Over the next week (or two or three) there will be several nutrition related media releases/events that almost certainly are going to bring the media spotlight on to nutrition (again!).
This can be a great thing; when it creates a positive buzz and gets the public thinking about foods that serves them and their families best, and/or when it sparks informed debate between people or organisations who are both prepared to listen, think, learn, grow and potentially alter direction in order to improve health of others/populations.
However, when it’s not so cool is when it does nothing except create a veritable media sh*tstorm that instils confusion, mixed messages and disarray in to the general public. This more often than not, leaves the majority of people lost and wondering, with all the mixed messages, what the heck is actually OK to eat/feed the children?!
It is also not OK when it is fuelled by people or organisations who are hell bent on serving their own interests (wallets) and hide behind the façade of wanting to help the general public all whilst shouting their opinions louder than the next guys, with deaf ears.
The media of course don’t help us with their ‘click-bait’ articles and sensationalised reporting of individual foods, events and research. It can be a minefield and I am not the least bit surprised when clients come to me and are confused and fed up with all the seemingly contradictory information they read.
Well, the next few weeks aren’t going to be any different I am afraid. I would suggest if reading the articles online winds you up and leaves you confused…..don’t read them, frankly you’re not missing out on much substance most of the time. If you do read them, please simply remember this……YOU do know what YOU and YOUR family should be eating to fit YOUR budget. If you are choosing as unprocessed as possible as much of the time as possible you are doing well.
Love what you eat, love how you live, love how it makes you feel!
Now, I am sure you are sensible, intelligent people but I just want to take the opportunity to state my* thoughts on some rumours I have been hearing circulate of late (before the next lot start doing the rounds).
*All opinions and rantings are my own
Wow, what a long time between posts on here and what a busy six months it has been at this end. 2015 is shaping up to be a bumper of a year and I have some great topics that i want to write some small blog posts on. Additionally, if you have anything you would love to see something on, feel free to comment below.
Today, I simply share my new favourite way to use up some of the Summer bounty that is flowing at an alarming rate from my garden. Somehow i have ended up with no less than five zucchini (courgette) plants that have decided to flourish and produce handsomely.
And so, as is so often the theme of many people's summer, the game of 'can I eat them faster than I can grow them?' comes in to play. I am always trying new and interesting ways to use them - I can't stand to see them go to waste. My current favourite way is to turn them in to a wrap. I love when I can substitute, what would have ordinarily simply been a carrier for the flavours, and replace it with something equally as functional yet also packing an added nutritional punch.
These wraps, last in the fridge for a couple of days. make great lunchbox ideas for adults or children and can be used as a pizza base too!
There are variations on this all over the web, but for my simple instructions check out my new meal ideas page or get the printable PDF here. I have more simple meal ideas to come, and will be uploading them as I find snippets of time.
In the meantime, wrap and enjoy! Feel free to leave me a comment on how you use your summer bounty too, I would love to hear.
As yet another recipe for a ‘Paleo Brownie’ rolls up my facebook feed it has me thinking about all these ‘treats’ that are endlessly advertised, at what point does a treat stop being a treat?
I’m sure you will have seen them as well. Not just on facebook, they seem to be everywhere I look, on blogs, cookbooks, in café cabinets…..and be it paleo, vegan, dairy-free, ‘sugar-free’, low-carb or primal..... brownies, cakes, slices, cupcakes, or pancakes…… it doesn’t really matter, are we losing sight of the role these foods should play in our diets?
On one hand it’s great. I whole heartedly endorse and applaud anyone for being motivated and getting back in to the kitchen and cooking and/or baking from scratch, over purchasing ready-made, highly processed foods.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you made it, it’s inherently good for you, or that if it comes prefaced with a paleo, vegan, D-F, etc etc label that it is automatically healthy and therefore gives you free reign to eat more of them, than you might of any other treat. These should remain exactly that, a treat, an occasional food to be enjoyed and savoured. The regular consumption of very sweet foods also affects our body’s ability to taste and accept the natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables, and these treat foods should absolutely not replace your daily meat/fruit/vege intake.
Besides if you are having something like this all the time or daily even, is it still a treat?
I look at this in the same way I do, ‘Fish n Chip Friday’. If you are having FnC’s (or takeaways in general) every Friday night, is it really a treat? No, I don’t believe so. It’s routine and habit and it becomes a treat to then have take-out on another night (or 2 or 3) during the week, until that too becomes habit.
All things in moderation I hear you say……how many of us are actually that good at moderation, and what does moderation even really mean? Haven’t we all opened a pack of Tim Tams (or insert your personal evil choccie biscuit foe here) thinking I’ll just have one, to suddenly realise half the pack is gone?
If you are genuinely one of those super human lucky people, who can honestly have treats in your house and not have them talk to you and make you reach for them at every given moment, then full credit to you. But realistically 99% of us simply can’t. And the same goes for treats that are made with alternative ingredients. They still taste great and yes they are a better alternative to always chomping on processed goods, but dates, honey, applesauce or rice syrup = still sugar! And nut/seed flours? These are a high energy base plus if you are buying it ready-made, what level of processing has it been through, is it even still fresh or is it rancid?
I’m not trying to be a kill joy, and I am certainly not saying thou shalt never eat a sweet treat again. Personally, I make 'healthified' treats occasionally too (cue the above fudge made a while back when I had people coming to stay), and I also enjoy some traditional 'Mum-baking' sometimes too. But if you are having something regularly, doesn’t it lose its treat-factor?
What is deemed a treat to you, will be personal to you, and only you will really know when you have crossed your own line of indulgence but there is no doubt that breaking the habit of ‘needing’ a sweet treat after each meal, or gym session and learning to change habits and eat more mindfully, is the key to sustainable health changes.
Think why you want to make these treats. If you are making these ‘healthy’ alternatives to swap out or duplicate your usual sweet treats, so that you can still have them daily, then maybe you need to also consider why you feel you need that.
So, cheesecakes made of cashews, cakes or slices using almond flour, and replacing sugar with honey or dates – Delicious? Yes. Handy tricks to know, for special occasions? Absolutely. A necessary component of everyday living? Sadly not.
A treat in any other disguise, is and should remain, a treat.
A couple of weeks ago TV3’s 3rd degree, ran a programme that was to debate the position of ‘is fat as bad for us, as we have been lead to believe in the last 30 years’.
In case you missed the show, in the left corner we had the University professors (one from Auckland and one from Otago) supporting the current dietary recommendations (eat low fat especially saturated fats and get your 6 grain/cereal serves/day etc), and to the supposedly, radical right corner, there was a professor and a senior Lecturer from AUT, advocating their support for a High fat-Low Carb diet, who following some trials of their own have concluded that there is evidence to suggest that fat isn’t the devil that science, media and (not least) the commercial food industry have hoodwinked us into believing it is.
I suspect both sides comments' were subject to the curse of the editing suite. And what followed was largely a disappointing story on what could have been a fascinating discussion between these four. It wasn’t even really a debate in the truest sense of the word. Put them in a room and let them really thrash it out I say – much better TV than that left to the hands of TV3’s reporters and editors.
I’m not going to go into any more detail or critique what any of them said or did, not least because one of them is married to one of my bosses (zero degrees of separation in NZ!) :). But it has had me thinking over the last couple of weeks, of the kind of impact this sort of article in the news could have on the population, and the powerful role the media plays in what and how information is fed to us.
Only TV3 knows what supposedly boring (but vital and true) pieces of information ended up on the editing suite floor, but I wonder how many people took away from that article that “fatty food is OK for me after all, bring on the pies, FnC’s, flag the veges etc etc”, which is certainly not the message the High-fat team would have been pushing. It was briefly mentioned that if you are going to increase your fat content you have to cut out the sugars, not just add in more fat on top of everything else, but was that absorbed? Who knows.
The problem with having a “debate” over anything food or diet related is that it suggests that at the end of it, we will have one clear winner and that is the way forward hence forth.
I truly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet. What works fabulously for one person, simply may not nourish and adequately fuel another. There are so many factors to take in to consideration. However, quite simply, no one is going to be negatively affected by cutting down on added sugars, refined carbs and frankenfoods.
In the last twelve months in particular we have seen the growth of dietary trends, such as the Paleo diet, it certainly has its merits, but, I just don’t like labels and I don’t necessarily fall neatly on either side of this particular fence either. My food philosophy is somewhere down the middle, and I believe it is less restrictive than compartmentalising how you eat, under some label that immediately leaves you with ‘I can’t have….’.
Low-quality, low-nutrient foods often do nothing but a disservice to the consumer and if something comes in packaging claiming it’s reduced fat or the likes, chances are it bears little to no resemblance to the food it started out life as.
In my humble opinion Michael Pollan says it best when he says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. I expand on this a little and say: Base all of your meals around vegetables (preferably quality and mainly non-starchy varieties (fries are not a vege!)), and from there think, what quality source(s) of protein and fat am I going to include with this? If you eat this way 90% of the time, your body will look after you and cope with your indulgences (allergies and special conditions aside of course).
This is where I believe our mass media and population wide, dietary promotion should be focused. Sorry, corporate food giants but the secret to good health, vitality and nourishment does not lie in the bottom of your heavily processed, well marketed “food” products.
The equation is really much simpler:
Real food, is real good.
Vegetarians look away now, talk of bones and carcasses is imminent.
With the onset of the cooler months here in NZ, I have already been cracking out the casseroles and soups using my broth bases. So I decided that it was timely to pop up a wee post about one of my favourite ways to reduce waste and keep healthy at the same time.
When you hear the words bone broth, it probably doesn’t immediately conjure up pictures of health. But that is exactly what broth is; a fabulously versatile, nutrient dense and not to mention cost effective, healthful food.
Sometimes termed as stock or broth (if you are a bit of a hipster right now), regardless of what you call it, it is simple to make at home and also reduces waste by reusing bones from leg roasts or chicken carcasses – or you can ask your butcher for some joint or big marrow bones. I am sure you’ll agree, that if the animal is dying for our use, we should endeavour to use all of it.
So, what is so nutritionally great about broth, the following is by no means an exhaustive list either.
You will have heard the old tale to have chicken soup when you feel ill; there is evidence to prove this - when the soup is made using a ‘real’ broth or stock base, made from healthy chicken bones. Chicken contains the amino acid cysteine which helps us be rid of mucus and bones are full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, all great for our immune systems and our own bones.
The long slow cooking process is thought to extract gelatin, collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin from cartilage, tendons and bones – natural joint, inflammation and arthritis associated pain relief, as well as being good for our hair and nails too - why pay for supplements when it is so readily available to us, pretty much for free.
Broths have been associated with improved outcomes for some sufferers with digestive disorders as well (crohns, colitis etc) as it can aid in restoring the lining of the gut – and as we know up to 80% of our immunity is in our gut, so we must look after it.
I could go on, but let’s cut to just how simple it is to make and how to use it.
Take your chosen bones/carcasses (some people add chicken feet for extra gelatin).
If they are raw, roasting them for 30 minutes will impart better flavour, but not compulsory.
Put them in the slow cooker, cover with water, add some Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV reportedly helps extract the minerals). You can simply leave as is if you wish, however I always add carrots, onion, celery stalks (keep leaves, tops and peelings in the freezer until you are ready to make your stock/broth), peppercorns, bay leaf and rosemary combinations to boost the flavour.
You could leave this to simmer away on low for up to 3 days – but at least until the bones have become softened - generally about 12 hours on low in a slow-cooker.
Sieve and leave the liquid to cool, scrape the fat off, (if it sets to a jelly like consistency it is fabulously full of gelatin), use immediately or freeze in usable portions a muffin tin is a good way to freeze single serves.
Some people drink a cup a day, more appealing may be to use it as a ready-made base for soups and casseroles, too easy.
I firmly believe that there are no hard and fast rules, no right nor wrong nor a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to food. However, I do think that at times we all lack inspiration for alternatives, especially if we are trying to make healthier choices.
This is particularly true when it comes to breakfast, I grew up, as did many (or the majority even) in our society, on the food-bandwagon that, breakfast foods consisted of; toast and spread, cereal and milk/yoghurt, cooked breakfasts didn't even really feature on my radar as a kid.
Fortunately for me, I have the luxury of a Mother who made our cereal, and often our bread too when I was young - go Mum. Whilst still, toast and cereal, at least with the home made varieties, the additional creepies, like excessively added sugar and preservatives were largely avoided.
Making your own cereal is easy, quick and a great way to get rid of the 'dead' and overly refined ingredients in most bought cereals, that don't offer you any benefits, and load up on the more healthful ingredients instead.
However, I put it to you to take it a step further and challenge what you consider breakfast foods all together.
Think beyond the 'bagged and boxed' toast and cereal norm and make your breakfast another way to fuel your body, yet still keeping it low maintenance enough to be had any day of the week.
There are no rules, specific foods, do not need to be eaten at certain times of the day only.
Be creative, think outside the square and the world (or breakfast at least) is your oyster.........
Here are my quick fire ideas:
I am off on the road for work, for the next 6 days, and it seems only fitting that I share how I am going to still eat well, when away from home and without access to my fully equiped kitchen - you can do it too!
I am going to be working odd hours 12-10pm some days and 8am-7pm on others, but regardless of time of day, each client I see deserves the best out of their session, so I need to make sure my brain is in gear and switched on. The best way I know how to do that, is to fuel my body with all it requires nutritionally as well as keeping up some physical activity too.
With a little bit of planning and thought, you really do not have to rely on service stations and fast food outlets to survive, when on the road.
But not to totally do the local stores out of money either, I will shop local to top up my supplies as needed, fingers crossed they've some avocado, as I'm all out which is a total food tragedy :). and of course a cheeky caffeine fix along the way too (hopefully!).
I have booked simple accommodation for the five nights I am away and whilst there is no kitchen, I will have access to a shared fridge, and I will take my chilly bag for taking food onsite each day.
Not to get too boring or detailed, but here's the lowdown on how I am going to eat like a nutritional ninja, without breaking the budget.
Some of the remaining contents of my fridge became a crustless quiche. I've a couple of salads made up and picked the greens ready in the garden for more salads or smoothies (yes, my blender is coming with me!). Add in some leftover roast chicken and tins of tuna and voila! eating the rainbow, keeping the hunger at bay and fueling my way through the week.
As added extras or nice-to-haves, I'm also taking along some boosters in the form of, apple cider vinegar, spirulina, bee pollen, water kefir and my Latin style sauerkraut to keep the tummy happy.
With this powerhouse of nutrition going for the majority of the week, if time and location allows, there is also definitely room for a brunch or a treat meal too.
Fingers crossed for some nice weather in the foothills as the sneakers are packed and ready to go too.
Keep cooking and living nourished!
Nutritionist. Kiwi. freestyle cook. positive. simple. clean. food. wellness. health. nature. soul. holistic.