Mothers Day Breakfast

This blog was written by Danielle Voller APD who is working part-time with Dietitian Services Qld.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon, so why not treat mum to a healthy, delicious breakfast in bed!  We have come up with some yummy brekky ideas that are sure to give your mum a great start to the day, and are also healthy, which she will love!

Porridge with sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Grilled ham, cheese and tomato on wholegrain toast

Poached egg, grilled shortcut bacon on wholegrain toast

Fruit salad with low fat yoghurt

Vegetarian breakfast – poached egg, grilled tomato, mushrooms, feta cheese and spinach on wholegrain toast

Poached egg with avocado and tomato on toast

If you need recipes, check out as this website had great recipes for:

Healthy breakfast slice

Ham and avocado omelette

Apple and spice porridge

Wishing all the mums a lovely day on Sunday.



Ecofriendly Food Challenge Week 2 – local seasonal fruit and vegetables

The challenge for the week was to look at whether I was buying seasonal fruit and vegetables and also how many miles away from home my food was travelling.  I think most people are aware that for the environment it is better to buy locally.

If you live in Queensland you can download the seasonal fruit and vegetable wheel from to see what is in season.  (The state fruit and vegetable growers websites often have information on seasonal fruit and vegetables.)  When I had a look at the chart, most of the fruit and vegetables I buy are available locally and in season except carrots.  However, a lot of the food I was buying at the supermarket had travelled many ‘food miles’.  To get fresher local produce the food markets are the best option.  For time poor people like me, I discovered Food Connect and received my first box of fresh produce last Thursday.  You can definitely taste the difference with food picked the day before delivery.  Check out their website for more information – they have systems in place for New South Wales and Queensland.  Another website is  – you can plug in your post code and it tells you what farmers markets or locally produced food is available nearby.  Finally the last website that was interesting during this week’s challenge was  If you go to this website it has plenty of resources including a meal planner that helps you to plan your meals and prevent you from buying more food than you need for the week.

I do talks to groups about healthy eating on a food budget using the FoodCents information.  It is interesting to see that by purchasing seasonal fruit and vegetables locally you can keep to a budget easier and also be doing your bit for the environment.

Love to hear any tips or comments people have.











Ecofriendly Food Challenge Week 1

Great ideas from other people trying the food challenge.  Our homework for week 1 was to try to reduce food waste going in to the landfill bin.

Some of the great ideas people came up with:

  • buy a Bokashi bin as you can put all kinds of scraps including meat into it
  • leave the green bags in the car so you don’t forget to take them to the supermarket
  • plan meals so that you don’t buy too much food – also saves money
  • purchase and use a compost bin
  • check out what items can be recycled – it’s amazing what can go in the recycling bin

Personally, I found that I could reduce my food scraps by using the compost bin and not getting lazy and just putting waste into the landfill bin, planning meals definitely helps reduce waste and I’m thinking about buying a Bokashi bin.

The ecofriendlyfood website is a great resource for practical ideas on being more enviromentally friendly.

Ecofriendlyfood Challenge

What can I do to be more eco-friendly?  There’s a great Qld site that is about to run an ecofriendlyfood challenge and it’s not to late to join up and learn practical tips on being more eco-friendly.

If you would like to register go to and receive a free resource kit.

My goal is to blog once a week about my experiences.  This week I’ve got to measure how full my wheelie bin is with food related waste.  I’d love to hear people’s comments if they try the challenge.






Coeliac Awareness Week – Not Feeling Like You?

Coeliac (“seal – e- ack”) disease is estimated to occur in 1 in 100 Australians yet the symptoms range in severity and can mimic other conditions like irritable bowel symdrome making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include tiredness, low iron levels, diarrhoea and/or constipation, abdominal bloating, and excessive wind. In women trying to fall pregnant, undiagnosed coeliac disease can cause fertility problems.

If you think you may have coeliac disease it is important to get screened and diagnosed before making any dietary changes. Adults need to be eating 4 slices of wheat containing bread per day for the screening blood test to be accurate. Then the Doctors will do a gastroscopy and biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis is made, choosing gluten free foods is the treatment to prevent short and long term problems. An Accredited Practicing Dietitian will help you understand what foods can be included, foods to eat to get all your vitamins and minerals and how to read food labels to avoid gluten. The Dietitian will communicate with your Doctor to make sure you have regular blood tests to check iron status, vitamin D, folate and vitamin B12.

Many foods and meals are naturally gluten free – free from wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale. Below is a frittata recipe that can be used as a main meal or lunch with a salad.

What are some of your favourite gluten free recipes or products? Please feel free to post them for others to share.

Vegetable Frittata

Serves 2 people

3 eggs

1/4 cup low fat milk

1/4 cup reduced fat tasty cheese

pepper to taste

parsley dried or fresh to taste

1tspn oil eg extra virgin olive oil

50g ham off the bone – diced

1/2 tomato or 8 cherry tomatoes – sliced

1/2 cup mixed frozen or fresh cooked veggies eg corn, peas, carrot

Preheat a small non stick pan and add 1tpsn oil, then cook ham and tomato. In a bowl, mix eggs, cheese, milk, pepper, parsley, and frozen or fresh vegetables together. In the small fry pan add the egg mixture and cook until the egg mix is nearly set. Place the fry pan under the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes until cooked. Serve with a salad or sliced and served cold in a lunch box.

Nutrition Information per serve

Energy 1040kJ, protein 21g , fat 16g, saturated fat 6g carbohydrate 4g, fibre 2g.

BodyMedia Body Monitoring System

I’ve been looking for where to purchase these since I saw them being used in the ABC  Science’s Making Australia Happy television show.  (This was a great show – you can still see the episodes on DVD if being happier is a goal for you).  These body monitors are brilliant and I expect that many Dietitians will be using them in the future.
I’ve been trialling one this week.  The monitoring system is worn on your left arm around your triceps muscle and monitors lots of things including daily movement, kilojoules burned, degree of physical activity, steps taken and even assesses quality of sleep!
This is going to be an extra tool that I can use with clients particularly those struggling with overweight and finding it hard to lose body fat.  The BodyMedia system measures daily energy expenditure.  If clients keep a food diary while wearing the BodyMedia , I will quickly be able to assess why weight loss has been difficult.
For athletes, this will assess energy expenditure and I will be able to really fine tune quantities of food needed for optimal performance with training and competition.
Keep an eye on the Website for the introductory offers for using this system in the next few weeks.

Does Caralluma fimbriata extract help with weight loss?

I was asked about this herbal extract recently.  It’s being marketed in a weight loss supplement at the moment. 

Caralluma fimbriata is extracted from an edible cactus that is grown in India.  It is marketed as an appetite suppressant that will help people lose weight.  In the supplement on the market in Australia the dosage is 6g of Caralluma fimbriata.

So let’s talk about the research available on this extract. 

Remember that in the pharmaceutical industry a drug cannot be sold until there are several long term studies.  A good solid study would have at least 1500 volunteers with at least half receiving the active study drug, half receiving a placebo “non active” tablet, with the side effects closely monitored and results documented for at least 1 year.

There was one study on humans that ran for 60 days.  Fifty overweight volunteers were in the study with half receiving placebo. The dose of the extract was 1g per day.    The study found that there was a significant drop in waist measurement and appetite and a trend of weight loss that wasn’t statistically different between groups.

The only other study was on 18 rats.  The rats were given two different types of food (pellets or pellets and “cafeteria style food”  and given differing doses of Caralluma fimbriata for 90 days and there was an effect on appetite on the 3rd week of taking the extract in the highest dose and less weight gain in those receiving Caralluma fimbriata.

Bottom line:
This extract may or may not help with weight loss, there’s not enough research. There haven’t been any long term studies to show what kind of weight loss could occur and be sustained at 1 year.  Side effects are unknown at this stage.  It is constantly amazing how herbal extracts can be marketed as helping with weight loss with very small research studies compared to the medications that a doctor can prescribe.
Journal Nutrition Metabolism  2010: 2010:285301 Antiobesogenic and Antiatherosclerotic Properties of Caralluma fimbriata Extract

Appetite 2007 May 48 (3) : 338-44  Effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake, and anthropometry in adult Indian men and women.

Healthy Pantry

Healthy Pantry

How healthy is your pantry?  People often tell me that as soon as they try to buy foods that are healthy they find there is more sugar or salt.  I’ve done up a list of pantry items that are healthy – compare this list to the foods in your pantry.  I’m always happy to read your comments or suggestions so feel free to post them.

Lower sodium (salt) foods are the hardest to find but they do exist.  ‘Low salt’ has less than 120mg of sodium per 100g of food.  Try to get products wit h lowest sodium level, you can always add a little bit of salt later when cooking.

Oils, Vinegars, Condiments
Oils: extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil or rice bran oil or sunflower oil, sesame oil
Vinegars: White, red-wine, balsamic, rice
Dijon mustard
No added salt tomato sauce
Barbeque sauce (look for lower sodium levels)
Reduced salt soy sauce
Reduced salt mayonnaise made with mono or poly oils such as canola or soya bean
No added salt chilli sauce

Canned Goods and Bottled Items
No added salt canned tomatoes
No added salt tomato paste
Canned corn
Canned beetroot
Other canned vegetables (eg canned bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, peas)
Reduced salt chicken broth
Canned beans: no added salt baked beans, kidney beans, chick peas
Canned tuna in springwater
No added salt canned salmon
No added sugar canned fruit: canned apples, canned pears or apricots, canned pineapple
Canned lite coconut milk or canned coconut flavoured low fat evaporated milk
Canned low fat evaporated milk
Canned soup: salt reduced tomato soup, wholegrain vegetable soups

Iodised salt (small container)
Black pepper
Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, rosemary, thyme, oregano or basil, dill, cinnamon, ground ginger, coriander, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg, turmeric, low salt curry powder
Vanilla extract
Grains and Legumes
Assorted wholemeal pasta
Rice: basmati (regular and microwaveable) or doongarra, arborrio, brown rice
Wholewheat cous cous
Rolled oats (traditional)
Breakfast cereals: weet-bix or Vita Brits or untoasted muesli or Just Right
Crackers: vitawheat, ryvita, corn thins
Tortillas or long life wholemeal mountain breads
Dried lentils
Popping corn (not packaged, to be used in air popper)

Baking Products
Plain white flour
Plain wholemeal flour
Baking powder
Plain baking cocoa (unsweetened)
Baking soda
Unprocessed wheat bran
Yeast (optional)
Pure corn flour
Sugars: brown, white (small bag)
Artificial sweetener: Splenda, Equal, Hermesetas (optional)
Honey, pure maple syrup
Jam – no added sugar or home made or jam with at least 50% fruit

Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit
Raw nuts: walnuts, almonds
Dried Fruit: dried apricots, dates, sultanas
No added salt peanut butter

Herbal teas
Teas: black or green
Coffee: instant or beans
Soda water or mineral water (optional)

Does the seed extract from African Mango speed up weight loss?

It’s spring and people start thinking about trying to lose weight.  It’s also human to want to lose weight fast (even though logic tells us that you can only burn 1kg of fat fairly slowly).  I saw a claim about African Mango seed extract in the paper saying that it got results such as 5.5kg weight loss in 30 days.

Does it work?  Short answer to the question is maybe it can help with weight loss.  There have been two small human studies that look promising.  However, the longest study was for 10 weeks (not long) and only 102 people were in the study, long term weight loss results and side effects are unknown. 

Details:  In the ten week study, half the volunteers (51 people) were on the ‘pretend’ (placebo) extract and the other half (51 people) took active dose of the Irvingia gabonensis seed extract (150mg) before both lunch and dinner.  Eighteen people dropped out which could effect the results.  Side effects were reported as headache (5 people), sleep difficulty (6 people), and intestinal flatulence/wind (6 people).  After 10 weeks of the study, there were promising drops in body weight (eg 12.5kgs), body fat, waist measurements and cholesterol.  However, the next type of study needed to back up these preliminary results would need to include a larger number of people (say 1500), the study would need to run for 1 to 2 years to look at long term weight loss results and any potential side effects and the study would need to try to prevent people from dropping out.

Bottom line:  Further studies are needed to get a better idea if this extract can help with weight loss without any serious side effects.  If you see a weight loss product that includes this extract does it have the kind of dosages used in the study (eg 150mg twice a day)?  Can you afford to buy it knowing that it may or may not help with weight loss?  Does the supplement have any other herbs that may interact with other medications or sleep (eg guarana is a herb that contains caffeine)?  Discuss with you Doctor seeing as the long term side effects are unknown.

Brown and White rice and Diabetes Risk

Recent Study looking at Brown or White Rice and Diabetes Risk

I’ve had lots of questions and comments about this one and the study was only published on June 14!

If you already have diabetes, this study does not apply.  If you eat rice and already have diabetes the main things to think about are portion size (think small), low glycaemic index (basmati or doongarra rice) and health benefits (brown rice has more fibre and B vitamins).

This study was looking at people without diabetes and whether their rice eating pattern raised or lowered their risk of getting type 2 diabetes.  (White rice, brown rice and the risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women.  Archives Internal Medicine 2010 June 14 170 (11) 961-969.

The study looked at the long term eating patterns of health professionals in America (39 765 men and 157 463 women).  The key findings were:

– Eating five or more serves of rice per week gives a 17% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes then people that ate less than 1 serve of white rice per month.
– Eating brown rice, two or more times a week, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11%.  This was compared to people that ate brown rice less than once a month.

So if you don’t have diabetes and want to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, as you get older, brown rice rather than white rice would be a healthy option.  

Cooking tips – brown rice takes longer to cook so plan ahead and get the rice cooking first before preparing a stir fry.  Brown rice has a nutty texture which takes a while to get used to but very enjoyable.