Lets eat the rainbow – orange

The colour orange – blending the happiness of yellow and heat/energy of red.

Orange radiates warmth and sunshine. Our sunrises and sunsets glow with orange tones representing the start and ends of our daylight – the photographs below are great examples with sunrise at Lake Mungo and sunset in Tasmania.

During their time in the sun, orange fruit/vegetable producing plants use orange pigments (carotenoids) to convert sunlight energy to chlorophyl (via photosynthesis).

It’s a great way to think of orange as concentrated sunshine!

Let’s have a look at why orange fruits and vegetable are so special and why they are beneficial to our health and should be included in our diet.

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Lets eat the rainbow – red

I love the colour red. Red cars seem to go faster, red clothes look warmer and red sunsets are – just beautiful. Our blood is red and red may symbolise good fortune and luck in many Asian cultures.

Red symbolises passion, love and joy – red roses are the flower of choice on Valentine’s day.

What about red fruits and vegetables? How do they fit in to the features of red? Are they hot, spicy, passionate, lucky or just beautiful?

Let’s have a look at why red fruits and vegetable are so special and why they are beneficial to our health and should be included in our diet.

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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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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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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.

Can food really be medicine?

Most people are aware of the quote by Hippocrates — ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Wouldn’t it be great if just eating good food would prevent or cure all our illnesses!

There’s been a lot in the press here in Australia talking about the claims of “food as medicine”. If you are interested in healthy eating, I’ve included a link to some really informative articles with lots of great information.

https://theconversation.com/au/topics/food-as-medicine-37809

Don’t judge an orange by it’s skin. This one’s skin was green but inside was delicious!

There is no doubt a bad diet can make us sick – weight gain, diabetes, coronary artery disease, increased risk of some cancers and the list goes on. A good diet doesn’t mean that you will never get sick however, it will reduce the risk of these lifestyle related diseases.

A healthy and varied diet is a cornerstone of sustaining well-being. Deficiencies in some essential nutrients can lead to some diseases including e.g. vitamin A (retinol) plays a role in our visual health and vitamin C helps to maintain connective tissue and immune health, deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to night-blindness ( vitamin A) and scurvy (vitamin C).

My father suffers from macular degeneration and has been advised by his doctors to include certain foods to help maintain his eye-health. See below for a link to the website and a healthy eye-health diet.

https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/content/nutrition-2

There are many other diseases that may benefit from the inclusion/exclusion of certain types of foods and these will be covered in future blog posts.

In addition to food there are, of course, a bunch of other factors that influence the state of our well-being and our overall physical and mental health.

In addition to a healthy well-balanced diet, these include:

  • Sleep – how well we sleep and how many hours per night. Sleep is restorative and its important to aim for 7-9 hours sleep every night. Good sleep helps to improve our mental and physical health. I find that if I take some magnesium citrate an hour or so before bed, it helps me relax and sleep better.
  • Exercise – helps us feel better and reduces our stress levels. Studies have shown that moderate exercise can reduce blood pressure. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4914008/ https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/hypertensionaha.112.197780
  • Social connections – our connections with others, do we have a support network? Can we ask others for help? Blogging is a great way to connect with others across the world.
  • Stress – work, environmental, illness and life in general can affect our well-being. It’s important to look at stress reduction techniques like meditation, exercise and sleep. Avoid drinking too much alcohol and reduce cigarette smoking. Stress increases our blood pressure, anxiety and affects immune system function.
  • Our health and family history – what sort of diseases have we suffered from from childhood to now? Do we have genetic predisposition to certain types of disease? Our family history of certain diseases can affect our risk of similar diseases.
  • Environment – do we spend time in nature? Exposure to the real world helps to reduce stress levels and makes us feel happy. A regular walk in the park or garden, along the local beach – appreciate nature and it’s beauty. Access to clean air and quiet places from time-to-time is really beneficial to our well-being.

The difficulty some people face is that eating a good diet does take some planning. Not everyone has access to the full range of wholesome foods to get all the nutrients they need. Nutritional knowledge empowers us all to make the right choices when choosing our food.

A walk along the beach – breathe in the salty air, feel the sand under your feet.
These gorgeous birds are regular visitors to our back window-sill. Rainbow lorikeets – they love sunflower seeds. Our little touch of nature.



Can we lose weight without dieting?

Most think that the best way to lose weight is to go on a formal calorie counting diet. That was not my experience however it is always the case that what you put in your mouth does matter.

I have never dieted in my life – never counted calories, never bought diet foods and never joined weight loss programs. Let me tell you my story.

This is me taken in 2016 – Portugal.

Lets start at about 2012.

My weight gain was a gradual process, a couple of extra grams here or there over a number of years. I didn’t eat junk food and I thought that our diet was pretty healthy overall. Trouble is, I was eating too much of the wrong types of food.

I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in around 2005. Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease that damages the small intestine and its capacity to absorb nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats and can lead to severe abdominal discomfort amongst other effects.

As a consequence of this intestinal damage, in 2005 I weighed around 46kg (I’m 5ft 1 1/2 inches) due to my body being starved of nutrients.

By 2012, after being on a gluten-free(GF) diet for 7 years my weight had increased to close to 60kg. I was overweight and feeling pretty bloated.

I was very strict with my diet and only ate GF foods like lots of rice, gluten-free pastas and breads. My protein, fruit and vegetable intake was OK and within recommended guidelines. We had risotto and pasta every week and I snacked on GF biscuits. Over time my weight gradually increased.

Something had to change.

Around 2012, our family went to Fiji for 10 days holiday. To read on the plane and at the resort, I picked up a couple of books that I heard about on the radio – Michael Pollan’s, “In Defence of Food” and Loren Cordain’s, “The Paleo Diet”. These books were a revelation and changed my life. I read both over the 10 days and the information gained allowed me to take control of my weight.

As a family, our diet changed. Our kids still ate mostly the same types of food however my diet (and my husbands) changed. Over the next 6 months I lost 8kg and my husband lost 15kg.

We didn’t diet, we just changed what we ate for a period of time.

How did I do this? My tips are:

  • I cleaned out my pantry and fridge. All biscuits and pasta went in the bin. All snack foods went in the bin.
  • No risotto or white rice. No more GF pasta or any pasta.
  • No GF bread or any bread for my husband.
  • No potato or sweet potato.
  • Cut down on our dairy intake – we still had milk, yoghurt and cheese but just not as much cheese.
  • Our vegetable, fruit, fish and meat intake remained the same. All other vegetables were fine except for potato and sweet potato. No restrictions on the amount we ate.
  • We still had eggs, beans and pulses (lentils etc).
  • Breakfasts were usually some fruit and a boiled egg/s, snacks included nuts or fruit, lunch usually salads or soup and fruit and dinner a protein source and lots of vegetables. Chocolate was ok – mostly dark around 70% with less sugar.

Our exercise remained the same as did alcohol intake. The only thing that changed was the types of food we ate. We found that we weren’t hungry and felt pretty healthy – less bloated. I had no idea how many calories I ate every day and still don’t.

Over the past few years since our weight-loss, we have gradually reintroduced some foods – GF pastas made from alternative grains (lentils, buckwheat etc), brown or wild rice, GF seeded breads, sweet potato and from time to time GF crackers with dips or cheese. My husband (is not coeliac) can eat normal breads and muesli and has them every day.

My husband and I – photo taken in 2018 – Dordogne France

My weight has remained stable as has my husband’s since our weight loss in 2012. No increase or decrease. Pretty happy about that!

My take home message is that it’s equally important what you don’t eat as what you do eat.

BBQ fish and zucchini and snow pea sprouts. Healthy and yummy too.

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*** Note – This program worked for us however it may not work the same way for everyone.

*** It’s important to check with your doctor first if you suffer from diabetes or are on a medically supervised or prescribed diet before introducing these changes to your diet.