Want to know what a Dietitian eats? There are no food police in sight I promise.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post for my lovely clients Kale and Co. which was all about what a Dietitian like me eats every day.  Funnily enough, there were people who liked hearing about it, so I today I am sharing this with you just in case you might like to hear about it too.

 You know how some carpenters can have millions of unfinished building projects at their own homes, plumbers have leaky taps and electricians have lights without globes, despite excellent work for their clients? Both my Dad and brother are carpenters and builders, so I can say this with some authority.

If we follow the same pattern of thinking, does this mean that a Dietitian like me drops the ball with personal eating and nutrition habits?

Lets get a few things out of the way first. My profession as a Dietitian definitely suffers from being viewed by some as the ‘food police’ and in social situations; I would rather stick a pin in my eye than tell people what I do for a living. If this information does leak out, it is inevitable that I will be 1) thrown under the proverbial bus within milliseconds 2) bombarded with every nutrition question known to man or 3) the person that makes every single other person self-conscious about every teeny little mouthful of food they put in their mouth for the entire time I am there. Basically, it is a joy for everyone.

I get that there is something eerily fascinating about delving into what a Dietitian eats, so pull up a seat while I interview myself and spill the beans (pun intended).

What do I eat?

I like to keep things pretty simple and it takes a lot to bore me – I don’t mind eating the same kind of things over and over. Unfortunately when there is a husband and three kids at home who don’t agree with this ethos, my plan does not come to fruition. I do love to cook but I don’t have time for fancy pants cooking – delicious yes but complicated no.

My nutrition scorecard looks a lot like this:

Breakfast:

Porridge with prunes + Hi-Lo milk or Goodness Superfood’s Barley Clusters + blueberries + yoghurt or Bircher Muesli + a dollop of yoghurt + sliced fresh fruit.

I can eat porridge in forty degree mid summer heat – I just love oats!

Lunch:

A salad made of baby spinach leaves + undressed coleslaw + cherry tomatoes + Lebanese cucumber + tuna in oil or two boiled eggs with a fresh lime or lemon juice dressing.

Dinner:

Some typical meals include spaghetti bolognaise or meatballs, bean curry, steak and salad, roast chicken and vegetables, homemade pies, Moroccan slow cooked lamb with sweet potato and pumpkin, chilli chicken and rice, risotto, fresh salmon and rosemary potatoes, zucchini slice and homemade pizza. I also love lentil, freekeh and lupins in salads.

If I get hungry in the afternoon, I will snack on cashews, fruit, yoghurt or crackers and cheese and I drink a couple of cups of coffee and tea each per day too. It is a necessity I assure you.

My favourite food

Cheese, cheese and cheese. Did I mention cheese?

My favourite things

Chocolate or lollies? Chocolate all the way

Red or white wine? White

Sweet or savoury? Love them both

Favourite Alcoholic drink? Aperol Spritz

My favourite Kale and Co. food?  Beetroot Cake. So yum.

So what do you think?

My personal and professional ethos is all about enjoying good food that is mostly healthy, to fuel these busy bodies of ours BUT having the confidence to occasionally include ‘treat’ foods knowing that this is all part of a balanced diet.

What about you?  What are your favourite things?

How to make your salad sing

 

I love to cook but my motivation is at all time low right now.  I want the ingredients to get themselves together and just make something already. You know what I mean? Enter salad.

Salad vegetables (and all kinds too of course) are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, which all help our mind and bodies working day-to-day and reduce our risk of chronic disease.

That said, getting enough of those vegetables does become a little tricky if you leave your daily dose to one meal like dinner, so spreading the vegetable love across the day is key. Of course, you can tick off  a bunch at breakfast by adding mushrooms, tomato, spinach or baked beans to a poached egg and then gather speed by adding a crisp, crunchy salad to lunch.

We can most certainly make salad fancy but the question is, do we need to? 

Just like a coordinated wardrobe, there are some easy ways to mix and match colours and ingredients to put together a salad that everyone around you will be wishing they had too.

For an all seasons salad mix any of the following:

+1…Go Green – baby spinach leaves, crunchy Cos lettuce, beetroot leaves or tatsoi for a fibre, magnesium and folate boost
+2…Orange all over – roasted warm chunks of orange sweet potato, pumpkin or carrot, all excellent sources of the powerful antioxidant carotene.
+3…Go Fast Red – cherry tomatoes, sliced ripe Roma tomato

And don’t forget to add Exceptional Extra’s like – crunchy cucumber, baby roasted or canned beetroot, sliced mushrooms and crunchy combo sprouts.

Toss your choice of salad ingredients and add:

  • Protein Power – lean chicken, sliced cold leftover lamb or beef, lean ham, boiled egg, small tin of 4 bean mix/chickpeas or lentils.

Quick Salad Ideas

  • Lentil, Ricotta and Beetroot – combine 220g canned, drained lentils with 3 baby beets, a handful of baby spinach and 100g low fat crumbled ricotta
  • Orange, capsicum and avocado – toss a handful of mixed salad leaves with 1 orange peeled, segmented and sliced, ¼ of a sliced avocado and ¼ medium red capsicum topped with 40g crumbled low fat feta

Along with the rest of the world, the distinct green leaves of kale have been one of my favourites for a while. Kale going solo does lack appeal but in this recipe – kaboom!

Try my fave healthy Kale Caesar Salad recipe below and you will see what I mean.

Kale Caesar Salad (serves 6)

Ingredients
½ bunch curly or Tuscan Kale (washed, dried and leaves trimmed of stalks)
4 slices proscuitto (fat trimmed), grilled
4 slices sourdough bread

Dressing
½ cup low fat natural yoghurt + 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard + 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil + 1 large garlic cloven + ¼ cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese

Method
Once trimmed, roll up kale leaves, slice finely and place in large salad bowl. Break the grilled proscuitto into small pieces and scatter over the kale leaves.

Tear the bread roughly into 1 cm pieces, place on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes until crispy.

For the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a shaker or jug and pour over kale leaves. Using your hands, mix the dressing through the salad and serve.

 

Get Packed – how to organise your healthy lunch

Regardless of how old you are, it only takes a moment to remember what it was like to go through the routine of getting ready for school. A big part of that process was packing your lunchbox because if you accidently forgot that (which I did on occasion) then your day was definitely below par. As a kid it was pretty tough to maintain those energy levels on little or no food and it’s really no different as an adult. Quite often when I am educating workplaces and their teams on how to choose healthy food and give them tips on managing their energy levels, organisation and thinking ahead are some of the key components. For this to happen like a well-oiled machine, there are a couple of logistical steps to take the night before.

  • Have one or several containers that you can use to store your lunch and snacks. You will also need a bag that is big enough to carry your food to work. It doesn’t need to be huge.
  • When you are choosing a meal to cook for dinner, double the recipe and instantly you have lunch for the next day plus some extra to store in the freezer for later. Everyone loves leftovers!
  • When you are preparing your salad or vegetables for your evening meal, have a container at the ready and just make an extra serve for the next day.
  • Pack your workbag before you go to bed leaving minimal preparation for the morning when you are rushing around getting ready and dramatically reduce your stress levels. The same thing you used to do for school right?

Simple Lunch Ideas to Bring to Work

  1. The Simple Sandwich – No-one likes a soggy sandwich! To avoid an unappetising lunch, simply store the sandwich ingredients in a separate container to the bread and assemble when you are ready.Use a mixture of breads such as sliced, rolls or wraps and choose wholegrain, wholemeal or chia seed enriched for a boost of fibre. No need to spread with butter or margarine. Tasty healthy fillings include: lean ham, sliced tomato and reduced fat cheese, smoked salmon and low fat cream cheese, sliced chicken with salad leaves and a light spread of low fat mayonnaise, grated reduced fat cheese topped with baby spinach leaves, sliced turkey breast topped with avocado, tuna mixed with low fat mayonnaise, finely diced red onion and flat leaf parsley.
  1. If a sandwich doesn’t appeal, try a big colourful salad with leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, crunchy sprouts and sliced red capsicum topped with an egg or a small tin of tuna or tin of 4 bean mix and a slice of grainy bread. Make the salad the night before and add the protein and bread at lunchtime.
  2. Anything left? – If you loved your dinner the night before there is nothing better than enjoying it again the next day. Just make sure that you have some protein in the form of meat, chicken or fish, some carbohydrate like rice or pasta and some vegetables or salad. Cooking an extra portion the night before is an easy and cost effective way of ensuring your lunch is organised.
  3. Something hot – Enjoy soup or a hot lunch that can be quickly whipped up in the office kitchen. Why not try:
  • Home-made or prepared soups (without added cream or salt) plus a wholegrain roll
  • A small tin of baked beans (or any other tinned legume) or small tin of tuna combined with a single serve pouch of brown rice or noodles (90 seconds in the microwave) and your favourite frozen vegetable.
  • A couple of slices of wholegrain toast topped with a handful of baby spinach leaves and a small tin of baked beans

If you start to think about getting ready for your workday just like a school day way back when, your food and energy levels will be on track for the day and you save money and precious time.

This blog was first published for Healthier Workplace WA

Sea urchin, radish salad and fish fluff

My heart was touched today. I was privileged to visit Nishikasai Elementary School just out of Tokyo. The Grade Four students sang and danced to entertain their overseas guests and then we sat in their classroom and ate lunch with them. 99% of elementary schools provide lunch for their students and today this consisted of rice with kelp and fish fluff (very fine fish shavings) , grilled salmon with miso, radish salad, miso soup, fruit and milk. It was divine. All students sit at their desks and eat together and a catering company prepares the meals onsite. The kids were so excited to have us sitting at their desks and it was truly amazing how much two cultures can communicate when they have absolutely no language in common. Despite no English these 9 year olds knew what a kangaroo did ! Our Indian friends on tour with us explained their lunch program which is free and provided to 130 million children each day. Our Australian team couldn’t really explain to the other countries why we do not have a lunch program. Any explanation didn’t seem adequate next to 130 million meals per day! What if we could though? Each school meal costs parents $2.00, it ticks all the nutrition boxes and no home preparation, what an innovative and progressive idea. Each school has a nutrition teacher who may also be a Dietitian on their staff full-time, they are truly advanced in this area and their long term vision inspiring. Around 10% of children here are overweight and only 4% skip breakfast. Statistics to dream about in Australia.