Realistically, to create a delicious and "good for you" meal in the time it takes to get a take away delivered is possible. Of course, nothing can beat being organised and having the ingredients on hand. That is where meal planning is so valuable and such a fabulous time saving resource. These are meals that can be made in minutes from one mum to another.
Dinner option No 1.
Roasts are very easy. No one ever complains when I do a roast mid week. Usually it is our Sunday evening treat where the in laws come over and we share a meal together. The banter between all of us is priceless. Mid week, sometimes it gets to the point where I have run out of cold meats to pack in lunches a roast is an ideal way I can have plenty of left overs for lunch boxes the next day. To save time, I will butterfly chickens by removing the back bone, flatten and seasoning with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano with a dollops of coconut oil around the pan. I will scrub my organic potatoes and parboil them (if I have time) and then throw them in the pan. The juices from the chicken make the potatoes heavenly.
This gives me at least an hour free to either help with homework, play a bit of soccer, put the washing out or get some veggies cut ready to steam or prepare a green salad. Depending on how many of us, I will do two organic chickens to have plenty of left overs. The carcasses I will put into the slow cooker with some chicken wings to make a bone broth. A wonderfully healing broth perfect for any recipe requiring stock.
Dinner option No 2
Tray Bakes are amazing. Throw it all in a pan, season, add tomatoes, anchovies, lemons, garlic, place bacon strips over the top and a drizzle of olive oil and in 40 minutes, wow the aromas from this dish are mouth watering as well as tasting delicious . This is especially good with chicken breast, but salmon also lends itself to a successful tray bake.
Serve with a quick colourful salad and you have a meal in minutes.
Dinner option No 3
Butterflied Lamb. I will place this on the BBQ or oven, on a tray. I prefer a tray on the BBQ as the flames will blacken the outside of the lamb in seconds. I will season, crush garlic, rosemary rubbed into the skin with olive oil and 40 minutes later depending on how you like the lamb cooked, I have a wonderful meal waiting. In summer I will serve with a colourful salad, or steamed vegetables in winter. Once again, if I have time I will roast some potatoes in the pan as well.
Dinner option No 4
I have mastered a few curry recipes, that I make from scratch that take me 30 minutes maximum to cook. One of these favourites is Butter Chicken. Once you have the spices on hand then the sauce takes minutes. Add the diced chicken and let it cook while you start the rice and get the veggies on. For a vegetarian option add pulses and vegetables to the sauce. Absorption method rice is also very quick and simple. For 5 people I place 2 cups of rinsed basmati rice in a pan. If it is brown rice I will add 4 cups of water, if it is white rice then I will add 3 cups of water.
Let the rice come to a rolling boil. Turn off and forget. Do not lift lid as all that hot air will escape and the rice will not cook through. So easy and mindless.
Serve with lots of colourful steamed vegetables.
Dinner option No 5
Cook more than you need. For instance when roasting vegetables, roast extra pumpkin and beetroot so that you can add to salads during the week. Blanched beans are also delicious in salads with caramelised onions in balsamic vinegar.
Adding seeds, pulses and cheeses such as grilled halloumi or feta to salads bulks them up and are satisfying with the roasted vegetables and blanched beans.
For fail proof ideas, be organised. Have some idea of what you are going to eat each night, allowing it to fit around your schedule.
Shopping can be a tireless, thankless task at the time, but when you are scouring online shopping lists, going to your fourth store in an effort to buy local, sustainable and organic items, then it will be worth it.
Your family and your tummy will be thanking you for all that extra effort you have made.
Days when you are not feeling like a salad
Don't know about you, but if I eat certain foods, its a downward spiral to overeating and feeling miserable. It happened to me yesterday at breakfast. I have always known that eggs when served on their own create havoc with my constitution. Literally, within 1/2 an hour I am starving, and feel like I am watching the clock to meal time, or hanging off my pantry or fridge door. No matter how I try to distract myself, working, walking the dog, my mind is fixed on food. It won't be the green leafy type rather the healthy kids muffins or breads that I make. Honestly, these are good foods, but I prefer to avoid them as for me, they are the foods that tend to congregate around the middle.
So, yesterday there was nothing in the fridge that I felt like. I hadn't been cooking or experimenting so there was nothing quick and easy to snack on. The only ingredients that I had on hand were the green leafy type. Problem is: I DID NOT FEEL LIKE ANOTHER B______Y SALAD.
I think you get the picture.
Despite these feelings, I thought ok, I don't feel like one, but Im going to make it anyway.
First I got the celery out, chopped it, put it in a bowl. Ok, not bad. Next a cucumber. Hmm Looking better, then an onion, red capsicum, green beans, spinach, olives and 1/4 avocado. Ok, I can do this. Drizzled a bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Seasoned with himalayan salt and pepper and topped with a little crumbled fetta. By the time I had finished putting it together, I was really looking forward to it, and it was DELICIOUS.
My cravings stopped. I didn't think about food till I was preparing dinner, and I felt sustained all afternoon.
So next time you have a craving, eat the foods that you least desire. It may work for you as well.
For any body transformation to work it requires a level of desire and commitment to make those changes happen. Eating a whole food based diet does take a little getting used to. But soon you will be noticing differences in the way you feel, your skin, how you react to situations, your focus and concentration, and most of all your energy levels.
Here are my Top 5 tips to help you to wellness.
1. Get rid of processed foods
We don't realise how dependent we are on processed foods: It could be a muesli bar after a work out, or a muffin with a cup of tea. Its about changing our mindsets, so we reach out for a handful of nuts instead of a muesli bar, or we opt for an orange rather than a muffin. The choice has always been there, but we are choosing the addictive, unhealthy, easy options. Its about having something always on hand. Be prepared, carry fruit with you, or even keep a jar of nuts in the car for times when your blood sugar drops to below zero and you are fading. Our bodies are temples, and when we are fuelling our bodies it is important that we choose nourishing foods with every mouthful.
2. Its not a diet. Its a way of life
This is not an 8 week program that lasts only 8 weeks. The goal of the menu plan is to change the way you think and feel about foods for a lifetime of change. There are no processed foods. Just real, whole foods. It is a misconception that eating a real food diet is time consuming. Its about becoming organised. You put effort into cleaning your house, walking the dog, organising the kids - so what about putting time into looking after yourself. Don't put yourself last. Plan your meals, put together a shopping list, order online, have a substantial pantry with back ups, have spare meals in the freezer. Its worth it. You and your partner and family will be thanking you for it.
3. Keep a food Journal
When we are making changes initially to our lifestyle, it is difficult and we can get discouraged. It is not uncommon to complain of headaches or aches and pains during the first week or two of any diet change, but hang in there. It will get better and in no time you will be feeling recharged, with energy to spare.
Journal what you eat, drink, go to the bathroom, how you are feeling, what you are craving and the changes you are noticing. Writing down can help us understand the patterns that we fall into. How often do you snack? Discover the associations that you have with food, and try to avoid or divert these habits by creating new ones.
4. The kilojoule confusion
No two foods are alike, and not all foods are absorbed the same, and every person has a unique digestive system that decides how many kilojoules and nourishment, they receive from the foods they eat. Processed foods such as bread and pasta are simple carbohydrates - these are foods that are easy for the body to digest. It takes little work, therefore raising blood sugar levels quickly, which can lead to over eating and cravings. Think about leafy greens and avocado. It takes the body a lot longer to digest. These are complex carbohydrates, which are difficult to breakdown, blood sugar levels are not spiked, and gives us sustained energy and nourishment.
So for that sustained energy we all want to get through the day with ease, avoid simple carbohydrates, and go for the complex ones that are whole foods, minimally processed, from plants and animals, as nature intended.
5. If you slip up, just keep going
They say it takes up to 8 weeks for a new habit to take hold. So to slip up now and again is totally understandable. Just keep going. Don't punish yourself, just reaffirm your commitment to yourself that you will keep on trying. Reach out, talk with others. Revisit your goals.
Never look back, just stay focused in the present.
Not all changes have to be made at once, change is embraced by people differently. Just keep the end goal insight and you will get there especially when you use these recommendations. Eating a whole food based diet does take getting used to. You begin to think differently about your food choices, you shop differently and you will be cooking differently. Quickly you will become an expert at reading labels and going to great lengths to avoid foods that have been processed in a plant, rather than from a plant.
Like all diets, if you are unsure or have any questions, check with your GP or nutritionist first.
Really the bottom line is as simple as just eating real foods.
When my kids were little, I would look at awe at teenagers. Their huge appetites and their enormous feet. One of the most common topics of conversation with mum's of teenagers was "What do you feed them?" They come home from school and you are peeling them off the fridge doors. We go out somewhere and they are hungry five minutes after leaving home, and weekends are spent feeding before sport after sport and in-between. Nappies have been exchanged for a feeding frenzy. More kaotic, more labour intensive, requiring initiative and creativeness.
So now I have three growing teenagers in my house. I am on my second fridge in 3 years and here are some top tips on how to tame the wild beast/s.
1. Not all snacks have to come out of a packet.
Often, its best to feed the teenagers mini meals as snacks. They will love coming home and heating up some lasagne or having taco's stuffed with chili and cheese. As long it is something that they can get themselves without too much fuss and cleaning up, your teenager will be forever grateful for their full tummies.
Here are some ideas:
Taco's - with a chili meat or bean mixture, grated cheese and salsa
Lasagne - beef or vegetarian
Spaghetti bolognese with lots of hidden vegetables
Container of chopped up veg, boiled eggs, cheese cubes
Protein balls using a good protein powder
Tamari flavoured nuts in a jar
Roasted chili chickpeas
Trail mix with pepitas, sunflower seeds, craisins, almonds
Homemade Banana Bread, Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Breads
Avocado and Corn Chips (non GMO)
Pizza bases kept in the freezer so they can top with what ever they like.
2. Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Shopping Lists, Shopping Lists, Shopping Lists.
Yes, I may be repeating myself, but without an idea of what you are going to feed the teenager, well, that becomes difficult to shop for, and yes, sets you up to an instant "What's to eat mum". Here is a link to my Meal Planner and Food Inventory List to help you with your planning and shopping. To make it work have that conversation with your teenagers of what they would like, and offer a few suggestions from the above list. All you need is to agree on two dishes that they can heat up after school.
3. Double, Double, Double
Spend a couple of hours cooking extra meals and snacks every week.
Ok, so now you have worked out what your teenagers would like to eat after school. Now lets add all these to the shopping list and set some time aside to cook. When your teenagers come home from school they will now be eating a dish of lasagne or heating up some taco's in the oven or even poaching an egg on toast. Its great, it creates independence and self sufficiency in the kitchen. If you are worried about them using the oven, well encourage them to use the oven while you are around, and when you are confident that all is well, then they can use the oven when you are out. It's a trust thing. The only part that I would strongly encourage is the washing up. Lets face it, it's not a good thing to be coming home to a mess. Urghhhhhhh
4. A balanced diet for a growing teenager
A balanced "just eat real food nutrition" is what growing bodies need to thrive. So, if you are baking cakes and breads use organic flours, free range eggs, whole milks. Choose the best ingredients possible to make your snacks nutrient and energy dense. Provide an array of foods, that are in season and locally sourced. Balance is the key. Often filling up on complex carbohydrates are needed to curb that hunger. What are complex carbohydrates? Foods that have had minimal processing. Like brown rice, wholewheat flours, whole grains, vegetables, fruits. They take longer for the body to break down so the blood sugar remains stable and is less likely to be stored as fat. Hence, a satisfied and happy teenager...I hope.
5. Packet food is a sometimes food
If I had it my way, my kids would not eat any packet foods, but that is unrealistic. I don't buy packet snacks and feel if that is their choice when they are out, then so be it. I try to empower them through conversation. We discuss why packaged foods are unhealthy with balanced discussions on transfats, sugar and high fructose corn syrups, and GMO products. My message is for them to understand that these foods are addictive, unhealthy and a poor food choice. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution series was the turning point for my kids. After that they no longer wanted to eat fast food.
Just remember, to start the conversation with your teenager about what they would like to have for snacks. Provide them with suggestions of a nutritionally balanced plan.
Shop and meal plan accordingly. Its so important to plan your shop so that you are not rushing out to buy ingredients at a moments notice. Otherwise, nothing will get done.
When you have all the ingredients, plan to batch cook, either doubling up on what you have for dinner or setting aside some time to do a batch cook on the weekend where everyone can help.
Empower your teenager. Let them loose in the kitchen. Teach them how to use the oven and stove top. And most of all, let them know how important it is to clean up after themselves. (Totally! for mum's sanity)
Whether you are going on a plane, car or boat, travelling with food allergies and intolerances can be a nightmare. I recently went travelling abroad with my family. In our mix, four of us are gluten or dairy intolerant. Flying was one thing, but when travelling to other countries with these intolerances made it somewhat difficult. It made me sympathise with anyone with a true allergy or coeliac disease. Here are some tips that I came up with to make travelling a little easier.
We purposely choose Airbnb during our travels which worked extremely well. We could have what ever we wanted for breakfast and pack our lunches and snacks for the day. In the evenings we would plan to eat out. The questions to ask airbnb before deciding to rent is where the closest supermarkets or local food shops are. Making sure that you are central and within walking distances to shops makes it that little bit easier to get what you need at a moments notice.
2. Google gluten free restaurants before you leave
Wherever you are staying it is good to get an idea of restaurants that can cater for gluten free (GF) and book in. When you have a firm booking for dinner then you are likely to plan your day to end at the restaurant rather than wandering around looking for places to eat. Alternatively, when looking for places to eat check out the menu. Find out what their specialty is. If it is pizza, the cross contamination of flour can make any gluten free pizza a bad choice. If they do grilled meats with vegetables or salad this may be an option, but you will need to check with the chef or head waitress whether the sauces contain gluten.
These days restaurants are very savvy when it comes to GF dining. Dishes are either labeled GF or restaurants have a dedicated GF menu.
Some questions to ask when ordering are:
Chips: Are the chips coated with any flour?
Oils: Are GF fried foods fried in the same fryer as non GF foods?
Stews and slow cooked meals: Has the meat been coated with flour before browning. If so what type of flour?
Marinades and Sauces: Check to see if they contain gluten or is there potential for them to be cross contaminated.
Our most memorable eating moment was in England, when we ordered a huge pile of hot deep fried chips from the local fish and chip shop. Piles of thickly cut fresh potato deep fried and wrapped in the old fashioned butchers paper, piping hot. Delicious. And no gluten.
3. Getting ready for your flight
The last trip we did, I spent hours planning and preparing meals for the flight. I packed a fridge bag full of GF bread, cookies and crackers to supplement our meals.
Error no 1. Check the time of your flight. Yes, this is very important. For instance, you are not going to eat as much on a night flight as a day flight.
Error no 2. Don't pack too much. We were sitting in economy, and their is hardly any room for your legs let alone a fridge bag full of food that you can't pull out at a moments notice. Obviously not an issue for those travelling in Business or First Class.
Error no 3. I packed one big bag, but in hindsight it would have been better if we all had our own smaller bag with our extra food that we were each in control of. Order a GF meal, and use your own supply of bread and cookies to complement the meal. The GF meals that we ordered were tasty, but the breads could have been used to play shuttlecock.
4. Know what GF is in non english speaking countries
On our travels we visited Paris. This is where we became a bit unstuck with our GF lifestyle. Just remember to look for 1 phrase "Sans Gluten" . A lot of restaurants do offer GF dining, but it helps to have a few phrases on hand
"Avez-vous des aliments sans gluten" - Do you have GF food
Just remember to have goggle translate at hand.
So, although we did slip up once or twice, unintentionally of course, it is possible to eat well overseas. That is with a little planning.
Some mornings breakfast can be a diabolical disaster. I become the short order cook from hell, trying to make all the kids eat a healthy breakfast with all the necessary protein and fats needed for their brains to stay focused and on task. When the cereal boxes were removed from the pantry, the routine changed. No longer was I calm, tidy and organised. Now I have a sink full of frying pans, benches covered in egg shells and dirty plates while the dog is hovering around for the bacon rind. What have I done? Is this nutrition gig worth it? Yes. It is. It just takes time to create that new comfort zone, because there are easy alternatives without turning to 101 ways with bacon and eggs.
Here are my 5 top healthy breakfasts:
Don't let breakfasts wreck your morning. Be prepared. Have the ingredients. Try not to rush. Take a deep breath. Allocate the washing up.
Remember its a team effort, not a mum effort. Let everyone get involved and encourage independence.
I really must do that!
It Sunday afternoon, the kids have been playing in the pool, my eldest is meeting up with friends, my middle has spent the day looking for something to do and is now out skateboarding, and my youngest has two mates around. This leaves me with a few short minutes to begin blogging. Lets talk about Eggplants. To chat about eggplants I have to take you back to a school BBQ that I organised at the end of last year. Being the nutritionist that I am, any kind of foodie challenge is met head on. Can't resist, so when the teacher asked if I could cater for a school BBQ for 30 people for $200.00, I couldn't resist. I had a rather ecliptic mix of food intolerances/lifestyle choices so to accommodate those here is the menu.
I will let you know that the BBQ was a huge success, but the most tastiest idea were the roast vegetables. This is where the eggplant came into it.
I basically sliced up red peppers, zucchini, eggplant and onion into equal sized chunks. Put them into a large bowl and drizzled a generous amount of olive oil, cajun spice mix, paprika, a dash of chill powder and Himalayan salt. I BBQ them on a flat plate till they were soften and coloured. They were delicious. Since then, I have been slicing eggplant thinly and saturating in olive oil and adding paprika, chili and garlic then roasting them on a flat plate to make a eggplant stack with a beef burger amongst it all. Once again the flavours were delicious.
So these summer holidays, my memories are of the wonderful eggplant meals we have had whether we were camping, on holidays, or at home.
Here are some health properties of eggplants courtesy of Dr Josh Axe.
1. Fights free radicals and cancer
2. Helps lower high cholesterol
3. Improve digestive health
4. High source of bone building manganese
5. Good source of vitamin B
6. Prevent skin cancer
Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family along with potatoes and peppers. Some people may have to reduce or eliminate their exposure to nightshades if they are intolerant to them.