Five Breakfast Idea’s to start your engine

Five Idea's for Breakfast We often hear about breakfast being awarded holy grail status in the race of ‘who is the most important meal in the day’ competition.  Of course, all meals we eat are important but breakfast is right up there don’t you think? I know for a fact that bad things will happen to me and to others if I don’t tick that box in the morning. Not everyone feels the same way as me.  There will be some of you reading this while your stomach is currently doing flip-flops at the thought of eating first thing and there will be others who don’t experience even the tiniest twinge of appetite or hunger upon rolling out of bed. And then for some, the nice idea of breakfast gets trampled in the rush to get out of the door and into work or school. I do love a bit of scientific evidence and thankfully research shows that:

  • People who skip breakfast are significantly heavier than those who do eat it
  • Missing breakfast may diminish mental performance (that’s me right there) and eating breakfast can aid learning (important for kids and adults)
  • Those who set sail without breakfast are more likely to make poor food choices for the rest of the day and in the long-term too
  • We can lose two-thirds of our energy stores overnight while sleeping, which means we can wake up needing to get to the petrol station, stat.

If you are a work in progress in the breakfast department or even if you have it nailed, you might like one of my Five Breakfast Ideas to start your engine.

1. Overnight Oats When you are making dinner, surprise yourself with your efficiency and get breakfast organised at the same time.  In a bowl with a secure lid for easy transport if needed the next day, add 1/3 cup rolled or quick oats + 1/4 cup natural or greek yoghurt + 1/2 cup water + 1 teaspoon chia seeds + 1 tablespoon sultanas + a sprinkle of shredded coconut (optional) + 1/2 grated apple.  Mix the lot and store in the fridge overnight.  The next morning you can add a spoonful of your favourite yoghurt and this bowl of deliciousness can be eaten at home or taken anywhere you need to go. The perfect breakfast on the run. 2. High fibre cereal Some of my favourite and healthy cereals include Weet-Bix, oats made into porridge or natural muesli, Mini-wheats, Shredded wheat, Sultana Bran, All Bran Flakes and Special K Wholegrain Clusters with Protein.  All you need to do is add some reduced fat milk and some sliced fresh fruit or a handful of berries and you have a healthy dose of fibre, calcium and vitamin C to kick-start your day.  If time is short, pack your cereal and fruit and add milk when you get to the office. 3. Whole grain toast or sandwich with power protein 1-2 slices of your favourite whole grain bread, toasted (check the label for a fibre content greater than 8g per 100g serve), topped with 1/4 of an avocado, a handful of baby spinach leaves, 3-4 cherry tomatoes, 1-2 poached or sliced boiled eggs and a dusting of cracked pepper.  Other great protein sources include a small tin of baked beans, 50g smoked salmon or 1/2 cup fresh ricotta. If time says no to eating this combo at home, simply sandwich all ingredients between the bread, brown bag it and take to work to eat as is or pop it in the sandwich press. 4. Super Smoothie Blenders and bullets are one of the most popular appliances in the kitchen these days and for those crazy whirlwind mornings, they can be the answer to your one minute breakfast dilemma. For the basic mixture, throw together 250ml milk of choice + 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 2 tablespoons natural or Greek yogurt + 2 tablespoons skim milk powder or non dairy protein powder (for a protein boost). To this base you could add 1 banana + 2 teaspoons of honey + sprinkle of nutmeg OR 1/2 cup frozen raspberries + 1 tablespoon cacao powder or 1/2 cup frozen blueberries + 1/2 banana + a large handful baby spinach. These super smoothies can be taken with you or enjoyed at home. 5. Chocolate Chia Pudding I love the idea of chia puddings for breakfast but sometimes the flavour (or lack of) leaves me less than inspired.  Last week I shared my recipe for Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding because it is super tasty.  It is also ideal for preparation the night before and the perfect on the go meal (or snack too). If you don’t have time to finish it off with coconut whip like I did, try topping with frozen thawed raspberries or blueberries and a little bit of grated dark chocolate.  D E L I C I O U S

Chewing the fat


Ros Thomas Chewing the Fat

A clever friend of mine writes a very entertaining column in the West Weekend Magazine each Saturday and a recent edition was too good not to share.  It is below in its entirety but you can also see more of Ros’s insights here.


Ros Thomas, The Weekend West Magazine, Published February 2, 2013

A few weekends back a girlfriend and I were at the beach for our first swim of the summer. It was an overcast morning and the water looked dark. We were trying to stave off the inevitable shock of cold water by discussing our chances of getting eaten by a shark. She turned to me and said: “Any self-respecting shark would take one look at me and say: Geez, I’m not that hungry.”

A real friend doesn’t lie about her weight. A real friend understands that a woman’s weight can be central to her mood: thin = happy, not thin = grumpy. My bathroom scales are an electronic slab of nastiness hell-bent on destroying my morning.

A nutritionist once told me: ”Do not weigh yourself every day, it’s bad for your mental health.” But most mornings, I roll out of bed, skip to the loo and then step daintily onto my scales. It takes about three seconds for them to calculate how many squares of cooking chocolate I had the night before and deliver up the numbers that have me inwardly cursing (and outwardly cranky) for the next half hour.

If the figure is really offensive, I move the scales around the bathroom floor, hoping a second (or third) try will give me a more considerate read-out. Sometimes I hold onto the door frame and voila! I weigh the same as I did when I was 18. Self delusion makes me thin.

When I ring a girlfriend to say: “Good morning, I am a circus tent” she doesn’t reply: ‘Hey, I’ve lost three kilos and I’m back to what I weighed on my wedding day.” Instead she sympathises: ”I weigh the same as the day I gave birth to my third child.”

My Adonis does not realise that all nearly all women obsess about their weight, usually to their partner’s detriment. (The fatter we feel, the thinner our libido.)

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not so shallow that our weight is all we care about. We have discussed at length our disappointment that even the head of the CIA can’t have an affair without getting caught. We worry Julia Gillard was talked into becoming a redhead by her hairdresser boyfriend. And then we go back to our weight, because society demands that the female of our species should always be pert and thin. Any woman who has had children or is within fifteen years of menopause knows pert requires surgery and pert andthin is a pipe dream.

I have two lovely pals who meet with me every Friday morning. Our husbands think it’s a weekly discussion to exchange housekeeping tips, and how to serve up more marital happiness. But really those girlfriends come to my house to find out what the scales of injustice say. Having starved ourselves all morning for ‘weigh-in,’ the more sensible one of us records the offensive number of kilos in her diary. Then we put the bad news behind us and get down to the more important business of tea and cake.

I wouldn’t miss those Fridays for quids. They began five years ago when we decided one of us might need a weekly catch-up to help her endure the horrors of chemotherapy. (We didn’t need to weigh her to know she was thin.)

Since then there has been a wonderful survival story, one last baby, two husbands’ vasectomies, two new places to live, one new career and several sets of hateful scales. Cancer free and in perfect nick, the most disciplined of our threesome now sympathises with the two of us whose blasted weight has stayed more or less the same, always five kilos too many.

We still de-brief every Friday, except now we use ‘weigh-in’ as an excuse to check up on each other and restore some girly equilibrium.

What Friday weigh-ins are good for is motivation. The three of us come away hardened with steelier resolve to be Elle McPherson pure about what we eat. (Usually sabotaged by Troy Buswell self-control.) On occasion our iron will has lasted a whole week – the record is three months -but usually we’re texting each other by Friday night: “Do organic brownies count?” (Apparently, if they came from the health food shop, they have no calories.)

For me, trying to lose weight at this time of year is hopeless. And pointless. There are too many good things to eat. So I’m going to move those scales around the house until I find that elusive G-spot  – G for gravity. That’s the spot where a slight incline confuses the scale’s pea-sized brain into thinking I’m three kilos lighter. I have high hopes for that bit of the kitchen floor that dips as it merges with the pantry. If my plan fails, I’ll just use the stupid scales as a step-up to reach the top shelf. I’m sure that’s where I hid the last of the cooking chocolate.

You don’t know what you don’t know

I am trying my best to learn Italian at the moment. Its not easy and I can literally feel my brain cells straining at the effort, despite the fact that it is allegedly one of the easiest languages to learn in the world.  Unless you count first year high school French (and I don’t) I have never delved into the world of foreign language.  I have always known that I couldn’t speak any language other than English but I was blissfully unaware of the depth of that ignorance until I started lessons. This is a classic example of “You don’t know that you don’t know” or  Level 1 – Unconscious Incompetence on the Conscious Competence Ladder.  This ladder (attributed to many possible originators) is a popular approach to managing your feelings and behaviour during any type of learning process, sometimes dispiriting like mine right now. When you are attempting to acquire any new skill it is fairly important to be aware of what you don’t know.  Discovering this can be incredibly depressing because you are not very good at what you are trying to do.  Of course this is understandable when you first start to learn something. If you look at acquiring new skills in managing your health like losing weight, improving energy levels, beginning an exercise program, reducing stress levels or managing a disease,  you may discover that you have been lolling about in the “You don’t know that you don’t know” pool for a while. Unfortunately it often takes a negative health epiphany or ‘event’ like a heart attack, fatigue, collapse, continued low immunity or even no clothes that fit, to rocket us into this stage with a bang. Once you determine what you do and don’t know, you move into Level 2 on the ladder – “You know that you don’t know” or Conscious Incompetence. Although usually it would exciting to move up a ladder of any description, I am not feeling the love with my journey of foreign language, because quite frankly it can be a shock to discover how much better or competent other people are. When you realise that your skills are limited, like I did in approximately 1 nanosecond, confidence levels can drop to an all time low and this is where you may have to don the Superman suit and sail forth. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels or body fat and you don’t know where excess fat and saturated fats are lurking, it makes it pretty tough to reduce them in your diet.  This is one of the toughest stages to wrangle and many warriors are lost in the battle.  Hang in there, your body will thank you. I strive each day for Level 3 –  “You know that you know’ or Conscious Competence.  For me that would mean having a real life conversation in Italian with the verbs and nouns conjugated correctly and although at the moment I could get myself a caffe or find out the day of the week (in the event I had amnesia), my conversation skills suitable for rapid fire pace are not developed enough.  For you this stage might mean nailing four exercise sessions in a week without rolling over when the alarm goes off. The nirvana, Level 4 – “You don’t know that you know”or Unconscious Competence  is the lovely place where this new skill of yours is just plain easy. Your new skill has become a habit and stealthed onto you so much that you don’t need to think about it anymore plus you perform it without conscious effort.  If you are an ex-smoker and your main trigger was alcohol, this last stage would mean that you could go to a bar and  have a drink without the slightest thought about how you were going to stop yourself from having a cigarette. I will continue to strive for this Mt Everest of skill development and behaviour change, what about you?  Do you know or don’t know?

Shampoo makes you fat – doesn’t it?

A couple of weeks ago, a story hit the media which I commented on during my segment with Paul Murray at 6PR radio.  The concept of shampoo being a cause of obesity was flung about and it appears the offending fat promoting chemicals in particular are known as phthalates.  Phthalates, phthalates, phthalates (trying saying that three times quickly) are found in everything from shampoo to toilet cleaner to perfume to canned food tins and there a number of international studies currently looking at our everyday, cumulative toxin exposure.  I am not discounting the importance of minimising toxin exposure in our bodies but just in case you were getting excited about throwing out your shampoo and never needing to exercise again,  sorry. ‘Chich’ of Churchlands in Western Australia had the best solution I thought. Here is her response to the claim that shampoo makes you fat. “Its the shampoo I use in the shower.  When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body.  Printed very clearly on the shampoo label, it reads, FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY. I have gotten rid of the shampoo and I am going to start using Dawn dish detergent. Its label reads, DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.  Problem solved and it sure does pay to read the label.” It just keeps coming back to that irrefutable equation, In vs Out, In vs Out….. with not a single drop of shampoo in sight.

Hannah Hotpants

Extremes in life do keep things interesting so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that November 2010 saw me watching ‘Humpy’ perform with my Nan and this weekend grooving to the beat of Miley Cyrus with Miss 6 and Miss 8. If the weekend papers were to be  believed, Miley was going to present herself in some rather risque outfits and possibly be a BAD role model for the young girls that form a large part of her fan base. Continue reading “Hannah Hotpants”

Lost and Found

Finding things can be very rewarding can’t it?  Personally, I think it is more rewarding when one is actually looking for the said ‘thing’. I wasn’t looking but an extra 3kg of body weight found me in May .  This special friend was prepared to travel internationally too and has gone to great lengths to stay close to me for as long as possible. Funnily enough, this does tend to happen when you consume more than 500 calories over and above your daily requirement for six whole weeks. Gosh, it was fun doing the searching though, with the assistance of pizza, gelato and good Perugian chocolate. Swimsuits and jeans.  Two words that can produce a frisson of fear in many women’s hearts. Purchasing either are two challenging tasks that most females will encounter every summer and winter in retail outlets and with three extra kilo’s on board, these tasks can become quite a test to personal endurance to say the least. Thankfully swimsuits are not a need at the moment but with winter here, jeans just have to be found. Enter the Butt Cam. This week after trying on sixty hundred pairs of jeans that ranged from butt lifters, tummy tuckers, flares, super skinny, super hippy and just super silly, my very attentive sales assistant at JeansWest suggested that I check myself out on the Butt Cam.  What the? I have clearly been out of the jeans loop for a couple of years as this unique innovation has been in store at Jeans West for almost two years. Its hard to say whether her suggestion was a subtle hint that perhaps I really shouldn’t be buying those jeans or she was just trying to be helpful. Either way, I considered ditching everything and running away as fast as I could to escape the dreaded Butt Cam. But just like sitting on the phone waiting to speak to someone from Telstra, time and effort had been invested and there was no backing out now.  Perhaps quite literally. Jeans were purchased despite declining the kind offer of a snapshot of my backside and all efforts to lose my new BFF continues.  To help us out, earlier this year the Australian Government launched the Swap It campaign characterised by the balloon man that we see frequently on our TV screens. They have some great resources and suggestions on how to swap foods and activities for others that will assist with fat and weight loss.  Go and check them out to avoid finding something you don’t really need or want.

breathe in, breathe out

Today I tried a new concept. A truly bizarre concept but new all the same. Apparently there is no need to actually eat food anymore, one can just breathe it in.   My first impression of Le Whif when it arrived in the mail was a cigarette pack full of asthma inhalers.  It scared me.  In reality, the small package contains 3 small cannisters of ‘whiffable’ chocolate. Continue reading “breathe in, breathe out”