Monday, August 31, 2009

Inherited Information Part I

We received a shipment of Rob's dad's things from New Zealand on Friday. In it were some of his recipe books and food magazines. I was flipping them and came across a few articles that are relevant to what I am trying to do with my diet at the moment (reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol).

The first, 'Smart Food', by Nikki Hart, was originally published in Essentially Food, April/May 2007. Here are the main points:

1.'Eat a Rainbow' every day! This means eat plant foods at every meal and most snacks. The carotenoids in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables have been shown to be heart protective. Eating a range of plant foods provides the maximum amount of antioxidants. Chop large pieces of fresh golden pineapple and have on hand in the fridge for a quick hear protective snack.

2. Get going with whole grains! Chewy grains and seeds are best as this slows digestion down and keeps you feeling fuller for longer - aiding weight loss. Oats are particularly good for the heart. The specific fibre beta-glucan has an enormous beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and has been shown to help prevent heart disease.

3. Boost your diet with legumes. Dried peas and beans contain a valuable source of protein that can be incorporated into the diet allowing you to eat less saturated fat in meat. Use hummus as a snack with vegetable sticks. Soy is also worth a special mention. 1-2 servings of soy protein-rich foods a day may be sufficient to provide long term benefits for the heart.

4. Favour fish - especially the oily types. The omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood clotting. Sticky, thick blood is not good for the arteries. Fresh fish such as tuna and salmon are good sources, as are canned salmon, sardines or mackerel (not canned tuna).

5. Ditch the hidden saturated fat. Swap from butter to canola or olive oil, move from full-fat to low fat milk and dairy products, choose reduced fat ice-cream, eat cheese occasionally (it is very high in fat!), and cut the visible fat off meat!

6. Go Nuts! Nuts have a good mixture of unsaturated fatty acids that are shown to be good for the heart. Ten almonds or four walnuts as a snack with fruit is an excellent way to boost protective fats for the heart.

7. Shake the salt habit! Highly processed foods such as canned soups, sauces, gravies, stocks, pre-prepared deli meats, sausages, fried foods etc are very high in salt.

8. Only use small amounts of unsaturated fats for cooking - just because it is better for you doesn’t mean you should pour it on. And ‘lite’ oil is only ‘lite’ in colour NOT calories!

Nikki’s Ultimate Heart Smart Day
* A bowl of porridge with soy milk and a sprinkle of almonds and raisins
* 1 cup pineapple chunks
* 2 x grainy bread with hummus, avocado and salad; 1/3 cup mixed nuts; 1-2 pieces fruit
* a few berries or seasonal fruit and 150ml frozen yoghurt
* 170g baked salmon on puy lentils; rocket salad with vinaigrette dressing; slow roasted tomatoes
* dried fruit and nuts

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This Week's Affirmation and Meal Plan

This week's affirmation
I can do anything!

This week's meal plan
Change of schedule due to work. Am also going to try reintroducing oats this week and see how I get on.

on rising: Vital Greens in green tea; fish oil caps

walk TJ (30 mins)

Snack: smoothie (vanilla rice protein, carrot, orange, ginger, apple)

train (30-45 mins)

Breakfast (PWO): choc rice protein, oats, flax seeds

Lunch: mixed bean chilli soup

Snack: tuna, wasabi and nori salad, fish oil

Dinner: animal protein, veges, nuts

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Lots of measurements this week.

On Monday I went to the doctor for a general check-up and blood tests. Everything was 'normal' except for my cholesterol levels, which showed a moderate elevation in LDL cholesterol. There is a history of high cholesterol in my family, so even though I eat well, I kinda thought they might be up there. While my other cardiovascular risk factors seem to be OK, I'll still need to keep an eye on my cholesterol levels, getting them checked every six to 12 months. What I'd like is for them to have come down the next time I get tested. So I've stuck my blood test results to the wall, along with some methods to get these numbers down:

Exercise 4-6 hours each week Have done this for the last two weeks. Need to keep it up.
Lose any excess weight In progress.
Eat nuts Will include two handfuls of walnuts or almonds daily.
Eat omega 3 fats Check.
Consume plant sterols/stanols I don’t eat margarine (enriched or otherwise), so will consider supplementation if all else fails.
Get some flax Will use 1-2 Tbsp of flaxseeds per day.
Eat cinnamon Will have 1/2 tsp per day.
Avoid saturated and trans fats Will limit saturated fats to 10-13 grams per day.
Eat more [soluble] fiber Will increase legumes to 1 cup per day.
Try some garlic Will use garlic in cooking when possible.
Drink green tea. I don't really like green tea so will 'hide' it by using cold green tea with my Vital Greens in the a.m.
Try replacing some animal protein with vegetable protein Check.
Get some soy Check, mostly soy milk.
Decrease refined carbohydrate intake Check.
Stay hydrated I suck at drinking water so am going to include more smoothies and soups in my diet to keep my fluid levels up.
Consume citrus Will aim to eat one piece of citrus per day (grapefruit if possible).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Buckwheat Grawnola review

Conscious Buckwheat Grawnola
Wheat, gluten and sugar free.
Ingredients: All organic sprouted buckwheat, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, figs, sultanas, oranges, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and Himalayan salt.

Serving size 40g (energy 761kj, protein 5g, fat 5.2g, carb 27.3g)

This product is dehydrated at a low temperature rather than baked (hence the 'raw' in the grawnola) and is similar to oven-baked granola in that there are clusters of ingredients; however, the clusters are quite hard, so would take quite a lot of soaking in milk/yoghurt to soften them up. I actually preferred eating them 'as is', kind of like mini muesli bars. The grawnola doesn't have any added sweetener (such as honey) like a traditional oven-baked granola, so it doesn't really taste sweet, except when you bite into a piece of dried fruit. It does have quite a nice cinnamon flavour though. Best time to eat would be post workout, maybe with a super shake, like this:

pic by Ryan Andrews at Precision Nutrition

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do You Have Orthorexia Nervosa?

The New Eating Disorder
By: Amy Dusseldorp, Nutritionist

Originally posted at The Food Coach website.

The latest eating disorder to come to our attention is orthorexia nervosa, otherwise known as an obsession for healthy food. There has been a significant increase in the number of people with the condition in Britain, which is described by experts as a "fixation on righteous eating". Sufferers tend to be aged over 30, middle class and well-educated, which probably explains the fact that this demographic is more likely to be aware of health trends and the importance of eating well, only have taken it to the extreme.

The condition was named by a Californian doctor in 1997 and involves rigid eating that may include such self-imposed rules as not touching sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn, and dairy foods. The doctor who coined the term, Steven Bratman, states that obsession with healthy food can progress to the point where it crowds out other activities and interests, impairs relationships, and even becomes physically dangerous. When this happens, orthorexia takes on the dimensions of a true eating disorder, like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

"I am definitely seeing significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago," the London Telegraph quoted Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association's mental health group, as saying.

"There is a fine line between people who think they are taking care of themselves by manipulating their diet and those who have orthorexia," said Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders. "I see people around me who have no idea they have this disorder. I see it in my practice and I see it among my friends and colleagues," she added.

While eating healthily is certainly important, so is living and enjoying life, even if that means indulging in a dessert while out to dinner, or treating yourself to a scrambled egg and bacon Sunday brunch after eating well throughout the week. Many nutritionists refer to this as the 80/20 rule: eating well 80 per cent of the time while the other 20 per cent is slightly more relaxed.

Please take our quick survey and help us compile some information about this increasingly prevalent condition.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tasty Kale recipes (for Liz)

There are a couple of different kinds of kale (see my previous post here; I like the second kind best)

I like to use kale a few different ways:

- in a shake: blend a generous handful of chopped leaves with chocolate protein powder, 1/2c non-dairy milk (I usually use homemade almond milk), one pear or half a banana, and water

- as chips: place chopped leaves in a large bowl and massage with olive oil and seasonings of choice until coated. Place on an oven tray in a single layer and bake on low until crispy

- in salad (see below)

Skinny Green Tacos
Recipe from June/July 2008 edition of Australian Oxygen

Makes 4 servings

1 cup spinach
1 cup mixed greens
2 kale leaves, chopped
1/2 an avocado, pitted and diced
1 Tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1/2 cup canned black beans
1 tomato, diced
pinch cayenne pepper and cumin
4 large red cabbage leaves
2 Tbsp salsa
1 tsp low-fat sour cream, optional

1. Combine spinach, greens, kale, avocado, coriander, beans, tomato and seasoning
2. Spread about 1/2 cup inside each cabbage leaf, add salsa and sour cream as desired. Roll leaf tightly closed, like a taco shell.

Nutrients per serving: calories: 92; fat 4g; carb 13g; protein 3g

I will sometimes add grilled chicken breast to my 'taco'. Minced chicken or other meat would be nice too. Otherwise add extra beans to boost the protein content.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kelp Noodles review

Kelp Noodles are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle. Made of only kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories. Their noodle form and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses including salads, raw stir-fries and soups. Their healthful content provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine, which kelp is well known for. Their unique texture completes the package, making Kelp Noodles a one-of-a-kind healthful and tasty alternative to pasta and rice noodles. Best of all, no cooking is required. Just rinse and add the noodles to any dish and they are ready to eat!

So far I have only had these once, adding them in at the end of a stir-fry. I used the serving size given in the nutrition facts panel on the packet, which was 4 ounces (about 112g). This amount of kelp noodles has 6 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbohydrate and 0g protein.

They look similar to vermicelli noodles, and feel soft when you put them in your mouth, but when you bite down, they have a slightly 'crunchy' texture. They have a neutral taste and are easy to prepare.

I'd use the noodles again in Asian recipes in place of rice noodles. I'm looking forward to trying them in a pad thai or vermicelli noodle salad.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Healthy Pizza

Sunday night's dinner

Base made with flax meal and chickpea flour

For the recipe, see the 'paleo option' on Cindalou's Pizza Crusts page. I used the whole recipe to make a thin base approx 20cm in diameter.

The finished product

The topping had a little bit of parmesan cheese, sliced garlic, red onion, capers, sundried tomatoes, smoked salmon and rocket leaves.

I started getting full about three-quarters of the way through the pizza, so in future would have half of this with some extra veggies on the side/afterwards (I actually made kale chips to have with it but was too full!).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This Week's Affirmation and Meal Plan

This week's affirmation
I am strong, fit and beautiful

This week's meal plan
Everything went so well last week that I'm not changing too much this week.

snack: super shake (pea protein, silverbeet, walnuts, banana, date)

breakfast: banana flax brown rice porridge with walnuts

lunch: lentil curry

snack: mixed nut bar (macadamia), vege sticks, sml piece fruit

dinner: animal protein, veges, good fats

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Weight: 64.9, down 1kg since last week. Loss is most noticeable around stomach, both visually and by tape measure.

And I did it by eating how I enjoy eating (see sidebar) and without counting calories. OK, I did increase my exercise a bit this week (up two hours on last week), but it's low-intensity exercise I want to incorporate back into my daily routine anyway (walking the dog). So I'll do much the same next week and see how things go.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Body Image and Athletes

An excerpt from

The Athlete’s Kitchen: Body Image and Athletes

January 2009 by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Question: What are two things dogs and athletes have in common?

Answer: One, both dogs and athletes love to exercise. Two, they both come in different sizes and shapes.

Question: What is one thing dogs and athletes do NOT have in common?

Answer: Dogs are content with their natural physiques, while too many athletes try very hard to change the way they look. These athletes might be better off being like dogs. That is, does that bulky St. Bernard yearn to look like a lanky Greyhound? Heavens, no! Does the barrel-chested Labrador want to look like a sleek Setter? Doubtful. Each dog is very proud to represent his breed. Wouldn’t life be easier if each athlete could be just as proud of his or her “breed”? As a sports dietitian, I spend too many hours helping athletes find peace with their bodies. Most of these athletes take the outside-in approach.

They think if they change their body from the outside by losing undesired body fat or by adding some muscular bulk, they will be happier on the inside. Unfortunately, not true!

No weight will ever be good enough to do the enormous job of creating happiness.

This story, told to me by an athlete, proves that point: “I once weighed 124 pounds and was unhappy with that weight. I started exercising and dieting rigidly. I lost to 99 pounds but I still wasn't happy. I ended up binge-eating; I gained to 160 pounds, where I was miserable. I sought help from a counselor, stopped eating emotionally, and with time, got my weight back to 124—and was happy! Why couldn't I have been happy at 124 pounds in the first place? Because happiness has nothing to do with weight...”

Granted, some people do have excess body fat they can appropriately lose to be healthier as a person and lighter as an athlete. They can rightfully feel pleased when they accomplish the goal of attaining an appropriate weight. But other athletes just think they have excess fat to lose; they have distorted body images.

A survey of 425 collegiate female athletes reports the women wanted to lose 5 pounds, on average. Another survey of the top women runners in the country found the same results. Even these elite runners wistfully believed they would perform better if they are leaner. Unfortunately, the struggle to attain a “perfect weight” can cost athletes their health and happiness.

Feeling fat

It’s easy to understand why so many athletes have distorted body images. When you put on skimpy shorts that expose your “flabby things”, or tights that shows every bump and bulge, you can very easily “feel fat.” Sound familiar? One solution to the “I feel fat syndrome” is to remember “fat” is not a feeling. That is, you don't feel “blond hair” or “freckled.” You also do not feel “fat.” Yes, you may be feeling uncomfortable with your body. But you are really feeling imperfect, inadequate, insecure, anxious—and any number of other feelings that get described as “feeling fat.”

I encourage your to explore those real feelings, and figure out where you got the message that something is wrong with your body. The media is a good start, but it could also be a parent who lovingly said at a tender age “That outfit looks nice, honey, but if only you'd lose a few pounds...” What you hear is “I'm not good enough” and this can create a downward spiral of self-esteem. Weight issues are rarely about weight. They tend to be about feeling inadequate and imperfect.

What to do

So how can a discontent athlete feel better about his or her body? One tactic is to stop comparing yourself to your peers. To compare is to despair. Rather, pretend you live on an island where your body is “good enough” the way it is. (You are unlikely to ever have a “perfect” body, so the second best option is to enjoy a body that is “good enough.”) If you step off your island and start comparing yourself to your peers, please notice: Do you end up being too fat, too slow, too ugly, too dumb? Do you ever let yourself rise to the top and be better than others? Doubtful. You are better off staying on your island, and calling yourself a Gorgeous Goddess or Handsome Hulk.

With time and practice, you can change the way you see yourself and come to believe perhaps you are, indeed, good enough the way you are! Granted, changing the way you feel about your body is a complex process.

Life is more enjoyable when you can love your body and appreciate it for all it does and stop hating it for what it is not. When the drive for being lean comes with a high price, that price is unlikely worth the cost.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Went to the dentist today for a check and clean (not so relaxing) then popped into Rob's work and got a treatment from one of his students. An hour on my upper back and shoulders - very relaxing!!! My shoulders started feeling a bit stiff and sore after last week's exercise (I did swimming and skipping in addition to my weights workouts). I forgot that my upper body can't tolerate that much exercise, so am trying to make sure my energy expenditure workouts are mostly lower-body focussed from now on. On Wednesday I went to the new gym down the road and did a spin class, which I actually quite enjoyed. I'd do another one on Saturday except they are doing a big launch thingy and the classes won't be running to the usual schedule, so I might do skipping again. I have an old interval workout that combines skipping and mountain climbers. I might pull that out and give it a go - if my shoulders aren't too tired...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interesting links, tough exercise, and rice pudding for breakfast

Interesting Links

Further to yesterday's post, here are two more interesting links about NOT counting calories:

All about dietary displacement

Looking Past the Numbers: A Different Way to Evaluate the Health of Any Given Food


Tough exercise

Today was upper body training, with lots of shoulders. After doing push presses, standing DB shoulder presses and vertical thrusts, I was reduced to using 2kg DBs for Iron Crosses - these are a killer!


Rice pudding for breakfast

This is my current breakfast/postworkout meal: banana flax brown rice porridge with walnuts (adapted from Sheila Viers' Banana Flax Oatmeal with Toasted Walnuts)

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I use malt-free soy milk)
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1/2 medium banana, sliced into thin pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 tsp mixed spice
5g walnut pieces

In a medium size pan, heat the cooked rice, milk, water, and salt over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to simmer, stir in the sliced banana. Continue to simmer until the banana breaks down and all the liquid has been absorbed (5-10 minutes). Add vanilla, flaxseed meal and mixed spice, and stir until incorporated.

Pour into a serving bowl and top with walnuts and an extra sprinkle of mixed spice.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Zen of Nutrition

Excerpt from The Zen of Nutrition

I’ve been reading the book “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra.

I’m about halfway through and had planned on working my way through a big chunk the second half last night.
But, right when I started reading I came across the following quote:
“Before you study Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; while you are studying zen, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers; but once you have had enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and rivers again rivers.”

This quote stopped me dead in my tracks.

It was unbelievably eye opening because it perfectly parallels my experience with nutrition. With a couple small changes I could sum up my entire journey in health and nutrition with one (rather long) sentence.
“Before you study Nutrition, food is food and drink is drink; while you are studying nutrition, food is no longer food and drink is no longer drink; but once you have had enlightenment, food is once again food and drink is again drink.”

Back when I was a kid, food was food and drink was drink.
Then as I started studying Nutrition, food and drink became these complex chemical compositions that had these wondrous effects in the human body. Food and Drink were now macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients and polyphenols and volatile fatty acids, carbs, fats, essential fats, and on and on…

The more I learned the less the words food and drink meant to me, to the point where they were virtually meaning less. There was no such thing as food or drink. It was only protein, fat and carbs.

Now, after years of studying nutrition and learning I’ve realized that most of that ’stuff’ …that ‘knowledge’…it’s almost completely useless.

It’s health and fitness mind-clutter.

And, it destroyed my relationship with food.

So now, food is food once again and drink is drink.

It does not have magical properties. It is simply there to:

A) fuel my body when I need it, and

B) to be enjoyed

This realization has helped me break free of Obsessive Compulsive Eating and has made losing weight and maintaining a body I am proud of to be easier than I ever thought possible.

If you want to lose weight then eat less. If you want a stress free life then learn to enjoy food again.

It can be this easy if you let it be.

It’s amazing where you can find inspiration (I mean really…a book on Physics?)

I’ll leave you with what I believe to be the best long lasting health advice I can give. It has nothing to do with carbs, protein, fats, calorie cycling, hormones or anything of that nature.

It is simply..

Eat when you are hungry. Sleep when you are tired.

This week's affirmation and meal plan

This week's affirmation
There are no excuses

This week's menu
snack: super shake (banana, dates, silverbeet, pea protein, walnuts)
breakfast: banana flax brown rice porridge with walnuts
lunch: Moroccan chickpea and pumpkin stew
snack: mixed nut bar, celery, mandarin/kiwifruit
dinner: animal protein, veges, good fats

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yummy Leftovers

Was going to catch the tram to Brunswick (the next suburb) this morning to get my fruit and veg from the organic shop there, but the weather was terrible, so I had to get a bit creative with what was left in my vege bin in the meantime. This morning for a snack I spread red cabbage leaves with hummus, sprinkled on some chopped semidried tomatoes, then rolled them up and enjoyed them. Sorry, no pic - too hungry! Have got a Thai beef curry in the crockpot for dinner tonight and am looking forward to that.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thoughts, measurements and pics

'You need to understand your body type and accept your shape. Build YOUR best body and become the best YOU can be. This is very important to achieve peace with yourself. Otherwise you will never be happy with your body.' (Krista Schaus)

I definitely inherited my body type from my parents. I have my dad's long limbs and my mum's curvy torso.

I haven't always thought positively about that combination, especially when it comes to competing in figure. Sure, it's nice that I don't lose everything up top when I get lean, but things stay put downstairs too! And it's hard to build muscle on those long limbs.

But, if I accept my shape, I think it actually has a lot of positives. I have long legs, and my breast size is something that some other women would pay a lot of money for (I'm a 10DD in the off season). To build my best body I think it would be nice to have some round muscles to go with the rest of those curves! Happy thinking from now on!

Today's measurements
Weight 65.9kg (down 0.2 since last week). Not a big drop, but measurements show that shoulder girth is up, and waist and hip girths are down, so some recomposition going on there I think!

My two boys holding hands yesterday...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Insurance

excerpt from a blog by Dr Bryan Walsh

The Only REAL Health Insurance

There is only one type of health insurance . . . taking care of yourself and your health before anything goes wrong.

Honestly. Health insurance is free. It is called eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, thinking happy thoughts, and getting blood work done to monitor your progress. Doing these things correctly will confer more insurance on your health than any government plan or company policy ever would.

And it’s really not that complicated.

1. Eat whole, unprocessed, preferably organic food. If you can’t easily pronounce or identify ingredients on the box, you probably don’t want to eat it. Chicken, spinach, apples, broccoli = good. Bagels, donuts, ice cream, soft drinks = bad.

2. Eat small, frequent, protein-based meals throughout the day. Examples include: an apple and almond butter, grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette dressing, or salmon and veggies. It’s not terribly complicated.

3. Eat until you’re about 80% full. In other words, eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

4. Move often. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further from your destination and walk.

5. When you exercise, do it vigorously. You don’t need a gym membership to do this. Aim to break a good sweat every day.

6. Have happy, positive, uplifting thoughts. Picture yourself happy, healthy and lean. Turn off the TV, turn on the radio and dance while you’re cooking yourself dinner. Enjoy life.

Sure there are more, but those are the basics – eat right, move right and think right. It’s the best health insurance policy you could ever have. Nothing is certain, but this is a great place to start. And you don’t have to be perfect by the way. If you do these six things more often than not, you’re on the right track.

Read the full post here

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today's online purchases

from Conscious Choice, located in Sydney.

Conscious Buckwheat Grawnola
Wheat, gluten and sugar free.
Ingredients: All organic sprouted buckwheat, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, figs, sultanas, oranges, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and Himalayan salt.

Nut Mylk Bag
This nut 'mylk' bag is reusable. It can be used for nut milks, juices and sprouting. It’s so much easier and faster than using a strainer. The drawstring means you can just hang it and let it do its own thing!

For nut 'mylks' - just blend your choice of nuts, water and a sweetener of your choice, (agave, dates, honey) and blend in a blender. Then strain through the nut milk bag for silky, smooth, creamy milk that can replace any diary or soymilk for drinking or in recipes.

Kelp Noodles
Kelp Noodles are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle. Made of only kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories. Their noodle form and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses including salads, raw stir-fries and soups. Their healthful content provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine, which kelp is well known for. Their unique texture completes the package, making Kelp Noodles a one-of-a-kind healthful and tasty alternative to pasta and rice noodles. Best of all, no cooking is required. Just rinse and add the noodles to any dish and they are ready to eat!

I will review these products after they arrive!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Have you tried...

manuka honey?

Manuka Honey
by Amy Dusseldorp
from The Food Coach website

Manuka honey is a particular type of honey with several superior health benefits. Produced in New Zealand, this medical-grade honey is gathered from the Manuka Bush (Leptospermum scoparium), which grows uncultivated throughout the country. Professor Peter Molan of New Zealand's Waikato University has devoted the majority of his career investigating the medical advantages of using this particular type of honey.

Honey has a well established usage as a wound dressing in ancient and traditional medicine. In recent times this has been rediscovered, and honey is often used as a topical antibacterial agent for the treatment of wounds, burns and skin ulcers. The observations recorded are that inflammation, swelling and pain are quickly reduced, unpleasant odours cease, sloughing of necrotic tissue occurs, dressings can be removed painlessly and without causing damage to re-growing tissue, and healing occurs quickly with minimal scarring and without the need for skin grafts. In many of the cases honey was used on infected lesions not responding to standard antibiotic and antiseptic therapy. It was found in almost all of the cases to be very effective in rapidly clearing up infection and promoting healing. (Waikato Honey Research Unit)

All honeys have some level of antibacterial activity, due primarily to hydrogen peroxide formed in a "slow-release" way by the enzyme glucose oxidase, which can vary widely in strength. Some honeys are no more antibacterial than simple sugar, while others can be diluted over 100 times and still prevent the spread of bacteria.

Manuka honey contains a high level of antibacterial components, due to the combined action of methylglyoxal (MGO) and unidentified synergistic components. Low levels of MGO are found in most honeys, however, it is the high level found in Manuka honey which makes it unique. For example, an Active Manuka honey rated as 10 for its unique, non-peroxide, antibacterial activity will kill the most common wound-infecting species of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus as effectively as a standard antiseptic solution.

Active Manuka Honey is about twice as effective as other honey against Eschericihia coli and Enterococci, common causes of infection in wounds. It is much more effective than other honey against Helicobacter pylori, a common cause of peptic ulcers.
One of New Zealand's leading honey manufacturers, Watson and Son, has been working with Professor Molan to develop the best harvesting and processing system to provide true therapeutic-grade Manuka honey, as not all manuka honeys offer the same benefits.

"Unfortunately neither the words "Active Manuka Honey", nor some rating numbers, necessarily mean it's the right sort of honey for superbugs and some other conditions," says Professor Molan. Recent research by Sydney University's School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences confirms that some special health honeys can destroy antibiotic resistant super-bugs that are killing patients in hospitals around the world. Professor Molan is concerned that people use the right sort of health honey, stating "I'm pleased to see that Professor Carter and her team emphasise that not all health honeys have this factor. It would be disastrous if a honey was used in good faith by a front-line medical practitioner against a superbug infection, but it was the wrong sort of honey."

Not all health honeys have the same effect against bacterial strains, so it is important to look for the letters UMF on the jar, which indicates it is an active Manuka honey with potent healing benefits. Watson and Son honey has four strengths ranging from 5+ to 20+, as each jar is tested, rated and given a number that indicates the strength of its antibacterial activity.

Activity Level Usage
0 Not detectable
5 Table grade level (not recommended for specific therapeutic use)
10 Maintenance level (recommended for increased vitality and immunity)
15 Useful level (high antibacterial activity)
20 Superior level with very high activity (for specific therapeutic use)

Manuka honey can be applied to the skin as a balm, or taken orally to help to soothe the throat and digestive tract. It can also be eaten like other honey products to help to maintain general health. The honey is not only unique in its potent healing properties, it also tastes delicious and can be used as other honeys would.
Look for UMF rated Manuka honey in health food stores and sold in some chemists as Medihoney, which may or may not be Manuka grown honey. Always visit a doctor or health care practitioner for serious conditions or infections that require treatment.

References: Waikato Honey Research Unit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love weight training

Today's weights session was great. Did lots pressing for shoulders, including push presses, one of my favourites. I must have looked like I was doing it pretty tough, as one of the guys across the gym starting saying 'push, push' as I got towards the end of my one of my sets. I appreciated it though - got an extra rep out!

I'm borrowing the following quote from Raechelle's blog

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.”
—Natalie Goldberg; author, motivational speaker

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Measurements & Meal Plan


Weight 66.1kg. Same as last week - OK considering I only got one workout and two walks in due to being sick. Am feeling better now and am really looking forward to getting back into the weights next week.

I've been avoiding foods containing dairy and gluten for the last four weeks or so, and my skin has been good, then late this week I had cheese, whey protein and oats all in the same day and my itchy rash came back. And because I had them all together, I don't know which caused the problem. So I'm going to go off them both again until my rash clears up then try having oats but no dairy and see how I get on.

Meal plan:
M1: Energy booster (blended not juiced) with rice protein
M2: quinoa with flax seeds and chocolate berrilicious sauce
M3: mexican beans with zucchini, mushroom, silverbeet, avocado and salsa
M4: hummus and raw veggies
M5: salad/stir-fry with animal protein and oil dressing/nut butter

Food prep
- chop kale and pears, make almond milk
- wash spinach
- slice zucchini, mushrooms, silverbeet
- make hummus, chop cauli and celery

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Valerie's Chocolate Berrilicious Sauce

Steph's post about veggies in her oats reminded me of this recipe by Valerie Waugaman.

Chocolate Berrilicious Sauce
1 cup mixed berries (frozen or fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
½ cup water
1 cup raw spinach leaves
1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder (my favorite is Protein Peptide 2.O by Xtreme Formulations)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (for extra chocolicious)
Optional natural sweeteners: Stevia - few drops, Agave Nectar - ½ Tbsp, or Xylitol - 1packet

Place fruit, water and spinach into a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Pour contents into blender (Vita-Mix), add protein powder, cocoa and natural sweetener (optional) then blend to a smooth consistency. About 30 seconds in the Vita-Mix. Pour this yummy chocolate treat over a bowl of hot oatmeal, whole-grain pancakes or French toast. Or just eat it up as is! You will love it! Kids will love you and you can feel good knowing it is full of healthy goodness!

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Here!

My fruit and vege box, that is...

Here's what I got today:


bok choy


brussel sprouts





cos lettuce

English spinach









spring onions


yellow button squash










So now I have to decide what to do with it all...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Plant Plans

So as you may have gathered from my post yesterday, I'm currently eating plant protein during the day and animal protein at night (as opposed to the last four years where I've eaten mostly animal protein). I like eating this way, there's less food prep, and given that we eat organic it's cheaper to eat plant-based meals than meat-based meals. My body seems to like it too, as my weight has slowly been going down. BUT, it still doesn't stop me from second-guessing myself. Today I started to do my meal plan for next week, and I kept changing my mind about what to have and when. What a waste of time! In the end I didn't make a plan at all - I'm going to wait until my fruit and vege box arrives tomorrow and let the contents dictate my meals for the week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today's food in pictures

Drink with Vital Greens and Sun Warrior protein.
Muesli made with soaked sunflower and flax seeds, shredded coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and fresh fruit (passionfruit today)

Shake with almond milk, water, kale, Sun Warrior protein, banana

lentil vegetable soup with avocado garnish

egg, egg white, hummus, cauli, celery

salmon salad nicoise (no potato), mandarin (not pictured)

Have you tried...

chia seeds?

The following article by Catherine Saxelby is from GI News

Spotlight on chia

When I first read about chia, all I could think was: ‘Yeah, sure, sounds way too good to be true.’ And it does sound amazing – tiny seeds, smaller in size than sesame seeds or flax, yet supposedly loaded with so much omega-3, fibre, protein and calcium that they are proclaimed to be a super food. In fact, in many respects, chia seeds are on a par with flaxseeds, but with around 25% less fat.

In all honesty, I’d never heard of chia before. As with so many ‘new’ discoveries, the hype that accompanied it seemed to overwhelm it. But although new on our food scene, chia has a history. For centuries, the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) has been growing in its natural habitat in Central and South America. A member of the mint family, it was a highly valued crop and its seeds were a staple food for Mayans, Aztecs and Southwest Native Americans providing energy and sustenance. Chia is fussy about where it grows. The past five years have seen Australia's Kimberley region become the world's largest producer thanks to being spot on when it comes to latitude and climate. You can see how well it grows here in the following photos from The Chia Company (

What do they look and taste like? Chia seeds look like tiny sesame seeds and can be black, white or grey. They are sold unprocessed. They’re an ingredient the food producers say you can sprinkle over or add to just about anything – muesli, smoothies or yoghurt – without disturbing the flavour. When combined with water they form a thick gel which helps make them a good mixer.

What’s in them? Like all seeds, chia seeds are high in fat especially the good fats. At around 30% fat, they’re lower than sesame seeds (50%) or nuts but make up for this with an extraordinarily high level of omega-3 – unusual in the plant world. They have 18% ALA which is around the same as flaxseeds (linseeds) at 22%, making they are one of the richest sources of the plant form of omega-3 called ALA.

They are also big on fibre. In fact, at 37% they are an outstanding source of fibre, in particular soluble fibre. They have the ability to absorb a high volume of liquid and become thick and gelatinous, thanks to some mucilages. This makes them slowly absorbed. I asked Prof Jennie Brand-Miller about their GI and she said: ‘A long time ago, I was sent chia seeds (part of a project on Pima Indian foods) to assess their GI ... it was impossible because they don't contain enough available carbohydrate.’ If you’re counting carbs, 1 level tablespoon (15 g) supplies less than 1 g of carbohydrate as well as 5 g of fat and 6 g of fibre. And they are gluten free.

Chia seeds contain 15% protein – as much as from wheat – and a variety of vitamins, minerals and trace elements including folate, phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper and potassium. Like almonds and sesame seeds, they have a surprisingly high content of calcium, usually found in dairy foods, but how well this is absorbed is debatable.

Ways to add chia seeds to your life
- Sprinkle them over cereal and muesli.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of the seeds into 1 cup of water and add the gel to smoothies, juices, yoghurts and soups.
- Use them to coat rissoles, meatloaf or burgers – they add crunch to the exterior.
- Because of their neutral taste and light colour, white chia seeds make an ideal part-replacement for white flour in home baking. You can replace 2 tablespoons of flour with chia when you make muffins, cakes and slices to boost the fibre and add some omega-3 fats. According to the Bread Research Institute of Australia, baking chia seeds doesn't alter their nutritional profile.

Catherine Saxelby is an accredited dietitian and nutritionist and runs the Foodwatch Nutrition Centre. Her latest publication is The Shopper's Guide to Light Foods for Weight Loss (available as a PDF). For more information on chia seeds, visit

© GI News, Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Measurements and Meal Plan

Weight: 66kg

So even though I didn't get much exercise done this week, due to being sick, sticking to my meal plan means I've lost a kilo. Although some of that could be water weight, since no workout means no post workout meal (higher carb content); instead I substituted with protein powder, seeds and fruit.

So no changes for next week. I'll keep doing what I did this week: first four meals the same each day, a different dinner each day. Here's the plan (click to enlarge):

Food prep today for next week:
- make almond milk, wash and chop kale
- precook quinoa
- make soup
- hard boil eggs, make hummus, chop celery and cauli

I also made some chocolate peanut butter bars for Rob.

New Tabs

Thanks to Katie's article Horizontal Navigation for Blogger, I now have tabs at the top of my blog. Yay!

If you are viewing this in a reader, click here to see.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Because I'm a 'control freak' and a bit of a stickler for 'following the rules', I tend to follow recipes pretty closely, including the vegetables used. So when I plan out my dinners for the week and do my fruit and vege order, I include all the vegetables in the recipes I'm using. Which can be time consuming: on Monday I need x for this recipe, and on Tuesday I need x for this recipe, etc. And I end up spending more time thinking about food and shopping on the internet than I'd really like to. Fruit is not so bad because I just get a 'seasonal fruit box' along with the vegetables, and often end up with more variety than if I just chose the fruit myself.

Today I had an epiphany. Why not get a 'vegetable box' instead of getting specific veges for each recipe? That way I don't have to spend so long thinking and shopping. Sure I won't be following the recipes exactly, but I know enough about food that I can substitute one thing for another, and surely it's better to eat what's in season than follow a recipe exactly?

So from Friday next week I will trial getting both seasonal fruit and vege boxes. Score one for time management!