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!

 

Top Tips for a Healthier Easter

It's that time of year again. The supermarkets are stocked with mountains of golden alluring bunnies, the easter hat parade was a great success and the you've had a Mexican stand off with that hot cross bun sitting on the middle of the staff table for about the last 2 hours.

Here are some tips from our expert dietitian's to help your healthy behaviours around Easter:

1. Don’t fight your cravings:

Studies have proven that if you go out of your way to deny your cravings there is a good chance you will overindulge. There is no point being in denial, it is Easter! Accept that you will be having a small amount of chocolate or an occasional hot cross bun and that is OK. 

2. Choose quality over quantity (less is more!):

Your food experience should be one of pure pleasure. Smell, observe, hear and taste your chocolate. Is there a scent of vanilla? Does it sound crunchy when you bite into it? Do you notice the taste and flavour vanish after you swallow?

Why are you popping mediocre Easter chocolate into your mouth if you could be slowly and mindfully enjoying a small Lindt bunny? So not worth it!

Make sure you are paying attention whilst you are eating! Gobbling down easter eggs mindlessly isn’t satisfactory, especially if you can’t remember it. 

Too much chocolate on a regular bases can be detrimental to health as it is high in saturated fat and energy. For example a 200g Lindt bunny = 1086 calories, where are the average adult would need about 1500-2000 calories/day to maintain their body weight.

3. Out of sight, out of mind: 

Be honest with yourself: If it’s in your house you are going to eat it. Try to minimise how much you bring home from work or give to family members as a gift. After all, “Sharing is caring". Some of our clients find it useful to freeze their chocolate so they are not tempted to eat it or to put it completely out of sight.

4. Don’t skip meals: 

Only chocolate for breakfast or any other meal is a horrible idea. Chocolate is high GI as it contains much simple processed sugar and spikes your insulin. This does not fill you up for long, which could result in many other consequent binges later on. Remember to eat 5 small healthily spaced meals (this includes small snacks morning and afternoon) with plenty of grains, fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy omega-3 fats throughout the day. 

5. Find healthy alternatives to celebrate Easter: 

We need to remember what Easter is about. 100% it has religious connotations but for most people religious or not it also symbolises family. For my example my friend Steph is Greek and she explained their Christmas involves all attending late night mass, having a homemade 12am feast in the kitchen with family and cracking eggs against eachothers heads! (Sounds fun to me). You can check Steph out on instagram @steph.zervos, she's a sprinter training for the Commonwealth Games and an awesome PT.

Just remember:

  • You don’t have to eat 20 bunnies to feel closer to your family or friends
  • A healthy BBQ, dinner out or another non food based activity with friends or family to celebrate can be just as special

Here are some other healthy ideas

  • Painting eggs with children.
  • Making healthy food into easter bunnies and chicks, get the kids involved here. The more hands on, the better! (See below photos)
  • Making healthy chocolate alternatives: Check Kat's previous blog out for a yummy example: http://bodyfusion.com.au/blog/2016/3/21/choc-almond-easte
  • Home made hot cross buns made with wholemeal, rye or spelt flour. We love Teresa Cutter's recipe. Check her out!
  • Choosing dark chocolate varieties of chocolate, higher in cacao which in small amounts does has positive links to reducing blood pressure and preventing cancer due to polyphenol conten

6.    Adapt a positive attitude: The world isn’t going to ever run out of chocolate

Why do we need to go crazy in one weekend? Reality is, you can still eat chocolate as a part of a healthy diet! Daily in fact. If you do indulge, well tomorrow is another day. Let it go! Get back on the horse or of course check in with a Dietitian if you need some support and direction.

Happy Easter everyone! Enjoy. 

Ash and Kat :)

Product Review: OATS

Porridge is notorious for being a healthy breakfast, particularly on cold winter mornings. But are all oats made the same?

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Oat groats: All oat grains begin as groats, they are simply hulled, toasted oat grains. They are not commonly available except for in some health food shops. Normal cooking time is 20 – 25 minutes, similar to any other wholegrain like buckwheat or barley. If you have the time to find and cook these guys they are the least processed of your oat products but aren’t necessary for a hearty healthy breakfast.

 

Steel cut oats:  These have recently made resurgence into the marketplace due to health trends/bloggers. In actual fact, they have been eaten traditionally in Scotland and are known as ‘Scottish oats’. Steel cut oats are produced when the groat is cut up into small, thick pieces. They taste nuttier and have a gritty texture. Cooking time: 15- 20 minutes once added to boiling water.

 

Rolled oats: Instead of being cut into chunks, oat groats are flattened, rolled out and then steamed. This processing makes it cook faster and means they can be cooked in around 5 – 10 minutes once added to boiling water.

 

Quick oats:  These are the most heavily advertised and commonly used oats from what I have seen with clients. Quick oats are more processed than rolled oats because they have been cut into smaller pieces, rolled for longer and partially cooked which reduces their cooking time to 1.5 minutes in the microwave.

 

Instant oats/ flavoured:  Another step down the processing line we find instant oats. You’ll find they are cut even finer than quick oats, plus are partially cooked and often have skim milk powder, emulsifiers and other preservatives added to help them develop a creamy texture when you cook them.

The two debates: 

1. STEEL CUT vs. ROLLED OATS 

This is where the debate gets a little heated – health nuts often argue that steel cut oats are far superior to rolled oats. However there is actually very little difference between the two types. Prevention did a great comparison between both options, check it out here.  

As you can see there are a few SLIGHT differences, however nothing that will drastically make a difference to your health. Energy, carbohydrates, fibre, GI are pretty much identical. Due to our fascination with health foods, food companies have brought out steel cut oat ranges now, which are nutritionally wonderful but are more expensive than your regular rolled oats. Eg. Uncle Toby’s now sell 750g steel cut oats for $5.99, but a 750g homebrand rolled oats is only 0.99c.  

                                  750g = 0.99c 

                                  750g = 0.99c 

                     750g = $5.99 

                     750g = $5.99 

2. QUICK & INSTANT OATS vs. STEEL CUT & ROLLED OATS

 HIGHER GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) than steel/rolled oats

What this means: faster release of the sugar (from carbohydrates and any added flavours) into your blood stream. Giving you a quick burst of energy in the morning, causing a larger insulin response (not ideal for those with insulin resistance or diabetes) and requires less work for your body to break down.

LOWER FIBRE than steel/rolled oats

What this means: Due to the level of processing a lot of the fibre that wholegrain oats naturally have are lost. Machines have done the mechanical work that your digestive system was originally designed for. Generally this means they are less filling and chances are you’ll be hungry again an hour or two after breakfast.

MORE ADDED SUGARS than unflavoured oats 

What this means: Added sugars are a significant energy contributors to the diet and one of the biggest nutritional challenges we face as a population – it is not secret that Australia is consuming more now than ever before. Flavoured sachets have extra sugar added, just look at the ingredients list. Our general rule of thumb is to avoid products that have sugar listed in the top three ingredients. In most quick/instant flavoured oats sugar is the second ingredient, which adds extra sugar you simply don’t need on a daily basis. Plus eating sweet tasting foods as part of your regular diet is only training your taste buds to constantly seek out sweet foods.

FOR EXAMPLE:

        35g = 8.4 g sugar per serve

        35g = 8.4 g sugar per serve

 
                  35g = 0.4g sugar

                  35g = 0.4g sugar

THE VERDICT: 

Choose traditional rolled oats and if time and budget allows then splash out for steel cut oats. 

Focus on the quality of your food products not simply the energy on the side of the packet. Beware of added sugars, especially in the gourmet packets of oats with added flavouring, dried fruit and other bits and pieces. Do it yourself by picking up good old fashioned rolled oats (like your grandma would have) then add some flavouring turn to your natural, fibre rich fruits and vegetables like bananas, pears, apples, berries and even carrot with a sprinkling of cinnamon, crushed nuts and a little (1 tsp) raw honey or 100% maple syrup. 

                 Caramelised banana oats with vanilla, cinnamon and toasted macadamias

                 Caramelised banana oats with vanilla, cinnamon and toasted macadamias

*Prices as per Woolworths online 4/6/2015.

**Body Fusion and this author is not affiliated with or compensated by any companies, brands or products discussed in this review. 

Thai Style Baked Fish

I've always been a big supporter of the Mediterranean diet and its inclusion of fish. Fish contains Omega 3's important for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. It also helps reduce inflammation in the body (inflammation can lead to increased risk of chronic disease and other health problems). Try and include a fresh fish meal at least once in your week. It mixed things up anyway and tastes delicious if infused with some herbs!

Ingredients:


• 6 lemongrass stalks
• 12 Kaffier lime leaves
• 1 large kg fillet of firm white fish e.g. Barramundi, Ling, King Fish
• ¼ store bought red curry paste
• 2 Tbsp Shredded ginger
• 3 garlic cloves (sliced)
• 2 long red chilis, seeds removed and chopped
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 Cup Coriander leaves
• 1 Cup Mint leaves
• 1 Cup Thai Basil leaves
• Steamed basmati, doongara or mahatma rice and lime wedges, to serve

 

Directions:

Preheat over to 200 degrees. Place the lemongrass and lime leaves in a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and top with fish, skin side down. Spread the flesh of the fish with the curry paste. Combine the ginger, garlic, chili and oil. Sprinkle over the fish and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Top the fish with the coriander, mint and thai basil and serve with steamed rice, a big bunch of vegetables or salad and lime wedges. Oh and then totally eat it all up...

Ash ;)

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 :)

I’m sick of being SICK

You’re at work and some one at the desk next to you is sneezing and coughing up a storm. You haven’t seen your best friend all weekend because she’s feeling under the weather and hibernating in her bed.

Is that a sniffle coming on?

Are you feeling exhausted for no apparent reason.

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Should you be taking vitamin C?

Need help?

Lastly, Sleep is also a huge immuno-modulator.

 A recent 2012 Review (Besedovsky et al) concluded:

“Prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response invoke a persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produce immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health.”

There you go everyone, your dietitian is giving you an excuse to sleep! 7-9 hours is recommended – do your best to get into a healthy regular routine, which involves no stimulants 4 hours before bed (e.g. caffeine). Short naps can be ok too. Research has found that about 20 minutes (the sneaky Spanish siesta) can be beneficial to boost alertness and immunity :)

Stay happy and healthy this coming winter.

 Ash xx

 

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!! 

Food is a RELATIONSHIP

Are you constantly trying to cut calories or always on a “diet”?

Do you constantly see food as a stress, burden or associated guilt?

Do you announce to your friends restrictions throughout the year – alcohol, chocolate, ice cream?

The reality is that I end up with a lot of people in my clinic that could answer YES to at least one of the questions above. It might be because they are concerned about their health, which is a good thing, however this isn't always the case. And sometimes any psychological drive can become toxic or obsessive.

I see a lot of people who are carrying more weight on their bodies than they need to be. I also see many people with eating disorders. But interestingly I have found the same thing time and time again. THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD IS BROKEN.

Many people are using this relationship as a way to de-stress, as a distraction (boredom), to reward, celebrate, punish or deal with their emotion. What happens if you were to do this in a relationship with a PERSON? Do you think they would appreciate you just using them all the time for the above? Do you think you could do all this without any CONSEQUENCE?

My most successful clients work with me to mend this disconnect. We focus on nourishment and strategies to work with food so that it can be appreciated in a positive light. To be inspired with it’s creativity and variety to enhance our experience with how this food can physiologically affect our bodies.

Many of us are in denial about a broken relationship and ignore it, simply haven’t got the knowledge to improve it or believe it’s too hard to make a change when we are so comfortable.

If you are drowning and looking for a rope. I am your rope. Let me change your life.

Ash x