Friday, July 29, 2011

MasterChef Moussaka gets a Makeover

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

Here is a guest post that I wrote on Emma Stirling's Scoop Nutrition website. Emma is another dietitian who has a great website - check it out!

Would love to hear your thoughts on MasterChef - has it changed your cooking at home? How is your plating up going?!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healthy option for 'Bring a Plate'

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

My family and I still have a good giggle about our experience with the Aussie tradition of 'bringing a plate'. I was born in England and we emigrated to Australia in the early 1980's when I was six.  We had only been in Australia a short time when my very English parents were invited to a social gathering and told to 'bring a plate'.  Thinking it was a little strange but not wanting to offend, my Mum dutifully took along 'an empty plate'.  You can just imagine her horror when we got there and she realised she was supposed to have actually put something on the plate!  Needless to say, we didn't get it wrong again!

With this in mind, I thought I would share with you my latest 'bring a plate'.  There are loads of healthy options that you can try but if you are short on time, a quick fruit platter using some gourmet or unusual fruit is a good option.  And because I took this platter to our friends place, we all had a mix of some chocolate and some fruit.  I added some persimmon and a new variety of orange called 'ruby rose' to the platter, which most of the people there hadn't tried before.  It made for a great discussion!


If you are trying to eat healthier or lose weight, you'll know how hard it can be when there are loads of 'high fat, energy dense' foods at social functions.  Not to say that you shouldn't have any of these foods but you don't want to fill up just on them.  By bringing a 'healthy plate' at least you will know that you can mix it up a bit.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Main Meal Portion Size for Adults

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

Our new website is going really well and one of the most popular programs is our 'Waist Away' weight loss program.  Dinner portion size comes up a lot as part of the program and a common question that both Kate and I get asked is 'how much should I be eating for dinner?'

To give an accurate answer to this question, we need to know what the person is eating for the rest of the day - hence why we ask people to complete a food frequency questionnaire and 3 day food diary as part of the program.  This gives us an idea of how many kilojoules they are having on average and whether they are meeting their required 'Do You Eat' serves of each of our food groups.

We can however give a general 'rule of thumb' for those of you not necessarily looking to lose weight.

Most dietitians will tell you as a general rule that 1/4 of your plate should be your protein (e.g. meat/chicken/fish), 1/4 of your plate should be your higher carbohydrate food (e.g. pasta, rice, potato, sweet potato, sweet corn) and 1/2 your plate should be 'light' vegetables.

I was sitting down to dinner the other night and we had a very simple 'meat and veg' dish and I thought it was an ideal 'photo opportunity' to show what a correctly proportioned dinner should look like.

In this meal, I had 90g of meat, 1 medium potato and 1 1/2 cups of cooked 'light' vegetables.  90g of meat is at the lower end of the recommended 'serve' of 90 - 120g.

I have to say that in my 14 years of practising as a dietitian, I have rarely had someone who eats enough vegetables (maybe with the vegetarians as an exception!) So if you take anything away from this post, it is to make sure you have a nice big serve of vegetables with your main meal!

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's all about the story

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I have been making a batch of soup most weeks over the winter months. Great way to get extra vegetables into everyone and they offer such a nice warmth on these cold, wet days.  My 4yo has never really taken to soups. No idea why. Anyway, as I was reading my latest issue of Delicious magazine there was an article about fairytales offering inspiration to junior cooks. I loved it – they had a soup called “Cinderella pumpkin-carriage soup” and I thought this might be just what I needed to encourage my daughter to try some of the pumpkin soup that I had made. So I showed my daughter the soup in the magazine, reminded her about Cinderella and the pumpkin. Actually who am I kidding – my daughter told me the story word for word – she loves the princess stories. And that was it – she has now been asking for “Cinderella pumpkin-carriage soup” most days...

The moral of the story? If you have been trying to encourage your children to eat something – it might be worth relating it to one of their favourite characters or stories.  A few other suggestions from Delicious magazine are:
·         Little Red Riding Hood big bad wolf burger
·         Three little pigs ham and cheese toastie (add some avocado, tomato and grated carrot to beef up the vegies)
·         Jack and the Beanstalk magic bean stew
·         Goldilocks and the three bears porridge (I am so not going to recommend the recipe in the magazine as it has 300ml of cream! But of course you can make up porridge with milk or water)

My daughter has also taken a renewed liking to eating whole apples as Sportacus on Lazy Town does with his ‘sports candy’(ABC TV show... gotta love that name for a kids show).

I would love to know if you have any success stories on getting your kids to eat healthy food!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Written by Kate Bullen, APD

A couple of weeks ago at my daughters school, each child was asked to bring in a fruit that they chose and that they hadn’t eaten before. My daughter chose a pomegranate.  I haven’t eaten a pomegranate in years. Many years! So after sending my daughter off to school with her $4 pomegranate we bought 2 pomegranates for $4 on the weekend. Bargain!!
We all shared half a pomegranate as an afternoon snack – which kept my 4yo daughter occupied for a good 40 minutes!

So, from a nutritional perspective, what is in a pomegranate?  They are a great source of vitamin C and fibre, and contain some iron.

How do you eat a pomegranate? Good question! We cut the pomegranate in half, then squeezed some of the seeds out and any that were remaining we scooped out.  You can suck the juice off each seed – or you can eat the seeds as well – I did! My daughter sat there sucking the juice off the seeds as her fun afternoon activity.

Now here is another bit of interesting information about the pomegranate – the juice is used to make grenadine – you know that red stuff that is used in many a cocktail? I have learnt something new today!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sausage & Egg Fried Rice

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I often have other Mums ask me if sausages are an ok meat meal.  Standard sausages - nah uh. Skip them. They have so little real meat in them, and are typically high in saturated fat and sodium. Two things that our kids don't need. My kids are like most others and do like eating sausages - so every now and then I grab a packet of chevups - probably the best choice when it comes to sausages. Chevups are still higher in fat than a skinless chicken breast, but they are ok as a bit of a change!

I decided to use the chevups instead of bacon in a fried rice. So here is the recipe!

6 chevup sausages
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 cup cauliflower, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup broccoli, diced
1 brown onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
3 cups pre-cooked rice. Keep in fridge overnight to dry it out.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

1. Cook chevups in frypan, then set aside and slice up.
2. Place onions, garlic and ginger into wok and cook until onion is softened (around 5 min).
3. Place zucchini, broccoli, carrot, broccoli and mushrooms into a steamer to soften for 5 min. You could use a microwave if you prefer. Or if you are happy with more crunchy vegies then just wack it all into the wok! My husband prefers less crunchy veg - hence the steamer!
4. Add all steamed vegetables along with corn and peas into onion mix. Mix until all vegetables are heated through.
5. Add rice into wok. Heat rice, then make a well in the middle for the egg and then mix all the egg through the rice mix.
6. Finally add the soy sauces and plate up.
7. Drizzle a little more kecap manis and some parsley or other fresh herbs over the fried rice and enjoy!

This recipe has 11 serves of vegetables - brilliant! You can of course change the vegetables - I just used what I had in the fridge. You might like to use capsicum, or cabbage, or spring onions. The whole family enjoyed this meal.

I chopped all the vegetables early in the day. This dish was then on the table in 15 minutes - gotta love that.  When was the last time you enjoyed a healthy and delicious home made fried rice?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pregnancy and Snacking

Written Kate Bullen, APD

One of our lovely readers sent me an email recently saying she is pregnant with her second child (congratulations!) and asked for some snack suggestions to get her through the day. Great topic to write a blog about! 
I am sure everyone has heard the term ‘eating for two’ when pregnant. Well nothing could be further from the truth! In fact there is only a small increase in the amount of food that you need – but there is a considerable increase in certain nutrients – such as calcium, iron, folate, iodine that you body requires during pregnancy.  So it is important that you choose foods that provide all the stuff your body needs.

Here are a few quick snack suggestions that spring to mind for pregnancy:

·         Fresh fruit, tinned fruit

·         Couple slices wholegrain toast spread with vegemite or peanut paste.

·         200g tub reduce fat yoghurt

·         Home made trail mix – add a handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruit and mix it with some pop corn to bulk it up. Great one to have in your bag for when you feel hungry

·         Vegetable sticks with a dip eg: hommus or salsa

·         Fruit toast

·         Wholemeal English muffins or crumpets with your choice of spread (vegemite, peanut paste)

·         Some breakfast cereal – might seem crazy but a wholesome breakfast cereal can make a great snack. You can even have the breakfast cereal dry – scrape some margarine and vegemite on top of a weetbix – instant snack!

·         Some plain cooked pasta with some chopped avocado, tomato, baby spinach or vegetables of your choice

·         Half a toasted sandwich – just use 1 slice of bread, cut in half and spread with avocado, cheese and tomato or your favourite filling then put in your toasted sandwich maker.

·         Frozen berries mixed with some natural yoghurt. Make the night before and leave in the fridge and the berries will defrost.

·         Crackers with cheese and tomato

·         Some homemade soup

Does anyone have any other good pregnancy snacks to suggest?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you a slow eater or a fast eater?

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

I have a friend - hmmm let's call her 'Veronica'!  She's just started seeing this new guy called Ryan.  Now Ryan is well within his healthy weight range, while Veronica has struggled with her weight for many years.  They are both in their sixties, so have lifetime habits well and truly entrenched.  They were around at our place for dinner the other night and it came up in conversation how quickly Veronica feels that she eats compared with Ryan and that she is starting to feel self conscious about it.  Of course it now has become a bit of a joke between them but it did raise an interesting point about speed of eating and the relationship to health and weight.

Slowing down eating speed is generally talked about under the area of 'Mindful Eating', that I have blogged about before.  Two important things happen when you eat too quickly:

  1. You miss the opportunity to recognise fullness, hence you eat more than you need.  It takes around 15 - 20 minutes for the body to respond and give you the 'full' feeling in your stomach.  'Fast eaters' can polish off their meal in around 5 - 10 minutes and can even have gone for seconds before the fullness kicks in.
  2. You miss the 'experience of eating', particularly if you eat something you love really quickly.  You ate the food originally not for hunger but for the 'experience' and because you ate it too quickly you don't feel satisfied that you've had that experience and you go and eat more.  You then eat that quickly too and so the cycle continues and you are left wondering 'what happened to the family block of chocolate?' 
Both of these factors in combination could increase your chances of gaining weight or at the very least feeling bloated and uncomfortable!

In our household, my husband and I eat very quickly and often get frustrated at how long it takes the 3 year old to eat her dinner.  Maybe we should be pacing ourselves with her!  I have been making a conscious effort lately to put my fork down between mouthfuls and be more mindful with my eating.

So here's a challenge for our readers - how long does it take you to eat your meal?  Who's the quickest eater in your family? Do any of you 'slow eaters' out there have any tips for us 'fast eaters' and I'll pass them on to 'Veronica'!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Recipe - Lamb hotpot

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

The latest copy of Delicious magazine arrived in my letterbox last week and as I enjoyed a quick 20 min to flick through I spotted this perfect winter hotpot recipe by Ben O’Donoghue. I have altered Ben’s recipe to include some more vegies and use a healthier cut of meat. But the full flavour is still there. The beautiful aroma of this cooking on a chilly Saturday afternoon was mouthwatering! We really enjoyed this for dinner.

Lamb Hotpot
Serve 4

½ cup plain flour (can use gluten free)
1kg diced lamb, trimmed
100ml olive oil
1 zucchini, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 large potato, peeled and sliced into 1 cm rounds
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 1 cm rounds
40g margarine, melted
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
300ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon or lime

1.       Preheat oven to 180C.
2.       Combine the flour with some pepper in a plastic bag. Add the lamb and shake to evenly coat.
3.       Heat half the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour off the lamb, then cook, in batches, for 2-3 minutes each side until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
4.       Wipe the pan clean with paper towel and place over medium heat.
5.       Add the remaining 50ml oil and cook the onions, stirring for 10-12 minutes. You might need to add a few tablespoons of water to the frypan to cook the onions nice and evenly. No need to add any extra oil! Add garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes or until brown.
6.       Place lamb in a flameproof casserole, then top with zucchini and celery, then onion mixture and bay leaves.
7.       Toss the sliced potato and sweet potato with the melted margarine and thyme, and season with pepper. Arrange potatoes over the top of the onions in a circular pattern, overlapping slightly.
8.       Pour the stock over the potatoes, then cover the casserole dish with the lid. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 130C and cook for a further 2 ½ hours or until potatoes and meat are tender and the sauce has thickened.
9.       Remove the lid, then switch oven to grill function. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top of potatoes and grill on high heat for 3 minutes (no longer or they burn!). Rest while you make the gremolata.
10.   For the gremolata, place the parsley, garlic and lemon zest together in a bowl, then stir to combine.
11.   Serve hotpot with some rice, or pasta and some steamed broccoli and cauliflower or vegetables of your choice.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Drinks - what are they doing to your diet?

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I wanted to share an interesting research article that I have just read.  The research was assessing how liquid foods (ie: drinks) impact on appetite and kilojoule intake compared to solid food. The study compared 3 different types of liquid and solid food:
·         Cheese & milk (high protein food)
·         Watermelon & watermelon juice (high carbohydrate food)
·         Coconut meat & coconut milk (high fat food).

Participants involved in the study came along to lunch at the study HQ for 3 days. On the first day they were given chicken sandwiches and water, the second and third days they were offered the solid food (eg: cheese) and then sandwiches, or the liquid food (eg: milk) and then sandwiches. Participants also recorded what they ate for the remainder of the day.

The results showed that when participants where offered the liquid food (eg: milk or watermelon juice or coconut milk) their daily kilojoule intake was much higher than when they ate the solid food (eg: cheese, watermelon or coconut meat). This means if you are worried about your weight then you should have a look at what drinks you are consuming!

The other interesting point to note from this research is that the participants rated whether they enjoyed the liquid or solid food more – they all found the solid food to be more palatable or enjoyable – yet they still consumed more kilojoules from the liquids. I find this interesting! I would have thought that if people liked the cheese more than the milk that they would have consumed more cheese and less milk. But not so!

What does this tell us? Well, drinks and liquids are quite easy to over-consume. Possibly because a drink just doesn’t satisfy our hunger quite as much as a solid piece of food that requires chewing. Drinks are easier to consume (or guzzle!). Drinks are digested at a much quicker rate than a solid food, which means that the kilojoules in a drink are absorbed by a our body at a much faster rate than a solid food – meaning that we don’t feel full for as long and are more likely to eat more food later in the day.

Sophie and I have written before about some common drinks such as takeaway coffees and Boost juices.  Portion sizes are another thing to consider with drinks. Yesterday as I got myself a takeaway hot chocolate I was simply gobsmacked by the 4 sizes of hot drinks that I could choose from. The biggest size was simply enormous – yet price was strangely not much more than the smallest takeaway cup. Easy to get sucked in to that one. Surely I would have been ripping myself off by just choosing the small size??? Hang on – the only thing I would be ripping off is my health. I don’t think anyone needs what looked like a 800ml takeaway drink. 

My suggestion? Watch your drinks - they could be adding a heap of hidden kilojoules to your diet. If there is a solid food to consume instead of the liquid – then I would be going for the solid food!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is salt now safe to eat?

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

A quick blog today to comment on some new salt research published by the Cochrane Collaboration.  It may get some media attention so I thought I'd give our readers a balanced response.

The Cochrane Collaboration Reviews are very credible reviews, therefore when one comes out - health professionals take notice.  The researchers bring together the data from lots of separate studies focusing on one aspect (in this case salt intake), to see if by having more data pooled together, they can find out anything new.

At first glance, this Cochrane Review on dietary salt intake appears to be saying that reducing your salt does nothing to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease) and in fact having less salt could potentially increase your chances of dying if you have heart failure.  When you actually read the whole research article however the headline is a little less interesting!

What they found is that reducing dietary salt intake DID have a positive effect on health BUT the 6500 people that they included in their review didn't have enough cardiac events to say with absolute certainty that reducing dietary salt intake would reduce their risk of heart disease.  Many of the studies only followed people up for between 6 to 36 months so it is not known what happened to the participants in the longer term.  It is also important to note that in most of the trials they include in their review, participants knew if they were on a reduced salt or regular salt diet and those on the regular salt diet may well have made other lifestyle changes that were not controlled for.  What the review really tells us is that 'more research is required' (boring I know!) and certainly if someone is counting every gram of sodium they are having, they'd be better spending their energy focusing on another area of their diet.

Having said all that, in my practice I tend not to get too pedantic about salt intake anyway.  My advice (unless you have sever hypertension, heart disease or have had a stroke) is really just to avoid adding extra salt to your food on the table and in cooking.  If you are looking at two products and they are both the same in regards to fat, saturated and kilojoules, then I would pick the one that was lower in sodium (salt).  Conversely, I wouldn't be picking a product that is lower in sodium than another but is higher in fat, particularly saturated fat.  I also find in practice that helping someone to lose weight and eat healthier in general does loads more for their blood pressure than just focusing on salt...but that's a whole other blog!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipe: Yellow Pork and Vegetable Curry

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

My hubby and I love our thai curries and BC (before children) I would regularly cook up a green or red curry.  The hot spice of the red and green curries doesn't go down too well with the children though.  To save cooking two different meals, I now use a yellow curry paste more regularly instead.

This 'Yellow Pork and Vegetable Curry' is from the 'CSIRO wellbeing plan for kids cookbook', but really any of your own thai curries can be adapted by using a yellow curry paste instead of a red or green one.

Oh and apologies for the photo, I took it rather quickly because my kids were whinging at me for their dinner!
2 teaspoons canola oil
500 g pork fillet, cut into 1 cm slices
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1 small red onion, halved and cut into thin slices
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 cup light coconut milk (or coconut flavoured evaporated milk).
200 g green beans, trimmed and halved
1 red capsicum, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
200g snow peas, trimmed and halved
2 cups of cooked basmati rice
Coriander leaves and cucumber slices to garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat until smoking, then add the pork and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden.  Add the curry paste and onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  2. Mix the cornflour, coconut milk and 1/3 cup water until smooth ad add to the pan.  Bring to the boil and cook for 3 min or until slightly thickened.  Add the beans, capsicum and snow peas and cook for 2 minutes until the snowpeas are bright green and the pork is cooked through.
  3. Divide cooked rice and curry among serving bowls.  Garnish with coriander leaves and cucumber slices, if desired.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fussy Eating - Offspring Magazine

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

If you are a parent of young children, live in Western Australia, and you haven't checked out Offspring Magazine - then you should! Offspring Magazine is a full colour glossy family lifestyle magazine. The magazine is filled with easy to read articles that are very easy to relate to. It comes out each quarter - and guess what - it is FREE!!  You can also subscribe to have the magazine delivered to your front door. I have taken this option because it means I dont miss out on the magazine as they do move quickly!  For the very reasonable price of $25 you can subscribe annually - this really just covers P&H.

The latest Winter edition has an article in it that I wrote - so I thought I would share it here today. I wrote about fussy eating and children, as this is probably the most common childhood issue that I come across. So have a read! And don't forget to have a look at Offspring Magazine - you won't regret it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bananas - how expensive are they?

Written by Kate Bullen, APD
I love banana’s – they are great snack for everyone. Unfortunately they haven’t featured as  often in our house lately due to cost – we still have about 6 each week but they are limited. One of my friends was sharing with me that she also still buys bananas because they are a healthy snack (very true!) but her husband gets concerned at the price of them. So I thought I would do a bit of a reality check. At the moment bananas seem to be varying in price from $13/kg up to $18/kg. I think everyone wishes they would return to the good old days of $3.99/kg and let’s hope that will happen by summer. But in the meantime, here are a few facts to consider:

Price per item
Price per kg
Banana (ave small banana 130g)
Snickers bar
Cadbury 200g block chocolate
Nestle Milky Bar snack pack (11 pack)
Kellogg’s Muesli Bar packet (6 pack)
Uncle Toby’s Le Snack (12 pack)

Since the introduction of pricing by weight on the supermarket shelves (ie: price per 100g that is written nice and small on every shelf price) it does make it easier to work out the per kilogram price. Obviously with things like fruit and vegetables the price per kilogram is quite ingrained in our minds – and when things like banana’s skyrocket in price we avoid them.
The table above shows that per kilogram bananas are still the cheapest. Just some food for thought next time you are doing your shopping!

Are you still including banana’s in your weekly shopping?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe - Orange & maple salmon

Written by Kate Bullen, APD
We haven’t had a salmon meal for a while, so I dug out this old favourite. I love salmon but really can’t cope with the smell of cooking it inside in a frypan. I think it is more the after smell that seems to hang around. So this oven baked recipe is perfect. I can’t even remember where I got this recipe from – it is just a magazine cut out that sits in my recipe folder. But it is always tasty. I have adapted the recipe slightly (surprise, surprise!), as the original recipe asked for orange juice. But I just peel a whole orange – or 2 – and wack it in my food processor. No point on missing out on fibre I say! And the other benefit of this meal - it can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Serves 2
2 oranges, peeled, cut into eight pieces
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/3 (80ml) cup maple syrup
2 x 180g salmon fillets, without skin
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 bok choy, cleaned and bottom removed
½ broccoli cut into large florets

1.       Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2.       Place orange, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds until orange becomes blended.
3.       Place orange mixture with maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes or until slightly reduced.
4.       Place salmon on prepared tray. Reserve half the orange mixture. Use remaining to brush over salmon fillets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked to your liking, brushing salmon with reserved glaze halfway through cooking. Don’t forget to keep some glaze for plating up!
5.       Meanwhile, place vegetables into a s teamer and steam for 6 minutes. Season with pepper.
6.       To serve, place vegetables on base of plate and place a salmon fillet on top. Drizzle salmon fillets with any remaining glaze.

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