A comprehensive guide to cooking oils

A comprehensive guide to cooking oils

Oil you need to know about cooking oils!

With a splash there and a dash here, cooking oil can either be the vehicle that drives your dish forward or addition that gives your meal that extra je nes sais quoi. But do you know exactly what you are adding to your diet when you use this pantry staple? 

Let’s take a look at the most popular cooking oils and what they bring to the table: 

Olive Oil 

The health effects of dietary fat have always been controversial, especially when it comes to olive oil. Although olive oil has proven to boast several benefits, people tend to focus on its high in calories – just one teaspoon contains 100 calories. 

While this is true, the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid makes up 73% of the total oil content and has been linked to reducing inflammation in the body. There have also been numerous studies that found that a diet rich in olive oil does not necessarily cause weight gain but could result in weight loss. 

Extra virgin olive oil contains modest amounts of vitamin E and K and has been proven to be loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants could reduce the risk of chronic diseases and protect your blood cholesterol from oxidation, lowering your chances of developing heart disease when paired with reduced inflammation.

So clearly, when olive oil is used in moderation, the benefits far outweigh the calorie count. 

Canola Oil 

It may seem like it has good intentions when it comes to canola oil, but in reality, it does more harm than good. 

The canola crop is created through plant crossbreeding? It was developed to be an edible version of the rapeseed plant, which on its own contains toxic compounds called erucic acid and glucosinolates. However, to improve oil quality, most canola crops are genetically modified (GMOs), which could harm the body if consumed in excess. 

Like other oils, canola oil does contain a small percentage of vitamins E and K, but that’s pretty much it when it comes to nutrients. 

As for fatty acids, canola oil does have a low level of saturated fat and a solid amount of polyunsaturated fats, which works in its favour.

Polyunsaturated fats include linoleic acid – commonly known as omega-6 fatty acid – and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that comes from plant sources. 

These fatty acids can be beneficial for people that follow plant-based diets. However, t the heating methods used in the manufacturing process and cooking methods negatively impact these polyunsaturated fats, cancelling out the benefits. 

In addition, most modern diets are high in omega-6 fatty acids because it is found in refined foods. This could lead to increased inflammation and put a person at risk of developing heart disease. 

Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is controversial – some people swear by it, and others avoid it like the plague. But why? There have been claims that coconut oil encourages fat burning, is a good energy source, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. 

Some researchers have argued that the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil could increase the body’s good cholesterol levels. Still, others have disproved this, saying that there is no clear evidence that it does this. 

However, there is evidence that proves that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which, as we all know, increases our odds of developing cardiovascular diseases if consumed in excess. 

There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to coconut oil, and for us to determine whether it is good or not, a lot more research needs to be done. 

Keen to make more healthy changes to your diet? Find out more about our meal plan guides here.

The power of potato milk

The power of potato milk

Let’s explore the new kid on the dairy-free milk block.

The humble potato strikes again! Just when we thought that we officially ran out of ways to prepare and consume spuds, we found another way to milk the potato of all its goodness. 

That’s right – potato milk is now the latest dairy alternative that you can use to top up your cup of coffee or pour into your bowl of cereal in the morning. Before you decide that it’s not for you, hear me out because this plant-based milk option has more benefits than you think. 

Why potatoes?

Yeah, I asked that question too. If your first thought is ‘Ew!’ I don’t blame you. While we know potatoes are delicious in all their forms, how could these spuds possibly work as milk?

After some serious digging, the recipe was developed (and perfected) for the Swedish brand Veg of Lund by Professor Eva Tornberg, a food scientist at Lund University in Sweden. The beverage, called DUG Drinks, hit Swedish shelves earlier this year and is believed to be one of the top 2022 food trends.

The fact is potatoes are much more affordable, sustainable and easier to grow. Besides that, they require way less water than your typical dairy alternatives, such as almond milk and oat milk. Plus, they’re free from gluten and allergens like nuts, lactose, and soy, making them one of the most versatile kinds of milk.

But that’s not all (it gets even better!). Spuds are packed with nutrients and minerals. They’re naturally low in fat and sugar and are packed with fibre and potassium. ‘Potatoes contain almost all the nutrients we humans need,’ DUG explains on their website. ‘That means you can almost live on potatoes alone! They’re a perfect mix of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates.’

How is potato milk made?

Potato milk is derived from potatoes, similarly to how milk is extracted from almonds or oats for their respective dairy alternatives. But to get that extra creamy milk consistency from potatoes, various processes need to happen, and additives need to be included.

Professor Tornberg developed a patented emulsion method for potatoes and rapeseed oil, which allows the potato milk to be used for baking and cooking and tea and coffee. Fat, sugar, vitamins, and minerals are also added to enhance the potato milk’s flavour, consistency, and profile.

Currently, DUG is the only commercially available potato milk, but I foresee this new food trend becoming a worldwide phenomenon. I can’t wait to see how competitor brands create and market their own potato milk.

Should you try it?

If you’re looking for a nutritious, affordable and sustainable dairy alternative, then absolutely! Potatoes require minimal effort to grow, are almost always in season and are much more drought-friendly than other crops used for dairy alternatives. 

Depending on the formula, potato milk can range from tasting sweet and creamy to floury or similar to pancake batter. Options are available in original, barista and unsweetened in the DUG range, offering different consistencies and fat content. Future competitor brands will likely offer sweetened and unsweetened products.

As for right now, potato milk is only available in Sweden and the wider UK. I don’t know about you, but I will keep a lookout for this innovative drink.

If you simply can’t wait for potato milk to become mainstream in South Africa, why not try making it yourself with a nifty recipe.

Nutritional Yeast

The Nutritional Boost You Would ‘Yeast’ Expect

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast

 

Have you made a meal and thought to yourself, ‘You know what would make this even better? A sprinkle of yeast!’ 

Nope? I don’t blame you, and I would understand if you had a frown on your face, puzzled at the idea.

Nutritional Yeast first caught the attention of the vegan and vegetarian community back in the 1960s and 70s. Decades later, it has now sparked the interest of the rest of us, or at least those of us who are looking to amp up our healthy-eating lifestyle. 

What is nutritional yeast?

 It is exactly what you think it is. 

It is deactivated yeast commonly used to thicken sauces; add a nutty, cheesy or umami flavour to dishes; or be an additional source of essential vitamins and minerals that people might not be getting from their preferred diet. 

The difference between nutritional yeast and the yeast you would use to bake a loaf of bread comes down to whether it is active or not. The yeast you would use to make bread rise is active, dry yeast and cannot be eaten straight from the packet. If consumed as is, the yeast will continue to grow inside your digestive tract and steal nutrients from your body. 

Despite coming from the same fungus, nutritional yeast has been heated at such a high temperature that it is no longer alive and activated. Deactivated yeast is safe to eat, and it will boost your body’s nutrients instead of depleting them. 

What are the benefits of nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast has gained popularity amongst healthy eaters for being an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and high-quality proteins. It has high levels of potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B-12 which helps boost energy. About 30 grams of nutritional yeast contains approximately 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fibre. 

Research has shown that nutritional yeast helps support a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation of the digestive tract, combat brittle nails and hair loss and even improve the appearance of the skin. In addition, it can support a healthy pregnancy due to the folic acid found in this natural supplement. 

How can you use nutritional yeast? 

Nutritional yeast usually comes in the form of flakes or powder, and it has a savoury flavour to it. Most people tend to add it as a seasoning to various dishes like pasta, vegetables and salads. 

However, nutritional yeast could be used in the following ways too: 

  • Sprinkled on popcorn instead of butter or salt 
  • Mixing it into risotto instead of parmesan cheese 
  • Using it in a vegan alternative to cheese sauce 
  • Using it adds that cheesy taste to a vegan macaroni and cheese dish.
  • Stirring it into soups for added nutrients and flavour 
  • Adding it into scrambled eggs or tofu scramble
  • Blending into a protein smoothie 

Is nutritional yeast suitable for everyone? 

While there is no denying that nutritional yeast is packed with goodness, this supplement is not suitable for everyone. 

If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, glaucoma, or hypertension, you should avoid using nutritional yeast because it could worsen your symptoms. 

If you have a yeast sensitivity or allergy, you should also avoid using nutritional yeast in your diet. 

Vitamin D

Boost your vitamin D intake

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. Research links it to numerous health benefits, such as better bone and a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more.

In addition, it’s both a vitamin and a hormone that the body can produce from the sun. Despite our ability to get this vitamin from the sun and food sources, an estimated 40%-75% of people are deficient. This may be because the vitamin is not abundant in food sources, and getting sunlight isn’t always possible in certain climates. To combat this deficiency, I will outline the best sources for vitamin D in this blog.

The importance of vitamin D

Vitamin D is a powerhouse vitamin responsible for the functioning of many bodily systems. For example, it:

  • Protects the body from illness and infection and strengthens the immune system
  • Improves mood and has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression
  • Regulates calcium levels in the bloodstream and is essential to bone formation
  • Reduces inflammation and autoimmune response
  • Defends cells against cancer 
  • Together with calcium it can help prevent osteoporosis in older adults.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

A severe lack of vitamin D causes rickets, and this shows up in children as weakness in muscles, incorrect growth patterns, deformities in joints and pain in bones, but this is rare. Children who are deficient may also have sore and painful muscles and muscle weakness. The deficiency is not so obvious in adults . Signs and symptoms might include:

Lack of vitamin D is not always obvious. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Bone pain.
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
  • Mood changes, like depression.

Who is more at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

If you are frail or housebound and do not get exposed to sunlight often, you can be more at risk of being vitamin D deficient. Similarly, individuals resident in care homes can be more at risk due to reduced exposure to sunlight.

People who wear clothes that cover most of the skin when outside are also at risk, as well as individuals with darker skin.

How to get more vitamin D in your diet

Sunlight

Sunlight is most likely the best way to get sufficient doses of vitamin D. How much sun exposure you need will vary according to sun strength, cloud cover, your skin colour, and even what your diet is like. But, as a reference, a light-skinned person typically needs 20-30 minutes of the midday sun to produce a sufficient amount daily. People with darker skin need more sun exposure to get the same amount—up to 2-2.5 hours.

Sun damage, sunburn and skin cancer are real concerns when it comes to sun exposure; sufficient sun exposure shouldn’t result in burning. People with light skin or those not used to being in the sun regularly should gradually work up to the recommended sun exposure.

Food sources 

  • Fortified foods such as soy milk, cow’s milk, cereals and orange juice
  • Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Oysters and shrimp
  • Egg yolks 
  • Mushrooms
  • Cod liver oil

Supplements

If you’re not able to get enough vitamin D from your diet and sun exposure, a supplement may be the next best thing. There are two types of supplements: D2 and D3. D2 is found in yeasts and plants, and D3 is found in animal products. D3 is more effective at increasing Vitamin D blood levels; however, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are some great options out there. As a dietitian, I can recommend what dosage would work for you, but in general, up to 4,000 IU daily is recommended.

If you believe that you may have a Vitamin D deficiency, feel free to contact me. I offer testing to see if you are deficient. In addition, as a qualified dietician, I will help create a customised diet plan so you can get a sufficient amount of this essential nutrient. 

6 Summer Wellness Tips

I absolutely love summer! The warm, sunny weather and fresh seasonal produce are things I look forward to. While summer is a joyous time, the hotter weather can take a toll on our health: both physical and mental. Here are a few summer wellness tips to help you feel your very best this summer!

Summer wellness tip 1: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports proper bodily functioning—everything from immunity to mood to defending cells against cancer. Although most of the nutrients our body needs are available via the food we eat, vitamin D is primarily obtained via sun exposure.

The first thing you can do to get more vitamin D is to spend some time outside, but don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Eat Vitamin D rich foods

You can also get vitamin foods rich in vitamin D, such as:

  • Vegetables: Especially Leafy greens and tomatoes 
  • Healthy fats rich in Omega-3s: Good sources include fish (like sardines and salmon), eggs, flaxseed and walnuts. 
  • Other healthy saturated fat: Fats like coconut oil, avocado oil and organic grass-fed butter
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Beans, berries, nuts and green or black tea 

Summer wellness tip 2: Protect your skin when outdoors

Cover up

One of the best natural methods of sun care is to cover up your body. So, if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, it’s best to wear a hat, sunglasses and cover up your neck, shoulders, arms and any other part of your body that will get direct sunlight. Typical summer fabric has an SPF between 4 and 7. Generally, the tighter-knit the fabric, the higher the protection.

Build up sun exposure

It’s also important to build up sun exposure slowly. So start off spending a few minutes outdoors and increase this gradually.

This gives your skin time to respond by producing more melanin, which will result in increased levels of sun protection. 

Wear an SPF sunscreen

An SPF number indicates how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin. For instance, an SPF 30 sunscreen allows about 3 % of UVB rays to hit your skin, giving you 97% protection against UVB rays. Most dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Summer wellness tip 3: Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is vital any time of year, especially since the human body is made up of two-thirds water, and we need it for all bodily functioning. Adequate hydration is especially important in the summertime sun and heat.

Water (in litre) to drink a day equals your weight (in kg) multiplied by 0.033. For example, a person that weighs 60 kg should drink about two litres of water every day. Remember to boost your water intake even more if you spend time in the heat—especially exercising or exerting yourself in the heat. 

Bonus tip: A simple tip to make staying hydrated easier is to use a healthy fruit infused water recipe. Many people find fruit infused water more enjoyable to sip on throughout the day, and the fruit provides some additional health benefits!

Summer wellness tip 4: Add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet

No matter what season it is, it’s essential that we include enough fruits and vegetables in our diets. 

Eat a rainbow of colourful vegetables and fill half your plate with veggies. In addition, smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruit into your diet.

Look out for these summer seasonal produces items:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, Cape gooseberries, cherries, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, limes, naartjies, nectarines, oranges, pawpaw or papaya, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, sweet melon, watermelon.

Vegetables: Asparagus, Brinjal (eggplant), baby marrows, beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, kale spinach, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potato, pumpkin, radishes, red onions, rhubarb, turnips, watercress.

Summer wellness tip 5: Develop an exercise routine

We all dream of having that summer-ready body that we can show off at the beach. Make this dream a reality by starting an exercise programme at home or at the gym. Start off with easier workouts and work your way up to more advanced exercises. Find an exercise buddy to make it more interesting and keep you motivated. 

Summer wellness tip 6: Practice self-care

These simple self-care tips can help you feel better physically, emotionally and mentally.

Create a spa environment: Using a face mask, taking a bubble bath, or doing a DIY mani/pedi are all affordable ways to help yourself feel cared for. 

Practice mindfulness: Try meditating or make a list of 10 things you are thankful for. Check out my article on Maintaining a Healthy Mind.

Get grooving to some jams: Make a feel-good playlist to brighten up your mood. 

Go road-tripping: Pull up a map and find a new area that you haven’t been to yet. 

Go for a stroll.: A long walk is a great way to clear your mind and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.

Check out your local farmer’s market. Take advantage of seasonal local vendors and their seasonal produce. Use your purchased items to cook up a storm! Check out some inspiration for creating summer dishes on my Instagram page.

Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend or family member for support or to simply get a good laugh! 

Spring clean your diet

How to spring clean your diet

Spring clean your diet

Spring clean your diet

 

Temperatures are rising, it’s sunnier outside- it’s time to start spring cleaning. I’m not just talking about spring cleaning your home, your garage, or even your desk at work. I’m also talking about how to spring clean your diet!

What we consume plays a huge role in the health of our bodies. For this reason, it’s important to occasionally flush out the bad and strengthen the good parts of our diets. Spring symbolizes rejuvenation, so why not use this time to spruce up your diet? 

Simply follow my easy steps for getting healthier this spring.

Spring clean your diet by cutting certain foods

Start small; instead of cutting out all harmful food groups, just choose 3. It could be potato chips, biscuits or soft drinks. Once you’ve chosen the 3 foods, ensure that you don’t restock them at the grocery store. Foods and drinks that you should try and reduce to eliminate include alcohol, added sugars, salt, refined grains, and processed foods. 

Spring clean your diet with healthier food groups

Now that you’ve eliminated some processed foods, it’s time to replace them with healthier options, like fruits and vegetables. Why not use this opportunity to try some new and exciting fresh produce? 

Browse the produce aisle at your grocery store and be adventurous– put something completely different into your shopping cart. Be sure to include other healthy options like whole grains, healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, salmon, etc.)

Eat Breakfast Every Day

The cliche that breakfast is the most important meal of the day happens to actually be true. 

Various studies show that eating breakfast can help prevent weight gain. Also, according to a 2017 study in Spain, people who miss breakfast had more fatty buildup in their arteries- an early sign of heart disease.

Spring clean your diet with portion control

It’s easy to let serving sizes get big during the winter months; we love to indulge in comfort foods during cold weather! Make spring a time to cut back to healthier portions. You can also use smaller plates and serve dinner from the stove rather than on the table.

Eat More Mindfully

Research suggests that mindful eating (taking the time to chew and notice the different textures and tastes of every bite) can help with weight loss. Mindful eating will help you eat less to feel full. Always in a hurry? Set the oven timer or alarm clock for 20 minutes, then sit down for a more leisurely lunch.

Hydrate

Water is essential for the function of our organs; it helps to circulate oxygen and whisk away toxins. If you don’t enjoy drinking plain water, jazz it up with a spritz of lemon, lime or even add a few fresh berries. Green tea works too and has many health benefits, from boosting immunity to fighting cavities. Try swapping coffee for green tea instead.

Clean Out Your Pantry and Fridge

Go through your kitchen cupboards and look for foods that come in boxes. Swap crackers or chips for crunchy veggies. If you rely on prepared meals like canned soups, or mac and cheese, find easy recipes to make your favourites from scratch.

Cook More at Home

Skip dining out and save on calories and money. Use fresh ingredients and boost flavour with spices and herbs rather than salt. Bonus: You’ll serve up smaller portions, too.

Eat less meat

Omitting meat even just once a week is an easy and quick way to lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Studies show that people who eat plant-based foods also tend to weigh less than meat-eaters.

Plant a Food Garden

Not only will you get nutritious and inexpensive produce, but you’ll also get plenty of exercise. Plus, tending your own patch of earth is an excellent way to de-stress- it can help ward off depression and anxiety. No yard? Plant a container garden, window box, or try growing some herbs in pots on your windowsill. 

For more healthy eating tips, check out this article.

Dairy-free

A guide to going dairy-free

Many people are going dairy-free for a variety of reasons, including better health or to reduce their impact on the planet. Others are lactose intolerant, so avoiding milk is a must for them. One struggle people face when giving up dairy is how to replace everyday dairy products. In this article, I offer a guide to suitable dairy substitutes to help make the transition easier. 

The dietary benefits of going dairy-free

Some dairy substitutes have far fewer calories and less saturated fat than their animal alternatives, making them a good alternative to lose weight. Plant-based, unsweetened dairy also tends to be low in carbs. Be sure to check the nutrition facts and ingredients labels to make sure you are getting decent nutrition. Also, getting options with added sugars and other unwanted ingredients. 

Dairy-free Milk Alternatives

Oat Milk

Oat milk is a great source of fibre, and it’s high in vitamins like B12. It also has one of the most satisfying flavours, with a creamy texture that replicates the richness of cow’s milk.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a staple around the world because it has a similar appearance, taste, mouthfeel and nutrition to animal milk. It’s a great source of potassium, proteins, and essential amino acids rarely found in plants. 

Almond Milk

Almond milk has a mild flavour that won’t stand out, and it’s low in sugar. It’s an excellent low-carb and low-calorie alternative.

Dairy-free yoghurt alternative

Coconut Yogurt

Coconut yoghurt is a rich treat that’s easy to find in supermarkets. Woolworths offers tasty coconut yoghurts. However, coconut milk isn’t a natural source of protein like cow’s milk. You can enhance this low protein alternative by adding high protein granola.

Butter Alternatives

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Butter and olive oil are remarkably interchangeable. Olive oil is also great for dipping, frying, dipping, basting and baking (except for recipes calling for cold butter).

It’s full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Diets high in monounsaturated fats are linked to a wide range of health benefits, including weight management, improved cholesterol, and lowered blood pressure.

Dairy-free cheese alternatives

Cashew Cheese

When you taste cashew cheese, you’ll find it hard to believe it comes from a tropical fruit. Although it contains little to no protein, it will still provide your cheesy fix and a small dose of plant-based nutrition. 

 

Nutritional yeast flakes

Nutritional yeast flakes are the standard go-to replacement for parmesan cheese. It has a sharp, distinct taste and a very satisfying cheesiness. In addition, it’s a significant source of some B-complex vitamins and contains trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

 Dairy-free Ice Cream Alternative

Bananas

 If you don’t want store-bought ice cream, then bananas are an excellent substitute. Simply blend some frozen bananas and customise them with fruits or other flavourings. Bananas are low fat, naturally sweet treat that’s high in vitamins. 

Nutritional considerations  

It’s important for everyone- vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters to read up on nutrition to ensure their diet isn’t deficient in any vitamins or minerals. 

Although dairy products are rich in calcium, dairy is not the only source of calcium. Other excellent calcium sources include Leafy green vegetables, calcium-fortified soy milk and calcium-set tofu. 

If you’re unsure about what to eat while going dairy-free, book a consultation with me. Together we’ll plan a diet that suits your health and lifestyle needs. 

Plant-based meal plan to help you go dairy-free

Are you curious about going 100% plant-based but not sure where to start? Check out our Plant-Based Meal Plan Guide for vegan diets. This written guide provides step by step instructions for planning vegan meals to help you lose weight and improve your health. In addition, it contains nutritional information, useful kitchen hacks and 4 bonus recipes.

healthy eating this winter

Tips for healthy eating this winter

The importance of healthy eating this winter

With the colder winter weather comes colds, the flu, coughs, and for some, weight gain. For this reason, it’s important to stay on top of your diet and keep yourself well-nourished during winter. Sticking to healthy eating this winter won’t necessarily prevent you from picking up illnesses, but it can help maintain your immune system to protect you. Also, should you fall ill, a nutritious diet can help speed up your recovery.

In winter, it may seem harder to stick to heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating lots of fruit and veg. The range of seasonal fruit and vegetables also declines at this time of year, and the weather can make going out less appealing. However, there are still many ways that you can look after your diet and your health. See my tips on how to get through a cold winter’s day without compromising your health.

Diet tips for healthy eating this winter

Try warm and hearty salads

Instead of eating your usual cold salad, top your favourite greens with roasted vegetables, toasted nuts, crispy chickpeas, or warm chicken or beef. The warmth of the food will satisfy your hunger, while feeding your body the nutrition it needs. Many winter vegetables, such as squash, cabbage, cauliflower, are also easier to digest when cooked.

Pack soups, stews and curries with vegetables

I love both plant-based and meat soups and stews; they’re flavourful and satisfying on their own, or they can be eaten with rice or whole-grain pasta. Although some cream-based soups can be loaded with calories and fat and calories, there are many healthy soup recipes that are easy to make. 

Add fruit for healthy seasonal desserts 

I would never tell anyone to give up dessert. That being said, dessert doesn’t always have to be a decadent brownie or rich chocolate cake. There are many delicious desserts you can make using seasonal fruits and vegetables. Since the fresh produce has so much flavour, you can decrease the amount of sugar and butter used as well. From pies to crumbles to cookies, the options are endless. You can use pumpkin, squash, apples, pears, and oranges for a nutritious twist on your favourite sweet treat. 

Eat more protein

You’re probably not going to be braaing outside during the winter, but you should still be eating lean proteins. Protein fills you up much faster than high carbs and sugary foods. You won’t be consuming as many calories if you stick with a high protein diet.

Using warming spices

We associate certain spices with winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika, for instance. These spices add warmth and depth to food and provide a delicious taste without adding on extra fat or calories. Spicy foods also heat you up from the inside. In addition, they offer winter-specific health benefits: if you get colds or sinus infections, spicy foods can help clear out your sinuses or relieve a stuffy nose. 

Drink More Water and Tea

During the winter months, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink more water to avoid dehydration. 

While it’s cold, you may crave coffee even more because it helps keep you warm. Instead of choosing caffeine-rich beverages, consider drinking caffeine-free alternatives such as rooibos tea and lemon and ginger tea. Drinking tea not only keeps you warm but it has been linked to preventing some illnesses, building immunity and stimulating metabolism.

Healthy eating during this winter: customized diet plan

Sticking to a winter diet can be quite challenging, but a customized diet plan designed by a dietitian can help. If you’re keen on getting a comprehensive diet plan for winter, contact me. I can help you with a winter diet to suit your health and lifestyle needs. 

 

A low-carb diet: The pros and cons

A low-carb diet: The pros and cons

Low-carb diets such as the Keto Diet seems to be all the rage right now. To carb or not to carb? Many people ask me this question at my practice. There’s so much conflicting information about carbohydrates, so I want to clear the confusion with some science-backed evidence. In this blog, I will evaluate the pros and cons of following a low-carb diet, so you can make an informed decision.

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb is a diet that gets relatively high energy from fat and protein and low energy from carbohydrates. A low-carb diet provides only 50 to 130g of carbohydrates per day. In a Ketogenic diet, you will take a maximum of 50g of carbohydrates per day- this is extremely low. 

For comparison: the average adult woman eats about 225g of carbohydrates per day, and this is a normal amount.

The pros of a low-carb diet

  • You can still eat great tasting high-fat and healthy foods in moderation, such as butter, cream, mayonnaise, cheese, steaks etc.
  • Proteins can make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Low-carb diets may result in weight loss due to the way in which water is stored alongside carbohydrate stores.
  • Some studies show an improvement in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.
  • Some studies show an improvement in cholesterol levels but, only when saturated fat is also restricted.

 The cons of a low-carb diet

  • Carbs are found in many different kinds of foods. These foods include cereal, and even some fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Eliminating or limiting these food groups in order to reduce the total amount of carbohydrate may result in less intake of key vitamins and minerals.
  • A lack of carbohydrates can affect your concentration and mood.
  • Muscle loss can occur as the body looks to use protein for fuel.
  • Fewer carbs can lead to reduced exercise tolerance (from reduced glycogen stores in the muscles)
  • Low carbohydrate diets are usually low in fibre and antioxidants, which may increase your risk of certain cancers.
  • Low carbohydrate diets that advocate high protein can cause damage to your bones and kidneys. 

 

To carb or not to carb?

At the end of the day, it all boils down to controlling the number of calories that you consume, whether these come from carbohydrates, protein or fats. 

An ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to carbohydrates tends to be difficult to maintain long-term. Controlled portions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the best way to follow a balanced diet. 

For most people, this means moderately reducing carbohydrates. As a rule of thumb, a portion of carb-rich foods is about the size of your fist. Include healthier carb options, such as wholegrain cereals and bread, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and unsweetened low-fat dairy products. These foods will make you feel full without adding unwanted calories. The end result will be healthy and long-term weight loss. 

Also, choose foods that have a lower energy density. These are unprocessed foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories, fats and sugars.

Pro Tip: Always consult a Doctor or Dietician before starting a new diet

Deciding whether to go on a low-carb diet is a difficult decision that requires a lot of thought. My advice is to seek the help of a registered Dietitian or Doctor to help you make an informed decision about whether a low-carb diet is a right choice for your specific nutrition and health needs. If you need help choosing the correct diet for your needs, contact me, so we can set up a nutrition plan that works for you. 

fermented foods

The lowdown on fermented foods

There’s no denying that considering one’s gut health is highly important when it comes to healthy eating. Many everyday day foods are good for gut health. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and extra virgin olive. However, there is another category of foods that can promote gut health: fermented foods. 

Humans have enjoyed fermented foods—from wine, beer, and vinegar to pickles, olives, yoghurt, and cheese—for millennia. Before using fridges, people used fermenting to preserve foods. But can fermented foods make your gut healthier? The short answer is yes. In this blog, I will break down the evidence to support this theory. 

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods go through a process called “Lacto fermentation”, where natural bacteria feeds on the starches and sugars in the food to create lactic acid. 

For vegetables, they soak in their own juice or saltwater, allowing bacteria to grow. This bacteria eats the sugar in the vegetables, creating lactic acid. The end result is a fermented product that has a tart and slightly acidic taste. The fermentation process preserves the food and its nutrients. It also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Types of fermented foods

Kimchi

Kimchi is a popular dish in Korea, which is essentially fermented cabbage. Some people also make kimchi from other vegetables, such as radishes.

Tempeh

Tempeh is made from fermenting soybeans. The soybeans are then pressed into a compact cake. It is a high-protein meat substitute that is firm, but chewy. You can bake it, steam or sauté it before adding it to dishes.

Natto

Natto is a staple probiotic in traditional Japanese cuisine. Like tempeh, it uses fermented soybeans. It has a very strong flavour and slippery texture.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that’s tart, fizzy, and flavourful. It contains either black or green tea and contains potent health-promoting properties.

Miso

Miso is a common seasoning used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a popular condiment that consists of shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It’s low in calories and contains plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre, and vitamin K. 

Probiotic yoghurt

Probiotic yoghurt is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria. It’s high in many important nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. 

Kefir

Kefir is a milk drink that you make with yeast fermentation and bacteria. Also, the beverage is tangy and thick and tastes like yoghurt.

The Benefits of fermented foods

Fermented foods contain probiotics for better gut health

Fermented foods can improve gut health due to the beneficial bacteria they contain. Kefir and Kombucha, in particular, helps balance out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system and can aid digestion.

Boosts Your Immune System

The bacteria found in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of infections like the common cold. 

Absorbs food better

The improved balance of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes ensure you’re absorbing as many nutrients as possible. Eating a varied diet and absorbing key nutrients properly will be a great boost for your overall gut health.

Preserves food easily

As hard as we might try, we all end up finding some rotten vegetables in our fridge every so often. Luckily, fermented foods last much longer, since the fermentation process prevents foods from going off. This means you can store foods for much longer without losing any nutrients. 

Where to find fermented foods

I get most of my fermented food products from Jacksons Real Food Market and Eatery in Bryanston. Their Kimchi is my favourite! Also, check out your local supermarkets and health stores for fermented products. 

If you’re struggling with your gut health, contact me. I work with Viome to offer you Gut Intelligence Testing. Gut Intelligence Testing analyses the gut to understand how certain changes in diet can lead to better overall health. In addition, Gut Testing reveals what foods and supplements are ideal for you.