What to drink when you’re not drinking

by Alison McAleese, LiveLighter Victoria Program Manager and Accredited Practicing Dietitian

Cutting back on sugary drinks is a great way to reduce your sugar intake, but it’s not always easy.

You might find that when you’re at work and at home, a glass of water or a cup of tea hits the spot. At social events, however, when you’re about to say to the host for the sixth time, “I’ll just have water thanks,” it can be tougher to stick to your resolutions.

For those situations when plain water just won’t cut it, here are some drink ideas to try:

Jazz up your water

If you’re at a restaurant or a bar ask for plain or sparkling water with a slice or lemon or lime. Try to steer clear of lime syrup though as it’s usually high in sugar.

Sliced citrus water

Fruit juice

The Australian Dietary Guidelines say a small glass of fruit juice can count as a serving of fruit – occasionally. A ‘small glass’ is 125mL or half a cup. This is a small amount of juice but you can mix it with sparkling water to create a refreshing drink.

A hot drink

There’s no reason not to ask for a cuppa when everyone else is drinking cool drinks. You may even find other people join you. A green or fruity tea makes a refreshing choice. Or you could use it as a chance to drink some milk for your bones and have a milky coffee instead.

A little bit of soft drink

A small soft drink once or twice a month is not going to do you any harm. You may choose to have a small drink at a party or event – preferably in a drinking glass or a 250mL can or bottle to help you watch the amount. Whether you choose to do this depends on whether you personally would find it helpful. Some people find it a welcome break to have a small treat occasionally. Others find it upsets their momentum for cutting back. Choose what works best for you.

Diet soft drink

Sugary_drinks_preview-rev-1

Diet soft drink is sugar-free or occasionally low-sugar, if it contains some fruit juice. But be aware that while it’s low in kilojoules (energy), it’s still very sweet and may increase your preference for sweet drinks, or perhaps even cause you to eat more sweet foods. Diet soft drinks can be a helpful halfway point for people trying to cut back. But like soft drinks, they’re best limited to special occasions.

If you’re hosting a gathering you can make healthy drinks un-boring by making some of our LiveLighter jazzed-up waters. In summer you may also want to offer your guests fruity icy treats or tutti fruity popsicles.

For more tips to help you avoid sugary drinks, check out this factsheet on the LiveLighter website.

Featured image: Frozen fruit ice cubes

Six foods that are healthier and cheaper to DIY

by Alison McAleese, LiveLighter Victoria Program Manager and Accredited Practicing Dietitian

Packaged foods might seem like a convenient and easy option for a mid-week meal or a lunchbox snack – but don’t be fooled…

Many of the jars and packets you find on supermarket shelves are laden with more sugar and salt than our bodies need.

The good news? With a little planning and the right ingredients, you can make delicious and healthier substitutes at home for a fraction of the cost.

Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

Sauces and dressings

Whether you’re making a stir fry, a salad or a humble meat and veg, readymade sauces can seem like a good way to flavour your meal. But unfortunately, most can transform your healthy meal into a not-so-healthy meal high in sugar and/or salt. Try these alternatives instead:

Ginger, chilli and lime marinade

A tablespoon of grated ginger, a teaspoon of chopped chilli and the juice of half a lime can take the place of readymade sauces for chicken and fish.

Honey and soy marinade or stir-fry sauce

Honey is still sugar and soy sauce is still salty, but making your own marinade or stir fry sauce can greatly reduce the amount of sugar and salt in your meal. Mix together 3 teaspoons of reduced-salt soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of honey to serve 4 people.

To marinade: put honey and soy a bowl with meat and toss to coat, then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

For a stir fry: simply stir fry your vegetables and/or meat as usual then add to the wok or pan  at the end until heated through, as you would with a jar of stir fry sauce. If you need more liquid add a little boiling water to make it go further.

Lemon salad dressing

Ssshh don’t tell anyone this secret, they’ll keep coming back for more. Use lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar to dress a salad. Before serving grate some lemon zest into the salad and/or a dash of balsamic vinegar and mix through. Everyone will want to know how you made it so delicious.

Oven chips

These are possibly the easiest thing to make that usually comes in a packet. Slice potatoes or sweet potatoes into long strips, about 8cm long and 1.5cm across. Place in a large microwave bowl and fill with boiled water to cover the potatoes. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Drain the water well. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil for 4 potatoes, mix with a spoon. Pour onto an oven tray and bake at 200 degrees for around 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Pre-made desserts

A fruit crumble or pie can be prepared in less than 10 minutes plus cooking time. You can also vary the fruit depending on your tastebuds and what’s in season. Here a few to try:

Apple and peach pie
Apple and peach pie

Lunchbox snacks

Instead of relying on muesli bars for lunchbox treats, freeze freeze freeze! Muffins, banana bread and fritters all freeze well and are ready to go on the day. Try these easy recipes:

Zucchini and corn fritters
Zucchini and corn fritters

Short on time? An even easier idea is to pop 30g of nuts into your bag.

Whether you’re faced with a weeknight dinner squeeze or a lunch box emergency, a well-stocked pantry can help you prepare a more nutritious meal and avoid those hidden sugars and salts.

To learn more about healthy cooking at home, check out these tips on the LiveLighter website.

Featured image: blueberry and banana bread

Five things your dietitian wants you to know about weight loss

by Anne Finch, LiveLighter dietitian

There’s so much information about weight loss out there these days, and it can be confusing. Here are my Big Five to be aware of if you’re embarking on a weight loss mission:

  1. The Biggest Loser is not real life

The contestants have taken time out from work, family and fun to lose weight. They have the experts, time and resources to be doing this full-time. It’s definitely not something to try at home.

It isn’t reasonable or desirable to expect to lose 5+ kilos in a week. The fastest we can use up fat stores is more in the 0.5 to two kilograms per week range. While half a kilo doesn’t sound like much, it’s pretty significant! Think of a 500 gram pat of butter. That is what losing half a kilo looks like.

Losing more weight than that can send your body into starvation mode, which makes it harder to lose weight. It’s also likely that it’s muscle, and the water that plumps up muscles that’s being lost. Muscles are your friend. They take more energy to maintain than the equivalent amount of fat. So a musclier person, sitting on the couch watching TV, is burning more kilojoules than a fattier person of the same weight. That’s what you want.

  1. Calories ain’t calories (except they kinda are)

If you want to lose weight, you just need to eat less energy (measured in Calories or kilojoules) than you burn, right? Well, yes. But it’s only that simple if you are a robot. Foods are complicated and have different properties, and these properties affect our appetites, and therefore how much we end up eating. So while the number of kilojoules you eat is what’s ultimately important, it can’t really be separated from the kind of kilojoules.

For example, two eggs and a handful of lollies both contain about 600 kilojoules. Having two eggs before dinner will probably decrease the amount of food you eat at your meal, while the lollies probably won’t (not to mention the other beneficial nutrients in eggs compared to lollies). Here are some more, it’s obvious which is the better option:

snack smarter orange v biscuit

snack smarter chocolate v muesli

To make this even more complicated, the foods you find satisfying differ from person to person, day to day and meal to meal. This is why there’s no one ‘right’ diet for weight loss. You have to figure out what works for you, and be a bit flexible.

  1. Move and maintain

For initial weight loss, what you eat is generally more important than how much exercise you do. (It would take me two hours of running to burn off a medium Big Mac Meal. Not going to happen.) But in the long term, people who exercise regularly are healthier, and more likely to maintain their weight loss.

Put simply, exercise is really, really good for you. If it was a pill we’d all be taking it. You don’t have to pound the treadmill if that’s not your thing. Go rock climbing, take a stroll, do squats between hanging out the laundry, walk or cycle part of the way to work. Plan it into your day, spend money on it, commit with a friend. Whatever works for you, just do it!

  1. Weigh it up

If your goal is to lose weight, then it makes sense that you’ll want to step on the scales to see if you’re doing it. Studies have shown that having regular weigh-ins is a characteristic of people who have lost weight and kept-it off, long term.

But be aware that this isn’t right for everyone. It can be easy to get fixated on a single number which isn’t necessarily representative of how you’re doing. Eating better and getting more exercise has benefits regardless of whether or not you’re losing weight. Setting other health, food and fitness goals, along with a weight loss goal (if that’s your thing) is a good idea.

If weighing works for you, stick to these guidelines:

  • Weigh yourself a maximum of once a week. There’s normal day-to-day variation in your weight and seeing all these small fluctuations can be confusing and unhelpful.
  • Be consistent. Use the same scales, at the same time of day. First thing in the morning, after a wee and in the nude is ideal.
  • Put the scales away when you’re not using them to avoid temptation. Set a reminder in your calendar and forget about it the rest of the time.
  1. Sustainable changes are key

Do you want to be on a diet for the rest of your life? No?

Then you need to think about some changes that you are happy to commit to, forever. Find healthy food that you like, and ways to move your body that you look forward to. Figure out what habits are getting in the way of what you want to achieve, and work on changing them, bit by bit. Move away from the ‘always’ and ‘never’ mindset.

Weight loss is slow, complicated and different for everyone. Find the tools that work for you, and use them. Remember to be flexible and to be kind to yourself. You only get one body!

Is fundraising possible without chocolate bars?

by Ann Ronning, Fundraising Manager, Heart Foundation ACT

In nearly every office, the box of fundraising chocolates lurks in the tea room waiting to tempt passers-by into an unhealthy binge. “It’s for a good cause,” it whispers softly, trying to justify the extra kilojoules from added fats and sugar.

Often these seemingly innocent bars of choccy are actually being sold to raise funds for healthy organisations like sporting clubs and children’s activities. And while many people understand that promoting healthy initiatives with unhealthy sales is contradictory, it can seem daunting to try raising funds another way.

Fortunately some organisations, clubs and social groups are creating new and innovative ways to raise the vital funds they need without resorting to selling junk food and sugary drinks. Here are five healthy ideas for your next fundraiser.

  1. The ‘one-off’ ask

Ask members or parents to donate one specific amount that will cover the cost of new equipment or expenses for the year. People are often relieved that they don’t need to solicit friends, colleagues and neighbours with several fundraisers throughout the year. A one-off donation also makes budgeting easier because you’ll know early on if you are going to meet your fundraising goals.

  1. One-of-a-kind products

Here is a chance to get creative with your group. Try making a calendar of drawings or photos, ask members to write stories or collect healthy recipes to make a cookbook from local businesses. To make this a winning idea, seek help from a graphic designer among your members and ask for a discount from a local printer or copy shop.

  1. Hold a parade

Everyone loves a parade! The themes for parades are endless: floats, fashion parades, or hotted-up bikes are good ideas. Set a fee for entrants, provide donated prizes for winning entries and ask your audience for a gold coin donation. Parades can be held on a public oval (seek council permission), local hall or school to avoid the need for traffic management when using streets.

  1. Get physical

Walkathons and fun runs are very popular fundraising events and keep everyone active. New to the scene are obstacle challenges which offer quirky activities like bounding through kiddie pools of bubbles, water gun soakings and crawling through mud. They are low costs and you can raise funds through entry fees, gold coin donations and lap sponsorships. In the past lap sponsorship required collecting cash but now you can set up a peer to peer fundraising page on a number of online platforms like GoFundMe and EverydayHero. This also means distant relatives can pitch in with online donations.

  1. Go viral

The success of the Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrates that value of having a compelling issue paired with a safe but fun challenge. Utilising social media to generate peer pressure to be involved generates donations. Create a challenge that can be shared with your community to inspire online donations. Some suggestions for shareable tasks are to encourage 100 star jumps, jump rope, creating a one minute story with a theme or slap stick activities like pushing a pie in the face. Whoever completes the challenge tags friends to join in and encourages a donation.

Fundraising can be fun and healthy. These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you have any great healthy fundraising ideas, share them here so others can benefit.

 

A healthy catch up with a cuppa

by Jenny Atkins, LiveLighter nutritionist and busy mum

Hands up if your diary is peppered with morning tea invitations?

We live in a fabulously multicultural country and have many occasions to celebrate – Australia Day, Chinese New Year, Harmony day, Easter, Diwali, Christmas just to name a few. For those with kids, there are mother’s group catch ups, sporting days, parent meetings and the list is endless. Add to this our generous community efforts of fundraising for various charities and we could have a morning tea celebration every week for the year!

Morning tea time is an opportunity to have a little something which will keep you going until lunchtime. It’s a nice break in the day to catch up with family, friends, colleagues and meet new people too.

If you’re hosting or contributing a plate, it is tempting to head to the shops to buy something – often a highly processed food. In other words, junk food. Full of sugar and fat.

What about bringing along healthy homemade treats instead of the usual chocolate cake? Your dish can make a positive difference to your health and also helps support others to make healthy choices. Let’s look at easy ways that you can make your own healthy morning tea treats:

Pick a dish that uses ingredients that you already have at home

Pear pancakes
Pear pancakes

Pancakes and pikelets are easy to make with ingredients already in your pantry and fridge: flour, egg and milk. Grate in some fruit (apple, pear) or vegies (zucchini, carrot) and you have a flavoursome, healthy and homemade contribution!

Pack your dishes with fruit & veg

Corn bread
Corn bread
  • A fruit platter is simple and happily enjoyed by the masses. Choose fruits that are in season so that it is tasty and also at the best price. Remember, we eat with our eyes as well as our mouth, so include a variety of colourful fruit. If catering for kids, they often prefer grab-and-go chopped pieces instead of large pieces or whole fruit. Keep skin on for added fibre.
  • Skip the bag of chips full of fat and salt, and offer a vegie based dip with colourful chopped up raw carrot sticks, celery, cucumber, mushroom, tomato, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower florets. Have you tried making your own guacamole or eggplant dip?
  • Cakes and muffins are always popular items. Make it yourself and you can control how much fat and sugar goes into it, and can also fill it up with fruit or veg. Try our easy mini carrot cakes or savoury corn bread.

Offer a mix of warm and cold foods

Spinach and cheese rolls
Spinach and cheese rolls
  • Savoury scrolls are a fantastic pre prepared recipe for any morning tea. Use our basic pizza scrolls recipe and substitute your favourite fillings. Make it and freeze ahead of time!
  • Skip the frozen sausage rolls and make your own batch of spinach and cheese rolls.
  • Sandwiches are also a great option: use wholemeal grainy bread and you have already made a healthy start. Keep fillings simple e.g. egg, cheese or lean meat and salad so that is tasty and also reasonable for your budget.
  • Combine dried fruit, nuts, seeds and breakfast cereals to make a nibble mix. How about adding some spices like curry powder or paprika for a savoury flavour?
  • A plate of cheese and crackers always gets the thumbs up for those that don’t have a sweet tooth. This gets easy ticks from both kids and adults.
  • What about brekkie items? Bircher muesli is great as a snack too! It’s a tasty alternative for people who don’t want a slice of cake or muffin, but want something sweet. Prepare it the previous night and then you can grab it and go! Try our overnight no-cook oats.

Serve water for those that don’t want to have tea or coffee

Strawberry and mint sparkling water
Strawberry and mint sparkling water

Drinks are an essential part of any morning tea. We know that we should drink plenty of water every day. Why not jazz up your water with some fruit for extra flavour and colour? Try the following mouth popping combinations:

To promote healthy eating and minimise waste and costs, provide small serves. If you have a wide variety of dishes, people might want to just sample a bit of everything, so keep the serve size small e.g. small cheese cubes, halve the muffins.

So go ahead and enjoy your time with your family, friends or workmates for morning tea – just make it healthier. I bet that you won’t be the only one happy to see healthy options. In fact, you might even start healthy eating as the normal trend!

I’d love to hear if you have a go-to healthy option you provide for morning teas. Let me know in the comments below.

Main image: LiveLighter’s date and muesli slice

Turn mindless eating into mindful meals

by Anne Finch, LiveLighter dietitian

Have you noticed if you’re eating in front of the TV, you can easily finish a whole plate of food without really tasting it? Or that drive-thru food scoffed in the car isn’t as satisfying as a meal eaten with proper cutlery?

There’s a lot of buzz around mindful eating these days. We’ll have a look at what it is and how it can help you eat better.

What is mindfulness?

Broadly, mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training. It’s a special way of paying attention, without judgement, to the things that are going on around you and also inside you. It’s kind of like meditation, and kind of like being a ninja.

Mindfulness has been used in a huge range of settings, including to train elite athletes and as part of treatment for anxiety and depression. It can help improve mental and physical health and is a pretty fun brain twisting exercise.

So how does it relate to food?

Mindful eating is really paying attention to your food, your senses and your body when you’re eating. Appreciating the colours, taste and textures of your food, savouring every mouthful. It’s about listening to your body’s hunger signals. Eating when you are hungry, enjoying your food and stopping before you are stuffed.

A lot of the eating we do is non-hungry eating. We eat when we’re in a rush, bored, stressed or sad. Or just because it’s there. Mindful eating can help us eat less, with more satisfaction. This can be an important thing to do if you’re looking to lose weight.

Research has found that being distracted while eating can lead to eating more, both at the time and later in the day. It shows that incorporating mindfulness and ‘attentive eating’ principles could help weight loss without the need for conscious calorie counting.

How can I do it?

Don’t worry, there’s an app to help! Below are a couple of resources and links I think are worth checking out:

Here are a few things to try at your next meal…

  1. No distractions. When you’re eating, that should be the only thing you’re doing. Get away from your desk, turn off the electronics and focus on the food you’re about to eat.
  2. Spend a little time with your food before you start wolfing it down. You don’t have to write your lunch a love song, but spend at least 15 seconds looking at it, arranging it on a plate, smelling it and imagining what it’s going to taste like. Think about where your food came from and how much work has gone into producing it.
  3. Eat like you’re at a posh restaurant. Take small bites, try and taste the individual flavours and think about how you’d describe the texture to your imaginary food critic dinner companion. Put your cutlery (or food) down every now and again. Chew well. Enjoy.
  4. Check in with your body. Are you full yet? On a sale of one to 10 (where one is starving hungry, and 10 is uncomfortably stuffed, food-coma-territory), you probably want to stop eating when you’re about a seven. You can pack up the rest of the food for later. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE. I know it’s hard.
  5. Repeat. It’s probably not realistic to think that you’re going to prepare an attractive meal, lock the kids in another room, light candles and go full yogi at every meal. Set yourself a goal of doing this a few times a week to start with. It takes time and practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a super Zen master straight away. Anything is better than nothing, and a lot is better than a little. Do what you can!

Mindful eating is another tool to help you eat well and enjoy your food. Give it a try and let us know how you go! Here’s a quick exercise to help you get started (required: 3 minutes, internet, speakers/headphones and a sultana).

Consider this day in the life of… my friend*

7am: Toast eaten with one hand while running around finding keys, watering the garden and packing lunch.

10am: Oh hello, cookie jar that appeared overnight next to the kettle at work. Biscuit is finished on the walk between lunch room and desk.

12pm: Not hungry for lunch yet, but have to eat now or won’t get time to eat again before 3pm.

4pm: Hungry. Reach to emergency snacks in desk drawer. Scoff too many nuts while reading emails and feel a bit sick.

6.30pm: Eat straight off the chopping board while seasoning the stew for tonight’s dinner.

7pm: Eat dinner, but not really that hungry (see above).

8.30pm: I swear Malteaser packets are smaller than they used to be. Where did they all go?

Does any of this ring a bell? Reflecting on why and how you eat is an important part of mindful eating. The first step can be just laying it out like this for yourself. Try keeping a bit of a food diary, and including a section for a hunger rating or other notes about your meal (location, emotions etc).

*Definitely NOT me

How to ride to work and still look stylish

by Jennifer Ramsay, LiveLighter ACT Campaign Manager

Like most adults, I know it’s important to be active every day for good health and that a great way to fit 30 minutes of activity into a busy life is to walk, cycle or even take the bus to work.

So when my partner and I made the decision to become a one car family (actually our second car made the decision for us), I decided to take up the challenge – and cycle to work.

However, I was concerned about my appearance. Could I cycle to work and look stylish, sophisticated and professional? Or realistically, could I at least maintain my current standard and look semi presentable?

Here are my tips for cycling to work and staying stylish.

  1. Get the gear – all the gear!

When you consider that it costs nearly $9,000 to keep a car on the road each year some key items are justifiable. Consider:

  • A bike you love
  • Chain and mud guards
  • Basket and panniers (carry bags that attach to the rear wheel)
  • Headlight and rear light
  • Super comfy seat
  • Helmet (it’s hard to find something cool but it’s a legal requirement)

Some key clothing will also make cycling convenient and comfortable.

  • Slip on sandshoes – the kind that are stretchy so they’re quick to pull on
  • Light weight shirt and gloves for sun protection on hot days
  • Warm gloves and an ear warming head band for cold weather
  • Waterproof, full length mackintosh – it will really make rainy days manageable
  1. Plan, plan, plan

Cycling to work does require some organisational effort and planning. Diarise the days you’re going to cycle and adjust your schedule so you can run errands on the days you have access to a car. Discuss back up plans with your family to deal with life’s uncertainties – like collecting sick kids from school.

Packing the gear you need and a healthy packed lunch the night before makes good sense too. If it’s easy to jump on the bike and set off for work – you’re more likely to enjoy it.

  1. Emergency supplies

Keeping a small kit of inexpensive back up items at work can make the difference between looking like you fell into the office and looking professional.

  • A hair dryer for extra volume and to avoid ‘helmet hair’ (if you have a travel hair dryer you only use on holidays, this is perfect)
  • A small iron to keep you looking sharp
  • Extra toiletries including a lipstick, deodorant and hairspray
  • Black blazer to throw over any outfit for when you need a bit of polish
  1. Take it easy

Try cycling to work at a comfortable pace. It might take a couple of extra minutes but it may mean you can wear the same clothes all day. Even cycling slowly counts towards increasing your physical activity levels and the associated health benefits.

  1. Experience the benefits

The way you feel after cycling to work will outweigh any of your concerns about flat hair or forgetting high heels. I feel less stressed, more confident and happier on the days I cycle and I think the glow of good health is the most stylish tip of all.

For more ideas about how to fit more activity into every day check out our Be Active Every Day factsheet.

How the little treats add up

by Anne Finch, LiveLighter dietitian 

I was running late on Monday, so I picked up a muffin and a coffee at the café down the road from work on my way in.

On Tuesday I combatted the 3pm slump with a chocolate bar from the vending machine at work. Cheap Tuesdays at the movies that night called for popcorn and a soft drink.

By Wednesday, the cupboard was looking pretty bare, so I ordered pizza and scored a free bottle of soft drink.

On Thursday I met up with a friend for coffee and cake. I impulse bought some lollies at the service station on the way home.

Friday night was dinner in the city, and we ended up getting churros after dinner.

Saturday was an evening barbecue. I nibbled at chips and dip while the food was cooking, and dinner was followed by birthday cake.

On Sunday morning I was feeling a bit rough after my big night, and only a drive-thru breakfast was going to cure it. After my guilt-driven gym session, I had a muesli bar and a sports drink to tide me over until dinner.

Does any of this sound familiar?

There are lots of reasons why junk foods creep into our diet. They’re convenient, tasty, available everywhere and heavily promoted. Foods like the ones above used to be occasional “treats”, but they’re creeping in to our everyday diet. Junk foods have become so ubiquitous that we often don’t even notice when we eat them anymore.

Just the “little extras” in the scenario above pack a big wallop. There are about 20,000 kJ (almost 4800 calories) there. That’s one third of my weekly energy requirements blown on three meals and a bunch of snacks. There’s 44 teaspoons of fat (nearly half of that is saturated fat) and almost a cup and a half of sugar right there.

Make no mistake – this is junk food. These foods are energy-dense and nutrient-poor. They contain very little fibre or calcium and there’s barely a vegetable in sight!

Junk foods displace healthy, nutritious foods in your diet. Because you’re filling up on food with little to no nutritional value, you’re not getting enough of the nutrients needed for good health and vitality.

Also, because junk foods have so little nutritional substance, they don’t leave you feeling satisfied and are easy to overeat. For example, which of the below 1000 kJ options looks more filling?

snack smarter chocolate v muesli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how can we combat junk food creeping into our diets?

Think about whether what you eat falls into any of the categories in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating: vegetables and legumes, fruit, dairy, lean protein, grain (cereal) foods, and unsaturated fats. If it doesn’t clearly fall into one of these categories, it’s probably junk food. Keeping a food diary is another good way to make us more mindful about what we’re eating and when/why.

Once you’ve identified where you’re getting tripped up by junk food, it’s easy to make some tweaks. Try these options to avoid falling into the junk food trap!

Scenario Solution
Don’t feel like cooking Do a big cook-up when you have time and freeze individual portions in zip lock bags. Healthy meals are just a defrost away! LiveLighter’s baked tomato rice, chicken burger patties, and chicken cacciatore pasta are great freezer friendly recipes.
Don’t have time to cook See above. It’s also useful to have some rapid-fire meals in your arsenal. Baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast, and tuna and salad are all satiating, healthy meals that you can prepare in about 5 minutes.
Impulse buys and cravings Have a shopping list and stick to it. Keep a stash of healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit and grainy crackers in case hunger takes you by surprise.
Special occasions and casual catch-ups Meet for a meal, rather than a snack. Or better yet, go for a walk, rock climbing, or dancing.

Bring healthy nibbles and dishes to potluck parties. You’d be surprised, but healthy options are often the most popular plates at work morning teas and barbecues. Try making eggplant dip with veggie sticks, a melon platter or LiveLighter’s date and muesli slice.

The best eggs you’ll eat this Easter

Shakshuka

As Easter chocolate starts to find its way into our homes and workplaces, LiveLighter dietitian Anne Finch recommends we embrace a different sort of egg – the chicken kind.

There have been Easter eggs at the shops since before Christmas, which must be a record! It’s a lovely metaphor for what’s happening in food generally; foods that used to be special treats, eagerly anticipated, are becoming part of the everyday diet.

So if you’ve already had your fill of chocolate eggs, why not try something different this Easter? LiveLighter is highlighting the benefits of eggs and featuring some of our favourite egg recipes for you to try. Team one of these dishes with a vigorous egg hunt for a happy and healthy long weekend.

Five benefits of eggs

  1. They’re versatile

If you’ve got eggs in the fridge, you’ve got a meal! Not only can eggs be used as a toast topper in a number of ways, but they’re also the star ingredient in quiches, frittatas and omelettes. Check out our Back to Basics guides on how to cook perfectly poached eggs, creamy scrambled eggs and boiled eggs just way you like them. If you’re feeling creative you could also try making shakshuka, a hearty Morroccan dish featuring pan-baked eggs (pictured above).

  1. They’re filling

Eggs are a great source of protein which helps give us that feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Adding eggs to your morning toast will keep you feeling fuller for longer, and a hardboiled egg sandwich makes a tasty and satiating lunch that will see you through the afternoon.

  1. They’re cheap

Meat and fish are great sources of protein, but can be expensive when feeding a family. Eggs are a great way to add a serve of protein to a meal if you’re on a budget. Pro-tip: look into getting a couple of chooks if you’ve got room in the backyard. They’ll eat up some of your kitchen scraps and give you beautiful fresh eggs in return!

  1. They’re not meat

For our wallet, health and the environment, most Australians could do with eating a bit less meat. If you’re not ready to go full herbivore, an egg dish is a great way to start. Eggs are high in protein, low in fat and can replace meat in a range of dishes, including stirfries, sandwiches and pies (a quiche is pretty much an egg pie, right?)

  1. They’re a favourite with kids

A runny soft-boiled egg with toast dippers is hard for any kid to go past. Scrambled eggs are an easy recipe to teach older kids to make independently for their breakfast on the weekend. Livelighter’s Pumpkin, leek and feta mini frittatas make a nutritious finger food for toddlers and are perfect packed in kids’ lunchboxes. Hardboiled eggs are also great for ‘rubbish free’ school lunchboxes.

Have a happy and safe break everyone, and get cracking with some egg recipes!

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

by Alison Ginn, LiveLighter VIC Campaign Manager and Accredited Practising Dietitian

Breakfast has long been hailed as the most important meal, but is it really that necessary? We explore the evidence to see how it stacks up.

We often hear that the top reason to eat breakfast is to ‘boost your metabolism’. However the evidence about this is not convincing.

Many things affect our metabolism, such as age, genetics and physical activity – whether or not you eat breakfast doesn’t appear to be one of them.

But before you ditch your morning muesli, wait – this is not a reason to skip breakfast.

Breakfast is a key time in the day to eat many valuable nutrients. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating foods from a wide variety of food groups and a healthy breakfast can provide us with much needed fibre, calcium and protein.

We also know that people who regularly eat breakfast tend to eat an overall healthier diet for the rest of the day.

Whether you’re a breakfast lover or hater, here are some tips for a nutritious start to your morning:

  • A healthy breakfast should contain foods from two or more food groups – think of it as an opportunity to eat nutrients you may otherwise miss
  • If you struggle to eat enough calcium, try milk or yoghurt with your breakfast
  • If wholegrains don’t usually make it on your plate, choose some grainy toast, rolled oats or a wholegrain cereal (with at least 10 per cent fibre)

For those who love a weekend breakfast try:

For those who struggle with breakfast try:

  • Something dry such as a wholegrain roll with avocado or cheese
  • Something to drink such as a smoothie
  • Something for the run such as a handful of almonds and a banana or a breakfast toastie

If you need some new breakfast inspiration why not mix and match? Choose one from each of the columns below:

breakfast tables

What are your best healthy breakfast tips?