the freekeh, and mix again.
- Once the sweet potato is cooked, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Drain the chickpeas and sweetcorn. Add both to the salad, and mix again.
- Add your sweet potato to the bowl.
- If adding dressing, sprinkle over the salad and toss again.
- Lastly, sprinkle your crumbled feta on top!
- Your salad is complete! Divide it up into 4-5 lunchboxes, and add your protein if you want!
Enjoy guys! And remember, if green freekeh sounds too weird for you, this salad is also easily made with a substitution like quinoa, cous cous, or wholewheat pasta!
Ciara 🙂 x