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Food & Nutrition

  • Healthy Fudge Brownies

    Chocolate, chocolate everywhere!

    Its Easter time again and if you want to keep your Easter Brownieshealthy but still indulge in something decadent and delicious we have the perfect recipe for you!

    With their moist, fudgy texture, and their rich chocolaty taste, these gluten and dairy free brownies are sure to be a favourite in your household.

    Preparation time: 30 minutes and 1 hour to set.

    Makes: 25 brownies

    Ingredients:

    425g Dried dates

    150g Goji berries

    400mls Boiling water

    200g Raw cacao powder

    125g Cacao butter, grated

    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    Pinch of salt (Himalayan rock salt preferably)

    200g Cacao nibs (Optional. Can be replaced with walnuts for crunch and less of a rich chocolate taste)

     

    Method:

    Soak the goji berries and dried dates in a bowl with the boiling water, and leave aside for 20 minutes until they have softened. Meanwhile, slowly melt the cacao butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Blend the goji mixture in a food processor until combined and place back into the bowl with the cacao butter, cacao nibs, cacao powder, salt and vanilla powder. Mix well until they are well combined.

    Press the mixture into a greased brownie tin, (try coconut oil instead of butter for greasing if you’re dairy free), and pop in the fridge to set for one hour.

    Once set, cut into squares and enjoy!

  • Superfood Energy Bars Recipe with Chia seeds & Coconut oil

    Boost your energy levels by making this handy nutritious superfood energy bar - fantastic for when you're on the go:

    PV-Oct-Blog-image

    Ingredients:

    2/3 cup of chia seeds (black or white)
    12 large dates – pitted
    4 tbsps of extra virgin coconut oil
    4 tbsps of raw cacao powder
    4 tbsps of shredded coconut (fresh or dried)
    ½ cup dried berries – you could use cranberries or we recommend you try goji berries for a superfood boost
    1 tsp of vanilla extract

    Equipment:

    Food processor or blender
    Large bowl
    Baking tray
    Baking paper

    Method:

    1. Soak the dates and your dried berries in warm water for around an hour, or until they are soft.
    2. Add all the ingredients except the chia seeds into your food processor or blender and mix until they are well combined and have formed a paste-like dough.
    3. Combine the dough and chia seeds together in a large bowl and mix well.
    4. Line a baking tray with baking paper and press your mixture evenly into the baking tray. Use a knife to pre-cut the energy bars into squares or sticks.
    5. Place the baking tray in your fridge for the mixture to set – around 3 hours should be enough or overnight is ideal.

    This recipe makes around a dozen energy bars which can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

  • How To Purchase Organic Foods When You're On A Budget

    We all know what it's like when we are in the produce isle of the grocery store and we see the "organic section."  The first thing that pops into our minds is dollar signs and then this is usually followed by the question, "Is the cost of organic food worth it?"  My response to you is, absolutely!  There are many health benefits associated with eating organically grown foods.  They are exposed to no synthetic chemicals, pesticides or artificial fertilisers during the growing process and you can have peace of mind that they contain no genetically modified ingredients, or are exposed to irradiation. PV-September-blog

    Organically grown foods have shown higher levels of certain nutrients, especially vitamin C and selenium. It is believed they have this stronger nutritional constitution because they are grown in soils such as compost and manure which are rich in nutrients.

    Organic farming also has the health and protection of the environment and existing ecosystems at the forefront of their practice. Sustainability is key, as is working together with the current environment and eco-systems to ensure renewable resources are used and the conservation of energy, water and soil is paramount.

    Organically raised livestock is also preferable because you can ensure that the animal has not been exposed to antibiotics, growth-regulating medications, steroids or hormones, and they are not fed animal by products.  These animals are also treated humanely and have a better quality of life because they are given organic feed and are able to graze freely outside in the natural sunlight and not kept in cages or feed lots.  They are free range. 

    An additional thought to consider is that organic farming practices are better for the environment as they don’t deplete the soil of nutrients, no genetic modification is use and there is less chemical involvement which reduces air pollution and helps to protect wildlife and residents that may reside in the growing area. 

    We all want to make the best food choices to support a healthy lifestyle but unfortunately eating healthy comes with a cost.  We all have different financial means and there is no doubt about it that eating organically grown foods can be expensive but here is some useful tips to help purchase quality foods when you’re on a budget.

    • Do your research 

    Find out where you can purchase organic foods in your local area.  Make sure that you shop around so that you can compare prices and get the best deal possible.  Also look for vouchers that may help to keep the cost down.

    • Eat organic produce that is in season

    This should go for all types of produce, but eating organic produce that is in season is more cost effective because there is an abundant supply available and there are less cost overheads associated with the growing process.  Organic produce in season also has a high nutrient content because it is picked fresh and does not have added preservatives to make it last longer.

    The next question that springs to mind is how do we know which foods are in season?  Well this has been made easy for us by Seasonal Food Guide Australia which has provided a breakdown of which fruits and vegetables are in season during spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Since Australian NaturalCare is located in Sydney, New South Wales I have chosen to use the seasonal food guide for New South Wales.  See what foods are season for New South Wales this year below!

    Spring

    Fruit: Cherries, lemons, mandarins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plums and strawberry's. 

    Vegetables: Globe artichoke, Asian vegetables, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, parsley, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach,  squash, tomatoes and zucchini.

    Summer

    Fruit: Apricots, berries, melons, nectarines, peaches, plums and strawberries.

    Vegetables: Asian vegetables, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, celery, chillies, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini.

    Autumn

    Fruit: Apples, berries, kiwifruit, pears, persimmons and strawberries.

    Vegetables :Asian vegetables, beans, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, chillies, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, pecans, pumpkins, radish, rhubarb, tomatoes and white turnip.

    Winter

    Fruit: Lemons, mandarins and oranges.

    Vegetables: Asian vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Lebanese cucumber, leek, lettuce, parsley, potato, radish, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach and white turnip.

    Don't worry if New South Wales is not your local area because Seasonal Food Guide Australia also provides information about seasonal produce in every state across Australia!  Simply follow this link and select the state that you live in to see what produce is in season in your local area, http://seasonalfoodguide.com/

    • Buy in bulk

    Buy larger quantities of produce that is in season at more cost effective prices and freeze it, or join a food co-op.  Buy in bulk for a group of people and share the buy at a reduced cost.  Foods that are frozen when they are still fresh generally hold their nutritional value.  According to Food Safety Information Council frozen products can hold their nutritional value for up to six weeks when using a fridge and freezer combination and three months or more if using a chest freezer as long as the temperature is maintained at approximately -18°C.  According to National Center for Home Food Preservation foods should be frozen in containers that are not too large because this slows the freezing process and could affect the nutritional content of the food.  If using containers they should be durable, leak proof and moisture vapour resistant.

    Alternatively you may wish to use flexible freezer bags or moisture vapour wrapping materials to package the food prior to freezing.  Ensure that you remove as much air as possible before placing these in the freezer.  According to the Food Safety Information Council it is also beneficial to blanch your vegetables by putting them in boiling water prior to the freezing process because this eliminates any bacteria that may be present.   It is also beneficial to purchase spices, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in bulk quantities because this can be more cost effective.  You can then store them in a dry sealed jar or container to ensure that they stay fresh.

    • Source a farmer's market in your local area

    Sourcing a farmer's market is a great way to support our local farmer's and to purchase fresh, organically grown foods directly from the source.  Ways to source farmer's markets are to read your local newspaper and to watch for flyer's that may be mailed out to you or displayed in your local area.  Alternatively check out the Seasonal Food Guide Australia website which provides information about local farmers markets across Australia, simply follow this link to locate the nearest farmer's market near you, http://seasonalfoodguide.com/

    • Grow your own

    Growing your own produce is the best way to know what quality of produce that you are actually getting because you helped to create it!  Before you go ahead and plant your vegie patch, have your soil assessed first.  Just to make sure it is good quality and there are no nasties that need to be dealt with before you get started!  If you don't have access to a yard you may wish to source a local community garden.  To source local gardens in your local area, use the Australian City Farms and Community Garden Network Website to source local community gardens near you!

    • Get it delivered

    Take the hard work out of it all and get someone to deliver your organic produce straight to your door!  Here are some great companies to check out:

    https://www.doorsteporganics.com.au

    http://www.lettucedeliver.com.au/

    https://www.aussiefarmers.com.au/fresh-to-your-door/pick-your-own/organic/

    https://www.farmfreshgrocer.com.au/products/SET+BOXES-9

    http://www.harrisfarm.com.au/collections/organic

  • Simple Paleo Diet Tips

    Australia's latest diet craze, the paleo diet, has quickly gained popularity. Based on the dietary intake of people from the Stone Age, the paleo diet focuses on eating healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole foods while cutting out processed and refined foods. To some people, this diet may seem too strict; however, the paleo diet has many benefits, and it offers some healthy eating tips that anyone can follow. August-article

    Choose Foods That Have an Expiration Date

    Imagine the life of those who lived several generations ago. These people did not eat greasy potato chips or shelf-stable dessert pastries. If a food comes in modern packaging and can stay good for years, try to avoid buying it. Focus on adding natural, whole foods to your diet.

    Do Not Fear Fats

    Ironically, foods that have a “fat-free” label are usually the foods you should avoid. In moderation, healthy fats are satisfying and beneficial. Healthy fats can include avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. You can also cook with coconut oil, which can be cooked at a high heat without any negative effects. However, if calorie intake is concern, oil does have a lot of calories, so use it sparingly.

    Eliminate Refined Sugar

    In the Stone Age, sweet food made with refined sugar did not exist. In today's world, people everywhere enjoy and even crave these types of food every day. Your body might find it hard to cut out all sugar at once. Instead, slowly decrease your sugar intake by using dried fruit, honey, Stevia and other natural sweeteners.

    Embrace Vegetables

    Paleo is no different from other healthy, sensible diet plan recommendations that tell people to eat plenty of fresh vegetables. Current food guidelines state that everyone should have at least two fruit servings and five vegetable servings each day.

    Exercise Does Not Cancel Out Unhealthy Food Choices

    Some people think that by burning calories on the treadmill, it will be as if the heavy dessert they ate last night never existed. Unfortunately, exercise does not cancel out unhealthy food choices. It is true that proper diet and exercise are crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle, but maintaining weight consists of 20 percent exercise and 80 percent diet. This is the reason many people find the paleo diet to be successful.

    Get Moving

    While you do not need to start a strenuous exercise regime, it is important to include a little bit of exercise in your daily routine. Being more active helps people not only manage their weight, but also improve their mood and digestion.

    Have Sweet Treats in Moderation

    Concentrated sugar sources were rare in the caveman days, so sweet foods were not part of the typical meal. There is no need to eat sweets or desserts every day. Partake in sweet treats every once in awhile during special occasions, such as a birthday parties.

    Stop Counting Calories

    Those who count calories know that it is a frustrating and tiresome task. To get the same result without the hassle of watching your caloric intake, simply focus on eating sensibly portioned, quality foods.

  • Easy Ways To Kick Your Sugar Habit

    Refined sugar has no nutrients, but it does have a lot of calories. Consuming excess refined sugar can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, and other health problems. This four-week plan is designed to help you reduce your intake of refined sugar. The idea is that by cutting sugar slowly across a month your body won’t react negatively to the sudden change in your diet. PV-June-Sugar-Habits

    Week 1: Sugar-Free Snacks and Desserts

    The easiest thing to do first is to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of your snack and dessert food. Contrary to popular belief, there are many delicious healthy snack options out there. Avoid cakes, cookies and sweetened yogurts. Instead, opt for nuts, fruit, natural yogurt, veggie sticks, and nut butter. When it comes to desserts, refined sugar for cake can be replaced with agave syrup, rice syrup, or raw honey, or try making cakes with almond or coconut meal for a little extra sweetness.

    Week 2: Improve Your Breakfast

    The best way to combat sugar cravings is to ensure you have a healthy, protein packed breakfast that won’t give you a sugar low half way through the morning. Firstly, go through your pantry and get rid of any packaged or canned foods that have refined sugars, corn syrup, sucrose, glucose or fructose.

    Sugary cereals should be replaced for whole grains, brown rice, buckwheat, and other nutrient rich grains. Sweeten them by adding dried or fresh fruit.

    Increase the protein content in your breakfast to stop mid-morning hunger pangs by adding nuts or by eating an omelette or a protein smoothie as opposed to eating cereal. Chromium supplements taken along with breakfast can help control your blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.

    Week 3: Cut the Sugary Drinks

    Remove sugar from your tea and coffee. Cut the amount of sugar you add to these beverages in half every day until you no longer need it. If you need the sweet fix, replace sugar with natural substitutes, like stevia. Soft drinks (including diet soda), flavoured milk and fruit juice should ideally be removed from your diet completely. Replace these drinks with fresh water and a dash of lemon or with herbal teas.

    Week 4: Review your sauces, spreads and bread products

    Sugar filled jams, chocolate spreads and chutneys should be replaced with sugar-free fruit spreads, natural nut butters and home-made relishes. Eating an avocado spread, or a spread made of mashed bananas or hummus can be just as enjoyable as eating sugar filled jam. Making something at home means you know exactly what goes into it.

    Next, look at the bread you are eating. Does it have additional sugar? If so, replace it for bread that is made with whole grains. Sourdough bread, mountain bread, and pita bread made with whole grains are good options.

    Store-bought or canned sauces are usually laden with sugar. Start making your own. For example, make pasta sauce by adding fresh herbs to cooked tomatoes. Salad dressings can be made by mixing extra-virgin olive oil with mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and some fresh herbs.

  • Low Carb Dieting That Works!

    PV-feb-blog
    Cutting carbs out of your diet is a popular way to achieve weight loss goals, and has the potential to be very effective. However, many fad low-carb diets are very protein and meat heavy, with very little focus on vegetables or healthy fats. The assumption that a low-carb diet should consist primarily of meat is not necessarily true and can make losing weight more difficult or slower. Follow our top tips for successful low-carb dieting below:

    Lots of Veggies. The most effective low-carb diet for fast and safe weight loss include lots of vegetables and fruits as well as meat and protein. Eating a lot of vegetables helps your body get a proper nutritional balance which satisfies cravings, and the fibre in vegetables also makes your weight loss program more effective.

    Eat Fats. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, you must make sure to get enough healthy fats in your diet to ensure fast and easy weight loss. If you remove fat entirely from your diet, it will cause your body to use up its own stored fat reserves very quickly, which can lead to hunger pangs and cravings that can make you give up on your diet. Instead of banishing fat from your food, make the choice to eat healthy fats like the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, rather than unhealthy processed fats.

    Include Exercise. A good and effective weight loss plan must always include exercise. No diet works by itself, and adding regular exercise to your weight loss plan will help you to achieve your target weight. Simply eating healthily just isn't enough on its own; you must make sure to exercise in order to burn calories and use up your body's energy reserves in a healthy and safe way.

    Control Portion Size. In addition to making healthy food choices when it comes to what to eat, you must also make good choices when it comes to how much to eat. Just because you are eating healthier foods doesn't mean that you can eat as much as you want; limiting your caloric intake every day and only eating until you are satisfied will ensure that the excess calories will not get stored as body fat. If you still feel hungry after eating sufficient calories or feel food cravings, try drinking water to signal to your brain that your body is full and satisfied.

    Add Variety. Just because you are eating well doesn't mean that it has to be boring. Eating the same thing every day can quickly get tiring and make it harder to stick to your diet. With so many delicious healthy foods to choose from, it should be easy to eat a great variety, get all the nutrition you need and still achieve your target weight.

  • Top 5 Food & Nutrition Trends You Can Expect in 2015

    2014 was a year where majority of people started focusing on eating healthier and being healthier. This meant eating more nutritious and organically grown food, getting more active, and making more health-oriented decisions, such as quitting vices, buying vitamin D supplements and the like.

    Top 5 food and nutrition trends Top 5 food and nutrition trends 2015

    This year many dietitians and nutritionists agree – the better health phenomenon is only going to get stronger. Below are the top five food trends for 2015 that reflect this notion, as predicted by various health professionals.

    1. Low-fat fades in fame – According to the ‘What’s Trending in Nutrition’ survey from Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietician, low-fat is out, and good fat is in. The survey, which was given to over 500 registered dieticians, points out that only 4% of them named low-fat as a popular trend among consumers. Meanwhile, 84% agreed that more good fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids) will enter the picture and replace unhealthy, saturated fats.

     

    1. Wholefood has its day – This year it’s no longer about eating less, but eating whole. Nutritionist and author Kathleen Alleaume states that as more people become more aware of the nutritional value of whole food (organic, unprocessed food), many more will be making a switch to eating whole, plant-based food. Nutritionist and founder of Nourish Snacks, Joy Bauer agrees. Diet foods, she says, ‘which are often heavily processed and loaded with artificial sweeteners and other suspect ingredients, seem to be losing their appeal.’ This means more people will want more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains on their plates, and may also mean that more restaurants will respond by offering more organic and nourishing menu options.

     

    1. Cauliflower takes the crown – Kale has been overthrown by a new superfood, cauliflower. It’s been seen almost everywhere lately and dieticians are singing its praises online. Alleaume states that beyond mashing, steaming and baking, this old staple can be transformed into numerous different and creative dishes, including cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower porridge. It can also be pureed and added to almost any dish for a boost of flavour and nutrients.

     

    1. Going gaga for Green tea – They’ve been popular in Japan for centuries, but only now has Matcha, a high quality and potent green tea, started gaining recognition as the next big ultra-healthy beverage. It tops the ‘What’s Trending in Nutrition’ survey with 35% of respondents deeming it the health drink of choice. According to Alleaume, the tea works well as a coffee substitute with significantly less caffeine, and has health benefits that ‘soar far above those of coffee, juice, wine, or any other liquid, with high levels of antioxidants that may even outnumber so-called superfoods like goji and acai berries.’

     

    1. Ancient and unusual produce go mainstream – As the usual carrots, tomatoes and broccoli maintain popularity, their more unconventional comrades start gaining it. In the ‘What’s Trending in Nutrition’ survey half of the respondents agree that ancient grains such as amaranth and quinoa will be rising in popularity. So will exotic food choices like jicama (a Mexican yam), sunchokes (the Jerusalem artichoke) and tigernuts (a Spanish root crop).

    With these five forecasts, it looks like 2015 is sure to be one healthy and wholesome year. If you’re planning to get on the bandwagon and start eating and living healthier this year, why not add nutrient supplements to your diet as well? At Pure Vitamins, we offer a high quality array of supplements at the most reasonable prices. Our products include Coenzyme Q10, Milk Thistle, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and the best magnesium supplement in Australia. Visit our store today and start your year right and healthy!

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