This month, we are excited to welcome back accredited dietician Serena Sullivan from Gather Nutrition. We were able to speak about food preps and kitchen staples, and whether or not preparing foods in advance was the only way forward in terms of improving one’s diet. Without further ado:
As a dietician, do you feel as though the practice of preparing food days in advance is the best way to ensure dietary compliance?
Personally, I am much more successful consuming a healthy, well rounded diet when I spend 20-30 minutes each night preparing meals/snacks as opposed to preparing them all in one go. I feel big batch cooking and a fridge full of tupperware containers can look and feel like ‘dieting’. Some people may be able to do that for a short period of time before they either become bored or they fall off the wagon due to not finding the amount of time required on a weekend.
Can cooking foods in bulk at times be a daunting prospect for someone trying to improve their eating habits?
In my experience, very much so. People can often find bulk prepping quite daunting. Many have good intentions when they set the goal of setting aside time on the weekend to do the planning, shopping, and preparing, but due to the hours this may take, it can be a challenge at times depending on the demands of family/social commitments and the like.
In saying that I have also seen clients who have made it a genuine part of their lifestyle and have sustained it for an extended period! It depends on what will suit your needs and what is a sustainable approach for ongoing success.
What are your favourite staple ingredients to include in your 20-30min prep each night?
My favourites to prepare at night will be a small container of full fat plain greek yoghurt and either a whole fresh piece of fruit or chopped fruit. I’ll always pack a variety of nuts and seeds which sometimes I’ll add to the yogurt or have separately. Its simple but you can’t go wrong with fruit and nuts. This makes for an easy snack throughout the day. I try to buy a few different types of fruit for the sake of variety.
I scale our dinner shopping to serve 4-5 people (only 2 people at home) so there is always left overs for lunches the next day. I’m always sure to have frozen vegetables, microwave rice, wholegrain bread, and some type of salad mixture, that way if dinner left overs are short on vegetables or a carbohydrate source, I can turn to these options to prepare a complete and substantial meal. Having the salad and wholegrain bread on hand usually means I will always have ingredients for a last minute salad sandwich with any vegetables if need be.
How do you ensure your clients are eating the correct portion sizes?
Whilst I educate my clients on serving sizes, I put more emphasis on making sure they are consuming enough food as opposed to food restriction. I put the biggest emphasis on the serving sizes of vegetables and try to encourage increasing vegetables servings. At the end of the day I want people looking at their meal and asking if they can see twice the amount of vegetables than they can see of protein or carbohydrates. If a meal is primarily vegetable based, it will always be nutritious and naturally lower in energy. Encouraging people to start thinking about increasing their vegetable intake (as well as increasing their intake of different varieties of vegetables) will mean they will naturally start to reduce in other areas where they may be over consuming.
I will however speak more specifically about carbohydrate serving sizes with clients who haveparticular health conditions, such as diabetes or insulin resistance. As a general rule of thumb, I try not too do too much food policing to give clients space to make changes on their own terms!
The Final Word with James:
Remember what may work for others is not necessarily the best option for you. Whether you are preparing your food days in advance in one hit, or doing a little preparation each night, the important thing is to have a plan of sorts. Write down some meals which you can cook, but be sure to pack your kitchen with some staples (think frozen vegetables, canned goods, microwaveable rice/couscous/quinoa, eggs, mixed leaf bags from the supermarket) incase your best intentions don’t come to fruition.
Follow Serena on Instagram @gathernutrition for more great tips!
These mini frittatas baked in muffin trays make for a tasty breakfast/brunch option for your weekends at home, and can be reheated in the microwave. Garnish with herbs of your choice (parsley or chives for us) and season with some salt and pepper. Thanks to Two Peas and Their Pod for the idea!
3 lean breakfast turkey sausage links
5 egg whites
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup freshly chopped spinach
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet, brown the turkey sausage links on medium-high heat. Cook until sausage is brown all the way through. Cut sausage into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and eggs. Whisk in skim milk and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the chopped spinach.
Grease 6 muffin tin cups with cooking spray or line cups with paper liners. Pour egg mixture evenly into the muffin cups.
Distribute cheese and sausage equally between each muffin cup.
Bake egg muffins for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are firm in the center. Remove from oven and gently go round each egg with a butter knife. Serve warm.
Following a recommendation from a JS-PT client, we thought we would share something different this month. Homemade vegan Easter eggs, from Jamie Oliver himself:
“For most of us, Easter has become a chocolate-filled, sugar-fuelled holiday, full of chocolate eggs, bunny-shaped treats and colourful Easter baskets.
For many parents, the prospect of endless sweet treats coming their children’s way can be daunting, so to help out, we’ve got a refined sugar-free, vegan chocolate egg for you to try.
These eggs are great fun to make with the kids, and while you’re at it, you could make some Easter baskets, which you can then fill with your homemade treats! You’ll need an egg mould, which you can buy online or at some large supermarkets – depending on the size of your mould, this recipe will make around six to eight small eggs or one bigger one.
To make 1 large egg or 6 to 8 smaller eggs, you’ll need 200g coconut oil, 6 tablespoons agave syrup and 120g raw cacao powder. You could also add 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
1. Melt the oil in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, carefully transfer the bowl to your work surface.
2. Add the agave syrup (you could use maple syrup or even honey for a non-vegan version) to the melted coconut oil and mix together.
3. Add the cacao powder and stir until you have a smooth, liquid chocolate.
4. Reserving a little of the chocolate mixture, pour the rest into your moulds of choice, tilting the moulds so the mixture covers the surface.
5. Leave the moulds in your fridge or freezer for around 20 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.
6. Take the moulds out of the fridge and carefully remove the chocolate egg halves. Spoon in the peanut butter (if using) for a surprise filling.
7. Brush the rim of each mould with the leftover liquid chocolate, then stick the egg halves together.
8. Leave to set in the fridge for a further 10 minutes, then enjoy!
9. If you’re planning on buying traditional shop-bought chocolate eggs, it’s best to get good quality, dark chocolate with a high cacao content, as these will contain less sugar.”
Mindful Eating – I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but do you feel like you’ve really grasped the concept? These days the term ‘Mindful Eating’ has somehow found its way into diet and weight loss programs around the world. Yet using mindful eating as as weight loss tool actually goes against what the practice of what mindful eating is truly about. Let’s break this down. So what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about deliberately paying attention, non – judgmentally to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment. It’is purpose is to help free yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It is about balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is. Ok, so how does Mindful Eating fit in?
Mindful eating involves the act of non-judgmentally acknowledging your hunger and fullness cues to guide your decisions of when to begin and finish eating foods, and eating with awareness of all of your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It helps to develop non-judgemental responses to food (likes, dislikes, neutral) while allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food selection and preparation. It is a tool to learn which foods will best satisfy your hunger. Why is it not for weight loss?
As you can see, the core purpose of mindful eating is to eat without judgement guided by your internal hunger and fullness cues. Practicing mindful eating with the intention to lose weight means that you are entering the eating occasion with expectation and judgement – to lose weight. If those expectations aren’t met, generally feelings of failure arise – which more often than not lead back to partaking in another behaviour for weight loss – which is a classic example of the diet cycle. So how can Mindful eating help?
Eating is a behaviour and behaviour change is hard! You can follow a meal plan or pay someone to dictate to you what to eat until they are blue in the face, but at the end of day you have to learn to eat for YOU. Improving your eating behaviours is not about weighing less for a moment in time, but about learning to eat well for the rest of your life. Mindful eating can assist this in this in a number of ways:
• Reconnecting with internal physical hunger and fullness cues: We were all born with the ability to regulate our hunger and fullness internally, but as we get older and life gets busier these cues get interrupted by our environment (i.e. increased stress, working shift work, designated eating times, being preoccupied with work,). By bringing awareness to your body’s sensations around hunger and fullness, mindful eating can help you reconnect with this innate ability we are all born with.
• Reduce Non – Hungry Eating: As natural cues to hunger and fullness are explored mindful eating can help you to identify any instances of non hungry eating (i.e. eating because you are bored, stressed, depressed, lonely, procrastinating or just because it is there). Recognising these occasions is the first step to behaviour change and allows you to explore other remedies for non-hungry eating than food.
• Reduce Overeating: Awareness during eating is also key to mindfulness practice. Combined with hunger-fullness awareness this allows us to notice when a food ceases to be as palatable or as enjoyable, helping to determine when satisfaction has been reached. This is called the ‘Law of Diminishing Pleasure’.
• Increase confidence around foods we feel powerless around: We all have them, those foods that we don’t keep in the house because we don’t trust ourselves around them. Avoidance is a short term solution but long term it’s important to feel confident that you can be around certain foods without going crazy. When eating for ‘pleasure’ over ‘fuel’ – which is totally ok to do, practicing mindful eating can help us to determine when our pleasure/sensory needs have been fulfilled. For example you may buy a chocolate bar because you genuinely feel like it – in the past you might eat the whole bar because it is there, using mindful eating you may find that just half the bar satisfies you – or you may not! Only you can determine this.
How can I be a more a mindful eater? Here are 5 ways you can start with now:
Write a definition of your hunger as if you were to put it in a dictionary- i.e. I feel… an empty feeling, gnawing and… fatigued, moody.
Keep a hunger diary- Note down times you get hungry and any relevant circumstances around your hunger. Are you hungrier on days you exercise? Or perhaps days you have a larger workload? Less hungry on days you are stressed? Identifying patterns can help you to pack, prepare and choose foods that are more likely to satisfy your hunger.
Give your hunger and fullness a score / 10- this is best practiced around meals you feel your overeat at (See scale below). Try to identify how much you need to stay in the comfort zone (i.e not getting so hungry you bite someone’s head off, and not getting so full that you feel unwell).
Eat without distractions- Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Save your attention for the eating experience!
Be curious with food, even if you have had it a million times- Before taking the first bite, ask yourself; What is the colour, texture and shape of your food like? Does it feel warm, cold or neutral? What does it smell like? Does it smell as you expected? Do different parts of it look, feel or smell different? Take a bite, but don’t chew yet! Is it cold, warm or hot on your tongue? How does the texture feel? Is it soft, smooth, dry or hard? Is it a combination? Chew slowly…How does it taste? Is is sweet, salty, or a mixture of both? Does the texture change as you chew? Does the flavour change as you chew? How does it feel on your tongue as you move it around your mouth? Now swallow…Has the taste changed again? Are there bits in your teeth? What is the aftertaste like? How is it similar or different from your first chew? Do you need more or are you satisfied?
I hope you enjoy these tips on mindful eating and remember – mindful eating is about eating without judgement and is a skill that takes practice. Start small – if you can only practise mindfulness at one meal this week that’s ok, be patient with yourself – remember behaviour change is hard.
For more on mindful eating, why not visit the Centre for Mindful Eating at www.tcme.org
F: Gather Nutrition and Dietetics
Always a winner and makes for one of the easiest of meals to prepare, this San choi bao recipe from karenmartini.com was passed on by a JS-PT client and was immediately a big hit. Try this for your next home cooked meal, or adjust to suit your own tastes.
1 iceberg lettuce (choose a nice heavy one)
2 medium carrots, peeled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10cm ginger, julienned
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
350 grams fatty, finely ground pork mince
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
10 fresh shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons light soy
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine
2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 cups bean sprouts
10 snowpeas, julienned
6 spring onions, finely sliced on the angle
2 large red chillies, cut on the angle
2 generous handfuls coriander sprigs
hoisin sauce, to serve
Before you do anything else, trim the lettuce to create cups and soak the lettuce cups in cold water in the fridge to ensure the crispest leaves.
Next, follow my tip for perfect julienne carrots. Peel them with a vegetable peeler into long strips then cut the strips in half lengthways and finely slice. Set aside.
Heat wok over high heat. Add oil, ginger and garlic, cook for 20 seconds, then add the mince.
Break it up as it fries for 1minute, then add onion and celery.
Cook for 30 seconds then add the carrots and mushroom, then the sugar, soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil and rice wine.
Cook for 30 seconds, then add the cornflour mixture, cook for another 30 seconds, then add the sprouts, snowpeas, half the spring onion, half the chilli and half the coriander.
Pile it into a bowl and garnish with the rest of the spring onion, chilli and coriander.
Serve with the well-drained lettuce cups and serve immediately with hoisin sauce.
There is nothing like an Australian beef burger during the summer (or any) months of the year, so we decided to make our own. We included the following:
Scotch Fillet Steak
Spinach and Rocket
Remember no foods or meals should be off limits if you are able to balance out your intake throughout the day. So if it means eating a smaller meal elsewhere so you can enjoy a bigger meal like this with friends or family this summer, then so be it!
Another gem from taste.com.au, we cooked this earlier this month for a light lunch and it was a real success! Great to add some fibre in the form of legumes to a simple salad dish like this.
1. Place chicken in a pan and add enough water to cover. Bring the to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and remove from heat. Stand for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Drain, then shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2.Toss beans, chickpeas, coriander and oil together, then season and divide among 4 plates. Drain apricots and chop into small pieces, then scatter over salad with chicken and almonds.
3. Swirl the harissa, honey, cinnamon and cumin through the yoghurt, then spoon over the salad. Dust with paprika to serve.
A fungus that grows underground due to a relationship with hazelnut or oak trees and soil, which is found by the keen smell of a trained dog, and can cost as much as $3000 per kilo. What?
Lucky enough for us, we can buy truffles by the gram for $2 at Superior Fruit in Graceville, but what do we do with them?
Truffles are used mostly to enhance and intensify foods by shaving as thinly as possible, to cover a wider area of food to help create a greater aroma. Best used over simple foods such as eggs, mushrooms, chicken, pasta, and potatoes, while some chefs may challenge the status quo and surprise in a delicious way with their use of truffles.
Given the small amounts of shaved truffle you would use to flavour a dish, the nutritional benefits are limited, but they are known to be a good source of protein given they are from the mushroom family.
Straight from the ‘Coles Feed Your Family’ online page, this steak recipe is by former Masterchef contestant Michael Weldon. An easy variation of a simple meal with some added flavours while being high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients (serves 4):
4Scotch Fillet steaks
250 gGravox Traditional Gravy Single Tub
1tbspred wine vinegar
500gkale, stalks removed (or
1 1/2tbsplemon juice
800gbaby washed potatoes, chopped, steamed, to serve
Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Brush with half the oil. Heat a frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and add the butter, thyme and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes for medium rare or until cooked to your liking. Baste the steak with pan juices. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil and set aside for 5 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, combine the red wine and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Cook until the liquid reduces by 2/3 and the mixture is slightly syrupy. Add the Gravox and red wine vinegar. Stir over low heat to warm through. Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.
Heat the remaining oil and kale in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir until kale has wilted. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
To serve, place the wilted kale on the plate. Top with steak and drizzle with the red wine sauce. Serve with steamed potatoes
A real winter favourite with the addition of ginger which is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
o 1 large shallot (about 50g), peeled, cut in half
o 1 long red chilli (about 10g), cut in half
o 8cm-piece fresh ginger (about 30g), peeled, coarsely chopped
o 3 cloves garlic, peeled
o 2 limes, zest and juice separated
o 1/2 punnet fresh coriander (about 8g), leaves and stems separated
o 1 tablespoon canola oil
o 3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced
o 900g Kent pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 3cm pieces
o 5 cups chicken stock or water
o 400ml can coconut milk
1. In a food processor, blend the shallot, chilli, ginger, garlic, lime zest and coriander stems to form a paste-like mixture.
2. Heat a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and paste and cook for 2 mins or until mixture is fragrant. Add the carrots, pumpkin, stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 mins or until vegetables are tender.
3. Using a blender, and working in batches, puree the soup with 2 tablespoons of lime juice until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with remaining coconut milk and coriander leaves.