Good Nutrition During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when most women are especially concerned about nutrition and diet as moms-to-be want to give their newborns the best possible chance to survive and thrive.

There are also many dietary restrictions placed on pregnant women, as well as many pregnancy-related symptoms that can affect the ability to eat a balanced diet, making pregnancy a challenging time for many women. But, there are many steps you can take with your diet to ensure you will have a healthy and successful pregnancy.

Eat Nutritious Foods Throughout Your Pregnancy

Good nutrition during pregnancy should be based in whole foods as well as provide adequate calories and nutrients for both you and your developing baby, particularly from protein and healthy fats. Pregnancy is not a time to cut back on calories or try to lose weight.

If you are overweight at the start of your pregnancy, discuss with your doctor how much weight gain is appropriate for you. A woman who starts out at a healthy weight should aim to gain approximately 25-35 pounds during the entire pregnancy.

It is a myth that moms should try to “eat for two” during pregnancy. Most women need about 200-300 extra calories per day to support the growth of a healthy fetus. More calories are needed during the last trimester when the baby is growing the most. Just adding 2-3 extra ounces of chicken or half an avocado to your day will give you the additional calories you need to support the growth of your baby.

The quality of the extra calories you consume is also important, as the baby is also eating everything you eat.  Try to eat every 3-4 hours and include protein, high fiber carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats into every meal.

Green leafy vegetables are particularly important because they contain folic acid which helps prevent neural tube birth defects. Include eggs in your diet as they are a great source of carotenoids, which help with eye development and choline that helps improve brain function.

Focus on Healthy Fats

Fat is critical for brain development of infants. Babies need essential fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fats to help their brains develop properly.  Most women do not consume enough omega-3 fats, specifically DHA, leaving their babies at risk for a poorly developed nervous system and brain.

Omega-3 fats are mostly found in fish. But, there is a significant concern with the mercury content of many species of fish available on the market. Mercury is a toxic chemical that causes brain damage, especially to developing brains.

The best thing you can do to get your critical Omega-3’s is to familiarise yourself with the list of low-mercury fish provided by the Natural Resources Defence Council and choose fish from that list.

Pregancy Supplements Can Help

Since women have so many specialised nutrition needs during pregnancy, it is difficult to meet all the requirements with diet alone, therefore some supplementation may be necessary.

Most doctors recommend women taking a prenatal vitamin which provides folate, iron, and other important nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.  You may also want to consider increasing your intake of probiotics, or healthy bacteria during pregnancy, due to the connection between probiotics and reduction of childhood allergies.

Consider getting probiotics from food, instead of supplements, such as yogurt, kimchee, tempeh, miso, Kefir, or sauerkraut.  Be cautious of over doing it on supplements during your pregnancy as many dietary supplements are not appropriate for pregnant women. Discuss with your health care provider what supplements are best for you and your baby.

During pregnancy, there is no specific diet to follow, just a few simple rules to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. A well-balanced diet with just a few modifications along with a few additional vitamins and minerals, will insure a healthy pregnancy for the both of you.

 

Diet Soft Drinks and Weight Loss

Diet Soft Drinks
Diet Soft Drinks

Sweetened drinks including regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened teas, usually contain a significant amount of calories, sugar, or high fructose corn syrup. Adding just one of these drinks to your diet every day can add 54,750 extra calories in a year enough to make you gain 7 kg. Sweetened drinks may lead to weight gain because liquid calories do not increase satiety, therefore people do not compensate for the calories by eating less overall.

For those of us trying to lose weight, it may be tempting to start consuming diet drinks, which have no calories, but still contain some flavor. But, diet soft drinks may not be the weight loss solution we have been looking for in the long-run. Artificial sweeteners found in drinks include: sucralose (Splenda), saccharine (Sweet n’ Low), and aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet).

Several long-term studies have shown connections between increased diet soft drink consumption, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome. The MESA study found that for those who consumed greater than one serving of diet soft drink daily, the risk of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of symptoms including abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance) was 36% greater than those who did not consume soft drink regardless of calorie intake or other factors. Those who consumed diet drinks had a 67% increase in risk for type 2 diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners may trigger receptors in the tongue, which are meant to identify sweet-tasting foods, even those that do not contain calories. The receptors trigger the body’s natural response to sugar which is to release insulin. When there is insulin released without calories, this may throw off the body’s natural response to insulin, possibly leading to insulin resistance.

Part of the connection between diet soft drink consumption and weight gain may also be related to our perception of how many calories we are actually saving. An average regular soft drink has between 120-150 calories, which you can save by drinking diet soft drinks. But, many people go overboard and believe they are saving many more calories, therefore they eat significantly more than they normally would. This skewed perception of the actual number of calories saved may be part of the reason we see people who drink diet soft drinks gaining weight.

Alternatives to Diet Soft Drinks

Based on current research, it is probably best to avoid or significantly limit your consumption of diet soft drinks. If you must have something sweet, some good low-calorie choices include: Stevia, xylitol, raw honey, or date sugar. Even though these may be “healthier” choices, they will still add additional carbohydrates to your diet or may influence your insulin levels.

The best thing to do when trying to cut back on sugar is to break the addiction. Once you stop eating foods high in concentrated sugar, you will begin to appreciate the sweet taste of fruit or other natural sugars. Start drinking more water. You can even flavor your water by adding fruits such as orange slices or strawberries to it. There is no need to drink diet soft drinks or any type of sweetened drink as water is really the optimal and healthiest option.

Part 1: Nutrition to Boost Your Immune System

Are you tired of catching every cold and flu that you come in contact with? Do you dread the colder weather because you are afraid of getting sick? Are you obsessed with disinfecting everything to prevent illness? Although viruses and bacteria are the primary cause of illness, your diet and lifestyle may also contribute to how often you get sick and how long it takes to get better. We thought we would bring you a series on how to boost your immune system with nutrition.

The influence of diet on the immune system has been a hot topic for many years in the field of nutrition. Poor nutrition has been associated for a long time with a poorly functioning immune system. At first, the focus was more on making sure people were receiving adequate nutrition, meaning getting enough calories, protein, and other nutrients in order to support immune function. But, the research has gotten more detailed over the last few years including vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds. Taking a look at your overall diet may help boost your immune system and fight off the next cold or flu you are exposed to.

Protein, carbohydrates, and fat

Getting the right balance of the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats may be the first step to helping boost your immune system. Immune cells, like all the cells in the body, are made from protein. Therefore, we need adequate protein intakes to make sure we have enough raw materials to make new cells as needed. People with malnutrition, especially when they are lacking protein, tend to have a poor immune function.

Adequate fat, specifically the healthy omega-3 fats in the diet can have an anti-inflammatory effect improving overall immune function. The benefits from omega-3s are generally not seen with supplements, but only with omega-3 rich foods such as fish, walnuts, and chia.

A diet high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, can reduce overall immune function and actually decrease the number of immune cells available to fight infections. If you want an immune-boosting diet, make sure you are getting adequate protein daily, are including healthy fats in your diet, and limiting the amount of refined carbohydrates you are consuming.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Immunity

There are several vitamins that play a role in proper immune function. Vitamin C is the most popular and widely used to help prevent colds. But, the research doesn’t actually support that commonly held belief. A high vitamin C intake will not prevent colds, but has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. If you are suffering with a cold, consider increasing your intake of foods high in vitamin C such as citrus, bell peppers, and strawberries.

Another important immune-boosting vitamin is Vitamin A a fat-soluble vitamin that can help reduce the rate of viral infections. It is used to improve white blood cell function and maintain healthy mucus membranes, which help prevent infection. Since Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be toxic if taken in high doses as a supplement, therefore it is best to eat vitamin A rich foods. Some foods to include are fish, especially salmon, and orange or yellow colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots or mangoes.

Certain minerals such as iron and zinc also help our bodies stay healthy. Iron deficiency may result in impaired immune function, whereas adequate intakes of iron help boost the immune cells to fight off infections. Most people do not need an iron supplement unless indicated by a doctor, instead try to increase your intake of high iron foods such as lean red meat, beans, or fortified cereals. Zinc deficiency may also suppress the immune system and increase susceptibility to infections. The best way to get adequate zinc in your diet is to eat lots of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.

Overall an adequate diet with plenty of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals will help you stay healthy over the flu and cold season. Make sure to include lots of green leafy vegetables, fish, and a few foods high in Vitamin C for an extra boost. In our next article in this series, we are going to address what supplements you can use to help keep your immune system healthy.

Ways to Lose Weight Differently This Year

 

Our Brisbane dietitians have weight loss tips to help you to lose weight differently this year!

With the New Year already upon us, many of us have set resolutions to finally get the weight off.  We all have heard the old adage “eat less and move more” to achieve weight loss, which definitely still works! But, this approach can be tedious sometimes and maybe you have tried this with limited success. So, instead why not consider some of these alternative ways of tackling weight management in 2014?

  • Try eating intuitively. The principle behind intuitive eating is that our bodies send us constant signals of how much or how little to eat. The problem is that most people ignore these signals completely and either won’t eat when they are hungry or eat way past the point of being full. The key to eating intuitively is to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are hungry, eat something. Try to make it something healthy of course, with a balance of high fiber carbohydrates and some protein. Stop eating when you are satisfied, meaning no longer hungry, you should not be full or stuffed. Just no longer hungry. The more you practice this, the easier it will become, allowing your body to fall into its natural hunger patterns and get to a healthy weight.
  • Sleep! Getting adequate sleep is the most underrated weight loss tool we have. A study of over 68,000 women found that over a 16 year period, those who slept less than 5 hours a night gained 1.14kg more than those who slept more than 7 hours a night. This was true regardless of diet, exercise, or other lifestyle factors that might affect weight. Lack of sleep leaves us craving high sugar, high calorie foods to keep our energy levels up. It messes with our metabolism and hormones too, throwing off hunger and satiety signals. When you are tired, exercise is definitely out of the question. So, this year, prioritize sleep. Aim for at least 7-8 hours a night.
  • Focus on stress management. Similar to lack of sleep, stress sends all of our hormones out of control. One of the most critical hormones for weight management is cortisol.  Levels of cortisol are increased during times of psychological or physical stress. When cortisol is elevated, it will increase your appetite, insulin levels, and cause you to deposit fat in the abdominal area.  A 2001 study of 59 healthy women found that stressed women with high cortisol levels, tended to eat more calories and sugar than those who were not under stress.  Therefore, stress management is critical to reduce cortisol levels. Daily low-intensity exercise, like walking, reduces stress and cortisol.  Other ways to manage your stress include taking time out for enjoyable activities, meditation/prayer, laughing with friends, or taking a long bubble bath.

These weight loss tips and techniques may work for you, especially if you are a chronic dieter and have hit a plateau. With long-term weight management, it is important to look at a person’s entire lifestyle, as everything can have an effect on weight. So, take a look at your hunger signals, hours of sleep, and stress in 2014 and make it your year to achieve a healthy weight!

Christmas Day the Healthy Way

You can still have a fabulous Christmas Day without ending the day feeling horribly full and sluggish. With a few simple swaps you can indulge in delicious, healthy foods that won’t leave you requiring an afternoon nap.

 

Swap fatty meats and enjoy a seafood Christmas. The hot Queensland climate makes seafood the perfection Christmas option. Grilled fish and fresh prawns are delicious paired with fresh salads and a cool beverage.  Try out the recipe for Chermoula prawns below. You won’t even think twice about missing out on pork crackling.

Filling your plate with at least half salad is a great way of filling up on the fresh foods that don’t leave you feeling heavy and overfull. Try some interesting salads like our Quinoa Salad or our Beef, beet, lentil and walnut salad.

Swap chips for vegetable sticks. Carrot, beans, celery, snow peas and capsicum are great for dipping in yummy dips. Try our beetroot hommus or tomato salsa for a light and filling snack.

christmas tree fruit

Swap the lolly basket for a fresh fruit tree. A fruit tree makes the perfect table decoration and people of all ages like to munch on fresh fruit. Secure a large, upside down carrot into an apple as the base, before using toothpicks to secure piece of fruit to the tree. Top with a rockmelon or pineapple star.  What a perfectly delicious centre piece for your table!

Fruit doesn’t need to be the boring dessert. The amazing fruits in season at the moment like mangoes, lychees and stonefruit are delicious on their own but you could freeze them and then blend to create a fruity sorbet!  A clever idea is to freeze a yoghurt like Chobani and blend it through the fruit so it is similar to ice-cream but without the fat or sugar!

Swap cream for yoghurt. Pavlova is a common dessert option for many families at Christmas. Replace the cream with a fruity yoghurt or Frûche for a healthier treat that tastes just as delicious!

The ‘TWO BITE’ rule.  If you can’t choose your favourite desserts (or just don’t want to miss out…completely understandable as I love my desserts!) then follow my very simple  rule. Eat enough of each dessert to satisfy between two to three mouthfuls.  If you really think about it, food never tastes better after the third mouthful!  So if you want to eat the desserts because they are just so scrumptious, then go for it – but truly enjoy the taste…don’t just scoff it!

Swap your afternoon nap for a game of cricket or a swim in the pool. Get all the family involved in games so you’ll be having so much fun it won’t even feel like exercise.

Swap sugary drinks for water. Often at Christmas we have already overindulged in the sugar so opt for plain or soda water with a little lemon or lime. Cooling a fruity tea and adding soda water is a great twist on a punch.  You even like to add frozen fruit chunks as decoration and to keep drinks cool.

And here’s a BIG TIP – don’t bring leftovers home (or if you are hosting Christmas, send the leftovers home with others)! Christmas day is only one day and so a few extra nibbles really aren’t a problem.  The problem to the waistline comes from a a week of eating the desserts and rum balls that are leftover!

At the end of the day, Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones – with a treat or two in the middle.  Don’t stress about eating a little extra on the day but make sure you enjoy every moment and every mouthful.

 

From the team at New Life Nutrition, we wish you and your families a

Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year!

Chermoula Prawns

Ingredients

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5kg green prawns, peeled, deveined, tails left intact

Lemon wedges and tzatziki, to serve

 

Method

  1. Combine onion, coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika and turmeric in a large bowl. Stir in oil. Add prawns. Toss until prawns are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.
  2. ?Preheat a barbecue plate on medium-high heat. Place half the prawns, in a single layer, on barbecue. Spoon over half the marinade. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes each side or until prawns turn pink. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining prawns and marinade.
  3. ?Serve warm prawns with lemon wedges and tzatziki.

Source:  www.taste.com.au

 

 

Mindfulness and Weight Loss

Have you ever eaten a meal while at your desk during a busy day and realized you ate everything without even noticing? Have you ever eaten an entire bag of potato chips before you even knew it was gone while watching TV? You may be engaging in mindless eating.  Not actually paying attention to your food and what you are eating may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.  What if you could achieve a healthy body weight without counting calories, weighing your food, or feeling guilty when you fall off the wagon?

Many of us unfortunately started to be programmed to overeat in childhood, when our parents forced us to clean our plates. Forcing a child to eat when they are not hungry teaches them to override their own hunger and satiety signals. Most children have the natural ability to eat until they are satisfied and not stuffed, unlike many adults. In addition to conditioning in childhood, chronic dieting may have caused us to ignore hunger signals when we are “on a diet” or overeat when we are “off” the diet. If we believe that food might be scarce in the future, we tend to overeat today to make sure we don’t go hungry.

Mindfulness starts with being in the present moment. For many of us, our minds are living in either the past or the future. We are always thinking of what will happen tomorrow or maybe dwelling on painful experiences in the past. But, if we shift our attention to the present, we will see that our minds are a lot clearer, a lot less cluttered. Focusing on the present can help relieve stress and anxiety tied to ideas about the future or the past, reducing the need to eat emotionally. If we are able to be in the present moment we can notice what is happening around us and tap in to our body’s natural needs.

We have forgotten that our body actually naturally sends signals when it is hungry or satisfied. The key to long-term weight maintenance is to learn to listen to these signals by practicing mindful eating. The first step is to tap into these cues by always asking ourselves why we want to eat. Before you put something in your mouth, ask am I hungry? Am I sad? Angry? Bored? Tired? If you are NOT hungry, then you need to address the other emotional issues instead of eating. If you are sad, call a friend or watch a funny movie. If you are tired, take a nap! Eating will not resolve any of those other issues and may actually make you feel worse.

Other ways to be mindful is to limit distractions while eating. People who watch TV while eating tend to eat about 228 calories more than those who are not distracted. Make meal time special and sacred. Sit down, put on some soft music, and enjoy your meal. It takes about twenty minutes for the brain to register the feeling of fullness, so take your time while eating. Put your fork down and chew each bite well. If you are eating with others, enjoy the conversation instead of focusing on scarfing down your meal as quickly as possible. Eating too fast may even prevent us from absorbing nutrients properly to get the most out of our food.

Lastly, eat foods you enjoy and make you feel good. If you prefer fish over chicken, choose fish. Or if too much sugar in the morning gives you an energy crash later in the day, start your day with protein instead. Listening to how your body feels and reacts with certain foods can help you tailor a diet that is healthiest for you. Try keeping a journal of your food and moods to help you identify your optimal eating pattern. Of course it’s important to maintain balance by including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains into your diet, but still honor your taste preferences within those categories. Food was meant to be enjoyed, so take the time, pay attention to it, and enjoy eating mindfully for a healthy weight.

Benefits of Beetroot

This is the first of many featured ingredients for our new blog series ‘GOODNESS ME!’.  Each fortnight we will feature a new ingredient and tell you all the amazing health and nutritional benefits and give you some tips of how to use them in your every day diet.  

Comment below or on our Facebook page if there are any ingredients you would love to know more about!

I love beetroot not only for its delicious taste and powerful nutrient properties but also for its ability to add vibrant colour to almost any dish.

There are so many health and nutritional benefits to beetroot. Beetroot is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, potassium and our digestive systems best friend – fibre! The rich purple colour is due to high levels of phytonutrients (a potent antioxidant), which fights free radicals (those nasty things that damage our cells) keeping your immune system strong and body healthy. A recent study also suggested that beetroot juice may assist with maintaining good blood pressure! To boost a juice, ask for added beetroot!

Lucky for us, beetroot is available year round but is most plentiful (and cheap) in the warmer months.

 

How to include beetroot in your diet

Choose small-medium sized deep-coloured beetroots with smooth skin. Grated raw beetroot is a yummy addition to any salad and the best way to keep all of those antioxidants intact – just don’t be alarmed when that wonder juice we were talking about before turns everything pink!

You can also roast, steam or boil beets for around 30-40 minutes (depending on the size), before consuming whole, peeled, diced or sliced with meals. Beetroot, pumpkin, spinach and goats cheese is a great combination for risottos, salads or pizza toppings. You can also add the leaves to your salad for added nutrients.

Try my beetroot dip, which is perfectly paired with vegetable sticks or crackers for a quick and protein rich afternoon tea or a delicious spread for sandwiches or wraps. If you are feeling creative – try our bean and beetroot brownie recipe.

 

Beetroot Hommus

This recipe is packed with protein, fibre, antioxidants and good fats!

 Ingredients

1 tin chickpeas, drained

3 baby beetroots

1 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ clove garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

Directions

  1. Boil or steam beetroots for around 25 minutes until tender. Drain and cool.
  2. In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add an extra tablespoon of water if the mixture seems too thick.
  3. Serve or store in small containers for a quick snack on the run!

Dairy Free Sources of Calcium

dairy free calciumCalcium is an abundant and vital mineral found in our bodies. The main function of calcium in our diets is to help maintain strong bones and teeth. Almost all the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones, but our body will sometimes remove calcium as needed for other bodily functions such as to help release hormones, maintain blood vessels, and to build enzymes. When the body begins to take out too much calcium from the bones, when we don’t get enough from our diet, this may lead to a weakening of the bones called osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important to consume enough calcium via diet, so that our body is not forced to access the stored calcium.  The daily recommended amount (known as RDI) for calcium for adults is 1,000 mg.  Consuming this amount daily may be challenging for some people with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, as milk, yogurt, and cheese contain a significant amount of calcium. But, there are several dairy free sources that actually have almost as much calcium as dairy, without any of the consequences.

Vegetables

Several vegetables contain a significant amount of dairy free calcium. All of the green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach, contain calcium. A cup of broccoli has 180 mg and spinach contains 240 mg per cup. Other vegetables to try: arugula, bok choy, and swiss chard. The only issue with getting all of your calcium from green leafy vegetables is that they are high in oxalates, which can block calcium absorption so it is hard to determine how much is actually absorbed. Try to vary your high calcium foods so that you don’t just rely on vegetables to supply your daily needs.

Seafood

Fish is a surprising source of dairy free calcium. In order for fish to contain calcium, it must also contain bones. Seven sardines contain about 321 mg of calcium, as they are consumed whole with the bones intact. Canned salmon, which contains small bone fragments, contains 232mg for only ½ a can. Seaweed is also very high in calcium, provides 126 mg per cup.

Nuts and Seeds

Several varieties of nuts and seeds can be great sources of calcium. Chia seeds are amongst the highest in calcium, they provide 179 mg per 28g AA026294serving. Not sure how to eat chia seeds? You can sprinkle them on salads or other cold dishes or just add them to tea or water for an extra dose of calcium. Sesame seeds provide 64 mg per tablespoon and Tahini (sesame paste contains 119 mg calcium per ounce. Almonds are also high in calcium, containing 75mg per ounce. An ounce of nuts can provide an excellent filling snack and a great source of dairy free calcium!

Milk Alternatives

For those that have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, there are several beverages considered “milk alternatives” that can be substituted for milk as a source of dairy free calcium. Lactose-free milk is a good alternative for those with lactose intolerance, but would not work for people with a dairy allergy. Soy milk can contain between 200-400mg per cup depending on the brand. Almond milk is also very high in calcium, containing about 200 mg per cup. Even orange juice is calcium fortified, but watch out the sugar content.

Supplements

If you feel you are not reaching your calcium goals for the day, you may want to consider a supplement. Make sure it is a calcium citrate supplement which is better absorbed than calcium carbonate.  But, your body cannot absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at once, so split up your dose if you are aiming for 1,000 mg per day.

Even if you have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, with these high-calcium dairy free alternatives it will be easy to get enough calcium daily and maintain strong teeth and bones.

 

Gluten-free, low-sugar, banana bread

Here is a great recipe for those of you craving a healthier, sweet dessert. Since this doesn’t contain any flour it is great for those of you following a gluten-free diet. The sweetness in this recipe comes from the bananas and dates, which also provide a great deal of fibre. There is no refined or processed sugar in bananathis recipe at all. Bananas provide not only 3g of fibre, but also a good dose of potassium, Vitamin A, and folate. Dates are also super high in potassium, iron, and magnesium. A dessert packed with all these amazing nutrients? Yes, please!

I made these as muffins or you can use a traditional banana bread dish. Be aware if you cook it in a bread dish, you will have to cook it for slightly longer.

This recipe is GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY FREE, GRAIN FREE, PALEO, NUT FREE, SOY FREE, LOW ADDED SUGAR, HIGH FIBRE

Ingredients

For the banana muffin

  • 6 bananas (brown ones are sweeter)
  • 4 dried dates, pitted
  • 4 eggs
  • ? cup coconut cream concentrate or homemade coconut butter  (see recipe)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Coconut Butter Recipe

  • 200g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract)
  • Pinch of Kosher salt.

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend together until smooth. This may take up to 10 minutes to get smooth depending on the power of your blender or food processor.  Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Toppings
Frozen blueberries or raspberries
Sliced banana
Dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Flaked almonds

                                                Instructions
glutenfreeveganbananamuffins_158x2001. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Add dried dates to the food processor and puree until you get a lumpy paste.
3. Then place bananas in the food processor and pulse until completely pureed.
4. Next add eggs and coconut butter and puree.
5. Then add coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt.
6. Pour batter into well-greased muffin tins (baking paper works best).
7. Add blueberries, cacao nibs (or chocolate chips), flaked almonds or whatever other topping you like onto the muffins. Mix with a knife to incorporate if you like.
8. Place into the oven for 30 minutes or until you poke each one with a skewer and they come out clean.
9. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

 

Quirky Quinoa Salad

We have posted about how much we love the super grain Quinoa before (check it out here) so I thought we should post another recipe for you all to try!  I made this for a family Summer BBQ we had last weekend.  I knew my sisters would love it however I was less certain about the boys in my family.  Our boys love salad – but they are very quick to tell you how much they hate the way we add ‘all that other junk’ (i.e chickpeas, fruit, noodles) to them – they just want normal green salads ‘like mum makes it’.  Time to think outside the box guys!

The result? My husband was at first cautious about this strange looking salad but I think it was proof that he loved it when he scoffed all of the salad leftovers before any of the others the following day!  SUCCESS!

If you’d like to make this more substantial (i,e as a complete meal), add some chicken or boiled eggs. Perfect for lunches as it can be pre-made just leave the dressing in a separate container until ready to eat.

This salad is GLUTEN FREE, LOW GI HIGH FIBRE.  Leave out the white part of the spring onions and the chickpeas to make it LOW FODMAPS.

quinoa salad

What you need…

  • 170g (1 cup) mixed coloured quinoa as desired, soaked in enough water to cover for minimum 30 minutes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tin (425g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ sweet potato or pumpkin (approx. 250g), sliced approx. 1 cm thick pieces
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 4 spring onion/shallots, sliced on the angle
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced thinly
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 100 g reduced fat feta, cubed
  • 100g (approx) mixed toasted nuts and seeds, (I used walnut, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas lightly roasted in the oven on a baking tray)
  • ½ bag mixed salad greens or baby spinach
  • Few Italian parsley leaves (optional)

 

Dressing:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) tamari or soy sauce
  • 40g fresh lemon juice (or juice of approx. 2 small lemons)
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil

 

How the magic happens…

Doing it the traditional way:

  1. Combine water and quinoa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat chargrill or oven grill on med-high. Spray lightly with oil. Cook the sweet potato/pumpkin for 8-10 minutes or until slightly tender. Break up roughly into large pieces.
  3. Add the all other ingredients to the quinoa.
  4. Blend together the lemon juice, garlic, oil and soy sauce until well combined.  Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture.
  5. Toss salad gently.  Top with extra seeds and serve!

 

Thermomix magic:

  1. Drain quinoa and place into simmering basket. Fill Thermomix bowl to 1L mark with water and set basket into bowl.
  2. Place the lid on the bowl, with Varoma on top, and pumpkin/sweet potato spread evenly in Varoma dish. Ensure it is spread apart enough that steam can get through.
  3. Steam quinoa 18 min/Varoma temp/speed 2. Remove basket from bowl and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the salad by combining all remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Make dressing by placing all ingredients into Thermomix bowl and blending 20 sec/speed 8.
  6. Pour over prepared salad and add quinoa. Toss gently.
  7. Garnish with additional seeds, nuts, spring onions etc.

 

Recipe inspired by Quirky Cooking and Tenina

 

Zucchini, Carrot and Sweet Potato Slice

I love eggs! And I love zucchini slice even more!  To be honest, my Mum makes the best zucchini slice in the world (doesn’t everybody’s mum?)…pretty surprising considering my Mum absolutely hates egg. 

I think the reason I love zucchini slice so much is that it is such an easy food to eat at any time of the day – meal or snack.  It also freezes beautifully for those (many) times when you just haven’t had enough time to prepare lunch/dinner – all you need is some salad to put with it.  As well as all this, it is a great source of protein and fibre and an easy way to hide vegetables for the big and little kids. 

So here we go, my take on zucchini slice…and trust me, it is VERY easy…and VERY tasty…in fact, my husband told me it tasted better than my Mum’s (but don’t tell her that because she may not feed him any more).

 

zucchini slice

 

Ingredients

6 eggs (could use 3 eggs + 3-4 egg whites)

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour (or gluten free flour), sifted

350g (approx 3) zucchini, grated, excess moisture squeezed

250g (approx 2) carrots, grated

1 small sweet potato, grated

1 large onion, finely diced

150g salt reduced ham, chopped

1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, cubed if thermomix, grated if normal recipe

60ml (1/4 cup) olive or rice bran oil

1-2 tsp mixed dried herbs

1 tbspn parsley, finely chopped (optional)

1 tbspn fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

 

How the magic happens…

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a lasagne dish.
  2. To grate/dice vegetables, add vegetables to food processor and chop until finely diced.  If no food processor, grate or chop as described above.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Add the flour and beat until smooth
  5. Add zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, onion, ham, cheese, oil, herbs and spices and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

 

Thermomix Version…

  1. Grease a ceramic or glass lasagne dish.
  2. Cube cheddar cheese, place in the TM bowl and grate on 5 secs / speed 6.  Set aside.
  3. Place onion and bacon in the TM bowl and chop on speed 5 for 2-3 seconds.  Set aside with cheese.
  4. Place zucchini, carrot, sweet potato in the TM bowl and chop on speed 5 for 3-4 seconds
  5. Add SR flour, oil, eggs and salt/pepper to the TM bowl and mix on speed 4 for 20 seconds.
  6. Return cheese, zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, onion and bacon to the TM bowl and combine all ingredients on speed 3 for 30-40 seconds on reverse (or until combined).
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared dish and bake in a pre-heated moderate oven for approximately 40 minutes or until browned.  
  8. Serve warm (or cold!) with salad.

 

ENJOY!

 

Easy food swaps to a healthier you!

To have healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be quite as complicated as you may think. There are some tasty and really simple swaps you can do to achieve it.

One very simple swap, which I use every day, is instead of having butter or margarine, swap it for a thin spread of avocado – cheaper and definitely tastier!

Snacking on a healthier option can sometimes seem impossible with all the quick and easy fixes around, especially when you’re in the office and you spy the cookie jar!  But instead of having that biscuit swap it for some fruit, a cup of tea or a handful of natural nuts which are high in essential fats and a good source of fibre.

Some other really simple swaps you can do are;

  • having wholegrain bread instead of white bread
  • swap the ice cream after dinner for a low fat yoghurt you’ve frozen yourself or a fruity sorbet – lemon tastes amazing!
  • have a natural untoasted cereal rich in wholegrains and fibre
  • having cut up celery, carrot or capsicum with a salsa instead of a dip and crackers
  • instead of getting a large coffee, get a small one – and make it on skim!
  • swap a packet of lollies for a small punnet of berries such as blueberries as they can help protect your heart and improve your cholesterol
  • swap a handful of potato chips for a small bowl of plain popcorn and season it with something like cinnamon to give it a little flavour
  • for breakfast, make a smoothie instead of having buttered toast

Here is a great recipe using blueberries that I found on the Australia Blueberry Growers’ Association,

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup reduced fat milk
  • 125g punnet fresh blueberries
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup reduced fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 small mint leaves

Method:

1. Place milk, blueberries, mango, yoghurt and mint into a jug. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Note: Mango can be replaced with other seasonal fruits such as bananas or
peaches which complement blueberries perfectly.

It is easy to make swaps toward a healthier you!  For even more great ideas, visit the ‘Swap It’ website.  Start to make the swap today!
Recipes. (2012). Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://www.australianblueberries.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:blueberry-and-mango-smoothie&catid=1:recipes&Itemid=37

Swap tips. (2012). Retried July 17, 2012, from http://swapit.gov.au/ways-to-swap/swap-tips#morning-nutrition

Low Carb Spaghetti Bolognaise

Serves – 4

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garli,c chopped
2 x 120g lean mince (try kangaroo!)
1 large carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 x 500g jar low carb pasta sauce – Leggo’s spaghetti sauce with beef  OR  tinned tomato passata
6 green zucchini
6 yellow zucchini
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of sea salt (optional)
light spray of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a little water until softened. Add the mince and cook, stirring constantly for 5 mins, until browned. Add carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minuted, adding a little water if necessary.
  2. Stir through low carb pasta sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 mins.
  3. While sauce is cooking, use a potato peeler on the zucchini to create spaghetti
  4. Just before serving, blanch zucchini in a pinch of sea salt (optional) and bring water to the boil for 1 min to heat through, then drain.
  5. Toss with a light spray of olive oil (optional) and a tablespoon of the parsley.  Keep warm.
  6. Season saute with pepper. Fold in the rest of the chopped parsley just before serving.
  7. Divide zucchini spaghetti into serving bowls and top with bolognaise sauce.

 

OTHER IDEAS:

 ** Alternative to making spaghetti bolognaise is to make mince into a meatball mixture.  Add the below ingredients to the mince and roll to form meatballs.  Cook in a non-stick fry pan until becoming golden brown then continue at Step 2 to continue cooking meatballs in the tomato pasta sauce.

  • 1 egg
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • pepper,
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • thyme

** Alternative to zucchini is to use carrot, cabbage (prepared in the same way) or SPAGHETTI SQUASH.  Directions for preparation of spaghetti squash as below.  (This was inspired by my client Gill who gave me her home grown spaghetti squash!)

  1. Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a skewer so it will not burst while baking.
  2. Place whole squash in a shallow baking pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 180*C oven for 1 hour.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.
  5. Scoop the seeds and fibrous strings from the centre of the cooked spaghetti squash
  6. Gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.
  7. Cooked spaghetti squash is usually served with a sauce or gravy because the flesh is very bland in flavour.