The Fabulous Hawkins Banana & Honey Loaf!

This is a recipe I have been making for a very long time! I absolutely LOVE bananas, I eat them everyday… and when I was in my mid 20’s and trying to fit in university, sport, a part time job, and a social life (of sorts!), I used to make this as a ‘grab and go’ / ‘lunchbox’ – type snack. I now make it for my busy family for the same reason, and it is always a winner… a full loaf barely lasts us 48 hours!

This loaf is so yummy, full of fibre, Low GI for sustained energy and balanced blood sugars and just SO easy to make (no strange ‘health food shop only’ ingredients).

So for busy mum’s, families with active children or teenagers, or busy working couples, this is especially for you. I have made some modifications over the years and this is how I do it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour OR (this is a recent modification) 1 cup of wholemeal self raising flour and 1/2 cup of almond meal (keeps it moist and adds texture / flavour).
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
  • 3 bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup of good quality honey
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

Method:

(These days I literally ‘throw it all in and stir like mad… usually because it is 6 am or 11 pm when I am making it!) The proper way is:

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius
  • Line a loaf tim with baking paper
  • put flour and almond meal (if using) into a bowl and mix through the bi-carb soda
  • Add mashed banana, oil, eggs and honey
  • Stir until mixture is smooth (may have banana lumps), it will be a runny mixture.
  • Pour into loaf tin and bake for 45 mins on 150 degrees C, fan forced. Make sure you check it after 35 mins as some ovens are hotter that others… strange but true.
  • Leave to cool in tin for 10 mins.

I usually eat it plain, hot from the oven. You can put light cream cheese or olive oil spread on it, but it really doesn’t need it… oh and I vaguely remember (when it was just me), that it lasts in a air tight container for almost a week!

Enjoy!

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Learn to listen to your body

Hunger v’s Non-Hunger

Unless I am seeing someone for a specific medical condition, I generally don’t tell them what to eat.

What I DO do is teach people about nutrients and food – quality, portion sizes and cooking techniques. I also teach people about eating and getting back in touch with their bodies, and one of my observations has been that the ‘food’ side of things is often easier to grasp than the ‘getting in touch with your body’ side of things!

Hunger is often the first thing we talk about and yet can be one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments for clients. The first thing to always think about is that hunger is a normal body cue and it feels different for different people (and some people manage better with different levels of hunger!). Fullness is also a normal body cue. It indicates to us when we have had enough to eat, when our body perceives that it has received enough energy.

Some people are even afraid of feeling hungry. Some popular diets even market to this, promising that ‘you will never be hungry’, which is not really of advantage to you. You are supposed to feel hungry and supposed to feel full!

There is no need to be afraid of hunger, it is normal, and even a good sign that your body is working well. Best of all, hunger is easily fixed!

Often diets will advertise themselves as having the ability to make you ‘never feel hungry’

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So what does hunger feel like?

As I mentioned, different people, feel hunger differently. Some of the ways hunger can be felt can be described as:

  • Hunger ‘pangs’
  • Hollow or empty feeling
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • ‘Queasy’ feeling
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Crankiness
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Here is an exercise you can do right now sitting at your desk:

Close you eyes and bring awareness internally.

Start at your mouth and work your way down to your stomach.

Are you aware of any signals that your body is giving you that you are full, or hungry?

Does any part of your body feel tense? Or hollow?

Is your stomach moving or is it still?

Can you associate any other feelings with how your stomach is? Are you happy? Anxious? Nervous? Tired?

You may notice other emotions that are unique to you. Acknowledge these. Maybe write them down, but don’t focus on them…

There are a couple of reasons why we are getting you to understand and value your body cues and that is because, it is likely (if you are a human – very likely!) that you have, in the past, used food for reasons other than hunger.

Chances are you have used food for one or more of the following:

  • Comfort
  • Reward
  • Distraction
  • Boredom
  • To stay awake
  • In celebration
  • To clear your plate
  • So you don’t offend anyone.

Whist some of these are quite acceptable reasons to eat when not strictly hungry, they are the reasons that don’t happen every day – celebrations are occasional, usually once a month at best; Not offending the person giving you the meal or snack is also minimal. The big issues are around when you find you are CONSTANTLY eating for emotional reasons, as a distraction, or as entertainment.

Eating when we are not hungry is called ‘non hungry eating’. Non hungry eating also includes overeating, grazing, nibbling and bingeing. Most people do a significant amount of non hungry eating and it does appear to be one of the biggest factors in causing weight gain, and difficulty loosing weight.

 
So how do we decrease our non-hungry eating? 
Well, there are two ways.

1. The first way is to recognise it! Check in with yourself before you eat something and see if you are really hungry or not. Using your hunger-fullness scale is a great tool for this. Being more aware of our physical hunger and fullness also helps us to become more conscious of the reasons we might be eating when we are not physically hungry.

2. The second way to decrease non hungry eating is to be more aware of weather we are enjoying all of the food we are eating. This may sound strange to some of you, but it is very common habit a lot of people have where they are not really paying attention to this aspect of eating. For example, we might start off enjoying something – that first bite or two taste fabulous, but then we loose the pleasure and we just keep eating to finish it off. Another thing that can happen is that we start off with a food we really enjoy, and then we get distracted, by the TV usually, and before we know it, our plate is empty and we barely tasted the food!

Always remember – YOU are the expert on your own life, no one else. A dietitian can help guide you; give you up to date, evidence based advise; help manage medical conditions nutritionally in conjunction with your GP; teach you to manage your own nutrition and that of your familys, but we are NOT experts on YOU!
 
with love,
 
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Fish Cakes!

Fish is a great source of protein monounsaturated fatty acids, especially omega 3′s.

Eating fish 2 – 3 times a week, is what I recommend… but there is no need for it to be boring!

These healthy fish cakes are so simple and a great way to serve fish.

They are particularly wonderful for those that aren’t so keen on fish (like the kids!) as the flavour and texture changes when they are cooked – they hardly even taste like fish!

Serves 4

Ingredients


  • Large handful of parsley
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 500 gram of firm white fish (Snapper, Blue eye or any other firm white fish work well) roughly diced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Coating:
 Sesame seeds

Method

.    In a food processor, process the parsley, onion and garlic until finely chopped.  Add the fish, seasoning, lemon and zest and process to a rough paste. If you don’t have a processor, you can dice the ingredients finely and squeeze together with your hands.

.    Roll with wet hands into patties.

.    Dip into the sesame seeds and set aside until ready to cook.

.    Over a moderate to high burner, heat enough sesame oil or macadamia nut oil (or whatever you choose to use) to coat the bottom of your pan.

.    Cook the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until just brown.

Serve immediately with salad or vegetables – Enjoy!

Why not be creative and make ‘fish burgers’ using the fish cakes as patties?

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Is it OK to fake it?

Over the past 30 or so years, there has been a number of debates as to the safety of consuming artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda) and saccharine (Sugarine).

Many people have concerns about the potential (albeit largely unproven) adverse effects of artificial sweeteners, and I have to admit… I am one of them!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that before artificial sweeteners can be sold in our supermarkets, the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) test them to make sure they are safe to eat. My concerns, however, are not so much grounded whether the sweeteners are ‘safe’ but rather, from a perspective of health and wellness. Are they the best thing for your body?

I am often asked for my opinion on artificial sweeteners, and so I thought I would share with everyone. Here are my thoughts:

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, used by our body as energy for working muscles, providing fuel for the central nervous system, enabling fat metabolism, and preventing protein from being used as energy. Sugar is a nessasary part of a healthy diet. However, there is NO NEED to get our sugar from processed foods and adding table sugar to our cereal, tea, coffee or milk. There is plenty of naturally occurring sugar in whole foods like fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose). Foods containing natural sugars are usually rich in nutrients including vitamins and minerals and in many cases, dietary fibre.

So, what if you want to sweeten your porridge? Or add something sweet to your baking?

First, let me say that for a special occasion, like birthday cakes, Christmas cakes etc, I will absolutely follow a recipe and use sugar in my baking (you don’t want to mess with a Donna Hay flourless chocolate cake, believe me!). There is something wonderful and special about picking out a cake recipe for someone you love and making their birthday cake (I did this yesterday for my husband, and yes, I used a cup of brown sugar, as per the recipe). But, remember, this is only a few times a year… for everyday baking – muffins, loaves, bread etc, I like to use one of the natural alternatives.

My Favorite natural sweeteners:

1. Honey

Raw honey is a natural sweetener that is easily available. It is my ‘go to’ when I need to sweeten something as it has some really lovely quality’s and fabulous taste. Honey has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for those who want to control their weight and blood sugar.

High-quality honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Unfortunately, most of the honey eaten today has been heavily processed, and many of the healthful benefits have been reduced or eliminated, so it is important to try and find a good quality natural honey. There are some great options at farmers markets usually and you can often buy in bulk.

2. Dates

I have always loved dates! Not only are they chewy and tastey, they are very rich in fibre. Dates also provide potassium, calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium.

Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.

3. Maple Syrup

Most people think about using maple syrup only when they are baking bread or on pancakes; however, it can be used as a substitute for sugar in other. It can be used for making biscuits, cakes and I have used it when poaching fruit for dessert. Maple syrup has a distinct flavor that really lends itself to dessert type foods.

The important thing to make sure is that you are buying ‘pure maple syrup’ and not ‘maple flavoured syrup’, and, like honey, good quality is the way to go!

But, what about Stevia?

Many people choose stevia over natural sweeteners like fruit and honey, but this is not my choice. Nature is very clever, and fruit and raw honey, in particular, are excellently balanced sources of glucose and fructose, which provides the liver with building blocks to create glycogen (glucose stores). Stevia, however, does not support glycogen formation.

Why is glycogen important? The body cannot convert inactive thyroid hormone T4 into active thyroid hormone T3 without adequate glycogen. This can result in a slowed metabolism and lead to hypothyroidism, and lack of energy. Without adequate dietary sugars, the body cannot create and store glycogen.

Additionally, when blood sugar is low, glycogen is broken down and released as glucose in the bloodstream. When the diet lacks sufficient glucose, there will be inadequate glycogen stored. If sugar is not immediately ingested to raise blood sugar levels, the body releases extra adrenaline and cortisol to convert muscle protein and fat into glucose. If this pattern is repeated, the frequent release of these stress hormones takes its toll on the body… and one of the symptoms of excess cortisol is abdominal weight gain.

So what is my opinion? Try to use natural, low GI foods like good quality honey or dates to sweeten baking, add fruit like banana, grated apple or grated pear to cereal or porridge to sweeten your breakfast meal and enjoy the extra benefit of added fibre. Oh and for special occasion baking, follow the recipe and just use sugar!

Believe me – the less sugar (or artificial sugar) you have in your diet, the less you will want, and your food will taste fresh and wholesome when you use real ingredients!

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What’s the big deal about Fibre?

I’m sure you have heard from your doctor, your mother, or read it in a magazine – ‘make sure you get enough fibre!’

But… fibre is only for old people, right?

WRONG!

Fibre is one of the most underrated nutrients in the diet. As a society we seem to be always talking about the protein and fat in our diets, but poor old humble fibre often gets over looked, when it might just be the key to good health and weight control!

Fibre is largely classified as carbohydrate. Put simply, there are three types of carbohydrates – simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates and fibre. The reason dietary fibre is not like other carbohydrates, is because the bonds that hold its sugar units together cannot be broken by human digestive enzymes and therefore, fibre cannot be digested.

Even though it may not be able to be digested, fibre can regulate the speed of digestion, modulate metabolism, help lower cholesterol levels, slow the release of sugars into the blood and feed the healthy gut bacteria. The bacteria living naturally in your intestines convert very small amounts of dietary fibre to fatty acids, however not an amount significant to consider fibre a source of energy.

One of fibres biggest attributes, and the reason it really is a friend of anyone frying to manage their weight, is its ability to make you feel fuller for longer… making it one key nutrient to include enough of everyday!

The fact is that most Australians do not consume enough fibre. The Heart Foundation recommends that adults should aim to consume approximately 25–30 g daily and on average, most Australians consume 18–25 g of fibre daily. Part of the reason for this is that over time, we have lost the concept of whole foods. We eat concentrated or reconstituted foods and miss some of the important dietary components when we remove the whole food from the nutrients contained within it. An example of this is the juicing craze… juicing a fruit will not help you digest the nutrients an better, will not ‘cleanse’ you and will certainly not increase your metabolism, in actual fact, by juicing fruit, you miss out on all the roughage… the fibre!

Types of fibre:

There are two types of fibre found in foods

Soluble fibre hides the flesh of fruit and the grain of rice inside the hull, and it’s what gives cooked veggies their soft, mushy quality. In your stomach, soluble fiber binds with liquids to form a gummy gel that makes you feel full as it slows digestion, letting your body absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food.

Insoluble fibre bulks up as it absorbs liquid in the stomach and the bulk pushes waste down and out of your system. Insoluble fibre is usually found in the skins and outer parts of foods, and it’s what gives many their tough, chewy texture. Insoluble fibre works to speed up the passage of material through your digestive tract and sweep out toxins on its way.

Most foods have a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre and anything with 3 grams of fibre is considered a good source of fibre, and an excellent source is anything with 5 grams or more. The best fibre rich foods are generally:

  • Wholegrain breads such as mixed grain, rye, sour dough.
  • Wholemeal cereals like oats, bulgur wheat, pearl barley and brown rice.
  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Legumes and pulses such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Nuts (1/4 of a cup of nuts has 4 grams of fibre)
  • Chia seeds.

Now… Just to confuse matters, it is also important that we point out that if you eat too much fibre, it could potentially reduce the ability to absorb key nutrients including calcium, iron and zinc.

So, to help control your weight, help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of bowel cancer and keep yourself regular, you should aim to include a high fibre breakfast cereal, 2 slices of wholegrain bread, two pieces of fruit and a couple of cups of vegetables everyday. Easy!

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Delicious Red Capsicum and Rosemary Spread!

Continuing my current theme of homemade, whole foods sauces (without all the added salt, sugar and preservatives), on the weekend I made my very own ‘spread’.

This is so lovely, fresh and nutritious… and all whole foods (apart from a pinch of sea salt to bring out the flavour).

Try this as a dip, on steak, salmon or spread on toast and topped with feta or goats cheese. I think it is a real winner!

Makes approx. 250g (1 cup)

  • 3 large red capsicums, halved and seeded
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • sea salt
  • juice of ½ a large lemon (or more to taste)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked.

Method:

Prepare the capsicum, place on a baking tray and roast at 200 degrees C for approx. 40 mins, or until slightly charred.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool

Briefly toast sunflower seeds, cayenne and pinch of sea salt in the fry pan on a low heat.

When the capsicum is cooled, peel back the skin, chop the flesh and add place in a food processor or blender, add the sunflower seeds, lemon juice and rosemary and blend until smooth.

Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Wholefoods Banana, Blueberry and Coconut Pancakes

I haven’t made these for so long, I can’t even remember the last time! I used to make them a lot, before I started working on weekends… but Fathers Day last Sunday called for something a bit special. So I trolled through my recipe folder (which is quite big these days) and found this recipe, all stained and much loved. We made them together – and they were just DELICIOUS!!

High in protein, and with the added goodness of fruit, these pancakes are naturally sweet, so there is no need for added sugar, and very filling!

Enjoy my wholefoods take on traditional ‘pancakes’.

(makes 10 small pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe (or slightly over ripe) bananas
  • 4 eggs plus 2 egg whites (lightly beaten)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil OR 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking (depends on your preference and taste!)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • For serving – either lashings of pure maple syrup OR natural yogurt OR, my favourite – both!

Method

1. Mash the bananas with a fork and place in a medium sized bowl.

2. Add eggs and coconut and wisk all together

3. Add blueberries and stir through.

4. Heat the oil in the pan to a medium heat (not too hot!) and use about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake.

5. Serve with natural yogurt, maple syrup and some extra coconut.

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Whole foods TOMATO SAUCE!

It is a favourite in our house, thats for sure… good old Aussie tomato sauce.
Unfortunately, many of the sauces we buy commercially contain large amounts of salt and sugar as well as preservatives, colour and flavour enhances.

I also get a bit concerned about the fact that a lot of our sauces are imported, or use imported ingredients.

In a bid to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and preservatives in my food, I have been experimenting with sauce recipes – everything from tomato sauce to salad dressing.
I am going to bring you my home made sauce recipes over the next few weeks… Starting with my favourite!

Whole foods TOMATO SAUCE

This tomato sauce recipe can be used as a pizza base, a base for pasta sauce, or pureed until it is smooth and used in place of tomamo sauce on pies and sausages!
Makes 12 serves tomato sauce, 4 serves pasta sauce.

Prep time 15 mins, cook time 30 mins.

INGREDIENTS

1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
6 large tomatoes (overripe is best, I use Roma or Gourmet tomatoes from our local market)
¼ red capsicum
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Roughly chop the onion, garlic, tomatoes and capsicum, removing all unwanted skins, seeds and piths.
  • Place them onto a large, lined baking tray and mix together with the spices, seasoning and oil.
  • Roast in the 190C oven for 20-25mins.
  • Remove from oven and place into a large pot.
  • Simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Taste to see if there is enough seasoning. Take off the heat when you are happy with its taste and consistency.

If you are making tomato sauce – puree in a blender until smooth.
If you are using as pizza or pasta sauce – leave it chunky.

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