Looking for a quick dinner?

Growing up, one of my staple after school snacks was the good old 2-minute noodle pack. If you were on the same page, you will understand the attraction of something that is so quick and simple and requires virtually no cooking skills whatsoever. Never mind a snack – what about the night’s where time is short and all you want is a quick dinner?

The thing is, while the noodles themselves provide a source of carbohydrate, they are very limited in their nutritional value and that little foil flavour sachet is high in salt. Too much salt is associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The average Australian eats around three times more salt than we need for good health so we certainly don’t need to be adding more. Historically, the noodles were fried but now we have access to the 99% fat free versions that are vastly improved in the fat department.

With all of these things in mind, I gave some thought about how to utilise some 2-minute noodles hiding in the pantry, whilst adding some protein reducing the salt and the 2-minute noodle omelette was born.

Layers of freshly sliced onion, tomato and zucchini provide a ton of natural tastiness eliminating the need for adding the flavour sachet to the noodles. Eggs and melted cheese bring all the ingredients together for a super tasty dinner (or even a snack or lunch).

The 2-minute noodle omelette dishes up at least three serves of vegetables, quality protein, carbohydrate and a serve of calcium all in one super easy meal that everyone will love. This omelette is a quick dinner and a great alternative to cruising past and picking up a take-away meal. It’s super- easy on the pocket too. For the video on how it’s all put together you can check it out here.

A quick dinner – Two Minute Noodle Omelette

1 packet of 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, cooked according to directions but without flavour sachet
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
40g grated reduced fat cheese
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with cooked noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.

Cut into quarters and serve.

Serves 1 adult or 2-3 kids under 12

Cost = $1.94

Running for a Reason – What’s yours?

If you are a running enthusiast, autumn and winter in Australia provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of events to try your legs at. I love the fact that anyone can run at any time, in any city of the world. It is a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy. Over the next few months, in Australia and in fact anywhere in the world you can choose from a running menu of 4km, 12km, Half Marathon (21.1km) or the Marathon (42.2km). If you thinking about participating in any of these events, now would be a good time to start thinking about what petrol you are going to use. Yes, I know lots of people don’t bother with the training or preparation for ‘Fun Runs’ but doing so certainly puts the FUN back into them and enables you to walk and function after all that fun.

Your preparation does require some thought with regards to fuel consumption. Do you want to be a BMW or a clapped out rattletrap? Now is not the time to be indulging in takeaway for dinner or skipping meals and certainly not getting stuck into the vino the night before training. Let’s leave that till afterwards shall we?

Right now, many people in Perth, Western Australia are counting the sleeps down to the Perth HBF Run for a Reason this weekend.

A 4km or 12km run does not require carbohydrate loading but what you eat and drink in the 24 hours beforehand is important as it basically fills up your petrol tank for the next day.

Your day might look like this…….

Breakfast – high fibre cereal with fresh fruit and low fat milk or crumpets with peanut butter and banana
Lunch – wholegrain bread or bread roll with lean ham/chicken/beef or tuna and salad plus fresh fruit
Dinner – pasta or rice with a chicken or beef tomato based sauce plus a green salad
Snacks like yoghurt, fruit, crackers and cheese might get a guernsey too.

One thing that I find challenging is recovery. This means making sure that I eat or drink something containing carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes after I finish training or competing. It is SO easy to waste that crucial recovery time doing something else like talking, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about. Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery. You might just need a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get your recovery happening and its best to look for 50g of carbohydrate combined with 10-15g protein in this snack.

Some options include:

Up and Go Energize drink
Sustagen Sport drink
Goodness Superfoods muesli bar or Go Natural protein bar plus a glass of milk
1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
1 small tub low fat yoghurt with a banana
Handful of nuts with a banana

Paying attention to your recovery after running will dramatically improve your energy levels, improve the quality of your training sessions and get you prepped for the next ‘fun run’.

Now all you have to do is run like the wind!

Pancakes: a flippin’ good idea

Pancakes Blueberry Med There is something comforting about a fluffy stack of pancakes, wafting their yeasty smell toward you.  Sunday mornings are a given for making pancakes in our house.  That is, I make them while the hungry hordes devour them. I have my own special memories of sitting on the kitchen bench as a kid, while my mum taught me that little bubbles on their once smooth surface meant that pancakes were about to go flipping and flying. Today is not a Sunday but it is indeed a day for pancakes.  The 17th February marks UnitingCare Australia Pancake Day, which is all about the double whammy of having fun with pancakes and raising money for people in need. This date has been chosen because it is also Shrove Tuesday, a special day in the christian calendar and traditionally the last day to eat all the flour, eggs and dairy products in your kitchen before the start of Lent, a time of abstinence and reflection in the 40 days before Easter. Shrove Tuesday is also known as FAT Tuesday so go easy on getting all those ingredients cleaned up in one day! Pancakes can be the perfect pre-training snack or meal and a delicious breakfast.  The trick is in building a couple of levels rather than the skyscraper stack and choose a delicious, healthy topping. My all-time favourite pancake recipe is from the original ‘Taste of Fitness’ cookbook by fellow Dietitian, Helen O’Connor.  For perfect, fluffy pancakes every time, these are just the ticket.

The BEST Pancakes

1.5 cups self-raising flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons caster sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup low fat milk 3/4 cup greek style natural yoghurt Putting it all together: 1. Sift together flour and baking powder into a bowl, add sugar and mix to combine. Add eggs, milk and yoghurt and mix until smooth. 2. Heat a non-stick frypan over a medium heat, pour 3 tablespoons of batter into pan and cook for 1 minute each side or until golden. 3. Serve with a selection of banana, blueberries, or stewed apple and a drizzle of maple syrup.

 

Choc + Milk = Good

choc-milk gang

As a kid I loved choc-milk, so its pretty exciting that it is now championed by science. Sports nutrition research has shown that choc-milk, other favoured milk and just plain milk supplies the nutrition your body needs after exercise.  Just to test its performance, along with my running gang, I have been religiously swilling down a 600ml choc-milk immediately following our long runs in preparation for the New York Marathon, a race we will tackle in just over a week. My recovery has been great and my body is holding up and I know the timing and content of my favourite flavoured milk has helped me hugely. The good news is that studies have shown women who drink 500ml skim milk after training gain more muscle and lose more fat compared to women who drink carbohydrate drinks. There is good news for the men too.  Men who drink the same amount of skim milk after a resistance workout  have been shown to gain 63% more muscle mass than those who drink carbohydrate-based beverages.

Milk and its flavoured counterparts provide you with:

  • Carbohydrates to help refuel muscles and energy stores
  • High quality protein to promote muscle recovery and growth
  • Fluid and electrolytes to help replenish what is lost in sweat

We know that a combination of protein and carbohydrate is best for recovery after exercise and with the exception of cheese, dairy products are a winning combination of both.

Dairy foods providing approximately 10g protein

300ml Milk

300ml Flavoured milk

125ml Evaporated milk

250g Flavoured yoghurt

100g Ricotta cheese

40g Cheddar cheese

250ml Vanilla custard

I very much hope that New York will have a finish line and some choc-milk waiting for me on the 3rd November.

 

 

Warning: Energy Speed Bump Ahead

making biscuits

In Italy, the snack or Il spuntino is reserved solely for children.  Adults simply do not snack here, unless one is enjoying an aperitif and a few morsels of potato chips fall into ones mouth. In stark opposition, the Australian snack movement is alive and kicking and research revealed this week by Roy Morgan Research shows that the potato chip is still the most popular snack in the land down under. In the year up to March 2013,  over a third of Australians 14+ years had purchased the product in an average four week period.  Sweet biscuits slid into second place and nuts rounded out the Top Three! From a nutritionists perspective this news is somewhat gloomy, although not surprising. However, this data is somewhat misleading as basic foods such as fruit, dairy products and bread are not considered to be in the snack food category for these types of surveys but are very often used as everyday snacks.

For some of us, snacking is an essential part of keeping energy levels high, while for others, it doesn’t even rate a mention. Snacking can be great for keeping hunger pangs at bay, controlling weight, satisfying small appetites and providing important nutrients. However, in our current climate of upsizing, snacks can contribute significantly more kilojoules (calories) to our diets than are required. Larger portions have more kilojoules and more kilojoules mean weight gain.

Your lifestyle and routine will probably dictate whether you are a three-meal-per-day person or a “grazer.” The term grazing is so called because cows like to do the same thing. You may not like to think of yourself out in the field chomping down on grass but grazing usually means snacking or having five to six smaller meals spread out over the day. It doesn’t matter if you have three large meals or three smaller meals and three snacks each day. Weight maintenance is achieved when your food intake matches your expenditure (exercise), regardless of when you consume them.

Snacking can be a great way of keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable but keep a check on what and how much you are actually eating over the day. It can be easy to exceed your daily energy requirements through regular snacking, so make sure that you don’t fill up on biscuits, cakes, lollies, chocolate and chips or whatever is handy from the vending machine. These types of foods are high in sugar, fat and salt but low in fibre and are certainly not good for your health.

To be a healthy snacker, planning is important. Shopping regularly and having healthy snacks on hand makes it less likely that you will reach for fatty and sugary foods containing massive amounts of kilojoules. It will also save you money as items purchased from vending machines and convenience stores are often priced at a premium. Regardless of whether you are at work, school, university or at home, planning and packing your food intake the night before is a strategy employed by many healthy snackers. The routine of packing a lunch bag for school works just as well when heading off to work although your lunchbox may not be quite as colourful as it used to be!

A problem time for many people is the third quarter of the day, kicking off after lunch and finishing around 3 p.m. This is often when you feel least energetic – and you try to ward off the desire to lie down on the desk or carpet. A snack is often required to boost blood sugar levels but can be a nutrition trap. It is tempting to grab something quick and easy, but pre-packaged convenience snacks will not give you the long-lasting energy you need to get through the day.

When choosing snacks, the following guide may be useful. Look at their size and energy value to ensure snacks don’t totally eclipse your daily food intake:

For Weight Loss                      Choose 420 kJ/100 calories at each snack

For Weight Maintenance   Choose 840 kJ/200 calories at each snack

For Weight Gain                      Choose 1260 kJ/300 calories or more at each snack

 

Some quick and easy snacks include:

  •   1 slice of fruit or raisin toast with thinly spread jam
  •   Wholegrain toast or crumpet with a light spread of peanut butter or vegemite
  •   Small fruit smoothie
  •   Handful of wholegrain crackers with cheese
  •   1 punnet of strawberries
  •   1 piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear
  •   Low fat, regular-sized coffee (latte, cappuccino, flat white)
  •   200 g low fat yoghurt
  •   20 almonds, cashews or pistachios
  •   1 boiled egg
  •   100 g tin tuna in brine or spring water
  •   1 small tin of fruit in natural juice

 

Run for a Reason

If you are a running enthusiast, autumn and winter in Australia provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of events to try your legs at. Having just braved the strong winds and sprinkling of rain in the Perth outdoors this morning I am totally pumped to talk about it. I love the fact that anyone can run at any time, in any city of the world. It is a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy.  Over the next few months, in Australia and in fact anywhere in the world you can choose from a running menu of 4km, 12km, Half Marathon (21.1km) or the Marathon (42.2km). If you thinking about participating in any of these events, now would be a good time to start thinking about what petrol you are going to use.  Yes, I know lots of people don’t bother with the training or preparation for ‘Fun Runs’ but doing so certainly puts the FUN back into them and enables you to walk and function after all that fun. Your preparation does require some thought with regards to fuel consumption. Do you want to be a BMW or a Datsun 120Y? Now is not the time to be indulging in takeaway for dinner or skipping meals and certainly not getting stuck into the vino the night before training. I am personally preparing for the Perth HBF Run for a Reason to be followed up by the Perth Half Marathon and I recently wrote about some nutrition tips to use in training that you might find useful. One thing that I find challenging myself is to make sure that I eat or drink something containing carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes after I finish training.  It is SO easy to waste that crucial recovery time doing something else like talking, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about. Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery. You might just need a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get your recovery happening and its best to look for 50g of carbohydrate combined with 10-15g protein in this snack. Some options include:

  • Up and Go Energize drink
  • Sustagen Sport
  • Uncle Toby’s Bodywise bar plus a glass of milk
  • 1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
  • 1 small tub low fat yoghurt with a banana

Paying attention to your recovery will dramatically improve your energy levels and improve the quality of your training sessions.

On the Eleventh Day….

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Eleven emus kicking…ten wombats sleeping, nine crocs a weeping, eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Emus worry me, they really do.  Beady little eyes and a lonnnnnnggg neck that looks like it might reach out at any moment and give you a little peck followed up by a quick kick.  An iconic Australian product that we all know is the good old Emu Export beer.  It is still around but not considered to be in vogue now.  It was and still is a full-strength beer but now we are bombarded with low carb beers.  Are they the real deal? Low carb beers are low in carbohydrates but they still contain alcohol and therefore kilojoules.  Choosing a low carb beer over a full strength beer will save you about 100 kilojoules.  In a 375ml can or stubby of full strength beer there will be approximately 13 grams of carbohydrate compared to 3 grams in the low carb version, so this could be useful for diabetics but there is still have issue of the alcohol content.  Low carb beers are not new in Australia and are not the same as ‘light’ beers which are lower in alcohol, so watch out for the false promises of beer advertisers. If you are concerned about your weight (and Christmas Day may not the day to be concerned), consider choosing a beer that you enjoy and drinking less of it.

Cleats and All

This week I have had the privilege of working with a very inspiring team of fourteen cyclists who took off this morning from Albany on the south coast of Western Australia in their quest to make it back to Perth in 4 days.  That means 619km. The distance covered each day varies between 135km up to 196km and no doubt it will be tough.  These students from Swan Christian College were invited to be part of this journey 4 months ago and leapt at the opportunity although some of then had never ridden a bike seriously before. Continue reading “Cleats and All”

How are your choppers?

This afternoon I was lying back in the dentists chair getting a filling replaced. Don’t you love it when the dentist starts having a conversation with you after they have stuck as many instruments as possible in your mouth? I needed a diversion and funnily enough got to thinking about teeth and decay and how I managed to be getting a filling in the first place.  After that pointless exercise my mind wandered off to one of the most common questions I get asked by parents. Do sports drinks cause dental decay? Continue reading “How are your choppers?”