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De-sugar your life and feel great!

Did you know that between 70-80% of weight loss is attributed to the food that you consume. The further 20-30% is down to exercise. Therefore I can’t stress enough the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet for keeping your weight in check.  Also keeping a healthy heart, avoiding health risks such as diabetes and high cholesterol,  maintaining a healthy digestive system, keeping energy levels at their peak and keeping you looking and feeling great! Anyone who claims that all you need to do is exercise and then you can eat what you want to stay healthy is just plain wrong!

One of the first things that I focus on when I have a new client who is lacking in energy or is looking to lose weight is to take a good  look at their eating habits. More often that not I notice similar patterns developing… seemingly ‘healthy’ foods that  appear on a daily basis are often packed full of hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners that send the blood sugar levels souring and many contain chemicals that don’t provide the body with any goodness.

With this in mind I am going to show you a typical ‘seemingly healthy’ daily food menu and then add a few tweaks that could make all the difference in helping you to achieve your goals.  These changes will increase the amount of protein and good fats at each meal and reduce the amount of overall sugar in the diet. In combination these will help to make you feel fuller for longer – helping you to resist the urge to pick.  They should help to improve your energy levels and will prevent you from storing excess sugar as fat.

Typical Daily Menu

Breakfast

A bowl of low-fat  fruit and nut muesli with some chopped strawberry OR  2 slices of  wholemeal toast with Marmite

SUGGEST SWAPPING  TO – 1 slice of multiseed toast with 2 boiled eggs or smoked salmon, 1/2 small avocado, a tomato and some leaves

Lunch

Tuna and salad sandwich made with 1/2 can tuna and salad on turkish bread

Low Fat raspberry Yogurt

SUGGEST SWAPPING TO – Tuna salad made with a whole can of tuna, 2 tablespoons of mixed beans, lots of salad, a handful of seeds, olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing

 1 cup of natural yogurt with a few raspberries

Snack

Oat and honey muesli bar

SUGGEST SWAPPING TO – 1 tablespoon cottage cheese with 2 oatcake biscuits

Dinner

Wholemeal pasta with a tomato and vegetable sauce

Big bowl of chopped pineapple

SUGGEST SWAPPING TO –  1 whole chicken breast baked with a little olive oil and herbs, with a tomato and vegetable sauce, extra broccoli

Half an apple spread with a little almond butter

Finally…  make sure you get at least 8 glasses of water per day. If you have a coffee chase it with a glass of water!

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Snack ideas when you are on the run!

I am travelling back home to the UK for a three week holiday on Thursday and I am sooo excited about it! Obviously the actual holiday part is the most thrilling bit about the trip but I can’t deny that I also really enjoy the travel bit too. I know that this may sound a little strange to some but I really relish in the excitement of the long journey… the whole experience of getting from A to B. I love to make an occasion of things!

Ask my husband, who has to experience it all first hand! I love the early morning starts, I love being organised, I love the excitement of airports, I love the huge pile magazines that I buy, guilt free, before I get on the plane (a 24 hour flight definitely warrants it!), I love the people watching, I love aeroplanes, I love the feeling of cosying up with an endless supply of movies and backgammon, I love the fact that you have no choice but to relax and have some proper thinking time and of course most importantly I love touching down  at B… especially when B is the UK,  my wonderful home country and I see my amazing, smiling, family waiting for us as we go through customs!

The only thing that I don’t however love about travel is the food. More often than not both at the airport and on the plane the food is white, stodgy, full of hidden sugars, full of salt and lets face it pretty tasteless. These kind of dehydrating foods can also make your jet lag worse!

To avoid feeling sluggish I tend to eat the meat/fish and vegetable sections of the airplane food but leave the white bread/pasta/rice/potato and puddings and I drink as much water as possible. Although the trays of juices they bring around might seem appealing I avoid these as they are packed full of sugar which can leave you with sugar highs and then lows and I either stick to the water or opt for a herbal tea.

As part of my pre travel plans I also put together a little snack box of easy, healthy treats that will fill me up if the plane food isn’t great or if I get hungry in between meals.

Here are a list of some of my easy to travel snacks, these can be used anytime of course, for work or just when you are running around doing errands and are worried about the finding healthy food choices….

  • 2 x oatcakes sandwiched together with a thick layer of natural peanut/almond butter and a sprinkling of seeds (make sure the peanut butter is 100% peanuts nothing else!)
  • Chopped celery, carrot, pepper broccoli  anda tablespoon of tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
  • Trail mix made with almonds, cashews and your choice of seeds.  Roast for a few minutes in a little coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon (cinnamon is very good at stabilising blood sugar levels)
  • A slice of healthy, low carb banana bread… https://n-ergise.com/2012/06/05/high-protein-low-gi-sugarless-gluten-free-banana-bread/
  • Natural yogurt with some almonds and again a sprinkling of cinnamon
  • A hardboiled egg with chopped tomato
  • A can of tuna mixed with a little natural yogurt, a squeeze of lemon, chives and some chopped cucumber
  • A cup of cottage cheese with some chives a very thinly sliced celery
  • Sliced organic chicken pieces with carrots

Obviously some of these treats are more perishable than others so pick the ones that go off easily for the shorter journeys or for the beginning of the flight!

10 reasons to make your own lunches!

10 reasons to make your own lunches!

  • You can ensure that you get a good balance of all the food groups. In other words a good portion of  lean protein, some good fats and lots of vegetables

You 100%  know exactly what is in that lunchbox, no hidden salt, hidden sugar or hidden fats  that creep in, often in the form of bought dressings or fatty/cheap cuts of meat

  • You get to decide on the portion sizes, cutting back on the white carbs and adding some extra crunchy vegetables such as celery or raw broccoli. They take some effort to eat and are full of fibre which means they really fill you up!
  • You won’t have to scrimp on the protein, all too often bought salads have the tiniest portion of protein on the top expecting you to fill up on the something stodgy instead. Making your own lunch means that you can have a decent portion of protein which is essential for rebuilding muscle fibres after exercising and filling you up
  • Save some cash! A decent salad in the city costs around $12 in Sydney or 6 pounds in the UK which is around $60 or 30 pounds per week. You can make your own lunch at home for half the price and put that money towards something much more exciting
  • With a little bit of creativity your own salad will be MUCH tastier than a bought one, add seeds, fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, bean sprouts, a few berries, pulses or lemon juice to create different flavours
  • Avoid those timely salad bar queues by taking your own lunch in, that time could be put to much better use such as catching up on your facebook or even better  a brisk lunchtime walk around the block!
  • You get to decide on the quality of your salad vegetables, picking seasonal ingredients for example or avoiding ingredients that look like they are way past their sell by date!
  • Use up leftovers, they often taste better cold the next day!
  • You need to make sure you re-fuel regularly throughout the day, so, if you are someone who is often so busy that you  forget to eat, having your lunch box in the fridge at work or in your handbag as you do errands means you will be far more likely to eat!

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!

I LOVE this!

As a trainer I am constantly asked what the ideal diet formula is for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping energy levels at their peak. There is so much information out there and so many different opinions that it is really difficult to know what to believe.

Through my own study, experiences and discussions with various health professionals about this over the years (from dieticians to acupuncturists, from naturopaths to doctors) I have found that we all seem to agree with a very similar and very simple philosophy… Sugar is the baddy!! 

A well balanced diet including lots of protein, vegetables, good fats and small amounts of low GI carbohydrates it she sure fire way to providing your body with all the healthy nutrients it needs, in addition to being kind to the waist line!

By following this simple formula I have seen amazing results with a long list of clients – coupled with at least 2 litres of water per day and regular exercise of course!

This way of eating has numerous health benefits including;  helping to you to stay fuller for longer after meals, helping to stabilise your blood sugar levels,  keeping your energy levels firing, stoping sugar cravings  and minimising excess glucose levels which store in the body as fat.

All the recipes that I include on this site follow this simple formula, they are high in protein and low GI. NOTHING will ever include sugar or white refined carbohydrates and all recipes will endeavour to have positive effects on the body.

Home Cooked Happiness!

I know it might sound totally INSANE but my life changed quite considerably recently, thanks to a slow cooker! For those of you who already have a slow cooker you will probably know what I mean and for those of you who don’t, hear me out, you seriously have to get one!

On the outside it is what it says it is a slow cooker. A big shiny pot that plugs into the wall and sits on your worktop. You literally chop up the ingredients and slow cook at a low heat for around 4 – 8 hours depending on the recipe. However, it is a whole lot more than that…

Imagine arriving home from work tired and hungry after a long day. You open the front door and it hits you… the whole house is filled with a wonderful aroma of hearty, warming, home cooked food. Food that nourishes the body and gives it energy, food that takes you back to your childhood days and those wonderful Sunday lunches that were prepared for you and not by you.

You walk into the kitchen and there is your perfectly cooked dinner waiting for you and your family. It has been bubbling away slowly all day, what a wonderful use of time. There is nothing else that you need to do other than grab a plate and serve up…

Aside from the tastiness and convenience aspect of this wonderful little pot, there are many other benefits to this form of cooking too. Due to the fact that the ingredients are being cooked at a slow temperature for a long time they become extremely tender and juicy and as there is little evaporation they won’t dry out.

Also very importantly the natural juices from the meat and vegetables are retained in the slow cooking pot meaning that the cooked food is extremely nutritious too.

The slow cooker is also very inexpensive too, I think ours was around $40 and no mounds of washing up afterwards as all you have to wash up is one pot!

Anyway, enough of my rambling, it’s time to put words into action! Here are a few great recipes to try using the slow cooker.

Beef Goulash Soup

1 kg of chuck steak

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

400 g tinned tomatoes

750 mls (3 cups) chicken stock (I used vegetable stock and it worked fine)

350 g butternut squash, chopped

1 green capsicum, halved seeded and cut into thin strips

2 tables spoons of natural yoghurt to serve

What do to…

Put all of the ingredients except for the capsicum into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4.5 hours, until beef is tender and butternut squash is cooked through. Stir in the capsicum and then turn the cooker up to high and cook for a further 1 hour with the lid off. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the yoghurt before serving.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Basque Chicken

1.8 kg of chicken pieces

1 onion, cut into 2cm dice

1 red capsicum, 2cm dice

1 green capsicum, 2cm dice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g chorizo sausage, sliced

150 ml white wine

80g tomato paste/puree

90g black olives

1/4 preserved lemon

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

What to do…

Put all of the ingredients (except the basil, parsley and lemon) into the slow cooker. Rinse the preserved lemon well, remove and discard the pulp and membrane and finely dice the rind. Add to the chicken and cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the basil and serve with sprinkled chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Slow Cooked Chicken, Lentil and Pumpkin Curry

2/3 cup of dried brown Lentils

2/3 cup of dried red Lentils

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large brown onion (200g) chopped finely

2 garlic cloves crushed

2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger (10g) grated

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1 fresh long red chilli chopped finely

3 cups chicken stock (750ml)

1kg of chicken thigh fillets chopped coarsely

400g canned diced tomatoes

500g butternut pumpkin chopped coarsely in medium pieces

1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk

155g baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander

Plain yoghurt for dressing

What to do…

Rinse lentils under cold water until water runs clear; drain. Heat oil in large frying pan; cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices and chilli; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add stock; bring to the boil. Pour stock mixture into 4.5 litre slow cooker; stir in chicken, undrained tomatoes, pumpkin and lentils. Cook covered on low for 7 hours. Stir in coconut milk; cook, covered on high, 15 minutes, stirring once. Stir in spinach and coriander. Season to taste. Top with plain yoghurt.

Serves 5-6

Source: http://www.mouthwateringmunchies.com/?p=4701

The Challenge – Eating out and NOT Over Indulging!

I have had a request from one of my really good mates. Like many of us he works in a busy, fast paced job and is constantly faced with entertaining clients – be it long business lunches or dinner/drinks after work, all these occasions  present a challenge if you are trying to eat healthily. He asked if I could give him some tips on keeping these wine, beer and calorie laden occasions as healthy and wholesome as possible whilst avoiding too much embarrassment. So here are my top tips on how to eat out and not feel the guilt afterwards:

Out for Drinks:

  • When ordering drinks always make sure you order a jug of water for the table at the same time. Try and match your drink with a glass of water 1 for 1,  this will slow your drinking down and will also help to avoid mindless sipping of your alcoholic drink when you are nervous or busy chatting. If you are able to pass on the alcohol a soda water with a good squeeze of fresh lime is a good option (I get mine served in a wine glass!) and it has a bit of a kick to it.
  • Order some healthy nibbles straight away, at the beginning of the evening, rather than waiting until you have had a few drinks and are likely to make the wrong choices. Order nibbles that have some protein which will help to balance your blood sugar levels (especially if you are drinking alcohol) which means they are much more likely to fill you up. Good nibbles choices include: hummus or tzatziki with crudités, unsalted nuts and olives, artichokes, chicken satay sticks (go easy on the sauce), grilled calamari, sashimi, grilled/roasted vegetables, grilled prawns etc. In addition order a salad for the middle of the table; despite appearances most people will be thankful for it!
  • Things to avoid: breaded and deep fried options, breads (no matter how inviting or healthy they look!), crisps, fries, wedges, pizzas
  • Watch your portion sizes! Picture a dinner plate and make sure that your nibbles don’t equate to any more than your usual plate of dinner. It is so easy to over indulge with nibbles because you are eating one thing at a time so it is hard to keep track of what you are eating.

Out for Dinner:

  • If you are able to choose where to eat, then take this option if you can! The best choices are usually the simple ones, so go for a restaurant/cafe where you can get a good piece of meat or fish and some vegetables or salad. Most reasonable Australian and European restaurants will offer this, good choices include: Italian, French, Greek, Turkish.
  • Be wary of sushi as it is very easy to overindulge and a lot of the rolls are made with white glutinous rice. If you do have sushi then stick to sashimi, endamame beans and grilled fish or meats. Also ask for a salad.
  • If you are going for Asian food then again try and go for the fish/meat option rather than the fried noodles/fried rice which are packed full of calories and little goodness.
  • No matter where you are always ask for a side order of vegetables or salad, even if your plate of food includes some vegetables already. If it isn’t on the menu ask anyway, I have never been refused a salad or vegetables yet!
  • If you must go for pasta or pizza then always go thin crust and opt to share a few dishes with the table and order a couple of salads to go with it. That way you can enjoy a few slices of pizza and a fill up with vegetables.

Out for Coffee/Afternoon Tea:

  • Avoid mindless sipping!  Whilst you are embroiled in a business conversation you are unlikely to be concentrating on what you are drinking (unless the meeting is really dull of course!) Therefore do you really need that mocha latte? Are you really going to enjoy it and taste it? If you have already had your quota of coffee for the day they why not opt for a cup of lemon and ginger or peppermint tea instead to avoid excess sugar and fat.
  • Find the nuts! I have noticed that lots of coffee places are now selling bags of raw nuts. Why not offer those to the table before anyone has a chance to eye up the cupcakes?!

And one final thing, in those moments of weakness remember this…as Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism said;  ‘To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.’  That strong clear mind you could gain from abstaining from those sugar filled treats could actually help you from a business perspective, rather than hinder it! 

 

Hungry an hour after breakfast? Then read this…

Is this you? You make sure you always start your day with a hearty and healthy breakfast because you know it’s the most important meal of the day. Maybe you choose a tasty bowl of cereal or a couple of slices of toast with marmite (or should I say vegemite now that I’m in Oz!)? Perhaps you are on a bit of a health kick so you enjoy a nice bowl of muesli with dried fruit or some chopped fruit and your favorite brand of yogurt? You feel satisfied at the time but by the time you get to 9.30am  you are absolutely starving! How can this be, you think?

The answer is that you probably aren’t getting enough protein for your breakfast. Many of the pre packaged cereals, muesli’s and breads are packed full of hidden sugars which will initially spike your blood sugar levels, filling you up and giving you a surge of energy. However, soon after your blood sugar levels will come crashing down, that’s when you feel hungry and need more food again. It is kind of similar to a roller coaster, what goes up must come down, so the higher your blood sugar travels up the lower it will go when it eventually dips.

So what to do about it? By eating a protein rich breakfast (which also includes some healthy wholegrains and good fats) you can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the the day. In otherwise avoiding the roller coaster effect. This will not only encourage better sustained energy levels but it will also stop you feeling hungry and will be better on the waist line!

Here are my 5 Favourite Protein Rich Breakfast choices:

2 Boiled Eggs on 1 slice of multi seed toast with avocado and tomato (for those of you in Sydney there is a bakery in Bondi Beach that does a quinoa and amaranth bread, that is honestly to die for!)

Smoked salmon, cottage cheese and chopped cucumber on 1 slice of multiseed toast. Add a few pepita seeds for some good fats.  (I also recommend adding chopped chives to the cottage cheese, if you have the time!)

Spinach and feta omelette (*a very small amount of feta if you are trying to loose weight!) with 3 oatcakes or 2 ryvitta (I know it sounds like a hastle but honestly omelette’s are such a quick thing to cook! Literally bung the beaten eggs into a pan with a little olive oil. After about a minute add the spinach and small portion of feta, fold the omelette over and continue to heat for a another minute or so and serve)

A good portion of unsweetened natural yogurt with a high protein mix created from; chopped almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds

Smoked kipper or mackerel (You may think I am crazy but they are fantastic for brekkie! They are really tasty and SO good for you…Give them a go!) with cherry tomatoes and 1 slice of multi seed toast

I hope you enjoy! If you have any other protein rich brekkie ideas then feel free to share.

Almond Butter – Tastes too Good to be Good!

My new favourite food of the moment has to be 100% natural almond butter!  This is why:

– It really tastes so good! It’s similar to peanut butter but it is sweeter and creamier. For a yummy snack try spreading almond butter on low GI oat cakes (much tastier than a sugary laden biscuit) and sprinkle with some pumpkin seeds. Alternatively use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

– It really fills you up! Almonds are packed full of protein, in fact they have more protein than any other nuts. This means that they will keep you feeling fuller for longer and ensures that your blood sugar levels are in check. Protein also helps to rebuild muscle, therefore it is an awesome post exercise snack.

– Full of nutrients! Containing more dietary fibre, calcium and vitamin E that any other nut. They also have a huge list of other nutrients including folic acid, zinc and the omega-6 essential fatty acids.

– Almonds help you burn fat!  Research has shown that of two groups of people on low calorie diets, those who ate almonds every day lost 50% more fat than those who didn’t.

* Make sure you always go for the 100% natural variety with nothing else added. Check the ingredients on the back for more info.

Turn water into wine…well almost!

So everyone around you is tucking into a nice glass of wine and for whatever reason (health kick, antibiotics, pregnant) you are on the water. Here are my tips on how to survive your wine drought without succumbing to sugary, chemical laden soft drinks.

  • Choose sparkling Pellegrino, for some reason I find it feels a bit special!
  • Pour your water into a wine or champagne glass to make it feel like a treat!
  • Add some ice, mint leaves and sliced lemon.
  • Other fruit combinations that are good include: ginger and a slice of lemon, a strawberry and some mint leaves or cucumber slices, a slice of orange and some apple. 

Give them a go and let me know what you think!

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