Hooray for February and summer living if you’re lucky enough to be in Australia right now! This issue we set the record straight about supergrains and why you really should include some of this good type of carb in your daily diet. We tell you how to make the most out of mangoes, now in season, and you won’t want to miss our upcoming Going More Vego cookshop with Sue Radd. If you’ve been thinking about investing in a high powered blender, read Marike Joubert’s review of Vitamix. Plus we help you connect with an excellent Cantonese-speaking dietitian who has recently joined our practice.
Why You Should Scoop Up Some Supergrains
You’ve probably heard of superfoods, trumpeted for their many potential health benefits here and around the world.
One superfood category is what we call “supergrains”. Many of these have been hiding in your local Middle Eastern shop and health food store for years, and are now making their way onto the shelves of the big supermarkets.
Supergrains, such as quinoa, barley and freekah, are not only packed full of nutrients but they can help you overcome and better control many health concerns.
Going with the good grain
Do you really need to cut out all the carbs? Grains are the seeds of plants, commonly cereal plants and grasses. And supergrains are specifically nutrient-rich grains that are cooked and enjoyed in their unrefined state. This means they still contain the natural and intact bran (so they’re full of dietary fibre), germ (a source of protein, vitamins and minerals) and the endosperm (where most of the carbohydrates are stored). As a result, the benefits supergrains can provide to your body tend to be greater than what you’d get by eating, say, white bread fortified with bran, resistant starch or extra vitamins. And you don’t need to remove them completely if you’re trying to lose weight.
Supergrains are a powerhouse of carbohydrate goodness
With the latest surge in popularity of high protein, low carb, weight loss diets, you could be excused for thinking all carbs are bad. But because supergrains are unrefined, they supply a very good source of dietary fibre – including both soluble and insoluble fibre types – slowing down blood sugar and insulin surges, and can be accommodated in all types of healthy diets.
Why is soluble fibre important? Soluble fibre slows down your stomach emptying, keeping you fuller for longer and leads to a slower release of sugars into your bloodstream. Perfect, if you’re trying to lose weight or better manage your blood sugar. But the latest interest in soluble fibre by researchers has been for their prebiotic value, as soluble fibre can fuel the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut! Indeed, these bugs are now recognised to be an extension of your immune system. You have 10 times more bacteria than cells in your body, so feeding them right is a key to reduce your risk of certain diseases like bowel cancer.
Supergrains also contain antioxidants, saponins, phenols and lignans, which further protect your cells from damage – including those lining your bowel.
Supergrains are also great for heart health and have been linked to lower blood pressure. And the insoluble fibre they provide is ideal to keep you regular.
Which grains to choose?
For most occasions, we would recommend you go for supergrains. Supergrains include oats, spelt, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, millet, farro, kamut, barley and freekeh, to name a few. You will note some of these are actually pseudo grains but they are popularly classified as ‘grains’ for ease of understanding.
And avoid, for the most part, refined grain products even if they are fortified with various healthy sounding nutrients. No refined grain food, even if it has a vitamin added to it, can compare to an intact wholegrain in terms of health outcomes.
If you have an intolerance or allergy to certain proteins or fructans found in some grains, simply choose other supergrain varieties so you don’t miss out on health benefits!
There’s a new kid on the block!
Freekeh (pronounced free-kah) is an ancient grain dating back to the 1200s. It is a native grain to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and is used in many North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. However, it’s a relatively new concept to western food plates.
What is freekeh? Freekeh is a type of wheat. But the grain is picked when the wheat is young and green and put through a roasting process. This results in a grain with relatively more protein and nutrients.
The virtues of freekeh
When compared to regular wheat, for example, freekeh contains higher amounts of dietary fibre, protein and numerous vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Freekeh also provides a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked with a reduced risk of macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in Australia – and cataracts. So it's even good for your eyes!
When you look at how the figures stack up, freekeh clocks in at 16.5 grams of fibre per ½ cup of the uncooked grain. This is four times more dietary fibre than white rice.
And what we really love about freekeh is that its super-high dietary fibre content has been shown to increase the production of ‘butyrate’ in your gut. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has repeatedly been associated with a reduced risk of developing bowel diseases.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) reports that the consumption of freekeh is likely to improve bowel habits, reduce constipation and may decrease the risk of developing severe degenerative bowel diseases. Additionally, CSIRO also says that freekeh may help you prevent and better manage type 2 diabetes as a result of its very low GI and low insulin response.
How to cook with freekeh
You can find freekeh in Australia at mainstream supermarkets in the health food aisle. And it’s easy to cook. Simply boil some water, add wholegrain freekeh and simmer for around 45-50 minutes. If you are time poor, cracked freekeh will only take 15-20 minutes to simmer – there are two varieties. Another way to reduce your cooking time would be to soak freekeh before cooking.
What does it taste like? Freekeh has a slightly toasty flavour and fragrance and is a great addition to Middle Eastern dishes. It can also be used in place of your cous cous, rice, pasta or oats. We think freekeh goes well with pomegranates, mint, cumin and paprika. Try adding it to your salads, soups, breakfast or stews and enjoy it as a healthy carb side dish!
Is freekeh the same as bulgur?
Freekeh is not the same as bulgur. As mentioned, freekeh is picked when the wheat is young and green, whereas bulgur is a mature wheat grain that has been parboiled, dried and ground, usually into smaller particles. You could however think of freekeh as bulgur’s smokey cousin, as they both have a nutty flavour. They are both wheat, however, so will contain gluten and fructans if this is a consideration for you.
So why not give your health a boost by making friends with supergrains like freekeh? There’s no need for low carb diets so long as you choose the right carbs and incorporate them into your menu in moderate amounts. You’ll enjoy better health outcomes too!
“Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not." – Virgil Thomson
What’s Cooking? Going More Vego – Powerful Plant Foods on your Plate to Lose Weight & Regain Your Health
Would you like to eat as much as you want and still lose weight?
Or reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer from today? How about if there was a way to reduce complications from kidney problems and diabetes, which you may have already?
Now there’s a way!
Whether you’re looking to become vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or to just sneak more vegies into your family’s diet, this cookshop is ideal for you!
Hear the latest scientific findings on the benefits of going more vego and learn to design delicious, meatless meals without missing out on vital nutrients.
Sue Radd will show you easy plant proteins that vegetarians use to save time in the kitchen plus more. You can watch a demonstration of how to cook legumes and wholegrains from scratch using a pressure cooker and shave 75% off your cooking time.
Don’t miss this one if you need to discover more ways to incorporate wholefoods into your diet and improve any existing medical conditions.
When: Tuesday, 4th March, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.
Join us to enjoy a delicious four-course tasting meal, recipes and handouts!
Learn more about our cookshops
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place. Bring your partner and enjoy a night out!
What’s Fresh? – Mango
It’s time to tango as we hit the peak of Australia’s mango season. These sunny sweet fruits are a favourite in summer and a cooling treat in the office, at school, on the beach or at a family picnic.
The mango season starts in September in Western Australia and tapers in March and April in North NSW. The four main varieties of mango grown in Australia include Kensignton Pride (also known as KPs), R2E2, Calypso and Honey Gold. Which is your favourite?
Mangoes are an easy way to boost your intake of important vitamins and minerals. Did you know one provides more than your total daily need for Vitamin A and Vitamin C? It also boasts more beta-carotene than any other fruit – a powerful anti-oxidant that stops free radicals from destroying your cells, tissues, organs and skin.
Mangoes also provide a source of potassium, which is essential for good cell function and useful for lowering high blood pressure.
And half a mango gives you only 230 kJ of energy, which makes it a guilt free snack. As the mango sweetness is combined with fibrous pulp, the mango is actually a low GI food (so long as you don’t binge on it!). This means that the sugar from the mango is released more slowly into your body, keeping you satisfied for longer.
You can always sniff out a good mango since tasty ones tend to have a sweet fragrance. If your mangoes are still unripe when purchased, leave them on your kitchen bench for a few days or place them in a brown paper bag to ripen. Once ripe, mangoes can be stored in the refrigerator. As mangoes don’t tend to ripen in the fridge, if you want the best taste possible, always ripen at normal room temperature before cooling. And don’t store in a plastic bag, as mangoes need air to breathe.
6 fun ways to tango with mango:
- Slice off mango cheeks from the pit and, without removing the skin, cut a square pattern into the mango flesh (cut lines horizontally and then diagonally until your knife reaches the peel). Push the skin inward, making the mango pieces come out like a flower. Either eat directly off the skin or scoop out the cubes from the skin using a spoon.
- Mix mango pieces through your muesli or breakfast cereal.
- Enjoy a mango, peach and pawpaw fruit salad with a few dollops of natural Greek-style yoghurt.
- Whizz some frozen mango through a summer smoothie.
- Blend fresh mango with natural yoghurt and freeze into popsicles.
- BBQ some mango cheeks and enjoy with salad greens.
Food Matters with Sue Radd – How to Renovate Your Plate
Mulling over your new year’s resolutions? Commonly, people set unrealistic weight loss goals and adopt faddish diets, which are spread via the media at this time of year. The truth is, if you want to lose weight permanently and save your health at the same time, a total plant based diet works best and is probably the easiest to follow since you don’t have to count or restrict calories if you stick to whole foods! Under real world conditions where people follow various dietary patterns, scientists have found a difference of up to 5 BMI points (that’s 15-20 kg!) between those eating vegan versus meat containing diets. Read Sue’s column on how you can clean up your eating and become as much of a vegan as you can stand!
Need a Cantonese Speaking Dietitian? – Vincy Joins Our Practice
Great news if your loved one needs to see a Cantonese-speaking dietitian. We’re thrilled to announce that Vincy Scandrett (nee Li) has joined our practice. Vincy is fluent in both English and Cantonese and has a great understanding of Asian culture. She has a caring, empathetic and proactive approach to wellness and we’re really excited to have someone with her skills on board. Read more about Vincy.
Food InFocus TV – Get Thee to a Dietitian!
Did you know your diet and lifestyle could be twice as effective as some medications to prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes! It can also lower your risk of having a second heart attack by 70 %! See how you could benefit by working with an expert and learn to identify a highly qualified food and nutrition professional in your country.
Virtual Supermarket Tour – Do You Need to Understand Food Labels Better?
Do you spend hours checking food products on shelves, not quite knowing which is best for your needs? Or have you switched off and given up trying to navigate multiple claims, logos and nutrition panels vying for your attention?
Take control of your health by getting a deeper understanding of how supermarkets and product marketers work to compete for your stomach.
Learn about independent benchmarks we have developed to help you sort the fabulous from the faddy and take home your own pocket food shopping guide.
Join us for a virtual supermarket tour and get coached on how to read the fine print. Improve your confidence when shopping for the family. And achieve better blood test results!
Our dietitians are your best healthy eating coaches, we’re not the food police!
What people who attended previous events said:
“Loved it. Learned heaps. Can’t wait to go shopping!”
“The "Best Brands" section answered a lot of questions I've wanted answers to.”
“Thank you for opening my eyes a little wider.”
When: Wednesday, 19th March, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Call 9899 5208 to book NOW and take charge of your trolley!
Kitchen Tip – Vitamix
When it comes to choosing a blender for your kitchen, it can be quite a challenge to find one that suits both budget and blending needs. So what makes Vitamix, the king of blenders, worthy of your consideration?
The Vitamix was born in 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio. It started as a family owned business, which now has a global presence serving 80 different countries.
High speed blenders like the Vitamix can grind, blend and chop the hardest of foods into a pulp, and they do this quickly. No wonder they have become a favourite amongst whole-foodies and raw-foodists alike.
The Vitamix is a tall nifty clear container positioned on a sturdy base with two switches (power and turbo) and one speed dial. It has an easy to apply rubbery lid that latches onto the jug, giving it a snug seal with no spill.
Its seven-year warranty engine was built to last and propel the stainless steel blades to speeds of up to 384 km per hour! Yet you can control the motor speed stress-free with the speed dial, making it super easy to get the consistency or smoothness you want.
The 2L plastic container is shatterproof and, importantly, BPA free. We like it because you can see what is happening as you whizz. It also has measurement readings up the side so you can quantify its contents before pouring.
Its height (52cm) can sometimes make it difficult to store – so check the length of your above bench cupboards. However, the container can be detached and stored separately, and its weight (4.95 kg) isn’t too difficult to move.
When it comes to blenders, cleaning can be a headache as it’s hard to get beneath the blade. But you only need a drop of cleaning detergent and water, and to place the Vitamix back together for a whiz, and presto – the blades do the cleaning for you! Quick n’ easy.
This blender also has a wet and dry blade jug (you need to purchase the dry jug separately) which can chop, cream, blend, cook, grind, knead, churn, crush, whisk, puree, frappe, powderise and whip almost any ingredient under the sun.
At the Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic you can often hear the Vitamix whizzing in the background as our dietitians test it to create quick smoothies with ice and chia seeds between clients or turn soaked almonds into a creamy ‘milk’ drink!
Blenders are an excellent way to maximise your intake of veggies and wholefoods that can sometimes be difficult to get enough of. You can also use them to camouflage seeds, nuts, legumes and other food bits that your fussy or younger family members may still need to acquire a taste for.
While cost can be a deterrent, a high-powered blender like the Vitamix is made to last and won’t disappoint. You can always add it to your birthday list and keep an eye out for specials on the internet. Every foodie will love a Vitamix!
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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2014.
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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