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How to meal prep like a pro

 

 

 

1. Go for frozen: Frozen vegetables are generally snap frozen, so they haven’t really had much time to lose their nutrients – it’s a lot better option than the fresh vegetables that have been sitting in your fridge for a long time,” says Austin.

2. Half can be better than whole: “If you’re meal prepping salad, dress it later; or add fats after the fact to preserve the quality and taste of the meal,” says Austin.

3. Family first: “If I have to cook every meal myself, then it’s a chore. But if one of the kids or my partner helps, it changes the whole scenario of the activity. It becomes much more fun, you don’t feel resentful and the meal’s going to taste better because there’s a bit more gratitude and a bit more love in there – you put in more effort,” says Austin

4. Seasonality counts: Buy in-season so food tastes better and is more enjoyable to come home to, suggests Austin.

5. Buy a slow cooker: “I’ll make double dinner or lunch in the slow cooker, so we can have the leftovers the next day,” says Austin.

6. Invest in ziplock: “I like to keep frozen carb and protein sources weighed out in ziplock bags in the freezer, as back up in case I can’t get to the shops,” says Anderson.

7. Dessert wise: Anderson turns her healthy carbs into prep-friendly desserts to add variety to her meals. “I make superfood paleo sweet potato brownies, chocolate cacao breakfast oat muffins and vegetable muffins to help reach my daily fibre and micronutrient intake,” she says. “One of my favourite things to have prepared is peeled frozen bananas in separate ziplock bags ready for a thick smoothie or ‘nice-cream’ at any time.”

Learn how to master your meal prep in the July 2017 edition of Women’s Health and Fitness magazine.

 

 

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A day in the life of a gluten-free guru


As a sports nutritionist, triathlete and self-confessed cashew butter addict from Melbourne, Stephanie Lowe is passionate about the health benefits of going gluten free. Her blog offers written posts and podcasts about everything from gut health to fat loss. It also offers delicious GF recipes and Lowe’s ebooks, including Free From Gluten and Real Food Reset. 

My food philosophy

 

“Real is best. Food that comes out of the ground, from a tree or from an animal is the most nutrient dense and whole source of nutrition. In fact, one of the biggest changes we can make to improve our health is to significantly reduce or eliminate our intake of packaged foods.”

Foods on high rotation in my diet

“Every meal I eat contains many non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and zucchini. It also contains a quality protein such as free-range eggs or grass-fed meat and good fats such as avocado and olive oil. My carbohydrates come from wholefood sources, such as berries and sweet potato. Eating this way offers me optimal nutrient density, blood sugar control, satiety and long-term health benefits.”

Foods I avoid

“I stay away from packaged foods and particularly avoid ingredients that promote inflammation in the body, such as gluten, refined sugar and polyunsaturated seed oils such as canola oil (because they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which we have too much of in our Western diet). I believe that anti-inflammatory nutrition is the key to my good health today, and tomorrow.”

Why I became gluten free

“I stopped eating gluten nine years ago to help my mental state and heal my relationship with food, which wasn’t healthy. I was so inspired by the changes I experienced that I went back to university to study nutrition at a post-graduate level so I could educate others on the power of real food. Before this dietary change, I was eating gluten every day, whether it was a small amount through traditional soy sauce or in larger quantities in low-fat cereals and muesli bars.”

Health benefits

“Once I stopped eating gluten, my digestion improved, but the biggest change was the emotional impact – I felt calmer and happier. I really began to understand that with 90 per cent of serotonin receptors (our happy hormone) found in our gut, the food that we eat has a significant influence on our brain and mental health.”

Challenges

“It can be tricky when waiters at a restaurant don’t quite understand gluten free, or perhaps don’t take your request seriously enough. The great thing is that in 2016 the awareness of gluten free is quite high and many restaurants code their menu GF, which makes ordering out very easy. Ten years ago it was much more challenging to cut out gluten, as many people didn’t even know what gluten was. Now, as long as you communicate what your dietary requirements are, most restaurants and cafes will go out of their way to assist.”

My transition tips

“The best way to approach gluten free is to focus on real food. If you fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables, quality protein and good fats, and choose wholefood carbohydrates, you are 99 per cent of the way there. Healthy, fresh food doesn’t come in a box, so there is really minimal need for the gluten-free products that are increasingly appearing on our supermarket shelves. Stick to whole and fresh foods instead.”

My day on a plate

Breakfast:

» A berry smoothie with spinach, avocado, coconut milk, cinnamon and raw pea protein

Lunch: 

» Shepherd’s pie with pumpkin mash or a three-egg omelette with a side of avocado and kimchi

Dinner:

» Grass-fed steak or free-range chicken with a rocket salad or steamed greens topped with grass-fed butter and Himalayan salt 

 

NEXT: Think you may be intolerant to other foods? Check out our guide to food intolerances.

 

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10 filling toast toppers under 100 calories

 

 

Think low-fat cottage cheese or cream cheese topped with fresh fruit. Let your flavour imagination run wild.

  • ¼ sliced banana with 2 tsp low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
  •  2 tbsp mashed avocado, ½ diced tomato and 1 tbsp Vegemite
  • 1 tbsp baked beans, 1 tbsp avocado
  • 1 tbsp low-fat cottage cheese with sliced strawberries, melon or apple
  • 2 egg whites (scrambled or hard-boiled) with 1 tsp avocado and 1 tbsp baked beans
  • 2 egg whites (scrambled or hard-boiled) with 25 g slice of fat-removed bacon
  • 1 tsp Nutella with 1 tbsp cottage cheese and sliced orange or strawberries or whole raspberries
  • 1 tbsp cottage cheese with a squeeze of lemon or lime and black pepper, ½ chopped fresh tomato
  • 1 tbsp hummus with 1 hard-boiled egg white, salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp ricotta, 1 egg, spinach, salt and pepper

 

 

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Top ingredients for a well-balanced smoothie

 

 

The same criteria that govern optimal solid meals apply to liquid meals: fibrous carbs, lean protein, and a healthy fat source. ”A problem many people encounter is that they overload on the fruit, which will make the smoothie high in simple carbs, and lack the protein, so it doesn’t fill them up,” Robbie Clark warns.

 

 

 Fruits  

» Berries – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.

» Banana

» Kiwi fruit

» Cherries (preferably sour/tart cherries)

» Pineapple

» Citrus fruits 

» Mango

» Tomato

 Vegetables (all are good, but these are top shelf): 

» Green leafy vegetable – e.g. kale, spinach 

» Beetroot

» Carrot

» Celery 

» Cucumber

 Protein 

» Protein powder – preferably an organic WPI, pea or hemp protein. If you have severe food intolerances, you might best be suited to an organic brown rice protein, which is usually quite hypoallergenic. 

» Greek or natural unsweetened yoghurt

Liquid (as a base) 

» Dairy – skim or full cream milk (depending on your health goals and taste)

» Milk alternatives – almond, coconut, rice or other nut milks

» Coconut water

 Healthy fats 

» Avocado

» Nuts – e.g. almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans

» Nut butters – e.g. natural peanut or cashew nut butter

» Seeds – e.g. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, LSA (linseed, sunflower seed and almond) mix

» Coconut – shredded, desiccated 

» Coconut oil

Carbohydrate
boosters (low GI) 

» Whole oats

» Raw muesli

» Bran

» Psyllium husk

Sweetener (if needed) 

» Raw honey 

» 100% maple syrup

» Organic coconut sugar

» Vanilla extract

Boosters (optional) 

» Cinnamon

» Raw cacao powder

» Maca powder

» Matcha powder

» Ginger

» Turmeric 

» Kefir

» Bee pollen

» Spirulina 

NEXT: Here are four delicious smoothie recipes to add to your collection.

 

 

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6 tips for a healthy gut

Nutritionist, exercise scientist, trainer and online coach Brooke Turner shares her tips for a healthy gut.

 

 

  • Increase your prebiotic intake, which good gut bacteria uses as fuel to nourish its growth and activity.
  • Eat fermented foods such as yoghurt with live cultures, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso and tamari.
  • Up your fibre intake, which is essential for having a diverse array of bacteria.
  • Avoid the use of antibiotics where possible. Antibiotics wreak havoc on your bacteria levels and can wipe out the good bacteria.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods which are highly processed and high in sugar. Opt for anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, aloe vera and slippery elm.
  • Manage your stress levels. A link between gut health and mental health has been proven in many studies so minimising stress can directly impact your gut

 

 

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Healthy eating with Rachael Finch

We caught up with mum and author Rachael Finch to chat about her healthy eating habits and discovered how she stays on track.

Who’s that girl? Mother to Violet and Dominic, wife to Misha (her partner on Dancing with the Stars), certified Health Coach, author of Happy, Healthy Strong, and founder of B.O.D (Body of Dance).

Exercise Goal: My exercise goals vary depending on the season and what’s going on in my life. Currently I’m enjoying getting back into my dance workouts and stretch sessions since having Dominic. I also have a little personal goal to make five unassisted chin-ups by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Typical day of exercise? I always try to workout in the morning: it’s when I have most energy and Violet loves coming out on the balcony with us in the morning air. I balance cardio, especially dancing, with stretch and tone workouts, and pair it with beautiful fresh food and meditation every day.

Steal her Science: Immunity

Rachael’s food plan provides the body with a variety of proteins – found in the quinoa, legumes, chicken and nuts – and healthy essential fats including omegas and vitamins A, E and D. Accredited nutritionist, Tracie Hyam Connor (tracietalkshealth.com.au), says Rachael’s food plan has a great combination of flavours, and the use of homemade foods and fresh ingredients satisfy some nutrition requirements. “High protein diets from a variety of sources provide nutrients needed for sustained energy, muscle building and recovery. Good inclusion of essential fats and nutritious greens nourish the body and assist with stronger immunity and resistance to disease and illness, as well as faster recovery when needed.” Hyam Connor says if you’re adopting the food plan, focus on balancing your ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. For an extra health kick, we recommend adding some spinach to your morning smoothie, or try loading your chilli bean salad with your favourite vegies.

 

Sample Day on a plate:

Breakfast: Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! If I need something quick, I love a good blitz like my B.O.D Choc Espresso Smoothie (think: cold drip coffee, protein powder, banana, almond milk and rolled oats), full of antioxidants and espresso buzz. Sundays are my day for long brekkies and relaxing, so we usually go out to eat and I will have eggs on toast with lots of sides.

Lunch: For lunch I usually have filling salads or left-overs from dinner, such as haloumi and quinoa, or my chilli bean salad with avo, lime and feta.

Dinner: My go-to winter warmer dinner at the moment is my coconut chicken zoodle soup. There’s loads of green, so lots of good stuff going on! (Think: onion, garlic, chicken, zucchini, coconut milk, coriander leaves, kale etc).

Snack: Almond and date power balls and cookie dough protein balls are the best to grab when I’m on-the-go.

 

Photography: Bayleigh Vedelago

 

 

 

 

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