Archive | May, 2010

Say no to yo-yo dieting!

31 May

Another excerpt from a great little article that I came across in Good Health magazine.  It really is a wealth of knowledge.  I do recommend you start buying it.  And I do recommend they start paying me for endorsing it.

Alternating between depriving yourself of food and bingeing leads to overeating, anxiety and addictive behavior, says The Stripps Research Institute Scientists.   I can’t tell you how much that has rung true for me.  Anxiety and addictive behaviour had a huge impact on my life so it was very interesting to know the links between food deprivation and these behaviours.   Read on…

They found rats alternating between a bland and high sugar diet began bingeing on sweet food while rejecting the healthier options.  On top of that, their erratic eating habits activated a stress gene in their brains leading to withdrawal like behaviours found in drug addiction.

Overall it is better to stick to a long-term eating plan than dieting on and off.

1. Ditch unrealistic goals

Sustained weight loss is achieved at a steady rate of 1/2kg to 1kg a week.  Sure, those diets that claim to shed 5kg in 2 days (Lemon Detox anyone?  Barf) might be tempting but the loss will not be sustained and you will end up the same weight as before (and then some!) as soon as you return to your normal eating pattern.

2. Take small steps

Adopt one healthy eating behaviour every week, whether it be starting a food diary (try, using smaller plates (portion control people!) or packing your own lunch.

3. Don’t be TOO restrictive

If you eat well most of the time it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a little of your favourite foods from time to time.  Yes, that’s right, a little.  This does not mean eat a weeks worth of food in one sitting (forgive me body for I have sinned!) nor does it mean rewarding yourself with food (cut to me eating ice cream because I worked so HARD at the gym! Bad Amanda, bad!).  I’m happy to report I now enjoy a little of my favourite foods from time to time.  😉

Music time!  New NERD album out June 15th.  First single – Hot n Fun feat. Nelly Furtado.  Getting me amped up for my first hip hop class tonight!  Yeah!

What’s REALLY stopping you losing weight?

28 May

I read a great article in the May 2010 issue of Good Health about the 7 diet blunders which could stop you from losing weight. I thought I would share the gist of it with you because it wouldn’t be fair if I kept it to myself. 😉

1. You’re not sleeping enough

According to a study at Laval University in Quebec, too much or too little sleep can make you pile on the kgs. The study found that those sleeping for less than 7 hours a night gained 1.82kg over a period of six year. Those sleeping longer gained 1.36kg over the same period.

Apparently lack of sleep alters the hormone balance that controls your appetite and increases your level of ghrelin which makes you crave carbs such as pasta and pastries.

The perfect amount of sleep? 8 hours. We should follow the advice our grandmothers gave us – 8 hours of work, 8 hours of activity and 8 hours of sleep is the ideal, healthy day.

2. You’re eating breakfast at the wrong time

The advice is you should eat within one hour of waking. Include protein rich foods such as yoghurt, eggs, nuts and seeds for a greater initial and sustained feeling of fullness through the day. German researchers advise that you can kick start your metabolism by having a glass of cold water on waking. Add some lemon juice for good measure.

3. You’re using weights at the gym

Pumping weights is great for improving muscle tone but just be mindful when you do it.

Tracy Anderson, the trainer who trains Madonna (scary) and Gweneth Paltrow says that when you perform single moves such as a bicep curl, you’re isolating that muscle while the rest of the body remains static. This means your body is in ‘sleep’ mode so it will not be burning fat.

It’s best to combine aerobic exercises with resistance weight training. Try moves that work many muscles at once such as push ups and lunges. Keep your entire body moving and you are on to a winner.

4. You had a traumatic time giving birth

Long labours or difficult births = cravings for comfort food. This is the minds natural mental response to trauma but this response could lead to addictive habits such as overeating.

GH suggests chatting to a therapist about your feelings surrounding your birth experience.

5. You’re drinking black tea

Argh! But I looove tea! But I love losing weight and feeling healthier more…  GH says black tea is fully fermented, which removes some of its active termigenic antioxidant ingredients (science talk), thereby minimising it’s weight-loss enhancing properties. So what should we be having instead?

Pu-erh tea, originating from a village in southwest China, is high in epigallocatechin (there’s that science talk again) which is a potent antioxidant with thermogenic properties that help the body burn more fat. GH recommends drinking three to five cups of this little wonder a day.

6. You’re on a diet

People. I’ve seen the light! Join with me in the fight against diets because DIETS don’t work. Notice the word DIE in diet? It’s because diets cause a slow nasty death to your metabolism.

GH says yo-yo dieting confuses your metabolism sending your body into starvation mode and storing food in case it’s needed later. All this does is makes you heavier since every calorie and mouthful is stored on your stomach, bum or thighs (my god, have I been there and it is NOT pretty).

So get off the diet bandwagon to avoid thunder thighs and muffin tops!

7. You sit still

You know this people that fidget a lot? In most cases they tend to be slim despite eating whatever they like. Scientist from Getmany and the US have identifies a ‘fidget’ code and, if you have it in your genes, you are less likely to be overweight. So if you’re not naturally fidgety take up knitting or do away with the remote and keep moooving!

So after all that, how does weight loss REALLY work?

Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos from the Dieticians Association Australia explains: “Weight loss works by burning up more energy (with increase in exercise) and taking in less energy (with improving food quality and reducing quanitity). To lose weight and keep it off you need to make long-term lifetsyle changes that are realistic and achievable and can be maintained in the long-term”.

7 Important rules to follow:

1.  Eat before you get hungry as not doing so can lead to overeating.

2. Eat slowly, chew food well and stop when you are full.

3. Eat lots of vegetables,  salads and fresh fruit

4. Choose wholegrain breads and cereals (more filling and nutritious)

5. Choose low-fat dairy foods

6. Eat small portions of lean red meat, or a serving of skinless chicken, and have fish a couple of times a week

7. Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated and avoid sugary drinks (that includes FAKE sugar!)

Steak and mash made fancy (and healthy!)

26 May

I love mash. I love it with lashings of butter and milk and loads of salt. My thighs however tend to take a different view. They have a habit of going against my tastebuds and they are embroiled in a war that will last for all of time. So once again my thighs rule and my tastebuds are left feeling sorry for themsleves and deflated. Ah ha, though, because little do the thighs know that the tastebuds are currently dancing with delight at tonight’s fancy feast. And so I share with you:

Lamb steaks on Parmesan and chive mash with warm tomato and basil salsa

Cayenne pepper
Garlic salt
2 x Lamb steaks (you can use beef or chicken breast but I used lamb tonight)
Cooking oil spray
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Chilli to your taste
Punnet of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped basil or coriander
300g potato, washed, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chives

Serves 2

Season steaks with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and garlic salt. Pan fry until cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile, boil potatoes until tender. Drain, reserving a small portion of the cooking water. Mash potatoes, using some of the cooking water for required creaminess. Stir in Parmesan and chives and season with pepper and a little salt. A little. 😉

In a nonstick pan, add oil, garlic and chilli and cook on low for 1 minute or until tomatoes are softened. Stir in basil or coriander.

Pile mash on a plate, top with steak and spoon over the salsa. And voilà – good ol steak and mash, the healthier way. 😀

Balls of meeeeeeatttt!

25 May

A few weeks ago I made these delicious little balls of meat out of turkey mince. This time I chose pork. Next time I may even choose chicken because I like to live on the edge like that. Oooh can you smell the danger and mystery in the air??

This recipe comes from my Heart Foundation BBQ & Grill Cookbook. Weighing in at just over 450 cals, I always ensure to keep the rest of the days meals light when I’m having something heavier than usual for dinner like pasta.

So here’s the recipe! Do try it as it’s so quick and easy to make and really delicious!

[insert meat here] and Ricotta Meatballs with Pasta

750g mince of your choice
1/2 cup low-fat ricotta
1 x egg
1 1/4 cups of dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil, plus extra leaves to serve
Cooking oil spray
Jar of reduced salt pasta sauce or passata
Pasta of your choice (I use angel hair)

Combine mince, ricotta, egg, breadcrumbs and basil in a bowl and season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Shape into small meatballs.

Spray the cooking pan with cooking oil spray and heat pan over moderate heat. In batches, brown meatballs. Once all meatballs are browned add jar of pasta sauce and half a jar of water (you could also brown some diced onion and garlic before you cook the meatballs and add to the sauce). Bring to a simmer and cook until meatballs are cooked through (about 10 – 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Place pasta in dishes, top with meatballs in sauce and serve with extra basil leaves and Parmesan if you feel fancy!

Yet ANOTHER chicken recipe

24 May

What? I like chicken, okay? I told you I like chicken. I’m practically going to turn in to a chicken. Let’s face it, I’m already covered in a fine fuzz and I’m prone to acting like a mother hen. Let’s not even mention my pale flesh. Yep. I’m a chicken for shizzle.

Tonight I made a lovely chicken cacciatore. I was a bit too ambitious with the chilli though! Eek.

At just under 300 calories a serve though I can’t complain.

4 x chicken breasts (125g each), each cut into 3 pieces
1 tbs canola oil
1 x red onion, halved and sliced
1 x green capsicum, cut into long strips
2 x celery stalks, cut into 1cm dice
2 x medium carrots, cut into 1/2cm slices
2 x large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup of dry white wine (I used chicken stock)
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4tsp of chilli flakes

Season chicken with freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion, capsicum, celery and carrots to the pan and cook over moderate heat until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add wine, scraping browned bits from the bottom. Add tomatoes, lemon juice and chilli flakes and bring to a simmer.

Return chicken to the pan, cover with crumpled wet baking paper and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Dish up and enjoy!

I feel like chicken tonight!

24 May

Well at least a few times a week I do! Chicken breast makes up a large portion of my diet. It has very little fat and a huge amount of protein so makes for an excellent meal option for those of us working on creating a bootylicious booty. Of course other lean meats feature in my diet but I can seem to go past a tender tasty breast of chicken. Mmm juicy.

I loved this recipe by Jamie Oliver. The original called for mash but I replaced it with steamed veggies for a lower calorie option.


2 x Tomatoes
4 tbsp Basil, Fresh
1/8 cup finely sliced green onions
Chilli to your taste
1 lb Chicken Breast (boneless,skinless)
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Thyme, Fresh
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper, Black
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Chop tomatoes and Basil Leaves. Finely slice chili. Place all in mixing bowl with the finely sliced greena onions. Add lug of olive oil and red wine vinegar

Score underside of Chicken Breast with small knife in criss-cross fashion. Season with Salt and Pepper.

Lay chicken breasts, cut-side down, on chopping board. Cover with plastic wrap and bash with heavy pan/ mallet until 1/2 inch thick.

Grate zest of lemon over chicken. Sprinkle thyme. Drizzle with Olive Oil.

Place frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes per side until golden and cooked through.

Place Chicken Breast on plates. Spoon over good dollop of tomato relish and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with steamed veggies and baby chat potatoes.

Chicken soup for the… Stomach

24 May

Another favourite of mine is the classic chicken noodle soup. It’s like a nice big hug in a bowl. It’s good for what ails ya and it’s a low GI delight. With just over 400 calories and very little fat, it’s good for your waistline too.

Try adding garlic, ginger, bok choy and soy sauce for an Asian twist! Wow! I’m an ideas lady, that’s for sure.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbs olive oil
1 x medium onion, finely chopped
1 x medium carrot, diced
1 x large stick celery, thinly sliced
1 x medium potato, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
300g chicken breast fillets, diced
50g dried angel pasta, broken into 5cm pieces (or any small pasta eg. Risoni)
2 tbs chopped flat eaf parsley leaves

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add carrot, celery and potato and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

Add stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken and pasta, partially cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Stir through parsley. Season to taste and enjoy your nice warm hug. Then hug yourself for making such a delicious and healthy meal. Mmmm!