The foods that help you sleep and those that don’t!


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

What to eat when you want to sleep

Sleep is something few of us get enough of and we are often looking for ways in which we can help ourselves sleep better when we do manage to get some shut eye. There is no doubt that there are both foods that help and hinder our sleep, consuming a massive meal close to bedtime is sure to disrupt things, while high fat foods are known to leave us feeling tired and lethargic. So if you are looking to optimise the quality of your sleep day in, day out, here are some of the foods to focus on, and the ones to avoid!

Foods that help

Milk 

It is not just an old wives tale that a little warm milk before bed will help us achieve a restful slumber, milk is a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan which is involved in the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that naturally calms the body and helps to naturally induce sleep.

Bananas

Bananas are especially rich in the nutrients potassium and magnesium, nutrients which are directly involved in muscle relaxation. In addition, the natural carbohydrates found in bananas will gradually see a reduction in blood glucose levels which will help to induce sleep 60 minutes or so after consumption.

Handful of nuts

All nuts and seeds are nutrient rich choices, but it is the essential fats and amino acids including tryptophan which link the consumption of nuts close to bedtime and sleep.

Herbal Tea

There are a number of herbal teas linked to improved sleep quality, but it is chamomile tea in particular that shows particular promising results in the sleep department. Specifically, it is the antioxidant apigenin found in chamomile tea that helps to bind brain receptors that promote sleep. There is also some early research to show that consuming chamomile extract is linked to falling asleep faster and waking up less during the night, so watch this space! 

Foods that hinder

Dark chocolate

Whilst dark chocolate is generally considered the healthier choice of chocolate, we often forget that dark chocolate also contains more caffeine than regular chocolate. This means that enjoying your dark chocolate after dinner is not the best idea if you have difficulty falling asleep. 

Ice-Cream

It is the mix of sugar and fat found in ice-cream, particularly ice-cream filled with lollies and other sugary treats, that acts as a major brain stimulator rather than relaxant. 

Alcohol

A glass of red each night may not seem like that big a deal, but all alcohol no matter which type, is linked to poorer sleep. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, but as alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant, often causing snoring and poorer quality sleep, drinkers tend to wake up multiple times each night. For this reason, aiming for some nights without any alcohol consumption is one of the best things you can do for your sleep.

Salty food

Whether it is a pizza, Asian food or a curry, the high salt and fat content of these meals can impact our sleep. Not only do we often have issues with ingestion, but dehydration is also common which can result in you waking regularly during the night desperate for water. Another common issue that we consider less frequently, is the MSG content of these meals, which can again leave us feeling agitated and stimulated at a time when we should be relaxing and calming down. 

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

The best foods to beat the bloat and those that add to it.


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

Beat the bloat

Bloating – that uncomfortable feeling that seems to worsen as the day goes on yet you cannot necessarily link it to one particular type of food or drink. Not only is it uncomfortable, but a range of abdominal symptoms ranging from gas to pain to distention can be distracting, aesthetically irritating and frustrating. So if you are regularly suffering of bloating, here are the key foods that may help to relieve your symptoms and the key foods to avoid. 

Foods to beat the bloat

Yoghurt

Not only is natural or Greek low sugar yoghurt extremely nutritious, yoghurts that contain added ‘good bacteria’ known as probiotics help to naturally regenerate the good bacteria found in the gut which helps to reduce gas, bloating and digestive discomfort quickly. In addition, a daily serve of a probiotic supplement or yoghurt will help to keep the gut in optimal health, eliminating wastes and gases quickly, which can further act to prevent gastric discomfort on a daily basis. 

Peppermint tea

A number of herbal teas including green, licorice and dandelion tea all have powerful diuretic properties which means they draw fluid from the body, reduce water retention and keep the tummy relatively flat. Peppermint tea in particular is known to help reduce stomach discomfort and aid digestion. You can easily prepare a range of herbal teas in an instant when you have a Zip HydroTap at home or work that offers ready to go boiling water whenever you need a hot drink.

Sparkling Water

Contrary to popular belief, drinking sparkling water appears to help gut discomfort. It is hypothesised that the gas found in sparkling water helps to move food through the digestive system, helping to alleviate abdominal discomfort. One study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology examined the effects of sparkling versus still water on digestive symptoms. The study found that in female subjects just 250ml of sparking water released significant amounts of gas which related to the woman’s perception of fullness minus any gastrointestinal discomfort. This means that your daily water of choice can be still or sparkling from your Zip HydroTap with no negative tummy trouble. 

Cucumber, celery and radishes

While all salad vegetables are good for us, the high water content salad vegetables contain few calories but are packed with nutrition, including the nutrients which help to eliminate fluid and waste from the body. Snack on vegetables throughout the day and aim for at least one serve of salad a day to maximize the flat belly effect of these foods. 

Watermelon and berries

While some fruits have a relatively high sugar content, most melons and berries are relatively low in sugar whilst having an extremely high proportion of water. High water content foods move quickly through the digestive tract, helping to keep bellies empty and flat. 

Then the ones to stay clear of

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are extremely nutritious with a number of anti-cancer properties but they can also produce relatively high volumes of gas thanks to a type of carbohydrate, raffinose, which can remain partly undigested in the intestine contributing to gas production. For roughly 5% of the population who are sensitive to the FODMAPS in foods, excessive gas production in the intestine can also cause more extreme symptoms. For these groups, these vegetables are best consumed in small volumes only. 

Chewing gum

Sugar free gums may not only contain alcohol sugars mannitol and sorbitol which can lead to bloating, but the chewing action will result in you taking in much more air which can become trapped in the digestive system and contribute to bloating.

Stir fries, noodles and soups

Stir fries; noodles and Asian soups are packed full of sodium with a simple Laksa or Pho containing as much as 2000mg of sodium or our entire upper daily recommended intake in just one meal thanks to the addition of soy, fish and oyster sauce. Even a simple stir fry can contain as much as 1000-1500mg sodium in single serve. The more sodium we consume the more fluid we will retain and hence the bloating feeling we can experience after a big Asian feed. 

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.

What to do when your diet isn’t working


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There are few things as frustrating as trying really hard at something only to find that your efforts have been fruitless. Many people have this experience when they try to lose weight. Despite their best efforts they do not get the results they are expecting on the scales, feel demotivated and throw in the towel. So if you have been trying to lose weight without success, here are some things you can try to get things moving.

1. Check your calories

I mean really check them by entering everything you eat and drink into a monitoring program such as ‘myfitnesspal’. In many cases w are eating more than we realise but we can also be eating too little, especially if you have ramped up the training. The average female will lose nicely on 1200-1400 calories as long as they are not doing more than 40-60 minutes of exercise each day. A male, more like 1600-1800 calories.

2. Check your timing

Unless you are following a fasting regime and not eating until lunchtime, the earlier you eat your first meal each day the better, and the later you have your dinner, the worse it will be for weight loss. Ideally we need 10-12 hours overnight without food so you may need to make lunch a bigger meal, and add a more substantial afternoon snack so you can go light at night.

3. Try something different

The body responds well to change. This means if you always try and lose weight the same way it may be time to mix things up a little. If you cut back calories, try fasting. Or if you exercise a lot, try exercising less and eating less overall. Or try a couple of low calorie days or swapping dinner for lunch. Change is the key when things are not moving. 

4. Check your bloods

Low iron levels, low Vitamin D, thyroid issues and insulin resistance are just some of the biochemical factors that can impact weight loss. So if you have not been feeling your best, and know that your calorie intake and exercise is on track, it may be worth checking some of these variables with your GP.

5. Check your steps

While you may be exercising regularly, if you spend much of the rest of the day sitting you will not lose weight. Remember we need to move at least 10000 steps each day (to make up for the all the time we spend sitting) and exercise regularly to lose weight. Often it is a lack of movement that is letting us down.

The extra calories creeping into the foods you think are healthy.


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The healthy calories slipping into your day

Chances are you know that cakes, biscuits and chocolate are not doing your diet any favours. Most of us are aware that there are certain high calorie foods closely linked to weight gain. It may though come as a surprise to hear that there are also a number of healthier food options that can actually be packed full of extra calories. Here are some of the most common options we generally think are healthy but are not always.

Salads

If you make a salad at home and combine fresh leaves, salad vegetables and a little dressing naturally you have yourself a very healthy salad. On the other hand if you pick up a premade salad at a food court you could be eating as many as 600-800 calories and 40-60g of fat. This is thanks to the addition of plenty of high fat dressing, nuts, cheese, avo and fried meats, common in premade salad mixes. The best option? Make your own salad or at least choose your own ingredients so you know exactly what is in there!

Sushi

Sashimi is healthy. Seaweed is healthy and miso soup is healthy but if your Japanese order consists of white rice rolls your sushi is more carbohydrate and sugar than anything. To keep your Japanese order in line with traditional fare, go easy on the rice based rolls, seek our sashimi and also add extra vege sides.

Yoghurt and fruit

The tubs of yoghurt and brightly coloured fresh fruit look healthy but when you consider the mix if generally of sweetened yoghurt, fruit syrup and muesli your healthy snack can contain as much as 500 calories and 6 teaspoons of sugar. If you love yoghurt team plain yoghurt with berries and a few nuts or buy the individual Greek fruit yoghurts with contain less than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar per tub.

Burritos

Marketed as a healthy choice, burritos are healthier than burgers and fries but they can still be massive and as such packed full of calories. In fact a single burrito with rice and cheese can contain 800-1000 calories in a single serve. Lighten your burrito by ditching the rice, asking for less cheese or even better going for a mini or naked version to slash your overall calories.

Stir Fries

Generally considered healthier than deep fried Asian dishes while stir fries have less fat and calories it does not mean they are low in calories. In fact the average stir fry with rice will contain at least 30g of fat and 600-800 calories. For this reason when choosing Asian dishes go for less rice and option that contain less meat and more vegetables to help lighten the meal. 

The most common reasons (or excuses why) we gain weight in Winter.


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The Winter excuses that are leading to weight gain

Each year it gets to about this time and many of start our annual hibernation. We are so spoilt with our generally warm temperatures that as soon as it gets even a little chilly we can barely bring ourselves to leave the house. So if you have been a little slack with your food and exercise these last few weeks, here are the pretty lame excuses hat are holding you back from achieving  your health and fitness goals at this time of year.

1. Its too cold

Yes it is true that our temperatures have dropped suddenly but lets be honest, since it barely drops below 10deg in Australia (sorry Melbourne) it is really not that cold. In fact if we exercise outdoors we barely need a scarf to keep warm so stop telling yourself it is so cold, it really isn’t.

2. You need more food when it is cold

If we were living in Iceland we perhaps could get away with a little more carbohydrates and not lose weight but since again most of our homes are heated and we spend much of the day sitting down no we do not need a whole lot more carbohydrate just because it is Winter.

3. You will wait until Spring to lose weight

You know the drill, you can eat what you want now and then focus on getting back into shape in Spring. But lets be honest what really happens is that Spring returns with a bang and we are straight back into parties and socialising. The best idea, stop the weight gain now and then you will not have to worry come Spring.

4. It is too dark to get up

Yes it is much harder to get up and out when it is cold and dark but it does not mean you cannot swap your gym session to a lunch or evening session, or arrange to walk or run with a friend later in the day. Team up with a buddy to get those training sessions happening even with shorter days.

5. It is hard to eat healthy during Winter

Winter meals do not have to be heavy and they can be just as satisfying when they are healthy – think soups, vege topped pies, roasts with lean meat and baked fruit instead of pies, hot desserts and creamy rice and pasta dishes

If you are looking to take control this Winter, our 14 day Kickstart program could be perfect for you. Reset your eating habits with our delicious meal plan featuring all your Winter faves plus tips from Susie on keeping your weight under control through Winter. Sign up now here.

My top supermarket soups for this Winter


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With a sudden drop in temperature there is also means that it is soup season. Not only are soups relatively low in calories but adding a soup to your day helps to lower your overall calorie intake whist boosting your nutritional intake. And if you simply do not have the time to make your own soup from scratch, the good news is that there are plenty of premade options now available in supermarkets that you can pick up on the run and add to any meal or alternatively enjoy as a light meal once each day. 

Generally speaking the tetra pack or fresh soups are superior to packet and canned soup as they tend to be lower in salt and contain more vegetables. Any vegetable based option is a good choice but you may need to add some extra protein to make it a complete meal. Alternatively using a vegetable based soup is an easy way to get your vegetable serves in at a meal.  I look for soups that contain <20g total carbs per serve; minimal added sugars, <800mg of sodium per serve and 5-10g protein. 

Here are my best picks this season. 

Pitango Chicken Noodle Soup

The entire range of Pitango Fresh Soups is great but this variety contains no added sugar whilst also offering some protein.

La Zuppa Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Soup

With a clean ingredient list and loads of vegetables, the entire range of La Zuppa soups in a tetra pack are good choice nutritionally and this one contains both good amounts of fibre and protein. 

Woolworths Fresh Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Another variety with good protein levels, and the plain vegetable options from Woollies are strong nutritionally too

Darikay Lentil Soup

The entire range is great but this lentil variety is particularly high in fibre and protein. 

Hart & Soul Pho Soup

Particularly low in calories, this brand offers quality soups with clean ingredient lists and relatively low levels of sodium for packet soups. 

Trying to lose weight this Winter? These tips may help.


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Easy ways to drop a few kilos (instead of gain them this Winter)

Winter is well and truly upon us and along with the cooler temperatures and shorter days is the tendency to gain weight as we indulge in hot chocolate, puddings and pies much more frequently. So how can you achieve weight loss success this Winter without too much effort?

1. Get rid of the pastry

Whether it is your favourite croissant, sausage roll at the footy or warm fruit pie on the weekend, high fat, high calorie pastry will quickly add on the kilos if you indulge too regularly. A single serve of puff pastry contains more than 600 calories and 30g of fat, much of which is saturated, which is bad for both the fat in our blood and ultimately our weight. Often poor dietary choices are made when we are presented with tempting foods without any reference point about whether they are a good choice or not. Making a blanket rule about avoiding pastry altogether is an easy way to eliminate much extra fat out of your diet without the need to make the decision each time a tempting pastry treat comes your way.

2. Try a kickstart

Research suggests that when we commit to a relatively strict diet for a short period of time and drop a few kilos quickly, we are more likely to continue to lose weight. It is for this reason we have designed the Shape Me 2 Week Kickstart program – nutritionally balanced eating plans that will support you in losing a couple of kilos quickly, but the right way. With plenty of Winter soups, salads and warming meals, not only will you feel much better when you focus on your diet for 2 weeks but the scales will also be moving in the right direction

3. Quit the calories in drinks

You may love a Chai Latte or a cheeky hot chocolate but the truth is that liquid calories, especially the sugars found in milk and juices add up; we do not eat less because we have consumed them and they result in rapid increases in blood glucose levels which can drive hunger. When you consider that a small hot chocolate can contain as much as 4 teaspoons of sugar or a Chai Latte 6, it is easy to see why skipping these drink in favour of clear tea or black coffee can dramatically reduce your daily calorie intake.

4. Change the times you eat

Who needs a strict diet when all you need to do is limit the number of hours each day that you eat? The simple shift of eating in just 10-12 hours of each day leaves up to 14 hours a day without food which has been shown to have the same benefits when it comes to weight control as formal fasting. So simply aiming for breakfast by 8am, lunch at 12 and your final meal by 6pm will support weight control, without any real limits on what you are eating at these times. 

5. Exercise after dinner

Forget early morning sessions that you are likely to skip when it is freezing outside. Instead commit to a short training session or walk after dinner. All you need is 30 minutes and exercising at this time will help to burn off the food consumed at dinner and also keep you out of the house so you are less tempted by Tim Tams as you sit on the lounge and watch TV. And even more powerful is the virtuous feeling you will have when you return, which in turn will help to motivate you to keep focused with your diet and weight loss goals. 

The health benefits of the most popular herbal teas


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

The most popular herbal teas and their health benefits.

Drinking plenty of water can be relatively easy when it is warm outside – you naturally reach for more ice cold water when it is hot; we notice ourselves sweating more and outdoor socialising lends itself to drinking more in general. Fast forward to the cooler autumn and Winter months and it is not so natural to reach for our water bottles. So if you are struggling to reach your daily water targets, maybe herbal tea is the way to go to help boost your total fluid intake.

Unlike regular tea and coffee which contain the stimulant caffeine, the truth is that herbal tea is not technically tea, rather it is a drink made from a specific plant in which leaves, seeds, roots or even bark are infused in hot water. Not only will the fluid we consume via herbal tea help to hydrate us but in some cases we can also enjoy the associated health benefits the plant source of the tea offers. 

So if you could benefit from drinking a little more in general, and when you have filtered boiling water on tap thanks to your Zip HydroTap, here are some of the most popular herbal teas you can make at home, and the potential health benefits they offer. 

Ginger Tea

Ginger is most commonly known for its ability to help manage nausea and aid digestive comfort and specifically for anyone battling morning sickness or motion sickness, ginger tea is worth a try. You can easily make your own ginger tea simply by placing a small piece of ginger root in boiling water along with some lemon and a little honey. This mix also works wonders for any throat and nasal congestion when winter strikes. 

Peppermint Tea

Perhaps the best-known herbal tea, it is the refreshing nature of peppermint tea that makes it one of the most popular. It is most commonly used to help relieve bloating although should be avoided by anyone who may suffer from heartburn. Peppermint tea also works wonders in helping manage food cravings as it changes the taste in the mouth quite dramatically. 

Rooibos

If you have spent any time in South Africa you will be very familiar with Rooibos, a slightly sweet flowery tea that is very easy to drink. My personal favourite, rooibos is high in antioxidants, and in particular Vitamin C, and as such rooibos is a herbal tea that will offer a daily immune boost along with a subtle sweet hit with no calories or caffeine. And if you prefer your tea chilled, one of my favourite refreshing options is to add a rooibos tea to some instantly chilled, filtered water from my Zip HydroTap, served with ice if you like it particularly chilly. 

Dandelion Tea

With a distinct taste, dandelion tea is not always one that springs to mind but its powerful diuretic properties make it a powerful option when you are feeling bloated. Known in naturopathy circles as a liver cleanser, the only concern with drinking dandelion tea frequently would be if you were taking any medications that alter fluid levels in the body.

Chamomile Tea

This aromatic brew is a favourite for those wanting a calming effect before sleep and in general for anyone dealing with stress and anxiety. Made from the chamomile flower, chamomile appears to be a source of the phytochemicals flavonoids but it should be noted that chamomile is not appropriate for children or for anyone with a pollen allergy. 

Cinnamon Tea

Well known in the US, cinnamon tea is an aromatic and flavoursome tea that is a perfect alternative to sweet foods after dinner. Cinnamon has also been shown to help regulate blood glucose levels, which makes it a perfect low sugar yet sweet beverage choice.

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.

How do you build a healthy gut?


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

How do you build a healthy gut?

How is your gut health? Do you focus on making sure that you are getting enough dietary fibre each day? Is there any family history of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, or bowel cancer? With more and more evidence emerging that our gut health is closely linked to our overall health and immune function, ensuring we are nourishing it with the right nutrients is one of the most powerful things we can do to improve our wellbeing. 

As we celebrate World Digestive Health Day on May 29th, there is no better time to take stock of our own gut health.

1. Focus on fibre

One of the easiest ways we can all positively influence the health of our gut is to ensure we get enough dietary fibre. Not only does the right mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre ensure that our digestive tract works efficiently and keeps us regular, but an optimal intake of fibre is also linked to healthy gut microflora, helping to lower cholesterol levels and allowing us to feel lighter and more active. An adult requires 25-30g of fibre each day to keep the digestive system healthy and help to reduce the risk of constipation, some types of cancer and diverticular disease. In order to get this much fibre, you will need to consume at least two pieces of fruits like bananas which contain 3g of fibre per serve, 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 serves of wholegrains such as oats, wholegrain or rye bread, quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat. 

2. Feed your gut right

We know that it’s not only our fibre intake that nourishes our stomach, but also what we feed  it with. Found in various food ingredients, prebiotics promote the growth and function of different types of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics found in various fibrous foods move through the digestive tract undigested and then act to feed the good bacteria promoting their growth and optimising gut balance. As a result, the gut is healthier and better able to absorb nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract. 

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

3. Give your gut the bugs it needs

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

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

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

A look at the new FUNtainer® range by Thermos®


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This post is sponsored by Thermos.

What containers do I use for the twins?

IMG_4016Now I have the twins, I find myself cooking and preparing more food so when I was approached recently by Thermos® to help them launch their kids range known as FUNtainer® I was thrilled. Not only is Thermos® a respected Australian brand but their unique technology means that you can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours and warm food such as soups hot for up to 5 hours, or chilled food like yoghurts cold for up to 7 hours, eliminating the need to be worried about lunchboxes overheating – how fab is that? 

Recently Jess Rowe (aka the crap housewife) and I were involved in a media launch for the children’s range of FUNtainer®, in which we spoke about common parenting issues, and together cooked a range of FUNtainer® friendly recipes mums can use to expand the range of lunchbox options we pack for both pre and primary school aged children. 

A couple of my favourite recipes that the twins love, Banana Bites and Turkey Balls (included below) work perfectly with FUNtainer®, as I can pack both warm cooking and chilled snacks and travel around for the day without worrying they won’t be kept at the right temperatures.

IMG_4017Even more importantly for me, is the water bottles I use with the twins? As I naturally want them to drink mostly water, I need the water to be appealing and since we have added FUNtainer® drink bottles with Disney Designs, the twins cannot get enough of their favourite fire engine and cars water bottles (and mum is happy). 

So if you have been looking for some child friendly containers that work with your desire for your little ones to eat more fresh, home cooked, unprocessed food, look no further than FUNtainer®. For more information about Thermos® products, and the Thermos® FUNtainer® range, visit www.thermos.com.au.

IMG_4018Banana 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.

Turkey Balls

Serves 4 

Ingredients

500g turkey mince

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 zucchini, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, time, oregano, marjoram)

1 cup reduced fat grated cheese

1 tbsp. olive oil

Sauce

250ml tomato pasta sauce

1 can 420g can tinned tomatoes

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic

Method

1. Mix onion, turkey, carrot, and zucchini. Combine with egg, panko, cheese and herbs. Roll into small balls. 

2. Add olive oil to frypan over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, simmer tomatoes in small amount of olive oil, with garlic and pasta sauce. 

3. Serve sauce once reduced with turkey balls.

Why we should all fast once a week


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Why we should all fast once a week

Of all the areas of diet and nutrition that have emerged in recent years, fasting would be one of the most topical, and potentially most effective we have seen in some time. While fasting is not a new invention – many religious and cultural groups have been fasting for thousands of years, the potential benefits it offers for weight loss is still being understood. One thing we do know is that various types of fasting offer a myriad of health benefits and as such embracing some form of regular fasting is most likely a good thing for all of us, even if we do not resort to the most restrictive regimes. So if you have been considering fasting, here are some reasons you should commit to a regular fast (or light day of eating).

1. It resets our hormones

While weight loss is linked to some types of fasting, it is actually our inflammatory markers – cholesterol, blood glucose, insulin, blood pressure that all improve when we fast.  Long term controlled levels of all of these markers is linked to a reduce risk of developing a number of chronic disease including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.

2. It reminds us what it is like to be hungry

Human beings rarely eat when they are hungry, rather they eat because they are tired, bored or because other people around them are eating. This means we are also often overeating. There is nothing like a brief period (16-24 hours) of a low calorie diet to remind us what it actually feels like to be hungry.

3. It helps us eat less

It is safe to say that most of us eat far too much each and every day – a regular fast is an easy way to remind us how much we are actually eating and how little we actually need to eat to maintain our weight.

4. It buffers our high calorie days

There will always be days when we eat far too much – celebratory meals, parties, elaborate restaurant meals. Having a day or two that helps to buffer these high calorie days via plenty of salads and soups is an easy way to balance your overall calorie intake without dieting. 

5. You may lose weight

One of the best outcomes of regular fasting – whether it is eating only in an 8 hour window or having a low calorie day or two each week is that you may even lose 1-2kg a month without dieting. And for many of us, this is the best outcome of all.

6 superfoods to embrace this Autumn


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Now that temperatures have started to drop, there are plenty of people out there battling with a running nose and chesty cough – welcome to Autumn – finally! Hence the reason we have focused this months Kickstart on all things ‘superfoods’. Superfoods are simply nutrient rich foods that offer extra bang for our buck when we eat them and when it comes to keeping our immune system working at its best, it is all about loading up our diets with the essential nutrients that are crucial for optimal immune function. So our Shape Me May Kickstart is packed full of soups, choc full of veges and foods rich in zinc, iron, omega 3′s and Vitamin C rich fresh foods to help give you the immune boost you are looking for. So if your diet needs a little work this Autumn check out our 2 week May Kickstart and focus more of your meals around some of these Autumn superfoods of the season.

Red Capsicum

Red capsicum 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. Individuals who have had a higher intake of carotenoids during their lives have been associated with lower risks of mortality from common disease states including heart disease, cancer and stroke in large population based health studies. Red capsicums are another great vege snack teamed with hommus or cucumber dip. 

Pumpkin

Not often put into the superfood category, the thing that is not commonly known about pumpkin is that it is exceptionally low in carbohydrates and calories, making it the perfect heart vegetable to include in soups, salads and roasts. A good source of beta carotene, Vitamin C, fibre and potassium, pumpkin is one vegetable you can literally eat to your hearts content.

Banana

Often taken for granted as a superfood, nature’s number 1 snack thanks to coming in its own packaging, bananas are the perfect natural energy rich food. With 3g of fibre in a single banana, they are also a rich source of potassium, Vitamin B6, folate and magnesium and can be used to add natural sweetness to smoothies, baked goods, yoghurt or enjoyed as a nutrient rich snack on the go. 

Spinach

One of most versatile leaves, fresh baby spinach leaves make a delicious salad base; can be added to green juices and is delicious stir fried with a little olive oil and nutrient rich garlic and teamed with light fish meals or as a vege base for omelettes. The dark green leaves of spinach gives some insight into its rich nutrient content; spinach leaves are a rich source of Vitamin C, E, K beta carotene and folate and cooking spinach in a little olive oil will help to enhance nutrient absorption. 

Beetroot

The rich, bright colour and texture of beetroot give you some idea of how chock full of nutrition this vegetable really is. Beetroot contains a number of extremely powerful antioxidants known to support cell health and with minimal calories per serve, is a daily must include in your diet. Roast and add to salads, juice for a tasty mixed vegetable juice or grate and keep handy as an addition to sandwiches, crackers, dips and pates. Recent research also confirmed that the high levels of nitric oxide in beetroot helps to improve blood flow and shots of concentrated beetroot juice have also been shown to improve cycling performance in sprint events.

Avocado

It is hard to fault Australia’s favourite toast topping – avocados are rich in the heart healthy monounsaturated fats and a good source of dietary fibre and it is their high natural Vitamin E content that takes them into the superfood category. Linked to everything from heart health to good skin to acting as a natural anti-inflammatory, you cannot go wrong if you include ¼ – ½ an avocado in your daily diet.

Try one of our delicious recipes from our May Kickstart program below or get started with our May Kickstart here.

Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Mash

Serves 4 – per serve: 130 cals | 7g fat | 14g protein | 3g carbs | 3g fibre

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Ingredients:

4 x 175g salmon fillets

2 tsp. Wholegrain English mustard

Vegetable Mash

1 zucchini, coarsely grated (if moist, squeeze out excess moisture)

1 large carrot, coarsely grated

1 small butternut pumpkin, pre cooked in microwave and diced

1 tsp. olive oil

Preparation Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pan and add grated zucchini and carrot cooking until soft.

2. Remove the veggies and mash together, combining well and adding a little butter if desired.

3. Serve salmon with a drizzle of mustard dressing on top of the vegetable mash.

5 signs you are not eating enough carbs


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Are your carbs too low?

Carbs – some people hate them, most of us love them but they do not necessarily love us back. While many of us eat too many carbs, in some cases we are not eating enough. If your carb intake reaches a level that is not low enough to see you go into ketosis (<20% total calories coming from carbs) but is too low for your levels of activity you may find yourself in the situation where you seem to be eating very little but still not losing body fat. So here are some signs your carbs may be a little on the low side.

1. You are eating well but not losing weight

If you are consuming less than 80g of total carbs each day but doing a lot of exercise, your carbs will be too low to actually metabolise body fat and your metabolic rate will slow down over time. The average female will require at least 120-140g of carbs if they are exercising regularly and sometimes our amounts are a little on the low side. A quick calculation of your carb intake using myfitnesspal may suggest you need a little more carb at one or more of your meals. Start by adding 10-20g of extra carbs via a piece of fruit, bread or 1/2 cup of wholegrains to the meal straight after exercise to slightly increase your carb intake and support fat loss.

2. You are feeling tired

There are a number of reasons we can feel tired but if you are exercising regularly and consuming inadequate amounts of carbs you will be left feeling lethargic and lacking the energy you usually have to go about your day to day life. The reason for this is that your naturally energy systems have been altered which may in turn impact your blood glucose control. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in headaches, and inability to concentrate and a general feeling of lethargy. 

3. You are craving sugars

Regular cravings after a meal may be a sign that your meal does not contain a balance of carbs and proteins that you need for fullness and satisfaction which can result in extreme feelings of hunger. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can also leave you feeling extremely hungry even when you have eaten only an hour or two previously as the body identifies that you have not taken adequate amounts of carbohydrate on board. 

4. You are clogged up

As a number of high carbohydrate foods including fruit, starchy vegetables including corn and sweet potato and breads and cereals are also rich sources of dietary fibre, eating few of these foods can leave your overall fibre intake a little on the low side. In addition when your gut has been used to you consuming these foods regularly, and suddenly finds that it is no longer receiving significant amounts of wheat based fibres it can significantly impact the total amount of bulk moving through the gut and cause significant reductions in transit time, or the time waste moves through the digestive tract resulting in constipation and much less frequent bowel movements in general. 

5. Your breath is very ordinary

When our carbohydrate intake drops below a certain level, the body will make ketones, which is an alternate fuel source for the liver and the brain made from fat stores. Ketones have a very distinct smell, some of which will be secreted through saliva if you are in ketosis. Often evident when you have trained after consuming very little carbohydrate for a day or two, the smell is far from pleasant and may suggest you could benefit from a little more carbohydrate in your diet.

Why am i so tired? 5 reasons your fatigue is holding you back.


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 The dietary reasons you are so tired.

In busy lives, fatigue is not uncommon. Many of us work long hours; we are juggling the demands of family and relationships and our nutrition can take a back seat. So here are some of the reasons your diet may be contributing to your tiredness, and the easy ways to fix them. 

1. You are not getting enough iron

Low iron levels are extremely common, with up to 1 in 4 women having low iron which can leave you feeling as if you have been bit by a bus. For women who do eat meat, what is not always understood is that you actually need to eat small volumes of lean red meat at least three times each week to give the body access to the high quality iron that is readily absorbed. While there is some iron in plant based foods and chicken and fish it is not overly well absorbed. The other important thing to know when it comes to your iron is that once your stores are low, it can be difficult to restore them from your diet alone, often you will need supplementation or even an iron infusion. So if you are constantly tired and know you do not consume red meat a few times each week, it may be worth a trip to the GP for some iron studies via a blood test. 

2. Your Vitamin D is low

Another extremely common nutrient deficiency thanks to our indoor lifestyle and focus on covering up while we are in the sun. As the shorter and cooler days of the year approach, keeping a close eye on your Vitamin D levels is crucial as it is believed that up to 50% of Australians may have low Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D is linked to fatigue, muscle soreness and a number of chronic diseases including neurological disorders and heart disease. The best way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is to spend time in the sun bit of you do take a supplement remember that Vitamins D is a fat soluble vitamin and as such needs to be taken with fat such as nuts or avocado or olive oil in a meal to maximise absorption.

3. You are not getting enough fresh food

Busy lives means that many meals and snacks can be picked up on the go, and as such we are often not getting enough fresh food on a daily basis. This means that our intake of vitamins, fibre and antioxidants can be reduced, leaving us prone to colds, infection and fatigue. Even if you are busy, make a concerted effort to eat at least one fresh food meal packed with vegetables or salad every single day. Other easy ways to give your diet a fresh food boost include drinking a vegetable juice every day; snacking on fresh fruit and nuts and keeping a broth based soup on hand for a quick, nutrient rich meal on the go. 

4. Your carbs are too low

When we are trying to lose weight and ‘be good’ we often cut right back on our carbs ditching the bread, rice, fruit, cereal and pasta in favour of vegetables and lean protein. While this can be a useful dietary strategy in the short term, long term chronically low intakes of carbohydrate basically starve the muscle, which can leave you feeling tired and fatigued and actually less likely to burn body fat. At a minimum the average female will require 100-120g of total carbohydrate each day, and another 20-40g for every hour of activity. Good carb choices including fruits, wholegrain crackers or bread or starchy vegetables as sweet potato and corn if you are trying to avoid processed carbs. When it comes to carbs, we do not need a lot, but we do need some of the right type at the right times. 

5. You are eating too much sugar

Milk based coffees, juices, smoothies, soft drinks, fruit yoghurt and snack foods are all packed full of sugar and even if you consider your diet to be reasonably healthy it can be easy to be getting too much of the white stuff. Ideally we want to keep the added sugar in our diets as low as possible, as high intakes of added sugar can increase insulin levels and increase the chance we are storing fat in the liver. This means aiming for less than 20-25g of added sugars in the diet each day, which in food terms means avoiding processed food and added sugar as much as possible. Check food labels and aim for products that contain less than 5g of sugars per serve; avoid products which have sugar listed on the ingredient list and get your sugars from natural foods including fruit and plain dairy.

5 of the healthiest lunches you can grab on the run


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Healthy lunches when you are on the go

When you take a quick scan around the local food court, or at the menu at your local café, chances are the popular lunch time choices of a schnitzel sandwich, Caesar salad or creamy salad are not all that healthy. So what can you pick up at lunchtime when you are in a rush but still not keen to compromise your nutrition?

A healthy wrap

Making your own wrap or sandwich will always be a better option nutritionally that buying a pre-made option as you can then control the number of high fat fillings, calorie dense sauces and in the some cases the size of the bread or wrap. Lean, protein rich options such as turkey, chicken, tuna or egg along with plenty of salad is the way to go and generally speaking wraps will have fewer carbs and calories than thick slices of Sourdough and Turkish bread.  A regular wrap with chicken breast contains between 350-400 calories and will help to keep you full for several hours if you ensure it is also loaded with salad. In cases where the wraps are large, another option is to eat ½ as an early lunch and the other ½ for afternoon tea.

Turkey or chicken salad wrap

Total Calories = 400-500

Total fat = 10-15g

Total Carbs = 35-40g

Total Sugars = 2g

Chicken strips

If you must make a fast food choice, the good news is that chicken strips offered at a number of fast food chains can be a strong choice nutritionally. With <10-15g of total fat per serve they can make a balanced lunch choice especially if teamed with salad as opposed to fries and a soft drink. 

4 chicken strips and salad

Total Calories = 360

Total fat = 12g

Total Carbs = 10g

Total Sugars = 4g

Mexican Bowl

Mexican cuisine is seen more frequently in food courts and a great choice nutritionally is the naked bowls they offer. Basically a burrito minus the wrap, served in a bowl, a naked burrito bowl is a protein and vegetable rich lunch choice and can be relatively low in fat if you go easy on the sour cream, cheese and avocado. You can further lighten this choice by asking for no rice in your bowl. 

Naked Burrito (no rice)

Total Calories = 320

Total fat = 12g

Total Carbs = 26g

Total Sugars = 8g

Make it yourself salad

Naturally a salad made with a balanced mix of lean protein, plenty of salad greens, controlled serves of fats from nuts, dressings, avocado and cheese can be a great lunch option. The key is to have a salad made to order and focus on a base mostly of low calorie salad ingredients. Then add some lean protein such as eggs, tuna, turkey or chicken breast, some nutritious carbs from quinoa, sweet potato, corn or beans and just one high fat ingredient such as nuts, dressing, cheese or avocado. This mix will give you a lunch salad that contains fewer than 400 calories and a good amount of carbs and protein to help keep you full all afternoon. 

Chicken, sweet potato and feta salad

Total Calories = 380

Total fat = 16g

Total Carbs =22g

Total Sugars = 2g

Sushi

Sushi is one of the most popular default ‘healthy’ choices for a quick lunch on the run, but you do need to be careful as sushi rolls filled with fried fillings and tons of sticky white rice is not actually all that healthy. On the other hand, a serve of sashimi, along with some high protein edamame beans and a serve of seaweed salad is a high protein, high fibre, low calorie lunch option that will keep you full for at least 2-3 hours. 

Sashimi and Japanese salad

Total Calories = 200-300

Total fat = 10g

Total Carbs =15g

Total Sugars = 1g

5 reasons to kickstart your diet this April


Shape Me April Kickstart - Recipes 2

Why your diet needs a kickstart this April

Did you have a good Easter break? Chances are that if your Easter was anything like mine it included a lot more chocolate and Hot Cross Buns than it should have and a lot less activity. Never fear, we have the answer for you – our 2 week Shape Me April Kickstart – a simple, nutritionally balanced weight loss program I have written to help kickstart your diet this April. And if you need a little more convincing, here are 5 reasons your diet needs a kickstart this April

1. You have put on a couple of kg since Easter

Easter holidays are great, but they also feature a disproportionate amount of eating and drinking, as well as plenty of laying about not doing too much at all. So in an attempt to rid yourself of any extra weight gain before we move into Winter, a simple 2 week diet kick start will get you back on track quickly.

2. You need some help meal planning

Planning is the key to dietary success yet when we are busy it is the planning aspect of our meals that tends to fall by the wayside. Signing up to an easy to follow program that focuses on budget style eating, planning meals and snacks in advance and utilising leftovers is an easy way to get into the grove of regular meal planning.

3. You need some inspiration

Even if you are used to eating well, our go to meals and snacks can simply become a little boring over time. The Shape Me April Kickstart will introduce you to a whole range of calorie controlled, nutritionally balanced meals and snacks that you will love.

4. You can stick to a plan for a week or two

The biggest issues with diets of any kind is that they are not sustainable – the Shape Me April Kickstart is easy to follow and will fit into your normal life so you can lose a few kg without feeling as if you are following a strict diet.

5. You want someone to do all the work for you

Even though you may know deep down what to eat, there is something nice about someone doing all the thinking and planning for you. All you need to do is sign up, get to the supermarket and you will be ready to go

Try one of our quick & easy April Kickstart recipes for yourself, our delicious Sweet Potato Soup.

April Kickstart Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup

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Serves 1

Ingredients

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 onion, sliced

1 cloves garlic

100g of sweet potato, cubed

1/4 cup red lentils

1 cup salt-reduced vegetable stock (gluten free if required)

1/2 large zucchini, coarsely grated

Method

1. Brown the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan.

2. Add the sweet potato, lentils and vegetable stock.

3. Cook for 20-25 mins.

4. Grate the zucchini into the soup just before serving.

Is it ok to cheat on your diet?


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Should you ‘cheat’ on your diet?

If you have ever been in fitness or body building circles, you will be very familiar with the idea of a ‘cheat’ – the meal or even day where you ditch your strict diet and literally eat whatever you like. So do cheats actually work, how do you cheat the right way and what are the benefits? 

Do cheats work?

For many years cheats have been a common theme in a number of diets without us really knowing whether they work or not. Now we have evidence that perhaps they do have their benefits with a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology to show that dieters who included a regular cheat of significantly more calories at the end of the week lost just as much weight as those who did not. Dieters also reported higher levels of dieting motivation when they could look forward to a cheat at the end of each week. While this is a one off study, it does fuel the question of how or why a cheat works or at least helps the dieting process.

Why do cheats work?

Physiologically it has been shown that after periods of strict calorie restriction, a cheat (note not binge) meal, which contains significantly more calories actually helps to body to continue to burn body fat. It is thought after caloric deprivation, a flood of calories tells the body that it is not starving and can continue to burn, not store fat. 

Even more importantly psychologically there are a number of potential benefits associated with looking forward to a cheat. Factoring in a meal off a strict diet gives dieters something to look forward too; it helps take the pressure of the brain to continually have to maintain will power and helps to balance the demands of life with the goal of weight loss and calorie restriction. 

Should you include a cheat on your diet?

A well balanced diet does not require you to stick perfectly to your diet 100% of the time – fat metabolism and physiology is much more complicated than that. Rather it is about achieving the right conditions for fat metabolism, and getting the right mix of calories, macronutrients and training to continually burn body fat most of the time. This means that a one off meal that does not fit your regular diet prescription poses no issue and as such supports the idea of a ‘cheat’ once or even twice a week. The issue with the idea of a ‘cheat’ though is that many people find it difficult to limit their cheats and end up ‘cheating’ all the time, which kind of defeats the purpose. 

How do you cheat the right way?

So if the idea of a ‘cheat’ sounds appealing and will not halt your fat loss attempts the key thing to remember is that a cheat is one meal, not a binge in which you eat everything in sight, or definitely not an entire cheat day! Rather it is one or two meals each week in which you can enjoy a few drinks; have a pasta or pizza or indulge in a restaurant meal. It helps you to factor in life events in which extra calories are likely to be consumed and if you do not overdo it may even enhance your fat loss attempts.

Getting active this April


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How are you feeling after Easter? Refreshed? Re-energised? Or a little tired, heavy and bloated? Even though the weather is unseasonably warm it is not uncommon to feel a little blah come April. Things are relatively quiet with school holidays about to start, Winter is on its way, the days are shorter and there are no holidays in the near future. So how do you get and keep motivated at this time of year? Easy – you get active! While it may be more natural to curl up, watch plenty of Netflix and cover our bodies up at this time of year, nothing good will come from this. On the other hand, if we put our hands and commit to a fit and active April you will be surprised how great you feel as we move into Winter. Hence the motivation for the Shape Me April Kickstart to focus on ‘Active April’. So if you know that you are not moving anywhere near as much as you need to ATM, here are some simple ways to get moving and get feeling great this April.

1. Team up with a few peeps

When activity becomes a social occasion we not only enjoy it more, but we are less likely to cancel and stay home in front of the TV. And having 1 friend join you is not enough, because lets be honest, peeps are unreliable. You need at least 2-3 different friends that you can schedule a weekly catch up over a walk, gym session, share a PT with or to train for an event. Once you schedule a few of these sessions you can tick the box on your activity most days of the week.

2. Just take more steps

In modern life working out once a day is not enough – we need to be moving at least 10000 steps a day as well as exercising so if you are not tracking your steps via a FitBit or your mobile phone (yes most mobiles have an inbuilt pedometer) get tracking and aim for at least 10000 every single day. 

3. Sign up for an event

There is nothing like a deadline to motivate you and with the running events like the Mothers Day Classic, Bridge Run, Bloody Long Walk and City2Surf still to come this year, you will be training for your own benefits and to help others.

4. Create a few rituals

At least once a month I have a group of friends who I train with on a Monday night and then we have a Meat Free Monday dinner – not only do we all look forward to catching up over some yummy food, but we end up fitting in an extra exercise session that week. So whether it is a regular brunch date, occasional dinner or big walk and brunch on a weekend, linking ti to something fun is an easy way to get more active and enjoy it. 

5. Use your commute wisely

Most of us have frantic schedules and as such need to use part of our commute or lunchtimes to get out and get active. Whether this means walking part of the way to work, getting to gym straight after work or at lunchtime or getting off the train or bus a stop or two earlier, the more you use your commute to clock up your steps, the easier it will be to reach your activity targets.

5 things to know about your diet if you are vegan


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The right way to go vegan

Plant based eating is hot right now. In fact, vegan products are one of the fastest growing ranges in supermarkets and since we know there are numerous health benefits associated with a plant based you may have been considering taking a plant based approach for your own diet. Or you may even be at the point in which you would like to try going vegan. Now while veganism does have its benefits, it can also change your intake of protein quite considerably, and as such it is not simply a matter of cutting out the meat and dairy from your diet. So if you have been considering a vegan approach, here is the right way to go vegan.

1. Learn your proteins

The average serve of meat, fish or chicken contains 20-30g of protein, compared to a cup of legumes or wholegrains just 8-15g. And then there is the issue of quality – animal based proteins contain the full range of amino acids, the form of proteins that are readily utilized in the body compared to some plant proteins which may only contain a limited number of these essential amino acids. It is for this reason that vegans need to make sure that each of their meals and snacks contains at least 1 protein rich food, but also that they are consuming complete proteins either via combining different types such as corn and beans together, or choosing complete plant based protein sources including quinoa, chia and buckwheat.

See my recipe for my Overnight Almond Chia Pudding below!

2. Check your calcium

Plant based milks including soy and almond milk are readily available in both supermarkets and cafes but it is important to remember that they can be much lower in protein and calcium than dairy based milks. For this reason always make sure you are choosing fortified varieties of plant milk that ideally contain both calcium and Vitamin B12 and keep in mind that nut based milks in particular are much lower in protein and calcium than dairy and even soy milk. Other vegan friendly sources of calcium include nuts and seeds, leafy greens and tofu.

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.44.13 PM3. Snack smart

When you are eating vegan it can be easy to grab a piece of fruit or hommus as quick and easy snacks on the run but these options are relatively low in protein and as such less likely to keep you full for more than an hour or so after eating. Ideally a nutritious and filling snack option will contain at least 5-10g of protein and vegan friendly options include the new Bounce Plant Power Range* that contain a massive 8-9g of complete protein, MUNCH snacks and Roasted FAV-VA Beans.

4. Get yourself a great plant protein

Pea and brown rice protein powder blends can be very handy in helping you to bump up the protein in some of your favourite dishes including smoothie bowls, protein balls and shakes and the blend of pea and rice protein will ensure your protein serve is a complete protein.

5. Explore vegan friendly meal options

While it is easy to eat salads, pasta and vege stir fries when you are vegan, don’t forget the growing range of vegan friendly meal replacements such as Quorn – not only do these help to expand your food variety when you are eating vegan but nutritionally they can be rich sources of nutrients and protein. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.09.02 PMOvernight Almond Chia Pudding

Serves 1

Ingredients

4 tsp. chia seeds

150ml unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

Drop of vanilla essence

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning for a quick and nutritious breakfast.

*Susie is a brand ambassador for Bounce Foods. This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts and opinions are her own.

How to eat chocolate and not gain weight this Easter


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How to eat chocolate and not gain weight this Easter

Easter is my favourite time of year – there is not the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we have at least 3-4 days off in a row and of course you get to eat plenty of chocolate. And while Easter means plenty of celebratory feasting, it can also mean that we return to work after several days off a few kilos heavier – weight gain few of us need or want. So if you love indulging at Easter but would prefer not to return to work next week heavier, here are the easy ways to enjoy your Easter treats, minus the weight gain.

1. Go for quality over quantity

While there is plenty of chocolate of around, there is also plenty of chocolate that is not necessarily your favourite, or that you get maximal pleasure from eating. The key with being able to indulge in high calorie food and not overeat is to mindfully use your calories on foods that you get maximal pleasure from. This means if you love the little solid eggs, wait until Easter, then eat as many as you like but then get straight back on track with your diet the following day. Or if you love Lindt chocolate, devour a bunny on Easter Sunday but don’t waste your calories on little eggs all weekend. When you have permission to actually eat the type of chocolate you love, you will find you eat a whole lot less than when you are trying to constantly actively restrict your intake.

2. Sub in a meal

If chocolate is your thing, go for it, but most likely it means you do not need all your other meals as well. Often we eat the chocolate which may contain 600-1000 calories (in a bunny) and then keep eating all the other food on offer. If you want to eat chocolate, eat chocolate but chances are you do not need all the other buns, cakes and desserts as well.

3. Just move

Easter means that you have plenty of time to eat chocolate, but also plenty of time to move. Calories are far less of an issue when we are actively burning them off. Make the most of the holiday days and go for some long walks, factor in a run or gym session and simply work towards burning off some of the extra calories you have consumed.

4. Limit your chocolate to Easter Sunday

Even though Easter eggs have been available at supermarkets since Boxing Day, the truth is that Easter is one day. If you simply limit the bulk of chocolate consumption to Easter Sunday and get back on track with your diet on Monday, you will have no issue with weight gain.

5. Keep it out of sight

Much of our eating occurs because the food crosses our path – if you simply keep your chocolate out of sight, you will eta far less than if you keep it within easy reach at home. Then you will only look for it when you actually feel like it as opposed to the mindless munching most of us get roped into each and every day.