The decline of breakfast

Bill Shrapnel, nutritionist and author explains:
Fifteen percent of Australian children head off to school without having had any breakfast and the figure is rising. Among secondary school students it’s closer to 20 percent. What are the implications and what should nutritionists do?

Tea or Coffee anyone?

Tea or Coffee anyone?

Tea or coffee anyone?

There is a common misconception that consuming large amounts of tea or coffee leaves you feeling dehydrated. Let’s just debunk this myth – tea and coffee do not dehydrate you. You would still have a net gain of fluid if you drank a strong cup coffee or tea. Only a seriously high level of caffeine, usually in the form of caffeine tablets, leaves your body dehydrated.

Caffeine is a mild central nervous system stimulant found in coffee, tea, coca, cola-flavoured drinks or energy drinks containing guarana or cola nut. Caffeine has recently been associated with increased blood pressure in individuals with a history of hypertension. The National Heart Foundation suggests a maximum of five cups of coffee a day for the general population, and for pregnant and breastfeeding women caffeine consumption should be limited to about 300mg or less per day.

To give you an idea of average caffeine content, a long black coffee (160mL) contains about 211mg whereas a decaf long black coffee (130mL) only has 19mg. A cup of tea would have about 57mg and green tea would have less..

The moderation rule should be applied if you do opt for these beverages. For tea drinkers, that’s approximately 3-4 regular sized cups a day and for coffee drinkers that’s around 2-3 regular sized cups of brewed coffee. If you have hypertension, your daily coffee intake should stay at 1-2cups. Resist the temptation to upsize! And beware of all those added extras – cream, full fat milk, generous helpings of sugar. Keep it light, simply use a trim of low fat milk and cut down on the sugar you add.

High Protein, flourless chocolate cake

High Protein, flourless chocolate cake

High protein, flour-less chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 21cm shallow, round cake tin.

Place 2cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned – rinse & drain) + 1/3cup orange juice + 4 egg whites + 120mLwater+ 1/2cup brown sugar + 1/2cup cocoa + 1/2tsp baking powder and 1/4cup desiccated coconut in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes, do a skewer check and cool completely in the tin. Dust with the combined icing sugar and extra cocoa powder and arrange the berries over the top if using 🙂

This cake is gluten free + nut free + dairy free



Comfort food swaps a dietitian recommends!

People often ask me what is the healthier option for [insert food of interest here] is. Most times I come across workmates and friends who consider what they snack on as ‘healthy’ – granted that some snacks are in fact healthy, ever so often we don’t stop and think how we can boost nutrition and make the most out of the snacks we eat.

Here are my top food swaps for food items that may not be as healthy as you think:

Rice cakes – highly regarded as the ultimate ‘healthy’ snack, which they are (really) far from. Rice cakes have a really high glycaemic index (GI) and lack fibre so they are digested quickly and leave you feeling hungry soon after you’ve eaten them. Instead, try a low-GI wholegrain crispbread for more fibre, vitamins and minerals this will help keep you full and satisfied.

White chocolate – is not really chocolate..let’s be honest! It’s fat and sugar without the antioxidants. So next time you feel like something sweet – opt for a small square of dark chocolate instead and reap the benefits of those antioxidants.

Sugar sweetened beverages – Do yourself a favour and ditch them opt for a plain soda water with a squeeze of lemon instead. Drinking copious amounts of sweetened beverages doesn’t help with weight management and are very often one of the causes that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes in sedentary individuals.

Corn and potato chips – I must admit I do like to indulge in a small bag once in a while, but I have started snacking on roasted chickpeas (which you can easily make yourself). Chickpeas fill you up quicker as they are a source of protein and fibre.

Slowly making these small changes in your diet can make a BIG difference to your health in the long term. Go ahead and prepare for tomorrow by investing in your health, today.