Sunday, 25 October 2015


There has been a lot of breathless excitement in the tabloid media this morning comparing bacon to tobacco or asbestos as far as cancer risk. (which is actually no surprise) I thought Id go straight to the World Health Organisation and read their report on cancer risk. Here's some excerpts from the section on colorectal cancer (the whole thing is LONG so I have pulled out relevant bits - the whole report I linked at the end):

"Colorectal cancer incidence rates are approximately ten-fold higher in developed than in developing countries, and it has been suggested that diet-related factors may account for up to 80% of the differences in rates between countries.The best established diet-related risk factor is overweight/obesity, and physical activity has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. These factors together, however, do not explain the large variation between populations in colorectal cancer rates.....

Studies have shown a strong association between per capita consumption of meat and colorectal cancer mortality but not with poultry or fish.... Overall, the evidence suggests that high consumption of preserved and red meat probably increases the risk for colorectal cancer.As with meat, international correlation studies show a strong association between per capita consumption of fat and colorectal cancer mortality ....

Many case--control studies have observed association between
the risk of colorectal cancer and high consumption of fruits and
vegetables and/or dietary fibre. On balance, the evidence that is currently available suggests that intake of fruits and vegetables probably reduces the risk for colorectal cancer....
Some prospective studies have suggested that a highintake of folate is associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer . Another promising hypothesis is that relatively high intakes of calcium may reduce the risk for colorectal cancer....

There is almost universal agreement that some aspects of the ‘‘westernized’ diet are a major determinant of risk; for instance, there is some evidence that risk is increased by high intakes of meat and fat, and that risk is decreased by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, dietary fibre, folate and calcium."

So based on this report we should eat more fruit and vegetables, more fibre, less fat, less meat and processed meat and if you do eat meat then focus on poultry and fish.  Treat your bacon as a treat food. Make sure we get enough folate (from green leafy vegetables) and calcium (from vegetables, fish, dairy or calcium fortified alternatives) and avoid heavily processed foods.
Now, there's a surprise!! ;)

Oh and one more recommendation: don't get your health advice from the tabloid media!

Lyndal at Lean Green and Healthy HQ
Full WHO report is here

Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendations on meat are here:

Monday, 5 October 2015

Zucchini and vegetable slice

I've seen lots of zucchini slice recipes, usually involving up to 10 eggs, heavy cream, lots of hard cheese and rashers of bacon making them tasty but only suitable as "sometimes" food. I have given these recipes the LGH magic wand to make a more nutritious option that you can eat more regularly if you wish. It's tasty and also versatile and can be eaten hot or cold. Add whatever you have in the fridge for a delicious summer meal.
My version had zucchini, carrot, onion, fresh parsley, dill, peas, spinach and red salmon - but this recipe has flexibility to use whatever is in your fridge!

 2 large zucchinis
2 large carrots
1 onion
a cup of whatever other vegetables you have handy (fresh frozen or canned) such as spinach, corn, peas, shallots, capsicum
fresh or dried herbs
1 cup of leftover rice or canned cannelini beans or chick peas for low GI energy
200g can red salmon (optional - consider adding diced tofu for protein if you are not a fish eater)
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
5 eggs (whisked)
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup grated low fat cheese

Preheat oven to 200 C
Grate your zucchini and carrots into a large bowl
Finely dice onion, herbs and any other veggies and add all into the bowl.
Add rice or drained beans and can of salmon, season with salt pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice
Mix everything well then add flour, whisked eggs and mix through
Sprinkle cheese on top
Spoon into a well greased cake tin /baking dish and bake for 30-40 mins or so until golden on top and springy. Slice into squares. Serve hot with a salad or vegetables, or cold .

Serves 8-10
Keep for 3 days in the fridge or 4 weeks in the freezer.

Bon appetit!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Deliciously decadent chia pudding

Chia seeds seem to be one of the newest "superfoods" on the block and get mentioned everywhere. These little black (or white) seeds are probably closest in taste and texture to poppy seeds, but with a whole lot more exciting properties. 
Chia seeds are derived from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. They can be eaten raw or added to foods and have some pretty impressive nutritional properties:
  • Omega 3 fatty acids– These essential fats that are important for heart health and brain function. Chia seeds are unusually high in omega 3s, and one of the best plant sources. Of the 30% total fat found in chia seeds, more than half is alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is the plant form of omega-3. 
  • Fibre - Chia's 34% fibre is higher than that of flaxseeds (linseed) or sesame seeds, and works out to be about 10g in two tablespoons (which would make a significant contribution to the 25–30g it's recommended we consume daily). Chia seeds are so high in fibre you need to be careful not to go overboard when you first start eating them- or your belly will notice!
  • Protein and calcium - They are also an excellent source of protein and extremely high in calcium – at 631mg per 100g, this is five times the level in milk (although it may not be so readily absorbed).
  • Chia is also a source of other important minerals including iron, magnesium and zinc. Oh – and it's gluten free, too.
Not surprisingly, many foodies claim chia is a "super" food and list all sorts of health benefits, many of which are over-rated. But while it is a food with some nutritional advantages, it is not magical. What we do know from limited evidence is that including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular risk factors, such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. And although claims of weight loss may be far-fetched, the claim that chia helps you feel fuller for longer is likely more valid, due to its high fibre and protein content.
So what can you do with chia seeds?
Add them wherever you like.I have long been using them sprinkled on breakfast cereal or added to porridge and bakers put them in pancakes, bread, muffins and cakes. But the neat thing about chia seeds are their ability to retain water- in fact they will soak up ten times their weight in liquid - making them ideal for setting and "gelling" puddings and sauces. Apparently they can be used as an alternative to eggs? (Can't say I've tried that one).
I was a little skeptical in making chia puddings as I have bought commercial ones from the supermarket before and to be honest found them gag-worthy - the one I bought in a little tub was cloyingly sweet, watery and a little slimy and went straight in the garbage. So with some hesitation I tried them at home without a completely different outcome - I think using Greek yoghurt changed the texture to a rich creaminess which was divine!
Here's the recipe:
1 cup milk (cows milk, almond, soy, whatever)
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP honey or maple syrup (or stevia or whatever sweetener you prefer)
a sprinkle of cinnamon
Fresh fruit
Mix milk, yoghurt, vanilla, cinnamon and honey in a jug and whisk until smooth.
Add chia seeds and stir well. Let sit on the bench for 20 mins or so until it starts to set then stir again to ensure the seeds haven't all sunk to the bottom.
Pour mixture into four containers and cover in the fridge overnight to set fully. You can eat them in 2 hours but they taste best after 8 or so.
I layered them with strwberries, blueberries, passionfruit pulp and coconut. I sprinkled almonds on the top of mine and ate it out of the jar, my husband spooned his into a bowl and topped it with muesli. Delicious!

Once you have the liquid : seed ratio right, then go wild. Blend fresh or frozen berries with your yoghurt, add nutmeg and star anise for a chai flavour, use coconut milk (watch the saturated fat) and sliced mango for a tropical summer feel, or add oats or quinoa to make a bircher pudding.  They also work for dessert options as below:
Want the amazing texture of chocolate mousse with extra health benefits? Chia puddings can go there too! 
1 cup milk (cows milk, almond, soy, whatever)
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract or coffee extract for a mocha flavour
2 TBSP honey or maple syrup (or stevia or whatever sweetener you prefer)
berries and choc chips for topping (or nuts, honeycomb, crushed cookies, whatever!)
Mix milk, yoghurt, vanilla/coffee, cocoa and honey in a jug and whisk until smooth and the cocoa is well mixed through.
Add chia seeds and stir well. Let sit on the bench for 20 mins or so until it starts to set then stir again to ensure the seeds haven't all sunk to the bottom.
Pour mixture into four containers and cover in the fridge overnight to set fully. I poured ours into fancy dessert glasses and topped with fresh raspberries and dark choc chips. You can eat them in 2 hours but they taste best after 8 or so.
Bon appetit!
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Potato salad recipe (and the wonders of resistant starch!)

Like many other diabetics, I have to tread carefully with white potatoes. The high carbohydrates and high GI nature of potatoes means that they push my blood sugar up - even though they are nutritious and delicious! That is, unless I eat them in potato salad.  So why are cold potatoes different to warm potatoes? Its all because of a wonderful component called resistant starch.
So what is resistant starch? 
Resistant starch is a type of dietary fibre that is fermented in the large bowel and feeds the gut microbiome - the bacteria in your bowel that do so much good. Despite the messages to eat more fibre, and people are doing that, most people are increasing their fibre with processed foods like cereals, which don't necessarily contain resistant starch. More fibre yes, but all the great health benefits, no.  There is evidence that a healthy gut microbiome plays a role in preventing diabetes, obesity and some cancers, and may even have a role in mental health, so it’s worth taking a moment to understand how to keep it healthy. So rather than just eating any kind of fibre, we particularly need to be eating more resistant starch for a healthy gut and a healthy body.
So where do you find resistant starch? 
It can be found in some starchy fruits and vegetables (eg bananas and sweet potatoes), in legumes (have I told you how awesome beans, chick peas and lentils are lately?) and interestingly,  in some cooked and cooled starchy foods. Cooking and cooling starchy foods like rice, pasta and potatoes, and eating them cold, lowers the GI and increases the amount of resistant starch. Add some healthy fats and lemon juice and you lower the GI further – so when it is too warm to eat beautiful lentil soups and chick pea curries, change to summer starch foods like potato salad, rice salad and pasta salad!

Add lentils to your meals, cook and cool some rice to add to salads, diced and roast some sweet potatoes to throw in everything – there are loads of easy ways to get slow burning energey and make your bowel bugs happy at the same time.
For resistant starch goodness, add
lentils and beans to everything!
For more interesting information on resistant starch check out this post from Precision Nutrition here:
All about resistant starch

Most potato salads have heavy creamy dressings which are often also quite sweet and can stack on the calories with unnecessary fats. Not mine! So I guess I should share my magical potato salad recipe too!

white potatoes (you can add sweet potatoes as well for added colour and flavour)
2 hard boiled eggs
Greek yoghurt
red onion
fresh parsley
dijon mustard
whoelgrain mustard

I haven't listed amounts here as you can really fiddle with this until it tastes right for you.

Roughly chop your potatoes ad steam them with skins on until tender. You can get lower GI potatoes called Carisma from Coles) but any potatoes will work for this. Adding orange sweet potato (kumara) will make it extra interesting! 

Hard boil two eggs, chop them up and pop them in the fridge to cool, along with your potatoes. About an hour in the fridge or half an hour in the freezer should do the trick.

Finely dice a red onion, a bunch of fresh parsley. If you want extra bursts of flavour you could also add chopped gherkins, capers, capsicum, a tin of corn or even a little bacon. 

For the dressing mix a cup of plain Greek yoghurt with a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of grain mustard and a drizzle of honey.  Mix well then fold the dressing through the potatoes, eggs, onions and herbs.

Serve with a quarter of lemon to squeeze on the side. Left overs will keep in the fridge for 2 days or so (if you don't eat it all first!)

Bon appetit!

Potato salad makes a delicious and nutritious side dish