Super Foods

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So maybe Brad Pitt has it all, but unfortunately, no single food does. We need a variety of foods to keep our body looking as fine and functional as Brad’s.

However, some foods are slightly more potent in their health benefits. Namely because of the nutrients they contain.

The foods listed below contain anti-oxidants, and/or omega oils, and/or fibre. All of these have a role in keeping your body in tip, top condition, because they play a role in removing nasties or improving cell health.

Super foods include:

Fruit and Vegetables

Especially berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes

Green leafy vegetable and especially Brassica vegies

These provide fibre, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals

Oats, oat bran and pulses

Contain soluble fibre.

Nuts

Particularly almonds, walnuts, and macadamias

Provide essential oils such as the omega 3 and 6 as well as fibre

Tea

Green and black teas

A good source of anti-oxidants

Those Magic ingredients

Anti-oxidants

Anti-oxidants are like pac-men. They chase around after “free radicals” and neutralise them. Free radicals cause damage to the body and are produced when oxidation occurs. We can’t stop this process but we can clean up the free radicals by eating foods high in anti oxidants. Anti-oxidants are found in:

Fruit and vegetables – flavonoids , carotenoids,  Vitamin A, C, and E, and minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium. These are found in highest quantities in green leafy veg, orange veg, and onions but are present in most other fruit and veg

Tea – contains catechins and theaflavins – especially high in green tea, but also black tea.

Berries, grapes, rosemary and oregano – anthocyanins

Tomatoes – lycopenes

And yes, red wine does have anti-oxidants as well, but excessive wine intake does not improve your health!

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids

These super fats help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent irregular heart rhythms and improve blood flow. They slow the build up of fatty substances in the blood vessels and prevent blood platelets sticking together to form clots.

Omega friendly foods include walnuts, pecans, linseed, omega enriched eggs, soy drinks, soy and linseed breads, as well as oily fish such as salmon and tuna or white fish such as bream, ling, perch and whiting. Also oils such as canola or flaxeed, olive, walnut or soybean. Omega 6’s are found predominantly in Grapeseed and peanut oil, sunflower and safflower oils, nuts and seeds.

Fibre

Fibre is found in plant foods. There are essentially two types of fibre:

Insoluble fibre, or roughage. Examples include the skins on vegetables and wheat fibre eg all bran. It is indigestible fibre and it helps keep you regular.

Soluble fibre is found in fruits, vegetables (often as the pectin or fleshy parts of the food), as well as in oats, oat bran and legumes / pulses. It is broken down in the bowel and absorbed by the gut wall to keep it healthy.

A menu that will help you increase your “superfood” intake could look a little like this:

Breakfast:

fresh squeezed juices with an emphasis on the vegetables. Try juicing carrot, beetroot, celery, parsley, spinach, ginger, lemon, orange and pineapple.

A slice of toast with tomato and avocado

Morning tea:

Berries with yoghurt, nuts and seeds

Cup of black tea

Lunch:

Tuna and salad sandwich (soy and linseed bread)

Cup of green tea

 Afternoon tea:

Vegetable soup with miso

 Dinner:

A lean piece of meat or chicken

Vegetables lightly steamed

A sauce made from the gentle simmering of olive oil, tomatoes and onions

A cup of green tea

Eating like this is like taking one of nature’s great big vitamin pills!

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Food as a love language

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I recently read an article where the author described her Grandfather as conveying his love through food. Food was his love language.

I had heard this expression used previously, but the meaning had never been clear to me.

Until now.

We each express our love for people in different ways. Some people express love by giving things, others by physical contact, and yet others through words. Apparently, there are five love languages according to Greg Chapman, the author of books on the subject, who describes love as the ‘food’ for future emotional health. This love is expressed in five ways:  physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service.

Food as a love language would therefore be the giving of food as a gift to others. A gift that is given without an expectation of something in return. A gift that is considered, prepared and relinquished with a selfless generosity.

My children once described me as a feeder. I was horrified. The reference was to the constancy of food at every occasion, the offer of certain foods at a meal, or a second helping if more was available. When people visit, when an event is celebrated, when time is spent as a family on a lazy afternoon – there is always food.

But I am not a “feeder”. I give food as an expression of something far more important than nourishment itself. I give it to nurture those I care for.

I realised that I have always done this. I learned this love from my mother, her mother and indeed my whole family. I learned this language before I could speak. Food is our love language.

Gary Chapman “the 5 love languages” http://www.5lovelanguages.com/2011/10/emotional-food/

Let’s talk about Sex, baby……..

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Well it was Valentines Day yesterday, and nothing screams Valentines Day like chocolate, champagne and a romp between the sheets. Food, love and sex have been inexorably linked since time began.

If you ever saw the movie ‘nine and a half weeks’, (and if you are over 40, I bet you did!), then you will have a wonderful understanding of what food can do for sex. I have no doubt that the sale of strawberries went through the roof in the days and weeks that followed its release.

What a way to get your daily five veg and two fruits!!

Seriously, though, food can improve your sex life – not quite in the, ‘oysters does aphrodisiac’ sort of way, but more the ‘healthy body, better performance’ kind of way.

Generally, a body that is well nourished, soaked in vitamins and minerals, and physically fit, will give you the best performance – in and out of the bedroom.

Although food science has failed to produce a definitive guide to better sexual performance, a few nutrients are thought to play some role in improving sexual function.

Zinc is perhaps the one nutrient that does have an impact on sexual outcome and is the factor that lends itself to the aphrodisiac quality of oysters. Zinc, found in highest levels in seafood, is concentrated in the human body, in the bones, prostate gland and semen. It is essential for the growth and maturation of sexual organs in adolescents, in reproduction generally, and in the health of our skin, hair and nails. Deficiency can result in impotence and low libido, as well as a range of other afflictions. Having said that, impotence and low libido can be caused by a huge number of factors, so don’t just rely on the zinc to cure all.

Vitamin E is important to health generally, but also sexual health. It is not a wonder food, and mega doses do not make the mega lover. However, experiments in animals, have found that deficiency of vitamin E can lead to sterility (along with a range of other nasty side effects). Deficiency in humans is rare.

Vitamin E is none the less an important antioxidant, and essential to good health. Found in most oils, nuts, wheatgerm and avocados, it is easy to include in your diet.

Whilst vitamin rich foods can enhance performance, alcohol can reduce it. A few drinks may limber you up and bring on a passion that is otherwise subdued, but too much alcohol reduces testosterone levels, impacts sperm production, and increases zinc losses (in heavy drinkers). So go carefully on the booze.

Maybe one day there’ll be a super food that improves our love life. For now, it’s a dish made up of the five food groups, a lot of lust, a ladle-full of love and the right frame of mind.

Now go out there and buy those strawberries!

(Ref: Catherine Saxelby – Nutrition for life, first edition)

Menu 3

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Menu 3

Monday 13th February – Sunday 19h February 2012

 

Day

Breakfast

Work Lunch / Afternoon tea

School Lunches / Recess

Dinner

Monday Boiled egg with toast Lentil and tomato soup

Bread roll

Banana and custard

Bread roll filled with a mix of tuna, mayo, corn, diced capsicum and shallots

Banana

Custard

Fruit and nut mix

 

Beef with tortillas *
Tuesday French toast with blueberries and maple syrup * Pasta salad

Crackers and cheese

Plum

Pasta salad

Crackers and cheese

Plum

Milk

 

* Marinated salmon fillets with spicy mango and avocado salsa

Potato salad

Wednesday Porridge with yoghurt, honey and strawberries Toasted chicken, salsa and cheese sandwich

Nut bar

Apple

Chicken, lettuce and mayo sandwich

Rice cakes with peanut butter

Nut bar

Sliced apple

 

Felafels

Hummus

Tabouli

Flat bread

 

Thursday Poached egg and sliced avocado on toast Savoury muffin with salad

Yoghurt

Orange

 

Savoury muffin

Vegetable sticks

Yoghurt

Orange

Anzac biscuits

 

 

Thai chicken curry with rice
Friday Fresh fruit salad topped with granola, crushed pistachio’s and yoghurt Rice salad

Pear

Crackers with dip

 

 

Rice salad

Pear

Crackers with vegemite

Custard cup

 

Homemade pizza with ham, cheese, tomato, olives, capsicum, onion and spinach
Saturday Bagels with cream cheese and chives BBQ king prawns with salad

Baguette

Chocolate cake

 

  Chicken soup with mallow and rice *

 

Sunday Pancakes with lemon and sugar Left over chicken soup with mallow and rice

Fresh fruit salad

  Homemade burgers with caramelised beetroot relish *

 

Recipes:

 

French toast with blueberries and maple syrup – Feast magazine Page 108

Chicken soup with mallow and rice – Feast magazine Page 68

Beef with tortillas – Feast magazine (Goat with tortillas) Page 56

Homemade burgers with caramelised beetroot relish – recipe available at Woolworths stores

Marinated salmon fillets with spicy mango and avocado salsa – recipe available at Woolworths stores

Sugar

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Ok, so we’ve looked at the foods we should eat more of, but what of the foods we should eat less of?

There really aren’t that many. However, sugar is probably one of the foods we should try to restrict. Again, this is one of those foods where less is more.

Sugar comes in a number of guises – white sugar, honey, molasses, treacle, dextrose, fructose, maltose, brown sugar, dark brown sugar, corn syrup – and the list goes on.

This deliciously sweet carbohydrate is used in so many foods; it defies imagination – from the obvious, such as lollies, soft drinks and cakes, to the completely obscure – breadrolls, sauces and dressings.

In some cases, sugar is a necessary ingredient to maintain the integrity of the food. In others, it is simply added to tantalise your tastebuds into coming back for more.

A little sugar is ok. A little sugar is a teaspoon or two a day. Much more than that is doing nothing more than adding calories to your waistline.

We get all the carbohydrate we need for energy from foods such as wholegrain cereal products (rice, wholegrain breads, oats, etc), legumes, beans, dairy and fruit. We don’t need to add extra processed, highly refined sugar to get anything other than dental caries.

Unfortunately, most of us eat far more sugar, in one form or another, than is necessary. So, how do you reduce it?

Firstly, decide how you want to take your sugar. Are you a chocoholic? Maybe a ‘sugar in your tea’ kinda girl? Or perhaps you are a man who is addicted to his cola? Pick the sugary food you cannot live without (or pick a few different ones, remembering you can only have 1-2 teaspoons of any each day)

Secondly, aim to cut out every other type of obviously sugary food in your diet except this one. Throw out the biscuits, chuck the sugar in the bin, keep the honey only for those winter remedies, finish the jam and don’t buy more. Leave the lollies at the supermarket, avoid the sugary cereal aisle and remember the wholefoods advice on dairy foods – avoid the flavoured ones.

Now you are ready for your sugar “less” diet. Fill your diet with the wholefoods discussed last week, but allow yourself 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, in the form you wish to eat it.

Now that is limiting your:

  • chocolate intake to a square or two a day. Note: the higher the % cocoa solids in the chocolate the less sugar. So a 70% cocoa solids chocolate, is lower in sugar than a milk chocolate.
  • a glass of soft drink to 50mls a day.
  • one to two teaspoons of jam or honey on your toast a day.
  • two cups of tea a day with one teaspoon of sugar in each.

An example menu would look like this (if you chose 1 square of chocolate and 1 tsp of honey as your daily sugar intake)

Breakfast: 

Grapefruit

Wholegrain toast with sliced tomato and cheese

Tea (no sugar)

Lunch:

Tortilla wrap with ham, salad and mayo*

Fresh fruit salad and plain greek yoghurt

Chai tea with 1 tsp of honey

Dinner:     

lasagna* and salad

1 square of chocolate

Now, the tomato sauce used in the lasagna and mayonnaise do have sugar in them. However, you can choose lower sugar versions of these. At this stage, we are just trying to lower the amount of added sugar in our diets, rather than every skerrick of it. You can aim for that later!

It takes about two weeks for your taste buds to adapt. They will tease and torture you into thinking you cannot bear another day without extra sugar, but after a few weeks, they will enjoy the new flavours and stop hounding you.

You can do this! Let me know how it goes.

Until next week, Ciao.

Menu 2 Monday 6th February – Sunday 12th February 2012

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Day

Breakfast

Work Lunch / Afternoon tea

School Lunches / Recess

Dinner

Monday Scrambled egg with bacon and toast Brown rice salad

Crusty bread

Plum

Brown rice salad

Crusty bread

Yoghurt

Plum

Nut bar

 

Lasagne

Salad

Tuesday Bircher muesli, milk, honey, mixed nuts *Muffin pizza’s

Salad

Peach

 

Muffin pizza’s

Salad

Piece of cake

Peach

Plain popcorn

 

Soy chilli chicken legs

Stir fry vegetables

Rice

Wednesday Cheese and tomato toasted sandwich Chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise roll

Small bunch of grapes

Vegetable sticks and dip

 

Chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise roll

Small bunch of grapes

Fruit and custard cup

Vegetable sticks and dip

 

Braised white beans in tomato sauce

Roast potatoes

Green salad

Thursday Leftover braised white beans in tomato sauce

Toast

Rice paper rolls with tuna, lettuce, carrot and sprouts

Dipping sauce

Banana smoothie

Fruit and nut mix

Rice paper rolls with tuna, lettuce, carrot and sprouts

Dipping sauce

Banana smoothie

Crackers with dip

Fruit and nut mix

Thai beef salad

Strawberries with chocolate custard

Friday Fresh fruit salad

Toast with peanut butter and jam

Thai beef salad wraps

Yoghurt

Apple

 

Thai beef salad wraps

Nut bar

Yoghurt

Apple slices

 

*Prawn pilaf
Saturday Grapefruit

Fruit toast

Caesar salad

Bread rolls

Sliced rockmelon (cantaloupe)

 

Thick lentil soup

Apple strudel with ice cream

Sunday Berry compote

Almond croissant

* Salmon nicoise salad

Sliced pineapple

 

BBQ Chipolata hotdogs with caramelised onion and chutney

Recipes:

Muffin Pizza’s – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/17158/ham+capsicum+muffin+pizzas

Salmon Nicoise Salad – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/18016/salmon+nicoise+salad

Prawn Pilaf – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/13756/saffron+prawn+pilaf

What to eat?

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So many messages, so much confusion! The plethora of nutrition messages, the do’s and don’ts, is overwhelming. So many truths, so many lies! It is no wonder we throw our arms in the air and say “forget it; I’ll eat what I like”.

Don’t despair. This series of articles will help you find your way through the minefield of food and nutrition information. I hope that it will ease your path and help you find a way to eat healthily without forgetting that food is one of the most delicious aspects of our lives.

The first cab off the rank is WHOLEFOODS. If you choose to make only one change to your food intake, then make it this one.

Wholefoods are those foods that aren’t processed to within an inch of their lives. Not all processing is bad. But less is more. We want to eat as many foods in their “al la natural” state as possible.

What does that look like?

Ok, so you have heard of the five food groups. If not here is a link http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/food_variety_and_a_healthy_diet

Essentially the five food groups include:

Breads and cereals

Fruits

Vegetables

Dairy foods

Meat and meat alternatives

Breads and Cereals

Choose foods such as oats, puffed wheat, untoasted muesli, rice (basmati, brown or wild is best), pasta and wholegrain breads.

If it is highly coloured, has an enormous ingredient list, or is full of added sugar and fat, then it is not a wholefood option. This rule generally applies to all the following categories.

Fruits

Any in their “picked from the tree/vine/bush” state

Vegetables

Same as fruit

Meat, Seafood and Chicken

Freshly killed and chopped. If it doesn’t look like it recently came from an animal, then it is too processed. Meat that is perfectly round, perfectly, square, freckled with different colours – is not a “wholefood”.

Meat alternatives

These include foods such as eggs, beans and legumes, soy products, and nuts

Ok, so tofu is highly processed soya beans but hey, it is still a good one to choose. As I said, not all processing is bad.

Beans and legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, and white beans etc out of the can or freshly soaked and cooked are great.

Nuts are another great food, but minimise those with added salt, sugar and oil.

Dairy

Again, this is where some processing comes into play. However if it’s white or creamy coloured then it is as wholefood as you can get in the dairy section.

There are so many foods we could talk about but this gives you a quick “Cooks Tour” of what you need to know.

Eating foods that resemble their original state, provides you with the best chance of achieving a healthy, well-balanced and naturally delicious, way of eating.

You will reduce your fat, trans-fat and sugar intake without trying. You will limit your salt intake. Calories will be easier to control. All those lovely antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre will find their way into your body without you even thinking about it.

Of all the advice, you will ever receive about food – please heed this one.

Remember – WHOLEFOODS – make it your mantra!