Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Written by Kate Bullen, APD

My husband surprised me with a few gourmet varieties of mushrooms as part of the weekly fruit and veg shop that he does – oyster and non-shimeji (which I think are also called enokitake) and some standard mushrooms. I also bought some swiss brown mushrooms to add to my collection and made a most delicious mushroom risotto.  

Mushrooms are part of the fungi family and there are many varieties that can be purchased. I don’t usually purchase much apart from the standard cup mushrooms but I should re-think this strategy because my 5yo daughter happily picked away at the raw oyster mushrooms while I was getting dinner ready. Gold star!

So what is in mushrooms? Well not much to be perfectly honest! They have a small amount of dietary fibre and a small amount of protein, and some riboflavin. So they are a great addition to many meals because they add a great ‘meaty’ flavour without any heavy kilojoules.

Mushrooms typically don’t last long after purchase so best to buy when you need them. I don’t peel my cup mushrooms – just give them a wipe over with a paper towel and chop off the wooden stem. I only wash them if they are particularly dirty as I remember being told that does something to them??!! Feel free to help me out on this one!

I am a bit of a purist and just love my mushrooms sautéed. No oil/butter needed – just add a couple of tablespoons of water and maybe a dash of soy sauce to a small pan over medium heat and let them wilt for a few minutes. Add some fresh herbs and garlic and they are done! Fab on toast for breaky. Or of course mushrooms are pretty good in a mushrooms risotto... yum!

What is your favourite mushroom dish?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Product Review - Gluten Free Tortillas

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

Every now and then I grab a pack of these gluten free corn tortillas. These ones are Woolworths brand and you can find them in the aisle near the Mexican salsa and the coconut milk – not near the bread.

Nutritionally they are pretty much just corn and water, plus a few preservatives or otherwise they would be mouldy in no time. They are low in fat (2.8%) with the majority of energy coming from carbohydrates – no surprises there since they are made from corn! And they have a low glycemic index.

If you are making tortillas then I just sprinkle some water over each tortilla and then wrap 2-3 of them separately in a clean tea towel and then put in the microwave for 30-40 seconds, or until softened. Then I eat them immediately with some grilled chicken and heaps of salad and coriander.

For me these are great as they are gluten free, but if we are having tortillas then everyone in my family eats them. I had a few left over in the pack so I used them for a toasted sandwich which I have to say was very tasty, quick and easy. So if you are looking for an easy meal then this could be for you!

I heated up my toasted sandwich maker, grabbed 2 tortillas, some avocado, grated carrot, chopped tomato, leftover sautéed mushrooms, some grated cheese and then some coriander. Put all the filling on top of one of the tortillas, then placed another tortilla on top and placed it in the toasted sandwich maker for 3-4 minutes. Then I put some ricotta, spring onions and some more coriander on top. I thoroughly recommend it! And a great alternative to traditional toasted sandwiches.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can you be fit, healthy and fat?

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

Sophie and I went along to an obesity seminar on the weekend organised by the Dietitians Association. Always a good opportunity to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in awhile, and also to be presented with new research. I thought I would write up about a few of the presentations that I found most interesting to give you, our readers, the most up to date information as well.

An experienced exercise physiologist presented on the topic of ‘can you be fit, healthy and fat?’ with the simple answer being yes you can! The presenter told us about occasions where he has been out running (he was a pretty lean chap) and obviously overweight people have raced past him…But of course it isn’t quite that simple… As our weight increases, so too does our risk of conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and osteoarthritis. But – if you are overweight and can increase your fitness level, then your risk of getting these conditions is reduced.

One key point from the presentation that I would like to mention is that exercise does not play a huge role in weight loss. Nup – weight loss is more about what you eat. Exercise of course is still important – and probably more important for maintaining weight loss, but if you are trying to lose weight then that is where the skills of a dietitian come in handy! In fact some of the data presented showed that to lose 0.5kg of weight a week you would need to be exercising for 300-400 minutes a week (or 42-57 minutes each day!!). Now that is a lot of time. And this is why contestants on The Biggest Loser can achieve such huge weight loss – they spend hours each and every day exercising. And their diet is quite restricted. For the rest of us it is quite unrealistic to achieve this level of activity EVERY day. So if you are someone who has been trying to lose weight, and have increased your activity, then it might be time to look at what you are eating!

From a health perspective we often worry about abdominal fat, or the fat that is sitting around your waist as this is what is most likely to increase your risk of illness and disease. This is why waist circumference, together with total body weight, can be a useful indicator. If you have been eating well and exercising, but your body weight doesn’t seem to be changing – you might want to check your waist circumference. If you can drop a few centimetres from your waist then you will be improving your health.

If you are someone who isn’t exercising regularly at the moment the presentation pointed out that any increase in activity can be helpful and it is all taking you in the right direction. Even 5 minutes of activity for someone who hasn’t been active is a step in the right direction.

If you are wondering what the current recommendations for physical activity are, the presenter used the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations which state:

‘to promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years need moderate-intensity physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on 5 days each week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes on 3 days a week.’

And every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance a minimum of 2 days each week.

So what does this mean? Well if you like walking, then that is great – put your walking shoes on and get out for a brisk walk for a minimum of 30 minutes at least 5 days of the week. Or if higher intensity if more your style, then getting out for a run (or similar) for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week is what you need to aim for.

And don’t forget about strength training. Combining strength training and aerobic activity can seem a bit hard – I use a circuit class once a week to combine both of these and I get my fit ball out at home for some added strength training.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on exercise so this is all information that was presented. For me it was a good reminder and has invigorated me to increase my activity levels. I came home from the seminar on Saturday and my daughter got on her bike for a ride and I ran along with her.

How are everyone else’s activity levels going?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Product Review: Healtheries Kidscare 'Potato Stix'

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

If you are a parent and have a life anything like mine, sometimes just getting out the door with children is a small miracle in itself!   Then, when you do get them out they spend the whole time asking you for food.  So as parents we all lug around a bag full of various food items to appease the insatiable appetite…and on top of this we try and make them healthy snacks too!

There are a lot of ‘non-packaged’ options – bananas, mandarins, apples, fruit toast, dry breakfast cereal (sultana bran buds or mini-wheats), cold pasta, home popped popcorn, vegemite sandwiches and dried fruit are some of my favourites. 

Sometimes though you just want something that is quick and easy to throw in your bag at the last minute as you walk out the door or alternatively a 'non-perishable' to already have sitting in your bag to ‘save the day’ when you’re stuck in that queue or in peak hour traffic and you’ve got a hunger meltdown on your hands!

Healtheries Kidscare ‘Potato Stix’ are one of those foods that I have re-discovered with my now 1 year old. 

Now ‘Potato Stix’ are highly extruded and processed, with no fibre - so they are not going to win any nutrition awards.  You can see from the table below though that they are low in total and saturated fat and don’t have any added sugars.  Yes they are moderately high in sodium but in one packet this is equivalent to having ½ teaspoon of vegemite. 

Per Serving
Per 100 g
Grain Waves
Per 100 g
Smiths Crisps
Per 100 g
Sakata w/grain original
Per 100 g
Per 100 g
201 kJ
1000 kJ

0.9 g
4.7 g

Fat – Total
1.5 g
7.5 g
22 g
29.9 g
6.3 g
1.3 g
Saturated Fat
0.2 g
0.9 g
4.1 g
10.7 g
0.8 g
0.3 g
- Sugar
7.5 g
0.1 g
37.7 g
0.7 g

Dietary Fibre
0.4 g
2.1 g
5.8 g
3 g
9 g
101 mg
505 mg
560 mg
582 mg
518 mg
858 mg

I have compared them to a range of other snack products and you can see that they are fairly similar to the Sakata wholegrain rice crackers (minus the fibre). 

My hubby must have got desperate during his pantry gazing the other day and took a fancy to them as well.  He’s been taking them as a snack to work too!

So if you can get past the processing aspect (and that they are made in China), grab some to throw in your bag….you may just be thanking me one day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A new bowl!

Written by Kate Bullen, APD
Last weekend I treated myself to a new bowl. Pretty nifty looking bowl if I do say so myself. In fact I bought 2 – 1 for me and 1 for the husband. You see I figured that this bowl was a tad smaller than our other mainstay bowls and thought this would be good to rein in the portion sizes in our house. Not that portion control is a huge issue, but every now and then I do a quick assessment of our diet and see what I can do to improve it. And this is the change I made.

I measured the volume of the new bowl compared to our regular bowls. The new bowl holds 600ml, our everyday breakfast bowl 750ml, and our curry/soup/pasta bowl a whopping 800ml.That is a 25% reduction from our large curry/soup/pasta bowl. So by buying this bowl I really am doing myself a favour!

Now if you would like your diet assessed with straightforward suggestions to improve your eating, then pop on over to Dietitian Online and sign up. It really is that easy. And you might get a new bowl out of it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Written by Kate Bullen, APD

Last weekend we had a fantastic group of friends over for breaky – it was a lovely way to catch up and since we all have young children, and we are all awake fairly early, breakfast is something we often do over the winter months.  So we organised the food and I thought I would share what we offered. I had one of my friends ‘intrigued’ when I gave her the heads up that there would be plenty of vegetables on offer at the breakfast, so watch out for the appearance of vegetables!

First up - a kids plate. This included some fruit toast and fresh fruit. We had the kids table set up so they could come and eat before our breakfast - with the idea being that they would then go and play and the adults could sit down and enjoy breakfast. It worked pretty well. My 21 month old son didnt really leave the kids table... he just kept returning and eating more. It was his idea of bliss!

Baked beans - easy, tasty and healthy. Nothing more to say!

Potato surprise – this was a request from one of my husbands mates. I am not the biggest fan of potatoes, so didn’t partake, but apparently it was tasty. Potatoes (with skin on) where steamed, then bbq’d with some bacon, onion and herbs.

Mushrooms – sliced and bbq’d. It doesn’t get much easier or delicious than that!

Roma cherry tomatoes – halved and bbq’d with some balsamic vinegar. Super tasty with breaky. Woops - forgot to take a photo!

Avocado – great with bread/toast and quite delicious with the other vegetables.

Vegetable fritters – I have written about these little babies before. They are great – and include corn, zucchini and carrot. Brilliant!

Baked eggs – these were winners! And included a few sneaky vegetables of baby spinach and tomatoes. Crumbled feta on top was just yummy. Oh - just realised I didnt get a pic. Will make these again and post the recipe. Because they were good. And will definitely be appearing soon on our weekend breakfast menu!

Chevup sausages – Only cooked 1 per adult. Portion control people!

Raspberry muffins – well these were gluten free, so a bit dry. Sorry people! I really need a good gluten free muffin recipe…

Fruit bowl – strawberries and pineapple to end the meal. Again forgot to take a photo. Which is a great shame because my husband had cut them beautifully and had them in stripes in a bowl. Very appealing!

Would love to hear your ideas on breakfast food. I do love a good breakfast!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I have been buying cherries for the last few weeks and have been quite impressed! I don't really remember seeing cherries around at this time of year - and that is probably because all the ones that I have seen to date have been from the USA.  I am wondering if there is a glut of them from the USA? Because the pricing has been pretty reasonable.  So what about the nutrition of this fruit?

They are an excellent source of vitamin C, and have some iron as well.  When choosing a cherry you want to look for fruit that is plump, firm, brightly and evenly coloured. They will not last for long - so eat them within a few days of buying or they will start to perish. Best to keep them in fridge in a container. 

They are a great snack and I have been reading a few recipes that include cherries, but I am not sure that I am prepared to cook with them just yet!

Always wash before use - and when serving to kids remind them about the stone - or remove it like I do for my 21 month old son!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recipe - Vegetable Stack

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I had to share this recipe that I kind of threw together for my dinner tonight. The initial inspiration for this recipe was a friend sharing with me her way of cooking eggplant. I have always been a little scared of eggplant - what with the salting etc, I just couldnt quite get my head around it. And even when I included it (in very small pieces) in a bolognese it just tasted a bit... not right. So, I thought I would use my friends way of cooking eggplant, and make up a vegetable stack. And the best bit - this dish gave me 4.5 serves of vegetables. That is almost the whole days worth!  And the 2nd best bit - I prepared and cooked it in the time it took for my husband to put my 5yo daughter to bed - so about 15 minutes. And the 3rd best bit - it was so, so tasty. I am definitely making this again.

Serves 1

1 egg
Half a small eggplant, sliced into 1cm rings (I used 3 eggplant slices)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large roma cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 mushrooms, sliced
Half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1.5 cups of mixed leaves (I used baby spinach and rocket), washed
Half an avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon fetta, crumbled

1. Mix egg with fork in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices into egg and soak well on both sides of eggplant.
2. Heat frypan over medium heat and add oil. When pan is hot add eggplant. Cook for approximately 5 minutes each side, or until eggplant is browned and softened.
3. Meanwhile heat small pan and 1-2 tablespoons water, then add tomatoes and mushrooms. Allow to soften then add balsamic vinegar.
4. Arrange mixed leaves on your plate. Place first eggplant slice on top of leaves, then arrange mushrooms on top, another slice of eggplant, then tomatoes, then final eggplant slice.
5. Arrange avocado on top and then crumbled fetta over the top. Drizzle any remaining cooking juices from mushroom and tomatoes over vegetable stack.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Written by Kate Bullen, APD

I included fresh beetroot on my vegetable list a couple of weeks ago, and so far I have made beetroot chips out of them (yum) and today I added them to a salad for lunch. Yep - just peeled and threw in my thermomix with a sqeeze of lemon juice and a handful of coriander, then added some roasted pumpkin and sweet potato, avocado, tomato, rocket, spring onions and fetta. Very tasty! You could easily do the same in any food processor, or you could grate the beetroot.

Beetroot is part of the root vegetable family, so you can roast it unpeeled, but just need to make sure you wash the skin well - try using a dish brush to remove all the dirt. Beetroot is a great source of folate - but this is reduced when cooked.

I estimate that I had around 50g of beetroot today - which is only 60kj - so very light on the kilojoule content.  I love beetroot in a salad - the colour it adds is so vibrant. Even my 5yo daughter commented on how pretty my lunch looked today!

Not forgetting about tinned beetroot - a perfect alternative if you dont want to peel and deal with the pink stain on your hands (which easily came off with hand soap). One of my friends uses the tinned whole beets and roasts them when she is making other roast vegetables. That is an easy way to get an extra vegetable in!

And just remember that beetroot can colour your urine - so you may end up with pink urine the day after consuming beetroot - dont be alarmed!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe - Hommus

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

Recently a friend went to get some ice blocks out of freezer only to mistakenly take out my frozne Hommus. Not so tasty in a glass of wine! I regularly make up a batch of Hommus, keep as much as I need for a few days, and then freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Freezing hommus  was a tip that I learnt from a client.
My hummus recipe is straight from my thermomix cookbook – but don’t worry if you don’t have a thermomix – you can just whizz it all up in a food processor
2 cloves garlic
400g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (fresh is best!)
2 tablespoons tahini (if I don’t have any I just leave it out)
1.       If you using a thermomix then place garlic in bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7. Otherwise just crush your garlic straight into your food processor.
2.       Add all other ingredients and mix (on speed 4 in TMX) until desired consistency is reached.
Freezing hommus means that you have great portion control. Just pop out a cube of hommus and it will be defrosted by late morning. Or take it out the night before and leave in the fridge.
Enjoy – great with chopped vegetables or crackers. Also tasty in sandwiches.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poos aint Poos

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

A discussion last week with a couple of girlfriends got me thinking that this could be a good topic to discuss. At the end of the day (and/or at the beginning of the day – depending on what your ‘normal’ is!) everyone poos! So if you have just sat down to eat a meal, then this is probably not what you are wanting to read while eating. Just an upfront warning!

If you are still reading this, then you might be thinking…. Hmmmm I wonder if Kate is going to be including any photos of this topic? Well I can assure you that I wont be taking any pictures to include in this post. But I have included a great chart called the ‘Bristol Stool Chart’ which is a common reference.

So we all eat. And we all poo. Is there a link between the two? Yes there is!  The more clinical term for poo is stools or faeces – or sometimes you might even be asked about your bowel motions (I warned you – I hope you aren’t eating!).  So what ends up in your toilet depends on what you have eaten, drunk, what medicines or supplements you might have taken, and your lifestyle including how active you are.

Ultimately we all want to have healthy stools. So I will do my best to answer some of the most common questions. Sit back, relax, and read on!

What is in my stool?

By the time your stool reaches the end of the line at your large intestine, the vast majority of the good stuff, eg: nutrients, have already been absorbed. What usually remains is largely water, undigested fibre, gut bacteria and fat. And occasionally there might be some whole food – like corn or peas that hasn’t been broken down and absorbed by your body.


Healthy bowel motions are usually brown in colour. Or more specifically a cardboard type of brown, if you want to be specific!  You might want to make an appointment with your GP if your faeces appears bright red, black, maroon – as this may indicate blood, which isn’t such a good thing. Also if your faeces is very pale in colour – again worth getting this checked out. And in case you are wondering why faeces is generally brown in colour? It is because of bile pigments that your body needs to get rid of – and it does this via your bowel movements.

Should my stool sink or float?

Good question!  If you have a floater (sorry... I couldn’t resist!) then this might indicate you have too much fat or protein in your diet. Or it could be too much gas.  Ideally we want stools to sink, as this shows a healthy diet.

How often do normal, healthy people go to the toilet?

Most people will have a bowel motion each day. Sometimes more than once a day. Perfectly ok as long as the bowel motion is ‘normal’ in terms of consistency... which we will talk about next.


This is where I will call upon the Bristol Stool Chart. Have a look at the chart below. Fascinating, isn’t it?!

Type 1-2 – indicates constipation
Type 3-4 – this is normal, healthy stools
Type 5-7 – indicates diarrhoea

What about the smell?

Oh yes, the smell. Well that is created by the types of food you eat. The more meat, fish, eggs and dairy that you eat – the smellier it will be. Same goes for a diet high in processed food. The more your diet consists of whole cereals, fruit and vegetables – the less smelly it will be. Try it out!


If you are wondering about your diet and your bowel habits, you might want to consider asking us to undertake an analysis on your diet. Feel free to pop over and sign up for a Dietitian Online appointment - confidential and all done online!

So, in conclusion, next time you are spending a few minutes on the toilet – have a quick look. And maybe you might want to think about what you are eating and then what you are evacuating. And I think that is enough on number 2’s! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Product Review - Golden Circle Junior Fruit Drink

Written by Kate Bullen, APD

One of my friends discovered this fruit drink in a party bag that her daughter attended and she was curious to know what I thought of it! Oh the pressure!  The drink is essentially watered down juice – so I am happy with that. And the serve size is great for kids at only 125ml. BUT – my biggest concern is that it is recommended ‘for children 6 months to 3 years’. I wouldn’t recommend juice of any type for a child under the age of 12 months.  Babies have sensitive and immature guts – which is one of the reasons they can’t be given normal cows milk until 12 months of age – the same goes for juice. 

Yes this brand of juice is watered down, but I still wouldn’t be offering to babies – and it is easy to see a label saying that this drink is suitable for children from 6 months of age and to then assume that all juice is ok for kids.

As an occasional drink I would be happy for my children to have this juice. I suspect that the novelty of it would be enough to entice them – and I am always clear with my kids that any drink that isn’t milk or water is a ‘sometimes’ drink.

I think this type of drink can be a good option to include in a party bag or occasionally at a picnic. So there you go – a juice that I would recommend as an occasional drink for kids.  Although I have to say I couldn’t find it in my local supermarket – so not sure where to get it from??!

Taste - my friend drank it and said it tasted very watery. Which isnt surprising as the first ingredient is water, then reconstituted apple juice, natural flavour and vitamin C.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Paper Bag Popcorn

Written by Sophie McGough APD CDE

Kate has blogged before about the fabulous value she gets from her popcorn maker.  Homemade popcorn is such a low kilojoule food and kids just love it!  If you don't have a popcorn maker, you can still DIY without having to buy the pre-packed bags that are full of salt and other additives.

Just take a brown paper lunch bag (available from supermarkets), add 1/4 cup of popcorn, fold over the end a few times and put it in the microwave for around 2 minutes.  You need to experiment with the time a little.  It's closer to 1 min 45 sec when I do it in my microwave.  You can then eat it 'al natural' or add your own flavours and at least control the amount!

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