Overnight Oats – How to Make This Simple Super Breakfast

Right now in this rapidly evolving food landscape of ours, Overnight Oats aka Bircher Muesli is one of the simplest and cheapest breakfast ideas you could whip up.  

If you don’t have oats you can also use natural muesli with the added bonus of a few extra bits!

Oats are a fabulous source of resistant starch – it’s no surprise that as the name would suggest, resistant starch is resistant to digestion and nourishes our gut bacteria. This special starch is a prebiotic and basically gets the party started by fuelling the probiotics in our large intestine. The good bacteria that are produced as a result of the starch being fermented in our gut, naturally help us to maintain our intestinal health.

This recipe for Overnight Oats serves two people but I usually batch it up and multiply the recipe by at least five to feed the locusts that live in my house.  

Depending on how you prefer to operate, the Overnight Oats can be made in individual containers or like me, a large container that will hold the weeks worth.

Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup rolled or quick oats

2/3 cup plain natural or Greek yoghurt

1 cup water 

2 tsp chia seeds

2 tsp shredded coconut

1 medium apple, grated

1 tbsp natural yogurt to serve

 

METHOD

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with a dollop of natural yoghurt and fresh fruit of choice such as:

  • 1/2 cup berries (fresh or frozen) or 
  • 1 small sliced banana or
  • 1 passionfruit 

These are all equivalent to one serving of fruit but you could also combine a variety of fruits to make up one serving and add variety to your breakfast each day.

For some other simple breakfast ideas, you can check these out here. 

Frozen Vegetables vs. Fresh – Which Are Best For you?

The pro’s and con’s of frozen vegetables vs. fresh is a question I get asked a LOT. Most days in fact.

I get it. In our super fast paced world, vegetables often get kicked to the kerb when the going gets a bit frantic. For some reason, we just don’t seem to have time to get them on the plate.  The reality is that unlike fruit, which you can simply pick up from the fruit bowl and just eat it, many vegetables do need some level of preparation. Preparation no matter how simple, does involve time.

Frozen Vegetables – Smart or Lazy?

The interesting thing is, frozen vegetables are somehow perceived as the lazy way of preparing and eating vegetables when in reality, this could not be further from the truth.

Purchasing frozen vegetables and fruit and having them on standby is smart thinking because they are convenient and budget friendly.  We all need five serves of vegetables each day and for the vast majority of our population, this just does not happen.  In my view, anything that facilitates an increased vegetable intake is a winner.

When I was growing up, the standard frozen vegetables were peas, carrot and corn but now, there is a huge variety to choose from. Speaking of frozen peas – have you tried my Easy Peasy Green Soup?

Sometimes, the quality of frozen vegetables and fruit are superior to fresh if the fresh version has to travel far to market, because the frozen varieties are processed quickly after being harvested.  

In The Can

Frozen vegetables are generally better than canned, as more nutrients are lost in the canning process than for the same food when frozen. Canning involves heating the food in a closed tin, which prevents microorganisms growing and becoming hazardous to our health. The amount of heating depends on the type of food. Nutrient losses occur during heating and storage and some vitamins may dissolve in the liquid in the can.

Have Frozen Vegetables Got All the Healthy Goods?

The major nutrient losses that occur in frozen food are not actually related to the freezing process itself but to the blanching that occurs before freezing and then again during cooking.  Blanching refers to the process of placing a food into boiling water for a short time and then plunging the food into ice-cold water to halt the cooking process.

These losses are no different to those that would occur if you purchased fresh food and cooked it at home.  

Regardless of whether you choose frozen vegetables or fresh, just make sure that the loss of vitamins and minerals in your fresh and frozen vegetables is kept to a minimum by remembering the following:

  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables that are not over-ripe, bruised, cut or scraped
  • Avoid peeling unless damaged or unpalatable
  • Keep the pieces of food as large as possible when cutting it up
  • Add the fruit or vegetables to boiling water rather than to cold water
  • Use the smallest amount of water possible – steaming and micro-waving are very effective at minimising nutrient loss
  • Cook for the minimum time necessary

If you have access to good quality fresh produce that is not going to break the bank, then of course, that is always going to be a great option. At the same time, if you choose a mixture of frozen and fresh, don’t beat yourself up for making life easier.  A pat on the back is much more appropriate.

Pulses Are The Star of The Show

The Global Stage 

This week marks World Pulses Day. Yes, yes I do agree there does seem to be a special day for everything under the sun. And yes, to be honest I understand that it doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing to celebrate BUT believe me, these guys are severely underrated.

This global day was created to recognise the importance of pulses which includes beans, peas and lentils.

What The Heck Are Pulse’s?

It is clearly a good day when we all wake up with a pulse but in this case we are referring to the pulses that belong to the wider legume family.  This is a group of plants whose fruit or seed is enclosed in a pod.  Pulses refer specifically to the dried, mature seeds of these plants and include dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.  The term legume, includes these dried varieties as well as fresh peas and beans and is a more commonly used term than pulses. 

Everyone is familiar with the good old baked bean but there are so MANY other varieties out there. Some that you may know of include chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans like butter beans, kidney beans, cannelloni beans and soybeans.

I include legumes in my cooking at least three times a week and I don’t think anyone in my household even knows! Not that there is any need to hide pulses but they are super easy to add to almost any dish.  

If you are starting the legume/pulses journey, some easy ways to introduce these nutrition powerhouses into your day include adding a tin of brown lentils to a bolognaise sauce (as they virtually disappear once they are put into a dish) or tip them into a green salad or any kind of mince dish. Kidney or black beans are perfect for burrito bowls or wraps, chick peas are delightful when they are added to a curry and red lentils can make a rather tasty  salad.

The Nutrition Lowdown On Pulses

Legumes and pulses are truly multi-skilled and are:

  • a budget friendly source of plant based protein
  • higher in protein than most other plant based foods
  • usually low in fat
  • rich in low glycemic index carbohydrates
  • a good source of B vitamins including folate, plus iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium
  • super high in fibre – both soluble and insoluble with the added benefit of resistant starch which is fabulous for maintaining good gut health

For a bunch of there great reasons to eat them, you can read the latest post by the GLNC here too.

Then there is the newish (but has been grown for eons) protein rich kid on the block packing a serious nutrition punch. This little goodie is the humble lupin flake – a unique legume that contains 40% protein, 40% fibre with a small amount of carbohydrate and fat and is completely gluten free. 85% of the world’s crop of lupins is grown in Australia (mostly in Western Australia) although they are available worldwide. You can try my recipe for the High Protein Lupinsagne here too.

I promise you it’s as simple as cracking open a can to get more of these pulses in your day, week or month.

While you are percolating all these ideas, it is always nice to finish on a sweet note don’t you think?  You will know what I mean when you make and bake Magic Bean Cupcakes 

You can thank me later.

 

 

 

Passionfruit Cupcakes

Passionfruit Cupcakes had not entered my life until this week when I was gazing at the back of the a pack of a Devondale skim milk powder. I’m not usually someone to make the recipes from the back of packets of food but this time the words Passionfruit and Cupcakes  jumped out at me. Two of my favourite things together can only be a winning combo.

After making these delicious morsels, I posted them up on Facebook and Instagram and it seems that many people have nostalgic memories of Passionfruit Cupcakes from their childhood. Who knew.

I’m just very happy that I can spread the passionfruit love!  We do have a vine growing at home but quite honestly its not pulling its weight at the moment.  There are a grand total of two green ones despite the actual vine looking gorgeous.  Due to this low performance, I used fresh passionfruit pulp (without added sugar) that can be purchased in the jar.  If you have a vine that is actually doing its job, use those guys.

Skim milk powder is definitely the secret ingredient in this recipe (not surprising as it is from Devondale) because it not only provides a calcium boost but it makes them SO fluffy.

Passionfruit Cupcakes

Ingredients

125g polyunsaturated spread or butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup passionfruit pulp

grated rind of one orange

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 cup skim milk powder

1.5 cups self-raising flour

1/2 icing sugar

extra passionfruit pulp

Method

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in eggs, passionfruit pulp, orange rind, water and vanilla.  Mix in skim milk powder and flour.

Spoon into a 12 hole lightly greased muffin tin.

Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the passionfruit cupcakes are golden. Allow to cool.

For the icing – sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add small amounts of the extra passionfruit pulp until the mixture is smooth but not too runny. 

If you live with other people big or small, hide at least one for yourself because I can assure you if backs are turned – they will be inhaled.

 

The Twelfth Day Of Christmas – With a Healthy Twist

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..twelve devils fighting, 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 aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

You may have worked out that my twelfth day of Christmas does not actually finish on Christmas Day.  I wanted to get the last message in before you all clocked off for a break and stopped thinking about your healthy selves.

So, today is Christmas Eve, Eve and I would like to wish a very happy and safe festive season to you all!  We made it.  

Given that twelve Tasmanian Devils are fighting today, I am not suggesting that you are devils but there may be some pretty crazy eating behaviour on Christmas Day.  I may even be involved myself.  I found this greeting card recently by British company ‘Make Do’ that I thought summed up the day perfectly.

Enjoy this day with your loved ones.

If you are reading this there is every chance you like to take care after yourself and for that I am happy. However, we all need a break in routine and if Christmas Day festivities allow you to do that – let your hair down. Nothing bad will happen, you will just need to have a good lie down on the floor. It’s cool down there so stay as long as you can.

Thanks so much for being part of my 2019 and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the twelfth day of Christmas (why?????), don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  Emergency Pickup only.

Click here for all details.

The Eleventh Day Of Christmas – With A Healthy Twist

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 aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

Emus worry me, they really do and I hope I don’t see any on this eleventh day of Christmas.

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 features this native animal is the good old Swan Brewery Emu Export beer.  It is still around but not considered to be in vogue now.  

Emu Export beer was and still is a full-strength beer unlike the low carb beers which are gaining popularity in Australia.  The question is, 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 0-3 grams in the low carb version, so this could be useful for diabetics but there is still the alcohol content to consider.  

Low carb beers are not the same as ‘light’ beers, which are lower in alcohol and based on this it is a good idea to watch out for the false promises of beer advertisers.

If you are concerned about your weight (and Christmas Day is definitely not the day to be concerned), consider choosing a beer that you enjoy and drinking less of it.

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the eleventh day of Christmas, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  Pick up only now with just a couple of sleeps to go.

Click here for all details.

The Tenth Day Of Christmas – With A Healthy Twist

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..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 aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

Aaaahhh, sleep.  Can somebody find me some?  Eight hours sleep is ideal for us all but this can be a challenge during busy times like the tenth day of Christmas.  Too many things to get through, do not make a good recipe for a restful sleep.  I know I am not alone but I also know that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, so bring on the Christmas break I say.  Not many sleeps to go now.

Which brings me to our fast paced world and our now flexible mealtimes.  When I was growing up, my mum had dinner on the table religiously at 6pm and we all sat down and ate together (I am still trying to perfect that myself, unsuccessfully I might add).  

Eating early seems to be a thing of the past as we are working longer hours and may have children and other family commitments that prevent us from eating our evening meal at a civilised hour.  Some people find that it is uncomfortable to eat close to going to bed and this is turn will disturb sleep.  Others may not find this to be the case. 

There is also the question of what you are eating prior to sleeping. Snacking on chocolate (unless its your four nightly squares of course), biscuits and cake (many of which are high in fat) are not great choices before you lie down for eight  hours of sleep.  The evening is when your body is least active and therefore not burning a lot of fuel.

Essentially, you are the best judge of your own body but if you are experiencing disturbed sleep, acid reflux or other problems, then have a look at your eating habits before bed.

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the tenth day of Christmas, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go! Pick-up only now.

Click here for all details

The Ninth Day Of Christmas – With A Healthy Twist

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..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 aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

It doesn’t matter whether it is the ninth day of Christmas or not, crocodiles are scary.  Not that I socialise with them all the time.  Some time back when I was doing a nomadic around Australia trip, we stopped off at the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory and hopped onto a boat to spot some crocs. Within minutes there were monster truck versions of the prehistoric animal flinging themselves out of the air  to try and jag some meat off the end of a stick.  I regretted taking the tour immediately as it was wrong on so many levels but as there was only one way of getting off, I decided to stay.

Crocodiles are THE peak predator with endurance like no other.  Because they are the boss of everyone, they can eat whatever they like. But they don’t.  They hunt only what they need, roll them around a few times and then eat when they need to. Yes, I know they do occasionally get confused and take a human who happens to be in their feeding ground. 

I think there is a lesson there that we can use over the next few days.  Be selective, gather only what you need, roll it around a few times and savour it, chew slowly and enjoy. And as a special tip, try not to confuse your fellow diners with the sumptuous fare.

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the ninth day of Christmas, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  There is still time to get it onto Santa’s sleigh but it’s probably the last day for postage. If you can pick up, there is still time.

Click here for all details.

The Eighth Day Of Christmas – With a Healthy Twist

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

Aren’t flies just the most fantastic aspect of Australian life?  The perceptive amongst you may detect just a hint of sarcasm because in real life they truly do drive you mad. Not only are they are a source of annoyance but they are also a seething mass of germs.  With all of the mountains of food that we are preparing and eating in the lead-up to the BIG DAY it is easy to get busy and forget about storing our food correctly.

So to avoid an unhappy stomach and poisoning all of your guests in the process, don’t leave food uncovered on the bench or table, put it straight in the fridge.

On this eighth day of Christmas you can also start practicing keeping your meat and other foods separate by using different chopping boards and utensils to avoid cross contamination when preparing meals.

And don’t forget to do the same thing on Christmas Day before doing your whale impression on the carpet, so that Sitting Number 2 is fresh and healthy.

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the eighth day of Christmas, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  There is still time to get it onto Santa’s sleigh but it’s getting close to the wire.

Click here for all details.

The Seventh Day of Christmas – With a Healthy Twist

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs aaaaand a kookaburra up a gum tree.

The instant image on this seventh day of Christmas that possums bring to mind for me,  is a pair of big bright eyes in the dark in the backyard of my parents house.  My Dad was a prolific market gardener and chook keeper and he often found that his little ‘friends’ had been busy in the night eating his prize rockmelon or pumpkin flowers.  He tried ‘Poss Off,’ a spray which supposedly deters them when in fact I think it encourages them to come party. He tried.

The whole seeing in the dark thing reminds me of night vision and carrots.  Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene which is a form of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is known as the ‘vision vitamin’ because it helps prevent night blindness and aids the conversion of light into messages for the brain.  This vitamin is found in some other foods such as butter, margarine, liver, eggs and full cream dairy products.  Green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruit also contain Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.

You never know when you need your night vision goggles on whilst out socialising over summer, so get crunching on a carrot.  I wonder if possums can actually pull the carrots out of the ground….

 

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents on the seventh day of Christmas, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack – my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  There is still time to get it onto Santa’s sleigh but not much.

Click here for all details.