Jazzing Up Your Veggies (Part 2)

Jazzing Up Your Veggies (Part 2)

It’s been a while since I wrote my article ‘Jazzing Up Your Veggies’ which has some great tips for getting creative with ordinary vegetables to make them more appealing and delicious.  You can check it out here  – seriously that sea salt and cinnamon roasted sweet potato is just so yummy!

I often post photos of my food on my facebook page or my Instagram feed  and you guys are always eager to know how I prepare my veggies so I thought I’d share a few more of our family’s favourites here:

1.  The Super Greens Stir-fry

This is my current favourite accompaniment – delicious with barbequed salmon, grass-fed scotch fillet, chicken thighs, lamb cutlets or even aside a succulent roast chook.  The coconut oil and/or butter or ghee make it really tasty (and filling).  The trick is to get the leeks nice and brown before adding the rest of the greens.

All you need to do is heat up a good dollop of coconut oil and/or ghee or grass-fed butter in a large pan.  Add a handful of chopped leek (I usually use about 5cms (or 2 inches)) and cook until nicely browned.  When it’s ready add some chopped asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and beans (or whatever veggies you like) and stir until well coated and cooked to your liking. Add a good sprinkle of good quality sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately with your choice of protein.

2.  Zoodles (pasta free zucchini noodles)

If you love your spaghetti but are trying to avoid pasta and starchy carbohydrates, these are just the best thing ever!

What you will need:

  • 2-3 zucchinis/courgettes per person
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • A vegetable spiraliser (or you can use a vegetable peeler for a ‘fettucine effect’ if you don’t have a spiraliser)

How to pull it together:

Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable spiraliser (see note below).  Place noodles in a colander, sprinkle liberally with good quality sea salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and drizzle with a splash of olive oil.  Toss and let sit for about 30 minutes.  You will find a lot of liquid leaves the noodles which means that they will shrink down quite a bit.

You can heat them up before serving, or have them raw – they are delicious both ways!

NOTE:  I have tried many spiralisers to make vegetable ‘noodles’ and the GEFU Spiral Slicer Spiral Fix is by far the easiest and most effective I’ve used.

If you like the idea of Zucchini noodles and want more inspiration I have used Zucchini noodles previously with the delicious Dina’s Tomato Sauce here, my Salmon with Pesto Zucchini Noodles here and we absolutely love our zucchini noodle ‘spaghetti bolognese’ here!

Z-1

3.  Slow Cooked Tomatoes

These are the best!  So easy to pull together and pack a huge punch of flavour to any meal or salad.   Again, this is a perfect accompaniment to a barbeque, but is also delicious for breakfast with eggs and sauteed spinach and mushrooms.

Lay out some small tomatoes (I used baby roma tomatoes on the vine here but cherry tomatoes, or halved tomatoes also works well).  Drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle some torn basil leaves, sea salt and cracked pepper and cook in a moderate oven for a good 30 – 45 minutes or until well cooked to your liking.

 

 

4.  Cauliflower Rice

This is seriously so easy it doesn’t even really qualify as a recipe!  If you have a thermomix, simply pop half a head of cauliflower into the mixing bowl and chop in reverse speed 5 for about 5 seconds.  If you are using a food processor, put the roughly chopped cauliflower into the bowl and pulse until it reaches a texture you like.  Cauliflower rice is brilliant with curries, stir fries, as fried ‘rice’.  A perfect substitute for rice for those looking to avoid grains or starchy carbs.

Feel free to play around with your seasoning, a bit of lemon juice, sea salt and cracked pepper or some spices such as chilli, cumin, paprika or even cinnamon are all delicious!

I love to throw some lemon zest, a squeeze of the juice and some green shallots (spring onion) into the machine with the cauliflower for a lemon zesty ‘rice’.

9k=-15.  Zesty Salsa

I love a tasty little salsa.  This one is delicious served with my healthy nachoschilli mince or with my gluten free chicken schnitzel or a barbequed piece of fish or steak.  It is zesty and tasty and takes no time to prepare!

Don’t be restricted what I’ve used here – you can use what you’ve got in the fridge, some organic corn kernels or rinsed baby salted capers would be nice here too.  The idea is to create a fresh and zesty mix of flavours to jazz up your meal!

(serves 2-4 as a side dish)

What you will need:

  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1 cucumber peeled and diced
  • A handful of button mushrooms diced
  • 1/2 red capsicum diced
  • 1 green chilli (seeded) finely chopped
  • 1 roma tomato or a few cherry tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 red onion finely chopped
  • About a 1/4 cup of fresh Coriander leaves (cilantro)

For the dressing:

  • The juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

How to Pull It All Together:

Shake or whisk all the dressing ingredents together.  Combine the chopped up veggies into a bowl.  Gently toss the veggies with the dressing and serve!

9k=-3

I hope that some of these ideas inspire you!  I have a few more up my sleeve for the third installment of Jazzing Up Your Veggies – Shrinking Hubby style! Stay tuned!  And don’t forget to like me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest for more ideas to create healthy meals for you and your family!

Enjoy XX

How To Get Your Kids To Eat More Brain Boosting Salmon (Guest Post)

How To Get Your Kids To Eat More Brain Boosting Salmon (Guest Post)

Today’s guest-post is written by a friend of mine Mandy Sacher of  Wholesome Child, who is a qualified nutritionist specialising in children’s health.

As a busy mother of 3 young children (8, 5 and 4 years old) who are very fussy eaters, I struggle to come up with healthy and varied options at mealtimes that actually get enjoyed.  As Mandy explains in her  article below,  Salmon is a wonderful super food that can really benefit the health of our children.  She has shares some great tips on how to include more salmon into your family’s diet.  You will also find below my recipe for The Shrinking Hubby’s Miso Poached Salmon and Noodles our go-to favourite salmon recipe – one of the few dinners that gets demolished every time.  I hope you enjoy this post!

How To Get Your Kids To Eat More Brain Boosting Salmon

By Mandy Sacher of Wholesome Child

Salmon is a super brain boosting food for babies and children.  It is rich in omega-3-fatty acids (DHA and EPA) which are essential for developing brains. These types of oils are found in breast milk and are always added to infant and follow-on-formulas. Recent studies show that children whose diets are rich in these essential fatty acids achieve better results at school – especially in the areas of reading and memory performance. Evidence has also shown that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behaviour/learning disabilities are more likely to have diets which are low in omega-3’s and would benefit from increasing their DHA levels.

Not only are these essential oils important for brain health, they are also crucial for healthy eye development and strong immune systems as they ward off inflammatory childhood diseases. One of the best ways to ensure they are getting enough of these fatty acids in their diets is to bump up their salmon intake.  However, when choosing salmon – especially for babies and small children – it is important to take note of where it comes from and how it is fed.  Many farmed salmon are fed pellets which contain genetically-modified grains and fats such as soy, corn and canola oil.  Synthetic dyes may also be added to their feed to give their flesh that attractive pink colour and there is a widespread use of antibiotics and other chemicals which are not found in high quality premium grade salmon such as wild salmon or organic salmon.

Most parents reading this article are thinking “I am aware of the health benefits of salmon but how do I get my children to eat more of it?”   Here are Wholesome Child’s Top 10 ways to get kids to eat more salmon.  Many of these recipes are perfect for healthy lunchbox meals.

  • The Shrinking Hubby’s Miso Poached Salmon with Noodles (see below or click here for recipe)
  • Coconut crumbed salmon nuggets with dipping sauces such as home-made tomato sauce, tzatziki or beetroot hummus.
  • Spelt pasta spirals with creamy salmon and cheese sauce (great for winter, if your school does not heat food up send in a thermos).
  • Tasty salmon hamburger patties served on a sourdough spelt bun or in a wrap.
  • Savoury salmon and veggie mini- muffins.
  • Home-made cooked salmon sushi rolls.
  • Goat cheese, pumpkin and salmon mini-quiches
  • Rice paper rolls with cooked salmon and buckwheat soba noodles.
  • Salmon sandwich: layer sandwich with flaked salmon, crème fraiche, Dijon mustard and sweet potato puree
  • Salmon Shepherd pies are a great alternative to meat.
  • Salmon lasagne with plenty of vegetables.

So which is the best salmon for kids?  Many parents who are concerned about mercury levels, taste (compliance – getting their kids to eat it) prefer organic salmon to commercially farmed salmon and wild salmon.

Organic Norwegian Salmon is reared in the ocean in their natural habitat and there are 50% less salmon per habitat than non-organic salmon. They are free to eat natural occurring food sources within the ocean that flow into their estuaries and they are reared on 100% organic feed, which is fit for human consumption (100% sustainable).  There are no pesticides, no chemicals, no synthetic dyes and no nitrates. It’s really important when recommending fish for pregnant women, infants and children that we know exactly what the mercury, dioxin and PCB levels are and where our salmon come from.

About The Author:

Mandy Sacher is a paediatric nutritionist and health writer, who sources quality products for her clients.  She has had over 15 years of experience in the health industry and is the founder of Wholesome Child – helping parents to feed their children RIGHT from the start!

Mandy stocks the best quality organic salmon and is located in Rose Bay, Rozelle and delivers to St Ives on Tuesday.

You can find out more about Mandy at her website www.wholesomechild.com.au, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Wholesome-Organic-Salmon or you can contact her at mandy@wholesomechild.com.au

The Shrinking Hubby’s Miso Poached Salmon With Noodles

What you will need:

  • 1-2 fillets organic salmon
  • 1/3 cup of good quality brown rice miso paste (found from organic health food shops or whole food shops)
  • 1 packet Vietnamese Rice Pad Thai Noodles (or you can use buckwheat or soba noodles – adjust cooking time according to instructions.)
  • A couple handfuls green beans (topped and tailed)

How to pull it together:

  • Bring a medium-sized saucepan to the boil.
  • Add the miso paste and using a whisk mix together well.
  • Add the rice noodles (which generally take around 8 minutes to cook or if using different noodles adjust cooking time accordingly).  Cook for 2 minutes.
  • After 2 minutes, add the salmon fillet/s to the miso and noodles.  Cook for 4 minutes.
  • After 4 minutes add the beans and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Dish out into bowls, ensure to add a couple of ladlefuls of nutritious miso broth to the mixture and serve.

Notes:  For a more grown up version – this is delicious drizzled with some tamari, a little sesame oil and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.  You could also add some chilli oil for a kick.

 

 

How To Start Living A Healthier Life Today – By Jess Robinson (Lazy Girl Fit)

Today’s guest-post is written by a friend of mine Jess Robinson who is as passionate about health and fitness as I am.  It’s got some great advice about how to get started.  For most of us who are overweight or have friends or family or a partner who is struggling, it’s getting (us or them) started that’s the hardest part.  There is always next week, Monday, next month, next term, next year.  Our minds can come up with a million reasons why not to start today, but once you have made the commitment and taken some action it doesn’t take long to reap the rewards.  When we eat well and exercise, life is so much more enjoyable than when we eat badly and live a sedentary lifestyle.  Focus on getting healthy, and your waist line will reward you.  Here are some great tips on how to do just that!  I hope you enjoy this great post!

How To Start Living A Healthier Life Today

By Jess Robinson (Lazy Girl Fit)

Whether you’ve got 7kg or 70kg to get rid of, there’s no doubt that losing weight is a daunting task. No wonder it’s so often pushed to the back of your consciousness – a problem for Future You to deal with. But what happens when there’s no more procrastinating, what happens when Future You becomes just You?

The fact is, being overweight is a contributing factor to many chronic illnesses. It can also make it harder to keep up with your kids and more difficult to conceive in the first place, not to mention being downright uncomfortable. I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before, but I say it anyway because I want you to realise that it doesn’t have to be this way – you can stop being overweight, you can feel good about yourself and you can foster healthy habits.

In my opinion, the best way to ensure you get the results you want is to stop focusing on weight loss and start focusing on health gain. Here are a few tips for getting started.

1.  Set yourself small, weekly goals.

‘This week I will take five 20-minute walks’; ‘I will eat green, leafy vegetable with dinner each night’; ‘I will workout three times this week’. Make these smaller goals achievable and tick them off the list once they’re done.

2.  Set yourself big goals.

In my opinion, these goals shouldn’t be weight related. Think ‘I will be able to run 3km/5km/10km by this particular date’; ‘I will be able to do 5/15/30 toe push ups by this date’; ‘I will finish a fun run by this date’. It doesn’t really matter what the goal is, as long as it’s tangible, and it stretches you outside your comfort zone (but not so far you go running for the hills!)

3.  Keep a food diary.

I know – it’s scary. But sometimes you need scary to help you move forward. I would suggest two weeks of diarising all food and drink you consume.

4.  Don’t go on a diet; make a lifestyle change.

Spending hours on a treadmill each day and starving yourself for eight weeks will help you lose weight, but it’s not good for your body and chances are you’ll pile the weight back on as soon as you start eating like a normal person (which inevitably you will do).

5.  Enlist the help of a professional or two.

Nutritionists, personal trainers, psychologists, doctors – there are plenty of qualified people out there who would relish the idea of helping you. You just need to ask.

6.  Drink more water.

Kickstart your metabolism first thing in the morning with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice. A glass of water before each meal can also help you to feel satiated.

7.  Get the whole family involved.

If you’re trying to make positive changes in your life, it makes sense that your family should be involved. Not only will they benefit from the lifestyle changes you make, it also gives you a live-in support network to discuss any achievements and issues with.

8.  Small lapses should not equal large punishments.

Nobody is perfect all the time, and punishing yourself for having ‘bad’ food by binging on more food is not the answer.

***

The human body is pretty amazing, and being fit, strong and healthy is the best way to show your appreciation for it. To help you kickstart your journey to better health I’ve put together a simple, no-equipment circuit that you can do in the comfort of your own home. I hope you try it out!

At-Home Circuit for Beginners

 [30 seconds per exercise]

  •  Jogging on spot
  • Push ups – your choice of wall, incline, knee or regular push ups
  • Static lunge – left leg
  • Supermans
  • Bridge
  • Crunches

[Repeat 3-4 times; rest 15-45 seconds between exercises)

Static Lunge

Static Lunge

Wall Push Ups

Wall Push Ups

About The Author:

Jess Robinson is a certified personal trainer, outdoor fitness instructor, writer and sub-editor, based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. She created Lazy Girl Fitness in the hopes of building a positive online community where everyone – from the fitness-crazed to the fitness-phobic – can come together for workout ideas, conversation and empowerment. She also needed somewhere to post pictures of her dog.

You can read more on her blog lazygirlfitness.com.au here, follow her on facebook at facebook.com/lazygirlfitness here or twitter/instagram @LazyGirlFit

Jess Robinson and Lou www.lazygirlfitness.com.au

Jess Robinson and Lou
www.lazygirlfitness.com.au

What Is The Deal With GMOs – by Shannon Torres

I hope you find this article, written for The Shrinking Hubby by Shannon Torres of Success Impressions, as interesting and informative as I did.  She has managed to explain as succinctly as possible the complicated issue of Genetic Engineering in our food and I think that her article is a great place to start becoming aware of what is happening with our food and our environment.  It is quite a long article, but very compelling.  I am sure that you will gain a lot from reading it and hopefully it will make a positive impact on your health and that of your family and friends.

A brief look at Genetic Engineering in food:

What is the deal with GMO’s?

By: Shannon Torres

GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been bred, grown or raised with the DNA from other plants and animals, bacteria or viruses. This is known as genetic engineering. Though there are many types of genetic modifications in organisms, this article focuses on GM crops, produced for consumption.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding genetic engineering, and there are many opposing opinions regarding the long term safety of the consumption of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Scientists, who work for bio-technology companies, experiment in laboratories with crossing the genes of various species to understand the effects of crossing genetics that do not, and would not occur in nature.  The main purpose for altering the genetics in plants is so that they can be immune to chemical herbicides (weed killers), common crop diseases and to develop a natural repellent so that bugs do not eat them.

prwatch.org

prwatch.org

When traditional farmers plant seeds into the ground, they have to naturally fight the elements that may ruin the crops. In a natural setting, weeds and bugs can be a problem and farmers must use a variety of techniques to keep both weeds and bugs away. If weeds are not dealt with, they have the ability to take over an entire space, absorbing the water and nutrients intended for the crops. An infestation of bugs can kill an entire crop and severely affect a farmer’s income and the amount of food produced. Surely these issues are important.

There are less local farms than ever before, producing food on small farms for local communities. Many farmers have had their farms taken over, and are now working on huge plots of land for giant food corporations. In order to feed thousands to millions of people, farmers must grow a significant amount of food in less square footage than ever before.  Farmers no longer get down on their hands and knees and pull weeds, or use techniques such as the three sisters planting to deter pests. Industry has taken over the food system and by the use of machines and genetically modified seeds, they have successfully created a system of agriculture that prevents the unfavorable, natural, elements from occurring. Science considers this a great accomplishment! However, though this may be a great stride in agriculture, it may not be the best for those consuming the crops, or for the ecosystem and the environment.

justlabelit.org

justlabelit.org

Human beings have evolved over millions of years to adapt to their surroundings. The various blood types are a good indicator of who our ancestors are, and what kinds of foods we are most likely to tolerate consuming. The O blood type is the oldest known blood type, and individuals with this blood type stem from ancestors from the hunter-gatherer era. These are the ancestors who sharpened the ends of spears to hunt for food. The A blood type came about when agriculture began and ancestors began planting seeds and growing their own food. The B blood type came about when our ancestors turned to utilizing the milks from animals and began consuming and manufacturing dairy products. The AB blood type is the most recently evolved blood type, and many younger generations possess this blood type as it is a mix of both the A and B blood types. The AB blood type has adapted to the many changes in environment and food. Due to the historical progression of blood types, we are finding that many people are not responding well to genetically modified foods. Chronic disease is at an all time high, and our bodies are doing their best to reject these foreign substances, often times appearing as infections, tumors and inflammation. The consumption of genetically modified foods may very well lead to a new blood type in future generations. By altering the DNA in food, long term consumption also alters the DNA in the beings that eat them, whether it is people or animals.

Most industrialized farming is done, not with people, but with machines. This is what is known as factory farming. Machines are used for many steps of the farming process. From tilling and preparing the soil, to sowing seeds, adding chemical fertilizers, pesticides and keeping weeds away using the infamous weed killer Round Up. Food corporations understand the severity of a weed or bug infestation, and that is the main reason Round Up was created and genetic engineering began. Round up is a total and non-selective herbicide produced by the leader in bio-technology, Monsanto. The main active substance in Round Up, is glyphosate. When applied to plant life, Round Up kills everything that it comes in contact with. Bio-tech companies discovered that by altering the genetics in certain plants, they are able to make them immune to Round Up, so everything else but the intended crop will die. By evading the premature death of crops, food corporations are now able to grow a massive amount of GM crops and sell them for pennies on the dollar. Corn, wheat, cotton and soy are the largest genetically modified crops grown in the United States. Corn, wheat and soy are in almost all processed and packaged foods sold in the United States. Many countries around the world have banned genetically modified crops including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria but they haven’t necessarily banned the importation of products containing GM crops from countries where it is allowed.

Crop Dusting - Photo credit to polizeros.com

Crop Dusting – Photo credit to polizeros.com

The bio-tech industry (those producing GM crops) truly believe that they are providing a service by genetically modifying plants and animals. They are now looking to enhance the flavors and nutritional content in modified foods, as well as breeding plants to become drought resistant. Let’s be clear that the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have depleted almost all nutrients from the soil, and that is the reason why there is a need for flavor and nutrient enhancements.  On an organic farm, soil is rich and dark and has a potent ‘earthy’ smell.  The foods grown from that soil are nutrient dense and tasty.  By rotating crops year after year,farmers are able to deter pests and keep the soil rich because not all plants require the same nutrients.  Crop rotation creates balance in the soil and in the foods grown from it.  GM crops are grown in soil that is re-used time and time again for the same crops, year after year.  Since the soil used for GM crops is nutritionally depleted, GM crops are void of nutrients and flavor.  GM crops are not grown for the purpose of nutrition or taste.  Most GM Crops are used in the production of processed foods.  To compensate for the lack of nutrients and flavor, chemists and flavorists have manufactured additives to  add to processed foods, like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavors.  This poses an even greater risk to human health.  The production of GM crops is causing great harm to our bodies, the environment, water and soil supplies.

The genetic modification of food is a relatively new advancement in science. The long-term effects of consuming GM foods are yet to be publicly proven. However, if we take a look at the staggering statistics, millions of people die each year due to preventable diseases. Diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are all diet and lifestyle related. The consumption of processed and fast foods are a major contributor to these diseases. GM corn, wheat and soy are in almost all processed foods. These crops are subsidized by the US government and take up over 200 million acres of farm land in the United States. Genetically modified corn is used in the very toxic and potent sweeteners known as high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. Because high fructose corn syrup is so inexpensive, it is added to almost every staple of the American diet, including lunch meats, dairy products, cookies, breads, crackers, soft drinks and cereals. The over consumption of genetically modified crops is a great contribution to the health crisis facing America and the rest of the world.

Photo Credit interoccupy.net

Photo Credit interoccupy.net

What are the long term effects of consuming GMO foods?

When a bio-tech company alters the genetics of an organism, they file a patent on the “new” organism, declaring it an invention. When a company owns the patent on an invention, they have exclusive rights to the marketing, research and the studies. Many long term studies of the effects of these crops on humans and animals are rarely published, as they are classified by the bio-tech companies. Many citizens feel that regulatory authorities such as the USDA are being influenced by the lobbyists of bio-tech companies and are not thoroughly studying and publishing the effects of the consumption of these crops. Though it is difficult to conduct and publish studies on GM crops, a few do exist. During the French Study, rats were fed a diet of 33% genetically modified corn developed by Monsanto for two years. The results were horrific. The rats “developed tumors the size of ping-pong balls, liver damage and digestive problems”. Monsanto has a Q&A page, which addresses some of the controversies that have arisen from their practices. http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-safety.aspx

What does this mean for consumers?

Many consumers do not know which foods are genetically modified, and which ones aren’t. It is important that you research the companies who produce the foods that you purchase, and also pay great attention to the way your body feels after consuming foods those foods.  Pay special attention to your body after eating foods containing corn, wheat and soy. If you are noticing a decline in health, an increase of allergies, a decrease in immunity, fertility issues, or digestive disorders, it is recommended that you immediately eliminate GM foods from your diet.

The debate over genetically modified foods is far from over.  In 2012 Proposition 37 was rejected in California, which if granted would have required the labelling of genetically modified foods. This law failed to pass by a difference in 2.82% of voters. Monsanto contributed over $8 million to campaign against GM labelling. Over $30 million came from chemical companies, chemical plants and the producers of GM foods like Pepsi, Kraft and Coca Cola. The money spent in campaigning for GM labelling barely reached $10 million. Most people want to know what is in their food. It is up to us to make others aware that there are huge problems with the food system that they may not have been aware of.   In my opinion, it is in our best interest to avoid these foods altogether. Until long term concrete scientific research conducted by non-invested, third party researchers is conducted, our health may very well be in danger. Foods that are labelled as organic, are not permitted to be genetically modified. Continue to do your research on this issue, and make an informed decision for your own health. For more information, visit the following websites:

www.nongmoproject.com

www.organicconsumers.org

www.naturalnews.com

gmo-free

About the author

Shannon Torres is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She specializes in working with individuals to cultivate a carefree relationship with food, and implement sustainable life-long lifestyle practices. Shannon also works with groups, small businesses and corporations on implementing wellness programs to keep employees at work, productive, and healthy. She is a loving mother of three and is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of healthy food choices. With over a decade in the fields of health, nutrition and self improvement, Shannon is on a mission to help individuals heal through food, prevent disease, and live abundantly. For more information, visit www.successimpressions.com

It’s Not A Diet! It’s A Lifestyle Change – For Good!

Did anyone watch the Australian Biggest Loser Finale on Tuesday night?  The contestants blew me away with how much weight they had shed in only 4 months!!!  I am not taking away from anyone here, because you don’t lose that amount of weight without making big changes to your diet and lifestyle.  Anyone who watched what the contestants were subjected to by their trainers knows that they endured a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  So kudos to all of them for their efforts, they deserve to be very proud of themselves.  However, the big challenge for them will be to keep that weight off, indefinitely, because let’s face it, the very nature of radical diets means that they are doomed to fail.

Andrew and I get asked all the time ‘are you STILL on your diet?’ as if what we have achieved over the past eight years was only ever meant to be a temporary fix to knock off those extra (um like 60) kilos.  I can assure you, that although we often say no to unhealthy foods, we are definitely not on a diet!  What we have managed to achieve however, is a complete food and lifestyle overhaul.  We consider ourselves clean eaters in that we avoid processed foods and sugar but in saying that, we hardly deprive ourselves.  You have probably worked out by now that we eat really delicious food – a lot of it!  But we also let our hair down every now and again.  We are not the type of people who beat ourselves up (too much) if it is too difficult to eat clean when we are out or on holidays and we do enjoy a drink or 2  – just not with sugary mixers.  Life is short so we like to make the most of it!    What we have discovered  is that by turning our health around, we actually prefer good clean food and happily make healthy choices whenever possible, but again, that choice is not a deprivation, which is what a diet is really designed to do.

Traditional ‘diet’ foods substitute chemical sweeteners for sugar, and low fat rather than full fat, however these are not healthy foods.  If you don’t recognise something on the ingredient panel (i.e. because it is a number or specified chemical compound which ‘diet’ foods are full of) – your body isn’t going to recognise it either!  And I can guarantee that if your body doesn’t recognise it as food, your whole system is going to be confused as it tries to deal with its disposal.  This is where I have  a big problem with the way traditional diets treat all calories as equal – just because these chemical concoctions have little or no calories, does not make them a healthy choice.  In fact just the opposite!!!  I remember years ago being on the Weight Watchers diet where I happily drank a daily diet coke or 3, and indulged in artifically sweetened, low fat yoghurts and ice cream and was rewarded by the programme for doing so. So unhealthy!

And I should probably mention that when I met Andrew in 2001 he had just lost about 25 kilos with Jenny Craig, all of which he put on, with interest, over our early years together.  You can read more about his weight loss journey here.

Also most low fat versions of many foods have a higher sugar content to make them more palatable and there is so much information and research out there to show that it is sugar not fat that is our real enemy here.  Check out my blog post on good and bad fats here.

Since I started The Shrinking Hubby I have had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to so many people  who are following my blog or Facebook page and are genuinely benefiting from our story.  Whether they themselves struggle with their weight or their partner or child has this issue.  They all want to know how a 150 kg plus man had the discipline to lose 60 kilos through clean eating and exercise (without lap band or similar surgery) and kept it off!

I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t always been easy.  Andrew’s success is largely due to the support network he has (and still has).  Initially The Food Coach and myself, and then a lot of it was just me.  We also have a fantastic trainer, and a great network of people we train with which is very motivating (especially at 6am in the middle of winter!) But having said that, Andrew really needed to commit and it was he who made the decision to embark on this journey and make the changes.  He deserves most of the credit for the discipline that he continues to incorporate in his daily life.

You don’t get to 150 kilos simply because you have a love of chocolate or pizza.  It is deeper than that.  For many overweight people, food is much more than nutrition and enjoyment.  It is used as a tool to deal with other issues and it makes changing the diet and getting rid of unhealthy foods really difficult.  So it’s important to acknowledge the emotional side of being overweight as well as the diet and exercise front.

Of course initially, there was a lot of hard work to be done by Andrew.  His diet was pretty bad, there was a lot of binging on sugar, diet coke, alcohol, fried foods etc … but once we cut out a lot of that stuff, and once he started exercising and feeling really good about himself, he really enjoyed introducing fresh, healthy and new foods into his life.

When you eat well, exercise and generally look after your body the way it deserves to be treated, you reap wonderful benefits and your quality of life improves so much.  It’s more than just about your waistline (although that definitely is a pleasant side-effect), it is about that spring in your step and extra energy every day.  So, no, we are NOT on a diet – this is for life!!!

Andrew 2004

Andrew 2004

Andrew embracing a healthier life in 2013

Andrew embracing a healthier life in 2013

The Mummy Win – My Struggle To Feed Our Fussy Children

The Mummy Win – My Struggle To Feed Our Fussy Children

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned on here before just how fussy our children (we have 3 girls aged 3,4 and 7) are when it comes to food.  They have all had the very best of starts – I breastfed each of them for 6-9 months depending on when they had had enough of me, I was so pedantic about introducing only the very best organic produce (including a broad range of fruit and vegetables) to them when they were ready to start solids.  Yet somewhere along the way, each of them became impossible at meal times.

Having said that I have definitely noticed some recent gains with them and in particular with my 7 year old who is FINALLY becoming more open to accepting the right kinds of food.  And considering she was the fussiest of all 3 as a toddler I am going to draw the conclusion that perhaps fussiness in children is a little bit developmental and that taste buds definitely have the ability to evolve.  I also think that despite their defiance there is massive benefit to sharing and demonstrating our passion about healthy food with our kids, because as they get older they will become more rational about their food choices and with that comes the choice to be healthy based on what they have learned from their parents.

I wanted to write this blog post to share my daily experiences with my kids and food because I know that I am not alone.   The Shrinking Hubby and I eat a wonderful, varied, delicious and highly nutritious diet and our kids see this – yet they refuse to join us!  I have been making a concerted effort this year though to try and gain some ground when it comes to their nutrition.  So today I wanted to share some of the positive experiences I have had lately. I like to look at my small victories with food as ‘Mummy Wins’ and if I can get 1 or 2 of these ‘Mummy Wins’ in each day then I can sleep well at night knowing that I am making a difference and have made a positive contribution to my children’s health.

I want to stress here that I am very conscious of focussing on nutrition for health reasons rather than body image.  It is frightening how conscious most young girls are of their body image from a really young age.  Furthermore, our kids know that their father went through a massive body transformation before they were were born so it is definitely something that we talk about from time to time.  We make a point of making sure they see us enjoy healthy foods to feed our bodies rather than deprive ourselves of food to lose weight.  It is a subtle but important difference and the last thing we want to do is encourage unhealthy body image in our children.

Here are some of the recent Mummy Wins I have had with our kids.  I hope that these humble steps towards improving our kids’ nutrition encourage you to keep trying to encourage healthy eating habits in your families.

  • The Juice

I’m going to start with ‘The Juice’.  You may have read about my new found passion for juicing here, and Little Miss 7 decided that she wanted me to start making her a daily juice too.  However she made it very clear that I was NOT to put any green vegetables in her juice.  I made her a combination of orange and carrot to start, which she complained about at first (as you can apparently smell the carrot), however wolfed it down each time I made it.  She then requested the inclusion of green apple which I happily obliged with because once a tinge of green was included I granted myself a little bit of license and added a cucumber in as well!  She loves the new version, and I get so much joy from her asking for her daily juice each day.  We were discussing adding vegetables in her juice this morning and believe it or not my stubborn fussy daughter has agreed to try kale in her juice tomorrow!  Definitely a Mummy Win!

  • Healthy pancakes

We recently had a family holiday where they served a decadent breakfast buffet each morning.  For my children the highlight of this buffet was the pancake station where they offered not only sweet, white and floury pancakes and waffles but also ice cream, syrup and chocolate sauce to go with it all.  My absolute nightmare – and this was for breakfast!  Against everything I stand for I admit I allowed my 7 year old to indulge once or twice (after she ate a relatively healthy fruit and weet bix ).  When we got home they were begging for pancakes for breakfast and so we made them our healthy version of pancakes (recipe here) with the addition of a tablespoon of chia seeds and I have to say they were just as successful as the ones from the hotel.  Now THAT felt like a Mummy Win …

  • Salmon and miso

This is one of my  favourite dinners to feed them and it is so quick and healthy I thought I’d share it here as a Mummy Win.  I made this the other night, and instead of fussing and whining, the 3 of them cleaned their plates (even the greens – except for Miss 3!).  I boil up about a litre of filtered water and add a couple of tablespoons of organic miso paste.  When that is boiling I add a salmon fillet and cook for 2 minutes.  Then I add a couple of bunches of organic soba noodles and cook for 2 minutes.  Then I add some broccolini and beans and cook for 2 minutes.  So once the miso is boiling it is 6 minutes all up.  Mummy Win.

  • Zucchini in the mornay

All 3 of them love tuna mornay  (I make a white sauce with some organic butter, spelt flour and raw milk, add a tin of drained tuna and serve with brown rice) however the lack of green bugs me.  So I have started peeling an organic zucchini (or 2 if they are little) and grating it (I use the food processor to save time).  I sauté the grated zucchini with the butter before making the sauce.  They (all 3) wolf it down.  This one is a great one to double and freeze half – great for those busy days.  Mummy Win.

  • Rewards

I know that some might say that blackmail isn’t the way to go, but if the promise of dessert (usually fruit and yoghurt) or a sticker on their star chart can get them to eat a couple of beans or a stick of broccolini I am going to take that as a Mummy Win too.  The trick is to be very firm (and consistent).  And the feeling of watching them chew down those vegetables whether or not it involved bribery?  Mummy Win.

  • Rolled oats for breakfast

My 7 year old has decided she loves porridge for breakfast because I sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on the top and it caramelises.  I know how bad the sugar is, but if it means that she eats a bowl of organic unstabilised oats with  raw milk before a busy day of school I am much happier with that than one of the other  processed cereals with much more sugar than that in them.  Mummy Win.

  • Kale in the brownies

I recently discovered that even though they know that there is a whole bunch of blended kale in their chocolate brownies, they will still eat them.  If I bake the brownies myself I am in control of the ingredients and I have been playing around with organic dark chocolate, organic butter, sugar substitutes and different flours i.e. no vegetable oil, cane sugar or nasty additives.  Mummy Win.

  • Mashed potato

My 4 year old is OBSESSED with mashed potato.  I cook up a couple of organic potatoes (peeled and chopped) in a pot of salted boiling water with a head or half a head of chopped organic cauliflower (which I add about halfway through the potatoes boiling) until tender.  Then I drain and mash it all up (or even better put it in the blender/food processor so it is silky smooth) with some organic butter and milk and she is none the wiser.  Mummy Win.

  • Pasta and cheese

My kids have all always been obsessed with plain pasta and cheese.  I have worked out a way to make this a nutritional win (and send extras to school with them the next day for their lunch in their thermos which they love).  I use organic gluten free pasta and when the pasta is cooked I drain, then t0ss it on a low heat with some organic butter, 1-2 free range eggs and a couple of tablespoons of ground white chia seeds (I grind them in a spice grinder).  Delicious.  Mummy Win.

  • Hiding Veggies

So as you can see from the above, I am an advocate of hiding veggies into their food, but then I sleep better at night knowing they’ve eaten them.  I also make them eat the vegetables in their original form so that they learn to get used to it.  By hiding I mean I blitz the raw vegetables (whatever I have on hand but zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots etc work well)  in my food processor before adding to bolognese, sausage rolls, risottos, meatballs etc … Mummy Win.

***

Morning juice with a *tinge* of green - Mummy Win!

Morning juice with a *tinge* of green – Mummy Win!

 

I am far from perfect but at least I am trying.  I would love to know how you get your kids to eat well – please feel free to comment on this article or on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby.  I look forward to hearing from you.   (And if your kids enjoy a varied and healthy diet with little or no opposition towards you then you are very lucky and should embrace it!)

Enjoy XX

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