Bang for your Buck

Bang for your Buck

We try to explain miracles to our kids when you can just have them plant a garden.

Imagine that miracle, every night. Produce picked straight from your own garden. Organic, seasonal and fresh. Studies show that eating this way (aside from the emotional and spiritual benefits from growing your own food) delivers more nutrients, means tastier produce, is a money saver and limits our exposure to toxic pesticides and chemicals. But, for many of us, this isn’t our reality. So what can we do if we can’t grow our own food or purchase organic all of the time? Below are some purchasing tips and cooking ideas to ensure you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying and eating fruits and vegetables.

Eat seasonal, local produce.

Strawberries for your cheesecake, cabbage for the coleslaw? Sure, the supermarket has them on the shelf whenever you need them,  but was it always this way? With the year round access to fruit and vegetables, the idea of seasonal and locally grown is often lost in translation. Fruits and vegetables are picked weeks or months before they appear on supermarket shelves, sitting in low temperature cold storage to ensure a constant supply all year round. In order to have produce available all year long, food now travels from all around the world. 

It has been found that produce sitting for long periods of time, loses it’s nutritional benefits. Eating foods soon after they are picked will ensure you are getting the maximum nutrients that particular food contains and it tastes extra amazing!  When we pick food, we separate it from it’s nutrient source, so the longer it is separated the less nutrients it delivers. 

Eating seasonally and locally also opens up a whole new conversation we can have with our children about being environmentally responsible citizens. Buying food that doesn’t have to travel as far means we are reducing our environmental impact. Choosing to eat seasonal produce means going without at certain times of the year but also having an abundance at other times.  This abundance also means cheaper prices! Seasonal fruit and vegetables are picked when they are ready and have their full flavours and nutritional qualities in tact. If you can access them from a Farmer’s market you know its local and you are getting something that is almost freshly picked from the tree, full of what nature intended.

Where possible, choose organic. 

Studies show that organic fruit and vegetables have higher levels of antioxidants compared to their conventionally grown counterparts.Goodness has not been destroyed by chemicals, which can be heavily sprayed on conventional produce.

I understand that buying organic 100% of the time won’t always be within everyone’s budget. So what to do? When choosing your produce the following Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list is a great guide to show which fruits and vegetables are more or less contaminated with chemical residue compared to others. This way, you can prioritise accordingly.

Please note, although you often come across USA lists, Australian non-organic farming practices are similar to those in America. Thanks to Menopause Centre Australia for the great image.

Correct storage of your produce matters

Our fruit and vegetables are living organisms and once harvested need to be treated with love and care. Storage time of produce varies with species type, variety and how early the produce has been picked. To ensure you are getting bang for your buck with the produce you do buy, the following storage tips can help.

Vegetables

Keep on the bench: root vegetables, onions, pumpkin, garlic, tomatoes (if not too ripe already)

In the fridge: All greens. Kale, chard, silver beet etc. (keep better when wrapped in cloth), carrots, corn, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, beans, radish, zucchini. Herbs- during summer best in fridge in water

Fruit

Keep on the bench: Bananas, Avocado, Stone fruit (until ripe), citrus fruit, pineapple, watermelon.

So, now that we have purchased and stored our produce correctly, how can we gain optimal goodness that nature has to offer when we cook and serve?

Optimising Goodness

It is true that cooking can destroy nutrients found in our vegetables. But on the flip side, gentle heating can also be beneficial for releasing some nutrients. Heating helps break down the plant fibre, especially in vegetables from the cruciferous family- broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage. Breaking down these hard to digest fibres mean the body is going to be able to absorb the nutrients more easily. Winning!

Certain foods increase their bioavailability of some nutrients through the cooking process. Lycopene found in tomatoes is known to increase when tomatoes are gently heated and betacarotene increases when carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked. To avoid complicating matters, I like to include a mix of easily absorbed raw veggies (think salad veggies- carrot, capsicum, cucumber, beetroot, lettuce) and gently cooked veggies to my daily meals.

When it comes to actual cooking, water soluble vitamins, namely Vitamin C and some minerals are easily lost in cooking, especially when we boil. Studies showed that when broccoli was boiled up to 50% of it’s Vitamin C content was lost. Better ways to prepare are steaming, slow cooking, roasting (especially at lower temperatures for a longer time) and my favourite sautéing. Sautéing is a great way to add some fat to your food and if you add a little broth for liquid, don’t drain it off. You can benefit from all the goodness, even if a little has been lost in the heating process.

Maximising Nutrition

To absorb important fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K from foods they are best paired with a fat which helps dissolve the vitamins and makes them more bioavailable.

Who doesn’t love broccoli with a knob of butter, or a dollop of sour cream on your potato? Adding a drizzle of olive oil onto salads and serving foods with avocado are other ways to ensure you are absorbing these fat soluble vitamins.

The selecting, preparing and cooking of food can be a joyous, mindful and intentional practise. My hope in writing this was to give you a brief guide to maximise the goodness in nature’s gifts. If you feel overwhelmed or still unsure about anything, my food coaching service may be a perfect place to start and I’d love to part of it with you. X

 

What’s for Breakfast?

What’s for Breakfast?

A Royal Breakfast is something I highly prioritise. Starting the day with what resembles a typical dinner (meat, vegetables and fat) has literally changed my life. Pinkfarm coined this kind of breakfast a “Royal Breakfast” because we’ve all heard the saying, “Eat breakfast like a King” or in my case, a Queen. kids breakfast ideas

Almost six years ago, after I had my son, I remember chatting to my personal trainer about shifting some body fat that I hadn’t noticed before having a child. He had often talked to me about what I ate for breakfast and his idea of a meat, vegetables and fat breakfast always used to make my stomach turn. Who would eat that in the morning? I remember being completely stuck in the mid-set that breakfast consisted of some kind of cereal, toast or fruit. My homemade granola was healthy wasn’t it? How could I face meat for breakfast every day? What would I eat every day? How will I have time for this? I remember the excuses clearly.

It’s been six years since I made the switch to a ‘Royal Breakfast’ and I’m so glad I did. My initial change was motivated by wanting to lose body fat that I hadn’t been able to shift after having my son, as well as achieving work out goals that required strength and more protein to help repair muscle. However, these motivations for switching to a meat and fat breakfast were soon overshadowed by how fabulous I was feeling. I felt more balanced in my moods, more focused and alert, wasn’t looking for mid-morning snacks, sugar cravings were non-existent and I had energy for the entire day. This was certainly a game changer.
So, what exactly is a “Royal Breakfast?”

  • It looks like dinner to most people
  • It consists of some kind of protein
  • Includes some form of healthy fats (read more about healthy fats here)
  • Contains a large serving of vegetables
  • Includes fermented vegetables

So after feeling positively fabulous I came across some research to support how I was feeling. This Royal Breakfast had some science behind why I was feeling so good!

Eating protein:

  • Boosts energising neurotransmitters Acetylcholine and Dopamine. Acetylcholine and Dopamine are neurotransmitters responsible for providing us mental clarity, focus and brain function.The neurotransmitter Dopamine is synthesised from Tyrosine found in high protein foods and it is Dopamine that gives us the ability to focus and improves mental clarity and drive. Acetylcholine is also boosted by eating protein and this in turn enhances memory and brain function.
  • Helps the body heal and repair
  • Supplies the body with amino acids which help stabilise blood sugar and reduce carbohydrate cravings
  • Keeps us satiated.

Cooking with and adding healthy fats is an essential part of a Royal Breakfast. Healthy fats:

  • Provides critical nutrients (read more here)
  • Assists in the absorption of essential Vitamins (A,D, E and K) and Minerals from the other foods on the plate (particularly green vegetables)
  • Gives an efficient energy source keeping us going for longer. Fat is like fuelling the fire with a log rather than kindling which is like constantly eating carbohydrates.
  • Keeps us satiated
  • Maintains blood sugar levels throughout the day keeping our moods more balanced
  • Curbs cravings for sweet foods

Aside from the physiological benefits, switching to a Royal Breakfast has been life changing in other ways.

  • Dinner times are easier and are less fuss as the bulk of the nutrition has been provided earlier in the day and the children aren’t as hungry.
  • We can leave the house without needing a packed lunch or loads of snacks.
  • We can relax as we know our kids have started their day with a more complete nutritional profile.
  • School lunches are simpler.
  • Eating as a family is a great way to start the day.
  • We bake less as the kids require less snacks.
  • We aren’t continually looking or thinking about food.

So how do we make this happen?

  • Prioritising breakfast which may involve shifting routines (ie. getting up a little earlier)
  • Meal Planning
  • Cooking specifically for breakfast
  • Having ingredients on hand (meat thawed etc)
  • Cooking ahead of time and having lots of leftovers

If you think switching to a Royal Breakfast may be something you’d like to try, my food coaching service can help you get there.

 

It’s More than just Food

It’s More than just Food

In our every day lives, we can often find that food has become laced with confusion or conflict. Is this good for us? Is it Paleo? Is it gluten free, grain free, sugar free? Will I gain weight? Food seems to have been reduced to being on a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ list. But food really is so much more than this. Isn’t it? Before we try and answer that, let’s explore this idea of eating for health. The longer I have been on a food journey the more I realise that food is so much more than ingredients on our plate.

The term, “we are what we absorb” denotes that no matter what we are eating, ultimately if we aren’t absorbing the nutrients from the food, we’re falling short. I even like to think about this term, “we are what we absorb” in a broader sense and relate this idea of absorption to mind, body and soul. Our health is so much more than the food on our plates. Who we choose to associate with, the conversations we have, the books we read, the media we follow, the way we talk to our self, the way we choose to move, our environment, what we put on our skin and so forth, all have an impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Food is just one piece of the puzzle.

So focusing on the food piece of the puzzle, what has food been reduced to? A good and a bad list? A healthy and not so healthy? How do we decide what to eat? The easiest way I have made these decisions is exactly in line with the way I teach my 6 year old son about food- Does it come from nature? Is it in it’s closest form to nature as possible? If it is, we enjoy it. But, what if it isn’t? What if we have those moments where all the kids are lined up at the Mr Whippy van after an awesome day at the beach? What if Nana lovingly hands my son a scotch finger biscuit? What happens when my son is handed his party bag full of lollies? You know what, when these moments come along, I remember that food is so much more than ingredients. The stress, angst and turmoil I would create if I put on a scene would be more harmful to the situation than the food itself.

More Than Food- The Four Aspects of Food and Nutrition

There are four aspects of food and nutrition: biological, psychological, social and spiritual. Understanding these has helped my perspective on food deepen and grow. It has given me peace around what I eat and what my son is sometimes exposed to and helped me to let go of the control I tried to enforce around food, realising there is a much bigger picture to be understood.

Biological Nutrition

Nutrient rich foods that have the power to nourish and heal. Biological- relating to living organisms; life giving food from nature. I aim to consume and provide such foods for my son on a daily basis. There is growing awareness around the healing properties and power of real food and how important biological nutrition is.

Psychological Nutrition

This relates directly to gut health and how food can influence mood, emotions, behaviour and food choices. Gut health was the driving force behind my food journey. Learning about the intricate network of our micro-biome and it’s connection to our entire bodily functions, in particular, the mind, has been paramount in mine and my family’s overall health.

Social Nutrition

The joy of eating. The love and laughter we share around a meal at the dinner table and how eating like this can lead to nourishment on a far deeper level than eating stressed or on the run or eating in a state where we are worrying about each and every ingredient of the food in front of us.

Spiritual Nutrition

One of wonderment and relating to the mystery of life inherent in both food and human beings. As we know, real food is life- life giving and life containing. As we teach our children, we want to eat food that is from nature. Spiritual nutrition is about acknowledging all parts of nature that food depends on- the sun, earth, soil, water and air. So, can this impact our health the way biological, psychological and social nutrition can? You bet. To derive the health benefits from spiritual nutrition one must be fully present and show gratitude and love each time a meal is enjoyed.

This mindfulness, graciousness and love that we acknowledge that is put into a meal can slow us down and ensure our body is in the “rest and digest” mode. There are two important systems in our body- “fight or flight” also known as the sympathetic nervous system and “rest and digest” our parasympathetic nervous system. When we are in “fight or flight” our body is in an alarmed state and ready for action. Adrenaline and cortisol are up and running through the body and in this state the body is less able to break down and draw nutrients from the food we eat. Ever eaten a meal on the run only to have indigestion or a sore tummy afterwards? The biological opposite to this is our parasympathetic system of nerves. When we are in “rest and digest” we are able to heal and regenerate. The body is able to digest, detox, eliminate and build immunity, just what we need if we are consuming food!

As I have moved along on my food journey and especially with the inspiration from Pinkfarm, I have realised how much spiritual nutrition has played a role in this journey. I realised that I now put more thought, love and intention into my food, whether I am cooking for a dinner party of making a meal just for myself.  This purposeful act shows gratitude for the food we make and serve and slows us down to appreciate the beauty in the food we consume. I have also often laughed about the photos we capture of our food before we eat. Taking these pictures is a way I give thanks for the wonderful food that we are able to provide for our family,  another way of slowing down and being more mindful before digging into the meal.

 

So, it really is more than just food. Nutrition is more than the nutrients of the ingredients on our plates. Our bodies are far more complex than we realise. Our experience of taste, aroma, the love and intention put into the meal, the people around us and the joy of eating all add to the experience of nourishment. To be truly on a food journey we have so much more to consider than just the food itself. If you are feeling like food coaching with this kind of perspective may be something you could benefit from, I’d love to be part of your journey. X