Thursday, November 19, 2009

The power of protein

In recent decades, conventional wisdom has suggested eating a lower fat, higher carbohydrate diet for health and lose weight. The food pyramid above clearly emphasizes that carbs should be the bulk of your daily diet. On the flipside, there were the high protein, zero carb brigade who claimed that their way was the only way to successfully lose weight, such as Atkins and the Zone. These were often accompanied by higher fat, especially saturated fat.

I think the reality probably lies somewhere in the middle, and as usual, moderation is the key. However, I do think there is quite a lot of positives to increasing the amount of protein in your diet. There is a lot of research out there that shows that high protein foods, especially lean meat and low-fat dairy, are a key factor in not only losing weight, but successfully maintaining a healthy weight. As part of having my Best Year this year, I have increased the amount of protein I am eating.

So firstly, what are some benefits to adding high quality protein to your diet?

  • Protein is low in calories, but nutrient dense - protein and carbs have the same amount of calories per gram, but protein sources provides some very important nutrient sources that carbohydrate sources are often short of, such as iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Replacing some of your carbs sources with protein sources will not significantly affect the calorie count, but will diversify the nutrients you are eating. For example, instead of a bowl of cereal for breakfast, create a breakfast parfait with some non-fat Greek yoghurt, half as much cereal as you would have had, and fruit. Yummy and filling!
  • Weight loss - a major study found that diets that were made up of 25-30% of calories from protein, as opposed to 12-15% (fat was the same), lost more weight. In particular, they lost more fat, especially the highly dangerous abdominal fat.
  • Keeps you satisfied - in general, high-quality protein sources keep you fuller for longer, due to the slower effect on blood sugar compared to carbs. This is even more the case if you are replacing highly processed carbs such as white bread, white rice, and sugary foods, which cause dramatic rises and falls in blood sugar levels. This usually results in cravings and hunger later in the day.
Secondly, what are good quality protein sources?
  • Lean meats, including beef and pork
  • Poultry (removing skin)
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Low fat dairy
  • Legumes such as lentils, and beans
  • Nuts and seeds (limit these to small amounts as these are high in fats)
  • Eggs (the whites contain the protein, but no fat)
  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh
Lastly, how can you increase protein in your diet?
  • The easiest way is to try and include some protein in every meal and snack.
  • For example, add a poached egg to breakfast, some left over roast meat to your salad at lunch, and a tin of tuna to your mac and cheese at dinner.
  • For snacks, add a small amount of protein such as a tub of yoghurt with some fruit, almond butter with apple slices, or hommous and veggies.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kitchen Command Center

The kitchen is always a hot spot for clutter, assorted junk, and assorted papers, some of it important. So creating a Command Center is a wonderful way of corralling it all together and organising it so that things are easily accessible by everyone in the family. The pic above is my Command Center, which I have located on my kitchen bench. Within the Command Center, I've created separate areas with different functions; there is a cleaning supplies section to the left hand side, a calendar and stationery section in the middle, and a memo section to the right.

The memo section is a large magnetic board that has a roll of note paper, my menu planning pad and my shopping list. I also have various magnets with important phone numbers. The menu planning pad and shopping list are both important parts of keeping me organised easily. By planning out menus for the week, I save money by not buying groceries that go to waste, as well as minimising the need for takeouts. The shopping list next to it is also great; as I finish things, I can tick them straight off on the list. Again, this saves me from buying unnecessary items, or doubling up on items that I already have.

I only plan 5 meals during the week, and the plan is not set in stone. That way, we can still go out of we feel like it, or drop into my MIL's for a meal.

Next to my calendar is my cleaning caddy that holds brushes, rags and various natural cleaning supplies. I mostly use the all purpose cleaner, but I also have furniture spray, window spray and stainless steel spray in there for when its needed.Lastly, below the calendar is my stationery section. The green pot holds stamps, elastic bands and staples, while the cups hold scissors, pens, markers and screwdrivers. The little white dish is where I put my rings when I am cleaning or cooking, while the white rectangle dish holds a letter opener. I also have antibacterial gel and orange oil there as well.

This Kitchen Command Center has made a huge difference in the day to day running of our home. Things are easy to find, junk gets sorted into the bin straight away, and everything is finally organised!

PS: Off topic: Angie, could you please email me? I need your email to organise your Spell Quizzer license. Cheers!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grobag First Duvet review

Regular readers may know that Stephen and Irini have both been co-sleeping with us and we have thoroughly enjoyed it, until recently. As both kids have been getting bigger, and Irini has been spending less and less time in her co-sleeper and more and more time in our bed proper, things have been getting tight and no one was getting a good night sleep any more.

Nick and I made the decision to remove the co-sleeper, turn it into a toddler bed near our bed, and, fingers crossed, seamlessly transition Stephen into it. To try and make things as easy as possible, I took Stephen shopping to pick out some new bedding. I had already decided for safety reasons that I wanted to use the Grobag First Bedding Set which has the duvet cover zipped onto the bottom fitted sheet, as well as an attached pillowcase, so that Stephen can't get his head under the pillow. I liked the fact that the duvet zips onto the sheet for two reasons; firstly, it will help stop him from falling out of bed, and secondly, it will keep the covers on him during the night.

Stephen didn't seem too keen at first, but he dutifully picked out the set with rockets and spacemen on it. When nighttime came, he was finally excited, and was demanding that hubby "zip me up, zip me up with the wockets". This has so far continued on for the week, with no backward glances (knock on wood). We are all certainly getting a better night's sleep, but there is a small part of me that is sad that my little man is growing up!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

My birthday presents!

It was my birthday on Monday, and I got some wonderful presents from my family. From hubby, I got the most beautiful leather Oroton bag, like the ones in the pic without the fringing, in a lovely grey/taupe patent leather. The bag is large enough to double as a diaper bag, which is exactly what I wanted, and the colour is so versatile, it goes with pretty much anything.

From the kids, (via me, of course), I got a MomAgenda. My O2 phone recently gave up and I switched to a Blackberry (which I love), but I hate the calender. Now that I have kids, I find an electronic calender just doesn't cut it when there are so many activities, playgroups, Gymboree, birthday parties etc. So, back to the old-school methods. I chose the MomAgenda because 1) it looks great, and 2) it has a spot for my appointments and then separate spots for the kids appointments each day. I picked the refillable leather portfolio in storm grey (this is the exact same colour as my bag, a co-incidence, I swear!) rather than their original hardbound version, as I wanted to be able to refill it. As an extra special touch, I had my name embossed on it.

I was definitely spoiled this birthday!!

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

SpellQuizzer winner!

Again, I'm sorry I've been away for so long. Thankyou to everyone who emailed and commented to see if I was alright - everything is fine, but I have been suffering from migraines over the past two weeks, and the computer screen seemed to be the major culprit in bringing them on. Anyway, hopefully things are back on track now!

This is totally overdue, but the winner of the SpellQuizzer giveaway is comment number 3, Angie, from Angie's 4 Sons. By the way, if anyone knows how to insert the little screen from the random number generator, please give me a heads-up! I'm sure it's simple, but for the life of me, I can't figure it out. Angie, I'll be in contact soon with the log-in details etc. Congratulations, and I hope your four boys find it useful.

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