Take a Stand

What do Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all have in common? Aside from the fact they were all of the male variety and just a bit famous, these guys were said to have used stand-up desks. Winston Churchill, Vladimir Nabokov and Ernest Hemingway are other notable standers.

So? Well, it would seem that standing more might help you live longer. In a new study of more than 100,000 men and women from all across the United States, those who sat for more than six hours a day were more likely to have died – mostly of cardiovascular disease – over the course of the 14-year study than those who sat for less than three hours a day. This relationship held true even among those who exercised regularly. Earlier studies have shown much the same thing.

I know that sitting in front of my computer for extended periods of time gives me a headache pretty regularly and my back aches too. On the other hand, standing for too long, or the wrong way, can cause sore feet or knees, low back pain, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and other health problems. I know when I am waiting in queues I have the tendency to lean on my right leg and have to keep reminding myself to stand up straight.

Standing does burn more calories, strengthens leg muscles and keeps the blood flowing.  I tried it this week while teaching the 16 members of the Western Australian Institute of Sport Men’s Waterpolo team, which includes both state and Australian players. It was good fun and I found myself teaching some budding Master Chef’s and then others just learning the basics.  Either way, everyone gained a new skill or two, all integral to World Class performance.  With training sessions morning and night, it can be tricky to fit in a spot of cooking. Sometimes all we need is some basic skills, an idea or two, online shopping and recipes that only take 15-20 minutes.

But back to Winston and Leonardo.  Try standing for a change and it might just enhance your daily performance.

Cooking up a Storm
WAIS Men's Water Polo Team Cooking up a Storm

Bali Belly

Bali Belly or Red Cordial

Suddenly I have become very interested in red cordial. Does it really stop stomach bugs or is it just the placebo effect? I checked it out with the local pharmacist and he told me that this ‘Anti-Bali Belly’ effect was only relevant to Anchor red cordial as they historically used a type of antiseptic in the manufacture of their red cordial (um, okaaay). This is no longer the case but the folklore continues … or does it?

Well I couldn’t find any evidence of the antiseptic school of thought but I dug a little deeper and it would seem there might be some truth in the theory. A microbiologist by the name of Dr Heather Cavanagh in Australia tested a range of raspberry and blackcurrant cordials in the lab and discovered that some of the cordials did in fact kill most of the bacteria they were mixed with. The cordials needed to be at least 35% real fruit juice and 1 part cordial to 10 parts water. Dr Cavanagh agreed that her research does in fact suggest that some red cordials have antibacterial properties but there is a hitch. This research was conducted in the lab, Petri dish style and not on humans or animals. However, I am willing to test the theory but I am also going to continue my daily regime of Yakult. Or maybe I should drop some red cordial into the Yakult?

The REAL cost of healthy eating

I am often told that healthy food is often more expensive than the unhealthy alternative so its good to have some numbers to look in defence of said healthy food. It doesn’t surprise me when comparing costs that fresh food wins hands down. Check out the following foods for a costing per kg:

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Feel like a pie for lunch? The cost per kg is $10.80 compared to a small can of baked beans and 2 slices of toast at just $5.75. The baked beans are just as quick too and there is no driving involved. Yes, I know that baked beans are not like a pie but in the convenience stakes, you can’t go past them. By the way, check out the recipe below for a healthy meat pie muffin recipe, great for a quick lunch anytime.

There is no doubt that we are all busier than ever and always on the look out for quick easy options when preparing and cooking meals, but have you looked at how much convenience might be costing you?

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Just like everyone else I don’t have the time to spend slaving over a hot stove but I would rather see more in my shopping trolley and cook double batches and freeze for later use than waste money on packaging.

Circle work

Hula-hoop-girl

Remember when exercise was called ‘play’ and going for a run was trying not to be ‘it’? No pressure, just fun.

Well, it would seem that one of my favourite pieces of play equipment has become a useful exercise tool. Even First Lady Michelle Obama uses it as a method of encouraging fitness in young kids on the front lawn of the White House.

Yep, it’s the good old hula-hoop. There are some members of my family that are hoarders from way back (but I won’t mention names) and they have very kindly stored my orange hula-hoop just in case I might need it. I have tested it and there is a small kink in it but it stills goes round … just not quite as quickly.

Apparently the trend is circling around South Florida in the US and A World Hoop Day celebration just happened on Oct. 10 in Lake Worth. “Hula hooping is really going in many, many directions,” says Jocelyn Gordon, of Washington, D.C., who runs instructor training nationwide for Hoopnotica. Her target market: women ages 35 to 55 who will be teaching it in health clubs and fitness studios. I have no doubt it burns calories and tones up some muscles too, try it and you will see what I mean.

Go raid your parent’s sheds and garages and see whether you can still do some circle work.

Meat pie muffins

Ingredients:

Meat Mixture
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g lean beef mince
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
1-teaspoon beef stock powder
2 teaspoons gravy powder
1-tablespoon water

Muffin mixture
3 cups self-raising flour
1-tablespoon olive or canola oil
2 eggs
½ cup reduced fat milk
Chopped parsley
420g can creamed corn

Method

Heat oil in heavy based pan and add the garlic, onion, mince, sauce and stock powder. Stir well until browned. Combine water and gravy powder together. Stir into mine mixture until sauce thickens. Set aside.

Lightly spray a 12-hole muffin pan. In a large bowl mix the flour, oil, eggs, milk, parsley and creamed corn together. Don’t over mix or the batter will become tough. Spoon 2 teaspoons muffin mixture into each pan, top with a heaped teaspoon mince and cover with remaining mixture. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes until browned and springy to touch. The batter will join and enclose the mince mixture. Allow to cool slightly in the pan, turn out and eat.

Tune in

For some entertaining yet educational talkback radio on many nutrition and performance topics, tune into to 6PR 882 AM radio with Simon Beaumont and myself each Friday at 11am. We would love to hear your thoughts and questions.

If you have a hot nutrition question or you want to be among the leading Australian and international companies who engage me to improve the performance and productivity of their leaders and teams, contact me at julie@juliemeek.com.au.

If you want some performance tips from the likes of Winston Churchill and Leonardo Da Vinci, go see my latest blog post.

The best days go the fastest. Keep up.

Until next time,
Julie