Feed Your Brain – Part Two

Written by bridget on . Posted in Food and Health Education

(First featured on Onya-Mag Website)

Welcome back to our series, Feed Your Brain. I bet you are feeling better simply from following the tips from Part 1 ??

Here I continue to explore more of the essential nutrients that contribute to an optimally healthy brain, thus, healthy MIND…

Enjoy!

salmon-omega3

2) Essential Fats –

Without doubt the most important type of fat to the brain, and thus mind, are Omega 3 fatty acids.

As a dietitian knowing this, it is really concerning for me to consider just HOW many people I see that are NOT getting in their minimal requirement of this essential nutrient, especially children.

Available in their most bio-available form from fatty fish, Omega 3’s are one of the most deficient nutrients in today’s diet, significantly impacting our mental health as a society.

For an adequate intake, it is recommended that we eat at least 140g of fatty fish per week.

This is incredibly easy if we look at the opportunities available at breakfast, lunch AND dinner.

Sardines on toast are a delicious start to the day (and also provide one of the highest doses of calcium per serve); tinned mackerel on a salad or veggies is a satisfying (and QUICK!) lunch and grilled salmon, sweet potato wedges and vegies is a lip-smacking dinner!

Lots of people initially come to me claiming their absolute distaste of fish – even to the point of gagging at the mere thought. However, with time and coaxing that we essentially “train our tastebuds”, these once avid fish-haters, become self-professing fish lovers.

Check out two of my (and my clients!) FAVOURITE fish recipes that end up converting many  ”fish-haters”:

Salmon and Broccoli Filos and Orange Glazed Salmon

But, what if, you are VEGAN and, or, more environmentally aware and thus concerned at the sustainability of this animal source of Omega 3 fatty acids?

This is a dilemma and challenge I have encountered of late. Without going into all the nitty-gritty detail, let me summarise here the low down on how to get your EFA’s without eating “Food with Faces” (as my Vegan friends term it).

As I mentioned earlier, animal sources of omega 3’s are generally thought to be much more effective in providing our bodies and brains with ideal levels of these fats, than plant sources. This is because plants contain the short-chain version of these fatty acids, which require conversion into long-chain versions.

When we eat animal sources, the conversion is done for us.

Since the conversion process in humans is considered extremely slow and only about 2% of that ingested in is fact converted, there is concern that vegetarians may not get adequate amounts.

Evidence supports that vegetarians and vegans often have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies than meat or fish eaters, however, there is no evidence that vegetarians’ or vegans’ health is in any way affected by these lower levels – in fact, they are widely considered to be healthier than meat eaters.

Clearly, there is a need for more research and as far as I can see, as long as you get plenty of your plant sources of these fats, then there is no need for concern, in fact you may have reason to be extra-stoked with your health!

So where can you get rich, plant sources of Omega 3 fatty acids?

Without doubt, one of the richest vegetarian sources is flaxseed oil.

There are so many ways to enjoy this yummy oil in your daily diet.

Try using it in place of olive oil to make salad dressings (do not cook with it as it is highly volatile and its beneficial fats will be damaged, and can even become damaging to the body when ingested), add it to smoothies, or drizzle over cooked vegies.

Ground flaxseeds are another great source, again highly diverse in use – sprinkle over cereals, add to smoothies, make flax-crackers, etc.

Walnuts are another warrior food in this department. Add to salads, serve with some almonds and cashews for a brilliant arvo snack, use in baking, add to stir-fries. The possibilities are endless.

Some less conventional, yet becoming more popular, vegan sources include hemp seed and algae based supplements (chlorella or spirulina).

You can include a sprinkle of spirulina in vegie juices, or green smoothies, or perhaps make some yummy spirulina balls. A tub I had once suggested taking it in water before meals, and just out of curiosity I tried this for the first time whilst writing this article…interesting. Definitely an acquired taste!

In any case, it is a FANTASTICALLY concentrated source of brain loving Omega 3’s so it’s a great vegan option.

Oh! And we mustn’t forget simple, yet brilliant, leafy greens.

Although in much smaller amounts, they are still an important source of these fats for us all.

Think broccoli, spinach, asian greens, kale, rocket, etc. As many of you will know, I use these delights as the base for my super yummy vegetable salads VERY regularly.

Finely chopped and tossed with other colourful, fresh, raw, steamed, baked, roasted vegies, these are truly divine.

As always the key lies in using our IMAGINATION. Let us be creative!

In summary, this ONE habit of including more Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet, is a simple change that offers magically profound potential to positively affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts.

No matter your choice of sources, simply re-work your weekly plan to include as much as you can.

Give this one habit a go for at least 3 weeks and see what changes you notice.

Get your MasterChef on and take up the INVENTION challenge to see how you can incorporate and disguise these brain-loving morsels into your week.

I would love to hear any great ideas you come up with! Email me on bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au

Yours in health and happiness,

BridgetJane

Dietitian and Healthy Lifestylist
Writer, Speaker, Consultant
www.newleafnutrition.com.au
Bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au

Healthy, Nourishing Shepherd’s Pie

Written by bridget on . Posted in Ravishing Recipes

Shepherds_Pie_edited

It’s that time of year (well, on THIS side of the world anyway!) when we are looking for cosy, warming, COMFORT food….

The stuff that fills your belly, nourishes your soul and leaves you feeling UBER content!

Shepherds Pie would have to be one of those classics that MOST of us LOVE, and the awesome thing about it is that with just a few tweaks it can go from a relatively healthy meal, to an OUTSTANDINGLY nutritious meal AND not lose ONE IOTER of its deliciousness!

In true Bridget style, this will be more a GUIDE than a RECIPE…

I actually used what I had available in the cupboard for this one, however there are SO many ways to adjust and adapt it to make it more/less tasty, healthy, nourishing, vegetarian, meaty, etc! You can make it EXACTLY the way YOU enjoy best!

A rough guide, and the way I did this one is:

Ingredients:

-500g organic beef mince (for a vego option, use straight lentils, maybe add some kidney beans)

-olive oil

-chopped onion- red or brown

-chopped/crushed garlic

-fresh/dried chilli

-tin lentils

-tin organic tomatoes

-2-3 fresh chopped tomatoes

-steamed and mashed sweet and normal potato (skin on) – I used two med/large sweet potatoes and 4 med white potatoes

-salt to taste

-parmesan (optional)

-butter (optional)

Method:

-In a pan heat olive oil and add chopped onion, garlic and chilli. Allow to aromatise (that actually IS a word! After I thought I made it up, I checked! LOL)

-When ready, add the beef mince, mixing to ensure even cooking.

-Once browned add your fresh and tinned tomatoes.

-After a few minutes, add your lentils.

-Season to taste and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

-Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and get your potato steamed.

-Once your potato is steamed, mash in whatever way you enjoy! Add some butter if you like, or a little stock and water, or both!

-Once the mince is done, pour onto the base of an oven-proof dish (rectangular or circular- whatever you like best!)

-Top the mince with the potato mix and sprinkle with a little parmesan

-Place in the oven and bake for 20-30minutes until the potato is browned to your liking!

-Enjoy and serve with a fresh side salad (as pictured above), or some extra steamed veg

Shepherds_Pie_whole_edited

As always, be sure to let me know what you think of this one and any exciting variations you come up with!

Email bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au

Until next time, stay cosy and ENJOY some delicious and nutritious comfort food!

All my love,

BridgetJane

Dietitian~ Healthy-Lifestylist

P.S. HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT my VERY EXCITING and UNIQUE signature program kicking off this Friday 1st July??

The YOU Method

Check it out and if your being says YES! Get on board and we will get started RIGHT AWAY with some baseline assessments! :)

No more dieting, depriving, struggling….!

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Any questions, email me bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au

Feed Your Brain – Part One

Written by bridget on . Posted in Food and Health Education

(First featured over here on Onya Magazine)

Nothing gets my “geek juices” flowing more than reading about how the brain works, and more to the point, how what we eat affects this highly important organ.

The way we think is EVERYTHING when it comes to achieving certain results in our life (or not!).

If we want insight into the reasons why our lives, health, bodies and finances are as they are today, it is important to consider just what is going on upstairs.

And, it isn’t always so obvious.

Many clients report to me just how horrified they are once they start paying attention to their self-talk and they all of a sudden realise just WHY they are where they are!

How can we be flying high, kicking goals and feeling CONFIDENT when our inner voice is full of, “I can’t do it”; “Its too hard”; “I don’t trust that I will maintain it”; “It’s not possible for me”; “I’m lazy”; “Im fat”; “Im ugly”; “Im hopeless”, the list goes on!

Because our thoughts are the most VITAL key to our results in life, the first FUNdamental concept I discuss with my clients is Mindset Mastery. Just WHAT is going on up there and HOW can they begin to take back control and turn it around?

Something that really stumped me in all the years I had been working with people, and also a personal reflection, was the observation of how a usually naturally positive, productive, motivated, focused and energetic person, could all of a sudden become so negative, lethargic, disorganised, lost, disillusioned and ill.

If it was all just about thinking right, how COULD things go so wrong?

That is when I researched into and learned so much more about the role of the SUBCONSCIOUS mind and what a powerful and in fact, determining, factor it was in MOST of what we ACTUALLY think, say and do…. I learned so much about just what goes on behind the scenes that we often have NO idea about, and how, unless we decide to consciously dig deeper, it can completely sabotage and derail our efforts, intentions and desires.

Furthermore I learned a LOT about some incredible chemicals known as neurotransmitters and just what affects the production of these all important messengers that impact everything from our digestion, metabolism, moods, outlook, success, motivation, relationships, health and so much more!

So, to cut to the chase, today I would love to share with you some key insights into how what you put in your mouth affects the functioning of your brain, the production of these powerful neuro-chemicals, and how this impacts literally every aspect of your life that you would care to know about.

Today, an introduction to the brain.

It is important to firstly understand the basic make up of this 3 pound, tofu-like organ.

Just like any other part of your body, the brain is made up of billions of cells. The cells of the brain are a specialised type called neurons.

Like any other cell, neurons are composed of a membrane that is mostly lipid (fat) surrounding a central collection of other specialised cells suspended in water.

So at the most basic level, your brain is mostly made up of water and fat, with fat accounting for about 60% of its “dry weight”. Your spinal cord is similar, being about 70% fat.

Further to this, the type of fat that makes up these highly important structures is the most flexible type known – highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs). The incredibly flexible nature of these fats means that the membranes they form are also highly flexible, allowing rapid communication between the billions of cells in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are the chemicals responsible for transferring information between neurons, and most of these are made within the brain.

Just like any other part of our body, brain cells and neurotransmitters are created from nutrients, thus without the correct type and amount of nutrients, it makes sense that we will struggle to function at our most optimal.

In the following pieces you will find a bit of a “checklist” you can tick off to ensure that you are supplying your brain with all of the essential elements it needs to give you its best, thus creating a happier, healthier, more harmonious life:

1) Water -

This is the most essential aspect to a healthy brain and mind.

Being the most predominant material of which the brain is composed it is a NON-NEGOTIABLE factor in contributing to a clear, happy and “calmly alert” mind.

I advise my clients to drink at least 3 litres a day.

No, caffeinated beverages do not count as they are diuretics which cause you to lose fluid.

Yes, non-caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, rosehip, rooibos do count, and yes they make yummy iced versions to give water a refreshing change.

Adding lemon, lime or orange slices can also make water more attractive, and fresh mint or cucumber can add an interesting twist.

In the winter I find it really hard to drink cold water so I sip on warm water (boiled water mixed 2:1 with cold/room temperature water), as well as loads of peppermint tea.

Experiment and have fun.

Just please know that if you have a brain, as you clearly do if you are reading this article, your requirement for water is essential, no matter what your “thirst” may otherwise indicate.

Suck this up, (pardon the pun) and give it a go for just the next week.

Check in on how you’re feeling and have some way of tracking and tallying what you are getting in ☺

Most of all, enjoy the incredible difference this one habit can make to your daily sense of calm, peace and focus!

If you have any questions on this, please feel free to email me on bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au

Until next instalment enjoy the incredible benefits of having a properly hydrated brain! ☺

 

Feed-your-brain-water

Yours in geeky juices,

BridgetJane

Dietitian~Counsellor~Eating Psychology Coach

www.newleafnutrition.com.au
Bridget@newleafnutrition.com.au
0421 332243