Christmas Infused Waters

Infused waters can be a refreshing way to drink water when you’ve had enough water.  Those people in hot weather know exactly what I mean.  Infused waters have minimal sugar so are an alternative drink for people with diabetes.  This photo is an example of some Christmas colour infused drinks.

  1. Cucumber slices, mint leaves and sliced chilli – this was quite refreshing.
  2. Cherry, lemon slices and mint – my favourite for colour and taste.
  3. Peach slices, lemon slices and ginger – not a strong flavour, so next time I’ll be adding more ginger and peach.

There are plenty of websites with recipes and suggestions for infused waters.  I’d love to hear any favourite recipes that you have.


Wishing you all a happy and healthy festive season and a fantastic 2021.  Cathie

Festive Mexican Rice Salad

I have been experimenting with this salad as it has Christmas colours, has mexican flavours and a great source of fibres.

If you use the cooked brown rice from the supermarket and start grilling your corn while layering the rest of the ingredients, this salad can be finished in 15 minutes.  Put with grilled salmon (and chilli sauce) and you have a very quick easy meal.


2 cups cooked brown rice (buy prepared packet)

1/2 tspn ground cumin

400g can drained kidney beans

30g baby spinach leaves

1/2 diced red or green capsicum

200g punnet of cherry or other small tomatoes – halve the tomatoes

1/2 Spanish onion, sliced

2 cobs of corn

1 avocado

1 tbsp. lite sour cream

chilli powder to taste

cayenne powder to taste

handful fresh parsley

1/2 lemon juiced

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


Heat a non stick pan and start grilling corn cobs (takes about 10 minutes), turn every few minutes.

In a salad bowl, layer the brown rice and sprinkle cumin over top, then kidney beans, spinach leaves, diced capscium, tomatoes and onion.

Mix lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkle over the salad.

Once the corn has been grilled, slice the corn from the cob and sprinkle over the salad.

Slice half the avocado and layer on top.

Mash the other half avocado with lite sour cream, chilli and cayenne pepper and place on top of the salad and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6


Nutritional Information

Per serve Energy 1340kJ, Protein  10g, Fat 11.8g, Carbohydrate 37.3g Fibre 11g


Tradie Tucker Tips – Keep it Simple

Jamie and Mark Witte (MJ Witte Builder) are brothers (and my cousins) and both are chippies and builders.  When I heard it was Tradie Health Month I thought of them as I know they eat and enjoy healthy lunches.

‘Nothing special gets done here’ was Mark’s comment and he keeps healthy eating simple by taking leftovers or meat and salad or sandwiches and fruit.  Jamie said one of his favourite lunches was a salad including lettuce, grated carrot, cheese, boiled egg, tin of tuna with mayo or salad dressing.

Mark packs fruit and nut mix or several pieces of fruit for his snacks. He keeps it simple while getting plenty of energy to get him through the day.

In following the KISS principles of these tradies they are following basic healthy eating principles of picking a mix of foods for health and energy:

  • Protein – leftover lean meat or chicken, canned tuna or salmon, hard boiled egg, cheese, 3 bean mix, baked beans, nuts (occasionally salami or ham)
  • Energy – fruit, dried fruit, canned fruit, bread, bread rolls, wraps, crackers, leftover rice or rice cups, leftover pasta
  • Vegies – lettuce, spinach leaves, carrot, tomato, cucumber, celery, corn, radish, leftover roasted pumpkin or sweet potato, beetroot, or leftover stir fry vegetables
  • Plus Flavour – herbs, spices, salad dressing, sprinkle of nuts or seeds

Looking forward to hearing other Tradie Tips on healthy eating while on the tools.

“I’m sick of my bloating, abdo pain and diarrhoea. What foods can help me fix this?”

I do a lot of work with clients that have tummy and bowel problems and wanted to share 4 tips for someone thinking about seeing if foods upset them.

Common symptoms that clients report are diarrhoea and urgency to go (knowing where all the toilets are at shopping centres), abdominal pain, bloating (that can feel like you are pregnant), some people experience constipation or alternating diarrhoea and constipation.  None of these symptoms are pleasant on a day to day basis!



Tip 1.

Go to your Doctor (and they may refer you on to a Gastroenterologist) to make sure there isn’t any medical reason for your symptoms.

It’s much easier to experiment with food changes after you’ve had all the tests. For example, if you cut out wheat before having investigations for coeliac disease you could potentially prevent a diagnosis and put up with symptoms for years.

If I haven’t talked you into going to the doctor yet, here are some stats. One in 100 Aussies have Coeliac disease, 1 in 250 has Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, Endometriosis can mimic irritable bowel symptoms and occurs in 1 in 10 women.

Tip 2.

Start keeping a food, exercise, stress and symptom diary.

Yes this could take 15 minutes out of your day BUT it helps to see if there are any patterns. You can see how often your symptoms are happening, notice if stressful days have an impact, notice if severity of symptoms change.  Food is harder to track as the transit time from food going in your mouth to coming out the other end (sorry no polite way of talking about this) could be up to 48 hours.  Dietitians however, would look at the diary and see trends in fibre consumption, fibre type, hydration levels, caffeine consumption, fat content of meals, FODMAP content (more on this later) of the diet, salicylate and amine content of foods you usually eat and it helps us make some decisions on what food strategies to try first.

Tip 3

Come in and see an Accredited Practising Dietitian if you want to explore food options. Yes I am a Dietitian so of course I’m going to say this!

Research on low fodmap diets have shown that up to 50 – 76% of people have improvements of symptoms.  Dietitians trained in this area can help. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide and polyols so you can see why we shorten the name.

When experimenting to see if there are food triggers, I will remove foods for 2-4 weeks to see if symptoms improve. As soon as you start excluding foods, there is a risk of making your dietary choices low in vitamins and minerals. A dietitian will reduce the risks by suggesting other nutrient dense foods to eat during the experimental phase.

If you get an improvement on the experimental diet, I will then get you to do some food challenges to find out what foods trigger your symptoms. You are not meant to be on a restricted range of foods forever.

Experimenting with fodmap foods is often the first strategy trialled but other options include trial of probiotics, experimenting with soluble and insoluble fibre intake, looking for possible food intolerance to salicylates and amines (15-71% response), and looking at fat and caffeine consumption and hydration especially in athletes with symptoms.

Tip 4

Only use Australian resources if you research FODMAPs

The simplest way I can explain these foods is that they have fermentable sugars or starches that don’t fully get digested in the small intestine and can cause wind, bloating, diarrhoea and abdominal pain as the bacteria in our large intestine use them and make gas.

If researching FODMAP foods, use the Monash University booklet or mobile app. I have had clients bring in FODMAP apps from Sweden and America and the food supply is completely different and the apps will just add to confusion with conflicting information.

Recent research on FODMAPs and endometriosis

Recent research has found an overlap between endometriosis and fodmap foods. This is another reason for women to have a thorough medical check before coming in to see a Dietitian, but also gives hope that there are some dietary strategies that can be used for endometriosis.

To summarise, if you have these symptoms and your doctor has excluded medical causes, experimentation with foods (with a Dietitian) can reduce your symptoms and identify the triggers.


For consultations at the clinics click the Contact Us page.

If you would like a consultation via Skype please contact me on

Further reading

Magge S, Lembo A. Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012 Nov 8(11): 739-745 Low-FODMAP Diet for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Regards, Cathie Lowe


It’s National Nutrition Week – Try for 5 Challenge

Happy Monday Everyone,

canstockphoto0184679It’s feeling like summer in Queensland which is when I start looking for salads.  Which is one way of boosting vegetables if you aren’t getting your 5 vegetables a day.  Have a look at the link below for recipe ideas for vegetables.

The Asparagus Crumbed with Parmesan on Bocconcini Salad is a different way to eat asparagus which is in season now.  The Rice Paper Rolls are a great way to boost vegetables and these could be used at a party with the dipping sauce for a different snack. Continuing on with the Asian influence the Asian Salad with Snow Peas and Cashews is a refreshing crunchy salad.

And finally a link to a website to help get ideas for how to encourage children to eat more vegetables….

Hope you take on the 5 Vegetable a Day challenge this week.

Regards Cathie.

Sleep is Really, Really Important!

canstockphoto15729484In a new journal article Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy Nelson look at how poor sleep quality and quantity affect the human drive to eat.

The take home message is if you don’t sleep well – try to get help as is has a big impact on your food choices in many ways.

Biologically, researchers have found that disrupted sleep can lead to a 20% increase in the amount of calories people eat and that portion sizes are bigger.  It appears that 2 hormones control most of this higher drive for food.  Lower levels of Leptin (tells our brain we how  satisfied we are with what we’ve eating) are found in stressed adults with disrupted sleep and higher levels of Grehlin (tells our brain we are hungry) occur.  This makes people look for more foods that are sweet, salty or starchy.  Researchers have found other hormones also are changed with poor sleep including cortisol, insulin, glucocorticoids and these also make us change our food choices.

If we don’t sleep well, our ability to think is reduced in several ways and can lead to adults and children eating more foods and for children looking for higher calorie snacks.  Poor sleep affects a part of the brain that helps us with goal directed behaviours and being able to moderate our impulses and emotions.  So it is harder to talk yourself into doing healthy goals like going for a walk, eating more vegetables and harder to say no to tempting higher calorie foods.  Another part of our brain is disturbed with poor sleep, making the brain want more rewards to pleasurable stimuli – so we want that pleasurable sensation from tasting of sweet or  fatty foods more than usual.

Poor sleep affects our emotions.  You are more likely to notice negative events and negative emotions and be emotionally distressed when you have slept poorly. I don’t think it would be a surprise to many people that when feeling negative emotions, adults and children tend to eat more foods. The changes in eating patterns are eating less fruit, vegetables and breakfast cereals and eating  more sugary or high fat foods.

The way humans behave is changed when sleep quality or quantity is poor.  Adults and children are more likely to behave impulsively and plan less when they are tired. So when you are tired it is harder to resist tempting foods if you have an impulsive personality and you will tend to eat more food then you may have wanted or planned to.

So if you are trying to make healthy eating or lifestyle changes, try to get enough undisturbed sleep so that you won’t have extra hormonal, thinking, behavioural and emotional challenges.

Regards and best wishes from sunny Brisbane,  Cathie Lowe Accredited Practising Dietitian

Journal Referance:

Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy D Nelson

Journal of Health Psychology June 2015 Vol 20 6 794-805

Understanding Dementia Course

dementiaThis is just a quick plug for the University of Tasmania’s free online course on Understanding Dementia.  This is a great course for people that work in community care of nursing homes that work with people with dementia.  The next course starts in October 2014.

The link for more information is below:

Texture Modified Diets and Thickened Fluid Resources

When people have swallowing problems, a Speech Pathologist may recommend different textures of food (soft, minced moist, smooth puree) or thicknesses of fluids (mild, moderate, extremely thick).  Many people have difficulty preparing foods that look appetising with the change in texture.

I’ve included resources that I have found that may be useful for carers, nursing home staff and kitchen staff.

Education in Nutrition DVD Food and Nutrition Considerations in Dysphagia – presented by Janet Martin APD and author.  This DVD discusses the swallowing process, signs of swallowing problems, the different texture and fluid levels and how to prepare meals that are interesting and taste great. View information.

Janet Martin is the author of two recipes books for texture modified diets.  Good Looking, Easy Swallowing Recipe book is available from most book shops.

Her second recipe book is available through Nestle and is called A Kitchen Manual for Preparation of Modified Texture Diets and has recipes such as Chicken and Apricot Mousse Salad to get everyone thinking differently about puree foods!

For nursing homes and hospitals or for carers there is a poster of the different texture modified diets and thickened fluids if you follow the link below. View poster.

Healthy School Lunches

Examples of Breads dairy healthy lunches blog fruit and vegetables for health lunch blog protein healthy lunch blog vegies healthy lunch blog



One form of bread and cereal – bread, bread rolls, pita bread, tortillas, rice, pasta, crackers that don’t have heaps of salt, sushi







Some dairy or soy alternative – cheese and yoghurt are the common options.  There are all sorts of cheese – cottage cheese, cheese sticks, chunks of cheddar.  Yoghurt can be purchased in big containers and then portioned out to suit your child in smaller lunch tubs.




Fruit – seasonal fruit tastes the best.  Put fruit that easily gets squished into little containers to protect it.  Common fruit options include apples, bananas, grapes but depending on your child it could be strawberries, kiwifruit, stone fruit in summer, blueberries, pears, oranges and mandarins in winter.





Protein – you may be limited with options if the school  is nut free.  Options include:  leftover roast meat, chicken, ham, tuna or salmon, hard boiled egg, baked beans, hommous, peanut butter (if allowed at school), cheese, cottage cheese







One vegetable for munch and crunch time – carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber sticks, sliced capsicum, cherry tomatoes, lettuce or baby spinach leaves (its amazing how many kids will eat these), sliced radish



Healthy school lunch boxes vary depending on the child.  Some children like variety and the lunch box has to be swapped around every few days.  Other children will happily eat the same types of lunches week in, week out.

It is perfectly ok to send the same lunch every day if it is healthy (eg cheese sandwich, apple, carrot sticks).

The benefits of sending a healthy lunch box can be obvious – good concentration in class, plenty of energy and then the less obvious benefits such as teeth without fillings, kids that aren’t struggling with body weight issues.

The obvious problem is getting kids to eat the healthy foods!  Persevere, persevere, persevere – and if you still have troubles go and talk to an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

If you purchase fruit and vegetables in season you will only pay $2-4 per kg, if possible buy small pieces of fruit to reduce wastage.  For a giggle look at the cost per kg (not cost per 100g) of other common processed kid snacks.  Some of them are around $23/kg!

You will have other wise tips for fellow parents, feel free to post them on the blog.  Wishing you and your children a happy and stress free year at school.  Cathie Lowe

Should kids with Downs syndrome be on a multivitamin?

Many thanks to Danielle Voller for writing up this topic for me.  I was asked this question by a mum who had heard that Downs syndrome kids all needed to be taking zinc tablets.

Zinc plays a central role in the maintenance of the immune system, and is important for growth and development in children. Zinc is found naturally in foods such as red meat, poultry, fish/seafood, whole cereals and dairy food.

It has generally been thought that children with downs syndrome have lower levels of zinc than typically developing children, however this is yet to be scientifically proven.  A recent study measuring the nutrient requirements of  downs syndrome children (that were very overweight) , showed that the reported energy intake was restricted in these kids, meaning that the overall vitamin and mineral intake was low, which resulted in deficiencies. This specific study recommended a multivitamin and mineral supplement in these children with restricted diets.

One study showed a potential benefit in supplementing downs syndrome children with zinc, reporting improved immune function and accelerated growth, however another study showed no evidence to support the use of zinc supplement in downs syndrome children.

When searched in google, the majority of websites suggest that there is a need to supplement zinc in children with downs syndrome, as some of the problems associated with downs syndrome may be caused by the lack of zinc. Others suggest that long term, a healthy, nutritious diet will be most beneficial.

The bottom line is that it is important for your child to be having a balanced diet including a range of vitamins and minerals.  Based on the evidence at hand, zinc or multivitamin supplementation is not something that should be given to every child.  To ensure your child is receiving the best nutrition, visit your local Accredited Practising Dietitian to get some individual advice.