Archive | November, 2011

Dessert without the guilt? Sign me up!

25 Nov

There are some things in life which are so sweet and pure, that the thought of excluding it from your existence could be seriously detrimental to the soul. Ranking in the top 10 of this list, is banana bread. Ok so you may have been expecting me to say something a little more deep and meaningful than a loaf of what is traditionally known as sugar bread, but really delicious, straight out the oven banana bread that is HEALTHY (approx 190 calories per serve), gluten free and as paleo friendly as you could find (yet still soft and moist… ) well that is a different story!!

I have only recently stumbled across this recipe from my fav site called The Healthy Chef  http://www.teresacutter.com/ (Teresa Cutter) and with a few slight alternations it has become a fast favorite of mine. Quick, easy and yes, healthy – what more do you need to know!

Bananas are excellent sources of potassium, walnuts’ vitamin E levels are through the roof and almond meal is my go to alternative to flour. It is literally just almonds ground up– high in protein, manganese, potassium, copper, and vitamin E, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. The blueberries not only add a sweet element to the banana bread, but are also jammed packed with antioxidants, so really, with every mouthful we are getting health benefits.. make yourself a green tea to have on the side and wholah– perfect Sunday brunch material!

Once cooked and cooled, give yourself a clear conscious and serve a (largish) slice with a handful of blueberries (frozen is totally fine) and enjoy with every mouthful. Alternatively, serve with natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

I was amazed at how quickly and easy this was to make, and despite it’s gluten free contents, the loaf turns out very light (rather than a heavy brick) and soft – what a rarity!

Makes 1 loaf

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

300 g ripe banana

3 free range / organic eggs

60 g organic maple syrup
(or honey if need be)

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

60 g macadamia nut oil

Half-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  tsp baking soda ( bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g (together as the lemon juice activates the bicarb)

(2 cups) almond meal
200 g

(1/4 cup) 25 g ground flaxseed (linseed)

Walnuts and blueberries to garnish

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

In your blender add: banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon – then blend until the ingredients are the consistency of a thick smoothie.

Once blended pour into a large mixing bowl to finish the banana bread batter.

Add the almond meal and flaxseed and mix well.

Add baking paper to your loaf tin (the paper can hang over the sides of the tin as it makes it easy to remove after cooked.)

Spoon/Pour the batter into the tin, but before you pop into the oven add a handful of frozen blueberries deep into the batter using a spoon. Sprinkle several walnuts down the middle of of loaf, and finally, dust the top with some cinnamon for a nice golden crunch.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).
The top should be slightly brown but don’t overcook.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf on a cooling wire rack.

Keep in an airtight container – will keep for a week (that is if everyone doesn’t eat it in the first day!)

And the winner is…

20 Nov

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I heart avocado. To say that we ‘occasionally’ rendezvous may be a bit of an understatement. It is more like a full-blown romance that is indulged daily.. but before you recline in horror at the (gasp) high fats the avo brings to the table, rest easy my friend, as it lovingly brings nothing but GOOD fats to my life, and yes, there is a difference between good and bad fats.

Just like a well matched lover, Avo goes with everything, from my grain- free breakfast of poached eggs, asparagus, slow roasted rosemary tomatoes, to my salmon and salad lunch, or perhaps a little on the side to a grass-fed steak.. hmm bliss.

Ok so I may or may not have just indulged in the most magnificent breakfast where Avo played a shining guest role, hence my after glow blabber.. but there are many amazing nutritional facts to back up why you should include avo (or any good fats such as nuts and seeds) in every meal for maximum nutritional benefits.

We need to consume fats, and wherever you find fat – all three types will be present: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated but just in different amounts. In plant foods such as avocado the majority of fat is the healthy kind: 60% monounsaturated fat and 12% polyunsaturated fat. Half an avocado contains 18g of the beneficial monounsaturated fat.

Healthy fats help carry fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and K and colorful carotenoid pigments such as beta-carotene. But for those watching their waist healthy fats also help released hormones in the intestine, which may signal fullness, controlling appetite.

Polyunsatuted oil contains ‘essential’ fatty acids, those that the body is unable to provide.  The functions of these little bad boys includes: promote healthy, youthful skin and hair; support proper thyroid and adrenal activity and thus bolster immunity and are required for normal growth and energy; promote healthy blood, nerves and arteries; and are crucial in the transport and breakdown of cholesterol.

On the flip side, deficiencies in the Essential Fatty Acids can lead to skin disorders that are quite common in our western world such as eczema and dry, scaly skin. Other common imbalances are dry hair and loss of hair, nail problems, gallstones, irritability, liver problems, varicose veins, low body weight.. you get the idea.

You would think that these state of deficiencies would rarely occur today due to our over consumption of vegetable oils – but many of these oils contain rancid forms of these fatty acids especially when heated and exposed to oxygen.

Other abundant sources of unsaturated fatty acids are: Almonds, Flax Seeds, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds and Walnuts & of course.. Avocado, Milo, Olive, Quinoa, Soybeans, Brown Rice, Corn and Oats.

Not convinced yet?

Half an avocado contains 13mg of vitamin C  – which is 32% of an adult’s RDI. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant, which aids in protecting cells from free radical damage (and to help keep your collagen in skin firm and elastic which is always a good thing!). If you are vegetarian then vitamin C is needed to absorb iron from plant food.

Thinking of getting pregnant? Women need to consume at least 400 micrograms of folate per day (Half an avocado contains 144 micrograms of folate 36% of the RDI for folate) in the lead up to (and 3 months after) conception.

As you can see, the benefits are numerous so you would be mad no to including a little avo in your diet, if you are new to this fruit, try it with a good squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper on your spinach toast (see breakfast recipes) and enjoy the benefits!

Want more info on its nutrient content break down per 100 grams? Check out http://www.avocado.org.au/nutrition/nutritional_info_panel.aspx

I’ll take my protein powder without a side of sugar thanks..

16 Nov


Almost every morning when I take a strength class someone will ask if I use protein powder and what brand I recommend. Well to answer your first question, yes, yes I do, and truth be told it is a life saver for mornings when I’m in a rush but don’t have time to prepare anything, same goes for the afternoon when hunger strikes and there is no food around – I just reach for my trusty protein powder to fill the spot (which has NO added nasties to undo all the hard work and clean eating I do.)

So here you go, Fitness In The City Recommends: Phyto Protein – Pea Protein Isolate.

This is a new generation of protein derived from the highest quality Organic pea protein isolate. This recent breakthrough in protein technology rivals those of the most popular whey protein powders because of its impressive amino acid profile and biological value.

In other words, pea protein isolate may yield more usable grams of amino acids compared to other proteins. In addition, pea protein isolate is a complete protein suitable for vegetarians. It doesn’t contain lactose, cholesterol or artificial flavors or sweeteners.

What is Pea Protein Isolate?
Pea protein isolate is a unique blend of protein derived from golden pea kernels. phyto protein uses an isolated form of pea protein since it contains an impressive ratio of essential and non-essential amino acids.
It also has a high concentration of branch chain amino acids. These amino acids compensate for the common deficiencies in a vegetarian diet and are known for reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. Likewise, pea protein isolate may improve nitrogen retention for muscle growth and repair.*

In addition, pea protein contains no artificial flavors or sweeteners. Recent studies have shown that popular artificial sweeteners commonly used in low-carbohydrate foods have been reported to cause gastro-intestinal distress. Since Pure Advantage(TM) only uses natural ingredients, most people allergic to artificial flavors or sweeteners can safely consume pea protein. Pure Advantages(TM) pea protein isolate is a Non-GMO product and is free of animal and estrogen promoting soy protein.*

Use Of Use
Pea protein isolate can easily be incorporated into foods such as pudding, pancakes, muffins, yogurt, hot cereals and fruit smoothies. Pea proteins’ smooth taste is light, refreshing and satisfying. Unlike popular whey protein powders, pea protein is easily digested since it contains absolutely no lactose or glutens. Therefore, there’s no bloating which is usually linked with popular whey protein products.

Bottom Line
Pea Protein is a great source of protein for low carbohydrate dieters, vegetarians, athletes, children or anyone who feels the need to add additional protein in their diet. Since it can be mixed with a spoon, Pea Protein can be made into a rich and creamy shake virtually anywhere. This eliminates the need for hand-held or bulky blenders.

Add frozen berries, a vital greens, maybe some chai seeds and you have the perfect smoothie to start your day!

Chia Seed – the greatest seed of the century?

8 Nov

Have you caught onto the latest superfood yet? If not, go buy yourself some Chia Seed immediately (after you read this blog of course) because honestly the list of qualities and benefits by including them in your daily diet is really quite remarkable, these little seeds really pack a powerful health punch!

In a nutshell.. The Chia Seed is the richest known source of plant-based Omega 3 and 6 and is also high in protein, fibre, antioxidants, and a range of vitamins and minerals – essential dietary elements for our health.

The Chia Company Chia Seeds in particular (you can buy these from the eStore at www.fitnessinthecity.com.au) are specially developed to protect the chia seed’s Omega 3 oil, vitamins and minerals, and care has been taken when grinding the seed to ensure that it retains a mild and pleasant flavour.

You can sprinkle raw onto pretty much most foods; salads, stir-fry’s, smoothies, soups – or if you eat grains then go ahead and add to your breakfast cereals, bread and muffin recipes mix.

Website http://www.chialive.com.au as the name indicates also shares my Chia crush and has comprehensive research of proven benefits – check out their chart below:

EAT CHIA SEEDS FOR YOUR OVERALL HEALTH

Qualities

Benefit To You

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). Chia seeds are the highest plant source of Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid which has been known to prevent or diminish certain illnesses. Studies show that ALA levels found in chia are higher than those in flax seed, and are more stable because of its high antioxidant content. Simply put, a healthy life would be impossible without EFAs. And your body can’t manufacture Omega-3, you have to eat it! So Eat Chia! Click here to find out more about ALA, Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
 Natural antioxidants. Other EFAs from other sources  fish and flax seeds are easily damaged by heat, light, and oxygen.  Oxidation in food, as we know, can promote diseases like cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, cataracts, a decline in immune system and brain dysfunction.  Chia’s natural antioxidants keep the omega-3 fatty acid stable and prevent the dry seeds from going rancid. Not only that, but when you eat chia, its antioxidants also protect YOU. Click here to read more on chia’s antioxidants.
 Strong antioxidants effect on YOU  Not only do its natural antioxidants preserve the chia seed, they will also preserve you . By eating chia, we increase antioxidant activity in our bodies which slows down the aging process.
 Mucilaginous (gel-forming)  When chia seeds are mixed with water or stomach juices a gel is formed that slows the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Thus, eating chia helps balance our blood sugar levels, and may reduce the need for  an insulin surge or spike to lower the blood sugar level after eating chia. This could support diabetic conditions.
 Hydrophilic (having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weight in water).  Being hydrophilic means that chia  prolongs hydration and retains electrolytes in body fluids which in turn supports the life of all body cells.
 Hydrophilic colloidal properties  This aids people who have digestive disorders.  There are other hydrophilic colloids that offer the same benefit such as edible seaweeds, agar, cactus juice, and beet juice, however none are as inexpensive, portable, accessible, and neutral tasting as chia.
Bulky, tasteless, scentless – a dieter’s dream food When soaked in water, it can expand to about 9-12 times its mass. This can be added to any diet as a highly nutritious food extender  without changing the original taste or smell.  You can eat more, but with less fat, sugar, salt and preservatives. It’s calories are also more nutritious.
 Gluten-Free  Chia is an ideal food for people with gluten intolerance, carbohydrate intolerance, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
 Source of fibre  Chia is both soluble and insoluble fibre which sweeps debris off the intestinal walls to be eliminated efficiently and regularly.  Daily intake of Chia improves bowel movement in less than a week and supports detoxification.
 High source of protein with all the essential amino acids  Chia provides the highest source of protein amongst other seeds and grains: between 19 to 23 percent proteinby weight.  To compare:  amaranth (14.8%), wheat (14%), corn (14%), rice (8.5%), oats (15.3%), and barley (9.2%).
 Rich plant source of iron (3 times more than spinach  Iron had been found to be anti-cancerous, boosts physical performance, improves immunity, improves concentration, and encourages restful sleep.
 Rich source of calcium, and has higher bioavailability than milk, which means that you could be absorbing more calcium from a tablespoon of chia than you do from a glass of milk.  Calcium keeps bones and teeth strong; keeps organs and bodily functions operating at their best; makes it easy for the body to maintain a healthy weight; protects your heart; eases PMS and stabilizes hormones; protects against colon cancer
 Contains boron  Boron  acts as catalyst for the absorption and utilization of the  calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus in bones and for muscle growth. Boron also can increase the levels of natural estrogen.
 Increases natural estrogen levels  In women in menopause, this means  stronger bones, more youthful appearance, smoother skin, better sexual health, sharper mind, overall better health and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
 Rich source of magnesium (15 times more than broccoli)  As with boron, magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium; vital for maintaining a healthy heart, can even aid in the recovery from a heart attack or stroke; helps maintain proper muscle function; reduces muscle spasms; and known as the ‘anti-stress’ mineral
Other minerals:phosphorus, potassium, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese  When you regularly eat chia, you will boost your intake of minerals which aid in the optimum functioning of our human body.

The Benefits and Wonders of Chlorophyll – and why I love it!

7 Nov

The Benefits and Wonders of Chlorophyll – why I love it!

Chlorophyll has SO MANY health benefits it makes it a true wonder-food. However, the most amazing benefit it gives comes from the fact that its molecular structure is absolutely identical to hemoglobin except for the center atom. In hemoglobin this is iron, whereas in chlorophyll it is magnesium. This means that when ingested, chlorophyll actually helps to do the job of hemoglobin (hemoglobin is so vital to the health of our blood – in fact, blood is approx 75% hemoglobin). It helps to rebuild and replenish our red blood cells, boosting our energy and increasing our wellbeing almost instantly.

I know this sounds a bit like the old ancient Japanese legend that eating brains makes you smarter – BUT – eating/drinking chlorophyll does increase the quality AND quantity of your red blood cells.

Chlorophyll has the power to regenerate our bodies at the molecular and cellular level and is known to help cleanse the body, fight infection, help heal wounds, and promote the health of the circulatory, digestive, immune, and detoxification systems. Chlorophyll consumption increases the number of red blood cells and, therefore, increase oxygen utilization by the body. Chlorophyll also reduces the binding of carcinogens to DNA in the liver and other organs. It also breaks down calcium oxalate stones for elimination, which are created by the body for the purpose of neutralizing and disposing of excess acid.

Health Benefits of Chlorophyll

True enough, chlorophyll has been seen to provide health benefits to those who take them. It has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Here are some of the known chlorophyll benefits:

▪ It has been seen to help in the growth and repair of tissues.
Antiseptic: while chlorophyll doesn’t actually have antiseptic properties of its own, it, quite remarkably, DOES have the ability to aid our body’s tissue in destroying germs. By strengthening tissue, it increases the disease resistance of cells and, at the same time, prevents the growth of bacteria!

▪ It efficiently delivers magnesium and helps the blood in carrying the much needed oxygen to all cells and tissues.

▪ It had been seen to have a good potential in stimulating red blood cells to improve oxygen supply.

▪ Anti Carcinogenic: Chlorophyll protects against a whole host of carcinogens found in fungus-laden foods such as nuts and grains, the toxins from cooked meats, and air-borne carcinogens (from pollution). It blocks the metabolism in the body of harmful chemicals known as procarcinogens that damage DNA

▪ Antioxidant & Anti-inflammatory: containing high levels of the vitamins A, C and E, chlorophyll has strong antioxidant capacity and has also been found to help reduce inflammation.

▪ Chelation of Heavy Metals: chlorophyll is one of the most important chelates in nature. It’s ability to bind to and remove toxic heavy metals such as mercury makes it an extremely powerful healer. I’m about to have four mercury fillings removed, and you can bet that I will be getting PLENTY of chlorophyll into my body after the procedure!

▪ Antiseptic: while chlorophyll doesn’t actually have antiseptic properties of its own, it, quite remarkably, DOES have the ability to aid our body’s tissue in destroying germs. By strengthening tissue, it increases the disease resistance of cells and, at the same time, prevents the growth of bacteria!

▪ Treats Bad Breath: This one is a real bonus and really works! Chlorophyll has a double-action remedy for bad breath. Firstly, as a deodoriser, it will eliminate odours in the mouth and throat, but secondly (and more importantly) it promotes a healthy digestive tract – which is the primary reason for bad breath

▪ Rapid Delivery of Magnesium: this has a highly alkalising effect on the body and helps to deliver much needed oxygen to cells and tissues.

▪ Contains vitamin K, C, folic acid, iron, calcium, protein: which are all also essential in building and repairing red blood cells and boosting our immune system.

How to Get the Benefits of Chlorophyll

All of the health benefits of chlorophyll are easy to get on a daily basis. The simple way? Eat your greens and drink your greens. I know we are always going on about the importance of greens in your diet, but this is one of the main reasons why – it ensures you’re getting plenty of chlorophyll!

So the simple message is this: go green. Eat, drink, ingest however you can.

Good supplements choices – just add to your water each day and drink away

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Coconut Water – trend or serious health winner?

6 Nov

coconut-water

Just open any gossip magazine and you are sure to read about the latest health and beauty trend sported by Hollywood stars – coconut water. Taking over the shelves of every supermarket and health food store this beverage has rapidly shot to health drink fame, but are the health benefits for real or is this just another super food having its time in …the spotlight?

For more than 4,000 years, coconut water has been revered as a natural source of nutrition, wellness, beauty and hydration, so to call this a new phase maybe jumping the gun! In times of famine and war, coconut water has been used as an intravenous fluid and saved many lives (coconut water’s electrolyte content is very similar to human plasma) and it’s the only natural substance that can be safely injected into the human blood stream. Now modern science has validated its effectiveness.

So far so good..

What Is Coconut Water?Coconut water is the liquid that is found inside young coconuts before they mature, at which point the water solidifies to form the flesh of the coconut. It contains no fat and is very low in calories (about 50 calories for one cup), most of them from natural sugars. In addition to water and sugar, coconut water also contains minerals such as potassium and magnesium. In fact, coconut water has more potassium than a banana! The commercial coconut water that you find sold in bottles, is pasteurized and may have added pulp, so fresh is always best.

Is Coconut Water Really That Healthy?

Coconut water contains a very good amount of electrolyte potassium, which is what a lot of the health claims made for coconut water is based on. Together, these electrolytes help replenish electrolytes deficiency in the body (ie exercise, dreaded ‘Bali Belly). Need more hard hitting research facts.. then read on!

What are the Health Benefits of Coconut Water?

• Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant anti-ageing (big tick), anti-carcinogenic (anti cancer) and anti-thrombotic effects.

• Coconut water is composed of many naturally occurring bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA polymerases etc. Altogether, these enzymes aid in digestion and metabolism.

• Despite very light consistency, its water has much better composition of minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc than some of fruits like oranges.

• Its water is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.

• In addition, fresh coconut water has small amount of vitamin-C (ascorbic acid); provides about 2.4 mcg or 4% of RDA. Vitamin C is a water-soluble ant-oxidant.What does that all mean?

• It promotes heart health – Consuming foods or beverages rich in potassium, including coconut water, may help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.

• It promotes kidney health – Diets high in potassium, magnesium, and fluids are thought to reduce the risk of kidney stones, so it’s not surprising that coconut water is reported to help prevent or resolve kidney stones.

• It fights aging – Coconut water also contains compounds that seem to protect cells against aging and cancer—in test tubes anyway. It’s exciting to think that drinking coconut water could make us immune to aging and disease. But we really should know better by now. The world is chock-a-bloc with compounds that stop aging and disease in petri dishes. And yet, we don’t seem to have solved the problem of aging and disease.

Is Coconut Water Better Than Sports Drinks After Exercising?Basically, coconut water is like natural Gatorade. Like Gatorade, it contains water, simple carbohydrates (or, sugar), and electrolytes (or, minerals). Compared to a sports drink made with refined sugars, artificial flavoring, and blue food coloring, I’d say coconut water represents a solid upgrade. However, the benefits of sports drinks—whether natural or artificial—tend to be somewhat oversold. (Most people don’t actually exercise hard enough to need sport drinks/electrolyte replacements.

Here are my general guidelines for sports drinks: If you’re exercising very hard for more than 60 minutes, or in extremely hot conditions, a drink containing sugar and minerals can enhance your performance. Otherwise, plain water works just as well—and saves you some calories.)How to Get the Benefits of Coconut WaterAt the end of the day, coconut water is a reasonably nutritious, natural beverage that appears to have health benefits similar to those available from fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t replace fruits and vegetables, but if you just like the way it tastes (or the amazing testimonials have gotten to you), there’s nothing wrong with including it your diet as well. Just remember to account for the sugar and calories it provides.

Coconut water can certainly be part of a healthy diet, and if you like the taste, thn drink up. After all, it’s certainly better for you than sugary sodas.

Spinach Bread

5 Nov

Need a healthy breakfast idea?

One of my favorite (and most healthy) breakfasts is this Spinach Bread, a recipe I found a while ago from Lee Supercharge Foods = just pull a portion out of the freezer each morning, cook in a sandwich press, then add avocado, tomato and an egg and whola  a perfect balanced meal with protein (egg), carbs (from spinach) and healthy fats (avocado)

2 packets frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (no additives)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp crushed garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (and some mixed herb paste for something different)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius
Line baking tray or ceramic roasting pan with paper
Mix together spinach, eggs, and garlic in a bowl
Season with salt and pepper
Spoon mixture into prepared pan and flatten, pressing down with fingers
Bake for 20 or so minutes (until set)
Allow to cool slightly then using a knife or pizza cutter slice into 10 rectangles
Use a spatula to remove individual slices from pan
Wrap slices in freezer wrap and freeze until ready to use
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