When you live out during the week as I do, not having a mammy’s dinner to feast on after a long day can take some getting used to. A college-going young one myself, I am all too familiar with the dilemma of whether to splurge on a meal out to be well fed and watered or to simply have beans on toast again after a day on campus.
However it’s easier to prepare a healthy, tasty and filling meal than I first thought and now in my second year of university I’ve improved in the culinary department (if I do say so myself!) The key is to always have a few essentials in your press, making it easier to rustle up a good feed at any time.
And while beans on toast is great for getting those amino acids in and a very handy snack, that is exactly all it is. A snack. It doesn’t really fill you up for the night, something essential for any young adult who may have assignments to hand in, be headed out on the town for the night or be home from a long day at work and in urgent need to refuel.
In short, food helps your concentration, it soaks up those shots in the club and ultimately helps keep you going.
And what’s more, while you are cooking your mind will enter ‘flow’ – when your mind forgets its other distractions and worries and you get lost in the task at hand: cooking up a storm. And don’t get too bogged down on health buzz words and what is supposedly healthy/unhealthy – I think with food everything in moderation is key!
The message is simple – good food = good mood!
Dinner in Ireland is the biggest meal of the day, contrary to other European countries where breakfast is king, so here are two easy-peasy dinner recipes to get you cooking yourself into better form.
A very saucy, satay beef stir-fry
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, tablespoon of curry powder, 2 tablespoons of tomato purée/ketchup, a generous splash of soy sauce, beef pieces for stirfry, 1 onion, mix of vegetables.
Mix together the peanut butter, honey, curry powder, tomato purée or ketchup (I feel like ketchup works better even if that sounds a bit gross!), soy sauce in a medium-sized bowl and add in the beef. Leave to marinade for twenty minutes or so (or skip the marinating bit if you’re like me & are usually starvin’ Marvin by dinner time!)
Chop up the onion and fry in a dash of oil of choice (I’m a big fan of coconut oil but olive oil will do the job too).
Add in the marinated beef.
Allow to cook through. Meanwhile chop up any veg you would like to throw in. I usually add in carrots, peppers, baby sweetcorn, broccoli and peas.
Add the veg and mix thoroughly into the beef so they get a good coating of the satay sauce.
Serve on a bed of rice or noodles. Noodles can be added into the pan and mixed with the stir-fry.
This is a meal that could feed a full house of your ravenous housemates or indeed your family and still have leftovers for the next day. This is a fun meal that can become a tradition in the household, hosting a Mexican night every month or so. Sombreros and fake ‘taches at the ready!
Ingredients: Mince (400g could serve 4 people), tin of kidney beans, tin of chickpeas, canned pinto beans, tin of tomatoes, chilli powder, cumin, a splash of orange juice, tortilla wraps, rice, sour cream and cheese.
Cook the mince through in a big pot.
Add a generous helping of chilli powder.
Add the tomatoes, kidney beans and chickpeas.
Let this simmer for ten minutes then add in a splash of orange juice and a tablespoon of cumin.
Meanwhile boil the rice.
When everything is cooked, heat up the wraps.
Fill the wraps with the rice and mince adding a heaped spoonful of the canned pinto beans, a dollop of sour cream and oodles of cheese.