Nutrition

WHAT IS MCT OIL & WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?

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MCT oil consists of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s), which are a type of saturated fatty acid.

Medium chain triglycerides are easier for the body to absorb and utilize than long-chain triglycerides. They also have a number of great benefits including increased energy, satiety and improved focus. MCT oil is a popular staple of the ketogenic diet. Including them as part of a keto diet can speed up the process of entering ketosis, as they are easily converted into ketones in the liver, which can be used as an alternative source of energy to glucose. 

Coconut oil is a common and popular source of MCT’s. You’ll be happy know that MCT oil has no odor, making it perfect to add to coffee, smoothies and meals! Adding MCT oil to black coffee has gained popularity by those following keto as it’s a great way to support fat burning during the morning.

The 4 forms of MCT’s found in coconut oil include:

Caproic acid - 6 chains of carbon (C6)

Caprylic Acid – 8 chains of carbon (C8)

Capric Acid – 10 chains of carbon(C10)

Lauric Acid – 12 chains of carbon (C12)

Fats consist of chains of carbons atoms. The number of carbon atoms per chain influences the amount of time it takes to be converted into ketones. 

 

Benefits of MCT oil summarised:

  • Aids in weight loss by promoting saiety, due to their role in releasing the hormone leptin

  • Support brain function as they can pass through the blood-brain barrier and are then used for the brain as energy

  • Supports balanced hormones

  • Improve concentration and mental clarity 

  • Support endurance during exercise

  • Are utilized as fuel, instead of being stored as fat

Doing keto? Try these tasty Keto-Friendly Zucchini Fritters

7 STEPS TO A HEALTHY GUT

Are you experiencing sluggish digestion or do you struggle to digest certain foods?

If you answered YES!.. then this post is just for you. These are my tried and tested ways to say goodbye to abdominal discomfort and avoid that undesirable heavy, bloated feeling.  

Poor gut health has become increasingly common among today's society as processed foods have slipped more and more into our daily diets, social events and supermarkets. As a result of consuming these foods the bacteria in our guts and our body's immune response has suffered. Our gut plays many important roles in the body from skin health,  absorption of nutrients and aiding weight loss.. just to name a few!

Below are my top 7 tips to improve your gut health in 14 days. Although replenishing your gut may take months (and maybe even years), I guarantee you will start to feel better in 7-14 days by following these tips. 

1. Cut out gluten containing foods/any foods you feel you struggle to digest -  this includes rye, barley, oats and wheat flours. Dairy, Fructose and Lentils can also disturb gut health. 

 

2. Start your day with a glass of fresh lemon juice or 1-2 tsp of Apple Cider vinegar in warm water to increase the production of hydrochloric acid. This will assist in the break down of food and also alleviate heart burn/reflux. 

 

3. Increase intake of fermented foods - sauerkraut, kombucha etc. 

 

4. Take a daily probiotic

 

5. Increase fibre intake - dietary fibre is a prebiotic, which increase beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal system as probiotics feed off them. Think chia seeds, psyllium husk etc. 

 

6. Increase water intake - this will help to alleviate any constipation and get your bowls moving! However, make sure you try to drink water 15 minutes before or after any meals (as drinking fluids with meals can upset digestion). 

 

7. Exercise - 30 minutes of daily physical activity will help keep you regular!

 

 

 

If you have any friends or family who would find the information in this post helpful, please share below xx

SICK OF COUNTING SHEEP? 10 FOODS THAT WILL HELP YOU SLEEP!

There is nothing more frustrating than laying in bed, awake in a dark room hoping you'll get to sleep.. meanwhile the clock keeps ticking over and before you know it it's almost sunrise.  The following foods can be added to your diet for a good night's sleep!

Nutrients to support sleep:

Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases levels of serotonin in the brain which creates a calming effect on the mind and body. Fuel up with foods high in tryptophan for a good night's sleep! Another nutrient that will help you fall asleep is  magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral which supports a quality night's sleep by relaxing muscles of the body and lungs to put you straight on the road to snooze-town.

Here are my top 10 foods for sleep:

1. Quinoa

2. Lentils

 

3. Flaxseed

 

4. Almonds

5. Dark chocolate or raw cacao powder

6. Peanuts

7. Amaranth

8. Pumpkin seeds

9. Brown rice 

10. Spinach 

WHAT THE TEFF? THE NEW SUPERGRAIN ON THE BLOCK!

 

Teff is an ancient grain, which has now made it to the shelves!

Originating from Ethiopia, this little grain may be small (even the smallest grain in the world) but will give you a wonderful nutritional kick!

Teff is gluten free, and great to use for baking as substitute for any gluten free flour!

I was introduced to Teff flour last year, and it's become one of my favourites. It's definitely up there with the most used gluten free grains in my pantry. Teff flour has a slightly nutty flavour and goes really well with raw cacao powder, which is one of the reasons I love it. 

 

Top 5 benefits of Teff:

1. High in calcium - perfect for bone health if are already limiting your dairy intake.

2. A fantastic source of resistance starch, which makes it perfect for stabilizing blood sugar levels. High in fibre, keeping you regular!

4. High in protein - contains 8 essential amino acids. A great source of nutrients that will keep you fuller for longer.

5. High in vitamins C and B's - which makes it perfect for the cooler season. It contains vitamin C for immune support, and B vitamins for energy.

 

 

Teff flour can be found in your local health food store and in some supermarkets!

 

 

THE AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEE POLLEN

Bee Pollen is flower pollen that honey bees collect for their food and energy. It is one of natures greatest superfoods and contains more protein than any other animal source of the same amount, as well as B vitamins and folic acid. 

Bee pollen is a fantastic source of protein with many health benefits definitely worth adding to your diet! I have 1-2 teaspoons daily on my breakfast or in smoothies.

Sold in all good Health Food stores. It tastes delicious and with all the health benefits its hard to miss, give it a try you wont regret it!

 

Health benefits of Bee pollen:

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  • 1. Improves energy levels - the proteins, carbohydrates and B vitamins keep you fuller for longer and sustain energy.

2. Soothes skin - Bee pollen can be used topically for inflammatory skin conditions (including eczema).

3. High in antioxidants

4. Aids digestion - bee pollen contains enzymes that can aid digestion which assist the body in getting nutrients from food sources.

5. Weight control - stimulates metabolic processes and suppresses cravings.

6. Supports fertility - stimulates ovarian function

7. Can be used as a remedy for hay fever allergies when taken 6 weeks before the seasons begins and continually through the season.

8. Prevents premature aging and provides a biological 'glow' - Bee pollen stimulates the growth of new skin tissue.

9. Can help suppress facial acne - rejuvenates skin and contains a high concentration of nucleic acids RNA and DNA as well as a natural antibiotic factor. 

10. Assists the cardiovascular system - Bee pollen contains large amounts of Rutin (an antioxidant bioflavonoid that helps strengthen capillaries and blood vessels) which helps correct cholesterol levels and may help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

 

BACK TO UNI/WORK SNACK IDEAS TO KEEP YOUR HEALTH GOALS ON TRACK!

It's that time of the year again!

Time to get back into the books and ready for a new semester.

Quick and easy snacks that will keep your brain fueled and won't curb your health goals are essential to keep on hand!

Here are a few of my on-the-go snack ideas to take to work or uni:

1. Veggie sticks with hummus!

Slice up sticks of carrot, cucumber and celery to enjoy with a tub of organic hummus.

2. Breakfast jars

If you have an early lecture the next morning pre-prepare you breakfast the night before in a jar, this is perfect for when you have to rush out the door. Below is a recipe for my easy breakfast bowl, store it in a jar in the fridge and it will be ready to go in the morning when you are! Click HERE to get the recipe for my Quick & Easy Breakfast Bowl

3. Bliss balls/ healthy fudge truffles

At the start of each week I made up a batch of delicious treats to take with me when I'm out so I don't get stuck craving something sweet with 7 Eleven around the corner. I can't stress how important preparation is when sticking to a healthy diet! Click HERE for my Healthy Fudge Truffle recipe!

4. Trail mix

Create a trail mix of your favourite nuts and seeds and keep it in your bag as a go-to snack.

5. Baby tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of my favourite foods at the moment! When I don't have a lot of time to cook up a batch of healthy treats, I will take a punnet of spray-free baby tomatoes with me to snack on during the day.

6. Fruit

Easy-peasy, berries or bananas are always great and easy to take along with you.

7. Zoodles

Try this recipe for the perfect nutritious snack! Pack them in your bag for the ultimate raw snack. Click HERE if you want to make Raw Zucchini Noodles!

8. Raw chocolate

For all you chocolate lovers (myself included!) throw a few squares of raw vegan chocolate or 85% dark chocolate into your trail mix.

9. Boiled egg

10. Canned tuna on rye/gluten free crackers

PANTRY STAPLES - ESSENTIALS FOR CREATING A HEALTHY KITCHEN

I thought I would do a quick post before I head off to bed!

Here are a few of my pantry essentials. I always have them in the cupboard, ready to whip up a nourishing dish or treat.

Making healthy choices requires preparation, although with these essentials you'll be sure to create something delicious and satisfying in a matter of minutes

1. Raw cacao powder - my absolute favourite ingredient! You can add it to smoothies, on porridge, in healthy cookies or muffins, chia puddings or even in raw avocado mousse. Raw cacao is high in magnesium and essential vitamins + minerals.

2. Almond meal - another essential for healthy and wheat free cooking, it is a great alternative to processed flours. Almond meal is a baking must-have, I use it in the majority of my recipes.

3. Coconut oil - a dairy free alternative to butter. Coconut oil is great to use when whipping up a stir-fry or baking a batch of cookies as it is solid at room temperature. Coconut oil has also shown to aid digestion and reduce bloating.

4. Chia seeds - add them to anything and everything. Chia are full of healthy fats, and are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Chia seeds can ultimately support weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

5. A good quality protein powder - I love pea protein and vegan rice protein powders. You can add protein to smoothies, breakfast or baking. Protein is a great Low GI snack which supports weight loss and is sure to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

6. Almond milk (or nut free milk) - a dairy free option to cow's milk, which is suitable for those with food intolerances or who choose not to consume dairy.

Click HERE to view some deliciously healthy recipes!

 

3 Foods to add to your Shopping List!

These three foods have unexpected health benefits and are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals! Definitely worth adding to your diet.

You can find these three 'Superfoods' in the produce section of your supermarket. I believe there are hundreds of foods that should be classified as 'Superfoods', its great to know which easily accessible foods you can buy that have optimal health benefits! Remember to opt for organic or locally grown produce for a higher nutrient content! 

Papayas

  • Papayas protect against heart disease
  • Support the digestive and immune systems
  • Contain anti-inflammatory properties
  • Loaded with Vitamin C and Beta Carotine
  • Are an exceptional source of antioxidants
  • Contain anti-cancer properties
  • Help to regulate cholesterol levels
  • Great for the skin!

Add some paw paw to your breakfast bowl, or fill them up with fruit and make a 'papaya boat'!

Sage  

Sage is a fantastic source of many nutrients.

  • Power packed full of vitamin A, B6, K, E, C and Folate
  • Sage is rich in antioxidants and minerals
  • It improves brain function
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • It is also great for reducing stress and has a calming effect to reduce nerves
  • Sage contains anti-carcinogenic properties (anti-cancer)
  • Improves vision
  • Supports the reproductive system

If these aren't enough reasons to add sage to your diet then I don't know what is! Perfect in soups and risottos.

Beetroot 

  • Beet is high in Vitamin C, Folate and Manganese!
  • It supports the body's natural detoxification process
  • It is high in antioxidants
  • Contains anti-cancer properties

Add beetroot to your fresh veggie juices, or chop it up and add some to your salad!

 

Pantry Swaps - Healthy Habits start in the Kitchen

I believe that the road to better health and happiness starts with the foods we eat. Everything we choose to consume ultimately becomes us.

Here are my top tips and ideas for swapping everyday essentials for foods containing a higher nutritional value. If you are wanting to change your eating habits and have no idea where to start then these top tips are for you.

These are most of  the changes I've made to my pantry gradually over time. Don't forget to make small changes here and there for better results, so it isn't as overwhelming.

You could even use one or two of these suggestions depending on what feels right for your body.

1. Milk  

If you are lactose or dairy intolerant you probably already know there are now many more options available. Some believe the human body was never designed to consume full cream cow's milk. Studies have shown that goat's milk is much easily digested as its structure (on a molecular level) is similar to human breast milk.  To beat the bloat swap your full cream milk to certified organic almond milk, rice milk, goats milk, soy milk; in small amounts (personally I am a bit up in the air about over consumption of soy milk as many studies suggest that it interferes with hormonal levels and it is highly processed) coconut milk, or MACADAMIA nut milk, which is personally my new absolute FAVOURITE thing.

 

2. Swap white bread for brown.

White bread is HIGHLY processed. The wholegrain has been completely stripped of its nutrients (and outer layer) so it pretty much contains no nutritional value, not to mentioned it has been bleached and naturally isn't so 'wonderfully white', nor is it meant to be! Change it up with grainy gluten free bread (if you are gluten intolerant), organic rye bread, sourdough spelt, or buckwheat.

 

3. Butter

Swap butter for either organic butter (in moderation), or nut butters including almond, macadamia, brazil nut or peanut.

 

4. Swap the salt

Again, table salt is highly processed.  If you choose to have salt (in moderation) go for the Himalayan rock salt as it contains essential vitamins and minerals. Another alternative is sea salt.

 

5. Ditch the sugar-rich 'fruit drinks' and fruit juices.

Don't be fooled, some fruit juice and fruit drinks can contain as much sugar as a can of fizzy drink. Check the back of bottles to make sure they only contain 100% fruit.

 

6. Swap the chocolate!

My favourite thing in the world, I know. Instead of milk chocolate, enjoy a few squares of 70-85% dark chocolate, or my ultimate favourite indulgence, raw vegan Pana Chocolate!.. or other organic raw chocolates such as Loving Earth. These chocolates are packed with antioxidants and contain a much higher nutritional content than milk chocolate.

 

7. Refined white sugar

Just as white flour and salt, white sugar is highly processed and is stripped of nutrients. Alternatives to white sugar include organic honey, rice malt syrup, maple syrup or Natvia. All enjoyed in moderation.

 

8. Swap caged eggs to organic eggs

I have my own chickens and let them roam and eat worms and bugs, or whatever is naturally in the environment. When they aren't laying I opt for organic eggs (preferably certified organic) or stop by the local farms and get free ranged. I believe that organic eggs contain many more nutrients and I do not like to support caged eggs.

 

Fats: the not so ugly truth

In the past, fats have had a bit of a bad rap..

However, what some people don't know is that they are crucial to our health, brain and many systems in our body. Fats can be a key staple for weight loss and support your Integumentary system (supporting beautiful skin!). As you will soon find out not all fats are bad and some and extremely important for your health!

To clear the air, here are the four basic groups of fats:

Monounsaturated fats 

These fats are beneficial and should be added to the diet! They reduce blood clotting, gallstone formation, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve memory function! Monounsaturated fats are also important for weight loss. Studies show that by swapping saturated fats for monounsaturated fats in your diet can result in a loss of body fat and weight loss without having a drastic change on total fat and kilojoule intake. Food sources of monounsaturated fats are: pecans, cashews, avocados, olives and macadamia nuts and oils.

Polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6)

Polyunsaturated fats contain Linoleic acid and Alpha-linoleic acid which are essential and are not made by the body, this is why it is integral to include food sources containing omegas 6 and 3 in your diet.

Omega 3's are important for the brain, heart and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease. Omega 6 are an essential fatty acid and important for hormone production, reproductive health and bone health. However, it is important to note that balancing your omega 3 and 6 intake is important. Make sure you don't over consume too many omega-6's as they can already be found in grains and processed foods, whereas omega 3's can be consumed daily for health benefits.

Food sources of Omega 3's include: flaxseed oil (which is a great vegetarian/vegan source of polyunsaturated fats), salmon, blackcurrant seed oil, pumpkin seeds, sardines and walnuts. Omega 6 can be found in foods such as: walnuts, safflower seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are important to keep in the diet as they help with the production of cell membranes, however, should be eaten in moderation and only take up 10 percent of daily energy intake. Better options of saturated fats are to opt for grass-fed organic meats and virgin coconut-oils. Food sources include: Butter, milk, pork, beef, chicken skin and cheese.

Trans fats 

These fats should be avoided or kept to a minimum. The maximum intake should be only 1 percent of total daily energy intake, according to the World Health Organisation. Trans fats may increase the risk and lead to heart disease, thrombosis, coronary heart disease and raised levels of LDL cholesterol. There are no safe levels of man-made trans fats, and although some may be naturally occurring, most are made by partial hydrogenation which rearranges the hydrogen atoms in unsaturated fats. Trans fats can be found in: cakes, pastries, burger buns, cookies, chips, microwave popcorn, donuts, chicken nuggets, fries and fried foods.. just to name a few.

The recommended daily intake of fats for adults should make up 20-35% of your total energy intake. It is important to eat 'healthy fats' which include monounsaturated fats (help stabilise blood sugar levels) and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and 6) as these fats provide amazing health benefits and will nourish your body, skin, hair, nails, eyes, brain function, memory and aid weight loss. Fats found in whole foods and plant sources are the best fats for your body.

On the other hand, consume a less amount of saturated fats and avoid trans fats or limit to 1 percent of your daily kilojoule intake as they will provide you with minimal health benefits and only increase your risks of disease.

 

Why you should eat Chia Seeds everyday

Don't be mislead by their size, although they may be small chia seeds are packed full of goodness!

Its hard to believe that something so small can have such amazing health benefits, no wonder they are considered to be a 'Superfood'!

Just to name a few, here are 10 benefits of Chia Seeds:

1. High in fibre - aids digestion troubles

2. High in protein - chia contain 8 essential amino acids, also a great plant based source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

3. Aids weight loss, helps digestions and will keep you fuller for longer

4. The richest plant source of omega-3 essential fatty acids

5. They are gluten free

6. Cholesterol free and they have a Low Glycaemic Index (low GI)

7. Source of magnesium

8. Vegan source of iron and calcium

9. They are high in antioxidants

10. Chia seeds are another skin-loving food source

8 ways to eat chia:

Chia Pudding (recipe link below)

Sprinkle over salads

Mix into porridge or breakfast cereal

Add to your baking, cakes/muffins

Mix in a small amount of water until their outer gel forms and drink for an instant fibre hit.

Add to smoothies

Chia Jam (Google for recipes)

Chia seeds come in white and black and both contain the same nutritional benefits.

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Top image source: Google.com

Fab-food Facts: Broccoli

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Not going to lie, broccoli is, and always will be my favourite vegetable. Researching its benefits got me intrigued!

Here are just a few things you may not have known about broccoli, and some of the many reasons you should add it to your diet:

1. Broccoli is one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium, iron and magnesium. It surprisingly contains almost as much calcium as whole milk!

2. Broccoli is also rich in vitamins A and C, containing almost as much vitamin C as an orange! Which make it perfect for fighting colds this winter.

3. Research shows that Broccoli contains high amounts of the cancer fighting compound Sulforaphane, which is found in young broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is known as a common natural chemical that stops the growth of tumours.

4. Broccoli is shown to help cancer prevention by protecting cells from free-radical damage. Research shows that women who eat more broccoli are less likely to get cervical cancer.

5. Has an effect on the stimulation and movement of the liver, it supports liver detoxification.

6. Broccoli are loaded with fibre, which aids digestion and prevents constipation.

7. Rich in protein, perfect for a 3pm snack!

8. Due to its high amounts of potassium, broccoli helps maintain a healthy nervous system and promotes muscle growth.

9. Helps regulate blood pressure, due to the high amounts of calcium and magnesium!

10. You can enjoy broccoli raw, steamed, roasted or pan fried with coconut oil in a stir-fry!

 

Apple Cider Vinegar - 9 Health Benefits

One of my favourites at the moment; Apple Cider Vinegar

Over the past few months I have started taking apple cider vinegar in the mornings, after discovering its MANY health benefits!

To name a few..

1. It assists the lymphatic system

2. Helps digestion and improves flora in the gut

 3. It is full of antibacterial properties which make it great for immunity

4. Stabilises blood sugar for longer which can promote weight loss (helps you feel fuller for longer)

5. Can cure hiccups and whitens teeth

6. Rich in vitamins and minerals which make it perfect when your on a detox!

7. Helps to clear up a cold/runny nose, contains potassium which assists in thinning mucous

8. Stops dandruff, apple cider vinegar is acidic and changes the pH levels of the scalp which in turn prevents (yeast) dandruff causing agents growing

 9. Is great for the skin, can be a natural option for skin toner

How to add it to your daily diet:

1. Add 1-3 teaspoons to a glass of warm water, either before each meal or first thing in the morning!

2. After consuming, wait at least 15-30mins before eating.

If possible buy organic. Sold in health food shops and Coles supermarkets in Australia.

 

Everything you need to know about the healthy kind of chocolate..

It may be the best thing you've ever heard...  'Chocolate' and 'Healthy' in the same sentence. 

When I say chocolate I am referring to raw cacao - chocolate in it's natural state. 

Here are a few things you need to know before swapping regular cocoa powder for raw cacao powder.

What is a cacao bean? 

The original bean from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made. They are small tropical American evergreen tree that bears these seeds, which are contained in large, oval pods that grow on the trunk. The tree is now cultivated mainly in West Africa.

So what is the difference between cocoa and cacao?

Cocoa is the processed form of cacao which often has added solvents and other additives.

Cacao is the powdered form of the cacao bean which makes it perfect for a healthy alternative to cocoa powder.

Benefits of raw cacao:

Raw cacao has 7 times more antioxidants than dark chocolate and 21 times more antioxidants than green tea. Contains magnesium, potassium, protein, iron and calcium!

Other cacao products:

1. Cacao butter

Cacao Butter is the edible natural fat of the chocolate bean, cold pressed to retain its nutritional properties and exquisite natural aroma and flavour. This is used in many recipes especially when making raw chocolate.

2. Cacao nibs

Cacao nibs are the shelled and crushed cacao beans which can be used as an alternative to chocolate chips.

 

You may be wondering how to eat raw cacao powder/nibs? Add nibs to baked goods or smoothies. Swap regular cocoa in baking to raw cacao powder or smoothies. Try a raw cacao avocado mousse or chia pudding. Try out my Healthy Hot Chocolate recipe!