Easy ways to improve your gut health!


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Easy ways to improve your gut health!

This is a sponsored post, sponsored by Danone Activia.

Digestive comfort is on the minds of many Aussie women with data showing that that up to 90% of women report some type of digestive discomfort regularly. With symptoms ranging from bloating and gas to constipation and general discomfort, building a healthier gut is on the minds of many of us as we try and juggle the demands of a very busy life with work, families and careers which can see us frequently picking up quick meals and snacks on the run. The health of our gut is influenced by many variables and while some of these we don’t have a huge amount of control over, others including what we eat and the specific foods we choose to actively promote gut health can dramatically improve our gut comfort on a daily basis. I see many, many clients who have ongoing digestive issues and I often recommend Activia probiotic yoghurts as part of their tummy management plan. Here are some of the steps I take to help my clients improve their digestive comfort*. 

1. Target probiotic rich foods

Probiotics are the ‘good bugs’ found naturally in the digestive tract that play a powerful role in keep our gut healthy and working optimally. Specifically adding probiotic rich foods into our diet has been shown to help reduce digestive discomfort, constipation and bloating, help to restore gut flora after consuming a course of antibiotics and to help rebalance the bacteria required for optimal nutrient absorption.

Probiotics are frequently found in yoghurt but the types and strains of probiotics differ between brands. I generally recommend Activia as it has been scientifically proven to help improve digestive comfort* as it contains the exclusive probiotic strain, Bifidus ActiRegularis, which lasts through the stomach to reach the intestines alive where it can help improve digestion. Probiotics are also found in a range of other foods including fermented drinks such as kefir and kombucha, miso and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi. 

2. Choose the right yoghurt

While many yoghurts contain probiotics, not all are proven to have digestive benefits and many contain added sugars and a high number of calories. Recently the popular yoghurt Activia, which has been shown to improve digestive comfort* has been reformulated with No Added Sugar or artificial sweeteners so you can get all the gut health benefits with no nasty extras. Each pot of Activia contains 4.4billion live probiotics to help you build a happy and healthy gut and just 100 calories per serve allowing it to be included as part of a healthy, calorie controlled diet.

3. Look for foods with No Added Sugar

When it comes to promoting a healthy gut, it is known that consuming a diet high in added sugars can actually reduce the amount of good bacteria in the gut. For this reason, actively seeking out low sugar foods or foods with less than 5g of sugars per serve is an important step in keeping your overall sugar intake low. Sugar can also be slipped into our daily foods such as yoghurt, breakfast cereal and snack bars without us even realising it, so always look for products that specifically state they contain No Added Sugar.

4. Get enough fibre

Few Aussies get enough fibre on a daily basis. Inadequate fibre can slow down the digestive process leaving you feeling bloated and heavy. Ideally adults need at least 25-30g of dietary fibre each day via a piece or two of fresh fruit, 2-3 cups vegetables or salad and a serve or two of wholemeal or wholegrain breads or cereals. With a busy lifestyle it can be challenging to get this much fibre. Specially formulated nutrient rich foods such as Activia shots, offer 2g of prebiotic fibres in a handy 80ml shot, is perfect for busy people who need their fibre nutrition on the run!

5. Drink plenty of water

One of the most important yet rarely mentioned steps towards good gut health is drinking enough water. The digestive system is heavily affected by dehydration and on a daily basis few of us are drinking enough fluid to maintain optimal levels of hydration. Ideally we need at least 2L of calorie free liquids each day via water, herbal tea or infusions to keep on top of our fluid intake, and an extra ½ – 1L for every hour of high intensity activity that we participate in. Once you making drinking enough fluid a priority, each day you will notice the gut related benefits almost immediately.

*By consuming a 250g serving a day during 4 weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. 

What should you look for in a yoghurt?


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What should you look for in a yoghurt?

This is a sponsored post, sponsored by Danone Activia.

If there is one section of the supermarket that is particularly difficult to navigate it would have to be the yoghurts. It seems each week there are more and more varieties to pick from. Yoghurt is an extremely nutritious food – packed full of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals with many containing probiotics to help support gut health. It is a great nutrient boost to most diets as long as you pick the right one. So here is an easy guide to help steer you towards the best yoghurt for your body and an opportunity to introduce you to one of my favourite yoghurts, Activia. Not only does Activia tick the box for all of my key nutrient requirements but it tastes great, making it a weekly regular in my shopping trolley. 

1. Look for No Added Sugar

While yoghurt is generally a very healthy food, some varieties can also contain plenty of added sugar. While dairy foods including yoghurt do contain some naturally occurring sugars called lactose, the real issue with yoghurts, especially flavoured varieties is that they can contain as much as 20-30g of sugars per serve. For this reason paying close attention to food labels and looking for yoghurts that contain No Added Sugars is an easy way you can ensure you are choosing healthier varieties. One of my favourite fruit based yoghurts is Activia which has No Added Sugars in both their natural or fruit ranges, nor any artificial sweeteners, making them a great option nutritionally especially if you prefer fruit based yoghurt.

2. Look out for artificial sweeteners

One of the ways yoghurts can be sweetened without the use of sugar is via sweeteners, both natural and artificial. The issue with artificial sweeteners is that they tend to be significantly sweeter than natural sweeteners that may program our taste buds to seek out more sweet food. For this reason seeking out yoghurts that do not contain artificial sweeteners is a positive step to take in keeping our food intake as wholesome and natural as possible.

3. Make sure they contain the right probiotics

Not all yoghurts contain probiotics – the tiny, tiny microorganisms may help to keep our gut healthy and support digestion. Of the yoghurts that do contain probiotics, there are few varieties that clearly state the type, amount and research base to support the probiotics they contain. It is important to know that there are literally thousands of different probiotic strains and to assist gut health we need them in the right amounts and able to make it through the digestive tract. One of the yoghurts I frequently recommend as it contains the exclusive probiotic, Bifidus Actiregularis, is Activia, which has been scientifically proven to survive through the stomach so it actually reaches the intestine so you can be assured your body will reap the digestive benefits. I also love that this brand also offers an 80ml shot style version which contains a massive 8.5 billion of these special probiotics. 

4. Seek out calcium

The Australian Health Survey found that up to 9/10 women in Australia fail to reach their recommended daily intakes of calcium, especially in late adolescents and for women over the age of 50. Yoghurt can be a rich daily source of calcium and significantly contribute to the recommended intakes of 1000mg per day. 

5. Watch your calories

Controlling our serving sizes on a daily basis is one of the easiest ways we can control our overall calorie intake. Like all foods yoghurts can come in particular large serving sizes and equate to as many as 300 calories in a single serving. A single 125g serve of Activia yoghurt contains just 100 calories so you can get all the benefits of a rich probiotic yoghurt with No Added Sugar minus any extra calories.

*By consuming a 250g serving a day during 4 weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. 

Quick and easy ways to eat more veg this Fruit and Veg Month


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

Quick and easy ways to eat more veg this Fruit and Veg Month

If there was on area of your diet that can significant improve your nutrition almost instantly it would be to simply eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet despite the relative abundance of beautiful fresh produce here in Australia, the average Aussie eats less than ½ the amounts of veg and salad they need each day for optimal health. So, as it is Fruit & Veg Month, here are some simple ways to boost your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and reap the numerous health benefits as a result. 

1. Team them with your favourite spreads and dips

While the thought of a plain piece of fruit or vegetable may not always be that alluring, teaming them with your favourite dip of spread can make things a whole lot more exciting. Think apple slices with 100% Mayvers Peanut Butter, carrots or celery with hommus or a bowl of berries and chopped banana with a dollop of Mayver’s 100% Cacao Super Spread.

2. Add at least 1 serve at breakie

Adding a natural source of dietary fibre to the first meal of the day is a no brainer when you consider that the dietary fibre found in abundance in fresh fruits and vegetables will help regulate blood glucose levels and keep you full throughout the morning. Think juicing your favourite greens and a banana for a nutrient rich smoothie; fruit pancakes (see recipe), Bircher bowls with grated apple or grainy toast with 100% Mayvers Peanut Butter and banana. 

3. Munch on fresh fruit and veg while you prepare prepare dinner

Chances are you snack on crackers, dip and chips before dinner but the calories, carbs and fats add up when you are mindlessly munching on processed foods. On the other hand when healthy food is within easy reach, we are much more likely to grab that instead, which is why it makes perfect sense to keep some chopped fruit or veg on hand while you make your nightly meal. Chopped capsicum or green beans, berries and baby tomatoes are all low calorie, nutrient rich pre dinner snack options that will not negatively impact your appetite for dinner. 

4. Bake with them

For those who are not naturally inclined to munch on fruit and veg, another easy solution is to bake them into delicious muffins, cakes, breads and snack balls and bites to boost your intake without even realising it. Try zucchini loaves, carrot muffins or a peanut butter and banana bread which are tasty yet surprisingly healthy snacks for both kids and adults.

5. Pack your daily snacks

When we pick up snacks on the run we are likely to think of chocolate bars, potato chips and snack bars. To avoid these processed carbohydrates becoming a regular part of your day, a simple trick is to pack yourself a snack box each day, the same way you would for kids. Start with a fruit and a vegetable, a protein rich option such as some cheese, yoghurt or a serve of nuts such as a Mayver’s Goodness to Go snack pack and you will never be caught off guard and short of healthy snacks again. 

Recipe: Banana Peanut Butter Pancakes

Serves 2. 3 Pancakes Per Serve.

Ingredients

2 small bananas, 1 x mashed & 1 x sliced

½ cup milk 

1 egg, lightly beaten 

½ cup self-raising flour

Olive oil cooking spray 

1 tbsp. honey 

1 tbsp. Mayver’s Smooth peanut butter 

Method

1. Combine mashed banana, milk and egg in a jug. Place flour in a mixing bowl and create a well. Pour liquid mixture into well and whisk until smooth. 

2. Spray a large frying pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into pan. Cook for two minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook for a further two minutes. Repeat with remaining batter to make four medium pancakes. Cover to keep warm.

3. Whisk together honey and peanut butter in a small jug. Place pancakes on plates. Top with sliced banana and drizzle sauce over. 

How to get your fussy eaters to eat more nuts


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

How to get your fussy eaters to eat more nuts

Nuts are an extremely nutritious food – packed full of essential fats, protein, Vitamin E and micronutrients such as selenium, a daily serve of nuts is associated with healthier blood fats and weight control long term. While nuts are a popular snack option for adults, less likely are our kids to reach for a handful of nuts, or even consider them as a daily food. Rather, widespread school bans to protect those who suffer from allergies mean that there are children who have never included nuts as a regular feature in their daily diet. So knowing how good they are for both children and adults alike, and if you do not have any allergy concerns in your home, here are some easy ways to ensure even the pickiest of eater develops a love for nutrient rich nuts. 

1. Include them in your own diet

Children learn what to eat from the adults in their lives. This means that if you eat nuts regularly so too will they. This may mean adding a few chopped nuts into trail mixes, keeping a jar of mixed nuts on the kitchen bench and adding a sprinkle of nuts to family salads and snack plates. The more familiar children are with the food, the more likely they are to eat it.

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 2.51.04 pm2. Go for the visual

Small children are more likely to eat when the food presented is visually appealing. This is why small pieces of sushi, cut up sandwiches and snack plates work so well. As such easy ways to include nuts regularly in the diet of children are to add them to colourful snack plates in small portions – think a sprinkle of chopped nuts to top dips, a nut spread served as a topped to crackers or vegetables or a dollop of Mayver’s 100% peanut butter to use as a dip for vegetables and fruit. 

3. Protein rich toppers

While it may not be that easy for young children to grab a handful of nuts, using 100% nut spreads as toast toppers is an easy way for them to get their daily serve of nuts, without even realising it. Often we reach for sweet spreads such as honey or jam and forget that Mayver’s 100% peanut butter is a low sugar, protein rich topping for sandwiches and toast. Even better crumpets, muffins or toast with peanut butter and banana, which kids young and old cannot get enough of.

4. For baking

When it comes to making healthy treats at home, you cannot go past 100% nut spreads to boost the flavour and protein content of your favourite recipes. Banana bread, mini muffins, pancakes and protein balls all work well with ½ -1 cup of nut spread added, with its runny consistency helping to hold ingredients together, or in the case of muffins and banana loaves, while also helping to reduce the amount of butter you need in the recipe.

5. Healthy snacks on the run

Snacking is important for children to get the energy and nutrients they need for optimal growth and development, but finding healthy snacks you can grab on the go is not so easy. The good thing about novel snacks is that children are more likely to give them a try when they are out of their regular environment and also feeling hungry. Small packets of roasted broadbeans or sugar snap peas, healthy home baked goods and snack packs such as Mayvers Goodness to Go Peanut Butter teamed with chopped banana or vegetables are all nutrient rich, child friendly snacks on the go. 

My favourite post workout recipes.


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Eating for recovery. 

Contrary to popular opinion you do not need to be an elite level athlete to benefit from recovery eating post exercise. Not only does optimising your nutrition post workout help to restore and repair the body to be active again the next day, but your energy levels will be improved in general when you are eating the right thing after a workout. 

Generally speaking both protein and carbohydrates are the crucial nutrients to help optimise your recovery after physical activity. The protein helps give the muscles the nutrients they require for repair and regeneration, while the carbohydrates act to restore the muscles glycogen stores. Getting the right mix of nutrition after exercise will also help to regulate blood glucose levels which in turn can help with hunger management and appetite control for the remainder of the day. 

So if you are not sure what you should be eating after your workouts, here are some nutritionally balanced choices for whatever time you like to work out.

Early morning sessions

If you prefer to train first thing in the morning, your recovery meal needs to be substantial so you are kept full and satisfied all morning. Here you cannot go past a hearty breakfast shake or bowl of warming oats topped with banana to keep you fuelled all morning. 

Banana Breakfast Smoothie

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Ingredients

1 banana

1 cup of your milk of choice

½ cup oats or bran-based cereal

Pinch of cinnamon

Dash of honey (optional) 

1 scoop your choice of vanilla protein powder

3-6 ice cubes 

Method

1. Blend for a delicious, filling breakfast meal.

Breakie Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients

½ cup fruit free muesli or oats

½ cup mixed berries

½ cup Greek or coconut yoghurt

1 tbsp. pepitas

 1 tsp. honey

1 small banana

Method

1. Place yoghurt in a bowl.

2. Top with oats or muesli, berries and banana. 

3. Serve with pepitas and a drizzle of honey.

Lunchtime warriors

If you often use your lunch break to fit in some exercise you will need to be on your nutrition game to ensure you are fuelled throughout the afternoon – a tuna salad will just not cut it. Rather a nutritious sources of carbs along with a hearty serve of good quality protein will keep you full and satisfied all afternoon. 

Haloumi, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-3cm cubes (~200g) 

600g pumpkin, cut into 2-3cm cubes 

Olive oil spray 

2/3 cup reduced fat Greek yoghurt 

3 tbsp. lemon juice 

 2 tsp. crushed garlic

 350g chicken breast, cut into thin strips

 150g haloumi, sliced

 4 cups rocket & baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Method

1. Lightly spray sweet potato and pumpkin cubes with oil and bake in pre-heated, fan-forced oven at 200°C, for 50-60 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside.

2. To prepare the dressing, mix together the yoghurt, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tsp. garlic.

3. In a bowl, marinate the chicken strips in 2 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tsp. garlic.

4. Lightly spray a non-stick fry pan with oil and place over medium heat. Cook sliced haloumi for 1 minute on each side or until golden. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.

5. Using the same pan, cook the marinated chicken strips.

6. Gently toss together the mixed leaves, pumpkin and pine nuts; divide evenly into four portions. Top with a portion of haloumi, chicken and a few dollops of yoghurt dressing.

Late Afternoon Sessions

If early mornings are not your thing and you prefer to work out later in the day, your recovery meal may be your dinner. On the other hand if you still have more than an hour in between your workout and your evening meal, you will need a light snack to refuel your muscles and optimise your recovery – bananas are the perfect quick, easy and nutritious snack for this. 

Banana Nut Bites

Serves 6 

Ingredients

2 bananas

 1 cup rolled oats

1 cup nut spread

Desiccated coconut for rolling 

Method

1. In a food processor or blender, blend the bananas, oats and nut spread. Place the mix into the fridge until firm – approximately 30mins.

2. Place some of the desiccated coconut on a plate. 

3. Once the mix has set, roll tablespoon size portions into balls then roll in coconut. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Why my family always has salmon on Mondays


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal Salmon.

Why my family always has salmon on Mondays.

Any busy family will be well briefed in the Monday rush – getting to work, school, activities, sport as well as the supermarket to try and get something nutritious on the table when the troops arrive home at night. It is exhausting even thinking about it. The intensity of modern life means that on a daily basis we are constantly scrambling, and when it comes to meal planning and preparation it is not that we do not want to eat well, rather struggle to find the time to take control of our nutrition.

This is the reason that I opt for food routines at home. We know that a key component of healthy eating and weight control is habit – rituals and routines that become part of regular life so that we no longer have to exert energy thinking about what we are doing. Habits such as going to the supermarket on a weekend to shop for the week ahead; packing the lunches the night before and always having salmon for dinner on a Monday.

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 11.59.14 amI have always kept the food pretty simple at home – even before I had children to the point where I tend to eat the same type of meal on certain nights of the week. As a dietitian I know the benefits of consuming certain amounts of fish, red meat and veges each week and have built a food routine to achieve those nutrition goals each week. For me this translates into light meals at the start of the week, and meals which take very little time to prepare for the nights when things are go, go, go at the start of the week.

As a rule of thumb, ‘go light on Sunday night’ is closely followed by fish and veges on a Monday. A quick and easy meal (just 5 minutes each side) to help reset my diet after the indulgent weekend and one that is tasty and nutritious. While all fish is good for us, nutritionally salmon is my go to, especially now I have small children because a single serve of salmon provides us with our recommended daily intake of omega 3 fats – there are very few foods which do this. Indeed for this reason I serve salmon to my boys at least 3 times every week so aware I am of the enormous benefits for their cognitive development and health overall. Plus it is easy to cook – 5 minutes in the pan with some sweet potato chips and peas and you have a toddler friendly meal that gives them a massive nutrition boost – healthy eating does not get easier for families.

So next time you cannot think for the life of you what to have for dinner, and need some family friendly options, don’t forget a simple piece of salmon. Or even better, join me for fish on a Monday. It will make your week a whole lot easier, and healthier as a result.

Finding lunchbox inspiration this Winter.


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Finding lunchbox inspiration this Winter.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by DON® Smallgoods

Back to school means one thing for many parents – lunchboxes. Along with the new term, comes the daily battle of filling a lunchbox with items that not only provide children with the nutrition needed for optimal growth and development, but also that they’re happy to eat. It’s not an easy feat by any means! So if you are already dreading making school lunches again, here are some easy ways to strike a perfect balance between child friendly foods and good nutrition.

1. Start with protein

One of the biggest issues with school lunchboxes from a nutritional perspective is that they contain too much sugar or processed carbohydrates and not enough protein. The issue with this is that tiny tummies are not kept full and satisfied so by the end of the day, small children are tired and absolutely starving. You can boost protein content of the lunches you pack by seeking out protein rich snacks such as cheese and crackers or roasted broadbeans. You can also pop a protein rich filling into their sandwiches such as DON Champagne Leg Ham or Chicken Breast, which is 97% fat free. Roughly 30-50g of lean meat will add up to 6g of high quality protein to any lunchtime sandwich.

2. Don’t forget the veges

Often we focus on adding plenty of fruit to lunchboxes but we forget how important vegetables are. Adding a serve of vegetables such as some carrot sticks, baby cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced celery or capsicum teaches children that veges too have a role at lunchtime. It also adds extra fibre, vitamins and minerals to the lunchbox in general.

3. Add something yummy

Children like food to be novel and fun so I always recommend including a small daily treat – whether it’s a homemade muffin or cookie, a couple of crunchy crackers or a flavoured milk/yoghurt – it will ensure that you have a lunchbox your kids love. When kids love their lunchbox, they are much more likely to eat everything that is in there. Another simple trick is to regularly ask them what they would like in their lunchbox. When they have some input in what goes into their lunchbox, they are much more likely to eat its contents.

4. Go easy on the carb-based snacks

Rice crackers, flavoured biscuits, muffins, potato chips and fruit snacks are all made and marketed as school lunchbox fillers but the reality is they generally contain little other than processed carbs and added sugars. Plus they are expensive and add extra packaging to lunchboxes. Where possible keep packaged snacks to a minimum and instead build the lunchbox around protein-based snacks and fresh fruit and vegetables.

5. Make it look good

Small children are attracted to what looks good. This means the more you cut and shape lunch box contents to look visually appealing, the more likely they are to eat what you pack. Think small containers of individual ingredients, mini sized snacks, cut up fruit and veges, as well as sandwiches with plenty of colour. The prettier the food looks, the better! 

Recipe: Ham Quesadilla Pockets

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Ingredients:

1 small wholegrain wrap

2-3 slices tomatoes

50g DON Champagne Leg Ham

Half and avocado, sliced

3 tbsp. shredded cheese

Method:

1. On one half of the wrap, placed shredded cheese and tomatoes in the centre

2. Top with DON Champagne Leg Ham and slices of avocado

3. Fold the bottom of the wrap over the ingredients

4. Optional: place on skillet/sandwich press to warm the wrap and melt cheese before cutting

5. Cut in half to finish!

National Diabetes Week


Banana Ricotta Pancakes2

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

It’s National Diabetes Week 

Did you know at least 2 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes; the condition in which the body is unable to optimally manage its blood glucose levels?

The risk associated with such a common condition is that we all become a little blasé about it. The truth is though, Type 2 diabetes has a number of long term health implications including blindness, poor circulation and kidney failure. Even more importantly, those at risk of pre-diabetes should have it diagnosed and managed early to ultimately prevent Type 2 diabetes altogether. 

This week is National Diabetes Week (14 – 20 July) aiming to generate awareness of the condition and encourage people to have their risk of developing diabetes checked. Along with getting a proper assessment, there are a number of things everyone should do to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes altogether, such as improving your diet. 

Pre-diabetes is a state in which the body is having trouble keeping the blood glucose levels as low as they should be, and while the levels are not as high as they are in Type 2 diabetes, unmanaged they will progress to Type 2 diabetes. 

Signs you may have pre-diabetes include: 

- experiencing sugar cravings 
- carrying excessive (>20kgs) body weight – particularly in the abdominal region,
- experiencing extreme fatigue and bloating
- having a family history of Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes also puts you at high risk of pre diabetes. 

So, if any of these descriptions sound familiar, get yourself off to a General Practitioner quick smart to have the appropriate tests to make sure you do not have pre-diabetes. 

For those suffers of Type 2 or pre-diabetes, there are some important and easy changes you can make to your diet to help optimally manage your blood glucose levels.

1. Focus on portion controlled serves of good quality carbs such as wholegrain breads and cereals, fresh fruit, legumes and vegetables. Remember that ½ a cup or 1 piece of fruit is a serve of carbs and your meals will need at most 2 serves of carbs per meal.

2. Look for products such as cereal, yoghurt and sauces that clearly state they have ‘No Added Sugar’.

3. Avoid sugary foods such as fruit juice, lollies, dried fruits, cakes and biscuits altogether.

4. Aim to include a minimum of 3 cups of vegetables in your diet each day.

5. Where possible leave 3-4 hours in between your meals and snacks. 

6. Don’t forget that adding protein to your meals will help to regulate blood glucose levels – for example, Greek yoghurt with oats, wholegrain bread with eggs or crackers with tuna or salmon.

7. Nutrient rich snacks that will help to keep your glucose levels controlled include cheese and crackers, nuts with a banana or a serve of plain yoghurt with berries.

8. Avoid drinks with added sugar such as soft drinks, energy drinks, vitamin water and smoothies.

9. Try and give yourself at least 12 hours without food overnight.

10. Walk as much as you can, especially after meals to help reduce your blood glucose levels. 

Recipe: Banana Nut Pancakes 

Serves 1

Ingredients:

½ cup cooked quinoa

 2 egg whites

¼ cup milk

1 tsp. brown sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

½ banana, mashed

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup Greek yoghurt

1 tsp. maple syrup

Method:

1. Whisk quinoa with egg whites, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and banana.

2. Coat fry pan with a little olive oil or butter and divide batter into 3 pancakes.

3. Cook each pancake for 3 mins each side.

4. Serve with Greek yoghurt, a sprinkle of walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Why the right fats are so important for us.


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

Why the right fats are so important for us.

For many years we were told that fat was bad for us and we should avoid it at all costs. Luckily in recent years as we have learnt more about the intricacies of nutrition so too have we learnt that getting the right mix of fats in our diet is really important for our health and wellbeing.  The only confusing thing is how we can achieve the right mix of fat in our daily diets to ensure we are getting all the key nutritional and health benefits the good fats offer.  So firstly, let’s take a look at the different types of fat before we share how you can achieve the right balance of fat in your diet every day. 

When it comes to fat in our diets there are two main types – saturated fats found in animal foods including dairy, meat and many fried and processed foods such as biscuits, cakes and fast foods and unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado. Unsaturated fats can be broken down further and include monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats as well as the long chain omega 3 fats – fats that are primarily found in fish and fats that are known to have a number of specific health benefits. Over time the average intake of omega 3 fats in our diets has declined as changes in our diet as seen us consume more processed foods and less seeds, nuts and fish in general. The result is a diet that is relatively high in saturated fats and omega 6 fats coming from vegetable oils and processed foods and relatively low in the long chain omega 3 fats. 

From a health perspective, the ideal mix of fats is one that includes an equal amount of saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats. This 1:1:1 ratio of fats helps keep the cell at its healthiest. Traditionally though our diets have been much higher in saturated fats which can act to block the health benefits associated with a diet higher in longer chain fats such as the omega 3’s.

In amount terms as the average adult needs roughly 60-80g of fat per day, this translates into 20-30g maximum of each saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats each day. In food terms this translates into choosing lean meat and dairy foods, using olive oil for cooking and focusing on increasing your intake of nuts, seeds and oily fish to get enough natural long chain polyunsaturated fats.

So if you have not been paying a lot of attention to your fat intake, here are the foods to focus on to get your fat balance right. 

1. Focus on oily fish

While all types of fish are good for us, it is salmon and sardines that are particularly high in omega 3 fats. Tuna is also a good choice too but canned tuna is often low fat and as such as had some of the vital omega 3 fats removed and as such canned or fresh salmon or fresh tuna is a better choice when it comes to the omega 3 content. Try mashing up a little salmon into vegetables, making mini balls or patties or evening crumbing a few strips and cooking them on the BBQ for easy and omega 3 rich meals.

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.23.50 am2. Snack on nuts once each day

A daily serve of nuts has been shown to support both weight control and heart health long term. The key is to incorporate a range of nuts into your diet as different nuts have different nutritional properties. For those who have an issue with portion control or who simply love nut spreads, these can be a great way to add into your diet as a spread for toast, as a base for protein balls or as a handy snack on the run when you use a product such as Mayver’s Goodness to Go which is a portion controlled serve of 100% peanut butter than offers a massive 3g of long chain polyunsaturated fats per serve. 

3. Choose the right crackers or bread

Grain based breads and crackers especially soy linseed or chia loaves can be a good source of the plant form of omega 3 fat. If you can tolerate these foods, the grain varieties will ensure you get an extra serve of good fats each day. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.19.00 am4. Use superfoods

Chia is a superfood that can easily be incorporate into smoothies and yoghurt and chia is another rich source of the plant source of omega 3 fat. Just a couple of teaspoons of chia each day offers more than the recommended daily amounts of plant based omega’3’s. 

5. Add in the right spreads

Often we revert to butter or margarine as our go to spread but if you have a family who can consume nuts and seeds without concern there are a wide range of Mayver’s 100% nut and seed spreads available in supermarkets which are rich sources of the plant sources of omega 3 fat. Find them in the health food sections of supermarkets and just a couple of teaspoons is another easy way to boost your intake of good fat.  

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Mayver’s.

The Best Smoothie Recipes


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The Best Smoothie Recipes

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Smoothies are extremely popular both as a quick and easy breakfast on the run, but also as a filling, nutritious drink that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. While smoothies can be a very nutritious choice, they can also be packed with calories and sugars when we do not get the balance right. So if you love your smoothies, but are not sure how to get the right mix of taste and nutrition here are some of my favourite recipes for some inspiration. 

Breakfast Smoothies

Cacao Banana Smoothie 

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Ingredients

1 cup milk

1 small banana 

2 tbsp. LSA powder

½ cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp. cacao powder or cacao spread

1 tsp. chia seeds

1 cup of ice 

Method

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Antioxidant Hit

Ingredients

1 small banana

1/2 cup berries 

2 carrots, juiced 

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt 

1 small piece ginger

1 cup ice 

Method

1. Blend together all ingredients and serve.

Sunshine smoothie

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Ingredients

Handful of kale

1 small banana

1 kiwi fruit

1 cup of milk

1 tbsp. chia seeds

Method

1. Blend all ingredients together and top with chia seeds

Mid-Morning Energy Boost

Banana Berry Smoothie

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Ingredients

½ cup blueberries

3 strawberries

½ cup water

½ banana

 Ice cubes

½ cup milk

Method

1. Blend all ingredients and serve.

Lunch Smoothies

Ingredients

1 cup milk

1/2 cup natural yoghurt OR cottage cheese

1 small banana

1/3 cup berries 

1 tbsp. oats

1 egg

1 tbsp. No Added Sugar Peanut Butter

Method

1. Blend ingredients in a blender for 1 minute until mix is smooth.

Afternoon Energy Boost

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Ingredients

150g frozen blueberries

1 cup water or low fat milk milk (use water if vegan or dairy free)

1 small banana

1 tbsp. ground flaxseed 

1 serve vanilla protein powder (use vegan or dairy free protein powder if required) 

1 pinch cinnamon

Ice to blend 

Method

1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Serve immediately.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Getting your afternoon snacks right


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

Getting your afternoon snacks right

While some of us can give or take morning tea, most of us are familiar with the need for a nutrition top up mid to late afternoon when our lunch has long worn off and it is still a good few hours until dinner time. While we are often tempted to reach for the biscuits or potato chips at this time, high carb foods can be the worst choice to satisfy the late afternoon munchies. Rather afternoon tea balance is all about protein and fullness so you are not tempted to keep eating all afternoon.

A late afternoon snack will ideally contain fewer than 200 calories and offer the nutrient mix of a little good quality carbs for energy, at least 5-10g of protein for fullness along with some fibre and/ or good fat to help slow down your digestion and keep you full and satisfied for another 2-3 hours. When we choose carb rich snacks such as processed biscuits, cakes, chips and snack food, while we will experience a sudden energy surge will be satisfying for an hour or two before your blood glucose level again goes low and you will find yourself hungry again looking for another sweet hit. 

So if you have been struggling to get your afternoon tea balance right, here are my top options for a calorie and nutritionally balanced snack that will keep your full and energised until dinner time.  

1. Wholegrain crackers with nut spread, cheese or avocado

Whether your preference is for corn cakes, brown rice cakes or a different wholegrain cracker, teaming your favourite crispbread with some 100% Mayver’s Nut Spread, cheese or ¼ avocado creates a snack that is low in sugar and a good source of protein and good fat to help control your appetite. Even better if you add some extra veges such as carrot, tomato or celery to the mix to further boost the fibre content of this snack. 

2. Protein Bread with topping

The great thing about the growing range of protein breads is that you enjoy a guilt free slice of toast in the afternoon with a protein rich topping for as little 5g of carbs and a massive 15-20g of protein which will do wonders for keeping your blood sugar levels controlled all afternoon.

Mayvers Goodness to go3. Mayver’s Goodness to Go with vege sticks

We will all benefit if we eat more veges but sometimes we need just a little something to make them more appealing. The new individual pots of Mayver’s 100% peanut butters, Goodness to Go means that you can enjoy a portion controlled serve of nut spread with your favourite crunchy vegetables and enjoy a snack that is rich in protein, good fat and fibre. 

4. Roasted Broadbeans or Chic Peas

With a 20g pack of roasted chic nuts giving you less than 100 calories along with 5g of protein and literally no sugars, these tasty morsels are a perfect mid-afternoon snack. 

5. Homemade protein ball

There are lots of protein balls out there but few that contain a good mix of both protein and good fat. Ideally a protein ball will contain 5-10g of protein and less than 20g of total carbs per serve so if you are feeling particularly motivated, you can make yourself up a batch so you have your afternoon snacks ready for the week ahead. 

Recipe: Blueberry & Dar Chooclate Bliss Balls

Ingredients

175g (1 cup) Mayver’s Peanut Butter or nut spread

10 dates, pitted

½ cup dried blueberries 

½ cup dark chocolate chips

2 tsp. pepitas

 2 tbsp. hot water for mix

½ tsp. vanilla essence

Coconut for rolling

Method

1. Place all ingredients (excluding the coconut) in a food processor and blend to combine.

2. Using a tablespoon, roll into balls. 

3. Roll in coconut then place in the fridge for up to an hour to firm up.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Mayver’s.

Boost your gut health naturally!


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

World Digestive Health Day - Boost your gut health naturally!

The more we learn about our gut, the more we understand that our gut health plays an extremely important role in maintaining our general health and wellbeing. From immune function, mood and energy levels to a risk of developing more serious gut issues including irritable bowel and even some types of cancer, keeping our gut healthy is just as important as exercising regularly and eating our greens when it comes to our long term health. So to celebrate World Digestive Health Day on May 29th, here are some easy ways to help boost your own gut health, each and every day.

1. Get the good bugs

Known as the ‘good bacteria’, probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the human digestive tract that improve the balance of healthy bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to reduce digestive symptoms such as constipation and bloating; help restore gut flora after consuming a course of antibiotics – antibiotics can kill the good bacteria naturally found in the gut and rebalance the bacteria required for optimal nutrient absorption. It is thought that poor dietary patterns, along with the stress of modern lives, our gut bugs take a beating and as such making sure we are regularly getting a dose of various probiotics is a powerful step towards optimal gut health.

Probiotics can be found in various food sources, including fermented drinks and yoghurts. It’s been shown just 1-2 serves a day of these foods can reduce bloating in sensitive stomachs. For those individuals opposed to yoghurts or milk-based drinks, probiotics are also available in supplement form, which can be an effective way to get your daily dose of probiotics.

2. Feed the bugs right

While probiotics help to boost the good bacteria within the digestive system, prebiotics help to feed this good bacteria. Prebiotics found in various fibrous foods move through the digestive tract undigested, promoting their growth and optimising gut balance.  As a result the gut is healthier and better able to absorb nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract.

There are a wide range of foods that naturally contain prebiotics, in particular aromatic vegetables including onions, leeks and celery. As well as wheat bran, soy beans, rye based breads and green bananas. While ripe bananas offer the health benefits of 3-5g of dietary fibre per serve, which is still important for gut health, green bananas in particular offer a significant dose of the powerful pre-biotic, resistant starch linked to a number of positive health outcomes.

3. Eat more fibre

Few Australians get the dietary fibre they need each day to help support gut health. Ideally we need a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre ensure that our digestive tract works efficiently and keeps us regular, but an optimal intake of fibre is also linked to healthy gut bacteria; helping to lower cholesterol levels and helping us to feel lighter and more active. 

An adult requires 25-30g of fibre each day to keep the digestive system healthy and help to reduce the risk of constipation, some types of cancer and diverticular disease. In order to get this much fibre you will need to consume at least two pieces of fruits like bananas which contain 3g of fibre per serve, 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 serves of wholegrains such as oats, wholegrain or rye bread, quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Nuts for you and your kids!


Mayvers Goodness to go

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

Let’s not forget how good nuts are for the entire family!

Chances are you know that nuts are good for you but few of us realise exactly why they are so good and specifically why they are so good not just for those wanting to eat healthy but for the entire family. For those at risk of, or dealing with childhood allergies naturally nuts are off the menu, but for those without allergies, nuts are an extremely nutritious, natural whole food, often under utilised in our daily diets. 

All nuts, and even legumes (in the case of peanuts) are packed full of nutrition – a natural source of fibre, protein, Vitamin E and both poly and mono unsaturated fats, nuts are filling, tasty and offer a natural mix of fats which play important roles in our overall health long term. 

A single serve of nuts each day is associated with weight control and heart health but the reality is that few of us reach the recommended daily intake of 30g, 20 individual nuts or roughly a tablespoon of nut spread. This is especially the case for children who can consume nuts but are unable to throughout the school day due to allergy risks. 

As a serve of nuts adds a hearty dose of good fats, not including them along without good fats via avocado, olive oil and oily fish means that our fat balance tends to lean towards a higher intake of saturated fats that come from our meat, dairy and processed and fast foods. It is this pattern of eating that is associated with increased levels of inflammation in the body over time. On the other hand, including a daily serve of nuts along with olive oil and oily fish boosts our intake of both monounsaturated and the important natural polyunsaturated fats which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects over time. It is for this reason getting the fat balance right for children is so important – they too need these good fats to lay the foundation for healthy cells for life. 

Now while I love nuts myself, I find keeping them at home difficult as they are expensive, hard to keep fresh and are exceptionally easy to overeat. For this reason for some time I have been a massive fan of nut spreads. Here you can combine the goodness of nuts, in cost effective jars that are always ready to add to sandwiches and crackers or to use as a base for protein balls and healthy snacks for the twins. Knowing that enjoying nuts is one of the few ways the twins will get their good fats is a daily reminder for me to add some nut spread to their toast or to serve with vegetables for afternoon tea. 

So to finish this post I am thrilled to announce that I have come on board as an ambassador for Mayver’s – the all Australian makers of the most delicious nut spreads including the brand new Goodness to Go pots which offer a portion controlled pack of 100% peanut butter which as you can see my twins love as much as I do! I look forward to sharing with you some of my favourite recipes that use Mayver’s over the next few months, as well as taking you through their entire extensive range.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Mayver’s.

My 5 favourite energy boosting snacks.


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It is known that when you are feeling tired you are not only likely to eat more, but to eat more high calorie food to help boost glucose levels and give yourself a short term sugar boost so you can make it through the day. The issue with this is that the short term hit of energy is rarely sustained and can further drive the desire for sugars and high calorie foods, leading to overeating. So when you are feeling like you need something to get you through, here are some of the better energy boosting snacks without the extra sugar and calories.

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1. Wholegrain bread with nut spread

Now you can find a range of lower carb breads, teaming these with a good quality 100% nut spread is a perfect way to combine a portion control of good quality carbs along with protein and good fats to help boost and sustain your energy for another hour or two.

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2. Yoghurt with No Added Sugar

There is a growing range of sweet yoghurts that now contain No Added Sugars making a protein rich yoghurt a great option for a little sweetness with sustained energy. 

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 12.19.53 pm3. Nut or Protein Bar

The great thing about nut bars is that they help you to keep your portions of the nuts controlled as we all know how easy they are to overeat. You can now find both nut and protein based snack bars with less than 5g of sugars per serve which strikes a perfect balance between carbs and proteins. My favourites are generally Carman’s Bars but you can find a range of nut and protein bars now with 10g protein per serve. 

4. A milk coffee

This one may surprise you but a small milk coffee contains fewer than 100 calories and the caffeine it contains will boost your energy and concentration for at least an hour. Having milk with your coffee will help to sustain your energy for a little longer or if black is your think enjoy it with a piece of fruit. 

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5. Crackers and cheese

Not only is cheese a tasty and filling food, but teamed with a couple of corn or wholegrain crackers will give you a nice mix of carbs and proteins to boost your energy without the energy drop that follows a sugary treat. My favourite crackers are Vita Weat 9 grains or Corn Thins.

My top 5 ways to improve your energy levels


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How to boost your energy levels.

Who could not do with a little more energy? Starting each day with a spring in your step and finishing it in a place other than sheer exhaustion. In busy, modern life pushing ourselves to the brink each and every day has become the norm and often we are not listening to our bodies when it comes to taking more time out to stop and smell the roses. So if you are chronically tired, here are some easy ways to boost your energy on a daily basis so you can thrive rather than just survive.

1. Prioritise your meal times

When we fail to eat at least 3 well balanced meals each day and actually take the time to stop, savour our food and digest we will always be behind the eight ball energy wise. Picking up processed snacks on the go along with loads of coffee and sugary foods to get us through the day means that we are often not getting the key nutrients we need to be at our best. The simple act of stopping for just 10-20 minutes to enjoy a quick, nutrient rich meal will make a massive difference to your overall nutrient intake and your ability to work and function at your best each and every day. 

2. Drink more water

The easiest and cheapest thing you can do to boost your energy levels is to drink more each day. Most of us walk around chronically dehydrated, drinking far too much coffee and energy drinks which take the place of much needed fluid. The average adult needs at least 1.5L of fluid each day which means getting through at least 2 bottles of water throughout the day.

3. Keep nutrient rich snacks on hand

Long day’s means that you need plenty of nutrition throughout the day and many of us will need to add in a couple of snacks to help regulate our blood glucose levels. Often we reach for quick snacks – rice crackers, biscuits, snack bars which lack the protein we need to support sustained energy release. Better options to keep on hand include fresh fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers and protein bars which will hit the spot but also help to keep your glucose levels under control.

4. Get out and walk

It is not uncommon to hear my clients sitting indoors for 8-12 hours a day without sunlight or movement. The human body is programmed to move, a lot and one of the easiest ways to get the blood pumping is to prioritise moving as much as you can each day and trying to catch some sunlight at least once a day. This also means that getting out at lunchtime is non-negotiable.

5. Set aside some time out

You may only be able to manage 5-10 minutes of time to yourself each day but taking this time to sit, read, have a cup of tea and just be is a crucial self-regeneration step when time is tight. Some people meditate early in the morning, others have a swim or a walk or some may simply choose to watch their favourite show before bed. Whatever your time out is, schedule it and factor it into your life on a daily basis to relax, recharge and reset for the busy day ahead.

National Banana Day is almost here!


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Wednesday is National Banana Day!

As Australia’s most popular fruit it seems only fitting that bananas are given their own national day to celebrate their very existence. May 1st, 2019 marks National Banana Day here in Australia – a day to talk about, celebrate and enjoy our favourite nutrient rich fruit. 

Bananas are one of the oldest fruits and it is estimated Aussies work their way through 5 million bananas every single day! So while you may know they taste great you should also know that bananas are nutrient powerhouses fueling Aussie families to be at their best every day.

Bananas are regularly referred to as nature’s energy food and indeed when we take a closer look at the nutritional profile of a banana they are a perfect pouch of energy with their very own carry case!  First and foremost bananas are a low GI carb rich food perfect for active busy people on the go. With 20-30g of good quality carbs and naturals sugars along with at least 3g of fibre per serve, bananas will give you the natural energy you need to power through your day. Bananas are especially high in Vitamin B6 which is involved in energy metabolism, potassium which plays a key role in keeping our muscles (including our heart) working efficiently and magnesium again for optimal muscle functioning and recovery. 

Bananas feature on my family’s weekly menu in a number of ways. As a nutritionist I love my kids to enjoy a banana with their breakfast for a dose of good quality carbs and fibre to start the day. I regularly use bananas in my baked snacks including my banana bread and muffins to help fill the twins lunchboxes and also as a soft base for homemade protein balls and I always have a bananas in my bag for a quick natural energy hit when I am out and about on a daily basis. 

Again with my clients I regularly use bananas as part of their meal plans, either teaming them with nut spread and high protein bread for a nutritionally balanced breakfast, with nuts as a late afternoon snack or frozen and even dipped in a little dark chocolate as a calorie controlled, natural sweet treat after dinner. 

Sometimes fruit including bananas get a bad rap for being high in sugar but this is far from the truth. While bananas do contain natural sugars as does all fruit, it is still a relatively low amount overall which means that bananas can still take pride of place in any healthy, calorie controlled diet.

So if you have not had one today, grab yourself one of nature’s superfoods and celebrate National Banana Day with us! Your body will thank you for it!

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

How to spend just $40 at the supermarket


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How to spend just $40 at the supermarket

It is a commonly held belief that you need to spend a lot to eat well each week and while you can easily drop $100 at a supermarket and seem to have very little in your trolley, it is also possible to spend very little and get a whole lot of nutritious foods. The trick is to know the key nutritious yet cheap staples that you can build several meals each week around for relatively small amounts of money. Recently I took myself to Aldi with the goal of buying a weeks worth of groceries for $30. Now I couldn’t quite get it to $30 but I came pretty close with a few extremely cheap superfoods. These were my picks.

IMG_9550Corn Thins or Vita Grains

Perfect for lunches and snacks just $1.99 a box.

Rolled oats

The perfect breakfast teamed with frozen berries or tinned fruit and milk for just $1.08 per massive bag which would last 2 weeks at least.

Fruit Snacks

4 serves of peaches for just $1.99 and helps to avoid the seasonal fluctuations in price of fruit.

Baked Beans – 65c

A great sandwich or potato filler or breakfast plus protein and fibre rich.

Soup Mix – $1.49

The perfect base to a heart soup that will give you at least 10 serves and makes a light dinner or filling lunch on a budget.

Tinned Tuna

4 cans at 85c a can means $3.40 for lunches through the week.

Tomato Pasta Sauce – $1.35

A great base for vegetables, or to mix with tuna.

Brown rice – $1.39

2 serves for a dinner or lunch option

Chicken Mince – $4.99

Great with vegetables for dinner, or to make into meatballs.

Porterhouse Steak – $5.00

For a red meat hit 1-2 x a week.

Microwave Chat Potatoes – $1.79

At least 2 weeks worth and a filling side to dinner, can use to make meatballs or teamed with tuna for a filling lunch.

Cage Free Eggs  – $3.39

For omelettes, meat balls, frittatas or hard boiled to enjoy with sandwiches or crackers.

Long life Skim Milk – $1.89

For oats, tea and coffee or even as a protein rich drink.

Frozen Spinach / Vegetables – 99c / $1.99

For less than $3.00 you have enough green veges for the whole week.

Wholegrain Bread – $1.99

Can replace crackers or lunch and used for toast and sandwiches through the week

Total = $31.41

If you take your budget up to $40 you can easily add in another 2 meat serves with stir fry strips, and for $50 you can add cheese, chocolate and yoghurt.

So for just $30-50 a week you can eat extremely well. You will need to have a couple of vegetarian meals and make a soup each week but there will be plenty of food, whilst not uncompromising your nutrition.

Eating when you are super stressed


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Eating when you are super stressed

Stress is an unfortunate side effect of busy lives. The rushing, scrambling and pressure we put on ourselves means most people are dealing with some sort of stress in their day-to-day lives. While we can dream of a stress-free existence, the reality is it’s unlikely to go away anytime soon. As such, we have to get better at managing it, so we can feel and perform at our best. The good news is, there are a number of easy ways you can manage and reduce the stress in your life with simple lifestyle strategies that will benefit both your physical and mental health.

1. Plan your meals

The simple act of taking 5-10 minutes each week to plan your meals in advance goes a long way in saving time, money and stress in busy lives. Planning your meals in advance means that you can shop just once or twice each week; then you do not have to decide what on earth you are going to have at 6 or 7pm each night and it ultimately saves plenty of hard earned dollars by not throwing away cash on meal deliveries each night. By preparing a large meal or two at least once each week, you create meals for 3-4 nights and baking a simple nutritious snack such as a healthy banana bread means you won’t have to worry about snacks either – check out our healthy banana bread recipe below!

2. Drink more water

With 70% of adults walking around dehydrated, and dehydration closely linked to an exaggerated experience of stress, drinking more water is the simplest thing you can do to help with day-to-day stress management. Always carry a water bottle with you, aim to drink at least 2 bottles of water each day and make water the drink of choice for your family by keeping chilled water on hand for the entire family to enjoy.  

3. Load up on your key nutrients

Keeping your nutrition on point is a no brainer when it comes to stress management. This means supercharging your meals with nutrient-rich superfoods such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds is the key to boosting your intake of omega 3 fats and key vitamins and minerals which help your body to deal with the stress. Specifically, Vitamin B6 found in relatively large quantities in bananas and wholegrains, plays a key role in helping the body deal with stress and as such are key foods you should incorporate into your diet every day. 

4. Prioritise sleep

When was the last time you had a solid 8 or even 9 hours sleep? Most people get far less sleep than they need, especially when they are exposing themselves to stressful situations multiple times each day which can deplete both our physical and mental energy. When you know that you are stressed one of the best things you can do to help your body manage and recover is to rest. This means no TV in the bedroom, no mobile phones next to the bed and ideally getting into bed earlier each day so you are getting more sleep in total. Not only does hormonal regulation improve when you are getting the rest you need, the more you sleep, the less likely you are to eat high calorie, high sugar foods when you are stressed. 

5. Get out into nature 

Busy lives mean we generally have less time to do the things we really want to do and taking control of the stress in our lives can simply come down to taking some time to regularly decompress from the daily demands of modern life. A proven psychological strategy to improve health and wellbeing is to escape the rush of modern life and be reunited with the wonder of nature. Whether it is a bush walk, swim in the ocean or drive to the country, you will feel reinvigorated as a result. Pack yourself a picnic and some healthy nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts, seeds and energy-rich bananas and head out for a day in the great outdoors. It will be the best medicine you can take! 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

Should you eat foods raw or cooked?


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Should you eat foods raw or cooked?

When it comes to optimal nutrition there are several schools of thought in terms of whether it is best to consume certain foods raw, or cooked. Vegetables in particular are often discussed along with seeds and nuts as nutritionally superior when consumed as part of a raw diet. Then there are the recommendations that suggest foods cooked in a certain way increase nutrient absorption while others are inhibited. So if you are looking to get the most out of your food, here is your own guide about what to eat raw and what to eat cooked to get the most out of your food on a daily basis. 

As is the case with all areas of nutrition, it is not as simple as ‘cooked vs. raw’. In fact much of the eating process right from the first bite you take impacts the way we digest and absorb the nutrients found in various types of food. For example, when it comes to raw vegetables and salad, chopping and cutting them helps to increase the availability of nutrients by breaking down relatively tough plant cell balls – think skin of the capsicum and cucumber. In a similar way, crushing and chopping some foods may help to release different enzymes as is the case with onions and garlic. Even soaking some foods including beans may help to reduce the acids that inhibit the absorption of some other nutrients. 

Specifically when it comes to foods better consumed raw, it is the nutrients effected by heat – Vitamins B and C including folate are all easily destroyed at high temperatures which gives some rationale to consume foods rich in these nutrients including leafy greens, capsicum, broccoli, avocado and cauliflower raw. While these nutrients are heat sensitive, what is important to remember is that lightly heating the veges is unlikely to be a major issue as opposed to cooking at high temperatures and in fact, serving salad vegetables or cooking these veges with a little olive oil will actual increase nutrient absorption of other key nutrients. For this reason, there is benefits of eating a mix of raw and lightly cooked salad vegetables every day to tick all your nutritional boxes. 

Then there are the nutrients for which you will actually absorb more when they are cooked. While overcooking vegetables does tend to destroy certain Vitamins (think soggy, discoloured vegetables boiled in a pot) cooking tomatoes and carrots for example actually increases the quantities of the antioxidants lycopene and beta carotene. This is the case for any red/orange and yellow vegetables for which lightly cooking will help to break down the cell walls and increase nutrient availability. 

While vegetables and salad are the key foods targeted when it comes to raw vs. cooked, let’s not forget our proteins. Omega 3 fats found in oily fish are relatively stable raw or cooked but for any raw meat fans, or for those who like to add a raw egg or two to their morning shake, cooking these proteins helps to denatures the proteins found in these foods, making them much more digestible.

Meal plan like a pro!


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Meal plan like a pro!

If you are a regular user of social media, chances are that at some point you have been intimidated by the increasing number of images which detail fit looking peoples meal planning – the impressive images of perfectly packed lunch boxes, chopped vegetables and pre-prepared dinners which puts your fridge and lunch to shame. Never fear, it is very easy to organise your meals the exact same way the health gurus do with these simple steps. 

1. Make time to do it

When it comes to meal planning, most of us know how to do it, but rarely commit the hour or two meal planning needs each week to be successful. The key is committing to a time when you know you will do it – for some of us this may be Sunday but if you are busy and often out on a Sunday you may find that Monday nights is a better time to cook, shop and prepare for the week ahead. 

2. Get your containers sorted

It is time to take on your kitchen cupboards and find all the lids to your Tupperware containers, or invest in a few key pieces at the supermarket that you can use week in, week out to pack your fresh food in advance. The simplest option is to invest in a container of each size, for example a larger one for salads and a few small ones to pack fruit and nuts in but if you want to go all out, buy 5 of each sized container so you can pack all 5 meals and snacks for the week ahead.

3. Cook a couple of meals

When we see images of meals prepared in advance they generally include a hot lunch, along with a salad or vegetables then a couple of snacks. For this reason, cooking 1-2 meals that can be enjoyed as lunches such as frittatas, mini pies, chicken and brown rice or a vegetable bake is all you need to do each weekend to have the lunches ready for the week ahead. You can then pack and freeze them to be used as needed.

4. Add your vegetable or salad sides

Your preference may be cooked vegetables, cut up raw vegetables, soup or salad but whatever you prefer having them divided, chopped and packed in advance does mean that we tend to eat a whole lot more of them and also are less likely to waste the extra ingredients we do not use at the end of each week. Most vegetables will keep fresh once they are chopped and stored in a sealed container as will salad leaves. An alternative is to cook up an entire tray of roasted vegetables and then divide them into serves as these will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge or even longer if frozen and then reheated for lunch. 

5. Plan your snacks

The average person will need a couple of small snacks each day and protein rich snacks such as portion controlled serves of nuts, hard boiled eggs, Greek yoghurt and nut and protein bars , along with some fresh fruit for extra  nutrients and fibre. Packing your snacks in advance helps to structure your days eating, and avoids you seeking out high calorie options when you find yourself hungry at 3pm with no nutritious options on hand. Planning your snacks also helps you with your shopping as you then know you need so many individual piece of fruit or yoghurts or snack bars to be ready for the week ahead.