Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

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This lovely recipe comes from one of our amazing Balgowlah clients Pam. Pam reports that it absolutely delicious! Pam has been enjoying eating the soup as a good way to pack more veggies in. Thanks for sharing Pam :)

Serves 4

Ingredients

450g pumpkin, peeled, chopped (oven roasted)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 brown onion, chopped (or 1 leek, sliced)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large carrot, grated

1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed, drained

3 cups reduced-salt vegetable stock

400g can no-added-salt diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pepper to taste

4 slices grainy sourdough bread

1 small avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup low-fat natural yoghurt, to serve 

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 200oC / 180oC fan-forced.  Place cut pumpkin in a bowl and mix with a little olive oil.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper and add pumpkin.  Bake for 40 minutes or until pumpkin is golden and tender. 

2.     Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion / leek and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, carrot, lentils, stock, 2 cups water, tomatoes and pepper to taste.

3.     Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Add warm cooked pumpkin and simmer for another 10 minutes.

4.     Remove from heat and puree using a stick blender.

5.     Meanwhile, toast bread and top with sliced avocado. Sprinkle soup with parsley, dollop with yoghurt and serve with avocado toast.

Nutrition:

Kilojoules: 1,842kJ               Total fat: 16g                           Dietary fibre: 12.8g

Calories: 440cal                   Saturated fat: 3.6g                Sodium: 958mg

Protein: 23.2g                        Carbohydrates: 45.3g         Calcium: 138mg

Sugars: 15.2g                         Iron: 5.1mg

Veggie Patch Shepard's Pie

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Ingredients

·      1 sweet potato (350g), peeled, chopped

·      ¼ jap pumpkin, cut into small cubes  

·      2 tablespoons olive oil

·      1 medium onion, finely chopped

·      1 tablespoon curry powder

·      1 teaspoon ground turmeric

·      1 bay leaf

·      1 cup green beans, chopped

·      2 carrots, diced

·      1 cup broccoli, cut into florets

·      2 zucchinis, diced

·      ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets

·      2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes, no added salt

·      250g extra lean beef mince (replace with extra lentils for vegetarian option)

·      2 x 400g tin lentils, rinsed, drained

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Boil 1L water and steam sweet potato and pumpkin until soft (about 10–15 minutes).

3. Transfer to a bowl, add 1 tbls oil & mash. Set aside.

4. Add remaining oil to a large saucepan placed over medium-high heat. Add onion, curry powder and turmeric. Cook for 3–4 minutes, until soft. Add bay leaf and mince; cook until just browned.

5. Stir through beans, carrots, broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower. Cook until soft for approx 5 minutes.

6. Add tinned tomatoes, turn up the pan and bring to a simmer (small bubbles).

7. Stir through lentils and simmer for 15 minutes.

8. Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish and top with mash. Place into preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes. 

*Recipe adapted from the Australian Healthy Food Guide.

Three top nutrition trends and their impact on Sports Nutrition: Ketogenic Diet, Alternate Milks & Veganism

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Instagram. Google. Facebook. Television. Every day we are bombarded with information about food and nutrition. Not only can this be confusing! If we act on wrong information it can end up impacting negatively upon both our sports performance as well as our health.

Accredited Sports Dietitians are trained in best science and have to keep up to date to provide safe recommendations to the public about nutrition on a daily basis. About time you stopped listening to the girl on Instagram who tells you skinny tea to lean up or that to be a great athlete you have to be vegan? We think so! 

Today we share some recent health “trends” we seem to be seeing in common media and why this would potentially not be appropriate for athletes. Many of these are diet not lifestyle approaches which can be very unsustainable and unhealthy.

“There are no magic bullets when it comes to optimal performance, following the key fundamentals of sports nutrition through sound education and individual integration is what is going to set you up for success”

The Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate (<20g/day), high in fat and adequate protein diet. When the body is starved of carbohydrates it has to look for another source of energy, so the liver turns fats into “ketones” which can be used as energy. This diet was originally designed for epilepsy and has been commonly used to try and lose weight.

Why it doesn’t always work for athletes? 

Firstly, let’s think about how practical this actually is... 20g of carbs is as much as you find in banana. Day over after that – No more… cereal, fruit, milk, yoghurt, bread, pasta, chickpeas, lentils, crackers or yummy home-made protein balls. Suddenly we are also cutting out a bunch of different food groups and missing out on key micronutrients, compromising body function.

Additionally as athletes, your body NEEDS carbohydrates, especially for high intensity exercise. If there is none there at all we feel flat, have a greater risk of getting sick and lack energy to get the most out of our training.

Did I also mention that carbohydrates fuel our brain? As athletes we also be sharp with our attention and memory to assimilate information and improve our skill, technique and competition decision making.

Lastly: Keto is also low in fibre and can mess with our digestion leaving us feeling bloated and uncomfortable for training and competition.

Dairy vs. Alternate Milks 

I went to order a coffee the other day and was offered either skim, soy, almond or macadamia milk! With many new milks popping up in the supermarket, it seems everyone is getting curious.

The point stands that original dairy milk is still wholesome and appropriate for athletes as it provides calcium and phosphorus (for strong bones and teeth), protein (for recovery), iodine (for metabolism), potassium (for blood pressure regulation), and vitamins B2 and B12 (for brain function).

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Unfortunately many alternate milks are:

a)     Low in protein

b)    Low in calcium or not even fortified with calcium

We usually recommend skim, light milk or high protein milk to our athletes as it digests better when lower in fats. Remember that we recommend ~20g of protein within 30 minutes of exercise completion for recovery too, and dairy has the perfect blend of amino acids for repair.   

Plant Base Diets/Veganism 

It seems the modern world is started to gravitate towards many more plant-based options or diets. First of all, these diets can be great and adequate IF DONE CORRECTLY.

Typical vegan and vegetarian diets can make it harder sometimes to reach protein requirements for an athletes recovery, immunity and generating healthy hormones. It can also be a struggle to meet iron requirements. Iron is used to deliver oxygen from your lungs to tissues whilst exercising.

If you decide to follow a purely vegan diet, you can compromise other nutrient intakes such as B12 which is only found in animal-based foods. 

And guess what?! You can still increase your intake of plant-based foods to get healthy benefits such a high-amounts of fibre for gut function, immunity and vitality whilst you are eating meat. All it involves is a little creativity such as learning how to integrate things like chickpeas into your diet, trying some traditional dahl, or incorporating tofu into a meal or two every week.

Dietitian's are great with guidance in this area, so never be afraid to check in whether you are already vegetarian/vegan, considering a change OR just want to balance your diet with some more plant-based foods. It’s a great idea to make sure you are getting all the nutrition you need for your training evaluated by a professional. 

And there you have it! Three top nutrition trends/myths laid out with the right science so you can make informed decisions to make sure that nutrition is always supporting you to train and compete to the best of your ability.  

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Cancer treatment and how nutrition can support your journey

During treatment for cancer, your body may require additional nutritional requirements due to the cancer itself and side effects from treatment, which can impact your nutritional intake and therefore weight and nutrition status. 

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Unintentional and rapid weight loss due to cancer and/or treatment can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition can lead to a reduction in response to your treatment and increase hospital admissions. 

 “Loss of skeletal muscle with or without loss of fat is the main aspect of cancer-associated malnutrition and predicts risk of physical impairment, post-operative complications, chemotherapy toxicity and mortality”

Understanding the right nutrients to support your body is crucial in preventing malnutrition and in the management of appetite and eating changes. 

 In conjunction with the medical and allied health team a Dietitian can provide alternate feeding options to prevent weight changes and associated muscle protein reduction. 

 Does the below sound like you?

Your dietitian can evaluate this exact intake compared to your energy and nutrition requirements.

“Inadequate nutritional intake is defined as “when a patient cannot eat for more than a week or if the estimated energy intake is <60% for more than 1-2 weeks”.

Frequent clinician contact improves clinical outcomes in patients with cancer

“Nutrition counselling is effective both during phases of active treatment and supportive care. A minimum of fortnightly sessions have demonstrated effective health outcomes”

Understanding your diagnosis and maximising nutritional intervention opportunities

Working with an Accredited Practising Dietitian, we can ensure you are achieving the right nutrition to maintain optimal weight and nutrition status to further amplify your response to treatment and prevent treatment interruptions, improving quality of life. 

This involves…

  • Nutrition screening & assessment (assessment of weight and malnutrition status)

  • Personalising advice based on a patients’ biological needs (identifying nutrition risks)

  • Testing & evaluating clinical nutritional impact symptoms and providing practical tips for common treatment side effects (gut discomfort, swallowing, appetite, pain, taste, ulcers) 

  • Provision of appropriate nutrition prescription (energy, protein & micronutrient requirements, including amount, type and timing across the day)

  • Evaluation of self-management tips to help patients achieve their nutritional needs before, during and after treatment

Ready to go? You can book in with us with the click of a button on our CONTACT US page!

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Written By: Aimee Boidin (Lane Cove, Wahroonga & Hunters Hill Body Fusion Dietitian)

Reference: J.Arends et al / ESPEN Guidelines, Clinical Nutrition (2016).

Mouth Watering Minestrone Soup & Home Made Garlic Bread

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It’s a cold winter night and you want something to warm you up from the inside out. We have just the recipe for you! This soup is rich in flavour and brimming with an abundance of nutrients for best health.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 red onion

  • 2 carrots

  • 2 sticks of celery

  • 1 zucchini

  • 1 small leek

  • 1 large potato

  • 1 x400 g tin of cannellini beans

  • 1x400g red kidney beans

  • 4xrashers of short cut bacon

  • Olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes

  • 1 litre organic vegetable stock - Salt reduced if possible

  • 1 bunch of kale de-stemmed

  • 100 g wholemeal pasta

  • ½ a bunch of fresh basil , optional

  • Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Trim and roughly chop the carrots, celery and zucchini. Finely slice leek horizontally, then add ALL the vegetables to a large bowl.

  2. Scrub and dice the potato. Drain the cannellini beans and red kidney beans, then set aside.

  3. Finely slice the bacon.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry gently for 2 minutes, or until golden.

  5. Add the vegetables, oregano and bay leaf and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.

  6. Add the potato, beans and plum tomatoes, then pour in the vegetable stock. Stir well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

  7. Cover with a lid and bring everything slowly to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through.

  8. After 30 minutes, add the greens and pasta to the pan, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente (soft enough to eat, but still firm) Try some just before the time is up to make sure you cook it perfectly.

  9. Add a splash more stock or water if needed.

  10. Pick over the basil leaves (if using) and stir through. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then serve with a grating of Parmesan and a slice of home made garlic bread (essentially olive oil margarine, couple of cloves crushed garlic smothered between pieces of a sourdough cobb loaf from the bakery and baked for 15 minutes on 180 degrees in foil in the oven)

Nutrition

  • Great source of prebiotic fibre to support gut function

  • Rich source of Vitamin A to maintain healthy skin

  • Rich source of vitamin C to support immune function

Homemade Pizza’s

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To make 6x Single Pizza’s

Ingredients

- low GI Mission wraps (6x wraps)

- 1x 200g tomato paste (Mutti or Leggo’s)

- 200g mushrooms

- 1x large capsicum

- 2x large tomatoes

- 1/2-1 cup thinly sliced pumpkin

- greens of choice (i.e. spinach, rocket, kale, broccoli, peas)

- 1x small cauliflower head

- 1x large onion

- mozzarella/ricotta cheese (enough to sprinkle over the pizzas)

- 1x whole BBQ chicken (shredded) or 100g ham off the bone or 100g prosciutto

Method

1. Prepare toppings – finely slice mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, capsicum, cauliflower and pumpkin (all optional ideas)

2. Spread tomato paste evenly across all wraps

3. Top pizzas with desired ingredients

4. Add a handful of shredded chicken/ham/prosciutto across each pizza then top with desired cheese

5. Bake for 10-15-minutes or until crispy

6. Garnish with greens or sesame seeds and a drizzle of olive oil

7. Enjoy :)

5 top snacks for corporates to sustain energy and brain power

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Back to back meetings or rushing to the end of the day realising you’ve skipped meals? Feel tired, unfocussed, stressed or hangry? Let us help you out. 

Five of our faves below!

YoPro or Chobani FIT yoghurt pouches: Both of these options contain a good whack of protein (~10-15g) which is going to keep your stomach from rumbling in meetings and contribute to maintaining healthy hormones and immunity. The easy squeeze pouches mean this snack was made for quick and convenient consumption. Goodbye to self conscious spoons, keep this one handy for back to back meetings!

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30g nut mixes: Studies have shown that nuts help maintain a healthy weight and that crunchy textures provide feedback to the brain in terms of satiety (feeling full!). To nibble on a couple of these surreptitiously won’t be hard. Our pick? Roasted tamari almonds. Added benefit of fibre to support gut health and bacterial diversity!


Hommous and cracker packs: These are perfectly portioned to provide some glucose to keep your brain focussed. Hommous is also made up with tahini and olive oil, powerful unsaturated fats which influence memory and decision making. My favorite is the beetroot option. Fun fact: Beetroot has ALSO been scientifically linked to reducing blood pressure. Add some deep breaths to that beetroot and your stress and blood pressure will surely start to come down.


Grainy wrap filled with nut butter and cinnamon: Grainy products are usually sustaining in their release of carbs which level out blood sugar levels to keep mood steady. Cinnamon only enhances this action, whilst also providing antioxidants to combat inflammation in the body. Its easy to rip off parts of this snack periodically throughout your day and guess what? No refrigeration required!

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Home made mini frittatas: Make 12 on a Sunday and you’re set for the week! Saves the common dive for the banana bread at 3pm with a triple shot coffee. We’ve helped you out and have some recipes on our blog already. **insert link** These little guys are packed with immune boosting veggies, protein, some quality carbs (sweet potato/corn) and calcium. 


Now all you need to do is get organised. Or invite us in for a workshop ;)

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Sweet Potato, Pumpkin & Salmon Patties

Ingredients:

  • 500 g sweet potato/pumpkin cooked mashed (can do half each)

  • 425 g canned red salmon drained flaked deboned 

  • 1 red/brown onion/leek large finely chopped 

  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill chopped 

  • 1 tsp Moroccan seasoning 

  • ¼ wholemeal breadcrumbs (enough to coat each patty)

  •  large green salad, to serve - about 2 cups with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and 1 tsp. olive oil 

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Method:

  • Boil potato and pumpkin until slightly soft but still starchy* 

  • Combine potato and onion.

  • Combine salmon and dill.

  • Add potato to salmon and mix well.

  • Preheat oven to 220C and line a large tray with baking paper.

  • Form mixture into equal sized patties and place on tray.

  • Bake for 30-60 minutes, turning half-way through cooking time.

  • Serve patties with vegetables and a dollop of Greek Chobani yoghurt 

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Nutritionals: 

  • Rich in omega-3  

  • Rich in carotenoids, antioxidant properties to help fight oxidation in the body 

  • High fibre 

  • Good source of protein

The Mind, Gut & Mental Health

Can the way we eat and move influence our mental health?

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The GUT

Clapp et al., 2017.

Clapp et al., 2017.

The gut is home to billions of micro-organisms, making up >70% living bacteria and contains 500 million nerve cells. These cells are connected to the brain through nerves which transmit information. The gut and its microbes control inflammatory processes, immune function and several different compounds that can influence our brain health. 

The BRAIN

Our cognition is governed by the number and strength of neurons to help solve problems, respond to stimuli and think about new ideas. Neurons continually make new connections and new pathways in the brain to make us smarter and improve our memory, a process called ‘neurogenesis’. Specific nutrients within our diet can stimulate neurogenesis and poor quality foods can inhibit growth of an area of our brain called the hippocampus. Not great when this guy is critical for learning, memory and mood regulation!

How do they communicate? 

The gut and brain have a two-way link between the central nervous system (CNS = brain) and enteral nervous system (ENS = gut). This allows the gut to send and receive signals to and from the brain. 

Can nutrition improve and support mental health? Short answer, yes.

Whilst, our gut-brain-body health is highly influenced from the day we are born (genetics, lifestyle, environment, exposure to different foods, illness and infection), our gut microbiome continues to undergo changes throughout the life-span. Fortunately, growing research shows we can positively manipulate our gut microbiota to support overall health. This includes reducing stress-induced cortisol release, influencing behaviour and mood pathways!

A poor-quality diet can increase the risk of:

  • Common mental disorders i.e. depression and anxiety 

  • Chronic inflammation 

  • Low immune system 

 Some key food principles that have shown positive correlation between gut-brain and wellbeing!

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Fibre → important for the production of short-chain fatty acids, a by-product of fermentation in the large intestine, essential for reducing inflammation & supporting healthy bowel lining.

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Prebiotics & Probiotics → living and non-living organisms help to feed our living organisms within the gut, promoting strong immunity and provide first line of defence to “nasty bacteria”!

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Omega 3 → important in keeping the dopamine levels in your brain high (feel good chemicals!) and are also also essential for memory, language, creativity and mood regulation.

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Amino acids → essential building blocks of protein, especially tryptophan, a key amino acid that can be converted into several important molecules, including serotonin and melatonin, necessary for regulation of mood, sleep and behaviour.

Exciting research within this area continues to emerge! There are many more positive ways in which nutrition can support best health. Want to find out? Check out our website online here or give Ash or Aimee a call :)

Aimee Boidin | Body Fusion Dietitian | Lane Cove, Cremorne, Wahroonga & Balgowlah

Fish Sustainability

Over 85% of seafood caught in Australia is sustainable – but does this mean it is the most nutritious choice available on the market? 

Sustainable seafood refers to the produce that has undergone minimal impact on fish populations and the marine environment. Species that are often classified ‘better choices’ are often seafood that has not been overfished and are caught or farmed using techniques that have low environmental impacts. These include choosing smaller, fast-growing species and avoiding top predators, including swordfish, shark and tuna. 

 What about considering the nutritional quality vs. sustainability of seafood on the market?

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What makes a certain seafood choice healthier than another?

 Think S.M.A.S.H. (Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovy, Sardines, Herring)

Protein – Essential Amino Acids

SMASH fish provide one of the highest quality of amino acids, building blocks of protein that are essential to support and maintain muscle cell and tissue growth, important for overall health and immunity.

 Long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids 

These types of fats are high in anti-inflammatory properties, essential to heart, brain and joint health. Robust research supports the intake of these fats for healthy levels of “good” cholesterol in the blood. 

 Lower in mercury 

We know that too much mercury in the diet can be toxic in the body and SMASH fish have the lowest amount of mercury, therefore all the more reason to include them in a sustainable diet.  

 Vitamin D 

Sunlight is the most bioavailable source of Vitamin D; however, we don’t always get the opportunity to soak up enough sun! SMASH fish provide a good source of Vitamin D, a hormone, important for calcium absorption, cell growth and releases serotonin – our happy hormone!  

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Less than 1% of adults reported eating sardines and mackerel which were considered some of the most nutritious and sustainable varieties.

 Whilst certain breeds of tuna are in the avoidance list, canned tuna is brand dependant. See image to the right. Click here to see the complete breakdown of tuna brands.

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Aim for 2-3 serves of fish per week. See below for some great ways to add SMASH into your life!

1.    Salmon & Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Patties 

2.    Baked or Pan-fried with a yummy roasted vegetable and quinoa salad! 

3.    Simply add a sustainably sourced can of tuna, salmon or sardines to a sandwich, whole-grain crackers for an “open sandwich” or throw them into your salad! 

Written by Aimee Boidin (Lane Cove and Wahroonga Dietitian)