Fit Foodie: Derval O'Rourke's top tips for staying healthy while 'dining al desko'

Last week, I shared with you my favourite fast ways to improve your health at work. I’ve decided to use this week’s column to continue the theme.

Dining “Al Desko” includes my top tips for living the fit foodie philosophy “eat well and keep moving” while at work.

Dining “ Al Desko”

Bringing your own lunch to work is usually cheaper and nicer than grabbing something from a sandwich bar or eating out. These tips can be your starting point. Think of all the money you can save and then spend on fancy training gear!

Love your leftovers

Some meals taste just as good (if not better) the following day that it would be a shame not to make extra and pack the leftovers for lunch.

Stews and curries are generally a good option and any of the recipes from my previous columns also tick this box.

Pack it up

Pack your lunch the night before. Do it after dinner and the decision is already made for tomorrow’s lunch.

Have a prep day

For me Sunday evenings are great to cook up a batch of recipes in preparation for the week ahead. Why not make yourself a cooking playlist or turn on your favourite podcast? It’s nice to have some background noise to go with the clatter of the pots and pans.

Snack attack

I love to use my prep days to whip up a batch of energy balls, flapjacks or protein bars. They are perfect for keeping lunches interesting and also slot nicely into kids’ lunch boxes. if your “Al Desko” dining includes school desks too :)

A banana and a handful of nuts or a few squares of dark chocolate are also great ways to spruce up your lunch box one of the rare days it’s looking a bit dull.

Share the load

If you have a housemate or partner, make a deal with them that you will take turns making lunch for both of you. It takes almost the same effort to make one lunch as it does two, so you might as well help each other out.

Alternatively, you could also trade making lunches for doing the washing up.


Keep an open mind when you look in the fridge and dont be afraid to shake things up. I often have a work lunch thats a combination of leftovers from different meals such as leftover curry or stew and salad. It sounds weird but it works.

I aim to include some protein, healthy fats and wholegrain carbohydrates in each meal plus lots of veggies for a balanced plate.

Get equipped

To get the most from your dining “Al Desko” experience, I would suggest picking up a few nice pieces of kit for yourself.

A funky cooler bag, a small soup flask and a BPA—free plastic container would be a good place to start.

Friday Feeling

Choose one day a week to eat out for lunch. Friday is my day for this. It gives me something to look forward to and is a great opportunity to get out of the office and socialise with work friends for a while.


This week I started following Donal Skehan on Instagram. His account is @donalskehan. Honestly, I don’t know why it has taken me so long to follow him. His account makes me want to go for a big long walk and go home and cook up a storm. He’s a great follow.

Last week, I shared with you my favourite fast ways to improve your health at work. I’ve decided to use this week’s column to continue the theme. Dining “Al Desko” includes my top tips for living the fit foodie philosophy “eat well and keep moving” while at work.


Fish tacos with pickled red cabbage and a lime and coriander yoghurt

If you are looking for something a little bit different for dinner this weekend, give this a try. I eat fish for dinner two to three times per week. If you’re training hard, eating fish helps muscles to recover. Fish is a serious brain food too, and since I pack a lot into my week, I figure I should give my brain all the help it can get!

There’s no reason not to give fish a go, especially with a recipe like this. It’s quick to prepare and packed full of flavours, so that the only hard work you will have to do is to source some good quality fish. The lime and coriander yoghurt is delicious and can be used for a whole host of dishes.

Serves : 2 main courses/4 starters

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 15 mins


400g of mixed diced salmon and white fish

¼ head red cabbage (finely sliced)

4 stand and stuff soft tacos/8 mini ones

Juice of a lime

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

Handful of chopped fresh coriander

150ml red wine vinegar

100ml water

2tbs honey

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil

Sriracha hot chilli sauce for drizzling


Preheat oven to 180

Mix cabbage, sugar, vinegar and water and set aside.

Mix yoghurt, half the lime, and half the coriander, and set aside.

Mix olive oil with remaining lime and coriander and pour over fish.

Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and leave fish to marinade for about 10 mins.

Play with piñata.

Put fish on tray and bake in oven for 10-15 mins.

Remove from oven and drain off excess liquid.

Place fish in tacos and top with cabbage pickle, yoghurt and sriracha sauce.

Mixed berry compote

This berry compote is a great option for dolloping on natural yoghurt and is delicious swirled into porridge or overnight oats. I started making this when Dafne, my daughter, was weaning rather than always buying it in the shops. My trick is to make it and freeze it in big ice cube chunks and use it as needed.

Prep time: 2 mins

Cook time: 5 mins


1 punnet strawberries

1 punnet raspberries

1 punnet blueberries

1 punnet blackberries

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp cornflour

½ cup water

I’ve made this using frozen berries when fresh were not available. Just give the berry time to defrost.


On a low heat place berries in a thick bottomed pot.

Allow to simmer until berries start to break down and “melt”.

Mix cornflour and water together in a bowl.

Stir in the berries and bring up to the boil and allow to thicken stirring gently to avoid lumps.

Stir in honey. Tip the compote into a container and keep in the fridge or alternatively freeze in an ice cube tray.


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