Pesto Baked Chicken Recipe

Pesto Baked ChickenThis is the sort of recipe that is fantastic for when you don’t have time to cook but still feel like something delicious and nutritious! You can double or triple the recipe to suit. It tastes great with grilled button mushrooms and spinach and cucumber salad but you can have any salad on the side you’d like.

Just make sure you load up on the vegetables that are nice and colourful. It is a very tasty meal that is waist-line friendly!

Pesto baked chicken (Serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons of pesto (I used this recipe:
  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup of light grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6 fresh basil leaves
  1. Put chicken breasts in an oven-safe dish and cover with pesto.
  2. Layer sliced Roma tomatoes on top of the pesto-covered chicken.
  3. Sprinkle with light grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and scatter some basil leaves on top.
  4. Bake at 200 degree Celsius for approximately 1 hour, uncovered.
  5. In the final 10 minutes of chicken being cooked, prepare side salad and grill mushrooms to serve with the chicken.

Grilled mushrooms: drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper on button mushrooms. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side on a very hot griddle pan.

Spinach and cucumber salad: finely slice ½ a cucumber and mix it in with 2 handfuls of spinach. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad, and season with salt and pepper.

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.

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


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



  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.




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.

Vitamin D Deficiency

After a recent doctors visit for some routine blood work, I discovered I have vitamin D deficiency. You may be thinking, how can a dietitian be deficient in any vitamin? Well, vitamin D is different from other vitamins because food is generally a poor source.  So, no matter how balanced my diet might be, I can still be deficient. Our skin makes vitamin D when it is directly exposed to sunlight, especially in the summer months.  Sadly, like most people today, I spend most of the day light hours inside the office. And with my fair skin, I try not to expose myself excessively to the sun and when I do I cover up with sun screen. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a vitamin D deficiency.

But, I am not alone, a study from 2007 from the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal, analyzed vitamin D status in three areas of Australia: southeast Queensland, Geelong region, and Tasmania. The results showed that study participants in Tasmania had the greatest prevalence of low vitamin D levels approximately 67.3% of subjects had levels less than 50 nmol/L, followed by those in Queensland (40.5% of subjects), and lastly 37.4% of participants in the Geelong region.

Certain population groups are also more prone to vitamin D deficiency.  People with darker skin do not absorb the vitamin from the sun as well as those with lighter skin.  Also, people who live in colder climates, who have illnesses that prevent proper absorption of nutrients, and breastfed children who do not receive supplemental vitamin D, are all at risk for developing a deficiency. The elderly are also at high risk due to time spent indoors and the skin becomes less efficient at absorbing the vitamin as we age.

Why is vitamin D important?

I am concerned about my vitamin D levels because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems. People with low vitamin D may experience more bone fractures or muscle weakness, due to the role that vitamin D plays in calcium absorption. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to specific cancers such as thyroid, prostate, and breast cancer. Vitamin D is also vital for a healthy immune system and can help us fight off bacteria and viruses, especially in the winter months.  People who are obese tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, as vitamin D is fat soluble and gets trapped in the body’s fat cells.

Treatment of Vitamin D deficiency

The first thing to do if you believe you might be deficient in vitamin D is to ask your doctor for a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD). This specific vitamin D blood level should be ? 70 nmol/L.  For those with a significant deficiency, your doctor may prescribe a high dose of the vitamin temporarily to quickly correct the deficiency. The upper limit of vitamin D is 10,000 IU.

If you want to take an over the counter supplement look for one with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which more closely matches the type vitamin D naturally found in the body, therefore it is the preferred form for supplementation. If you are deficient, try to take 1000 IU daily to get your levels up, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Many people may need a “maintenance” level of vitamin D during the winter months of 600 IU. But, the best thing you can do to naturally get your vitamin D levels up is to spend a little time enjoying the sunshine. Just 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight during the summer months will help keep your vitamin D levels up. So get out there and enjoy the sunshine!


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!


1 tin chickpeas, drained

3 baby beetroots

1 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ clove garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika



  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!

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)



  • 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


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! 



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.



  • 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



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.




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,


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


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

Swap tips. (2012). Retried July 17, 2012, from

Foods that make you go zzzzz….

Anybody that knows me well, knows that I’m a fabulous sleeper. You say the word ‘sleep’ (or pyjamas for that matter) and I’m in la-la land. Despite my innate ability, not being able to get a good night’s rest is an issue that I find many of my clients struggle with on a regular basis. Not only are poor sleep patterns frustrating, but they can also affect our health and weight. Most of us know the feeling of being tired, but not enough shut eye on a regular basis can negatively affect our mood making us irritable, anxious and more prone to becoming depressed. It’s also been shown that inadequate rest slows down our brain activity including our ability to learn, remember things and concentrate while also reducing how we handle stress and maintain a healthy immune system.

Another important reason to get enough sleep is the effect that a lack of sleep has on our waistlines. It seems that when it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze – you lose (weight that is). Not sleeping seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite and as a result putting on weight. According to a number of recent studies, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. The current research has focused on the link between sleep and the hormones that regulate appetite.

Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates hunger and leptin is the hormone that signals fullness to the brain and helps to suppress appetite. It seems that sleeping less is associated with a decrease in leptin (the satisfaction secret) and an increase in ghrelin (the hunger gremlin). Having said all this, not only does sleep loss make you hungrier, it also stimulates cravings for those ‘fatty’, ‘sugary’ foods like cakes, chocolate and biscuits to give you a boost of energy to keep you going during the day. Vicious circle.


There are a number of things to consider to help you get a restful night of shut eye and eating the right foods can certainly help you to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.


  1. Caffeine – Avoid any caffeinated beverages from 2pm, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. This includes coffee, tea, energy drinks and coke. Also, don’t forget that chocolate also has caffeine in it (along with lots of sugar) so probably best to keep your intake of this to a limit also!
  2. Large meal close to bed time – Heavy meals high in fat and calories less than three hours before going to bed rev up active digestion and can often leave you feeling uncomfortably full or, even worse, cause heartburn or reflux. Watch out for spicy foods for the similarly  aggravating effects they can have.
  3. Processed  meats – They’re an easy choice for a quick meal but processed meats such as ham, bacon, sausages and smoked meats contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which stimulates the brain to give you a buzz.
  4. All liquids 90 minutes before going to bed – It takes about 90 minutes for the body to process liquids, so limit liquids of any kind for at least 90 minutes before bedtime if the need to urinate wakes you up in the middle of the night.
  5. Alcohol  – Do not use alcohol to help you fall asleep. Although alcohol may initially induce sleep, once it wears off, the sleep tends to be broken. Plus, alcohol generally makes you need to go to the loo through its dehydrating effect on the body which means you’ll probably be waking up to pee throughout the night.



  1. Almonds –   Almonds contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation, they have the added benefit of being high in protein which can help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping
  2. Banana  – Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax stressed muscles. They also contain tryptophan which is the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin and melatonin – the hormones that slow down the traffic in your brain and make you sleepy. (Serotonin also helps to regulate your mood and appetite).
  3. Dairy – Yogurt, milk and cheese contain tryptophan but they also contain another important nutrient – calcium. Calcium is a sleep-inducing vitamin as it relaxes muscles and nerves in the body but it also helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Makes a glass of warm milk the perfect little sleeping tablet!
  4. Cherries – This yummy summer fruit have been shown to contain a significant level of the hormone melatonin which will help you to start feeling sleepier at night.
  5. Porridge – The low-GI carbohydrates in a bowl of oats triggers the body to produce insulin which can speed up the release of serotonin leading to sleep. Plus the milk in it will have an added positive effect.
  6. Tea – Yes, avoiding all caffeine in the evening is essential, but some herbal varieties can help get you into sleep mode. Chamomile tea is well known as a helpful and safe sleep aid and green tea (must be decaf) contains theanine which helps promote sleep.



An all-carbohydrate snack, especially one high in added sugar is less likely to help you sleep. You’ll miss out on the positive effects of tryptophan and you may set your body off on the roller-coaster ride effect of plummeting blood sugar followed by the release of stress hormones that will keep you awake. The best bedtime snack is one that has both low GI (slowly released) carbohydrates, protein and some calcium.

For a good night’s sleep try:

  • a glass of warm milk
  • small bowl of traditional oats made on milk
  • almond butter on a slice of grainy toast
  • grainy cracker (like Ryvita) topped with a small slice of low-fat cheese
  • low fat natural yoghurt with fresh or frozen cherries
  • banana smoothie made on low fat milk

But keep in mind that it takes about one hour for the tryptophan in the foods to reach the brain, so don’t wait until right before bedtime to have your snack.



  1. Exercise – While exercise is good for you in many ways and can assist with relaxation, if it is done to close to bed time, it can actually stimulate your body too much to allow rest. This happens as a result of the endorphin/adrenaline rush of high intensity exercise and also because of a higher body temperature (a cooler body temperature promotes sleep). Best advice is to try to schedule your exercise in the morning or at least five hours before your scheduled bedtime (takes about that long for your body to cool down properly).
  2. Stress – If you have a lot on your mind, consider keeping a journal next to your bed so you can scribble down any thoughts that won’t let your mind settle.
  3. Tiredness – It might seem obvious but go to bed when you are tired. Don’t wait until Desperate Housewives is finished because there is a good chance that you will start to feel more awake again which will make it more difficult to get to sleep.


Let me know how you go with these tips and if anybody has any other tips that have worked for them, please feel free to comment below.

Sweet dreams!



Welcome to New Life Nutrition

New Life NutritionWelcome to New Life Nutrition!

I am Julie Masci – an accredited practising dietitian and the director of a private practice in Brisbane.  From a proud Italian family, you can only imagine that I have been surrounded by food my entire life (and yes I am still struggling to convince  my father that olive oil doesn’t have its own food group).

I am passionate about nutrition, health and wellbeing and as a result I use every ounce of energy I have educating and infusing the same enthusiasm into the patients I see.  After all, food isn’t just about eating – it’s about the thinking, the choosing, the tasting and most importantly the enjoying.  From this we get well nourished, happy and healthy people.  And this is what I plan to be blogging about in future – the ‘ins and outs of food and eating’.

I will of course also be posting my comments and views to recent nutrition topics in the media, reviews of new recipes and products I have tried as well as general banter about interesting topics that pop up, especially those revolving around weight loss, nutrition myths, IBS and food intolerances.

I must admit that I am quite excited to finally be writing as it has been a long time coming.  As the Summer of 2011 comes to a close, new and exciting things are happening and I’m busting to share them.  Firstly, we have just launched our brand new website whichFood Intolerance you’re looking at right now!  Please let me know what you think (and if you need a web designer recommendation I have just the man for you – he is amazing to work with!).

On top of this, tweeting has also become ‘my new thing’ (@julie_masci) and I have met some amazing ‘tweeps’ via this ever growing network.  Who would have thought that you could have nutrition and food discussions with complete strangers and experts in other states and countries – how the world of food has developed from the lowly afternoon cooking shows (sorry Huey).

Well that’s enough from me for now but expect to hear from me regularly each week.  In the mean time, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook and let me know if there are any nutrition, health or food topics/products you’d like to know more about.

I’m looking forward to sharing my life of nutrition with you.