Saturday, 22 February 2014

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

Finally a muffin recipe that's high in fibre, low in fat and sugar, the perfect portion for a snack AND tastes delicious! (Well it is my own recipe, so...) But seriously, muffins are often given a bad rap by Dietitians as they tend to be jumbo-sized, offer very little nutritional value and punch above their weight by eating well into our daily kilojoule (or calorie) allowance. But home-baked goodies can make great snacks, and it helps that you know exactly what goes into them! No need to worry about preservatives or artificial anything and modifying it to suit the dietary requirements of a loved one is a lot easier.

With just 450kJ (107cal) and 1g of fat per muffin, but plenty of sweet satisfaction, say good-bye to 3:30-itis! 

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

I like my apple diced, but if you don't like big bits of
apple, you could always grate it in.

2 C wholemeal self-raising flour
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ C brown sugar
½ C (1 tub) apple puree
1 egg, beaten
¾ C skim milk
3 Tbsp plain reduced-fat yoghurt
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (roughly 1-1.5cm cubes)

Crumble topping:
3 Tbsp rolled oats
1.5 Tbsp crumbed walnuts
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ Tbsp linseed

  1. Combine crumble toppings in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins until ¾ full and sprinkle with crumble topping.
  4. Bake at 200°C for 25-30mins or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

      Makes 16 muffins.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Join the rest of Australia and get behind Healthy Weight Week!

With Healthy Weight Week fast approaching I thought I'd take a look at some of the first steps to take if you're trying to lose weight. So what is Healthy Weight Week? It's an initiative by the Dietitian's Association of Australia (DAA) to increase awareness of the importance of enjoying a healthy weight and lifestyle. Running from the 17th-23rd February, there are many events happening around the country, run by Dietitians. For more info and plenty of great tips and resources check out their website here.

But first things first: what is a Dietitian?

A Dietitian has undertaken a university degree to study nutrition science but also supervised professional practice in the areas of clinical nutrition, community programs and food service management as well as a research component. Dietetics is a specialised field of nutrition and allows us to work in hospitals or the community undertaking client-centred care to plan appropriate diets based on individual needs, wants and capabilities

An Accredited Practising Dietitian is recognised by the DAA and will tailor an advice and an eating plan to your goals and lifestyle. We support and motivate you to make the changes you need to make and work with you on what you feel you can realistically achieve. To find out more about Dietitians and APDs, check out the DAA website here.

So what's the big deal with being a healthy weight?

We know that nearly 2 in 3 Australian adults and 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese (based on the Australian Health Service; see ABS 2012) and that unfortunately, these statistics just keep rising.

Obesity isn't just the result of how many kilojoules (or calories) you consume, or how rarely you go to the gym. There are so many causes and it could be that one or all of these have contributed to your weight gain:
  • Genetics- your genes can make you more susceptible to gaining weight
  • Metabolism- how well your body converts food into energy
  • Nutrition- what and how much you eat. Remember, not all foods are equal when it comes to nutrients or kilojoule content, or how well your body will use or store it.
  • Exercise- the energy you use when exercising comes from the food you eat. Eat more than you need and you won't be able to use it all up so it will get converted to fat as storage.
  • Psychology- there is a huge behavioural influence on what and how much you eat. Think emotional eating, peer pressure, the media and strange looks when you turn down cake at a birthday party!
  • Social surroundings- we live in an 'obesogenic society' meaning all around us are cues encouraging us to gain weight: fast food chains around every corner, supermarkets open 24/7, sedentary day jobs and a lack of safe bike or walking paths in your neighbourhood.
  • Lifestyle- think not enough sleep, too much alcohol or eating at all hours of the day and night which alters our body clock and can affect our digestion and metabolism.
While how much you eat is a large factor in how much
you'll weigh, there are many other causes of obesity.

What's the worst thing that will happen if I keep doing what I'm doing?

Obesity is a lifestyle disease and a risk factor for many other diseases and health problems such as:
  • Shorter life expectancy- overweight and obese people have a 50-100% increased risk of dying before their time.
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Some types of cancer (such as breast, uterine, colon, etc)
  • Digestive disorders (such as reflux)
  • Breathing and sleep difficulties
  • Problems with fertility
  • Psychological issues including social isolation or depression
What about day-to-day life? Normal daily activities become difficult as you will find it hard to move and become short-of-breath and tired easily, you may have to rethink how you get places as seats on public transport become too small and you may need to hire someone to help you shower and go to the toilet and make a sandwich as it all becomes too difficult for you. Sound like a good life? I didn't think so.

You may have to rethink how you get places as seats on public transport
become too small... Sound like a good life? I didn't think so."

Convinced? Ready to change? OK here's what you do now...

Worried you'll be tempted by that cafe you always drive past on your way to work? Remove the temptation and change your route to work.
  1. Make some nutrition and exercise goals and make sure you share them with friends or family so you'll hold yourself accountable. You'll need specific strategies to help you achieve these, such as switch to reduced-fat dairy and cut takeaway from three times a week to once a week. These should be small and simple to begin with and you can build on them once you've achieved them. For more ideas of goals see my blog post called 'small changes that can add up to a big difference to your weight'.
  2. Think about some of the barriers that might make it difficult for you to achieve those goals and come up with solutions so you're ready when these problems arise. 
  3. Start with a baseline of your health so you'll be able to really see the changes when they happen! Take a before photo, step on the scales, measure your waist circumference with a tape measure and visit the doctor to get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels checked.
  4. Keep a food and exercise diary, recording what and how much you eat and when, as well as what exercise you do, for how long and when (this could also include household chores).
  5. Book an appointment with a Dietitian who can give you specific weight loss advice and show you which changes will make the most impact on your weight.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Chilli-Lime Chicken with Minted Quinoa and Asian Greens

Here's another meal idea to add to the collection. The combination of chilli and lime is a great one, which I adapted from an Australian Healthy Food Guide Magazine recipe. But I think teaming it with minted quinoa definitely adds a whole other dimension! Never cooked with quinoa before? Well now's the time to start. With three times the fibre of brown rice and a complete protein source (not to mention a whole host of vitamins and minerals), this low G.I., gluten-free grain has truly earned the 'superfood' title it's been given. For this recipe I served it hot, but it is just as good cold in salads. So make extra quinoa for your lunches!

Chilli-Lime Chicken with Minted Quinoa and Asian Greens

2 long red chillies, deseeded and chopped finely, OR 3-4 tsp minced chilli
4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce
4 tsp grated fresh ginger (or equivalent minced)
2 tsp castor sugar
500g chicken breast, diced into large chunks
~8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 1-2hours (so they don't burn)
1 C quinoa
1.5C water
Small handful mint leaves, finely chopped (approx. 2-3Tbsp)
4C Asian greens (I used bok choy, broccolini and green beans, but you could also use zucchini or spinach if you had those handy, or any other green veg)
Lime wedges

I used tri-coloured quinoa but any colour will do!
  1. Place chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, ginger and sugar in a shallow (non-metallic) bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add marinade to the chicken, stir to coat and set aside (in the fridge) for at least 10mins (I usually leave it for around 1 hour). 
  2. Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water to remove the bitter outer coating (you can also pre-soak in hot water for 15mins before rinsing but this is optional). Add quinoa to a medium saucepan with 1.5C water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 10-15minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Let stand for 5mins before fluffing with a fork and stirring though mint. Keep hot.
  3. Thread chicken onto pre-soaked wooden skewers and cook on a BBQ or grill pan on medium-high until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, stir-fry the green veggies in a large fry-pan until just cooked (you could also steam these). Squeeze one of the lime wedges over the greens.
  5. Serve skewers with quinoa, greens and extra lime wedges 
      Serves 4-5

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Your guide to embarrassing tummy troubles

Do you suffer from embarrassing tummy troubles like bloating, wind and constipation? Don’t worry you’re not alone. Most people suffer some kind of gastro-intestinal (GI) issue at one point or another in their life. The problem starts when the issue lasts for more than a few days, comes back again and again and interferes with your day-to-day life. So how do you know when your tummy trouble moves out of the normal zone? I've put together a simple trouble-shooting guide for common tummy niggles.

So what’s normal?

Feeling bloating or having a full feeling after:
  • You’ve just eaten a large meal or drunk a large volume of fluid
  • You’ve eaten really fast and not chewed your food properly
  • You subconsciously swallow air while eating, often use a straw when drinking or drink a lot of 'fizzy' drinks
  • You’ve just eaten a meal high in fibre-rich legumes, fruit, vegetables or grains that your body isn’t used to

Passing wind or gas:
  • Anywhere between 2-30 times a day
  • More than usual when you’ve eaten lots of ‘windy’ vegetables like onions, cabbage, broccoli or beans and legumes
  • Or when you’ve been eating lots of processed, fatty, sugary or spicy foods or excessive alcohol

What about bowel habits?
  • Going to the toilet anywhere from 1-2 times per day to once every 3-4 days. Everyone is different and has their own ‘normal’
  • Not going to the toilet quite as often as your usual amount if you’ve:    
  • Not drunk enough water
  • Or not eaten enough fruit, veg, legumes or grainy foods

There are many other causes of tummy troubles that may not be related to diet. Studies have shown a complicated interaction between our brain and our gut meaning emotions can impact on GI function, as well as hormones. Stress, menstruation and medications can all play a part.

Putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls can help
to ensure you don't rush your meal as this can lead
to pain and bloating.

Take control of your gut

Here are some tips to try if you want to do stop feeling embarrassed wearing tight clothes and take back control of your GI system!
  • Eat regular meals and don’t overeat
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well
  • Make sure you’re drinking enough fluid each day (aim for 6-8 glasses) and limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean meats, reduced fat dairy, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes and nuts
  • Increase fibre intake slowly to prevent exacerbating symptoms
  • Ensure you’re getting a mix of the 3 types of fibre: soluble (found in fruit, veg, oats, legumes), insoluble (found in wholegrain bread, cereal, rice & pasta, nuts & veg) and resistant starch (found in cooked then cooled potato and rice and firm bananas)
  • Exercise can also help keep your bowels moving

Experiment with beans, lentils and pulses to add extra
fibre to your day!

When to seek more advice
  • Abdominal or tummy pain that is associated with a change in bowel habit
  • Mucousy or bloody poos
  • Significant straining, pain or urgency to go to the toilet
  • You haven’t been to the toilet or have had difficulty going to the toilet for 2 weeks or more
  • You have a family history of bowel cancer

 A doctor can help rule out Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and bowel cancer. A dietitian can help manage symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or food intolerances and determine your food triggers with more specific and individualised advice.

Useful Links

Find out exactly how much fibre you need, and how much you’re getting, with the Kellogg’s All-Bran fibre calculator here or the Kellogg’s All-Bran fibre tracker app available from the app store.

Find out more out bowel conditions such as IBD and IBS, how the GI system works and possible causes for your GI symptoms at the Gut Foundation website here

Find an Accredited Practising Dietitian near you on the Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) website here

Baked beans are infamous for their ability to increase
wind, but don't blame the humble bean! As long as you
increase fibre in your diet slowly, along with plenty
of fluids, you shouldn't have a problem!