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Have you made a good start to the year?  This edition, we tell you why summer is the time to fall in love with legumes and we share ways to make your next BBQ healthier. Read all about an exciting new wholegrain product to hit the market and find what the fuss over fresh figs is all about. Plus, book into a special dairy, gluten and wheat free cookshop for intestinal health.  Finally, since one size doesn’t fit all, we are hosting a free seminar on how gene testing can help fine tune your dietary prescription so you can eat for your genes!

Don’t Forget the Legumes – A Perfect Addition to Your Summer Plate 

The humble legume is a mystery to most Australians.

Many of us don’t really know what ‘legumes’ are and we’re unsure of where they come from, what they’re good for, and most importantly, how to use them.

What are legumes?

Legumes or ‘pulses’ are among our most nutritious plant foods.  They include all forms of beans, peas and lentils from the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family.  Some legume varieties include split peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, soybeans, baked beans (navy beans), lima beans and lentils (red, green, yellow or brown).

Are they good enough to replace some meat?

Scientists and foodies alike are starting to sing the legume anthem and encouraging everyone to take advantage of this forgotten super food. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating encourages all Australians to consume 2-3 legume-based meals per week.  How many are you having?

Legumes are rich in dietary fibre. Dietary fibre has been shown to play an important role in decreasing your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer.  Dietary fibre encourages water absorption in your bowel to enable quick and smooth bowel movements, preventing constipation. Dietary fibre (especially soluble fibre) can also help lower your cholesterol and protect you from heart attack. What’s more, fibre will keep you fuller for longer, help regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce your insulin response to foods, making legumes a top weight loss food!

Legumes are an excellent protein source.  They make a great substitute for red meat, and are packed with quality amino acids.  By replacing some of your animal proteins with legumes, you will also reduce the amount of saturated fat (the type that clogs arteries) without compromising your protein intake.

Legumes are rich in phytonutrients, such as phytosterols, isoflavones, saponins and lignans to name a few. There has been great interest in soybeans over the past 20 years, and research has shown that the isoflavones they contain are linked with a reduced risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.  Women who consume soy products daily can experience reduced menopausal symptoms.

Good news for those with gluten sensitivities or coeliac disease – legumes are naturally gluten free! Legumes can be combined with many gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet and long grain brown rice to make beautiful summer salads or meals.

For all of you ‘green thumbs’ out there, legumes are great for the environment! Legume plants enrich the soil by producing their own nitrogen and they are an excellent source of eco-friendly by-products, such as soy diesel.

Interesting fact!

Legumes are a strong predictor of longevity.  A 7-year study of elderly people from different cultures (including Japan, Greece, Sweden and Australia) showed legumes were the greatest dietary predictor of longevity, regardless of culture or ethnicity.  The statistics suggest you could postpone your funeral, and reduce your risk of premature death by 7-8 % for every 20 g of legumes consumed each day.  We think it’s a small investment for a big reward.

What about the flatulence factor?

Many Aussies avoid legumes for fear of wind and bloating.  If you’re not used to eating them and you have a sensitive bowel, go slow when introducing them into your diet.  This will give your gut the chance to adapt to this special food group.  Also, keep in mind that some varieties may be gentler on your bowels than others – so experiment with them.  Lentils are often the best ones to start off with.  Be brave – you can’t afford to not have these super foods in your diet.

Where to buy and how to cook legumes

You can buy legumes at your local supermarket, greengrocer or health food shop.  Indian, Mediterranean and Asian stores are also excellent places to purchase legumes in bulk.  They can be bought either dry or canned. Dried varieties need to be soaked overnight prior to cooking.  After soaking, change your water prior to cooking.  This will eliminate some of the long chain carbohydrates responsible for windy symptoms. Remember to rinse canned beans thoroughly before you use them in order to lower their hidden salt content!

How can I use beans?

Fun, tasty and easy ways to use legumes include:

  • Hommus (chickpea) dip with freshly cut veggies (carrot, cucumber, baby tomatoes, sugar snap peas and broccoli)
  • Mung bean sprouts are great on sandwiches or tossed through salads
  • Use a 4-bean mix in your salads with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
  • Add chickpeas to fragrant vegetable curries
  • Make a mean chile con carne with red kidney beans
  • Mix brown lentils into your spaghetti bolognaise sauce
  • Add marinated tofu to colourful stir-fries
  • Chew on some ‘chick-nuts’ (oven dried chickpeas) for a snack
  • Make some lentil patties or try the Syndian frozen lentil patties for a quick meal with a side salad
  • Cook up an Indian dhal with red or yellow lentils and turmeric to flavour 

Marike’s 2-minute legume meal

Ingredients: 1 slice of Burgen Rye bread, 1 tin (130 g) of Heinz Salt Reduced Baked Beans, and Willow Farm Hommus.

Method: Toast rye bread, spread with hommus and heap with heated baked beans. Serve with a colourful salad on the side.

For more delicious ways with legumes, check out our recipe page and attend some of our exciting culinary medicine cookshops


You must do the thing you think you can’t do. Eleanor Roosevelt 

What’s Cooking – Dairy, Gluten & Wheat Free for a Healthy Happy Bowel

Do you put up with a sluggish bowel or loose motions?  Does stress make your symptoms worse?  Attend a special cookshop to explore common food triggers that may be irritating your bowel.

Don’t give up on taste!  Learn delicious ways to cook gluten free grains like nutty quinoa and smooth polenta and try satisfying legumes like black beans to get your daily fix of fibre, commonly lacking in restricted diets. 

Join us on 5th March from 6:30 – 8:30 pm for a truly unique food experience! 

Bring a friend and enjoy tasting plates together throughout the night, from entrée through to dessert!  We promise a great time.

Learn more about our cookshops

Don’t wait any more.  If you’ve had a gutful, call now on (02) 9899 5208 and reserve your seat! 

What’s Fresh? – Figs

Funky figs are in season in Australia.  Their sensational sweetness makes a perfect treat for the ‘sweet tooth’.  

It is thought that the fig originated in the Middle East and is one of the most ancient of cultivated plants. Figs are an excellent source of dietary fibre (just like legumes), so they’re great for anyone who’s watching their weight.  (And yes, you can still eat them, even though they contain some natural sugar!)  Figs also include good amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Figs are available fresh or dried.  When buying fresh figs, select firm, unblemished fruit that yields to gentle pressure.  Figs can be eaten as a snack or dessert and can be added to your cereal and fruit loafs.  Figs don’t need any preparation prior to eating, simply wash and enjoy.  If buying fresh, they are best eaten on the day of purchase.  Dried figs can be stored for an indefinite period in a well sealed container.

3 ways with figs:

  • Slice in half and top your breakfast cereal
  • Enjoy as a super delicious snack or dessert
  • Quarter and dot your favourite salads

Virtual Supermarket Tour – Need a Little Help with the Groceries?

Do you find yourself spending lots of time checking food labels in the supermarket?  Are you frustrated by the dubious marketing claims on pack?  Would you like to learn some nutrition benchmarks you can use to easily compare brands?

Join us for an amazing small group ‘virtual supermarket tour’.

Our dietitian will walk you through the aisles in the comfort of your chair.  Using aisle-by-aisle food photography, and multiple product packaging, she will train you how to read the nutrition information panel and understand the fine print.

It’s an ideal investment for you and your family.

When: Wednesday 20th March, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

Find out more about this event

Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your seat and invite a friend. 

New Product – Rice Plus

Most of our readers know how much we love wholegrains!  At our cookshops, we frequently show how you can make your own blends at home, like wholegrain rice with wild rice and red quinoa. Yum!

Now, there’s a new product which does it all for you.  It’s called Rice Plus and it contains a lovely blend of brown rice, basmati, BARLEYmax, pearl barley, quinoa, red basmati, black rice and black sesame seeds.  Why so many grains?  This combo provides 4 times more fibre than regular brown rice, 30 % more protein and 26 % less carbohydrate.  In addition, it’s wheat free and contains resistant starch, which is increasingly being hailed for its anti-cancer properties.

Available from Woolworths and some other independent stores in Australia for $4.99, you can cook Rice Plus in the usual ways you make rice.  We tried it using the absorption method and rice cooker.  Both ways produced a good result: tummy filling light purplish coloured wholegrains, which we served with a stir fry and tagine.  Try it!  It’s a sure way to boost your fibre and wholegrain intake.

FREE Gene Testing Seminar – Are you Eating for Your Genes?

Will drinking caffeine raise your personal risk of heart attack?  Are you more likely to put on weight if you consume saturated fat?  How prone are you to developing high blood pressure by eating sodium-rich foods?

The answer to these questions and more is found hidden in your genes.

To celebrate the launch of a new gene testing service available exclusively through dietitians in Australia, we are hosting two free public health seminars. We have invited a special guest speaker, Dr Flavia Fayet Moore APD, who is a registered nutritionist and nutrition researcher, to talk about how gene testing works, what it can tell you and how it could help motivate you to change your eating habits for life.  Flavia is the Director of Operations for Nutrigenomix Australia, a biotechnology spin-off from the University of Toronto in Canada.

WHEN: 13th February, 10:30 am OR 19th February, 6:30 pm

WHERE: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)

COST: Free

Simply call (02) 9899 5208 to reserve your seat ASAP as seats will go early!

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Playing with Fire

Did you know that noxious chemicals are formed when you BBQ meats?  Some are even nastier than those found in cigarettes and car exhaust fumes!  Read Sue’s simple cooking tricks to minimise chemical formation and protect your family. 

Food InFocus – How to Store and Cook with Olive Oil

So you’ve lashed out and bought good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Congratulations!  But how should you store it?  And can you use it in all types of cooking?  Watch this short TV segment with Sue Radd to find out.

Kitchen Tip – Easy Ways to Boost More Plant Foods on Your BBQ

BBQs aren’t just for sizzling slabs of meat or sausages – they’re also an ideal opportunity to sneak more vegetables into your family’s diet.

The key is to think up a list of BBQ-friendly vegie ideas in advance, put them on your shopping list, and presto. 

Most people would happily eat more colourful plant foods with their steak (and eat less steak) if more, and interesting, vegie options were also offered. 

So this summer, try reducing the quantity of meat you buy per person and replace it with some of the suggestions below.  Use plenty of olive oil and lemon to moisten.

  • Marinated tofu squares (make them yourself of buy pre-marinated)
  • Oyster mushrooms drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and dried oregano
  • Vegie skewers made using a rainbow of colours – red capsicum, yellow squash, purple onion and more!
  • Soy sausages or vegie burgers (kids will love these!)
  • Banana peppers (the longer, yellow ones are sweet when cooked)
  • Eggplant rounds (or eggplants halved lengthwise if small variety)
  • Asparagus spears
  • Dolmades (herbed rice wrapped in vine leaves, which you can buy canned)
  • Fruit kebabs on-a-stick
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Fresh corn-on-the-cob
  • Mango cheeks
  • Baby potatoes wrapped in foil (pre-boil for 10 minutes)
  • Onion rings or chunks
  • Tomato halves

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2013.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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