Chia, Macadamia and Raspberry Breakfast:

My All Time Favourite Recipe That Can Even Help With Weight Loss!

raspberriesRighteo – so it’s taken me over a month to finally post my favourite, all time breakfast recipe which I’ve been meaning to do, but became completely bogged down in a project which I’m about to launch shortly.  In fact if everything goes to plan, my new ‘project’ should be launching in just over a week, so watch this space … or should I say blog!

Now back to our breakfast.

As a shift worker are you a slave to the cardboard box breakfast?  Do you genuinely enjoy the taste of these sugar laden, nutrient starved “foods” which come out of these boxes?

I’m going to take a punt and assume your answer is a genuine “no”, but the good news is that I may just have the answer to your flavourless shift working breakfast woes.

This chia, macadamia nut and raspberry breakfast-in-a-jar-full-of-goodness is not only going to leave you feeling full, energised and ready to take on whatever challenges your shift decides to throw at you, but thanks to one particular ingredient, it can even help with weight loss! 

Any idea what the secret ingredient is?

You guessed it – the raspberry.

You might be thinking how on earth can such a tiny little red thing help with weight loss!  Well new research is starting to reveal that raspberries have the potential to improve the management of obesity.

Sound a little strange?  Well in addition to being anti-infammatory, raspberries contain a phytonutrient called rheosmin which helps to increase enzyme activity, along with oxygen consumption and heat production in certain types of fat cells, which may be able to help reduce the risk of obesity as well as fatty liver *. (more…)

How a SAD Shift Work Diet Can Weaken Your Immune System.

Young woman and an unhealthy diet conceptAs shift workers we’re certainly prone to eating all of the wrong types of foods as we often feel too tired to cook thanks to a lifestyle dictated by ongoing sleep deprivation, particularly when we’ve experienced a run of early or night shifts.

But is your shift work diet SAD or is it happy?

If you’re wondering what I mean by this I’m actually referring to the Standard American Diet (hence the acronym SAD) – or in my case, a Standard Australian Diet which is pretty much the same thing.

However depending on how you answer this question, it’s going to play a key in how healthy your immune system is which is an ongoing struggle for most shift workers.

If you answered “yes” to having a SAD (which most shift workers do), it’s important to recognise that the Standard American/Australian Diet is high in Omega 6’s which include saturated fats, trans fatty acids, and arachidonic acid which can result in inflammation, one of the leading causes of most degenerative diseases (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition*).

In contrast, a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids or Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) can provide us with a healthy immune system as they support the healthy function of our cells. A depleted immune system also makes us more susceptible to injury, allergies and infection.

Foods containing Omega 3’s include fish and fish oils which are a source of long chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce risk factors associated with hypertension, high triglycerides, and atherosclerosis (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition*).

The problem we have today is that the typical SAD or Western diet contains far more omega-6’s than it does omega 3’s.

Unfortunately because of our haphazard lifestyle, shift workers are much more likely to adopt the super-convenient-but-very-unhealthy Standard American Diet.

It’s also important to understand that when you’re feeding your body suboptimal nutrition day after day, year after year, it’s going to wear you down and lead to nutritional deficiencies which will negatively affect your immune system and make you less robust to fight off any infections.

So how can you adopt a much happier shift work diet?

By simply replacing your diet with foods which are high in omega 6’s (fast foods – fries, burgers, chicken nuggets, hash browns, cakes, pastries, muffins, sundaes and vegetable oils) with those which contain more omega 3’s (flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, sardines, salmon, mackerel, eggs, chicken and beef).

I use the word ‘replace’ instead of remove because we shouldn’t be removing things from our diet without replacing them with something else – preferably with much healthier options! The word ‘remove’ can also lead to feelings of restriction – as though we’re missing out which is rarely sustainable in the long term.

So start replacing your SAD diet with one which is rich in Essential Fatty Acids or Omega 3’s, and your immune system and overall shift work health will be much happier as a result!

*Simopoulos, A 1999, ‘Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 560-569.

Fancy A Banana Bread Breakfast?

banana breadI don’t know about you, but I often get bored eating the same old thing over and over again for breakfast so I decided to spice things up a little and make some banana bread for brekky instead.

Whilst there’s a fair bit of flack in the media at the moment regarding fruit, bananas and sugar I’m not convinced (despite heading into my 2nd year of a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine degree), that we have to give bananas (or any fruit for that matter), the flick!

Why?

Because bananas contain a heap of healthy goodness despite all of the “I Quit Sugar” media hype, some of which include: vitamin B6 and vitamin C, folate, antioxidants, fibre, potassium and they make an awesome “fatigue-busting-snack” as they’re quite filling and help to return low blood glucose levels back to normal.

And considering this “bread” contains 3 bananas, a small amount of coconut sugar and maple syrup, by the time you sit down to your one slice (if you can stop at one slice), I still believe it makes a far superior breakfast than any store-bought breakfast cereal on the market which is laden with hidden salt, sugars, additives and preservatives that has next to no nutrition!

This recipe is ideal for making the night before (especially for those on early shift), and can be transported into work very easily – unlike juices and smoothies which can sometimes “surprise us” with a bit of spillage in the bottom of our handbag.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150g plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin with non-stick baking paper and set aside.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the remaining wet ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, ensuring there are no clumps of baking soda or flour.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and fold until just combined.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the break comes out clean.  Allow the break to cool in the loaf tin for 30 minutes.

To Serve

This is super tasty toasted and you can top with butter, honey or natural yoghurt and berries.

Note:  Recipe adapted from ‘Life’s too short for diets’ cookbook by Nicole Joy.

A Question I Get Asked Often …

Woman with question marks on grey backgroundIf you struggle with working shift work – you are not alone.  In fact a question I get asked often is “How on earth did I manage to work shift work for over 20 years?”

And that’s a really good question, because I struggled – I really did.

I can assure you there were many times when I just wanted to throw in the towel and get a “normal” job!  Anything that would enable me to get a decent night’s sleep because if you’re reading this right now, you can appreciate how hard it is to be healthy when you work 24/7.

In fact when I began sharing my shift working journey via this blog all those years ago, my intention was not just to share handy hints and tricks that I’d gathered along the way, but to give you some insight into my own personal struggles as well.

In essence, to let you know you are definitely not alone.

Unfortunately there are MANY perils to working early shifts, night shifts and late shifts – along with those unexpected “longer than normal shifts!”

But if you are a shift worker, you are one tough cookie because not everyone is cut out to work shift work that’s for sure.  Hands down it’s a tough occupation and that’s before we even get into the nitty gritty of your actual job description as a lot of shift working roles can be very stressful as well.  Now I’m thinking doctors, fire fighters, policemen, ambulance officers to name a few.

So in answer to my original question, how on earth did I manage to work shift work for over 20 years, the best answer I can give you is “sheer determination“.

I was determined not to let those wacky hours get the better of me by staying focused on all of the good stuff around working irregular hours.  In fact I feel incredibly lucky not to have endured 20+ years of peak hour traffic, the boredom and monotony of catching public transport, along with succumbing to a contagious disease rife amongst our “9-5” cousins called “Monday-it-is”!

Fortunately each day I went into work I knew I was going to come across something different which is pretty cool (OK – maybe not the grumpy passengers nor intoxicated patients) but you can’t say our days at work are ever boring!

So hang in there.

Shift work is tough, it really is.  The continual lack of sleep makes feeling “normal” incredibly hard to achieve but it’s important not to ignore the benefits because there are plenty of those to help keep you motivated – even when that alarm clock wakes you up from a peaceful slumber at 3:00am in the morning I promise!

Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss: A Smoothie To Help Boost The Brain Cells!

Young girl thinking with glowing brain illustrationDo you have days when your brain is foggy and you forget even the littlest of things?  Well it’s not surprising as more and more research shows a direct link between sleep deprivation, cognitive impairment and memory loss.

As so many of our occupations require us to work long or erratic hours 24/7, it can certainly be hard to concentrate, make informed decisions and learn new things when your brain hasn’t fully recovered from a good night or day’s “rest”.

Whenever we are chronically tired from low-quality sleep or sleep deprivation, we do not perform well; it affects our mood and ability to concentrate; along with not being able to remember and retain new information.

Although sleep deprivation affects people in a variety of ways, it’s certain that a good night’s rest can help enhance our ability to learn and remember things which is why it’s important not to get angry with yourself if you’re having one of those days where you just can’t seem to remember anything!

So today I thought I’d whizz up a brain boosting smoothie which would make a great early shift breakfast or an ideal snack if you have to endure the dreaded night shift!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 6 walnuts
  • 1/2 scoop pea protein powder
  • 1.5 cups of coconut water

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth texture is reached.

Note:   If you are taking this into work, place in a glass jar or thermos and give it a good shake before serving.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Dr Josh Axe Brain Boosting Smoothie