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Spring Tips #7

14/10/2015 11:26 AM

Spring Tip Number 7 - Keep a Food Record

When we are trying to watch our weight or we notice that we have put on a couple of kilos; (which is very easy to do in Winter!) it may pay to keep a food record or diary. 

This is a good way of keeping track of what we actually consume in a day or a week and makes us accountable for it. It is easy to believe that we are being healthy when we eat a healthy breakfast or dinner but often we are snacking on the wrong foods in between or indulging too much at the weekend.

A food disary can simply be a piece of paper that you write on each day or if you are up to the play technology wise then you could try dowloading an app such as 'My Fitness Pal' which is free in the app store.

This app allows you to look for specific foods that you have eaten and calculates the calories for you. You can also add weight loss and fitness goals so it's like a personal trainer in your pocket!

This weeks recipe may sound heavy for the Spring weather but its really not - its a lovely light Spring chicken casserole:

Spring chicken in a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 300g small new potatoes 
  • 425ml low-salt vegetable stock 
  • 350g broccoli cut into small florets
  • 350g spring greens, shredded
  • bunch spring onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp pesto

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan. Add the onion, gently fry for 5 mins until softened, add the chicken, then fry until lightly coloured. Add the potatoes, stock and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then bring to the boil. Cover, then simmer for 30 mins until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked. Can be frozen at this point.
  2. Add the broccoli, spring greens and spring onions, stir well, then return to the boil. Cover, then cook for 5 mins more, stir in the pesto and heat through.
 
 
Enjoy! 
 
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #8

19/10/2015 1:04 PM

Spring Tip #8 - Explore the Outdoors

We are lucky to live in a country that is as beautiful as New Zealand. It is clean and green and there are vast areas just waiting to be explored. 

I know that I am guilty of letting life just pass by and getting too busy to make the most of what New Zealand has to offer. 

With daylight savings now you can even go for a walk in your local park after work. Fresh air and nature do the body and mind a world of good and Spring is the perfect time to explore the outdoors as it is starting to warm up but it is not yet too hot. 

If you really want to see what your part of NZ has to offer, check out online where some hikes and tracks are slightly off the beaten track in your area. You will be surprised at what you might find - hidden waterfalls and secluded picnic spots perhaps?

This weeks recipe is lovely and light, perfect for the warmer Spring weather and if you happen to have leftovers it makes a yummy chicken salad to take to work for lunch.

Parmesan spring chicken

  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 400g new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 140g frozen peas
  • good handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Heat grill to medium and line the grill pan with foil. Beat the egg white in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Tip the parmesan onto another plate. Dip the chicken first in egg white, then the cheese. Grill the coated chicken for 10-12 mins, turning once until browned and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10 mins, adding the peas for the final 3 mins, then drain. Toss the vegetables with the spinach leaves, vinegar, oil and seasoning to taste. Divide between four warm plates, then serve with the chicken.
Enjoy!
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #9

3/11/2015 12:16 PM

Spring Tip #9 - Wear a Pedometer or Fitbit Watch

Apologies for the lack of a post last week, however I do have a good excuse! We welcomed a new baby boy to our family! We are now back at home and all settled so its back to business as usual :)

We all need motivation in some form or other when we are trying to be healthy, particularly when it comes to exercise. While having a freind or family member to help keep you motivated is great, it is not always practical particularly if they don't live nearby and you don't speak to them everyday. 

Another way to get motivated is to wear a pedometer or electronic step counter such as the fitbit. Watching your steps climb as you go through your day until you reach your goal is a great way of staying motivated and pushing yourselves that little bit further.

There are many varieties of these gadgets on the market now and some have apps that you can download on your smart phone, these allow you to link up with your friends who also have them so that you can see how many steps they are taking for a bit of healthy competition!

Hop online to do a bit of research to see if there is one that is right for you. 

This weeks recipe is a little bit of indulgence, a lovely way to end a spring bbq and makes good use of the delicious strawberries that are out at the moment.

Low-fat strawberry mousse

 
  • Place boiling water in a small heatproof jug. Sprinkle over gelatine. Whisk with a fork until gelatine has dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat egg white and sugar until soft peaks form.
  • Place yoghurt in a bowl. Gradually add gelatine mixture, whisking until well combined. Fold egg white mixture through yoghurt mixture until just combined. Spoon mixture into a 6 cup-capacity bowl. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
  • Top mousse with strawberries. Serve. Enjoy!
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #10

11/11/2015 9:11 PM

Spring Tip Number 10 - Phytochemicals

 

You are probably wondering what on earth phytochemicals are and why they would be good for you!

Phyochemicals are components of plant foods that help our health. They are naturally occurring in plants and while they are not required by the human body to survive, they can protect us from diseases. 

Some of the possible actions of phytochemicals are, antioxidants, hormonal actions (reduce symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis), stimulation of enzymes, interference with DNA replication (preventing the multiplication of cancer cells), anti-bacterial effects, and physical action (reduce the risk of urinary tract infections)

So, how do we get these phytochemicals? Well they are actually in most foods except for some refined foods. But the best way to get them is by eating a variety of fruit and vegetables each day, especially those brightly coloured ones. 

This weeks recipe is a great way of getting plenty of phytochemicals through a wide range of colourful vegetables

Rainbow Salad

  • 50g crispy noodles
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, cut thin ribbons from carrots and cucumbers. Place in a large bowl. Add cabbage, onion, salad leaves and noodles. Toss to combine.

  2. Whisk rice bran oil, sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and grated ginger together in a small bowl. Add to carrot mixture. Toss gently to combine. Serve. Enjoy!
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #11

17/11/2015 7:36 PM

Spring Tips Number 11 - Consider your portion sizes

Often we actually eat far more than what our bodies need and it doesn't help when our brains take time to catch up with our stomachs telling us we have had enough. Usually by the time this happens, we have over eaten!

Another thing that doesn't help is eating in front of the television as it distracts us. I also find that dishing up meals on the bench and then eating at the table also helps as we don't tend to mindlessly pick at dishes sitting in front of us when we have finished what is on our plates. 

Portion sizes that we should consider are:

- A serving of pasta is about the size of a fist

- A serving size of meat is about the size of your palm

- A domino is about the size of a portion of cheese. 

- Vegetables should take up about half of your plate (this doesn't include potatoes!)

This weeks recipe is a quick and easy one that is perfect for the warmer weather:

Spicy chicken couscous

  • 250g couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 large sliced skinless boneless chicken breast fillets
  • 85g blanched almonds
  • 1 tbsp hot curry paste
  • 100g halved ready-to-eat apricots
  • 20g pack 1oz fresh coriander
  1. Prepare couscous with chicken stock, according to the packet instructions. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook the onion for 2-3 mins until softened. 
  2. Toss in chicken breast fillets and stir fry for 5-6 mins until tender. Add the blanched almonds and, when golden, stir in the hot curry paste and cook for 1 min more. 
  3. Add the couscous along with the apricots and the coriander. Toss until hot then serve with plain yoghurt if you like.
Enjoy!
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Spring Tips #12

26/11/2015 9:23 AM

Spring Tip Number 12 - How to get children to eat their veges...

This one also applies to those of us who find it hard to eat half a plate of vegetables at dinner time or you just need some ideas to increase your own vegetable intake. 

Grow your own vegetables - Vegetables are sure to taste better and be free from any harmful sprays or substances. Getting children involved with this will help them to be interested and more inclined to want to eat them when they hit the dinner table!

Be a role model - Children are more inclined to eat and enjoy vegetables if the adults of the family set a good example by making vegetables a part of every dinner. 

Include vegetables in dishes such as spaghetti bolognese, it is easy to grate in some carrot, zuchini and pumpkin and no one will be any the wiser.

Once children are old enough, it is a great idea to get them involved in the meal prep and cooking process. They are ging to be more likely to appreciate food that they have put time and effort into. 

Good Luck!

This weeks recipe is one packed full of vegetables but is really tasty and can be a side dish, a main meal (just add some chicken or other protein) or a lunch meal

Warm roasted vegetable salad

  • 500g sweet potato, peeled, cut into 4cm pieces

Dressing


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Place potato, sweet potato, garlic and oil in a bowl. Toss well to combine. Place mixture, in a single layer, onto a large oven tray. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.

  2. Turn potato and sweet potato. Add capsicum and red onion tray. Roast for 15  minutes then add pinenuts to vegetables to roast for a further 5 minutes or until vegetables are browned and tender. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

  3. Meanwhile make dressing. Place lemon juice, oil, mustard and oregano in a screw-top jar. Secure lid. Shake well to combine.

  4. Place rocket, pine nuts and vegetables in a large bowl. Pour over dressing. Toss gently to combine. Serve. Enjoy!

 
 

 

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Christmas Season Tip Number 1

30/11/2015 1:19 PM

Christmas Season Tip #1 - Eating Sensibly at parties

Well tomorrow not only marks the start of Summer but also the Christmas Season. The year has flown by, but this is always my favourite time of year!

You may find that the next few weeks before Christmas are filled up with Christmas parties and end of year functions where it is easy to over indulge on all your seasonal favourites, so I have put together a small list of tips to help you to stay on track.

1. Eat a snack before going to a party so hunger won't rule your food choices. For example, have a yoghurt, a piece of fruit or even a trim milk coffee.

2. Indulge moderately - what's the point in going to the parties if you are going to depreive yourself completey? Just take small portions and eat slowly.

3. Avoid guilty pleasures that you can have anytime such as chips or chocolate. Instead go for your seasonal favourites such as fruit mince pies or fruit cake.

4. Stand away from the buffet table to avoid mindless eating.

This weeks recipe is one that is healthy and yummy and is perfect to serve at your Christmas party if you are hosting one, or tak it along to one where a plate is requested.

Beetroot and yoghurt dip with pita crisps


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Spray 1 side of each pita bread with oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Season with pepper. Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place, in a single layer, on 2 baking trays. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  2. Meanwhile, process beetroot, onion, sultanas and vinegar until almost smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add yoghurt. Stir to combine. Serve with pita crisps. Enjoy!

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Christmas Season Tip Number 2

7/12/2015 8:35 PM

Christmas Tip #2 - Cut the gift list

Christmas time can be a daunting and sometimes stressful time when you copious amounts of gifts to buy for family and friends. It's hard to think of what to get people, it's tough on the wallet and the shops can be a real nightmare!

For friends why not get together for a nice meal before Christmas - go somewhere a bit special to mark the occasion.

For families try limiting gifts to children only or do an adult secret santa. Put each name into a bucket and each person draws out one person and they get a gift with a limit of $100 (or whatever limit you like). This is what we do in our family and it works well as we each get a nice gift to open without the huge expense of buying for everybody. 

I hope this helps you to save time and money over the Christmas Season!

This weeks recipe is a nice light summery meal

Parmesan Chicken

  •  1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 400g new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 140g frozen peas
  • good handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Heat grill to medium and line the grill pan with foil. Beat the egg white on a plate with a little salt and pepper. Tip the parmesan onto another plate. Dip the chicken first in egg white, then the cheese. Grill the coated chicken for 10-12 mins, turning once until browned and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10 mins, adding the peas for the final 3 mins, then drain. Toss the vegetables with the spinach leaves, vinegar, oil and seasoning to taste. Divide between four warm plates, then serve with the chicken. Enjoy!
Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Christmas Season Tip Number 3

15/12/2015 9:56 PM

Christmas Season Tip #3 - Take time out

Christmas is a very busy time of year with an increase in social engagements, pressure of wrapping up work before the end of the year, and shopping at the busy malls!

As it is a busy time of year, make sure you take time out for yourself in order to avoid burning out and ruining your break by getting sick. This is a good time to take some vitamins and supplements and increasing your water intake. 

Don't feel like you have to accept every party invite either - listen to what your body is telling you and if you are tired, have a night off the social scene and get an early night. Or, go to the party for a short time only and still get an early night!

This weeks recipe is a great one for entertaining at home

Spinach cob loaf


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Cut 4cm off top of cob loaf to form lid. Scoop bread from centre of loaf, leaving 1.5cm edge. Tear or roughly chop bread pieces.

  3. Squeeze out any excess moisture from spinach, discarding any liquid. Combine spinach, onion, mayonnaise, sour cream and soup mix in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Spoon mixture into loaf. Top with lid. Cover with foil. Place on prepared tray. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Arrange bread pieces in a single layer around loaf. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until bread pieces are lightly toasted.

  5. Serve with extra crackers and cut vegetables if desired. Enjoy!

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

Summer Tips

2/02/2016 2:42 PM

Stay Cool and Hydrated

We are back!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and are now making the most of this lovely warm weather that we are having. 

This weeks tip is to remember to stay cool and hydrated. 

I don't know about you, but I have certainly found it too hot to even be outside at times due to the hot weather that we have been having. The peak times to avoid being outside is between 11am and 2pm and I know that this is when most people are out and about particularly on the weekends. If you are out and about during these times, make sure you stay in the shade as much as possible, lather on the sunscreen, wear a hat and a lightweight long sleeve shirt. 

It is also very important to stay hydrated in the hot weather. Fill up a plastic drink bottle and drink and re-fill it a couple of times a day. Keep it in the fridge to make it extra refreshing. If you get sick of the taste of water - try adding sliced fruit or vegetables such as oranges, lemons, limes or cucumber.

This weeks recipe is a super simple and light pasta dish

Summer salmon pasta

  • 350g penne pasta
  • 2 Salmon steaks, about 175g/6oz each
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • handful basil leaves
  1. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, adding the salmon to the water 6 mins before the end of the cooking time.

  2. Heat the oil in a pan, then cook the pine nuts until toasted. Add the pepper and fry until softened. Tip in the mushrooms and stir until they start to soften, then add a ladleful of the pasta water.

  3. When the pasta is cooked, remove the salmon to a plate, then drain the pasta. Fork the salmon into flakes and add to the vegetables along with the pasta and the basil leaves. Season with pepper and lightly toss together before serving.

    Enjoy!

Posted in Health & Nutrition By Lisa McAfee

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