Are bananas just sugar?


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Are bananas just sugar?

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

A headline recently graced the front page of several websites claiming that eating a banana was the equivalent of consuming 6 teaspoons of pure sugar. It was stated by experts commenting on this story that consuming such high sugar foods was dangerous for those with Type 2 diabetes and as such high sugar foods should be avoided. So, is there any truth behind this? Is a banana the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar, and if it is, should we be avoiding them?

All carbohydrate-based foods including bread, rice, cereal, pasta, legumes, starchy veges, fruits and sugars including honey and sugar itself are broken down into glucose molecules as part of the digestive process. Here the glucose is then taken by the hormone insulin to the muscles for energy to fuel the liver and the brain.

One of the issues in modern life is that as we have become far less active, and eat a whole lot more high carbohydrate, processed foods including cakes, biscuits, pastries, white rice, white bread and snack food it has become more common for individuals to have issues processing the amount of glucose they consume from processed carbohydrates efficiently. Over time, the hormone that helps to process glucose, insulin does not work as efficiently which can result in glucose levels increasing over time and Type 2 diabetes developing long term.

When the claim has been made that bananas are a significant source of carbohydrate or sugar (20-30g depending on the size of the banana), it is assuming that all types of carbohydrate are equal. It is assuming that a teaspoon of sugar is the same as the equivalent amount of carbohydrate in a banana, as is in a potato as is in a biscuit, which is simply not the case. Rather the way the carbohydrates are processed is impacted by whether the carbohydrate comes from a whole food, what other nutrients are found in the food and also by what other foods the carbohydrate rich food is eaten with.

For example, as bananas contains a good amount of dietary fibre (2-3g per banana), this nutrient slows down the digestion of the carbohydrates in the banana, reducing the insulin required to digest this food. If you compare this to a lolly, or 6 teaspoons of sugar, the overall lack of nutrients in these more processed foods results in a much more rapid release of glucose into the bloodstream, potentially causing issues long term with insulin regulation.  

When it comes to different carbohydrate rich foods, not only is it an unfair comparison between food groups, i.e. you cannot compare a grain to a fruit, nor is it reasonable to compare a whole food such as a banana to a processed form of carbohydrate. In the case of comparing food groups, different food groups offer different nutrients while there is no comparison to be had between processed and natural whole foods. It is like comparing chalk and cheese.

Bananas like all fruits are composed largely of carbohydrates, and the natural sugar fructose. While there have been much media attention addressing the issue of a high fructose intake and insulin resistance, much of this is based on the use of high fructose corn syrup that is used widely to sweeten foods in the US. This is not the case here, and naturally occurring fructose is very different to high fructose corn syrup.

It is safe to say that no person ever got Type 2 diabetes from eating too many bananas. Rather people get Type 2 diabetes when they have a genetic predisposition, they over consume calories in general and consume excessive fats and processed carbs and are far less active than they need to be.

It is recommended that Aussie adults consume 2 pieces of fruit each day to get the natural carbohydrates and nutrients fresh fruit offers. It is true that bananas are a concentrated source of carbohydrate, but this is why they are also known as nature’s energy food. And they are a much better, natural source of fuel than the processed carbs such as white rice, white bread, processed snack foods and sugary drinks many of us still eat far too much off. This is the main issue with our diets, not the humble banana.

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

Good Mood Food


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Good Mood Food

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

With everything that is going on in the world at the moment you could be forgiven for feeling a little low. The days are cold and short, our day to day lives have been seriously impacted by COVID and many of us are dealing with the extra stress that comes from work related issues. Even though we may be feeling less than our best right now, the need to eat and give our bodies the energy and nutrients they need to function means that we also have an opportunity to choose the foods that are known to help support good mood.

So if you are looking for whatever help you can get right now, here are some of the foods that are associated with better mood and mental wellbeing in general.

Tons of brightly coloured veges with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Of all the research that is available that specifically looks at food and mood, it is the Mediterranean Diet that constantly tops the list of dietary patterns that support mental health and wellbeing. In food terms this means that aiming for 5 and 2 a day is not enough, rather building your diet around 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and veges will help to give you the vitamin and antioxidant hit you need each day to support optimal cell health and ultimately mental health.

It does not matter if your choices are raw, cooked or juiced but remember nutrient absorption will be enhanced if you consume some of your fresh food with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, another food that features prominently in the Mediterranean Diet.

Atlantic salmon

With some of the highest amounts of omega 3 fats of any fresh food, bumping up your intake of salmon is a must if your goal is to optimise mood.

There are a number of studies that show individuals who consume high amounts of the special fats, DHA and EPA found in high amounts in oily fish are less likely to suffer from mood disturbance, while specifically it is these fats that are known to help regulate the neurotransmitters that regulate mood.

Salmon is also a rich natural source of Vitamin D which is also plays a role in the regulation of mood. To get enough of these important fats, aim to include a 100g serve of salmon in your diet at least every second day.

Nuts

A food that features frequently in the Mediterranean Diet, it has been known for some time that including a handful of nutrient rich nuts in the diet each day adds protein, good fats, selenium and Vitamin E to the diet. Specifically when it comes to mood, not only are nuts rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is involved in the production of serotonin, the feel good hormones.

All nuts are good for us, and for busy people 100% Mayver’s nut spreads are easy to add to smoothies, cereal bowls or enjoyed as a spread and give you your daily serve of nuts with a rage of nut blends.

Wholegrain Sourdough

Many of us enjoy bread on a daily basis but far fewer of us invest in a bread that offers superior health benefits.

While fresh wholegrain Sourdough loaves are comparatively much more expensive than regular sliced bread, the benefit of eating wholegrain or rye Sourdough is that you are not only helping to nourish your gut with more dietary fibre and wholegrains, but you are also adding extra nutrients known to support gut health.

With many of us craving carbs to help boost energy levels, the key to success is to choose the right type, and varieties that you are less likely to overeating. A slice of Sourdough with your favourite protein rich topping such as smoked salmon, Mayver’s Peanut Butter or cottage cheese is a great way to strike a balance between satisfying your cravings and giving your body the nutrients it needs.

Bananas

Nature’s natural energy foods, bananas are especially rich in the B group vitamin, Vitamin B6, with a single banana offering almost 1/3 of your entire daily recommended intake of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays a key role in energy production in the body, it helps to regulate blood glucose levels and is also involved in immune function

Most importantly from a mental health perspective, green, un-ripened bananas offer a huge amount of prebiotic fibres, the fibres that help feed our gut bacteria and keep our gut health on point. Here you can give yourself a boost of these powerful fibres by using a green bananas in baking and smoothies, or opt for a banana as a nourishing, sweet snack to help reduce your intake of processed snack food.

Are you feeding your kids too much?


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Are you feeding your kids too much?

Australian children and teens are not an overly healthy bunch. Data suggests that at least 1 in 4 has significant weight issues and they are eating far too much, and too much junk food. In fact, up to 30% of the calories our toddlers eat each day are coming from ‘extra’ or ‘junk’ foods, while up to 40% of a teens calories can be attributed to discretionary ‘extra’ foods.

At the root of this issue is habitual overfeeding – consuming too many calories on a daily basis that leads to weight issues and overeating over time. So how much food do toddlers, school aged children and teenagers really need? Probably nowhere near as much as you think. 

Toddlers – 1-3 years 

Unlike newborns and infants in their first 12 months of life, toddlers energy requirements reduce significantly and while toddlers can be a busy bunch, their lack of interest in food at this time confirms this. Indeed it may appear that they can literally survive on air, and with energy requirements of just 800-1000 calories on average each day, there is no need to worry about adding in extra milk, yoghurt or junk food simply to make sure they have had enough.

Breakfast

1 boiled egg + 1 slice of toast = 160cal

Small cup of milk (150ml) = 100cal

Lunch

1 slice bread + avocado = 140cal

100g yoghurt + fruit = 160cal

Dinner

50g mince + ½ cup pasta = 160cal

Cut up salad = 40cal

Snacks

20g cheese = 70cal

1 fruit = 80cal

Total = 910cal

Primary School Children – 4-7 years

1000-1400cal

Primary school aged children can have widely differing energy demands depending on gender, daily activity levels and timing of growth. In general they will eat less than a small female but across a number of different times during the day. Often they will eat very little at school before overeating later in the day and including regular high calories treats such as sugared drinks, muffins, banana bread and confectionery can very quickly increase their overall calorie intake. 

Breakfast

Smoothie with milk and banana = 250cal

At School

Carrot sticks = 20cal

1 fruit = 80cal

Popcorn = 60cal

Chicken Wrap = 200cal

After School

Homemade banana bread = 150cal

Glass of milk = 100cal

Dinner

70g chicken + 1 potato + peas = 200cal

Dessert

½ cup yoghurt + berries = 120cal

Total = 1180cal

Pre-Teens – 8-12 years

1400-1800cal

The energy requirements of this age of older children will largely depend on activity levels. Extremely active children may require 500 or 600 more calories than a younger inactive child. An indicator of overfeeding at this age may be a child who always claims to be hungry, who can eat far more than a small female and who is clearly carrying excessive weight around the abdominal area. 

Breakfast

Ham and cheese toasted sandwich = 300cal

At School

Cut up salad = 60cal

1 fruit = 80cal

Popcorn = 60cal

Cheese and crackers = 150cal

Tuna and avocado bread roll = 250cal

After School

Toasted sandwich = 300cal

Homemade milkshake = 200cal

Dinner

2 lamb cutlets + 1 potato + peas = 300cal

Total = 1700cal

Teenagers – 12-16 years

1600-2200cal

Perhaps the hungriest group of all but also the group most likely to fill up on high sugar, high calorie junk foods on a daily basis. In fact, teenage boys are the highest consumers of sugar based drinks. Instead the calories consumed at this age should be all about quality over quantity. 

Breakfast

Banana Smoothie = 250cal

At School

2 pieces of fruit = 160cal

Chicken sandwich = 200cal

Tuna salad = 200cal

Cheese and crackers = 150cal

Nut Bar = 150cal

After School

Bowl of leftovers = 200cal

Dinner

150g chicken breast + potato + sweet potato + peas = 500cal

Total = 1810cal

Why 10,000 steps is just not enough, especially in times of COVID.


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10,000 steps is not enough.

For a number of years now we have been told that we need to walk 10,000 steps every day. Over time this message has been translated into meaning we need to move 10,000 steps for weight loss, and as such many of us routinely record our steps and quickly become frustrated when we walk 10,000 steps but do not seem to lose weight.

The rather harsh reality of this is that 10,000 steps is not enough for weight loss. Moving this much is good for our heart; our fitness levels, our mood and body in general but if you goal is weight loss, the truth is that you are actually going to have to move a whole lot more, especially if you are spending a whole lot more time at home because of COVID.

Here are the reasons why.

1. We sit down, a lot

Aiming to walk at least 10,000 steps a day is a simple and positive public health message and for the many of us who spend 8-12 hours a day sitting down, it helps to compensate for some of this sedentary behaviour, but not all of it. Walking for 60-90 minutes per day, or the rough equivalent of 10,000 steps for the average person will support weight maintenance but in order to actually burn extra body fat and lose weight, we need to compensate for all the sitting and in addition burn a significant number extra calories each day. For most of us walking 10,000 steps is simply not enough for weight loss. 

2. Heart rate is rarely elevated

In order to burn a significant number of calories and ultimately increase metabolic rate via walking, we need heart rate to be elevated and elevated for a relatively long period of time. With the majority of people walking at an average pace as part of their 10,000 steps, heart rate is rarely significantly elevated for the 30-40 plus minutes required to significantly increase calorie burn. A stroll is good for us, but is unlikely to see significant drops on the scales unless you are significantly overweight and have many kilos to lose. 

3. We eat more when we think we are being active

In modern life, when sitting has become the norm, we psychologically reward ourselves with more food whenever we feel that we have been active. Even though our 10,000 steps is simply a balancing act for sitting, many of us see our 10,000 as health purism and as such give ourselves permission to eat higher calorie foods. The good old, ‘I have exercised today so I can have that glass of wine’ mentality kicks in. And as such the extra calories we consume very quickly undo any of the benefits gained from moving a little more in our day to day lives.

4. It is easy to eat more than we burn

If you consider that the average adult burns between 60-80 calories per hour sitting, and then 100-120 calories per hour when they are walking, albeit slowly, adding in an hour or two of extra movement per day to give you your 10,000 steps will result in you burning an extra 100-200 calories per day. With a single Tim Tam offering 100 calories, you can see how easy it is to eat the calories you have burnt off walking your 10,000 steps. 

5. 10,000 means maintenance

The human body is designed to move. When we are very inactive, our metabolic rate drops and our cells become less efficient at burning calories, which is why we gain weight so easily when we sit down a lot. Moving for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day is a basic amount of activity the body requires to keep it functioning normally. Moving to promote fat burning and to burn a whole lot more calories means actual exercise, with an elevate heart rate and a step count of 15,000-20,000 per day, then you will start seeing results on the scales.

5 food habits to avoid after 7pm to improve your health.


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What you should not do after 7pm.

While what we eat on a daily basis is frequently discussed, less often mentioned is the importance of the timing of our health habits. For most of us, our work and training is completed early in the day, while rest, relaxation and plenty of eating and drinking is done after work throughout the evening. Unfortunately when it comes to our health and our weight this can be the worst times to indulge. So here are just some of the things you should try and avoid doing after 7pm each night if you possibly can.

1. Eat large meals

Not only does consuming a significant number of calories late in the day when you are more likely to be sitting and moving very little lead to indigestion and abdominal discomfort but over time eating heavy carb rich foods at night can result in hormonal changes linked to weight gain long term.

Eating late at night is also bad for our heart. New research recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress reported that individuals who consumed a significant number of calories after 7pm each night had the highest increases in blood pressure overnight. High blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. This finding suggests an early dinner or a light meal such as fish and vegetables is best if your final meal of the day is regularly consumed after 7pm.

2. Eat fatty food

The issue with eating later in evening is not limited to large meals. Indulging in high fat foods such as ice-cream, biscuits, cakes and chocolates aka known as the ‘treats’ we consume in front of the television is linked to increases in blood fats immediately after the high fat foods are consumed. High amounts of fat in the blood contribute to making the arteries ‘sticky’, increasing the risk of adverse heart events. So if you must indulge a little after dinner, look for lower fat options such as Greek yoghurt and fruit, a little gelato or a couple of crackers with nut spread or cottage cheese. 

3. Drink alcohol

It is commonly thought that alcohol, or the sugar in alcohol causes weight gain. This is not the case. Rather when alcohol is being consumed, the calories consumed via food are more likely to be stored. This means that is you are drinking a number of alcoholic drinks along with a heavy meal, chances are you will be on the weight gain cycle, which will be exacerbated the later into the evening you are eating and drinking. The solution? Eat your last meal of the day as early as you can in indulge in a 1-2 alcoholic drinks minus the extra food when you do enjoy an evening drink. 

4. Consume caffeine

While you may have ditched the coffee later in the day, it is important to remember that cola drinks, dark chocolate, cacao and tea (other than herbal tea) contains caffeine and it adds up. For example, a hearty serve of dark chocolate along with a hot chocolate made with cacao or cup of tea will give you close to 80mg of caffeine or a similar amount to that in a cup of coffee. The effects of caffeine including an inability to sleep, restlessness and heart palpitations which can be experienced for up to 4-6 hours after the caffeine is consumed so if you are having trouble getting to sleep, caffeine that is slipping into your diet may be the reason. For this reason, avoiding chocolate late and night and swapping to herbal tea is the way to go.

5. Eat MSG

MSG or monosodium glutamate (621) is found in many sauces including soy and hoisin sauce, flavoured snacks such as 2 minute noodles, potato chips and rice crackers and many Asian dishes in which salty sauces tend to be added. MSG in foods can cause skin irritation, increased heart rate, rashes and headaches in those sensitive to it and as it slips into our diet via many of these commonly consumed foods, we often do not identify it as the cause. So if you suffer from these symptoms or regularly indulge in Asian foods, it may be worthwhile consuming them earlier in the day or seeking out MSG free options.  

The 5 easy ways to improve your diet right now.


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The 5 easy ways to improve your diet right now.

Every day we are inundated with diet tips and tricks yet few if any of these are practical or sustainable. So if you do not have the time, energy or interest in following strict diets or jumping on board with the latest diet trend, here are the easiest ways you can improve your diet right now. 

1. Order some groceries online

For many of us the difference between eating well or not on a daily basis comes down to food availability. When we have healthy options on hand we eat better, control our calories and are less likely to be tempted by treats and extras on a daily basis. To save you the time and energy it takes to get to the supermarket, start ordering some snacks and meals online to be delivered straight to your home or the office. And the best bit, you can do this at any time of the day or night.

2. Drink some water

Most of us are dehydrated at any one time – we never skip our morning coffee yet we forget to carry a water bottle with us. Whenever you are feeling tired, hungry or even bored, an easy way to instantly give yourself an energy boost is to drink some chilled filtered still or sparkling water. Keeping well hydrated is the easiest thing we can do to feel better and more energised each and every day. 

3. Find some vegetables

Adults need at least 5 serves or 2-3 cups of vegetables or salad every single day yet the majority of us get nowhere near this amount. For this reason, whenever you are thinking about your diet, or what you should be eating, the best thing to focus on is bumping up your intake of veggies or salad – grab a vege juice, pick up a fresh salad or order a side of extra vegetables to significantly increase your intake of fluid, fibre and vitamins and minerals. 

4. Wait until you are really hungry to eat

Most of us do not eat because we are hungry – rather we eat because we are bored, it is a meal time or others around us are eating. This is one of the major reasons why we gain weight over time, we are used to eating when we are not really hungry. To test your own hunger, start to rate how hungry you actually are and try not to eat until your hunger is at least an 8 or 9 out of 10. You will find that when you eat meals when you are really hungry, you will actually enjoy them more and become better at responding to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. 

5. Focus on what you should be eating

Whenever we start a new diet or program we are constantly told what we should not be eating – don’t eat this, avoid that and naturally this programs our brains to think of these foods even more. As such when we are trying to eat well if we simply focus on the foods we can and should be eating, it will naturally program our minds to seek out healthier options. For this reason filling your mind with thoughts of fresh and healthy meals that you can buy and prepare will make eating healthier eating less impacted by unhealthy distractions. 

Keep an eye on your Vitamin D this Winter.


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Keeping an eye on your Vitamin D this Winter.

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

As we near the middle of Winter, you could be forgiven for feeling less than your best. It is pretty chilly out, the days are short and with plenty of us spending much more time indoors thanks to the impact of COVID, it can be hard to feel motivated. This time of year is also notorious for mood related issues, with up to 30% of Australian adults testing with low Vitamin D levels, a vitamin that plays a crucial role in the regulation of mood. So if you have not been feeling your best in recent weeks, have a history of low Vitamin D levels and/or are spending a considerable amount of time inside at the moment, here is everything you need to know about getting enough Vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D plays a large number of roles in the body including in helping calcium be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract to support the growth and maintenance of our bones, and also acts to control calcium levels in the blood. The biggest issue with low levels of Vitamin D over time is that it puts our bone health at considerable risk. Low Vitamin D results in high bone turnover, reduced bone density and an increased risk of fractures over time, especially in older people. On a daily basis low Vitamin D levels are linked to low mood, feelings of fatigue, joint and muscle pain and muscle weakness. During the Winter months, low Vitamin D levels become increasingly common as few of us get the amount of sunlight we need on a daily basis to maintain optimal levels throughout the Winter months. 

The other issue with getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is that we get Vitamin D from a very small number of foods – egg yolks, oily fish including sardines and salmon, fortified milks and some types of mushrooms and for some of us who do not eat much fish, or who skip eggs or dairy it is highly likely we are not getting enough. For this reason, bumping up our intake of omega 3 and Vitamin D rich Tassal salmon and including it in our diets at least 2-3 times each week is a powerful way to significantly increase our dietary intake of Vitamin D. 

It is also extremely important to remember that sunshine is the primary source of Vitamin D for most people. Vitamin D is produced in the body when our skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light that we get from the sun. So when the rays are out, make a concerted effort to get out into them, for at least 10-15 minutes at a time. 

Most importantly, especially if you have not been feeling 100%, the first thing to do at this time of year is to have your Vitamin D levels checked via a blood test. Signs and symptoms of low Vitamin D include fatigue, muscle soreness, mood swings and low immunity. Next boost up your oral intake of Vitamin D with fortified milk, plenty of nutrient rich eggs and oily fish such as Tassal salmon or sardines at least 2-3 times each week. Finally if your levels are low or diagnosed as such, start some oral Vitamin D supplements daily to get your levels within normal range ASAP. 

Recipe: Breakfast Super Stack

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg 

1 large flat mushroom

1 Tassal Salmon Bacon Rasher

1 slice wholegrain or Sourdough

Handful baby spinach

Method

1. Heat BBQ hotplate and grill. Cook egg, mushroom and bacon to your liking.

2. Place bread on plate and top with spinach, mushroom, bacon and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Meal prep ideas for your return to the office.


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Meal Prep Ideas for your return to the office

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

There are pros and cons that come with working from home. On the pro side there is no commute eating into precious time each day, however a big con for many is missing out on the socialising aspect.

From a health perspective, working from home can also be good and bad. On one hand you have access to your fridge meaning you can make a range of delicious healthy lunches and snacks, while some find being so close to the fridge and pantry a recipe for disaster with overeating. So, if you are making your way back into the office as COVID restrictions ease up, here are some easy ways to keep your nutrition on track, especially if the office kitchen is closed for business.

1. Make your own

From a nutritional perspective, taking your lunch to work each day is the easiest way to keep your calories controlled and it will save you plenty of money and time in food courts. If heating up leftovers is not an option, your next best homemade lunch option is super sandwiches or wraps that you can load up with lean protein and tons of salad to create a satisfying meal. Pre-made options will mean that you do not need to track down plates and cutlery at work. Store these in a cooler bag to keep nice and fresh!

2. Utilise soups

You may not have access to the office fridge and microwave right now, but chances are you will have access to boiling water. This means you can still add some warm hearty soup to your lunches of choice to boost both the vegetable content and bulk of your lunch. Look for packaged soups that contain less than 600-800mg of sodium per serve and that are vegetable based to reap the nutritional benefits that come from adding a warming soup to your lunchtime meal. Another easy option is to invest in a thermos and take your warm homemade or fresh soup with you each day to enjoy with your sandwich or crackers. 

3. Go for homemade treats

While the office biscuit tin and lolly jar is off limits, healthy homemade treats will be the way to go for the next few months and the good news is that there are plenty of options. Banana muffins, zucchini banana bread, peanut butter balls and even pre-made pikelets are all tasty, nutritious treats that will give you the sweet hit you are looking for minus the calories of treats typically found at cafes and convenience stores. 

4. Remember that breakfast can be enjoyed anytime

Hot food including eggs may be off the menu if you regularly prepare your breakfast at the office, but fibre and protein rich Bircher muesli bowls can make a super filling lunch option that stores well in cooler bags. Have your overnight oats teamed with milk, Greek yoghurt, nuts and fresh fruit like banana as an easy, pre made lunch option that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the afternoon. 

5. Know the better delivered options

If your UberEats account has been working overtime the past few weeks, it may be exceptionally tempting to keep ordering your hot lunch to the office. Keep in mind that foods we buy from take away and fast food outlets generally contain double the calories of a meal we would prepare at home. For this reason, if you are still ordering in regularly, seek out the lighter option such as Naked Burritos, toasted wraps, plain stir fries minus the rice, sushi and sashimi plates.

Recipe – Banana Walnut Loaf

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

3-4 very ripe mashed bananas

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

1 cup plain self raising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup milk 

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 eggs, beaten

50g butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla essence

Method

1. Combine wet ingredients with sifted flour and sugar, banana and walnuts.

2. Bake at 170deg for 50-60mins.

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

How to lose weight the right way this Winter


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How to lose weight the right way this Winter

The Winter months are notorious for weight gain with long hours spent indoors eating and watching TV generally to blame for a few unwanted kilos, especially post COVID. So if you would prefer to take control now and use the quieter months of the year to focus on weight loss, here are some simple strategies for how to lose weight the right way this Winter.

1. Adopt a fasting regime

You may prefer to follow a low calorie plan of 500-600 calories twice each week or to eat all of your calories within an 8 hour period (12-8pm), but research that examines the metabolic benefits of regular intermittent fasting has generally shown a 1-2kg weight loss each month without extreme dieting or calorie restriction. It appears that limiting the number of hours in which we eat, or occasionally eating very few calories acts to help reset a number of our hormones which in turn supports slow but sustainable weight loss.

2. Focus on low calorie foods

You may like soups or salads or roasted vegetables but whatever your preference simply focusing one meal each day around low calorie vegetables not only gives you a daily nutrient hit but also lowers your overall calorie intake whilst still allowing you to consume a good volume of food. Studies have repeatedly shown that when a meal includes a soup or salad dieters consume up to 100 fewer calories per meal. 

3. Add in 30 minutes of walking

Sedentary lifestyles are generally to blame for slow insidious weight gain, and it is common in the Winter months to move even less than usual thanks to the cooler temperatures and shorter days. A simple way to compensate for this reduction in physical activity is to add in a daily 30 minute walk or run. You can do it at any time, but focusing on a routine that includes 30 minutes of continuous movement each day will burn at least 200 extra calories each day for minimal effort. After dinner, as part of your daily commute or during your lunch break tend to be the times that work best for the average person.

4. Change your coffee

When it is cold outside there is nothing better than a warming drink to break up the day but hot chocolates and milky coffees contain plenty of extra sugars and calories few of us need. If you simply swap your coffee to a piccolo or ¾ or swap a coffee or two for a low calorie tea you will save plenty of calories over the next 3 months. Most importantly changing our usual food routine, such as having a milk coffee at the same time every day is one of the best things you can do to give your metabolism a boost. 

5. Give yourself a cheat meal

Diets are rarely sustainable long term as few of us can maintain a pattern of constant restriction. For this reason when you commit to several lifestyle changes, an equally important component is to allow yourself a meal or two off each week in which you can enjoy a meal or event without worrying what you are eating and drinking. A cheat meal does not mean a binge but it allows for a few drinks, larger meal or slice of cake when you really feel like it so you can remain focused the rest of the time.

A new healthy breakfast option to boost your omega 3’s


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A new healthy breakfast option to boost your omega 3’s

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

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it refuels you after the night’s fast; it gives you a significant boost of key nutrients required to optimally fuel the muscles and the brain and it is one of the key meals that gives us the dietary fibre we need for gut health. In addition, protein rich breakfasts specifically are known to help keep us fuller for longer after eating, as well as keeping our insulin levels more tightly controlled. Insulin is the key regulator of fat metabolism in the body, so keeping it well controlled is crucial for weight control. Eggs, baked beans, and bacon are some of the more popular high protein breakfast options, but in the case of bacon we do need to be careful and limit our consumption. So today I can let you know of a new, healthier alternative, salmon bacon! Another high protein breakfast option that you can enjoy with your favourite egg based dish or breakfast roll but one which will also offer you a massive hit of omega 3 fat!

With more and more of us spending time at home, and our café breakfast options put on hold, it is the perfect time to reaffirm our commitment to preparing ourselves a nutrient rich breakfast. And it is not a bad idea to enjoy a heartier option, as you may find that a substantial meal, even consumed a little later in the morning is likely to keep you full and satisfied until mid afternoon, and an easy way to cut back on the unnecessary snacking throughout the day.

So as we look for especially nutritious foods to help us get through this challenging time, a novel, new supermarket food has been developed by Tassal – Salmon Bacon. With all the taste of regular bacon, along with a massive 25.6g of good quality protein and your entire daily recommended served of good fats, this product is a must over your breakfast table, especially at Easter. All you need to do is lightly fry over a hot pan with a little olive oil and you have a crispy, delicious bacon to serve with your favourite breakfast ready in minutes. With more protein, less saturated fat and a hit of omega 3 fats, teamed with some grainy bread or breakfast vegetables you will not look back once you have added salmon bacon into your breakfast repertoire. 

My favourite way to enjoy salmon bacon is on a breakfast wrap teamed with rocket, tomato and a little cream cheese but if you are after some more recipe inspo, see below!

Salmon Bacon Nutritional Comparison

Per 100g

Salmon Bacon | Short Cut Bacon | Ham

832kJ / 198cal | 691kJ / 165cal | 443kJ / 105cal

25.6g protein | 17.3g protein | 15.7g protein

10.1g fat / 1.9g sat fat | 9.5g fat / 3.5g sat fat | 2.6g fat / <1 g sat

 1.2g DHA/EPA (omega 3 fat)

943mg sodium | 968mg sodium | 1090mg sodium

EDITEDIMG_2367

Recipe: Breakfast Super Stack

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg

1 large flat mushroom

1 Tassal Salmon Bacon Rasher

1 slice wholegrain or Sourdough

Handful baby spinach

Method

1. Heat BBQ hotplate and grill. Cook egg, mushroom and bacon to your liking.

2. Place bread on plate and top with spinach, mushroom, bacon and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Top tips for cooking with kids


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Top tips for cooking with kids

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

When it comes to teaching our kids about healthy eating, one of the most powerful things we can do is involve them in food preparation. Here they have the opportunity to become familiar with different foods and meals, learn how to prep and cook meals and snacks and it gives parents and carers an opportunity to have non emotive food based conversations, as opposed to the shouting matches that can occur at the dinner table when everyone is tired and emotional. And while the mess can be a little off putting especially when kids are small, long term the benefits including the opportunity to talk about nutrient rich foods such as salmon, wholegrains and vegetables will far outweigh the mess. So if you know that your little ones (or bigger ones) could really benefit from spending more time in the kitchen, here are some tips to make the process as simple (and non-messy) as possible. 

1. Start with something simple

If you are not used to having kids in the kitchen, forget starting with a complicated new recipe or baked good that will take much time to prepare. Children, especially children younger than 10-12 years will have very limited attention spans which means something you can prepare in 5 minutes or less is a good starting point to get them used to a new activity. Think toast (yes really), yoghurt and fruit bowls or a wrap or sandwich that they simply have to ‘put together’ before you move onto more complicated recipes. 

2. Set the time aside

One of the issues in busy lives is that we get round to doing things occasionally, and do not develop the structure and routine that helps to make activities with children run a lot more smoothly. Rather when it comes to cooking, both for adults and children, getting into a habit of doing something regularly, say once each month on a weekend afternoon means that you will create the space and time to be able to give your full attention to it. Here the kids will look forward to doing it, you will not be trying to cram extra cooking into an already jam packed schedule and you have the time to shop and prepare so everything runs smoothly. 

3. Create the space

Kids take up a lot of space, which means if you do not have a big kitchen, it will be stressful to have them in your space. Rather allocating some room in the kitchen with the right sized stool so they can reach the bench, or moving to the kitchen table will mean that the food prep and cooking process runs a lot more smoothly. 

4. Move onto more complicated dishes slowly

Once you are more comfortable with having kids in the kitchen and have mastered a few basics, you can slowly build up your repertoire. Baked goods such as cookies and pancakes are easy meals kids can get involved in mixing and stirring, making pizza and foods like schnitzels and Tassal salmon patties (see recipe) all have easy steps in which kids can roll, dip, crumb and combine to really get involved in the process. Going through cookbooks together and choosing a recipe for each cooking session is another fun activity and long term you can work towards planning the family’s weekly meals together.

5. Focus on nutrient rich ingredients

After several sessions and when your kids are building up their kitchen skills, it can lend itself nicely to talk more about healthy eating. Here focusing on recipes and foods that offer key nutrients such as Tassal salmon for omega 3 fats, wholemeal flour for fibre, dairy for calcium and plenty of veges for vitamins and minerals helps kids to learn about the important of healthy eating in a fun, relaxed environment. 

Recipe: Tassal Salmon & Sweet Potato Patties

Serves 2- 4

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

 1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tassal Salmon Fillet (120g), cooked and flaked

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

 1 egg, lightly beaten

 1 green shallot, thinly sliced 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking

Method

1. Boil, steam or microwave sweet potato and peas, separately, until tender. Drain and mash the sweet potato until smooth, mix in peas. 

2. Add cooked, flaked salmon, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, egg and shallots to the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine. 

3. Place remaining breadcrumbs on a plate. 

4. Shape 1/3 cup salmon mixture into a 2cm-thick patty. Roll in breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat with remaining mixture.

5. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.

6. Cook patties, in batches, for 2-3 mins each or until golden.

Recipes you can make with the items in your pantry.


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Recipes you can make with the items in your pantry.

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

After a long period in isolation, it’s likely that you’re in need of a little cooking inspiration. Your go-to recipes have been made several times already, you still have a few packets of rice and pasta in the cupboard and you’re trying to avoid another supermarket trip as you have plenty food at home. So, if you’re looking for new ideas to prepare at home, here are some tasty recipes you can make at home with items already in your pantry.

Flour

If you are lucky enough to still have a supply of flour on hand, there are many ways to maximise its use in isolation. Banana breakfast pancakes are an easy go-to, as are banana pikelets for a light snack for little tummies. Then we have healthy versions of favourites, including muffins and banana bread, and don’t forget that flour can also be used with milk to make a lighter version of a cream sauce for pies, lasagne and cheesy sauce for vegetable bakes. The good thing about flour is that no matter which type you opt for, wholemeal, chickpea, banana or oat, you will get pretty similar results with these recipes.

Stock

Whether it is stock cubes or liquid stock, you have flavour ready to go that will compliment a number of recipes. While stocks can be high in salt there are reduced salt varieties available, and even liquid stocks that do not contain any added salt, although they tend to be more expensive. Not only are stocks a flavoursome base to soups but they can be used to marinate meat, add flavour to casseroles and risotto or to add extra flavour to any vegetable mix you have. This means that you can literally add stock to any mix of vegetables you have left in the fridge and create a tasty new side dish or light dinner in minutes.

Tinned soup

Contrary to popular belief, tinned soup can be an extremely nutritious meal option. While tinned foods can be relatively high in salt, there is an increasing number of tinned soups that are rich in vegetables as well as meat, some of which can contain up to 10g of protein per serve. Plain vegetable varieties of soup such as tomato can be teamed with a little milk or sour cream to create a filling, nutritious meal. While creamed based soups make excellent bases to pies and casseroles and are much lower fat options than whole cream itself.

Legumes

Whether it is kidney beans, 4 bean mix, baked beans or chickpeas, if you scrummage around enough chances are you will find some sort of legumes in nearly every pantry you raid. Extremely versatile, protein and fibre rich legumes can be enjoyed in many ways, making them an extremely useful food to keep on hand. Whether you make your kidney beans into a Mexican feast, enjoy baked beans as a protein rich breakfast or light dinner, or add beans to your favourite salad or casserole, you will reap plenty of nutritional benefits when you add more legumes to your diet.

Rice

If you stocked up on rice in recent weeks chances are you are already stick of your favourite stir fry or risotto recipe but you may not have considered that you can make some delicious sweet treats with any type of rice you have in the cupboard. All you need to do is boil your rice with milk, a little added sweetness from fruits like banana and you have a delicious, nutritious dessert option to get you through your long ISO nights.

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

Are you sabotaging your own diet in ISO?


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Are you sabotaging your own diet in ISO?

As we move into our third month of living largely in ISO, many of us feeling the result of a few too many trips to the fridge. So if you feel as if you are doing your best when it comes to your food and exercise, here are the ways you may be sabotaging your own diet without realising it.

You are eating extras

Mindless eating, or the calories we consume without even realising it can account for as much as 20-30% of our total daily calories, which in turn can be the difference between weight loss and not. Extras tend to slip in each day via large portion sizes; extra serves of sauces and dressings; mindless munching via biscuits, lollies and individual chocolates we are offered throughout the day and the little ‘treats’ we give ourselves and then justify.

The easiest way to get a true indication of exactly how much you are eating is to keep a food diary. As frustrating as this can be, simply writing down or recording every single type and amount of food and drink that you consume over a 24 hour period can give great insight into why, or why not your diet may be working. In some cases we are not eating enough, but in most cases the reason we are not getting the weight loss we expect is because we are eating more than we realise. 

You are eating more because you train

Not only can exercise increase your appetite, but psychologically it gives many of us permission to eat more, or foods we would usually not eat because we have ‘been good’ and have already burnt off the extra calories. This logic falls apart simply because it is so easy to eat a whole lot of calories and we often do not burn as many as we think. For example, a 30-40 minute gym workout may burn 300-400 calories, while a single piece of cake or fast food meal will contain at least 600 if not more calories. If you are exercising with the goal of weight loss, you do not need to eat more and rewarding yourself with food for exercising will simply undo all of your hard work. 

You are eating at the wrong times

Perhaps the most significant factor that will predict whether we are losing weight or not, busy lives which see us eating dinner at 8 or 9pm are not conducive to weight loss.

The human body is programmed to burn more calories during the first half or the day, and this is also the time of day we tend to be most active. As such, the greater the proportion of calories we consume during the first half of the day, the better. For this reason if you regularly work late or go to the gym after work, you will be much better to eat your largest meal at lunchtime and choose light options such as soup, white fish and salad once it gets to 7 or 8pm or later at night. 

You are going too hard too soon

For the majority of us, who are looking to lose 5-10kg, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint, which means you need to pace yourself. Following a very strict regime in which you consume minimal calories for days at a time may give you initial weight loss results, but this approach rarely works long term as we ‘go off’ our diets, binge eat everything in sight and regain all if not more weight than we had initially lost. For this reason, whenever you commit to a new lifestyle plan, factoring in a couple of meals off each week, and ensuring you actually like the foods you are eating each day, and not feeling hungry is the key to long term success. 

You are buying foods that will not support weight loss

It may be the choices you make at the café, the foods you put in your trolley at the supermarket or what you order on UberEATS but if your regular food choices do not compliment your weight loss goals you are unlikely to achieve them. Human beings will eat the foods they buy and have easy access too, which means if you are buying treats for guests; or ordering pizza for another family member, you will eat it. If you are really committed to losing weight all of your food decisions add up and as such we need to make the food choices we have control of, good ones most of the time. 

Low calorie comfort food


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Low calorie comfort food

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

Long days spent at home can mean that we really, really look forward to dinner. And let’s be honest, a salad is just not cutting it at the moment, with many of us seeking out more hearty meals to self soothe at this rather challenging time. The issue with our favourite comfort meals is that they also tend to be high in calories, thanks to heavy sauces, pastry and heavy carb bases. The good news is that with a few recipe tweaks and knowledge of light ingredient alternatives it is possible to create your favourite comfort meals minus plenty of fat and calories if you follow these simple steps. 

1. Go for a lighter carb

Whether your preference is for pasta, pizza, pies or roasts, the good news is that it is easy to swap the heavier carb bases of pastry, potatoes, pasta and even pizza base for much lighter alternatives. Not only can you find lower fat pastry at supermarkets, but filo too is a lighter option or you can ditch the pastry altogether for a vegetable mash. There are vegetable varieties of pizza bases, pasta and rice, and lighter vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin and even lower carb potatoes can mean you can still enjoy your favourite roasted veg or chips, minus plenty of carbs and calories. 

2. Load up the vegetables

Any recipe will be significantly lower in calories once you bulk up the veg content – think grated vegetables into pasta dishes and stir fries, extra vegetables with your favourite roast and even adding extra vegetables to any pizza, pie or casserole will automatically mean you are boosting your overall nutritional intake whilst reducing the amount of total protein and carbs you are eating. It is the easiest way you can make any recipe a whole lot lighter and healthier – think zucchini, carrot, pumpkin and peas which work well with literally any dish.

3. Add in your good quality protein

Protein rich foods including meat, chicken, oily fish such as salmon and white fish are all nutrient rich additions to meals but opting for proteins that are especially high in omega 3’s such as salmon, or the leanest cuts of meat and chicken will ensure that your recipe remains as healthy and calorie controlled as possible. On the other hand fatty minces and roasted meats, chicken wings and thighs, sausages and processed meats all add plenty of extra fat and calories and are best avoided if your goal is to keep your overall calorie controlled at this time. 

4. Know your lighter sauces

One of the ways that comfort foods add in plenty of calories is via the high fat creamy sauces and gravies we use to flavour the dishes. It is exceptionally easy to make lighter versions of all of these sauces for a fraction of the calories. Think Greek yoghurt as an alternative to sour cream, light evaporated milk with corn flour as an alternative to cream and as a base to your favourite curry, and pre made gravy to avoid using the fat from the roast itself. Often once you lighten the sauce, you lighten the entire meal significantly. 

Recipe: Low Carb Salmon Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 x Tassal Fresh Tassie Salmon Skin-Off fillets

200g edamame spaghetti 

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup light evaporated milk

3 tsp. cornflour

½ lemon, juiced and zested

1 zucchini, shaved

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup grated parmesan 

1 tbsp. parsley, roughly chopped 

Method

1. Cook edamame spaghetti to directions on pack and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium heat and add salmon fillets, cook for roughly 3 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from pan and allow to cool, then use a fork to flake the fillets. 

3. In the same pan, reduce heat to low and add the evaporated milk and corn flour, whisk to combine and thicken. Add lemon juice and zest and cook for 3 minutes. Add in shaved zucchini and parsley and toss to coat.

4. Return salmon and spaghetti to pan and mix to combine. Season with cracked pepper and serve. 

A perfect food day in ISO.


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A perfect food day in ISO.

As the weeks in ISO start to add up, it is safe to say that the novelty of being at home 24/7 is starting to wear off. It is also likely that the belt or waistband is starting a feel a little tighter after weeks of constant snacking and comfort eating. So if your goal is to optimise your nutritional intake during this time, but also prevent weight gain, here are some suggestions on how you can structure your food day to support both nutrition and weight control. 

7:00-8:00am

Green tea, herbal tea, hot water with lemon

Hydration should be the first thing on our mind when we wake, and while many of us seek out coffee ASAP, a better option to reach for a herbal or green tea which will help to hydrate you, along with an antioxidant boost, and green or matcha tea will also give you a number of metabolic benefits.

8:00am

Protein rich breakfast

While fasting regimes may see you not eat your first meal until late in the morning, if you exercise early or are hungry aim to enjoy your first meal by 8am at the latest to reap the metabolic benefits associated with eating a meal first thing. A meal with 20-30g of high quality protein plus veges will help to keep you full and satisfied until lunchtime. My top picks are Greek yoghurt with a little cereal, berries and a green juice, eggs with vegetables and a slice of Sourdough or protein toast with eggs or smoked salmon and greens. This is also the best time to enjoy a milk based coffee to fire up your metabolism – just be sure to choose a small or piccolo size to keep your calories controlled.

11:00am-12:00pm

Early Lunch

You are much better to eat an early lunch and avoid snacking throughout the morning than you are to snack on extra calories and then not eat until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. An ideal lunch in ISO will be a hot option – a meal that will actually keep you full until late afternoon so that you are not tempted to snack. Good choices include a stuffed potato with salad or soup, a toasted sandwich with salad or soup, leftovers or frozen meal that clocks in at just 300-400 calories. Finish with a cup of herbal or green tea, and a small sweet treat to mark the end of the meal – a piece of fruit, some yoghurt and berries or even a square or two of dark chocolate. 

3:00-4:00pm

Filling snack

Assigning a time to eat your snacks each day will help to keep your overall food intake on track and portion control and protein are the secrets to success late afternoon when you start to feel munchy. Cheese and crackers, nut spread with fruit or a slice of protein toast with spread are all filling choices. The trick is to then team this with another crunchy, low calorie snack such as vege sticks, apple, berries, passionfruit or popcorn to ensure you are full and satisfied and less likely to continually munch through until dinner time. Finish with a sparkling soda water with lemon or lime to help neutralize your palate and put a stop to sugar cravings. 

6:00pm

Plate of veges or soup

This is the danger time in ISO – the time we reach for cheese, chips, wine and snacks to differentiate work to home time and reward ourselves for another long day. A simple swap to a plate of cut up veges with a little dip or a bowl of soup will ensure you get your daily vege serves and take the edge off your hunger so you are less likely to indulge at dinner.

7:00pm

Light dinner

One of the easiest ways you can prevent weight gain in ISO is to keep your evening meal calorie controlled or between 300-400 calories. This is easily achieved when you know your low cal dinner meals – white fish and veges, soup, roasted vege salads, prawns and zucchini pasta or a small frozen meal. Sticking to this guide will then allow you to indulge with a little wine or dessert minus weight gain over time that will result if you follow a big meal at night with extra treats while you watch TV. 

8:00pm

Last eats

Whether you finish the day will a cup of tea, a little wine or chocolate, having a set meal cut of time will help to control your daily food intake and give you a minimum of 12 hours overnight without food.

Announcing Australian Bananas’ ‘Banana Bread Bake-Off’ – In search of the ultimate banana bread


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

Announcing Australian Bananas’ ‘Banana Bread Bake-Off’ – In search of the ultimate banana bread

Banana bread is the current ISO baking craze and as we move towards celebrating National Banana Day (May 1), Australian Bananas is encouraging Aussies to come together over the nation’s favourite baked good by entering their competition to find the ‘Ultimate Banana Bread’.

National Banana Day is an annual event held to celebrate one of Australia’s most popular fruits and to support Aussie growers. Not only are bananas loved across the nation due to their delicious taste, but they are packed full of Vitamin B, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium and offer the body a rich source of slowly digested energy. They also come in their own carry case, making them the perfect go-to snack on the run.

The versatility of bananas does not stop there, as baking with bananas not only gives you a naturally sweet hit for your favourite biscuits, cakes and muffins, but also offers a soft, creamy texture which makes them the perfect baking ingredient. Even very ripe bananas are perfect for baking as they can add even more sweetness.

Naturally, home baking is a much better option nutritionally than picking up processed sweet biscuits, cakes and snacks. It’s even better when you make your home baking enormously healthier by knowing a few nutrition secrets.

Firstly, where you can, try to seek out a wholegrain base for your baking for example oats, wholemeal flour and wheat bran. These can often be incorporated into the flour-base mix of most sweet bread, cake and muffin recipes, and will add to the nutrient and fibre content of the baking.

Next, maximise the sweetness using natural ingredients as opposed to added sugars. Using overly ripe bananas in a recipe will significantly increase the sweetness of the mix, as will fruit purees or soft dried fruits, such as dates. Contrary to popular opinion, sugars such as honey or rice malt syrup are not necessarily ‘healthier’ than sugar itself. In my own cooking, I try and limit added sugars to ½ cup per recipe (at most) and instead utilise my ripe frozen bananas along with vanilla essence or cinnamon.

When it comes to the type of fat to use in your baking, again you have lots of options. You can indeed use olive oil or a vegetable oil to lower the saturated fat content of your baking. 100% nut spreads too will help to bind ingredients, although they can be a little dry when used on their own. My personal preference is to use butter in baking, but I keep the total amount low, with 50-70g being the maximum I would use for an entire cake or banana bread. My other key trick is to utilise dairy – natural yoghurt or milk both work exceptionally well in keeping a mixture moist, adding key nutrients such as protein and calcium, with minimal extra fat.

Finally, I always look for ways to boost the nutritional profile of my baking by adding nutrient-rich extras such as berries, nuts and seeds. Not only does this help to create a range of taste sensations but adds extra good fat and fibre to your healthy baking.

In order to help celebrate National Banana Day while we are all baking at home in ISO, we want to see your banana bread creations to find one lucky winner who will be crowned with producing the ‘Ultimate Banana Bread’. The competition is open to all different varieties of banana bread so there’s no excuse not to take part!

To enter, head to the Australian Bananas Facebook or Instagram page and upload an image of your banana bread creation, along with a 25-word description. All posts should tag #NationalBananaDay2020 to be entered into the running to win the title and an Australian Bananas prize pack, with the winner announced on May 8.

My favourite Banana Bread

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 10.48.47 amvegetarian | dairy-free | nut-free | egg-free

Serves 12 – per serve: 120 cals | 2g fat | 2g protein | 22g carbs | 2g fibre

Ingredients

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 small ripe bananas, mashed

1 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. bicarbonate soda

1 cup water, boiling1 cup self raising flour

Preparation Method:

1. Heat oven to 170°C.

2. Combine dates, sugar, banana, butter, bicarb and water. The mixture will be quite runny.

3. Add flour and cook for 35-45 mins until cooked through, allowing that it is quite a dense recipe.

4. Allow bread to cool then serve.

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

How to take control of your eating.


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How to stop eating after one Tim Tam!

The diet industry is worth millions of dollars but few programs address the biggest issue when it comes to weight control – the ability to say no. 

The ability to self-regulate our calorie intake is critical for weight control. If we could all simply eat when we were hungry and stop when we were full, few of us would be overweight. And at this time in particular as we are stuck indoors for long periods of time with easy access to the cupboard and fridge, is it any wonder many of us are struggling? And while some people are naturally good at it, the reality is that self control is also one of the most poorly rated of all human strengths.

So if you know that you are one of the many who cannot stop at one or two Tim Tams, or cannot keep any tempting foods in the house for fear of demolishing the lot, here are some ways you can work towards building your own self-regulation skills while in ISO.

1. Stop eating before you are stuffed

Forget eating until your belt buckle is about to burst, aim to follow the Japanese mantra ‘hara hachi bu’, or learn to eat until we are just 80% full. Admittedly this is easier said than done when lashings of food are on offer but actively cutting back and stopping eating a mouthful or two from fullness will significantly cut your kilojoule intake over time.

2. Practice not eating everything

Self-regulation is a skill that can be built; this means that even though you think that you will eat an entire packet of chocolate biscuits, you can teach yourself not too. Enter the Tim Tam challenge, where you actively purchase foods that tempt you and challenge yourself not to eat them all. It may take time but taking the focus away from foods you psychologically restrict and giving yourself permission to enjoy them, only when you really feel like them is an empowering step to take towards self-managing your intake. 

3. Eat mindfully

Overeating often occurs when we are not conscious of what is going into our mouths – the kid’s leftovers; or pre dinner crackers and dip and the work snacks that pack in the extra kilojoules without us even noticing. Make a concerted effort to only eat when you are sitting down, at a meal time and only focused on eating is a key aspect of learning to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full.

4. Eat when you are really hungry

This may sound like common sense but the truth is that many of us eat out of habit or routine rather than real hunger. And, we are often eating so frequently we never really feel hungry. Start by rating your hunger out of 10 and trying not to eat until you are 8 or higher on the hunger scale. Chances are at least one snack a day will be eliminated this way. 

5. Eat only when you really feel like it

Many of us eat the foods that are offered to us as opposed to taking time to really consider what we feel like eating. Once we become a little more discerning with our food choices, calorie control will naturally follow. So next time you are wanting something to eat, or seem to be craving something…..take time out to really consider what you feel like – cheese or nuts; fruit chocolate or dark; ice-cream or a biscuit is a key skill in becoming attune to your appetite and self-regulating your intake based on foods you only really feel like eating. 

How to improve your nutrition while in isolation.


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How to improve your nutrition while in ISO

With many of us now in the third week of lock down, the novelty of being able to sleep in a little later and not have to battle the usual traffic to get to work has almost worn off and we are starting to get a little irritated with the current state of affairs. So if extra chocolate or wine has been getting you through, here are some of the more powerful ways you can actually improve your health and well-being in iso through strategies that will long outlast this period in our lives.

1. Commit to a major kitchen clean out

The truth be known, many of us have enough food in the fridge and pantry to last weeks, if not months.

This time we have been given represents a major opportunity to get stuff done. Stuff that has needed doing for some time such as cleaning out the fridge and pantry, and getting it organised in a way that makes healthy eating easy is a fulfilling and hugely beneficial activity when it comes to our health.

A good clean out will force you to take stock (pardon the pun) of what you have, what new recipes you can prepare using these ingredients and is a chance to really re-organise to you have yourself an Insta worthy fridge and pantry at the end of it. Not only will this inspire you to take joy in food prep again, but it will give you a big job to do over several days. 

2. Spend some time thinking about what’s really important to you

In busy lives we rush from one thing to another, scan the feeds of influencers we don’t know for health and fitness advice and constantly claim to want to lose weight and get fit, rarely actually achieving anything at all, other that wasting a whole lot of time and energy.

Now we have a lot more time, it is an opportune moment to dedicate some time to really considering what your current life entails and what changes you need to make to reach the goals you have for yourself. It is also a perfect time to rid yourself of the noise on social that is not helping you and a good indicator of this is if you do not feel great after seeing or reading something online and instead seek out the people and advice that will actually help to move you forward. 

3. Build a new food plan

Whether you already have a food plan, or know you need more structure with your food to help you be at your best, this is the perfect time to add some new meals to your repertoire, build or get a food plan from a dietitian online and work on cementing some new food habits that will help you to get to where you really want to be. 

4. Get in touch with your hunger again

When was the last time that you felt really, really hungry?

Chances are you can’t remember because the reality is that very few of us eat because we are hungry. Rather we eat because we are bored, other people are eating or something tempting is on offer. And this is the reason so any of us are gaining small amounts of weight over time, we eat when we are not hungry.

So with some extra time, it gives us an opportunity to concentrate on our feelings of hunger, rate them and then only eat when we are really, really hungry. You will be surprised how much better food tastes when you eat when you are genuinely hungry. 

5. Make healthy eating fun

Human beings get bored easily, and this is one the key reasons that diets do not work, we get bored of the same old meals and snacks. So in an attempt to spice things up, if you find yourself with a few hours to kill and cannot bear to look at another jigsaw, take the time to build yourself a new scrapbook – real or virtual of new, tasty and healthy recipes to prepare and try. When we get excited about our food intake, eating well becomes a whole lot easier. 

My top ideas for a more nutritious Easter, whilst still being delicious!


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Celebrating Easter with nutritious meals packed with super nutrients.

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

After the rather intense past few weeks’ chances are you like me are counting down until the Easter break arrives. Although many of us will be socially isolated during this time, many of us will still be lucky enough to enjoy Easter celebrations with our immediate family. And special family meals should be savoured and celebrated. It is not about diets or deprivation, rather enjoying good quality food and special treats while creating precious memories for both young and old (er).

With an abundance of good quality fresh food available to us, it is also a time to indulge the senses with beautiful homemade dishes rich in flavour and nutrition. So if you are in need of a little food inspiration this Easter, here are some ideas on ways you too can serve your family some delicious and nutritious Easter dishes. 

Breakfast

Whether it is a lazy breakie on Good Friday or a more elaborate affair come Easter Sunday, there is something particularly appealing about long lazy April brunches and there are plenty of nutritious additions that will translate your breakfast spread into a café style affair.

Eggs along with a good quality Sourdough or homemade loaf are the obvious options, but don’t forget other nutrient rich additions like Tassal Smoked Tassie Salmon with a hint of lemon or Tassal Smoked Salmon Bacon to give your breakfast spread an omega 3 hit. With your entire daily requirement of omega 3 fats in a single serve, along with more than 20g of good quality protein, adding salmon to your Easter breakfast makes perfect sense from a taste and nutrition perspective.

My Good Friday breakie this year will be Tassal Smoked Salmon Bacon and Egg Wraps, and I have my eye on the Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoked Salmon (recipe below) for Easter Sunday. 

Platters for entertaining

Is there anything better than a platter that is filled with brightly coloured, fresh, delicious foods when you are celebrating or entertaining?

While platters filled with dips, cheese and high fat snacks are not overly good for us, especially when we munch and nibble over many hours, if you instead focus your platters around low calorie snacks and nutrient rich high protein foods, you will strike a perfect balance.

So to build a healthy platter start by loading it with plenty of fresh veges – think carrot, celery and capsicum along with wholegrain crackers and low calorie dips such as tzatziki. Then don’t forget your healthy crunchy snacks such as popcorn, roasted chic peas and broad beans and edamame. Finally you need some protein – Tassal Hot Smoked Tassie Salmon, oysters, prawns or marinated tofu all work well here.

Easter Lunch

Whether you sit down to a hearty meal on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, the options of endless when it comes to giving your Easter celebratory meal a nutrient boost. Seafood is the go to for many and you will not go wrong with a salmon roast, fresh prawns and oysters or a baked option.

This year I will be making a delicious salmon pie for my family for Sunday lunch. Loaded with fresh seafood, tasty leeks and a creamy sauce, you can choose to top a fish pie with pastry or a healthier option is to swap this for a pumpkin /potato mash with a sprinkle of cheese. Not only is a fish pie scrumptious, but it is a another chance to load you Easter meal with extra veges and omega 3 rich fish as you celebrate the good things in life with those closest to you.  Look out for my Salmon Pie recipe which I will post early next week. 

Recipe: Sweet Potato & Carrot Fritters w/ Smoked Salmon

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Serves 1

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato (150g), grated

70g Tassal Smoked Tassie Salmon

1 carrot, grated

3 tbsp. flour or almond meal

1 egg 

1 tsp. parsley

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup kale

Method

1. Combine sweet potato, carrot, almond meal, egg, cumin, parsley, salt and pepper together and mix well.

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat and drop tablespoonfuls of mixture into pan to cook. Cook for approximately 3 minutes each side, or until golden.

3. When fritters are cooked, add kale to pan to warm and wilt slightly. Top fritters with kale and smoked salmon.

Take control of mindless eating.


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With many of us working from home and the fridge within easily reach, it seems like a great time to talk about how we can take control of mindless eating.

Ever since the term “mindless eating” was coined by eating behaviour researcher Brian Wansink there has been more attention paid to not only what we eat but the way we do it. It seems that busy lifestyles have given way to busy eating and unfortunately busy eating often means eating too much, too often. 

Mindless eating refers to the type of eating that occurs when we are not really paying attention.

A handful of jelly beans from the office lolly jar, a couple of bites of the kids leftovers, the pre dinner snack of cheese and crackers while you chop the vegetables. Extra food, extra calories that we not only do not need, but that we also fail to compensate for.

It seems that when we are not paying 100% attention to what we are putting in our mouths, we are not only more likely to eat far more than we need but we do not register that we have eaten it, so fail to eat less at our next meal to compensate. Although such a behavioural matrix is complicated, and influenced by many factors, basically it means that simply being more mindful about the way we eat is crucial to avoid extra calories slipping into our day, which will end up being extra weight long term. 

Mindless eating is more likely to occur when you are distracted – eating while simultaneously doing something else. 

Eating when driving, eating when watching TV, getting dinner ready, eating when you are not really hungry. Eating mindlessly can easily become a habit that develops when we naturally link a certain situation to eating – always grabbing a chocolate bar when filling the car with petrol, nibbling while watching TV late at night or saying yes to coffee and cake when you are out meeting friends. 

The first step towards gaining control of your mindless eating habits is to keep a record of the times when food is entering your mouth and then simply asking yourself; “Am I hungry or is eating that food, at that time just a bad habit?” Once you are more aware when you are eating out of habit, the easier it will be to stop yourself.

The second step in controlling mindless eating is to make sure you control the amount of food stimulus you have around you. Studies have repeatedly shown that basically we eat when food is in front of us. You are not weak, or a pig, you are just human and basically we are taught from a very early age that if food is in front of us, we should eat it. So, now that you know this, it is time to rid your home, office and social environment of as much visible food stimulus as you can. It is time to clear the desk and bench of lollies and snacks, the office kitchen of the visible biscuit jar and the car of hidden snacks. Not having food in front of you all the time means that you are less likely to think about it outside of meal times, and start to relate your feelings of hunger to food rather than simply because it is in front of you.

Finally, eating mindfully requires you to concentrate on eating and eating alone when you are supposed to be doing it. This means concentrating fully when you are enjoying a meal or snack, savouring each mouthful and chewing it properly. Focusing solely on the eating experience not only means that you are likely to enjoy your meal more but as you are more aware of how much you have actually eaten, over time you are in a better position to regulate your energy intake appropriately.