Fuss-free, healthy meals in 10 mins

If there is a headache that busy working people have each day, it must be this: finding affordable, healthy and tasty food options that keep them going.

However, that goal is quite achievable, if one is willing to use a little imagination and put in some effort.

Healthy meals can be whipped up in just minutes, without compromising the taste, said Belgian celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant, 45.

To prove how fuss-free healthy meals can be for the busy bee, Stroobant has partnered US investment-banking firm JP Morgan to come up with a nutrition plan in conjunction with the annual 5.6km JP Morgan Corporate Challenge on Thursday.

Some 16,730 runners from 405 companies have signed up for the race.

Stroobant's meal plan features daily recipes for all three meals for 23 days, aimed at preparing runners before the race, but he said it is also a good guide for working adults to stay healthy.

He tried to craft meals that are quick to prepare at home and "have a level of execution that does not require three years of culinary school", he said.

The breakfast menus take just three minutes to prepare, and those for lunch and dinner, just five to 10 minutes. The meals are prepared such that they just have to be microwaved before eating, which can be done in the office pantry.

Stroobant also tried to be versatile in his plan so that it is appealing to people of all nationalities and genders, making sure that the ingredients are easily available at major supermarkets.

A chef for 26 years, he is behind the Emmanuel Stroobant Group that owns restaurants such as French eatery Saint Pierre, Belgian bistro Brussels Sprouts and French-European brasserie Picotin. He co-owns the group with his wife Edina Hong, 41.

The health buff ran 10km every morning for over 20 years, but stopped five years ago after a knee injury. He now does yoga for two to three hours every day.

He became a vegetarian four years ago after he was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and quickly saw a huge difference in his health and energy level.

A permanent resident here, Stroobant said that working professionals should try and abstain from meat at least once a week.

There are creative ways to concoct a tasty meal from items such as tofu, beans, legumes and brown rice, he said.

Asked if his meal plan, which features dishes such as Mediterranean couscous salad and Quinoa salad with spinach and egg, may seem unfamiliar to the average Singaporean, Stroobant noted that Singapore has grown a lot in terms of food knowledge in the past three to four years.

For 10 years, Singapore hit a plateau in terms of culinary experience, "but people are travelling more now, and are much more aware of food and more adventurous", he said.

He acknowledged that executives may be too lazy to hunt for ingredients and pack their meals before work. "Everyone has a routine," he said.

"But once they break it and see the results, such as feeling more energetic and developing self-confidence in their bodies, the motivation kicks in. The first step is always the hardest."


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