Christmas Survivial Guide

Holiday Survival Guide

Are you worried about how to manage all the extra food, treats, desserts, and holiday festivities while still maintaining your healthy lifestyle and weight? This time of year can get busy and even the best intended healthy eating plans can quickly fall to the way side. You may need a holiday survivial guide to help you stay on track!

Indulging may leave you a couple of kilos heavier in the New Year making it harder to get back on track. Did you know the average person gains approximately 2kg over the holiday season? But, at the same time you do want to enjoy the holidays, spending time with family and friends and even eating a few items you really like. Actually, you can do both! Enjoy the holidays and stay on track at the same time!

Want to make your holidays stress-free? Start with these few easy steps in our holiday survival guide that will help you at least maintain your weight during the season and set you up for success in 2015:

 

  • Stop Stressing! Did you know that excessive stress, even about food, actually causes weight gain? Stress increases our cortisol levels, a hormone that makes us hold on to extra weight. Too much stress can also cause us to reach for a treat to help soothe our anxiety or avoid the situation.The first step during the holidays is to realize you are not going to be 100% successful with any diet and let that expectation, and the stress that comes with it, go! You always want what you can’t have, so the more you restrict, the more likely you are to go overboard.

 

  • Give yourself permission. During the holidays, there are foods available that are not around at other times of the year, whereas many others you can eat any time. There is no need to sample everything, so try to only stick to your personal favorites and eat a reasonable portion. This way, you are able to enjoy special foods without over doing it on your calories.

 

  • Try the Rule of Threes. This rule, when applied at parties with a lot of available food, can help you reduce your overeating. The rule of threes is where you choose no more than 3 items such as appetizers/nibbles/cheese and biscuits, no more than 3 alcoholic drinks or no more than 3 bites of a dessert. The important point is that you still get to taste the food, but remember that the taste never gets better after the third bite! You can apply this rule up to three times per week at any holiday party you have to attend!

 

  • Eat First. If you are going to a holiday party where there will be a lot of food available, have a light snack before heading out so you don’t arrive ravenous. If you are overly hungry, you will generally overeat, especially when there are a ton of options.

 

  • Make half your plate vegetables. Whenever there is a buffet or a large amount of food available, it is easy to overeat. If you fill half your plate up with vegetables (salads or cooked veggies), this leaves you less room for the other higher calorie items. Plus, veggies are high in fiber, which fills you up, so you feel satisfied with less.

 

  •  Watch the alcohol. Drinking to excess during the holidays can lead to too many calories and lowered inhibitions. Avoid drinks with sugary mixers such as sodas or juice. A glass of wine or a light beer are your best choices. Drink one glass of water per alcoholic drink to slow down your consumption and prevent dehydration.

 

  • Exercise. Doing even just 20-30 minutes of exercise every day can help you manage stress and burn off extra calories. Maybe you don’t have time right now for a 60 minute workout, but most people have time for short bouts of 10-20 minutes at a time.  You can also get your family involved by going for walks or bike rides together as part of your holiday celebration.

 

Remember, Christmas is only a day, so even if you do indulge on that day, just get back on track the next day. Be sure to get rid of any leftovers so you won’t be tempted! With this easy holiday survival guide, you can make it through the holidays without overindulging. You can start 2015 feeling confident and ready to reach your goals.

Healthy Easy Lunches…and a Competition!

…PLUS…COMPETITION TIME….KEEP READING…!

Days at work can sometimes get so busy that many of us forget to stop for lunch or just eat at our desks. This results in being overly hungry at night or to a 3pm blood sugar slump which leads us to choose sugary snacks to get our energy back up. Taking a lunch break is not just important for our diets, but is also a critical part of stress management at work. Taking a break away from your desk, even if it’s just for 15 minutes can help reduce daily strain quinoa saladand will actually make you more productive and focused for the afternoon. The ideal work day lunch provides lean protein, a high fiber carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. It is best to bring your lunch to work if you can, so you can control exactly what you are eating and are less likely to be tempted by high fat, high calorie restaurant choices.  Here are some lunch ideas to keep you productive and healthy during a busy day at work:

1. Salmon salad. Canned salmon is an easy, nutritious source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Mix together 1 small can of salmon (approximately 100 grams), 3 cups of greens such as lettuce, baby spinach, kale etc (your choice), ½ cup beetroot,  a whole grapefruit or orange in sections, and ¼ cup of nuts (your choice).  Add a small can of four bean mix or chickpeas for some low GI carbohydrates. Drizzle with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and chili powder for dressing.

2. Leftovers. Leftovers from the night before always make a great lunch the next day. If you are cooking chicken or fish, make a little extra for lunch. Rice and beans or a bean soup keeps for about 5 days in the fridge and makes a filling-high fiber lunch. Make a large batch on a Sunday and eat it all week.

3. Wholemeal pita sandwiches. Pita bread is a great pocket for just about any lean meat, vegetable, or healthy fat. Pita can get soggy easily, so pack the bread separately from the fillers and make your sandwich when you are ready to eat. Some suggested toppings: hummus with roasted red peppers and cucumber slices, the salmon salad above, or turkey with tomato slices, lettuce, and olives.

4. Frozen or pre-packaged meals. Although it may be tempting to just throw a pre-packaged or frozen meal into your lunch bag, be careful with what you choose. These choices can be high in sodium and low in nutrition. Look for choices that have less than 500mg sodium per serving. Choose those that include whole grains and vegetables. Avoid frozen pizzas, pastas, or fried choices. If you do find a healthy option that is low in calories and sodium add a side salad, fruit, or low fat yoghurt to balance out your meal.

5. Quirky quinoa salad. Quinoa is a great whole grain that provides a significant amount of protein and fiber. Our recipe has chickpeas for additional protein and a ton of vegetables. It can be made ahead of time and tastes even better the next day. Get creative with quinoa, toss in leftover chicken and vegetables along with your favorite dressing.  The combinations are endless!

Lunch can give you more energy, help you save money, and make you a more productive worker. Remember lunch doesn’t have to be a traditional sandwich, it can be whatever makes you feel healthy and well-nourished to make your work day more productive. Feel free to start with these ideas and create your own energy boosting lunch.

 

 COMPETITION TIME!

We love food…and we also love quinoa!  To celebrate our love for both of these things, New Life Nutrition has teamed up with a new wholefoods business in Brisbane to bring you a great giveaway.

Andes Mills is a Brisbane based family owned business who source and sell natural products and superfoods traditionally used in South America for their health benefits. Their products currently include maca and amaranth however they have announced that they will be launching their quinoa product at Brisbane’s Good Food and Wine Show in November!  The most awesome thing about this product is that the Andes Mills family actually grown their own quinoa on their farm in South America and  import it for sale.  I love that not only do they know where it came from, they have actually grown it themselves!

Andesquinoa_launching_small-01

To celebrate the launch of their quinoa, Andes Mills and New Life Nutrition are giving you the opportunity to win a double pass to the Good Food and Wine Show in Brisbane (8-10 November).  The winner will receive both a double pass as well as a 500g bag of quinoa (so you can whip up our Quinoa Salad for your lunches!).  Two runners up will each receive a 500g bag of quinoa.

 

good food and wine

To win, tell us what your favourite family food memory is.  Please comment either below or on our Andes Mills competition facebook post .

Competition closes Wednesday 30th October at 10pm (Brisbane time)

 Please also show the love by checking out the Andes Mills facebook page! I love a family business so please support this great business!

Quick Healthy Breakfast Ideas

healthy-breakfastEating breakfast is one of the most important health habits you can develop – choosing a healthy breakfast can make it a challenge. Breakfast helps you maintain your weight, gives you energy throughout the day, and keeps your blood sugar stable. A healthy breakfast balances protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to provide adequate fuel, nutrients, and energy. Here are some quick and healthy breakfast ideas you can turn to when the mornings are rushed.

  • Whole wheat bread and a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew), topped with a sliced banana. If you are not lactose intolerant, add a cup of non-fat milk to drink. Look for bread that is low in sugar and has at least 3g of fiber per slice.
  • One or two boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. Sometimes life just gets too hectic, so try to boil some eggs on the weekends to have as grab-and-go breakfasts during the week. Add a piece of fruit to balance out the meal.
  • Plain Greek yoghurt, berries, and 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds. Greek yoghurt is best because it contains a significant amount of protein, but be aware of the sugar content in the flavored varieties.
  • Fruit smoothie. Blend ½ c berries and 1 banana with ½ cup non-fat milk, almond milk, or “silken” tofu. Silken tofu can be used in the place of yoghurt or dairy products to add protein and texture to smoothies. Add protein powder if you want an even bigger boost or if you want more ideas click here.
  • Healthy Muesli bars. Try our recipe for a homemade version or make your own bar for a healthy breakfast option. If you are going to buy a pre-made bar, look for one with at least 3g of fiber and low in sugar. Add a boiled egg or a slice of low fat cheese for a little extra protein.
  • Stuff whole wheat pita bread with scrambled eggs and a few slices of tomato. Add fruit on the side.
  • Coconut and almond rice pudding. Full of delicious coconut and cinnamon, this rice pudding works for everyone in the family. It can also be made with quinoa for more protein.
  • Melon and low fat or non-fat cottage cheese. Scoop the seeds out of any melon and fill with cottage cheese for the perfect combo of carbohydrates and protein.
  •  Oatmeal with nuts and soy milk. Cook the oatmeal with soy, almond, or non-fat milk for extra protein. Top with nuts and dried fruits, such as raisins or dates.
  • Vegetable omelet with fruit. Put spinach, tomatoes, and onions in a pan and lightly sauté. Add 1-2 beaten eggs. Top with a few slices of avocado if desired and add a piece of fruit on the side.

Healthy breakfasts don’t have to take up a lot of time, but they do require planning. Get all the ingredients you will need for the week ahead of time and pre-prepare what is necessary for the week. Get up just 10 or 15 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time. With a little planning, a daily breakfast will soon be another healthy habit!

 

 

Healthy Muesli Bars

 

A muesli  bar may be a quick and easy grab as you run out the door in the morning, but is your bar as healthy as it could be? Many muesli bars, although calorie controlled, may contain an enormous amount of sugar, a significant number of calories, and maybe even trans fats. Although it may be a quick option, you don’t want to start your day with a sugar rush, right?

Here are some quick tips for choosing a muesli bar and an awesome low-sugar recipe you can make at home:

 

1.      Sugar.

Look for bars with 10g of sugar or less. Some bars can contain over 20g of sugar, that’s 4 teaspoons of added sugar! Generally, if there is a ton of sugar, the bar is highly processed and may contain other additives or very little fiber.

2.      Fiber

Aim for a bar with at least 3-5g of fiber. Breakfast is a great place to get in some extra fiber in your day. Your total fiber intake should equal 25-30g per day. Plus, fiber helps slow digestion, so the high fiber bar should hold you over until lunch.

3.      Protein

Protein increases satiety or the feeling of fullness. It also helps prevent carbohydrates (sugar) from rushing into the blood stream too quickly. A bar that contains at least 5-10g of protein will help you stay full until lunch. If the bar doesn’t have enough protein, try adding a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, or some low fat cheese for that added protein.

4.      Other ingredients

Make sure you read the ingredients list on the muesli bars. Don’t be fooled by the words “whole grains” or “organic” or other seemingly healthy words on the package.  Look for bars with a short list of ingredients, all of which you should be able to pronounce. Stay clear of bars with the words “partially hydrogenated” on the label, this means the bar contains trans fats.

The best way to know what ingredients are going into your granola or muesli bar is to make it yourself. Here is an excellent low-carb, gluten-free recipe for homemade muesli bars.

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

 

HEALTHY MUESLI BAR

Adapted from Healthy Indulgences Blog

Makes 6 bars

Ingredients:

Wet Mix:

1 tbspn rice malt syrup or pure maple syrup

2 tbspn coconut oil

1 Tablespoon stevia

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Photo: Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Photo: Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

Dry Mix:

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup pecans or walnuts

3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds

1 Tablespoon pepitas

1 Tablespoon finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1 Tablespoon cacao nibs (for that chocolate flavor- can do more nuts instead)

1 teaspoon flax seed meal

2 Tablespoons coconut milk powder (in Asian section of supermarket)

1/16 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/16 teaspoon sea salt

1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract

4-6 tablespoons vanilla protein powder – I like Sunwarrior Rice protein (if dairy free) or Optimum Nutrition Gold 100% Standard Whey (not dairy free)

In a small food processor, add almonds and pecans to processor bowl, and pulse 8-10 times. Add sunflower seeds, pepitas, coconut, cacao nibs, flax seed meal, coconut milk powder, xanthan gum, sea salt, protein powder and stevia extract. Replace lid, and pulse 3-5x, until all the nuts are chopped up.

Preheat oven to 180*C. Line the bottom of a 20 by 10cm slice pan with parchment paper. Heat maple syrup or rice malt syrup and stevia in a small saucepan over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles forming in the mixture and the stevia is dissolved. Wait one minute after stevia has dissolved, then take the mixture off heat and stir in vanilla. Quickly, scrape hot liquid from pan into dry mixture, and stir around with a spatula until mixture is evenly coated. Press evenly into the bottom of loaf pan with spatula.

Bake for 10 minutes (7 minutes, 30 seconds in convection ovens). Remove bars from oven, let cool a couple minutes, and invert on to cutting board. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. Remold the corners as necessary. Slide bars, bottom side up, on to metal pan. Bake for 9 more minutes (7 minutes for convection oven). Remove from oven, and place muesli bars on cooling rack. Store each bar separately in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator, ready to grab and go!

Date and Almond Protein Balls

I always get asked by my clients for some easy and healthy snack options and when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. A great thing about this recipe is that it uses Cacao (pronounced ka-kow). I love Cacao powder.  If you don’t know much about Cacao, it was eaten by the ancient Mayans and is considered a “Superfood”.  It has 14 times more antioxidants than red wine, 21 times more than green tea and 7 times more than even dark chocolate!  It is never heated above 40°C, so all of the cacao’s natural goodness is retained. Use it instead of cocoa powder to add a rich chocolately taste to your favourite recipes (like this one!)

These protein balls are very easy to throw together and can be kept in the fridge for those times you feel like something a little chocolately but healthy and guilt free.  I carry these in a zip-lock bag to nibble on between clients when I don’t have time for a proper snack break.  Try them and tell me you don’t love them too! 

PROTEIN BALLS RECIPE

Ingredients

330 g raw whole almonds

protein ball ingredients

1/4 cup other seed – such as linseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds

60 g vanilla protein powder (low sugar)

8-10 pitted dates

2 tablespoon cocoa/cacao powder

½ cup desiccated or shredded coconut

3 tsp natural vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

1/4 cup of water

 

 

How the magic happens…

  1. Add almonds, seeds, protein powder, cinnamon and cacao into food processor bowl and process until untiprotein ball mixturel the mix looks crumbly.
  2. Add dates, coconut and vanilla extract and process until mixture starts to come together.
  3. Add water while processing until mixture comes together and looks sticky.
  4. Roll into 3 cm diameter balls.
  5. Store in fridge. They last up to 4 weeks.

 

Variations…

  • Instead of almonds, try other nuts like walnuts, brazil nuts or cashews.
  • Add other raw seeds such as sunflower seeds and chia seeds to add extra nutritional value – especially protein and good fats. Around 1/4 cup would work well.
  • To make the balls FODMAP friendly, swap dates for dried figs, sultanas or dried berries like goji, cranberries or blueberries.
  • Include 1-2 tablespoons of a super greens powder like Vital Greens to add vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and probiotic goodness!

Special Notes…

  • Gluten free
  • High protein
  • Low sugar
  • High fibre
  • Low FODMAP (option)
  • Dairy free (depending on protein powder used)

 

Adapted from a recipe on the Thermomix Recipe Community.

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!