Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous Salad

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Ingredients

Chicken

·       Olive oil – 2xtsp

·       2 cloves of garlic, crushed

·       ½ brown onion, finely sliced

·       1 tsp. paprika

·       1 tsp. cumin

·       1 tsp. turmeric

·       ½ tsp. black pepper

·       ½ tsp. red chili flakes

·       600g chicken breast (100g chicken/serve) – diced thinly

Cous cous

·       250g packet of Israeli (Pearl) cous cous

·       1xveggie stock cube

·       ½ butternut pumpkin, cubed

·       1xred capsicum, sliced

·       1xlarge zucchini, sliced

·       1xpunnet of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

·       ½ packet of finely chopped fresh mint

·       1xlemon/lime – juice squeezed

·       100g Danish feta – Finely cut into cubes

·       8-10 dried apricot halves, finely diced

·       Greek yoghurt to top

Optional: Drain a can of chickpeas or lentils and run through the mix to make it go a bit further

Method

1.    Steam pumpkin in microwave with dash of water for 4 minutes until soft

2.    Add pearl cous cous to 2.5 cups of water over medium heat, add in 1xstock cube – cook for 5-10 mins until soft and no water left. Remove and leave to cool

3.    Add oil to a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, cook until brown.

4.    Add in the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Just before removing add in all spices (paprika, cumin, turmeric, pepper). Remove chicken from pan and set aside

5.    Add a little oil back into chicken fry pan and add in capsicum, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes

6.    Finally add all ingredients together in large serving bowl: Pumpkin, cous cous, chicken, cooked veggies, feta, fresh mint, apricots and Danish feta. Mix and season with pepper.

7.    Serve with generous dessert spoon of greek yoghurt on top

Nutrition – Did you know?

·       Keeping water when you steam veggies means you retain the nutrients in the water. Don’t throw it away and use

water sparingly when steaming!

·       Pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric by 2000 %

·       Spices contain large amounts of anti-oxidants which are thought to prevent ageing in our cells

·       Pearl cous cous is lower GI than normal cous cous, keeping us fuller for longer

·       You can reduce the salt in this meal by adding in your own home made stock or perhaps its salty enough with the

Danish Feta

Shakshuka Recipe

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Ingredients

·     1 red onion, finely diced

·     1 garlic clove, crushed

·     1 small chilli, finely diced

·     1 teaspoon paprika

·     ½ teaspoon ground coriander

·     ½ teaspoon ground cumin

·     2 red capsicums, cut into 2cm pieces

·     400g chopped tomatoes

·     ½ large eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes

·     4 eggs

·     Fresh coriander, to serve

Method

1.    Preheat oven to 2200C.

2.    Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat and add onion, garlic and chilli. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the spices and stir, cook for a further minute. 

3.    Add the capsicum and tomatoes to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until capsicums are softened. Turn the cook top off, then blend the sauce and return to the pan.

4.    Meanwhile, spray another pan with cooking oil and heat over a high heat. Add eggplant and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through, turning occasionally.

5.    Stir the eggplant through the sauce. Make four wells with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each well, then bake in the oven until eggs are cooked to your liking.  

Sprinkle with coriander and serve with wholegrain bread.

Nutrition benefits:

High in Vitamin C to assist your immunity and glowing skin

A good source of protein to keep you feeling full and lower the overall GI of the meal

Can be shared with friends (Always a benefit too right ;))

This recipe was brought to you by our amazing Kirrawee Dietitian Melissa - give her a call to get your health sorted down in the South of Sydney!

 

Nutrition for Mental Health

According to the Mental Health Commission in Australia adequate mental health is “a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem”. It enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment. This allows us to deal with life’s challenges, use our abilities to reach our potential and form healthy relationships.

Fact: One in Five Australians suffer from a mental illness every year such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Fact: Along with high blood pressure, depression is the number one cause of early death

Now I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty proactive and happy person who sees that there is much joy for many of us to experience in a lifetime. Sure the rollercoaster of life is going to present its challenges but I’d like to think we could learn, grow and overcome many of our obstacles. Easier said then done.

Working as Dietitian’s we have a phenomenal opportunity to influence our client’s lives in positive ways to improve their enjoyment of their lives.

One example that comes to mind is an old client of mine who gave up his addictive drinking, started eating healthily and lost weight. Not only did he then have a huge improvement in his health, but also increased energy and productivity, an improved relationship with his wife and most noticeably never hung over and missing his kid’s soccer games on a Saturday ever again.

When it comes to mental health nutrition can be a powerful influencer.

Here are a couple of examples of foods that support mental health:

Omega-3: Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fat that is commonly found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, ocean trout and sardines. It can also be found in nuts and seeds, some of the highest sources being flaxseeds and walnuts.

B Vitamins (Includes folate): Sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus, as well as legumes and lentils. Folate plays a crucial role in healthy brain development. It also helps to form red blood cells and produce DNA.

Zinc: Deficiencies in zinc in both men and women has been associated with a greater incidence of depression (Vashum KP et al 2014). Zinc can be found in lean meats such as beef, oysters, whole grains and seeds (particularly pumpkin and sesame).

Probiotics for a healthy gut: Modulation of gut microbiota may prove to be a therapeutic target for the treatment and/or prevention of mood and anxiety disorders. A recent randomised control trial (Steenbergen L 2015) has stated that “participants who received the 4-week multispecies probiotics intervention showed a significantly reduced overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which was largely accounted for by reduced rumination and aggressive thoughts.”

Although this is emerging research, I would not be surprised if we see more studies proving the same. We already know that the gastrointestinal tract can activate neural pathways and central nervous system signalling systems in the brain.

 Mental Health for children and adolescents: Nutrition in early life

Emerging research suggests that early in the lifespan a healthy diet has an important relationship with mental health risks. This is especially because the onset of anxiety and mood disorders is on average from age 13-16 years.

A recent systematic review that included 12 studies (Adrienne O’Neil et al in 2014) found evidence of a significant cross-sectional relationship between unhealthy dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents.

In align with the above research this study also noted that diets of a poorer quality were missing essential nutrients that played a role in mental health:

  • The dietary intake of folate, zinc, and magnesium were inversely associated with depressive disorders
  • Dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were inversely related to anxiety disorders

Of mention physical activity here also played a significant role and was positive for mental health.

Take home message:

Everybody deserves the right to good mental health and a happy life. If you feel like you could benefit from increased mood or mental health support with nutrition, then we would be more than happy to support you in our clinic at Body Fusion.

References:

J Affect Disord. 2014, Dietary zinc is associated with a lower incidence of depression: findings from two Australian cohorts. Sep;166:249-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.05.016. Epub 2014 May 23.

Steenbergen L1, Sellaro R2, van Hemert S3, Bosch JA4, Colzato LS5, A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Aug;48:258-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

O'Neil A1, Quirk SEHousden SBrennan SLWilliams LJPasco JABerk MJacka FN. Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):e31-42. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302110.

 

Sunday Runs, Markets and Muesli (Recipe Included!)

Imagine this:

On the horizon sits the sun, a bright yellow beginning, slowly climbing its ladder up the coloured sky. A light breeze pushes you into a rhythmic run, right along the sleepy beach and up to a grassy green headland. You stop to catch you breath, your heart hammering gratitude as you drink in the 360-degree view.

A couple of more minutes. A couple of more colours… Time to go.

Following the seagulls down the sandy path, past the receding aqua wash and waving to the local surfers, you finally reach the end of your journey. With the salty ocean breeze brushing your face, you turn like a magnet to the sparkling ocean. With a start, you run in to meet your old friend with a joyful laugh, still fully clothed. There you float. Free. Happy. Alive.

With exhilarated rosy cheeks and slight regret, you drag yourself away from the caring hands of the ocean… time for the markets!

 And this is just the way my Sunday began.

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I am a big fan of local markets in Sydney. They offer fresh produce, you can meet and support local farmers and taste before you buy. It’s such a sensory experience. They smell of warm crusty bread, cinnamon sticks and freshly blended citrus juices all of which mingle in with a sea of interesting people as you weave your way in and out. My fresh produce lasts about twice as long and tastes about twice as good!

This Sunday I was on a mission. A client had given me a delicious muesli recipe and brought some in as a gift (thank you, you know who you are). It tasted phenomenal and I was committed to making my own variety.

As I wondered amongst the bustling stores I bartered over buckwheat and nutted out the best place to buy my pecans. Half an hour later I was content with a bag full of goodies. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so excited.

Experimentation took the good part of my Sunday afternoon but this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • 300g sprouted buckwheat
  • 1 cup of oats (you could use quinoa flakes if you want gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup of amaranth
  • 200g pecans or walnuts
  • 100g sesame seeds
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 2 long (10-12cm) cinnamon quills
  • 2 tsp. dried nutmeg
  • 120g medjool dates (deseeded and cut into small pieces)
  • 300g dried apple (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 80g Canadian Maple Syrup

Optional (makes it a little higher in energy but a lot more crunchy!)

  • 50g coconut oil
  • 100g shredded coconut

Method:

1.     Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2.     With mortar and pestle or end of rolling pin bash/grind cinnamon to break up sticks. With your hands then break/rip up cinnamon into small bits (as small as you can!).

3.     Add all other ingredients into a big mixing bowl, melting coconut oil if necessary. Mix well to coat with oil and maple syrup.

4.     Put into 1 or 2 large baking trays lined with baking paper.

5.     Periodically check muesli over next 30-40minutes, using a wooden spoon to slowly turn over the muesli when it looks brown.

6.     Leave to cool for 20 mins.

Nutrition:

  • Amaranth is a great source of iron (~5mg/cup).
  • Oats contain beta glucan, a soluble fibre to reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Apples contain polyphenols and flavonoids, which prevent oxidation in the body, preventing  disease and ageing.
  • Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium, a micronutrient responsible for more than 300 enzymatic reactions, including enzymes required for maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
  • All the grains, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of fibre, which makes you feel full and aids digestion.
  • This mix is also high in healthy omega 3 and omega 6 fats, which promote clear cognition, boost HDL (healthy) cholesterol, maintain hormone production and lubricate joints.
  • Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, vital for promoting immunity, clear skin, strong hair and nails.
  • Sesame are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals including Calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and selenium.

How to eat this delicious mix:

  • Portion out ½ a cup (trust me doesn’t look like a lot but its so filling!). Add some milk, yoghurt and a piece of fruit for breakfast. Wouldn’t be surprised if you are content until lunch ;)
  • Nibble on as a snack during your work day.
  • Add over the top of some ice cream as a treat.

Party Season: Do's and Don'ts

Wow, only 4 weeks until Christmas! All my clients have been a little stressed out about work amping up and trying to get everything done before the holiday period. On top of this it seems that everyone wants to get in a social Christmas event with you BEFORE the big day hits. Food is a big part of celebrating Christmas, but if you just keep mindful about your choices you can come out the other side not too bad off. This year I thought I would list some simple Do’s and Don’ts.

Do (You will get lots of presents)

·      Take a healthy dish to a party. Options include a big plate of sushi, rice paper rolls, home made Thai fish cakes, cherry tomato, bocconcini and basil skewers or a big fruit salad platter.

·      Have a small high protein snack before you go out so that you don’t turn up hungry and devour the first thing in sight (hello sausage rolls!!). Some ideas include a small 95g tin of tuna or salmon, a handful of nuts, a boiled egg or some veggies sticks and hommous.

·      Reduce your alcohol and energy intake by 1) Taking some soda water to drink between alcoholic beverages 2) Drinking reduced alcohol wine, light beer or spirits with soda or diet soft drink (less calories) 3) Stopping your hosts from topping up your glass, how many did you have again?

·      Only say yes to every third canapé offered. Pace yourself. Christmas is like cricket; you’re in for the long haul! Don't get caught out ;)

·      Keep hydrated with water. Christmas can be hot. Water helps to fill us up and prevent us from reaching for food when really we are thirsty

·      Get active with your friends and family. A game of soccer on the beach, lawn bowls or scenic walks are simple and enjoyable.

Don’ts (You are more likely to get coal)

·      Eat out of family size open packets or dive nose first into the crackers and cheeses without a second thought. You are better off putting a small selection on a plate and sticking to just that. 

·      Think you are doing better by drinking cider. Cider is the in thing in Australia at the moment and our intake is increasing. It’s the most energy dense of all alcoholic beverages!

·      Leave your plate on the table. Studies have proven that people (especially men, sorry guys) will eat up to 40% more when they leave their plate on the table. This is because people will pick at more. You don't really need it!

·      Feel obligated to try and eat a big delicious piece or serving of everything. Choose what you really want. Also, a couple of mouthfuls are all you need to get a taste. Sharing is caring. Hand over the other half of that mince pie.

·      Completely switch off in relation to healthy eating with the justification that it’s Christmas. Yes you can indulge a little but don’t make it your excuse to eat 5 mince pies a day and candy cane for the next festive month.

·      Keep temptation in the house if you can’t handle it. Out of mind out of sight. Give it away, throw it out, or get someone in the family to hide it!

·      Feel like if you have fallen off the wagon it’s game over. You will do a lot more damage if you let things snowball!

Good luck :)

Dry July – How to regenerate a healthy liver

You might be familiar with one of the following scenarios below:

1)   You’ve woken up for work with a ringing headache and are feeling about as average as Spain did in the World Cup soccer. How did the end of financial year work drinks cascade into a shower of champagne or a steady flowing abundance of delicious beer?

2)   The weather in Sydney had become so bitingly cold that it justifies a good hearty glass of red by the fire – every night. For every degree colder this fosters furthur justification of a) A cheeky glass of port or desert wine to top the night off or b) Some/a block of chocolate to accompany the red wine

Your lovely liver: An under valued vital organ that regulates many processes in your body. However, at this time of the year it’s starting to complain. Battered and bruised its been fighting a little too hard.

The liver has various functions within the body the main one being DETOXIFICATION. That’s right! The liver helps to purify the blood by removing toxins such as alcohol and drugs from the body. But did you know it also helps regulate hormone levels? Can you imagine what happens when it can perform this duty well? Hormones regulate everything from sleep to mood, metabolism, reproduction and immunity - to mention a few!

The liver also works to DIGEST all your food. Fats are digested by bile in the stomach, which is a product secreted by your happy hepatic (liver) cells and transported to the gall bladder. Carbohydrates and proteins are broken down so that these nutrients can eventually be converted to energy for use within the body. 

Also wondering why when your liver has been under the pump you are more likely to come down with some mysterious flu? Well the liver is also responsible for your IMMUNITY.  It plays an important role in capturing and digesting nasties such as bacteria, parasites, worn out blood cells and fungi.

So lets focus on some liver regeneration.

Number 1: Reduce your alcohol intake. Limit alcohol to weekends only or if you can, commit to a month off. Lets face it, a hot milo in front of the fire is going to be lot more nutritious; alcohol is empty calories anyway (contains basically no nutrients). Focus on average 2L of water daily which can include herbal teas such as chamomile to rehydrate and filter the blood.

Number 2: Reduce highly processed foods particularly ones that are not only high in saturated fat but also salt and sugar. For example: processed and fatty meats (sausages, salami, bacon), deep fried take out and fast foods, cakes and biscuits, pastries and chocolate.

Number 3: Increase your intake of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat. This will aid in reducing liver inflammation. Include nuts, seeds (flaxseed particularly) and oils (e.g extra virgin olive oil) as a part of your daily diet.

Number 4: Be smart with your selection of fruits.  Berries, pomegranate and grapes (I know you are already thinking wine again but the alcohol content outweighs the benefits here!) contain ellagic acid and resveratrol, which can help to regenerate liver cells. The bitter in lemon and limes can also break down stagnant material.

After following this for a good month you liver should start to improve all its functions. Hopefully a lot of what I have recommended also becomes habitual!

Also why not actually sign up for Dry July though and contribute some money towards a good cause like cancer prevention? Think of all the money you are saving not consuming alcohol anyway!

Stay happy, healthy and warm.

Ash xx

Banana Crunch Cookies

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This experiment happened on a very rainy and dreary Sunday afternoon after I was thinking ahead for my work week and the fact I was completely over my current snacks! Sick of super sweet muesli bars that are packaged and coat your mouth with sugar? These are quick and delicious! Get baking. The fruit naturally sweetens them, and there is lots of fibre in the oats, seeds and banana to fill you up. Nuts and seeds help balance your hormones between main meals and give these delights a crunchy fabulous texture.

Ingredients

2.5 cups oats

180g pecans (baked at roughly chopped)

1 large banana (mashed)

2 tbsp linseed/flax

1/2 cup maple

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

6tbsp pepitas

1/3 cup dried raisins or cranberries

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp olive oil

Method:

1. Put pecans on baking tray with light drizzle of olive oil, mix to lightly cover with the oil and then leave to cook for 10mins or until golden on 180 degrees celcius

2. Blend 1 cup of the oats in the blender to make some oat flour. Add all oats, cinnamon, linseed, pepitas, dried fruit and vanilla to bowl and mix with spoon

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3. Add maple and honey, mix

4. Lastly add baking soda and mashed banana, mix

5. Line a baking tray with baking paper

6. With a spoon spoon out a small amount that fits in your palm and round it into a ball. Continue until your tray is happily full

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7. Cook for 20-25mins on 180 degrees Celsius or until lightly brown on top

8. Enjoy guilt free :) 

 

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Healthy Sausage Rolls

Sounds naughty but tastes delicious! The best way to go about a healthy eating plan is to enjoy new ways to nourish your body. Last week I found myself at home with limited ingredients yet wanting to be creative! This is what I was able to rustle up in a matter of minutes and it turned out delicious.  Choose one or the other, both good!

Ingredients:

Chicken Sausage Rolls

400g lean chicken mince, 1 egg, 1 x grated carrot, 1/2 onion chopped, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil/parsley/coriander, 1 tsp garam masala/curry powder, 1 pack mountain bread (8 sheets)

Serve with sweet chili sauce

Beef Sausage Rolls

400g lean beef mince, 1 egg, 1 large can red kidney beans (drained), 8-10 medium mushrooms, 1/2 onion chopped, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil/parsley/coriander, 4 tbsp. pasta sauce, 1 pack mountain bread (8 sheets)

Serve with tomato sauce

Method:

1. Heat up onion and garlic over medium heat in saucepan.

2. Add in meat and brown. 

3. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mix and cook for a further couple of minutes

4. Cut mountain bread lengthways into 3 strips  

5. Spoon mixture along length of each mountain bread and roll into a cylinder(not too much! and make sure you drain otherwise will be too much water which could make it go soggy)  

6. Give it a light spray or brush with oil

7. Bake on 180 degrees for 15-20mins  

8. Enjoy with your choice of dipping sauce and a beautiful side salad