Spruce Up Your Grocery Trolley with These Healthy Additions

HEALTH

Fit out your trolley with these fit and healthy must haves

Think real food and plants!

Hair, skin, nails, the immune system, our joints, our guts, literally everything to do with our body can benefit from a diet that is largely plant based. This is scientifically proven!

The detoxifying effects of the antioxidants and water in plants sets us up for the perfect summer of not only looking great but feeling energetic. This doesn’t mean rushing out and purchasing the newest, most expensive discoveries in superfoods. Some common house-hold food items will do the trick without breaking the bank. Boosting the nutritional value of common food items lays within its preparation. Prep techniques can either make or break a superfood. The goal of eating should be, to boost nutritional content including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Each one of these vital components of food is deeply impacted by processing. Processing may include applying heat, adding stabilizing or preserving ingredients such as sugar, sodium, acids or artificial preservatives. Each of which extend the shelf life and taste appeal of the food item but reduce its nutritional content.

I am excited to throw you some little life hacks in this blog to really get you going on a nutritional boosting path.

Have you ever thought of putting your mushrooms in the sunlight? Why on earth would you bother doing that! You ask. Well, the sun enhances the vitamin D status of the mushrooms. Mushrooms are in Vitamin D2 form, not active D3. They do need to undergo conversion for use by the body. None the less, a boost in D2 will do some spectacular things for your health. 1-2 hours is a good sun baking timeframe for our meaty friends.

CITRUS HEAVEN

Citrus foods boast a whole lot more than just the vitamin C they are commonly recognized for. The spray you in the face juiciness of citrus contain an array of free radical scavenging antioxidants which have been shown to guard you from a range of disease states such as cancers, age related brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and help you to have beautiful skin. 

Rich colored citrus such as ruby red grapefruit and blood orange offer even greater antioxidant content.

Don’t throw away the good parts!

Closer to the outer edges (around the skin and between each segment) of citrus fruits contain some great benefits and is where most of the nutrients lay. Eating the pith can greatly increase your nutritional benefit and boost the antioxidant profile.

Make them crispy

You can enhance some of the benefits of citrus fruits by drying them in an oven. How?

Preheat oven to 100C, slice oranges, place on an oven tray and bake for 1.5 hours on one side and another 1.5 hours on the other. Keep checking on them to see if they have already gone crispy, you don’t want them to burn! This process brings out some of those lovely antioxidants.

AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

An old saying but it remains strong in the world of health. For such an accessible food the health benefits of apples are HUGE!  Apples are fantastic appetite controls. They help to regulate blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol, support intestinal health and reduce the risk of diabetes. Green apples (Granny Smith) are lower in sugar and contain the prebiotic fiber, known as pectin, which helps to support healthy gut bacteria function and development.

DON’T throw away the skin! Like all fruit and vegetables, the most nutritious parts of the apple can be found within or just under the skin. Cutting away the skin could mean losing so many wonderful nutritional benefits such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and C.

Wash them

Be sure to wash your store-bought apples. Supermarkets love to have beautiful, enticing fruit and vegetables, but this often means placing sprays and waxes on them to make them shine and keep them looking beautiful for longer.

SPICE UP YOUR SALADS

As a rule, dark, richer coloured leafy greens pack the greatest nutritional punch in a salad bowl. Rocket adds a digestive component to your salad, with its peppery, slightly bitter taste it kicks your digestive juices into action. Baby spinach oozes with antioxidants, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, K and folic acid, giving you the protective power you need to fight off free radicals and flood you with a boost of energy. These nutrients are also extremely nourishing to the cardiovascular system. Kale is another salad green that rivals rocket and spinach on nutritional punch. Skip the old school iceberg lettuce which carries little more than water and include these superheroes of the salad world. They also make for a far prettier and more interesting salad. As mentioned in the paragraph on mushrooms, vegetables obtain and develop much of their antioxidant properties from sunlight. Salad leaves that are open to the sun such as kale, baby spinach and rocket are given the opportunity to enhance their nutritional profile, more so than tighter more enclosed varieties.

Did you know that the vitamin C found in lemon juice can enhance the absorption of the iron content in spinach? This is great news for vegans and vegetarians as non-heme (non-animal) sources of iron are less easily taken up by the body than their heme counterparts. Adding vitamin C to non-heme sources increases its chances of absorption.

TATOMO TOMATO

Although, greatly recognized for their high lycopene content often related to prostate health, tomatoes have so much more to offer. The carotene that lurks within the beautifully red tomato supports healthy cardiovascular function and prevents skin from sun damage, no wonder they are a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet. Its collagen boosting properties are shown help to repair the skin and slow the ageing process. Once again, the skin is where the money is (nutritional benefits).

Cook them up!

The cooking process increases and activates the tomatoes lycopene potential. Home made spaghetti sauces and baked beans using chopped up tomatoes are a great way to boost the nutrient value of your food.

Keep them out of the fridge

We need those perfect antioxidants to continue to develop long after they have been picked. Refrigerating tomatoes can holt this process and reduce the antioxidant potential of the tomato.

BERRY BONANZA

We all know berries are good for us. They have long been included in the list of superfoods. Why? Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and collagen boosting vitamin C. These, superb inclusions for skin health. But, in a less vein sense, berries are fantastic supports for cardiovascular health.

Look for rich reds and purples. The richer the colour, the greater the nutritional benefit. Some research has shown that the proteins found in milk products reduce the absorption of vitamin C so try to skip the addition of milk. Instead, opt for a non-dairy based milk such as coconut, almond, oat to combine with your smoothie or choose yoghurt varieties utilizing these milk bases.

DIGESTIVE PREPARATION

Brassica vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower should be rich in colour and slightly steamed, not eaten raw.  Research suggests that brassica vegetables can inhibit thyroid function. It is also difficult for some to effectively digest raw brassica vegetables. When prepared properly, brassica vegetables support liver function, contain significant calcium and vitamin K levels and can become a versatile addition to most meals such as cauliflower rice, pizza bases, vegan cheeses, vegetable bakes and much more.

As you can see, boosting the nutritional content of your shopping trolley is easier than ever and can be achieved with common, every day superfoods. Colour and proper preparation is the key to enhancing these nutritional benefits. Happy shopping!

Breakfast: Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Pudding

Breakfast

Why is breakfast so important?

Breakfast is an important part of our health. It prepares us physically and mentally for the day and sets the tone for how our metabolism will respond for the day ahead.

This is why, the foods we choose to put in or not to put in our mouth in some people’s case, really does have an effect on how we live for that day.

Consequences of no breakfast or the wrong breakfast may include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory and retention of information
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Low productivity
  • Poor brain function
  • Low energy
  • Low libido
  • Excessive hunger later in the day
  • Bing eating
  • Poor sleep
  • Higher levels of stress or a poor stress response
  • Slow metabolism

 

Longer term implications may include:

  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Blood sugar complications
  • Muscle wasting
  • Elevations in cholesterol and blood pressure

A well-balanced breakfast should include a balance of protein, healthy fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates.

This Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Pudding will have any feeling energised and ready to take on your day.

 

Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Breakfast Pudding

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp. chia seeds

30g oats

½ cup water

Combine in a bowl and soak overnight.

 

1 tsp cacao powder

1 tbsp cacao nibs

1 heaped tsp almond butter (or any pure nut butter)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

10g vegan protein, flavour of choice

Another ½ cup water

1 dash almond milk

Toppings

10g Mixed nuts and seeds

10g hemp seeds

Method

Add pre-soaked chia/oat mix to a small pot.

Turn heat to low-medium.

Gently warm and add the remaining water, stir.

Once stirred through add the rest of the ingredients besides the toppings and stir until combine.

Remove from heat into bowl.

Top with mixed nuts, seeds and hemp seeds.

The pictured pudding also has dragon fruit chips for decoration, but you may like to add some fresh fruit such as passionfruit or berries.

You can enjoy this pudding cold or warm so it is a fantastic breakfast all year round!

Keto Buzz: What is it all about?

The Keto Buzz

The buzz word in the diet realm currently seems to ring ‘Keto’. There are so many FAD diets around and so many that have come and gone over the many years that people have been ‘weight’ conscious. Most diets have their pros and cons and it is evident ‘diet’ is not a one size fits all protocol and the ‘Keto diet’ is no exception.

So, what is it?

There are several forms of the ketogenic diet geared towards different people including: Standard ketogenic diet: Very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat. Cyclical ketogenic diet: Phases of higher-carb reloads with majority ketogenic days (5:2). Targeted ketogenic diet: Carbs are consumed around workout times. High-protein ketogenic diet: The standard Keto diet with additional protein.

The most common however, is the standard very low-carb, high fat concept, where protein is left at a moderate intake. The diet is time consuming and leaves people open to obsessing over their ‘macros’. Counting total carbohydrate intake is the aim of the game. You can see how this may become problematic for those with eating disorders or addictive behaviours.

The goal is less than 50g of net (total minus fibre) carbs per day. In doing this, you are working towards the primary target of regearing where energy is derived from. Therefore, as glucose is our main energy source on a normal diet, our bodies will begin to utilise or create other energy sources, ‘ketones’ which are produced in the liver from the breakdown of fatty acids, essentially accelerating fat metabolism and weightloss.

Possible Benefits

– Ketosis has beneficial effects on blood sugar and may, benefit ‘some’ of the diabetic community along with other related blood sugar dysregulation conditions.

– It has been shown to benefit some with neurological disorders (epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s).

– It has shown benefits in sustaining healthy blood lipid levels for cholesterol control (when the correct fats are also consumed)

– Supports happy hormone levels and other hormonal related conditions

– Effective for some who wish to lose weight, if done properly.

On the flipside if poorly executed or with a lack of professional guidance, nutritional deficiencies can arise, hypoglycaemia may present, a temporary energy loss may leave one unable to live a normal life and too much weightloss may present.

What I suggest… Do lots of reading and research before you jump into any diet regime and seek the guidance of an extensively trained professional who can educate, support, guide and monitor your health.

Is Stress Impacting Your Health?

stress
Stress: The commonly used 6 letter word unveiled… 

We are all subjected to stress at one time or another in our lives. In today’s busy lifestyles we are probably subjected to it more than we have ever been in the past and more and more on a daily basis. Some stress is beneficial. It keeps our minds active, our blood pumping and our problem-solving skills in check.

Stress causes a fight or flight response within us, where our stress hormones are released from our adrenal glands. These hormones are known as adrenaline, epinephrine, cortisol and noradrenaline. These are released to protect us from danger, if a bear or lion might be chasing us, so to speak in cave man terms. When cortisol and adrenaline are released, the liver is prompted to release glucose from its stores to provide fuel to move rapidly and trigger the brain to kick into action and the heart to beat faster to pump blood to the muscles. This creates elevations in blood pressure.

This process is great in short bursts.

Like anything, too much of a good thing can also be harmful. Prolonged, frequent and long term stressors can send our stress hormones into overdrive, deplete output from our adrenal glands and cause havoc throughout our body. This havoc can present in the form of elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels (contributing to diabetes), and neurotransmitter depletions making it even more difficult to respond normally to stressful and emotional situations and contribute to reductions in libido and reproductive function due to the body switching off its parasympathetic systems and turning on its sympathetic nervous system. This switch also switches off digestive processes in order to focus on the task at hand, leading to symptoms of IBS, constipation, reflux and more.

It is extremely difficult to find balance in a rapidly changing and busy environment, with work, children, study, continuous moving of houses, finances, relationships and even things as small as driving a car.

It is important to take a moment each day to stop, reflect, take some deep breaths and enjoy life.

Go for a walk alone if you can, or with a partner, where you discuss the next exciting thing in your lives or take your kids to the park and play with them on the swings. Walk in fresh air along the beach, listen to some light music, read a book, do some light exercise or yoga. Anything that will allow you to just be at peach and let go of all the stressors in life even for just a moment.

Speak with a health professional on breathing or relaxing strategies that you can fit into your busy schedule.