Fish Oil – Is It Important to Take & Why?

When it comes to fish oil, experts are divided regarding the usage and safety in the general population. Research has long shown the benefits that eating fish and other seafood, but the benefit may not just lie in the type of fat found in fish, but other nutritional factors found in these foods. Fish and fish oil supplements contain specific types of omega-3 fats: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced by the human body, which means they must be consumed through the diet. Plants and seeds, although they contain omega-3s, they do not contain the specific types of omega-3s found in fish, DHA and EPA. Plants such as spinach, spirulina, flax seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA has been deemed inferior to fish oil because the human body must convert ALA to DHA and EPA; the conversion every ineffective, only about 12% is converted.

Fish OilThere are a number of benefits to consuming an adequate amount of omega-3s; they play an important role in brain function, growth and development, and inflammation. These beneficial fats can also be anti-inflammatory, improving overall immune function.       Deficiencies in omega-3s been linked to cardiovascular disease, some cancers, mood disorders, and arthritis.

It is also important that a woman consumes adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in her diet during pregnancy for proper development of the baby’s brain. Unfortunately, women have been told to avoid fish due to the threat of mercury toxicity. But, there are many types of fish that are high in omega-3s, but low in mercury that can still be safe for pregnant women. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of low mercury fish that are safe for pregnant women. A supplement may still be recommended for pregnant women—especially if they are not eating enough fish.

The research on fish oil has shown the greatest benefits are found with the consumption of omega-3 rich foods such as fish, walnuts, and chia. The same benefit has not been seen from supplementation alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends the consumption 1-2 servings of fish (200-500 mg of DHA and EPA per serving) per week to prevent heart disease and stroke. To put this number into perspective, a 3-ounce cooked salmon fillet contains over 1,500 mg of omega-3 fats. Wild Yellowfin Tuna, on the other hand, contains less than 200 mg of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving.

There is a large consensus that consuming an adequate amount of fatty fish, nuts, and seeds is the optimal way obtain an optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. The numerous benefits of omega-3s from food have been well established in the current research. But, although foods may be perfectly safe and beneficial, there is a need for continued research on the safety and efficacy of supplements. Before consuming fish oil supplements, consult your doctor and/or dietitian to determine the best option for your health.

An inspiring thank you from a wonderful client

I will admit it – I got goosebumps and was close to tears when reading this. There is no better email to receive than one of gratitude such as this.  I am humbled and yet so excited to share this inspiring thank you from one of my clients.

I am so proud of how far Mark (and his wife Annette) have come.  Since writing this note, he has completed two more half Marathons (one in Auckland) and his new goal is to one day complete a full Marathon!  He has told me that if he had his life over again that he would become a Nutritionist!

I wanted to share this with you as a motivator to inspire you that anything is possible – no matter your age. 

 

Dear Julie,

When Annette and I first walked into your office, you asked us both what our goals were. Annette said she wanted to shop for smaller dress sizes and I said I wanted to run and paddle faster. Well, last Saturday and now 22kg’s lighter, that was more than achieved – ½ Marathon in 1:53 finally smashing the 2 hours. Absolutely an amazing feeling – OK I got a little emotional. I haven’t been at this weight since I was a teenager!

It’s been said that the older you get the harder it is too loose weight, now I disagree. If it is made simple, it’s achievable and to me that’s the stand out with your approach to weight loss. With a blank sheet of paper (coloured of course!) you penned what you wanted Annette and I to do – portions, protein and fibre. Also the snacks in between meals activating my metabolism made a big difference here. Eating less but more often, I find myself not starting a meal starving (like before) just hungry. When I finish a meal (mainly evening meal), I could still eat more but I choose not too as I’m no longer actually hungry.

Another stand out for me was that you weren’t representing or endorsing numerous dietary products as other weight agencies tend to do. Namely good nutritious food – Just eat unprocessed real food along with regular exercise.

Looking in the mirror in the change rooms trying on new clothes (as I had to ditch my entire old wardrobe!) I must say is a fantastic feeling – almost nudging a 6-pack without going to a gym. The comments I get from Annette’s, my and my kids friends is that “you look great”! Across the board, this really does a lot for one’s self confidence.

Julie, it’s easy to see why New Life Nutrition is so successful – Your bubbly and positive personality is very motivating and after each session both Annette and I would often comment this to each other – you made us feel good!

Now I’ve reached my goal weight and Annette is still a work in progress and I know she will get there. On a personal note, I would like to thank you very much for the simple changes that I needed to make to my lifestyle and approach to good nutritious proportionate eating.

Mark Haling – Very Happy Customer

 

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.

Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta

There is nothing better than coming home after a long day of seeing clients to find your wonderful husband has not only cooked a delicious dinner but has also cleaned the kitchen (this was the happiest part)! This is the recipe for the surprise pasta dish that I found in my kitchen – a Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta.

To make it have a little more fibre and to reduce the carbohydrate load, I’d suggest replacing all (or half) of the spaghetti with zucchini pasta.  Recipe for that is here.  I would also add some chopped mushrooms and broccolini if I were to cook it next time (hey, I have to give him credit for trying!).

What you need for the Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta…

CHICKEN MARINADE

–         4 (about 200g each) chicken breast fillets

–         60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice

–         1 teaspoon sweet paprika

–         1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

–         1 tablespoon olive oil

SAUCE AND PESTO

–         1/2 red onion, finely chopped

–         150g baby spinach leaves

–         2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

–         1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked

–         100g reduced-fat feta

–         45g (1/3 cup) almonds

–         2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

–         60ml (1/4 cup) light and creamy evaporated milk

–         40ml (2 tbspn) olive oil, extra

SPAGHETTI

–         500g dried spaghetti pasta  (see option below)

 

How to make the magic happen…

  1. Slice each chicken breast into 3-4cm pieces.  Combine lemon juice, paprika and oregano in a bowl; add chicken and marinate for approx 30 minutes in fridge.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the spinach and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until the spinach just wilts. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor.
  3. Add basil, feta, almonds, and pecorino/parmesan to the spinach mixture. Process until finely chopped. Add evaporated milk and extra oil. Process until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Add the spinach pesto and toss to combine.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat a chargrill on medium-high. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes each side or until cooked through. Slice the chicken across the grain.
  6. Divide the pasta mixture and chicken among serving plates.

*Option – Replace some or all of the spaghetti and include zucchini pasta instead.

 

In the Thermomix…

CHICKEN MARINADE

  1. Slice each chicken breast into 3cm pieces.  Combine lemon juice, paprika and oregano in a bowl; add chicken and marinate for approx 30 minutes in fridge.
  2. While chicken is marinating move onto making sauce.

SAUCE AND PESTO

  1. Place onion and garlic in TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape sides of bowl, add 10g olive oil and cook for 3 minutes at 100C on speed 1.  Add spinach and cook for 1.5 minutes at 100C on speed 1.
  2. Leave spinach mixture in bowl and add basil, feta, almonds and parmesean.  Set dial to  and turbo 2-3 times.  Add evaporated milk and 20g remaining olive oil and mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.  Set aside in Thermoserver.

COOKING CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI

  1. Place 1 litre warm water into TM bowl.
  2. Place marinated chicken into the varoma dish and set into position.  Cook for 20-25 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 2, turning once during cooking.
  3. While chicken is cooking, cook spaghetti on stove so it is all ready at some time.
  4. Place chicken and spaghetti into thermoserver with sauce and toss to combine.  Let it stand for 5 minutes, the sauce will thicken and coat the spaghetti.
  5. Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.

Healthy Nutella

I admit it, I LOVE (yes, LOVE!) Nutella.  It is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.  But here is a fun fact for you.  Did you know that if you compare Nutella with a block of Cadbury’s Hazelnut chocolate – the block of chocolate actually has more hazelnuts than the Nutella!  Marketed as a ‘healthy’ breakfast spread for children’s breakfasts, you may as well spread melted chocolate on the bread.  Definitely not a nutritious start to the day.  But, like most things, there are healthier alternatives…and thanks to our dietitian Renee, here it is – a healthy Nutella.  Get your spoon into this jar!

This recipe is not only delicious but also HIGH FIBRE, GLUTEN FREE and DAIRY FREE 

 

Ingredients to make 1 jar of Healthy Nutella…

–         1 cup of hazelnuts

–         1 cup of medjool dates, pitted

–         1/2 a cup of water

–         2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

–         1-2 heaped tablespoons of raw cacao powder

–         Optional: 1/2 a ripe banana

 

Make the magic happen…

  1. Soak hazelnuts in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least six hours – this is an important step so don’t skip it!  Drain just before use.
  2.  Add nuts to food processor or Thermomix along with the dates, fresh water, maple syrup and raw cacao (and the if using it).
  3. Blend for about 5 minutes or until a very smooth paste forms.
  4. Store in an airtight jam jar in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy!

Breakfast Slice

This breakfast slice is a super simple and of course tasty breakfast (or snack) idea. I like these types of recipes because they take less than hour from beginning to end and they are perfect to make ahead of a busy work/school week.  The first version I made, I didn’t really love so I got a little more creative and came up with this adaptation.  Thankfully, it got the thumbs up from three picky men who aren’t exactly ‘health food minded’… so I’m going to take that as success. I think it’s a good sign when I get “…and your telling me this is healthy? It doesn’t taste healthy!” Tick!

I eat this for breakfast, a snack or dessert and serve it with natural yoghurt (I am in love with Five AM natural yoghurt at the moment!)  and dehydrated coconut chips (another current obsession of mine), fresh figs, passion fruit or sliced mango. Anything goes!

This breakfast slice is High fibre, low GI, low FODMAP, wheat free, dairy free and no added sugar.

For more breakfast ideas, check out our blog post here!

 

Ingredients…

  • 3 cups whole grain oats
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large apples (skin on), grated very coarsely (can be roughly chopped in food processor)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup mixed raw nuts
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut – optional
  • 3 tablespoons sugar-free apple sauce – optional

How the magic happens…

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C. Line a non-stick slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Combine banana, eggs and coconut oil in a mixing bowl (can do this in a food processor or Thermomix).
  3. Combine all remaining ingredients with banana in a bowl. Mix until well combined.
  4. Press mixture into prepared tin.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until slice is golden and firm to the touch.
  6. Cool slightly on wire rack, then cut into squares to serve.
  7. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge. Keeps for 4-5 days.

Serve with natural yoghurt and dehydrated coconut chips, fresh figs, passion fruit or sliced mango.

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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!

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.

 

Coconut Oil – is it actually good for you?

Coconut oil has traditionally been seen as an unhealthy oil to use in cooking due to its high content of saturated fat. It is generally accepted that a diet high in saturated fat will raise cholesterol, therefore those with high cholesterol or even a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol have been advised tococonut-oil avoid coconut oil or foods cooked with it.  But, in recent years, several studies have begun to look closer at the health benefits of coconut as an exception to this rule. Coconut may actually be beneficial to health and may not need to be avoided.

Coconut oil is a solid fat at room temperature and it contains 97% saturated fat.  Due to its high saturated fat content, many nutrition experts have recommended avoiding this fat in diet. But, it is important to understand that there are many different types of saturated fats and not all of them act the same in the body. Coconut oil is made up of a type of saturated fat known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as lauric and myristic acid.  This type of saturated fat is different from the saturated fat found in animal fat which contains long-chain triglycerides which have a different molecular structure from the MCTs.  MCTs have been actually shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower total cholesterol.  One 2003 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry found that virgin coconut oil lowered the total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and VLDL in rats. Researchers believe that this is due to the polyphenols in the coconut oil, which may act as an antioxidant, helping lower cholesterol. MCTs may also help reduce body fat by suppressing certain fat-producing genes.

Coconut oil may also be good to keep skin healthy. It is an excellent moisturizer and is high in Vitamin E. It can also be used to moisturize dry hair with split ends. If you are going to use it as a skin moisturizer use a very small amount as it goes a long way. It may also be important to test a small amount on one area just to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

Although this research is positive for improving the reputation of coconut oil, don’t believe all the hype. Coconut oil promoters believe that coconut oil is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for to get rid of all illnesses. Many books, websites, and so-called experts claim that coconut oil can do everything from helping you lose weight to curing pancreatitis, diabetes, and even HIV. Although coconut oil may not be as bad as originally thought, it is not miraculous either, so be cautious with claims that seem too good to be true.

Should you cook with coconut oil?

Coconut oil should be used with caution. Remember that regardless of its effect on cholesterol, it still contains 100 calories per tablespoon, like most fats. Coconut oil is a good option for cooking at high temperatures or for baking, since it is a saturated fat it is more stable when heated to high temperatures.  Due to its plant origin, coconut oil may be a better choice than most animal-derived saturated fats such as lard. Overall, coconut may not be the “evil” food we used to believe it was, but no matter what new research might say about it, moderation is always the key to any healthy diet.