Derval O’Rourke: My tips for staying healthy when you’re short on time


I want to make life as easy as possible – why make it more complicated than it needs to be? I love finding smart cooking tips to make everyday life a little easier. This week, here are my top nutrition tips when you’re short on time. This week’s recipe is Pad Thai with Tofu.

Get into the habit of having pre-cooked and ready-to-eat potatoes or brown rice: It’s very doable when you work from home, like a lot of people right now. Put a pot of potatoes or rice in the morning when you make or eat your breakfast and if you went to your desk to start working, just set the timer on the stove or on your phone to remind you to come back and turn them off. Having a complete source of carbohydrates ready to go makes life so much easier.

Consider purchasing an air fryer: They are super practical and allow you to cook quickly without oil. You can pop in chicken breasts, salmon steaks or burgers and they’re ready in no time. The possibilities are limitless. It is a simple kitchen tool that will make your life much easier.

Frozen vegetables: People have this perception that frozen aisles in supermarkets are not healthy, but frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, and that cuts down on waste and saves time. Have plenty of frozen vegetables in your freezer for a quick fix. Frozen peas are fantastic because they have the micronutrient benefits of green vegetables, but they are also packed with high protein and healthy carbohydrates. They are a lifeline!

Don’t forget the eggs at dinner time: Sometimes we overlook the humble egg for a midweek dinner. A quick omelet with a side of broccoli / peas and 3-4 baby potatoes for example makes a perfect healthy dinner with all the nutrients you need. Adding 2-3 tablespoons of cooked brown rice to the eggs before cooking them is also a great option and will give the omelet a nice texture.

Don’t think too much about it: Once you have a well-planned grocery store, make sure you have everything you need to “put something together”. You don’t need to work on new recipes to expand your options. Reading, measuring and making sure you have the right ingredients according to the recipe can sometimes be a real barrier to change. Learning what to stock your dry cupboards with and how to combine foods while simply trusting yourself can be a game-changer. I’m going to share some examples of ways to bring breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinners together to make a nutritious meal.


• Oats made from milk, berries and ground flax.

• Yogurt topped with homemade granola (a combination of nuts and

seeds roasted in a mixture of tahini and maple syrup / honey or molasses) and fruits / berries.


• Soup made with carrots, onions, red lentils and miso (add whatever you

fancy for flavor, eg coconut milk / chilli.

• Wholemeal bread sandwich with hummus, grated carrots, beets and feta and



• Grated apple and carrot with 3 or 4 chopped walnuts and a squeeze of lemon


• Any combination of nuts and fruits.

• 2-3 whole wheat crackers topped with hummus and cucumber.


• Lentil / dahl stews served with a large portion of cruciferous vegetables.

• Chickpea curry with bok choy (pak choi).

• Sesame tofu and whole wheat noodles served with your choice of cruciferous vegetables.

Fitness advice: Take a different approach to your step goal. Taking 10,000 steps a day can be difficult. If you don’t do this every day of the week, try going for a long, pleasant stroll on the weekends to help balance things out, while making the most of your free time.

Well-being tip: Take care of your skin. Whether the sun is shining or not, be sure to wear an SPF daily, especially on your face. I love La Roche Posay, they also have a great SPF for kids.

Pad thai with tofu

recipe from:Derval o’rourke

Tofu is easy to cook, tasty, and full of protein, iron and calcium – a great alternative to meat and delicious with this rich pad thai with crunchy vegetables


  • For the tofu:

  • 1 package of organic tofu, drained and diced

  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 1 packet of rice noodles

  • 2 limes, juice

  • 1 fresh red pepper, thinly sliced

  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated

  • 1 packet of snacks, thinly sliced

  • a handful of coarsely chopped peanuts

  • salt

  • pepper

  • For the Asian dressing:

  • 50 ml tamari or soy sauce

  • 20 ml olive oil

  • 10ml sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon of honey

  • handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and let drain.

  2. To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a small food processor.

  3. In a bowl, combine the diced tofu, cornstarch, salt and pepper, making sure all of the tofu is lightly coated with the mixture.

  4. In a wok, heat the olive oil and add the tofu. Mix over high heat until the tofu is crisp. Remove from the wok and set aside.

  5. In the same wok heat the vinaigrette a little. Add the noodles, bell pepper, carrot, spring onion, chili and mangetout. Stir for 5 minutes. Don’t overcook, heat just enough to eat. The crunchier the raw vegetables, the better!

  6. Just before serving, toss the tofu and peanuts into the noodles. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of fresh lime juice.


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