Are you getting enough protein?


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Are you getting enough protein?

We regularly hear that protein is good for us, and we know that it is crucial for muscle growth and repair, fullness and that protein rich foods including meal meat, fish and dairy are rich sources of iron, calcium and zinc yet new research from the Australian Health Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that 7 out of 8 Australians do not get the recommended amounts of good quality protein on a daily basis. And while we tend to get our protein right at night, it is our breakfast and lunch that can often do with a boost when we are considering if we are getting enough protein rich food on a daily basis. 

Protein is one of the three main nutrients found in food. The body requires protein to build skin, hair, blood and muscle cells and protein also has an important role in immune functioning.  As protein is not the primary fuel for the muscle (unlike carbohydrate), protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrate and is hence likely to keep you fuller for longer after eating it. Protein rich foods including dairy and lean meats are also nutrient rich foods contain a number of other key nutrients including iron, zinc and calcium which are crucial for optimal metabolic functioning. 

Most importantly when it comes to weight and appetite control, as protein is not the primary fuel for the muscle (unlike carbohydrate), protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrate and is hence likely to keep you fuller for longer after eating it. Protein rich foods including dairy and lean meats are also nutrient rich foods contain a number of other key nutrients including iron, zinc and calcium which are crucial for optimal metabolic functioning.

When I am working with clients, in general Aussie adults are very good at eating protein at dinner with hearty serves of salmon, steak, chicken and meat but often our breakfast and lunch choices are meals we pick up on the go and they can be carb heavy at the expense of protein. Large serves of Turkish bread, muffins, banana bread, sushi, and noodle based dishes and wraps tend to be carb heavy, which appears to be leaving us a little low on daily protein serves. This recent survey data has found that on average Aussies are getting just 1.7 serves of lean protein rich foods, where the actual recommendation is 2.5 protein rich food serves each day.  

The issue with this style of eating is that carb rich meals can leave us feeling unsatisfied and less likely to remain full and satiated for several hours after eating. In turn this can lead to poor appetite control and overeating. Take a classic Aussie breakfast of Vegemite on toast, this simple meal is only likely to keep you full for an hour or two, as opposed to a protein rich breakfast such as eggs on toast which is likely to keep up full for several hours. 

The answer to this protein dilemma is simple, all you need to do is aim for at least one protein rich food such as eggs at each meal is the key to reaching daily protein targets. For example, adding lean meat, egg or tofu to stir-fries, a slice of cheese to crackers or snacking on nuts or a hard-boiled egg rather than cakes and biscuits. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 20-30g of protein at meal times and 10-20g at mid meals.

So, if you have been wondering how much protein you are actually eating at each meal and snack or need some ideas on how to make sure your diet has enough protein, check out these tips below. 

1. Start the day with a protein rich breakfast to help control appetite through the morning. Good options that contain 20g of high quality protein include 2 eggs on wholegrain toast, Greek yoghurt with fruit or a protein based smoothie.

2. Keep your protein rich snacks on hand to grab in between meals when you are busy – good options include a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or some Greek yoghurt and berries.

3. Bump up your protein intake at lunch by basing your meal around fish, chicken or eggs such as a frittata, tuna salad or chicken stir fry.

4. Keep a good quality protein powder at home to add to your favourite baked goods or smoothies.

5. Aim for your last meal of the day to include a palm sized serve of lean protein and lots of vegetables to support weight control

Sample Protein Serves

200g tofu

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup beans

½ cup beans + 1 slice cheese

Tub of Chobani Greek yoghurt

2 eggs

1 serve Sanitarium Vegetarian Replacement

100g meat / chicken / tuna

How much sugar is in your alcohol?


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With the festive season well and truly upon us, chances are that your alcohol intake has been on the rise. While it is commonly thought that alcoholic drinks including beer and wine are packed full of sugars this is not quite true. Rather it is the sugars found in fruits or various alcoholic bases that are fermented and converted into alcohol. Alcohol per gram contains 27kJ or almost 7 calories, almost as many as a gram of fat, and alcohol calories are metabolised in the liver before the other three nutrients we consume are. In real life terms this means that while you are busy burning off the alcohol in your drinks, any calories consumed in food such as potato chips, pre-dinner snacks, fried food or heavy restaurant meals is more likely to be stored. For many of us this is the cycle which links drinking to weight gain over time.

Now while not all alcoholic drinks are high in sugars, there are some types that do contain added sugars, such as spirits served with mixers and ciders. These drinks then offer the double whammy of alcohol and as well as energy dense calories which can equate to as many calories as an entire small meal in a single drink.

So if your goal is to not gain weight over the next few weeks, the key is to balance your overall calorie intake – that is watch what you are eating when you are enjoying a few drinks AND make the best alcohol choices you can. As a general rule of thumb plain spirits such as vodka and soda and a small glass of champagne are the lowest calorie choices and the key is to drink slowly, and alternate with as much water as you can so that you do not suffer the effects of severe dehydration and / or a massive hangover the next day.

So here are your favourite drinks, and the calories and sugars they contain.

Drink | Cal | Sugars (g) | Alcohol (g)

Glass of champagne | 89 | 2 | 11.4

Small glass wine (120ml) | 82 | 0 | 11.5

Large glass wine (240ml) | 163 | 0 | 23

Cider (355ml) | 178 | 12.8 | 14.2

Nip of spirit | 67 | 0 | 9.6

Vodka Lime and Soda | 80 | 3-5 | 10

Schooner of beer (450ml) | 162 | <1 | 17.6

Schooner of light beer | 113 | <1 | 9.5

Schooner of low carb beer | 132 | 0 | 15.5

Nip of Baileys | 120 |  7.4 | 5.0

Gin & Tonic | 110 | 10.8 | 10

Martini | 124 | 0 | 18

Mojito | 170 | 9 | 19

Bourbon and Coke | 120 | 13 | 10

Pre-Mix Bourbon & Cola | 229 | 33.4 | 13.9

Margarita | 120 | 1 | 15

Mai Tai | 257 | 17      

UPDATED: Which dip should you choose? A dip review.


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Whenever we think about parties and social occasions, we also tend to think about finger food, canapes and salty snacks – the dips, crackers, cheese and chips that we munch on as we enjoy a few drinks. While we may be aware that fried snacks and pastries are not that good for us, often we think that because a number of our favourite dips are made with vegetables, they are healthy options. Unfortunately this is not always the case, rather dips can be packed full of fat, salt and calories, as can the crackers we serve them with. For example, just a few Jatz crackers and pesto dip can contain more than 300 calories, or that of a small meal.

The biggest issue with dips is that they are not portion controlled – we keep dipping and dipping and before we know it we have eaten a meal worth of calories via dip and chips. For this reason, always portion out your dips before serving them; where possible look for 100% vegetable options that are low in fat such as Chris’s Egyptian Beetroot Dip and serve them with vegetables, not crackers.

*Dips choosen are a random mix from a Woolworths supermarket

** I am not paid by any of these companies.

Chris’ Tzatziki

Tzatziki is traditionally one of the best dip choices thanks to its relatively low fat content and high protein content thanks to yoghurt being its primary ingredient.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.):  89kJ (20cal), 1g protein, 1.2g fat and 1.6g carbs

Philadelphia Sweet Chilli Philly

Not as bad as some may think but the issue with Philly is that it is hard to keep portions small as it chunks when you dip it so spread it instead if you can.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 190kJ (45cal), 1.5g protein, 2.6g fat, 3.6g carbs.

Black Swan Fresh Guacamole

Often considered a ‘healthy’ choice, check your labels as avo dips as opposed to avocado may contain as little as 50% avocado and are bulked up with plenty of cream cheese and other additives.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 52kJ (13cal), 0.2g protein, 0.8g fat, 1.0g carbs

Bulla Cottage Cheese Onion and Chives

If you like cottage cheese, this is the dip for you as it is one of the few low calorie, high protein options

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 75kJ (18cal), 2g protein, 0.4g fat, 1g carbs.

Black Swan Skinny Hommus

Lower in calories and fat than regular hommus, one would argue that you are better to make your own or go for a natural hommus made from just chick peas, olive oil, lemon and sesame to avoid the additives and preservatives.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 97kJ (23cal), 0.5g protein, 1.6g fat, 1.8g carbs.

Chris’s Avocado

More cream cheese than avocado, with just 11% avocado – make your own with a fresh avo, lemon and a little olive oil and blend for a thinner consistency

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 217kJ (52cal), 1.0g protein, 4.9g fat, <1g carbs.

Macro Avocado Dip

With the primary ingredient listed as mayonnaise and 40% avocado, again make your own and get rid of the unnecessary extras.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 391kJ (93cal), <1g protein, 9.9g fat, 1.1g carbs.

Chris’ Egyptian Beetroot

My current market favourite with relatively clean ingredients and a low calorie load – you could make your own too but if you need to pick up something this is a good choice.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 82kJ (20cal), <1g protein, <1 g fat, 3.5g carbs

Philadelphia Mexican Salsa Philly

A new flavour to the market that does contain additives but is relatively low in calories and fat.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 176kJ (42cal), 1.6g protein, 2.6g fat, 3.1g carbs.

Wattle Valley Chunky Basil with Cashew and Parmesan

Who does not love this dip but it is packed with calories and fat so it is much better used occasionally as a spread because you will demolish that entire container before you even realise it.

Per 20g serve (1 tbsp.): 426kJ (102cal), 2.0g protein, 8.3g fat, 4.0 g carbs.

*** http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/saltier-than-sea-water-hidden-nasties-in-christmas-party-snacks/news-story/b4945c1c6de66e2a1ce15930fdebc39b

Image source: helloglow.co

The 5 core steps to an anti-inflammatory diet


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Why an anti-inflammatory approach is the best diet for all of us

Another day, another diet and yet many of us getting fatter and experience the daily impact of our frames carrying too much weight via chronic pain, high blood pressure and cholesterol, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes just to name a few. Yet so many of us remain uncommitted when it comes to long term lifestyle change. While any amount of weight loss will generally impact inflammatory conditions favourably, few if any strict weight loss regimes are sustainable. It is for this reason that a general anti-inflammatory dietary approach is a good diet for all of us to follow. Not only is it easy, but long term the nutrient profile of this approach is favourable for both weight control and managing the cellular impact that a Western diet imposes on our cells as we age. 

So here is everything you need to know about an anti-inflammatory diet and the easy steps you can take to applying it in your own diet, every day. 

The term inflammation refers to a natural response by the body that occurs when there is injury or damage to the body’s cells. When this damage is detected, there is increased blood flow to the area or organ that is damaged at a cellular level and the production of various molecules that have the job of repairing tissue an eliminate toxins causing the damage. Inflammation can be experienced as a result of general immune responses repairing cells on a daily basis as well as a result of chronic disease conditions including heart disease, fatty liver and Type 2 diabetes, in which the body is constantly trying to mediate the damage often caused by the hormonal response to an excessive calorie consumption and the overweight and obesity that eventually results.

There are a number of blood markers of inflammation including elevated cytokines, chemokines and leucocytes which medical experts may use to identify and help diagnose both low grade and symmetric inflammation in the body. While used diagnostically, the ideal goal for patients is to ultimately reduce the causes of inflammation in an attempt to stop the body from attacking itself and ultimately causing further disease and long term organ failure. 

It has been known for some time that our diet, or specifically the balance of key nutrients in our diets can play a key role in preventing and managing the levels of inflammation in the body. Specifically it is the general shift towards more processed foods, and a greater intake of the types of fat that can promote inflammatory pathways that is hypothesised as one of the key reasons inflammatory conditions such as fatty liver and Type 2 diabetes has risen so dramatically in recent years.

So while there are few clinical trials that have specifically investigated an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diets and its effects on chronic disease conditions, here are the core aspects of a diet that will support the body’s natural immune function and help it to flight inflammation on a daily basis. 

1. Get your fat balance right

Some types of fat increase inflammation in the body, while others actively reduce it and the key to getting the right balance of fat in modern diets is to choose the right mix of foods rich in fat every single day. From a numbers perspective this means getting your balance of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats into a 1:1:1 ratio or between 20-30g of each of these fats each day. To achieve this ratio in food terms an adult will need 3-4 serves of omega 3 rich food such as oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and chia every single day. In addition, 2-3 serves of monounsaturated fat via avocado, almonds and olive oil will help to balance out these ratios. And most importantly we need to keep our intake of saturated fat from meat, dairy and coconut products relatively low with just 2-3 serves at most in addition to eliminating as much processed vegetable oils as is possible. Many of us fail to get this balance right as we do not eat enough oily fish and by overdoing the coconut products and fatty meat. As such supplementing your diet with fish oil does have merit. Most importantly, it is the elimination of processed fast and baked foods such as fried meal deals, cakes, pastries and snack foods that will get your own fat balance in the right ratios on a daily basis. 

2. Load up on fruits and vegetables

The brighter the colour of the fresh fruit or vegetable, the higher the antioxidant content and the more antioxidants we consume naturally as part of our daily diet, the better it is for the health of our cells long term. Countries with the longest lifespan and the lowest prevalence of chronic disease are known to consume 7-10 serves of antioxidant rich fresh fruits and vegetables every single day. Carotenoids found in brightly colored orange and red vegetables and lutein and zeaxanthin found again in carrots and capsicums as well as in salmon and egg yolks are two specific antioxidant rich compounds linked to lower inflammatory markers in the blood. To up your intake of all of these molecules we are talking much more fresh fruit and vegetables than you are most likely consuming for example, a vegetable juice with your breakfast; a large salad or serve of vegetables at lunchtime as well as ½ a plate or bowl of vegetables at night as well as a couple of pieces of fruit every single day. And don’t forget the nutrition in your salad and vegetables will be better absorbed if enjoyed with extra virgin olive oil, another food that is exceptionally high in natural antioxidants. 

3. Don’t forget the leafy greens

Independent studies which have started to examine the dietary links to lower levels of inflammation have identified that magnesium intake, the element found naturally in least green vegetables, nuts and legumes such as kidney beans and chic peas. This finding again supports the intake of more brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables each day but also the intake of nuts on a regular basis. 

4. Cut the sugars and refined carbs

Of all the evidence out there about carbohydrate intake, the primary finding is a link between the glycaemic load of the diet and chronic inflammatory conditions including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Thanks to a relatively high intake of refined flour and white rice as well as sugar rich foods such as juices, soft drinks, fruit yoghurts and snack bars, most of us will have a daily diet with a higher glycaemic load than is ideal to reduce inflammation. One of the easiest ways to reduce glycaemic load is to focus your diet less on heavy carb foods such as white bread, rice, pasta and sweet snacks and instead shift your focus to lean proteins such as fish, eggs, lean meat and chicken and plenty of vegetables. Then add small portions of good quality carbs such as legumes, grain bread and starchy vegetables to your meals. The other key part of getting the right mix of carbs in your diet is to get serious about sugar. Liquid sources of concentrated sugars including juices and soft drinks should be eliminated entirely as liquid sugars store fat in the liver more readily than other types of carbohydrate and are closely linked to increased inflammation in the body. Sugary treats such as cakes, muffins, chocolates and confectionery should also be consumed as infrequently as possible. 

5. Drink more tea

While dark chocolate and red wine are often linked to anti-inflammatory diets thanks to their relatively high flavonoid content, the truth is that there is limited evidence to show an overall benefit to inflammatory markets at this stage. On the other hand, tea, both and black and green tea is linked to reduced inflammatory markets in several studies. For this reason, swapping some of your hot drinks for plain black or green tea is likely to support a specific anti-inflammatory approach to diet.

Why you need to include cheat meals


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When it comes to dieting and weight loss there are two kinds of people – there are those who follow their diet so rigidly that they rarely if ever allow themselves to eat a little more, or treat themselves and then there are those who cannot follow any kind of diet for any extended period of time. The interesting thing about weight loss is that it is actually good for the body to have periods in which calories are not overly restricted. To translate this into real life it means that there are actually benefits to including cheat meals (please note not cheat day!) into any strict dietary regime you are trying to follow. While it may go against everything you have been led to believe about weight loss, here are the reasons why a regular cheat will actually help with your weight loss goals.

1. It helps to reduce feelings of restriction

One of the main reasons that diets fail is that any feelings of dietary restriction – both actual calorie restriction or psychological restriction eg feeling like you are missing out, or not able to eat the foods that you want to drives more attention to the exact foods you want to be avoiding. This attentional focus in turn makes it more and more difficult to stop eating, or specifically to stop eating the foods you want to be avoiding. Once you can actively add in occasional treats or meals that you can look forward to, it is much easier to stick to your baseline diet.

2. It allows you to factor in social events and special meals

At any one point in time there are a number of social occasions and celebrations in which food is a big focus – a birthday meal; big party or special work event in which delicious food and drinks will be on offer. Following a diet in which these occasions can be accounted for makes dieting in real life much easier.

3. It ensures you get to eat what you like and feel like at times

Sometimes you really, really feel like a burger and fries. Now the more you try and not eat a burger and fries, the more you will think about that burger and fries. When your diet factors in a meal or two each week in which extra calories can be consumed, it in turn allows you to enjoy the best burger and fries you can find, occasionally so you can move on and forget that burger and fries.

4. It tells the body it is not starving

While strict calorie restriction will work initially, extreme restriction over time will ultimately see the loss of muscle mass and a reduction in metabolic rate. When a cheat meal is regularly consumed (once or twice each week) research shows that it actual helps to optimise fat metabolism as it basically tells the body that it is not starving. It appears that an occasional intake of extra calories in times of restriction tells the body it is ok to keep burning body fat. This means that you may actually NEED an occasional cheat to support long term weight loss. 

Intermittent fasting, how to do it.


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How to fast the right way

We have heard about intermittent fasting for some time now – and since the original approach which suggested dieters have 2 days in which in which their calorie intake was particularly low (500-600cal) there has been a number of different versions of intermittent fasting to support weight loss. We have known for some time that there are a number of health benefits associated with regular fasting but the reality is that fasting is often easier said than done. While there are a few individuals who can eat literally nothing for days at a time, most of us are tempted by every type of food that crosses our paths, and the mere thought of dietary restriction is enough to drive our appetites and focus on food.

In my clinical experience there are 3 types of fasting that actually work to support weight loss, if you can remain focused enough to implement them properly. So if you are looking for a dieting alternative to a traditional lower carb, calories controlled approach, here are a few options you could try.

1. Low calorie days

In my experience this is the most difficult type of fasting to actually do, as for it to work you really need to keep your calories to 500 or less, and most people simply cannot do it. Most of us tend to get our calories to just 800 or 1000 and this is not a level of restriction that will give you the metabolic benefits more significant calorie restriction will. To give you an example of a 500 calorie day, you would be looking at a piccolo coffee, one hardboiled egg; a soup or plain salad at lunch and just 70g of fish with vegetables at night. The clients I have had who have been successful with this are extremely mindful of calories, very focused individuals in general who also have a big event they are preparing for and more traditional weight loss approaches were simply not working.

2. The Overnight fast

We are talking 12-14 hours without food overnight – and rather than dinner at 8 and then not eating until 12pm the next day, you will get the best results if you eat dinner by 5-6pm and then not eat again until 9 or 10am in the morning so you can still reap the metabolic benefits of consuming calories in the first half of the day. This approach is much more user friendly, can be a great way to reunite you with your natural hunger and suits office based workers or shift workers who are in the office late and as such can eat a light dinner at work.

3. One light day

Not technically ‘fasting’, dedicating one day each week to a low calorie intake is an easy way to help buffer the regular days we have in which we significantly over-consume calories and can be as easy as having a shake for breakfast, salad for lunch and soup for dinner. While the calories may not be a tight as that on the 5:2 approach, you will still benefit from keeping your calories relatively low at least once each week.

6 of the best Spring superfoods


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This is a sponsored post.

Spring Superfoods

The sun is out, days are longer and many of us are searching for ways to feel and look our best ahead of the festive season. So, if you know that your diet could do with a spring clean, here are some of the seasonal fresh foods to include in your diet. 

Bananas

Packed full of natural energy, fibre, potassium and magnesium, a banana is not only convenient but is the perfect source of fuel for busy people on the go. Not only are bananas easy to find at this time of year, they are versatile – adding natural sweetness to smoothies, baked goods and cereal. They are a great self-packaged snack and can even be frozen and used as a low calorie dessert option. Another trick is to keep soft bananas frozen to grab when you are baking or to add to smoothies and juices. 

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. Its great for the skin 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 satiety fullness, olive oil has one of the highest proportions of monounsaturated fat and lowest proportion of saturated fat of all cooking oils. 

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 two to three months and 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 two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day will help you to reap the many health benefits 

Greek yoghurt

Greek yoghurt not only contains much less sugar than the average serve of store bought yoghurt but is much higher in protein which helps to keep your blood glucose levels regulated throughout the day. Added benefits will come if you choose a variety of Greek yoghurt which also contains probiotics, the live bacteria that will help to feed the good bacteria in the gut and is thought to have a powerful role in optimal immune functioning long term. 

Enjoy with some oats for breakfast, as a filling snack, as a light dessert option, and add to smoothies and protein shakes or even as a dressing option with vegetables for a daily calcium boost.

Red capsicum

Another nutrient rich, low calorie vegetable choice is red capsicum which is a rich source of carotenoids, the group of antioxidants known to play a powerful role in helping to down regulate a number of inflammatory pathways in the body. Red capsicum is packed full of Vitamin C, folate and fibre and with just 45 calorie per cup, you can enjoy an entire red capsicum as a filling snack providing a major nutritional hit. A flavoursome base to sauces, added to salads or teamed with hommus or Greek yoghurt. 

Rocket

Ten years ago, rocket was rarely the standard salad leaf of choice but the peppery rocket has become a fond favourite for many. Rocket originated in the Mediterranean region, hence its link with olive oil and parmesan cheese! Like most salad ingredients, rocket is extremely low in kilojoules but unlike plain lettuce and as depicted by its rich dark green colour, is chock full of Vitamin C, fibre, iron and beta carotene.

Rocket is also an amazingly easy salad leave to grow and now is a good time to plant some before it gets too hot. Try planting some seeds in a pot on your veranda or balcony and you will find you have rocket for your favourite parmesan and tomato salad in no time, which is perfect with BBQ’s and with grilled fish. 

Legumes

Legumes or beans have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years with cannellini, kidney and borlotti beans featuring regularly in a range of cuisines including Mexican, Italian and Lebanese. All beans are extremely nutritious containing a mix of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, dietary fibre and protein; their relatively high protein content making them a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. 

The soluble fibre found in beans has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels, and they also contain high levels of B-group vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium as well as folate. While legumes are often used as the base of meals for vegetarians, beans can also be used in range of meals including mince, soups and salads for extra bulk and an extra nutritional hit. And best of all, legumes are extremely cheap, making them an economical addition to any meal.  

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

The top 10 reasons you may not be losing weight


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At times, you may be eating very ‘healthy’ but this does not necessarily mean that you will be successfully burning fat. Here are the most common reasons that your diet may not be working.

1. You are having too many extras

Keep a record for a day of all the times that food or drink enters your mouth – you may be surprised how many extras slip in there. Alternatively track your calories on an online program such as CalorieKing

2. You are drinking too much coffee

Back tea or coffee without milk or sugar is fine but as soon as you choose a cappuccino or latte, the calories start to add up. Enjoy just 1-2 small coffees each day and try and enjoy them as part of your meal or snack – not as an extra.

3. You are eating to much at night

Often we try so hard to be ‘good’ during the day, that we do not eat enough and then find ourselves overly hungry at night. Make sure you have a good breakfast and lunch as well as a filling mid afternoon snack so you are able to keep your calorie intake at nighttime low.

4. You are eating breakfast too late

Remember that the body burns more calories in the first half of the day as this is when you are most active so aim to eat your breakfast as early as possible.

5. You are eating your dinner too late.

The body’s hormones are programmed to store at night so if you are regularly eating your last meal of the day after 8 or 9 at night, you amy need to eat your main meal at lunchtime and enjoy a light snack such as soup later at night.

6. You are drinking too much alcohol

Alcohol, per gram has almost as many calories as fat so a glass or two of wine can really add up. If your weight loss has halted, try eliminating alcohol for a week or two to see if that may be holding you back.

7. You are having too few calories

When we begin a new program, we can adopt the mindset that ‘less food is better’ – while this is somewhat true, if you take your calories too low you risk reducing metabolism which will slow weight loss. As a general rule of thumb make sure you are always consuming at least 1200 calories and you may need more if you are training constantly for more than an hour a day.

8. You are not exercising at the right intensity

There is a big difference between going for a gentle walk and flogging yourself at boot camp 6 days a week. For weight loss we need at least 3-4 sessions of high intensity exercise so it may be time to ramp up your training a little.

9. You are not eating before you exercise

If you are training intensely before breakfast or late afternoon, you are likely to burn more fat if you have a small protein rich snack before your session – a couple of crackers with cheese, ½ glass of milk or ½ a protein bar is all you need.

10. You are not moving enough

It is one thing to exercise, but if you then spend the rest of the day sitting down therein lies your problem. Ideally we need at least 8000 steps a day in addition to our exercise sessions so you may need to walk a little more to achieve the weight loss results you are looking for. 

How to make great tasting water


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This is a sponsored post.

With summer just a few weeks away, we can almost smell the end of the year. The return of longer days and warmer temperatures means there are plenty of social occasions on the horizon to celebrate the end of another year. Warm weather also means that our fluid requirements increase, especially when we are regularly outdoors. So if you’re keen to jazz your water up a little, here are some easy ways to enhance the visual appeal of your water, whilst adding to its flavour and nutrition. 

Cucumber Mint

Mint is well known for its potential benefits to the digestive system – helping to reduce bloating and tummy discomfort. When combined with various fruits and vegetables, it creates beautiful cooling water. Not only does the mint cleanse the palate, helping to reduce sugar cravings, it also adds more fluid into our summer drinks when combined with high water-containing fruits and vegetables such as berries or cucumber.

Lemon Berry

The addition of citrus to any meal helps to lower the glycaemic load, or how quickly the glucose that comes from sugars is released into the bloodstream. This means adding some citrus to any water to be consumed with meals is a great option. Lemons mixed with any type of berries and strawberries offer a lovely flavour too. Another trick is to freeze your berries and add them into your glass of Zip filtered sparkling water which will help to retain their colour and plumpness. 

Apple Cinnamon

If you regularly crave sugar this could be the mix for you. Cinnamon is not only known to help control blood glucose levels but when combined with a few apple slices, it creates a slightly sweet flavour with only a few extra calories. This mix will appeal to children especially if you find it difficult to get them to drink as much water as they need. Simply use a cinnamon stick and leave it in the bottle or Mason jar to bring out the best flavour. 

Pineapple Ginger

When the weather is cool, one of my favourite hot drink mixes is a little ginger, honey and lemon. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, and commonly used to manage nausea. It’s easy to make a summer version of this immune boosting mix by combining a little fresh ginger and a few cubes of frozen pineapple, which will cut through the sharpness of the ginger without adding any extra sugars. 

Lemon Pepper

Now this option is not for the faint-hearted! If you don’t mind a little spice with your fluid, adding a single cayenne pepper to your water, along with a squeeze or two of lemon and a little honey or maple syrup, can help give your body a small metabolic boost. Cayenne peppers have been used for hundreds of years to help increase the rate of metabolism, clear nasal congestion and aid digestion. Add a little to your water for some natural zest and flavour.

Read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

The non diet approach to weight loss


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Non diet weight loss? It’s possible!

On a daily basis we hear so much about the foods we should eat and the diets we should follow for weight loss that it all gets a little boring.  Imagine if you could lose weight via strategies that do not involve calorie counting, label reading or spending hours at the gym? Well, guess what, you can with these proven strategies.

Plan your meals

The simple act of allocating 20 minutes each week to planning your meals in advance not only saves much time, stress and money but when it comes to weight control, planning your meals ensures that you are less likely seduced by tempting high calorie snacks and food picked up on the go. As a general rule of thumb, meals chosen quickly at cafes, fast food outlets and in food courts contain significantly more calories and fat than meals prepared at home. Save yourself literally hundreds of calories each week simply by planning the majority of your meals and snacks in advance.

Shop online

We have all been there; the 99c Cheezels at the end of the supermarket aisle; the pre-dinner dip and crackers you find yourself hungry for when shopping on the way home from work and of course the obligatory chocolate bar you throw in the trolley while you wait at the checkout. Supermarkets know all too well that a significant number of purchases are completed on impulse and as such, shopping online not only eliminates all of these impulse buys but helps you to meal plan in advance each week, saving you calories and plenty of dollars.

Clean out the kitchen

If it is in your kitchen you will eat it at some stage, whether it is the chocolate biscuits you say are for guests; cooking chocolate for baking or the kid’s leftover Easter eggs. Be ruthless in your kitchen and refuse to keep any food items you know you will eventually eat when you are feeling tired, bored or vulnerable. Not only will cleaning out the fridge and pantry feel empowering, it will inspire you to stock up on fresh, healthy foods that will help to keep your diet on track.

Check menus before you go out

Human beings are exposed to more than 200 food decisions on a daily basis – skim or full cream; large or small; vegetables or salad? Is it any wonder our brains become overwhelmed with all the options? As such, when we are exposed to tempting menu choices, including foods we would not usually consume, the variety can overwhelm us and rather than making mindful, informed choices we lash out and treat ourselves to treat style foods, often in line with what others around us are also ordering. A simple yet effective strategy to manage this information overload is to peruse menus when you are not hungry, prior to dining out. Here you can make a string decision nutritionally before you go out and be less likely to be drawn into the excitement of the ordering process. 

Sit down to eat

This one sounds simple, but when you sit down and concentrate solely on eating and nothing else, not only are you likely to consume fewer calories at that meal but also for the remainder of the day. An eating behaviour study published in the journal Appetite found that dieters who consumed their lunch whilst watch TV consumed significantly more cookie calories at afternoon tea than dieters who had enjoyed their lunch at a table with no distractions. It appears that keeping mindful during the eating experience is an important part of appetite regulation.

Pack your lunch

Did you know that the average lunch order from the food court contains 600-800 calories, or double what lunch for a small female should contain. Even if you pack your own salad or leftovers a couple of times each week you will be saving many, many calories on a weekly basis without really noticing it.

Eating healthy vs eating for weight loss


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The difference between healthy eating and eating for weight loss

I am going to say something rather awful right now – you can have a very healthy diet and still not be losing body fat. In fact, I would say that up to 90% of my clients have a very healthy diet and yet still carry extra body fat. There are many reasons for this – metabolism; nutrient balance; meal timing and calorie loads just some of the reasons you may be making an acai berry smoothie each day and just not shedding the kg. So if you are both committed to healthy eating but also would not mind dropping a kg or two, here some of the other factors to consider.

What do you really eat?

It sounds so simple but once you write down exactly what goes into your mouth each day, you may find the answer as to why you are not losing body fat. You know the little extras I am talking about – the slice of cake at work; the office biscuits; a few lollies at night along with some dip and crackers before dinner – all common culprits that prevent fat loss. Write down everything that you put into your mouth for just a day or two and it will be easy to see where any extras are slipping in.

Are your nutrients balanced?

The less weight you have to lose, the more precise the balance needs to be in terms of the quantities of protein, carbohydrate and fat you are eating. A simple thing such as having too much carbohydrate in the morning or too little fat can prevent fat loss. The best way to identify your nutrient balance is to have nutrient analysis completed by a professional or download a monitoring APP such as ‘myfitnesspal’ which will calculate the amounts of macronutrients for you. Generally speaking a good balance for fat loss is ~40% energy form carbohydrate, ~30% from protein and ~30% from good fats. This regime will ensure that your variety of foods is not overly restrictive but is more sustainable than strict regimes such as Atkins (~10% carbohydrate, ~50% fat, ~30-40% protein.

Are you eating too few or too many carbs?

Completely cutting our carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, rice and pasta, can actually reduce your metabolism as your body is forced to break down muscle tissue to use as energy. A better option is to eat a balance of carbohydrates and proteins during the day and then keep them light at night. On the other end of the scale if you have cut right back on all carbs, and are reasonably active, chances are you are not eating enough. Even if you have a few kg to lose you will need a serve of carbs at both breakfast and lunch if your goal is fat loss.

What time do you eat?

The ability to burn fat depends on what different fuels the body has available to it. Within a mixed meal of carbohydrate, protein and fat, the body will always utilise the carbohydrate and proteins before it will the fat. This is merely an evolutionary adaptation for humans to store extra fat for times of famine. What this means in terms of fat loss, even if you eat a very low fat, nutritionally balanced diet, if you eat the bulk of your calories in the second half of the day you are unlikely to burn body fat simply because the body will spend its time digesting the carbohydrate and protein contents of your food and is unlikely to get to fat stores before you eat again the next day.

For this reason, a key step in fat loss is to shift your food intake forward, Aim for a carbohydrate protein breakfast, morning tea and lunch and then taper off the carbs sticking to meat and vegetables for dinner. Naturally, rewarding yourself with chocolates, biscuits or lollies late at night for all your hard work during the day is not a good idea as it is fuelling you up at night and likely to be preventing fat stores being broken down.

How I manage to find time to exercise.


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I used to exercise a lot – at least an hour a day, probably more but since having the twins I am lucky to fit in a walk most days. But what I have realised over the past few months is that it is finally time to get my fitness back on track now that the twins are almost 2 years old (omg can you believe it?) so here are the ways I have managed to take back some time for me so I can again get my body back to its best.

1. Start with steps

Getting to the gym for a workout or to go for an extra run is indeed a luxury and generally depends on a number of factors coming together each day (husband arriving home on time, baby’s happy and well etc, etc) but on most days of the week I can manage to take at least 8000 steps. Indeed on days I can get way beyond this, up to 12,000-15,000 steps, even whilst including the twins on extra walks I really notice the difference in my body at the end of the day.

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule

I like most women feel incredibly guilty when I take time away from home and from the twins to exercise. It feels self-absorbed, frivolous and selfish, and generally speaking my partner does not make me feel great about leaving the house but now, at least twice a week I get out. I leave, even when the twins are screaming and its bath time to meet friends, just walk, just do something. It may not be every day, but at least it means 2-3 times a week I have some formal exercise in my schedule.

3. Link to friends

It is much easier to keep a commitment to exercise when you have others you are meeting to train with. It makes training more fun, it reminds you there is a big world outside of motherhood and I never feel as good as the nights I have seen my buddies and had a workout. I highly recommend your own little exercise club who is always available for a quick session locally.

4. Pretend you are a man

Husbands rarely think about their partners being stuck at home all day dealing with the whims of small people. When do they ever say, ‘baby I know you’ve been home alone for 10 hours, why don’t you take an hour for yourself’?’ – do they? On the other hand, they do not think twice about telling you that they will be late because they, have a work meeting, will stop at the pub, need to get their bike fixed, the list goes on. So now, I do the same and announce that I will be going out (to exercise) rather than ask for permission. Because they never do. 

5. Enroll in events

Training is great, but it is even better when you are preparing for an event that requires a formal training schedule. It means you have something to look forward to, a goal to work towards and a commitment that needs to be fulfilled. The Blood Long Walk & The 7 Bridges Walk are two I’ll be using as training excuses in the next few weeks!

Salmon vs tuna. Which is healthier?


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Why salmon is a better choice than tuna

Whether it is enjoyed on a sandwich; with brown rice or in a salad, tuna is a popular lunch choice. Known for being high in protein and relatively low in fat, tuna is a popular choice for fitness professionals and those wanting to lose weight and it is not uncommon to see fans work their way through several tins each day. 

Far less popular as a regular lunch choice is tinned salmon yet when it comes to the good fats that we know are good for us, it may surprise you to hear that tinned tuna is generally very low in these good fats. Tinned salmon on the other hand is one of the richest natural sources of the powerful omega 3 fats, and as such it would benefit many of us by making a swap from tuna to salmon, at least some of the time. 

While tuna fillets do contain some omega 3 fat, it is still relatively low compared to that of salmon fillets. In addition, there is often consumer demand for ‘low fat’ products and as such, the fat that is naturally present in tuna may even be extracted and then resold as a fish oil supplement. On the other hand, even though tinned salmon is not as concentrated in omega 3 fat as fillets, even the tinned varieties contain upwards of 1g of omega 3 in a single serve. This means a serve of tinned salmon each day is not only a protein rich choice, but one that gives you a hefty dose of these powerful fats.

The other thing to keep in mind if tinned tuna is your go to protein of choice is that tinned tuna is also a source of mercury, and as such the recommendations for regular consumption is at most twice each week. Many people eat tinned tuna every single day, which is again another reason to swap to salmon at least some of the time. 

Per 100g | Total Fat | Total Omega 3 | EPA | DHA

Tassal Roasted | 10.4| 1.8 | 374 | 425

John West Olive Oil | 13.6 | 0.3 | 109 | 190

Tassal Springwater | 6.9 | 1.2 | 382 | 434

Coles Pink Salmon | 0.9 | 0.4 | 80 | 260

Sirena Tuna in Oil | 7.0 | N/K | EPA & DHA =135

John West Tuna Slices | 0.9 | 0.3 | 35 | 262

John West Salmon & Beans | 8.2 | 1.5 | 54 | 99

Tassal Salmon & Beans | 8.4 | 0.5 | 111 | 160

Tassal Easy Bake Natural | 14.2 | 1.6 | 395 | 535

Birds Eye Steam Fresh | 2.8 | N/K | N/K | N/K

How many steps should I walk in a day? Why 10,000 steps is not enough.


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10,000 steps is not enough

To start with I will openly state that I am not a personal trainer, or exercise physiologist. Rather I am writing this based on my experience as a dietitian in clinical practice working with individuals to adjust both their diet and activity levels in order to achieve weight loss.

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. 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 60-90minutes 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 when 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 10000 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. 

How to enjoy your favourite sweet treats while managing your health


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This is a sponsored post.

How to enjoy your favourite sweet treats while managing your waistline.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I love to bake. In fact, I love to bake a little too much because as we know when you bake you also tend to eat, and who can really eat that much cake, cookies or banana bread without suffering the consequences?! And this is the simple reason that I have partnered with the Whole Earth Sweetener CoTM to bring you a fantastic new baking product that will help you to keep enjoying your favourite baked treats, without all the calories.

Whole Earth Sweetener Co has developed a unique product, Baking Blend, that combines Raw sugar with stevia plant extract, a natural sweetener found in a plant species native to South America called ‘stevia rebaudiana bertoni’.  The Baking Blend offers the taste, texture and baking properties of regular sugar, but with 50% less calories because you only need to use half the amount. For keen bakers like me, it means that the Whole Earth Baking Blend gives us the best of both worlds – a product that still tastes good and bakes well for all my favourite cookies, muffins and banana bread with less sugar. In today’s health focused environment where most of us are trying to reduce our sugar intake, this really is a great balance. It’s perfect for those looking to cut down on their sugar consumption but are not yet ready to move to a completely sugar free option.

Being able to utilise a sweetener blend that still gives the sweet taste and texture our baked goods need minus a significant number of calories – we are on the right track, especially for weight control.

Reduced calorie and sugar alternatives are not only useful for baking – they’re great for anyone who enjoys smoothies, sugar in their tea or coffee, or a touch of sweetness in Greek yoghurt. Utilising a sweetener blend that mixes a natural sweetener with sugar itself again strikes a balance between flavour and calorie load. They are incredibly easy to incorporate in to everyday life and can be used across a whole variety of recipes and foods. 

It is true that people have been put off sweeteners in the past as they haven’t understood conversion rates when trying to substitute it for sugar. It really is very simple and Whole Earth Sweetener Co. has made it easy to use, with exceptionally helpful assistance on packaging. Just a half cup of Whole Earth Sweetener Co Baking blend replaces a full cup of sugar.

Natural sweetener blends represent an excellent alternative not only because they offer a natural option but they do not give the bitter aftertaste that a number of sweeteners give, which many people find off-putting. Whole Earth Sweetener Co. Baking blend is a good option in general – it can be used anywhere you use sugar in baking recipes, while letting go of 50% of the calories from sugar 

So if you are like me and enjoy a bake, watch out for my recipes that show how simple it is to substitute sugar for a 50% less sugar alternative (see me cooking one of my recipes, my Oaty Fruit Pancakes on Studio 10 below!). I have utilised Whole Earth Sweetener Co. Baking Blend to lower the calorie and sugar load of many of my old favourite recipes. 

It is the first time I have used a lower sugar option in my baking and I am pleasantly surprised with how well my recipes are turning out. 

Recipe: My Oaty Fruit Pancakes.

Serves 4-6

Nutritional:  510cal | 22g protein | 8g fat | 92g carbs | 18g sugars | 7g fibre

Ingredients

2 cups mixed cereal (oats, Weetbix, granola)

4 tbsp. Whole Earth Baking Mix

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)

1 cup mixed fruit such as berries or mashed banana

Method

1. Combine dry ingredients.

2. Mix with mixed wet ingredients.

3. Add fruit.

4. Heat pan to medium, wet plan with olive oil. Spoon 2-3 tbsp. mixture and cook each side for 2-3 minutes then flip.

5. Serve with ricotta or a little syrup or Greek yoghurt.

Susie has partnered with the Whole Earth Sweetener Co. for this post. All thoughts and opinions are her own. For more information on the Whole Earth Sweetener Co. and their products, click here.

Healthy halloween recipes to make with the kids.


Photo by: damianshaw.com

Mummy Pizzas

Recipe makes 8

Photo by: damianshaw.comIngredients

Packet of 8 mini wholemeal pita pockets

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

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

16 thin slices of unprocessed ham

8 slices of light tasty cheese

1 jar of sliced kalamata olives

Method

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

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

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

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

Photo by: damianshaw.com

Banana Ghosts

Makes 12 ghosts

Ingredients

2 x 170g tubs of 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 and a mouth using dark chocolate bits.

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

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 24 mini cupcakes

Photo by: damianshaw.comIngredients

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

Salt

2 cups wholemeal plain flour

Icing

60g light creamed cheese

20g butter, softened

Orange food colouring

12 Pretzel twigs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 24 mini muffin tray with butter.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together the olive oil and maple syrup with a whisk, then beat in the eggs. Mix in the pumpkin puree, milk, baking soda, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and a pinch of salt.

3. Add the flour and stir through until just mixed, don’t over mix.

4. Distribute the mixture between 24 mini muffin holes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and when a bamboo skewer inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

5. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

6. To make the icing, beat together creamed cheese, butter. Add a few drops of food colour and mix, continue to add drops of colour and mixing until you have a pumpkin orange colour.

7. Smear a heaped tablespoon of icing onto cooled cupcake with a butter knife and smooth out. Use the back edge of the knife to create 6 grooves from the middle of the cupcake to make the pumpkin look. Stick a pretzel twig into the middle of each cupcake to make the stalk of the pumpkin.

Photo by: damianshaw.comScary Spiders

Makes 16 spiders

Ingredients

1 cup roasted almonds

1 cup macadamias

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

1 cup chopped dates

2 tablespoons cacao

Coconut for coating

Method

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

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

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

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

Eyeballs

Serves 12

Photo by: damianshaw.comIngredients

12 Light Baby Bel Cheese rounds

4 black olives, sliced into thin pieces,

1 tbsp. tomato sauce

1 tsp. natural red food colouring

Method

1. Place piece of black olive in the centre of the cheese.

2. Fill middle with a little tomato sauce.

3. Use red food colouring to draw blood vessels onto eye using a very thin paint brush, fine eye line pen or toothpick.

5 foods we think are healthy but aren’t.


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The healthy options that are not so healthy

Generally speaking we do know healthy foods when we see them – we know that fruit and veges are healthy; we know that wholegrains are healthy and we know that fried food, biscuits and cakes are foods that we should not be consuming every day. Then there are those sneaky foods that are commonly assumed as good choices nutritionally when they may not be as healthy as we are led to believe. Here are some of the common offenders. 

Spray Oil

When the low fat movement was in full swing, spray varieties of oil were recommended as a way to significantly reduce the total amount of oil used in cooking. While using a spray oil does mean you consume just 2g of oil per serve as opposed to 20g in a tablespoon of oil poured from the bottle, the processing involved in making spray varieties of oil mean that any of the potential health benefits associated with using olive oil in particular are negated as the antioxidants and vitamin quality will be affected. The take home message is utilise the best quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil in its natural state to reap any potential health benefits, and avoid processed mixed vegetable oils completely. 

Tinned Tuna

Now tuna is generally a good choice – high in protein, and low in fat but as many varieties of tuna are low in fat, they do not offer the significant does of omega 3 fats that other varieties of tinned fish such as sardines and salmon do. The other issue with tinned tuna is that it is a source of mercury, an element that is unable to be excreted from the body. Whilst tinned tuna has less mercury than fresh tuna, as it is generally farmed before the tuna get too large, the recommendation is for Australians to consume tinned tuna at most 2-3 times each week. For this reason if tuna is on your daily menu, it may be worth swapping to salmon or sardines every so often.

Rice Malt Syrup

Often considered ‘much’ better than sugar, the harsh truth is that rice malt syrup is a refined sugar that is produced by cooking rice flour or starch with enzymes and with a GI of 98 (white bread = 100), its supremacy as an alternative to table sugar is highly questionable. The sugar mix of rice malt syrup is 3% glucose, 45% maltose and maltotriose 52% so while it may be fructose free, it does not mean concentrated calorie free, especially when used in large quantities in ‘sugar free’ baking.

Soy Sauce

The common sauce served with a healthy Japanese lunch, with a single serve of soy sauce containing more than 1000mg of sodium, or more than ½ our upper daily limit, a serve or two of soy along with our sushi rolls means you are also consuming a massive amount of salt. Associated with fluid retention, thirst and increased blood pressure over time, on a daily basis Australians consume way too much added salt in their diet. For this reason go easy on the added soy sauce when you are enjoying Asian cuisine and where possible look for salt reduced varieties of soy which contain almost ½ the amount of sodium as regular soy sauce. 

Rice Crackers

With a massive 24g of total carbohydrates in just 10 rice crackers, the equivalent of 2 small slices of bread, and often a good dose of MSG, flavoured rice crackers in particular are hardly a healthy choice, especially for children. White rice is also a dense source of high glycaemic index carbohydrate which means that blood glucose levels rapidly increase, along with the hormone insulin, the hormone that also promotes fat storage in the body. Rice snacks are also low in protein and other key nutrients which mean that they simply offer ‘empty calories’ along with a rapid rise in blood glucose levels rather than long lasting energy. Better snack options when it comes to blood glucose control include corn and rye based cakes and crackers and always check ingredient lists to make sure flavour enhancers including MSG (621) are not being used as a flavour source. 

See Susie on Sunrise here, talking more on the foods we think are healthy options but are actually not healthy.

Food and Water: How to maximise your hydration by combining food and water.


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This is a sponsored post.

We regularly talk about the importance of drinking enough fluids to maintain optimal hydration. Far less frequently do we talk about the ways we can also eat our way to better hydration, especially during the warmer months of the year. So while any meal or snack is best consumed with plenty of filtered water, here are some easy ways to boost your hydration through your food choices.

1. Juice the right foods

While fruit juice contains plenty of concentrated sugars, vegetable juices, on the other hand are relatively low in sugars and calories and offer loads of vitamins, minerals and plenty of water. The majority of vegetables contain between 80-95% water, and when blended into juices, offer plenty of good quality fluid. Good options that work well together in a juice includes carrots, beetroot, celery, spinach and kale.

2. Don’t forget your fruit

Fruit can cop a bad rap as it is a source of the natural sugar fructose, but when consumed whole, fruit is a rich source of vitamins, fibre and water. For example, fruits such as melons, stone fruit and berries are up to 90% water, which means that fresh fruit makes for great hydration and nutritious snacks, especially during summer. Aim to consume two pieces of fruit each day and don’t forget that frozen fruit can make a lower sugar, refreshing sweet treat in place of ice creams and sugary drinks. 

3. Load up on salad

A popular food myth is that you burn more calories eating a salad than the salad actually contains. While this is not entirely true, the high water content of salad vegetables makes all kinds of salads perfect hydration boosters. Often at meal times we forget about the importance of low-calorie side dishes, including salads. The simple act of adding a salad to any meal can reduce your overall calorie intake by as much as 100 calories per meal. The best salad mixes include plenty of leafy greens and high water vegetables including celery, capsicum and cucumber. 

4. Swap your hot drinks

If you find that your cup of hot coffee simply does not do it for you in the warmer months, perhaps it is time to switch to refreshing iced teas. Extremely popular in the United States, low sugar iced teas, in both herbal and caffeinated varieties can be made simply by mixing your favourite tea bags with your Zip HydroTap chilled filtered water  plenty of water and ice. Not only do these flavoured drinks contain no calories, they also add plenty of fluid into your diet. 

5. Go for fruit desserts

Who does not enjoy an icy treat during the warm weather? A simple swap to a fruit-based sorbet or iced dessert is an easy way to indulge in a sweet treat, whilst giving the body plenty of extra fluid. In fact, you can even make a 100% fruit sorbet using just melon or berries, which contains no added sugars, tastes amazing and is hydrating at the same time. Alternatively combine fresh fruit with a little natural yoghurt and freeze for a hydrating, low sugar alternative to ice cream. 

Read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

Keeping a food diary


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Why you should keep a diet diary

Some people love them while others can think of nothing worse than having to write down every single think they eat and drink in a day. Diet or food diaries are effective though and as such can play a powerful role in weight control. So if you are not getting the results with your diet you are hoping for, here are the reasons why keeping a food diary supports weight control.

1. We eat more than realise

Human beings will underestimate how much they eat each day by up to 50% – this means that we basically forget up to ½ of the calories we consume each day. This is not necessarily intentional, rather day to day life results in us mindlessly eating a couple of hundred calories each day – the extra biscuit, or serve of dressing, or cup of coffee sneaks in. Keeping an accurate record of everything we put into a mouth is one of the easiest ways to become more aware of how much, or sometimes how little we may be eating. 

2. Our portions are much bigger than we realise

An accurate food diary will include weights and measures of our food – when we occasionally measure our food volume accurately, we suddenly become aware that our portion of salmon at night is actually 250g as opposed to the 150-175g we really need; or our glass of wine is double a standard serve of alcohol. For many of us this is where a lot of our extra daily calories sneak in, and why keeping on top of our portions is a key aspect of portion and weight control.

3. It holds us accountable

For many of us, if no one sees it, or if it not documented, it does not exist. This is one of the major reasons that accurate food records are so powerful, they show clearly how much you really eat on a daily basis. When you see things written down, or even better with a calorie count next to them if you use online APPS that include calories, it suddenly becomes apparent when you are eating way too much, too often. 

4. It helps us to identify dietary patterns

Human beings so not regulate their food intake over a single meal, rather we have patterns of consumption. Seeing your food patterns clearly documented can give insight into when you are most hungry, when you are likely to under eat and as such likely to also overeat. When we become more aware of these patterns we are in a much better position to manage our own daily food intake better. 

5. It can double weight loss

It has repeatedly been shown that the simple act of keeping a food diary supports better weight loss outcomes for dieters wanting to lose weight. Naturally documenting your food intake helps you to make better food decisions, to keep mindful about the types and volumes of food you are consuming and ultimately helps us to eat less. So if you know your diet needs some work, just keep a record for a day or two, especially if you can utilise a calorie monitoring program. Indeed you may be surprised at how much you are actually eating each day, and even better how easy it is to cut back. 

5 key nutrients you need if you are busy


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Key nutrients busy people need.

Busy people need a strong nutritional platform to ensure they are performing at their best on a daily basis. Despite the best of intentions, sometimes our nutrition can take a back seat when things are frantic, and as a result our intake of key nutrients can be compromised. So if you know that your nutritional intake is not always as on point, here are some of the most important nutrients the body requires to keep our energy systems firing at their best, and the key foods you can get them from as part of your daily diet. 

1. Iron

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, particularly for women with 1 in 4 Australian women having low iron levels. While you do find iron in a range of different foods including wholegrains and legumes, plant sources are generally not well absorbed. For this reason, if you are a red meat eater, it is imperative that you consume lean red meat, in small amounts at least 2-3 times each week to give the body access to the readily absorbed iron it needs to help transport oxygen around the body. A small serve of minced meat, a lamb cutlet, lean sausage or a couple of meatballs are all iron rich options to increase your  intake. It may also be useful to know that when you consume plant sources of iron via wholegrain bread, cereal and legumes, iron absorption will be enhanced when Vitamin C is also consumed via foods such as green vegetables, red capsicum and citrus foods. 

2. Omega 3 fats

Unless we are consuming salmon every day, few of us are getting the omega 3 fats we need for optimal cognitive functioning. While tuna is often considered a good source of omega 3 fats, often the canned varieties we buy are actually low fat and as such richer dietary sources of omega 3 fat include sardines and salmon. If you are not a keen fish fan, it may be worth considering taking a fish oil supplement, which you can freeze to avoid any unwanted side effects or fish aftertaste. 

3. Dietary fibre

The right mix of the right types of fibre is crucial for a well-functioning bowel as constipation and gut discomfort can be caused by an inadequate fibre intake as well as insufficient amounts of fluid. Adults need 30g of dietary fibre each day, with many of us not achieving this target on a daily basis. To achieve this fibre goal we need to consume a couple of pieces of fibre rich fruit such as berries or bananas, 2-3 cups of mixed vegetables and/ or salad as well as wholegrain bread and breakfast cereal each day. In addition, an adult will need at least 1 – 1 ½ litres of fluid to ensure the digestive tract is functioning optimally. 

4. Vitamin D

With up to 50% of Australian adults battling low Vitamin D levels, especially throughout the Winter months, it is worth considering how much sunlight you are actually getting as many of us take the ‘slip, slop,slap’ message very seriously. It is also good to know that there are some dietary sources of Vitamin D that you may be able to incorporate into your diet more frequently including dairy foods, eggs, tinned fish and some specific mushrooms which have been exposed to ultraviolet light to trigger Vitamin D production and are marketed as such in supermarkets. In general most of us will need at least 10-20 minutes of daily sunlight exposure, in addition to some daily food sources to ensure we keen on top of our Vitamin D levels and it is worth doing, as low levels are an issue for our mood, metabolism and bone health long term. 

5. Magnesium

Adults need plenty of magnesium on a daily basis, especially those of us who are particularly active as magnesium is involved in energy production, protein formation, muscle contraction and nerve communication. Magnesium is found in a range of foods including bananas, leafy greens, wholegrains, nuts, and avocados, foods which we will need to consume on a daily basis to get the recommended amounts. Simply focusing on choosing wholegrain sources of carbs; aiming for a daily intake of leafy greens and snacking on nuts and fresh fruit including bananas will help to tick the box on the recommended amounts of magnesium in your diet.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.33.50 PMBanana Breakfast Pancakes

Serves 1 – per serve: 280 cals | 6g fat | 20g protein | 40g carbs | 6g fibre

Ingredients

1 scoop protein powder 

3/4 cup organic instant oats

1 small banana 

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

1/2 tsp. stevia 

Method

1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender.

2. Pour batter into a pre heated skillet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium high heat.

3. Flip very carefully after a few mins and cook the other side.

Read more on the breakfast mistakes you are making here.

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