Superfoods & Underwear Modelling

August 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

One of my friends, another personal trainer, has been asked to be the face/body for a new underwear campaign that is launching soon here in Oz. He has 4 weeks to get “massive” “ripped”insert other man-fit term here“. For DF, the way to do this is to enter a no carb zone (no carbs/alcohol/sugars etc) so I thought I would create a new category for low-carb eaters and maybe help him along the way.

The important thing to remember on a low carb diet is that your energy levels can seriously drop if you don’t get smart about what you eat. I would not recommend going totally OTT carbless (i.e. no fruit, no tomatoes, no carrots etc – basically you only eat green vegetables and animal/fleshy protein – not even eggs). Sure you’ll drop the weight but you’ll also lower your immune system and become deficient in so many vital vitamins and minerals…and then put the wight back on when you realise it’s not sustainable.

It’s also wise to consider that a low-carb diet may not be for you. Another friend, also another PT, did the whole no-carb high-protein thing and she actually gained weight, not to mention she didn’t have the energy to really get into her cardio workouts.

If you’re an athlete, do cardio, have an active lifestyle, are a normal human being…YOU NEED CARBS TO KEEP GOING.

If you’re a bodybuilder I presume you know what you’re doing with muscle mass and protein.

So the category will just be some ideas that are lighter on the carb side, which is great for some of your daily meals, and for those that include carbs remember to eat wholegrain, unprocessed carbs and sure, watch your fruit intake but 1-2 pieces a day…well you know what they say about the doctor!

I’m also going to start a SuperFoods section as I’m sitting here with my coconut milk berry smoothie with Vital Greens powder and chia seeds feeling very healthy and happy and it will just be nice to have a category that we can click and feel quietly pleased with ourselves for eating so well! What can you expect to see?

  • chia seeds
  • coconut water
  • broccoli
  • Spirulina
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Quinoa…and more.

Eat well.

Be happy.

Think fit…

Happy reading!


Food For Life

July 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wow, did everyone watch the Masterchef final last night?! Talk about pressure cooking, and here I was worried about coordinating my dumplings with the fried rice!

Ok, it’s Monday and  I’m feeling back on track, three days until holiday time. Now let’s be honest, even if I was as good as gold for the next three days I’m not going to achieve a Jennifer Hawkins’ body in that time (I’m BLUSHING with flashbacks from the weekend binge!)

BUT! What’s important is that Blushing Strawberries is now setting the dietary foundations that will have us hot to trot by the time spring rolls in.

A morning walk to Bronte and a fresh vegetable juice. Bliss.

I still have an issue with the word ‘detox’ and I don’t want to use it here. Detoxification suggests participation in an extreme diet for a set period of time to quickly shed some kilos and ‘rest’ your digestive system. A few thoughts.

  • Firstly, while you will lose fat you will also lose muscle that you have worked hard to develop. Once back to normal eating patterns the fat will return but you” be back to square one with your workout.
  • Secondly, by ‘resting’ your digestive system, (juice or lemon water detox) for days at a time, the body goes into starvation mode and will then store extra carbohydrates and fats when your diet returns to normal in fear that the supply will again run out.
  • Finally, you can expect to be constipates and suffer an enormous dip in energy – how are you going to hit those stairs and weights with no fuel in the tank?!

Our bodies need a combination of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and LOTS of vegetables to function and be nutritionally sound, and the amount of each will depend on your goals and your body type. If weight loss is the aim then you will need to be more restrictive for a time, but once you lose the weight and if you can continue a healthy lifestyle then don’t feel bad about the odd treat, like a glass of wine a couple of nights a week or a square of chocolate after dinner. If fat-loss isn’t the issue and you’re just looking to maintain weight but boost your health and nutrition then you don’t need to go hardcore on elimination.

You know I love my food but nearly everything I cook is from scratch and is bursting with the goods. And sure, I then like to head out to dinner on the weekends and enjoy a more decadent dinner or brunch. This aint bootcamp, it’s real life, and I’m going to show you how to make it healthy, fulfilling and most importantly – delicious.

So to detox I say pfft! This is Blushing Strawberries eating Food for Life.

Coconut porridge at Bronte Lounge

Let’s start with the basics, I’m not working on elimination but restriction. Portion size will be the key for many people wishing to achieve weight loss (Michelle Bridges agrees) – even if you are a super healthy eater, three serves of dinner is going to add up.

  • Limit caffeine to weekends
  • Swap sugar for naturally sweet alternatives where possible – such as cinnamon instead of brown sugar on porridge, or organic cacao instead of milk chocolate.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners all together –  diet drinks are simply chemicals, enjoy a small amount of the real thing if you need any at all
  • Limited – zero processed foods
  • Limit dairy and enjoy the wonders of coconut milk. I’m still not wholly sold on soy milk as most brands have a lot more additives and chemicals than regular milk (besides, I love cow’s milk so it’s here to stay.)
  • Enjoy a range of lean meat during the week – chicken, lean pork, lots of fish and seafood, small quantities of red meat (kangaroo is the healthiest choice) and have meat free nights.
  • Limit desserts to a couple of nights a week – or just the weekend
  • Drink LOTS of water 2-3 litres per day

Portion control

The guidelines:

  • Your plate should be 3/4 vegetables 1/4 lean protein. Of the vegetables make 1/2 the plate ‘light’ i.e. greens, tomatoes, squash, carrots etc (go wild with these vegetables, the calorie content is so tiny) and 1/4 plate ‘heavy’ such as your starchy potatoes, pumpkin, corn…- or substitute the starchy veg for complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta etc).
  • DON’T snack while cooking,
  • Ask yourself if you really need seconds before going back
  • DON’T eat your leftovers (keep them for the next days lunch and save money)
  • DON’T make your kids finish their meals when they’re full – it’s teaching bad habits.
  • Always eat sitting down – enjoy your food!

You only get out what you put in.

If you’re out to lose weight then the simple ratio of energy consumed versus energy expended is the best way to go. If you’re looking to maintain weight or gain weight, consider the same philosophy and make it work for you. Basically there are 4.2 kilojoules in one calorie, but if you get confused check out this site for a little more explanation!

Protein – a vital part to the health of our hormone and immune system as well as for the repair and growth of every tissue in your body. Complete sources of protein are animal based – meats, eggs, fish and dairy foods, which means they have all the essential amino acids your body needs, and incomplete sources of protein are vegetable based – legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. If you are a vegetarian then be sure to include a wide range of protein sources to avoid amino acid deficiency. Protein rich foods are also filling and great for a satisfying meal after a workout. I don’t think it’s necessary to completely cut out carbs at dinner but choose extra protein, fewer carbs and of course – lot’s of vegetables.

Most people need 1-2 grams per day for each kilogram of their weight*

Pesto and fetta scrambled eggs on quinoa and soy bread

Carbohydrates – The Hollywood actress’s enemy, but needlessly so. Carbohydrates (found as starch in grains, legumes, vegetables, and as sugars in fruit and milk) are an important source of fibre, phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and of course energy. Carbs break down as glucose, the body’s preferred fuel, so when we use this fuel we have to refill the tank. You might notice when your carbohydrate stores are low that you feel lethargic, tired and find it hard to focus. So to keep your energy levels up you need to keep eating the RIGHT MIX of carbohydrates throughout the day- wholegrains and cereals; starchy vegetables; fruit and legumes; milk and yoghurt. Avoid processed carbs like white bread, white rice, cakes etc.

Intake will depend on your level of activity: A person who participates in light-moderate exercise will need about 150-250grams of carbohydrate per day. Very active people may need in excess of 350-400 grams per day.

Fats – Obviously if you predominantly choose foods high in fat then you will gain weight – fat provides double the energy of either carbohydrate or protein. But completely eliminating fat from your diet will have an equally adverse effect on your health. It is recommended that roughly 30% of your total energy intake comes from fat*, which is between 50-60 grams for a less active person to 80-100 grams for more active people. What’s most important is the type of fat that you eat.

Good fats:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids (essential fatty acids) – found in oily fish, linseeds, walnuts and pecans.
  • Also some Omega 6 fatty acids, which are found in nuts and seeds and oils (olive/sesame/macadamia/rice bran/avocado…)

Bad fats:

  • Saturated fatty acids – fat on meat and poultry, full cream milk and yoghurt, cream, cheese and butter, and in commercial cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • Trans fatty acids – found naturally in the fat of dairy products but most dangerously included in the diet through processed foods.

Saying that, personal trainer and certified metabolic typing adviser, Liz Codrington**, has recently written an article that shows how the palaeolithic diet (our hunter-gatherer ancestors), which incorporates moderate amounts of saturated fats (from animal sources, not processed), is beneficial in reducing ailments such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases. While Codrington still strongly warns against the consumption of trans fatty acids and commercially processed foods (they create an ‘insulin spike’ before the inevitable plummet), she says that the healthy fats found in coconut oil, nuts, meat, eggs and cream actually help your body produce a hormone in the stomach and small intestine that signals that you’ve eaten enough.

The catch? These saturated fats must come from certifiably organic produce and grass-fed meat that are free of chemicals and pesticides. And of course not everyone can ingest the same amount.

Finally, YOUR diet and that of your partner/friend/flatmate/gym instructor are not meant to be identical. Metabolic typing has shown that each persons metabolism is unique and requires different diets and different quantities of fats/carbs/protein etc. Just because Jennifer Aniston cuts the carbs doesn’t mean you should too, consider seeing a nutritionist or a qualified metabolic typing adviser if you change your diet for the better but continue to feel lethargic and emotional and find the weight is hard to shift. Eating well should make us look great and, more importantly, it should make us feel great – emotionally, physically and mentally.

Welcome aboard the journey.

*Figures come from Purely Golden Door, Murdoch Books, 2005

**Liz Codrington can be contacted at

The Veggie Patch is harvested – Imam Biyaldi

July 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

Hmmm, yes, it seems I would have to agree with Sam Neill on this one.

I remember once when I was a teenager, maybe 13 or 14, I decided to become a vegetarian. It was not a matter of animal justice (I grew up on a property where, unfortunately, you quickly become desensitized to hanging carcasses), it wasn’t a dietary thing (I am still a firm believer of the benefits of eating meat in moderation), it was simply me being ‘cool’. While I would like to regale you with stories of my champion effort the memory is sadly clear.

Day One: Morning – I declare my vegetarian status. Lunchtime – I proudly munch on my egg and lettuce sandwich. Dinner – Dad is making the ‘Big Salad’. I smell bacon cooking. I renounce my newfound diet.

Day Two: Never existed.

So you can imagine that this past week has been a struggle for me, even though I do love vegetarian food and will nearly always have at least one meat free night a week, I could not keep this diet up for the long term.

Saying that, there are some great recipes out there to honour the humble vegetable without resorting to frozen veg-patties and faux sausages (sodium anyone?). There are so many dishes that are supposed to be made without meat, because they are simply better that way. In many parts of Italy vegie food is a staple because meat is too expensive for every night, and quality over quantity is a great starting point for eating meat free – enjoy free-range chicken once a week instead of eating cage-raised chicken three nights a week. Winter is also a great time of year to indulge in some hearty vegetable dishes that are filling and satisfying but still light on the hips! Take your hand to ratatouille with pasta, warm salads with pumpkin, roast beetroot, lentils and goats curd, delicious soups and vegetable curries.

One of my favourite vegetarian meals is the turkish dish Imam Biyaldi – literally the priest fainted (presumably because it tastes so good!) The great thing about Imam Biyaldi is that is easily transfers between a summer and a winter dish depending on whether you serve it hot or cold, with a salad or on couscous. In winter I always make a richer tomato sauce by adding a few slugs of good sugo and a splash of red wine into the mix. This is my version, it’s not traditional but it’s wholesome and yummy!

Imam Biyaldi – stuffed eggplant. Serves one

Preheat oven to 180°C

Halve one small eggplant and slash flesh into large squares. Heat 2 tbl olive oil in a frypan over medium heat and fry eggplant, flesh side down, until softened and beginning to colour. Scoop out flesh and keep half, leaving the shells hollow and intact.

Dice two beautifully ripe tomatoes and place in frypan with 1 tbl extra oil, one clove garlic (crushed), 1 tbs pinenuts,   1 tsp sugar, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1/2 sliced onion, half a diced green capsicum and reserved eggplant flesh (diced). Tear through a small handful of parsley leaves (add sugo and wine here if using) and scoop mixture into the eggplant halves.

Transfer to oven and bake until eggplant shell is cooked and filling is heated through.

Drizzle with oil and salt and pepper. Serve with a chickpea salad or couscous and greek yoghurt.

(Sometimes I turn this into a meat dish by adding 100g of premium mince with the tomatoes).

But I also learnt that it takes more thought and care to ensure the correct protein and fibre are included in your diet, as a pilates instructor and fitness professional I found my energy levels wavered on days when I thought I could get by with a raw carrot/cucumber/tomato lunch and a bowl of pumpkin soup for dinner. This doesn’t mean stocking up on carbs to fill you up – a bowl of pasta with tomato passata does not suffice for dinner every night, so when you do do veg, plan your menu to balance protein, fibre and carbohydrates – include legumes/lentils/eggs/nuts/root vegetables/chilli/garlic/ginger/tofu/ etc…and then let the vegetarian ingredients shine!

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