Eliminate. Detox. Boost.

Improve your health, body, work productivity, mood, and energy levels this winter by joining our 4 Week Health Program. Each week marks a different stage that is important for your health:

The 4 Week Health Program includes:

  • A healthy eating program divided into 4 stages.
  • We will see you each week at the start of a new stage
    • An initial consult (body composition assessment and diet explanation)
    • 3 follow up consults
  • Our ‘Dietitian’s Guide to Clean Eating’ e-book for FREE
  • An exercise regime specifically designed for the program incorporating high intensity training, conditioning and yoga*
*The 4 Week Health Program is R1440 (excl supplements and exercise regime)

The low-down on Depression and Diet

April is here and the month of April features not only Easter, but also World Health Day. The theme this year for World Health Day, which falls on Friday the 7th, is Depression. So without dampening the mood of Easter and the hype of long weekends, quality family time and delicious foods, I thought it best to give you the low down on diet and depression.

Depression is a topic most people shy away from but knowing the cold, hard facts can only be beneficial. The more you know, the easier it becomes to understand and once you’ve mastered the skills of understanding depression, you’ll realise in actual fact, it cannot be understood but there are actions we can take to lessen the risk of suffering from depression.

The World Health Organisation has a wonderful factsheet that gives information on the types of depression, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Worth a read.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

I am no expert in the field of depression itself, so I am going to stay within my area of expertise and speak about the relationship between diet and depression. A diet rich in the following nutrients has been proven to decrease the risk of depression.

Anti-oxidants: A good balance between oxidative stress and antioxidants is very important. Inflammation and oxidative stress are major contributors in the pathogenesis of depression. When I refer to anti-oxidants I mean vitamin E, vitamin C, Beta carotene and selenium (amongst others). Foods high in these antioxidants include: Pumpkin, apricots, mangoes, carrots, spinach, parsley, seafood, lean meat, whole grains, oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, peppers, vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Folate (also called 5-MTHF): Folate is crucial to synthesise the neurotransmitters—dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin—all of which have antidepressant effects. So, without enough of the 5-MTHF form of folate, serotonin levels decrease in the brain, contributing to depression. Folate-rich foods include: eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D modulates the part of the brain which regulates adrenalin, noradrenaline and dopamine production. Vitamin D protects against the depletion of dopamine and serotonin centrally. Simply speaking, low vitamin D levels can be a contributing factor to depression. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks (not forgetting sun exposure).

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is then converted into serotonin. So, tryptophan and 5-HTP both act as precursors to the production of serotonin in the brain. As you can already tell, it is very important to include this amino acid in your diet. Foods containing tryptophan are: turkey, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Omega 3: People with depression may have low blood levels of brain chemicals called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which play an important role in brain function. Food sources of Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) are: sardines, salmon, herring, trout and tuna.

5 Eating tips to brighten your day

  1. Include folate rich foods daily: foods containing folate are amongst others eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard etc
  2. Get your dose of vitamin D: monitoring the amount of time you spend outdoors is important, but also make sure to get in enough eggs and fatty fish.
  3. Protein, protein, protein: we already mentioned the very important tryptophan. Aim to have protein at every meal and remember to incorporate plant-based proteins (lentils, beans, quinoa, soya) into your diet too.
  4. Variety is key: eating a variety of foods ensures you are getting in all the very important micronutrients, amino acids and trace minerals.
  5. Enjoy your food: eating can boost your mood, not in the obvious physiological response, but in the enjoyment of taking 30 minutes down time, or enjoying the company of a friend or family member so sit, chew, relax and be grateful for all the positives in your life.

Not quite food related, but advice none-the-less. Remember how important it is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every day, to rest and recuperate on weekends, to spend quality time with loved ones and last but not least, to take some “me-time”.

Raspberry & Lemon Mini Vegan Cheesecakes

Ingredients for the base:

  • 3/4 cups almonds
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/8 cup organic, naturally sweetened dried cranberries* (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons of water

Ingredients for the cheesecake filling:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, previously soaked
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice of 1 organic lemon + zest**
  • 1/2 cup pure light maple syrup
  • + fresh organic raspberries and extra lemon zest for plating

 

Method:

 

  1. Make the crust first: In a food processor, pulse all the almonds until a fine grind forms. (While it’s mixing you can pick the dates or prepare the other ingredients). Add in the dates and cranberries (if using), and pinch of salt. Continue mixing and check with your fingers if the mixture sticks in your fingers. (Be sure to turn off the mixer each time you check, and always form a habit of scooping with a spoon first!) If it’s too dry, add in water one tablespoon at a time. Mix again, check again. Once it sticks together and still falls off your fingers – it’s perfect.
  1. Using a cupcake pan preferable a silicone one, press the mixture into the bottom evenly and set aside.
  1. To make the filling: Soak the cashews for 1 hour in hot water at room temperature or overnight (6-8 hrs) in the fridge, strain well. Add all the ingredients into a clean food processor again: cashews, warm but not hot coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, water. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until a very smooth mixture forms.
  1. Pour over the bases in the cupcake pan. Tap the pan gently to let it settle. Place straight into the freezer for about 1-2 hours before serving. These defrost in just about 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator, and much faster at room temperature so give them enough time to defrost slightly before serving. Top with fresh raspberries, lemon zest and mint leaves to serve. Enjoy!
  1. (If you want to keep them frozen for longer and just have them ready whenever the occasion calls for a great impromptu dessert. Simply freeze for 1-2 hours, then be sure to wrap the pan with plastic wrap as tight as possible and return to the freezer for up to 1 month.)
  1. If using cranberries, keep an eye on the ingredients as they could be artificially sweetened and coloured and have lots of sulphites. I used organic cranberries that are sweetened with grape juice. I find they compliment the taste of the lemon and raspberries really well. Don’t have them on hand? Simply add 3 extra dates to the base recipe.

 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding Pops

Ingredients (8 small pops)

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 6 tbsp almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 60g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

 

Method

  1. Add avocado to a food processor (or a good blender) and puree on low until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. Add in almond milk, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Continue to process on low until well combined, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate with coconut oil in 30 second increments on high, stirring until smooth.
  4. With processor running on low, pour chocolate mixture through pour spout and continue to process until well combined, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Spoon half of the mixture into ice-cream molds and tap molds several times on counter to release air bubbles. Spoon remaining mixture into molds and tap again.
  6. Press wooden sticks about 2/3 into molds and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  7. To release the pops, run molds under hot water for about 30 seconds, then twist gently to release.

Why are seeds good for you?

Suddenly seeds are everywhere—bars, smoothies you name it. Seeds are nutritional powerhouses. It is always useful to know what seeds are better suited for certain tasks.  Just the same, when it comes to eating, particular seeds have standout flavours and many work all over the place. Lets get started 🙂

  1. Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds  are rich in fiber, omega 3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds provide much more Omega 3 than Omega 6, useful in keeping those omega ratios right to combat inflammation. They also blend quietly into foods, though they don’t add a distinctive flavour, making them excellent for smoothies. They can also be used to create an egg substitute in baking. Whole chia seeds also expand in liquid, they can give texture to juice, iced tea or smoothies.

 

  1. Flax Seeds

Flax seed benefits could help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings … and that’s just the beginning! Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-coloured seeds that are the richest sources of a plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the world. Just be sure to use ground flax seeds, since the whole seeds will pass through the body without providing nutrients. Flax seeds keep better if you buy them whole, however, but can be ground in a coffee grinder or spice blender. Sprinkle the ground seeds on anything, including salads, smoothies, and baked veggies, as an egg-replacer, or even make them into crackers.

 

  1. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are easily digested by the body and is one of the most nutritious foods available in nature. They contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and proteins. A perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system. When it comes to eating hemp seeds, they add a nice, nutty background flavour and mild texture. They blend well in smoothies or oats.

 

  1. Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. The majority of that fiber is found in the white seeds hiding beneath the pockets of juice. It contains 48% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake, important for a variety of health functions. Pomegranate seeds contain a high number of antioxidants, which help protect the body against inflammation and free radical damage. These seeds can be eaten as a snack or added to recipes when you’re looking for a burst of sweetness, such as oatmeal, salads, or in sweet and sour stir-fry. They can also be added to a fresh trail mix in place of raisins or quinoa dishes.

 

  1. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package, with a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc. They contain a wide array of beneficial plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, which can give your health an added boost. In order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack on their own and also add a nice flavourful crunch to salad, pastas and breads, or they can be blended to accentuate smoothies.

 

  1. Quinoa

A complete protein and fantastic wheat-free alternative, the demand for quinoa has risen sharply in recent years but it’s also high in minerals, including: phosphorus, folate, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Quinoa is a great food to include for its high fiber content. Plus, it’s extremely versatile for cooking, standing in for grains like rice or oatmeal.

 

  1. Sunflower Seeds

The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower. Sweet, nutty sunflower seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower kernels actually employed to extract edible oil at commercial levels. Besides being eaten as popular snacks, they are also used in the kitchen to prepare variety of recipes.

 

  1. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many Asian dishes. They are also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste). They are available throughout the year. They are also a good source of iron and calcium, and provide fiber that lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

Choco-banana overnight Oats

Ingredients (serves 1)

½ ripe banana, thinly sliced

½ cup rolled oats

1 tbsp bulgur wheat

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp organic cacao powder

1 cup boiling water

2 tbsp chocolate flavoured whey protein powder (optional)

¼ cup milk of your choice

Optional Garnish

1 tbsp cacao nibs

Fresh coconut shavings

 

Method

The previous night

  1. Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a plastic container with a fitting lid, mix all ingredients except for protein powder and milk.
  2. Add boiling water, stir until well combined. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours)

In the morning

  1. Stir in protein powder.
  2. Transfer to serving bowl and add milk.
  3. Garnish with a few cacao nibs, slices of banana or coconut shavings, if desired.
  4. Sit back and prepare to visit heaven!

exchanges: 1/2 fruit , 1.5 starch, 2 fats, 1/2 milk

10 Prebiotic Foods You Should Eat For Digestive Health

Prebiotics are types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut which leads to a healthy digestive system.

 

Garlic

Garlic gives great flavour to your foods and provides you with prebiotic benefits. It has been shown to help promote good bacteria and prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

Onions

Onions are rich in inulin and FOS, which can help boost your immune system, provide fuel for your gut bacteria and improve digestion.

Leeks

Leeks are often used in cooking for their distinct flavour. They are high in prebiotic inulin fibre and vitamin K.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a spring vegetable rich in prebiotic fibre and antioxidants. It promotes healthy gut bacteria and may help prevent certain cancers.

Bananas

Bananas are rich in fibre. They’re also great at promoting healthy gut bacteria and reducing bloating.

Barley

Barley is high in beta-glucan fibre, which promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. It also seems to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Oats

Whole oats are a grain rich in beta-glucan fibre. They increase healthy gut bacteria, improve blood sugar control and may reduce cancer risk.

Apples

Apples are rich in pectin fibre. Pectin promotes healthy gut bacteria and helps decrease harmful bacteria. It also helps lower cholesterol and reduces cancer risk.

Flaxseed

The fibre in flaxseeds promotes regular bowel movements, lowers LDL cholesterol and reduces the amount of fat you digest and absorb.

Wheat bran

Wheat bran is rich in AXOS, a type of fibre that has been shown to increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce digestive problems.

 

Kirby’s Pantry

Here are 10 things to always keep in your pantry, these things are always in mine!

 

  • Healthy grains including brown rice, quinoa, and lentils
  • Healthy proteins: Turkey, chicken, salmon, sardines and eggs
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, olives, coconut, oils (grape seed, olive, coconut, canola), seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin or sunflower seed)
  • Healthy snacks: Nuts, seeds or nut butters, lean biltong, boiled eggs and sardines
  • Fresh fruits including pomegranates, apples, pears, berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries!), passion fruit and avocado
  • Fresh veggies: My favourites include rainbow chard, asparagus, kale, arugula, beets, and cabbage
  • Fresh herbs like chives, parsley, coriander, rosemary and basil
  • Freezer must-haves including: Flash frozen nutrient dense veggies, frozen berries, and extra protein like fish and chicken
  • Pantry staples such as canned beans (chickpeas, kidney, and black), gluten-free minimally processed crackers, lean biltong
  • Tasty condiments, spices and sauces to add flavour and health to your best dishes: turmeric, sea salt, cayenne, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, dried herbs, miso, kimchi, tamari

 

*Note: Try and keep it seasonal and buy what is available to you throughout the year.

Happy Shopping!

What to do with your fridge leftovers

Don’t throw out your leftovers, turn them into something delish 🙂

1. Lettuce leaves

  • Stir Fry

Lettuce can be used like cabbage in stir-fries (it does require less cooking). Finely shred and add to your stir-fry at the last minute for some crunch.

2. Two carrots

  • Carrot mash

Boil carrots with potatoes until soft and then mash together.

3. Fresh herbs

  • Herb bricks

Place chopped herbs in ice-cube trays and cover in oil. Freeze, then pop cubes into a freezer bag ad return to freezer. transfer a cube to the pan for a herb flavour bomb.

4. A cup of cooked rice

  • Rice salad

Fry cooked rice in spices of your choice. Cook until crispy, then toss with other salad ingredients such as peppers, mushrooms, celery to add texture and flavour.

Shrug off the Flu this winter

I write this while snuggling under my blanket in bed, nursing a cold. Some say it is inevitable that you will get a cold or flu during winter! This is not ideal in any way, shape or form! So to try avoid this I want to pass on some nutritional knowledge to keep you from ending up like me sniffing and spluttering.

The main way to avoid a cold this winter is to keep loaded with Vitamins and Minerals – eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables every day and healthy lean proteins. With vegetables, make sure they are different colours, as each colour contains a different phytonutrient (e.g. tomatoes with lycopene). Here’s a bit more detail:

  • Grapefruit: The Red or Pink ones are high in Vitamin C and contain bioflavonoids that give the immune system a big boost.
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli: cruciferous vegetables are high in antioxidants such as glutathione which helps to fight off infection. They also contain choline which keeps the cells functioning efficiently.
  • Carrots: are high in Beta-carotene which protect the mucous membranes of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract and prevent bacteria from crossing over into the blood stream causing infection.
  • Eggs: contain zinc, selenium and of course protein which boost immunity
  • Cinnamon: has been labelled an anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. These properties help keep disease at bay
  • Mushrooms: contain lots of zinc to boost immunity
  • Spinach and kale: are high in vitamin C and folate to prevent infection
  • Tomatoes and Watermelon: are high in lycopene that reduce respiratory inflammation and prevents infection
  • Yoghurt: contains probiotics that improves gut barrier preventing bacteria from entering the blood stream

See TIPS for practical ways to boost immunity!

Keep COSY!!