A beautiful fresh and summery side dish to compliment your main meal.Read More
"Creamy" and "delicious" are not usually the words that come to mind when you think of a green smoothie. My clients often cringe at the thought when I suggest to throw in some greens with their next smoothie. Many believe its healthy and they're doing a good thing for their health. Others have it purely because their health kick detox diet has suggested to have one for breakfast.
I suggest....why not have it because it tastes good? Or because it is both quick and satisfying? Don't eat food that you don't enjoy the taste of. Food is meant to be enjoyed! If you don't like the way your green smoothie tastes, why not tweak and test it until you like it? OR...Just try this smoothie. I'm pretty sure you'll love it :)
Food is also there to fuel us and nourish our bodies to work at its optimum. This smoothie provides all the goods. Healthy fats, fibre-rich greens, unrefined carbs, omega-3's and plant protein. The perfect concoction of nutrients to fuel and fill you up. It contains 18.5g protein and 376 calories so its ideal as a meal or a post-workout snack to repair your muscle fibres and replenish the muscle glycogen stores. And dare I say it, creamy and delicious. Well, go give it a try then...
1 frozen banana
1 large handful baby spinach (or greens of choice)
1 heaped tablespoon hemp seeds (or chia seeds but it won't be as creamy)*
juice of half a lemon
1 cup coconut water (plain water or almond milk will do as a substitute)
Blend everything until smooth and enjoy with an extra sprinkle of hemp seeds on top or with a lemon wedge on the side in a cocktail glass by the pool! Fancy.
*if you have no idea what the heck hemp seeds are, here is a quick overview written by a Dietitian from the US. She will tell you exactly what they are and how they compare to other seeds like chia and flax.
These Banana Pops will satisfy any cravings you may have for chocolate or icecream. It is every bit as creamy, sweet and chocolatey. The best part is that you can pretty much tailor it to whatever flavours you enjoy. Also, it is super quick and easy to make. If you're like me you might not have the patience to actually wait for the bananas to freeze - still delicious! If you're after that ice cream fix though it is REALLY worth it to wait an extra 30-45mins for the bananas to turn deliciously cold and creamy in the freezer. Here's how:
6-8 Ripe bananas
Wooden ice cream pop sticks (you can usually get these from craft stores)
Chocolate Topping -
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 Tb maple syrup
Coconut Nut Butter Topping –
2 Tb any nut butter (I LOVE mayvers super spread)
1 Tb coconut milk
1 Tb coconut oil (melted)
Toppings & Trimmings -
chopped raw nuts
1. Peel and cut the bananas into halves. Put a wooden stick into each half.
2. Mix together chocolate topping ingredients until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together coconut nut butter topping ingredients until smooth.
4. Dip the bananas - some can be just chocolate, some just coconut nut butter, or some can be both. It is up to you!
5. Lay on a tray lined with baking paper.
6. Scatter with toppings.
7. Place tray in freezer for 30-45mins.
Many people have a rosy view of pregnancy before they fall pregnant. I think Hollywood has a lot to answer for. I for one thought it was going to be 9 blissful months during which my greatest test was going to be restraining myself from buying too many cute baby outfits. I was planning on continuing with my fitness regime until my belly got in the way (but that wasn’t going to be until the third trimester). I was expecting morning sickness. You know the odd wave of nausea in the morning and then just continue on with my day. I had all intentions to continue my healthy balanced diet and make sure I take my pregnancy multivitamins and lots of water.
Needless to say, this wasn’t how I experienced pregnancy. I had almost every symptom in the book. It wasn’t morning sickness for me, it was all day sickness and complete food aversions. No salad, green juices or chicken breast for me! All I wanted was fruit and refined carbs – the only two food groups that didn’t have me dry retching. My dinners often consisted of oats and fruit salad (sometimes hot chips…*GASP*) while my poor husband had to cook up his own salmon steaks and salad (usually my favourite meal!). The pregnancy multivitamins and iron supplements made me feel that ill I had to stop taking them which then ended up in anaemia.
I also had severe pelvic girdle pain (also know as pubic symphysis dysfunction), a condition that causes excessive movement of the pubic symphysis and misalignment of the pelvis. Because of this I found it really painful to do simple everyday tasks like walking or even putting on shoes. Even though I wanted so much to keep up my fitness and usual exercise regime there was just no way I could. My physio explained that I’d better wear a stabilising brace to keep my pelvis as stable as possible until delivery (a great look for a pregnant lady) and do only very light exercises. I felt pretty sorry for myself at this point. I kind of felt like a failure, especially since I believe in practicing what I preach as a Dietitian. I had always encouraged my pregnant clients or those wishing to fall pregnant to look after themselves by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Not only to give you and your growing baby the best start, but also to ensure for a quick recovery post-birth. Now I couldn’t do either of those. I found a new appreciation for what pregnant ladies have to endure for 9 whole months and realised I wanted to take a gentler approach with my antenatal and postpartum clients.
Birth and post-partum recovery
I had quite a long and arduous labour after I had to be induced due to high blood pressure and severe headaches close to my due date (symptoms of pre-eclampsia). The birth itself and some complications along the way caused a lot of damage to my body, especially my pelvic floor. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had a long road of recovery ahead of me. One that was going to include many physio and specialist appointments, consistent pelvic floor exercises, safe post-birth workouts, and healthy eating – all whilst learning how to take care of a tiny new human being.
It was not only my pelvic floor that took a bashing but I was also left with a whopping >10cm abdominal separation (diastasis recti for the nerds). This is when your abdominal muscles stretch during pregnancy and creates a gap between the two muscles. The phenomenon that explains the dreaded mummy tummy or “pouch” post birth. Again, the womens health physio was a saviour with this one. She explained to me that correct posture and safe abdominal exercises (NOT crunches) can help to heal this and bring the muscles back together.
Fitness and Nutrition for recovery
I didn’t want to make hectic plans to get my pre-pregnancy body back. I wanted to ensure my baby’s needs were met first and that my body had time to heal and recover before I launched into anything serious. It has been a slow and steady road but with a lot of encouragement, help, hard work and diligence I have built up my strength again and almost feel like I’m back to where I was before getting pregnant. Here are a few of my fitness and nutrition tips I can recommend that worked for me:
1. I cannot stress the importance of a good womens health physio - she helped me so much and has been an integral part in my recovery and healing process post-birth! If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, about to give birth or already gave birth PLEASE track down a good womens health physio near you and go have a chat with them.
2. Before worrying about post birth weight loss, focus first on nourishing yourself with healthy food and plenty of water (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Eat when you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty. Your body has worked overtime with creating and birthing a human being, it deserves some love.
3. Don’t cut out any food groups, especially carbohydrates. I’m not suggesting that you eat rubbish. What I am suggesting is that you should be getting as many nutrients at this time as you can and cutting out food groups is only going to make that harder. Focus on plenty of fresh fruit and veg, fibre-rich wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and quality protein. Be lenient about treats, don’t go overboard but don’t restrict yourself to the point where you feel deprived. When you’ve recovered and feel like a normal human being again you can start to think about cutting back.
4. Before launching into ANY exercise please get the all-clear from your GP or obstetrician/gynaecologist AS WELL AS a qualifified womens health physio. You can do more damage than good even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
5. Have some healthy fast food options available. If they’re around, you’ll eat them! When you’re tired, short on time and hungry, it’s tempting to grab foods that are loaded with empty calories. You want to be able to open the fridge and grab something that’s ready to go and healthy. Get your partner to help you with this! Ideas: natural Greek yoghurt (no added sugar), sliced fruit and veggies, ready made salads, cooked wholegrains like brown rice, cereals, sourdough bread, and wholemeal pasta, cheese, nuts and seeds. Have a look at my snacks recipe page.
6. Find a support group of like-minded people. Most cities and country towns in Australia have some sort of community health system where the child health nurse can help you connect with other mums with babies roughly the same age as yours. JUST DO IT! These mums will become your support group through all the trials and struggles of motherhood because they’re going through the exact same journey as you are. It is one of THE BEST things I ever did! We encourage each other, work out together, have coffees together after sleepless nights, cry together, laugh together and help each other. It makes you realize you’re not the only one on this crazy ride called motherhood.
Most of all….
Remember that it can take a year or more to lose the pregnancy weight. There is so much going on as you’re adjusting to a new life with a baby and your body is trying to recover from a 9-month marathon! There is so much adjustment so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not bouncing back as quickly as you’d like.
Bugs, or bacteria as the scientists like to call them, are making startling waves across the scientific literature. Most interestingly these waves are in the once place you are unlikely to think of – your colon.
Recent discoveries of bacteria living in the ‘deep and dark’ are starting to influence modern medical literature and the way doctors think about disease. Known as the gut microbiome there are trillions of bacteria found between your mouth and the other end. It is easy to think of the human body as an independent being but we are just starting to realise how much it actually relies on the complex ecosystem of many different microbes.
Research in this area has shown that the bacteria in our gut influence our metabolic function, regulate our immune system, and even play a role in brain development and behaviour. Current literature suggests that there are potential links between our gut bacteria and conditions such as diabetes, obesity anxiety, depression, and maybe even schizophrenia. The idea behind this is that the molecules and proteins secreted by the microbe colonies can interact with our nerves after perfusing into our brains.
Who would’ve thought that what goes on in our gut could influence how our brain works or even how well we can fight disease!
It has long been known that our microbiome can affect our absorption of nutrients but the recent discovery is that it also includes our metabolism – the way our body uses the energy that we absorb. Just browse the ‘fat mouse-thin mouse’ paper from the journal ‘Science’ – not actually called that but I think it is a better name. Transplanting the ‘obese microbe’ into the thin mouse made it fat – it had nothing to do with the caloric input. Now I don’t suggest you try fecal transplants at home, but it does raise important issues. Probably more concerning for humans is the role antibiotics potentially have in this complex interplay. Children who received more antibiotics before the age of 2 years were more likely to be obese than those that didn’t.
Are we killing off the good bacteria and allowing the microbiome to make us fat? And what else can we do to manipulate our microbiome? Here are 3 easy changes you can make to your diet to influence the metabolic and immunological activity of the gut.
THE 3 P'S - PREBIOTICS | PROBIOTICS | POLYPHENOLS
Probiotics are live micro-organisms, the most common are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Sources of these include yoghurt and other fermented products such as miso, kefir and sauerkraut. Whilst taking probiotics isn’t a magic bullet and the products you buy on the shelf at the supermarket aren’t standardized in any way – there are suggestions that certain combinations can help. Research has suggested that people who take a probiotic have lower stress levels and improved mood. It has also shown to have a positive effect on the immune system, with one study reporting fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections in the participants who took a probiotic compared to a placebo. Another study demonstrated that certain bacteria in probiotics could significantly lower total cholesterol as well the LDL cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol. They also suggested that it may have an underlying effect to reduce fat absorption from the gut. So in short, a daily dose of good bacteria can be linked to:
- Lower stress levels
- Improved mood
- Reduced number of colds
- Reduced number of gastro illnesses
- Reduced LDL cholesterol
- Reduced fat absorption from gut
If that’s not good enough reason to get into creating your own sauerkraut concoctions or kefir yoghurt at home, then I don’t know what will! If you need some ideas or have never heard of fermenting your own foods, The Nourished Kitchen has some great information and recipes to help get you started.
Prebiotics: These are food fibres that aren’t able to be digested by the gut cells and enable good bacteria to stick to the bowel wall helping to stimulate their growth. Prebiotics also discourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Imbalance of bacteria has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver, obesity, and even colon cancer. An easy way to increase your intake of prebiotics is to include more foods that are high in resistant starches and prebiotic compounds such as garlic, onions, asparagus, beetroot, green peas, lentils, beans, nectarines, rye bread, oats and cashews. Monash University has some great information and tips on how to follow a high-prebiotic diet.
Lastly there is Polyphenols. These are substances made by plants and are generally involved in the defense against ultraviolet radiation or disease-causing organisms. Whilst being new on the microbiome scene these compounds are known for their potential health benefits as an antioxidant to help combat cardiovascular disease and cancer. It seems that polyphenols act in a similar way as a prebiotic by increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut. Even though there are many studies done on the range of health-promoting effects of polyphenols, their effect on the modulation of the gut ecology is only vaguely understood.
One link has been made with red wine. No doubt, we have all heard of its benefits, but a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found when participants were given the red wine polyphenol over a 20-day period they had an increased number of beneficial gut bacteria when compared to placebo. Similarly, it lowered blood pressure and cholesterol. Some other sources of gut-loving polyphenols include berries, dark chocolate, and green tea. In fact the weight-lowering properties of these substances could be partly related to their polyphenol content and its direct link on the gut microbiota.
Pretty compelling evidence to show us the power of our gut! Just add the 3 P’s to your diet this year and see how your gut and your health will thank you for it.
 Mayer et al. (2014). Gut microbes and the brain: paradigm shift in neuroscience. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(46):15490-6.
 Ridaura et al. (2013). Cultured gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate adiposity and metabolic phenotypes in mice. Science, 341 (6150).
 Baily et al. (2014). Association of antibiotics in infancy with early childhood obesity. The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, 168(11):1063-9. .
 Steenbergen et al. (2015). A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behaviour and Immunity, 48, 258–264.
 King et al. (2014). Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(1): 41–54.
 Jones et al. (2012). Cholesterol lowering and inhibition of sterol absorption by Lactobacillus reuteri: a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66, 1234-1241.
 Carding et al. (2015). Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease. Microbial Ecology in Health & Disease, 26:10.3402.
 Pandey & Rizvi (2009). Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2(5): 270–278.
 Queipo-Ortuno et al. (2012). Influence of red wine polyphenols and ethanol on the gut microbiota ecology and biochemical biomarkers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(6), 1323-1334.
 Rastmanesh (2011). High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chemico-Biological Interactactions, 189(1– 2), 1–8.
A delicious and quick pancake recipe to have on hand. It goes with just about any topping you slather on it and keeps you full for hours. The oats and whole eggs deliver a good dose of slow-release carbs and protein to fuel you up for a busy day. The chia seeds contain healthy omega-3 fats to help with satiety, and the banana gives just the right amount of sweetness to the batter for the perfect little weekend brunch morsel. Keep this one in your favourites because I guarantee you'll come back to it again and again.
makes 8 pancakes
1 cup oats
2 Tb chia seeds
half cup almond milk
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Heat a pan on medium. Add 1 Tb coconut oil or macadamia oil to the pan. Scoop batter into the pan and cook 1-2 minutes on each side or lightly golden and cooked through. Add any delicious trimmings your heart desires and enjoy your pancakes! I added warmed berries, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup :)
This chocolate tastes so good! It even passed the husband test. These are the exact words that came out of his mouth – “this chocolate tastes better than the ones you buy from the shops”. Well…that was unexpected. If you have a craving for chocolate right now, I guarantee that you’ll be able to make this quicker than it will take you to go down to the shops and buy a block of the sweet stuff. And an extra bonus is that it will be much MUCH healthier! Minimal sugar and packed with antioxidants from the high amount of cacao powder and extra toppings. As if you needed for encouragement to have chocolate anyway.
½ cup cacao powder
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 Tb maple syrup
2 Tb nut butter (I use mayvers super spread)
1 Tb coconut milk
1 Tb coconut oil (melted)
1 Tb coconut shavings
1 Tb cacao nibs
3 chopped medjool dates
7 chopped cherries (I used frozen)
Line a tray with baking paper. To make the chocolate, mix together the cacao powder, coconut oil and maple syrup in a bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl mix together the swirl ingredients until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the baking paper. Use a tablespoon to drop the swirl mixture onto the chocolate in random patterns. Scatter over the toppings. Place the tray in the freezer for ~30mins or until set hard. Break the chocolate into bite sized “bark” pieces and return to freezer or fridge in an airtight container wrapped in baking paper. Make sure you keep the chocolate in the freezer/fridge to keep it from melting.
I fell in love with Thai food a few years ago on my honeymoon. One of the places we visited on our adventure was Chiang Mai. I will never forget the vibrance and culture I experienced on every street corner that we explored. There was always a market stall, food truck or street vendor nearby selling fresh local food made with love. We went for a casual ride on our scooter one evening and stopped off at the back of a food market where the locals were playing cards and drinking their local brew. We decided we'd stay for a meal and ended up with a feast of food paying only $1.50 for the both of us - it was honestly one of the best meals I ever had!
One of the dishes we ended up ordering at almost every meal was green papaya salad. It is traditionally made with crunchy grated green papaya and the typical Thai flavours of chilli, garlic, shrimp and fish sauce. It is pounded together using a mortar and pestle with fresh beans and tomatoes. I wanted to give this traditional dish a makeover by using something else that I adore about Thailand - the tropical fruit!
What is good about green papaya?
You're basically eating a very fibrous low-sugar vegetable, as the papaya hasn't yet ripened or developed any of the sugars. It is packed with vitamins (A, C, E and B's) as well as minerals (magnesium and potassium) and contains two enzymes known as papain and chymopapain. They work in the same way as the enzymes that our bodies produce to break down proteins. Therefore, it may be beneficial in helping with digestions and nutrient uptake in some people. There is also some evidence to suggest that the enzymes in green papaya can help prevent the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria in our gut, thereby helping to regulate the bacterial balance of our gut microbiome - linked to immune function, brain health and overweight/obesity.
This salad is just lovely on its own or as a side at a BBQ with friends. I've teamed it panfried haloumi (an old favourite!) and fresh lime. It goes wonderfully with fresh fish or grilled chicken - versatile!
1 large green papaya
½ cup coconut flakes
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tb maple syrup
1 large mango
½ cup basil/Thai basil roughly chopped
Peel the skin of the papaya and then use a julienne vegetable peeler to make thin strips of papaya for your salad. Next, squeeze out the limes onto the papaya and add the coconut flakes. Gently “massage” it to soften and evenly coat it with the juice.
Combine the coconut milk, vanilla and maple syrup and pour over the salad. Mix until well combined. Chop the mango and add to the salad. Garnish with basil.
Everyone's favourite weekend treat transformed into a savoury version. The best part is that it is not only super tasty and filling but healthy too. You don't have to be into health food to enjoy this, but for those who like to eat low carb or paleo, these pancakes will do the trick! They contain some sneaky veg that brings a beautiful colour to the batter. Best of all, the kids won't even know they're eating vegetables (minus the spinach on top)! These pancakes are really easy and quick to whip up. It took only 5 minutes to throw together the ingredients and maybe 10 minutes to cook. If you're looking to cut out or cut down on sugar or carb-heavy breakfast foods, this is a great alternative and will keep you full until lunchtime.Read More
These cakes are just perfect for when you need a little treat but you don't want to undo all the good work you've been putting in with sticking to wholesome foods and exercise. They're just the right size to have 2 with a cup of tea and feel satisfied.
They're also conveniently grain-free, sugar-free, vegan, paleo (for those inclined) and a 100% delicious! It is a wonderful cake to have handy in the fridge (or even freezer) when people come over and they pair so nicely with a cup of coffee. That just gave me an idea. These cakes would taste even better with a shot of coffee added to the batter or even to the ganache. If you're a caffeine lover like me, maybe you can give it a try and let me know how you go?? Either way, you've got to make these healthy chocolate mini cakes. It has the tick of approval from the hubster...always a good honest reviewer of my baking.
makes 9 small cupcakes
1 small sweet potato (skin peeled)
1 medium banana
1/2 cup almond meal (I made 1/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup sunflowers seeds into a meal)
2-3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon macadamia oil
for the ganache
1/4 cup cacao
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water
chopped dates for garnish
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare a small cupcake tin. Add all ingredients to food processor and mix on high until well combined. Fill cupcake tin and put into oven for 35-40 mins or until golden and firm(ish). Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. Add cacao, syrup and water together and mix with a fork. You want a ganache texture so add more water if it is too thick or add more cacao if it is too runny. When cakes are done remove from oven and let cool. Smear with chocolate ganache and top with chopped date. Done! Enjoy!
If I can tick the following points on a meal, it is a sure winner in my books:
- vegetarian or mostly veggie based
- easy to prepare
- quick to prepare
- nutritious and wholesome
- colourful and visually appetising
- family-friendly (ie keeps the husband happy)
It is safe to say that this delicious recipe ticks them all. The combination of warming roasted pumpkin with the satisfying textures of creamy avocado and crunchy maple candied nuts, you really can't go wrong. Make sure you make double or triple portions of this, because I can guarantee that the fam will want to go back for more.
makes 2 serves
1/3 kent japanese pumpkin cut into chunks with skin left on (extra fibre, crunchiness & yum)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 fresh avocado sliced
1/2 cup mixed nuts
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Coles kale coleslaw salad kit (or simply shred kale, carrot & cabbage and dress with yoghurt & lemon juice)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Combine pumpkin chunks with olive oil, cumin and chilli flakes and roast in hot oven for 10-15 min. Then turn down temperature to 180 degrees to prevent from burning and roast until golden and crispy. Prepare kale coleslaw. Heat a pan on high and add mixed nuts. Toast until warm and then add maple syrup. Combine well and set aside to cool. Divide coleslaw between two bowls. Top with roasted pumpkin, candied nuts and avocado slices. Enjoy!
Salads can get boring and it takes some motivation to keep up your recommended intake of at least 5 veggies per day. It really goes a long way if you can make your salads visually appealing, since we all "eat" with our eyes first. If our food doesn't look delicious we often expect for it not to taste delicious. Here are a few tips on how to zhuzh up your salad as we're coming into spring/summer:
- Location location location! as they say in property. Well the same goes for food. As in, what your present or store it in. If you pre-prepare your salad to take with you to work or on the go, make sure you have it in a clear container so that you can see the beautiful colours of the veggies and be reminded of the delicious flavours you have waiting for you at lunch. Studies show that if you store foods in clear containers you are likely to eat more of that particular food.
- Keep your salad dressing separate until its time to eat. No one likes a soggy salad or an undressed salad. So invest in a good quality no-spil tupperware container and take it with you for when lunctime comes around.
- Salad alone won't fill you up. Include protein to your salad to help you combat those 3:30itis munchies. Good options include canned fish, grilled or poached chicken breast, boiled egg, quinoa or any leftover meat from last night's dinner.
- Include a variety of different flavours and textures to keep it interesting. For example:
Creamy - avocado, tahini, fetta
Crunchy - nuts, seeds, pomegranate seeds
Sweet - think mango, strawberries or peaches teamed with chicken and mint
- Experiment! Don't be afraid to try new things. Instead of cooking veggies try to have them raw or cut them in a different way (think raw shredded beetroot or grated raw pumpkin as seen in the recipe below). Caramelise nuts in a bit of honey in a pan and add that for extra crunch. Try different herbs and spices. The sky is the limit.
Here is one of my favourite ways of having a plain old tuna salad :)
1 cup shredded baby spinach
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1/4 avocado diced
1/2 cup shredded raw pumpkin
1 tomato diced
1/2 small cucumber diced
1 tin chilli tuna in oil drained
salt & pepper
Prepare ingredients and arrange in a large bowl. Dress with lemon juice, hot sauce, salt & pepper. Enjoy!
When the pants are fitting a bit tight and the belts are moving to the next notch we know it is time to pull the reigns back a bit and reassess our eating habits. It is so easy for bad habits to sneak into our daily diets without even us noticing much until one day an extra kilo or two appear on the scales or our old pair of shorts aren't sitting as comfortably as usual.
We all enjoy times of celebration when we allow ourselves to be more relaxed about what we put into our mouths. We also like to eat when we are happy, sad or alone. The trick is not to let those times change from being occasional to making it a habit. When I find myself in this predicament, I come back to the basics of nutrition and wholefood and start to refocus my attention on the quality of my food rather than the quantity. I focus on the nutrients, the colours and flavours and I try to be more mindful of eating slowly and enjoying the experience of eating. I remind myself of the importance of including lots of fresh veggies and fruit and to use other foods such as meat, grains and dairy as condiments.
Focusing on calories or cutting out certain food groups might reduce your waist size but often at the cost of your enjoyment. Deprivation seems to set in quickly too. Why not focus on the enjoyment of good quality foods and the nutrients in them? Why not take the focus off compartmentalising foods into "bad" and "good". Let's focus on celebrating those foods that we should have more of, and enjoying those foods in moderation that we know should be occasional. And then, not only will we be happier but we will be so much healthier inside and out and weight loss will be an added bonus.
With that in mind, I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes for lunch or a light dinner. It has so much colour and lots of different textures and flavours. You won't miss the meat.
Makes one serving
3 large cos lettuce leaves washed
half small avocado
1/3 cup of cooked lentils
1 teaspoon crushed fresh garlic
1 teaspoon tahini
handful shredded pruple cabbage
4 baby roma tomatoes
coriander for garnish
Mash avocado and add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Mash the lentils, tahini, garlic and lemon juice with the back of a fork until well combined. Top lettuce leaves with cabbage, avocado, lentils, chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves.
Since I've welcomed a little human into my life I'm all about making meals quick and easy as well as suitable for the whole family. Our daughter has started eating solids now which is a time when a lot of people can feel overwhelmed about choosing what foods to make and how to prepare it. If you're in that boat or simply just looking for a healthy and quick meal to start your day with, I've come up with the perfect breakfast that is suitable for everyone from 6 months and up!
Why it is so good:
- high in fibre and slow-release carbohydrates
- packed with healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fats
- overnight soaking helps ease digestion (especially for baby/young children)
- takes less than 5 minutes to make
- low in allergens (free from nuts, can be gluten and dairy-free)
- addition of rooibos-soaked prunes provides soluble fibre and antioxidants
- babies love it!
Makes 6 to 8 adult-sized serves
2 cups rolled oats (choose gluten-free oats if gluten intolerant)
5 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons linseeds/flaxseeds (this can also be grinded if desired)
3 cups liquid (choose from water/almond milk/oat milk/rice milk)
2 grated fresh pears with skin on
Soak all ingredients in one large container covered in the fridge for 4 hours or more. This is ideal to do before you go to sleep to have ready the next morning. Once served, store the rest for baby by freezing portions in ice cube trays. To prepare baby's breakfast remove from freezer the night before and allow to defrost in fridge over night. See below for serving suggestions.
Serving suggestions for adults:
Enjoy cold. Add yoghurt and top with fruit.
Warm in small pot over medium heat, add mashed banana and blueberries. Top with a small amount of butter and drizzle with honey.
Serving suggestions for baby:
Soak dried prunes in cooled strong rooibos tea for more than 8 hours and add 1-2 prunes plus the juice. To increase caloric and fluid content add breastmilk or formula. This can also help baby "chew" and swallow the food better.
Do you have a family-friendly breakfast favourite? Why not upload your creations to instagram and/or facebook and tag me - @lizannemarrdietitian.
I can't believe I have only just discovered the wonderful world of making my own nut butter. I didn't realise it is so easy to do! If you're a nut butter lover like me, you probably go through a jar per week - which can work out to be an expensive addiction in the long run. I like to slather it on most things - oats in the morning, smoothies, fruit, dates - the possibilities are endless! By making your own nut butter you're saving at least 50%. If you live in Australia a jar of nut butter bought at Woolworths costs anything from $7 up, but only costs around $4 if you make the equivalent amount at home. Yippee!!
Why bother you ask? Well.......
Nuts are a really good source of "healthy fats" which has been shown to be beneficial for your heart and also your brain (if they're the omega-3 type of oils). Nuts are also high in protein and high in fibre - which is perfect for keeping you full and curbing cravings for sugary snacks. By grinding your nuts into a nut butter you've just opened up a whole new world of possibilities...no more boring trail mix for snacks! You can use it as a spread on this bread with some banana and honey. You can add into smoothies like this one. You can spread on fruit for a snack or fill a medjool date - my favourite!! You can even add it to ice-cream - yum!! Endless fun to be had. Best of all, it is really easy to make.
Ingredients (makes one small jar of nut butter)
2 cups of almonds (or add in a mix of nuts like brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, chia etc.)
Optional additions: 2 tablespoons of oil (coconut or macadamia), maple syrup
Add nuts to a blender and blend on high to form a "flour" consistency. Then blend on medium speed until creamy and buttery. It is that simple! Really! All you need is a little patience. The process usually takes between 10 to 15 minutes for 2 cups of nuts. If you don't have a high power blender the process may take up to 20 to 25 minutes. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides of the blender every now and then. The main thing is to be patient. At first the consistency will become floury, then crumbly with some moisture, and then finally the buttery silky consistency will start to appear. If you want a deeper toasted and creamy texture you can roast your nuts for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven before blending. However, I like to have raw nut butter. It is really up to you.
Now go spread that nut butter on something...
This is the perfect dessert, but it is so healthy and guilt-free that you could have this for breakfast or even as an afternoon snack to banish your sweet tooth. It is naturally sweetened with dates and banana, and packed with protein and healthy fats. Cinnamon does not only add a wonderful flavour and richness to this dessert, but it is also great for helping to stabilise blood sugar levels.
If you feel like an ice-creamy, frappe-like or thick-shake type of dessert this will hit the spot! Best of all, it barely takes 5 minutes to make, tastes decadent, and provides your body with wonderfully nourishing ingredients. Will you give it a go this week?
1 large frozen banana
2 frozen medjool dates
1 scoop protein powder (I used Boomers Protein)
1 teaspoon almond butter
half teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup ice
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. If your blender struggles, add a little almond milk to aid the blending process. I used a Thermomix. Top with more cinnamon and chopped date to garnish
This is a perfect recipe for those who are too busy to make breakfast in the morning. This breakfast pudding soaks overnight and provides a satisfying and creamy consistency. Soaking nuts and seeds overnight gets rid of phytates and allows maximum absorption of the nutrients and antioxidants that help maintain a healthy weight and skin tone.
Slimming Oat & Chia Pudding
Half a banana
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
5 raw almonds
Berries for garnish
Blend the banana, raspberries, blueberries and almond milk in a blender. Soak the oats, chia seeds and almonds in this mixture overnight covered in the fridge. Uncover, top with more berries, and enjoy this great start to your day!
Keep your bones strong they say, drink milk they said. You need more calcium in your diet! MORE DAIRY!! Obediently we guzzled away …but then…oh wait
Released last month in the largest study to date on milk.
105,000 people were watched drinking milk in Sweden over 22 years. Only looking at 39-74 yo women and 45-79 yo men they were followed for 22 and 13 years respectfully (so a fairly long time) and a ¼ of all these Swedes died. It turns out that those women who had greater than or equal to 3 glasses of milk daily had almost double the rate of death than their counterparts (those that had less than this amount).
There was also a greater risk of fracture (including hip fracture) – yes you hear that right, a GREATER risk of fracture!
Dietary advice is tricky. One minute we are told how great the virtues of a certain food is and the next thing we hear is how wilfully detrimental we have been to our own health.
The extreme swings to either side produce fear, and this lends itself to many ‘upper fashion’ diets (click here for a list of just some). Here again we see a piece of advice changing dramatically. From drink milk to get your calcium and keep your bones strong to, don’t drink milk, it predisposes to fractures!
What are we to believe and who?
With the internet freely dispensing advice at will there are a number of things to know about dietary ‘evidence’. There are many who claim they are experts in nutrition and unfortunately a lot of dietary advice out there is built on fairly weak observational data. Given we cannot (or should I say adults typically ‘do not’) live on milk alone, it is difficult for all other dietary factors to be accounted for. To state that it is the milk that is killing our blonde Scandinavian friends we need to be able to say that there is no other foodstuff that these people are taking that could kill them earlier. With a diet history it is almost impossible to account for each and every foodstuff someone has eaten over the last 22 years. Okay maybe you could have a go…..what did you eat three days ago for dinner? And how many glasses of water did you have?
It is extremely hard to produce cold hard evidence when it comes to studying the cause and effect of different foods on our health. There are so many factors that can’t be accounted for because unfortunately it isn’t very ethical to lock people up for 10 years and feed them all the same diet and control all other variables. Therefore the evidence that comes from nutrition studies should always be considered within context and never extrapolated beyond their findings in order to satisfy our never-ending quest for the miracle food or diet.
Take for example the findings we’ve so fondly adopted from the studies on the cardiovascular health benefits of chocolate and red wine. Did these studies account for other factors in the diet of the subjects they studied? What about the varying sugar content of different chocolate and the huge amount of evidence to suggest the detrimental effect of alcohol on our health? How big was the study and how was the information gathered? We need to stop and think about these things because the truth is, there is a huge ocean of nutritional advice out there all with varying quality and it is very easy for anyone to form an opinion from reading just one study and sell it as gospel.
What are we to do with the evidence from this new study on milk?
Does it mean that we should cut it out of our diet completely? The study suggests that there is a component of milk consumption that could lead to an increased risk of early death BUT the study also found that consumption of fermented dairy (such as yoghurt, cheese, kefir) can actually REDUCE fractures and rates of mortality. It seems the reason is due to the reduced amount of milk sugars (lactose and galactose) that get gobbled up by the friendly probiotic bacteria in fermented dairy products.
So it looks like the best way of going about this would be to reduce your intake of regular dairy products and focus more on the fermented options, which still contain plenty of calcium. If you’ve decided to cut dairy out of your diet it does make it harder to achieve your calcium requirement but it isn’t impossible. There are plenty of choices available such as: green leafy vegetables, broccoli, nuts, seeds, calcium fortified almond milk, tahini and sesame seeds, kelp, chia, salmon, mackerel and sardines with bones, oysters and mussels. But remember, unless you look after the rest of your diet and lifestyle, cutting out dairy will not make a huge difference to your risk of chronic disease.
If you would like help with this, drop me an email at email@example.com to organise an email consult. I can help you plan a diet and lifestyle that suits your individual needs and dietary preferences.
Chickpeas are such a versatile little legume and very underrated! It is rich in soluble fibre (7.8g per 100g) for a healthy gut and digestive system and to help lower cholesterol. It is also a wonderful source of low glycaemic slow-release carbohydrates and contains 7.5g protein per 100g to keep you full until your next meal and avoid those afternoon sugar cravings. Chickpeas are also extremely cheap (especially if you buy dried and cook them yourself) and they have a long shelf life - perfect to have on hand to throw into salads for lunch! Just like this favourite lunchtime salad:
Salad: 2 cups dark green lettuce 1 carrot, 1 celery and ¼ fresh beetroot peeled into "ribbons" with a vegetable peeler ½ pear thinly sliced ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
Chickpeas: ¾ cup chickpeas 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon sumac ½ teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon chilli powder salt to taste
Dressing: 2 tablespoons plain Greek yoghurt 1 teaspoon tahini paste juice from ½ lemon sprinkle of black sesame seeds
Method: Arrange salad ingredients in a bowl. To make the chickpeas combine with spices and coat evenly. Arrange on an oven tray and bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius or until crispy * Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and shake vigorously until well-combined and smooth. Top salad with chickpeas, spoon over dressing and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
* a little hint: if you want your chickpeas to be extra crunchy and delicious, peel the skin off each chickpea before roasting (labour intensive but worth it!)
If you’re a regular follower of NYTD you probably would’ve noticed that I haven’t posted on the blog for a while. There is a good reason for it, I promise! You see, there is a bun in the oven. The kind that takes 9 months to cook up and leaves you feeling exhausted, nauseated and gagging at foods you used to love. Naturally, this has affected my normal way of eating and zeal for all things healthy and nutritious.
Before all this happened, I had this unrealistic image of what my pregnancy was going to look like. I was going to be healthiest pregnant lady around, snacking on carrot sticks, drinking my herbal tea and continuing on with my normal exercise regime. Well that all went out the door when the only thing that made me feel better was carbs, and lots of it, as often as possible - anything to take the nausea away and stop the vomiting!
I think I turned into the world’s unhappiest pregnant lady the day I went to the physio when I could no longer take the pain in my lower back and pelvis. She told me I had pubic symphysis and sacroiliac dysfunction (yeah, it’s a thing – google it!) and abdominal separation which meant only pilates, yoga and swimming for the rest of my pregnancy. Well there goes the idea of being one of those super women that run marathons at 7 months gestation. Sigh.
All that aside though, I am so super-duper excited about the arrival of this little bundle! No matter how uncomfortable pregnancy may be at times, I know that it will fade in comparison to the joy at the end of this 9-month marathon. And thank goodness, I am finally more like myself these days now that I am in my 2nd trimester. Hence, my blog post today! Hooray! Let’s see what was on my plate on Monday...
Breakfast This is my favourite meal of the day at the moment. It is when I feel the hungriest and don't have any nausea or tiredness. And if there's one things that that I've craved this pregnancy it's FRUIT! I can't get enough of it. Here I have a bowl of oats, nuts, seeds and coconut soaked in oat milk and topped with mango, banana and berries. This is definitely one of my favourites, especially now that mango is back in season.
Snack I went for an hour walk along the ocean path and grabbed one of these on my way back home. Made from celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, lemon, apple, ginger, parsley and mint.
Lunch Rainbow sandwich with veggie sticks. The fillings on the seeded bun included: hummus, cheese, red onion, cucumber, carrot ribbons, fresh beetroot ribbons, kale and coriander. This sandwich was so delicious, I wanted another one when it was finished.
Snack It was a warm day and all I wanted was something cool and creamy. So I whipped up some banana and date ice cream with almond butter. This one is super easy and quick. All I did was put 1 large frozen banana and 2 medjool dates into my thermomix (any high-speed blender will do the trick) and blended until smooth and creamy, and topped it with a teaspoon of almond butter. You really don't feel like you're missing out on the real deal here - it is THAT good!
Dinner When it comes close to dinner time I am usually pretty tired and a bit nauseous, so I need something quick and easy. I've been a bit off meat since being pregnant, but if you find yourself searching for the meat at dinner time, this one's really delicious with some lean mince added to it. This literally took me 15 minutes from start to finish.I quickly whipped up a sauce of garlic, onion, 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, olive oil, and a bunch of fresh basil. Added the sauce to some fresh zucchini noodles that I quickly hand-peeled with a special peeler and added some parmesan cheese on top.
Dessert I finished the day of with a small bowl of canned peaches and some low fat Greek yoghurt - yep, more fruit! I was too tired to take a picture of this one, so you'll just have to use your imagination.
This was my day on a plate, I hope you enjoyed it! Keep in mind, I am by no means perfect and I don't always eat like this. I also have days where I eat ice cream and chocolate and eat a few too many chips. I think that is good and it's part of a normal way of eating and a sign of a healthy relationship with food. I know that the moment I tell myself that something is off-limits then all I think about is THAT food. Even if I have the worst day of eating, there is ONE simple rule that I try to stick by: aim for at least 5 veggies and drink at least 8 glasses of water.