Why fruit isn’t a dirty word…

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When did fruit become a dirty word?  I don’t know about you, but it seems that somewhere between smashed avo and bone broth, the practise of ‘healthy eating’ pushed fruit into the pile of foods to cut out or restrict because of its’ sugar content.

As someone who has always tried to embrace the concept of balance over deprivation when it comes to nutrition, the fact that so many women are asking me about fruit or telling me that they’ve ditched it altogether is worrying.  Yes, fruit contains sugar (a combination of glucose and fructose), but the tsunami of ‘anti-sugar’ information we’re presented with on a daily basis has cast fruit in a particularly bad light with some popping it in the same category as processed foods and refined sugars.

So, what’s the deal then?  While it’s true that glucose and fructose are metabolised differently by the body and too much of the latter can place extra strain on our detox systems, you’d have to consume a bucketload of fruit in order to reach those kinds of levels.  The truth is, fruit contains an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which our bodies miss out on if we nix it altogether.

While every body is different and the evidence for bio-individuality grows stronger every day, I encourage you to lose the fear surrounding fruit and enjoy it as part of a balanced diet.  It truly is nature’s perfectly packaged fast food and as they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away…

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LUXE / HEALTH dukkah dusted flathead…

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I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love fish and let’s be honest, we could all benefit from including a little more of it in our diet.  It’s a perfect source of protein and packed full of essential fatty acids which are said to help prevent a whole range of health issues such as heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimers.

I also love the ritual of waking up early on a Sunday morning to visit the fish market (coffee in hand, of course!) to pick up some fresh fish and a loaf of my favourite bread.  Although salmon and snapper are firm favourites, the humble flathead is such a simple fish to cook and full of flavour.  It also lends itself well to so many different dishes and here is one of my best…enjoy!

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LUXE / HEALTH Dukkah Dusted Flathead with Cauliflower Rice
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

4 small fillets of flathead
2 eggs
1/2 cauliflower
1/2 cup frozen peas, boiled and drained well
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dukkah (either make your own or About Life does a great blend!)
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
Olive oil

Method:

  • Roughly chop the cauliflower into large florets, then place into a food processor or hand blender and blitz until it looks a bit like rice.  If you don’t have a food processor, you could also try grating it.
  • Grab two wide shallow bowls (pasta plates are perfect) and in one, place the dukkah, and in the other, lightly beat the two eggs.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a large frypan then add the garlic, chilli and onion and saute until the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add the cauliflower rice and lemon zest and toss well for 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower has softened and is heated through.
  • Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, fresh salt and pepper and the peas and toss well.  Then, set aside.
  • In another large frypan, heat a little olive oil while you prepare your fish.
  • Ensuring the flathead fillets are deboned first, dip each fillet into the egg mixture before coating well in the dukkah spice mix.
  • Place each fillet in the heated pan and cook on high for 2-3 minutes each side, or until the fish has cooked through.
  • Place a good pile of cauliflower rice in a bowl and top with the flathead fillets and a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt.  Sprinkle the remaining toasted dukkah from the pan over the top and devour immediately!

How to…eat healthier

How to eat healthier

It sounds simple enough, but when it comes to eating healthily, sometimes our minds, eyes and stomachs can sway us off course in the blink of an eye.  You may have gone searching for a salad on your lunch break only to be swept away by the smell of that delicious pulled pork roll as you wander by!

The truth is, we’re all human and while it’s unrealistic to stick to a perfect diet day in, day out, here are a few tips which may help you stay on course if eating healthier is one of your goals this year…

  • Healthy vs Unhealthy – whether we admit it or not, most of us are guilty of labelling everything that passes our lips as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Psychologically this can be incredibly damaging as we rate our daily diet by how much ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food we’ve consumed.  The first step is to try and break this habit.  Instead of thinking, should I eat that because it’s unhealthy?  Ask yourself, am I hungry?  If the answer is yes, then you will be in a much better position to assess whether or not you are making a healthy food choice.
  • Think in terms of nourishment – following on from the point above, it’s important to think about what your food can do for your body.  It may sound obvious but eating half an avocado or a lean portion of protein is going to fuel your body far more effectively than if you wolf down a slice of pizza or a fistful of chocolates.  Your food should make you feel good from the inside out, leaving your skin glowing, your immunity in tip top shape and give you enough energy to go about your day with a spring in your step.
  • Cook for yourself – not everyone is born a Masterchef, but practise makes perfect and time and time again, science has proven that those who cook and eat at home are healthier, on average, than those who regularly eat out.  Takeaways and restaurant meals are often laden with excess fat, salt and sugar, so by choosing to cook at home, you can save yourself countless calories.  Remember too, that the internet is your friend and if you’ve been wanting to try out a new ingredient, all you have to do is tap it into google and I promise you’ll be met with hundreds of recipes to inspire you.
  • Practise mindfulness – yea, I know, you’ve heard the term ‘mindfulness’ over and over, but that’s because it actually works.  When you’re trying to make healthy food choices, you need to practise mindfulness at every opportunity, staying aware not only of your food choices, but of every mouthful you take.  If you’re someone who eats dinner while staring blankly at the television, you’re probably consuming more calories, more quickly and enjoying it less than those who take a few minutes to cherish the ritual of enjoying their meal.  Yes, it’s easier said than done but maybe try to introduce a little mindfulness into one meal a day.  Eat slowly, chew properly and savour every bite.

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LUXE / HEALTH Lentil Dahl…

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With evidence suggesting that vegetarians live longer than their meat-eating counterparts, it goes without saying that we could all benefit from eating a few more plant based meals.  The worldwide movement #meatlessmondays has taken off and although I’m often met with rolled eyes and a sigh, I try to include one vegetarian meal in our dinner repertoire each week.

A firm favourite of mine is this super simple lentil dahl with brown rice.  Like most of my cooking, it tends to be a one-pot wonder which is adapted depending on what we have in the cupboard, but here are the basics…

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LUXE / HEALTH Lentil Dahl
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

375g bag of dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery, diced finely
2 sheets of sushi nori (seaweed), torn roughly
2 tsp. dried turmeric
2 tsp. ground coriander
1-2 tsp. dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
750ml water
Sea salt and black pepper
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Brown rice
Coconut oil

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, heat a little coconut oil, then saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until it becomes translucent.
  • Add the spices and stir for another minute or two until fragrant.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add the rinsed lentils, celery, nori and water to the saucepan and stir well.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has absorbed.
  • Add extra water as necessary, but the key to a good dahl is not to let it become too runny.  Overcook it and it will become mushy and stick to the bottom of the pan but undercook it and the lentils will be too firm.  My advice is to cook the dahl for 20-25 minutes before adding any extra liquid as usually it comes together perfectly in the last few minutes.
  • Once it’s ready, season to taste, then spoon over brown rice and serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.  A dollop of Greek yoghurt wouldn’t hurt either!

 

 

 

 

 

Magnesium 101…

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Believe it or not, magnesium deficiency is incredibly common but it can be difficult to diagnose as it’s often not detected through a blood test.  Still, magnesium is essential to many of the body’s processes and if you are deficient, it can leave you feeling less than your best.

So, what does magnesium do?

  • Reduces muscle aches and cramping by speeding up muscle repair and recovery
  • Promotes detoxification
  • Helps fight diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity
  • Reduces symptoms of constipation
  • Boosts energy
  • Protects the brain from neurological damage and degeneration
  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces symptoms of PMS

While there are oodles of magnesium supplements on the market these days, there are many ways to incorporate more of this magic mineral in your diet and I always recommend evaluating your nutrition before spending your hard earned cash on supplements.

Here are some of the best magnesium boosting foods:

  • Spinach and dark leafy greens
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bananas
  • Black beans
  • Almonds
  • Avocado

If you’re still not feeling spritely after adding more magnesium into your daily diet however, have a chat with a registered nutritionist or naturopath who will be able to recommend the best supplement for you.

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LUXE / HEALTH chicken tacos…

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Sometimes a salad just won’t cut it…and in the weekend, I often find myself craving something a little tastier!  Takeaways however, are loaded with nasties but healthy does not have to mean bland and trust me, these tacos are packed with flavour and won’t dent your clean eating regime.  Plus, they’re super simple to make and a mess to eat…win, win!

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LUXE / HEALTH Chicken Tacos
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tin black beans
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
Black pepper
Sea salt

For the salsa:
Handful fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, finely diced
1 long red chilli, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
Black pepper
Sea salt

For the guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Juice of half a lemon

To serve:
Soft corn tortillas/tacos (I use gluten free)
Greek yoghurt
Fresh lime wedges
Grated tasty cheese

Method:

  • To make the salsa, mix the diced cherry tomatoes, chilli and coriander in a small bowl with the lime juice, a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.
  • To make the guacamole, mash the avocado with a fork and mix in the diced red onion and add lemon juice to taste.  Set aside.
  • For the chicken, mix all the spices together in a bowl, then heat a little olive oil in a large frypan.  Add the spices to the pan, then toss in the chicken and coat well with the spice mix.
  • Once the chicken starts to cook, add the tomato paste and mix well.  Turn the chicken occasionally so that it cooks through.
  • Meanwhile, cook the black beans in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then drain well and add to the pan with the chicken.
  • Before serving, heat the taco’s in a hot pan with a little olive oil (around 30 seconds each side), or warm in the microwave.
  • Spoon a good portion of the chicken into the warmed taco, then top with a little grated tasty cheese, a spoon of salsa, guacamole and a dollop of greek yoghurt.  Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime and enjoy!

(If you want to make these even healthier, simply replace the tacos with lettuce leaves and omit the cheese!)

What you need to know about kombucha…

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It’s got a weird name, it can smell a little funky and it’s usually packed with ‘floaties’…so, what’s all the fuss about?

Put simply, kombucha is a fermented probiotic drink made from tea, sugar and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).  The SCOBY is vital to the fermentation process as it’s the base culture which helps produce all the probiotic benefits.  Once the kombucha has been fermented (which can take anywhere between a week and a month), the final product is not too different from a fizzy sparkling water or ginger beer.  And, it can be delicious!

Here are just a few of the benefits…

  • Promotes healthy gut flora – kombucha is full of naturally fermented probiotics
  • Boosts digestion
  • Helps to alleviate constipation
  • Detoxes the body
  • Assits in the absorption of nutrients and minerals
  • Packed full of antioxidants
  • Helps with tissues and joint disorders like arthritis and gout

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Pressing reset…

Daily grind

After an indulgent Christmas and New Year, most of us can relate to feeling a little ‘sloth-like’ as we try to get back into some sort of routine.  So, if you’re heading back to work this week and looking to press reset on your health, here are a few tips to get your nutrition in check…

  • Don’t make drastic changes – the worst thing you can do when embarking on a new health kick is to cut out multiple food groups from your diet and begin a strenuous exercise regime simultaneously.  If you’ve just spent the last two weeks relaxing, taking a break from the gym and indulging in foods you ordinarily wouldn’t, your body will feel stressed and freak out if all of a sudden you decide to do the complete opposite.  Instead, adopt one healthy habit at a time and ease yourself into it.  For example, this week that could mean starting your day with a green smoothie for breakfast.  If, and only if, you can stick to that for a week, then add another healthy habit the week after.  Remember, small steady changes now will equal big results later.
  • Hydrate – too many bubbles over Christmas has probably left you with a lingering hangover.  Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating, not to mention laced with sugar, so put down the wine and aim for a few sober weeks ahead.  Again, you don’t have to be crazy about it and commit to ‘Dry Jan’ or ‘Feb Fast’, but try to limit drinking to one or two days a week only and always drink in moderation.  The rest of the time, drink water…lots and lots of water.
  • Stick to a schedule – if, like me, you’re guilty of eating whenever the mood strikes you over the holidays, you could probably benefit from sticking to an eating schedule.  Over the holiday period, there are often so many social events that it’s easy to overeat, over-indulge or skip meals entirely.  But now that you’re back to the daily grind of the working week, try to stick to mealtimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Make sure too that if you are exercising, you’re eating a protein rich meal within 60 minutes of your workout to reap the rewards of that afterburn!

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LUXE / HEALTH Asian chicken salad…

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This delicious chicken salad is one of my go-to recipes for a Sunday evening as it’s both comforting and healthy…but the best bit is, it’s super simple to throw together and the recipe always makes enough for a couple of weekday lunches too!

Not only does a bowl of this salad look pretty as a picture, it also ticks all the nutritional boxes.  In my opinion, red cabbage is one of the most underrated vegetables – a total shame considering it’s a nutritional powerhouse and so versatile.  It’s incredibly low in kilojoules, making it the perfect vegetable for those watching their weight, but it’s also packed full of vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds.  Win, win!

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LUXE / HEALTH Asian Chicken Salad
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 large roast chicken
1/4 red cabbage, sliced thinly
4 carrots, grated
6 spring onions, sliced finely
2 red chillies, finely diced
1/2 packet rice noodles
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped roughly
Handful fresh mint, chopped roughly
Raw cashew nuts, to serve
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

For the dressing:

165ml coconut milk
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. coconut sugar
Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  •  To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
  • Season the raw chicken with sea salt and black pepper and massage into the skin with a good glug of olive oil.  Place in an oven bag and roast at 180° according to weight (1/2 hour per 500g).
  • Place the shredded cabbage, carrots, chillies and spring onions in a large bowl.
  • Cook the rice noodles in boiling water according to packet directions, then rinse and drain well.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, shred using two forks and toss into salad ingredients.  Make sure you remove all the bones (save them to make your own delicious broth!).
  • Add the rice noodles to the bowl with the chicken and salad ingredients, then add the dressing and toss well to combine.
  • Finally, mix through the fresh herbs and sprinkle with raw cashew nuts.