All posts by Stina Andersen

Back to school nutrition

By | Back to school, Children, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
Teachers Inspecting School Lunch Boxes…
Let’s get these healthy Lunch Boxes Sorted!

by Dietitian Desi Carlos APD AN
www.treeoflifenutrition.com.au

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Is this really yet another responsibility we are adding to the long list of roles of our children’s teachers?

As a working mum, I fully understand the quick option of adding a couple or more packaged items into my child’s lunch box. Time and tiredness may be your issue, or perhaps you are fed up of the constant fighting with your children, about lunches that continually get returned home in the afternoons.

So why do kids return food in their lunch boxes and why are they fearful of showing the teacher their lunch?

Allow me (as a Dietitian and a mum) give you a run down on some simple ideas that will keep the teachers from confiscating food and help your kids enjoy their lunch.

No. 1 Start the day off right.
I know this is cliché but please make sure your kids have a solid breakfast before they leave the house in the morning. If they don’t eat, their appetite can be suppressed until they come home in the afternoon and eat you out of house and home… creating terrible habits of eating high sugar, high fat processed meals and then missing dinner because they are so full.
Pick a cooked breakfast option – bread and protein or a high fibre cereal with milk and fruit.

No. 2 Understanding that the teachers are on your side.
Often the school will send you a copy of their lunch box policy and supply you with ideas on suitable snack and lunch options. Most of course are non specific and do not health the 99% of the population where both parents/guardians work, or perhaps other factors influence time for meal prep.
The school policy is to help your children with their performance at school, concentration and behaviour – all of which, believe it or not, improves all these things at home too.

No. 3 Get the kids involved!
Get the kids involved in lunch box prep. Include them in shopping for their lunch box and preparing snacks and meal for their lunch box.

No. 4 What comprises a healthy lunch box?
The main fare is usually a sandwich but you can change that up to include bread/ wrap/ Turkish bread/ baguette/ bagel/ or crackers

Then:
+ add your protein – lean meat, chicken, turkey, tinned fish, baked beans, cheese or nut spread (if your school allows it)
+ add salad – lettuce, spinach leaves, cucumber (if your kids complain about veges making their bread soggy- add them separately as veggie sticks – snowpeas, cucumber, carrot, celery, beans, cherry tomatoes)

If your kids just don’t like this idea or are over the sandwiches by mid term – try leftover food in a thermos (pasta, rice, potato and the main meal of soup, curry, or stew).

Then add your snacks:
Fruit – fresh, dried, or tinned (in natural juice)
+
Yoghurt  or cheese (babybel or moo cheese) or milk
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Healthy treat – this deserves a Idea on its own…

Idea No. 5 Healthy Treats – in a pack for ease

  • Crackers (rice or wheat) with dip or cream cheese
  • Vitawheats with Vegemite and cheese or Vitawheat chips
  • Healtheries rice and potato snacks
  • Airpopped popcorn
  • Babybel, snack size cheese, stringers or moo cheese
  • Dried fruit sticks (the ones with no added sugar)
  • Naturally good healthy muesli cookies
  • Party rice crackers
  • Happy snack company – roasted fava, split chics and chickpeas

And then you can modify some home made favourites (get the kids involved)

  • oat biscuits and banana bread and other muesli slices – use yoghurt instead of butter and banana or apple sauce instead of sugar. They taste great… just chewy instead of crunchy.

And then there is Afternoon Tea:
Make sure they finish what they haven’t finished in their lunch box in the afternoon.
Or
Fruit, dairy and a bread and cereal in the afternoon.
Once they have had all of this … consider giving then a treat of their own choice (perhaps after they have done some activity – ride bike, swim, play basketball, walk).

For more detailed and individualised nutritional advice for your children please contact Tree of Life Nutrition 38916199 or email enquiries@treeoflifenutrition.com.au

Image is from https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/back-to-school-nutrition-tips

12 Mindful Eating Tips for Christmas Festivities

By | Christmas, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
– by Tree of Life Nutrition psychologist, Dorothea Vallianos
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1. Give yourself permission to eat ALL foods. Focus on health, not weight loss.

2. Maintain regular eating patterns. Don’t skip breakfast if you are eating out later that day, or had a big dinner the night before. Eating regularly helps maintain healthy metabolism.

3. Drink water and eat slowly. Drink a glass of water before and during your meal will keep you hydrated and less inclined to drink alcohol and soft drinks. Eat slowly and savour your food. Slow down by sitting to eat (if possible), putting your fork down between bites, chewing several times & talking to your companions.

4. Adopt a healthy mindset that contains kindness, compassion, resilience, courage, pressing the pause button and keeping the end goal in mind.

5. Plan ahead. You probably have a good idea of where you’re going and what foods and drinks will be on offer. So think about what you are looking forward to eating there and what concerns you have about what’s on offer.

6. Prepare a plan of action for obstacles you think you’ll encounter. For example, (a) Overwhelming Choices – “I can try a little of everything” or “I’ll try a small amount of 1-3 desserts ” or (b) Responses to people who say “Have some more” – “Thank you, I’m tempted but I’ve had enough for now”.

7. Make an intentional choice from a place of abundance and not deprivation. Remind yourself that you can always choose to eat a certain food. You don’t have to deprive yourself. If you choose to eat it then embrace your decision and savour the food. If you choose not to eat that food, remember you can still eat it at another time of your choice.

8. If there’s a buffet, survey it first. Acknowledge the foods you want to eat and then have a little of all of them or choose 5 that you may want and keep room for dessert. Again give yourself permission to choose a small portion size of 1-3 desserts or a little of all of them. Sometimes it’s just the anticipation of eating the food and really all we need to feel satisfied is to just have a taste.

9. If it’s a sit down menu choose 3 options you want to eat and then choose the healthiest of the three. Don’t be afraid to make modifications. For e.g. the burger without cheese or mayonnaise. The pecan pie without cream on the side. This way you are basing your decision on what you want and what’s healthy.

10. Recognise the ways you sabotage yourself.  Prepare for and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviours by using coping self-statements. For example, instead of “It’s too hard. I can’t do it” say “I realise I’m overeating“. “Am I really hungry or am I bored, sad, angry or feeling guilty. I can still stop overeating now”. Instead of  “I’ve blown it now I may as well eat more”, respond with “Just made less desirable choices doesn’t mean I have to give up. I can continue working towards my goals even if I slip up”.

11. Maintain other healthy habits like exercising, sleeping, and social connections.  Exercising for 10 minutes in the morning is a good way to fit it in before the distractions occur. Sleep well. We tend to eat more when we are tired because we are looking for energy. Lack of sleep also makes us lose concentration and become moody. Connecting with others and eating with them is socially and emotionally rewarding. Stay focused on your conversations and not your concerns about eating.

12. Give yourself the Gifts of Christmas. Hope & Forgiveness – Never give up on yourself. Get back up and keep going. We all make mistakes. We are all works of art in progress. Be Kind to yourself. Peace & Joy– Begin when we accept where we are and have the courage to continue step by step towards our goals while still rejoicing in the fun times, enjoying food and embracing the blessings in life. Love & Kindness – Be your own best friend to yourself and others. Surround yourself with your cheer leading team. We all need a little support and encouragement from people who are positive and mindful of our goals. We, in turn, can reciprocate and enhance others’ lives.

 

Image is from: http://www.gourmandandgourmet.com.au/christmas-food-banter-with-katrina-ryan/

5 simple tips for a happy and healthy festive season

By | Christmas, Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
With the festive season upon us, it is easy to get caught up in the festivities and overindulge. To help get through this time, we have come up with some tips on healthy eating, how to make better food choices at events and parties, and end the year on a healthy note, without feeling like you’ve missed out on the delicious Christmas goodies.
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1. Make the best food choices you can – Accept that it will be more difficult than usual. Focus on maintaining your weight, rather than trying to continue to lose it. Don’t feel obliged to eat everything that is on offer. Choose the foods you want most, and be conscious of portion sizes. Forego that extra spoonful, the second mince pie and avoid overloading your plate.
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2. Fill up on the good stuff – By “good stuff”, we mean in salads, fruits, and water. Choosing to fill your stomach with foods that are full of nutrients FIRST, means you’re less likely to overeat on the “bad stuff”. Good choices include vegetable sticks, dips, seasonal fresh fruits and nuts. Water is also important. Don’t forget to drink plenty of it.
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3. Start the day off right – have a filling and protein rich breakfast. Think baked beans or eggs on wholemeal toast, low-fat Greek yoghurt with fruit and granola, porridge made on milk etc. Having good sources of protein to start the day, with some good carbs, will fill your belly, and make it easier to prevent mindless snacking later on.
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4. Keep up the activity – Exercise in the morning, before the festivities start, and before it gets too hot! Getting it out of the way first thing, you’ll feel energised for the rest of the day. Avoid the “all or nothing” mind trap, and keep up the walks or regular gym visits. Enjoy the great Australian summer, and make the most of the outdoors by participating in backyard activities like cricket, swimming or kicking a football around. On Christmas day, suggest a family walk. You’ll be burning off the calories you just are, and won’t feel anywhere near as full or guilty.
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5. Keep to a regular meal pattern and never go to a function on an empty stomach – If you’re hosting a Christmas party, have plenty of low fat snacks on offer for yourself and your guests. Try not to hover near the food, or you’ll be more likely to snack and eat too much. Remember, Christmas is one day, it’s what you do most of the time that really matters. Most importantly, relax and enjoy yourself. Make the most of spending time with your family and friends.
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Image is from: http://www.gourmandandgourmet.com.au/christmas-food-banter-with-katrina-ryan/

How to boost your immunity this winter

By | Education, Nutrition Tips | No Comments
Winter is well and truly here, and these colder months can provide a challenge with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Staying well-nourished is important to keep our hard-working immune system firing strong, to reduce the risk of getting sick.
Here’s a list of a few nutritious foods we recommend to boost your immunity, and some lifestyle tips, to ward of the winter ill’s and keep you healthy:
  • Garlic – the humble garlic has long been hailed for it’s properties. Garlic contains a variety of antioxidants, has mild antibacterial properties, reduces cholesterol, improves blood circulation and research suggests, prevention of some cancers.
  • Yoghurt – including yoghurt in your diet everyday, provides a good dose of probiotics, important for gut health, and helps boost your immunity. Try adding some berries on top, for a top-notch snack.
  • Tomatoes, red capsicum, chili and berries– the purple and red colours or pigments (anthocyanins and lycopene) of these foods function as antioxidants, which fight against oxygen’s damaging effect on body cells. They are also high in vitamins C and A, which might not cure the common cold, but do repair and regenerate tissues, thus improving immune function.
  • Chicken soup – liquid nourishment and food for the soul – it’s the perfect comfort food to boost your immunity! Don’t underestimate this dish, it’s packed full of veggies, and is very low in kJ.
  • Spices – adds flavour to any dish, with many spices have antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Check out our spicy chickpea, tomato and quinoa soup, which is guaranteed to warm you up on a chilly winters night.
Healthy winter tips:
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – eat a rainbow to ensure that you get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, that are important for everyday functions of the body, such as energy conversions and repairing of cellular damage.
  • Keep hydrated – 2 litres is still the recommended amount in summer as in winter, to keep our bodies functioning. Remember, warm drinks, such as tea count as well!
  • Watch your portion sizes – To prevent overeating in winter, try eating off smaller plates, and ensure meals have lots of fibre rich foods such as veggies and wholegrains. These foods will make you feel full and less likely to overeat and reach for that second helping. It takes 20 mins for the stomach to communicate to the brain that it is full, so eat your meals slowly, and take your time to enjoy your food.
  • Get your vitamin D – Going outside for some sun is not always easy in winter (unless you live here in sunny QLD), so you might want to eat foods that contain vitamin D. Foods such as oily fish and some fortified food products (cereals and some milks) contain vitamin D.
  • Move your body – it might be harder to motivate yourself to go out in the cold these days, but it is still important that you get some exercise in. Perhaps do a little workout indoors, go to an exercise class, or go for a walk in your lunch break.

If you need nutritional help and guidance, make an appointment to see our friendly dietitians. Desi, Lisa and Stephanie would love to help you, reach your health and nutritional goals. Call us today on (07) 3891 6199 or send us an email on enquiries@treeoflifenutrition.com.au.

Image is from: http://foodiefitness.org/winter-food-formula-for-a-fit-summer-physique/

Chickpea energy balls

By | Healthy snacks, Sweet treats | No Comments

Energy balls are a healthy snack option, but they are often high in kJ due to the amount of nuts and dried fruits in them. Making them with chickpeas, reduces the kJ content,and keeps these little beauties soft and chewy. The chickpeas in them also means they have added protein and fibre, which help with stabilising blood glucose levels, and help with satiety.

 

Makes 10-12 balls

 

Ingredients:

400g tin salt-reduced chickpeas

1 ½ cups mixed raw nuts and seeds

1 cup medjool dates

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (no added salt or oil)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

3/4 cups shredded coconut

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cocoa powder

 

Method:

  1. Add the nuts into food processor, and blend until coarse. Add dates and blend again. Remove mixture from food processor.
  2. Add chickpeas, water, honey, peanut butter and vanilla extract, and puree to a smooth paste.
  3. Combine both mixtures, and remaining ingredients back into the food processor, and blend until combined.
  4. Using your hands, roll the mixture into little balls, which then can be rolled in shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts or cocoa powder.
  5. Store in airtight containing, and pop into fridge or freezer.

 

*recipe adapted from www.mckenziesfoods.com.au. Picture taken from same site.

 

 

Dark chocolate bark

By | Recipes, Sweet treats | No Comments

After a healthy and easy chocolate treat? We like to use dark chocolate as it is high in antioxidants, and is lower in added fats and sugars than milk and white chocolates.

Method:

  1. Heat up some good quality dark chocolate, be careful not to burn or overheat the chocolate – that would be such a waste! Then pour the liquid deliciousness into a lined baking tray, and spread evenly using a spatula.
  2. While the chocolate is still warm, add your toppings. Try adding chopped up unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts or peanuts), seeds (sunflower, chia or pumpkin seeds) and some dried fruit (cranberries, sultanas, chopped up apricots, or dates)
    I like to sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes on mine too. Then just pop in the fridge for a few hours to cool. When the bark is completely set, smash it up into smaller, pieces…then eat (in moderation of course!)

If wanting smaller, more controlled portion sizes, try making them into buttons – around the size of a 50c coin.

Enjoy!

 

*recipe adapted from http://amazingalmonds.com.au/2014/10/07/almond-coconut-and-cranberry-chocolate-bark/. Picture from same site.

Cauliflower mash

By | Recipes, Side-dish, Vegetarian | No Comments

Creamy and comforting, this is a twist to the original side dish. Lower in carbs and kJ, cauliflower is a great alternative to the much-loved potato.

For a low-FODMAP option, remove the garlic, and cook with water rather than stock, if it contains FODMAP rich ingredients.

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic (optional)

1kg cauliflower (about 1 medium head), chopped into 4-5 cm chunks

1-2 375ml salt-reduced vegetable stock /or water (enough to cover the cauliflower)

Fresh rosemary or thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. In a large pot, bring the stock/or water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender, adding the garlic cloves in the last minute of cooking. If using water rather than stock, reserve ½ cup of the water used for boiling, before draining cauliflower.
  2. Transfer cauliflower and garlic to a food processor (or use a potato masher). Add oil and reserved water/stock, 1 teaspoon at a time, and purée until desired texture.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add herb of choice and process/blend until just combined.

 

*recipe adapted from both taste.com.au and “The CSIRO low-carb diet” cookbook (2017). Picture from taste.com.au.

 

Banana, honey and walnut loaf

By | Recipes, Sweet treats | No Comments

This sweet and nutty loaf is a delicious afternoon delight, served with hot tea or coffee. If there is any leftovers, slice some up and pop into lunchboxes, or toast it for a special breakfast treat.

 

Serves 8

 

Ingredients:

225g (1 ½ cup) plain flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 teaspoons baking powder

70g (2/3 cup) rolled oats /or quinoa flakes (can purchase in most health food stores)

100g walnuts, coarsely chopped

175g (½ cup) honey, plus extra to serve

2 eggs

80ml (1/3 cup) canola oil (or other oil of choice)

65g (1/4 cup) low-fat Greek style yoghurt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

fresh ricotta cheese, to serve

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180. Lightly brush a loaf bar/bread tin with oil and line the base of the tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Into a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add the oats and 2/3 of the walnuts. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine honey, eggs, oil and yoghurt, and banana. Into the mix, add dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into prepared tin, and using the back of a spoon, smooth the surface. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the top.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the loaf browns too quickly, cover with come al-foil.
  6. Once ready, remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, before turning onto a wire rack. Serve warm with fresh ricotta and a drizzle of honey.

Note: To make the loaf extra fruity, add either 1 cup frozen blueberries/raspberries or fresh strawberries (cut up), just before spooning the mixture into the tin for baking. Chopped almonds, cashews or pecans also work in place of walnuts.

*recipe adapted from “Supergrains” by Chrissy Freer (2013). Picture from taste.com.au and shows banana and walnut bread.

Spicy chickpea, tomato and quinoa soup

By | Meatless Monday, Recipes, Vegetarian | No Comments

This soup is bound to warm you up on a cold winters night. Packed with nutrients, it’s a great way to get 2-3 serves of vegetables from this dish, and it’s perfect for vegetarians! The combination of legumes (chickpeas) with a whole grain (quinoa) makes a complete protein, which makes it a balanced meal. For those who are not keen on vegies, this soup can be blended as an alternative.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large red onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and diced

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 capsicum (any colour), seeded and chopped

1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

420g tin no-added-salt chickpeas, drained and rinsed

65g quinoa briefly rinsed

400g tin no-added-salt chopped tomatoes

Large handful of parsley or coriander

Grainy bread

 

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion and celery, stirring for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, chilli, capsicum and spices and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Then add tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the chickpeas, quinoa, and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve up into bowls and sprinkle some fresh herbs onto. Enjoy with some crusty grainy bread.

 

*recipe adapted from “Supergrains” by Chrissy Freer (2013). Picture from bbcgoodfood.com and shows Moroccan chickpea soup.

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