Gluten Free Nachos

March 26, 2014 in Health, Nutrition

Whilst I do believe that the “Paelio Diet” is just another successful marketing ploy, I do believe that their concepts on food are what we should be eating. That is; how can it be a “diet” when it’s what we should be eating anyway?
That being said, this is a great alternative to standard Nachos (I do love nachos)!
Remember, this is week is all about teamwork…that includes our food. This is not a single portion, share it with your mates!

NB: Please see the original source of this post at the bottom of the recipe.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Number of servings: 4-6 

Paleo Nachos


Sweet potato chips

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp macadamia oil or coconut oil
  • sea salt

Spicy beef

  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 long red chilli, diced
  • 300-400 g ground beef/beef mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular is also fine)
  • 1/2 regular paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes or tomato passata
  • 2/3 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Tomato salsa

  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced, seeds out
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • 1 avocado, mashed with a fork
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely diced or grated
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper



1)      Sweet potato chips 

a)       Preheat oven to 170 C/338 F.
b)      Slice the sweet potato as thin as you can.
c)        Toss potato slices in macadamia or coconut oil, use your hands to separate the slices so as many get covered in oil as possible.
d)       Place baking paper on two flat roasting trays and place potato slices in a single layer, overlapping each other slightly if needed.
e)        Bake at 170 C for 20-25 minutes and then turn the chips over.
f)        Bake for another 20 minutes or even longer if you want them very crunchy.

2)      Spicy beef 

a)       Heat coconut oil over medium heat.
b)      Add onion and chilli and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden.
c)       Add the beef and bring the heat to high.
d)      Cook and stir with a spatula for 5 minutes, separating the pieces along the way.
e)       Add the rest of ingredients, stir and bring to boil.
f)        Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, with a lid on, stirring regularly.

 3)      Tomato salsa & guacamole 

a)       Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
b)      Prepare the guacamole and set aside.


4)      Finally, assemble the nachos in the following order.

a)       Place the beef in the middle of a large, deep platter.
b)      Make a well in the middle and push the beef outwards.
c)       Add tomato salsa around the beef and place the chips on the edges of the platter.
d)      Place dollops of guacamole on the beef and pour the cheese sauce in the well of the middle of the platter.



How do you eat? – Part 3

March 19, 2014 in Diet, Health, Nutrition


“Suffering is caused by craving. We crave pleasant experiences in the hope of lasting happiness. The problem with this is most things are conditional and impermanent by and in their very nature. They exist based on certain conditions. As a result our happiness is only fleeting.”
-Buddhist Teaching

What does it mean to crave something?
According to the World English Dictionary, the definition for the word crave is as follows:

1.     To desire intensely; long (for)

2.     To need greatly or urgently

3.     To beg or plead for

We all know what it feels like to crave something. Repetitive thoughts, inability to focus, physical sensations, obsession, feeling insane, irritability and so on.  We’ve all heard the saying “what you resist persists” and there is no exclusion when it comes to food cravings. The more you focus on what you should NOT be eating, the more you will find that those foods are the only thing you CAN focus on.

The most common of all food cravings is refined sugar. Not only do we know that refined sugar is bad for our health but “sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a dietitian and American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman. Sugar is also a carbohydrate which is proven to stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. So when we are having a bad day, experiencing emotional pain or stressed from working too hard it’s no wonder we crave foods which make us temporarily “feel good”. The taste of sugar also releases endorphin’s that calm and relax us, and offer a natural “high,” says Susan Moores, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in St. Paul, Minn. Don’t forget that refined sugar is hidden in many processed foods, including breads, juices, and sauces. So when we crave these foods it is mostly the sugar we are actually after!

So what’s the problem here you might ask. If sugar makes me feel good then why can’t I indulge, at least every now and then? The answer is hidden in that very sentence. Very few people can discipline themselves to “every now and then” and by even dipping their little toe in the sugar pool is enough to set off major cravings which can be overwhelming, particularly for those emotional eaters. Not only are the craving on a physical level but also a mental one.

The even bigger problem here is that the cravings have the power to dominate the mind and can make almost anyone lose sight of their health and fitness goals. We find ourselves coming up with very convincing justifications such as “But I’ve been good all week”, “I went to the gym this morning”, “I deserve this because I’ve worked so hard” to “I’ll just have one slice” and before we know it, the entire cake is gone. This behavior is not uncommon and most people will be too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to this downward spiral.

We step outside ourselves and are brave enough to let go of our old ways which keep up stuck. We make painful sacrifices, big changes and public declarations. We enroll our friends and communities into the possibilities of long and lasting health. We dig deep within ourselves to find our inner light to guide us out of the darkness. Isn’t it such a shame to turn our backs on what we have created for one tiny little indulgence?
Because those who have will know it can be very hard to bounce back after such a fall. Even if we start off strong and riddled with will power, it is only a matter of time before the power dwindles and we find ourselves at the grips of our old addictive patterns. Please note this article applies to cravings of any nature, not just sugar.

So what can we do to ensure we don’t get to this point and how can we help ourselves when we do?

  • The first step is to eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals can make your blood sugar level drop too low which is a perfect breeding ground for cravings. This is also when we make our poorest choices. For those who have been offered an apple when all they desperately want is a chocolate bar will know what I mean. Eating every 3-4 hours is ideal and will keep the blood sugar stable. Make sure to plan your meals in advance so you don’t have to make decisions when you are hungry. If possible, have the meals prepared and choose high protein, fiber packed foods along with plenty of vegetables and fruits which are lower in sugar.
  • The second step is the old fashioned “out of sight, out of mind”. Even when we are feeling in control of our eating, all it can take is someone to walk in the door with a container of freshly bakes muffins. Then it’s as though the hands do the decision making for us. Practice saying the word ‘no’ out loud so you get used to saying it. Also it is a good idea to ask for support from the people around you. It makes your life a lot easier if the temptation isn’t there in the first place.
  • Drink plenty of water. Letting yourself get dehydrated is a sure fire way to bring on the hunger pangs and cravings for empty calories. Aim for 2-3 liters per day and at least 1 liter before midday. Green Tea has been known to help reduce and ward off sugar cravings.
  • This one doesn’t sound pretty but it really does work. Do something healthy to intercept the thought pattern. Go for a walk, drink a glass of water, hit the gym or simply just walk away from the kitchen. It can take up to as little as twenty minutes for a craving to pass so if you can occupy yourself for that amount of time, before you know it the craving won’t be on your mind anymore. Changing the behaviour around the times the cravings normally occur can be very helpful. If you want to break the habit of eating desert after dinner, do the opposite of what you would normally do. For example, if you normally sit around the dinner table after dinner is finished to eat desert then get up straight away and do something else. Remember, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Until such time, distraction is the key.
  • If you are someone who eats sugar every day, going cold turkey will be hard for the few days and you may encounter tiredness, mood swings and your mind trying to bargain with you. The cravings will diminish after a few days. Best not to substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners as this is not giving your body a chance to let the cravings die. Sweeteners simply keeps the craving alive along with adding some very harmful chemicals into your body.
  • Know that there are healthy alternatives to refined sugar. For example raw cacao is chocolate before it has been processed and is full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and those “happy brain” chemicals. Get creative and research “clean eating desserts” which are made with raw, organic, nutrient packed ingredients that are good for you as well as very tasty!
  • Grab a diary and document the journey. Writing about the emotions is very powerful and can help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal. It will also help to keep perspective in place. Remind yourself of why you are doing it and the bigger gains that are ahead. Looking at the bigger picture always helps to keep up positivity and motivation!

Opening your mind to different views on how food affects our body shapes is difficult, but it is the first step towards creating a change in our lives for the better. It is important to remember that our relationship with food affects our health and our lives. “Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.” The way we eat, what we eat, and when we eat are all the result of these aspects that make up our nutritional identity, but these are not how we must remain. Fad diets don’t work, this is well understood. Yet why is often missed by most. This is why! Our nutritional identity is why! As soon as we come off these fad diets, our old ways kick back in. Its better to make a permanent change. No one is set in their ways! Recognise your nutritional habits, culture and cravings for what they are and rather than going on a diet, make that diet your lifestyle! Then you will succeed in creating the body that reflects the lifestyle you wish to live!

Reference list –

Evers, C., Stok, F.M., Danner, U.N., Salmon, S.J., de Ridder, D.T.D., & Adriaanse, M.A. (2011). The shaping role of huger on self-reported external eating status. Appetite. 57. pp:318-320.

No author. (2014). The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism. Sourced from:



How do you eat? – Part 2

March 15, 2014 in Diet, Health, Nutrition


It is unheard of that a fish will realise on its own that it is in fact swimming in water. To the fish this is the only reality that exists, so why would it need to contemplate an alternate reality. Then one day Fisherman Fred comes along and without a hint of guilt or sympathy for the fish, he baits up and throws the line into the water. The unlucky fish is then brutally pulled from his comfort zone and faced with the realization that there exists another reality. In this instance, the fish is now fighting for its life.

Just like the fish we float around comfortably in the belief that our eating habits are sufficient to our bodies needs and only when illness and disease hook us into a sinking state do we realise that our eating habits are not adequate and change and education are needed.

For most however, this isn’t our fault at all. Each individual is born into a culture that has a set of standards, traditions and routines that sculpt all areas of life. Our food habits and choices are not exempt from this. Keeping in mind also that western society is like the melting pot of many cultures, so influences are strong in all directions. Eating choices can also be influenced by religious beliefs. For example, Hinduism encourages being vegetarian and avoiding the eating of any animal meat or flesh. Some strict Hindus will also abstain from garlic, onion, mushrooms, alcohol and caffeine. The dietary choices of each culture will affect the human body as this will determine which nutrients, vitamins and minerals are consumed as well as the quantities.

The western diet is “characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains. It also typically contains high-fat dairy products, high-sugar drinks, and higher intakes of processed meat.” Compared to other cultures, the western diet is high in saturated fat and refined sugar making our obesity rate through the roof. Other health issues that arise from our poor diet include a range of heart diseases, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, autoimmune disease, liver disease and many more. These diseases are believe to have been brought on by the changes in diet and lifestyle that occurred after the Neolithic Revolution, also known as the Agricultural Revolution. It is no wonder that people are looking back through history for answers on how to live long and healthy lives.

A modern day diet that follows the eating guidelines of cave men is The Paleo Diet. “The Paleo Diet is based upon the fundamental concept that the optimal diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted.” Foods which mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors are allowed. The foods to say goodbye to are grains, cereals, grain-like seeds, glutens, processed foods, legumes, diary, refined sugar and potatoes. Basically anything involving agriculture and cultivation. Grains contain Phytic Acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. On top of this, the small intestine is unable to properly digest gluten, a protein that’s found in grains. In a nutshell, “Wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes immunoreactive problems, inhibits the absorption of important minerals, and aggravates our intestines.” Combining this medical research with studies that show human brain function and physical ability peaked just prior to the agricultural revolution; it is no wonder people are choosing to follow the diet of cave men!

Not all diets are leading us to living with one foot in the grave however. “Japanese women and men live longer and healthier than everyone else on earth. Not only can they expect to live 86 and 79 years respectively (compared to 80 and 75 years for Americans), but they can also anticipate an average of 75 years lived healthy and disability-free” (World Health Organisation). The traditional Japanese diet consists of high amounts of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, rice, fruit, vegetables, green tea and soy products such as tofu, miso, soy sauce and edamame. Also in Japan, food is served on separate small plates and bowls to trick the mind into eating less. Many people believe that the Japanese people are in a healthy weight range because of their genes, however they are prone to weight gain as soon as they adopt a western diet.

In gaining an understanding of how food affects our health, it is interesting to note that each country has different recommendations for food intake. For example, it is recommended to Australians that 30% of their diet be made up of vegetables and legumes. If you compare that to Sweden where the recommendation for fruit and vegetables is 40% of the diet, it is no wonder that each nation rates differently on the health scale. Denmark follows 8 guidelines dictated by a Diet Compass e.g. “Eat 6 fruits and vegetables a day,” “Eat fish and seafood several times a week,” “Eat potatoes, rice or pasta and whole wheat bread every day,” “Cut back on sugar,” “Cut back on greasy foods,” “Eat a varied diet and maintain a normal weight,” “Quench your thirst with water,” and, “Be physically active at least 30 minutes a day.” Most health conscious people will aim to follow these recommendations and as a result, their health will be greatly impacted.

If we can acknowledge how our eating habits and food choices are shaped by our culture then we can use utilize the education and research that we have access to in this day and age. We do not need to wait until we are the fish out of water before we make a change. Accepting that, maybe our upbringing is not the healthiest alternative to nutrition is the first step towards accepting that we need to change to prevent health issues later in life. Prevention is always better than cure!

3. Cravings

How do you eat? – Part 1

March 13, 2014 in Diet, Health, Nutrition, Wellness

Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.

    – Jonathan Safran Foer

Food is culture, habit, craving and identity…think about that for just a minute. The way we eat, our perceptions about food and our preferences are all a result of the environment around us. They form our nutritional identity.

Our relationships with food have a direct impact on our body shapes. How we eat, what we eat, and when we eat all impact on our fat and muscle mass.
So you’re telling me, essentially, my culture, habits and cravings for food cause me to gain fat, lose fat or build muscle?
Of course they do. This is why it is so important to get our nutrition right to achieve our goals. This, however, is where many struggle.


“So, how do I get my nutrition right?”

The first, and most important aspect of getting nutrition right is this;

Accept that you do not eat as well as you could.

This is not only understanding that something is wrong with the way you are eating, but more importantly, saying to yourself “I can eat healthier!” In fact, before you read on, say that to yourself.

“I CAN eat healthier!”

Now that you have accepted this, you will become more open to new opinions and ideas. These we will discuss in detail further on:

  1. External Eating
  2. Our upbringing might be bringing us down
  3. Cravings


External eating.
This is the process by which external influences impact on how, when and why and what we eat. These can be both positive, and negative influences. External eaters can be defined as “those individuals with the tendency to overeat in response to external food-related cues like the sight, smell, and taste of palatable food, regardless of their physical need for food (Rodin, 1980; Van Strien, Schippers, & Cox, 1995).”

Joe is your average, everyday guy that works a 9-5 job. He has a wife and two young kids, a mortgage and although he is health conscious, he is also cautious with his income leading him to make poorer choices nutritionally. Joe likes to send his children to school with convenient foods that fit well into their lunchboxes and have little chance of spilling.
Joe is also an external eater. That is, the presence, taste, smell and look of food initiates in his mind the feeling of hunger. Whilst making school lunch for his two children, Joe spots the packeted chips sitting in the pantry. Just the sight of the food ignites in Joes belly a hunger that needs to be satisfied! Instantly Joe grabs himself a bag and chows down with a satisfying crunch, putting out the hunger fire in his belly.
Or was it his belly? Was Joe even hungry in the first place, or was this his reaction to the sight of food? A habitual and common occurrence at the sight of food. This is external eating, and understanding how it works is the first step towards conquering the issue completely.
It IS possible to control yourself, as, frequently, once the visual cue is removed, that fire in your belly subsides. The difference between those that can control it, and those that cannot, is a little bit of determination and mental drive to change their habits.
See tomorrows post for more information on

2. Our upbringing may be bringing us down!



Myth Buster! – Fat in foods

February 21, 2014 in Diet, Health, Nutrition, Wellness


Dieting is surrounded by myths and gimmicks. No single food or diet can help you lose weight. Extreme low-carbohydrate, high-carbohydrate, high-protein or restricted diets can damage your health. To reduce body fat and lose weight, you need to change the way you eat and increase your physical activity

It is no secret that in this day and age we have hundreds of different weight loss diets to choose from, all tried and tested. What they all have in common is the conviction in their ability to slim down the waistline. As a consequence we have inherited (through the media and word of mouth) many different weight loss tips and tricks. Unfortunately some of these tricks are counter-productive to achieving lasting weight loss.

In this post, I am going to have a look at one myth in particular:
Low-fat options are better for weight loss than full fat options.

This is false. Why? Because when a product has had the fat taken out e.g. skim milk or low fat yoghurt, extra sugar is added to compensate for the taste which is lost. In these instances, most of the time, fructose or refined sugar is used. We all know the dangers that refined sugar pose to our health and the success of weight loss. You could easily be eating over 15 teaspoons of sugar per day without even knowing it, all hidden in low fat food options.

Nutritionist Eloise Howard believes that “Full-fat versions are often healthier for you because they’re closer to their natural state, which is always better for you.”

When fat is taken out of products like yogurt, it’s often replaced with sugar (and other nasty ingredients) to make up for the lost texture and taste. Take a look at the back of a yogurt tub. Any sugar listing over 4.7g/100g (which is the fructose-free and safe lactose content) is added sugar. Some yogurts contain 6 teaspoons of sugar in one individual serve. The same applies to mayonnaise and other fat free goods– always choose whole-egg and full-fat versions to avoid the fattening sugar dump.

Label-reading is very easy. Turn the label around and look at the nutritional panel. There should be two columns, one for each serving, and one for per 100 grams. The one that you should be looking at is the sugar per 100 grams. If the total grams of sugar per 100 grams is over 5 grams (or over 5% in other words), then you need to be cautious and only have that food occasionally. If it is over 10 grams per 100 grams (or over 10%) you should put it back.

If we are trying to cut fat, why would we choose to consume fat? The answer to that is simple.

Fat in food creates a feeling of fullness, the sense that you’ve had enough to eat. If there’s no fat, it’s more likely you will keep on eating until you’re stuffed, ending up with many more calories than you would have gotten from eating a smaller serving of a food that contained a little fat. In this way, you can reduce your portion sizes by choosing more natural products that have not had the fat removed.

Additionally, fat is one of the bodies preferred sources of energy (right behind complex, unrefined carbohydrates – NOT REFINED SUGAR). If we were to reduce the carbohydrate content in our meals and keep the fat content the same, our ability to burn fat will improve. Remember, regardless of what you eat, portion size is always crucial. Having too much fat can also lead to weight gain, and too little carbohydrates lead the body to look for other nutrients such as protein, for energy and this will also slow the growth process of muscles in the body.

Making the change to full fat products may be scary at first but there is more satisfaction (and flavour) waiting for you. Reintroduce full-fat, natural products into your diet and as long as you control your portion sizes you won’t end up looking like Pumba from the The Lion King as the media tries to convince us.


Better Health Channel. Weight loss – common myths: Retrieved from

The Skinny on Fat-Free Foods. Retrieved from

Beat Your Sugar Addiciton. Retrieved from

A Time For Change – Forming Healthier Eating Habits

February 11, 2014 in Health, Nutrition, Theme of the Week, Wellness

The Active Bodies Theme: “Out with the old” is about identifying unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices that have prevented us from reaching our health and fitness goals. It is well known and documented that one of the most important factors to achieving optimal fitness and health is to eat a nutritious and well balanced diet. We must eat according to our specific goals. It is necessary that we do not relate to our diet as ‘temporary’ as this will disrupt the process of creating lasting habits. Too often we see people reach their fitness goals through dedication and hard work and then over time revert back to their old, poor habits by abandoning the very habits that helped them reach their goals in the first place!

As humans we are creatures of habit and we keep them alive because they are comfortable. However if we are serious about our fitness goals then we need to leave behind our unhealthy eating habits. Before we can create new, healthy habits that serve us, we need to identify the unhealthy ones that keep us where we are.

Let us take a moment and practice a little exercise to help us identify those poor eating habits we have.

Take a pen and paper and jot down your five most destructive eating habits. We all have some and writing them down helps highlight other habits which are also counterproductive to achieving your goals. Here are some common unhealthy habits:

1.       Skipping breakfast
2.       Snacking on junk food when hungry
3.       Not drinking enough water
4.       Going for more than 5 hours without eating

Once you have identified your habits, the next step is to find replacement behaviours. For example, if you are someone who eats very little throughout the day and then gorges at night time, you can replace this habit with eating the same portion sizes meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with two smaller snacks in between each meal. This simple change in behaviour promotes weight loss, sustains blood sugar levels and reduces the binge cravings. It is important to keep this simple and practical so we do not become confused or over whelmed.

Remember that even when we want to change, old habits die hard. We’re much more likely to be successful at changing your habits if we take things one step at a time. So now is the time to implement change and remember, over time habits become automatic and are stronger when incorporated on a daily basis. I recommend writing your new habits down and putting them somewhere they can be seen e.g. a post-it on your computer at work or on your fridge so it is the first thing you see in the morning. It won’t be easy at first, but it will be worth it once the results and benefits begin to show!