Try these tips to make your dinner healthier

Bowl of paella with rice, prawns, lemon and herbs

You’re eating well and reaping the benefits, but are you getting as much possible goodness out of your dinner as you can? Take the nutrition of your evening meal to the next level with our simple and easy tips!

 

Make your own salad dressing

By making a DIY dressing, you’ll know exactly what’s in there! No chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavours or stabilisers needed! Adding a dressing made with a healthy oil to your salad or vegetables also helps you absorb more of the fat-soluble nutrients.

 

Zesty Salad Dressing

¼ cup olive oil

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. lemon juice

 

Feature vegetables

So often vegetables are thought of as a side dish, but why not make them the focus of your meal? Load up your plate with vegetables and add the extras from there.

 

Roasted Cauliflower

1 whole cauliflower

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt, pepper, your favourite dried herbs

 

Paint the cauliflower with oil, sprinkle on the salt, pepper and your favourite herbs and spices. Roast in a fan forced oven at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately 30-40 minutes or until golden.

 

Mix up the method

Avoid microwaving and boiling, instead, opting for steaming, slow cooking, or pressure-cooking. You’ll retain more nutrients and add a variety of new textures to your diet.

 

Tip

Hard vegetables such as sweet potato and carrot can often take twice as long to cook so add these to the steamer first. Add soft vegetable and leafy greens last to ensure they stay crisp.

Foods To Avoid When Trying To Control Your Blood Sugar Levels

Hotdog with mustard and tomato sauce

Keeping our blood sugar levels in check is one of the most useful ways to keep our mood, weight and even our heart health in check. It’s also vitally important if you’re one of the 422 million people worldwide who suffer from diabetes. Regardless of whether or not you’re a diabetes sufferer, keeping your blood sugar levels stable is important for everyone’s overall health.

Some other signs that your blood sugar could be out of balance are constant hunger, jittery or shakiness and big ups and downs in both mood and energy.

If this is starting to sound familiar and rings a few bells in your own mind, it might be time for you to make sure your blood sugar levels are where they should be.

Our blood sugar levels rise after we consume foods with easily accessible or “simple” carbohydrates. You may automatically think of white sugar as the culprit here, however there are also some other foods that can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which you may not have thought of.

Bread – Even The “Whole-Grain” Kind

The way bread is so massed produced today has stripped a lot of its nutrition. Many supermarket breads can skyrocket the body’s blood sugar. The starches in bread break down very quickly in the digestive tract and make their way into the bloodstream as glucose. Instead, try serving your dish on a thick slice of sweet potato or a quality sourdough.

Processed Meat

It may be time to say “no” to hot dogs. Whilst not suggesting cutting out meat all together however, studies show that eating lots of processed meat could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

You can simply swap processed meats for a less processed version or plant-based protein options such as beans or lentils.

Fat-Free Food

The term “fat-free” or “low-fat” is an easy one to get caught out on. We think we’re doing the right thing here, right!? Who knew that manufacturers generally have to increase the sugar content of these foods? By taking out the fat, foods often lose a lot of their flavour, hence the need to add sugar. Eating a few too many “fat-free” foods can send your blood sugar sky-high, making it difficult to control your overall calorie intake as well as maintain stable energy levels.

Refined Breakfast Cereals

Most grocery store breakfast cereals are typically laden with sugar. Without realising it, you can easily be consuming more than your recommended daily sugar intake simply by eating a bowl of your favourite cereal. Be sure to check the ingredients list and if sugar is listed as one of the first ingredients, it’s probably a good indication to steer clear. Instead, why not try making oatmeal with fresh fruit and cinnamon.

 

7 Foods To Help You Stay Hydrated!

Sliced watermelon, grapefruit and orange

It’s been said for years and years that you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water per day to keep hydrated. But what they forgot to mention was that food counts too! Roughly 20% of our daily water intake comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables! Add these foods to your diet to help you stay hydrated!

 

  1. Cucumber

At 95% water content, this crunchy summer vegetable has the highest water content of any solid food! It’s great in salads, sliced up with some dip, or blending into a smoothie, juice or cucumber soup! Cucumber also contains a little fibre and vitamin C!

 

  1. Tomato

Tomatoes make a delicious, hydrating snack, especially cherry tomatoes! Eat a handful as a snack or add them to your meal! They’ll provide a tasty pop of hydration plus lycopene and other vitamins and minerals.

 

  1. Watermelon

Not only is watermelon a great source of water at 92%, it’s also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Serve icy cold for a satisfying summertime snack!

 

  1. Papaya

This gorgeous fruit tastes incredible with fresh lime juice! Plus it delivers a source of fibre and hydration with 88% water! It’s also rich in vitamin C and contains the digestive enzyme known as papain along with fibre, which helps improve your digestive health.

  1. Grapefruit

A juicy, tangy citrus with a powerful hydrating punch! Not only does it contain 90.5% water, it can help shrink your waistline, help lower your cholesterol, stabilise your blood sugar and potentially help reduce your cravings! Eat it straight, pop some wedges into a salad, juice with greens, blend into icy poles, or serve as a tangy granita dessert!

 

  1. Radishes

It’s not the first thing you may think of when talking about hydration, but these pretty vegetables are 95.3% water! Not only are they hydrating, but they are full of antioxidants including catechin (found in green tea!), adding a nutritious burst of spiciness and colour to your plate!

 

  1. Rockmelon

One six ounce serving (about ¼ of a melon) provides 100% of your recommended intake for vitamins A and C! Comprised of 90.2% water, it’s a nourishing snack that can contribute significantly to your water intake! Serve in a smoothie, blended with frozen banana ‘ice-cream’, sliced in salads, or served as part of a mixed melon salad with fresh mint!

 

  1. Strawberries

91% water, strawberries are a great contributor to your water intake for the day! Delivering the most vitamin C of all berries, foliate, fibre and antioxidants, they’re a great little snack to enjoy! Eat them as is, with some yogurt, in a salad, blended into a smoothie or even in a raw dessert!

 

Boosting your intake of fruit and veggies – The elusive 5-10 a day

Bowl of salad with spinach, radish, tomato, carrot, beetroot and other vegetables
So it’s been a hot topic of conversation for quite some time now. The message of getting more fruits and veggies into our diet is getting clearer and louder than ever before.
Of course being health enthusiasts we love this idea. More fruits, more veggies, more of the good stuff fuelling our bodies. It’s bound to make us feel better and move better, which in return helps us to live longer and stronger lives.
Is 5 -10 fruits and vegetables a day achievable? Some say the consumption of the good stuff is easy. Whilst a vast majority argue it’s impossible and feels like the magic number is an unrealistic expectation. But research by Imperial College London suggests that the 5-10 a day has now become essential.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of that daily desired quantity, we’ve put together 4 simple tips that will help you take your fruit and veg intake to the next level.
Boost your brekkie. Whatever your favourite breakfast is, make sure you add at least 1–2 serves of fruits or veggies/ Feel like porridge? Perfect, stir through a banana and some fresh raspberries. Love eggs on toast- replace the butter for smashed avo and make sure to add a few tomatoes. Need brekkie on the run? Go for a smoothie, add the spinach, kale or berries.
Bust out the veggies. So whatever your go to one pot dinner is, add a stack of veggies. Whether that’s your favourite curry or chilli, add the good stuff. Chop small so fussy little eaters don’t see! Stir in chopped spinach, celery, green beans, carrots and onion — Yes, even onion can add to your vegetable count!
Add the salad. Keep the fridge stocked with fresh salad items, whatever the dinner option, make sure to add a portion of side salad. A cup of leafy greens is bursting with vitamins and nutrients. Topped with some chopped salad, keeping that plate colourful and full of antioxidants. Opt for a zest of lime or good quality olive oil to drizzle over the top.
Serve the soup. Take all of those leftover veggie’s and make into a soup. Think 5 or 6 vegetables and a good quality stock will make a delicious soup. Serve up as a starter, or in a mug for an after school snack on those autumn nights.
Practice meatless Mondays. If you are used to having meat with your dinner, this may cause you slight concern, but fear not, it’s worth a try. Think hearty curries, veggie pizza, 3 bean chilli.
The brighter the plate — the better.

Homemade Granola

Bowl of homemade granola with measuring cup

 

If you’re after a light, delicious brekkie, it’s hard to go past a bowl of granola. Chock full of nuts and seeds, granola delivers a protein-packed start to the day (with added texture and healthy sweetness to boot). Packaged varieties can put a strain on the hip pocket, but luckily you can whip up your own crunchy goodness using some pantry staples – in just a few quick steps.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups roughly chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp honey, warmed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Spread mixture evenly onto a baking tray. Bake for around 25 minutes (turning once), or until granola is golden and crunchy. Cool and store in an airtight container. Serve with fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt.

The Good Bacteria

A bowl of yoghurt with berries and nuts

 

Over the past few years we’ve been hearing more and more about gut health, and the role it plays in maintaining a happy, healthy body. Each human body contains about 100 trillion microbial cells, which account for up to three percent of its total weight. These cells, which are known as the body’s ‘microbiota’, help to digest food and modulate the immune system. New research is also increasingly linking them to a range of essential health outcomes.

Given the importance of a healthy gut, many are now turning to fermented foods to help boost their microbiome. While researchers are still studying the effects of these foods, a few extra good bacteria never hurt anybody – so why not try adding a few of these fermented treats to your diet? (Yes, we know beer and wine are fermented too, but try some others first). 

Yoghurt 

Everyone’s favourite fermented dairy product, yoghurt is one of the easiest ways to give your tummy some probiotic love. It’s also a good source of calcium and protein. Skip the extra sugar that comes with low-fat or flavoured varieties and opt for a few spoonfuls of natural Greek yoghurt.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a form of fermented black tea, created by adding natural sugars, bacteria and yeast. The result is a fizzy, tangy drink that’s high in probiotics.
It can be an acquired taste, but many pre-bottled varieties come in a range of yummy fruit flavours, so you can shop around for one that suits your tastebuds.

Sauerkraut

Finely cut cabbage, pickled by lactic acid bacteria – otherwise known as sauerkraut – has been eaten across Europe for hundreds of years. As well as being low in saturated fat and a good source of dietary fibre, it’s thought to help promote a healthy digestive tract.

Cocoa-licious

A pile of cocoa beans

 

Few things say ‘Be My Valentine’ better than a big box of chocolates. But if you’re a health-conscious foodie, you might not indulge as often as you’d like. This Valentine’s Day, though, chocolate doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure – in fact, if you choose the right variety it could even be good for you.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the fruit of the cocoa tree. Cocoa itself isn’t all that bad for you: it’s a good source of antioxidants and flavonoids, which contribute to heart health. The problem is that raw cocoa is bitter and chalky, and doesn’t taste that great on its own. So chocolate manufacturers add sugar, milk and a bunch of additives, which doesn’t do much for the nutritional value.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some healthy chocolate on Valentine’s Day, though. For starters, you can whip up some raw chocolate truffles using dates, coconut oil, nuts, coconut and raw, unprocessed cacao powder. Or combine the cacao with banana, raspberry and avocado or nut butter in a food processor to create a delish – and nutritious – chocolate mousse. If you are going to buy chocolate, simply opt for the darkest variety you can find: the higher the cocoa percentage the better it is for you (and the less you’ll eat in one sitting).

Easy Frittata

Close up of a simple frittata

This simple, affordable meal will make busy weeknight dinners a breeze, and leave you with plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. All you need are eggs, cheese and a splash of milk. Plus, this is the perfect dish for using up any vegies that are nearing their use-by date – onion, capsicum, zucchini, sweet potato, asparagus and tomato all work well. Simply chop them up and add them to the pan. Dense vegetables (such as potato) might require some pre-cooking. The base ingredients are high in protein, which makes frittata a great choice for vegetarians. But if you’re the kind of person who can eat bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can always sauté it with your vegetables prior to cooking.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 eggs
  • A splash of milk or cream
  • 1-2 cups chopped vegetables
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Whisk together the eggs, milk or cream and cheese (to taste). Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Add butter or olive oil to a heavy skillet pan and sauté vegetables for five minutes. Reduce heat to low and pour the egg mixture over the sautéed vegies. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture starts to puff and pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and finish in the ocean for another 10 minutes.

Bircher Bliss

Bircher muesli with milk and berries

Spring calls for lighter breakfasts and plenty of fresh fruit. Give yourself the best chance of enjoying the morning sun by preparing this delicious, healthy bircher muesli the night before. Fibre-rich oats will help you feel full until lunchtime, while chia seeds, nuts and pepitas provide a good source of protein and dietary vitamins.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 apples, coarsely grated
  • ½ cup fresh apple or orange juice
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup flaked almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • Honey & fresh berries, to serve

Mix the rolled oats, juice, ½ cup of yoghurt, chia seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add the nuts and seeds, along with the remaining yoghurt, and mix thoroughly. Top with fresh berries (or other fruit) and drizzle with honey.

Waste Not, Want Not

A selection of vegetables spread out on white timber

According to foodwise.com.au, Australian households throw out around 20 per cent of the food they buy – at an average cost of $1300 per year. Here are some easy tips to help you minimise your household food waste.

Only buy what you need

The best way to limit waste is to buy less food. Make a meal plan, draw up a shopping list and then stick to it – which means no sneaky snacks or impulse purchases. Only buy in bulk if it’s a staple you’re sure you’ll use, like rice or flour.

Use what you have

Forever throwing away vegetables? Cook meals that allow you to clear out the crisper. Finely chop leftover carrot, capsicum, mushroom and cauliflower and add to burritos, spag bol or omelettes. And be sure to check the pantry for hidden cans of tomatoes and chickpeas before buying more.

Clean the fridge

Yes, it’s an awful chore. But unless you want to keep ending up with eight tubs of mouldy sour cream, you need to make sure that what goes into your fridge comes out within a reasonable timeframe. Make a habit of checking the use-by dates on jars and bottles, and organise the shelves so you can visualise what’s in there – large items at the back and smaller ones to the front.