Archive for November, 2011

Summer Hydration

November 29, 2011

Last week we discussed hydration and this week we are going to revisit the topic because with summer just around the corner it is so important to your fitness & well being.

Yesterday on the Coffs Coast Health Club facebook we asked the question:  During one hour of vigorous exercise, how much fluid do you think the average person loses?

A. One Teaspoon

B. One glass

C. Half a litre

D. One litre



For all of those who answered ‘D’, Congrats!


That’s right – we lose up to one whole litre of fluid per hour. But while it’s very important to drink water while exercising, it’s just as important to stock up on fluids before and after exercise too.

Start paying attention to your fluid intake 2-3 hours before you exercise. Drink 2-3 glasses of water during that time and then drink another glass immediately before you start exercising.

Without this extra water, your muscles dehydrate. Muscle movement depends on how hydrated you are, so if they’re dry, they won’t work as well and your workout won’t be as productive as you’d like.

Once you start exercising, keep drinking. A good rule of thumb is to drink one glass of water every 15-20 minutes. Keep a water bottle with you. Take breaks to head to the tap. Do whatever it takes you keep yourself hydrated.

Even when you’re done exercising, you need to keep replenishing your fluid levels. It’s recommended you drink another 2-3 cups within two hours of finishing exercise. Then drink water regularly afterwards.

The more you drink before, during and after exercise, the more productive your workout will be. Do your body a favour and replenish the fluids your body is losing while you work out. Your muscles will thank you later.



The Heart Research Institute


BBQ Turkey & Mustard Sauce

November 24, 2011
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in the USA, so why not add some Turkey to your menu?  Better still let’s fire up the BBQ and cook outside…not this weekend well maybe keep this up your sleeve for Christmas!
BBQ Turkey with Mustard Sauce
BBQ Turkey with Mustard Sauce

For this recipe we use turkey legs and thighs. Turkey legs are BIG &  feed a lot, and they’re an inexpensive source of protein.   In this preparation, slowly cooked on a grill, and basted with a tangy, strong, sweet, sour yellow mustard-based barbecue sauce.  The turkey will absorb the smokiness from the grill and the tang from the sauce.

BBQ Turkey with Mustard Sauce Recipe

Turkey breasts, like chicken breasts, tend to dry out with the long cooking times required for this barbecue recipe. We strongly recommend thighs and legs here. Not only will they be less likely to dry out, the strong flavors will work well with the strong flavors of the barbecue sauce.


  • 4 to 6 turkey legs and/or thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil

Mustard BBQ Sauce:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, grated (use a box grater or cheese grater)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste


1 Pat the turkey pieces dry with paper towels. Salt the turkey pieces well all over. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

2 Make the sauce. Sauté the onions in butter until soft (but not browned), about 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Add the other sauce ingredients and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes.

3 Prepare your grill for high direct heat on one side, and quite low indirect heat on the other side. To do this using a gas grill turn on only half of the burners. If using a charcoal grill, leave one side of your grill free of coals. If using a gas grill, preheat covered for at least 15 minutes.

3 Rub oil all over the turkey pieces. Clean the grill grates with a grill grate scraper. Wipe down the grates with a paper towel soaked in oil.

4 Lay the turkey pieces down on the hot grill, skin side down, to get an initial sear on the turkey. Pay attention because the fat in the turkey may cause flare ups. If this happens be prepared to move the piece to a cooler side of the grill temporarily, or have a spay bottle of water on hand to douse the flames a bit if they get too high. Sear the turkey on the skin side for 3-4 minutes. Once the skin of a piece starts to get browned, move the piece to the cool side of the grill, turning it over so that the skin side is now up. This way the fat under the skin will melt into the meat, basting it, during the next slow-cooking phase.

5 Once you’ve moved all the turkey to the cool side of the grill, cover the grill and let the turkey slow-cook for 20 minutes without looking. Check every 15-20 minutes after that, because everyone’s grill is different. The turkey should cook for at least 1 1/2 hours after the initial sear, probably longer. (The turkey cooked  in these pictured was cooked approx.  2 1/2 hours.) Barbecue by definition must be slow cooking over low heat.


6 After about an hour, start to paint the turkey with the barbecue sauce. Paint only the top part (skin side) to start. Cover and wait another 20 minutes or so. Then flip the turkey over and paint the undersides. Why wait? You want the sauce to sink in, adhere to the turkey and solidify a little; this way it will not drip down into the grill as much. Cover and wait another 15 to 20 minutes.

Depending on how big your turkey pieces are, and your specific grill set up, the time it takes for your turkey pieces to be done will vary. To test for doneness cut into one of the pieces with a knife. The juices should run clear. If they run pink, the meat needs to be cooked longer.

You can continue to baste with the sauce every 15 minutes or so until the meat is done.

7 When the meat is just about ready to take off the grill, you can do a final sear on the skin side. Just place the pieces skin side down on the hot part of the grill. Watch it so that it just browns, not burns. It should take 1-2 minutes.

Serve with extra sauce, and plenty of napkins!

Serves 4-8.

Stay Hydrated and Healthy

November 22, 2011

With temperatures soaring on the Coffs Coast, and we are not even into summer, perhaps we should touch on the topic of hydration.  During these hot days it is really important to keep your fluids up.  The following article will help explain the topic of hydration.  So next time you hit the Coffs Coast Health Club for your workout, bring some water  & drink up.

Drink Up!

What Counts as Water? Stay Hydrated and Healthy

Water doesn’t get the same media attention as green tea, antioxidants, and the latest fad diets. Yet it plays a much more critical part in our daily lives and our bodies.

Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, and every system depends on water. So water is important for healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

“It’s definitely essential,” says Jim White, registered dietitian and personal trainer in Virginia Beach, Va., and American Dietetic Association spokesman.

“What we’re finding is so many people are deficient,” he notes. “We’re seeing a huge decrease in athletic performance and fatigue that’s caused by the lack of hydration.”

You can stay fully hydrated throughout the day by drinking water and other fluids, as well as eating foods that are hydrating.

What Counts as Water?

Fruits are an excellent source for water. Watermelon is 90% water, so it ranks highest on the list. Oranges, grapefruit, and melons like cantaloupe and honeydew are also strong contenders.

Vegetables, though not as full of water as fruit, can also provide a nutrient-rich water source. Stick with celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and Romaine lettuce.

There are plenty of hidden sources of water in your diet, says White. If you want to tap into these foods, reach for oatmeal, yogurt, soup, and smoothies.

Besides guzzling water, milk is a top choice to refuel. Sodas, even diet ones, get a bad rap for lacking nutritional value, but they can still be hydrating. Juices and sports drinks are also hydrating — you can lower the sugar content by diluting them with water.

Coffee and tea also count in your tally. Many used to believe that they were dehydrating, but that myth has been debunked. The diuretic effect does not offset hydration.

Alcohol is a huge dehydrator, says White. You should try to limit your intake, but if you are going to raise a glass, aim for at least a one-to-one ratio with water.

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, White suggests adding lemon to it. Or test out your own concoction, like sparkling water with raspberries with a sprig of mint.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

Parents should make sure that children and teens are getting adequate hydration throughout the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children drink plenty of fluids before starting any exercise and continue to drink during physical activity.

During exercise, the AAP suggests drinking about 3-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes for children 9-12 and about 34-50 ounces per hour for adolescent boys and girls.

Athletes need to take precautions to avoid dehydration. White recommends drinking 16 ounces one hour prior to exercise, 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and another 16 ounces an hour after exercise. The amounts can vary depending on your personal response, heat index, and the type of activity.

“If you’re sweating, you’re losing water,” says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, sports dietitian in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

How can you tell if you’re getting enough fluids during the day? You can tell by checking your urine color and output. If you’re urinating every two to four hours, the output is light-colored, and there’s significant volume, then you’re probably well-hydrated.

“That’s a very simple, easy way to monitor hydration,” says Clark. “If you go from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon without peeing, then you’re dehydrated.”

Signs of Dehydration

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? You might feel tired, cranky, moody, or get a headache. “As the body gets dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the vessels,” explains Clark.

To get a better handle on your hydration levels, White recommends keeping a water log. “Everyone tracks food. How often do we track our water intake?” he asks.

For techie types, there are free apps that pop up with water reminders throughout the day. Whatever method works best for you, drink up and stay well hydrated.

WebMD Feature, By Jennifer Soong

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

Zucchini and Ricotta Rolls Recipe

November 17, 2011

Looking for  a healthy snack to serve your family and friends?  Try this recipe, Zucchini and Ricotta Rolls, fresh veggies and a good source of low fat protein to fuel you.

This Zucchini and Ricotta Rolls recipe is a great finger food party starter or an everyday snack, using 3-4 rolls per person. If you have a griddle plate this will give the zucchini great lines which will look great when presented.

We’ve used a 50/50 blend of ricotta cheese and cottage cheese to bring the fat levels down, but you can just use ricotta cheese if you want to.

This recipe is low in fat and low in sodium.

Energy per 100g: 263kJ – 62Cal
Fat per 100g: 2.8g
Healthy Snack Recipes - Zucchini and Ricotta Rolls  Recipe

Recipe Serves:

This Recipe makes 12 rolls.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 500g zucchini (4)
  • 250g reduced fat fresh ricotta cheese
  • 250g cottage cheese low fat
  • 12 Basil leaves
  • 20g Balsamic Vinegar
  • 5g Olive Oil Spray
  • 5g Lemon Juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe Method:

  1. Thinly cut zucchini into long strips, using a mandolin will get you the best results.
  2. Spray Cook non stick pan  with olive oil spray and cook zucchini until golden brown
  3. Mix ricotta, cottage cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper together
  4. Layout zucchini flat, place 1 basil leaf, and spread part of the ricotta mixture on top and carefully roll up, visually like a pin wheel.  Hold with toothpick.
  5. Layout on platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  6. Serve immediately with extra freshly ground black pepper if desired

Recipe Nutrition Panel:

Servings per package: 12
Serving size: 85g
  Average Serve   Average 100g
Energy 223 kJ 263 kJ
  53 Cal 62 Cal
Protein 6.2 g 7.3 g
Fat, total 2.3 g 2.8 g
 – saturated 1.4 g 1.6 g
Carbohydrate 1.5 g 1.8 g
– sugars 1.5 g 1.8 g
Sodium 66 mg 77 mg


Additional Comments:

Include 50g Gorgonzola or blue vein cheese for a sharp kick.

Living with Arthritis

November 15, 2011

At Coffs Coast Health Club we deal with  clients regularly who suffer from arthritis,  we understand how painful and debilitating it can be.   Perhaps you or someone you know has arthritis.  Most people, through a custom exercise program, quickly feel the benefits  gained from adding  regular exercise to their daily routine.    If you want to keep your joints in prime condition you need to take care of them now.   The following article can be of use to anyone, regardless of your age or if you have arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Protecting Your Joints from Damage.

Your joints were designed to last a lifetime. If you want to keep them in good shape, you need to take care of them now. Taking care of your joints means taking care of yourself with healthy lifestyle habits. It also means using your joints the right way and guarding them against damage – or further damage — from rheumatoid arthritis.

These tips can help you have healthier joints even with RA now – and for years to come.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Lose Weight If You Need To

One of the kindest things you can do for your joints is to avoid overburdening them with too much body weight. If you have rheumatoid arthritis in your hips, knees, or feet, excess weight can mean more stress on painful joints. A 2007 study showed that being overweight also makes it more difficult to bring RA into remission.

RA and Exercise: Stay Active

Regular exercise helps maintain joint function, reduce stiffness, and relieve fatigue. It helps relieve aching joints by strengthening the muscles that support them. Regular exercise can also help reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease, which can accompany RA.

Although regular exercise is important, too much or the wrong type of exercise can cause harm – particularly if your joints are already fragile. Choose exercises that place the least body weight on your joints, such as swimming, stationary cycling, water exercise, and light weight lifting. Your doctor or physical therapist can help design an exercise program that’s right for you.

Stop Smoking If You Have RA

Research in recent years has suggested that smoking increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. If you already have RA, smoking can make it more difficult to treat, which could mean more joint damage. A Swedish study showed that smokers with RA were less likely to respond to two common RA treatments – methotrexate and certain biologics, called TNF inhibitors – than RA patients who didn’t smoke.

Use Assistive Devices to Reduce Joint Stress

Using assistive devices can reduce stress on damaged joints, helping protect them from injury or further injury. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis in a hip or knee, supporting yourself with a cane on the opposite side can take 20% to 30% of the weight off the joint and improve stability.

Pens, pencils, and toothbrush handles with thicker handles spare the joints of the hands. Reachers minimize stress on the shoulders when reaching for items on high shelves.

Use Your Largest, Strongest Joints

To avoid worsening joint damage, try not to place excessive strain on any single joint. Use larger, stronger joints to spare smaller, fragile ones. Some strategies include:

  • Carry a shoulder bag instead of a clutch or handbag, particularly if it is heavy.
  • Carry grocery bags in your arms, close to your body, instead of gripping them with your hands.
  • Hold small items in your palms, instead of your fingers.
  • Use both hands or the side of your body to open heavy doors.
  • Hold items with two hands instead of one.

Protect Joints: Practice Good Posture

Proper posture protects the joints of your shoulders, hips, and knees. To practice good posture when lifting, keep your back straight, separate your feet to widen your base, and bend at the knees and hips, not the waist.

When sitting, rest your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Sit upright and lift your chest, imagining a string tied to the second button of your blouse going straight up toward the ceiling.

Eat for Joint Health

Although there is no specific diet to ease rheumatoid arthritis or keep joints strong, some nutrients may have positive, protective effects.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3sfatty acids — DHA and EPA — from fish oil supplements can reduce inflammation associated with RA. Good sources arefatty fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines.
  • Calcium and vitamin D. Many people with RA don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D. Both are essential for strong bones — which you need for healthy joints — and can help lower risk of osteoporosis, which can be increased when you have RA. Most adults need 1,000 – 1,200 mgs of calcium a day and 600 – 800 IUs of Vitamin D daily.

High-Protein, Low-Calorie Lunch Recipes

November 10, 2011

Stay fuller longer with satisfying sandwiches and salads for a healthy lunch.

             see the recipes

Adding lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, lean beef, low-fat dairy and beans, to your lunch is an easy way to stay satisfied throughout the day. Compared to carbs and fat, protein keeps you feeling fuller longer, helping to carry you straight through the afternoon to dinner.

Healthy Food to Eat at Lunch
Photo Credit fruit salad with mixed fruit close up image by Du…�an Zidar from
Even if you are the most committed dieter or health enthusiast, you may find it difficult to find a healthful meal for lunch, particularly if you are on the go. If you are trying to build lean muscle or lose weight, missing meals is counterproductive to your fitness goals. Skip the temptation to eat fast food for lunch and prepare a healthful lunch the night before.

Fresh Fruit and Greek Yogurt

If you find yourself craving sugar for lunch, you do not have to eat the high-calorie doughnuts or candy that may be waiting for you at work. A lunch of fresh fruit and Greek yogurt will satisfy your sweet tooth, but will not hinder your weight-management efforts. Fresh fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Make sure to choose fresh fruit and not canned, which may be covered in a sugary syrup. Non-fat Greek yogurt is a healthful treat as well. In addition, Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular.

Vegetables and Hummus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eating vegetables and hummus to help manage your weight. Like fruit, vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vegetables also contain water and dietary fiber that can suppress your appetite and keep you full until dinner. Eat a variety of colorful vegetables. Hummus, generally made from chickpeas, is also very low in calories. If you do not like hummus, substitute another low or non-fat dip. If using a processed dip, be careful that it is not high in sugar. This lunch idea is particularly low in fat and calories and ideal if weight loss is your primary goal.

Tuna Sandwhich

The American Council on Exercise recommends canned tuna on its list of 10 low-calorie diet foods. Tuna is high in protein and has no carbohydrates or sugar and virtually no fat. Fat that comes from fish such as tuna is polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy. Make sure to eat whole-wheat or whole-grain bread without high-fructose corn syrup, which is associated with diabetes and can contribute to weight gain and obesity. If you add mayonnaise to your sandwich, pick non-fat or low-fat mayonnaise made with canola or olive oil. These oils are sources of heart-healthy, unsaturated fat. If use add cheese, fat-free cheese is a good choice because it is nearly all protein. Add a side of fruit or vegetables to your healthful tuna sandwich for vitamins such as A and C.

Other Snacks

Many people ditch the breakfast, lunch and dinner concept and eat four to six smaller meals instead. Eating fewer calories more often can speed up your metabolism and ensure you are never so hungry that you binge on foods. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology lists lower-calorie snack ideas you can have for lunch or your afternoon break. Consider eating a 100 percent whole-grain pita with natural peanut butter, hummus and banana slices. Or try celery sticks with natural peanut butter and a glass of soy milk. Choose whole wheat crackers with fresh tomato slices, small pieces of grilled chicken, low-fat mozzarella cheese, sliced black olives and salsa. An egg-white omelet with fresh vegetables is another high-protein, low-calorie lunch idea. All these snacks incorporate a lean protein and complex carbohydrates. At just four calories per gram, protein and complex carbohydrates are the ideal substitutes for high-calorie foods high in saturated fat and sugar.



10 Exercises for Sore Knees

November 8, 2011

See which exercises can reduce arthritis pain and help to strengthen joints.

Hamstring Stretch

Warm up with a five-minute walk. Then, stretch. Lie down. Loop a bed sheet around your right foot. Use sheet to help pull and stretch leg up. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat twice, then switch legs. Stretching is one of three important types of exercises for knee OA. Range of motion or stretching exercises keep you limber. Strengthening exercises build muscle strength to stabilize weak joints. Aerobic exercises, like walking, help lung and heart fitness.

Calf Stretch

Stretching exercises loosen muscles, improve flexibility, and help prevent pain and injury.

Use a chair for balance. Bend your right leg. Step back with left leg, slowly straightening it behind you. Press left heel towards the floor. Feel the stretch in your back leg.

For more of a stretch: Lean forward, bending the right knee deeper. Don’t let the right knee go past your toes. Hold for 20 seconds. Do twice, then switch legs.

Straight Leg Raise

To try this leg strengthening move, lie on the floor. Prop your back up on your elbows. Bend your left knee, keeping foot on floor. Keep the right leg straight, toes pointed up. Tighten thigh muscles of your right leg. Slowly and smoothly use your thigh muscles — not your back — to raise your leg.

Pause, as seen above, for five seconds. With thigh still tight, slowly lower leg to ground. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10; then switch legs.

Quad Set

Is the straight leg raise too tough? Do quad sets instead. With these you don’t raise your leg. Simply tighten the thigh muscles, also called the quadriceps, of one leg at a time.

Start by lying on the floor. Keep both legs on ground, relaxed. Flex and hold left leg tense for five seconds, as seen in right-hand photo. Relax. Do two sets of 10. Then, switch to other leg.

Seated Hip March

This move can strengthen hips and thigh muscles to help with daily activities, such as walking or rising from a chair.

Sit up straight in chair. Slightly kick back your left foot but keep toes on the floor. Lift your right foot off the floor, keeping knee bent. Hold right leg in the air five seconds. Slowly lower your foot to the ground. Repeat 10 times. Rest and do another 10, then switch legs. Too hard? Use your hands to help raise your leg.

Pillow Squeeze

This move helps strengthen the inside of your legs to help support your knee. Lie on your back, both knees bent. Place a pillow between knees.

Squeeze knees together, squishing pillow between them. Hold for five seconds. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest, then do another set of 10.

Too hard? You can also do this exercise while seated. See photo to right.

Heel Raise

Hold back of chair for support. Stand straight and tall. Lift heels off ground and rise up on toes of both feet. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower both heels to ground. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10.

Too hard? Do the same exercise, only sitting in a chair.

Side Leg Raise

Hold back of chair for balance. Place your weight on left leg. Lift right leg out to the side. Keep right leg straight and outer leg muscles tensed. Don’t slouch. Lower right leg and relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10, then repeat with left leg.

Too hard? Increase leg height over time. After a few workouts, you’ll be able to raise your leg higher.

Sit to Stand

Practice this move to make standing easier. Place two pillows on chair. Sit on top, with your back straight, feet flat on floor (see left). Use your leg muscles to slowly and smoothly stand up tall. Then, slowly lower yourself back down to sitting. Be sure your bent knees don’t move forward of your toes. Try with arms crossed (see left) or loose to your side.

Too hard? Add pillows or use a chair with armrests and help push up with your arms.

One Leg Balance

Your goal is to do this hands-free. Steady yourself on a chair, if needed. First, shift your body weight to one leg but do not lock your knee straight. Slowly raise the other foot off the ground, balancing on your standing leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Lower raised foot to the ground. Do twice, then switch legs. This move helps when getting out of cars or bending.

Too easy? Balance for a longer time. Or try with your eyes closed.

Step Ups

This move helps strengthen your legs for climbing stairs. Face a stable step, both feet on the ground. Step up with your left foot. Follow with your right foot. Stand on top, tall and with both feet flat. Climb down in reverse: right foot down first, then left. Do 10 times. Rest, then repeat another 10 times. Then repeat, starting with right leg first. Too hard? Use a railing, wall, or lamppost for balance. Or try a lower step.


With stiff or sore knees, walking may not seem like a great idea. But it’s one of the best exercises for knee arthritis. It can reduce joint pain, strengthen leg muscles, and improve flexibility — and it’s good for your heart. The best part — no gym membership needed.

Good form is key: Look forward, walk tall. Keep arms and legs moving, relaxed. Always ask your doctor before starting exercise when you have osteoarthritis.

Low-Impact Activities

Being active may also help you lose weight, which takes pressure off joints. Other exercises that are easy on the knees: biking, swimming, and water aerobics. Water exercise takes weight off painful joints. Many community and hospital wellness centers, YMCAs, and pools offer classes for people with arthritis.

Don’t give up favorite activities, like golf. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about modifying painful moves.

How Much Exercise?

Start with a little. If you can do it without pain, do more next time. Aim for 30 minutes a day.

Over time you’ll build your leg muscles to support your knee and increase flexibility.

Some muscle soreness is normal, but hurting or swollen joints need rest. Take a break and ask your doctor’s advice. Ice painful joints and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, like ibuprofen or naproxen, if your doctor says it’s OK.

Bad Fat to Good Fat

November 1, 2011

Fat Facts

As mums, we want the meals we make to provide all the nutrients and energy that our family needs to grow and be well.


Not all fat is bad. Fats are an essential part of healthy eating so it’s good for you and your family to eat a certain amount of the healthier ones.

Good fats are ones that reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in your blood and increase the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. This helps to lower our risk of heart disease.  Unhealthy fats do the opposite.

Saturated and trans fats are bad for our family’s health, and a lot of Australians eat too much of them.

So how can you tell if your family is eating the bad fats? These foods are high in unhealthy saturated fats:

• Full fat milk and other dairy products including butter

• Hard and full fat soft cheese

• Cream and crème fraiche

• Meat or chicken with the fat and/or skin on it

• Processed meats such as sausages, burgers and salami

• Pastry

• Coconut oil and coconut milk

• Palm oil

• Fatty or fried take-away foods

• Packaged cakes and biscuits

Deep-fried food, like chips, and shop bought cakes and biscuits also contain unhealthy trans fats, and so we should only eat them occasionally and not everyday.

Don’t panic! You can still serve up most of your family’s favourite foods; you just need to swap the bad fats for the good ones: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

As a general rule of thumb, monounsaturated fats are plant-based. Think avocados, almonds, cashews and cooking oils made from plants or seeds (canola, sunflower, olive, sesame). Polyunsaturated fats are also known as omega-6 and omega-3s, and you’ll find these in fish, margarine, linseeds, tahini (sesame paste), walnuts and sunflower and safflower oil.

When it comes to reducing the bad fat in your family meals, the best place to start is in the supermarket.

If you’re not sure which food is best for your family, look for the ones that carry the Heart Foundation Tick. There are Tick options for most foods (including all fresh fruit and vegetables), and it’s your guarantee that the product meets the Heart Foundation’s strict nutritional standards including the level of saturated fat.

Healthy changes, today

To help you get started, here are 5 simple changes you can make today:

1. Swap full-fat dairy foods for reduced, low or no-fat dairy foods for everyone in the family over two years of age. You will remove 4 kg of saturated fat from your diet in a year if you do this with 1 cup of milk, two slices of cheese and a small tub of yoghurt a day. You can remove even more by choosing no fat foods.

2. Swap butter for a margarine spread made from canola, sunflower or olive oil. Just doing this with your daily morning toast and sandwiches will remove 2.85 kg of saturated fat from your diet in one year.

3. Trim off all visible fat from meat, remove the skin on chicken. Avoid processed meats, like sausages and salami, unless they have the Heart Foundation Tick.

4. Serve up three portions of oily fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, blue mackerel) each week. A portion is 150g, which is roughly the size of your hand. Add fish oil capsules and omega-3 enriched foods and drinks to your diet if you’re not eating enough oily fish.

5. Choose healthier treats. Cakes, pastries and biscuits are one of the main sources of saturated fat in our diets. Raisin bread, Tick approved cereal and nut bars, or Tick approved sweet biscuits are healthier options. Limit pastries, pizza, fried fish, hamburgers, hot chips and creamy pasta to once a week.

See below for a video explaining how to reduce the amount of saturated fat in our diet in five easy steps. Today show footage courtesy of Channel 9.

How to Save Money on Fresh Vegetables

November 1, 2011

  1. Buy in-season, locally grown produce. In-season vegetables are cheaper because they are abundant — and locally grown veggies taste better and last longer because they haven’t spent days in a refrigerated truck to get to your supermarket. For out-of-season vegetables, substitute flash-frozen supermarket ve
  2. Don’t just grab a handful of veggies. If you take your time to choose each vegetable individually, you’ll eliminate any that could spoil the lot. Use all of your senses. You want to choose vegetables that have a bright, lively color, have a pleasing smell or aroma, smooth, unbroken skin, with no blemishes, bruises, soft spots, or moldy areas.
  3. Buy only the veggies you’ll use within a week. Most vegetables kept longer — with the exception of some root vegetables — are likely to spoil. To know what you’ll use in a week, shop with a list for sides, snacks, and main dish preparation.
  4. Try to grow your own vegetables. If an outdoor garden isn’t your thing, at least grow some herbs on a windowsill. Have you looked at the prices of herbs at the store lately? Or start some bean sprouts — you’ll have your own fresh stir-fry ingredients in days.
  5. If you do find yourself with an oversupply of veggies about to go bad, freeze them. You can prepare them in a dish, making vegetable stock, soups, or a vegetable casserole first, and then freeze.