Tag Archives: monounsaturated fats

Roasted Beetroot and Mint Dip


This dip is seriously delicious if I may say so myself! Had some left over roasted beets that needed using up from a salad the night before so this is what I threw together!! Not only is this dip easy on the eye but it is also packed full of fibre, essential vitamins minerals (like magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium), good heart healthy fats and powerful antioxidants! Did you know that the vibrant purple colour of beets is due to the high levels of anthocyanins, a powerful type of antioxidant found in most blue and purple fruit and vege. Beets are also believed to help control blood pressure along with a myriad of other health benefits! So, if you’re wanting to give this simple, tasty dip a go here is what you’ll need!

What you need…IMG_3607

– 4 cooked beets, skin removed

– 1 tbsp tahini paste

– 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

– 2/3 cup low fat natural yoghurt

– salt and pepper


NOTE: if you dont have time to roast the beets yourself (they usually take about half n hour or so) try picking up a packet of the freshly cooked beets in the fruit and vege section of your local supermarket. There is a great brand that sell just this called Love Beets Australia that I have seen just about everywhere and they are great for those with busy schedules!

What to do…

Throw the cooked beets, yoghurt, mint leaves and tahini paste into a food processor or blender, season lightly with salt and pepper and whiz away until it reaches the consistency you’re after! Check the balance of flavours and add extra seasoning or tahini if required!

And there you have a delicious, nutritious dip in less than 5 minutes!! Yum!




Zarzuela – Amazing Spanish Seafood Soup!

zarzuelaYep you guessed it… yet another Spanish dish!!!…ole ole ole!! But I promise you this dish will not disappoint! In fact I would go as far as saying that this dish is my new found FAVOURITE dish of all time! But I guess when you combine my two favourite things..good seafood and Spanish flavours (tomatoes, olive oil and saffron) it would have been pretty hard to go wrong! I am telling you though..I could not get over the depth of flavour in this dish! It was devine! And it seemed that no one around the table could hold back from going back for seconds..or maybe even thirds?! If you’ve got the time and are a seafood lover like myself, invite some friends around and whip up a storm in the kitchen with this Spanish masterpiece! Though this recipe is primarily adapted from a recipe off the internet I couldnt help but add in a few of my own ideas as well so here is what I did from memory…
What you need…
For the Picada Sauce:
 Olive oil
2 slices bread
3 cloves garlic
bunch of parsley
1/2 cup blanched almonds
For the soup:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
3 cloves garlic crushed
pinch of saffron
1 heaped tsp paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh squid tube, cleaned and cut into triangular pieces
Spanish brandy (or any Brandy will do!)
1.5 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups clam juice or seafood stock
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
300g white fish (we used beautiful fresh snapper but any firm white fish will do)
250g salmon fillet
500g green tiger prawns
1kg fresh clams, scrubbed
(or put together your own combination of seafood…this combination is just what was available/looked the best at the seafood market!)
1 recipe Picada (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Loaf crusty bread
What to do….
For the Picada sauce (make this beforehand):
To prepare your picada sauce, lightly toast your almonds over medium heat and set aside while you use the same pan to pan fry the 2 slices of bread in a good dash of olive oil. Then break up your bread into chunks and add to a food processor along with almonds, garlic and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper before blitzing it into a fine crumb mixture. Then add enough olive oil to make a nice think paste (approx 3 tbsp). Set aside for later! 🙂
For the soup…
In a large heavy based pot, over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until wilted then add the garlic as well as a good pinch of saffron and the paprika and saute for another minute or two. Season the squid with salt and pepper. Add to the onions and saute for 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the brandy and carefully flame. Shake the pan back and forth several times until the flame dies out. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the seafood stock and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the clams, prawns and fish fillets to the pot, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all of the shells have opened and the prawns are fully cooked.  Stir in the picada sauce. Remove from the heat and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread heated up in the oven.

Not only does this dish taste ridiculously AMAZING it is also a very heart healthy meal with plenty of good fats – omega 3’s from the seafood and monounsaturated fats from the nuts and olive oil and very low in the nasty saturated fats!

So while it is probably not an every day meal..it sure makes a good dinner party dish and will be sure to please the crowds!

My Healthy Anzac Biscuits


IMG_0874In honour of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could continue living freely in this beautiful sunburnt country, yesterday I whipped up a batch of the good old traditional Anzac Bikkies…except with a bit of a nudiefoodie twist! Unlike the traditional Anzac biscuits that are laden with butter and therefore saturated fats..I made a slightly healthier version by replacing the butter with a canola oil spread and also added in a good handful of walnuts for some extra healthy monounsaturated fats!

What you need…

3/4 cup plain flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbs golden syrup

1/2 cup walnuts (or whatever nuts you fancy! macadamias would work a treat with the the Anzac flavours too!)

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

100g canola oil spread

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs water

What to do…

Firstly, turn your oven onto 180 degrees (fan forced).

Chop up your nuts and add them to  a large mixing bowl along with your flour, sugar, coconut and oats. Mix Well. Add your butter and golden syrup to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter has melted. Mix your water together with your baking soda in a cup and add to your syrup mixture and stir until well combined. Pour this mixture over your bowl of dry ingredients and then mix well to combine..and don’t be afraid to get down and dirty and get your hands in there to make sure it is well combined!

Then roll tablespoons of the biscuit mixture into balls and place on a large lined baking tray. Gently press the top of them to flatten them slightly and they’re ready for the oven!

Leave them to bake for 12-13 minutes or until they are slightly crisp and browned around the edges.

Leave them to sit for 5mins before turning them onto a wire rack to cool…or if you are like me and like them hot and chewy pass them around straight away and enjoy a minutes silence with a little slice of heaven!



Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Black Rice Salad


black rice salad and pumpkinSo after a 4day foodie adventure in Melbourne (where I probably ate a few too many ridiculously tastey meals and drank a few too many delicious vinos) I needed something fresh and healthy for dinner..and what spells fresh and healthy better than a nice piece of grilled salmon and a nutritious black rice salad?!

Never used black rice before? Long been treasured in Ancient China as a luxury food, back in those days black rice soon became known as the “forbidden rice” as it was cultivated exclusively for royalty ONLY and all others were banned from eating it. Fortunately these days black rice is available for everyone to enjoy right around the globe! Though perhaps a little more expensive than your standard wholegrain rice, black rice makes a great addition to just about any dish. Not only adding more depth, texture and flavour to your meal but also obviously adding a whole heap of extra important vitamins and minerals! Hailed by many as being a “superfood” black rice contains significant amounts of the vitamin Niacin (needed to release energy from food, to control blood sugars and also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, nervous system and digestive system), thiamin (required for optimum growth in childhood and fertility) and magnesium (essential for regulating blood pressure and in nerve and muscle function). It is also obviously a great source of fibre to keep our digestive systems healthy! The grain’s magnificent colour is due to a naturally occurring antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is also responsible for the vibrant colour of blueberries and blackberries! So really…what’s not to love about this tastey, nutritious grain?!

Ok so back to my nutritious dinner… I served up some fresh grilled atlantic salmon with roast pumpkin, a brown and black rice salad and some home made pesto! Deslishhh!

Here is what you’ll need….black rice salad1

2 salmon fillets

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1/2 cup uncooked black rice

big bunch of parsley

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

1/2 can cannelini beans (rinsed)

1 small red onion

1/3 cup currants

handful of washed roquette leaves

1/4 cup mixed seeds (pepitas, pumpkin seeds, linseeds etc) OR i think a pistachios would also go really nicely with this dish!

juice of a lime

1 tbs soy/tamari sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

olive oil

sesame oil (optional)

Home made pesto (see previous salmon recipes for how instructions on how to whip this up)

200g chopped pumpkin

What to do…

Firstly turn your oven onto moderate heat (180degrees fan forced). Chop up your pumpkin and place it on a small baking tray, spray with olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper and then place in the oven to bake for around 25-30mins (or until it is soft and slightly crispy around the edges).

As for the pesto.. it was just a last minute idea and you can, of course, always just use a bought pesto or replace it with a dollop of tzatziki or chilli jam! It’s totally up to you! I was just going with what I could find hiding in the fridge! But if you are after the recipe for this have a look at my previous posts as I have explained the process a couple of times in previous recipes!

Although I cooked both lots of rice seperately (as per instructions on the back of the packets). You could also just buy a packet of already par cooked brown rice to save yourself some time and then just cook the black rice using the packet instructions. As they both take the same amount of time to cook however, it is almost just as easy to cook them both separately!

I think that the absorption method is best for the black rice (1 part rice : 1.75 parts water) where after rinsing your rice first, you just place your water and rice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, and then cover and leave for about 25mins or until all the water has all been absorbed.

As for the brown rice I just filled a saucepan 2/3 full with water then brought it to the boil before adding the rice and then leaving it for around 25mins or until the rice was “aldente” and still slightly chewy.

However you choose to cook your rice, I’m sure it will work out just fine! Now onto the rest of the salad.. chop your cherry tomatoes in half, chop up your big bunch of parsley and finely dice your red onion before adding them all to a large salad bowl along with the rice. Add your rinsed lentils and the currants and mix all the ingredients through really well.

In a small jug add your lime juice, tamari/soy sauce, a dash of olive oil (or sesame oil) and the sugar and stir well to combine. Pour over the salad and mix well. Just before serving you can add in your nuts/seeds so that they are nice and crunchy!

When you are almost ready to serve, heat a non stick frying pan, spray with olive oil and when it is nice and hot, place your salmon skin side down and leave to cook on that side for 3-4 mins, then flip over and cook the other side for 1-2mins. (the cooking times will obviously vary depending how thick your pieces of salmon are!)

And it’s serving time!! (Oh yeh and I should probably let you know that I actually made this salad for 2 but it could easily have fed 4 or maybe even 6 people!! oh well lots of left overs for me! yay!)



Going Nuts about Nuts!


mixed_nutsDid you know that a peanut is not actually a nut? Yep, that’s right, your good old faithful peanut has been lying to you all these years! It’s actually a legume, as unlike its other nutty counterparts, peanuts grow in the ground not on a tree. So why are they called peaNUTS and generally classified as a nut? Well the the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation recognises that the nutritional composition of the peanut is so similar to that of tree nuts that is is only practical that it be included in this group!

So what are the nutritional characteristics of nuts that make so more-ish and yet so good for us at the same time?

Well perhaps a little uncharacteristic of foods that are of plant origin, nuts contain moderate amounts of protein (9–20%) and they also contain large quantities of fat (49–74% total fat)! Wait a minute..how can something that is so high in fat be good for us???? Well basically the fats found in nuts are mostly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, which are known as the “good” fats that help fight heart disease by lowering our cholesterol levels. Not only are they good for our hearts but nuts are also a great source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including several B group vitamins, vitamin E, minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals (selenium, manganese and copper), plus other antioxidant compounds (such as flavonoids and resveratrol)..the compounds also found in red wine!
Upon munching my way through a handful of raw nuts this morning I started thinking about just how many different types of nuts there are out there…we have macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts and cashews, we have pistachios and almonds and pecans, pinenuts and hazelnuts oh and of course there is the sneaky “peanut” who we will call a distant cousin of the nut family for now! When talking about nuts and their health benefits I am often asked what are the BEST nuts for you so I  thought I would share with you my pick of the top 5 best nuts for you!
1. Walnuts – While all nuts offer heart health benefits, Walnuts certainly take the cake as one of the best for us! Walnuts contain by far the most significant amount of all nuts of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a compound that helps reduce plaque buildup in arteries and fights heart disease. Just one-quarter cup of walnuts gives you nearly 91 percent of the recommended daily value for this healthy fat. Your body cannot make omega-3 fats on its own, which is why it’s so important to include omega-3-rich foods in your diet. Aside from their heart health benefits, Walnuts also contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which helps support our immune systems.
2. Almonds – It’s nuts how much nutrition is packed into these little bite sized morsels! Almonds are high in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, protein and vitamin E. They contain more vitamin E than any other nut, with around 20 almonds providing almost half your daily vitamin E needs! Due to their high protein content Almonds help to keep you full and prevent hunger cravings that all too often result in you reaching for the chocolate cupboard at around 3 oclock each day! And to top off their endless list of health benefits, almonds are also high in antioxidants! Yay for almonds!
3. Hazelnuts – These are another fantastic type of nut, as they are rich in heart healthy nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, B vitamins and arginine, which all work together to reduce our risk of heart disease! Hazelnuts are also rich in iron and proanthocyanidins, which is really just a complicated name for a type of antioxidants that help to strengthen our blood vessels and prevent urinary tract infections!
4. Brazil Nuts A single Brazil nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that fights free radicals and may play a role in preventing breast cancer. Brazil nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Pecans – Firslty, Pecans have the highest antioxidant content among alllll nuts, which means they are most likely beneficial in lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and perhaps even Alzheimer’s Disease!  They are extremely high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays an important role in helping stop oxidation of blood lipids (fats) in our blood vessels and therefore may help prevent coronary heart disease! These little gems also contain more than 19 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, magnesium, folic acid and calcium among others, making them an ideal mid morning snack..or any time of day really!
Other great nut choices include:
Pistachios – which are high in cholesterol lowering plant sterols and have more potassium than most nuts, playing a role in the  regulation of blood pressure!
Cashews – have a lower fat content than a number of other types of nuts, and the fat they do contain is extremely healthy with about 75 percent being comprised of oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. They are also a fantastic source of magnesium, which is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in many biochemical reactions in the body including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar levels, promoting normal blood pressure and heart rhythm and also supporting our immune systems and keeping our bones strong and healthy!
Macadamias – ahhh the old macca nut! Long been hailed a “not so healthy” choice of nut due to their extremely high fat content these delectable little Aussie icons contain very high levels of the monounsaturated fats (the good fats) and have been shown to help prevent oxidative stress and inflammation! So as long as your not devouring a pack a day these babies, they can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet when eaten in small amounts! Phhhewww!
And the other question I am often asked..are raw nuts really better for me than roasted??

Well though the jury is still out on this one, in my opinion it is always better to eat foods in their most natural state to ensure you get the most nutrients out of your food as possible! Though some preliminary studies have shown very little  difference in the nutrient content of raw and roasted nuts, roasting may potentially reduce the concentration of several B group vitamins (as they are not heat stable). Other studies have also suggested that roasting nuts changes their overall fat composition, destroying some of the heart healthy properties of the nuts!  Additionally, many roasted nut varieties are salted and therefore have a higher sodium content than raw nuts. So yes, in my opinion raw is definitely better for you! If you only like like the roasted varieties however, choose those that are only lightly roasted (or roast them yourself) and avoid those that are salted!

So, so far we have concluded that although they are high in fat, nuts are a great snack and should definitely be included as part of healthy balanced diet due to their wide range of health benefits.. but how do we know how many nuts constitutes a serve?
Well according to Nutrition Australia the following can be used as a rough guide to determine an average serve size (usually 30-50g) of the many different types of nuts…
A health-promoting daily intake of 30–50 grams of nuts is about one small handful.
30 g of nuts corresponds to approximately:
•20 almonds
•15 cashews
•20 hazelnuts
•15 macadamias
•15 pecans
•2 tbsp pine nuts
•60 pistachios in shells (30 g of kernels)
•10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
•a small handful of mixed nuts
Happy Munching Everyone!

Healthy Chocolate Easter Treats!


IMG_0683So I’m not too sure what happened to the last 12 months but somehow it’s Easter time again already and I know what you’re all thinking… “woooo a 4 day pass to ditch the diet and eat AS MUCH CHOCOLATE AS POSSIBLE before Monday rolls around!!”

Well before you all go roaming the isles of your local supermarkets topping up your trollies full of all sorts of delicious chocolate Easter treats hear me out! Why? Because I think I have just the thing you need to curb those Monday night guilts after demolishing almost your own body weight in chocolate over the weekend!

This afternoon I put together a much healthier alternative chocolate treat that will not only cure any chocolate craving but will also be much kinder on the hips! Packed full of protein, antioxidants and poly and monounsaturated fats (the good stuff), these choc protein balls are the perfect healthy alternative to boring old chocolate egg! AND they’re GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE!!!

Healthy Choc Protein Balls

What you need…

1 cup of pitted mejoole dates (or the packet varieties if you can’t find fresh ones!)

1 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup pistachios

1/2 cup raw cocao powder

1/2 cup natural whey protein powder

drizzle of honey

splash of water if necessary

desiccated coconut

What to do…

Throw your dates and nuts into a mix master/blender and blend until they are the consistency of fine pebbles.

Then add all remaining ingredients except the water and coconut and blend until well combined. If it looks a bit dry and isn’t really coming together add a splash of water.

Once combined roll the mixture into bite sized balls and roll them in the desiccated coconut before placing them in the freezer to let them firm up! They will keep really well in there so they make the perfect snack to keep on hand as well! Easter Treats for anytime of year! yum!

Of course you can always mix it up with the ingredients and use whatever nuts or dried fruit your heart desires! You could also add some tahini paste or other sort of nut paste (cashew/almond etc) to give it a slightly more nutty flavour and bump up the amount of protein and other essential nutrients in them!

Also I put a drizzle of honey in but you probably don’t even need it as they are already pretty sweet with natural sugars from the dates!

Healthy, nutritious and delicious!

Happy Easter Everyone!!


Butter or Margarine?


fn_butterWith all the recent noise and confusion surrounding fats and oils and their effects on the body, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to spread the word on spreads and decipher the mors code of current research surrounding the use of butter vs margarine!

Firstly a bit of background on fats so we’re all up to speed..

So basically everything we eat can be broken down into 3 major building blocks, being Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein (and fibre of course) but for now we will just stick to the major macro-nutrients in our diets!

And if we narrow it down to just fats we have a variety of different types, some that are good for us and others that are not so good! The “bad” fats as they are commonly referred to are the saturated and trans fats in our diets. And why are they bad? Well basically these fats are responsible for increasing the bad type of cholesterol in our blood (known as LDL-Cholesterol). This type of cholesterol essentially causes a build up of fatty plaque in our arteries, causing restricted blood through through our blood vessels. This build up is very dangerous as it then obviously leads to cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure) and eventually heart attacks and strokes due to not enough blood being able to be pumped around the body!

Our good fats on the other hand, are known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as they help to lower our bad cholesterol levels and raise our “good” cholesterol levels (known as HDL-Cholesterol). Our good cholesterol has a role in mopping up the bad cholesterol in our blood and taking it back to the liver for processing, see we want to keep our levels of good cholesterol as high as possible.

So where do we find all these types of fats in our diets?

So firstly our saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature and consist mainly of fats from animal products, namely those found in red and white meat and dairy products (butter, milk, cream etc). Trans fat on the other hand is basically a type of unsaturated fat that behaves like a saturated fat because of its chemical structure. Though there are minimal amounts of natural trans fats in dairy products, beef, lamb and veal, majority are of an artificial or synthetic nature. These manufactured trans fats are caused by the way some fats and oils are processed. Basically they are the end result of the hydrogenation process of poly and monounsaturated fats (such as vegetable oils) and are found primarily in your highly processed products such as cakes, biscuits, fried foods etc.

And the good fats?

Well as I said there are two main types, the monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats. The former are those found from plant based products such as nuts and seeds, vegetable and seed oils (such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut oils) and avocados.

Polyunsaturated fats can be broken down further into what are commonly known as omega 3 and omega 6 fats. As I’m sure most of you would have come across at some stage, omega 3 fats are those found in things like oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel,  as well as walnuts and linseeds.

Our omega 6 fats are those primarily found in plant based products such as tahini (sesame seed spread), margarine, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts and brazil nuts but are also found in some types of fish.

Alright so lets get down to business.. are we better off using butter or margarine?

As a Dietitian I am very much an advocate for providing nutrition advice that is evidence based, meaning my recommendations are always based on the cold hard facts, not the latest fad or trend or some small scale study that has just been released.

So basically in weighing up all the pros and cons of butter vs marg my general consensus is, that Margarine is a good substitute for butter, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease or are already actually experiencing similar problems with your health. And here is a quick summary of a few reasons why I think this…

1. Margarine spreads contain 65% less saturated fat than butter
Each 10 gram serving of a typical margarine spread (enough for two slices of bread) contains 1.7g of saturated fat compared to 5.0g of saturated fat in butter.

2. Most margarine spreads contain only a trace amount of trans fats whereas butter contains 3-4% trans fats
Unfortunately, margarine has long been thought to be bad for our health, as once upon a time margarine spreads did infact contain much higher levels of trans fats due to the way in which they were processed. Today however, most margarine spreads contain less than 1% of trans fatty acids, which is a very low level. It is actually now a strict regulation that all margarine spreads must contain no more than 1% trans fat to be able to be sold in country!

3. Margarine spreads contain more ‘good’ unsaturated oils than butter
Standard margarine spreads are made up of around 65% ‘good’ oils and therefore retain all the benefits of these oils. As I explained earlier, it is important that we include plenty of these types of good fats in our diets for better heart health!

4. Canola margarine spreads contain omega-3 whereas butter does not contain any omega-3
Margarine spreads made with canola oil, are a natural source of omega-3. Omega-3 fats are valuable nutrients in a healthy diet as scientific evidence shows that these fats are beneficial to health throughout all stages of life and are essential not only for improving and maintaining good cardiovascular health but also for healthy development and function of the brain and eye.

In saying all this, at the end of the day it is your choice which you choose, but at least now you are equipped with the real facts and can make your own informed decisions about what you choose to spread on you bread tomorrow!

Alternatively, why not ditch the spreads altogether and smash some fresh avo on your toast or sandwiches instead! Not only are avos healthy and natural, but they are packed full monounsaturated fats (to help further reduce your bad cholesterol levels) and also contain essential vitamins and minerals that will help keep you fighting fit and healthy!

Feel free to Spread the word!