All Posts by vitalassurance

Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa Porridge is a fabulous, protein rich alternative to an oat based porridge. It's a gluten and grain-free breakfast that is super delicious and nutritious. It’s a great way to use up left over quinoa so next time you are planning a quinoa based meal, make sure you cook a bit extra for breakfast the next day.

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked quinoa
Your choice of coconut milk / coconut water / rice milk / almond milk / full-fat milk - enough to just cover the quinoa
1-2 tablespoons of sweetener - maple syrup / rice malt syrup / raw honey

Optional extras:
add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
add 1 teaspoon of cardomom powder
add 4 tablespoons of mixed raw or gently roasted nuts and seeds.

Method:
In a pot, mix the quinoa, milk, sweetener and optional extras and heat until it is just hot (but not boiling).

Top with some additional nuts and seeds / chia seeds / coconut / cacao nibs and fresh fruit such as banana or berries.

Serves 4

HotXBun Breakfast Cake

If you are looking for an alternative breakfast to the usual cereals, smoothies and eggs, then this is going to be perfect for you. It has just enough sweetness to make your breakfast feel 'indulgent' without any of the additional guilt that goes with it.  Perfect for when you are entertaining!

Ingredients:

3 bananas
3 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon ginger, nutmeg & ground cloves
1 orange, juiced
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cups rolled oats or quinoa flakes
3 tablespoons chia seeds
2 green apples, roughly diced
1 cup sultanas

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mash bananas and whisk eggs in a separate bowl.

Add bananas, eggs, oil and syrup to the dry ingredients and fold together.

Pour into a lined baking tin and bake for 45 min or until cooked through

Serves 12

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Avocado Mayonnaise

We all know that avocado makes an amazing addition to a salad so why not take it that extra step and turn it into a delicious, creamy dressing to make your salads completely irresistible!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt to taste

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a processor and whiz until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust flavours to your liking.

Serving suggestions: 
Serve over your favourite salad, as the mayonnaise in coleslaw, with grilled fish or as a dip.

Add fresh or sundried tomato and some dried Italian herbs for a creamy Italian dressing.

You could sweeten with a little stevia if you prefer a sweeter dressing.

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Fats: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

So what is the story behind fat? The type of fat you eat is more important than the amount of fat you eat. Whether a particular fat is healthy or unhealthy depends on how your body responds to the fat. ‘Bad’ fats turn off your fat-burning genes while ‘good’ fats increase your metabolism and actually help you burn fat. It is important to remember that fat is crucial for your cells to function optimally.

When you understand the different types of fat and which foods contain which type of fat, you can use it to your advantage to increase your ability to burn fat and lose weight.

Many people have turned to low-fat diets in order to lose weight, however the problem with this is that these diets are often rich in starchy or sugary carbohydrates, which in turn raises your insulin levels and promotes weight gain.

Fats can be classified as ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’. Lets look at all three a little more closely.

GOOD FATS

1) Omega 3
The king of the good fats is the Omega-3. Omega 3 has many beneficial qualities including reducing systemic inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels and increasing immune function just to name a few.

Omega 3 can be sourced from the following foods: Wild salmon, herring, anchovies, flaxseeds and flax oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds.

2) Monounsaturated fats
These are considered to be one of the healthiest types of fat as it has none of the adverse effects associated with saturated fats, trans fat or omega 6 polyunsaturated vegetable oil.

These can be sourced from the following foods: Olive oil, hazelnuts, almonds,brazil nuts, cashews, avocado, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds

3) Saturated fats
Many saturated fats are considered bad due to increasing the amount of LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), the stuff that forms plaque in our arteries, and subsequently decreasing the amount of HDL cholesterol (aka good cholesterol), the stuff that chips away the plaque forming in our arteries.

These saturated fats are found in commercially raised beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and dairy. However, having some saturated fat, especially those containing Lauric Acid, is necessary as this is the preferred source of energy by heart cells.

Sources of this fat can be found in the following foods: Coconut products, macadamia nut oil, palm fruit oil.

4) Unrefined Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats
These fats are only required in small doses. Only use the expeller or cold-pressed versions (found on the label of the bottle) of the following oils: grape seed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, sesame oil

BAD FATS

These fats affect your metabolism adversely, making it difficult to burn the weight you would like to. They include:

  •  Commercially available vegetable oils (corn, soy, vegetable)
  • Refined polyunsaturated vegetable oil
  • Most saturated fats (meat, poultry and dairy foods ​are the main sources of these fats in our diet)

UGLY FATS

These are man made fats that simply cannot be properly digested by your body. They interrupt the natural operation of your cells and have the capacity to affect your health in radically negative ways. They also block your metabolism, create weight gain and increase your risk of chronic disease. These fats should be avoided.

Hydrogenated oils or Trans fats are the most dangerous. Trans fats are found in nearly all processed or commercially baked or packaged foods. Some examples of trans fat include: vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods and baked goods.

In summary, the recipe for weight loss with fat is to include 1-2 servings of ‘good’ fats with each meal, plus the occasional ‘bad’ fat, while avoiding the ‘ugly’ fats. This will result in an increase in your metabolism and improve your ability to burn fat.



Chocolate Honeycomb

There is absolutely no need to miss out on the finer things in life!  Violet crumbles used to be an absolute childhood favourite of mine so this is super exciting to be able to enjoy the deliciousness of the honeycomb and chocolate with every crunch and feel completely guilt-free about it.  This recipe is super clean and will nourish you with every mouthful!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons honey or rice malt syrup
1 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoon bicarb soda
200g dark chocolate melted (try 70 or 85%)

Method:

Line a 20 cm baking tin with non stick paper.

Combine the honey and coconut sugar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. 

Bring the mixture to the boil, and allow the mixture to gently boil for two minutes without stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarb, taking care for the mix not to spill over.  Pour into the tin and set aside.

Once the mix has cooled, place into the fridge overnight.

Line a new container with non stick paper.

Roughly chop the honeycomb and place into a bowl.  Drizzle over the melted chocolate and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into your prepared tin and place in the fridge to set.  Slice to desired bars.

Makes 12-16 depending on size

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Naked Waffles

Sometimes it's nice on the weekend to spend a little extra time and create something special for breakfast. Here's a recipe for a healthy, delicious and nutritious waffle that your family will absolutely love! I know mine does!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil or melted butter
pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons coconut flour


Method:

Blend all ingredients together excluding the flour until really smooth, then add the flour and pulse to combine.

Preheat your waffle iron on the lowest setting.  Lightly grease with coconut oil if needed, then add 1/2 cup to the centre and close the lid.

If your mixture becomes stiff whilst cooking the waffles, add a little extra milk (the flour continues to absorb the liquid as its sitting there).

Cook for a few minutes on each side, careful not to burn it.

Serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and some fresh fruit.

Makes 4-8 depending on waffle size

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Healthy Swaps

When you first start looking at leading a healthier lifestyle, you might think that it will involve lots of work to change your diet. However, choosing healthier foods is easier than you may think. By changing just a few eating habits you can make a big difference to your diet and your health. For example, swapping foods high in trans-saturated fats, salt and sugars to wholesome fruits and vegetables.

Here are some suggestions you may want to try:

  1. Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice – juicing tends to remove a lot of the fibre and nutrients of the fruit. It can also have the potential for you to consume a much higher quantity of fruit. What’s wrong with that you say? Whilst fruit contains natural sugar, too much of it will be as detrimental as consuming refined sugar. So skip the glass, and go with a whole piece of fruit to reap the full nutritional benefits of this sweet, healthy snack.
  2. Pan-fry food instead of deep frying – most foods that at deep fried are done so in hydrogenated oils or trans-unsaturated fats which are toxic, can block your metabolism, and can increase your weight and risk of cardiac disease. When pan-frying food, use small amounts of mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) and saturated fats (coconut oil) that increase your metabolism, which helps you to burn fat more quickly.
  3. Make your own dressings – Instead of buying processed, high sugar, bottled dressings, make your own using olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon instead of sugar – when you are looking to add that little something to your oatmeal, yoghurt or even pancakes, turn to cinnamon which is packed with flavour and helps stabilise your blood sugar levels.
  5. Swap white, refined carbohydrates for whole-grains – carbohydrates as we know them (white rice, pasta and bread) are stripped of all their nutrients and fibre and replaced with sugars. Instead, eat plenty of quinoa, freekah, brown rice noodles and wholegrain, sourdough bread.
  6. Use avocado instead of butter – Unlike butter, avocados are high in mono-unsaturated fats that will keep you healthy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and has the added bonus of tasting amazing.
  7. Chose lean meats instead of fatty ones – Meat contains a lot of saturated fat which when consumed in large quantities can impact your health through [examples]. By switching to lean meats, you can still satisfy your carnivorous side but minimise the impact on your insides.
  8. Make your own food rather than eating out – this is a fabulous way to control what is going into your food and thus into your bodies. Packing your lunch and taking it to work will stop you from running to the local takeaway shop or vending machine which fills your body with ‘nutrient deficient’ calories.


Success Story: Dorith Kranz

If you’ve ever questioned whether or not the whole “clean eating” lifestyle actually makes a difference to your health, I would like to share one of my many success stories with you. I hope that the positive results she has seen, even at her age, will motivate you to start to make changes in your life.

In 2009, Dorith was 58 years old. She had been an unsuccessful yo-yo dieter (trying many different diets), battling with her weight for at least 10 years. A typical food day for her was no different to most ‘normal’ people: she started her day with a bowl of a store-bought cereal with skim milk and a coffee with skim milk and sweetener. Lunches were quickly thrown together and usually consisted of a tub of diet yoghurt and some rice cakes with a small tin of tuna. Dorith’s nemesis was her sweet tooth and by the time she got home from work, she would generally be too tired to prepare herself a meal so she would just snack on the bits and pieces that she could find in her kitchen and this generally included biscuits, chocolate and Pepsi Max.

Her world took a dramatic change when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. From that point on, managing her weight and health became an even more difficult uphill battle for her.

Following her first round of treatment, she hit a further speed bump when she developed lymphedema in her legs, which made it difficult for her to walk and maintain even a low level of exercise. Her weight continued to creep up and her overall health began to deteriorate rapidly, experiencing ongoing pain in her back, hip and legs requiring regular trips to the doctor for treatment of cellulitis and other infections. She was extremely lethargic and had limited energy. Over the next 6 years, her cancer returned twice and she currently remains on long-term chemotherapy treatment to try to beat this disease.

In November 2015, Dorith reached her ‘tipping point’. She knew that something had to be done to change her diet and lifestyle if her health was going to improve.

Knowing her health and diet history, I realised that her body was on fire and was working against her. To be able to transform this, she had to remove from her diet many of her ‘staple foods’ including processed food, wheat, gluten, sugar, soy, dairy, caffeine and alcohol. Instead, these were replaced with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein (eg. fish and chicken), and whole foods such as brown rice (not white), quinoa, nuts and seeds. By consuming these foods, she was beginning to allow her body to repair itself, eliminating cravings and increasing her energy.


Dorith found this extremely overwhelming at first, being concerned that not only would she have limited food options, but also the amount of preparation that would be required. However, we worked together to come up with a meal plan with a wide variety of food options. I also showed her some great cooking hacks like preparing her fruit and vegetables as soon as she gets them home before putting them away, and also learning to ‘cook once and eat twice (or even three times)’.

To be able to sustain and maintain this lifestyle change, results needed to be seen, so it was fabulous for her to experience an immediate 2kg weight loss in the first few days. This gave her the motivation to keep going. Four months on, Dorith has now lost an incredible 21kg!!!! A further loss of 4kg will see her at her goal weight, a weight she has not been at for over 15 years!

But it was more than just about weight loss. Dorith’s attitude in general started to improve, and she found herself being more positive towards life overall. This reinforces the strong relationship between mood and food, and how a diet filled with processed carbs and refined sugars has as much of an effect on our mental health as our physical health. Whereas a “clean diet” filled with fresh produce, lean protein and whole grains leaves you feel refreshed and energised.

Dorith was introduced to foods that she had never heard of before and is now enjoying cooking and eating, she is always pre-prepared with her meals, her cravings for sweet foods have diminished and her love for Pepsi Max no longer exists.

Dorith has been amazing through this journey, showing great strength and determination to make long-term changes to her health. She is now reaping the rewards of her hard work and in her own words, ‘today, at 21 kilograms lighter, I feel more energetic, and am now off the cholesterol medication that I had been taking for many years”. Dorith has found a new zest for life, “Keren was my mentor and without her great support and guidance, I would not have been able to achieve what I did!”









A Day of Clean Eating

Social Media is awash with so called “experts” who give advice on ‘toxic foods’, ‘eating right’, and ‘living right’, and there are just as many other “experts” who then counter-argue against some of these people. It can become extremely confusing for people to decipher what is the right decision to make and what the ‘right’ approach is to leading a healthier lifestyle.

What I have learned so far is that there is no singular “right” diet. No two people are alike, especially when we are looking at people’s metabolism. We need to consider how they respond to stressful situations, and their time and availability to exercise and take time out for themselves. Therefore, people need to trial different eating methods to work out how their body responds and reacts to be able to find the right approach for them.

When it comes to fat loss, it’s all about getting our body to work optimally to burn more energy, rev up our metabolism and making sure you eat the correct nutrient dense foods to support this. However, achieving your weight-loss goal is not just about food, it’s about lifestyle too. You need a lifestyle that will help you become leaner, fitter and healthier.

Although we would like it to be as easy as snapping our fingers to lose excess weight and keep it off, losing weight and keeping healthy takes a lot of dedication. So what is the recipe for a leaner, fitter and healthier life? Eating the right foods, getting regular exercise and making the right lifestyle choices.

Eating cleanly to me represents eating simple, fresh food that I have prepared myself. The food keeps me energised and nourished all day, makes my skin glow, and rejuvenates my cells keeping me looking young.

Below are 3 of my staple daily recipes:

Breakfast - Banana Chia Smoothie
Serves 1

1 banana – frozen
1 cup almond milk or coconut water
2 tablespoons pea protein powder
1 tablespoon chia or ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method: Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy

Lunch – Chop Chop Salad
Serves 1

1 cup mixed greens (spinach & cos lettuce)
½ Lebanese cucumber, diced
½ red capsicum, diced½ yellow capsicum, diced
2 radishes, diced
1 spring onion, diagonally sliced
2 tablespoons mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
¼ avocado, diced
Small handful fresh mint, chopped

Dressing:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ -1 lemon juiced
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
Cracked pepper to taste

Method:
Combine dressing ingredients in small jar and mix well. Set aside.
Prepare vegetables as listed.
Pour over dressing and mix well.

Dinner – Baked Lemon-Dill Salmon with steamed greens
Serves 2

2 x 180g Salmon fillet
1 lemon, sliced
few sprigs of fresh dill
salt & pepper
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 handful green beans, top and tailed
1 bunch asparagus, stems broken off

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Place salmon fillets on separate pieces of non-stick baking paper and season with salt & pepper.
Place a few sprigs of dill on fillet and top with two to three slices of lemon.
Form parcel from baking paper by twisting the ends together.
Place on baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how you like your salmon cooked.
Whilst fish is cooking fill a large saucepan with about 2.5cm of water and put on the stove. Place a steamer basket or colander in the pot and bring water to a slow simmer.
Whilst waiting for the water, prepare vegetables.
Once water is simmering place the broccoli in the steamer and cover for 2 minutes. Then add the green beans and asparagus and cover for a further 3 minutes (cooking time may vary according to how you like your vegetables cooked).
Once vegetables are ready remove into a colander and run under cold water briefly to stop the cooking process.
Place a fillet of salmon on 2 separate plates, divide the vegetables and enjoy.

In good health,
Keren xX

Ted Talk: Healing Through Diet

This talk really gets to the heart of what we at Vital Assurance believe in. Being healthy is more that just having a 'healthy diet', it's about a whole lifestyle of health. Small gradual changes to your everyday habits can have a huge impact on your well-being.