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It’s 7.00 am in 2013. I am living in the suburbs of New York City. Papa is annoyed. I know this because Scottish pipes and drums are blasting from the Bose speakers in the kitchen – this means we are late to breakfast.

Different styles of music marked different stages of our day growing up. For example, on a normal week day, we played classical music at breakfast. As a result, from a young age, we were familiar with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 and Mozart’s Requiem, K. 626. These composers and their pieces marked the beginning of every day. At lunch time, we listened to Neil Diamond in the 70s and Stan Getz’s Girl from Impanema. Dinner, however, was exclusively American and Italian jazz.  Frank is a big family favourite—always kicking off Saturday night appetisers with New York, New York.

For as long as I can remember, I have woken to classical and fallen asleep to jazz.

Graffiti of jazz musicians.

With my days structured in musical genres, I was able to use my spare time for exploring my own musical tastes. From rap, to country, to Pitbull – my Spotify playlists never seem to make much sense. Indeed, growing up listening to different types of music meant I could not only explore a myriad of musical epochs, but also developed an interest in their history, because of the important social and political role some musicians played.

The way my parents used music to break up our days and structure them according to meal times, meant to this day, I associate music with community, to a time for conversation, and a time to enjoy my food.

I credit my solid relationship with food with the benefits of music.

A young family sharing a meal together.

As I grow older, I am increasingly aware of the manner in which family dynamics around food and meals can shape and affect our children’s eating habits. The benefits of listening to music at home in a structured, but enjoyable way, meant, growing up, the time for eating was always a shared event. Music brought my family together around a small kitchen island for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

A happy family having a picnic.

Not only has the correlation between food and music positively affected the quality of our time spent eating, but as well as that of our conversation. If anything, music inspires taste and mood, which is reflected in the way people communicate.

Research on the association between music and its intellectual benefits for kids is common. The assumption is, however, that there is causation involved between listening to music and children earning higher marks. This didn’t play out for me because I was never patient enough to learn a musical instrument and always preferred kicking the soccer ball. However, alternative explanations could explain why children who grow up listening to music or playing a musical instrument achieve success. For instance, a child taking the time to learn to play the guitar might learn the skill of perseverance, which helps when tackling challenging homework.

Toddler playing the guitar at home.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) show that music has physical and emotional benefits. Music activates the emotional reward system of our brains and causes the release of dopamine. This is one of the main signaling molecules in our brains. It is often used to describe a small, pleasurable thrill. Music creates ‘peak emotional arousal’ following for instance, the anticipation of a beat drop or a particularly enjoyable passage.

This creates a similar feeling in our bodies as that of other ‘euphoria-inducing stimuli’ such as food, drugs and sex.

A model of the human brain.

When combined with other euphoric aspects of our lives – i.e. food and a happy family environment, music has incredible social and personal benefits. The natural benefits of music on the body explain why music is a universal concept among humans.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective.

The ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘keto’ or low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet in which one’s consumption of carbohydrates is reduced to 50-20, ideally 20, grams per day. When carbohydrate consumption is substantially reduced, the body’s supply of glucose is depleted, forcing it to turn to fat as an alternative source of energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis. Ketosis leads to the production of ketones, which are stored in the liver and can provide energy to the brain.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long-term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective. The keto diet has been linked to the reduction of the hormone ghrelin; the body’s main ‘hunger hormone’. The reduction of hunger signals can lead to a lower calorie intake and less food cravings, resulting in weight loss.

Following a keto diet

The rule of the keto diet is to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and small amounts of carbohydrates. Generally, a person following a keto diet should obtain:

  • 70-80% of their calories from fat
  • 20-25% of their calories from protein
  • 5–10% of their calories from carbohydrates

Ideal foods

  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Cheese Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Low carb vegetables (e.g. lettuce, kale, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and mushrooms)
  • Berries (especially raspberries and strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black coffee
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Healthy oils (e.g. olive and coconut oil)
An iPhone photographing avocado and broccoli

Foods to avoid

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans and legumes
  • High carb fruits (e.g. bananas)
  • Starchy vegetables (e.g. Potatoes and sweet potatoes)
  • Sugary foods
  • Fruit juices
  • Most milks, with the exception of unsweetened almond milk
  • Sweetened yoghurts
  • Chips and crackers
Bagels and cream cheese

Other uses and benefits

Epilepsy Treatment

The keto diet was originally used as a medical diet to assist in the treatment of Epilepsy, primarily in children.

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is characterised by a variety of unpredictable seizures, ranging from sudden unresponsiveness, confusion, abnormal behaviour, and loss of memory, to convulsions and complete loss of consciousness. A person is diagnosed with Epilepsy if they experience two episodes of unprovoked seizures (occurring more than 24 hours apart), that are not caused by another medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or drug overdose.

Keto diets are traditionally used to treat and manage seizures in children when anticonvulsant medication has not worked. Higher ketone levels in the blood often lead to improved seizure control.

Fatty Liver

Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver. In the past, fatty liver was attributed to those who consumed excess amounts of alcohol. However, today, it is more likely to be caused by other factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance.

A keto diet can assist in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by:

  • Reducing fat stored in the liver.
  • Decreasing insulin levels.
  • Suppressing appetite.
  • Promoting weight loss.

Other Neurological Issues

man eating vegetable in bowl
A little boy eating avocado

Due to extensive evidence that the keto diet effectively reduces seizures in children with Epilepsy, it has been suggested that the diet may assist in the treatment of other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and even brain cancer. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support these claims, and more human studies are required.

Risks and side effects

The ‘Keto Flu’

A sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake can come as a shock to the body, which may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms. For most people, the ‘Keto Flu’ is a group of short-term side effects that will resolve within a few weeks. These symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Bad Breath

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

As the majority of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are often not consumed while following a keto diet. This increases risk of deficiencies in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

 Lowered Bone Density

Ketosis can have negative effects on bone health. Though there have been only a few studies regarding the keto diet and bone health, results have showed depleted bone density and an increase in fracture risk.

Kidney Stones

High fat animal products, such as meat and eggs, contain little to no carbohydrates (for example, one boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbs) and are therefore staple food items in a keto diet. Eating a lot of these foods leads to a higher risk of kidney problems, such as kidney stones.

Heightened Risk of Chronic Illnesses

Medical evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Who shouldn’t follow a keto diet?

Those with impaired kidney function

As mentioned earlier, those who consume high quantities of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and cheese, are more likely to develop kidney problems. Because of this, those with pre-existing kidney issues should not follow a keto diet.

Pregnant women

When it comes to the keto diet and pregnancy, there is little research, mainly due to ethical issues regarding studies performed on pregnant mothers. However, the main consensus between doctors is that following a keto diet is not safe during pregnancy and can lead to a higher risk of developmental delays and issues with organ growth. Following a keto diet during pregnancy may also be linked to organ dysfunction and behavioural changes after pregnancy.

Those who are underweight

Though the keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat, it often leads to, sometimes rapid, weight loss. For this reason, it is not recommended for those who are underweight.

Those who suffer from, or have a history of, eating disorders

Without the advice of a dietician, it is not recommended for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours to follow restrictive diets. There is a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to eating disorders and dieting. Obsessing about the nutritional content in food may trigger eating disorder sufferers to fall back into dangerous behaviours. What’s more, those with a history of eating disorders or under eating may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, and these may be exacerbated while following a keto diet.

closeup photography of pregnant woman wearing blue panty
A pregnant woman

Keto and diabetes

There are two main types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount insulin, which is vital in converting glucose to energy. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.

There is no simple answer as to whether a keto diet is safe for those with diabetes. In some, following a keto diet may be possible and beneficial, provided they are closely monitored by a medical professional. As many with type 2 diabetes are overweight, the weight loss benefits of a keto diet may be helpful. A keto diet also lowers blood sugar levels, which may also be beneficial. Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is recommended in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as large consumption can cause blood sugar spikes.

However, there are numerous risks involved. Firstly, a keto diet may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Secondly, following a keto diet puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone bodies produce a dangerous amount of acid in the bloodstream. The kidneys then begin to excrete ketones in the urine, which can result in fluid loss. Cases of diabetic ketoacidosis usually occur in those with type 1 diabetes, due to their inability to produce insulin, which prevents the body from producing too many ketones. However, in rare cases, it has been observed in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Always remember

three avocado fruit desserts
Avocado filled with tomato and feta

Before making any changes to your diet, it is vital that you seek advice from your doctor or dietician, monitor your health closely, and report any concerning symptoms. If you are taking any medications, it is also important to talk to your doctor about any effects a keto diet may have on them. All in all, trust your body. If you don’t feel well while following a keto diet, speak to a professional about whether or not the diet it is right for you, and discuss alternatives.

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.

The top five teas you should be drinking this spring.

Tea. It’s been around for centuries. It’s been used for medicinal purposes, beauty products and has even become a euphemism for gossip, but what is all the rage?

Tea has been essential to so many cultures around the world. There have been proven health benefits between the properties of tea and their effect on our immune systems, mood and health that have been around for centuries.

“When we sip tea, we are on our way to serenity,” says lifestyle philosopher, Alexandra Stoddard.

Green Tea

Research has shown that green tea is one of the healthiest drinks going around.

Green tea is made with unoxidized tea leaves which contain flavonoids – a group of plant-based chemicals that have been shown to reduce coronary inflammation.

Here are some of the major health benefits associated with daily consumption of green tea:

  • Contains healthy bioactive compounds – The nutrients found in green tea have been linked to treating various disease including some cancers, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and may help prevent type two diabetes.
  • Boosts metabolic rate which increases fat burn.
  • May improve brain function – Green tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant that increases brain activity including mood, memory, vigilance and reaction time.

In a season where immunity is still compromised, the antiviral properties of green tea are a natural way to help fight off colds this spring.

Peppermint Tea

With its minty properties, peppermint tea has been used for its taste and medicinal properties for hundreds of years.

Some reasons to incorporate peppermint tea this spring are:

  • Can reduce headaches – A 2016 study into peppermint oil found that there was a link between the cooling nature of the substance and the easing of migraines.
  • Breathing in the vapours of hot, peppermint tea can reduce nasal congestion. This is particularly useful in combatting winter colds.
  • Peppermint tea can aid in digestion relief for those suffering with upset bowels.
  • Peppermint capsules may help fight bacterial infections while tea several types of mouth bacteria.

Chamomile Tea

This flowery tea has a relaxing essence that soothes the senses. Chilly nights can be warmed with this fragrant tea that the whole family will enjoy.

People incorporate this tea into their diet for a variety of health benefits as seen below:

  • Proven to help irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and can be a fantastic preventative measure for harmful bacteria.
  • Can help with sleeping as it relaxes the nerves, according to Dietician Anshul Jaibharat.
  • In a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry, it found that chamomile can help reduce muscle spasms and period pain by decreasing the production of prostaglandins.

Ginger Tea

Despite its infamous, polarising reputation, ginger tea is one of the best teas to help with unsettled stomachs. Its light spice soothes and relaxes stomachs.

  • Can reduce nausea and morning sickness in expectant mothers through acceleration of the gastric processes.
  • Ginger tea can help alleviate issues surrounding the heart all the way from relieving heartburn to helping to protect against heart disease.
  • May help to alleviate pain from inflammation and sore muscles. 

Lavender Tea

The refreshing scent of lavender perfectly transitions to the calming brew of lavender tea. Here are the main reasons lavender tea is a winner:

  • May help boost sleep – enjoying a cup before bed can help you to unwind.
  • Can help improve skin health.

After only two months in lockdown, I was horrified to jump on the scales to find I had gained 15kg.

I found myself to be eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and too much of it and because I
wasn’t exercising regularly (thanks to the gym being closed down), the weight piled on.

I’ve never been someone who diets. I’ve tried shakes, cookies, all protein and Keto, but I could never stick to them and even if I lost weight, I put it back on again. Knowing this, I used intuitive eating and I got creative with the meals I made. They were still my ‘naughty’ foods, but they were much healthier for me. Lesser in carbs, fats, sodium and sugars. Before I knew it, I started to lose weight.

Intuitive eating is making smarter decisions but not banning myself from the foods I loved. If I
wanted chocolate – I ate the chocolate, but I was intuitive in how much I ate. I listened to my body
when it told me I was full and didn’t binge eat because I wasn’t restricting myself from the foods I
loved.

Within 2 months I had dropped 10kg by staying within my calorie deficit, but I didn’t count any
calories. I dropped carbs and sugar, and increased my protein intake. Combined with my averaged
day of activity, half an hour walks and household cleaning, it was able to lose 10 kilos the weight I
had put on.

One of the main ways that I managed to lose weight was by swapping out my favourite foods with
low carb and vegetable alternatives. These are the foods I used:

Pasta

Pulse Pasta Rotini Red Lentils - San Remo - US

6x Edamame Bean Organic Fettuccine - Slendier

 

Instead of whole grain pasta, I used red lentil pasta or edamame fettuccine as an alternative, which
are available at Coles, Woolworths and online.
I also used zucchini or sweet potato spaghetti. Coles has these already pre-cut and packaged ready
to eat, but I also made these using a vegetable spiralizer. This helped me increase my daily vegetable
intake.

I followed the packet serving instructions and paired it with my choice of sauce (usually bolognaise).
I used the same sauces as previously but whole grain spaghetti changed.

Spaghetti Squash is also a popular alternative. I cooked the squash in the oven for 40 minutes and
used a fork to scrape it out.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash - Recipes by Love and Lemons

Rice

Birds Eye Frozen Cauliflower Rice | Coles Online

Sweet Potato Rice 500g | Carb Alternatives | Frozen Vegetables ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I swapped white rice with cauliflower or sweet potato rice, which are available in the freezer section
of Coles or Woolworths. Similar to the approach with the pasta, I paired it with anything I
traditionally ate. People often boil cauliflower rice, but it goes gluggy, so instead I fried this for 5 to
10 minutes and it tastes much better. My favourite meal with this is curried sausages.

Wraps and bread

High Protein Low Carb Bread - Aldi Mum

Mission Low Carb Wraps 6 pack | Coles Online

I swapped bread or wraps that I loved for lower carb alternatives and I could barely taste the
difference. If anything, I preferred these lower carb options. I avoided cereals or muesli as much as
possible because of their high sugar. Instead, I found a slice of toast with an egg would be perfect. I
would also make myself a ‘McDonald’s’ brekkie wrap with scrambled eggs, fried bacon and BBQ
sauce (lower salt).

Ice-cream

Aldi finally dupes Halo Top - $4.99 Kenny's Frozen Dessert in ...

Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream Tub | Coles Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies are slowly becoming much more friendly to low-calorie options when it comes to sweets.
I found Halo Top’s ice cream fantastic for curbing my cravings for sugar. Each tub has 360 calories or
less so I didn’t feel guilty about eating it. They’re stocked at both Woolworths and Coles, but Aldi has
a cheaper version called Kenny’s 360. Keep an eye out for these products because more variety are

Here are a few of my favourite recipes:

Raw Caramel Bites

photo of how the raw caramel slice bites will look like when you have finished making them

Ingredients

Base layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 6 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Caramel layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 7 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate layer

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder

Instructions

  1. To make the base layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Spoon mixture into a 24 mini muffin pan (see note below) and press down with the back of a teaspoon. Place it in the freezer.
  2. To make the caramel layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender and process until completely combined and smooth. Spoon the mixture onto the bases and smooth over with the back of a teaspoon (see note below) and place back into the freezer for at least 1 hour to set.
  3. To make the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil in saucepan on low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add the sweetener. Whisk briskly until well combined. Then add the cacao powder, stirring until well mixed through. Pour the chocolate on top of the caramel layer and place back into the freezer and let it set completely, approximately 3-4 hours. Once frozen, they are much easier to remove.
  4. I keep mine store in the freezer in an air tight container and remove them a few minutes before serving/eating.

 

Chaffles

Chaffles! What they are, how to make them, and all your FAQs answered about these low carb waffles that are taking the internet by storm! #lowcarb #keto #chaffles

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Plug in the waffle maker to heat.
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Add the mozzarella and stir to combine.
  3. Spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray.
  4. Pour half of the egg mixture into the heated waffle iron and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove waffle carefully and cook remaining batter.
  6. Serve warm with butter and sugar-free syrup.

2 Ingredient Pancakes

Banana Egg Pancakes | hurrythefoodup.com

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs

Instructions 

  • Mash up bananas in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs (using a fork is just fine!) and add to banana paste.
  • Fry gently in a pan on low-medium heat with a little heated oil or butter.

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…