Let’s talk about resetting, not detoxing.


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How to reset your diet the right way.

While we regularly hear about diet ‘detoxes’ and a growing range of fasts, cleanses, juices and detox programs, it is important that we do not get too caught up in the hype, simply because few if any of the claims made by such programs are proven, realistic or even true. 

The human body does not need to be ‘detoxed’ – the kidneys, liver and immune system generally do a very good job of getting rid of the nasties on a daily basis. There is not one product or nutrient that holds the answer to any health issues that may develop and the human body is made up of a complex, intricate system of cellular metabolic functions and processes that we are unlikely to ever understand 100%.

In saying that, what we do know about weight loss and diets in general is that when individuals get immediate results they are more likely to continue with a new regime, and a relatively strict period of healthy eating can result in a quick drop on the scales. For this reason, adopting a brief period of time in which natural, whole foods are consumed with the goal of ‘cleaning out’ your diet while helping us to drop a few kilos is not a bad thing. In fact, anything that reminds you how much better you feel when you are eating well can only be considered a good outcome. The key is to know how to kick start your diet the right way.

1. Commit for a brief period of time

Generally speaking, there is no issue with eating only fresh fruits and vegetables for a short period of time, say 3-5 days. After this period of time, the nutrients the body requires to function optimally including protein, iron, zinc and calcium should be reincorporated in the diet. Extreme diets that encourage fasting or eliminating a number of food groups for long period of time are associated with a number of issues including reduced metabolic rate and for this reason are not advisable for the vast majority of active, busy people. For this reason committing to a diet detox for a week or less, a time in which you have no social engagements and can keep 100% focused on your nutrition is the key to success.

2. Base your meals around fresh fruits and vegetables

A diet detox does not need to be complicated, it can simply be a few days of eating only fresh unprocessed foods. The simple goal of basing all of your meals for this time around fresh fruit and vegetables – soups, salads, stir fries, smoothies and juices will seriously load your body full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, help to eliminate the body of excess fluid and help you drop a kilo or two without skipping meals or drinking only juice. 

3. Drop the snacks

Generally speaking we eat far too much, far too often, rarely feeling hungry in between our meals. Shifting our dietary pattern away from eating every couple of hours to leaving 4-5 hours in between meals so we get really hungry is an easy way to kick start our metabolism and get into the habits of eating balanced, filling meals 3-4 times each day. Stopping snacking also automatically eliminates a number of processed, high carb foods from our daily diets including crackers, muffins, milk coffees, biscuits and snack bars.

4. Drink only water

Another simple way to reset your diet is to focus on drinking a couple of litres of water each day along with herbal teas in place of your regular caffeine rich drinks and high sugar juices and smoothies. Not only is this an easy way to significantly reduce your calorie intake, but focusing on optimal hydration is an easy way to get your digestive system working efficiently and looking and feeling at your best each day. 

5. Limit your eating hours

Modern life not only means that we eat all the time, but we eat across a particularly large portion of the day, sometimes eating breakfast as early as 5 or 6am and dinner not until 8 or 9pm at night. The issue with consuming food over an extended number of hours each day is that the body is programmed to have a number of hours without food to control the hormones that control fat metabolism in the body. Ideally we need at least 10-12 hours overnight without food, yet some of us have as little as 6-8 each day. The result is that we tend to store more fat than we should be and rarely feel particularly hungry, rather eating when others are eating, or when we can.

Limiting the number of hours we eat food each day has not only been shown to help optimise the hormones that control fat metabolism and also supports a controlled calorie intake and supports weight loss. All you need to do is consume your final meal by 6 or 7pm each night and then not eat breakfast until 8 or 9am to create the overnight fasting effect in the body.

How to make a balanced breakfast.


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

Getting your breakfast balance right.

For those people who love to start the day with a tasty, nutritious breakfast, getting the right balance can be confusing. On one hand we are told that carbs are important, then on the other protein is the way to go. So if you are looking for a breakie that will fuel you for several hours through the morning whilst also ticking the right nutritional boxes, here is a simple guide on how to make a balanced breakfast.

1. Start with good quality carbs

Unless you are specifically following a low carb or keto program, adding some wholegrain low GI carbs to your breakfast mix is the best way to help replenish your body after the overnight fast, and ensure your brain and muscles have all the energy they need to be at their best. If cereal is your thing look out for low sugar granola options or oats, fresh fruit is a great option and there is a growing number of lower carb breads in supermarkets that combine wholegrain goodness with fewer carbs than white breads and wraps.

2. Focus on protein

One the most powerful things you can do to ensure you breakfast keeps you full for several hours is make sure you include 20g of good quality protein in your breakfast mix. A couple of eggs, a serve of Greek protein yoghurt, smoked salmon or high protein breads are all easy ways to boost the protein content of your breakfast. 

3. Add some veges

Few of us get the recommended number of vegetable serves each day and don’t forget that breakfast is a meal in which we can easily add some extra vegetable serves. Think sliced tomato on toast, grated veges added to egg dishes or veges blended into juices and smoothies for an extra fibre and vitamin boost.

4. Don’t forget the good fats

Goods fats that come from a range of foods including olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and peanut butter not only offer a range of key nutrients but adding some good fat to a meal helps to ensure that you will be kept fuller for longer after eating. Avocado works well with toast and smoothies, as do nuts and seeds. In particular 100% nut spreads such as Mayver’s Peanut Butter add good fats and protein to toast, smoothies and breakfast baking whilst adding plenty of taste and flavour. Aim to add at least 1 serve of good fats to your favourite go to breakfast of choice. 

Recipe: Peanut Butter & Coconut Breakfast Balls 

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Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 scoop protein powder (Use vegan protein powder if needed.)

½ cup wholegrain rolled oats

¼ cup shredded coconut plus extra for rolling

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

½ cup Mayver’s peanut butter

2 tbsp. honey 

Method

1. Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl 

2. Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls. 

3. Roll in the extra coconut. 

4. Chill in the fridge for an hour until firm. 

How to create the perfect healthy party platter


Tassal Platter

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

How to build a healthy entertaining platter.

If you spend any time on Insta chances are you would have noticed the growing interest in beautiful entertaining platters – not only are these platters choc full of tasty morsels but a visual feast for their eyes with their bright colours and amazing arrangements. Whilst tasting platers are beautiful to look at, they can also be packed full of fat and calories with dips, biscuits, chips and oily ingredients meaning that you can consume a whole lot of calories in a very short period of time. So if you love nothing more than designing an amazing food platter, here are the steps to take to get the right dietary balance.

1. Add bucket loads of vegetables

Forget packing your platter with biscuits and crackers, adding in chopped up celery, capsicum, carrots, baby cucumbers and tomatoes will not only add plenty of colour to your platter but low carb alternatives to high fat biscuits and chips. Much of the munching that goes on when grazing is mindless, which means we do not eat because we are hungry rather because food is in front of us. This means that lower calorie foods go a long way in keeping our total calories under control.

2. Seek out lighter crackers

While some flavoured chips and crackers can contain as much as 30% fat, extra thin crackers such as Waferthins are low calorie low carb options. Even better are the growing range of lower carb options such as the Olina’s Bakehouse range from Woolies which cost a little more but are much better options nutritionally. Grissini sticks too can work well, as can vegetable based chips.

3. Add nutrient rich proteins

Protein rich foods including Tassal smoked salmon, smoked oysters and prawns are rich sources of essential nutrients including iodine, zinc and omega 3 fats and are a great way to ensure that any snacking that does take place will also help to fill you up.

4. Check out the new style chips

There is a growing range of legume based chips and snacks that generally have a lower fat content that traditional corn chips and crisps but with a lot more protein and fibre. A couple of my favourites are the sugar snap peas from Harvest and the tasty roasted broadbeans and chic peas from The Happy Snack Food Company.

5. Be fussy with your dips

There are more and more dips available in supermarkets but be careful, just because they are made with vegetables does not mean that they are healthy. In fact, dips can have a fat content as high as 30-40% especially if they are based on nuts or cream cheese. Always check the fat content of your favourite dips and seek out ones with <10% total fat. Some of my favourites include Chris’s Egyptian Beetroot and any reduced fat hommus.

What happens when you take whole food groups out of your diet.


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What happens when you take whole food groups out of your diet.

In this day and age it is not a diet until you have eliminated something – carbs, or dairy or wheat or gluten, or even all of the above. A question rarely addressed in these circumstances is what are the nutritional consequences of eliminating entire food groups from your regular diet? And as such what we need to replace the banned foods with to ensure we are not missing out on something the body really needs to keep it healthy long term.

1. Dairy

The first thing we generally think when we think of milk and other dairy foods is their calcium content, but dairy foods are also a rich natural source of magnesium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, protein, Vitamin D and Vitamin A, all which can be impacted over time when dairy foods are completely eliminated from the diet. As dairy is such a rich natural source of calcium, it is very difficult for adults to get the 800-1000mg of calcium they need each day for healthy bones without any dairy in the diet. While nut milks and soy products may be fortified with calcium, it is rarely in the amounts found in the equivalent to three serves of dairy each day. There are also a number of popular plant based milk alternatives that contain little to no added calcium which means you may be still be consuming what you think is ‘’milk’ with very few of the nutritional benefits real milk offers. 

The issue with a low intake of calcium is that the potential side effects including brittle bones may not be seen for a number of years, by which time it is too late to do much about it. For this reason if you want to ditch dairy completely from your diet, make sure you are choosing nut or grain based milks that are fortified with calcium or take a calcium supplement regularly so you get the 800-1000mg of calcium you need every day. 

2. Red meat

You may choose to not include red meat in your diet for a number of different reasons but nutritionally the key issue is that you also eliminate one of the richest natural sources of iron from the diet. While white meat, eggs, wholegrains and leafy greens do contain some iron, the reality is that this iron is relatively poorly absorbed compared to that found in red meat. Low iron levels are common, with up to 25% of Australian women battling low iron levels which can leave you feeling fatigued, breathless and dealing with low immunity.

While vegetarians adapt over time and become more efficient at absorbing their iron from plant foods, it tends to be those who consume red meat occasionally, or still include fish or chicken in their diet who are at higher risk of developing iron deficiency, as their body is used to absorbing iron from animal sources. To get adequate dietary iron without including red meat in the diet particular attention needs to be paid to include iron rich foods at each meal and snack to get even close to getting the 18mg of iron adult females require each day. 

3. Poultry

White meat including chicken and turkey, whilst relatively lean and protein rich does not contain the nutrient density of that in lean red meat. You get some Vitamin B6, phosphorus, selenium and Vitamin B12 in chicken and turkey and the only concern for intake of these key nutrients was if your diet was vegan. If you still including eggs and / or dairy you would be getting enough of these vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind though that lean chicken and turkey meat are protein rich and extremely lean meats and can be a valuble addition to the diet. 

4. Eggs

Eggs are an extremely nutritious food containing more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals include good quality protein, good fats, Vitamins A and E and as such make a nutrient rich addition to any diet. While the nutrients in eggs are all important for our health, with the exception of a couple of micronutrients most of what we do get from eggs we can get from other foods. One exception is selenium, a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in cell health and that is found in very few foods including eggs and Brazil nuts. A single egg offers at least ¼ of your daily selenium requirement. Eggs are also a good source of Vitamin D, another nutrient that can be low in our diet overall, so again pay a little more attention to the good fats in your diet if eggs are off the menu.  

5. Fish & seafood

Seafood, including all fish as well as shellfish is extremely good for us. High in protein and relatively low in calories it is a nutrient rich addition to any diet. The two key nutrients that are specifically found in fish that you stand to miss out on are the omega 3 fats and zinc from shellfish. While omega 3’s are only in a small number of oily fish including salmon, sardines and fresh tuna, oily fish are one of the very few natural foods which offer this important nutrient. This means that skipping oily fish altogether will make it almost impossible to get the amount if omega 3 you ideally need in your diet without supplementation. Zinc is another nutrient we do not get a lot of but shellfish, in particular oysters and mussels are packed full of zinc which is crucial for hormone production, immune function and good skin. The other less frequently mentioned nutrient Aussies get from our seafood is iodine – notoriously low in Australian soil, low iodine is linked to impaired thyroid functioning long term. This means if fish and shellfish are not your thing, a dietary supplement may be warranted.

Can coffee help you lose weight?


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The truth about coffee and weight loss.

Another day, another diet study but one particular study published last week in Scientific Reports grabbed our attention when it mentioned coffee and fat loss in the same sentence. Could it be true that our favourite way to kick start the day could also be helping us to get slimmer and if so, what should you coffee order look like to reap any of the potential weight related benefits?

We have known for some time that coffee has some benefits when it comes to fat metabolism. Specifically it is the caffeine content of coffee that has been shown to increase fat metabolism slightly for an hour or so after drinking it and subsequently those burning extra calories by exercising after enjoying a coffee will also burn a higher proportion of fat if they have no other fuel from food available. 

This latest research has furthered our understanding of this by finding that when both lab rats and humans where given a dose of caffeine in coffee that brown fat stores were activated. Now brown fat is an exciting potential weight loss target as it is the brown fat in the human body which produces heat by burning both sugars and fats. This is compared to white fat which simply stores fat in the body. Researchers believe that by increasing the activity of brown fat it will in turn help to control blood glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels as well as help to burn more calories overall hence aiding fat loss. Excitingly this was the first known study that was able to show increases in the activity of this type of fat. 

Now while this is a one-off study on a small number of rats and humans overall, the results are positive and suggest that the caffeine that we get from our morning coffee potentially has a number of metabolic benefits. What is important to know is that it was not the coffee per se that was specifically related to these benefits but the caffeine content of the drinks. In this study granulated coffee with hot water was served to study participants or via a caffeine solution in the rat study not a large milky Latte. 

While coffee is one of the primary deliverers of caffeine in Australia, the reality is that many of us enjoy our daily coffee with plenty of extra milk, extra sugars and added flavours. Now what we do not know is whether the potential fat burning benefits shown in this study after caffeine consumption are negated when our coffee is consumed with these extra calories. Nor do we know if there is a synergistic effect of the caffeine and coffee that causes this physiological response to caffeine or whether caffeine supplements alone will be enough. All of these questions remain to be answered in future research.

So what does this mean for your morning coffee? If your primary goal is to maximise your fat burning potential, black coffee, especially first thing in the morning is going to be your best bet whether you enjoy a long black or espresso. Adding even plain milk to your morning coffee order adds 60-80 calories and 8-15g of sugars to your coffee which is likely to impact your overall calorie intake and the potential fat burning benefits coffee appears to offer. But the good news is that if a double shot is your thing your brown fat appears much more likely to be getting a morning workout and that is a good thing for our health and weight overall.

5 tips to have a healthier Halloween.


Photo by: damianshaw.com

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

Surviving Halloween

The cobwebs are starting to reappear; pumpkins are being carved and the spiders are being arranged……it is almost Halloween!

While Halloween has not been a holiday we have traditionally celebrated here in Australia, if you are a parent of small children you will have noticed that Halloween celebrations are becoming more and more common in residential communities.

So if you are trying to keep your kids sugar intake as low as possible, how can you tackle Halloween and the treats it brings in bucket loads?

1. Remember it is one night only

While dietary purism is coveted by many, the reality is that an occasional treat will cause no long term harm even for a small child and in many cases the excitement of Halloween will be of more interest to little ones, as will be collecting the treats, as opposed to eating them. If you are participating in Halloween (and no one has too) it is unreasonable to expect the kids to not want to enjoy the loot they have scored but imparting some limits can go a long way. 

2. Limits are the key

Like all behavioural management strategies, limits are the key to balance. As a parent if you impose overly restrictive food rules, especially for kids older than 8 – 10 years it is likely to back fire and rather ignite their interest in eating more of the banned foods.

Taking a more reasonable approach and agreeing to a certain number of treats that can be consumed the night of Halloween before putting them away for a later date allows for some enjoyment minus a complete sugar blow out. Distribute supplies throughout the evening so they do not get too attached to the total amount of candy and encourage them to share with friends and family. Then put what they have collected out of sight the night of Halloween and after a day or two many will even forget they had it at all. 

3. Keep portions small

The smaller the child, the smaller the treats should be – think individual lollies rather than packets; small lollipops that take longer to eat and mini chocolates. Linking the number of treats to age too can work well – ie 4 year old, 4 treats in total max and share the rest with others. 

4. Avoid the lollies

If we are getting technical about it, small chocolate bars are slightly better than lollies and can be slightly more difficult to overeat (maybe). 

5. Make some healthy options

Filling the kids up with a meal before they head out trick or treating will help to limit the amounts of sweet foods they can tolerate and having a few healthier fun foods on hand such as Mummy Pizzas, Banana Ghosts and Halloween Spiders (recipes below) are Halloween friendly options that do offer some nutrition.

Recipes

Mummy Pizzas

Makes 8 mini pizzas.

Photo by: damianshaw.comIngredients

Packet of 8 mini wholemeal pita pockets

140g tub of Leggo’s pizza sauce (1.5g sugar per tablespoon)

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

16 thin slices of unprocessed ham

8 slices of light tasty cheese

1 jar of sliced kalamata olives

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Distribute the pita pockets on the baking trays. Top each with 1 tbsp of pizza sauce and smear out with the back of a spoon. Then top each pizza with 2-3 slices of tomato, sliced mushroom and 1-2 slices of ham so it covers the whole pizza.

3. Slice cheese slices long ways in half centimetre strips to make the Mummy bandages. Place the cheese strips along the pita pockets to look like wrapped bandages. Tuck two pieces of sliced olives into the cheese bandages as eyes.

4. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until the cheese has begun to melt and the edges are beginning to brown and crisp.

Photo by: damianshaw.com

Banana Ghosts

Makes 12 ghosts

Ingredients

2 x 170g tubs of Greek or Coconut Yoghurt

24 dark chocolate bits

6 small bananas cut in halves

Method

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Dip each banana in yoghurt and add 2 eyes and a mouth using dark chocolate bits.

3. Place in the freezer to set for around 1 hour.

Photo by: damianshaw.comScary Spiders

Makes 16 spiders

Ingredients

1 cup roasted almonds

1 cup macadamias

3/4 cup 100% nut spread (peanut butter or mixed nut spread as preferred)

1 cup chopped dates

2 tablespoons cacao

Coconut for coating

Method

1. In a food processor, place macadamias, almonds, nut spread and cacao powder and process. Add dates and process until the mixture comes together. If the mixture is too dry, you can add a few drops of water and process again.

2. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cacao onto a plate. Roll the mixture into 16 balls, then roll into the cacao powder. Press 2 white chocolate buttons into the spiders as eyes. Use the dark chocolate icing pen to dot eyeballs in the middle of the white chocolate buttons.

3. Break pretzels to make curved spider legs. Press 3 pretzel legs into the side of every spider so they curve downwards.

4. Allow the spiders to set in the fridge for an hour.

The secret to weight control – keep your dinner light!


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Keeping dinner light – the secret to weight control

For most of us, dinner is the largest meal of the day. Not only does it tend to be the time of day when we are most hungry, but when we combine the snacks we munch on before dinner, any alcohol we indulge in, the dinner itself and then the sweet treats we tend to enjoy after dinner, it is not uncommon to see clients who are consuming more than 1000 calories after 6pm each day. It is no wonder so many of us find it hard to fend off the kilos.

While not always practical, one of the most powerful steps you can take towards losing weight, or at least keeping your weight under control is to keep your final meal of the day as light as possible. Not only does a light evening meal mean that you are more likely to wake up the next day and feel hungry for a breakfast meal, but eating light at night will help you to sleep better and support weight loss, if that is your goal. 

The trick to eating light at night is to focus your meal around a lot more vegetables and salad and much smaller serves of protein – just a palm size piece of meat, chicken or fish. And if you do like to indulge in some wine or dessert, make a choice between a small serve of carbs, a couple of small glasses of wine or something sweet – not all three. Most importantly give yourself an eating cut off time – ideally we need at least 12 hours without food overnight which means switching off the kitchen lights at 8pm at the latest. If you must snack after this time, low calorie, low carb options such as popcorn, berries or low calorie hot drinks such as herbal tea or low sugar hot chocolates drinks are the better options.

And if you are in need of some 300-400 calorie light meal options, look no further.

Naked burgers

Extra lean beef burgers which you can find at supermarkets contain as little as 80-100 calories per serve which means you can enjoy 2-3 naked burgers with plenty of salad for a light yet satisfying meal. 

Prawn stir fry

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Prawns are often overlooked for both their protein and low calorie content and an entire 200g of raw prawns contains fewer than 200 calories. This means that you can enjoy a prawn stir fry with a little soy sauce, veges and cauliflower rice for a low carb, low calorie meal. 

Turkey meatballs

A lean, high protein meat, turkey can be made into a tasty meatball or spaghetti sauce with zucchini noodles and extra vegetables and still clock in at less than 300 calories.

Grilled fish and roasted vegetables

 

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While tuna and salmon are on the higher calorie side thanks to their rich omega 3 contents, if you stick to white fish and team it with a bucket load of low carb veges such as zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, onion and pumpkin, you will strike a perfect balance between low cal and low carb. 

Salmon or tuna cakes

While a large fresh piece of salmon or tuna can bump up calorie intake, mixing a small can of tinned fish with some cottage cheese, grated vegetables, eggs, cheese and a light seasoning of breadcrumbs keeps the carbs and calories low for a great tasting quick and easy dinner.

Vege frittata

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Who said that eggs should be limited to breakfast? In fact a frittata pie made with eggs, grated vegetables and a little cheese equates to 240-300 calories in a relatively large slice and can be enjoyed with salad for a filling, nutrient rich lunch or dinner meal. 

Do we only need to eat 2 meals each day?


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Do we only need to eat 2 meals each day?

In the world of diets and nutrition, nothing stays the same for very long. Many moons ago a ‘three square meals’ a day was the standard approach to healthy eating; then we moved into the time of frequent snacking to keep the metabolism pumping and nowadays fasting is all the rage with some followers avoiding eating altogether for hours at a time. A shift toward less frequent eating to gain the range of health benefits sporadic fasting has been shown to offer naturally lends itself to the question of how many meals is actually enough? Indeed Elle MacPherson, who still today has one of the fittest, leanest physiques on the planet has been quotes as eating just twice a day to help maintain her figure. So in this day and age, in which many of us spend most of the day sitting, should we focus on eating two meals a day? 

The first thing that should be noted around any discussion about diets in general is that there is not a one size fits all model. Every single one of us is different and as such as different energy demands based on our age, physical movement, exercise, body shape and type. And indeed the approach each one of us takes will also differ depending on what day it is and what the demands are we have on our body and our time. As such any suggestions or guidelines are that only.

What we do know though, is that most of us eat too much on a daily basis. Our portions are too large. We snack too frequently. We eat too late at night and we completely overeat on weekends. This when combined with the fact that we spend most of our lives barely moving means that if the goal is weight loss or even weight control, most of us need to eat far less. In reality, this is not so easy because we like to eat, a lot. And the mere thought of cutting back is enough to make even the strictest of dieter fall off the bandwagon very quickly. 

What the concept of 2 meals a day does do, similar to what fasting does, is create a clear guideline that ultimately supports fewer calories being consumed. If we think of our food intake in terms of 2 meals, we are more likely to think of the meal as filling and substantial, as opposed to the small snacks and grazing approach to our diets which generally results in us eating 300-400 calories at a time, 4-5 times each day. On the other hand, focusing consumption on 2 larger meals, say 500-600 calories along with 1-2 small snacks of 100-200 calories still means our overall calorie intake is less than the frequent eating approach. In addition, larger meals tend to include more vegetables and be more satisfying that snacks, helping to manage appetite again supporting calorie control. 

A daily calorie controlled eating approach that features 3 meals along with a couple of snacks requires plenty of time and attention to get the macronutrient and calorie balance right. Meals have to be planned and prepped, snacks prepared in advance and you need to know exactly which products to purchase at supermarkets to keep your calories in check. There is much room for error. On the other hand, focusing on fewer meals lends itself to a dietary approach that is easier to maintain and follow amidst busy, busy lives. It also tends to suit those who eat a larger meal later at night and do not find themselves overly hungry until mid to late morning.

As a dietitian working in this space for more than 20 years, the one thing I do know is that the best diet you can choose is one you can follow, long term. If this translates into fewer meals but better calorie control to support weight loss I am pretty happy.

Getting In Shape For Summer.


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

Getting In Shape For Summer.

With less than 3 months until Christmas many of us are well aware of the need to focus on our diet and exercise a little more to get ready for the holiday season. Before you rush out and spend more of your hard earned dollars on diets and detoxes, keep in mind that a few simple but sustainable strategies is the key to getting a little leaner and healthier long term. So here are some proven dietary strategies that will help to get you into top shape both inside and out over the next few weeks.

1. Make your breakfast bigger

While fasting regimes may work for some, if you are actually hungry in the mornings, or exercise early, breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. And often it needs to be more substantial to keep your metabolism pumping until lunchtime. Aim for fibre and protein rich options such as protein bread with nut spread and banana, a banana and yoghurt smoothie or a couple of eggs with fruit salad to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.

2. Get rid of the milk coffee

A cappuccino or latte may not seem to have that many calories but they do add up especially if you consider a single Latte contains as many calories as a slice of toast. The answer is not to ditch the coffee entirely rather choose varieties that do not contain as much milk, try a piccolo as a small, low calorie alternative or make sure you count every milk based coffee as part of your meal.

3. Get lunch right

A common scenario in busy lives is that we eat lunch too late and do not make it a substantial enough meal to keep us going for another 3-4 hours. Lunch should be consumed by 1pm at the latest to help manage sugar cravings later in the day, and a salad or sushi roll does not cut it. Aim for a substantial 350-400 calorie lunch of leftovers, stir fry, salad and a wrap or soup and crackers and notice how much more satisfied and in control of your cravings you are mid-afternoon.

4. Halve your dinner

As many of us are eating our last meal of the day much, much later than we did 20 years ago, and as it remains often the largest meal of the day, it is not surprising many of us are gaining weight. If you are eating regular meals and snacks, aim to keep your dinner lighter in calories simply by sticking to a small piece of lean meat or fish and team it will lots of fresh salad and vegetables. A light, small meal at night will ensure you wake hungry for a big breakfast, and will support you in achieving a calorie deficit and weight loss as a result. And if you love something sweet to finish your meal, seek out lower calorie treats such as a few berries with plain yoghurt and vanilla essence, ½ a frozen banana dipped in dark chocolate or a homemade sweet treat (see recipe).

5. Replace 1 meal with a soup or salad

The low calorie content of vegetable based soups and salads, means that you could literally eat as much of these foods as you like without weight gain. Put simply, when we eat lots of low calorie, nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, there is less room for other high calorie foods! One of the easiest dietary strategies you can adopt when trying to shift a few kg quickly and safely is to replace a meal with a soup or salad. Whether you choose a rich vegetable soup for dinner or a leafy green or roasted vegetable salad for lunch, your total calorie intake will be significantly reduced when you bump up the vegetable content of your diet.

Recipe: Banana Bites

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed

1 cup rolled oats, raw

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup coconut, shredded (for rolling)

Method

1. Combine the mashed banana with the oats and dates in a blender for 1 minute.

2. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until firm.

3. Roll the mixture into small-sized balls in your hands.

4. Coat the balls in shredded coconut and store in the fridge.

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

Eating for the HSC. What kids should eat to help their brains.


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Super fuelling their brain and their body.

Any parent with teens gearing up for the upcoming exam period will be all too familiar with the stress than inevitably engulfs the final few months of school. Exam countdowns, study breaks and celebratory functions all part of the last school weeks, ever. So if you are at your wits end trying to pacify your own nerves let alone those of your kids, here are some meal and snack strategies to help ensure your teen is properly fuelled over the next few weeks so you have something to put your energy into while you wait!

Optimal nutrition is of crucial importance during the intense exam period. Studying burns a surprisingly high number of calories so the diet needs to be based around nutrient rich foods for a daily vitamin and mineral hit during this period. Think plenty of omega 3 rich salmon as the ultimate brain food; brightly coloured fresh fruits and veges to help boost immunity and wholegrain carbs for well controlled energy levels. In food terms this translates into fresh vege juices, roasted vegetables with fish and hearty sandwiches on wholegrain bread.

Breakfast is never as important as it is on an exam day. Unfortunately nerves and stress are both likely to impact on appetite the morning of exams. Ideally a breakfast option that combines both low GI carbohydrates and lean proteins will sustain your teen throughout the morning. Good choices include eggs or smoked salmon on wholegrain toast, a fruit based smoothie or Greek yoghurt with fruit. If the nerves are too great, at least a vege juice, slice of toast with 100% nut spread or piece of fruit will be better than eating nothing at all.

Key nutrients to focus on at this time include omega 3 rich foods for optimal brain function, iron rich foods for energy and zinc and Vitamin C rich foods to promote optimally immune function during this stressful time. Including salmon in the diet 2-3 times each week, red meat 2-3 times along with a daily serve of vegetable juice and fresh vegetables will ensure that all of these nutrient boxes are ticked throughout the ax am period. 

While teens will be very familiar with the potential performance benefits caffeine offers, while energy drinks, coffee and caffeine tablets may provide a short term energy burst the downside is that they can also cause increased heart rates and anxiety, insomnia and fluctuating blood glucose levels – all less than ideal symptoms for already stressed teens. Encourage your teen to drink water and herbal tea, limit their coffee intake to just 1 to 2 cups each day and encourage them to get plenty of rest during this time. Remember that small regular protein rich snacks of nut bars, protein drinks or dairy food will help to keep them alert and better able to concentrate and a good night sleep is sometimes the best thing for a tired and stressed out brain. 

5 morning habits to help with belly fat.


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Summer is coming, as is the desire of many to get rid of those pesky few kilos round the middle. When it comes to developing and maintaining positive lifestyle habits, daily rituals and routines can go a long way in cementing lifestyle changes. So if you are keen to start each day in a way that supports fat metabolism, here are some daily diet habits that will help to blast body fat.

1. Focus on water

The simple act of starting each day with 300-500ml of water is one of the easiest daily rituals you can adopt to not only rehydrate after the nights rest but to help get the digestive system moving. Water is always the best choice of fluid and ice cold water in particular has been shown to increase metabolic rate slightly after consumption.  Herbal tea is another great option as it contributes a significant amount of fluid, while green tea offers antioxidants and a small amount of caffeine which will also contribute to a slight metabolic boost. 

2. Go for a protein breakfast

Consuming 20-30g of high quality protein via foods such as eggs, Greek yoghurt, protein based smoothies and higher protein bread is the easiest way to set the platform for a day of healthy eating. Not only will a high protein breakfast help to regulate blood glucose levels throughout the morning and keep you full for several hours but protein rich foods actually require more calories to digest than carbohydrate rich foods thus helping to boost metabolic rate. Good options include scrambled eggs with vegetables; smoked salmon and avocado or nut spread on high protein bread, a smoothie with protein powder or Greek yoghurt with a little fruit. 

3. Don’t forget about fibre

One of the biggest issues with high protein diets is that they forget about the numerous benefits associated with consuming 20-30g of fibre each day. Not only will your digestive system be a lot happier when you include some high fibre foods in your diet each day, but adding them in at breakfast will help to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning. Good options at breakfast time include vegetables or sliced fruit served with your eggs; high protein, lower carb breads that are generally made with fibre rich wholegrains and seeds and a serve of bran, oats or fresh fruit which you can add to smoothies or Greek yoghurt. 

4. Add a little caffeine

One of the easiest ways to boost metabolism is to include a daily dose of caffeine and there is no better time to do this than first thing in the morning. Caffeine as a stimulant has been shown to increase fat metabolism, albeit in relatively small amounts but every little bit counts. The average shot of coffee contains 100mg of caffeine compared to just 40-60g for tea or instant coffee so including a piccolo or macchiato in your morning routine is an easy way to get a daily metabolic boost. Just keep in mind that an upper daily limit of 300-400mg of caffeine each day is recommended for an average adult. 

5. Be strict with the sugars

The more sweet food we consume, especially early in the day, the more we are likely to want, which explains why a day that starts with banana bread and a caramel latte only seems to go downhill food wise. This pattern occurs as processed carbohydrates including white bread and foods with loads of added sugar including fruit yoghurt, banana bread, smoothies and sweet coffee result in relatively high amounts of the hormone insulin being secreted. Insulin drives our appetite for more sweet food, and is also involved in fat storage. As such, the less processed carbohydrate and sweet food we consume through the morning, the better it will be for weight control overall. 

It’s World Salmon Day!


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

World Salmon Day – Tuesday October 8th

As a nutritionist it is only natural to want to celebrate a day that is dedicated to celebrating all things salmon and the positive nutritional attributes it has. So as World Salmon Day draws closer, here are some of the reasons that nutritionists love salmon and why we all should be eating a whole lot more it.

Superfoods generally get their title as they contain key nutrients in particularly high amounts. This is the number one reason that salmon tops the superfood list. With exceptionally high levels of the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; DHA and EPA, (the omega 3’s), there are few foods that beat salmon when it comes to omega 3 content. In fact, a single serve of Atlantic salmon each day will contain your entire daily recommended intake of these special fats.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 9.07.03 amEven though 65% of Aussies know that salmon is exceptionally good for us, new research commissioned by Tassal has found that almost ¾ of us are unsure how to cook it, and know far fewer recipes to make with salmon compared to chicken and beef options. So to help make eating nutrient rich salmon easier, Tassal are encouraging Aussies to embrace the ‘5 + 5 = salmon made super’ routine – an easy and efficient method where a fillet of salmon is grilled on each side for five minutes before being served. Using this easy cooking method we not only open the door to many more quick and easy dinner options but including more salmon in our weekly menu will significantly boost the entire family’s intake of omega 3 fats.

Our omega 3 intake is of so much interest as these fats play a range of crucial roles in our diet. From a cellular perspective, it is the omega 3 fats improve the plasticity of cell membranes and help to facilitate cellular communication. Not only does this mean all of our cells are healthier, but it is hypothesised that this is the reason a high intake of omega 3 fat is linked to improved cognitive function as we age. Omega 3 fats also have a powerful natural anti-inflammatory effect, helping to protect the cells from damage on a daily basis. Specifically it is via these pathways that a high omega 3 intake is linked to better cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and fewer inflammatory conditions including heart disease, insulin resistance and arthritis.

Unfortunately despite knowing all of these benefits, few of us get anywhere near the amount of omega 3 fat we need for optimal health. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, there are very few foods that contain significant amounts of the long chain omega 3 fats – fatty fish including sardines, mackerel and salmon are the largest natural sources. Other types of fish may contain much smaller amounts and while some foods including eggs may be marketed as having omega 3’s added, it is generally nowhere near the amounts you naturally find in oily fish. Even tinned tuna is surprisingly low in omega 3 fats and the plant sources of omega 3, found in walnuts, flaxseed and linseed are not as powerful as the long chain fats, EPA and DHA themselves.

The other issue with our diets is that the bad fats found in processed and fried foods, can drown out the good fats. As many of our diets are packed full of saturated fats thanks to a relatively high intake of dairy, meats and fried and processed foods, compared to the good fats we are getting from seeds, nuts, oils and oily fish, often the good fats we are consuming are not getting into the cell to do their job as they should be.

So omega 3’s are hard to find, we do not eat anywhere near enough of them and it is easy to drown them out with poor food choices, yet we know how good they are for us. So to help celebrate World Salmon Day it is a timely reminder for all of us to eat more salmon, especially when it can be prepared in just 10 minutes. And if you need some more healthy and easy recipe ideas, check out some of my favourite salmon meals below.

The best and worst late night snacks if you are trying to lose weight.


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Key foods to avoid eating late at night for weight loss

Night eating, or should we call it ‘eating while we watch Netflix’, is something most of us have indulged in at some point. While we may not be hungry, munching on some crunchy, salty snacks or indulging in a sweet treat with a hot drink while we watch our favourite shows may be something we learnt to do in our younger years, or it may be a habit that developed living alone, or with flat mates or a partner. Like all behaviours, an occasional treat poses no issue from a weight or health perspective. On the other hand, nightly munching on hundreds of extra calories is not great for our hormones, weight or our sleep in general. So if you are tempted to have a snack after dinner, here are the best and worst late night snacks.

Try to avoid…

Biscuits

Let’s be honest, who eats one single biscuit and the biscuits we are most likely to choose are basically a mix of palm oil, sugar and white flout, the ingredients most likely to effect the hormones involved in fat metabolism.

Chocolate

While we are told that dark chocolate is a better option that milk the reality is that dark chocolate is still high in sugar and fats so best avoided at night if your goal is weight loss.

Cheese and dips

Snack platters are often regarded as healthier options but cheese and dips are difficult to keep portion controlled and packed full of calories.

Hot chocolate

As milk is associated with better sleep quality, there are plenty of flavoured milk and hot chocolate options available in supermarkets and while some may contain less sugars and are advertised as lower in calories they often contain sweeteners which can prime you to seek out more sweet food and keep snacking. Keep your milk plain if you do like warm milk before bed.

Crunchy chips

Again there are a number of ‘healthier’ chips and beans available in the health food section of supermarkets but a closer look at the ingredient list and nutritional panel will likely reveal that these ‘healthier’ snacks remain relatively high in fat and calories plus who can stop eating them once you start? Chips are chips, especially if they are in a packet and sold with the chips.

And better options…

Popcorn

A couple of cups of plain popcorn contains less than 10g of carbs and is a fibre rich, low calorie snack option.

Chopped veges

They may not be overly sweet, but they are exceptionally low in calories and will give you something to munch on over relatively long periods of time minus any calorie overload.

Berries and passion fruit

If sweet foods are your thing, keep in mind that delicious berries and passion fruit seeds have virtually no calories.

Crackers and light cream cheese

A couple of low calorie crackers such as Rye Cruskits teamed with a thin spread of Vegemite or light Philly and tomato are filling, low calorie crunchy snack options.

Low calorie ice-cream

Not exactly calorie free but a lot lighter than regular ice-cream, the growing range of low calorie treats including Halo Top and Streets High Protein Ice-Cream bars can contain as few as 100 calories whilst still offering a sweet hit after your evening meal.

The health benefits of taking a lunch break.


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We need to take lunch seriously.

When was the last time you took your lunch break? I mean seriously took 30-60 minutes to sit, away from the computer and enjoy a balanced meal? Chances are not recently, as many of us either skip lunch completely, or scoff a sushi roll at our desk or in the car on the way to our next appointment.

With time our most precious limited resource it is not surprising that many of us prefer to use the time allocated to lunch to get more stuff done. The downside of this is that not eating a nutritious lunch several hours after the first meal of the day can play havoc with our hormones and appetite later in the day, and also impacts our activity levels throughout the day.

So if you are a routine lunch skipper, here are some reasons why taking a lunch break, even a short one will supercharge the rest of your daily.

1. Your nutrition will be on track

Quick, grab as you go lunches of sushi, juices, coffee and wraps tend to be packed full of processed carbs and much lighter on the salad, vegetables and proteins we actually need to be kept full and satisfied all afternoon. It is this nutrient imbalance that can leave us tired, craving sugar and overeating for the remainder of the day.

On the other hand, a hearty 400-500 calorie lunch of leftovers, salad and soup plus a sandwich or a serve of hot food is much more likely to keep you full and satisfied until dinner time, helping to eliminate the need for snacking altogether.

2. You will move more

With the average person walking far less than the recommended minimum of 10,000 steps each day just to avoid weight gain, lunchtime is a key time to move a little and boost over overall daily steps by 3,000-5,000 in just a 20-30 minute stroll around the park, shops or to get out and purchase lunch.

Every little bit adds up and walking after lunch will also aid blood flow and digestion helping to reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort.

3. You will get some much needed Vitamin D

With at least 25% of Aussies with low Vitamin D at this time of year is it any wonder so many of us feel tired and chronically exhausted? Sitting indoors for many hours each day does little to give us the much needed sunlight that helps Vitamin D to be converted into its active form in the body. This means at least 10-20 minutes of sunlight is a daily must include if we are to feel at our best on a daily basis.

4. You take a break from the screen

Most of us are guilty of spending many more hours in front of a screen than we should be, and getting out and away from the desk or computer is one of the few times that we are forced to focus on what is in front of us rather than looking down. Not only is this much better for our body but for our minds, to allow some free thought away from constant stimulus and comparison that our screens offer.

Even better would be to use this time to take in some natural beauty, of the trees, ocean or a garden, as a daily nature break has been shown to improve mood and well-being.

5. You open up some time to get stuff done

It would be a quick trip to the supermarket to pick up dinner or a healthy snack, or to get to the post office to send the items you have been meaning to for weeks but opening up 20-30 minutes of your day to leave the house or office means that you have some extra time to keep the rest of your life on track. Here your body, nutrition and mental well-being all benefit simply by using your lunch break wisely because, let’s be honest, the work will generally wait for you.

Healthy snacks this Spring


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Healthy snacks this Spring

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

Spring has finally arrived and with it the first glimpse of the glorious fresh fruits and vegetables the warmer months of the year offer. For many Spring is the time that we re-evaluate our diets to focus on fresh, unprocessed foods with the goal of leaning up a little before Summer hits. 

Busy people who are exercising regularly need plenty of energy, and this means the snacks that we choose need to be nutritious, filling and as natural as possible. 

So, if you are in need of some snack time inspiration, here are some healthy options to complement your Spring healthy eating regime. 

Fresh fruit and nuts

At this time of year you cannot go past snacking on a piece of delicious fresh fruit along with a handful of nutrient rich nuts. Fruit offers fibre and good quality carbs for energy, while nuts add a dose of essential fats and protein. Great combos include a banana and handful of walnuts, an apple with almonds or even some sliced banana, spread with 100% peanut butter.

Yoghurt pots

There are now plenty of flavoursome Greek and higher protein yoghurts  available in supermarkets. A serve of fresh or frozen yoghurt teamed with fruit, nuts, seeds or granola can make a delicious, nutrient rich snack option at any time of day or night. Or, if you have kids, try freezing yoghurt into individual ice block serves for a cooling treat. 

Mixed snack plates

The word snacking inevitably lends itself to images of crackers, chips and other packaged products which are rarely the best options nutritionally. It is actually very easy to make your own healthy snack platter once you get the right mix of foods. All you need to do is start with chopped vegetables; add some protein rich options such as cottage cheese, sliced cheddar or hommus, and some healthier crunchy options such as popcorn or edamame – and VOILA – you have your own healthy snack platter to go!

Healthy baking

Who does not love to snack on some delicious home baked treats? There are plenty of ways to make sure your baking is healthy! Simply swap in wholemeal flour, some grated fresh vegetables and use fresh fruit as a substitute for extra sugar. You can create a tasty and healthy snack option. 

Here is one of my favourite healthy recipes for Zucchini Banana Bread.

Recipe: Zucchini Banana Bread

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Ingredients

2 cups grated zucchini
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
50g butter
½ cup dark choc bits
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk

Method

1. Combine sifted flours with dry ingredients. Add mashed banana and grated zucchini.

2. Mix melted butter, beaten egg & milk.

3. Bake at 180°C for 50-60min.

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

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.