In Health and Fitness, Recipes

Sponsored post sharing some of my quick and healthy midweek recipes.

If you read the blog last week, you would have found out a little about the Health Star Rating system. But if you didn’t (what were you doing?) you can read all about how it works here.

I’ve been applying the star rating system to my grocery shopping over the last 10 days, and finding that it’s making me so much more aware about the health benefits and the nutritional elements contained within the food products I’m choosing, and it’s also giving me new, healthier dinner ideas.

Easy way to compare similar packaged food products

Because it’s based on a star system – ½ a star being the lowest and 5 the highest rating when it comes to the nutritional content, it really is an easy way to compare similar packaged food products  to help us make healthier choices – and for me it’s positively affecting the choices I make.

For instance, if a product has a lower star rating I’m more inclined to tell myself that it should be used in moderation. It’s not that I won’t use it, but I realise (in the case of something like pesto, which I love) that I shouldn’t really use the whole jar just for me!

And because the star rating is displayed as a much larger symbol than the small print on the back of jars or on packets, I’m inclined to let the star system guide me, rather than hassle with reading the labels to find out how nutritious (or fattening) a product might be.

Healthy Recipes for Quick Meals

There are a couple of midweek recipes that I love preparing, and with the benefit of the Health Star Rating system I can really make sure that I’m adding the most nutritious ingredients.

So, I’ve been experimenting with products which have a high Health Star Rating to produce healthy midweek meals that I can have ready in minutes, rather than hours.

I’m not fancy schmancy when it comes to midweek cooking, but I do like to make sure we are eating healthily.

If this sounds a little like you – read on for some easy and quick dinner ideas.

Easy Dinner Recipes

Warm Couscous Salad

One of my favourite recipes is using couscous to make a warm,  yummy,  healthy salad, and when we’re going to a barbie I’m often asked to bring this along as an accompaniment to balance all the meat, or for our vegetarian friends. I’ve made it for Christmas get togethers, for dinner parties, and quickly thrown it together when the family come around unexpectedly, it really is that easy.

So I was delighted to find out that the Mediterranean Flavoured Cous Cous I usually choose has a Health Star Rating of 4. Winning!

I also noted it has no artificial colours or flavours and is low in saturated fat and sugars.

Here’s the method:

  1. Place the contents of the packet of couscous into 1 cup of boiling water (about 250ml) and add a teaspoon of polyunsaturated margarine – look for a margarine with a high Health Star Rating. (This bit might vary depending on which brand of cous cous you use, so check the package directions).
  2. Mix to combine.
  3. Microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes stirring occasionally. (I have also used another variety of couscous which doesn’t require microwaving – super easy – as I mentioned above, just check the packaging of the couscous you buy for specific instructions).
  4. Remove from the microwave, cover and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Then fluff up the grains with a fork.
  5. Then I just chop some celery, tomatoes, cucumber, carrot and red pepper and combine into the couscous. Other additions are some coriander leaves (not the stalks) or even a few baby spinach leaves, which add a lovely colour.

That’s it. Done and dusted and delicious.

Serves around 4 people as a main dish accompaniment.

Tomato, Olive and Chili Marinara.

This is now one of my favourite midweek meals and it is just so easy and tasty.

I buy around 500gr seafood marinara, which I quickly stir fry, until cooked, in a little olive oil.  I then add a jar of Tomato, Chilli and Olive Stir-Through Sauce (which has a Health Star Rating 3.5) and stir, letting it simmer until warmed through.

It literally takes minutes to make. If I’m feeling fancy, I might fry a few (chopped) cloves of fresh garlic before I add the seafood to the pan, and a few sliced mushrooms which I just warm through and simmer for a few minutes at the end. I generally serve this dish with a warm spicy variety of cous cous (Health Star Rating 4).

A variation on this theme for another quick meal is to use chicken or mincemeat and include a four bean mix and a tin of diced tomatoes, see below.

Spicy Mince or Chicken 

For four people.

  1. Fry (in a little oil) around 500g of good quality mince or sliced chicken pieces.
  2. Add a (drained) tin of four bean mix (Health Star Rating 5)
  3. Add a tin of diced tomatoes (Health Star Rating 4.5)
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until the juice is sufficiently reduced to your liking.
  5. Add a jar of Tomato, Olive and Chili Stir-Through Sauce (Health Star Rating 3.5) and simmer for a couple more minutes until heated through.
  6. I like to sprinkle on a few finely sliced fresh chillies (we like things spicy), a couple of sliced vine tomatoes, and a few sprigs of coriander when I come to serve.
  7. Tip: You could omit the tin of tomatoes if you want a stronger chilli and olive flavour – or just add some extra pitted Kalamata olives and some extra fresh chilli to taste.
  8. I might serve this with couscous (Health Star Rating 5) or perhaps mashed sweet potato. and some steamed vegetables.

This post is in association with Health Star Rating.

Would love to know if you’ve been looking out for the Health Star Ratings on food products, and what you’ve been cooking up this week 🙂

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Showing 2 comments
  • Suzanne Fluhr
    Reply

    I make a version if that cous cous salad with the following modifications 1) omit the margarine 2) cook the cous cous in orange juice 3) add diced skinless chicken 4) add mandarin oranges in their own juice 5) add chopped mint. I wish we had that healthy star rating here un the U.S. Cheers.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Hello Suzanne, oh YUM! Your version sounds absolutely divinely delish and I’m going to make it forthwith! Thank you 🙂 The Health Star Rating is still quite new in Australia, but it’s definitely making my supermarket choices healthier.

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