Archive | July, 2012

5 Easy ‘Weeknight’ Fish recipes…

Fish, soooo yummy, soooo versatile and soooo good for you!  An excellent low fat source of protein, vitamins and minerals, fish is also packed full of omega 3 fatty acids which can help prevent heart disease and also reduces your chances of a stroke or heart attack. Yet  despite the numerous health benefits people are still not getting enough fish in their diet – the American Heart Foundation actually recommends people eat 2-3 fish meals per week.

For many I think the idea of cooking fish is rather daunting and there mere thought of having a raw plain white piece of fish sat in front of them sends them running for the hills or that nearest piece of meat! It has a bit of a reputation as being bland or difficult to cook when in fact it is so easy and quick to cook!

So, by popular request, here are my top 5 EASY Fish recipes. I can’t promise you that they are gourmet meals BUT they are cost-effective and simple and tasty enough to bung in the oven on your average week night, when you are likely to be short on time and energy!

The fish ideas below serve 2 people…

Barramundi with Cumin

Coat two Barramundi fillets in a generous amount of ground cumin along with a little salt and pepper. Put a small amount of cold pressed olive oil in a frying pan and slowly fry on a medium heat, approx 5-6 mins each side. You will know when it is cooked if you cut into it gently and the flesh comes apart easily.

Make a dressing from 1 cup natural yogurt, 2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil, a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a little salt and pepper.

Serve with your choice of green vegetables… we think english spinach works really well.

Mediterranean Trout or Salmon

Pre heat the oven to 200c. Place the trout in a piece of tin foil with a little salt and some pepper. Drizzle on a little  Balsamic vinegar, cover the top with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil and finally sprinkle on a few squares of feta cheese. Wrap the foil up into a parcel and place in the oven for around 20 mins or until the fish is cooked all the way through.

Serve with some steamed broccoli.

Asian White Fish – (have tried this with Perch, Snapper and Silver Dory but am sure most other firm white fish will do)

Pre heat the oven to around 200c. Place fish on some tin foil with a little salt and pepper. In a jug mix together 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, a little olive oil, a good amount of chopped fresh ginger, a small chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of organic tamari sauce. Mix together and pour over the fish. Wrap the foil up to form a parcel then ideally leave to marinate for about 30 mins (you don’t have to marinate but it is better if you do) Then bake the parcel in the oven for about 20 mins or until the fish is cooked through.

Serve on a bed of steamed bok choy.

Spicy White Fish- (have tried this with Snapper, Perch and Blue Eye but again am sure other firm white fish will be fine)

Pre heat the oven to around 200c. Place fish on some tin foil with a little salt and pepper. In a jug mix together the juice of half  to one lemon and a clove or two of garlic (depending on how much lemon and garlic you like, taste to see) Add a red chilli and plenty of  fresh coriander. Mix together and pour over the fish, wrap the foil up into a parcel. Place the parcel in the oven for about 20 mins until the fish is cooked through.

Julienne a courgette (zucchini) into long thin strips lengthwise and blanch for one minute in hot water. It has the consistency of spaghetti but no where near as many cals!

Salmon Burgers – (from Teresa Cutter – the healthy chef)

Combine 400g of chopped raw salmon, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, zest from 1 lemon, a little salt and pepper and one egg white into a food processor. Pulse until combined then remove and shape into 4 burgers. Coat in almond meal and rest in the fridge for 15 mins to help them set. Cook in a pan over a low to medium heat with a little olive oil until crisp, golden and cooked through.

Serve over lots of leafy greens and then drizzle over 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper.

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10 top tips to a happier life!

Happy Monday everyone! I’d like to share something with you today that was given to me by one of my yoga teachers. I know that it will probably sound a little cheesy but admit it, we all like a little bit of cheese once in a while! I can almost guarantee that if you are feeling a little gloomy cos its monday take one read of this and somewhere deep inside you won’t be able to help but have a little smile!

‘Puppy Frankie’s Rules for a Happy Life’

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy
  • Run, romp and play daily
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride
  • On warm days, take the time to stop to lie on your back on the grass
  • When happy, dance around and wag your entire body
  • Trust and be loyal
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently
  • If what you want lies buried, dig and dig and dig until you find it
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do!

Many thanks Rick at Dharma Shala and also to my gorgeous dog Biscuit who allowed me to use this photo of her for my blog article!

Laura’s Blissful Frittata Bites

Don’t you just love Saturday mornings?! I was lucky enough to enjoy the ultimate Saturday morning last weekend… It was pure bliss!

It began with a nice early night on Friday and then up bright and early at 6am training  – with the hubby and the dog in tow. The sky was just stunning at that time of day and we were lucky enough to view yet another stunning sunrise over Bondi. After training, a fantastic yoga session at Dharma Shala in Bondi and then finally a relaxing brunch with the girls.

My friend Laura was hosting the brunch and she lay on a really fantastic feast including the recipe for Frittata bites below. They honestly tasted amazing and would make an awesome grab and go protein rich breakfast throughout the week if you whipped up a batch and stored them in the fridge. So here they are, Laura’s blissful Saturday Frittata bites… I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!

Laura’s Blissful Frittata Bites

Ingredients

(Makes 12 large “cups”)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ bell pepper, finely diced (I used orange)
  •  ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 8 whole eggs
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • 100g Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 50g sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  •  grating fresh nutmeg

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and coat a 12- large cup muffin pan with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
  2. Drizzle large skillet with olive oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and bell pepper and continue cooking for about a minute, until fragrant.
  3. Throw in spinach leaves and toss gently until completely wilted, about one minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add whole eggs, egg whites, fresh thyme and nutmeg. Beat the eggs until fully incorporated and slightly frothy. Add spinach mixture; sun dried tomatoes and Feta cheese.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin tin. Do not fill the cups more than ¾ of the way to avoid spillage.
  6. Cook for 22-25 minutes, until eggs are set and top starts to colour.
  7. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before removing frittata from cups.
  8. Can be served immediately, but is equally good served cold, with a nice green salad.

Recipe taken from: http://thehealthyfoodie.com/2012/03/26/spinach-feta-frittata-bites/

Photo; http://www.flickr.com/photos/bohomisfit/4832425946/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The High and Low GI’s of Fruit…

 There is no denying that fruit contains a lot of the good stuff!! It’s packed full of a whole bunch of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre plus it tastes really great too! 

However, at the same time some fruits do also contain a lot of sugar and can therefore cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels much like any other sweet treat. And what goes up has to crash back down again! This spike and crash can leave you with some nasty symptoms such as headaches, sluggishness, hunger pangs, energy slumps, irritability weight gain etc.

So how can these sugar spikes with seamingly healthy fruits be avoided?

The GI of a food measures the effects it has on the blood sugar levels. It estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate in a food raises a person’s blood glucose levels once the food has been consumed.  This is worked out relative to the consumption of glucose, which is 100.

In order to avoid the nasty symptoms associated with excess sugars you need to try to make   low GI food choices, foods that are ideally under 50 on the glycemic index, Anything above 70 is considered high GI.

Most whole fruits are classed as low to medium GI as long as they are in their whole, original form. However fruit juices, smoothies and fruit flavoured products are not  low gi and are usually packed with added sugars which sends them up the GI scale. Even pure fruit juices are higher GI due to the fibre that is removed when the fruit is juiced.

Not all whole fruits are the same though, for example tropical fruits tend to have a much higher GI than you might expect, in fact you may be surprised to know that Watermelon has a GI of 72 which is higher than many fruit based foods with added sugar!

Here is my guide on the Higher and Lower GI’s of fruits and which ones are best if you are looking to keep your blood sugar levels and weight in check:

VERY Low GI – The best choices

Cherries (22) ,  Grapefruit (25)

Low GI – Great choices

Raspberries (less than 40), Apples (38), Oranges (45), Pears (38), Strawberries (40)

Medium to High GI

Banana (54), Kiwi (53), Pineapple (66)

High GI – Over 70

Watermelon (72), also dates and raisons

Finally, try to add protein such as natural yogurt to your low GI fruit. This can further prevent the sugar surges, helps you to preserve muscle mass, helps you to burn fat and will really minimise those hunger pangs!

Abs of Steel! Check out this hard core workout…

Engage your core, belly button towards your spine, zip up your core… you many have heard people mention these phrases on numerous occasions but what do they actually mean and what’s the big deal?!

Here’s my quick and very topline 101 on core and why it’s so important

What is your core?

Your core muscles are made up of several different muscles in your abdominals and back.  These include the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominus, the erector spinae, (sacrospinalis), the longissimus thoracis and the diaphragm.  

Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and trapezius. 

In a simple form think of your core muscles as a highly supportive band or belt that runs around your trunk keeping everything in alignment.

Why is it so important to have a strong core?

Your body is highly reliant on the core muscles for functional movements and maintaining a good posture. If you look at people who slouch or slump they are unlikely to have strong core muscles.  

A strong core helps to prevent back pain which is often a sign of weak abdominal muscles and for you sporty people good core strength can dramatically improve sports performance or help you to lift heavier loads.

What is the Transverse Abdominus (TA)?

This hugely important muscle is the deepest of all the abdominal  muscles and is thought to be a significant component of the core. It provides thoracic and pelvic stability… and without a stable spine that is aided by this TA muscle functional movements can not be performed properly.

Therefore it is extremely important to activate and use your TA when carrying out any form of exercise from weight training to running to cycling.  It will help you to exercise safely and maintain a correct posture.

I always say to my clients that they should think of their TA  as being at the heart of them, their engine. In other words once they have activated this deep muscle they should then try to use it to give them power and strength.

How do I find my TA muscle?

The TA is notoriously a tricky to locate and recruit but once you have found it and practised using it  you will find that it works a bit like a light switch flicking on and off when needed.

To help activate this muscle imagine you are trying to zip up a pair of really tight jeans! You can improve the contraction further by also working the muscles deep within your pelvis, the ones that keep you from urinating.

How do I train my core muscles?

Here is a program of my top 6 core strengthening exercises. You don’t need any equipment, just an exercise mat, grassy area or a carpeted floor at home.

Work through the program from exercise 1 – 6 and then repeat 2/3 times.

Don’t be deceived, it’s harder than you think!

* For beginners I suggest  just doing the stage 1 of each exercise (for the ones that have stages)

EXERCISE 1…Plank with Leg Raise

  1. 60 seconds in plank position
  2. Then opposite leg raises counting to 10 before swapping legs – repeat 6 times
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise (in other words contract your TA and draw your navel in towards your spine). Push back with the heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Tuck your tail bone under and keep breathing. When you lift the leg make sure you really activate the butt and flex the foot
EXERCISE 2…Plank with Leg Raise

  1. Side plank hold for 60 secondsResume starting position
  2. Back into the side plank position again and left let 12 times on each side 
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Come up onto the elbow making sure there is a right angle at the elbow. Squeeze the bum and pull the hips up using the oblique muscles down the side of the body. Keep the chest up and open and keep breathing.When raise the leg make sure you activate the butt muscles and keep breathing 
EXERCISE 3…Wide leg abdominal crunches

  1. Do 15 crunches with legs together
  2. Open legs wide and repeat with another 15 crunches
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Bring the shoulders are completely off the ground for the entire exercise as crunch the trunk up and down very slowly. Keep the back of the neck long at all times, tucking the chin slightly.
EXERCISE 4…Prone Ab Crunch

  1. Complete 12 reps of entire exercise on one side and then repeat with the other leg
  Start the exercise in a high plank position. Make sure the tail bone is tucked under and the core muscles are engaged. Push back with your heels and activate your thigh muscles pulling up from the knee caps. Keeping core activated lift the left leg up slowly behind you. Then bring the same knee forwards towards the chest – as far forward as possible. Next slowly lift the leg up again squeezing the butt and then finally bring the knee across the body to the opposite shoulder. Repeat these 3 moves for the desired number of reps and then swap sides.
EXERCISE 5…Bicycle Crunches

  1. Do 20 reps alternating side 
  Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged for the duration of this exercise. Keep the shoulders completely off the ground as you crunch to the side and make sure the move is nice and slow.
EXERCISE 6…Sleeping Crab

  1. 15 reps of the entire move
    Begin the exercise lying on your back. Activate your core muscles as you crunch up into a sitting position with your arms behind you. Next lift your butt off the ground so your weight is in the arms and legs. Lift one leg up making sure you kick nice and high whilst breathing out, then kick up with opposite leg. Do 2 kicks each side and then resume the starting position and repeat for desired number of reps.

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