My 5 favourite energy boosting snacks.


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

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1. Wholegrain bread with nut spread

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

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2. Yoghurt with No Added Sugar

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

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

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

4. A milk coffee

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

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5. Crackers and cheese

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

My top 5 ways to improve your energy levels


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How to boost your energy levels.

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

1. Prioritise your meal times

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

2. Drink more water

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

3. Keep nutrient rich snacks on hand

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

4. Get out and walk

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

5. Set aside some time out

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

National Banana Day is almost here!


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

Wednesday is National Banana Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to spend just $40 at the supermarket


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How to spend just $40 at the supermarket

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

IMG_9550Corn Thins or Vita Grains

Perfect for lunches and snacks just $1.99 a box.

Rolled oats

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

Fruit Snacks

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

Baked Beans – 65c

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

Soup Mix – $1.49

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

Tinned Tuna

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

Tomato Pasta Sauce – $1.35

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

Brown rice – $1.39

2 serves for a dinner or lunch option

Chicken Mince – $4.99

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

Porterhouse Steak – $5.00

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

Microwave Chat Potatoes – $1.79

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

Cage Free Eggs  – $3.39

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

Long life Skim Milk – $1.89

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

Frozen Spinach / Vegetables – 99c / $1.99

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

Wholegrain Bread – $1.99

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

Total = $31.41

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

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

Eating when you are super stressed


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

Eating when you are super stressed

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

1. Plan your meals

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

2. Drink more water

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

3. Load up on your key nutrients

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

4. Prioritise sleep

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

5. Get out into nature 

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

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

Should you eat foods raw or cooked?


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Should you eat foods raw or cooked?

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

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

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

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

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

Meal plan like a pro!


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Meal plan like a pro!

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

1. Make time to do it

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

2. Get your containers sorted

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

3. Cook a couple of meals

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

4. Add your vegetable or salad sides

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

5. Plan your snacks

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

Take control of your nutrition this Autumn!


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Take control of your nutrition this Autumn!

With 6 weeks left until the Easter break, there is a good amount of time that can be dedicated to all things health and indeed taking control of our health before the tough Winter months are upon us is a great idea. The weather is still good, the days relatively long and if we work hard we can even strip down a few kilos before the Easter holidays. Here’s how you can do it. 

1. Commit to meal planning

It is nice to check out the images on Insta of all the fitness people mea prepping each Sunday but the simple act of prepping at least some of your meals and snacks each weeks goes a long way in keeping your calorie intake controlled. Try starting with one main meal, a large serve of vegetables and a homemade snack such as protein balls or banana bread and notice how much better you eat for the first few days of the week.

2. Get a buddy

If you struggle with motivation, committing to a new regime with a close friend is an easy and cheap way to improve compliance, muster support and make the whole idea of eating well and exercising a whole lot less boring.

3. Clean out everything

Committing to a new healthy lifestyle regime means cleaning out your old habits, your cupboards and even your life. It is a chance for a fresh start, to rid the old and make way for the new. This means setting aside time to not only clean out the fridge and your cupboards of all the foods you know you should not be eating, but also any old clutter which you know you will be better off without. 

4. Eat less often

Diets often focus on what we should eat and when, when really we eat too much, far too often. One of the simplest and most effective dietary strategies is to have a day or two each week of light eating. Soups, salads and protein to remind you what it actually feels like to be hungry.

5. Commit to a Kickstart

2 weeks is a good period of time to dedicate to a new dietary regime – it is long enough to see real results but not too long to become boring. For this reason we have developed the Shape Me 2 Week Kickstart for Autumn. With all the recipes, tools and meal plans you need to take control of your diet this Autumn. 

How to nutrient boost your daily nutrition


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

How to nutrient boost your daily nutrition

Modern life means that there are plenty of demands on the body’s energy systems – stress, long working days, commutes, the juggle of work and family, along with a poor diet can all contribute to leaving us feeling less than our best on a daily basis. The good news is that giving your diet a daily nutrient boost is as simple as adding a few key superfoods to your meal choices. You can often significantly increase your overall nutrient intake without even noticing!

Breakfast

As a general rule, there are those who enjoy breakfast cereal, and then there are those who are toast and eggs kind of people. If breakfast cereal is your thing one of the easiest ways to increase your nutrition is to add some fresh fruit such as a chopped banana or fresh berries to your cereal mix for a vitamin, fibre and antioxidant boost. If toast is your thing, simply adding some chopped veges to your avo or egg mix is another easy way to increase your nutrient intake. If you want to take it another step further, adding in some chia or nuts to your breakfast mix will also give you a dose of healthy and tasty fats.

Morning Snacks

If packaged snacks are your thing, getting into the habit of grabbing some fresh fruit or vege to go with your snack is an easy way to boost your intake of fresh food each day. Or if you are super organised, you can get into the habit of making your own healthy snacks each week such as banana bread (recipe below) or homemade protein balls.

Lunch

Whenever we pick up lunch on the go, generally speaking our intake of processed food and refined carbohydrates increases, while our intake of fresh vegetables and protein is on the low side. For this reason, keeping nutrient rich proteins such as tins of tuna, or hard boiled eggs on hand, goes a long way in boosting our overall protein intake. Just as important is our intake of fresh food each day and simple ways to boost our intake of fresh fruits and vegetables include; ordering salad on the side of meals, ordering a vegetable juice or banana smoothie to accompany meals, or taking some cucumbers or tomatoes to work to add to crackers, salads or sandwiches.

Afternoon snacks

Afternoon hunger means we need protein to keep us full and satisfied until dinner time and we often forget that nuts and seeds are not only protein rich but are also a rich natural source of the long chain plant based fats that have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. For this reason, a nut and/or seed based snack such as high protein bread with nut spread, a trail mix with fruit, seeds and nuts, or some homemade bites such as our banana nut bites (add recipe) are an easy way to give your afternoon snack a major nutrient boost.

Dinner

When it comes to dinner, the key thing to remember is that the more colour you can fit on your plate, the better. This means brightly coloured vegetables such as beetroot, sweet potato, purple carrots and kale, cooked with extra virgin olive oil instantly offer you a nutrient boost of many key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Or if you find yourself eating out, make an effort to order extra vegetable sides to ensure that you do not miss out. When it comes to protein, seafood especially salmon and shellfish are rich sources of omega 3 fats and iodine, while meat eaters need lean red meat at least 3 times each week to get the iron they need to support optimal energy levels. And if you are craving something sweet after dinner, don’t forget that fresh fruit is the perfect sweet treat, especially if you dip a banana in dark chocolate and freeze it like I do – here you have a delicious ice-cream like treat with no added sugar.

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 1.26.51 pmRecipe: Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 cup low fat milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon light olive oil

2 bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

Method

1. Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar in a bowl with mashed banana, vanilla essence, eggs, milk and oil.

2. Spoon mixture into loaf tin

3. Bake at 180°C for ~50-60 minutes, or until cooked through.

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

Eat more salmon to build your superpowers!


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

Eat more salmon to build your superpowers!

You would be pushed to find a list of superfoods that does not include salmon at the top of the list. Superfoods generally get their title as they contain key nutrients in particularly high amounts and specifically salmon delivers on the definition of being ‘super’ thanks to its dense nutrient profile. As one of the most balanced sources of protein, rich in Omega-3, and range of B group vitamins Aussie families have lots to gain when they power their plates with salmon to support their health and wellbeing. Here are just some of the key superpowers that will be fuelled by adding salmon into the family’s diet regularly. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 6.40.22 pm1. Super Happy 

When it comes to mood-boosting, salmon is top of the charts. Make sure your family wakes up on the right side of the bed by eating their way to a happier state. Salmon contains long chain polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids; DHA and EPA have been shown to play a key role in facilitating cellular communication and enhancing brain function. Eating salmon regularly can help keep your family’s brains healthy and Super Happy by keeping brain cells flexible, allowing neurotransmitters to work more effectively.

2. Super Vision 

Delicious salmon is rich in vitamin B, vitamin-E and Omega-3 fatty acids, all which can help protect our eyes. Press pause on screen time and help revitalise your little one’s eyes with some delicious Tassie salmon for dinner. Rich in B group vitamins which can help slash the risk of cataracts and vision problems by about half, instead of relying on a visit to the optician, head to the supermarket and put some Tassal salmon in your basket for Super Vision! 

3. Super Strength 

Salmon is one of a select few foods that naturally contains Vitamin D and with a massive 30g of high-quality protein in a single serve, eating salmon helps ensures that your muscles have the Super Strength they need to perform at their best. Providing the power to help you and your family’s bodies perform to their highest potential every day. 

4. Super Healing 

A powerful superfood for super heroes big and small, the dynamic Omega- 3 fats act as potent anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce inflammation at the cellular level, which helps lessen muscle pain and soreness after exercise. Studies have shown the good fat balance found in fresh salmon offers the perfect natural remedy to help buffer the daily stress we put our body under and give yourself the power of Super Healing. Whether your family enjoys a game of backyard cricket or full of fitness fanatics, salmon is the perfect protein for every super hero. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 6.40.54 pm5. Super Sparkle 

Turn to salmon instead of buying various face and body creams. Jam packed with essential Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, to naturally help moisturise your skin, hair and nails from the inside out, help to protect against excessive sun exposure, as well as being a natural anti-inflammatory. Vitamin E is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants we can consume, fighting off free radical molecules to help give our skin, hair and nails a Super Sparkle. 

6. Super Productive

Whether you’re a busy running around after your little super heroes or at your desk, your health is a priority and important you keep up with the demands around you. Super salmon is rich in B group Vitamins – B1, B3, B5, B6 and B12 – which helps keep our minds working efficiently and Super Productive., The B group Vitamins help connect the neurotransmitters which are essential for keeping your brain sharp, helping with alertness and concentration to get you powering through your to-do lists. 

7. Super Memory 

On top of being packed full of essential Omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to help re-build brain cells, DHA’s found in salmon can also help slow cognitive decline by activating the acetylcholine transmitter for storage and memory recall. Salmon is also a rich source of B12 which studies have shown is associated with memory function and concentration. Whether your kids are learning their time tables or the science behind bee hives, fueling them with salmon can help ensure they work to their maximum potential. 

8. Super Sleeper 

We all need a sound sleep to help rejuvenate energy levels and avoid sickness after a long day of school or work. As if there weren’t already enough ‘super’ health benefits for eating salmon, the protein also contains vitamin B6, which promotes the production of the sleep hormone, serotonin, allowing little super heroes to switch off and restore their powers. Salmon is one of the key foods that boosts serotonin and being naturally rich source of the amino acids, salmon is the perfect food to fuel your Super Sleep! 

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 6.47.32 pm9. Super Play 

Fun and games are more than a chance to enjoy some time with the family. Play is serious business when it comes to a child’s health and development. Salmon contains Omega-3 fats, selenium, Vitamins D & E and potassium which are essential nutrients for growing children. To unlock the power of play, feed your family with Tassal salmon to help enrich thriving brains, bodies and social bonds. 

10. Super Immunity 

Feeling unwell is never pleasant so it’s wise to explore ways to boost your immune system to help ward off illness. Salmon contains selenium which help keep the immune system and thyroid working at an optimum level. Your body relies on selenium for many of its basic functions from reproduction to fighting infection, a single serve of salmon offers almost a third of your recommended daily requirement of this powerful nutrient. A great source of prevention to get your body as healthy as can be especially when under stress. 

It is these multitude of superpowers that make salmon consistently one the dietitian’s favourite superfoods. As a mum of 2, I feed my own family super salmon at least 2-3 times a week so my question to you is, are you getting enough super salmon to fuel your family’s superpowers?

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Recipe: Salmon Tacos

gluten-free | dairy-free | nut-free | egg-free | wheat-free

Serves 4 – per serve: 390 cals | 16g fat | 48g protein | 9g carbs | 8g fibre

Ingredients

4 Tassal Fresh Tassie salmon fillets, skin-off

10 corn tortillas, warmed

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin powder

1 tsp ground coriander powder

½ tsp ground chilli powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 jar chunky tomato salsa

1 large avocado, deseeded, peeled and diced, to serve

Preparation Method

1. Place garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl and combine.

2. Place each salmon portion into the spice mix, coating all four sides, and let sit for 15 mins.

3. Heat oil in a non-stick fry-pan and cook the salmon fillets for approximately 10 mins, turning once. Once cooked, gently flake salmon into a bowl.

4. Place a spoonful of chunky salsa, avocado onto warmed tortillas, add salmon and enjoy!

Drinking more water for a healthy, happy Summer


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

Drinking more water for a healthy, happy Summer

If there is one thing we need to talk about at this time of year, it is how important keeping well hydrated is when it comes to looking and feeling our best over the Summer months. Not only is party season in full swing but the climbing temperatures and humidity mean that we need more fluid than ever before. So here are the reasons why drinking more at this time of year is so important, and the easy ways you can reach your daily fluid targets.

To help boost your energy

One of the easiest ways we can boost our energy on a daily basis is to keep well hydrated yet many of us resort to coffee and energy drinks for anything but a natural energy hit. At this time of year when everyone is feeling a little tired and overwhelmed you will be surprised how much better you will feel when you aim to consume at least 1-1.5L of chilled still or sparkling water each day. 

To support weight control

New Year, New start and for many of us the beginning of a bright and shiny new year also means a commitment to eating well and exercising to help undo the sins of the silly season. Not only does drinking enough fluid help to control appetite but also supports a healthy digestive system after several weeks of heavy eating. For this reason aiming for 2-3L of fluid each day is a key aspect of long term weight control and more specifically weight loss when you are cutting back your calorie intake. 

To keep your skin clear

Late nights, lots of fat, salt and sugar and a lower than normal intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can spell disaster for our skin. Skin cells expose dehydration quickly and dull lack lustre skin is one of the first signs you need to up your fluid intake. Even more importantly keep in mind that if you like to enjoy the warm days outdoors you will need at least an extra litre of fluid to help compensate for the fluid lost in sweat. 

To offer a natural detox

Forget expensive pills and potions if the goal is to give your diet an overhaul at the end of the party season, all you need to do in order to give your body a natural cleanse to up your fluid intake. Plenty of water, vegetables based soups, juices and herbal teas is the easiest and cheapest ways to drop a couple of kilos quickly and safely, cleaning out the digestive tract and rehydrating your cells so they can work at their best. While water fasts are not recommended, a day or two of light eating with plenty of water will have you back to your best in a matter of days. 

To build a positive health habit

Positive daily habits are the key step known to facilitate good health and nutrition long term. When we make it a priority to keep well hydrated through the day, over time drinking water at regular intervals becomes second nature.  It takes time to build a new habit, at least 3 months and as such when building a new habit such as drink more water, reminders, prompts and visual aids such as keeping a reusable water bottle on your desk at work and in your car are strategies that will help to boost your overall fluid intake. And as we move into a New Year, investing in a Zip HydroTap at home is a proven way to support the entire family in drinking more filtered still and sparkling water each and every day. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here OR read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Healthy Summer Treats


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

Healthy Summer Treats

Summer celebrations and catch-ups with those closest to us mean that we are often in search of healthy sweet treats and snacks to share. The good news is that treats do not have to mean a complete calorie overload, rather it can be as simple as taking our favourite fresh fruits which are naturally sweet and teaming them with other nutrient rich foods such as nuts, dark chocolate and yoghurt, to create tempting yet nourishing treats to enjoy throughout summer.

Frozen fruit yoghurt pops

All you need is your favourite fresh fruits – banana, berries, grapes or mango, frozen with Greek or natural yoghurt, and made into individual protein rich ice blocks or yoghurt pots to enjoy as a light breakfast, afternoon snack or sweet dessert treat.

Protein Bites

You do not need expensive protein powders and special powders to make your protein snack bites! Simply blend some nuts or nut spread (such as 100% peanut butter) with dates or oats, and some soft fruit like banana, and roll in nuts or coconut for your very own fibre rich protein bites. 

Choc-Dipped Fruits

If you’re looking for a lower calorie, lower sugar alternative to chocolate dessert, you can take strawberries or banana, skewer and dip these into dark chocolate, and freeze to make your very own frozen fruit dessert. 

Banana Chips

Forget deep-fried potato chips and wedges. Make your own healthy option by slicing a hard banana into 1/2 cm slices. Place on baking paper along with a drizzle of lemon juice and bake in the oven at 200°C for two to three hours until crispy. Drizzle with a little honey for some extra sweetness. 

Banana Berry Smoothie

There are few things as refreshing as a fruit-based drink in summer and you cannot go wrong when you blend a banana with your favourite milk or yoghurt. An easy snack or light breakfast smoothie can be made when you blend a frozen banana, handful of spinach leaves and ½ cup of berries with a cup of your favourite milk and some ice cubes. A delicious icy treat! 

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

5 healthy snack recipes


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If you start the day early, train regularly or have a family of hungry, growing little people you will be very familiar with the struggle of finding tasty and nutritious snacks on the run. While there are some nutritionally sound  packaged options around, if your dietary preference is to make you own snacks, I thought it was a perfect time of year to share with you some of my favourite homemade bites and balls that are not only easy to make but a rich source of good fats, protein and fibre to help keep you and the little ones full for at least a couple of hours. While there are some of us who cannot have nuts at home, for those who can don’t forget that nuts and seeds are extremely nutritious and as such including them in the diet regularly is a great addition to our overall nutritional intake.

When it comes to the difference between morning and afternoon snacks, in general I aim for morning snacks to be slightly higher in carbohydrates – think crackers, homemade energy balls and banana bread while in the afternoon I focus on more good fat and protein to keep you satisfied throughout the afternoon. Here are 5 healthy snack recipes to try.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 11.46.31 amCacao & Orange Protein Balls

gluten-free | vegetarian | vegan | dairy-free | egg-free

Serves 6 – per serve: 175 cals | 12g fat | 5g protein | 13g carbs | 4g fibre

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. cacao powder

Juice of 1 orange

Zest of 1 orange

Preparation Method:

1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until ingredients have come together.

2. Roll 1 tbsp. scoops of the mixture into a ball. Place on a plate or tray and then repeat for the remaining mix.

3. Place the tray or plate of protein balls into the fridge to set until firm.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 11.46.03 amCrackers & Nut Spread

vegetarian | vegan | dairy-free | egg-free

Serves 1 – per serve: 200 cals | 14g fat | 7g protein | 11g carbs | 2g fibre

Ingredients:

2 Vita Weat or Rye Cruskits

1 tbsp. Mayver’s Peanut Butter

Energy Juice

gluten-free | vegetarian | Low FODMAPS | dairy-free | nut-free | egg-free | wheat-free

Serves 1 – per serve: 200 cals | 1g fat | 1g protein | 24g carbs | 4g fibre

Ingredients:

1/2 cup spinach leaves

1/2 cup pineapple

1/2 cup No Added Sugar coconut water

1 small banana

2-3 mint leaves

1/2 cup ice

Preparation Method:

1. Blend ingredients for a delicious afternoon energy boost

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 11.47.36 amLemon & Coconut Protein Balls

vegetarian | vegan | dairy-free | egg-free

Serves 6 – per serve: 190 cals | 13g fat | 8g protein | 11g carbs | 3g fibre

Ingredients:

10 dates

1 cup Mayver’s Almond, Brazil Nuts & Cashew Spread

1 scoop vanilla protein powder of your choice

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup desiccated coconut + extra for rolling

Preparation Method:

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix together.

2. Place the extra coconut on a plate then take 2 tablespoon scoops of the mix and roll into a ball. Roll in the extra coconut then place on a separate plate or tray. Repeat for the remaining mix.

3. Place in the fridge until firm.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 11.47.18 amGreen Pea Hummus with Veg

gluten-free | vegetarian | vegan | dairy-free | nut-free | egg-free | wheat-free

Serves 4 – per serve: 100 cals | 4g fat | 3g protein | 3g carbs | 3g fibre

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen peas

1 tbsp. tahini

1 garlic clove

1/4 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. mint

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt, to taste

4 cups of your preferred vegetables for serving (such as carrots, cucumber, green beans, red capsicum etc), cut into sticks.

Preparation Method:

1. In a saucepan of boiling water, blanch the peas.

2. Place the peas and all remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

3. Serve a quarter of the hummus along with one cup of vegetables for an afternoon snack.

*Susie is currently in partnership with Mayver’s, however the content above is based on Susie’s professional opinion of these products and is not sponsored.

Brain Foods For Kids


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The brain foods busy children need to fuel their school day

At this time of year there is plenty of talk of what healthy foods should be packed in school lunchboxes. Less often do we talk about the superfoods specifically linked to optimal cognitive function that will help keep busy brains at their best. So as we move into the start of another busy school year, here are my top 5 brain foods to help school aged kids learn, think and perform at their best every single day. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 12.10.10 pmAtlantic Salmon*

There are few foods that tick the brain power box to the extent that salmon does. Not only is salmon one of the richest natural sources of omega 3 fats which are intricately involved in brain functioning, but in addition the range of B group vitamins including Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 are individually associated with a range of key physiological functions including energy production, language development and memory. Ideally growing children need to include a rich source of omega 3 fats in their diets 2-3 times each week. 

Eggs

Not only are eggs a source of high biological value protein and a great filling breakfast option, they are also a good source of the vital nutrient choline. Choline has been shown to have a number of vital functions including optimal cell membrane function and neurotransmission which is linked to enhanced brain function. Serve them hard boiled, mashed on sandwiches or made into mini muffins or frittatas as handy snacks on the go.

MAYVERS-PB-SMOOTH-375g-1Nuts

Often forgotten as superfoods for children because of their link to allergies, for families not impacted by allergies the reality is that nuts are nutrient dense foods that have much to offer children and adults alike. With essential fats, including the plant sources of omega 3 fats, protein, fibre and micronutrients including zinc, adding a serve of nuts or 100% spreads* in your child’s diet when they can enjoy nuts safely at home is a no brainer. 

Blueberries

With exceptionally high levels of antioxidants, a single serve of blueberries a day adds Vitamin C and fibre to the diet for minimal sugars and calories. Of particular interest is that of all the berries, blueberries have been specifically linked to improved cognitive function. To keep them fresh in lunchboxes, try freezing them for a yummy snack. 

Green Leafy Vegetables

Not the easiest food to encourage small children to eat but whether it is broccoli, kale, spinach or bok choy you cannot go wrong when it comes to including leafy greens regularly in the diet of growing children. Rich in antioxidants it appears that the regular consumption of leafy greens helps to protect the brain against damage over time. Try blending leafy greens into smoothies if you have difficulty getting them into the diet of your little ones regularly.

*Susie is currently in partnership with Tassal Salmon and Mayver’s, however the content above is based on Susie’s professional opinion of these products and is not sponsored.

The best breakfasts on the go for busy parents


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With just a few weeks until the rush of the school year begins again, it is time to think of the quick and easy breakfast options to grab on the go. Plenty of children and teens still skip breakfast which mean that they are missing out on the key nutrients and energy they need to be at their best for a demanding day at school. So if you constantly struggle to identify the best quick and healthy breakie options for children and teens, here are my best picks.

1547430237222blobAldi High Protein Bread with Mayver’s Nut Spread and banana

High protein bread is an extremely nutritious food choice as it is packed full of grains and seeds and when teamed with a nut spread such as Mayver’s which contains no added sugar and you will have a perfect mix of good fats and protein. Add a banana in and you have the perfect quick breakie on the run.

Fruit Smoothie

All you need is your favourite milk of choice and some fruit and a blender or mixer and you have a healthy breakfast drink that can be ready in a few minutes. 

Yoghurt Tube

There is a wide range of yoghurt tubes you can find in supermarkets that target kids but few are low in added sugars. For smaller children Petit Miams are relatively low and Rafferty’s Garden make a No Added Sugar variety. For children aged 10 years and older, one of the Chobani or YoPro tubes are particularly high in protein.

Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 9.46.57 pmBreakfast Bar

Now there are plenty of breakfast bars and biscuits on the market but there are not many that tick the right boxes nutritionally. Ideally you want a breakfast bar that contains plenty of fibre, wholegrains along with some protein. One particularly good option is the new Uncle Toby’s Breakfast Bakes which contain the same amount of protein as an entire bowl of oats

Protein Bites

If you want to get particularly organised you can make your entire weeks’ worth of protein breakfast bites in advance to grab on the way out the door – see recipe below. Alternatively BOUNCE and Smooshed both offer bites which stack up relatively well nutritionally.

Recipe

Banana Bites

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed

1 cup rolled oats, raw

1 cup Mayver’s Protein Peanut Butter

1 cup coconut, shredded (for rolling)

Method

1. Combine the mashed banana with the oats and peanut butter 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 in partnership with Mayver’s and Uncle Toby’s Breakfast Bakes. The suggestions made in this post remain based on the individual nutritional profile of these products.

Coaching yourself to a more fulfilling 2019!


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Some of you may be aware that over the past 7 (yes 7!) years I have been completing a Masters in Coaching Psychology. I originally studied psychology as part of my undergraduate studies and always planned to continue study in this area. Fast-forward 10 plus years and I began this Master’s degree part time and have slowly been completing it. My final subject was a research piece on self-control and its role in the self-regulation of behavioural change. My long term plan is to continue with research in this area as I find exploring the underpinnings of behavioural change to support goal attainment fascinating, and of particular interest working with people in the area of behavioural change on a daily basis in my work as a dietitian. 

So where to now? This is the first step in a planned gradual career shift into the world of coaching. Coaching is the process in which a coach and a coachee engage in a relationship that seeks out goal attainment for a coachee. Here a coaches role is to guide the coachee through the cycle of change utilising a series of evidence based steps and interventions to facilitate goal outcome. Unlike pure dietetics work in which my role is to be the expert in providing dietary advice, a coach is not an expert, rather a partner in the change process. While a dietitian can behave as a coach to a certain extent, a coach is also able to work across a range of life or work areas in which one seeks change, hence an expansion to the services I will be offering at my clinic in Bondi Junction.

In addition to my dietary practice, I now also offer coaching sessions. Here I am able to work across a range of life domains – work, relationships, personal growth, health and fitness, career change, life satisfaction to name a few areas in which you have a specific goal, or for which you are seeking support in making change. Coaching sessions generally occur over a series of several weeks. Working with a professional coach can be an enjoyable, enlightening, sometimes challenging but generally fulfilling experience. I find it extremely gratifying as a professional working with individuals and helping them to achieve goals they have for themselves and their lives and I am really looking forward to continuing to expand my work in this area. 

I will be seeing clients in Bondi Junction on Thursday afternoons and evenings so please get in touch if you feel like some professional coaching could help you to achieve your goals in 2019.

My Summer Superfoods


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My Summer Superfoods

Super Salmon*

Often named as one of the dietitian’s favourite superfoods, it is the especially high natural omega 3 content of salmon that gives it its top rating when it comes to being a superfood many of us need to eat a whole lot more of. A single serve of salmon contains your daily recommended intake of omega 3 fats but salmon is also especially rich in good quality protein and a number of key nutrients including Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, selenium and key antioxidants known to support eye health. Enjoyed lightly cooked with salad or vegetables; marinated or even smoked with your favourite breakfasts, aiming to include salmon on your weekly menu at least 2-3 times will boost the whole family’s nutritional intake.

Leafy Greens

Green vegetables – kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, and beans to name a few are rich sources of key nutrients including potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium and in particular a number of powerful antioxidants. Green veges, enjoyed both raw and cooked contain a range of nutrients known to play key roles in cancer prevention and ideally we need to consume at least 2 serves of green leafy vegetables every single day to reap the numerous nutritional benefits. Think kale or spinach added to your favourite breakfast juice or smoothie; lightly steamed or stir fried broccoli or spinach with your evening meal and a serve of salad or soup at lunchtime.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

While we hear much about the wonders of coconut oil, the truth is that when it comes to looking at the research that supports the health benefits of any particular oil, you cannot go past olive oil. With exceptionally high levels of powerful antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage and as an addition to any meal to help boost fullness, olive oil has one of the highest proportions of monounsaturated fat and lowest proportion of saturated fat of all the cooking oils available. Often considered a poor choice for cooking at high temperatures, the truth is that the high quality of olive oil means that it can be used in most dishes with the exception of deep frying, as well as used as a flavoursome dressing. The fresher the olive oil, the higher the antioxidant content so replace your olive oil every 2-3 months. Also keep in mind that ‘light’ varieties are not lighter in fat or calories and spray varieties lack the nutrient quality of fresh oil. Research suggests that including as much as 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day will help you to reap the many health benefits

Nut Spreads

A serve of nuts each day is associated with weight control and offers the body a number of essential nutrients including Vitamin E and the plant sources of omega 3 fats. For adults and also children who have no issues with nut allergies, a serve of nut spread such as Mayver’s 100% peanut butter (with no added sugar) is an easy way to get a daily dose of these good fats that are often forgotten in busy peoples diets. Think a tablespoon of 100% nut spread on protein bread for a filling breakfast; on crackers as a filling snack or served with vege sticks for a tasty. Protein rich snack for both adults and children.

Stonefruit

While fruit can be thought of as high in sugar, consuming natural fruit sugar in moderation is no cause for concern. In fact, with just 50 calories per serve, no fat and 2-3g of fibre per piece, whether your preference is a peach, plum, nectarine or apricot, you cannot go wrong. Packed full of fibre, Vitamins A, C and E, stonefruit is a nutrient dense food, perfect for a sweet hit while the short stonefruit season lasts.

*I am currently working with Tassal Salmon, however this is not a sponsored blog post and all thoughts included in this blog post are my own.

School Holiday Snacking


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

School Holiday Snacking 

If the school year has not finished for your family already, the end is only days away and for parents this means many, many hours of time that need to be filled to keep children busy over the next 6 – 8 weeks. At this time of year there is always plenty of food around and one of the issues with this is that boredom, spending more time at home and extra screen time can result in plenty of extra eating. While snacking is an important way busy growing children get all the calories and nutrients they require for optimal growth and development, it is possible to snack too often, especially when there are plenty of treat style foods lying around. So here are some easy ways to tackle school holiday snacking the right way these holidays - 

1. Have set meal times

Children, especially primary school aged children respond well to rules and routines. For this reason, maintaining meal time structure even during the holiday period will help to naturally control food intake and limit snacking. This means breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Planning snacks in advance and even getting kids involved in preparing them, is a great activity to keep kids occupied. Some child friendly snacks that kids can get involved in preparing include banana bread or muffins, banana pops and banana bites (see recipes below).

2. Factor in treats

Throughout the holiday period, there are mountains of treats waiting to be consumed – the chocolates, lollies, stockings and leftovers that are exceptionally tempting especially for little people. In order to avoid a complete sugar overload, a fun way to manage your child’s treats this festive period is to factor in a one treat per day rule. Here children have control over what they are consuming, but parents remain in control of the volumes. 

3. Not in front of a screen

Eating meals and snacks in front of a screen is a recipe for disaster when it comes to mindless munching, which can lead to overeating long term. For this reason even though it is a holiday time, always encourage children to stop what they are doing to sit and enjoy their meals and snacks at a table without distraction. This makes each eating time an occasion, distinguishing it from other activities and is an opportunity for conversation and fun at the table. 

4. Always carry a healthy snack with you

When you are out and about, things can go off track nutritionally when you find yourself with hungry kids and no options other than processed snack foods for them to munch on. If you make a concerted effort to always leave the house with a healthy snack on hand – a banana, protein-based snack bar or some cut up vegetables, it will be much easier to keep your family’s healthy eating on track. 

5. Make food fun

Enjoying good quality food with friends and family is one of life’s most simple pleasures. Often busy lives mean that meal times become a constant battle. When we keep in mind that sitting down to enjoy a meal or snack together should be a fun and pleasurable time, it takes away some of the stress associated with eating. Get kids involved in making their food, plan fun meals in advance and take time out each day to enjoy one another’s company. This ways kids learn that there are certain types of foods we eat at certain times, and have the opportunity to learn good eating habits from their parents in a relaxed environment. 

Banana Bites

Serves 15-20

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.

Banana Pops

Serves 12

Ingredients

2 x 170g tubs of Chobani 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 using dark chocolate bits.

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

Banana Bread 

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2/3 cup caster sugar or low sugar alternative such as Baking Blend

1 cup low fat milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon light olive oil

2 bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

Method 

1. Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar in a bowl with mashed banana, vanilla, eggs, milk and oil.

2. Spoon into loaf tin and bake at 180°C for ~50-60 minutes until cooked through.

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

Sweet Cravings – What Do They Mean?


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

Sweet Cravings – What Do They Mean?

Cravings – the experiencing of wanting something so badly that it is literally all you can think about, and generally ends with a block of chocolate or tub of ice-cream being eaten in one sitting. Since there is no such thing as perfect eating, succumbing to an occasional food craving is not a big deal, but when we are feeling that our cravings are controlling us then it may be time to take control. So, if you are feeling like your cravings are a little out of control, here are some easy steps to take control.

While specific food cravings like the ones experienced during pregnancy may be due to hormonal shifts, more commonly cravings result from the food habits we develop over time which ultimately program our brains to seek out different tastes and flavour sensations. A classic example of this is when we regularly enjoy a sweet treat with a cup of tea, or after our evening meal. Once this pattern becomes entrenched over weeks, months and years, the brain will be looking for this sweet sensation whenever you revert to that same eating scenario and environment. This means that when you find yourself having a cup of tea at a similar time of day; the brain will continue to seek out the sweet stimulation, which will in turn drive the craving. 

Such cravings are largely behavioural and can easily be broken when we work to alter the neural pathways that we have previously established. An example of this would be doing something entirely different after dinner such as going for a walk or having a shower. In fact, a study published in the journal ‘Appetite’ found that a significant number of participants lost their craving for chocolate when they had to go for a walk before they could indulge. Another simple option is to create a new habit by enjoying a sweet but healthy food after your meal to try to avoid the craving altogether. Some good options include fresh fruit such as chopped banana, a little frozen Greek yoghurt, or some low sugar jelly or custard. 

A key thing to remember to help you manage your cravings, is to never feed a craving with more of the same type of food as you are likely to excite the brain and continue to eat far more than you need. The foods we most commonly crave – ice cream, chocolates, cakes and potato chips, all have a rich taste and mouth feel along with a particularly strong flavour, whether it be sweet of savoury. Behavioural research has repeatedly shown that the more intense the flavours we are exposed to, the more we can eat and hence our explanation for polishing off an entire bag of potato chips or tub of ice-cream. Instead, try and limit yourself to a small quantity of the food you are craving before you change the taste in your mouth whether it is via a cup of green tea, iced cold water with a lemon slice, or sugar free mints and gum. And of course, brushing your teeth is a time proven technique! 

Most importantly is the psychological approach we take to our cravings. If we deal with our cravings as if they are in charge of us, and we keep rewarding ourselves with the exact types of foods we are trying to cut back on, cravings will continue. If though, we work towards accepting that cravings will come and go and manage them via proven strategies including distraction, a change of environment, or simply waiting a brief period of time before you indulge them, you will be surprised how quickly they disappear. 

Finally, if you need a sweet hit, there are plenty of healthy sweet options to satisfy your urges – a frozen banana dipped in a little chocolate; a few squares of dark chocolate paired with nuts or banana and nut spread on high protein bread will go a long way in satisfying the cravings, minus the fat and calories of many other indulgent treats. The trick is to have your healthier snacks prepared and ready to go when the cravings strike like these delicious banana bites - 

Recipe: Banana Bites

Serves: 6-8 

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.

How much sugar is your child drinking?


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Thermos.

How much sugar is your child drinking?

As the temperature heats up, so too does our need to drink enough fluid to keep hydrated. Hydration is particularly important for children, as they do not cool their bodies as efficiently as adults, and are less likely to recognise when they are thirsty. So as we move into another hot Aussie Summer, here are the most common fluids we offer our kids and what they are actually getting when they drink them. 

Milk

Milk is a nutrient dense choice of fluid but unlike water contains a significant calorie load. For this reason, including 3 serves of dairy which may include milk does form part of a balanced diet but you can consume too much. In fact consuming more than 500ml of milk each day once your child reaches the age of 12 months is linked to a number of issues including iron deficiency. For this reason a small glass or two of milk is no issue as part of a balanced diet but it cannot be consumed freely. A small glass of milk contains 10g of sugars which come from the naturally occurring sugar lactose. Flavoured milk on the other hand contain up to 30g of sugars and as such should only be consumed occasionally.

Cordial

Cordial, like soft drink, is a nutrient poor, high calorie food choices and needs to be limited in the diet, for both adults and children. A single glass of cordial contains more than 4 teaspoons of sugar per serve as well as a number of colours and flavours best left out of the diets of small children altogether. 

Fruit Juice

For many reasons, freshly squeezed fruit juice epitomizes good health, and while fresh fruit is a nutrient dense snack choice; packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals; the concentration of fresh fruit juice means that it can contain up to 6 teaspoons of sugar in a single serve, way too much for small children at any time. Fruit juice is also highly acidic, which can act to erode tooth enamel and cause decay. For this reason it is best left out of bottles and cups of babies and small children entirely. 

Vitamin Water

Vitamin waters have been available for a number of years, but have experienced a recent resurgence courtesy of powerful marketing campaigns that align these waters with attractive mind-body states such as “vitality” and “energy”. While these rather expensive waters do contain added vitamins, the harsh reality is that the vitamins that have been added are rarely lacking in the diets of children or adults and with more than 5 teaspoons of sugar per serve, they are another option best avoided. 

Sports drink

Sports drinks are a specially formulated mix of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates and mineral salts which were originally developed for elite athletes to aid in the recovery and re-hydration process after competition. While sports drinks have a specific role in high level sport, for children participating in recreational sport they are an unnecessary source of added sugars in the diet. A bottle of sports drink contains between 9-11 teaspoons of sugars. 

Soft drink

With up to nine teaspoons of sugar per 375ml can, there is no place in the diet of children for soft drink. It does not matter if it is lemonade, cola or berry flavoured soft drink, it all contains the same amount of sugars per serve, which is way too much for an adult at any one time let alone a child. And while diet options may not contain sugars, they are still highly acidic and a nightmare for young teeth. 

Coconut Water

A popular ‘health’ drink, while coconut water is lighter in sugars than cordial, juice and soft drink with 14g or 3.5 teaspoons per 200ml bottle, coconut water is not significantly better than fruit juice. While it is a rich source of potassium, it is still adding a concentrated source of sugars into the diets of small children for whom it is suggested they consume not more than 20g of added sugars per day in total. 

F4012BF6_HRWater

Water should be the main fluid of choice for children. Not only do small children need to learn that water is the first choice of fluid but not offering sweet drinks helps to ensure they do not develop a preference for sweet drinks. Not only does keeping hydrated ensure children perform at their best but it also helps to helps to prevent fatigue, keep bowel habits regular and manage mood on a daily basis. Get your child to drink more water by always keeping their chilled water bottle or cup handy and offer water at regular intervals. Even better, the more they see you drink, the more they will reach for their bottle too and when children learn to drink water early, they will maintain the habit long term. Water contains no sugars, and an easy way to encourage your child to drink more water is to invest in a Thermos FUNtainer® where they can enjoy their chilled water along with their favourite characters minus any extra sugars. 

Sugars in drinks

Drink | Sugar (g) | Tsp. sugar

Fruit Juice | 22 | 4

Large Boost Juice | 44 | 9

Banana Smoothie | 53 | 10

Iced Tea | 22 | 4 ½

600ml soft drink | 65 | 13

Hot chocolate | 29 | 6

Coconut water | 14 | 3

Glass of cordial | 20 | 4

Sports drink | 45 | 9