Derval O'Rourke: staying healthy when you're short on time

And my favourite tofu recipe 
Derval O'Rourke: staying healthy when you're short on time

I’m all about making life as simple as possible — why make it any more complicated than it has to be? I love finding clever food hacks to make everyday life a little easier. This week, here are my top nutrition tips for when you’re short on time. This week's recipe is a Tofu Pad Thai.

Make a habit of having potatoes or brown rice pre-cooked and ready to go: This is very doable when working from home, like many people at the moment. Put a pot of either potatoes or rice on in the morning when you’re making or eating your breakfast and if you’ve gone to your desk to start work, just set the timer on the cooker or your phone to remind you to come back and turn them off. Having a whole-food carbohydrate source ready to go makes life so much easier.

Consider buying an air fryer: These are super handy and are an oil-free way of cooking fast. You can pop in breasts of chicken, salmon darnes, or burgers and they are done in no time. The possibilities are endless. It’s a simple kitchen implement that will make your life far easier.

Frozen vegetables: People have this perception that the frozen aisles in supermarkets are not healthy but frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, and it reduces waste & saves time. Have plenty of frozen vegetables in your freezer to use for a quick fix. Frozen peas are fantastic as they have the micronutrient benefits of green veg but with plenty of protein and healthy carbohydrates too. They are a lifesaver!

Don’t forget eggs at dinnertime: Sometimes we overlook the humble egg for a mid-week dinner. A quick omelette with a side of broccoli/peas and 3-4 baby potatoes for instance makes a perfect wholesome dinner giving all the nutrients you need. Adding 2-3 tablespoons of cooked brown rice to the eggs before cooking them is a great option too and will give a lovely texture to the omelette.

Don’t overthink it: Once you have a well-planned food shop done, trust that you have everything you need to ‘pull something together’. You don’t have to work off new recipes to expand your options. Reading, measuring and making sure you have the right ingredients as per the recipe can be a real barrier to change sometimes. Learning what to stock your dry store cupboards up with and how to combine foods while simply trusting yourself can be a game-changer. I am going to share some examples of ways of pulling breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners together to make a nutritious meal.


• Oats made with milk, berries and milled flax.

• Yoghurt topped with homemade granola (A combination of nuts and

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


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

fancy for flavour e.g. coconut milk/chilli.

• Wholewheat bread sandwich with hummus, grated carrot, beetroot and feta and



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


• Any combination of nuts and fruit.

• 2-3 wholewheat crackers topped with hummus and cucumber.


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

• Chickpea curry with bok choy (pak choi).

• Sesame tofu and wholewheat noodles served with cruciferous veg of choice.

Fitness Tip: Take a different approach to your step target. Hitting 10,000 steps every day can be difficult. If you don’t hit it every day during the week, aim to go on a lovely long walk at the weekend to help balance it all out, while also making the most of your downtime.

Wellness Tip: Look after your skin. Whether the sun is shining or not, make sure you are wearing SPF daily, in particular on your face. I like La Roche Posay, they have a great SPF for kids too.

Tofu pad thai

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

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

Tofu pad thai



Preparation Time

30 mins

Cooking Time

10 mins

Total Time

40 mins






  • For the tofu:

  • 1 packet of organic tofu, drained and diced

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 packet rice noodles

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced

  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced

  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated

  • 1 packet mangetout, finely sliced

  • a handful of peanuts, roughly chopped

  • salt

  • pepper

  • For the Asian dressing:

  • 50ml tamari or soy sauce

  • 20ml olive oil

  • 10ml sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter


  1. Cook noodles as per packet instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside to drain.

  2. To make the dressing blitz all the ingredients together in a small food processor.

  3. In a bowl toss together the diced tofu, corn-starch, salt and pepper, making sure all the tofu has a light covering of the mix.

  4. In a wok heat the olive oil and add in the tofu. Toss on a high heat until the tofu crisps up. Remove from wok and set aside.

  5. In the same wok heat the dressing a little. Add the noodles, pepper, carrot, spring onion, chilli and mangetout. Toss for 5 minutes. Do not overcook just heat through enough for eating. The crunchier the raw vegetables remain the better!

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

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