Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Summer = Salads

Summer time is a great time to fill up on healthy, delicious salads. I don't believe salads should be the accompaniment to a meal. I believe they should be the meal.
When creating nutritionally balanced salads, remember to include these 4 key components:

1. Vegetables/ salad
2. Protein source
3. Low GI carbohydrate
4. Healthy fat

  • Left: Mixed lettuce, beetroot, zucchini, turkey & fetta salad
  • Right: Green beans, bok choy, lean pork, lentil, fetta & pinenut salad
  • Left: Spinach, tomato, capsicum, zucchini, chickpea, fetta & walnut salad
  • Right: Spinach, cucumber, tomato, chickpea, fetta & pepita seed salad

1. Vegetables/ salad

  • Green - spinach , rocket, lettuce, broccoli, beans, celery, cucumber
  • Orange - pumpkin, carrots
  • Red - capsicum, tomato
  • Yellow - yellow capsicum
  • Purple - beetroot

2. Protein sources

  • Lean chicken
  • Tinned tuna
  • Smoked salmon
  • Boiled eggs
  • Chickpeas (also provide low GI carbohydrate)
  • 4-bean mix (also provide low GI carbohydrate)
  • Fetta

3. Low GI carbohydrates

  • Fruits -  mango, pomegranate, pear, cranberries
  • Quinoa
  • Pearl cous cous
  • Corn
  • Sweet potato
  • Chickpeas (also provide protein)
  • 4-bean mix (also provide protein)

4. Healthy fats

  • Nuts - roasted walnuts, pinenuts, pistachios
  • Avocado
  • Oils - olive oil, rice bran oil
  • Olives

Build your Salad

Now that you've chosen each of the components, it's time to build your salad.

To serve 4, I recommend:
  • 8 cups of salad/ vegetables
  • 2 large chicken breasts/ 3 x 95g tin tuna/ 200g smoked salmon/ 3 boiled eggs/ 1 x 400g tin chickpeas or 4-bean mix/ 180g reduced fat fetta (or mix and match more than one protein source)
  • 2 cups of low GI carbohydrates
  • 1/4 cup nuts/ 1 whole avocado, 1/4 cup oils/ 15 olives
For extra flavour add herbs such as fresh basil or parsley, wholegrain mustard, lemon/ lime juice or balsamic vinegar.

One of my favourite summer salad dressings is balsamic vinegar, olive oil (3 parts balsamic vinegar: 1 part olive oil) and wholegrain mustard.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Surviving the Christmas Bulge

With less than 4 weeks until Christmas... the silly season has begun. Did you know, on average, Australians put on 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period? This blog is packed full of useful tips on surviving the festive season and beating the bulge. So read on for smart food swaps, healthy nibble ideas and ways to incorporate exercise.


Healthy Food Swaps

- Swap regular hommus for skinny hommus (save 140kJ per 2 tbsp)
- Swap water crackers for carrot and cucumber sticks with dips (save 215kJ per 4 crackers)
- Swap potato chips for wholegrain chips (lower GI)
- Swap chocolate for chocolate dipped strawberries (save 944kJ/ 225 cal per 4 squares)
- Swap party pies for tuna sushi (save 398kJ and 5g fat)

How many calories in that?

A big reason for weight gain during the holidays is the nibbles that flow at parties. A party pie here, a mini quiche there,chips, dips and crackers and you've blown your calorie bank for the day! Remember we should aim for no more than 1200kJ in total for snacks for the day; either 3 x 400kJ snacks or 2 x 600kJ snacks.
High calorie nibbles:
- Handful potato chips 577kJ/ 138 cal
- 4 Jatz crackers with full fat cheddar cheese 750kJ/ 179 cal
- 1 small mince pie 802kJ/ 192 cal
- 1 party pie 539kJ/127 cal
- 2 chocolate Lindt balls 669kJ/ 160 cal

- 1 spring roll 2066kJ/ 495 cal
Low calorie nibbles:
- Carrot & celery sticks with 2 tbsp skinny hummus 306kJ/ 73 cal

- 10 cherries 100kJ/ 25 cal
- 20 grapes 335kJ/ 80 cal
- Small punnet strawberries 262kJ/ 63 cal

- 1 vegetable rice paper roll 396kJ/ 95 cal
- Skewers with 1 bocconcini ball and cherry tomato 386kJ/ 92 cal

No time for exercise?

You may feel like you're too busy to exercise with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas. However, with all the extra food being consumed, it's important to burn the extra calories with some exercise. Try and incorporate some exercise into your festive occasions.

- Game of backyard/ beach cricket
- Walk around the neighbourhood to view Christmas lights
- Swimming in the pool
- Park the car further away from the shops when Christmas shopping

*kJ values sourced from Calorie King

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's making news in nutrition this month?

A Black cuppa a day keeps Diabetes Away

Data published in the BMJ Open journal showed the prevalence of Type II Diabetes is lower in countries where black tea consumption is high. Another reason to have a black cuppa... 

The Benefits of Interval Training

More emerging evidence is showing interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, increase your metabolism and improve fitness. A recent study showed doing interval training for 20 minutes 3 x a week was more effective than jogging for 7 hours. In this study the participants did 20 minutes on an exercise bike 3 x a week, doing 8 seconds of fast pace cycling at a level that elevates heart rate and 12 seconds at a moderate, slower pace. 

Key findings from Australian Health Survey 

63.4% of adults are overweight or obese, an increase from 61.2% in 2007-08. The average man (18 and over) is 175.6cm tall and weighs 85.9kg. The average woman is 161.8cm tall and weighs 71.1kg. Between 1995 to 2011-12, the average weight increased by 3.9kg for men and 4.1kg for women. On average, men have a waist circumference of 97.9cm while women have a waist circumference of 87.7cm. How do you measure up against the average?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nutrition for Sports

What's the best diet before, during and after endurance exercise?
This post originated because my partner completed a 165km cycle yesterday conquering Canberra's hills in the Fitz's Challenge (Well done Mike!). Being a dietitian, I was interested in ensuring his nutrition and hydration was optimal before, during and after the event. With so many of us training for fun runs, fitness challenges, triathlons and marathons; I thought I'd post about nutrition for sports.  

Carbohydrate Loading

  • Who should carbohydrate load?
    • Anyone exercising continuously at a moderate to high intensity for 90 minutes or longer e.g. cycling, marathon running and longer distance triathlon
  • The AIS recommends 1-4 days of exercise taper while following a high carbohydrate diet (7-12g carbohydrate/kg body weight/ day)
    • This is sufficient to elevate muscle glycogen (stored glucose = fuel) and can improve performance by 2-3%
  • For example, a 70kg man needs 490 - 840g carbohydrate to effectively carbohydrate load (equivalent to 32-56 slices of bread)
  • In order to consume this amount of carbohydrate, it is necessary to make use of compact sources of carbohydrate such as sugar, cordial, soft drinks, sports drinks, jam, honey, jelly and tinned fruit

Nutrition Before Sport

  • Carbohydrate breaks down into glucose
    • Glucose = fuel
  • Before sport consume a high carbohydrate, low glycaemic index, low fat, easily digested meal 2-4 hours before
  • Aiming for 1-4g carbohydrate per kg body weight
  • For example, a 70kg man needs 70 - 280g carbohydrate (minimum 4.6 slices bread)
  • The table below has examples of foods containing 30g; so a 70kg man would need to consume at least 2.5 of these options to meet a minimum of 70g carbohydrate
  • An example is 3 weet-bix with milk and a 250ml glass of juice

Nutrition During Sport

  • Sports lasting <1 hour do not threaten fuel stores
  • Sports lasting >1 hour do
  • Foods during sports should be high carbohydrate but high glycaemic index (broken down quickly into glucose to give you energy)
  • Aiming for 30-60g carbohydrate per hour
  • An example of 30-60g carbohydrate = 2 x sports gels, 1L Gatorade, 1 x sports performance bar,  8 snackes/jellies

Nutrition After Sport

  • Key nutrient for recovery = protein
  • Aiming for 10-20g protein
  • Works best when coupled with carbohydrate
  • Eat within 30 minutes
    • The bodies protein synthesis mechanism is working best within this time
  • Good post sport snacks/ meals include eggs on toast, fruit smoothie, liquid meal supplement (e.g. Sustagen sport), Up & Go, sandwich with meat or cheese, glass of milk and almonds, protein shake (if low carbohydrate, consume with piece of fruit/ toast for carbohydrates and protein performance bars
  • The table below has examples of foods containing 10g protein

FYI: Protein in excess of need is oxidised as energy and doesn't have an anabolic effect. The maximum amount of protein the body can utilise is 2g protein/ kg body weight/ day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Milking Your Options

Cows, goat, almond, oat, rice, soy... Take one guess what I'm talking about...
There are so many different varieties of milk on the supermarket shelves. Thanks to my friend for suggesting this blog with the question "is almond milk healthy?" in mind.

One of the most important nutrients in milk is calcium. Fortunately, a lot of milk substitutes are fortified with calcium. Check the label and choose a milk with at least 120mg calcium per 100ml. This  ensures about 300mg per serve (standard serve is 250ml).
Milk is also a good source of protein, with regular cow's milk providing about 8g per serve. Almond, soy, rice and oat milks are lower in protein, but protein enriched varieties are available.
Almond, soy, rice and oat milks are all naturally lower in fat and calories than regular cows milk, but reduced fat varieties are available if you are watching your weight.

Dietitians Pick for Milk Substitutes:

Almond milk
A few brands, such as Australia's Own and Sanitarium do not specify the calcium content in the nutrition information panel.
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened
  • Silk Pure Almond 

Soy milk
  • Vitasoy Lite Soy
  • Sanitarium So Good Lite Soy

Oat milk
  • Vitasoy Original Oat Milk

Rice milk
  • Vitasoy Protein Enriched Rice Milk
Almond, soy, oat and rice milk are all great substitutes for cow's milk, particularly if you suffer from lactose intolerance. Just be sure to check the information panel and choose the brand with the most calcium and protein per 100ml, and the least energy/ kilojoules per 100ml.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe Makeovers

Do you have a favourite family recipe? Something that you cook week in and week out? Find out how to give your favourite recipes a  nutritional makeover to make them even healthier.


Ways to modify recipes to make them healthier:

  1. Cut calories by using reduced fat products e.g. skim milk, lite cheese, extra light ricotta and extra light cream
  2. Increase the fibre by switching to wholemeal or wholegrain varieties e.g. brown rice, wholemeal pasta and wholemeal flour
  3. Add more vegies than the recipe calls for
  4. Use lean meats e.g. heart smart mince, skinless chicken breasts and rindless bacon
  5. Replace some of the meat with legumes and lentils to boost fibre
  6. Cut salt by using reduced-salt or no-added-salt products e.g. reduced-salt chicken/ vegetable stock and reduced-salt tomato paste

Recipe Makeovers

Spaghetti Bolognaise

  • Cut calories and increase fibre by replacing 1/2 of the meat with a 400g can brown lentils
  • Use reduced-salt tinned tomatoes rather than bolognaise sauce
  • Add chopped vegies such as carrot and mushrooms
  • Replace white spaghetti with wholemeal spaghetti
Lentil Bolognaise - Healthy Food Guide Recipe

Fried Rice

  • Cut calories by using lean skinless chicken breast and rindless bacon
  • Cut salt by using reduced-salt soy sauce
  • Increase fibre and lower the GI by replacing white jasmine rice with brown rice
  • Add fresh vegies such as carrot, celery and onion
Low Fat Fried Rice - Healthy Food Guide Recipe


Carbonara Pasta

  • Replace cream with either Philadelphia 85% less fat cream for cooking or extra light ricotta
  • Increase fibre by replacing white pasta with wholemeal pasta
  • Cut calories by using rindless bacon
Penne Carbonara - Healthy Food Guide Recipe

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Juice up your life!

I was very lucky this week to be given a Juicing machine (a dietitian's dream!) for my birthday. I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes with you all and some of the latest research showing fruits and vegetables make us happy!

Apple, Carrot, Celery & Ginger Juice

How to make this juice?
Simply juice 1 apple, 1 large carrot, 2 celery stalks and 1cm cube fresh ginger root. Serving size: 250ml
Number of serves of fruit in this juice: 1
Number of serves of vegetables in this juice: 2

A new report has shown people who eat 7 fruits and vegetables a day are happiest. The report found happiness rose with the number of daily serves of fruits and vegetables consumed, with happiness peaking at 7 serves.
This report is in line with our national campaign, 'go for 2 & 5' (encouraging 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day). 1 serve of fruit is one medium piece of fruit, two small pieces of fruit or 1 cup of diced fruit. 1 serve of vegetables is 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or 1 cup salad vegetables. The most recent National Health Survey showed only 6% of adults met their recommended serves.
How do you meet your 2 & 5?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The glycaemic load: everything in moderation

I see many clients with Type 2 diabetes, PCOS, insulin resistance as well as people struggling with their weight. All of these clients benefit from a low glycemic index diet. Most people are familiar with the glycaemic index or GI, however the glycaemic load is a concept that may be new to you. 

The glycaemic load = (GI of a carbohydrate food x quantity of carbohydrate in the food)/ 100

I explain to my clients that even though a food may be low GI; if you eat large quantities at any one time it can still cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This is another instance where the saying "everything in moderation" holds true.

So, when you're serving up your starchy vegetables, rice, pasta or bread, it's important to not only consider whether you're making a low GI choice, but check the serving size too to keep the glycaemic load in check.

What's equivalent to 1 slice of bread? 
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup cooked cous cous 
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta 
  • 1/2 large corn on the cob 
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato 
  • 1/2 cup beans/lentils
A great way to keep your carbohydrate portions in check is to aim to fill 1/4 of your plate with low GI carbohydrates, 1/4 with lean meats or protein alternatives and 1/2 with vegetables or salad. Click on the link below to see the portion plate. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's making news in nutrition this month?

Reading Food Labels Could Keep you Thinner

A recent study showed women who read food labels weighed nearly 9 pounds (4.5kg) less than women who didn't read labels. The results showed reading labels played a role in reducing obesity, especially among women.
So next time you pick up a product in the supermarket, read the label! Pay particular attention to the total energy (calories/kilojoules), saturated fat and sugar. A general rule of thumb is to aim for saturated fat <2g/100g and sugar <15g/100g. The energy depends on whether it is a meal or snack. Try and choose snacks with <200 calories per serve (and be sure to stick to 1 serve!).

A good reason to go to bed early

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed significant evidence that inadequate sleep is contributing to obesity, through affecting appetite-regulating hormones. The Canadian Obesity Network has included adequate sleep in its new set of obesity management tools for physicians. No longer is achieving a healthy weight just about healthy eating and exercise; but it is also about getting enough sleep. What a great excuse to hit the sack early tonight!

Eating Well During Pregnancy Reduces Baby's Obesity Risk

Research is showing that obesity likely begins in the womb. A study recently showed that  babies born to mothers who followed a low fat diet during pregnancy (13% calories from fat) could better metabolise fat and glucose. Babies born to mothers who ate a high fat diet had worse metabolism. This alterered metabolism was irrespective of whether the mother was a healthy weight, overweight or obese. This means that even if you are overweight and pregnant; your baby isn't destined to a life of obesity. The food choices you make during pregnancy DO weigh heavily on your baby's future metabolism.
The interesting fact about this study was that the low fat diet (13% calories from fat), is far lower than the 20-35% generally recommended for health and well-being. The study did not differentiate between healthy or unhealthy fats. Watch this space! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To fish oil or not to fish oil?

I have had questions left, right and centre recently from friends, family and clients regarding fish oils. In particular, people are interested to know:
1. To fish oil or not to fish oil?
2. How much should I take?
The simple answer to question 1 is YES. Whether you suffer from chronic disease such as heart disease; have risk factors such as high triglycerides; suffer from chronic arthritis, eczema, depression or ADHD; or are just looking to optimise your nutrition - you should take fish oil. The answer to question 2 is a bit more complex. How much fish oil you should take is very individual.  
Fish oils are often associated with improving heart health, but the benefits are far greater than just a healthy ticker. Fish oils can also help brain function, reduce joint pain and arthritis and help keep skin healthy. For general health and well-being, it is recommended everyone consume 500mg EPA + DHA daily.
What does 500mg EPA + DHA look like?
  • Consume 150g oily fish 2-3 times a week
    • For example, 150g serve Atlantic salmon (1976mg EPA + DHA) + 80g canned salmon (1072mg EPA + DHA) + 80g canned tuna (386mg EPA + DHA) = 3434mg EPA + DHA per week OR 490mg per day
  • See table below for amounts of EPA + DHA in foods
  • As you can see; it is quite difficult to get 500mg EPA + DHA daily unless you are consuming oily fish such as salmon and sardines twice weekly. If you have increased omega-3 requirements, it is very difficult to get enough through food alone
  • 1-2 fish oil capsules (depending on how concentrated it is)

Most fish oil capsules are 1000mg, of which varying amounts are the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Many supplements contain, on average, 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA, a total of 300mg per capsule. So, always check the EPA and DHA content of your supplements and choose one with higher quantity of EPA and DHA. In general, most people will need to take 2 capsules per day of most fish oil capsules.

If you have heart disease, aim for a minimum of 1000mg EPA + DHA daily. If you have high triglycerides, aim for a minimum of 1200mg daily (up to 4000mg as indicated by your health professional or GP). If you suffer from osteoarthritis or joint pain, aim for a minimum of 3000mg daily.  
What about krill oil?
The omega-3s in krill oil are packaged differently from fish oils, in the form of a phospholipid that is easier for the body to absorb. Because of its higher absorption rate, people need to take less capsules to achieve desired health benefits. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The low down on low GI

What is the GI?

All carbohydrate foods break down into glucose in the body. The GI, or glycaemic index, is a measure of how quickly or slowly a carbohydrate food breaks down into glucose in the body. Foods with a high GI (70 or more) are rapidly digested and absorbed into the blood stream, producing large rises in blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI (55 or less) are slowly digested and absorbed, producing steady rises in blood sugar levels over a longer period.

What's all the fuss about low GI?

  • Improves blood sugar levels in people with diabetes
  • Helps control appetite and delay hunger
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity
  • Reduces insulin levels and insulin resistance (by reducing insulin you make fat easier to burn and less likely to be stored)
  • Reduces risk of high blood sugar levels in you and your baby during pregnancy

How do I lower the GI of my diet?

  1. Replace higher GI foods with lower GI foods
  2. Look for foods with the GI symbol when selecting carbohydrate foods

Examples of low GI foods

  • Breakfast - wholegrain bread, fruit bread, rolled oats, Guardian or Sustain cereal or low fat yoghurt
  • Lunch - wholegrain bread, chickpeas, 3-bean mix or pasta
  • Dinner - sweet potato, corn on the cob, wholegrain bread roll or Carisma potatoes
  • Snacks - fruit, low fat yoghurt, Vita Weats, Ryvitas, Belvita biscuits

Foods which carry the low GI symbol

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What's making news in nutrition?

Trying to lose weight? Keep a food diary

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found women who kept a food journal lost more weight over a year long period. The study participants were given the following tips for keeping a food journal:
  • Be honest - record everything you eat
  • Be accurate - measure portions
  • Be complete - include details of food peparation, addition of condiments etc
My favourite online food diary is 'My Fitness Pal'. This is also available as a phone app for logging your meals on-the-go.

Are all calories equal?

You have probably heard this before... calories in = calories out. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that not all calories are equal.
In this study, participants were put on either a low fat diet, a low carbohydrate diet or a low glycaemic index diet with moderate fat and carbohydrate. Participants on the low glycaemic index diet developed a higher metabolism than those on the low fat diet and low carbohydrate diet. The low fat diet and low carbohydrate diet also had a worse effect on heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol and inflammatory markers.
What's the take home message? For the best long term weight management, avoid diets that severely restrict any major nutrient such as fat or carbohydrate. Instead focus on reducing high glycaemic index carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and processed, high-sugar foods.

Eggs for Breakfast

A recent study shows eating eggs for breakfast can reduce the number of calories you eat at the next meal. In the study, half of the participants were given eggs for breakfast while the others were given cereal. It was found those who had eaten eggs for breakfast ate less at the next meal. They had increased leves of  the hormone PYY (our 'fullness' hormone) and reduced levels of ghrelin (our 'hunger' hormone).  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Spring Clean your Diet

With Spring just around the corner, it's time to ask yourself... Does my diet need a spring clean? After indulging on winter comfort food, the answer for many is 'yes'! With the start of a new season comes the perfect opportunity to 'spring into action' and give your body a spring clean from the inside out.

1. Start by "healthifying" your fridge:
Aim to fill your fridge with plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, lean meats, eggs and low fat dairy products. Avoid putting unhealthy food and drinks in your fridge, such as chocolate (except dark chocolate which contains at least 70% cocoa), cakes, energy drinks, fruit juices and alcohol.

2. Give your pantry a makeover:
The kitchen pantry is often where unhealthy foods hide... think biscuits, cereals, crackers, chips, 2-minute noodles, white rice, white flour, sugar and creamy jar pasta sauces. Many of these foods are highly processed, have a high glycaemic index and are high in saturated/ trans (unhealthy) fats and sugars.

Aim to fill your pantry with higher fibre, lower glycaemic index foods such as;
  • Ryvita crackers
  • Vita Weat crackers
  • Tinned tomatoes (reduced salt)
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • 4-bean mix
  • Rolled oats
  • Wholemeal pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Pearl couscous
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Wholemeal flour
  • CSR smart sugar
  • Tomato based pasta sauces
3. Planning and preparation:
So, now that you have healthy food in your fridge and pantry, you are  as ready as ever to eat healthy! Eating healthy takes planning and preparation. Spend a few minutes before you do the groceries to think about what dinners you will cook for the week, which helps create your shopping list. Save both money and calories by making lunch to take to work the night before. Some healthy lunch ideas include 4-bean mix with salad, boiled eggs on low GI crackers, tinned tuna/ salmon on wholegrain/ rye wrap with salad or leftover lean meat with salad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Which cereal is best?

Choosing a healthy breakfast cereal can be an overwhelming task. Nowadays at least one whole aisle of the supermarket is dedicated to breakfast cereals. Many of them flaunt nutrition claims and jargon across their packages. It often seems impossible to find a cereal that's high in all the good stuff (fibre, low GI energy) but low in all the bad stuff (fat, sugar and salt).  


What to look for on a label?

All food packages have Nutrition Information Panels which list essential criteria (energy, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars, protein, fibre and sodium) per serve and per 100g. The 'serve' size varies anywhere from 30g to 50g serve in cereals so when comparing two products it is always best to use the per 100g column. 

Try choosing a breakfast cereal with:
  • Total fat <12g/100g
  • Saturated fat <2g/100g
  • Sugar <20g/100g
  • Fibre >6g/100g
  • Sodium <400mg/100g
Ingredients list:
  • Look for cereals with the shortest ingredients list. This goes for all packaged foods as the shorter the ingredients list, the less processed the food
  • If cereals have >12g total fat/100g, check the ingredients list to see if the source of fat is healthy (e.g. nuts) or unhealthy (e.g. vegetable oil)
  • If cereals have >20g sugar/100g, check the ingredients list to see if the source of sugar is natural (e.g. honey) or added (e.g. molasses) 

Examples of muesli's which meet these criteria:

Brookfarm, Coles, Just Organic, Lowan, Monster Muesli, Morning Sun, Uncle Toby's


Examples of cereal's which meet these criteria:

Goodness Superfoods Protein 1st/ Digestive 1st/ Heart 1st, Sanitarium Weet-bix, Sanitarium Light n Tasty, Kellogg's All Bran/ All Bran Apple flavoured crunch, Kellogg's Guardian, Vogel's Ultra Bran, Be Natural Wholegrain Flakes Cereal/ Manuka Honey, Spice Clusters & Flakes Cereal  

*Image from Brookfarm website

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gains from Grains

The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council recently released a guide called "Lifting the lid on legumes". The full pdf is available from the link at the end of this post.

What are legumes?
Legumes (also known as pulses) include all forms of beans and peas, such as cannellini beans, kidney beans, soybeans, lentils, split peas, butter beans and chickpeas.

The latest draft review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends Australians increase their intake of alternatives to meat, such as legumes.

What's to gain from grains?
  • Improved heart health
    • Studies show people who eat legumes are less likely to develop heart disease
    • Legumes have been shown to manage cholesterol
    • Their protective effects are likely from the soluble and insoluble fibre and phytosterols which block cholesterol absorpotion in the gut
    • They are low in sodium (salt)
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
    • Legumes have been shown to improve short term blood glucose control
    • They improve HbA1c (3 month reading of blood glucose levels) in diabetics
    • They are low glycaemic index (GI)
Ways to beat the bloat
Legumes contain galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), unabsorbed carbohydrates that move through to the large intestine where they are food for gut bacteria. The old schoolyard saying "beans beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot" is actually true. Studies have shown people generally manage 1/2 a cup everyday, and gradually introducing them into the diet helps avoid bloating.

You can also remove alot of the 'wind-producing' components by rinsing them well before using them (if canned), and soaking them in a few different batches of fresh water (if dried).

How much do I need?
Aim for at least 2 serves of legumes a week (1 serve = 75g/ 1/2 cup cooked legumes)

Think outside the square
The possibilities for using legumes are endless... add to soups, salads, casseroles, spaghetti, cous cous and rice dishes.
Breakfast: Baked beans
Lunch: Tuna and lentil salad
Dinner: Chilli con carne with kidney beans
Chickpea and pumpkin burger patties
Lentil spaghetti bolognaise
Snacks: Soy milk coffee
Edamamme beans

How do they measure up against meats?
A serve of legumes as a meat alternative = 170g/ 1 cup cooked legumes. A 170g serve of baked beans provides about 9g protein, 9g fibre and 1.7mg iron. A 170g serve of lentils provides about 12g protein, 6g fibre and 3.5mg iron.
A standard serve of chicken or meat is about 100g. This provides about 30g protein, no fibre and 0.5-3mg iron (higher in red meat).
The legumes also provide these nutrients for fewer calories, which is great if you're watching your waistline.
Although the protein intake is lower per serve, you can still easily meet your protein requirements of 0.75 - 1g protein per kg, whilst incorporating legumes into your diet.

Lifting the Lid on Legumes

*Image from Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council website

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Winter Warmer Recipe Collections: Fish Burgers

Why fish?
Fish is a rich source of healthy omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. These fats have many health benefits including reducing bad cholesterol, lowering triglycerides and reducing inflammatory conditions such as athritis. It is recommended we consume at least 2 serves of 150g fish each week. In addition to these 'marine' omega-3 fats, 'plant' based omega-3 fats called ALA are found in linseeds, walnuts, canola and soybean oils.

2 x 150g basa fillets
Wholegrain bread rolls
Cherry tomatoes
Sweet potato
Reduced fat crumbled fetta

Slice sweet potato into circular chips and place on baking tray in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Slice roll in half; sprinkle crumbled fetta on one side and halved cherry tomatoes on the other side. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Heat fry pan and lightly spray with olive oil. Cook fillets over medium heat, for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Place fish on roll and top with avocado and spinach. Serve with sweet potato chips.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Which bread is best?

Wholemeal, wholegrain, white, low GI... with so many different types of bread on the shelves, it can be difficult to know which bread is best?

The Choices

White bread is made from wheat that has had the bran and germ removed; the rich outer layer and nutrient-dense core. This is a low fibre, nutrient-poor option. White high-fibre bread has fibre added, usually in the form of inulin or Hi-Maize.

Wholemeal bread is made by milling wholegrains to produce a finer textured bread. Wholemeal bread made from 100% wholemeal flour may still retain the nutritious vitamins and minerals, however the processing means the GI is higher than wholegrain bread.

Wholegrain bread has the bran, endosperm and germ intact thus retaining all of the vitamins and minerals and having the highest fibre. Wholegrain breads are low GI. Multigrain bread is often made from refined white flour, but has grains and seeds added after the processing, to make it appear healthy.

Rye bread is made from flour from rye grain and is classed as a wholegrain bread. Sourdough bread is made by mixing flour and water with yeast and bacteria. The acidity lowers the GI.

What to look for?

  • Look for the words 'wholegrain' on the package
  • Look for varieties with >6g fibre per 100g
  • The low GI symbol is a useful tool when it comes to choosing healthy breads

Healthy Choices

B├╝rgen® - Rye, Wholemeal & Seeds
Helga's - Seed Sensations Wholegrain
Abbott's - Grains and Seeds
Molenberg - Soy & Linseed
Tip Top - 9 Grain Wholemeal
Coles - Soy & Linseed

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Love to snack?

The good news is... snacks can be included as part of a healthy diet, if they are portion controlled. A good number to remember is 1200kJ, or 300 calories (if you are more familiar with calories). This equates to either 3 x 400kJ (100 calorie) snacks or 2 x 600kJ (150 calorie) snacks. Stuck for healthy snack ideas? Below are a handful of healthy snacks ideas.

Under 100 calorie snacks

Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese 40g mini tubs
A convenient and healthy snack, which can be served with vegetables such as carrots and celery for a nutritious munch. Extra light varieties available as well as original 'chive & onion' and 'sweet chilly philly' which still fall under 100 calories.

      100g Tamar Valley No Added Sugar yoghurt
       These delicious 100g yoghurts provide a source of calcium. There are many varieties of yoghurts in the supermarket. Always check the label and aim for a yoghurt which is low in fat and has no added sugar.  My favourite brands are Tamar Valley, Chobani Greek Yoghurt, Jalna low-fat and Vaalia.  

                  2 mandarins
Juicy mandarins are a great snack, packed full of vitamin C to ward off colds, Vitamin A for healthy eyes and fibre. Aim for 2 serves of fruit a day. 1 serve of fruit = 2 mandarins, 2 kiwifruits, 1 medium piece of fruit e.g. apple, banana

 150 calorie snacks

           30g Nuts - Almonds
A 30g serve of almonds is the "perfect handful". It can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and has proven useful for weight management. Be sure to choose unsalted nuts.

30g Nuts - Mixed Nuts
           Whatever your favourite... cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans - all are packed full of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Again, just choose unsalted nuts.  

                                       1 slice Burgen Fruit & Muesli Bread
Burgen breads are my choice if you're after low glycaemic index, delicious breads. Their fruit & muesli bread is a lovely sweet snack for winter afternoons. I suggest spreading with extra light ricotta. Other alternatives are 4 Vita Weats with 1/8th avocado and tomato. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Break-the-fast: Homemade Muesli

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast tend to eat less calories across the day and are more likely to be a healthier BMI than those who skip breakfast.

So, break-the-fast and have a high fibre, high protein breakfast to start your day. Good options include wholegrain cereals with yoghurt or skim milk, fresh fruit and yoghurt, poached eggs on wholegrain toast or a breakfast smoothie with berries, LSA, yoghurt and skim milk.  

My favourite way to start the day is with my Homemade Muesli. Oats, pepitas, linseeds, cashews, sultanas, manuka honey, served with organic natural yoghurt and topped with berries.

Winter Warmer Recipe Collections: Vegetarian Nachos

Why beans?

Legumes and lentils are rich in protein, fibre, low GI carbohydrates and a range of vitamins and minerals. Growing evidence shows regular consumption can reduce your risk of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The Heart Foundation recommends including legumes in at least two meals per week.

200g red kidney beans
100g brown lentils
400g tin diced tomatoes
2 carrots diced
1 zucchini diced
1 capsicum diced
Original corn chips
Reduced fat grated cheddar

Heat fry pan and saute' vegetables in olive oil. Drain and rinse kidney beans and lentils. Add to fry pan. Add tomatoes and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Arrange corn chips on baking tray. Spoon mixtue onto corn chips and top with grated cheddar. Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes. Top mixture with avocado.