Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

This recipe for meatballs is one of the quickest you could ever hope to make and perfect for a week night when you really need to hustle along! A good source of calcium, protein and deliciousness and loved by kids and adults alike.

Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

500g chicken mince

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

200g cottage cheese

½ cup snipped chives

400g can mushroom soup

½ cup natural yoghurt

Method

Mix chicken mince, breadcrumbs, cottage cheese and chives together in a bowl.  Roll into meatballs and cook for 5 minutes on each size in a lightly oiled frypan.

Mix soup and natural yogurt together and pour over meatballs.  Return to a low heat for 10 minutes.

If you are not a fan of mushroom soup, you can always sub in another flavour. 

To see this recipe in action click here for the video.

 

Camel milk and the health benefits – one hump or two?

It is fair to say that Australia has no shortage of camels. It is estimated that there are approximately 1 to 1.2 million camels roaming free (or feral depending on your outlook) in the land of Oz. These camels are spread far and wide across an area of around 3.3 million square kilometres of diverse terrain and their numbers are projected to double every 8-9 years.  The mind boggles does it not?

Enter the cameleer. A cameleer is someone who can ride, train and handle camels and that is exactly what a gentlemen by the name of Stephen Geppert is expert in. Whilst in the Australian desert, he noticed how many camels were running wild and aware of the governments culling program to control numbers, Stephen got to thinking about harnessing these mammals for their milk.

This idea was further developed by joining forces with others who had experience within government and the agricultural industries and the Good Earth Dairy in Dandaragan that produces camel milk was born.

I first tried camel milk at the Perth Royal Show a few months ago and I was surprised to discover that I liked it. I may have been persuaded by the cuteness overload of two baby camel’s swaying on their gangly new legs and their l o n g eyelashes but nevertheless, it tasted good.

Camel milk has some impressive nutrition stats.  It contains half the saturated fat of cows milk and is a rich source of protein and calcium.  Good news for those intolerant to the A1 protein in cows milk too  – camel milk contains only the A2 protein. It contains 60% of the lactose in cows milk, making it a viable option for those who are lactose intolerant and the mineral content including zinc, magnesium, manganese and potassium is high too.

Then there is lactoferrin. Various strains of harmful bacteria need iron to reproduce and lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that limits the availability of iron to bacteria in the gut – allowing the beneficial bacteria survive. Camel milk uniquely contains 10 times the amount of lactoferrin that is found in cows milk.  

There is no doubt that the camel milk industry is in its infancy and with that comes the substantial stresses of a start-up business, which of course includes consumers being aware that it exists.

Aside from the nutritional benefits, I do appreciate innovation and the use of an existing resource that can survive in very tough conditions, minimising the impact on our environment. 

If you would like to listen to my review on air and all the funny jokes that one would expect with a review of camel milk, check it out here. By the way, you can grab this milk at a number of specialty stores around Perth, listed on the Good Earth Dairy website.

What about you – have you tried camel milk yet?

 

 

 

The Perfect Pair – Food Nutrient Combo’s that Really Work for Your Body

It seems that there are so many nutrients that our body needs to function at its best. Think vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, carotenoids, trace elements……you get the picture right? The list is long and sometimes it feels like a mammoth task to get the whole bunch of them in our diets regularly.

The good news is, the nutrients in some foods love to pair up with nutrients in other foods, because together they are a perfect nutrition match. A single nutrient (Hans Solo) will work by itself but two and sometimes three nutrients (a bunch of battle troopers) can work even better.

The magic word is ‘bioavailability’ and when we talk about this in relation to food, it means that the nutrients are ready for the body to absorb and use effectively. This is why teaming up particular foods means a win for our bodies. On the flip side, sometimes we make decisions about food combo’s that actually interfere with the body’s ability to maximise the good nutrients, so for your best health and well-being it is good to know which foods are the team players.

My top food combo’s include:

Iron + Vitamin C

Iron deficiency is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their capacity to carry oxygen is limited. The end result of this is tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness, repeat infections and failure to grow in kids. The thing is, dietary iron can be difficult to obtain and is found in two different forms – ‘haem’ iron which is found in animal foods and ‘non-haem’ which is found in plant-based non-animal food.
‘Haem’ foods usually contain more iron, which is well absorbed compared to non-haem iron, which is not.
Help is at hand though, as Vitamin C boosts the absorption of non-haem iron, if eaten in the same meal. The best sources of Vitamin C are fruit and vegetables, preferably in their whole form.

Top Food Combo’s = wholegrain breakfast cereal and sliced banana, baked beans on toast with fresh tomato or chickpea curry with fresh lime

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is essential for strong bones and effective working muscles but without Vitamin D, its absorption within our body is greatly reduced.
Calcium can be found in the largest amounts in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt and although it is found in other foods, they often contain much less calcium which is also inefficiently absorbed.

Vitamin D is also crucial to our well-being and is synthesised under the skin in the presence of sunlight. Of course, this can be hard to come by in some countries on a regular basis!

Regardless, it is very difficult to get enough Vitamin D through diet alone and most dietary Vitamin D comes from table margarine, canned fish and eggs.

Top Food Combo’s = Berry smoothie + a short stint in the sunlight each day

Antioxidants and Healthy Fats

The scientific explanation of how antioxidants exert their protective effect is that they prevent damage to body cells and tissues caused by free radicals and singlet oxygen.

The less technical and easier way of remembering what antioxidants do is to picture the 1980’s Pac-Man game where the aim is to get the Pac-Man to gobble as many ‘ghosts’ as possible. Pac-Man is the antioxidant and the ‘ghosts’ are the free radicals. For those too young to have played this 80’s game, go check out the 2015 movie ‘Pixels’ starring Adam Sandler and you will be all over it!

One of the most powerful antioxidants in food available to us is lycopene, found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and ruby grapefruit.

Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red colour and its best friends include the healthy fats found in oils, avocado and nuts.

Top Food Combo’s = Fresh tomato and bocconcini salad with sliced avocado or tomato pasta sauce cooked with a drizzle of olive oil.

Carbohydrates + Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Carbohydrate foods are classified according to how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose and this is known as the Glycemic Index (GI). Low GI foods are digested and absorbed more slowly and high GI foods more quickly. If we choose mostly lower to medium glycemic index carbohydrates, our energy levels are more stable, meaning we have greater endurance and less spikes and dips in our day which is always a good thing.

Many aspects of a meal can affect the overall GI including fat, fibre, protein, cooking methods and processing of the food.

But, there is something you can add to a meal containing carbohydrate that lowers the glycemic index and is just so simple – lemon juice or vinegar! The acidity of either of these combined with carbohydrate means longer lasting energy for you.

Top Food Combo’s = Baked sweet potato and a side of spinach and strawberry salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil or Linguine topped with lemon juice, capers and salmon.

What are your top food combo’s for the perfect partnership? Share away – I would love to hear about them.

How to make the best cheese scones

Home made cheese scones on table cloth I love a good scone, especially when they are paired with a chunky berry jam and a little whipped cream. Sometimes though, tasty cheese scones waft across my memory bank, courtesy of my Nan who often whipped up a batch.  Nan is not here to ask, so I set about creating my own and I hope that you are as pleased with the result as I am (and the rest of the taste testers). This recipe for cheese scones could not be easier. Substituting the evaporated skim milk for cream and grating the cheese reduces the fat content whilst injecting a healthy dose of calcium into these babies. Thanks to Nan for the inspiration.

Cheese Scones Ingredients 4 cups self-raising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder 1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/2 reduced fat cheddar and 1/2 parmesan) plus a little extra for topping 1 cup soda water 1 cup light evaporated milk Method Mix all ingredients gently together in a bowl with a bread knife to form a dough.  Knead dough a little on a floured surface and roll out to approximately 5cm in height. Using a scone cutter, cut out as many as possible (mine made around 12-15 scones), place on lined baking tray and top with a little extra grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm and you will be eternally popular with all that eat them. Also perfect for the lunchbox.

 

Healthy Bones – Are you taking action?

Healthy bones This week, the 3rd – 9th August brings with it Healthy Bones Action Week, which calls on Australians of all ages to take three simple actions to build and maintain healthy bones:

  1. Increase daily serves of calcium through milk, cheese or yoghurt
  2. Go for a walk or commit to some regular exercise that you love
  3. Spend time outdoors to get more Vitamin D (which is essential for strong bones)

Don’t worry, everyone has a job to do. The biggest opportunity to build bones is when you are a kid, so if you have some under your wing, look at what they can do to make that happen. Teenagers are in the spotlight too, as the teen years are a major growth period and this is when they build one-quarter of their adult bone mass. Peak bone mass is reached when you are in your late twenties but it is super important that you continue to tick all your KPI’s, including getting enough calcium, exercise and Vitamin D to maintain the bone you have built when younger. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose calcium and other minerals, making them more likely to fracture.  In Australia, osteoporosis affects 1.2 million people, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men. The arrival of this week is always a good reminder to stop and do a quick audit of where your calcium intake is at. Aside from food, there are hereditary and lifestyle factors to consider too. I love dairy products, but still need to do a daily check just to make sure I’m ticking all the boxes. Depending on your age group you will need somewhere between 1000-1300mg per day. There are plenty of good sources (see box below) but it becomes obvious that it is not easy to get what you need from non-dairy sources. Broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables but I can’t eat almost 400 grams to get one serve of calcium! What Healthy Bones Action are YOU taking this week? Calcium sources

Permanent or Temporary?

Just this morning with my weekly milk delivery I found a little brochure proclaiming that the milk I was holding had NO PERMEATE ADDED.  I have to confess my ignorance as all that flew into my mind was a visual of sitting at the hairdressers in the 80’s with a big contraption over my head and chemicals causing tears to flow.  Given that I have had one and only one ‘perm’ in my life, with the end result being me resembling a show poodle, even my knowledge of this is shaky.  Surely my milk has not become involved in this too? Significant research later reveals that ‘permeate’ is the term used to describe the milk-sugar (lactose) and minerals part of whole or full-cream milk.  As you would expect, cows milk has regional and seasonal differences resulting in varying levels of fat and protein in the milk collected from farms.  The composition of our milk is governed by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Standards Code which is considered to be one of the best in the world.  Basically permeate is produced when milk is passed through a fine sieve (ultrafiltration) to separate the lactose, vitamin and mineral components from milk protein.  From here, dairy manufacturers may adjust these components to make various milks such as low fat, high calcium and no fat to meet consumer demands. Under the same Food Standards Code, these components can be added to or withdrawn from milk to standardise the normal variations in fat and protein.  A similar situation occurs with 100% fruit juice as the sweetness of fruit also varies according to the season and the Code allows the addition of a certain amount of sugar to these products. So, no chemicals, heads in buckets or tears in the eye.  Of course, at the moment there are tears in the eyes of many a dairy farmer for a completely different reason.  The ongoing battle of price.  Any thoughts?