Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 whole days to go

Christmas is a fabulous time for fun, family, relaxation and ...........eating. I sit here in my clinic this morning having seen a number of people who have walked in with their heads hung low. Their blood sugars are out of whack, their weight has gone up and they are generally feeling exhausted by all the social functions and gatherings that they are 'having' to attend. Tough time this "Christmas stuff".
The main question on peoples lips? How do I get to January unscathed?

Well, here's a few tips
1. Have a big glass of water or soda water before you go to a function and have a glass of water between each drink- (remember a drink is equivalent in kilojoules or calories to a piece of bread). Better still give yourself the job of designated driver (you will feel better in the morning!)
2. If you have a few courses planned- choose entre and dessert or main and share a dessert
3. When in doubt - cut half out (you don't have to finish everything no matter how good it tastes)
4. Take a healthy platter of food with you when invited somewhere- healthy doesn't have to be boring.
5. Christmas day is there to be enjoyed - it's not the 'last supper'!
6. Try to move more. Take a swim in the ocean on Boxing day (or go skiing for my Northern Hemisphere bloggers), a bike ride on New Years day and simply a twilight walk whilst on holidays.

Enjoy the week leading up to Christmas

Kate x

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I have had a number of concerned parents contact me and bring their children to see me regarding food intolerance. One little boy, James 2 ½ years, came to see me with his mum who wanted to know about foods and asthma. James was a healthy weight for his height with no other issues other than quite severe asthma. Mum was convinced that every time they had a barbecue his breathing became 'wheezier'. I discussed the probability that he may be reacting to a certain preservative found in foods such as sausages and processed meats. The preservatives in question are those numbered 220 – 228 or the family of sulphites. They are also commonly found in dried fruits, cordials and wine(for adults). There is no documented evidence that this is the cause for asthma attacks however many people report a change in breathing when they consume them. I suggested buying preservative free sausages and dried fruit for James and avoid giving him cordials.
Sulphites are easy to locate just read the label.

Kate x

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mango season

The Mango season is here which delights children and adults alike. It spells the beginning of summer with its wonderful distinctive smell. Children love Mango with its soft velvety texture and sweet juicy pulp. Mango is high in vitamin C and Beta Carotene (coming from the orange colour), also high in fibre particularly soluble fibre. The fruit is low GI so is very sustaining as a snack.
For Babies: There are a few different Mango varieties differing mainly in sweetness and the texture of the pulp. Babies between 6-12 months can enjoy mango pureed or fork mashed depending on the age of the baby or mixed into plain yoghurt or creamed ricotta cheese. Mango has a wonderful texture for babies to learn how to chew and move pieces around their mouth
For Toddler: Mangoes can be cut into cubes for toddlers to eat fresh with a fork (helping with their hand to mouth coordination. Mangoes are particularly tasty mixed with milk and frozen yoghurt as a smoothie. This is helpful for those toddlers who are not great plain milk drinkers. Due to their natural sweetness you don’t need to add any honey for sweetness.
For Preschooler: Cutting and scouring a cheek of mango appeals to preschoolers and travels very well in the lunchbox. Freezing a mix of blended mango and yoghurt makes a great alternative to ice-cream. Mango holds its form when cut into cubes and doesn’t discolour so is an excellent fruit to thread onto sticks. Using alternate fruits such as strawberries, kiwi and sliced banana you can make fruit skewers. This can be eaten fresh or frozen on hot summer days.
For adults: try mango chutney or mango salsa with your curries or simply score and eat!!

Tandoori chicken with mango salsa
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 cup plain Greek-style yoghurt
4 (160g each) chicken breast fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
warmed naan bread, to serve
Tandoori spice mix
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 pinches chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
Mango salsa
425g can sliced mango in syrup, drained, chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
2 green onions, sliced, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Make Tandoori spice mix: Combine paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and mint in a large bowl. Add yoghurt. Stir to combine. Add chicken. Turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, if time permits.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Remove chicken from yoghurt mixture. Discard yoghurt mixture. Cook chicken for 2 minutes each side or until browned. Transfer to prepared tray. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Thickly slice.
Make mango salsa: Combine mango, cucumber, onion, mint, chilli and lemon juice in a bowl. Serve chicken with mango salsa and naan bread.

recipe courtesy of Claire Brookman

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fresh herbs........pure perfume!

I simply love what I do. Not just because I help people feel and look better, and possible extend some lifespans; sometimes I receive little thank you gifts especially around holiday time. Now I am not saying that I am motivated by presents but I have been on the receiving end of some delightful gifts. I absolutely love the home made things. One lady brought me some fresh quince jam and another some cranberry sauce for the turkey this Christmas. On Wednesday last week a patient and her mother brought me a full bag of home grown herbs and vegetables which just blew me away - the smell was simply intoxicating (I had literally forgotten what a backyard fully mulched cherry tomato smelt and tasted like - my family used to grow them when I was a child). In my bag -o -goodies was basil, coriander, lemongrass, marjoram, parsley and mint - just to name a few. So today I am throwing together some pesto and tonight's dinner we are having Vietnamese cold rolls (the mint just smelt so good!!!). See my super easy recipe below - you can wrap just about anything in rice paper rolls.
I am inspired to resurrect my herb patch again
Kate x

Vietnamese Prawn rolls
12 rice paper rounds (120g)
1 cup grated carrot
100g snow peas sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
30 g rice vermicelli, soaked in boiling water, cooled and drained
2 tablespoon chopped coriander
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
400 g cooked prawns, shelled (approx 24)

Combine all ingredients in bowl, mix
Dip rice paper in hot water until softens
Add approximately 2 tablespoons of mix and 2 prawns on lower half of rice paper
Roll firmly into spring roll shape
Makes 12
Serves 3
Serve with dipping sauce

Dipping sauce
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 clove garlic
¼ cup hot water
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 small fresh chili finely sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

Sugar and hot water in bowl, stir until sugar dissolved
Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve
Serves 4

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Run out of time for breakfast?.......I think not!!

3 of my clients yesterday said they are simply running out of time for breakfast! By the time the kids are fed, lunches made, morning jobs done and some where in there getting ready for work- not to mention the quick 5.30 am run or 1/2 hour walk for time left to refuel.
There is no excuse for not having breakfast even if it is grabbing a piece of fresh fruit or a tub of yoghurt before you dash out the door. It still astounds me that there is a percentage of kids that head off to school without breakfast!

Eating breakfast
  1. Stimulates the appetite
  2. Stops you over eating at your next meal
  3. Provides energy and stamina for the morning
  4. Helps keep the bowels and intestines in good order
One of my favourite summer breakfasts is bircher muesli. Preparing it the night before and adding a few dollops of yoghurt the next day makes it quick, easy and tasty. My kids love the soft texture and taste using varieties of flavoured low fat yoghurt.
Bircher Muesli (serves 2)
1/2 cup natural muesli
2/3 cup no added sugar fruit juice (i like cranberry)
4 dollops of low fat flavoured yoghurt (blueberry gives a lovely flavour)
Soak the muesli in the juice overnight
In the morning divide into 2 bowels and add yoghurt, stir and eat

Enjoy the last day of school, mums and dads!!!!
Kate x

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

home in the kitchen

School holidays for us Southerners is only 3 sleeps away....I am actually really looking forward to winding down and spending a bit of time at home relaxing with the kids. One thing my two like to do is 'home bake' - as long as it involves spreading flour from one end of the kitchen to the other, or eating some of the raw dough (it just can't be good for you.....although we all did it didn't we?)

I still try to keep it healthy using some fresh or dried fruit and steering requests away from cup cakes. Muffins, fruit scones, date loaf and fruit cakes are great for morning or afternoon tea snacks and travel well to social gatherings. One I particularly like are the muesli bites which are dead easy, they can get their hands messy and you can also give them as a gift......competition for the wave of rum balls appearing at this time!

Enjoy getting into your kitchen with the little ones and help them to enjoy the cooking experience.

Kate x

Apricot Muesli bites
11/2 cups dried apricots
1 table caster sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup plain flour
2 table olive oil
11/2 cups natural muesli
Place apricots, sugar and water in saucepan, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Let cool
Place apricot mixture, flour, oil, and muesli in food processor and process until mixed.
Roll into balls (about 1 tablespoon each and chill).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From the mouth of babes.................

I had a lovely patient yesterday who came to her appointment with her 4 year old daughter. As our meeting came to a close her daughter announced that she would like ' some of those foods that stick to your teeth, please mummy'. My client gasped and uttered 'what a thing to say in front of the dietitian!!'. This was followed promptly by 'I need to have a python 'cause I have forgotten what it tastes like!'. I reassured my client that yes, children do listen to what you say and you have to be clear from the outset. They may not understand the negatives of things sticking to your teeth however they know that foods such as these are not everyday foods.
I think this is where we as parents make it difficult for ourselves by not isolating non core foods and foods that have empty kilojoules away from everyday foods. Pester power is huge however we just have to stay strong. As you know we have treat Tuesday which gives me some breathing space for the rest of the week.

Tips to help your little ones understand about good V's not so good
  • Talk about what foods are good for you and why
  • Don't have the non core foods in the house for temptation
  • Talk about their teeth
  • provide good food that looks great - the fruit picks above went down a treat at a gathering.
  • Elevate their main meals above dessert for example: If you eat all your good food on you plate then you can have something that is not so healthy (parents make the mistake of saying if you eat dinner can have dessert- kids look at mums face when it lights up at the word dessert!!!...look excited when you say 'all the good food on your plate'!
Tough times coming up during the Christmas break....set 'treat' goals and stick to them!!

Kate x

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A very windy day

Again I ask the question....where does the time go. Sorry for those of you who are following my blog and have seen me disappear into the abyss! I have just had the most extraordinary work load leading up till Christmas. I have put some of my own advice into practice and some things have had to go on the back burner. However I am back and looking forward to the holidays.
This leads me to an issue that many patients have come to see me about.....WIND. I have had adults and children complain about excess wind and wonder if there was anything they could change. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable but can be a tad embarrassing when it escapes......(I have had Master 9 and Miss 6 in hysterical stitches in the pool and bath over whose bubbles are bigger!) Busy lifestyles and not eating well (including fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy and not drinking enough fluid can all lead to a sluggish, bloated bowel and belly. There are also a few foods which produce extra gas
  • Baked beans (don't need to be a rocket scientist to discover that one!)

  • broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage

  • apples

  • artificial sweetener

  • legumes, including hommus
Try to eat every 3 hours to help move the bowel so gas doesn't become trapped and go for a few walks around the office or street during the day to move the gas. Painful bloated stomachs occur at the end of the day when we have sat down for many hours.

Remember gas is just your gut bacteria fermenting undigested fibres so is quite normal unless there is lots of it, it has a very strong odour or you are in pain. See your doctor if it doesn't improve.

back again tomorrow

Kate x

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday is Tuckshop..To eat or not to eat!!

I love what I do (Dietetics that is) as I travel the same path and have many of the same issues that the average parents encounters. We all deal with issues such as coping with pester power for daily treats or being hit up for play dates at school pick up time (one of my all time favourites...!). As a mum you sometimes feel like you are a Sargent major leading an army of one, constantly on alert for up and coming battles at every turn. there is no exception when it comes to the tuckshop. We have tuckshop on a Friday and I offer my services to help a few times a term. we have the tuckshop menu stuck to the pantry door and I have highlighted the items they can choose. This seems to work well however i had to be firm and put my foot down when it came to crisps, coloured mineral water and choc chip cookies!
In October 2005 the healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for Queensland Schools was released which provided benchmarks for offering healthy food and drink choices to students in school canteens and tuckshops. Foods and drink are coded Red (lacking in nutrients or contains excess fat , sugar or salt), Amber or Green( healthy) according to how often (if at all) they are allowed to be supplied to school children. By July 1 2006 implementation of the Smart Choices Strategy was mandatory in all State Schools. This ensured that children were being exposed to and encouraged to make healthy food and drink choices.

Tips for making better tuckshop choices

  • toasted sandwiches that contain some sliced meat or cheese for protein or thin crusted pizza or small serves of pasta (my childrens favourites)

  • avoid fizzy coloured drinks and choose a milk base drink that has a lower GI

  • leave choc biscuits and crisps for parties

  • get them to try something new such as a wrap or sushi
Remember the tuck shop is an extension of your pantry- lets not disguise it as the local seven eleven!!

have a great weekend

Kate x

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The big switch..

I have had a few requests for the 'silly season'. One of the main ones has been how to convert some of our favourite indulgences into something slightly healthier whilst still maintaining the taste. Well people I have a bit of inside information (being married to an ex-chef has many pluses.

The first one is the all time favourite "Sticky Date Pudding"
Make individual puddings in muffin trays to control the serving sizeServe straight from the oven with some low fat vanilla ice cream or butterscotch swirl instead of the traditional butter cream sauce. When the ice cream melts it adds a creamy taste to the dessert

Date puddings
1 ¼ cup dates
1 ¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
50g olive oil margarine
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup SR flour

Grease 12 hole muffin tin
Place dates and water in food processor and process till smooth
Place mix in bowl
Stir in bicarbonate soda and let stand for 5 minutes
Blend with margarine and sugar until smooth
Add eggs and flour and mix well until combined
Pour into muffin moulds
Bake at 180*C for 1 hour or until springs back on touching
(Cover muffin tin with foil if starting to go brown)
Stand for 10 minutes before cooling on wire rack
Serve on their own or with custard or light ice cream
*Easy to freeze
* Kids can crack eggs; mix and place into muffin tins (keep an apron on)


Kate x

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

swimming carnival

The rain is falling this morning but the show must go on.....It's the school swimming carnival today!! There is much nervous energy pumping in the house which means blood glucose levels are being drained a lot faster than usual.there are a few tips on how to fuel up the kids before a sporting event to ensure they have enough energy to get them through the day. No this is not the Pan Pacific tryouts however many kids simply don't eat properly and fade by mid morning.

Make sure they eat breakfast which includes iron to help transport oxygen:

  • an iron rich cereal + milk (read the nutritional panel on the side; cheerios,Weetbix, special K
  • an egg on toast
  • baked beans on toast

Give them a fruit smoothie to add a little more protein and slow release carbohydrates for their muscle

Strawberry Breakfast smoothie (Protein, Fibre, Calcium, Iron, Vit C, slow release carbohydrates)
4 strawberries 200ml low fat Milk
1 Weetbix
1 teaspoon Honey

Cheeky choc banana (Protein, Fibre, Calcium, Iron, Vit C, slow release carbohydrates)
1 Banana
150ml low fat Milk
1 tablespoon Milo
2 scoops low fat vanilla yoghurt

Mango Soy good for you (Protein, Fibre, Calcium, Vit C, slow release carbohydrates)
1 Mango
200ml low fat Soy milk (calcium fortified)
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
1 teaspoon honey

Fuzzy monkey slushy (Protein, Fibre, Vit C, slow release carbohydrates)
1 Banana
150 ml Orange juice
2 scoops Lemon sorbet

pack a banana and lots of water in their lunchbox
include some crackers and cheese
pack a sandwich that also contains iron such as meat, hummus, chicken or an egg

Good luck guys

Kate x

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sleep deprivation and hunger

Where has that week gone?.........I'm not sure how we fit so much into our days?... then blink and we are a week closer to the end of the year. I spend a considerable amount of time lifestyle planning with clients to balance work, activity, family life and most importantly SLEEP! (yes dietetics does cross into other fields some times).
We don't realise how important sleep is to the body and many of us are trying to get away with less and less and consequently feeling exhausted. Also many are battling weight and hunger's why!
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that partial sleep deprivation alters the circulating levels of the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and a preference for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. The study, published in the 7 Dec. 2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, provides a mechanism linking sleep loss to the epidemic of obesity.
Research subjects who slept only four hours a night for two nights had an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a hormone that tells the brain there is no need for more food, and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.
The study volunteers, all healthy young men, reported a 24 percent increase in appetite, with a surge in desire for sweets, such as lollies and biscuits, salty foods such as chips and nuts, and starchy foods suchas bread and pasta
This may explain why sleep deprived mums and dads eat differently and crave energy dense foods.
Also if you are working into the small hours of the morning or trying to stay up and watch your favourite show or simply fitting in one too many Christmas functions....Don't (bah humbug!). Try to get to bed early , have a decent sleep and it will help you make better food choices.

Kate x

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pre Christmas organisation.....

I thought I would get in early before the silly season starts (however we, and our neighbours across the road are the only houses in our street with lights up - and on!! I swear my husband was a Grizwald in a former life!)

Christmas is a time for celebration, holidaying and socializing with friends and family and can also be a time for overindulgence. The occasional rum ball, glass of wine or treat for the kids need not be a problem, however if it becomes a daily occurrence health issues may arise. To help you enjoy this time without ending up looking like Father Christmas himself here are a few tips for the lead up to the festive season.
Try to eat regularly and encourage the kids to have fruit in between meals. Have your regular healthy meals and never go to a party starving. If you skip meals you are sure to fill up on high fat snacks. It only takes a few of these to add up to more kilojoules than your usual meal.
If you have a tendency to over eat at parties or gatherings only fill your plate once. Chat and mingle. If you are bored at a party you’re more likely to hang around the food. Turn your back on the food table. Out of sight out of mind!
Creamy dips, chips, nuts and are all high in fat and are very easy to eat in large amounts. Choose fruit, vegetable or bread based snacks or offer to bring a platter including low fat dips, salsa, vegetable sticks, reduced fat cheese and gherkins and home cooked popcorn
Chopped fruit platters can be a nice change from higher fat sweets. Cutting fruit into Christmas shapes adds to the festivity and encourages children to consume fruit. (See Christmas tree watermelon). Using a melon baller you can ball different fruits and thread them on skewers or toothpicks and serve with low fat vanilla yoghurt as a dip.

Christmas treats are in high demand at this time of year. For something different make up a batch of gingerbread cookies cutting them into Christmas shapes, making a hole in each biscuit prior to cooking. When they are cool you can decorate them to hang on the tree (make sure they are out of reach of pets!!). This is great for the kids to do and contain less sugar and fat than many commercial varieties.

Ginger bread Christmas decorations
100 g olive oil margarine
50 g brown sugar
2 heaped tablespoon golden syrup
2 level teaspoon ginger
200 g self raising flour

Mix all ingredients until it forms dough
Roll out onto floured surface
Cut out medium and large circles and stars
Pierce hole in each biscuit (for threading)
Bake in moderate oven until golden

Decorate using icing sugar, food colouring and water

Watermelon Christmas trees
6 slices seedless watermelon

Cut slices into triangles
Cut base into shape of pot (for little hands to grip on to)
Cut small V’s up side of tree to form branches

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Frozen Summer treats

With the arrival of summer (here in the southern hemisphere) comes the desire for ice confection or ice blocks. We know that most frozen confection on a stick is full of sugar, preservatives, artificial flavours and colours and usually has no nutritive value whatsoever. But how do we avoid the constant pestering by our little ones for a frozen treat on a hot day?
Home made ice and creamy treats are very easy to make and can provide a healthy solution to the commercial varieties. Using fresh fruit provides a sweet alternative to pure sucrose. Kids will be unaware that they are having vitamin C and fibre whilst they enjoy the sweet taste. Kids look for something cold, sweet and brightly coloured, so here are a few solutions to have up your sleeve.
Frozen yoghurt
300 g vanilla yoghurt
1 punnet strawberries or mixed berries

Wash and remove stalks from strawberries
Place yoghurt and strawberries in a food processor and blend till creamy
Place mixture into individual cups or moulds and freeze overnight
Ready to serve

*high in calcium and protein
*source of vitamin C and fibre
Strawberry and pineapple icy poles
1 punnet strawberries
½ pineapple

Wash and remove stalk from strawberries
Place in food processor and blend till smooth liquid
Fill individual icy pole moulds to half way with blended strawberries
Peel and chop pineapple
Blend till smooth
Gently add pineapple to moulds leaving small space to fit stick
Freeze overnight

*source vitamin C and fibre
*slow release fructose (fruit sugar) so they don’t get a sugar “hit”

Watermelon slushy
1 cup chopped watermelon (freeze chopped pieces before blending)
8 ice cubes

Place in food processor, use a slender blender or use slushy maker
Serve immediately

* Source of Vitamin C and potassium

Frozen melon ball sticks
Honey dew melon
Rock melon
6 wooden skewers

Using a melon baller scoop out 12 balls from each melon.
Thread alternate balls onto wooden skewers
Freeze overnight

*source of vitamin C, potassium and beta carotene

Most fruits with a high water content, such as melons, berries and citrus fruits can be used for water ices. Grapes can be individually frozen along with segments of orange. Long wedges of pineapple can be threaded onto skewers and frozen whole. Frozen chopped bananas or mangoes mix well with yoghurt or can be made into refreshing smoothies

Buying fruit in season not only tastes better but is more economical so when certain fruits are in plentiful supply, buy up big and freeze for use over the next few months.

Most kids love to help in the kitchen so get them involved with making their own sweet treats.
Little kids jobs: Processing the fruit or yoghurt mixture
Blending the ice and melon
Threading the melon balls
Scooping out and filling moulds

Stay cool today
Kate x

Monday, November 16, 2009

Healthy fast food - get the kids in the kitchen

Its the start of the week - time to menu plan...AGAIN. Get the kids involved with a recipe each. Habits we set up now will hopefully continue through to their teenage and adult years when they need them most.
Recipes can be loads of fun to teach children how to cook. They can learn measurement, serving sizes, cooking skills and learn about different colours, textures and tastes. Best of all they can produce something themselves that they can share with the rest of their family and friends.
Complicated recipes that require you to be in the kitchen for hours on end and require 20 or more ingredients will leave you feeling frustrated especially if the family doesn’t like the end product. Families are also relying too heavily on take away convenience foods these days as many people either don’t like cooking or find it to hard to accommodate cooking in their busy day.
What you need are quick easy, healthy recipes with few ingredients (and ingredients that you don’t need to travel the earth to find.)

Your pantry should have a few essentials
Plain flour
Self raising flour
Brown sugar
Olive oil
Tinned tomatoes
Mixed herbs
Salt, pepper

Fridge essentials
Frozen pizza based
Grated cheese

Kids who are taught to cook at an early age and spend time in the kitchen preparing meals will be better prepared to look after their health when they leave home. In an age where convenience food is becoming the norm, nothing beats a quick healthy home cooked meal especially if it has been prepared with the help of loving little hands.

Skewers (serves4)
350g skinless chicken cut into large cubes
8 Button mushrooms, washed
Red capsicum, cut to 8 pieces size of chicken cubes
Marinade (1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon soy)
4 wooden skewers

Mix honey soy and oil and set aside
Thread chicken, mushroom, capsicum alternatively
Brush with Marinade
Place on grease proof paper under medium/ high grill
Continue to brush with marinade until chicken is cooked
Serve with salad or vegetables
*kids can thread onto the skewers and brush the first marinade

Spaghetti (Serves 4-6)
500g lean beef mince
400g canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs (fresh or dried)
500 g spaghetti

Lightly fry chopped onion in small amount of oil
Add mince and stir until brown
Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste
Sprinkle with herbs

Cook spaghetti in saucepan of boiling water until just firm
Serve mince sauce drizzled over pasta, add grated cheese if desired
Serve with salad or vegetables
*older kids can stir over low heat and sprinkle in the herbs (if you take the pan of the heat the younger ones can have a stir

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Seafood - A family favourite

We have found Saturdays to be a great day for BBQ fish or seafood. Barbecuing keeps the smells outside and eliminates the over use of oil or deep frying your fish. many patients of mine say they personally don't eat fish or feed it to their children because it is "too hard to cook!" Don't despair - I have a recipe that will have you enjoying it a few times a week.
Its all in the crumb (yes crumbed fish can be healthy - just don't plunge it into oil).

Find a nice fine breadcrumb (or grate it yourself using slightly stale bread). Add ingredients such as garlic, pesto, coriander, Parmesan cheese, Moroccan spices or zest of lime or lemon. All these flavours enhance the flavour of the fish.

Below is my simple 'fish and chippie' recipe which the kids love (all about the presentation as well!)- it is health, full of Omega 3 fats, low in saturated fat and high in protein. For a more adult taste add one of my suggested ingredients into the crumb.

One word of caution is the use of large predator fish with young children or pregnant women- these fish (see DAA website)">Link
contain larger amounts of mercury which is not recommended for these two groups. Otherwise ENJOY your week-end BBQ fest

Kate x

Fish and chips
400 g white fish (bream, Flathead, snapper) cut into strips
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
2 large potatoes cut into ‘chip style’

Mix breadcrumbs and cheese in bowl
Whisk egg in separate bowl
Place fish pieces in egg followed by breadcrumb mix completely covering fish
Barbecue on hot plate until cooked
Place cut potato, sprayed with oil, on baking paper in hot oven (200*C) until cooked through

Friday, November 13, 2009

One of life’s pleasures is the early morning brew to kick start the day…..but does your caffeine intake affect your health? In the last 12 months I have seen peoples coffee consumption dramatically increase with some having 3-5 flat whites per day. Not only is this caffeine excessive but the kilojoule content will contribute to weight gain (each standard flat white has the equivalent kilojoules or calories to 1.5 pieces of bread). So with respect to your health it depends on how much you consume and whether you are having enough free fluid (such as water) to maintain hydration. Caffeine is a mild stimulant so it is recommended to reduce your intake if you are on blood pressure medication or if you are trying simply to relax. When we think of caffeine we naturally think of coffee but many other foods such as chocolate, cola drinks, some teas and the new range of ‘energy drinks’ contain significant amounts of caffeine.
I recommend less than 300 mg caffeine per day for health (see table below)
Enjoy your brew - just don't over do
Kate x

Caffeine (mg)
1 cup espresso coffee 150
1 cup flat white 150

1 cup plunger coffee 100
1 cup instant coffee 85
1 can energy drink 80
1 cup tea (average strength) 50
1 can cola based drink 50
1 cup green tea 30
50 gram milk chocolate 7
1 cup decaf coffee 2
1 cup decaf or caffeine free tea 0

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Variety ....the spice of life, or is it?

I have a cupboard filled with cookbooks including ones I've written myself, yet standing in the line at the checkout I find myself flipping through the pages of yet another gourmet magazine and consequently adding it to my trolley.
Inspiration is what we are searching for; whether it is for the family dinner, the kiddies lunchbox or a snack to take to someones place, we are always on the hunt for new healthy ideas.
We all have our favourites and tend to rotate these through the week and then look for something special to prepare on the weekend when we have more time. This is absolutely fine to do as it makes catering and shopping a breeze.
I spoke with Melinda yesterday(contacted me through my website) who was concerned that her children would get bored with their lunchboxes as they are limited in variety and repetitive. Unlike adults, children love routine and security and are happy to have the same thing day in and day out, as long as there is balance (see previous lunchbox blog) there isn't an issue.
My two children have their favourite sandwich fillings (hommus and cheese, Vegemite and cheese and chicken and tomato) and I prepare them differently using pocket breads, mini rolls, burrito wraps, rolling in flat bread like sushi rolls or toasting them. Clearly the same filling just different visuals.
A sandwich, Piece of fruit, water, a yoghurt or cheese and crackers for dairy and a baked item such as a muffin, scone or friand(see recipe below) is all you need to put in the lunchbox for balance. (I throw in a hommus and vegetable sticks if the have some sport or if they are hungry).
If you have prepared their meals and they are happy too eat them - you are on a winner; lots of variety is more of an adult desire that children grow into.

Enjoy the friands - one of my favourites for the lunchbox or to take for an afternoon tea.
Kate x

Strawberry friands
60g olive oil margarine
½ cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)
½ cups icing sugar
¼ cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 large egg whites, whisked
½ cup chopped fresh strawberries
Extra icing sugar for sifting

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan forced)
Combine the ground almonds, icing sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl.
Stir in the egg whites.
Add the melted olive oil margarine and stir to combine.Grease 1 x 12 small muffin or friand tins.
Spoon the mixture evenly into each tin and arrange sliced strawberries over the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and springs back to the touch
*kids can help mix and spoon into moulds
*Easy to freeze
*strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre
*Kids can spoon out mixture ad place cut strawberry on each friand

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Food Food Glorious Food!!!

Where did that time go! I am so sorry I have not blogged (as I said I would!) however a bug in my laptop would not let me send mail...all communications down!
I have just spent the most magnificent 9 days travelling around New York and it was not what I expected. I was looking out for a population of overweight and unfit people living off fast food and junk! However what I saw was people out walking, running and taking all modes of public transport to and from work, or enjoying a run or Ice skate in central Park; Very little evidence of the overweight crisis the world seems to be enduring. There are corner stores everywhere selling fresh fruit (3 bananas for $1 or punnet of blueberries for $1) and vegetables (these stores have essentially disappeared here in Australia or are generally hard to find - and we have sadly replaced many of these with supermarkets). There were slightly larger mini markets selling everything from cereals to fresh salads, cheeses, meats and seafood. My favourite was a place called Whole Foods (above), which is a chain with the most beautifully presented produce you have ever seen- I am such a foodie! When dining out the meals were a very reasonable portion and I didn't ever feel like I had gorged myself to finish every morsel. When walking around I didn't see a fast food outlet or soft drink dispenser on every corner - however water was available out the front of most stores for 90 cents. As you can see it has opened my eyes and even though New Yorkers are only a very small percentage of the total population of America - it was still very refreshing to see them embrace health.
No it wasn't all food- we managed to jam in Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller, Ground Zero, The MET, Central Park, Times Square (saw the Yankees beat Philadelphia) and a show on Broadway with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig (whoa!)

I used my travel tips to get me there and back (see previous blog) and so far have suffered no jet lag (flew in yesterday) or weight gain - so must be doing something right.
Highly recommend New York (and the friendly New Yorkers) if you ever get the opportunity.

I am off to work this morning- packing my fruit, yoghurt, tuna and crackers - see you tomorrow
Kate x

Monday, November 2, 2009


Start spreading the news......I'm leaving today........There's a song in that (Mr Sinatra!!). Yes I'm off to Manhattan, New York City for a week. A mad dash there and back to take in the spectacular city of New York. I've never been and a friend (who just ran the New York marathon in 3hours 26 minutes - yes you can see that I am surrounded by extremely active people) is staying on for a week and asked a few of us to join her. It will be hard leaving my beautiful family at home - however the children are in the hands of my extremely capable hubby (thanks sweetheart!).
I am travelling with 1. a foodie, 2. a shopper, 3. an outdoor fitness freak and 4. one who is into the arts and music , so needless to say we will be condensing a month of experiences into a whirlwind trip of 7 days.
I am looking forward to taking in the cultural differences and simply experiencing one of the worlds most exciting cities. If any of my lovely American bloggers have some advice for a few 'newbie' Australian chickadees - please let me know?

Tips I have found handy for long haul flights:
  • No alcohol
  • Lots of water
  • Don't eat everything that's on offer just because it is there
  • Try to keep your bodies natural circadian rhythms in tact using the eye mask and ear plugs
  • sleep when you should be sleeping (not watching yet another movie)
  • taking melatonin before bed on the first few nights

I plan to blog daily and will let you know if I have found 'the perfect coffee' or the BBS (best banana smoothie) or if I break my wrist whilst ice skating or roller blading in Central Park (I'm exhausted already).

Oh almost forgot to mention - we have booked some tickets to the Broadway production of "A Steady Rain" with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig!!!! need I say more.

Wish me luck
Kate x

The Noosa Triathlon - active, healthy families!!!

What a weekend - finished the work I was behind with and headed to Noosa with the family to enjoy one of the most popular sporting events held here in Queensland - The NOOSA TRIATHLON.
When my husband said he wanted to compete a few years ago I thought he was mad and had hit that 'late 30's mid life lycra crisis!!' However 4 years on he is happy , fit and healthy so I am not complaining. Master 9 year old entered for the second year running and also had a ball. For a mum and wife on the sidelines seeing your loved ones compete with such enthusiasm simply melts your heart!

I also must say as a professional Dietitian I am thrilled to see so many people looking after their health and the health of their children. Travelling around this weekend I did not see the evidence of the terrible obesity crisis that exists. Families were enjoying the ocean, going for bike rides, playing tennis, competing or cheering for their partners and siblings. It was certainly a breath of fresh air and has inspired me to enter the 10km run, part of the Gold Coast marathon in July. Starting with something small will still be a great achievement!.(for those of you who know me personally - running is not one of my fortes!)

It was a joy to see so many children inhaling their watermelon after the race and downing pure fresh water. I spoke with some of the little ones racing - and the free water / water bottle and fruit was a highlight - simple pleasures.

That night we sat down to a delicious chicken risotto to re stock Master 9's fuel reserves and load up hubby for his race the next day. Both boys achieved a personal best!!

What a weekend

Enjoy the risotto

Kate x
Chicken and Asparagus risotto
2 cups Arborio rice (do not rinse)
1.5 Table oil
1 onion finely sliced
400 g chicken fillet sliced
2 cups mushrooms thickly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus chopped
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan

Heat oil and fry chicken and mushrooms until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and set aside Add onion and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add the wine and continue stirring till absorbed.
Add chicken stock one cup at a time until all is absorbed (stirring regularly)
When rice has a creamy consistency add chicken, mushrooms and asparagus
Stir in fresh parmesan and lemon juice and garnish with a few thin slices on top before serving

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thank goodness it's friday!!!!

The end of a busy week - one can now relax. Friday is fun day in our household, no homework after school, it is all outdoor activities. Go for a swim, scooter or walk to the park. Chop some fruit and serve some wholegrain crackers with light hommus dip or avocado and light cream cheese. Relax and unwind and have some family time.
Tonight we are taking the kiddies out for dinner to give the two cooks a night off. Child friendly places I have found are are Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Fish or Thai restaurants. Remember to order small serves and always order a side of salad or vegetables.

I am taking the week end to catch up on overdue work so will see you all Monday

have a fabulous week-end

Kate x

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Healthy summer BBQ

There is nothing nicer than the smell of a weekend barbecue wafting through the suburb - so why leave it till the weekend?. Why not have a barbecue during the week; It is a great way to cook, healthy , cheap and quick meals whilst keeping the cooking smells outside (for the neighbours!). I particularly like cooking fish and seafood on the BBQ plate or grill - the taste is Divine and the fish does not dry out. Be careful how much you cook your meat, chicken and fish as the very blackened parts are not healthy and may contain harmful elements increasing the risk of certain cancers.
Thread prawns, scallops and some textured white fish onto skewers with vegetables such as capsicum, cherry tomato or sweet potato. Brushing with simple marinades such as lime juice, olive oil and sweet chili sauce adds wonderful flavour to seafood. Served with a side salad of baby spinach, rocket, capers and Greek feta is not only delicious and healthy - it is faster than a takeaway!
Try my prawn kebabs (the kids helped me thread them - good to see they come in handy at dinner time - gorgeous things!)

Garlic prawn skewers

24 green king prawns (shelled leaving tails in tact)

8 wooden skewers pre-soaked to reduce burning (thread 3 prawns per skewer)

thread cherry tomatoes and water chestnuts as desired

Lime juice, olive oil and crushed garlic (for basting)

Place skewers on grill plate or barbeque and baste regularly until prawns are cooked through.

Serve skewers on rice or salad with sweet chili sauce

Kate x

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Super quick smoothies

You know there are some mornings when you are just not allocated enough time to for all the jobs to be done. I can see why some people choose to skip breakfast (there is also an alarming number of children that skip this important meal!!) however I would literally collapse. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day to stabilise blood sugars, boost the metabolism and put the brain into gear - don't skip it!

smoothies are a great alternative if you are in a rush. High in protein, calcium, fibre, vitamins and minerals and some iron(just add a weet bix that has been fortified with iron). Made in 30 seconds - there is no excuse for you or the kiddies to skip out the door with no energy. Using fruits in season, they taste good, cheap and healthy.

Banana nutmeg smoothie
1 banana
1 weet bix
100 ml milk
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons vanilla yoghurt
1 pinch nutmeg
3-4 cubes ice

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor
Blend till smooth
Serve immediately

Have a healthy day

Kate x

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Is it Tuesday again?" I look at these two bright faces looking up at me." surely it hasn't come around that quickly?". Yep treat Tuesday is here. I was sick and tired of being hounded by my children and those on play dates with us regarding sweets, a special treat, ice-cream etc etc that I decided to consolidate to one day. Hence the birth of 'Treat Tuesday'. The one day when they both have open reins to buy something special (with a grand total of $2.00 each). Last week it was a packet of sugar free gum and the week before it was a paddle Pop ice-cream. My little ones know that there is no point hounding us for treat foods (or sometimes foods) on other days so they look forward to Tuesdays. Treats can be a part of children's diets providing they eat the foods that we give them. For mine this includes what I put in their lunchboxes (certainly no treats in there) and what is presented to them at dinner time. If they eat well then I believe an occasional treat to look forward to is fine. i have heard other parents use Pizza Fridays and ice-cream Sundays. it is up to you however we have to make a clear distinction between healthy foods that are important for our bodies and treats that really don't benefit growing bodies. This area has become very grey for a lot of children and I do worry that the sometimes foods are becoming the normal everyday foods. Pester power is hard to keep resisting however it is important as 'Healthy Kids are Happy Kids'

Enjoy TREAT Tuesday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday .........Menu Planning

If you start the week getting organised it minimises the whole "6pm, what are we having for dinner tonight?" saga that many families get caught up in. A quick flick through the recipe book for inspiration (ask your children to pick something that takes their fancy- if you have 4 or 5 kiddies you are almost sorted for the week!). Master J loves Burritos and Miss R is fond of the pasta dish, I like a curry and my husband is a BBQ fish fan so there's at least 4 of our 7. Being organised means you can give the pantry and fridge a quick check at breakfast time to make sure you have everything for dinner.
Having an idea of your weekly meals also mean you can maintain variety, budget well and let your children who may be a little fussy , warm up to the idea of dinner during the day (surprise tactics generally don't work well for these kids).

I will leave you with my sons favourite dish that he makes himself 9great for encouraging the independent boy)
happy Monday

Kate x

Mexican Burrito wraps
400 g can refried beans
400 g can baked beans
400 g can crushed tomatoes
Taco seasoning or burrito simmer sauce
Shredded lettuce
Sliced tomato
Grated cheese
Salsa or tomato sauce
Burrito tortillas
Brown mince and add baked beans and can tomatoes. Taco or simmer sauce to taste.
Place 3 table spoon mixture in centre of tortilla. Add lettuce, tomato, cheese and sauce
Wrap and secure with a tie
(Makes ~ 6 burritos)
*kids love to put their own together (use a rubber band or ribbon to hold them together for little hands

** Add spicy salsa before wrapping burrito to add a zing
Freeze individual serves of the mix for emergencies
You can use 400 g mince or chicken instead of the refried beans for an alternative

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Incidental activity....more important than we realise

As a nation we are constantly being told that we are an 'inactive' ! We watch too much TV, sit at the computer for too long and generally use a remote control wherever possible. This maybe true for some , however the families that I see in the clinic and the ones that we hang out with are doing everything possible to make sure that they move more. Incidental activity is the non planned exercise you do as part of your day.
We surprised the kiddies last night by taking them Ten Pin Bowling (the joy on their little faces when they realised was fabulous!). Instead of sitting on the couch on a Saturday night watching a family movie, we were out moving (some of us were even dancing as it was an 80's disco bowl- "My Sharona!"....need I say more.). This morning we are going out for breakfast and we have chosen a cafe by the river so we can take their scooters. After breakfast we will scooter the boardwalk and enjoy the gorgeous day that is presenting itself

Getting our kids moving is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. We need to set a good example ourselves, so whenever you can- 'move'- and your children will follow.

Have a happy week-end

Kate x

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sushi and pasta - the perfect combination

The Med-Asian revolution is here. For years we have secretly known that people living in the Mediterranean and Asian regions of the world have better health profiles and longer life spans. Their diet definitely plays a huge role in conjunction with regular incidental exercise ( you don't own a car in Tokyo or Rome - let alone drive one!!) and strong family values - eat, play and stay together. If you opened my pantry and fridge you would see staples such as olive oil, olives, capers, tinned tomatoes, soy sauce, wasabi and Nori- not to mention basil and coriander (if anyone can tell me how to grow this frail little herb I would be forever in your debt!). Two of the easiest meals I prepare for the family are pasta and sushi (master J and Miss R had their school disco tonight and they both went off with a belly full of sushi - whipped up in 10 minutes. it is one of the easiest and healthiest meals or snacks to prepare (try my recipe below). High in fibre, omega 3's, low in saturated fat and full of vitamins - you simply can't go wrong. for those who are not sure about sushi you can make a westernised style using plain avocado, cooked chicken or cucumber in the Nori rolls - however try some raw fish you will be pleasantly surprised by the lack of a fishy taste!!

Happy to say that I introduced Miss AM to the wonderful world of sushi! My claim to fame


Kate x

Sushi – avocado and tuna
500g cooked short grain rice
1 table sushi vinegar
5 sheets seaweed
wasabi (optional)
fillings: cooked or tinned tuna, grated carrot, fresh cooked prawns, marinated tofu, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, sprouts, carrot, asparagus spears

Pour vinegar over cold rice and mix thoroughly
Place seaweed shiny side down and spread with thin, even layer of rice leaving 3cm of one end free
Place desired fillings in line about 3cm in from the other end
Gently roll into a pipe starting from the end with the filling
Slice with a wet knife
Serve with soy and fresh ginger
*kids can help to roll (purchase a bamboo mat and cover with glad wrap -it makes the whole process so easy!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We don't have to like everything!!

I had a lovely mother and her little 3 year old in to see me today. She was concerned that her daughter was becoming fussy and needed to 'nip it in the bud'. Having looked at her intake he was having a wonderful variety of foods and textures however flatly refused broccoli, cauliflower, brussel spouts and cabbage. She brought in a container of brussel sprouts to show me her reaction. The lid was removed and I swear I was waiting for the gas masks to fall from the ceiling. It would have to be one of the most unappealing smells i have been privy to for some time. Mum even agreed.
This leads me to the point that kids and adults don't have to like every food put in front of them. Variety means just that...a varied choice.
My tips for a varied diet for you and your family
  • Try to eat 15 different foods per day
  • Have 2 fruits and 5 x 1/2 cup serves of vegetables and salad (1 cup if it is larger style such as lettuce)
  • Try not to eat the same thing twice in a row as it forces you out of your comfort zone
    On the weekend get someone else to make your sandwich with their choice of filling
  • Put yourself in your kids shoes and try something you think you may not like
Any hints on jazzing up the old Brussel Sprout would be greatly appreciated?
Kate x

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 prepared

The last 2 days have been hectic (I think I need to read my last post!) with a quick down and back to Sydney to do some promotional interviews for our latest book. I was the good 'girl guide' and took some snacks with me so as not to be caught out- hungry, with low blood sugars and dehydrated. For most travellers they are eating on the plane or grabbing a quick bite at a convenience store which may not always be the best option. This leaves you feeling exhausted and 'worst case scenario' you end up with a cold or getting sick. Fresh fruit is a great snack however you may have to surrender your innocent banana or apple at the airport! Packets of fruit and nuts (Sunbeam cranberry and macadamia are particularly nice) or a healthy muesli style bar ('Carmen's' fruit muesli bars are tasty and compact) are great to roam around the bottom of your bag for emergencies. Grab some fruit and small yoghurt's to pop in a bar fridge at the hotel and pre-order breakfast as room service so you are not tempted by the visual splendor of the buffet in the morning. This morning my co-author and I had a small juice and muesli with yoghurt which was filling and very tasty, however as we checked out, the restaurant was filled with guests that looked like they were chowing down before swimming the English Channel. Be proactive and don't let yourself get over-hungry and grab a couple of healthy snacks - whatever the situation
great quick snacks for the whole family
  • fruit and nuts
  • wholegrain crackers and cheese
  • yoghurt with natural muesli
  • wholegrain rice cakes with avocado
  • fruit scone with light Philly cheese
  • small smoothie
  • dried fruit and cheese
  • light cream cheese dip with carrot
  • celery with peanut butter and sultanas
  • mountain bread with grated cheese and salsa

Kate x

Monday, October 19, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I cannot believe where the last week has gone (let alone the last year!). As we march towards Christmas I feel like we are all trying to cram so much into each week. Trying to do everything may cause some aspect of your life to fall apart and believe it or not this time of the year is notorious for challenging your physical and mental health.

My top tips for gaining some balance back:

  • Plan your evening meals and check that you have all necessary ingredients at the beginning of each day
  • Don't make things too complex (see my easy Barbecued salmon steak recipe below)
  • Take 2 snacks to work or when you go out(fruit and nuts, fresh fruit and yoghurt, crackers and avocado
  • water water water - don't just rely on hydrating with coffee and tea
  • take a walk at lunch time or take the kids for a wander to the park in the afternoon
  • Delegate jobs - you don't have to do it all
  • Take time out for yourself (read a book or magazine, see a movie - I saw "Mao's last Dancer" last night - wonderful movie, even shed a few tears!!!
Yes it looks easy in print -but take a few minutes to re-assess your time (I did which is why I haven't blogged for a few days- but I am back!)

Pupil free day here with hubby on a day off- I think a nice relaxed breakfast on the deck sounds delightful!

Kate x

Salmon steaks
600 g Atlantic salmon cut into 4 steaks
Cajun spice or seasoning of choice
100ml plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, and teaspoon Cajun spice in a bowl and set aside.
Lightly season one side of the salmon steaks with the Cajun spice
Lightly spray the cooking surface with oil
Barbecue or pan fry until cooked through

Serve with a green salad using rocket, baby spinach and bean sprouts and drizzle with a sauce made with extra yoghurt, lemon juice and chopped fresh coriander.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Table for one please......

I was amazed recently to learn that the last census here is Australia revealed that 1/4 of our households are occupied by one person (that's around 2,000,000 people or 12 % of the population). Now I am sure there are a number who love the peace and quiet - I would love the occasional day where I could hang out by myself, make a very spicy curry and listen to my 80's music - without complaints; however not every day!!!! Living alone means dining alone which has the potential to be not only isolating but unhealthy. Some patients of mine have said they lack inspiration when only cooking for themselves, or can't be bothered or worse eat junk food all the time as no-one is watching them. Mealtimes are a chance for us to relax with family and friends, discus the day without the distraction of T.V and to set examples to our younger members of the family. Studies have shown that strong family ties and interactions reduce the risk of certain diseases, ensure we eat healthily and reduce anxieties. Don't take living with family for granted - set aside time to eat together- in our hectic lives it may not always be possible to sit down with the family every night (soccer training, dance, p and c meeting - I'm hearing you!) however try for even a Sunday 'Alfresco' or picnic.
If you are alone and prefer it that way, don't neglect your health. Make a quick chicken stir fry or marinate a salmon steak in some garlic and lime juice. A healthy home made pizza for one with a Greek salad or char grilled scallops with sweet chili and Asian greens is a nicer option, quicker and in many cases cheaper than an unhealthy takeaway. Remember even if the recipe makes 4 you have a lunch the next day and 2 re heats when you are late home from work a few nights.

If you do know of friends, family or neighbours dining alone every night- take them round a casserole to share or invite them to join you. You'll be glad that you did!

Kate x

Monday, October 12, 2009

11 weeks till Christmas!!

If you are like me and everything runs to a tight time schedule then you won't be surprised that it is indeed only 11 weeks till Christmas. Where has 2009 gone? Those of us living in the Southern hemisphere are starting to feel the sun on the back of our necks and dusting off the shorts and T.shirts that have been packed away for Winter. With this comes the realisation that a few items from last season are a little firm. Maybe they have shrunk? No it is time to shed those few kilos that crept on during the cooler months.
it is not about dieting - it is about putting the right food in, moving a little more and changing a few winter habits.
  • My top tips to shed kilos without dieting
  • Eat every 3 hours - small frequent meals ensure you don't stockpile
  • Have a glass of water before each meal
  • Take 1-2 spoon fulls off each main meal or get someone else to plate up for you
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables or salad (did wonders for people living in Asia and the Mediterranean region
  • Don't drink alcohol from Monday to Thursday and only in moderation Friday and the week end
  • Dont just eat a biscuit or cake because it is in front of you - pick something that has a function for your body - yoghurt, cracker and cheese, fruit, salad sticks and low fat dip
  • get out and move

Give these tips a go before starting any crash diet. remember dieting doesn't work however sensible food choices, less refined food and more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and lean protein (the pieces of the puzzle that the body needs) will make you feel fabulous.
You have one body - treat it with respect!
Kate x

Thursday, October 8, 2009

World Egg Day

It is World Egg day tomorrow!!! Love the egg - mother natures little vitamin capsule. Below is from the Australian Egg Corporation - and I am so glad National Heart Foundation has endorsed the little scrambler. It is a staple in my kids diets and got me through two "awful" pregnancies.

This year, we have something eggs-tra special to celebrate. The Australian Egg Corporation, in conjunction with the Heart Foundation, recently announced that all Australians can enjoy up to six eggs a week as part of a healthy balanced diet without increasing the risk of heart disease; just in time for World Egg Day!

With more than 200 million produced in Australia per year, eggs are one of our favourite things to eat. From poached and scrambled, or to top a delicious burger or salad, they make a tasty and nutritious addition to any meal.

Did you know?

· Eggs are one of a few naturally nutrient dense food products, contributing significantly more than 7% of the RDI for at least 11 different vitamins and minerals including iodine, zinc, omega-3 and folate, as well as containing important antioxidants.

· Eggs carry the Heart Foundation Tick because they are a nutritious food recommended as a part of healthy and balanced diet. All Australians including those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome can enjoy up to six eggs a week.

· An egg contains approximately 5g of fat, which is mostly made up of the healthy unsaturated fat needed for a healthy eating pattern. An egg contains only about 1.5g of saturated fat and no trans fats, which are the type that raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.

· Eggs provide the highest quality protein of all food sources, with just one serve providing 20% of the recommended dietary intake for protein. This also means eggs have a high satiety factor, making you feel fuller for longer.

These are just a few of the many reasons to include eggs in your diet that you may want to share with viewers on the eggs-ellent day! On the other hand, you might want to celebrate the day laughing over an egg ‘yoke’ or two.

Go-on get cracking

Kate x

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The lunchbox

Whilst I am on a roll I will continue with the dreaded lunchbox.......I shouldn't keep saying dreaded, however I have met very few mums who actually enjoy filling this small plastic box. And is such an important part of their school day as it provides the nourishment and energy whist out of your care. Which brings me to the point of how so many of them can look like a plastic 'party bag'!! Sorry to keep going on and on but I am passionate about feeding our kids well at school. I help in the classroom a few hours per week and I see how some of our little ones are returning from their breaks- if I said a Mini minor with a V8 engine on board, I wouldn't be too far from the truth! We need to be sending them off with slow release carbohydrate foods such as grain sandwiches, low fat dairy foods, bakery items based on grains and bran and fruits preferably with the skin on. All these foods will give them a slow release blood sugar rise helping them to concentrate and stay calm. Many parents ask me what they can put on their sandwiches that will sustain them as well as last in the lunchbox. meat, chicken and fish are fine when you eat them fresh however don't have a great staying power in the lunchbox. Dips are the underutilised sandwich filler as they are high in protein and some are high in iron and fibre. Examples are hommus, refried bean salsa, guacamole, baked beans mixed with cream cheese or leftover spag bol (or any leftovers for that matter)blended with plain yoghurt or Philly cream cheese. They give the humble sandwich staying power- better than a plain Vegemite, jam or honey sandwich which lasts them 20 minutes!

Try my home made hommus....too easy
Kate x

440g can chickpeas drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon tahini
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove crushed garlic

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until the mix reaches the required consistency. This recipe makes 2 cups.
Children love to help operate the food processor. Once the lid is on it is very safe, although keep a close eye on them.

NOTE Chickpeas are high in iron, zinc and they have B group vitamins B1, B2 and B3 (essential for growth, healthy skin and eyes and metabolism)
Garlic contains Vitamin B1 and vitamin C

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back to school

The party is over and it is back to school (for us Queenslanders anyway!). Two weeks of flying by the seat of our pants has gone by so quickly. Spontaneous lunches and throw together dinners are now a thing of the past as routine returns to normal. Don't get me wrong I do love waking up and relaxing for the first few hours over a leisurely breakfast or suggesting a walk to the shops to pick up some fresh bread or a few sushi rolls. However routine is something my children love and they are looking forward to seeing their friends again. The one black cloud that hangs over most parents heads prior to the first day back is the thought of filling the dreaded lunchbox every single morning. The thing that destroys us is the fact that it can come home untouched or even unopened. Don't despair let me give you a few handy tips for the box

Fill with 5 items only (it is not a fishing tackle box!!)
make sure there is at least one piece of fruit (cut up ensures it may be eaten, rub lemon juice onto apple to stop it going brown)
use wholegrain bread or half grain/ half white for the sandwich
Pack frozen water or frozen plain or low fat flavoured milk in the box to keep the contents cool
Add cheese to the sandwich or have some grain crackers with cubed cheese
pack some chopped carrot, celery, snow pea or baby corn with a dip (hommus, cream cheese or avocado dip
if you bake use wholemeal flour, dried fruits and add baby rice cereal such as farex or iron fortified breakfast cereals for iron.
The kids love my cereal slice for their lunchbox and are happy to have a healthy lunchbox especially if it tastes good. Good lunch with back to school tomorrow
Kate x

Cereal slice
1cup dried fruit
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup dates (or try a mixture of dried fruit)
1 cup cornflakes (you can use any cereal in your cupboard)
125 g almonds(omit if nuts are an allergy risk)
125 g butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg (beaten)

Add all ingredients together, mixing well.
Line a 25 cm shallow pan with baking paper. Press mixture flat in the pan
Bake at 170 ‘C for 15 -20 minutes until golden.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sitting in the sunshine

It is the second week of the school holidays and we have returned to the sunshine state of Queensland. A couple of days sitting on the beach in the sun will do us the world of good after 9 days of rain and cold. It is important to get some Vitamin D from the sun everyday (as long as we are sun safe with our little ones). Remember the sun screen and hat; close the computer, turn off the T.V and go play outside with the kids.
I am turning my computer off for a few days to really enjoy the break- see you on Thursday
Kate x

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday morning breakfast..................bliss!

There is nothing more than relaxing with the paper and a yummy Sunday morning breakfast that is healthy, quick, easy to prepare and guaranteed to be eaten by everyone in the family. Yes there is such a meal......French Toast.

The popular history behind French toast (aka German toast, American toast, Spanish toast, Nun's toast, Cream toast, Amarilla, Poor Knights of Windsor) is that it was created by medieval European cooks who needed to use every bit of food they could find to feed their families. They knew old, stale bread (French term "pain perdu" literally means lost bread) could be revived when moistened with milk and enriched with eggs. The traditional method of cookery was on a hot griddle prepped with a little fat (butter, oil). Quite like today.

High in protein, iron and low GI this is a great breakfast to start the day and give little engines the boost they need.

Try out my French Toast recipe from my cookbook "kids meals the whole family can enjoy" available from my website
Enjoy your leisurely Sundays!!
Kate x
French toast stars
1 egg
1 slice wholegrain or wholemeal bread
1 table milk
2 tablespoons of berries or mixed fruit pieces
Vanilla yoghurt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Cut toast length ways into fingers or use a cookie cutter to make shapes
Soak bread in egg, milk mixture
Fry in medium pan until golden. Serve with drizzle of vanilla yoghurt or frozen yoghurt and teaspoon maple syrup
*For savoury French toast add grated cheese to the egg mixture and instead serve with a drizzle of tomato sauce.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Footy Fever - Grand Final Day

For those of you who a: live in Australia and b: follow AFL....then today is your day. Geelong V's St Kilda, Grand Final Day. I am somewhat saddened as my home team of the Brisbane Lions are nowhere to be seen:( . Aussies take their football very seriously, whatever the code- equally as serious are the football parties which can start the night before the big game.

Ever the hostess (and always thinking of my belly!) below are a few tips for catering for a "footy do"
  • It doesn't have to be all 'pies and chips' or 'deep fried'!
  • have some low fat dips (hummus/ avocado mixed on low fat Philly cream cheese)
  • Serve light crackers or toasted pita bread with warmed salsa
  • Serve veggie and salad sticks as dippers (yes people will eat them if they are offered)
  • Sliced hard boiled eggs
  • Fresh fruits such as strawberries/ cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced lean meats
  • Small bruchettas or filo pastry wraps
  • Meat balls or chicken bites
Remember to keep jugs of iced water or soda water handy - to help hydrate and lubricate the 'rasping' throats.
Enjoy your day and .........GO THE SAINTS!
Kate x

Friday, September 25, 2009

It is time to bake

The rain is pelting across the window pane and the mercury has not crawled into double digits yet- so it is definitely an inside day today. School holidays are a great time to discover new recipes and have fun with the kids - mine love to bake, however baking doesn't have to be an unhealthy option. Many recipes call for large amounts of butter, margarine or oil and excess sugar which can be cut down. You can also add a few key ingredients to fortify (nutrient enrich) your baking. Two that I am particularly fond of are baby rice cereal (found in the baby section of the supermarket) which is iron fortified and protein enriched, and Benefibre(completely soluble in water) which adds extra fibre to your baking. Wherever possible I like to use wholemeal flour for extra fibre as well.

One of our favourite 'quick' recipes are scrolls. These can be sweet using sultanas and dried fruit or savoury, adding pizza toppings or simply using grated cheese and Vegemite (substitute any favourite spread if you are not fond of our little Aussie icon!)
Scrolls – cheese and Vegemite
2 cups self raising flour
90 g olive oil margarine
½ - 2/3 cup reduced fat milk
1 tablespoon Vegemite + 2/3 cup grated cheese

Place flour and margarine in bowl; rub in with fingers until feel like breadcrumbs
Slowly add milk until dough forms.
Roll out onto floured surface making a rectangle
Cover with Vegemite and cheese
Roll dough to make a cylinder. Cut segments about 2 cm thick and arrange closely on tray lined with grease proof paper
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes in hot oven
Let cool
* If you can cope with the mess, kids love getting their hands into the flour and margarine. If you would prefer, invite them to roll the dough once it has formed into a ball. They can spread the ingredients on the dough

Scrolls- sultana
2 cups self raising flour
90 g olive oil margarine
½ - 2/3 cup reduced fat milk
1 tablespoon margarine + 1 tablespoon brown sugar mixed to paste + ½ cup sultanas

Place flour and margarine in bowl; rub in with fingers until feel like breadcrumbs
Slowly add milk until dough forms.
Roll out onto floured surface making a rectangle
Cover brown sugar, margarine and sultanas
Roll dough to make a cylinder. Cut segments about 2 cm thick and arrange closely on tray lined with grease proof paper
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes in hot oven
Let cool
One of my favourite sites for recipes and inspiration is

Enjoy your bake-offs!

Kate x