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Nutrition

5 quick and healthy dinner recipes

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Jump to: Fajita bake | Crispy balsamic glazed tofu | Lamb pitta pizza | Bangers and butter bean mash | Bacon and borlotti beans

It’s natural to feel tired in the evenings. With work, kids, social commitments, and all the other elements of our modern lifestyle vying for our attention, we can often skip the dinner prep, click on an app, and have dinner delivered straight to our door. No stress. No hassle.

In the long run, this could harm our health, and we know that eating a diet based on whole foods is a key part of a healthy lifestyle – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

So our team of registered nutritionists has put together a selection of five quick and healthy dinners you can enjoy any day of the week; they can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. (They’re also delicious.)

Second Nature special tip:

All of these recipes can be batch-cooked to put in the fridge or freezer for another day, saving you cooking time when you’re extremely busy.

At Second Nature, we believe healthy living should be easy. If you’d like to learn how to make cooking healthy meals quick and pain-free, you can try our programme and pay what you like for the first 14 days. All you need to do to start is take our health quiz here.

Now, to the good stuff.

1) Fajita bake

Prep and cooking time: 30mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

600g raw chicken breast or thigh, cut into strips

2 large onions, sliced

3 red peppers, sliced

1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

2 tsp ground paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1⁄4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

80g Cheddar cheese, grated

2 little gem lettuce heads

1 handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

60ml sour cream

1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan, over medium heat. Cook the chicken, and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the same pan, fry the onion and peppers for 6-8mins, until lightly coloured and soft.

Return the chicken to the pan, add the spices, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well.

If your pan is oven-proof, sprinkle the cheese on top and place in the oven. Otherwise, transfer the chicken mixture to an oven-proof dish, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10mins.

Serve in lettuce leaves with sour cream, coriander, and lime wedges.

Second Nature special tip:

Double the spice mix and keep it stored in your cupboard for the next time you make the recipe. You can also serve it with a small bowl of homemade guacamole or tomato salsa.

2) Crispy balsamic glazed tofu

Prep and cooking time: 20mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients

280g firm tofu, diced

1 ½ tbsp corn flour

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced

2 bullhorn or regular red peppers, sliced

200g spring greens or cavolo nero, roughly chopped

1 large red onion, sliced

100g cherry tomatoes

2 tbsp Modena balsamic vinegar

½ lime, juiced

Method

Place the diced tofu into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the cornflour, oregano, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to cover the tofu evenly.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small non-stick frying pan, over medium heat.

Add the tofu and fry for 8-10mins, or until golden brown.

Heat the other tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan, over medium heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1min, or until just turning golden.

Add the peppers, spring greens, red onion, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and lime juice, and cook for 5-7mins, or until the tomatoes begin to soften and pop slightly.

Add the crispy tofu to the vegetable mixture, and lightly toss until coated with the juices. Enjoy on its own, or with a portion of brown rice.

Second Nature special tip:

You can use an air fryer to make the tofu extra crispy. Place in the air fryer for 10mins, turn over and bake again for a further 10mins.

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3) Lamb pitta pizza

Prep and cooking time: 20mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

4 wholemeal pitta breads

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, diced

500g lamb mince

1 garlic clove, finely diced or minced

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 large green pepper, finely sliced

200g button mushrooms, finely sliced

2 tbsp tomato puree

100g Cheddar cheese, grated

4 tbsp plain natural or Greek yoghurt

1 large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.

Brush the pitta breads with 1 tbsp of the oil and bake in the oven for 2-3mins to crisp slightly, flipping them once or twice, and setting aside.

Add the other 1 tbsp of oil to a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat. Fry the shallots for 3-5mins, or until softened. Add the lamb mince, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper. Fry for 8mins over high heat, or until browned. Add the green peppers and mushrooms to the lamb and fry for 3-5mins, until slightly softened.

Once cooked, remove excess liquid from the lamb mixture (pour it off the side of the pan). Brush the pitta breads evenly with the tomato puree.

Coat the pitta evenly with the cooked lamb and the vegetable mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven for 5-8mins, until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly crisp around the edges (careful not to burn them). Top with 1 tbsp of yoghurt each and coriander, and serve.

Second Nature special tip:

If you’re having these for leftover lunch, toast a pitta bread and cover with toppings just before eating. The mixture also tastes great in lettuce cups! The lamb mixture and the pitta bread can be frozen separately and then defrosted at room temperature before continuing from step 5.

4) Bangers and butter bean mash

Prep and cooking time: 25mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced

2 x 400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained

250ml milk

4 butcher sausages of your choice (we used chicken)

2 small brown onions, thinly sliced

275g frozen peas

1 medium handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 small handful chives, thinly sliced

Method

Heat ½ tbsp oil and butter in a medium saucepan, over high heat.

Fry the garlic for 1min, or until lightly browned. Add the beans, milk, salt, and pepper, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the beans, stirring frequently, for 10mins.

While the beans are simmering, heat the other ½ tbsp of oil in a medium non-stick frying pan, over medium heat. Cook the sausages for 8-10mins (depending on size).

When the sausages are cooked, set them aside. Use the same pan to fry the onions, until softened.

Pop the peas in the microwave for 2mins.

Use a potato masher or fork to mash the butter beans till you get a smooth consistency. Fold through the herbs, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Second Nature special tip:

If your beans appear too watery, pop the blended beans back on the heat for 5mins, stirring often, and the heat will help to reduce the liquid. Be sure to check vegetarian sausages for protein content (as some can be quite low).

5) Bacon and borlotti beans

Prep and cooking time: 30mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 leek, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced

220g bacon rashers, finely sliced

200g button mushrooms, finely sliced

2 small courgettes, diced

2 x 400g tins borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

300ml chicken stock

80ml cream or coconut milk

2 large handfuls kale

1 large handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a lidded frying pan or saucepan, over medium-high heat. Fry the leeks and garlic for 3mins, until softened.

Add the bacon and cook for 3mins, until browned. Add the mushrooms, courgettes, and beans, and cook for a further 3mins, until softened.

Stir in the chicken stock, cream, and kale, then season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Reduce heat and simmer for 5mins.

To bulk out this meal, add a side of steamed broccoli and sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Click here if you’d like an NHS-trusted meal plan from Second Nature.

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