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You don’t have to be Australia’s best chef to make baby food at home. In fact, it is quite simple and the advantages are endless. By being homemade, bub will be eating foods free from preservatives and harmful chemicals. It also sets up your children with a love for healthy eating right from the start, making them appreciate fresh, wholesome food.

TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

The tools needed to make baby food are staples already lying around the kitchen. Not many are needed – minimal equipment will still make delicious food.

Blender or food processor

 Options like the Chicco 4-1 baby blender or Cherub Baby steamer blender are good options if looking to purchase. Otherwise, any blender that makes smoothies or purees food will work. If the blender is older, add an extra dash of liquid to make food a smooth consistency. 

Ice cube trays

 If the ice-cubes are calling these home already, check the local op shop to stock up on trays for an inexpensive price.

Steamer basket or insert

 This is needed to steam the food for purees. Steamer inserts can fit more produce but both will get the job done.

 Other tools include:

  • Baking sheet
  • Saucepans
  • Peelers
  • Spatulas
  • Knives
  • Freezer bags
  • Storage containers

COOKING TIPS

Main cooking techniques include steaming, roasting, baking or microwaving until food becomes tender. To preserve the nutrients from fruit and vegetables, opt for steaming not boiling and if ripe, they don’t need to be cooked at all.

Once cooled, transfer to a food processor of choice and blend for one to two minutes. Slowly add water, breastmilk or formula to reach a desired consistency – which ultimately should glide off the spoon.

Enhance taste and your baby’s palette by adding herbs and spices like sea salt, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary.

 STORAGE

Food will need to be kept in airtight containers, freezer bags or ice cube trays. Before transferring to the fridge or freezer, allow food to cool. Ice cube storage allows flavour combinations to be created as the small dosages of food can be mixed and matched.

The storage timeline for baby food is up to four days in the fridge, two months in the freezer for purees with meat and beans and up to three months in the freezer for fruit purees.

Labelling containers with the date and what is inside will allow for no confusion when choosing baby’s next meal.

RECIPES

Recipes from Babyfoode.com

Apple and coconut milk baby puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp cloves

 Method:

  1. Put the apples, coconut milk and cloves in a medium saucepan and cover. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until apples can be cut in half with a spoon. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth.

Broccoli and olive oil puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups broccoli – chopped into small florets
  • 1 small potato or apple – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

 Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to boil over medium heat.
  2. Place broccoli and potato (or apple) into a steamer basket and place over boiling water. Cover and steam for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the broccoli, potato (or apple) and olive oil into a blender and puree until smooth, adding water from the steamer in ¼ increments if needed.

Mango and Vanilla puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen mango
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or a pinch of fresh vanilla bean seeds

 Method:

  1. Put frozen mango and vanilla extract/bean into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir often until heated all the way through and tender roughly 3-4 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer into a blender. If mango mixture gets an excess of liquid while cooking, strain mangos and reserve liquid into a bowl.
  3. Blend on high for 1 minute or until the puree is smooth.

Optimum nutrition is crucial for physiological and cognitive development, however evidence shows that diet quality in children has declined. Processed foods, skipping meals and following fad diets may cause children to fail in meeting nutritional requirements necessary for growth and development.

Essential vitamins and minerals cannot be synthesised by the body, so a child must obtain them in adequate amounts from food. Poor intake of nutrients and energy could have detrimental effects on health, and contribute to the onset of low self-esteem, dental issues and decreased academic performance.

Epidemiological data estimates that one in five children are expected to develop some kind of mental health issue before adulthood, with half of adult mental health problems developing in childhood and teenage years. This highlights the importance of early prevention.

An Australian study examining 7114 adolescents aged 10-14 years, demonstrated that teenagers on a healthy diet were less likely to report symptoms of depression. The association exists above the influence of family, socioeconomic and other factors.

1. Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is key for skeletal development, bone health and teeth, providing hard tissue with its strength. Due to its importance for growth, requirements are higher in childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and lactation.

Calcium is also necessary for learning, mental capacity, the immune system, nerve impulse transmissions and contracting muscles.

Ensuring intake of adequate calcium helps minimise risk of fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Research connected calcium intake with prevention of colon cancer, insulin resistance, kidney stones, hypertension and obesity.

Absorption of calcium from food is only 20-40 per cent, and bioavailability is hindered in foods with phytic and oxalic acids, such as rhubarb, spinach, chard and some cereals.

Factors that increase Calcium bioavailability:

  • Vitamin D
  • Fat
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin C

Factors increasing demand for Calcium:

  • Bone fractures
  • Diarrhoea
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • High sugar diets
  • Lack of exercise
  • Magnesium deficiency

Calcium is involved in the following functions:

  • Activates insulin
  • Blood clotting
  • Bone and tooth formation
  • Muscle contraction
  • Nerve transmission
  • Cellular functions
  • Heart rhythm regulation

Food Sources:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Buckwheat
  • Dairy products
  • Egg yolk
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Sardines
  • Molasses
  • Soybeans
  • Turnips

2. Magnesium

Cells die without sufficient Magnesium, and it is required for over 300 biochemical processes in the body. Approximately 99% of total body magnesium is found in the bone, muscles and soft tissue, fifty to sixty percent residing in the bone. Magnesium is necessary for strong bones, healthy immune function, muscular and neurological function, blood glucose regulation and energy.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency in Children:

  • Requirements are higher due to growth and development.
  • Inadequate intake.
  • Cooking methods can result in magnesium loss.
  • Diets high in salt, sugar and soft drinks.
  • Reduced magnesium absorption due to low protein diet, vitamin D deficiency or medications.
  • Active children may have a higher requirement due to loss through sweat.
  • A child who is experiencing prolonged diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • Prolonged stress, worry or anxiety.

Signs your child may need more Magnesium:

  • Twitching muscles
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty maintaining attention
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Teeth grinding
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lethargy

Food Sources:

  • Almonds
  • Barley
  • Cashews
  • Cocoa
  • Cod
  • Eggs
  • Figs
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Kelp
  • Wholegrains
  • Legumes
  • Molasses
  • Parsnips

Inadequate magnesium can contribute to poor mood and influence anxiety. Both calcium and magnesium are important for mood modulation, cognition and brain function.

Write a list of your favourite calcium and magnesium foods, and each week ask your child to choose a new food to incorporate into your meals.

We rely on health advice from an industry that simply promotes the latest fad, designed to exploit the vulnerable out of their money. Diet culture wants us to feel bad about our bodies, leading us down a dangerous path of disordered eating behaviours and exercise misuse, inevitably, only profiting those who fool us.

Weight loss TV shows, stick thin celebrities, the ‘obesity epidemic’, Body Mass Index (BMI), bad foods and ‘skinny’ jeans. As a millennial, these were terms and images I was heavily exposed to throughout my childhood and teenage years.

I was a 15 year old girl, eagerly jogging on my treadmill in front of the TV while watching The Biggest Loser. I would dream of living a life like the contestants, exercising for hours on end and following strict eating regimes to ‘transform’ my body.

At school we learnt about BMI, and were required to calculate our own measurements; an activity becoming a petri dish of comparisons and judgment.

The influences that I grew up with were seen as normal, and even healthy, but have resulted in detrimental and dangerous outcomes. I am not alone in my history of disordered eating.

Close to 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder, with less than one quarter of those receiving treatment or support. A 2012 report commissioned by The Butterfly Foundation, found that females make up 64% of the total.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a mental illness which can be identified as an unhealthy preoccupation with exercise, body weight or shape, and eating habits. Eating disorder behaviours can include restricting, bingeing, compulsive overeating and purging. Purging can extend to vomiting, laxative abuse and excessive exercising.

There are also secondary eating disorder behaviours, which can often fly under the radar due to the influence of diet culture, which creates a sense of normalcy when it comes to obsessing over wellness.

Secondary Eating Disorder Behaviours

Carolyn Costin is a clinician, author and speaker, well-known for her expertise in the eating disorder field. In her book 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder, she discusses food rules, food rituals and exercise dependance.

Food rules:
  • Being unable to trust internal hunger and fullness cues without a ‘rule’ or ‘guide’.
  • Limiting choices of foods or food groups based on rules.
  • Measuring foods based on numbers such as calories or time.
  • Feeling a sense of control over food, and therefore out of control when food rules cannot be followed.
Food rituals:
  • Participating in food behaviours that create a sense of ‘safety’ around food.
  • Preparing food in a specific way.
  • Consuming foods at the same time every day.
  • Eating foods in a particular order.
  • A feeling of anxiety if the food ritual cannot be followed.
Exercise misuse:
  • Compulsive exercise is a commonly justified behaviour.
  • Exercise is no longer a choice, but an obligation.
  • Exercise is linked to self worth.
  • Exercise is continued through injury and illness.
  • Social engagements are cancelled for exercise.
  • Exercise is used to compensate for eating.

Diet Culture

Diet culture has a long history, and its roots are embedded in the media, science, medicine, religion and racism today. The anti-diet movement has been established to fight back against an industry that we are conditioned to believe has our best interests at heart.

Christy Harrison is an intuitive eating coach, anti-diet dietitian, and author of Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating.

She describes diet culture as a system that:

  • “Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, which means you can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal”.
  • Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, which means you feel compelled to spend a massive amount of time, energy, and money trying to shrink your body, even though the research is very clear that almost no one can sustain intentional weight loss for more than a few years.
  • Demonizes certain foods while elevating others, which means you’re forced to be hyper-vigilant about your eating, ashamed of your food choices, and distracted from your pleasure, your purpose, and your power.
  • And oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health,” which means you experience internalized stigma and shame—and perhaps external stigma and discrimination as well—for all the ways in which you don’t meet diet culture’s impossible standards.”

Diet culture is cunning and clever, we may not even realise when it is meddling with our lives. The identifying trends and behaviours are so normalised in society today, that it sneaks up on us in workplace lunch rooms, at social events, even through our internal voice, which may echo the food rules from our dieting pasts. Diet culture is inescapable.

“The implication is clear: eating anything other than the correct diaita made people less than fully human. The term diet, then, was bound up from the start with ideas about morality, restriction, the renunciation of pleasure, and the superiority of certain races.”

The Anti-Diet Approach

Anti-diet is anti-diet culture. The approach has a focus on overall wellbeing, rather than weight loss, and it shows us how the foods we eat and what our bodies look like, are not tied to moral virtue or social status.

Diet culture makes us believe that we have to ‘beat’ our hunger and change our bodies in order to find happiness and self worth.

Christy says, “Diet culture is a form of oppression, and dismantling it is essential for creating a world that’s just and peaceful for people in ALL bodies.”

Research supports this notion and confirms that diet’s don’t work. A 2019 study concludes: “The increases in BMI and WC were greater in dieters than in non‐dieters, suggesting dieting attempts to be non‐functional in the long term in the general population.”

To adopt the anti-diet approach, we need to keep our wits about us. Organisations know that diets don’t work, and have been moving away from language such as ‘diet’ and ‘weight loss’, instead, changing their language to terms like ‘wellness’. The diets have not ceased, they have just changed forms.

Diets are often disguised through buzz words such as ‘protocol’, ‘clean eating’, ‘health reset’, ‘nutrition challenge’ or ’lifestyle change’.

How can we adopt the anti-diet approach and fight back against diet culture? We can keep an eye out for diet culture red flags.

Diet Culture Red Flags

  • Wellness programs with a weight loss focus.
  • The use of before and after photos.
  • A program that gives food a moral value such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, including ‘traffic light’ systems and the like, that categorise foods.
  • Eliminating foods or food groups, without a medical reason.
  • Focusing on numbers such as calories, percentages, or time.
  • Buzz words like ‘cleansing’ or ‘detoxing’.
  • Tracking of calories, exercise or steps.

What can we do now to start adopting the anti-diet approach? We can identify diet culture through it’s red flags, notice our own internal dialogue when it comes to food, say no to fad and perfectionistic diets, and unfollow social media accounts that make us feel bad about our bodies or food choices. When we stop engaging in diet culture, diet culture loses its power.

“Weight loss doesn’t heal people from their internalised weight stigma. Bad body image is not cured by weight loss.” – Lisa DuBreuil in Anti-Diet.

You know that what you put into your body affects how you look, but do you know how the foods you eat can benefit or hinder your overall health? With modern nutritional science, dieticians and other experts know precisely how and why different foods cause changes in the human body and what an optimal diet looks like.

However, just because science has discovered the facts about healthy eating doesn’t mean everyone is going to adopt the best possible diet necessarily. As humans, we tend to poison ourselves with things that give us short-term happiness but contribute to long-term health issues (such as smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol), but healthy eating will have a long-term positive impact on your happiness.

If you want to live as long as possible and avoid chronic health conditions later in life, you should switch to a healthy diet. The following will examine some common dietary lifestyle behaviours and how they affect your health.

Leaning on takeaway meals

One trend that’s becoming more noticeable with younger generations is a lack of ability and will to cook at home. Even people who rent apartments or buy houses with lovely kitchens will never touch them other than to use the microwave or prepare something simple like scrambled eggs.

This is because spending a little extra money to avoid cooking and have a pizza delivered or go through a drive-thru is more convenient than learning to cook. This is especially true for people who may be overworked and find it too difficult to prepare food from scratch every evening when they feel exhausted.

If you want to cook healthier recipes at home and still enjoy the convenience of home delivery, then a meal-kit delivery service could be the perfect answer. This involves having fresh ingredients delivered to your front door along with easy instructions that remove a lot of the often frustrating and dull parts of cooking that might have preciously dissuaded you from giving it a go.

Consuming too much sugar

Too much of a good thing never turns out well, and our relationship with sugar over the decades has become one of the leading causes of issues like obesity in modern society. In our quest to make food taste better we have become accustomed to seasoning all our food, even savoury dishes that you wouldn’t typically classify as being sweet.

It can be hard to avoid the consumption of sugar when it seems to be everywhere that we go and prevalent in so many social activities. For example, going to the cinemas with friends often mean stopping by the snack bar and buying sweets to snack on while you enjoy the film together, and you might feel like you are missing out on the full experience if you refrain.

You should try to make a commitment to consume less sugar and let your friends and loved ones know about it, so they don’t pressure you or put you in situations where consuming sugar is encouraged. Doing this won’t just help you, but it will also inspire others to follow suit and enjoy the health benefits of reducing sugar from their diets by making the switch to low sugar alternatives or simply not consuming as many sweetened products.

Eating too much red meat

Over the last few years, the vegan movement has caused millions to swear off the consumption of animal products to promote a more sustainable and ethical relationship between humans and animals. While the choice to become vegan or not is still a personal one for many people, you should be aware of the net negative effect that overconsumption of red meat can have.

While there is still a lot of debate around red meat, with biases that inform opinions on both sides, there’s no doubt that it is possible to consume too much of it. Studies have shown that many types of red meat are high in saturated fats that can contribute towards issues like cholesterol, which is notorious for clogging arteries and stressing the heart, potentially leading to heart failure. Also, the cooking of red meat (especially on smoky grills), can produce carcinogens in the meat, which are known to contribute to the development of some cancers.

Summary

After your genetics, your diet is the primary determining factor in your health and well-being. Proper nutrition is the basis from which healthy and long-lived people operate, so if you want to enjoy the benefits then you might need to think about changing some of your eating habits.

As we are approaching a cold winter, what a better way to share some Traditional easy made chicken soup. An old family favourite, the ultimate cure for anything.

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Chicken soup for the soul really does take on a whole new meaning.

Traditional chicken soup

Prep: 15 mins 

Cook: 4hrs

25 mins for the 25 kreplach (dumplings)

10 mins for the soup

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken bottoms (drumstick and thigh)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 zucchini
  • 6 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. salt, or to taste
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 parsnip
  • beef bones with meat or chicken
  • table spoon pepper and salt

Method:

    1. Peel the carrots, sweet potato and onions. Leave the peel on the zucchini.
    2. Cut the vegetables into chunks, not too small.
    3. Put all ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn it down to a very low simmer, and cook for 4 hours.
    4. after 10 minutes skid off the scum that surfaces
    5. Refrigerate the soup overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden, so you can easily remove it.
    6. After you remove the fat, reheat and serve the soup.

Optional: dumplings to go with the soup. 

Kreplach (dumplings)

Small dumplings filled with ground meat, mashed potatoes or another filling, usually boiled and served in chicken soup, though they may also be served fried.

Method for pastry:

    1. In a bowl add plain flour and egg mix with water to form dough.
    2. Add flour if it’s too sloppy.
    3. Add more water if it’s dry and keep mixing.
    4. Roll into a ball wrapped in plastic.
    5. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Method for filling the dumpling:

    1. Cut up beef meat and chicken meat taken from the bones chopped finely.
    2. Add fried onions stirred with chicken or beef meat.
    3. Make pastry into squares, add mixture.
    4. Fold over small square pastry, press down to seal.
    5. Two other points are bought together and sealed.
    6. Poach in water, later add it to the soup.

Time to serve

    1. Get a warm dish and add a few dumplings.
    2. Cover kreplach with chicken soup.
    3. Season to taste.
    4. Garnish with dill and presto. The ultimate cure for anything
    5. Wine companion : Australian wine.

NOTES:

  • soup keeps for several days in fridge.
  • Kreplach is best eaten after cooked.

Recipe provided by Shalom Greenwald.

Dear Dr Benson,

Why do I crave chocolate?

Food cravings are thought to be due to external prompts and our emotional state, rather than actual hunger.

We tend to be bored, anxious, or depressed immediately before experiencing cravings, so one way of explaining cravings is self-medication for feeling miserable.

…One way of explaining cravings is self-medication for feeling miserable.

Chocolate does contain a variety of substances, many of which can have the effect of improving our mood.

Sugar and fat are obvious, both of which stimulate the hypothalamus, inducing pleasurable sensations by increasing levels of serotonin(a brain chemical that is also increased by the use of anti-depressant medications). 

High levels of the amino acid Tryptophanis also relevant, as it can be used by the brain to make serotonin

The chemical known as Theobromineis also known to have a mood-elevating effect (and can be quite toxic to dogs and cats, which is why pets should never be fed chocolate). 

Chocolate has also been shown to contain N-acylethanolamines which may result in heightened sensitivity and euphoria… possibly explaining chocolate’s aphrodisiac reputation!

Chocolate… may result in heightened sensitivity and euphoria… possibly explaining chocolate’s aphrodisiac reputation!

However it is also interesting to know that such chemicals are also contained in other less appealing foods such as broccoli.

So it may be the combination of chocolate’s sensory characteristics — sweetness, texture and aroma — that largely explain chocolate cravings…

Organise lunchboxes with minimal fuss and lots of healthy yumminess with these four amazing recipes!

Click here for more articles on nutrition, food portions, superfoods and health!


Recipe 1: 2 Ingredient Lunchbox Scrolls

If you want to make some fresh scrolls for lunch at home or lunch boxes, this is a really fast and easy recipe.  Equal parts self raising flour and greek yoghurt, that’s it!!

Serves: 8
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook times: 20 mins
Total time: 35 mins

Ingredients: 
1 cup Self Raising Flour
1 cup Greek Yoghurt

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Mix flour and yoghurt and make a ball.
3. Knead for a few minutes, adding more flour if mixture is too wet.
4. Sprinkle extra flour on bench, roll dough into rectangle

Mix ingredients together into a bowl to create dough.  I add a little more flour if the mix is too sticky.  Roll out onto a floured flat surface.  I have made a double batch below and created a different variety of scrolls.  One side is ham, capsicum, pineapple and cheese, the other ham and cheese.

Then roll up and slice into 2 cm thick segments, bake on baking tray until golden, approximately 15-18minutes.

Recipe 2: Mexican Chicken Salad Sandwich Filling

Ooh we so love Mexican in this household.  The girls and I like most dishes as I make them, but the boys (so macho) like to add in extra dashes of chilli sauce or jalapenos.   We often have chicken rolls for lunch on the weekends, but this took the traditional chicken and mayo roll to a whole new level.  If you love mexican you must try this!

Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

1 tomato, finely diced
1 capsicum, finely diced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup tasty cheese, grated
poached chicken breasts or 1 BBQ chook, shredded
1/3 cup mayonnaise
taco seasoning, to taste
Bread rolls

Instructions:

1. Add tomato, capsicum, spring onions and cheese into a large bowl, stir
2. Place chicken, mayonnaise and taco seasoning into bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.
3. Taste and add more mayonnaise and seasoning if required
4. Serve on bread rolls. There is enough mix for approximately 10 rolls.

Firstly I combined a diced tomato, capsicum, spring onions and cheese.

Then added poached chicken(or BBQ chook), mayonaise and taco seasoning.

Serve on bread rolls tiger bread rolls on this day, for a special treat!

Recipe 3: Fruity Bliss Balls

These Fruity Bliss Balls are nut free, which are ideal to put in the lunch boxes of kids who have a nut free policy at their school, store in the fridge for up to one week.

Serves: 18
Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

10 medjool dates, remove seeds
1/2 cup raisins or sultanas
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon cacao or cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
coconut

Instructions:

1. Place the ingredients into a food processor.
2. Process on high speed for several minutes until the mixture sticks together like a paste.
3. Take small handfuls of mixture and make into balls, roll in coconut.
4. Keep in the refrigerator, enjoy.

My kids usually take 3 bliss balls in replace of a fruit, read more about my lunchbox packing guide.

Recipe 4: Greek Mason Jar Salad

I’m trying to mix up what I am eating for lunches during the week.  Earlier this year I was stuck in a rut of making a sandwich every day.  Now I take time to plan ahead and make sure I eat something different each day.  I still have a sandwich, but another day I may have crispbread loaded with tuna, spinach, onion and tomato and then another day a mason jar salad.

Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins

Ingredients: 

1-2 tablespoons classic dressing
1 /3 cup chickpeas
Capsicum, diced
Cucumber, diced
Red onion, sliced
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Olives
Chicken, shredded
Fetta, cubed
Baby spinach, washed

Instructions:

1. Place all ingredients in the order listed above into a clean mason jar
2. Seal tightly, refrigerate and use within 5-7 days.

http://www.offspringmagazine.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/greek-mason-jar-salad-5.jpg

There is a special technique to the salad assembly to keep all the contents fresh.  The vegetables and protein need to be layered in a particular way:

Layer 1  Dressing
Layer 2  Chickpeas
Layer 3 – Hard vegetables – capsicum, cucumber and red onion
Layer 4 – Soft vegetables – cherry tomatoes, olives
Layer 5 – Protein – chicken and fetta
Layer 6 – Salad greens – baby spinach

Words and Photos from: 

Kat Springer
The Organised Housewife

Ari Chavez chats with Sally Obermeder about beating cancer, thriving on green smoothies and most importantly to Sally, being mum to three year old Annabelle, amidst a high profile career.

Sally Obermeder knows her way around a curve ball or two. In October 2011, the bubbly author, a National Entertainment and Lifestyle Reporter for Today Tonight was on top of the world. Her career was thriving and she loved her work but, most importantly, the then-37 year old was 41 weeks pregnant with a longed for baby, a successful IVF attempt after many years of trying to conceive naturally with her husband of a decade, Marcus.

Preoccupied with the imminent birth of Annabelle, Sally paid little attending to the nagging pain in her breast, and a small amount of skin puckering, believing the changes in her body were pregnancy-related. After a routine check from her obstetrician, however, she was referred for urgent scans and a biopsy.

The results were grim. Sally had a rare and aggressive form of Stage 3 breast cancer, and the medical advice was to start chemotherapy immediately. Sally needed to give birth as a priority, so she was induced while oncologists undertook further testing throughout her labour.

“Reeling from shock, Sally gave birth to Annabelle just one day after her cancer diagnosis. Ten days later, she started aggressive medical intervention.”

Ultimately, Sally’s treatment involved eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

The chemo, she said publically, was like being “nuclear bombed”. Her nails fell off, her mouth and throat ulcerated, she lost her hair and eyebrows and the ache in her bones was so relentless she could not lie down. The double mastectomy triggered such feelings of grief and shame, she revealed at the time that she felt “unworthy of being in the world.”

And all the while there was Annabelle, baby Annabelle, who needed feeding and changing and cuddling. Sally was too sick from her treatment to do it and, even if she could summon up the energy to kiss her baby, she was forbidden from doing so as the chemotherapy was too toxic for the newborn. It was a painful reality, another loss.

“I can’t get up in the night to feed Annabelle or change her during the days of chemotherapy treatment,” the popular media personality told The Australian Women’s Weekly not long after Annabelle’s birth.

“This is not how it’s supposed to be. She is supposed to know that I am there for her no matter what, not just when the cancer allows. And I hate the cancer for that. Because I feel like it has taken something precious from me and from my baby girl.

“This is something I have wanted my whole life, and now that I have it, I feel like it’s completely compromised. I thought I would be in this baby-and-me bubble. It would just be us, and it would be so beautiful. But instead there’s me and the cancer in one bubble and me and Annabelle in the other bubble, and I just keep shuffling between the two.”

Finally, twelve months later, Sally was given the all clear. She was completely cancer free.

Sally struggled on with her treatment, which at times was so debilitating it took all of her mental strength to continue with it. Courageously, she raised awareness of breast cancer by making public appearances and attending industry events, either with a wig or bald. Finally, twelve months later, Sally was given the all clear. She was completely cancer free.

It had been a brutal battle, but Sally had won it and, determined to restore her chemo-ravaged body to health, she set about pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Key to this was her love of green smoothies, a healthy blend of vegetables, fruits and super foods, which have boosted her energy levels, and helped her lose 15 kilograms, weight she gained due to eating to help fight nausea and sickness caused by the chemotherapy. The smoothie ingredients, which can include any fruits or vegetables, are blended with water or nut milks or cow’s milk, ensuring all the fibre and nutrients are consumed.

Such is her belief in the health benefits of green smoothies, Sally has written a book, with her sister, Maha Koraiem, Super Green Smoothies (Allen & Unwin, $19.99), which includes loads of recipes and tips for the smoothie lifestyle.

“We have been drinking green smoothies for about a year and a half now, and we wanted to include our favourite recipes, the ones we absolutely love that we knew other people would love,” Sally explains, enthusiastically.

“We really tried to think about what is it that’s important to us and to other people, and usually it’s weight loss, so we have a whole section on weight loss, we have a specific kids section because Mums want to know how to get veggies into their kids’ diets and we did a section for people who are just starting out and just want to settle in. We really worked the book to start simple and then get a little bit harder and add a few more ingredients. We wanted people to start to love smoothies and have it for your lifestyle like it is for us.

You’re not juicing, it’s in a blender. You get all the fibre, you get the entire vegetable, you get all of it.

Coming off the back of such aggressive medical intervention, and as a busy working mum juggling numerous demands on her time, Sally was searching for something to boost and sustain her energy levels throughout the day. The rainbow plate of fruit ‘n’ veg that makes its way into her morning smoothie has proven to be the answer, and she does indeed radiate health.

“My energy levels are incredible,” she says. “That’s the thing, suddenly you are not reliant on five coffees a day, and you’re not suddenly going, ‘when is it three o’clock so I can have a coffee? Oh my gosh, how can I prop myself up with sugar?’ The thing that happens, and you notice it straight away, is that you want good food, you don’t want sugar and you don’t really want crap anymore. Then you start to get this buzz.

“I think it’s because if you put it on a plate and look at how many vegetables you’re having, you wouldn’t have that much. You wouldn’t have two cups of spinach, a handful of broccoli, you’re not going to have kale as well, you’re not going to have quarter of an avocado or half an avocado, a banana, a lime, coconut so you are having all these vegetables, some fruit, some super foods. So you’re suddenly going, ‘Well, this is actually really good for you,’ and when would you do this? Probably not ever. Certainly not at the beginning of the day.”

Sally is clear about the benefits of blending versus juicing, believing blending wins hands down in the health-boosting stakes.

“The things that happens, and you notice it straight away, is that you want good food, you don’t want sugar and you really don’t want crap anymore. Then you start to get this buzz.”

“You’re not juicing, it’s in a blender,” she explains, firmly. “You get all the fibre, you get the entire vegetable, you get all of it. That’s why it’s so good for your digestion. I think if you’re juicing, and there’s a lot of people who love juicing and swear by it, I think what happens is you don’t get the fibre, you don’t get the bulk, you are only extracting part of it. You’re not getting the whole vegetable. It’s just like eating it [fruit and vegetables] only you couldn’t eat this many!”

Sally’s changed approach to diet, and her resulting good health, is only one of many changes being a cancer survivor has wrought. The eight months of gruelling chemotherapy, the double mastectomy, the hours lying on the tiles in the shower unable to move, the inability to kiss her longed-for baby have changed her irrevocably. Time is now a precious commodity, something she does not waste.

“That whole experience of having cancer has completely changed my outlook on life – motherhood and everything else outside motherhood. I was grateful before, I have always been a grateful person, but I am far more grateful because I appreciate that it’s not a given that you’re just going to live until ninety,” she explains.

“Sometimes, when you’re younger, you’re just in a bubble where you assume your life will play out in a certain way, and when something shocking like that happens and then you come so close to dying, you really realise, ‘oh, actually this is not a given anymore and every day I am on this planet is actually a gift’.

You choose how you want to spend it and who you want to spend it with. You really re-evaluate that. You think, what is it that is important to me, what is it that I want to do with my time because time is not infinite…You really value your time and it becomes so precious because you realise there is not endless amounts of it.”

One of Sally’s key priorities is to spend as much time as possible with her beloved daughter, Annabelle. Sally, a naturally warm and engaging woman, literally lights up when talking about her daughter.

“She is hilarious and amazing, like they all are, and it’s such a fun age…she’s three and a half now. It’s a really fun time, we do Adventure Wednesdays and we wander around and we create our own adventures, and we talk and talk and it’s just beautiful,” she says, proudly.

I think it [motherhood] has made me a lot more present because you just have to be. They are so interesting, they demand so much of you, you don’t drift off I find, you are really in the moment.

“I think it [motherhood] has made me a lot more present because you just have to be. They are so interesting, they demand so much of your time, you don’t drift off I find, you are really in the moment. If you are playing with them or you are in the park or you’re running around, that’s just what you’re doing and it’s good because it keeps you focused.”

Despite her obvious pleasure in family life, Sally is not immune from the common complaint that mothers typically carry the thought load of the family, the mental lists of commitments, meals, groceries, bills, laundry and housework, and the mental exhaustion this can bring.

“It’s hard being a mum, it just is hard. There are so many demands on you. Sometimes I’ll say to [husband] Marcus, ‘I’m so jealous because you’re so helpful with everything but ultimately you’re not the general manager of the house or whatever’. If I say, ‘Hey Babe, tomorrow can you get the groceries’ then yes, he will do it, but guess what? There’s a step before that, and that is he didn’t have to think of anything that led up to that moment.

“Most mums I know, working mums and non-working mums, it’s them that that falls on, the planning and organisation and orchestration of the family – who is going where, and when and at what time, and the flow on effect of everything – and that is exhausting when you are a mum. It is. My girlfriends and I call it pinging because your brain is always pinging with everything you have to do.”

 

“Most mums I know, working mums and non-working mums, it’s them that that falls on, the planning and organisation and orchestration of the family.”

“Sometimes I juggle it so well, and I’m like, ‘I’m such a rock star!’ and then the next week I am in tears every day thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is a disaster!’. I think I have learnt to accept that some weeks it goes to plan and some weeks it just doesn’t, and that’s the nature of life. It takes a long time to accept it.

“I had a real turning point late last year when I decided that I’m going to stop trying to have a set routine that I create on January the 1st that carries me through the whole year because I have finally accepted after ten years that the nature of my job is that it is a job with no routine, so I have gone, ‘Okay, I am going to stop trying to force it into a box and make it fit and then getting pissed off when it doesn’t fit. I am just going to look at this week on its own and next week on its own…and just keep it a little bit fluid’. Some weeks that means I work all day Saturday, some weeks that means I work five nights after Annabelle has gone to bed…I just fit it in as best I can for that week.”

The mind-boggling demands of juggling her high profile media career, her online store and authoring her books, have not distracted Sally from what requires her full and considered attention – Annabelle. When she is with her daughter, all the other demands on her time are put to one side and she focuses on the task at hand, mothering her child.

 

-Ari Chavez

*MORE INFO*

Sally’s book: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/general-books/food-drink/Super-Green-Smoothies-Sally-Obermeder-AND-Maha-Koraiem-9781760113711

Sally’s online store: http://www.swiish.com

Benefits of green smoothies: Click below

GREEN SMOOTHIES! WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ supports the idea that without the foundations of a good diet you are wasting your time and money trying to balance your health. Shannon Burford, a naturopath based in Claremont, firmly believes a correct diet, herbal medicine and nutritional balance can make an enormous impact on an individual’s health even for those dealing with allergies, asthma, Autism, ADHD, infertility or cancer.

Meeting Shannon at his clinic, aptly named Cura Integrative Medicine, you become instantly aware of the aroma from the herbs and tonics on his shelves with names and labels not found in any commercial advertisement or local pharmacy. 

Over a pot of freshly brewed herbal tea, Shannon describes his own healing journey after contracting Dysentery and Typhoid while travelling through India and Cambodia in his early 20s. Already holding a degree in Science from Curtin University, Shannon realised the impact of nutrition on his health and while he appreciated the need for antibiotics, he knew working on prevention and building his strength from good food and herbs would see him on a better path for the future. 

His impressive resume now covers a Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Science and a Bachelor in Health Science (Naturopathy), he is also a Master herbalist and nutritionist, a lecturer in nutritional medicine, naturopathic philosophy and author in a variety of health topics, including cancer and men’s health. He is also a father of two. 

“The relationship between good food and behaviour now seems so clear,” he muses. “There is a need, a real urgency to understand the impact of what we put into our bodies. I want to educate as many people as I can and fuel the growing awareness that nutrition is a huge contributor to health. 

“You have no doubt heard people say ‘wholefood, wholefood, eat more wholefood because it is healthier’, right? Why exactly? It is all about the full package. With processing comes removal of the valuable nutrients. That is why brown rice is a better choice than white rice.” 

Another turning point in his life was the birth of his son, and realising the impact toxicity, allergies and ADHD behaviours have on children. Shannon said it was then that a passion in children’s health was awakened.

Naturopathy holds the core philosophy that the body can heal itself and everyone is an individual.
We live in a polluted world and eat processed food, with processing methods drastically reducing nutritional content.

Shannon describes his experiences as a parent of a child with terrible reactive eczema determined by allergy tests as fuelled by an exhaustive list of triggers such as egg, dairy, food colouring and sugar. His son was also diagnosed with asthma and prescribed ventolin.  

He recalls the day his son, then aged two and a half, ate a brightly coloured iced donut as a special treat and the transformation that followed, which he describes as nothing short of the Incredible Hulk, as his young son began wild screaming and hurtling furniture across the floor, an episode that lasted about an hour. Once older, and able to communicate clearly, his son described the headaches and other symptoms he suffered once exposed to sugar and food colouring. 

Today, his son has none of these issues. 

” HMA (Hair Mineral Analysis) is an invaluable screening tool to assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and preventative health care”

Shannon says whilst his primary passion is in evidence-based nutrition, he combines this with the power of herbs lifestyle changes. He explores his patient’s health like an iceberg, depicted by the small visible peak being the symptoms, yet his work is to discover what lies beneath the surface, hidden in our diet, environment and toxicity within. 

His diagnostic process is thorough, with calls for blood, saliva, stool, allergy and hair analysis as required, as well as diet, sleep, energy and behavioural discussions and observing the eye lids, tongue and fingernails among other things, to get the full picture on a patient’s health and tailor a precise treatment plan to suit.   

Naturopathy holds the core philosophy that the body can heal itself and everyone is an individual. One size does not fit everyone! A tailored diet and certain herbs can create an optimum environment for health,” he says. 

He is a strong advocate for Hair Mineral Analysis (HMA), especially for children due to its comprehensive results without the invasiveness of a blood test. The test is simply cutting a collection of hair from the back of the head, yet it can detect an excess or deficiency of vital nutrient minerals such as calcium, selenium, zinc and iron. It can also identify over-exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic or aluminium.  

“HMA is an invaluable screening tool to assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and preventative health care,” Shannon boasts. 

The results of the test have become quicker of late with a diagnostic laboratory now based in Perth rather than overseas. 

His HMA testing has confirmed Shannon’s belief that zinc deficiencies exists across the population of Western Australians, young, old, male and female, primarily attributed to our soils that fail to retain nutrients coupled with the growth of crops in the same soil over and over. So while foods like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, oysters, beef, wholegrains, egg yolks and seafood contain high levels of zinc, the very nature of the way those foods are grown may very well mean we still need something extra to keep our bodies balanced.  

People with zinc deficiencies demonstrate poor wound healing, prolonged infections, low appetite and kids may experience recurrent ear infections, sleep disturbance and anxiety.

“In an ideal world, we shouldn’t need a nutritional supplement or a herbal medicine mix if we were eating all living and whole foods. The reality is though, we live in a polluted world and eat processed food, with processing methods drastically reducing nutritional content. The body is also burdened with chemical preservatives and additives.” 

People with zinc deficiencies demonstrate poor wound healing, prolonged infections, low appetite and kids may experience recurrent ear infections, sleep disturbance and anxiety. Yet the physical signs may be as small as white marks on fingers nails.  

“A balance of the vital nutrients is important for optimal health and zinc is tremendously important for people of all ages, it supports a healthy immune system and the growth and development of the body during adolescence, childhood and pregnancy and is essential for men’s prostate and productive health. Lack of zinc has also been shown to have a clear link to anorexia and bulimia too. 

Get your kids eating oats for breakfast and start their day on the right foot. Shannon’s tip is to try making a pot of chamomile tea and use the tea to cook your oats. It will reduce anxiety and is good for the gut!

Shannon explains that good nutrition can also impact the severity of disorders such as ADHD and Autism in children, however he said for some parents it is hard to make the dietary changes in a society so busy and so focused on instant gratification with medications so readily available that offer noticeable and immediate behavioural modifications. He describes some parents returning to his clinic, sometimes years later, deciding to try the slower but longer lasting naturopathic and nutrition path, after becoming frustrated with the cycle of medications and behavioural management which left their child ‘under a cloud’ or ‘void of themselves’.  

Whilst it is unfortunate that the majority of people turn to Shannon after they have exhausted conventional medicine avenues, he still holds high hopes that one day preventative medicine will reach the forefront of his clientele. 

When faced with resistance or uncertainty from his exhausted and time poor patients about what their kids will eat, what they can afford or what changes they are willing to make permanently to their pantries, Shannon says it’s all about tailoring a plan for the individual. People will only make changes when they are truly ready, a small change for better health is better than no change, so slow substitution and reducing the sugar load is key. Obviously some families have reached the end of the line when they arrive at the spiral staircase which leads to Shannon’s quaint office and are willing to forgo all bad habits in search of better health. 

His best advice is to set your kids up for success by teaching them early on to make good food choices. Shannon explains eating healthy isn’t about restrictions, it’s about creating new habits. 

“The small changes you make to your child’s diet will ripple through their entire life,” he says. 

And yes, he does practice what he preaches, and so do his children. 

“I aim to eat as pure as possible, organic where I can to obtain the best quality. If the food comes from a box, I would say don’t eat it,” he says. 

“For breakfast my kids and I will eat oats with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, psyllium husk, a sprinkle of pro-biotic and maybe some frozen berries, with soy or rice milk. 

“But I understand that kids go to birthday parties and they love cheesy pizza and pasta, my kids are like most kids, we don’t live in a cave, but we don’t eat gluten or sugar and we don’t have the bad choices available in our home. My kids have grown aware of the ingredients in products and how food makes them feel and as such they aren’t interested in the coloured cakes or the lolly bags, apart from the bubble blowers.” 

For any food that does happen to come cloaked in cardboard, he is a big advocate for label reading.  

“The most important thing on the box is the ingredients list,” he said. “Check out the details of what it contains more than the standard breakdown of fat, sugar, carbohydrates and look at the placement of the ingredients on the list. Where is the sugar? If it is listed first, it means the product contains mostly sugar.”  

For more information contact Shannon at Cura Integrative Medicine 08 9284 4644, wellness@curamedicine.com.au, www.curamedicine.com.au  

There’s a health revolution occurring globally centred around Green Smoothies. The word is spreading and our ears are opening to the “Popeye” effect of leafy greens and the Green Smoothie, which is a convenient, tasty and simple way to consume significant amounts of greens.

Leafy greens are the most deficient of food in today’s diets.  A Green Smoothie can be the perfect way to increase your consumption of daily greens. Most of us wouldn’t have the time, patience or fortitude to eat a very large amount of leafy greens on a plate. However, if we blend the same amount into a smoothie, the perceived intake seems minimal, it is far more palatable and it can be consumed relatively quickly. Even our children are participating and loving the “green monster” revolution.

Here are some of the many health benefits that can be attributed to having Green Smoothies:

  • WEIGHT LOSS: The fibre and water consumed in a Smoothie provides perfect sustenance to maintaining fullness and hydration.
  • REDUCED CRAVINGS: Nourishing Green Smoothies will naturally crowd out desire for junk food.
  • ENERGISED: They provide a powerful boost of nutrition, loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.
  • IMMUNE BOOSTING: Blending leafy green vegetables and fruit makes digestion easier and nutrients more accessible, while providing an antioxidant-rich meal that provides the body with the best defence against disease.
  • CLEAR SKIN: They’re high in fibre which is essential for good colon health. This allows the elimination of toxins the right way instead of through the skin.
  • ALKALISE: They have an alkalising effect on the body. In modern diets people consume large quantities of meat, dairy, refined sugar and grains, thus creating a more acidic disease-thriving environment in the body.
  • DETOX: Greens are rich in chlorophyll, providing oxygen to the body’s cells. Chlorophyll is known as a blood purifier and detoxifier.

To make a Green Smoothie the only thing you need is a good blender and some fresh produce – leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet blended up with some fruit and water. Here’s how you too can try out the Green Smoothie.

  1. Use your favourite fruit such as a banana, avocado or mango as the base
  2. Select a leafy green vegetable – start off with a light tasting one such as spinach
  3. Avoid dairy products
  4. Try adding Chia or Flax seeds which are rich in omega 3 and high in protein
  5. Keep your blender countertop so you’re not reaching into the cupboard everyday.

Tip: As you become accustomed to the taste reduce the amount of fruit keeping in mind you want to enjoy the taste and look forward to the next one!

The following smoothie recipe has been a regular feature on my breakfast menu!

Dandelion’s Daily Special 

  • 4 silverbeet leaves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 banana frozen
  • 2 Tablespoon flaxseeds
  • 3 cupsl filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon Macca not essential
  • 1 cup ice
  • Blend until desired consistency is reached and serve

So why not jump on board, get those blenders out and start making green smoothies!  Do it for a week and see how you feel.  You won’t want to miss a day!