Derval O'Rourke: Quick and easy food to go with hard hitting exercises

This week I’m sharing one of my favourite home workouts.

It’s a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style circuit perfect for the days you don’t have time to make it to the gym or when the Irish weather just isn’t cooperating.

Recipe wise, I’m sharing my pizza wraps and a delicious roasted vegetable salad.

I’ve chatted a little bit about HIIT and its benefits before but this time I wanted to share a quick workout to give you a taste of what exactly it involves.

I love HIIT because you can do it anywhere, in your bedroom, in front of the TV or in the back garden.

It doesn’t require an expensive gym membership, fancy equipment or even proper gym gear.

And the best bit?

Because you are only working out for 20 minutes, it’s not going to eat into your busy schedule.

During your “work” periods, aim to push yourself as hard as you can, while maintaining proper form.

If you start to lose form then slow down or modify to suit your ability.

It’s a great one to do with a training buddy as you can both be doing the same exercise and session; just at a tempo that challenges you.

Set 1

  • Squats:  Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Aim to sit down and back as if you are going sit on a chair. Keep your head and chest up for good posture. Keep your knees pushed outwards to avoid unnecessary strain on them.
  • Burpees: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Drop your hands to the floor and kick your legs behind you into a high plank position. Jump your legs back in and stand back up, jumping into the air. As you land back onto the floor, go straight into the next rep.
  • Do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for each exercise. Repeat x 3.
  • Rest x 1 minute.

Set 2:

  • Plank Up Downs: Start in a forearm plank position. Walk your hands up one at a time so your arms are extended and you’re in a high plank position. Lower yourself back down again, one arm at a time. Keep your core engaged, there should be no pressure in your lower back. Aim for a straight line from your head to your toes.
  • Sit Ups: Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Engage your core and keep lower back in contact with the ground throughout. Raise your upper back and shoulders off the floor (imagine sliding your ribs down towards your pelvis) and reach your hands towards your knees. Lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
  • Do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for each exercise. Repeat x 3.
  • Rest x 1 minute.

Set 3:

  • Leg lifts: Lie flat on your back with your legs raised into the air, keep them as straight as possible. Lower them as far as you can whilst keeping your back flat on the ground and your core engaged. Bring your legs back up to starting position once you feel you’re back starting to arch, it may only be a tiny movement.
  • Push-ups: Start in a strong high plank position. Bend your arms until your elbows are at a right-angle while lowering your chest towards the floor. Straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Aim for a straight line from your head to your knees and keep your core engaged throughout, lower onto your knees if needed.
  • Do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for each exercise. Repeat x 3.
  • Rest x 1 minute.

Fitspiration: @thegoldenbeancork

The Golden Bean is an artisan coffee roastery based in Shanagarry, Cork. They do some of the best coffee in Ireland, in my opinion. I love popping into the stall at the farmer’s markets in Cork for an afternoon pick me up and to stock up on essentials. For something a little bit different give their oat milk lattes a try.

Honey Roasted Vegetable Salad with Roast Garlic Yoghurt Dressing

Derval O'Rourke: Quick and easy food to go with hard hitting exercises

This is the perfect cold weather salad. It’s packed full of goodness and is served with the most divine dressing. I love to pop the leftovers in a lunchbox with some quinoa, rocket and cooked chicken for lunch the next day.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 3 mixed bell peppers, rough chopped
  • 2 courgettes, cut into strips lengthwise
  • 1 aubergine, cut into strips lengthwise
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 2tblsp olive oil
  • 1tblsp honey
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • 300ml natural organic yoghurt
  • 2tsp smoked paprika
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

Preheat oven to 180 deg

Mix the vegetables, oil and honey in large bowl. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Place on a roasting tin along with the whole garlic bulbs and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, strain any excess liquid into a bowl and set the vegetables aside.

Add the yoghurt, paprika and lemon juice to the liquid and whisk together.

Peel the roasted garlic (it should just ooze out easily when given a squeeze), add to the bowl and mix thoroughly until smooth.

Serve in a large bowl drizzled with the dressing and enjoy.

Pizza Wraps

Derval O'Rourke: Quick and easy food to go with hard hitting exercises

These are great for when you want a savoury pizza but don’t want to eat the stodge. The tortilla wraps make an ideal base for quick lunchtime pizzas. They are ready in minutes and are a big hit with everyone. In the little time it takes for the pizzas to cook; you could make a nice green salad to serve on the side. If you need extra fuel, serve with some sweet potato wedges.

Prep time: 5mins
Cook time: 10mins
Serves: 4
  • 4 tortilla wraps
  • 2tbs tomato passata/basil pesto
  • Toppings of choice, for example, cooked chicken, sweet corn and thinly sliced vegetables
  • 200g grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Spread an even layer of the passata/basil pesto, or both if you like, over the wraps.

Top with toppings of your choice and scatter over the cheese.

Place on a prepared tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Cut the cooked pizza into slices and serve on a warmed serving plate with sides of your choice.


Kim Sheehan is an opera singer from Crosshaven, Co Cork, and is this year’s recipient of the Jane Anne Rothwell Award from Cork Midsummer Festival.A Question of Taste: Cork opera singer, Kim Sheehan

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