Easy energy-boosting recipes to try if you’re already feeling worn out by 2021

Posted by for Food and Drink

Feeling exhausted? Try these rocket-fuel recipes, from a jewel-bright winter soup to a super simple chicken tray bake. 

If you haven’t entered 2021 feeling rested, revitalised and ready to take on the new year, you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel tired and sluggish during the winter months: shorter days can disrupt our sleep and waking cycles, according to the NHS, while 4.30pm sunsets can dampen our enthusiasm about exercise (and in the long run, staying sedentary can actually make us feel more lethargic).

Add all the above factors to the uniquely exhausting factors present in many people’s lives right now – from financial anxieties to health worries, relationship stressors and the myriad pressures of working from home – and it’s hardly surprising that you may be feeling worn out or even burned out.

There are lots of ways to address exhaustion, from practising simple breathing techniques to avoiding constant doomscrolling. (Remember that fatigue is also a secondary Covid-19 symptom, and it’s vital to self-isolate and arrange a test if you think there’s a chance you could have the virus). But our dinner decisions can also play a key role in boosting our energy levels. 

Below, nutritionist Rosie Millen shares three recipes from her new cookbook Burnout’s A B*tch (£20, Mitchell Beazley), which she wrote after experiencing burnout herself. All of the recipes in the book are designed with energy in mind – starting with a beautifully nourishing carrot and butternut squash soup. Butternut squash is rich in vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron – something that’s vital for battling fatigue.

Next up is an intensely visually pleasing chicken tray bake. Chicken, of course, is a great source of protein – and getting enough protein is vital if we want to balance our blood sugar levels throughout the day. “If you can keep your blood sugar on an even keel you are more likely to have better energy levels,” explains Millen.

Finally, Millen’s recipe for quick fish stew with olives and tomatoes is packed with iron and vitamin B12, one of the most important vitamins for promoting energy. “If you are lacking in B12 you may feel tired, weak, light headed, have a shortness of breath and pale skin,” she says. This recipe also contains chickpeas – a complex, slow-burning carbohydrate that helps keep blood sugar levels steady.

Not only are these recipes built for boosting energy levels, they’re easy, beautiful and delicious. So what are you waiting for? Dive in. 

  • Garlic and ginger carrot soup

    garlic ginger carrot soup recipe
    Energy boosting recipes: garlic and ginger carrot soup

    Rosie says: “This soup is super nourishing since it is a powerhouse of nutrients. Garlic and ginger help the immune system ward off germs or viruses that can make us feel run down and tired.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 gluten-free stock cube
    • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2.5cm cubes
    • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 1.2 litres water
    • salt and black pepper
    • pumpkin seeds, to serve

    Method

    Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions, garlic, ginger and stock cube and cook for 5 minutes, or until golden.

    Add the squash and carrots and stir well, then add the water.

    Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

    Remove from the heat, season to taste and blitz with a handheld blender until smooth.

    Serve sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. 

  • All-in-one chicken tray bake

    chicken tray bake recipe
    Energy boosting recipes: chicken tray bake

    Rosie says: “Garlic is a wonderful food, as it helps to ward off colds and bacterial infections (try eating it raw if you are feeling especially run down or have a cough). This dish works equally well with halloumi or salad instead of chicken.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 1 sweet potato, diced
    • 1 courgette, diced
    • 1 red onion, sliced
    • 1 yellow pepper, cored, deseeded and diced
    • handful of cherry tomatoes
    • 3 small garlic cloves, skin on
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2 chicken breasts
    • handful of basil leaves
    • salt and black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.

    Place vegetables and garlic in a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish with the oil and vinegar.

    Make three deep cuts across the top of each chicken breast to help soak up the flavours, then place in the tin with the veggies.

    Season well, then toss thoroughly to make sure everything has been coated well in the oil and vinegar.

    Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are golden brown.

    Carefully remove the garlic cloves and set aside to cool for a minute or two, then squeeze the flesh out of the skins.

    Return the garlic flesh to the tin with the basil and stir through the chicken and veggies. Finish with a good grinding of black pepper. 

  • Quick fish stew with olives and lemon

    easy fish stew recipe
    Energy boosting recipes: quick fish stew

    Rosie says: “This hearty stew is a great source of protein, healthy fats and carbs. You can eat it warm or cold.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 2 canned anchovy fillets in olive oil
    • 1 gluten-free vegetable stock cube
    • 400g can chopped tomatoes
    • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • handful of kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
    • handful of new potatoes, halved
    • handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
    • 1 lemon, quartered
    • 1 chunky sustainable white fish fillet, such as cod, sea bream or monkfish
    • salt and black pepper

    Method

    Heat the oil in a large casserole over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and anchovies. Cook for 3-5 minutes until starting to soften.

    Add the stock cube and crush it into the pan, then add the tomatoes and bring to the boil.

    Fill the empty tomato can with water and add to the pan, along with the chickpeas, olives and new potatoes.

    Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, adding a little more water if it becomes too dry.

    Stir in the parsley and lemon quarters and season well.

    Lay the fish on top of the stew so that it’s just submerged in the liquid but isn’t pushed right to the bottom of the pan.

    Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. 

    Burnout’s A B*tch! by Rosie Millen (£20, Mitchell Beazley) is out now

Photography: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

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