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.