Surprising superplants to grow and eat

The garden can be a source of nourishment for the soul and the body. Here’s how to get creative by adding plants brimming with nutrients to a backyard patch of dirt or balcony pots.

Surprising superplants to grow and eat

Burdock Root

Wellness benefits: “Burdock root has been used for centuries as a blood purifier or detoxifier,’’ b+s naturopath Mim Beim says. “These are all terms to describe the action of a plant to cleanse the body from within via the organs of elimination, which include the liver, kidneys, bowel, lungs and skin.”

Best served: Chop up the root and use it in stir-fries and curries. Or make a burdock root tea by bringing 1 tbs dried burdock root to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Vegie patch tips: Plant seeds close together, and harvest in autumn. Roots can be 45cm long, so they’re best suited to a vegie patch rather than a pot.

 

Hibiscus

Wellness benefits: “This is high in vitamin C and various bioflavonoids and it’s also antibacterial,” Beim says. “Hibiscus is recommended for coughs and colds and boosting the immune system.” A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed hibiscus flowers lowered blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic readings.

Best served: Soak petals in water, add some lime and drink hot or cold as a tea. The petals can also be used in salads.

Vegie patch tips: Plant hibiscus at any time of the year in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Harvest in autumn and summer.

Hibiscus

Barley grass

Wellness benefits: “This is great for osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis,” nutritionist Michelle Brown says.

A study published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism showed barley grass juice supplements boosted the cardiovasular system.

Best served: In a juice, similar to a wheatgrass shot.

Vegie patch tips: Grow from seeds in a tray in the cooler months with plenty of water and nutrient-rich soil. Harvest at 10-15cm.

Rocket

Wellness benefits: “Rocket is at the top of my list of bitter plants which are really important for liver detoxification,’’ nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill says. “It’s high in folic acid and low in a compound called oxalates, which block the absorption of other minerals in the body.”

Best served: Use rocket as the base for a leafy green side salad served with a protein, or to pepper up your green smoothie.

Vegie patch tips: Plant in spring in direct sunlight. Grow in a pot or garden bed, and start picking the leaves when plants are 10cm tall.

Basil

Wellness benefits: “Basil has a beautiful supply of phytochemicals which are found in leafy greens, particularly flavonoids, which protect against cellular damage caused by stress,” Alwill says.

Best served: Blend with almonds, kale and parmesan to make pesto, or team with heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella for a Caprese salad.

Vegie patch tips: Cultivate basil in a pot or in the ground in spring and summer and harvest after 10-12 weeks.

Dandelion

Wellness benefits: “The leaves contain a bonanza of nutrients – calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B – and are a rich source of betacarotene provitamin A,” Beim says.

Best served: Add fresh, young leaves to salads and juices. Steam or boil older leaves. Make tea from the roots by drying then roasting in an oven until they reach a dark brown, then grind.

Vegie patch tips: Dandelion roots grow deeply. Harvest in autumn after flowering.

Dandelion

Turmeric

Wellness benefits: “It’s one of the oldest and most frequently used healing and medicinal roots used in Chinese and Indian medicine,’’ Alwill says. “It’s used for digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease [a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines] and it’s known as a pretty potent anti-inflammatory.”

Best served: Grate turmeric root into an omelette with chilli and other green veg, or use it in a soothing tea of coconut milk, cinnamon and honey.

Vegie patch tips: Plant seeds in spring 5-7cm beneath the soil. Or plant store-bought roots 10-15cm deep during spring. Harvest 9-10 months after planting.

Nettle

Wellness benefits: “People pull it out [of their gardens], they get stung and experience pain, which is interesting because it’s often used to reduce pain and inflammation. Its properties reduce the pain in the area by overriding the pain receptors,’’ Alwill says. “We also often use it in a tea to treat urinary problems whether it’s a urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostate.” Nettle also has antihistamine properties, which can help during hay fever season.

Best served: As a tea, or try blanching (which removes the stingers) and use it in salads.

Vegie patch tips: The nettle is a great companion plant as it improves the health of most fruit trees and vegie plants. Plant in a protected corner of the garden in spring. The flowers bloom later that season and over summer and into early autumn.

Nettle

Lavender

Wellness benefits: “The flower has the same benefits as lavender oil,” Beim says. “It treats headaches, depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia, colic and flatulence.”

Best served: Dried and infused as a tea.

Vegie patch tips: Grow in well-drained soil. Plant in late spring or early summer and harvest on the bloom.

5 unexpected health benefits of coffee

5 unexpected health benefits of coffee

Are you unable to function in the morning without a hot cup of freshly-brewed caffeine coffee? Well, you’re not alone. With nearly 17 million Aussies (say, what?) consuming coffee each day, it’s pretty safe to say most people head straight to their local coffee joint to get their morning hit. But aside from its eye-opening properties, there are a few hidden benefits that making drinking coffee so darn good.

1. Boosts happiness

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health revealed that those who drink four or more cups of coffee each day were about 10 per cent less likely to be depressed than those who don’t – thank you, we’ll take that.

2. Fights against disease

You might already know coffee is known for fighting off cardiovascular disease, but the antioxidants in coffee also play a part in decreasing the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, Parkinson’s and even gallstones.

3.Gets things moving

If you’re having trouble getting things moving downstairs, then coffee may be your answer. Any liquid will help with the process, but the stimulants found in a hot cuppa will help with peristalsis (the muscle contractions in the digestive system), which will help to get things moving again.

4. Helps with weight loss

Yes, coffee can even help with weight loss – it’s pretty clever like that. A study that looked at 16 overweight adults who were each given green coffee bean extract had significant weight loss, with 37.5 per cent of them going from pre-obesity to a normal weight range.

5. Improves memory

Many of us love coffee because it has the ability to keeps us on our game, but studies show that caffeine has a positive effect on memory and thought processes, too. In fact, a study that looked at mice with the equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease (who consumed caffeine-laced water) experienced a decrease in the levels of a protein in the brain that is associated with the disease.

How long does it take to burn calories in. . .

How long does it take to burn calories in. . .

You might be aware of the calories you’re consuming, but do you know how long it would take to burn it all off? And if you did, would it deter you from putting your hand back in the bag for one last potato chip (no judgement here)? So to help put things into perspective, we’ve rounded up 10 not-so-good foods and the estimated amount of time it would take it burn them off in the gym. Warning: reality check included.

One Iced Donut

You’ll need to walk at a 6.5km/hr pace for 30 minutes to burn of 155 calories.

600ml Cola Soft Drink

You’ll have to spin those wheels in a RPM class (non-stop) for 30 minutes to burn off 255 calories.

165g Potato Chips

You’ll have to run for about 2 hours to burn off 805 calories – yikes!

50g Chocolate Bar

You’ll have jog for about 40 minutes to burn off 268 calories.

One Medium Cupcake

You’ll have to do 75 minutes of yoga to burn off 300 calories.

One Slice of Pizza (Supreme)

You’ll have to skip for 12 consecutive minutes to burn off 159 calories.

Small Fries

You’ll have to run at a fast 12.5km/hr for 25 minutes to burn off 256 calories.

One Hamburger

You’ll have to use the elliptical for about 2 hours to burn off 528 calories.

Half Packet of Jelly Party Mix

You’ll have to walk at a 6.5km/hr pace for 1 hour to burn off 300 calories.

One Ice Cream 95g

You’ll have to walk at a 6.5km/hr pace for 67 minutes to burn off 331 calories.

Healthy diet hacks for busy people

 

Is your crazy-hectic schedule making it too hard to cook and prepare healthy meals? It’s OK, we get it (seriously, we really do!). Our busy lives often become an excuse for skipping meals or the reason we grab foods that are generally banished from our pantry.

So, to help make things easier and keep your health on-track, we’ve pulled in Christian Andrew, superfoods expert and Head Chef of Youfoodz, to give us the low-down on how to eat healthy on-the-go. Take a deep breath, relax, and keep scrolling down for his 8 smart ways to keep your diet intact.

 

1. Portion it out

If time is of the essence, then don’t cook each meal individually. Prepare your meals for the coming week in bulk over the weekend, and portion each meal into separate containers. Snacks can be done the same way by splitting your goodies up into zip lock bags.

Controlling portion sizes is the easiest way to control how many calories you’re consuming during each meal, and to stop yourself from mindlessly binge-eating. Come Monday morning all you’ll need to do as you rush out the door is snatch-up your already prepared meals for the day.

2. Just blend

If the popularity of this latest health trend has made you dubious about its benefits, don’t be. Drinking your fruit and veg is a powerful way to get in a nutritious, balanced meal on your way out the door. The trick is to blend your smoothie. Unlike juicing, blending won’t remove your pulp, and consuming the whole fruit helps to create a slower release of nutrients into the blood stream.

Try: Kale, flaxseed oils, chia seed, bananas and tasty goji berries. Add soy or delicious dairy-free ice cream for extra texture and flavour.

3. Don’t skip meals

What is the first cardinal rule of healthy eating? Don’t skip meals!

As tempting as it is to keep ploughing through your work come lunch time, the worst thing you can do to your body is to not top up on sustenance when you’re running low. The hunger hormone, ghrelin, will start to signal hunger to your brain and the longer you go without eating, the more your cravings will intensify.

Not only does skipping a meal mean you are more likely to make up for it later with junk food, but working on a hungry stomach will leave you fatigued. Do it regularly and you might find your weight dropping, but don’t take this as good news – this is likely muscle rather than fat being lost.

4. Get home delivery

Make healthy eating easier by having your meals delivered to you. After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend an hour making a mess in the kitchen. In a perfect world, meals would be pre-planned, and cooking and eating would cure the day’s stress, not cause it.

Luckily, fresh and healthy ready-to-eat meals can now be delivered straight to your doorstep to make life that little bit easier. Store a stash in the fridge at home and at work as a back-up such as this delicious Chia seed chicken and smashed veg or Vegan pumpkin curry with coconut. No cooking, grocery shopping or washing-up will free up 15 hours of your time a week.

5. Try colour blocking

Colour has more of an impact on our eating habits than you may think. Where red is a colour that inspires action and appetite, blue acts as an appetite suppressant.

Whether it’s your office or kitchen, shake up your eating area by filling it with blue-toned décor. Use plates that contrast sharply in colour with the food you’re serving. This will draw your eye more to your meal and will force you to be more mindful of how much you are consuming.

6. Re-think your plate

Believe it or not, the feeling of being full is partly controlled by our perception of how much food we’ve consumed.

Changing the size of our serving plate creates a visual illusion that distorts our perception of how much we have eaten. For your next meal, try serving your vegetables in a large plate and anything unhealthy in a small plate.

7. Keep snacks

Hunger is your body’s natural response to coping after three to four hours of not eating, and will often lead to overeating on bad food choices come mealtime.

Snacks should only be a stepping stone between meals, helping you get over the hunger hurdle while smoothing out your blood sugar levels. Keep what you eat under 200 calories and avoid adding more sugar into your system, as tempting as it can be. Pick low-GI foods that release energy slowly like low-fat yoghurt, berries, nuts and seeds.

8. Switch off

Believe it or not, people who are distracted by technology actually end up eating more at the dinner table than those who unplug and focus on their meal.

Spend a moment to put down your phone and close your inbox. Pay attention to what you eat and you’ll find yourself being more mindful of your appetite.

Healthy takeaway food: 10 tips to eat out without guilt

No matter how prepared you are (or how stocked your fridge is), cooking Every.Single.Day can be exhausting. So we understand the convenience of dial-and-deliver from your favourite takeaway restaurant. But before you go and blow all your healthy eating habits out the window, we’ve got 10 quick tips to make your next takeaway a healthier one.

1. Skip the appetisers

We all know how easy it can be to get carried away when working your way down a takeaway menu. Before you know it you’ve hit add-to-cart on two entrees, a main, a side and a dessert. Just ask yourself, is it all necessary? Most takeaway starters include deep fried options that on their own are enough to set you back a day’s worth of calories.

2. Make the switch

Don’t be afraid to ask your takeaway joint to swap out certain items on the menu, they’re used to this! You can ask for salads without the dressing, or vegetables without the butter. And if you’d really prefer your dish without a side of chips, make the switch to vegetables or salad. Another thing to keep in mind is that if your meal comes with a free soft drink, ask for a bottle of water instead.

3. Avoid cream

Unfortunately those creamy curries aren’t going to do you any favours. Try to avoid cream and coconut dishes by opting for tomato, clear or vinegar-based meals.

4. Look at your ratios

It’s a good idea to consider your ratios. Ask yourself whether or not you have enough protein and vegetables, and keep your carbs (rice and noodles) to one cup per meal. A good rule of thumb is: 1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 plate protein and 1/4 plate carbohydrates.

5. Ask for spice

If you don’t mind a bit of heat, up the ante from mild to medium or hot where you can. Spices are known to help boost metabolism and can even send out a singal to your stomach that you’re full.

6. Choose whole-grains

Most takeaway dishes are preferably served with a side of refined grains, but they don’t have to be. Choose whole grains like brown rice or whole-wheat bread where possible.

7. It’s sweet enough

Saving on calories and being heart-smart can be as simple as asking your local takeaway favourite to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in your meal.

8. Watch your portions

Just because your meal comes nicely packaged into one container doesn’t mean it needs to be eaten in one serving. Control your portions and just take what you need.

9. Avoid battered

Instead of choosing foods like battered fish and chips, look for the word “grilled” in the description. Grilled dishes tend to have much less fat than fried, battered or crumbed items.

10. Put it on the side

If you’re not ready to completely give up your dressings, sauces and gravies, just ask for them on the side so you’re able to control the portion — it’s just about being smart with your options.

10 powerful reasons to eat more bananas

10 powerful reasons to eat more bananas

Banana lovers are divided in two: those who prefer to nosh on the almost green type and those who don’t mind a bit of black speckle. Whatever the preference, there are some very good reasons why people are going bananas (did you see what we did there?) for this yellow jacket fruit. From better health, more energy to even improving the way you look and feel, keep reading for 10 reasons you should be eating more bananas today.

Improves digestion

There’s a reason bananas are the most consumed fruit in the world, and high in dietary fibre is just one of them. Fibre can help restore normal bowel function (if you’ve had a sore tum), and is also a great source of natural laxative if you need to get things moving again.

Low calorie snack

If you want a snack that’s going to satisfy without blowing out your daily calorie intake then let it be a banana. Did you know an average banana is about 110 calories? So good.

Energy booster

Loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium and many of the B group vitamins, bananas help protect and fuel the body, giving you an instant hit of energy when you need it the most. The carbohydrates in bananas also help power-up the muscles, which is why many athletes choose bananas as their go-to pre-workout or mid-break snack.

Lifts mood

Yes, this yellow fruit also has the ability to boost mood too. They’re a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which your body converts into serotonin (the mood-elevating neurotransmitter). As well as pulling you out of the dumps, serotonin can also reduce stress, regulate good sleep and can generally just make you feel happier.

Good for the heart

Potassium is one the most vital nutrients for keeping your heart healthy. It’s a mineral needed for muscle contraction, triggering the heart to squeeze blood throughout the body. The daily recommended amount of potassium is about 2,300mg and one medium banana has about 422mg.

Fights heartburn and stomach ulcers

Bananas help neutralise acidity in the stomach and help to coat the lining and reduce irritation, especially after having a spicy meal!

Good for strong bones

To keep your bones in tip top shape, manganese is an important nutrient. Bananas are a good source of manganese, with one medium banana containing about 0.3mg.

Helps eyes

While carrots are known for being the golden vegetable for sight, bananas should be also taking a share in the praise. They contain vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyes, maintaining normal vision, but also for helping you see better at night.

Treatment for muscle cramps

Twitches, spasms and cramps can all come down to low levels of potassium. So with bananas having a significant amount of potassium, this can be a great source for alleviating these symptoms.

Nourishes your skin

Yep, bananas also offer many beauty benefits for your skin. Rich in powerful antioxidants, nutrients and phytochemicals, eating a banana daily can nourish and revitalise dry skin, as well as protect against free radicals that cause premature ageing. Bananas are also good for acne-prone skin. Vitamin A can help to fade scars and dark spots, while the zinc and lectin properties can fight against acne causing bacteria.