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Sleep for a SuperYou

16 May

Sleep is so important for our health and wellbeing and vital for those trying to lose weight.  Just one night of disrupted sleep affects our mood and ability to think clearly, our blood sugar levels, our chances of getting sick or depressed and highly influences the ageing process. When we sleep millions of our cells rest and rejuvenate. We grow new brain cells, repair and rebuild lean muscle and our body produces more of a natural chemical called interleukin-1, which is responsible for organising the immune system. When we don’t produce enough interleukin-1, we become more susceptible to disease.

Ironically I’m writing this before a night shift, mine and I’d say the majority of nurses’ crappiest thing… I’m wondering if doing this work is making me crazy, fat, and a bitch, and turns out it is (oh dear).

091What is it that puts our bodies off balance if we don’t catch enough Z’s??

Sleep deprivation messes with the endocrine system, this disrupts the regulation of energy balance and levels of the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin.

These are hormones which act on the hypothalamus, a portion of your brain that regulates appetite and satiety.

Leptin is produced by the fat cells and is present in the blood stream. This hormone decreases hunger by letting the hypothalamus know that we have enough fat (therefore put the fork down).

Leptin could be one of the hormones responsible for putting weight back on after a diet as it will recognise that fat cells are low, therefore, increase appetite.

Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and increases hunger. This hormone is regulated throughout the day and higher levels are released close to meal times.

Research by Schmin et al, (2008) showed a reduction of sleep to 4 hours for two nights in a row proved to decrease circulating levels of leptin and increased the levels of ghrelin AND increased hunger… So consequently, these imbalances of hormones cause an increase in appetite, and a decrease of that part of your brain that (quietly) perks up and says, ‘’no Kim you don’t need to shove those chips into your face, they don’t serve you, you’re actually full from the last binge of lollies at 1am but if you must…”

This explains why the minute we are overtired our willpower and healthy eating habits go out the window and we find that sticking to such habits become that much harder.

So what can we do about it?

  • Pretty simple, try and get your 8 hours sleep a night where possible. The best time for regulating circadian times is between 10pm and 6am. When it’s dark you are meant to sleep, so avoid excess light in your bedroom. Sleep in a pitch black room as artificial light will trick your pineal gland in the brain to decrease the production of melatonin. This goes for if you are trying to sleep during the day also, blackened out blinds can do wonders.
  • Try supplementing with magnesium. This important mineral plays a key role in the regulation of sleep. Research has shown that even a small magnesium deficiency can disrupt the nervous system and prevent the brain from settling down at night. Magnesium is especially important for muscle recovery if you are training or sweating excessively. Good natural sources include green leafy vegetables, apples, lemons, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.

For fellow night shifters out there or if in general you’ve had a rough nights sleep and need to push on through the day try:

  • Breathing exercises, take big SLOW diaphragmatic breaths by sticking your belling out on the inhale and drawing it in on the exhale. Try and count how long you can take to inhale and exhale. This will increase oxygen to your brain and keep you calm and focused. I do this every hour or when I remember. I definitely do it before heading to the ‘binge table’ and 9 times out of 10 it works to keep me the hell away.
  • Spending time outdoors: Try and break the ‘work-eat-sleep’ cycle by going for a walk or exercising outside. The mental and physical benefits from outdoor training are huge! Some of these great benefits include: increased energy, increased sense of wellbeing and calmness, a greater feeling of revitalisation and positive engagement, decreases in confusion, depression, tension, anger and depression (tree hugging optional).

Tree hugging optional -but get outdoors and exercise!

  • Maca powder: This nutritionally dense superfood helps regulate our hormones and could have a positive effect on Leptin and Ghrelin.  Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when these are regulated they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands. Maca can also do wonders for energy levels as it contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids. Maca root is rich in B-vitamins (the ‘energy’ vitamins) and has high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium –sweet! I put a generous teaspoon into my smoothies daily, or I add it to a teaspoon of tahini or nut butter which is bliss.

What do you find useful when ghrelin and leptin strike??

References:

Bowers, E, S. Living with insomnia: Get a good nights sleep. Natural sleep solutions.

Schmid, S, M., & Hallschmid, M., & Jauch-Chara, K., & Born, J., & Schultes, B. (2008). A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men.  Journal of Sleep Research.

Smith, S. (2009). Insulin, Leptin, Ghrelin the 3 fat hormones. Articles Base. http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/insulin-leptin-ghrelin-the-3-fat-hormones-933564.html

Coon, J., T. (et. Al) (2011). Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review. Environmental Science Technology.

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Cauliflower Risotto

28 Apr

Cauliflower Risotto

Ok so I may be slightly obsessed with cauliflower but this risotto tastes amazing and is a great alternative to rice for those limiting their carbs or grains. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous family, therefore has powerful health benefits including detox support, antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory benefits – rad.

What you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Brown Onion
  • Organic Chicken Thigh Fillets
  • 1 head of Cauliflower Grated
  • 1L of Stock
  • Pumpkin
  • Rainbow Chard (or can substitute for spinach)
  • Goats Cheese (optional)
  • Salt, Pepper and Chilli to taste

Method:

  • Fry olive oil, garlic and onion in a deep pan until brown, add chicken and fry until cooked
  • Add grated raw cauliflower and stir until excess oil has been absorbed
  • Slowly add the stock, stirring gently until stock is absorbed before adding more. You might not need the full litre – avoid turning this dish into mash
  • Season with the chilli, salt and pepper and whatever herbs you have at hand
  • Add steamed pumpkin, raw chard and goats cheese
  • Fry on low heat until you’re happy with the consistency

Oh happy days…..

Cauliflower Pizza Base

30 Mar

Cauliflower Pizza Base!

I’m really into Cauliflower at the moment, this versatile veg is great substituted for potatoes in mash, or grated to make rice, and can be eaten raw, roasted or steamed for a great addition to your salads.

Cauliflower is high in Vitamins C, B1 and B2 and is a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur.

Ingredients:

1/2 grated Cauliflower

1 cup coconut flower

Herbs of your choice (I used finely chopped rosemary and oregano)

3 eggs

Dash of olive oil

1 clove of minced garlic

What to do:

Mix all ingredients together, add more oil or coconut flower depending on the consistency.

Roll half the mixture into a ball and with a rolling pin roll out between two sheets of baking paper.

Place on oven or pizza tray and bake at 180 for about 15mins, I didn’t have a pizza tray(can you tell?) but for presentations sake one would be great.

Add your topping and bake again for 10mins.

For my topping I used roasted zucchini, sweet potato, anchovies, red capsicum, cherry tomatoes and kale – Bellissimo!!!

Superfood Cashew Butter Chocolate Cups

14 Mar

Healthy Cashew Butter Choc Cup!

I made this delicious healthy version of ‘Reece’s cups’ last night for some friends and they were pleasantly impressed!

I saw this recipe on http://www.bewellwitharielle.com but added my own twist. Check out her site for some great recipes and her amazing wellness jeWELLry collection (I’m really loving her ‘i love me’ ring).

Ingredients:
2-4 tbsp Cacao powder
4 tbsp Coconut Oil
Handful of Goji Berries
2 tsp Coconut sugar (or you can use raw honey, agave or Stevia)
Packet of Raw Cashews

What to do:
Melt Coconut oil with a little boiling water and add cacao and coconut sugar, mix well. Pour into cupcake patties and set in the freezer for 5 mins.

To make the cashew butter soak cashews overnight or for at least 5 hours in water. Strain the water and blend until creamy (I made more and used it as a dip to have when the guests arrived- yum!)

When the chocolate is set put a dollop of cashew butter on top and cover with more cacao/coconut mix with added goji berries. Place this in the fridge until the top has set.

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The finished product! I served it sprinkled with cacao and goji berries and a few coconut flakes

 

The Finished product!

This quick, simple and oh so delicious desert is high in good fats making it satiating. The cashew butter can be substituted for almond butter or if your blender is not powerful enough you can buy nut butters at your health food shop.

Cashews are a great nut, high in protein, minerals (especially magnesium) some B-Vitamins and good fats!

Again the amount of ingredients can differ depending on your taste and the consistency.

The Power of the Green Smoothie

6 Mar

There is no doubt that a green smoothie is the perfect addition to anyones day if you feel like you are not getting enough greens! Packed full of antioxidants, enzymes, nutrients, vitamins and minerals, a delicious green smoothie is a must. And with so many variations you’re sure to find one that suits your taste buds!

Here is one that I love, but feel free to play around with the ingredients:Green Smoothie Power

  • For a base I use a mixture of filtered water with green or peppermint tea (cooled), or coconut water- about 500mls
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 celery stalks
  • Handful of fresh or frozen berries
  • ½ avocado, or a generous dollop of coconut cream (full fat!) or a 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach, or kale.

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

I’m lucky enough to have a Vitamix (which is very much the love of my life), but if your blender isn’t as powerful make sure you chop the ingredients finely.

This usually makes enough for 4 smoothies, so I either freeze the rest or keep in an air tight jar in the fridge.

Go ahead and experiment with the consistency and ingredients. Sometimes I add a raw egg or protein powder for added oomph after a workout.  Or you might want to add more ice to make it a bit thicker. You can add spices like Cinnamon or Tumeric for a superfood hit!

If you are new to green smoothies you might want to go for a more fruit based smoothie by adding a frozen or fresh banana and apple.  Then over time add more green and less fruit – go on think of the goodness you are giving your hot bod!

Including more green vegetables into your diet via a green smoothie can improve our health by:

  • Improving digestion by promoting good gut bacteria
  • Ramping up our detoxing process (and therefore weight loss) and reducing free radicals in the body
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces cravings (if your body is getting adequate intake of the nutrients it needs it’s less likely to reach for unnecessary processed sugar)
  • Regulates metabolism, bloods sugar levels and again the fat burning process
  • Makes you happy from mood boosting nutrients – so next time you’re feeling a bit flat reach for a green smoothie 🙂

What’s in your favourite green smoothie??

Wallaby, Kale and Ahhhmazing cauliflower mash recipe!

28 Feb

I cooked this simple and easy dish with my sister last week and thought it was way too good not to share. This clean meal is packed full of goodness and should leave you energised and feeling great!

Wallaby and Kangaroo are great sources of protein and are usually antibiotic and chemical free as they are free range and able to graze on grass in their natural habitat. Be careful not to over cook the game, to quote my butcher “if ya cook game for too long and throw it as someone it’ll break bones” – can’t have that!

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2, but Wallaby, Kale, Sweet Pt and Cauli mashI always make enough veggies for leftovers, cook once eat twice)

2 Wallaby steaks (or you can use Roo)

Coconut oil

1 cauliflower

Olive oil

Garlic

Goats cheese (Meredith’s is the bees knees)

1 bunch of Kale

Sweet Potato

Rosemary

Cinnamon

Real Salt

Pepper

METHOD

Wallaby– We used a skillet but a pan will suffice, fry in a little coconut oil on high heat for 2 mins each side then let rest for 2 mins. We also fried some garlic with it, then topped with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower mash -Steam cauliflower and a clove of garlic, when done add to a blender with olive oil, rosemary, goats cheese (the oil from the goats cheese if you’re buying Meredith’s or a marinated one is amazing), salt and pepper and blend to desired consistency. I’m lucky enough to have a vitamix but if your blender isn’t strong you may have to add more oil or try coconut milk and pre mash it.

Kale– De-stem the Kale by breaking off the leaves, then steam for a couple of minutes until the Kale goes a beautiful bright green colour, immediately remove from the boil and run under cold water to avoid overcooking the Kale. Cauliflower and Kale are both part of the Cruciferous vegetable family and contain high amounts of fibre, vitamins and minerals, great for detoxing, weight loss and putting an extra spring into your step (thumbs up). Also various studies have linked cruciferous vegetables to lowering your risk of cancer!

Sweet Potato– Steam sweet potato until soft, then add cinnamon to serve. (I lurve cinnamon! This superfood is packed full of antioxidants and goes so well with sweet potato, not only for the taste but because the polyphenols in it assists in reducing insulin resistance – oh happy days…)

This clean, Paleo meal had my sister and I doing a happy dance as it was so easy to prepare and tastes delicious! It’s a great mix of protein, good fats and low GI carbs.

6 HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL!

21 Feb

Coconut OilIf I was stuck on a deserted island for the rest of my life and could choose a couple of items to have with me, food based or not it would most definitely be a coconut!

The versatile coconut has many beautiful health benefits, it is rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and tastes amazing! Coconut oil is of special interest as it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil. The coconut palm is highly valued by Pacific Islanders as both a source of food and medicine so that’s why they call it “The Tree of Life.”

Here are 6 reasons why this superfood should be a staple in every household:

Weight Loss – Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat it differs from other dietary oils due to the fat molecule, or length of the carbon chain, within each fatty acid. Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFAs have been proven to suppress fat deposition and enhance weight loss and fat mass. Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and author of “The Coconut Oil Miracle” says that  MCFAs are quickly digested, so pancreatic enzymes are not needed. By the time they enter the intestinal tract they are completely broken down into fatty acids. Because of this, they are absorbed immediately into the portal vein, and sent directly to the liver. In the liver they are used as a source of fuel to produce energy. Therefore, they bypass the lipoprotein stage, and they don’t circulate in the bloodstream to the degree that other fats do. Consequently, they do not supply the fat that collects in fat cells or the fat that collects in artery walls. They produce energy not body fat and not arterial plaque.”

Also MCFAs help to preserve insulin sensitivity, which is not only great for those with type 2 diabetes but people wanting to lose weight. Insulin  affects metabolism and  hunger levels  and if your body is sensitive to insulin you are better able to use the food you take in, which helps your energy levels and to lessen cravings for ever-increasing amounts of carbohydrates.  Remember that Insulin is a fat storing hormone, so less of this in your body equals less fat!

Increases Nutrient Absorption – Coconut oil helps increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, some amino acids and beta-carotene as well as  some B group Vitamins.

Improves Digestion- This increase in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, minerals and amino acids is great for the digestive system as it prevents various stomach and digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The MCFAs found in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, that cause indigestion.

Increase in Energy- As the MCFAs are used by the body as energy instead of fat, coconut oil is great for increasing energy levels and is used by some athletes for this reason. So less peptides and more coconut oil in sport and this world would be a happier place!

Makes your skin glow – Supermodel  Miranda Kerr is a huge fan of coconut oil and says it’s something she can’t live without. She adds 4 teaspoons a day of this miracle oil to her salads and in her green tea. She sees the effects by way of shiny hair and breakout-free skin (if it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for us!). I use it as a body moisturiser and have noticed smoother skin since using it. It gets a little greasy when first applied but soon soaks in.

High in Antioxidants/ Antimicrobials-  Coconut oil contains high levels of antioxidants that protect our bodies from free radicals and prevent degenerative diseases, cancer, and premature aging. Sweet! The MCFAs in coconut oil consist of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid. These fatty acids are highly powerful antimicrobial agents, effective against a broad range of pathologic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts.

Which type to buy?- Not all coconut oils were created equal, again organic is best. I use organic extra virgin coconut oil-  Melrose, Loving Earth and Absolute Organic (pictured) are my favourite. You can buy the refined which hasn’t got the coconut flavour and tastes a bit more neutral. Do be careful when buying refined as it can be too processed which may mean that some of the health benefits are lost. Personally I love the coconut taste and imagine myself on a tropical island when i’m having it 🙂 !

 

How to use it?

Unlike other oils, coconut oil can be heated to high temperatures without going rancid or even carcinogenic.  Coconut oil should be a staple in the kitchen and can be used for frying (yes frying) without losing its nutritional value.

Coconut oil can be substituted for any other oil, butter or margarine and used in frying, stir frying, baking, added to smoothies, taken by the spoonful or used in making chocolate. Try a tablespoon of coconut oil for a sugar craving buster!

Coconut cacao heartCoconut Cacao Heart

Coconut oil

Cacao powder

Maca powder

Protein powder (optional)

A splash of boiling water

Mix all ingredients together, mould into hearts or whatever shape you choose then place onto baking paper and set in the freezer for about 15mins easy and sooo tasty!

Coconut banana bread

3/4 cup of coconut oil

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup of coconut sugarCarlys Coconut Banana Bread

1/2 cup of coconut flour

2 eggs

1/2 -1 cup of coconut flakes

1 tsp of bicarb soda dissolved in warm water

1-2 tbsp of raw honey

Mix all ingredients and bake at 180 degrees until golden brown!

This delicious gluten, dairy and guilt free desert was made for me by my amazing cousin Carly, as I’m always banging on about coconut oil she thought she’d give it a try and now says she’s never making it the old way using butter instead of coconut oil. It’s so damn yum and easily worthy of a happy dance!

For more information check out http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/articles.htm