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