This issue you’ll love our tips to help reduce food waste and save money on your next grocery bill. Our latest low-GI cookshop will teach you how to avoid winter weight gain by cooking healthy dishes in advance that you can reheat during a busy week. We talk eggplant and tell you why you should get better acquainted with this winner veggie – an important one for those with diabetes or high cholesterol. Find out if you are getting enough fibre and discover the family of vegetables that have shown amazing cancer-fighting powers. Finally, we review the humble mandoline, a perfect addition to any kitchen if you’re looking for a small gadget to save time and improve food presentation. Please read on.
Reduce Food Waste & Save Money!
Food wastage is a topic of growing concern, with statistics showing Australians waste up to 30 % of the food they buy. In NSW alone, the average kitchen throws away up to 315 kilograms (over $1000 worth) of food annually! In fact it accounts for the largest component of our household rubbish bins.
Australia certainly isn’t alone in its food-wasting ways, with some 40 % of food produced globally never being eaten.
This isn’t just an issue for the hip pocket. Food waste takes up space in landfill and contributes to pollution and the formation of greenhouse gasses (notably methane). Not to mention the large amounts of water, fuel and resources used to produce, process, transport, store, refrigerate and sell the food in the first place.
From a moral standpoint, the more food we save, the more mouths we can feed.
What are you doing about it?
Here are 9 tips to help you avoid food waste and reduce the strain on our environment:
1. Find ways to re-use. In modern society, many people have the view that once something stops working or is no longer needed, we should discard it. Instead, we could give the item another job – use glass jars to store dry legumes or grains or see if someone else (your family, friend or community member) may find the item useful.
2. Be more efficient with planning and preparing your foods and meals:
- Create a shopping list, this will ensure that you only buy what you need
- Check your pantry, fridge and freezer before you shop so you don’t buy something you already have
- Take your own re-useable bags to the supermarket
- Recycle all plastic, tin, glass, paper and cardboard, and reduce your use of packaged items to reduce waste to landfill
- Buy local or organic produce to reduce greenhouse emissions from transport and the use of chemical fertilisers
3. Know the difference between best before and use by dates on food products. Best before tells us when the food will start deteriorating slowly, but it can still usually be eaten a little after this date. Just give it a good check and smell before you bite. Use by tells us the date by which the food needs to be consumed. Caution should be taken with eating the food once that date is passed.
4. Store your food wisely to prevent it from decaying earlier than needed:
- Cover or wrap foods, or store in well-sealed containers
- If storing foods in the freezer or pantry, remember to label and date
- Store nuts, seeds, grains and flours in the freezer – they last longer and taste fresher!
- Store sliced bread in the freezer and you won’t have to waste a single slice
- Store potatoes, onions and other root vegetables in a cool dry place
- Ensure your cooking oil is stored in a dark glass bottle and a cool dark place such as a cupboard
- Portion your fish, chicken and lean meat according to the required serves and freeze immediately after purchase
- Rotate your fridge, freezer and pantry items; pull old food from the back to the front
5. If you have a garden, make your own compost bin to reduce waste and return nutrients to the soil. Best compost foods include: vegetable scraps, fruit, salad, crushed egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and other plant material, such as leaves, grass clippings and shredded paper.
6. Grow your own food – this saves money and reduces some of the harmful gasses and chemicals produced through the production and transporting of food. You can make your own veggie patch or have a few herbs, lettuce greens and strawberries in a pot on your veranda. It can also be very therapeutic and connect you more with nature.
7. At dinner,start portion family meals and immediately freeze any leftovers for lunch or dinner another day.
8. When eating out, choose smaller entree sizes if the main meals are too much or share a meal with a family member or friend.
9. As a food’s quality starts to drop, find ways to rescue it:
- Make stale bread into breadcrumbs or croutons
- Older eggs are great for baking
- Use softening tomatoes for pasta or lasagne dishes
- Cut up ripe, uneaten fruit and place in the freezer for smoothies
- Make your last meal of the week a soup or casserole so you can use all your leftover vegetables
If you’d like to learn more about buying, cooking and storing food to reduce waste in your kitchen, check out the comprehensive NSW government website: Love Food Hate Waste.
Or, you may prefer a free cooking app Love Your Leftovers – an initiative of Holroyd City Council.
“Food is a weapon – don’t waste it.” This message featured on a Second World War poster issued by the US Office of War Information in 1943. It is a lesson from history we would all do well to heed.
What’s Cooking? – Hearty Low-GI Meals for Busy People to Freeze & Save Time!
Are you grappling with the low-GI concept? Do you want to improve your winter food choices and prevent weight gain?
Want some great ideas on what to cook over the weekend and re-heat during the week? Learn to create low-GI dishes to warm you up and tame your blood sugars at the same time at our latest cookshop. It’s ideal for those who have insulin resistance, PCOS, diabetes, heart disease, acne or fatty liver. It might even tempt those of you who simply work long hours and find yourself short on time to cook healthy meals.
You will enjoy a delicious four-course tasting menu, recipes and handouts!
When: Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Time: 6.30 pm – 8:30 pm
This cookshop blends a cooking class and a nutrition workshop. Our events are always hosted by an Accredited Practising Dietitian with both culinary and clinical nutrition experience. So bring along a list and you can ask all your food and nutrition questions!
Read more about our cookshops.
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to find out how you can get a special discount and book your seat. Invite a friend!
What’s Fresh? – Eggplant
The eggplant or aubergine was initially grown and cultivated in India and China before slowly spreading to Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This spongy white vegetable with its glossy purple skin is an important ingredient in famous dishes, such as the Greek moussaka and the French dish ratatouille. The most common eggplant you will see in the supermarket has a deep purple colour. However, it can also come in lighter purples, orange, green, yellow and white colours varying from pear to thin cylindrical shapes.
Eggplants are considered part of the nightshade family – vegetables that hang from a vine, such as tomatoes and capsicum. The main types grown in Australia are the traditional purple egg-shaped eggplant and the Lebanese eggplant, which is a smaller, slender variety that has a more tender sweet taste. Generally, eggplants have a mild bitter taste with a tender flesh and they are a great ‘carrier’ of flavour.
On the nutrition side, one cup of cooked eggplant contains 94 kilojoules (23 calories), making it a great ingredient to use even in weight loss plans. It provides a source of Vitamin E and a good source of Vitamin B6. But what we particularly love about eggplant is the high amount of viscous dietary fibre, (creating a creamy, luscious texture when cooked), which is effective in lowering high blood cholesterol and sugar readings. Viscous fibre works by absorbing water many times its own weight to form a gel that binds bile acids in your gut (these are the body’s building blocks for cholesterol) promoting their loss in the stool. Viscous fibre is also fermented to form short chain fatty acids, which can slow down your liver’s production of cholesterol.
It’s a good idea to keep the skin on eggplant. A phytonutrient found in the skin called nasunin has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant that protects the body’s cell membranes from damage. In some animal studies, nasunin has also been shown to protect the fat membrane of brain cells.
Did you know eggplants are in season in Sydney between January and May? When at the supermarket, choose eggplants with a shiny skin that is clear of blemishes and a green stem (or cap). Avoid those which have scars or patches of colour. To test if an eggplant is ripe, gently press the skin with your thumb and the eggplant should bounce back if it’s ready. However, if the indentation remains, it is still not ripe.
How about storage? Care should be taken when storing your eggplants. They are very sensitive to heat and cold and will decay quickly once cut. We suggest you store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and make sure no other fruits or vegetables are ‘resting’ on the eggplant as it may bruise.
When preparing the eggplant, wash the skin and cut off the stem. The skin of the eggplant is sometimes removed but as we mentioned, it’s best to keep it on as much as possible if you want to maximise your nutrient and fibre intake. Traditionally, to make the flesh more tender and the taste less bitter (eggplants tend to become more bitter as they age), people would ‘sweat’ the eggplant by cutting, lightly salting and allowing it to rest for 20-30 minutes. Then they would rinse the eggplant, pat it dry and use as desired. But most eggplants in Australia are fresh and not really bitter, so we mostly avoid this step.
You can bake, roast or steam eggplants. If baking the eggplant whole, pierce it with a fork several times to allow the vegetable to ‘breathe’. Bake it at around 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes and you will know it is ready when a knife passes through the eggplant easily.
5 ways to use more eggplant:
- Make a delicious spread called baba ganoush to use as a dip and spread on wraps and sandwiches. Watch our video. It’s better than butter!
- Cut eggplant into small cubes or slice thinly, place on a baking tray, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season and bake in the oven. Once baked, use as a side dish or toss through salads.
- Bake or BBQ eggplant with sliced zucchini and capsicum.
- Cut into cubes or chips and use in curries, stews or pasta sauces.
- Stuff your eggplant with a lentil tomato and mince stew and steam or bake.
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Foraging for Fibre
Have you needed to restrict carbs or calories recently? Is your child straining when they go to the toilet? Does your elderly parent or grandparent fail to open their bowels daily?
Most people believe they get enough fibre. But few understand you need to eat more than just fruit and vegetables to obtain amounts linked with optimal bowel health and low rates of chronic diseases. Fibre is much more than just taking a pill or powder supplement. Read Sue Radd’s article to discover top tips and get enough fibre naturally. Start feeling good on the inside today!
Virtual Supermarket Tour – Understand Food Labels Better to Lose More Weight & Improve Your Health
Do you spend hours in the supermarket not knowing which are the best products to choose? Are you confused by the multiple claims, logos and nutrition panels vying for your attention?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, this event is for you!
To take control of your health, you need to understand how product labels work to compete for a share of your stomach.
It’s more than just comparing figures to see what is highest or lowest for a given nutrient. You need independent benchmarks that you can carry in your wallet so you won’t be duped by clever marketing.
Join us for a virtual supermarket tour. Over our two-hour session you will be coached on how to read the fine print and what to look out for, and gain the confidence you need to shop smarter for your whole family. We’ll also get hands-on so you can pick up boxes, cans and other packaging to practise what you learn on the spot!
And you get to take home our pocket shopping guide and list of best brands!
When: Wednesday, 25th June 2014
Time: 6.30 pm – 8:30 pm
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.”
Call today on (02) 9899 5208 to book and take charge of your health!
Food InFocus – Fight Cancer With Cruciferous Vegetables
Ever wondered about the existence of super healthy yet everyday vegetables? Here they are – introducing the brassica family. Watch this TV segment with Sue Radd and learn what’s so special about these veges and how they can protect you against cancer. There’s more to this family than meets the eye. Good thing if you hate broccoli!
Kitchen Gadget – Mandoline
Have you heard of a mandoline that lives in the kitchen? Mandoline, pronounced man-de-lin, is not just a musical instrument; it’s a nifty slicing appliance that can be used to cut vegetables and fruit. We have several in our demo kitchen.
A mandoline works similarly to a grater. But it has two parallel working surfaces instead of one. It has one hand held surface (or guard) that ‘holds on’ to the fruit or vegetable and another fixed surface with a blade which allows the fruit or vegetable to be cut while the hand held surface slides across.
The mandoline will allow you to present your vegetables or fruits beautifully by cutting them into uniform shapes and sizes; it can slice, shred, crinkle cut, dice or julienne – and do all of this very finely. Most mandolines allow you to adjust the distance of the blade from the surface to allow you to cut a desired thickness. We love to use the mandoline when needing paper thin slices that are tricky to achieve consistently with a knife.
The mandoline also provides an efficient way of cutting large amounts of food quickly. By sliding a vegetable or fruit back and forth across the blade, you can reduce the amount of skill and effort required compared to chopping with a knife. And the wash up time is 15 seconds!
A word of warning though: The blades of the mandoline can be very sharp (to allow for quick and easy cuts) so you should take great care. Use the hand-held guard whenever possible. You can also wear cut resistant gloves for extra protection.
You may have a food processor that can do all this but a mandoline is usually smaller, making it ideal for little jobs. It can be found at most kitchen stores. Prices range between $15 and $35, however more expensive, professional types can cost around $50 to $300. Note: more expensive mandolines may not always give a better result but might include a wider variety of interchangeable blades, more safety features, a wider board and blade, a hand-held guard that doesn’t protrude too deeply into the vegetable or fruit (allowing you to cut most of the vegetable or fruit without much wastage) and more durable features (stronger plastics or stainless steel).
What to look for when buying a mandoline:
- Work out exactly what you need it for and stay within your budget
- Choose quality materials that will stand the test of time and general wear and tear (look for a strong sturdy base, safe hand guard and sharp stainless steel blades)
- A wide base, allowing you to cut wider vegetables like eggplant, potato and sweet potato
- Interchangeable blades if you think you will use them – for example, we use the chips blade to slice eggplant into strips
- Easily adjustable knobs on the side to adjust for desired slice thickness
Enjoy your mandoline! Use it to make quick and healthy meals for your family and guests. Slice eggplant, zucchini and potato for moussaka or a vegetable bake. Julienne sweet potato into a desired chip size, spray with extra virgin olive oil and bake in the oven for a delicious side. Crinkle cut cucumber and add to a salad. Shred cabbage, carrot and beetroot to make the perfect coleslaw. (Sue loves the extra wide Benriner Japanese mandoline to use for shredding cabbage super finely!). Slice oranges, lemons or lime for a citrus punch or garnish. Cut apple and pears and bake in the oven with a sprinkling of cinnamon as a healthy dessert. And much more.
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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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