Coffee good or bad???

coffee blog2

 What happens when we drink coffee?

Caffeine stimulates our sympathetic nervous system, which you may also know as our ‘fight or flight’ state. In this state our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn stimulate the release of glucose into the blood stream to provide us with a quick source of energy. This is all well and good if you need energy to get out of the way of danger however this is generally not the case.

When we’re sitting enjoying our coffee we’re not using all of the glucose that has been dumped into the bloodstream. Insulin comes along to draw the glucose out of our blood and return the body to homeostasis. Insulin first takes glucose to the muscles and liver. But the liver and muscles have a limit on how much they can store and any leftover glucose gets stored in our fat cells, which unfortunately have no limit in how much they can expand.

Cortisol also encourages fat to be stored around your middle and increases sugar cravings.

So, what does all this mean for your body? If you’re having 3 or more cups of coffee a day then cutting back on your coffee could help shed those hard to budge kilos. 

The good:

As we all know caffeine is a stimulant. It can improve short-term brain function and help you feel more alert.  Caffeine stimulates release of neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine, that help to overcome tiredness. It also increases blood flow to the brain. Studies have shown a daily coffee habit may protect you against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. (You can read more here)

For me, coffee can halt an impending headache.  Sometimes I’ll wake and can feel a niggling headache coming on. A coffee will halt it in it’s tracks. It does this by constricting blood vessels that are often dilated during a headache or migraine. 

Coffee is also high in antioxidants that fight free radical damage and ageing.

The not so good:

Coffee is acidic and inflammatory. If you are in poor health or have gut issues then removing coffee for a period of time can be very beneficial.

As mentioned caffeine switches on our ‘fight or flight’ state. With our busy modern lifestyle it’s very common to be in this state a lot of the time. If you’re suffering from stress or anxiety coffee could be making things worse.

Caffeine keeps us alert, so the downside is it can keep you awake at night if consumed in the afternoon. Caffeine in coffee has an affect on your body for 10-12 hours, peaking approximately an hour after consumption. If you’re experiencing poor sleep then ditch the afternoon coffee.

Green tea

An alternative:

If you are drinking too many coffees I suggest replacing your afternoon coffee with a green tea. Green tea contains approximately 20mg caffeine versus 100mg in coffee.  However, the big difference is green tea also contains the amino acid  L-theanine that provides a sustained release of energy without the jitters.  In fact Buddhist monks used to take green tea to enhance focus during meditation. 

A common response I often get is “I don’t like green tea, it’s so bitter!”.  However, there are some beautiful blends available which enhance/disguise the flavour of green tea. You could try:

  • Green tea & peppermint. Perfect after a meal as it helps with digestion too.
  • Green tea and ginger.  Great for circulation.
  • Green tea and lemongrass. Smells beautiful, very refreshing and uplifting.

Watch out for:

Be mindful of the milk you add to your latte. Avoid skim milk due to the higher sugar content. Some people don’t tolerate dairy well and as we age we produce less lactase enzymes to break down the lactose. If you’re trying a nut milk as an alternative then watch out for added nasties such as sugars, preservatives and gums. 

Another tip when reducing your coffee intake is to do it gradually to avoid withdrawal headaches.  If you have a coffee upon waking and then another mid morning I’d recommend you remove the early morning coffee. Instead have breakfast and then enjoy a coffee mid morning. And really enjoy it. Look forward to it, savour it, don’t just gulp it down mindlessly.

As with food you’re the best one to judge if coffee is for you. If it gives you heart palpitations and makes you jittery or anxious then coffee’s not for you. Listen to your body. However be real, five coffees a day is too much. Experiment – perhaps go coffee free for a week and see how you feel!

If you have any questions please comment below or feel free to email me.

Warm regards
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

My meal-time tips for healthier digestion

No matter how many good foods you eat, supplements you take or work outs you do if your digestive system is not working well it’s going to be very hard to achieve your health goal.

Being stressed or in a constant state of urgency negatively affects our digestion.

When we’re in a stressed state our Sympathetic Nervous System is switched on. You may know this as our fight & flight state. During this state blood is drawn to our extremities to enable us to run from danger. Our heart rate increases & blood pressure rises. At the same time blood is drawn away from our non vital organs , such as our digestive & reproductive systems. Stress literally shuts down our digestive system.

In order to digest our food we need to have our Parasympathetic Nervous System, also known as digest & repair state, switched on.

There are a number of simple changes you can make that will have a big impact on your digestive health.

Below are my meal-time tips that will have your digestive system humming:

1. Sit down to eat! Digestion won’t get switched on if you’re on the move.

2. Eat in a relaxed environment. Set a nice table. Use your favourite place mats, or your good plates. I know when my dining table is covered with homework books, my papers and piles of washing and I quickly shove these all aside to make way for dinner it is NOT relaxing.

3. Breath! A quick way to switch on your rest and digest system is deep breathing. Sit down and take a few deep breaths. Maybe this is where grace was useful in past generations. Everyone sat & took a moment to be thankful before diving in.

4. Leave the arguments and fights for after dinner. No surer way than to argue with your teenager about his late nights & messy room to get you back in the fight and flight state.

5. Chew don’t inhale food. The more chewing you do the easier it is on your digestive system. Eating too quickly can lead to bloating, stomach pain, heartburn and wind. The ideal number of chews is 30 per mouthful & your food should be the consistency of baby food. Easier said than done. Have a go!

6. Enjoy the beauty of food. This is a big one for me. I love the presentation of food. It can simply be how you place the food on the plate, or the plate you use, or the wedge of lemon or sprig of coriander you add to a dish. Have fun with it, take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the food. And who doesn’t love the oohs & ahhs as you put a dish on the table. I have a house full of males and surprisingly even they appreciate the small touches.

You’ll find below a Chia Pudding recipe that is beautifully nourishing for your digestive system.

Chia puddings small

Chia seeds are high in protein, Omega 3s, calcium and fibre. It is the combination of fibre and healthy fat that balances our blood sugar levels and curbs sugar cravings.
The high fibre content in chia seeds also helps you feel fuller for longer making it perfect in a weight loss program. Also helps to keep us regular 🙂

I really enjoy this breakfast recipe as it’s quick and easy and keeps me energised and satisfied until lunchtime.

Thank you for sharing my healthy love of food.

Warm regards
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Chia Berry Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup coconut or almond milk (recommend Pure Harvest – Coles & Woolies) ½ cup berries (fresh or frozen) ¼ cup chia seeds

Garnish options: cacao nibs, goji berries, berries, coconut flakes, coconut yoghurt or kefir.

Directions

Add berries and coconut/almond milk to blender and blitz.
Stir through chia seeds until well combined.
Pour into small jars or ramekins.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Top with garnish of choice.

 

 

 

My Pantry Essentials

Have you noticed JERF being bandied around on social media…. it’s an acronym for JUST EAT REAL FOOD. The key to any health regime is nourishing whole foods and the key to success is ORGANISATION. There’s no way around it. You do need to be able to cook & you also need to be organised if you want to stick to your health goals.

You know the feeling. You’re tired & cranky and your blood sugar levels are dropping. Your body is craving a quick source of energy and this is when poor food choices are made.

The answer is to be organised and the first step is to give your pantry a detox.Get rid of anything past it’s best before date including all spices. There’s no flavour or nutritional value left in them. Then whatever is your biggest weakness throw it out! Chips bin! Shapes bin! Chocolate bullets bin! If it’s not in the cupboard you can’t eat it. You’ll be surprised how much room you have in the pantry.

Then tidy it all up. As much as I covet beautiful storage jars I have so many jars from catering that I simply recycle these. Then all you need is a label maker. I also find putting groups of similar items in baskets helps to keep it tidy too.

pantry jars small

The next step is to make sure your pantry is stocked with nourishing ingredients. You’ll find my list of pantry essentials here. By no means is this list exhaustive. It’s simply a list of my favourites that I use over & over. If you’d like to know which brands I prefer please ask below.

Once you’ve got your pantry stocked you might like to try this Cacao Granola recipe. It’s gluten free, grain free, dairy free & delicious 🙂 You can enjoy this for breakfast with yoghurt and berries. Or I snack on a handful when that afternoon slump hits.

Cacao granola

Thank you for sharing our healthy love of food.

Warm regards
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Cacao Granola

A gluten free, dairy free, grain free breakfast option

Ingredients

150g raw whole almonds, roughly chopped
100g raw cashews
100g (1 1/2 cups) coconut flakes
75g (1/2 cup) cacao nibs
40g (1/4 cup) cacao
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
Goji berries (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 120C.

Add all dry ingredients (except Goji Berries) to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Add maple syrup & vanilla. Mix together using your hands (wear disposable gloves). Mix until mixture is wet & glossy.

Spread granola evenly and thinly onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes until crunchy.

Cool completely on oven tray and store in airtight jar.

 

 

 

Thank you for joining our recent nutrition webinar

Thank you so much for joining us recently for our first nutrition webinar with SAP. I really enjoyed sharing our healthy love of food and appreciated your feedback and questions. I hope you took away some nutrition tips to incorporate into your everyday life. Are you remembering to chew, chew, chew!

Have you tried any of the recipes? I’d love to hear if you found them easy to make and most importantly if you find them delicious. I discussed in the webinar ways to increase your vegetable intake: swap rice for cauliflower rice; tacos and wraps for lettuce cups; and pasta for zucchini noodles or cauliflower mash. Below you’ll find our recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Mash. It is super easy to make, delicious and nutritious.

cauliflower mash & chicken stroganoff

Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C with 1/2 a cup having 50% of your recommended daily intake. It’s also high in fibre and low in kilojoules, making it perfect for a weight loss program.

Any feedback you have from our webinar is very welcome. We’re planning future webinars and I’d love to know what topics you’d like covered. Please leave your suggestions below.

Next Tuesday 10 October at 12.30pm I’ll be in the North Sydney office for a cooking demonstration. I’ll be sharing a delicious dinner recipe and showing you how you can turn the leftovers into four other meals. It will be an interactive workshop with lots of taste testing and take home recipes. I’d love you to join me.

In the meantime you can follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.

Warm regards
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Creamy Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

1 cauliflower, roughly chopped
60g organic butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

Add the cauliflower, stock and butter or coconut oil to a saucepan and cook on medium heat with the lid on until the cauliflower is tender.

Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blitz until completely smooth and creamy.

Season with sea salt & pepper.

 

Thank you for attending our “Happy Healthy Hormone” workshop with Vision

It was so lovely to meet you all at the Vision “Happy Healthy Hormones” event last week. I hope you took away some new nutrition tips to incorporate into your everyday life & prepare you for an easy transition through the dreaded M!

I also hope you enjoyed the chia pudding workshop. I’d love to hear if you liked the chia puddings & how they worked out. It’s such a simple recipe that can be made ahead of time & enjoyed for breakfast. I’d recommend making in small jars that you can also enjoy as a snack when that 3pm slump hits.

Chia puddings small

Chia is bursting with goodness. High in anti-inflammatory Omega 3s, calcium, protein & fibre. It was traditionally used by Aztec warriors. They would keep a small pouch of chia seeds on them that they would consume during battle to keep them energised. It’s the combination of protein, healthy fat & carbohydrate in the chia puddings that keeps me energised for my daily battles 🙂

A few of you asked for the recipe for the Matcha Energy Balls we served on the night, which you’ll find below. This is an easy recipe where all you need is a bowl & spoon. You can also play around with different flavours if matcha’s not your thing.

Energy balls x 3

Any feedback you have from last week is very welcome. We’re planning future workshops & I’d love to know what topics you’d like us to cover. Please leave your suggestions below.

Don’t forget everyone who attended our “Happy Healthy Hormones” workshop at Vision receives 25% off a nutrition consultation until 31 August. If you have a health goal you’d like to reach or a health concern you’d like to address, I would love to help.

Share our healthy love of food & follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Matcha Energy Balls

A delicious & nutritious energy snack

Ingredients

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tsp Matcha powder
1 tsp Maca powder (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (melted)
2 tbsp organic maple syrup
Extra dessicated coconut for rolling

Directions

Add almond meal, coconut, matcha & maca powder in a bowl & mix well.

Add coconut oil & maple syrup to a small bowl & stir to combine. Add coconut oil mix to almond meal etc & mix well.

Make into small balls & then roll balls in extra coconut.

Store in fridge.

Tips for a stress free 21st celebration

21st birthday celebrations can be very stressful….who’s coming, how many will turn up, what will they want to eat, will they drink too much… and on it goes. Whilst your 21 year old is very relaxed assuring you “all will be fine”.

Brownies & sparklers

Gone are the days where an invitation was sent in the mail & we all hand wrote our replies “Dear Mr & Mrs Smith thank you for your kind invitation..…” I remember my 21st was a sit down affair. My mother prepared all the food & decorations. I have fond memories of her wrapping ivy from the garden around the posts of the marquee. I only appreciate now just how much work & effort she put in.

21st Birthday Preparations

Onto today & things are a whole lot different. Here are my top tips for a stress free celebration:

1. Call in the caterers of course. We’ve catered for many 21sts & can advise you on what items are popular amongst this crowd.

– You want to provide food that is filling, so items such as mini burgers & petite pizzas are ideal. Protein rich food is also important as the protein helps to metabolise the alcohol.

– Choose finger food that is easy to eat & won’t leave a mess on your floor. I’d avoid anything on skewers or noodle boxes as these tend to get left everywhere & anywhere. It’s surprising where you’ll find these the next day!

– Identify any dietary requirements and cater for a range (vegetarian and vegan is very popular at the moment). Being a nutritionist I understand these needs. Being a caterer I know how to make these options delicious & ones that everyone will enjoy. Our rice paper rolls are a perfect example.

 

Rice Paper Rolls

2. Have a professional in the kitchen heating & plating your food. A chef will go with the flow of the evening & the appetite of the crowd ensuring there’s plenty of food as your guests need it. This is so important as the young ones tend to flow in & out over an evening. The chef will also plate any leftovers for the hangers-on & best of all leave your kitchen as they found it. Sometimes cleaner than they found it! You want to enjoy this party too.

3. Set up a grazing table. Whole ham & rolls, or a burger station are all popular offerings. This way there’s always food available, particularly for those boys with big appetites.

4. Set up water stations. Tubs filled with ice & water bottles are ideal. You want to make the non-alcoholic drinks easily accessible & plentiful. We often find they’ll grab a water as they head out the door which can’t be a bad thing.

5. Find an alcohol supplier that can advise you on quantity & ideally take returns if you have leftovers. We work with a wholesale supplier who will deliver your alcohol cold with ice & tubs, advise on quantity & quality all at a very competitive price.

Champagne Tub

6. Enlist the services of a professional bar person who has RSA qualifications (responsible service of alcohol). They are experienced at handling those that may have imbided a bit too heavliy. It can be awkward trying to deal with one of your child’s close friends. Leave this to the professionals.

7. Set a theme. 70s’s Disco, Favourite Fairytale, Super Heroes, Mexican, Disney Characters, Gangster, Computer Game Characters…… When you go to the effort your guests rise to the occasion too.

Party Decorations

Make things stress free & call us. We can take care of all your catering, staffing & hire needs. We have a new 21st menu that is great value at $19.00 per person. You can download it here.

Please call anytime. I’d love to help make your next 21st celebration memorable & stress free.

Wendy
GreenWithClearBackground
0403861117
wendy@acutabove.com.au

 

Thank you for joining me at the Vision nutrition workshop

It was so lovely to meet you all at the Vision “Share our Healthy Love of Food” event last week. I hope you learnt some new nutrition tips to incorporate into your everyday life.

I also hope you enjoyed our energy ball workshop. I certainly enjoyed running it and loved seeing how everyone approaches the same task in so many different ways. The variety of shapes, sizes & flavours was something to behold. Have you been inspired to experiment with your own flavours? I think my favourite are the lemon balls, lovely & refreshing.

Energy balls x 3

Any feedback you have from last week is very welcome – Have you tried the recipes? Have you found them easy to make? Other recipes you’d like? What nutritional information would you like more of? I’d love to hear your comments, which you can leave below.

I’d like to share with you our Seed Snap recipe, served on the night. This is an easy recipe and a great substitute for bread or crackers. It’s loaded with healthy fat & fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Seed snaps

Don’t forget Vision members receive 25% off a nutrition consultation until 31 July. If you have a health goal you’d like to reach or a health concern you’d like to address, I would love to help.

Share our healthy love of food & follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Seed Snaps

A tasty gluten free alternative to bread & crackers

Ingredients

1 cup (140g) linseeds (flaxseeds)
1/2 cup (100g) chia seeds
1/2 cup (70g) sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (40g) pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup (40g) sesame seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Variations: Add any favourite spice/herb to the mix e.g. turmeric, paprika, rosemary.

Directions

 

Combine linseeds with 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl & rest for 30 minutes.

Place remaining seeds in a bowl with salt & mix. Add linseed gel & coconut oil & mix well.

Line a 25 x 38 cm baking tray with baking paper & spread seed mix evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160C. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven & carefully turn the whole seed snap over. Score into bite sized pieces making it easier to break apart when cooked.

Return to the oven for a further 40 minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

New Winter Fingerfood Menu…

With a change of season comes our new Winter menu. Rest assured the favourites remain on the menu, many that first appeared when we started 15 years ago, we’ve simply added some delicious winter warmers.

I love experimenting with new recipes or tweaking old favourites. But they all must meet our selection criteria of being easy to eat (we don’t want any spills on pretty dresses), foolproof for our chefs to serve & delicious – of course!

One of our new items is a Lamb Shank Empanada. Filled with slow cooked  Lamb Shank spiced with Harissa & wrapped in a light, flaky pastry. It’s 2 -3 mouthfuls, lovely & filling & perfect for serving up a bit later in the night as the party kicks on. We’ll be serving these with a Chimichurri sauce, an Argentinian native, fresh & a little bit fiery. It’s a delicious combination of chilli, garlic, coriander, flat leaf parsley & oregano.

Empanadas

I first came across empanadas when travelling in South America many years ago. I instantly fell in love with these snacks. Crumbly pastry, spicy meat, & a surprise olive or two. It was the perfect backpacker food, filling & affordable! I’m instantly transported back to the streets of Chile whenever I eat an empanada. During that 9 month adventure around the world, trying new delicacies constantly, I had the crazy dream of taking the best foods from each of the countries visited & serving them in my own restaurant. What a mish mash of tastes that would have been!!! Not one of my finer marketing ideas.

Back to Sydney & the winter menu… We also have a beautiful spiced Moroccan Pumpkin Soup that we serve in shot glasses with Parmesan crisps; cute as anything Mini Beef Wellingtons & a few more surprises. You can download the winter menu here.

Pumkpinsoup (1)

If you’re thinking of a party please don’t hesitate to let us know the date as we can get booked up & I don’t want you to miss out 🙂

Feel free to call me anytime. I’d be more than happy to chat with you & advise you on all things entertaining.

Wendy

0403 861 117

 

 

Thank you for attending our energy ball workshop…

It was so lovely to meet you all at the Women Wine & Wellness event last week. I hope you enjoyed our energy ball workshop. I certainly enjoyed running it. I just love seeing how everyone approaches the same task in so many different ways. The variety of shapes, sizes & flavours of the balls was wonderful.

Energy balls x 3

I hope I’ve inspired you to experiment with your own flavours. I think my favourite is the Lemon Balls, lovely & refreshing. Any feedback you have from last week is very welcome – Did you like the recipe? Have you found it easy to make? Other recipes you’d like? I’d love to hear your comments, which you can leave below.

I’d like to share with you our Mexican Salad recipe. I’ve received lots of positive feedback on this one. It’s a great family salad that you can dress up when you’re entertaining too. You can find the recipe here.

MexicanSalad

One of the ingredients is black beans. Did you know black beans are an excellent source of protein, fibre, iron & magnesium?  In times of stress magnesium levels become quickly depleted. It’s very important to keep our intake of magnesium containing foods high as it is needed for over 600 functions in the body. Black beans are also a wonderful source of iron. Iron carries oxygen throughout the body & is so important for optimal mental & physical performance.

I’d love you to join me in the ‘Cut Above’ kitchen for a nutrition consultation. If you have a health goal you’d like to reach or a health concern you’d like to address I’d love to help.

Share our healthy love of food & follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Finger food for you to serve…

We offer a selection of finger foods that are easy to serve without the need for a chef on-site. Perfect for that impromptu get together or when you have a small number of guests to feed. Our finger food from the ‘Cut Above” kitchen takes the stress out of entertaining & will make you look good too 🙂

The range came about as I often had girlfriends ring in a flurry “Wend have you got any Risotto Balls I’ve got 20 family for lunch. Help!” The range is perfect when you don’t need a fully catered event. The menu includes some of our most popular items, such as the Prosciutto & Pine Nut Risotto Balls. These appeared on our first menu 15 years ago & still remain a top seller. They are a delicious mix of prosciutto, parmesan, & toasted pine nuts with a hit of lemon zest. You can also purchase the Lemon Aoili we serve with them, which really makes it all super easy.

Risotto Balls & Rose

Delivered to your door & packed with easy to follow heating instructions it will make your casual entertaining a breeze. You don’t even need to be home, we’ll leave everything safely packed in a styrofoam box.

You’ll also find our morish Dark & White Chocolate Rocky Road on the menu. Serve this as a dessert with a cheese plate & liquer, what more could you want.

DarkRockyRoadWithFlowers

You can find our self catering menu here. Then just call or email to place an order.

Entertaining at home has never looked so easy.

Wendy