November 24, 2017

Don’t believe the marketing hype on packaged foods

I came across a great article from Aussie journalist, author and x-rugby union player Peter FitzSimons today which resonated deeply with me. He critiques the Health Star Rating System (HSR), which if you’ve heard me talk about this you’ll know I don’t think highly of it at all.
As Peter says in his article there is something wrong with a system that gives milk four stars but gives Up & Go – which is highly processed and has four sources of added sugar – four and a half stars! Plain natural Greek yoghurt gets one and half stars while some chips get four stars! A supermarket beer-battered frozen steak house chips get four stars. Milo, which is just under half sugar, gets four and half stars. Nutri-Grain, which is about a third sugar, gets four stars.
Please don’t be fooled by this system and marketing from processed food manufacturers. Remember they just want you to keep buying their products and have no real interest in your health. Reading the label and looking at what ingredients are in a product will give you much more valuable information then the marketing claims on the front of the packet. If you want some help learning to do this, let me know (I do group workshops and one-on-one sessions on this topic).
In the words of Dr Kieron Rooney, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney: “The HSR is not much more than a marketing tool for industry. Check out the blurb on the side of an Up and Go, which proudly coerces one to consume on the basis of its 4.5 stars….This is an ultra-processed industrialised product and not as the HSR and marketers would have you believe – a healthy alternative to eating a simple, unprocessed breakfast.”
With epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases impacting people of all ages, we all need to make better choices for our health.
Instead of buying Up and Go, make your own!


1 frozen banana

2 teaspoons raw cacao

1 cup of greens (eg baby spinach, mint, parsley)

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon raw honey

1 ½ cups cold milk of choice (diary, coconut or almond)

3 tablespoons coyo yogurt or natural pot set yoghurt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a small thermos or glass bottle for on-the-go drinking or add to lunch box with an ice pack to keep it cool.

November 10, 2017

Do you have IBS?

Most of us suffer from stomach discomfort, flatulence, constipation or diarrhea occasionally but for those experiencing these symptoms regularly (for days or even weeks at a time, with considerable pain and discomfort) Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a likely diagnosis. This extremely common gastrointestinal disorder can make life very difficult with symptoms causing embarrassment, inconvenience and distress. For many, it has a significant impact on their emotional well being and quality of life at home and at work.

In addition to abdominal pain, bloating, and abnormal bowel movements, IBS adversely impacts brain function and has been linked to anxiety and depression.

It is estimated that between 10 and 25 percent of people in developed countries suffer from IBS. According to The Gut Foundation, of all Australians who experience IBS: one in five will have extremely debilitating symptoms; two in five will have moderate symptoms which may impact upon social activities and work; one in three will spontaneously get better; and the remainder will experience symptoms that will fluctuate and come and go through their lives.

Despite being a common condition, we still do not fully understand what causes IBS, however, it is clear that the symptoms arise as a result of the abnormal functioning in the small and/or large bowel.

Recent research shows that people with IBS have an altered gut microbiota compared to healthy individuals. These findings now point to a significant relationship between the health and function of a person’s microbiota and the role the microbiota plays in triggering and managing IBS.

Research shows that in people with IBS, the amounts of specific bacterial groups are altered and the diversity is reduced. Things like processed diets, low fibre diets, stress, infections, food sensitivities and certain medications can impact the health of the microbiome.

More research is needed but the evidence strongly supports managing IBS by focusing on gut health and the factors that influence it including dietary changes, prebiotics, probiotics, healthy lifestyle habits, and stress-reduction strategies.

An evidence-based and proven approach to dietary change for IBS is the low-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are found in many of the foods we eat and refers to a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides), Disaccharides (eg. Lactose), Monosaccharides (eg. Fructose) and Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt).

Sometimes these FODMAPs are poorly absorbed by some people. When they are are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of the digestive tract, they continue along their journey in the digestive tract, arriving at the large intestine, where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. The bacteria then digest/ferment these FODMAPs and can cause digestive upset symptoms.

Before trying this dietary approach, it is advisable to talk to your GP or qualified nutritionist to make sure this is safe for your particular case and that other conditions have been ruled out.

The low FODMAP diet is restrictive, and like all restrictive diets, needs professional guidance to ensure there is adequate nutrition and the person is not at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

This is not a forever diet. It is designed to be followed for 4 to 6 weeks and is essentially a tool intended to help heal the gastrointestinal system and identify trigger foods to help with management of the condition.

When combined with a focus on fresh foods and avoidance of processed and refined foods, supplementation of probiotics, and stress management strategies, this protocol results in improvement of symptoms for most people.

If you are suffering from digestive and bowel issues, and you are looking for someone to help you identify what’s going, send me an email or phone me now to make an appointment.

I use a combination of dietary strategies and testing to help identify the cause, empower you with knowledge and create a personalised plan to reduce and manage symptoms.

October 8, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – Black Bean Nachos

It’s the final day in my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays. Today’s dinner is Black Bean Nachos, a vegetarian dish packed with vegetables and flavour. It’s also a one-pot dish and a favourite in our house!

I had never really had black beans until visiting Brazil a few years ago and really loved the traditional dishes made with them. I used to make bean nachos with red kidney beans (which works fine) but I love the taste and texture of black beans more in this dish.  Black beans are high in protein and high in fibre.

I often keep the leftovers (if there are any) for school lunches, warming the bean mix and sending in a thermos.

Black Bean Nachos

2 onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 red chilli, seeded and chopped (optional)

1 red capsicum, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 bunch coriander

1 tablespoon grated ginger

100 g sweet corn kernels

2 x 400 g cans black beans, rinsed (or 600 g cooked)

400 g tinned tomatoes (blended)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (no added salt)

Black pepper

½ lime

1 or 2 avocados

200 g natural yoghurt to serve

Organic corn chips eg Thomas Chipman Ancient Grains
Saute the onion, garlic, chilli, capsicum, zucchini, chopped coriander stalk, ginger and sweet corn for about 5 minutes in a large pot until softened.

Add the cumin and paprika powders,  tomato paste,  crushed tomato and beans.

Simmer over a medium – low heat for 20 minutes until thick and rich.

Season with plenty of black pepper, stir through coriander leaves and juice of half a lime.
Serve topped with avocado, a side salad, a few  organic gluten free corn chips and yoghurt.
SERVES 4 Gluten free|Vegetarian

October 7, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – Oven Baked Salmon

It’s day six of my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays.

After driving seven hours today, making a simple dinner was definitely on my mind. I wandered about the supermarket looking for inspiration and after picking up fresh, in-season asparagus, I saw wild caught salmon in the freezer section, I decided on oven baked fish with home-made potato chips, asparagus and beans.

Fish, when it is wild-caught and not farmed, is one of the most nutritious foods we can eat. Fish is an ideal protein source, high in Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids and also provides important nutrients like iodine, B12, B6 and selenium. Fish and other seafoods are a big part of healthy dietary patterns like the Mediterranean Diet.

Baking fish in the oven is so simple and is also very quick.

Oven Baked Salmon, Potato Chips and Greens

4 salmon fillets (125 grams each)

Handful of fresh dill or fennel leaves

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ lemon

4 medium potatoes

1 medium sweet potato

300 grams green beans, washed

2 bunches asparagus, washed and woody ends chopped off

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Peel potatoes and cut into “chips”. Toss in olive oil and salt before placing on an oven tray (lined with baking paper) and roast in oven for 45 mins until crisp.

Ten or fifteen minutes before the potatoes are ready place fish in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. To prepare fish, use some paper towel to dry off the fish fillets. Place in an oven tray lined with baking paper. Season with fresh dill or fennel, salt and pepper, the juice of half a lemon and olive oil.

Steam beans and asparagus for about 8 minutes.
SERVES 4 Gluten free||Dairy free

October 6, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – The humble Greek Salad

The humble Greek Salad is the focus for day five of of my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays.

I’ve mentioned before in this blog series that when I cook (or when I prescribe foods for my clients) I always do it with simplicity, taste and nutrition in mind. One of my favourite dishes is the humble Greek Salad. It is quick to prepare and can be paired with almost any type of protein. It’s great with fish, chicken, lamb or beef. Or if you’re wanting plant protein, adding quinoa or cannellini beans works just as well.

The key to a great Greek Salad is using fresh ingredients, good quality extra virgin olive oil and good quality feta. The basic Greek Salad usually has tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, feta, fresh herbs, olive oil and red wine vinegar. However, you can make this salad your own by adding whatever salad ingredients you like. I usually add lettuce and capsicum and if asparagus is in season I throw some in as well.

Tomatoes, onions and olive oil are staples in the traditional Mediterranean diet which has amazing scientific evidence suggesting it is one of the most healthy food patterns in the world.

Greek Salad

400 grams tomatoes (cherry or other)

1 medium red onion , peeled and chopped finely

1 cucumber, washed and sliced

1 capsicum, red or green, washed and chopped

1 handful fresh dill

1 handful fresh mint leaves

½ cup of black olives

Optional – lettuce, asparagus, steamed green beans

sea salt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons good-quality Greek extra virgin olive oil

200 g feta cheese, chopped or crumbled

Wash and chop salad vegetables. Combine in a large bowl with fresh herbs, olives, salt and pepper, and feta. Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over the salad, and toss lightly. Once you’ve made your salad add a good quality free range/grass fed or wild caught protein like barramundi, lamb or chicken and you have the perfect nutritionally balanced meal.

October 5, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – Middle Eastern Mezza

It’s day four of of my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays. Each day I’ve promised to bring you a recipe focusing on simplicity, taste and nutrition (of course!).

The recipes I’m sharing this week are favourites in my house. My kids (teenage son and almost teenage daughter) are what I would call good eaters but they still have their likes and dislikes. They complain if I try to put more vegetables on their plates, one doesn’t like onion and the other does, both love broccoli, one likes raw tomato and the other doesn’t. Sound familiar?

I often hide vegetables in a dish to boost the amount we eat but I also like to find ways to present it differently or get the kids involved. Making a middle eastern mezze style of dinner keeps it interesting. Mezze means small plates (of yummy foods)!

The forth recipe is my version of a Middle Eastern Mezze.This is one to get the kids and partners involved in. Lamb and chickpeas provide protein, salad vegetables and chickpeas provide carbohydrates (and loads of vitamins and minerals) and olive oil and tahini provide the healthy fats. My Mezza tonight is made up of Lamb Koftas, Hummus, Salad of lettuce, spinach and toasted pine nuts, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with a Tahini Dressing and Carrot Salad with Black Sesame Seeds and Lemon Olive Oil Dressing.  Place all dished on the table and enjoy this little middle eastern feast.

Lamb Koftas

500 g lamb mince

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 teaspoons mild paprika

Salt and pepper

1 tbs dried currants (optional)

2 tbs pinenuts
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Shape mixture into small balls and place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Cook in oven for approximately 20 mins until cooked through.


1 x 400 gram tin of organic chickpeas (rinsed)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of cumin powder

2 tablespoons natural pot set yoghurt

Juice of ½ lemon
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Salad of Lettuce, Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts

1 lettuce of choice, washed and chopped

100 grams spinach, washed

¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Combine ingredients in bowl.

Tomato and Onion Salad with a Tahini Dressing

1 tub cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, finely chopped

40g hulled tahini paste

30ml water

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

Pinch salt
Combine cherry tomatoes and red onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, mix tahini, water, lemon juice garlic and salt together until a smooth consistency. Pour the Tahini Dressing over the tomato and onion, and stir carefully to coat.

Carrot Salad with Black Sesame Seeds and Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

2 or 3 carrots, washed a grated

1 tbs black or white sesame seeds (no sesames, add almonds or cashews)

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice
Place grated carrots and sesame seeds in a bowl. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Pour over carrot salad and mix to coat.

October 4, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – One Pan Chicken and Vegetables

It’s day three of of my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays. Each day I’ve promised to bring you a recipe focusing on simplicity, taste and nutrition (of course!).

I love food and I love cooking but I’m also a busy mum with a couple of jobs, and a husband,  two children and a dog to look after! So most meals I prepare are simple. I love dishes I can make in one pan or one pot or the slow cooker.

The third meal I’m sharing is the one of the easiest I make – Chicken and Vegetables roasted  in one oven dish! It takes a few minutes to prepare and then while it’s cooking you can relax, help with homework or go for a walk!

I’ve suggested vegetables but again you can use whatever vegetables you love or are in season.

One Pan Chicken and Vegetables

8 free range/grass fed chicken drumsticks (you could also use Marylands or thighs)

4 potatoes, washed and cut in half or quarters

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into quarters

2 carrots, washed and chopped into quarters

2 zucchinis, washed and chopped into quarters

2 red onions, peeled and chopped into quarters

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh or dried thyme

Salt and pepper
Salad or greens (eg beans, asparagus) to steam

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Combine chopped vegetables, chicken, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in large bowl and toss to combine. Line an oven dish with baking paper and then add chicken and veggies. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and place in oven for 45 min to 60 mins until cooked. Serve with a salad or steamed greens of your choice.

SERVES 4 Gluten free|Dairy free

October 3, 2017

Dinner Inspiration – Spicy Potato, Vegetable and Chickpea Hash

It’s day two of of my seven day dinner inspiration to help you get back into the routine of cooking for the family after the school holidays. Each day I’ve promised to bring you a recipe focusing on simplicity, taste and nutrition (of course!).

The second recipe is my version of Spicy Potatoes, Vegetable and Chickpea Hash, which is a common meal in the Mediterranean cuisines. It’s cheap, nutrient dense and a great way to boost your vegetable intake.

This is a one pot dish and will take you 10 mins to prepare and 20 to 30 mins to cook. Chickpeas provide protein and fibre, vegetables provide carbohydrates (and loads of vitamins and minerals) and olive oil provides the healthy fats. I’ve suggested vegetables here but really you can add any vegetables, just choose the ones you and your family love.

Spicy Potatoes, Vegetable and Chickpea Hash

¼ cup olive oil

4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly

1 red onion or 5 shallots

1 tbs of grated fresh ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp salt

1 can of organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 zucchini, washed and diced

500 grams cauliflower, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 cups of chopped greens (eg spinach, kale, parsley, coriander, bok choy)

4 eggs (optional, if you want to boost protein)

Heat half olive oil in large frying pan/skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the potatoes and onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add ginger, spices, salt, zucchini and cauliflower, and stir occasionally. You may need to add more of the olive oil now to prevent sticking to pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chickpeas and chopped greens and cook for another 5 minutes. The dish is ready when potatoes are crisp and cooked. If you want to boost the protein add eggs now or fry eggs in separate pan.

SERVES 4 Gluten free|Vegetarian|Dairy free

October 2, 2017

Back-to-school dinner inspiration

So the school holidays are over (in Queensland anyway) which, for many of us, means getting back into the routines of preparing and cooking school lunches and dinners for the whole family.  I was inspired by my friend Emma to share some dinner recipes to make it easier to get back into routine. I’m going to share a recipe each day for the next 7 days focusing on simplicity, taste and nutrition (of course!).

The first recipe is what I’m calling Coconut Chicken Meatballs with Brown Rice Noodles and Salad. This will take you less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. It’s perfectly balanced with chicken providing the protein, brown rice noodles and salad providing carbohydrates and avocado providing healthy fats.

Coconut Chicken Meatballs with Brown Rice Noodles and Salad



Your choice of lettuce, washed and chopped

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, washed

1 cucumber, washed and sliced

100 grams snow peas, washed and sliced

1 avocado sliced
Brown rice noodles (200g packet, eg Nutritionist Choice brand)


coconut oil, butter or ghee, for frying

500 g organic free range chicken mince

1 carrot, grated

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 egg

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

handful coriander or flat leaf parsley leaves, to taste

For meat balls, put all ingredients (except the oil) in the food processor and blend until smooth. Using your hands, form small balls (smaller balls cook quicker). Heat several tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough that a meatball sizzles as soon as it hits the pan, put the meatballs in. Cook for 2 minutes, then roll the meatballs over and cook 5 minutes more. Put a lid on the pan and cooking for another 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare salad and and cook brown rice noodles per instructions (usually only for a couple of minutes). Serve meatballs with noodles, salad and a wedge of lime and soy sauce for dressing. SERVES 4

September 27, 2017

Calcium: an essential nutrient for all stages of life

I’m putting the spotlight on calcium in my blog today for a couple of reasons. Calcium is an essential nutrient in all stages of life, and while it is essential for bone health it is also very important for our heart, nervous system and muscles to function properly.

However, many people are not getting enough calcium on a daily basis mostly because they have removed or restricted dairy, and/or are not eating a varied diet. Reasons for removing or restricting dairy include medical and health reasons (eg lactose intolerance, FODMAPs issues, IBS) as well as ethical reasons. Dairy has been the major source of calcium in the Western diet so when dairy is removed from the diet calcium intake will be significantly reduced.

Our bodies don’t make calcium so we need to consume it through our food on a daily basis to make sure our bodies have adequate supply. For example, if you don’t have an adequate supply your body starts to remove calcium from your bone stores, and if you don’t replenish these stores bone health is at risk with bones becoming weak and brittle.

The good news is that dairy is just one source of calcium and there are plenty of other calcium-rich foods available to most people. Calcium can be found in leafy green vegetables, like collard greens and kale, beans, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and fish with edible bones.

Knowing how much calcium you need is also important. The amount required varies based on your age, gender and life stage. For example adult men and women (18+ years) require 1000 mg calcium per day; while women over 50 years and men over 70 years require 1300 mg calcium per day. Teenagers also need 1300 mg calcium per day and children require less calcium than adults but still require daily intake.

With a little bit of planning, it’s easy to make sure you get enough calcium each day.

Here’s a nourishing and nutritious smoothie recipe to boost your intake. The tahini, almonds and dates in this recipe provide approximately 400 mg of calcium in just one glass!

Banana, tahini and date smoothie

3 medjool dates (50g), pitted

½ cup boiling water

40 g tahini (generous 2 tbs)

500 ml of unsweetened almond milk

1 banana

¼ cup of almonds (preferably soaked for a few hours)

5 ice cubes

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract
Place dates in heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water to soften (about 15 minutes). Place dates, soaking water, tahini, almonds, almond milk, banana, maple syrup, vanilla and ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth. Put into two tall glasses and enjoy! SERVES 2.

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