The Flavoured Milk Wagon

Flavoured milk may bring the image of chocolate, spearmint and strawberry to mind but flavoured milk can also include many beverages in this somewhat crowded space.

Take a Break

Before we start talking about flavoured milk let’s establish that it is more important than ever to renew our energy throughout the day, particularly if we spend a lot of time sitting. One way of doing this is to take regular breaks to refuel or physically move to get our circulation flowing to brains and bodies and therefore increasing our well-being and productivity.

When we take a break, one of our most common habits is to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Depending on where you are, the array of choices can be extremely limited or overwhelmingly diverse. They could range from a decaf skinny latte to a rich hot chocolate. It is very easy to dismiss our favourite beverage as a comforting pick me up without registering how much they are contributing to your daily diet. Not necessarily in a positive way either.

Which to Choose?

On the plus side, many cafes and roadhouses do use reduced fat milk when they are making beverages, due to the superior frothing ability of low fat milk. When considering the large amount of fat, sugar and calories in various types of full cream coffee, it can be advisable to request reduced fat milk, especially if you are consuming a few during the day.  To be sure you are choosing a regular or skinny coffee, just ask your barista.

Enjoying a coffee is one of the beautiful things in life from my perspective. However, I am aware that my best personal choice is a small without added sugar. Do you know what yours is?

Flavoured Milk of The Day

Flavoured milks are also a popular choice for many but can be equivalent to eating a meal as shown by a 600ml carton of ice coffee or choc milk. When choosing flavoured milk it is best to select the reduced fat 300ml variety, which provides a smaller number of calories while contributing a serve of calcium.

Just remember that taking regular breaks from behind the desk or wheel is vital to your health and well being but consider your choices when a break beckons and choose wisely.

The Sporty Advantage

As a kid I loved choc-milk, so it’s pretty exciting that it is 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.  Studies have shown that women who drink 500ml of 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. For some super delicious recipes based on dairy products go check out Legendairy where you will find something for everyone.

 

Celebrate Milk with Sipahh Straws

Sip it Up with Milk

My kids LOVE the unique product Sipahh Straws. They think it is a great treat and indeed it is.

Aussie dad (and now grand dad) Peter Barron loved milk but didn’t like giving his kids the flavoured variety that contained too much sugar and too many flavours and preservatives. With some trial and error this clever man developed a straw filled with little tapioca balls that release their flavour when the milk is sucked through the straw. The best and most exciting bit is that each straw contains less than ½ teaspoon sugar and has no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. For those that have allergy issues the straws contain no egg, gluten and no dairy.

Although marketed towards the smaller ones, they are also perfect for the big people too. The straws are an ideal way of increasing milk intake and calcium plus a much healthier and cheaper alternative to flavoured milks. These guys can be found in the long life dairy aisle of any supermarket in a wide variety of delicious flavours.

World Milk Day

While we are on the subject of milk,  the 1st June marks World Milk Day. Yes, it is a thing because in 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) elected this date as World Milk Day. This day celebrates the important contribution of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.

Raise a Glass

This years theme is ‘Raise a Glass’ and a good reminder that milk is a natural source of the super important nutrients that our bodies need. Of course we know that milk is a rich source of calcium for healthy bones and teeth plus protein for healthy muscles.

There are other benefits of milk and dairy products that you may not be aware of. These include a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and colorectal cancer.  Consuming dairy products are also associated with a healthy weight and play an important role in sport and exercise performance.

Is there anything that milk can’t do you might be wondering? Well, it hasn’t got up and washed my clothes yet but one can hope.

The Alternatives

There are many alternatives on the market now and for the minority of people who are lactose or dairy protein intolerant, these are a great option. However, milks such as soy, oat, rice, almond and hemp do not naturally contain calcium at all and do not contain all the essential amino acids.

For the rest of us though, let’s raise a glass!

What about you – do you love a glass?

 

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.

 

How to Make Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls – they are the bomb

 

There is something so cute about a raspberry with it’s unique scrunched up shape in such a vivid colour.  It is hard not to love them simply for their looks but when we start talking about what they can do for our bodies, they reach star status.

The Nutrition Goods

Nutritionally speaking, a raspberry has all the goods. This little fruit is super low in calories with very little sugar, high in fibre and good to our gut plus a bunch of vitamins and minerals including copper and manganese.  There is Vitamin C all round with these guys too – 1 cup of raspberries dishes up almost half of our daily allowance for this vital vitamin.

It is true that eating a raspberry or two is not cheap, even when in season but they are certainly juicy little morsels when you do. The good news is that you can also purchase them frozen, store them in the freezer and grab them out whenever you need them.

So, we know that popping a raspberry or several into our diets will make our bodies happy.  We also know that they are super versatile and can be used simply as they are or in desserts, baking and even in savoury dishes.

Recipe + Raspberry

Which leads me to recipes. Is anybody with me when I say that I do love to look at recipes, mix and match ingredients and come up with my own variation? This favourite pastime lead to the recipe that I am sharing with you day.  Bliss Balls have been on the popular list for many people for a few years now but lots of them feature nuts and dried fruit (which I also love) but sometimes it is good to have a change right?

The Raspberry Combo

My Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls are a delicious combination of frozen raspberries, rolled oats, coconut and skim milk powder.  Super easy to make and a sweet way to get a dose of fibre, beta-glucan, protein, vitamins and minerals.  Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre which can assist with reducing LDL cholesterol that can accumulate in the arteries and can also lower blood glucose levels.

Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls

Ingredients (makes approx 18-20 balls)

2 cups slightly defrosted frozen raspberries

2 cups rolled oats

1.5 cups shredded coconut

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 tablespoons water 

4 tablespoons skim milk powder

Method

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add a little more water. Using a tablespoon, roll the mixture into balls. Refrigerate until set.

 

 

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?

 

 

 

Egg Goodness – It’s World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day! It’s time to bring out the balloons and streamers because today is the day to celebrate  and be reminded that the humble egg is an amazing source of energy and vitality.  These little goodies are packed full of  fat soluble vitamins, essential minerals including iron, phosphorus and protein.

The egg has suffered from an undeserved bad boy reputation over the years, mostly in the area of cholesterol. Egg yolks do contain a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. However, research conducted over the past 50 years shows that egg consumption has only a negligible effect on raising total blood cholesterol levels in healthy people. For most people, eating an egg every day is a healthy addition to a diet that includes wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Of course, it is a different story if you are frying eggs every day and eating them with lots of bacon! 

An egg can be a great snack or meal full of protein and is the richest source of choline, which is essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters in your brain. The National Heart Foundation has recognised the egg as a nutritious food being eligible for the healthy eating ‘Tick of Approval’ and they are recommended daily as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

I grew up with chooks around my feet and I loved finding an egg hidden in my cubby house amongst my dolls and blankets.  Our chooks were very much free to range wherever they felt like it. Cubby, chook pen, prams – you name it. To be honest, these feathered birds completely freak me out BUT I do so appreciate their produce!

You can check out some interesting and fun facts about the little egg here at World Egg Day.

The egg would have to be on of the easiest foods to prepare but for some weekend eggpsiration, you might like to try my Noodle Omelette.  This recipe is part of my new recipe e-book, ‘eat, energise, repeat’ which can be downloaded for free at 

Noodle Omelette

Ingredients

1 packet 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, (cooked according to directions but without flavor sachet)

2 free range eggs, lightly beaten

40g grated reduced fat cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 large zucchini, thinly sliced

1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Method

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 with a green salad.

Serves 1-2 adults or 2 kids under 12              Cost = $1.90

 

 

 

Choc-chip Cookies with a Hint of Healthy

What do Choc-chip Cookies have to do with healthy living and high performance?

A lot more than you might think. Firstly, I can’t actually imagine living without the recipe I am about to share with you and secondly, balance is such an important part of living a healthy life isn’t it?

I know that perhaps like me, you will be anxious to get back to the Choc-Chip Cookies but before we do…..Last week, I shared some lupin love with my Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne, a pretty darn delicious dish. Lupins are almost 40% protein and 40% fibre, with just a little carbohydrate and fat, which makes them a nutrition powerhouse.

To me, it seems a natural progression to go from savoury to sweet and throw them into Choc-Chip Cookies. This recipe has been scribbled on a piece of worn paper for many years in my recipe folder and if I don’t make them most weeks, there is the threat of a riot in my house. I don’t know whose recipe this was originally but if was you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aside from the chocolate, the vital ingredient in these Choc-Chip Cookies are the oats. The oats give the cookies a soft chewy texture that matches perfectly with the gooey yumminess of dark chocolate. By the way, don’t be tempted to use milk chocolate as it makes the cookies too sweet and without flavour contrast. For this recipe I substituted The Lupin Co. lupin flakes for the exact amount of oats and the result was exactly the same – delicious. Oats are also a nutrition powerhouse but the lupins have significantly more protein and fibre. This is so important in a Choc-Chip Cookie!
Of course, Choc-Chip Cookies are not designed to be an everyday food (especially in the size that I seem to make them) but as a treat they are divine. The extra protein and fibre in the lupins do fill you up more than the average biscuit and they can also be a handy recovery snack post training (although not required after a walk around the block just in case you were wondering).

Choc-Chip Cookies

Ingredients
125g poly/monounsaturated margarine or butter
175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cups lupin flakes
3/4 cup oats

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 ºC. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Using electric beaters, beat butter/margarine, sugars and vanilla until pale and thick. Beat in egg until just combined. With a wooden spoon, fold in the lupin flakes and oats and then the sifted flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and then fold the whole lot in. When almost done, gently fold in the chocolate until just combined.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture about 5cm apart onto the prepared trays, flatten down a little and then bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry of the cookies feel or look soft, as they will get crisp when cooled (it is hard to wait but worth it I promise).

Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne aka Lasagne

Lasagne gets me thinking about Italy, cheesy sauce, accordion music and red and white checked tablecloths. You might not have exactly the same vision but lasagne is a true crowd pleaser and one of those dishes that just makes you sigh with happiness doesn’t it?

Traditionally, lasagne can be loaded with béchamel sauce (delicious yes but high on the fat side of things), sheets of pasta and cheese upon cheese.
That might seem like a good thing (and as an occasional food, it really is) but for an everyday kind of dish, a few tweaks is all it takes to bump up the protein and reduce the fat, to tick the nutrition boxes and turn it into the ideal recovery meal post exercise.

Perfect timing because there is a new protein rich kid on the block, which packs a serious nutrition punch. This little goodie is the humble lupin – 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 Western Australia which is pretty cool. Yay for the sandgropers.

So after a bit of experimenting, I have concocted Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne and it tastes fantastic! This recipe is high in protein and fibre and is packed full of vegetables and flavour. It uses lupin flakes produced by The Lupin Co. which are so versatile and have so much to give our bodies, including a protein punch.

Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne

Ingredients
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 x cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 x 400g tin canned, diced tomatoes
20 basil fresh leaves
500g lean chicken mince
1-cup chicken stock
1-cup lupin flakes
1kg reduced fat ricotta cheese
150g baby spinach leaves,
2 eggs, beaten
5 x fresh lasagne sheets
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Method
Cook the onion and garlic together in the oil until golden brown and then add the chicken mince and stir until cooked through.

Add the carrot, zucchini, tomatoes, chicken stock and basil, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is reduced a little. While the mixture is simmering, cook the lupins in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes and then drain and rinse in cold water. Just before you take the chicken mixture off the heat – add the cooked lupins and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the spinach leaves in a microwave proof bowl into the microwave and cook for 1 minute until wilted slightly. Once cooled, squeeze out excess water and add to the ricotta along with the beaten eggs. Stir the ricotta mixture until smooth.

Spray a large lasagne dish with cooking oil and place some of the mince mixture on the bottom of the dish followed by lasagne sheets to fit and then half of the mince mixture on top of this followed by half of the ricotta mixture and repeat these steps once more finishing with the ricotta layer.

Cover with foil and cook in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serve:

Energy 312 calories, protein 27g, fat 12g, carbohydrate 19g, fibre 8g

This Lupinsagne is perfect for an everyday dinner and also a great recovery meal post exercise.

Watch this space for more lupinlicious recipes.

Buon appetito!

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

Nutrition in the News

In the early part of the year, it shouldn’t be surprising that nutrition and well-being is at the top of the list in the media. Many of us may have been lured into making those rash New Years Resolutions, which lasted for a couple of days at the most and yet, we are still looking for ways in which we can boost our health and well-being. Thats a good thing. I have been doing some writing and contributing for various publications over February and some of the nutrition in the news below might just contain the tip that can help prepare you to do amazing things. This year is the International Year of Pulses and we are not talking about whether your heart is beating, but those little nutritious treasures such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas and their friends. You can see what I had to say about them as a Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador here. You might also like to check out the resources of Pulse Australia and grab some recipes here too. The school year took off with a bang a couple of weeks ago in Western Australia and ‘Today Tonight’ ran a story on an innovative concept called BakeSw@p – initiated by a group of women and mum’s at a West Australian primary school.  Each parent registered with BakeSw@p brings a plate of their own healthy snacks for school, meets at the designated meet-up spot and swaps their own kids snacks with other parents. Each family then takes home a variety of healthy school snacks for the week.  The story than ran on Channel 7 a couple of weeks ago, generated huge interest – I always love hearing about people being engaged in improving the health of their children by home cooking and limiting the use of prepackaged foods.  You can check out the segment here and what BakeSw@p are all about here. Lastly, lets not forget the annual issue of getting back to work after taking a festive break – this one can most certainly be a tough gig. Getting traction and enthusiasm can be all too elusive at the beginning of the year but never fear, there are ways and means to enhance our focus and concentration while at work. My article over on WatchFit runs through some strategies to do just that – you can take a look here. Not all news is bad right?