Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chia seeds - a superfood friend with benefits

I'm loving chia seeds at the moment. I'm using them in EVERYTHING. One might even say that I'm chia-tastic.

What you need to know (or maybe just want to know) about chia seeds
They are:
1.    A wholegrain
2.    Super high in the essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are vital as they help the body recover after exercise and help to increase metabolism, helping with fat burning and weight loss.
3.    High in fibre, which helps to make us feel fuller for longer and keep us “regular” (lovely)
4.    Gluten free
5.    Rich in iron (3 times more than Popeye’s favourite food)
6.    A complete protein, containing 8 essential amino acids. It’s a little complicated, but many plant sources of protein are incomplete proteins that need to be combined with another protein. These little babies do it all on their own.
7.    High in other good stuff like calcium (higher in calcium than milk and more absorbable too), B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and zinc
8.    Rich in antioxidants to battle those nasty free radicals (I seriously imagine a little battalion of antioxidant warriors going to work on the insurgent free radicals). Antioxidants help to slow the process of aging. Sounds good to me.

Just throw them in
Salads, soups, stirfrys, smoothies. A tablespoon or so will do the trick. Yum. 

Black versus white seeds
According to The Chia Co, there is very little nutritional difference between the white and black seeds, so it really depends on the colour that your recipe or mood calls for.

Yummy chia smoothie
One the weekend I bought some chia seeds from About Life in Bondi Junction (you can get them from any health food store). The packet had a great smoothie recipe on the back, which I had for breakfast this morning and it was delish. Hopefully they don’t mind me sharing it with you!

1 cup banana and/or berries (I used ½ banana ½ strawberries)
½ cup yoghurt
½ cup milk (or your preferred milk replacement)
½ cup coconut milk
1tbs chia seeds (soak the seeds in a little water until the seeds and water form a thick gel, then add them to the smoothie)
1tbs honey (I prefer maple syrup with yoghurt as honey is antibacterial and kills all the good bacteria in yoghurt)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp grated ginger (I left this out)

1.    Soak seeds
2.    Add all ingredients to blender
3.    Blend
4.    Drink (I can hear you saying “duh…”)

Try them out. Suffice to say that I’m a fan of these tiny little suckers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Healthy take out tips

I have long been a pain in the ass when it comes to eating out and ordering take out, so I thought I’d share some of my tricks to make take out a little bit healthier.

•    I’m not going to tell you to avoid tempura. I’ll assume you know that already.
•    Don’t have too much sushi rice as it contains lots of sugar and is high GI (meaning it causes an insulin spike, which will leave you craving more sugar not too long after).
•    Don’t have too much soy; it’s very high in salt, which leads to fluid retention (water weight)
•    Sashimi, salads, edamame, tataki, steamed and baked fish, sukiyaki, noodle soups all great options (though do be aware of high salt content)
•    Don’t have too much sweet sauce like teriyaki or miso as they are high in sugar and kilojoules 

•    Go vegetarian
•    Ask for less cheese
•    Avoid marinated vegetables as they often have lots of oil
•    Go for a wholemeal base if they have one. Or gluten free, but I find this isn’t as nice and if you’re going to have pizza, you might as well have proper dough

•    Add Parmesan yourself to control the amount
•    Go for red sauces (tomato based) instead of white (oil or cream based)
•    Try not to fill up on bread before the meal or you’ll end up having a carb-overload (and definitely a GI spike leading to a sugar crash)
•    Don’t overeat – eat to 70-80% full and then have a break, otherwise you’ll end up with a pasta baby in your belly (we’ve all been there…)

Thai, noodles, etc
•    Ask for less or no oil. Most of the sauces used have a little oil in them anyway, so there is no need for your stir-fries or noodles to be cooked in oil. If you’re like me, you’ll like the taste much better and it will open up a whole range of options for healthy take out
•    Rice noodles are best – easiest to digest and lower GI
•    Avoid fried rice (duh) and go easy on the Pad Thai
•    Steamed and baked fish are great options
•    Order a side dish of mixed or steamed vegetables (hold the oil please)

•    Ask for less oil and hope for the best. This almost never works with curry, so you might be on your own here…

The key when ordering is to be very polite and appreciative. Don’t sound like a madam or you’ll end up with more cheese and more oil. This happened to me on occasion until I refined my technique.

The best advice I can give you however, is to watch your portion sizes. Serve yourself the amount you think is reasonable to eat in one sitting and don’t go back for seconds. It’s so easy to have a little bit and then a little bit more and so on. Before you know it, you’ve eaten twice the amount you normally would (remember the pasta baby…).

Also, check out some of the healthy take out options in Sydney, that I mentioned at the bottom of my recent Eat for Warmth in Winter post.

Happy take out!