Mindful eating

Most of us have heard of mindfulness which allows us to focus our attention on the present moment, its used as a way to reduce stress or as a relaxation technique, and is a form of meditation.

What if we could use this technique to appreciate our food and celebrate the joy of eating?

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Chilli tuna with buckwheat pasta – gluten free

We are having chilli tuna pasta tonight for dinner, using one of our favourite pastas – buckwheat (recipe is bottom of page).

Buckwheat pasta has a slightly nutty taste and has a great texture – doesn’t go soggy when cooked.

I love it that we now have access to some really interesting non-wheat pastas – including ones made from lentils, mixed pulses and of course buckwheat. This is great for me as I have coeliac disease and until recently gluten free meant rice and corn based pastas.

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Coconut and lime macadamia cake (dairy and gluten free)

This is a great cake, it’s light and fluffy like a sponge, not too sweet and its one our family favourites.

The recipe is adapted from “Bills Open Kitchen” cookbook by Bill Granger (Murdoch Books). I replaced the wheat-based self-raising flour with gluten-free self-raising flour and it worked out really well.

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The lowdown on functional foods

I just got back from a visit to my local supermarket to buy ingredients for tonight’s dinner. I don’t buy a lot of processed foods and I find it interesting checking out what’s on the shelves claiming to have one health benefit or another.

I wandered up and down the aisles (much to my husband’s annoyance) checking out the claims of cholesterol lowering, low fat, high protein etc on food labels.

Foods that claim to have health benefits or reduce the risk of disease are classified as functional foods.

So what are some examples of functional foods? Are functional foods a different species to natural foods?

Well – yes and no.

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I’m a gym convert

I’ve never been into playing sport or jogging.

I love watching tennis or the olympics but I never had the co-ordination or perseverance to actually be good at anything sport-wise. I did pilates reformer for few years and loved it, however I don’t count this as a real gym. I thought gyms were just for men, lifting heavy weights and showing off their muscles.

Around 4 years ago, I had a bit of health setback. Early breast cancer, which I consider myself lucky to have had diagnosed through mammogram screening, no lump or anything palpable. I had the surgery and radiation treatment and then aromatase inhibitor medication for 5 years.

I have a family history of osteoporosis and my medication decreased by my bone density – so I had to look at ways to strengthen my bones.

There’s a gym here in Sydney that only works with people who have had cancer. Unfortunate entry criteria, I know, however I checked it out, everyone there was really professional and we worked out some fitness goals that would suit me. Research has shown that exercise as part of cancer care is really beneficial And may help with adverse effects of cancer treatment (I’ve added a link to the reference at the end of page)

Increasing my bone density would be one and the other – let me see – I know how about a chin-up? Seemed like a good idea!

The gym was really well equiped, well trained health physioligists, fantastic machines and I lost my fear of the gym.

Took me a year, but at the age of 62, I did my first unassisted chin-up.

My first unassisted chin-up – so proud of myself

I became obsessed with doing chin-ups. Every time we walked past a children’s play group I looked to see if there was a suitable bar. Here in Australia, the local councils have been removing all the equipment like monkey bars which means its difficult to find a suitable bar at a height I can reach.

I’m no longer going to the cancer gym. My husband retired and I decided that we should go to the gym together.

I didn’t fancy going to a regular gym – too many fit young people.

In New South Wales (NSW) we have Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC). These clubs were set up to empower young people to reach their potential via fitness and personal growth programs, with the ultimate aim to reduce crime.

Our local PCYC has a well-equiped gym and lucky for us anyone in the community is allowed to join. The membership cost is pretty reasonable and there is a wide range of people who work-out at the gym. There are personal trainers onsite (for a fee) if classes or extra help with training is needed.

I’m still doing my chin-ups and my husband is following my lead. He can do 10 chin-ups now and we are motivating each other.

I’m going to the gym at least 3 times a week now and I love going to the gym.

My next goal – I’d like to be able to do a handstand.

I encourage all women – young and old – to find a gym that is not too intimidating and set yourselves fitness goals – you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

Do you have a fitness story to share – I’d love to hear from you.

Chin-ups at the PCYC gym

Links and references

Police Citizens Youth Clubs – https://www.pcycnsw.org.au

Position Statement regarding Exercise in Cancer Care – https://www.cosa.org.au/media/332488/cosa-position-statement-v4-web-final.pdf



Parsley – my desert island vegetable.

Ok, I know that parsley is classified as a herb and not a vegetable but today I’m going to put it into the vegetable category.

If you knew you were going to be stuck on a desert island with only one vegetable which one would you take? You can take any form of the vegetable with you – seeds, dried or live plant.

My choice is parsley. I love parsley whether it’s the Italian or curly variety, it’s all good. Why is parsley on my list?

Well, there’s many reasons why parsley is called a superfood. Lets explore some of these:

  • contains loads of vitamins including vitamins K, C, A and folate. Good source of minerals too – iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
  • even a sprinkle will provide health benefits, but a couple of teaspoons of chopped parsley is best
  • contains flavonoid antioxidants that help our protect our bodies against free radicals and reduce inflammation.
  • boosts the immune system and protects our DNA due to the volatile oil components. These oils are also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

Parsley can be used in salads, as a garnish or just chewed by itself (its a great breath freshener as well).

Its great to grow some in your garden or planter box and a couple of sprigs will provide loads of beneficial nutrients. Lucky for me its easy to grow and will thrive on my desert island.

What would be your desert island vegetable and why?

Herb and spinach salad with figs and green apple. Parsley is one of the herbs I used in this salad.