Day 3: Salmon, Potato Salad and Homemade Dressing

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free

Making your own salad dressing is super simple, and cuts out a lot of the added sugar that shop-bought dressing include. I made mine with 4 simple ingredients: garlic, lemon, parsley and oil- plus a little salt and pepper to taste. I minced the garlic and added this to the oil, to which I then squeezed 1/4 of a lemon, added a teaspoon of parley and a small sprinkle of salt and pepper. Give it a quick mix and thats it! For a deeper flavour, you can also add a teaspoon of mustard.

Dressing

The salmon was baked the same as Monday’s, which you can read here if you missed it! Simply, cooked in a foil parcel, with oil, salt and pepper. Although fish skin is really good for you, I recommend removing the skin unless you are eating it straight away, as when it is cold it looses its crispiness and becomes a bit gooey.

The potatoes were very simple. I roughly chopped 2 new potatoes into quarters and set to boil for around 10 minutes with a little salt. When cooked, I drained the water and left them under a cold tap to stop them from cooking further. This helps to prevent them going mushy and allows them to cool down quicker, ready for boxing up!

For the salad I kept it pretty simple, with mixed leaves, cucumber and spring onions. The dressing is flavoursome, so I didn’t want to over complicate with any added cheese or other components. However, I believe beetroot would work well as it adds a little liquid to the meal, which would help balance out the starchy potatoes. If you like tomatoes, the acidity would also work well with the oiliness of the fish.

Lunch!

To serve, I added a big helping of mayo, however sour cream or salad cream would also work too! The salmon flavour is quite subtle, so any bolder sauces or flavours may become over powering.

This lunch was very filling, and was perfect after the gym as it had the carbs and protein I needed. The potatoes and fish give slow release energy too, meaning I was fuller for longer.

Meal Prep Day 1- Salmon, Brown Rice and Veggies

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free

Salmon is an oily fish, high in omega 3 and also a great source of protein. Not only this, but it is a great option for meal prep as it tastes delicious hot and cold, and can keep in your fridge for up to 3 days once cooked, if sealed and stored properly.

If you don’t eat fish, or fancy some different ideas for this dish, check out meal tips below!

Cooking the salmon is also simple, and you can cook up a few portions at a time. To ensure the fish doesn’t dry out, I bake the fillets in foil parcels. Drizzled with a touch of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, once fully sealed, the salmon parcels take around 20 minutes to cook at 200 degrees (Fan).

Salmon Parcels

The brown rice took 30 minutes on the hob, however microwave packets are just as good, and can save a LOT of time. They are perfect for sharing between meals too, and the precise portions reduce any possible leftovers or food waste.

The veggies I roasted for the week ahead were:
– Broccoli
– Courgette
– Red onion
– Red pepper
– Sweet potato

Roasted veggies are so easy to prep, and I cooked mine in one roasting tin for around 25 minutes. Sweet potato takes the longest, so ensure this is chopped up a little smaller than the other ingredients. I used all the veggies for this dish, creating a real mixture of textures and flavours.

I added oil, salt and pepper to the whole tin, and then mixed up the flavours a little by introducing paprika to the sweet potato and broccoli. This helps to add extra flavour combinations to the meals, meaning its not the same boring veg everyday!

Ready for boxing up!

Finally, all the cooked components were added to my food tub. These boxes are reusable and recyclable, and are both microwave and dishwasher safe- all of which is great for the environment too. Although it is easy to chuck out tubs and tupperware, a quick whiz in the dishwasher or through the sink gets them shiny and new again.

This is a dish that can be eaten hot or cold, I enjoyed my cold today with a squirt of mayo and a squeeze of lemon. These extras can be easily added in the morning before you begin your busy day!

Meal Tips

  1. Switch out the salmon for baked or grilled chicken as a meat alternative
  2. Use veggie sausages, or falafels if you don’t eat meat or fish
  3. When baking your salmon, add extra ingredients into the parcels. For example: pesto, sweet chilli sauce, lemon slices, ginger or fresh herbs and spices
  4. Roast your veggies with garlic and fresh herbs for different flavours, rosemary works great! (Watch our for garlic breath at work!)
  5. Using cayenne or chilli flakes for some veggies to add heat to your meal
  6. Mix up your veggies, depending on season, and see what’s on offer in your local supermarket

No Meat Monday-Friday Meal Prep

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free, Vegan Delights, Veggie Dishes

There’s nothing worse than going to school, or uni, or work, and eating the same boring packed meals over and over again. Or, due to saving time, or lack of planning, grabbing something to eat from a cafe or supermarket. On average in Australia, a salad/sandwich meal combo at lunch can cost up to $10, totalling in $50 a working week, and $200 a month.

Meal prepping is a great way to not only save money, but make sure you are getting all the nutrients and daily macros you need. Also, if you are trying to cut back on meat, or are concerned about the meat industry’s impact on the environment, by making delicious veggie lunches, you are one step closer to reducing your consumption. If you are a big meat eater, all of the meals in this blog can easily be adapted to include your fav!

My Ingredients

I started off by planning what I fancied for the week ahead. It is slightly challenging to eat gluten free and vegetarian, and it can mean recycling the same dishes multiple times throughout the week. However, I have tried to vary the choices as much as possible, giving me something to look forward to each day.

I did the majority of my shopping in Aldi, grabbing a couple of bits from Woolies too. All of the items were less than $60, which also includes extra leftovers for dinners as well over the next week or so.

My meal plan is:

Monday: Baked salmon, roasted veggies and brown rice

Tuesday: Brown rice with courgette, broccoli, feta and balsamic vinegar

Wednesday: Baked salmon, salad and boiled potatoes with homemade dressing

Thursday: Roasted mixed veggies with brown rice and sweet chilli sauce

Friday: Salad nicoise- tuna, boiled potatoes, boiled egg, cucumber, spring onions and mixed leaves with homemade dressing

As I said, cutting out gluten also made this challenging, and as I go through the dishes throughout the week, I will add in possible alterations to spice it up a little more!

The meal prep today took a couple of hours, and although you may think “I’ve got better things to do on a Sunday” (I thought that too), it really gives you more freedom during the rest of the week.

Todays preparations included:
– Bake the salmon
– Roast veggies
– Boil potatoes
– Boil eggs
– Boil rice
– Make salad dressing
Simple as that!

During the next 5 days I will be writing a little something on my lunch each day, and hopefully it will spark some inspiration for your work/school lunches in the future too! Check back tomorrow to see how my salmon, rice and veggies came along.

Day 3- Tuna salad and Roasted Veggies and Rice Recipe

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free

This is only going to be a very short blog today, mainly because both my lunch and dinner were very simple. Delicious, but simple. I mostly just want to add a few pictures and a note here or there about my day.

My breakfasts haven’t been planned, but I have: gluten free porridge oats, fruit, eggs and bread so I’ve been trying to vary it each morning. I was really craving scrambled eggs this morning, so I had one slice of seedy GF bread and eggs- delicious. However, this did then alter my lunch choice, which was supposed to be a tuna salad sandwich. As much as I love bread, I thought a double whammy would be too much, and the fact that GF bread over hear costs about $7-$10 a loaf, I have to use it sparingly.

fullsizeoutput_21caInstead I opted for a tuna salad, quick and easy after uni. Oddly so, Mum sent me a picture of her lunch today and she too had a tuna salad… spooky stuff! Anyway, I chucked in everything I had in my fridge: mixed leaves, cucumber, spring onion, avocado, feta cheese and one small tin of tuna. I added a big squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar on top to prevent it from being dry. Lemon and fish go perfectly together, and tuna is a great source of protein, low cost and easy to prepare.

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Tuna salad with balsamic dressing

I did stick to the plan for dinner, roasted veggies with brown rice. It sounds very boring, but, if done right, it is very tasty- and it was. The ingredients I used for the veg were:IMG_7260

  • Sweet potato*
  • Courgette
  • Red Pepper
  • Red Onion
  • Brocolli
  • Enoki mushrooms (new to me!)
  • Garlic (1 clove)
  • Paprika
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Roasted veg is great because you literally just chop it up and bung it in the oven. I added all of the chopped veg to my roasting tin, apart from the broccoli and mushrooms, and poured over a glug of oil and sprinkles paprika, salt and pepper. The oil acts as a binding agent to make sure the veg gets coated with the seasoning. If you’re not a fan of paprika you could use garlic salt, rosemary or even maybe some cayenne if you like it a little spicier.

*When roasting sweet potato, it can take a lot longer than other veggies, the smaller you chop it, the easier it is to keep it in time with the other ingredients!

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Ready for roasting!

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Enoki Mushrooms!

After 20 minutes I added the broccoli, giving everything a good mix again, and after another 5 I added the enoki mushrooms. I was unsure how was best to cook these, and although I have read that they’re great for stir-fries I thought I would take a risk and them to the roasting tray. I didn’t mix them in with the other veggies, instead I just kept them to one side, and after 5 minutes I removed the tray from the oven. They had softened, and they actually looked yummy. I am only a new mushroom eater, so it is exciting finding new types that I enjoy and that are versatile. I’m not sure where you can buy these from at home, but I purchased these from an Asian veg stall in the market, they’re worth hunting down. The whole pack only cost me $3 and I’ve barely made a dent in the pack after today.

The brown rice took about 30 minutes to cook so it tied in well with the veg. Once it was all finished, I plated up. I have some leftover rice and veg which is good because I will add it to my salad tomorrow lunch time for a bit of variety. The paprika-y oil from the veg acted as a great sauce, but I also added a drop more oil and some mayo before I gobbled it down.

Although this isn’t a really quick dinner it is hassle free and when the components are cooking you can fanny around doing whatever you please. The veggies can be changed depending on what is in season and it is a great way to cook up food before it goes past its best. Also, roasted veg can be cooked and frozen too, so nothing goes to waste.

Very easy and very tasty!

Barramundi and Veggie Rice with Homemade Lemon Aioli Sauce Recipe

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free

All the elements of tonight’s dinner were not only simple, but also low cost. I had already purchased the barramundi- a white, meaty fish- from Aldi. The fillets are sold skin-on, frozen in bags of 1kg. It’s really rubbish of me but I can’t remember an exact price, as it was last week that I bought them, but I think they were around the $16 mark, which is about £9. In the bag I bought, there were 7 fillets, making it great value.

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Ingredients

As I said, todays cooking was simple, but the star of the show was my lemon aioli sauce. The ingredients I used for the whole dish were:

  • 1 Barramundi fillet (defrosted)
  • Brown rice
  • ½ Courgette
  • Handful frozen peas
  • Tbsp Mayo
  • ¼ Lemon
  • ½ Garlic clove (more can be added to taste)
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

The rice is very self-explanatory, taking around 35 minutes to cook, which is great if you have other jobs to be getting on with. The veggies are also simple. In a frying pan I added a drop of oil and pan-fried ½ courgette until it was beginning to brown. Once my rice was cooked I added the courgette and a handful of frozen peas. Instead of boiling the peas, I re-heated the rice and courgette over a medium heat until the peas had cooked through.

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Prepping for my sauce

Whilst the veggie rice was cooking, I began on the delicious sauce. I must add a slight warning, I currently have very garlicy breath so maybe this isn’t the best meal for a romantic dinner, or if you have plans in the evening. However, if you are like me: you love garlic and you also love sitting in and watching Netflix, it’s a great choice.

Into a small bowl I spooned 2tbsp of Hellmann’s mayo (A very expensive, but necessary, purchase out here!!) and added a glug of oil. I don’t really want to add a specific measurement in for the oil, mainly because I added the liquid elements slowly, creating the consistency I wanted. If you want it to be more solid like a mayo only add a little oil. Alongside the oil I also squeezed in ¼ lemon juice which gave It a great acidity.

Once my sauce was at the perfect runniness, I added salt and pepper to taste- I would go easy on the salt!

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Skin down!

Cooking the fish was also simple, as it is with most fillets that you buy frozen. In Aldi at home I buy the tuna steaks, but I have also heard great things about the salmon fillets. There are clear instructions on the packet too, if you are unsure, and many can be cooked from frozen- the barramundi must be defrosted.  In the same pan as I had cooked my courgettes, I poured in a little oil and once this was piping hot, I placed the barramundi skin down into the pan. Placing the fish skin down means it will crisp up, making it tasty.

IMG_8627Fish skin is also very good for you, containing lots of omega-3, however it can also be easily removed if you prefer not to eat it. After 4 minutes, I flipped the fish to ensure both sides were cooked evenly. This then cooked for another 3 mins.

When I went to The River Cottage for my cooking course we learnt a lot about fish, but one thing I found interesting was to not add salt to the pan when cooking. Salt acts in a way that extracts the liquid from the fish, leaving it dry. If you do require salt it should be added after cooking.

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Finished!

The only problem with this dish is that I didn’t present it beautifully, however by the time it was cooked I was pretty hungry- I tried my best!

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Saucy

Rice can be bought in large quantities for little cost, as can frozen peas, my peas today cost $2 from the supermarket and they will last for ages. Creating my own sauce made me feel like I had made the dish a lot more exciting and, despite the garlic breath, it was all delicious. To save money you could use unbranded mayo, I am just fussy and like Hellmans.

For a quick, simple supper look no further!

 

Asian-Inspired Grilled Mackerel

Fishy Friends, Gluten Free

Mackerel is an oily fish that’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the kind of fats we want in our diet. As well as being beneficial health wise, mackerel is also a very affordable fish and I managed to get mine on sale in Sainsburys for next to nothing.

I have never cooked mackerel before and I was a bit nervous about doing so. But after a bit of research and a flick through the BBC Goodfood recipes I came across an Asian-inspired mackerel dish that I decided to give a little tweak and make it my own. I have had a couple of mackerel fillets in the freezer for a while, so I am glad I have found a recipe that inspired me to use them up.

I apologise for the lack of pictures on this one, I changed my mine half way through cooking so some of the first pics became redundant!

The ingredients I used were:

  • 1 Mackerel fillet
  • White Cabbage
  • ½ Leek
  • ½ Green chilli
  • Mustard seeds

For the marinade:

  • 1tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1tbsp Lime juice
  • Fresh ginger (A small piece)
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 1tbsp Honey

After my mackerel fillet had been defrosting all day it was ready to be marinated in the Asian sauce. In a small bowl I combined all of the marinade ingredients. I crushed and finely chopped the clove of garlic, and thinly sliced the ginger. My honey had set so as I added it to the soy sauce I used the back of my spoon to break it up, allowing it to dissolve. The sauce should be sticky, sweet and a little sour.

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Ready for marinating!

After pouring the marinade over the fish* I covered the Tupperware with cling film and left this to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Marinades help keep the flesh of both fish and meat moist and prevent them drying out, as well as coating the outside with the mix of flavours used, creating a deeper flavour.

  *Keep back the bowl you make the marinade in to use a bit later.

Whilst my fish was chilling in the fridge I began on the second component of the meal, my stir-fried veggies.

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Veggies!

My Mum makes an amazing white cabbage and leek stir fry which I pinched to use in this dish. I began thinly slicing the white cabbage, keeping the pieces long, as well as chopping up ½ leek. To add a little heat, I also finely chopped ½ fresh green chilli.

After the fish had been in the fridge for 20 minutes, I began cooking the veg. I heated oil in a wok and added a sprinkle of mustard seeds. One thing about mustard seeds is that when they heat up they begin to pop and can end up flying everywhere- I know this from experience. To prevent this from happening, I used a plate and covered the pan for the first couple of minutes. After most of the popping had subsided I added all of the veggies.

If I hadn’t marinated the fish I would’ve added some soy sauce or sesame oil to the wok, however, I knew there would be enough flavour from the fish itself.

Stirring regularly the vegetables began to soften, shrink down and become golden. Once they had finished cooking I set them aside in the marinade bowl (mentioned earlier) so the cabbage and leeks could absorb any sauce or spices left over.

After the fish was done marinating, I carefully placed the fillet skin side up on a baking tray covered in tin foil. Under a high heat I grilled the fish for around 4 minutes, until the skin began to crisp and bubble a little. After the 4 minutes were up I removed the fish and turned it over, so it was skin side down on the foil. Onto the fish I poured the remaining sauce left over from the tupperware.

I returned the mackerel back under the grill and, once again, cooked for a remaining 3-4 minutes. I feel like I must put a little warning in here that mackerel is very stinky to cook, but please don’t let this put you off. I did give my housemates a warning and made sure I had all of the windows open. I know that really fishy-fish isn’t always popular, but the end product tastes SO good, it’s worth it.

I tipped the veg back into the wok on the hob just to heat back through and then it was ready to plate up! The veggies were sticky and crunchy with the mustard seeds adding a little extra bite. The fish was really tender, and not at all dry- which can be a common issue with mackerel. I topped the dish off with a few slices of spring onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

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Finished!

Overall, I am really happy with how this Asian-inspired dish came out, I think it might be one of my best dinners yet!

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Even without finding them in the reduced section, you can purchase a couple of mackerel fillets for £2 or so from most supermarkets, and along with the low cost of white cabbage and leeks, this recipe really won’t break the bank! For one portion this ends up costing below £1.70- with the most expensive bits being the soy sauce and honey, and even these don’t add up to a lot!

If you fancy trying the original recipe here it is below:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1755645/grilled-mackerel-with-soy-lime-and-ginger(P.s it’s not as good as mine!)