Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The food pyramid

I have been reading Michael Pollan's book 'In Defence of Food' which looks at the american government policies about food. Obviously this advice comes from nutrition scientists so generally reflects the thinking in Australia and our subsequent policies about 'healthy eating'.
He reflects on the nutrition scientists history of discovering the elements of our food, the discovery of protein, carbs and fats marked the point where they thought they knew 'everything' in food. Then when certain diseases did not seem to fit this model, such as scurvy then scientists discovered a whole new set of hidden elements of our food - vitamins. Well! They thought they knew it all then!

Out thinking about lipids or at that particular time animal fats came out of post war observations. During rationing the rates of heart disease etc dropped significantly. On the surface it would seem that the limited supplies of meats, butters, lard etc dropped those pesky rates of lifestyle diseases? So what was the result of this observation?

Don't know if anyone remembers the song that used to play on Australian television from 'Life Be In It' ♪♫ eat less fat, eat less salt, eat less sugar!! ♫♪
Here's a reminder remember Norm?
But what was the result? Did we get thinner? Did rates of lifestyle diseases drop?
Big fat NO! The got worse and while they did, we started learning new things about food, such as Carbohydrates can make you fat too. Did the government revise the food pyramid? No - they just started telling the public they are not exercising enough! Its our fault!
Looking at the pyramid....if you ate like this there is NO way you could stay slim and lifestyle disease free.
Along came Atkins type diets...Carbs are the enemy, meats, dairy, cheeses are great!! Green leafy vegetables are great!! Sugar is bad!! While it is a 'little' extreme many people have followed this diet with amazing results, so are they on to something here? And why are we not seeing changes in the food pyramid?
Well look at the bottom  of the pyramid - processed foods. Cereals, pasta, breads all able to be manufactured and made a profit from PLUS you can 'tinker' with them as the latest diet crazes hit such as Omega 3? Now in breads, cereals and pastas. Low carb? yup you can get low carb pasta. Low GI? yup you have all these products including some biscuits declaring their low carb status from the shelves.
So what is the solution? Step back for a moment, consider the way traditional diets are - generally animal products, meats, cheeses, butter, yogurt, fruits and vegetables with some wholegrains for good measure. Generally low carb.
Consider this as an alternative food pyramid.....

Don't know about you but this seems like the pyramid of least processing?
I tell you what this journey is opening my eyes a LOT, there are a lot of entrenched habits we need to sort through. Guilt is a big one for me - especially if I 'break' what the government calls 'healthy food'

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sausage Ragu

Just like bangers and mash but much more interesting!!
Sausages are a very reasonably priced dinner but who only wants them barbecued???
Give this a try...

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 teaspoons olive oil
375g Italian-style sausages
1 brown onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
800g potatoes, peeled, chopped
1/3 cup milk
40g butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Small basil leaves, to serve

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook sausages, turning, for 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Cut into 3cm pieces.
Add onion and garlic to pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add stock and tomato. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return sausage to pan. Add chopped basil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, cook potato in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return to pan. Mash. Add milk, butter and parmesan. Stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve mash with sausage mixture and basil.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ways to increase your incidental exercise

Just a short one today - I have been struggling to find the time to get more than a small amount of scheduled exercise in so have been thinking of ways to add in incidental exercises.
If you are in the same situation as me consider giving some of these a all adds up!

To make a habit out of increasing activity in your day, you can:

Take the stairs instead of the lift.
Park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
Walk or cycle instead of using the car for short trips.
Take your dog (or a neighbour’s dog) for a walk.
Walk rather than rest on escalators or travelators.
Get off the bus/train/tram one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
Pull some weeds/work in the garden.
Play with children in an active way.
Catch up with friends by walking together rather than going for coffee.
Try a new sport or go back to one you have played before.
Do some simple exercises (eg jog on the spot) while waiting for the kettle to boil or for food to cook in the microwave.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Are we a product of where we live? Can we break the 'mould'?

I was considering the comments another student mentioned today while we were discussing the ethics of a junk food advertising ban. He pointed out that were he came from in Port Pirie (a regional centre in SA but a country town none the less) the road to the local school was a junk food strip. McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway (not too bad) all on the one road, right next door to one another.
What does this say about what we find acceptable? I have heard a few times in the past about country townspeople getting up in arms about junk food stores coming to their town - they didn't want them.
I can see why - without the choice, people can't have it! I know this may sound paternalistic but if there is a fast food outlet on every corner you options for 'convenience' are very strong.
It used to be just a fish and chip shop on the corner - with that limited choice you would get sick of them pretty quick. I understand now what country people are desperate to keep fast food chains out of their towns.......they breed.

Where we live and our social demographic with regards to health and obesity, I think stems from the socio-economic status of that suburb - and junk food chains know this!
Walking down The Parade Norwood I think you would only find a subway store and oooodles and oooodles of specialised food outlets with spices, organics fruit and vege, boutique butchers, cafes with gourmet foods etc.
If you head to Munno Para in the Northern suburbs both the external and internal shopping area are littered with junk food! Is this fair?!?! Your options at Munno Para are as follows......Boost Juice, Donut King, Go Fish, Mamma Mia's, Subway (Internal), Tasty Asian, Wendy's, Yiros Club 2, Barnacle Bills, Caffe Primo, Cheesecake Shop Cafe, Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar, Hungry Jacks, McDonald's, Noodle Box, Pizza Hut,
Red Rooster, Subway (External), The Pretzel Zone, Time-Out Cafe, Tores Snack Bar, Vili's Mini Cafe

That is a LOT of junk food and only a few healthy(ish) options - but guess which are cheaper?
We have made it rational to eat bad based on price - and the fast food outlets know it! Why else do they set up shop in the low socio-economic suburbs? The cheapest option always wins when you are short of money
This is not fair! Why is it only the 'norm' in affluent suburbs to eat 'healthy'?
We have made it 'normal' to have these foods in our diets - now how did that happen?
Well, advertising
Pester power is one of the greatest forces (on earth?)
Advertisers directly target children to get them to pester you enough to give in - but is it ethical to advertise to children at all?
They lack the cognitive power to process and advertisement and don't understand the complex psychological tactics used in advertising to entice them. Is it fair to 'trick' someone who doesn't understand the trick at all?
I say no.
As adults we understand we are being advertised too - children find adverts entertaining and gauge social norms from what they see. They have no idea that someone in the world has an agenda that doesn't take their welfare into account.

So what of it then? consider this - if ALL children regardless of socio-economic status are growing up in a world where fast food is bombarded at them during TV (and sponsorship of their sporting programs) how do they see the world? Consider it - put yourself in the shoes of your child, what do they see? What is 'normal'? To have LCM's in your lunchbox? To have fruit roll-ups instead of fruit? To have fun times like birthdays at McDonald's? Consider what their world looks like - then consider if you want to do something about it - or be happy with it.
Consider what that will look like when they are adults - what decisions will they make based on what is 'normal'?

For more information.....Coalition on Food Advertising to Children

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Picnic Cob Loaf/Loaves

Perfect to take for a (pretty much) mess free picnic with the family. Can be served cold or warm in small individual or large cob.
I little indulgent but this recipe would lend well to changes on the basic idea for example ham or salami instead of prosciutto or cheddar cheese or ricotta instead of brie. You get the idea....enjoy!
Cob loaf accompanying image
Picnic cob loaves
Serves 4

1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
1 tsp olive oil
1 zucchini, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthways
1 small (about 300g) orange sweet potato (kumara), peeled, thinly sliced
4 small sourdough rolls
¼ cup (70g) green olive tapenade or pesto
½ cup basil leaves
4 prosciutto slices
50g brie, thinly sliced
50g semi-dried cherry tomatoes

Preheat grill on high. Cook capsicums, turning occasionally, under grill for 8-10minutes or until charred and blistered.
Transfer capsicums to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes (this helps lift the skin).
Use a knife to peel, then cut lengthways into quarters and remove seeds.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the zucchini and sweet potato and cook for 2 minutes each side or until tender. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini and sweet potato.
Use a small serrated knife to cut the top third off each sourdough roll. Reserve tops. Scoop out bread, leaving 1cm-thick shells. Spread the inside of each roll with tapenade, then arrange half the basil leaves over the bases. Place a layer of sweet potato over the basil, then top with prosciutto. Continue layering with brie, zucchini, capsicum, tomato and the remaining basil. Replace tops of rolls and press down firmly to compress filling.
Place rolls on an oven tray and top with another oven tray. Place cans ontop to weigh down. Place in the fridge overnight to develop the fl avours.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake rolls for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Part 2

Spring Cleaning Guide

Try to look at the whole room and one room at a time only.

Grab two baskets. Toss - Wrong Room - Put back away 
Get your cleaning gear ready. Vacuum - duster - damp cloth - bucket warm soapy water - paper towel - vinegar/water mix in spray bottle - multipurpose cleaner (such as EcoStore Products found in most supermarkets) - sponge with net cover


1. Start at the ceiling

          - dust light fittings
          - dust ceiling for cobwebs or fluff
          - wipe over cornices in wet areas with damp cloth
          - remove and clean any exhaust fans
2. Look at each wall individually
          - clean light switches/power points with well wrung out cloth
          - clean architraves and skirting boards with damp cloth
          - remove and wash curtains or wipe over blinds with damp cloth
          - clean windows with vinegar and paper towel
          - clean exterior of cupboards with cleaner and cloth
3. Tackle each fixture individually
          - remove any items from inside cupboards, sort into boxes where necessary, or clean items and  place outside room
          - clean inside cupboards with whatever necessary (cleaner/cloth) or
          - clean fixture with cleaner and sponge
          - Move to next fixture
4. Flooring
          - mop hard floors
5. Finish off the baskets
          - put it in the room it belongs
          - throw it in the rubbish
          - consider storage containers for small grouped items (e.g hair box, nails box, shaving box)
          - replace larger items in grouped usage (e.g beauty, suncream/mozzie, tissues and scenting, cleaning products, washing machine products)

6. Open up the windows and let the fresh air in!

Spring Cleaning - Part 1

I love the idea of spring cleaning but to be perfectly honest - I have never done the 'spring cleaning' you see in magazines. But doesn't it look wonderful?
Airing out the house, cleaning the veil of filth from winter, organizing your house to be fresh and clean....that's it! I am doing it this time!

I am a nutter of an organiser! I have been accused of some OCD tendancies so have what I think is the perfect spring cleaning system. I know, I know I said I haven't 'spring cleaned' before but I have done whole rooms before - just not in spring!

Spring Cleaning Room Guide

Try to look at the whole room and one room only.
Grab three baskets. Toss - Wrong Room - Charity
Get your cleaning gear ready. Vacuum - duster - damp cloth - bucket warm soapy water - paper towel - vinegar/water mix in spray bottle

Lounge/Dining/Family Rooms

1. Start at the ceiling
         - dust light fittings
         - dust ceiling for cobwebs or fluff
2. Look at each wall individually
         - wipe over any picture frames/mirrors/hangings, clean glass with vinegar and paper towel
         - clean light switches/power points with well wrung out cloth
         - clean architraves and skirting boards with damp cloth
         - remove and wash curtains or wipe over blinds with damp cloth
         - clean windows with vinegar and paper towel
3. Tackle each large item of furniture individually
         - remove any items from furniture, sort into boxes where necessary, or clean items and place aside
         - clean item of furniture with whatever necessary (vacuum/cloth/vinegar)
         - replace items to keep. Move to next piece of furniture
4. Flooring
         - vaccum any rugs and roll up
         - vaccum carpeting or mop hard floors
5. Finish off the baskets
         - take it to charity
         - put it in the room it belongs
         - throw it in the rubbish
6. Open up the windows and let the fresh air in!

Voila! See that wasn't so hard?!?

Next - bathroom - laundry