"Mum, I'm hungry!" - primary school edition

"Mum, I'm hungry!" - primary school edition

Recently I was asked to review the afternoon tea menu of a group of Out of School Hours Care Centres. I thought this was a fabulous initiative by the centre because such centres are valuable in promoting healthy eating to children and their families. For busy working parents it would be a godsend to know that when you pick up your kid they have had something decent to eat. But maybe your kids don’t go to after care -what should you be including in afternoon tea at home?

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6 fast, easy and healthy tray bakes

6 fast, easy and healthy tray bakes

For the lazy cook like me, the tray bake has to be the ultimate dinner. I read a lot of recipe books and immediately turn the page if too much chopping or browning is involved. A tray bake is perfect because I can pop it in the oven while I am driving my kids around. And bonus - minimal washing up!

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Feeding your pre-schooler

Feeding your pre-schooler

Feeding your 3 or 4 year old can be such a challenging time.  I thought I'd offer some tips which I've learned from my training and also what worked with my kids.  Get to know how much your children should be eating and look at the pattern over a week not a day.  Children have small stomachs so don't expect them to eat adult portions. Your toddler will  have developed food likes and dislikes, and their appetite will differ depending on how active they have been and whether they are going through a growth spurt.  So don't worry if they eat a lot of food some days and little on others.  As long as they are getting a wide range of different foods over the course of a week they will be getting the nutrients they need.

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Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Do you have sporty teenagers?  With the winter sports season kicking off, you might be wondering if your teenagers are eating the right types of food to support healthy growth and development as well as their training and competition. It's not all about protein powder to get "shredded", or litres of sweet sports drinks!

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Your vegetarian teenager

Your vegetarian teenager

Has your teenager recently announced they are a vegetarian?  Mine has!  The rest of the family eat meat and I'm too busy to be cooking 2 meals every night so here's some ideas for how I cope.  I've also seen quite a few vegetarian clients recently with iron deficiency so I'll outline some common nutrient concerns with a vegetarian teenager and how to avoid them.

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Sports Nutrition for Competitive Adolescent Athletes

Sports Nutrition for Competitive Adolescent Athletes

I was lucky enough recently to be able to work with an athlete preparing for the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union Tournament.  He was interested in maintaining his work rate, making his tackles and not fatiguing in the second half of the game.  Here's some of the key points we came up with.  Of course, every athlete is different with different food preferences, requirements and backgrounds. What is right for one athlete may not benefit the next - so make sure that your sports nutrition advice is tailored to your goals.  

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Oat and ricotta protein waffles

Oat and ricotta protein waffles

Healthy waffles made with oats for fibre and gut health, ricotta and eggs for muscle building protein and chia seeds for omega 3 fats.  This is a great healthy breakfast that tastes great.  Fodmap friendly too!

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Exam Season Nutrition

Exam Season Nutrition

We are entering into exam season and you might have a stressed-out teenager on your hands.  As I'm sure you remember from toddler days, what they eat can have a big impact on mood.  Here’s my tips for the foods to include in your teenager’s diet.

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Banana, date and almond protein porridge

Banana, date and almond protein porridge

It's sooooo cold in the morning in Sydney at the moment and I love a warm bowl of porridge, but I'm often hungry a couple of hours after I've eaten it.  I've come up with a fabulous trick to increase the protein of your porridge to keep you full all morning.

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Supercharged Shepherd's Pie

Supercharged Shepherd's Pie

I love taking classic comfort foods and making them a whole lot more nutritious.  I've added lentils and plenty of veggies to my shepherds pie base and my mash is half cauliflower and half potato.  With the veggies, lean lamb and lentils this is a immune boosting recipe for winter that my kids love!

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Toasted maple, nut and seed granola

Toasted maple, nut and seed granola

I developed this delicious granola recipe for my son and he loves it.  He mixes it with yoghurt as a great second breakfast after early morning rugby training or after a game.  The combination of protein and carbs makes it ideal for refuelling my hungry boy! 

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Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad

Create this delicious classic french salad with loads of veggies and heart healthy tuna and eggs for a hot summer night to transport you to the south of France.

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Healthy lunch box ideas for active kids and learning minds

Healthy lunch box ideas for active kids and learning minds

Coming up with a lunch box day after day can do your head in!  A healthy lunch box doesn't need to be full of expensive "super foods" that will get picked at - these ideas can be put together in 10 minutes max. 

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Mid-week Mojito

Presenting my mid week mojito...


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 peppermint tea bags
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • plenty of ice
  • maple syrup (optional)

METHOD

  1. Add the teabags to 1 litre of boiling water and leave to steep in the fridge for 2 hours 
  2. Half fill a jug with ice, mint leaves and the lime juice.  Add the cooled tea.
  3. Stir through 1 tab table syrup if you like it sweet
  4. Enjoy in the sun!

Should you be drinking A2 milk?

Over the last few years A2 milk has become a significant player in Australia and New Zealand.  It has recently expanded into the UK and US markets too.  If you suffer from bloating or an upset stomach after drinking milk, it might be worth giving A2 milk a go.

WHAT IS A2 MILK?

All regular cows’ milk brands today contain a combination of two main types of beta-casein protein, namely A1 and A2. The A2 milk company has developed a genetic test to choose cows which don’t produce the A1 protein.  The farms that produce the A2 milk use only cows which produce the A2 protein.   The rest of the A2 milk process is no different to the production of any other milk - it doesn't use genetic engineering or a special technological process.  

IMPROVED DIGESTION IN SMALL STUDIES

There have been 2 small human studies looking at the effect of A2 milk.  The first study was conducted on a small group of 41 people, of which 10 reported an intolerance to dairy milk.  In this trial after drinking A1 protein only the study participants reported softer stools than after drinking A2 milk.  It is thought this was due to an increase in gut inflammation caused by consumption of the A1 protein. 

This second study  on 45 people compared common commercial milk that contained both A1 and A2 milk proteins and to milk containing only A2 protein. This study found that consuming A2 milk did not cause an increase in unpleasant digestive symptoms (for example, bloating and flatulence) usually associated with milk consumption in those who were lactose-intolerant. 

These studies were both very small.  Currently Monash University is conducting a larger trial which will have results published in December.

SO SHOULD I TRY IT?

With only 10% of Australians consuming their recommended 3-4 serves of dairy each day I am a big fan of any product that helps people drink more milk.   Dairy products are a rich source of a wide range of nutrients including calcium, protein, iodine, vitamins A, B2, B12 and D, and zinc.   Improved dairy intake has been linked to weight management, reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and provides one of the best dietary sources of calcium for bone health.   

If you already drink milk with no tummy upsets, there is no advantage in switching to A2 milk, and it does cost nearly twice the price of regular milk.  However if you do suffer from digestion issues after drinking milk then it's certainly worth giving A2 milk a go.  

Note that A2 milk is not lactose free, so will not solve medically diagnosed lactose intolerance.  However, if you have diagnosed lactose intolerance but would still like to try a2 Milk™,  you can add a lactase enzyme supplement (such as Lacto-Free) to break down the lactose milk sugar making it possible for you to enjoy dairy.

if you do want to try A2 milk, make sure you buy the labelled A2 milk and don't be tricked by other milk that "contain A2 protein" as it's the A1 protein you want to avoid.

RELATED PRODUCTS

I am a big fan of Jalna A2 yoghurt which is a reduced fat yoghurt made from A2 milk.  While all yoghurts contain starter cultures, not all have probiotics (live bacteria that survive digestion and colonise in the gut).  The strains in all Jalna Yoghurt are: Lactobacillus acidophilusBifidobacterium and Lactobacillus Casei. These cultures have been shown to survive in sufficient numbers to reach the large intestine, where they multiply and colonise.  These cultures have been  demonstrated  to provide gastrointestinal and immune health benefits.

 

 

 

 

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Salmon Burgers

With the arrival of spring in Sydney I've been looking for a new way of including fish in our meals. Salmon is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids which are inti-inflammatory and extremely beneficial to your health - they can help lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure,  and may reduce symptoms of arthritis and depression.  Omega-3s are essential fats that must be obtained from our diet. These burgers are an excellent source of quality protein that can help build and repair lean muscle.

I modified a Teresa Cutter recipe here and it was a huge hit with the family.

salmon burgers

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices stale bread (preferably wholegrain)(gluten free if needed)
  • zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • small bunch parsley
  • 2-4 spring onions
  • 600g salmon fillets, bones and skin removed
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for shallow frying

METHOD

  1. In a food processor pulse bread, zest of one lemon, 1/3 bunch parsley.  Tip into wide, shallow bowl
  2. Add remaining lemon zest and parsley and spring onions to food processor, pulse.  Add salmon fillets and pulse again (so you have a chopped texture not a paste).  Add egg and lemon juice and briefly pulse again until just combined.  Season with salt and pepper
  3. Divide into 8 portions and form into burgers
  4. Roll burgers in herbed breadcrumbs and place in fridge for 20 minutes to firm up
  5. Heat fry pan to a low - medium heat and cook in a little olive oil for  4-5 minutes on each side until golden outside and just a little pink in the middle

I serve the burgers on a bun for the kids and "naked" for me.  I like to serve along roast sweet potato and carrot wedges (cook at 200 C for 40 minutes, drizzled with evoo) and a big green salad.

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"Mum, I'm hungry!"

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In my house gone are the days of the picky pre-schooler.  Instead I'm seeing two growing teenagers who seem to be constantly hungry.  In particular the minute they get in from school!  Teenagers have a higher energy requirement to accommodate their growth.  However 41% of today's Australian teenage diet is coming from discretionary food choices that are linked to obesity,  increased risk of diabetes and tooth decay.  Did you know that tooth decay is five times more prevalent than asthma among Australian children?

Key micronutrients at this age are calcium, iron and zinc.  For both boys and girls the growing skeleton requires increased amounts of calcium to help reach peak bone mass in their 30s.  Think dairy - milk, yoghurt and cheese.  As soon as girls start menstruating their iron needs increase, but boys need iron too for growth and energy.   Red meat and fortified breakfast cereals like weetbix are a good source of iron.

So how can you fill up your teenager and steer them away from the packaged stuff?

  1. Make sure their afternoon tea will fill them up for a couple of hours. Those small packages of processed food (even if you get it in the health food aisle) are unlikely to do that. A good snack will combine a serve of protein along with a wholegrain carbohydrate. For example, wholemeal toast with nut butter, or a toasted wholemeal english muffin with cheese, or corncakes with ricotta and tomatoes.

  2. Fill up the fridge with vegies and fruit. Have easy to grab fruit and veg at eye height in the fridge - cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers and snow peas are a great quick snack with humous or a handful of nuts

  3. The toasted sandwich maker and a blender are the teenager's best friend. Teach them how to make a quick smoothie - my daughter's favourite is milk, yoghurt, oats and frozen raspberries or mango. My son's fave is milk, weetbix, banana and milo. Great before or after sport if they don't want something solid in their stomach.

  4. Again leave left over pasta or stirfry at eye height so they can be reheated quickly

  5. If you don't want your kids to eat it - don't buy it!

Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain.  She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks. 

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So, if I shouldn't drink soft drinks - are diet soft drinks OK?

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I think by now we've all realised that sugar is a big part of the obesity epidemic and cutting out soft drinks is a great way to improve your weight and with that reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and prevent certain types of cancer.  So are diet soft drinks a better option? Well, no.

Diet soft drink appears to contribute to weight gain also.  A  recent study of 66,000 women over 14 years found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes for consumers of diet drinks.  A study published in Diabetes Carefound daily consumption of diet soft drinks was associated with an increase in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

The research into the effects of diet drinks on humans is still in its early days and the reasons for the associated weight gain are still not fully clear however it is thought that because artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar our genetically-programmed preference for sweet taste is activated.  The diet drinks make your metabolism think sugar is on its way which causes the production of insulin which causes your body to store fat.

Diet drinks also seem to affect bone strength and risk of fractures. One 2014 study found that each daily soft drink (diet or non diet) increased the chance of hip fracture by 14% for postmenopausal women.

Instead of soft drinks chose water or green tea.   In summer I use our soda stream to carbonate cold water and add a few slices of lime, cucumber or a crushed handful of mint.  Cheers!

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Protein and iron for fussy kids

 photo credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/carowallis1

photo credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/carowallis1

Some kids are just not that keen on meat.  Don't panic!  However you need to be careful that they get good quality protein.  Protein supplies your child with amino acids, essential chemicals which are the body’s building blocks. Whilst all animal proteins including egg and dairy products provide a high quality protein containing all the essential amino acids, cereals and vegetable proteins (e.g. peas, beans, lentils, and nuts and seeds) have a lower quality.

To provide a complete vegetarian protein you need to combine cereal and vegetable proteins like pasta, bread, rice and lentils with a small amount of dairy or eggs.  Or you can combine two vegetable protein food groups.  Soya and quinoa are the only plant-based food that contain all the amino acids.  Here are some examples of good combinations:

  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Baked potato with cheese and milk
  • Lentil and vegetables with cheese
  • Pasta with cheese sauce
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Rice and lentils.

Another issue faced by fussy non meat eaters are iron deficiency, which is the commonest nutritional deficiency in the Western world.  There are a few types of iron, the best source is found in meat and is easily absorbed by the body, plant food sources are more difficult to absorb, and lastly a third type added by manufacturers to foods such as breakfast cereals is absorbed less well.

When my children were little the issue was less about the taste of meat but the energy required to chew it!  I found mince meat the best solution - bolognese sauce with pasta and "non chilli" chilli con carne (see Taco Tuesdays).

Good source of iron for non meat eating kids: • Fortified breakfast cereals. • Egg yolk. • Wholemeal bread. • Dark green vegetables e.g. spinach and cabbage. • Beans and lentils. • Dried fruit e.g. apricot, prunes, peaches, raisins.

The best way for the body to absorb the iron is to serve it with a vitamin C rich food, like capsicum or a small glass of orange juice.

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