Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Autumn Recipe Collections: Chicken & Vegetable Lasagna

Free range chicken mince 500g
Tinned tomatoes 250g (preferably no added salt)
Wholemeal lasagna sheets (San Remo brand)
Extra light ricotta 250g (Perfect Italiano brand)
1 Eggplant
2 Zucchinis
1/3 Pumpkin
125g Frozen Spinach

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Heat oil in a large pan and brown the mince, mixing in 1/3 of the tin of tomatoes.

2. Slice the eggplant and zucchini, spray with olive oil, and place in a pre-heated oven to brown.

3. Cut the pumpkin into cubes and microwave covered in water to soften for 3-4 minutes.

4. Layer the bottom of your lasagna tray with lasagna sheets. Top with half the mince. Spread the roasted zucchini and eggplant. Follow with the defrosted spinach, 1/2 the tub of ricotta and 1/3 of the tin of tomatoes. Spread with remaining chicken, pumpkin cubes and remaining ricotta.

5. Layer with more lasagna sheets and spread remaining tinned tomatoes on top.

6. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Diogenes Study: "diet, obesity and genes"

The Diogenes Study aimed to identify the diet which would be most effective in preventing weight gain and weight regain. The study looked at diets with varying glycaemic index (GI) and protein contect.
Participants lost 8% of their original weight over 8 weeks, using low calorie formula's. They were then assigned to one of 5 different diets.
Group 1: Low Protein, Low glycemic Index.
Group 2: Low Protein, High glycemic Index.
Group 3: High Protein, Low glycemic Index.
Group 4: High Protein, High glycemic Index.
Group 5: Control Diet, medium protein and medium glycemic index.

As you can see in the graph above, those in the low protein-high GI group (Group 2) showed the poorest results, regaining 1.67kg. The best results were seen in those in the high protein-low GI group (Group 3). Those in Group 3 were consuming 22% protein, 43% carbohydrate and 32% fat.

Group 3
Pictures of meals for participants in Group 3 (High Protein, Low gycaemic Index) at the link:

Examples of meals for participants in Group 3:
Breakfast: Rye bread, egg, skim milk, apple
Lunch: Egg, dried beans, vegetables
Dinner: Turkey, vegetables, wholegrain pasta, avocado, reduced fat feta
Snacks: Vegetables, reduced fat cheese, nuts

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's making news in nutrition?

Protein-rich breakfast prevents hunger

Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, but how much protein you have is also important. A small study published in the AJCN showed eating a protein rich breakfast significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking in the evening. In the study, overweight or obese adolescent females either skipped breakfast, consumed a 350 calorie, high protein (35g protein) breakfast or ate a 350 calorie, normal protein breakfast. Not suprisingly, those who ate the high protein breakfast had increased satiety and reduced food cravings, shown through MRI imaging, blood tests and questionnaires.

Introducing solids to babies

With lots of friends my age becoming first time mothers, I have become interested in infant and toddler nutrition. Since I have been a dietitian, the debate over when to introduce solids to babies has always been a hot topic. A recent article published in Pediatrics Journal reported that many mums introduce solids to babies before they are 4 months old. There is agreement amongst countries that solids should be introduced no earlier than 4 months. The concern with introducing babies to solids before 4 months is that early introduction may increase the risk of some chronic diseases, allergies and it also means the benefits of breastfeeding are cut short.

The recommendation in Australia still remains to breastfeed/ formula feed exclusively until 6 months old and continue supplemental breastfeeing until at least 12 months.


Organic doesn't always equal healthy  

Studies have shown foods labelled as 'organic' can lead us to think that a food is healthier, through the 'health halo effect'. In one particular study, shoppers were asked to rate the taste, calorie content and price they'd pay for items labelled 'organic' versus 'regular'. Despite the shoppers knowing, both products were identical; it was just that one was labelled 'organic' and the other 'regular'. The shoppers perceptions were that the 'organic' varieties had fewer calories, were lower in fat, more nutritious, more flavourful and they were willing to pay 23.4% more.

This study found people who regularly read nutrition labels are less susceptible to the organic 'health halo' effect. So, next time you're tempted to buy an 'occasional' food such as chips or biscuits that is labelled 'organic'; read the nutrition information panel to check if you're making the best choice. In addition, the use of the word 'organic' is not regulated in Australia. If you wish to choose organic, always try and choose foods that are 'certified organic'.