One of the many recipes people have asked me for are meal prep and post-gym ideas. People want something quick, easy, delicious and healthy all on one plate. I have therefore put together a trio of protein-rich bowls which I believe hit all those nails on the head. I have been making these kind of protein-rich bowls for a while now and most of the time I always start with the same base and then build depending on what I fancy at the time and what is available in my fridge.
This means that I can sometimes use leftovers, which makes the turnaround times even quicker, other times I cook something from scratch. Most of the time I will make a double portion so I have a second meal for the next day – this worked great when I was working in an office. It not only saved me time on my lunch break, but it also saved so many pennies. When you go to these “build -your-own” places, yes they’re great but I am certainly guilty of getting carried away with the additional toppings – guacamole is my vice. Anyway, by the end of it, you’ve spent a small fortune and spent half of your lunch break in a queue waiting for a salad to be built. So why not make the same thing at home for a fraction of the price?
In this post, I am going to share three protein-rich options with you and I will continue to add more and more of these kind of bowls to the blog as time goes on. I’m not a nutritionist but I have a general understanding of which foods will provide you with more nutrients than others and I hope to share this with you. I always use a base of raw baby spinach and then almost always use quinoa with it. I find they work best and keep me fuller for longer which is especially great on days I know I will be going to the gym and they are both a really good source of protein. Kale would also be a great base alternative, but I find that it needs a lot of dressing when eating it raw, so I use spinach more. I avoid using lettuce as it has pretty much no nutritional value, but if I fancy using a salad, I always make sure I add spinach in there regardless.
I always love adding in a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) for a good source of fat, and it’s often cheaper than buying avocado (which I do love to use as and when I can get hold of them). Plus I’m Italian and EVOO is basically in my veins! So keep your eyes peeled for more and more bowls but let’s get you started on this trio – you have a chicken, prawn and veggie option!
My first protein bowl is one that includes leftovers. In this bowl, I used leftover tray bake chicken and sweet potato oven fries. Both are a great source of protein and are delicious. This is the perfect bowl to put together the day after a roast dinner! My chicken traybake recipe is already live on the blog but I have put below how you can whip up some quick sweet potato oven fries.
Trio of Protein Bowls
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients: 15g Mixed quinoa 50g Leftover chicken 1/2 Medium sweet potato (or 1 small sweet potato) 1 Salad tomato, quartered 30g Cucumber, rinsed 50g Baby spinach, washed Chicken stock, optional 1 Tbsp Paprika 1 Tsp Garlic powder 3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar Salt Pepper
Boil the quinoa according to the packaging, usually around 15 minutes. I like to cook it in chicken stock for added flavour but this is optional. Drain and set aside once cooked.
Whilst the quinoa is cooking, shred up your leftover chicken and place in a frying pan with a drizzle of EVOO, paprika and garlic powder. Warm through on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until it gets lovely and crispy – ensure it is completely cooked through before serving.
If using leftover sweet potato oven fries, warm these through with the chicken! If you’re making from scratch, peel your sweet potato and cut into thin “fries”. Drizzle with olive oil and season with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and bake in the oven at 200℃ / 180℃ for 20 minutes until cooked through and crispy.
Use a speed peeler to create cucumber ribbons – peel the cucumber until you see the seeds then move around until you’ve peel the whole thing!
Time to plate up – place your baby spinach as your base and then add the rest of your ingredients – the quinoa, crispy warm chicken and sweet potatoes, the cucumber ribbons and the tomato. Drizzle over 2 Tbsp EVOO and the apple cider vinegar, season with a little salt and pepper if desired – toss thoroughly and enjoy!
If you’re prepping ahead, then I recommend leaving the leftover chicken and sweet potatoes cold. If you’re taking this to work, you can enjoy both cold or keep them separated and heat them in the microwave for 2 minutes – what is key is that the chicken is piping hot when you eat it!
Next up is a protein bowl with a kick! Prawns are a great source of protein and I love adding a little curry paste to give a bit of flavour and flare to my lunches!
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 20 minutes
Ingredients 15g Mixed quinoa 10 Fresh cooked prawns 1 Medium carrot 50g Cucumber 30g Red cabbage 50g Baby spinach 1 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds 1 Tsp Green curry paste Chicken stock, optional 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil 1 Tsp Apple cider vinegar
Boil the quinoa according to the packaging, usually around 15 minutes. As before, I like to cook it in chicken stock for added flavour but this is optional. Drain and set aside once cooked.
Whilst the quinoa is cooking, add vegetable oil to a small frying pan on a medium heat, add the curry paste and fry for 1-2 minutes to release the flavours. Add the prawns and stir to coat in the paste. Leave to fry for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare your carrots and cucumber by peeling into ribbons and chop your red cabbage into small pieces.
Time to plate up – place your baby spinach as your base then add the rest of your ingredients – the quinoa, the spicy green curry prawns, the cucumber & carrot ribbons and finally the red cabbage.
Drizzle over the EVOO and vinegar and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds for that extra crunch. Toss thoroughly and enjoy!
You can use raw prawns here or even frozen prawns if that’s what you have available. If you’re using raw prawns, you will need to cook them for a few extra minutes to ensure they cook through – they will go from translucent to pink! With the frozen prawns, thaw them out about 30 minutes before you use them! If you’re not keen on having too much spice, reduce the about of curry paste to 1/2 Tsp and if you prefer red curry paste, then go ahead and use that! I love both and always have them in the fridge ready to use!
Finally, I have a vegetarian protein bowl to share with you. I love eating eggs, and at one stage, I was eating them every day. Adding them into a salad adds that extra protein that will also help to keep you fuller for longer.
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 minutes Ingredients 30g Mixed quinoa 400g Tinned chickpeas, drained & rinsed 1 Courgette 1 Carrot 4 Salad tomatoes, diced 1/4 Red onion, diced 1/2 Lemon 2 Eggs 100g Baby spinach 2 Tbsp Sumac 1 Tsp Garlic powder 1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon 1 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds 1 Tsp Chilli flakes Vegetable stock, optional 1 Tsp Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning”, optional 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil 2 Tbsp The Detox Kitchen’s “Tamari Dressing” Salt Pepper
Preheat the oven the 205℃ / 195℃ Fan. Dry the chickpeas thoroughly before placing them on a baking tray. Chop the courgette and carrot into half moons around 1cm thick and add to the baking tray. Season with the sumac, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper and drizzle with a little EVOO. Use your hands to ensure everything is coated and then bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the quinoa according to the packaging, usually around 15 minutes. If you want to boil it in vegetable stock feel free! Drain and set aside once cooked.
Prepare your tomato salsa by combining the diced tomatoes and red onion, season with the juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and add chilli flakes for a kick. Stir and set aside.
Boil water in a small saucepan – add the eggs and leave to simmer for 7 minutes. Remove and place under cold running water for 1 minute. Peel and cut in half.
Time to plate up – place your baby spinach as a base, spoon on half of the quinoa along with half of the baked courgette, carrots and crunchy chickpeas. Add the tomato salsa and one egg to each bowl. Sprinkle over 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds.
Pour over the Tamari dressing and if you have the TJ’s EBTB seasoning then sprinkle away! Toss thoroughly and enjoy!
– In this final bowl, I used a Tamari dressing from The Detox Kitchen – they are providing the most amazing veg essential boxes and this is the second time I have had this delicious dressing – it goes with so much!
– If you don’t want to make your own Tamari dressing, then you can use the standard EVO and ACV mix from the previous bowls, alternatively, you can squeeze over the juice from the other half of the lemon or make a simple honey mustard dressing which you can find on my chicken & bacon salad recipe.