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

Three tops tips for the time poor corporate: Increasing vegetable intake to boost health, longevity and work performance

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Back to back intense meetings, extended work hours, skipping meals whilst adding copious amounts of caffeine – sound familiar? What if nutrition could be quick, tasty and practical to make everything easier? Well it CAN and not only will this reduce your risk of chronic health disease such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but also help improve body function and increase energy.

The stats: Lettuce tell you

Did you know that in 2014-15 that only 7% of Australian adults met the guidelines for recommended intake vegetables?

Similarly, in a recent survey conducted in a leading Australian bank by our business Body Fusion, 85.5% of employees were not meeting their recommended serving.

Fact: Healthy employees have been found to be three times as productive than unhealthy employees!

So what are these “guidelines” ?

Taken from the Australian Healthy Food Guide Portion Sizing Poster

Taken from the Australian Healthy Food Guide Portion Sizing Poster

The implications: Lettuce tell you more

 Not meeting your brightly coloured intake of rainbow veggies means:

·      Less fibre, negatively influencing digestion and increasing risk of colon cancer

·      Decreased satiety = hungry worker = impacted mood and interaction with team plus reduced  ability to concentrate

·      Insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, which support body function. For example vegetables are an excellent source of potassium which aids in electrolyte balance, regulation of blood pressure and supports nerve and muscle function (including the heart!)

·      Compromised immunity, which influences energy, enjoyment of work and sick days needed

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Help me solve this creatively and simply: Now!

1.    Be organised

This means from the get go on a Monday and yes a shop is crucial over the weekend! We suggest bringing healthy snacks to work that include vegetables: veggie sticks (carrot, cucumber, red capsicum) and hummus, savoury muffins or a small snap lock bag of cherry tomatoes.

2.    ALWAYS make sure there are vegetables in your lunch

What’s the easiest way to do this? Take food from home that has been cooked in advance. A huge vegetable frittata, vegetable lasagna or spinach and ricotta pie at home will make multiple serves. Salads are also always a winner!

Like to purchase on the run? Alternatively look to add veggies to your lunch in other quick ways. How about you match a veggie-based juice (carrot, celery, beetroot, ginger and apple) with your grainy ham and cheese toastie?

3.    Use tools and cues as reminders to eat

When things get busy, eating goes to the end of the priority list. Putting your snacks or lunch near your keyboard, setting a phone alarm or having another healthy buddy in the office to keep accountable will all work.

Another option is the new amazing App VegEze app by Hort Innovation https://horticulture.com.au/ which gives your hot tips and reminders to encourage you to get to your goal of 5 serves in the day.

So there you have it: Get started today by doing a big healthy grocery shop or better yet check in with a Dietitian to help guide you on your own personalised journey!

Ash, Vegetable and life enthusiast

Flour Guide: Nutrition, Baking & Best Uses

With the number of flours available in the supermarket today, it can be overwhelming (What the hell is TEFF?!). This guide looks at some of the most popular flours used in everyday cooking and mentions some new flours that are available in stores. We share our top picks at the bottom of the blog to keep your delicious baking producing healthy outcomes too!

Grains 101

·       In Australia, wheat based flour is commonly used by food manufacturers and individuals at home. Wheat grains are ground down and sifted in a process called milling, to produce flour.

·       There are three major parts of a cereal grain: the endosperm, bran and germ.

·       Different components of any grain may be left in or taken out depending on how it is milled. This will produce different kinds of flour.  

WHITE FLOUR

In white flour, both the bran and germ have been removed via milling. As the bran and germ contain more dietary fibre than the endosperm, white flour has a light consistency. Many micronutrients including B vitamins, iron and magnesium are found in greater concentrations in the bran and germ layers of the grain. Therefore, white flour contains less of these nutrients. However, flour may be restored with some of these lost nutrients and may also be fortified with additional nutrients such as folic acid and iodine.

Uses: White flour is commonly used to make bread, pizza dough or sweet bakes such as cakes, muffins and scones. White flour is often used as a thickener for gravies and sauces.

Nutrition

 WHOLEMEAL FLOUR

Incorporates the bran layer of the wheat grain, which makes this flour higher in fibre, protein as well as vitamins and minerals (e.g. niacin (B3) and iron). This flour may also be fortified with additional micronutrients.

Uses: Like white flour, wholemeal flour may be used to make sweet/savoury breads or doughs or cakes, muffins and scones

RYE FLOUR

Derived from the rye grain, rye flour is milled in a similar fashion to wheat. A little harder to find and more expensive than wheat flour, you may have to venture outside major supermarket chains to find rye flour. Rye flour comes in both dark and light varieties. Light rye is lighter than dark rye and contains less calories, fibre and protein per.

Uses: Rye flour may be used to make breads, pumpernickel, crispbreads, or biscuits.

SPELT FLOUR

Spelt is an ancient grain, cultivated over thousands of years. This grain is rich in several vitamins and minerals including B vitamins (thiamin, niacin and folate), magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. Spelt is a high protein, high fibre flour making it a great alternative to wheat flour.

Uses: May be used to make dense breads, biscuits or pastas. Spelt is quite flavoursome so is best for savoury dishes.

GLUTEN FREE FLOUR

Gluten free flour is generally a mix of various gluten free flours including corn and tapioca starch and rice flour. Due to the ingredients, this flour is quite low in protein compared to other flours.

Uses: Gluten free plain or self-raising flour can be used to make a variety of dishes including breads, cakes, muffins, batters and can be used as a thickener for sauces/gravies.

COCONUT FLOUR

Derived from the pulp of the coconut, coconut flour is a soft, light flour. It is a by-product made during the coconut milk making process. Coconut flour is also extremely high in flbre and a good source of protein. This flour absorbs a lot of liquid, therefore much less is required to make a certain product (e.g. muffins) than wheat flour.

Uses: Coconut flour may be used to make cupcakes or muffins, cakes, biscuits, pancakes and breads. It may also be used as a gluten free alternative for batter.

QUINOA FLOUR

Derived from another ancient grain, quinoa flour is high in fibre and protein, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, magnesium, iron and phosphate.

Uses: Quinoa flour produces quite a moist bake, and is good for muffins, cakes, pastries or sweet/savoury breads.

CHICKPEA FLOUR

You may or may not have seen chickpea flour in your local supermarket. As this flour is derived from chickpeas, it contains a significant amount of protein along with B vitamins and dietary fibre.

Uses: Chickpea flour may be used to bake cakes, breads and biscuits or for pancakes, fritters or batter

LENTIL FLOUR

Like chickpea flour, lentil flour is relatively new to the supermarket. Made purely from uncooked lentils, this flour provides a nutty flavour to dishes. Lentils are a great source of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients such as iron, phosphate and copper.

Uses: Like chickpea flour, lentil flour may be used in a variety of dishes including sweet or savoury breads, cakes, muffins, fritters and to make batter.

TEFF FLOUR

Teff has long been used in Ethiopia as a staple grain, but it is relatively new to Western. Like quinoa, Teff is a good source of dietary fibre and protein. This gluten free flour is also rich in several micronutrients including B vitamins, calcium and iron.

Uses: Teff flour has an earthy, nutty taste and is a great gluten free alternative to wheat flour in cakes, muffins, breads and other bakes.

BUCKWHEAT FLOUR

Surprisingly, buckwheat is not a type of wheat. In fact, the buckwheat plant is related to rhubarb. Buckwheat flour is gluten free, and often used as a replacement for wheat. Buckwheat is available as both dark and light flours. Dark buckwheat is more flavoursome than light. Another high protein flour, buckwheat also contains several micronutrients including iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Uses: Dark buckwheat flour is great for making crepes or pancakes, whilst lighter buckwheat flour may be used to make biscuits, muffins, rolls and bread. As buckwheat is quite strong, it is best used along with another flour (e.g. rice flour) to reduce the nutty taste.

OUR TOP PICKS NUTRITION WISE

Rye Flour: Particularly dark flour which is higher in protein than the light variety. With 300 calories/cup (vs. 500 in white and wholemeal), 10.5g of protein and 9.1g of fibre as well as being of a moderate glycaemic index it could be a good baking option, particularly if you enjoy making your own bread. Its also relatively cheap $3/kg.

Lentil Flour: With 333 calories/cup (5th lowest out of 15 compared) its high in protein 25.4g and fibre 15.9g and comes in at a medium price range, $9/kg.

Teff Flour: Teff was the flour highest in protein with 39g/cup! It also rated high in terms of fibre (12.5g) and was sitting at 225 calories. However it is a little more expensive, $13/kg

To learn more about the nutritional composition of flours best to talk to us in the clinic - we love baking!!

References/Further Information

Most this nutritional information was obtained from calorieking.com.au. Nutrient information on lentil flour was taken from mckenziesfoods.com.au

Note: The nutritional information provided on this guide refers to uncooked flour

[1] Honest to Goodness foods

[2] https://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/shop/cooking/organic-buckwheat-flour-gf/

[3] https://www.tooshfoods.com.au/shop/cooking-and-baking/organic-teff-flour/

Christmas Recipe: Healthy Christmas Cake Muffins

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 400g mixed fruit
  • 2 eggs
  • 130g almond meal
  • 50g walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive or macadamia oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest grated 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius
  2. Spray a muffin tin with oil (12 muffins)
  3. Combine eggs, dried fruit, spices, vanilla and lemon
  4. Add the almonds and walnuts and mix through
  5. Spoon into tin, split into 12
  6. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check with skewer and cook longer if neede

Note: Cover the top if necessary to prevent over-browning.

Nutrition:

Calories: 200 calories/serve (perfect snack size with a cup of tea!)

Fat: 9.5g

Protein: 6g

Carbs: 22g 

 

 

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.

 

Tips for a healthy, guilt free Christmas

We are constantly surrounded by food during the Christmas and holiday period, with busy schedules and late nights it can be hard to feel healthy enough to enjoy all of the festivities. Here at Body Fusion we believe in a balanced approach to life, this includes the party season. Hence we have a few recommendations that’ll help you enjoy yourself without blowing out or feeling too restricted.

Never arrive too hungry

Arriving at a function ready to eat an entire Christmas ham is never a good idea. Always eat a balanced breakfast with low GI carbs like sweet potato, grainy bread or oats with eggs, yoghurt and either vegetables or a little fruit. Eat regularly throughout your day, have a light fibre rich meal or snack before you go like some snowpea & cucumber sticks with hummous or 1 scoop plain greek yoghurt with 1 piece of fruit so you arrive level headed and not devour your days worth of kilojoules from the cheese and chip platter.

 Choose what you LOVE, not what you like.

Big festive meals are a joyous event however this doesn’t have to equate to a big festive weight gain. Instead of saying ‘no’ all the time only choose the item or couple of items you truly LOVE and forgo the ones you only ‘like’. For example I love pavlova, but I only just like potato salad. So I will choose to eat a piece of pavlova after dinner but swap the creamy potato salad for baked vegetables and salad. Changing the way you think will reduce the amount of guilt associated with food decisions and allows you to enjoy your meal because you are eating the foods you love!

Eat just a little less

Once you have chosen your ‘LOVE’ food/s consider your portion sizes. If you are trying to lose weight or simply maintain then eat whatever you like just in a smaller portion. This will keep your total kilojoule (energy) total in check and prevent a binge. Try having half a piece of fruitcake with fresh fruit instead of a big slab with trifle as well.

Be alcohol wise

It is a time of celebration and in Australia that often means free flowing bubbles and beers. Remember moderation! If you choose to drink then opt for a shot of a clear spirit with a soda water/ diet mixer instead of beer & cider. If you’re a wine drinker then slow yourself down by finishing one glass at a time then chase it with a non alcoholic drink (like the fruit flavoured sparkling waters).  Always aim for at least 2 alcohol free days per week.

Make sleep a priority.

There is no replacement for a good nights sleep, it will reset your appetite hormones, helps stabilise stress levels and reenergise the body. Make a conscious effort to get at least 7-8 hours sleep per night, limiting blue light from mobile phones and computers at least half an hour before bed.

 Keep moving

This is especially important if you are taking a break from your normal exercise routine. Replace your workouts with outdoor activities like walking, bike riding, swimming (especially at the beach), maybe even trying some water sports like surfing or paddle boarding. Exercise is particularly important for keeping your metabolism working efficiently and improving insulin sensitivity. 

 Remember that a few extra treats over a couple of days can be tolerated by the body but don’t let it those habits carry into the New Year. Remember, one fruit mince pie over 4 weeks can add up to an extra 1kg of weight, that’s not something many want to start a new year with.

Wishing everyone a very safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year!

Katrina :) 

 

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.

Stress and busy lifestyles: How is it affecting your health?

Your mind is racing, with a long list of things to still do. The calendar is full of social events and commitments. Work is hounding and you can’t remember the last time you had your lunch break. You are sleep deprived exhausted, grumpy and defeated. 

Does it ever stop?

This blog comes inspired by another post I read recently which reflected on the way our lives have become so demanding that we have surrendered our identity to one of perpetual busyness. 

The author proposed that when asked how we are, we often respond with “I am so busy” or “I am exhausted”. He then went on to describe that in Arabic when you want to ask how someone is doing, you ask: Kayf haal-ik?  and this actually translates to “how is your heart”? 

This really connected with me and I will tell you why. These days we are so caught up in doing that we are not being. We tend to measure our success by doings. Often it’s the classic scenario of setting ourselves the goals or outcomes we want to achieve and when get there- wanting more. How much can we push? How much harder can we work? More, more, more! And with this we lose sight and awareness of those human moments and connections in which we can immerse our full attention and joy in being in that moment. We are always thinking, planning, what next?

I am not saying don’t set goals, have dreams or aspirations. I’m just saying, be realistic with these expectations and give your self a break if you take a little longer to get there. We are our worst critics.

In addition to this, we are frequently projecting what we think people or society wants us to be. Take a look at facebook? Doesn’t it seem like everyone has perfectly happy lives and looks stunning in every picture posted? Lets get real. This isn’t all of who we really are. 

And all the while this running around and projecting is making us TIRED and STRESSED. 

I think if we look a little deeper we can evaluate how stress and busy lifestyles affect our health:

Stress: 

Stress is a natural body response.  It can be positive in small doses to avoid danger, but if turned on continually (“distress”) stress can begin to affect the body in quite a negative way. The stress hormones are cortisol and adrenaline, which are both released by the adrenal glands perched on top of the kidneys.

When these hormones are over excited you will most likely experience symptoms such as disturbed sleep, elevated blood pressure, fatigue, an upset stomach, headaches or anxiety. 

How stress impacts upon my clients:

  • Heightened sensitivities to food
  • Triggering of binge or emotional eating
  • Inability to make decisions or organise themselves
  • Overeating
  • The use of food or alcohol as reward to get through hard circumstances
  • Weight gain
  • Poor sleep and consequential increased appetite
  • Heart attacks (I am serious)

Lack of good sleep

I don’t really know where to start. Sleep is so crucial to good health – and we spend a third of our lives doing it (wow!).

During sleep cerebrospinal fluid flow increases 20 fold. The brain also shrinks to leave room for it to surge into the interstitial space between brain structures. This process allows the waste products of metabolism to be eliminated. 

Lack of good sleep can result in the following:

Studies have proven that 7-9 hours sleep is optimal. I’d be advising turn off that technology before bed! Recent studies have shown that blue light from technological devices reduces melatonin in the brain (a hormone which makes you sleepy).

Using and Abusing Food, Caffeine & Alcohol

Food as a reward or celebration, caffeine to bump you through the day or alcohol as a switch off…. go on, you “deserve it”. Too much of the previous isn’t a good thing.

Why?  You are behaviorally depending on these things to deal with stress and in large quantities this can have profound consequences on your health.

Too Much Caffeine:

  • Anxiety, racing thoughts, problems sleeping, fatigue, dependency, withdrawal headaches.

Too Much Food:

  • Weight gain. Too much sugar, salt and fat link back to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Too Much Alcohol:

  • Weight gain and poor food choices. There is also strong evidence that the chronic intake of alcohol (more than 2 drinks/day) is associated with increased risk of many cancers. These include mouth, lung, gastric (stomach), liver, endometrial, pancreatic, colorectal and breast.

Three years ago I spent New Years Eve at a small oasis in the middle of a dessert in Peru. I had been travelling South America with friends for ten weeks and it gave me some fantastic time for reflection. All my life I have been a doer and it always meant I was always on the run. I literally couldn’t sit still! Even if I was at home I needed to be doing something “productive”. My resolution was to slow down and create more “me” or “quiet” time.

Since then this has revolutionized my life. I have learnt to say no to invitations without guilt. I have learnt it’s ok to have a quiet moment - silences don’t have to be filled.  I am also selfish about my wellbeing. I now practice yoga 5-6 times per week and use my Friday’s sometimes as mental health days to keep my mind fresh. I believe this helps run my business to its maximum potential – I love my job.

I now feel more centered and happy. I can give out more motivation, education and inspiration to my beautiful clients. I am less tired and more relaxed. My immunity is improved, I do not get sick often. I recover well from my exercise. I sleep like an absolute log.

So do you want to be one of those people who when asked always says, “Busy”? Or do you want to be one who is a relatively relaxed and with a lot better health?

How is your heart? 

Chili Con Carne

Winter is upon us and suddenly we are craving warming and filling foods. Better make them healthy! I made this one the other weekend in my slow cooker. But you can do it just as easily on the stove. If you are vegetarian this one can also be for you! Why not add some extra beans and veggies and omit the lean beef. Feel free to also experiment with your extras. I added some jalapeños to mine and next time I will definitely consider some salsa or avocado.

High in FIBRE with brown rice and many veggies. High in VITAMIN C with tomatoes to maintain a strong immunity. LOW GI to fill you up. And also this more than provides enough leftovers to save you time when things get busy. This recipe also tastes better with every passing day as the flavours mix and mingle more and more. DELICIOUS! :)

Ingredients (serves 8 - Plenty of leftovers!)

3 cloves garlic (minced or finely chopped)

1 brown onion (chopped)

1 red capsicum (chopped into small pieces)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 red chill

Black cracked pepper

750g lean mince

1 can kidney beans

400g tinned tomatoes

1/2 bunch fresh basil (finely chopped)

Brown rice

4xsmall wholemeal pita bread

Light sour cream (small tub)

Reduced fat cheese (25% Bega)

Method:

1. Add olive oil, garlic, onion and capsicum to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until brown

2. Add in lean beef mince and cook until brown

3. Add tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, cumin and chili. Keep on a medium heat until completely mixed and food is warm.

4. Leave to simmer and steam with the lid on for 30mins with reduced heat

5. Whilst this is simmering add a cup of brown rice with 2.5 cups of water to a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook until almost all water is gone and then steam with the saucepan of the heat.

5. Add basil and pepper to season to the chill con carne mix

6. Cut up wholemeal pitas into 6 pieces per pita and place in the grill for 5-10 minutes. WATCH THIS CAREFULLY they seem to go from brown to black quite quickly from experience!

7. Serve: A good large spoon of brown rice, a good couple of large spoon of the chill con carne mixture onto a plate. Garnish with sour cream on top and a sprinkle of reduced fat cheese. Add pitas around the plate.

8. Enjoy and feel nourished!! 

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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