Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Dietitian Eats Series: Megan Cameron-Lee

As a Dietitian, I constantly get asked whether I eat “like, really healthy?” There’s this misconception that the diet of a Dietitian consists solely of salad and grilled chicken and that it definitely doesn’t contain chocolate or cake or pizza, or anything vaguely delicious. Well I wanted to quash that notion by inviting several of my Dietitian friends to share their daily eats in a series of blog posts.

The idea? To let YOU know that a good diet means everything in moderation; that Dietitians aren’t the fun-sucking food police- that in fact we got into dietetics because we’re all foodies at heart; that there are so many different versions of ‘healthy’ and; to give you some healthy meal inspirations. Plus, who doesn’t love a good food perve?

So, I’ll be posting the food diaries of other Dietitians on my blog twice a week for the next few weeks! But first I decided to kick the series off by sharing my own ‘day on a plate’…


Megan Cameron-Lee, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Currently working in two Sydney-based practices with Exercise Physiologists, conducting individual consults and group programs; contributing to stock pages and writing articles for a food and nutrition magazine; sharing nutrition knowledge through various social media and this weekly blog!

Twitter: @dieteticdegust
Food Philosophy: It doesn’t have to be complicated or involve obscure 'health' foods, and you don't need to give up all the foods you love. Just focus on filling your plate with lots of healthy everyday veg, fruit & grains most of the time and eat everything else in moderation!

6.30am Breakfast is one meal I will never miss; if I do I’m hungry within an hour. My parents used to joke and ask if I wanted to use a mixing bowl for my cereal, since I always pour well over the recommended serve size. Today though, it’s natural muesli with skim milk which is more filling so I can get away with a little less.

11am I’m feeling a bit peckish so munch on an orange.

12.30pm I almost always find the time to prepare my lunch the night before when working- usually an egg or salad sandwich or leftovers. Since the weather’s getting a bit chilly, today I’ve opted for a toasted sandwich- reduced fat hommus, tomato, grated carrot, a slice of reduced fat cheese and rocket on rye bread. Plus, my secret ingredient: spring onion, which brings a great flavour.


4pm I’m quite predictable when it comes to my afternoon snack, it alternates between one of my homemade muesli bars (find the recipe here) or some yoghurt and fruit. I stewed some rhubarb and apple on the weekend so I’ve topped my reduced fat plain yoghurt with it along with some Kellogg’s All Bran Fibre Toppers- they add great crunch!

6.30pm Dinner tonight is one of my faves- lean beef, brown rice & veg stuffed into half a large red capsicum, plus a small rocket and tomato salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (recipe also on m blog- here). Definitely more filling than it looks!

8pm Dessert is one thing I refuse to live without. I eat it just about every night, no joke. I love to bake so often it’s a pudding or piece of cake that I’ve made (a ‘healthier’ version of course!), but tonight there isn’t any baking in the house so I choose 3 pieces of my most recent favourite chocolate- dark peppermint cream- mmm.

Want to check out the diets of more Dietitians? Well don't worry, the next post will be up in a few days. But in the meantime, search 'what I ate on Wednesday' and you'll find similar food diaries from registered Dietitians from all around the world!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Ricotta and spinach stuffed chicken with white bean smash

Every once in a while I feel like spending a bit of extra time in the kitchen to make something a little bit special. And I don’t mean hours and hours- I don’t believe good, nutritious meals should have to take much time out of our busy days- but if you have an extra 15 minutes to spare and want to wow your family or friends, try this one. White bean smash is an idea I introduced in my pantry staples post (see here if you missed it) as an alternative to mashed potato, an easy way to boost the fibre, protein and vegetable serves of your meal. This dish also proves that pesto doesn’t just have to be left to pasta; in this recipe it acts as a lovely flavour-packed sauce! For more from me on pesto, click here.

Ricotta and spinach stuffed chicken with white bean smash

2-3 chicken breasts (~500g)
100g reduced fat ricotta
¼ C spinach, finely chopped
2 Tbsp semi-dried tomatoes, patted dry, finely chopped
2x400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp skim milk
4 Tbsp basil pesto (bought or homemade, see recipe), thinned out with a little water
1 bunch broccolini
1 carrot, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced

  1.     Combine ricotta, spinach and semi-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2.      Cut a horizontal pocket into each chicken breast and spans nearly the whole length and width of the breast so that there is just one opening.
  3.      Spoon or pipe ricotta mixture into the pockets of each chicken breast, using your hands to massage the mixture evenly down the length of the breast.   
  4.     Cook in a large frypan over medium heat, sprayed with a little olive or canola oil, turning until cooked through (longer than an un-stuffed breast, roughly 20mins). Alternatively, brown in a frypan then finish the cooking process in the oven.
  5.     Meanwhile, heat beans in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, together with garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mash roughly so the beans don’t quite form a smooth mash, but more of a ‘smash’. Stir through milk and season with salt and pepper.
  6.      Meanwhile, steam vegetables in the microwave or a steamer.
  7.     Slice each stuffed chicken breast and serve each person a large spoonful of bean smash, a few slices of stuffed chicken, vegetables and top with a tablespoon of pesto.

Serves 4

Thursday, 17 April 2014

10 of the best free health and nutrition apps: Part Two

Last week I brought you 5 out of my top 10 free health and nutrition apps (if you missed it, click here). They weren't in any particular order (except number 1! But you'll know that if you've read 'part one'), so here are the next 5. I will say that after posting the first blog I was directed to an app I hadn't seen before but I thought good enough to make the list so there has been some rearranging (sorry to the app that didn't make the cut!).

Anyway, without further adieu…

6. GS1 Go Scan- GS1 Australia

From the people who are responsible for for the barcodes on the products we buy, and making the little beep when it goes through the register, comes GS1 Go Scan. This app allows you to search foods (by product description, brand or category), scan the barcode or enter the barcode number and it provides you with all the information available about that product. This includes the ingredients list, nutrition information panel, list of allergens, dietary information and country of origin. It lets you save your favourite products and set individual alerts for your allergens or other diet requirements (e.g. vegetarian, kosher, etc).

7. Quick Health Age Check- Bupa

Ever watched those episodes on The Biggest Loser where they tell the contestants their 'health age' or what age they'll live to if they keep up their unhealthy lifestyle (and then the improvements once they do change)? Well this app lets you do the same thing for yourself. It will calculate your health age and health risk based on your lifestyle factors, such as your weight, smoking status and medical history. You can then make adjustments to your lifestyle factors to see just how much of an impact certain healthy changes would have on your health.

8. All-Bran Fibre Tracker- Kellogg's

I have to admit I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to how much I love my fibre. And I know I'm alone on that one- most people aren't getting anywhere near the fibre they need from their diet. The All-Bran Fibre Tracker tells you how much fibre you need in a day and lets you track how much you get by adding fibre-containing foods that you ate. Search for foods by category or product (it has all the Kellogg's products plus loads of other generic foods). You can create a shopping list, scroll through the high-fibre recipes and work towards your daily fibre goal, all while learning about which foods are the highest in fibre!

9. Cal Cutter- NYC Health

This is an app which was developed by the New York City Health Department and I think it's a fabulous idea for an app! Enter your own recipe and the number of serves it makes and Cal Cutter will convert it to a healthier dish by suggesting changes you could make to the recipe that could lower the energy (by cutting calories (kilojoules)) and lets you save or email the healthier version. A great way to teach people how to modify recipes to make them healthier.

10. Cookspiration- Dietitians of Canada

This app was developed by the Dietitians of Canada (Canada's version of the Dietitians Association of Australia). It's ultimately a cookbook filled with with loads of healthy recipes plus their nutritional information. The app has a different set of recipes to suit each day of the week and each time of day (morning, late afternoon, evening, etc). It will automatically pop up as the time of day is with recipes divided into different categories to suit what you might want to be cooking then. A great trustworthy source of healthy meal ideas.

So there you have it, 10 of what I think are the best free health and nutrition apps out there. Think there's one I missed? Let me know and I'll be sure to share it with my followers!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

10 of the best free health and nutrition apps: Part One

Technology just keeps amazing me. Maybe because when I was young computers just started being an every household appliance, and we moved from the old Nokia bricks to teeny tiny mobiles to large flat 'smart phones' and suddenly you're weird if you don't use email, have facebook and twitter and spend endless hours on your phone or tablet or laptop that you'll never get back again. Getting the sense that underneath all my blogging wizardry I'm actually a technophobe? Well you'd be correct. I'm what my advertising and marketing student boyfriend calls a 'lagger'. I was the last of my friends to get msn, myspace and facebook and I only THIS CHRISTMAS got a smartphone! (That's right, before then was a simpler time that consisted of only using my phone to send texts or make calls).
But the point I'm (slowly) getting to is that technology can be used for good instead of evil, especially when it comes to health. One of the most exciting parts of getting a smart phone, for me, was scrolling through the app store searching for awesome health and nutrition apps (free of course, because I remain a huge tight arse). So I thought you'd appreciate a list of my top 10 favourite apps! In fact I started writing this blog and realised it would be way to long if I did all 10 at once, so I've decided to break it into two blogs. Here are the first 5, in no particular order (although number 1 is my clear favourite)...
1. Easy Diet Diary- Xyris Software
From the makers of the software Dietititans use, Easy Diet Diary lets you keep an electronic diary of the foods you eat and the exercise you do. You can enter in your own profile, including your weight and energy goals, add your own foods and recipes or scan the extensive database of generic and branded foods and activities. Keep track of the energy you consume (as well as major nutrients, by food, meal and day) and the energy you burn to meet your daily target. You can even send the diary to your Dietitian who can then open it in their FoodWorks program!
2.      Food Switch- Bupa & the George Institute
A brilliant app that lets you scan barcodes while shopping to see what's in your food. It uses a traffic light system for different nutrients (green for good, orange for ok and red for not so good) and lets you select a switch- to generally healthier products, to products will less salt, or to products without gluten. An easy way to decipher nutrition panels and choose the better choice. You can save your favourites and make personalised shopping lists too.
3. 8700- NSW Government

This government campaign is a great one in my opinion, aiming to make Australians more aware of what kilojoules are (the unit of measure used for the energy people get from eating and drinking, also known as calories, in case you were wondering). You can calculate your 'ideal figure'- the number of kilojoules you need to consume to maintain a healthy weight- and then search the amount of kilojoules in fast foods (both generic and brands) as well as how many kilojoules you can burn doing everyday activities, sports and exercise. Each food also shows up how much activity you'd have to do to burn it off!
4. Calorie King
Calorie King has a website, a pocket book and now an app. You can quickly search the nutritional information of certain foods, by category, brand or fast food chain. And for those of you who just got your heads around kilojoules from the last app, Calorie King displays both calories and kilojoules.
5. My Energy Balancer- Medibank
It can be difficult to balance the energy you consume and the energy you burn, but this balancing act is (in the most part) what determines whether we gain weight, lose weight or maintain our weight. This app lets you search for a food item and choose your quantity, then choose an activity and it will show you how long you need to do it (say, walking) for in order to burn the food off. Or vice versa.

(Keep an eye out for the next 5 in my next post coming soon!)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Homemade Basil Pesto

I'm a big fan of pesto. Who could resist the lovely Italian flavours of basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan? I love the bought stuff so much I figured the homemade version must be even better! So I did some experimenting with a lower fat version, because while olive oil is full of healthy fats, any fat is still energy-dense and kilojoule-laden. What I discovered was just how easy it was! Check out the recipe (& ideas for using pesto) below.

Homemade Basil Pesto

1 bunch basil (~2 C)
4 Tbsp toasted pinenuts
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water

  1.      Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until fine.

Makes ~3/4 C. Store in a small glass jar or other airtight container in the fridge.

Some meal ideas with pesto

Pesto has so many uses, a few of which I've listed below. If you don't have the time to make the pesto yourself, store-bought pesto will work just as well. Just remember to stick to around 1 tablespoon per person as it is a high fat source.

  • Pesto pasta- also great with green veg, roasted cherry tomatoes and chicken stirred through and topped with some extra parmesan.
  • Homemade pesto pizza- spread pesto over the base of the pizza instead of tomato paste and top with your favourite toppings (works best with zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and tomato).
  • As a 'sauce' for any baked chicken or fish dish- see my next post for a recipe using pesto as a sauce for stuffed chicken and white bean smash!
  • As a component of your lasagne's white sauce- instead of the traditional creamy (i.e. fatty!) sauce, try mixing low fat milk, ricotta and a little pesto to use in your next lasagne.
  • Pesto potato salad- Instead of the traditional mayonnaise dressing, try gently stirring some pesto through your cooked potatoes.