The Pros and Cons of Juice

orange_juice_1Juice is very popular.

How can you resist them when they look insta-fabulous with a filter and served in a mason jar? #Healthy #CleanEating

Nutritionally speaking juices have pros and cons and are not the holy grail of health. They have their benefits depending on the context. Context is very important. Here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of juices.

The pros of juices:

  1. A very efficient way to nourish yourself with many vitamins and minerals
  2. Delicious
  3. Great snack if you are very active and lead a busy lifestyle
  4. Are approximately 95% water – hello hydration!

The cons of juices:

1. They do not contain fibre

Most juicing machines will leave out the skin and/or rough parts of the fruit and/or vegetables. The skin and rough parts of fruit and vegetables contain fibre which is fantastic for your bowels and also contribute to you feeling full.

Fibre also help ensure everything in your gut moves along efficiently so your stools are not too hard (hello constipation) or too soft (hello diarrhoea) and protect you from bowel cancer. You don’t want to miss out on fibre!

2. They contain little or no protein

Fruit and vegetables do not contain protein which is one of the things that help you feel full after eating. Ever wonder why you feel hungry shortly after drinking a juice? The no protein factor will have you hunting down food shortly after drinking your juice.

Protein is what your body uses to build or maintain every living tissue in your body. You can get protein from animal sources (e.g. lean meat, fish, seafood, offal) and non-animal sources (e.g. beans, tofu), and dairy (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt).

3. Can get pretty expensive very quickly

Why? If you add your cacao nibs, maca powder, pea protein etc and buy special equipment then your juice will get pretty expensive pretty quickly. In contrast, buying, washing and eating a piece of fruit is cheap and easy.

4. May hinder weight loss goals

A typical juice may contain 3 – 7 cut up fruit, their natural sugars and vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals are fantastic for your health. The natural sugars give your muscles a boost of energy (also known as glucose) and this is what you want from a snack.

If you are not very active then these natural sugars are not used by your muscles and get converted to fat. If you are trying to lose weight by reducing the unhelpful foods in your diet then your hard work may be undone by over-consuming juices. If you are trying to lose weight, you can see a dietitian to help you formulate a personal, tailored plan to help you succeed.

5. Can contribute to bloating for some individuals

Why? As mentioned above, juices contain natural sugars. An overload of certain types of natural sugar can contribute to bloating and diarrhoea in some individuals. This does not mean that fruits are bad for you. It just means that our bodies are unique, built and work differently to one another.  And, if you struggle with bloating, see a dietitian who can help you determine is causes.  

6. They cannot and should not replace meals in the short-term or long term

This is due to reasons 1 – 5 listed above. Long-term, it is not healthy, balanced or safe to replace meals with juices. A juice should be enjoyed in conjunction to a balanced diet which contains lean protein, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, dairy, fruit and vegetables.

The bottom line:

Juices are great, however, drinking them do not make you instantly healthy. Remember to look at the big picture and ensure you get adequate sleep, exercise, reduce alcohol consumption and eat a variety of nourishing foods.

Should I Count Calories?

Zero fat You may have heard the phrase “calories in versus calories out” when it comes to losing weight. It is true that calories do count for losing weight. The idea of counting calories started around the turn of the 20th century with the invention of a machine that helped measure calories or energy in food.

If we could measure calories, then it must be useful to be able to count them. This belief has stuck with us for the last 100 years and has spurred the idea that you must eat fewer calories in order to lose weight.

Creating a calorie deficit is meant to force your body to look for calories elsewhere, hopefully in your fat stores, which will eventually lead to weight loss. It has been traditionally believed that you need to be in a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound.

Most health professionals recommend a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day over the course of a week to achieve a pound of weight loss per week. But, as many of us who have tried these calorie-controlled diets know, every calorie is not created equal.

It is also very difficult to count calories accurately. Most of us have “portion distortion” where we don’t have any true understanding what a real portion looks like. This is made worse when we consume foods at buffets or at restaurants that serve huge portions. Even dietitians and nutritionists have a hard time accurately estimating calories.

When 200 dietitians were shown different restaurant meals, they were unable to accurately estimate the calories in the meals. Sometimes they were off by as much as 50%. If you want to more accurately estimate calories, it is important to actually measure or weigh your food instead just guessing on the exact amount. This is difficult to do in a restaurant setting since you don’t know the exact ingredients in the food, therefore it is best to prepare the food yourself for the most accurate measurement.

Not all calories are created equal. Some foods tell our body to store fat or release insulin more than other foods. Some foods have a thermic effect, meaning they use more energy when they are digested. The differences are small, but it they can add up. Foods that take more energy to digest and absorb are generally foods that are high in fibre and protein. For example, whole grain bread takes more calories to digest than white bread due to the fibre content. These high fibre, high protein foods also increase satiety or feeling of fullness, leading you to also eat fewer calories overall.

So should you count calories? Calorie counting may not be for everyone. If you are just starting out on a weight loss program, first begin by improving your food quality and eating less quantity to see if that gives you the results you want. Increase your intake of high fibre and high protein foods. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and cut out high sugar and processed foods.

After a few months of improving your diet, if you are still not getting the results you want, then you may want to consider counting calories to see if you are eating more than you think. There are many smartphone applications that help make calorie counting easier. Just make sure to actually measure your food before you consume it so you can begin to learn what a real portion looks like and get an accurate perspective.

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!

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.

Crunch & colour – Beef, beet, lentil and walnut salad

My sisters and niece came over for a surprise home warming lunch at our new house and I had to whip something up rather quickly.  I found some leftover beef strips in thr fridge and so I tossed together this amazing salad.  It is a very well rounded salad with crunch and colour – plus it is very filling.  Love the lentils and walnuts for the fibre and protein, not to mention the antioxidant punch you will get from the coloured veg such as the beetroot, sweet potato, tomato and baby spinach.  The best thing yet, it tasted even better for lunch the next day.  Enjoy!

 

BEEF, BEETS, WALNUTS AND LENTIL SALAD

[gluten free, low carb, high protein; omit onion and garlic (infuse in oil), beetroot and lentils for low FODMAP option]

Cooking Time   15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 500g beef fillet
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 medium beetroot, trimmed  OR  425g can baby beets, drained, halved
  • 400g can lentils, drained, rinsed
  • 1/2 sweet potato, chopped
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. If using fresh beetroot:  Preheat oven to 200°C/180C°C fan-forced. Wrap each beetroot in foil. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside to cool. Remove and discard foil. Wearing gloves, peel beetroot. Cut into 4cm pieces.
  2. Heat small amount of oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or chargrill over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and 1 tbspn balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add sweet potato.  Cook until tender.
  4. Add lentils and beetroot. Cook, tossing, for 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove to a plate.
  5. Add beef to frying pan. Cook beef until cooked to your liking. Remove to a plate to cool slightly.
  6. Combine spinach, mint, feta, tomato and walnuts in a      large bowl. Thinly slice beef. Add to salad. Add beetroot and lentil mixture.
  7. Combine vinegars and remaining oil in a jug. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad. Toss to combine. Serve.

Banana and Walnut Muffins – gf, df, sf, low FODMAP

I had a whole heap of mushie brown bananas and didn’t know what to do with them. I put it on our Facebook page, and our followers had terrific suggested to use them up. Some great ideas included smoothies, banana frozen yoghurt, pancakes (using banana instead of sugar) and even cocktails!  The winning vote however was for muffins.   Being a self confessed horrible muffin maker, I was guided by the suggestions of all our followers to make a really amazing finished product.  The trick is – don’t overmix, keep the oven temperature lower and only cook them for 15-20 minutes. 

These delicious banana and walnut muffins are perfect for a sweet treat – even for those that are gluten free, dairy free, soy free or on a low FODMAPs diet.  Plus, they are higher protein  and have good fats due to the walnuts and chia seeds.  Don’t forget to freeze them for lunchbox fillers.

 

BANANA & WALNUT MUFFINS

[Options for gluten free, dairy free and soy free]

Cooking Time   20 minutes

Makes   12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) self-raising flour (I used Orgran gluten free)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 70g butter, melted, cooled (I used Nuttelex lite)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup chia seeds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line 12 x muffin pan.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, chia seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk butter and eggs together. Stir in banana and walnuts (do not overmix). Spoon into prepared muffin pan.
  3. Bake for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.

Note:

– To make this into banana bread instead, use 1 cup plain flour and ½ cup self-raising flour.  Cook for 45-50 minutes.

– Freeze extras for easy snacks