School holidays and family recipes

These school holidays have been fun. My teenagers have discovered my stash of family recipes.

They are learning cooking, important skills especially with the rise in obesity. Being time poor means quick, frozen foods are easy to shop and reheat! A frozen vegetarian lasagna or a curry gets dinner on to the table within a few minutes. However, what we think is quick and easy has long-term consequences. We, now, know that convenience and discretionary foods are high in salt, sugar and fat and this is a deadly combination. It makes for a calorie dense but a nutritionally poor meal.

So, teach your children basic cooking skills, when taught at an early age it instills a habit of planning, possibly gardening and cooking meals at home. For example, a simple plant-based pasta sauce often just needs a can of tomato, a spoonful of tomato paste, olive oil, herbs, a few cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste. And adding some freshly grated parmesan to top it off takes it to another level 🙂 Yumm…so easy. Now, this is our staple, our favourite, my teens make it themselves and make it well. This is our family recipe 🙂

My teenagers know that we grow basil and oregano, we buy organic pasta, tomato passata and cans in bulk from Costco and we plan the meal the day before. They gather all the ingredients, the pan, the spatula and all; start chopping and cooking when ready. They bicker, banter, grate the cheese, nick some, share some and then the sauce is ready. Thennnn, the pasta goes on to boil!! drives me crazy, because I would have put the pasta first and then got the sauce done! I guess time teaches. Yet, our family recipe is alive!

So, dust off those family recipes, and teach your children basic cooking, a life skill! 🙂


Have you planned any changes this year?

New year, new beginnings…isn’t that the mantra at the beginning of every new year! I hear of so many plans at catch-ups – plans of self-care, eating right, losing weight, drinking less and so on. Ambitious yes 🙂 and sometimes discouraging too…..especially as it gets easy to fall off the wagon once school starts, activities fill the days and we are running keeping it all together. Too many changes are hard to make and motivation hard to drum up!

How about we look at ‘a’ change?

Eating right – now here is when I say, add a plant-based salad to your meal, start small, any meal in a day and build up the number of days, it will become a habit soon! We are loving mini cucumbers at the moment, chilled yum :-)!

What are your changes?

Top 5 red flags to look out for!

As a lecturer, I get asked this question many times. ‘How do I sift through the nutrition information available at the click of a mouse?’

I look out for these!

  1. ‘Drop a dress size in a week’
    Besides raising my eyebrows, I must admit that such claims are click baits, I very rapidly go down the rabbit hole… hoping to stumble on to that sure shot way to drop a dress size.  However, a claim is just that a claim! The reality is that we lose water which is attached to our glycogen stores. Yes, the water weight will drop and maybe that dress will be a size 10 instead of a 12…but sure as shot those pesky rolls will come back!
  2. ‘Will power and a strong mind’
    Really, is it really that simple? Say No to a gooey, yummy brownie and all is well…ummm..actually no! Losing weight is so not about will power and a strong mind, in fact, it is about recognising hunger cues, about cultivating healthy eating and about making healthy food choices. Weight is a complex play between hormones, metabolism and activity. All such statements do is make you feel guilty when scoffing down that decadent brownie!
  3. ‘Super foods’
    Hulled Hemp Hearts, Blueberries, Acai and Goji and the list continues. As a nutritionist, I say ALL foods are super foods! Our food choices should be based on what is in season, what is available within our budget and in and around our local area. Travelling 30km in busy traffic to get 200g of Hemp Hearts that you pay a packet for is unnecessary and seriously negates the benefit of any super food!!
  4. ‘Conflict of interest’
    This is a big one for me. I studied Food Policy and Nutrition as one of my electives, I enjoyed this subject immensely and it opened my eyes wide to potential bias and conflicts of interest. Industry funds research too and of course there is a potential for bias here; in this context, the benefits of supplements on a company website is not a crash hot reference!
  5. ‘It worked for me’
    Delighted for you :-). This, however, does not mean that it will work for me or anyone else. A very common claim, yet personal and anecdotal evidence is a weak form of evidence. In fact, Compound Interest has an interesting article on the types of evidence.

I look for robust scientific evidence in my practice. Yes, I do seek studies with randomised controlled trials but I am aware that the effect of diet is challenging to determine and controlled conditions are not always ethical or feasible.

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