Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Recipe: Healthy Gingerbread

I love gingerbread - the moist, spicy, dense cake - it just says Christmas to me. I saw an interesting recipe the other day in Prevention magazine that has reduced the fat, and incorporated pumpkin into the mix as well, making it an easy way to sneak in some veg. While this is a healthier version of gingerbread, it still is a treat - so save it for the holidays.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c chopped crystallised ginger
2 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c molasses (I used golden syrup instead)
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 c canned puree pumpkin (I used fresh cooked pumpkin)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Coat 9" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray.

  2. Combine flour, spices, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in crystallised ginger.

  3. Whisk eggs, egg white, oil, molasses and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin. Fold into dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into pan.

  4. Bake 35-40 minutes until gingerbread starts to pull away from pan and skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

serves 8 - 353 calories / 16g fat per serve

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Monday, December 15, 2008

School Holiday Reading

The long summer holidays are coming for those of us here in Australia and many parents are often at a loss for ideas to keep the kids occupied. Also, for those of you with children who are in the early stages of learning to read at school or preschool may be worried about the effect the long break may have on your child's reading. One solution is to check out your local library.

Many libraries run programs in the summer holidays for preschool and junior primary students that are based around making reading fun, and often include craft activities. The libraries in my local council, City of Stirling, are running two different programs in December and January at each of their libraries. So take your kids down for some good old fashioned educational fun, and enjoy an hour or so to read a book (or a magazine) for yourself in some undisturbed peace and quiet!!

Christmas Crackers:

Special Christmas time storytelling with Storyteller Don Smith - suitable for preschool and junior primary aged children

Tuesday 16th December:
10.30 - 11.15am at Dianella Library

Wednesday 17th December:
10.00 - 10.45am at Mirrabooka Library
1.30 - 2.15pm at Osborne Library

Thursday 18th December:
10.45 - 11.30am at Scarborough Library
1.30 - 2.15pm at Karrinyup Library

Friday 19th December:
10.30 - 11.15am at Inglewood Library

Kite Making

A talk and a short workshop on kite making techniques with Mike Alvarez - includes creating your own kite. Children must be over 6 years old, and bookings are required.

Monday 5th January:
1.30 - 2.30pm at Dianella Library

Wednesday 7th January:
10.30 - 11.30am at Karrinyup Library

Friday 9th January:
10.00am - 11.00am at Mirrabooka Library

Monday 12th January:
10.30 - 11.30am at Osborne Library

Tuesday 13th January:
1.30 - 2.30pm at Scarborough Library

Thursday 15th January:
1.30 - 2.30pm at Inglewood Library

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Monthly Breast Exams

This is your reminder to perform your monthly breast self-exam. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women today. Please take five minutes to do this important check. Early detection could mean the difference bewteen life and death.

There are two important ways to check your breasts. The first is by looking. A mirror should be used to check the breasts for pulls, dents, odd colouring, or lumps. The best positions for inspecting are leaning forward, arms on hips tightly, or standing upright with both arms over your head. When checking the breasts, keep in mind that both breasts should look the same, especially around the nipple.

The second way to check the breasts is by feeling. There are two ways to do this part of the exam and it is best to use a different one each month. One method uses water or oil on the skin to help fingers glide over the skin more easily. The shower can be a good place for this kind of exam. The second way is to use a thin T-shirt or sheet over the breasts. In both of these ways, the little skin lumps and bumps are less noticeable. Feel the breast tissue for any areas that feel different from the rest of the breast. Sometimes a difference will be a ball or lump. Yet other times it will be a thickened band or a deep, hard area that does not move like the rest of the breast.

When feeling the breasts

  • Check the breast in two or three positions, such as lying down, standing up, and even leaning forward.
  • Use the palm surface of the fingers, not the tips, to move the breast.
  • Divide the exam into parts. Examine one part from the outside of the breast into the nipple, and then from the inside to the outer edge. Realize the breast tail goes into the armpit, so the exam needs to include that area.
  • Remember the nipple is important, too. There is less breast tissue right under the nipple, so any lump there is a concern. The value of checking for discharge from the nipple is a debate since regular, hard squeezing of the nipple alone can cause a discharge. The gentle exam done towards your nipple is usually enough to show if there is a discharge. Any blood from the nipple needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

Breast self-exam is not a substitute for mammography or for regular exams by a doctor. Be sure to keep regular appointments as recommended by your doctor.

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The best breakfast for your kids

Before going onto my post about breakfasts, just a quick apology to my regular readers for being missing in action for the last month. The past month has been absolutely crazy with my brother's wedding and some personal issues leaving me no time to blog. However, everything is back on track now, so onto my post for today!!

The Best Breakfast for Your Kids

Recently, a nutritionist from my home town, Perth, presented a research paper at the Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference that suggested that increasing the number of food groups in your child's breakfast will increase their mental health. Therese O'Sullivan stated that having a high quality breakfast, with at least three different healthy food groups, was linked to better mental health in the 800 teens that she studied.

Most of us are aware of previous research that has shown that eating breakfast has been linked to increased attentiveness in class, better memory retention and more interest in learning. However, this is the first time that a study has shown that variety at breakfast is also important.

The study suggests that most teens ate bread/cereals and dairy as their breakfast. By simply switching to whole grains and low fat dairy, and adding in another food group such as fruit, nuts, eggs or legumes, you will be setting up your child for the day.

Some quick and easy suggestions:

  • wholemeal toast with low fat cheese and tomato slices

  • add a spoonful of sunflower seeds or LSA mix (ground linseed, sunflower and almond) to your whole grain cereal

  • top your multigrain toast with ricotta and sliced banana or strawberries

  • add some canned fruit to your Cheerios

  • toss some berries (fresh or frozen) with some rolled oats and top with low fat Greek yogurt

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