Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shopping Tips

Stress-free shopping
Article By:Marieke Loubser

Can you relate to this scene? After a long day at work, you're tired and hungry and you need to make a plan for supper. You don't know what to make, you aren't quite sure what you already have at home. Solution? A quick stop at the shops on your way home where you fly through the aisles and choose foods that look tasty and quick to prepare. When you get home, you realise that you still don't have all the ingredients you need for a balanced meal... but you did buy plenty of less-than-healthy foods.

Not only is food shopping inevitable but it's where healthy eating begins. What we buy affects the quality of our diets and nutritious meals can't happen without a ready supply of nutritious foods. It's all about shopping strategically.

Plan ahead
Start by planning what you will eat over the next week or two, depending on how often you shop for food. For optimal health, plan meals based on a variety of foods from each food group to build a balanced diet. See our plan for healthy eating.

As a quick rule of thumb, base your plan on the plate model:
Half your plate should be vegetables.
One quarter should be a carbohydrate-rich food, such as baby potatoes, dairy or fruit.
One quarter should be a lean protein, such as grilled fish, skinless chicken or boiled egg.
Add a small amount of healthy fat when cooking (e.g. olive oil) or as additional fat (e.g. low fat margarine) and you have a balanced plate.

Take stock
Then audit what you already have at home and make a list of what you still need. Putting together a master shopping list that you can use every time you shop is a great way to save time and to ensure you never forget anything.

Remember, a balanced, varied diet that incorporates foods from all the different food groups is the key to healthy eating.

Here are some ideas of nutritious basics you can use to create your master shopping list:
Dairy products
These foods are rich in bone-building calcium and muscle-building protein.
· Fresh milk (fat free or low fat)
· Long life milk (fat free or low fat)
· Evaporated milk (low fat)
· Powdered milk (fat free or low fat)
· Soya milk (low fat)
· Yoghurt (fat free or low fat or soya)
Boost your immune system with these nutrient power-houses for plenty of vitamin, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre.
Fresh fruit: A variety of different coloured seasonal e.g. apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, grapes, kiwi fruit and strawberries.
Canned fruit: In fruit juice (not syrup) e.g. pears, peaches and apple.
Bottled fruit: e.g. apple sauce.
Dried fruit: e.g. apricots, peaches, prunes, pears, raisins, cranberries and figs.
Choose different coloured vegetables for a wide range of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre.
A variety of fresh vegetables e.g. onions, gem squash, brinjals, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, spring onions and peppers.
Canned: e.g. tomatoes, tomato and onion mix, corn, mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes and peas.
Bottled: e.g. asparagus, beetroot, baby sweet peppers, gherkins.
Frozen vegetables: plain or mixed.

Carbohydrate-rich foods
These foods provide essential fuel and energy for optimal function and performance.
Bread: e.g. whole grain, low GI bread and whole-wheat, low fat crackers/crisp bread.
Rice: e.g. white, basmati, brown, wild, mixed brown rice with lentils/wild rice.
Whole grains: e.g. barley, stampkoring (wheat rice), millet, quinoa.
Cereals: e.g. oats, high-fibre cereals, oat bran and porridge.
Pasta: All types (preferably wholewheat), such as spaghetti, penne, linguini and lasagne noodles.
Pasta sauces: e.g. low fat tomato and vegetable-based sauces
Couscous: (wholewheat if possible).

Beans, peas and lentils are a valuable addition to any healthy eating plan. They are very low in fat but concentrated sources of plant protein, minerals and fibre. They are also very economical and can easily be added to other dishes to enhance the nutritional value!
For example, baked beans, butter beans, sugar beans, kidney beans, green beans, mixed beans, chick peas, lentils, split lentils and split peas.

Protein-rich foods
These foods provide amino acids — the building blocks of protein essential for growth, maintenance and repair.
Fresh or frozen white fish: e.g. hake, sole, haddock and kingklip.
Fresh, frozen or canned oily fish: e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and tuna.
Chicken: e.g. skinless thighs, skinless breasts, whole chicken, skinless kebabs.
Meat: e.g. extra lean beef mince, ostrich mince, ostrich steaks, pork fillet Cheese: low fat cheese wedges (e.g. Laughing Cow Light), fat free and low fat cottage cheese, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, reduced fat cheddar, reduced fat gouda, reduced fat feta.

Fats and oils: Although fats are concentrated sources of kilojoules, some healthy fat is essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, protecting your cells and organs and increasing satiety.
Oils: Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil; canola oil, avocado oil, low fat cooking spray.
Spreads: Soft, tub 'low fat' margarine, olive oil margarine.
Nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia, hazel and peanut butter.
Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Condiments and flavourings: Mustard, chutney, balsamic vinegar, low-sodium soya sauce, low-salt stock cubes.
Herbs and spices: Pepper, rosemary, mixed herbs, oregano, thyme, basil, coriander, mint, ginger, curry, garlic and cinnamon. Crushed garlic, fresh ginger, chillies, lemons.
Tomato cocktail, lemon, low-kilojoule cordial, 100 percent fruit juice (always dilute with water or soda), green tea, ceylon tea, herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee.
Before you go
Don't shop when you're hungry. We tend to buy on impulse and items that could compromise your nutrition goals seem more appealing when you are hungry. Have a healthy snack before you go. Arrange your lists according to aisles if you can — this will reduce zigzagging through the shop and save you time.

  • At the shops
    Stick to your list.
    Carry a basket where possible as this will limit space available for items not on your list.
    Processed foods tend to mainly be displayed towards in the centre aisles of the shop so try to stay on the perimeter of the shops where the less processed items are usually found.
    Buy perishable products last to avoid drastic temperature changes between the shops and home. Check your list again before you get to the till.
    When you get home
    Get your perishable foods into the fridge and freezer first.
    Pack items away in clean cupboards and containers at the appropriate temperatures.
    Place items with the oldest shelf life in front to be used first.
    Making it a habit
    Investing some effort into optimising your nutrition empowers you to complement a lifestyle of healthy eating that saves you time, money and frustration. Try it — the benefits will speak for themselves!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Icing in a Minute!

Homemade is almost always better but when it comes to icing for a cake, I usually take the lazy route and go for the store-bought stuff. However, One-Minute Chocolate Icing? I'm in!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick margarine (do not use light margarine)
1/2 cup cocoa

Mix all ingredients together and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring while boiling.
Cool. Beat until creamy, then spread between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jennifer Garner to be Dipped in Fatty Butter

I saw this article this morning and just thought it was slightly amusing.

I’m sure we’ve all dreamed at some point of combining Jennifer Garner with butter, but Mandate has taken it a step further and made that dream a reality. They’ve hired Jennifer Garner to star in a comedy about an orphan who grows up to be a champion butter-carver. It’s called Butter, and according to screenwriter Jason Micallef' it’s actually a political satire.

He’s a better writer than me, because I can’t think of any parallels between margarine and the Iraq war. HR says the idea came from a trip to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, which is exactly where I’d have thought to look if I were out to find champion quality butter-carving. It sounds like the film will take place in a similar setting, with the movie’s orphan hero pitted against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion in an annualbutter-sculpting contest. No word on whether Garner plays the orphan or the orphan’s competition, but either way expect to see her greased up and shaping a block of butter into an exact likeness of Barack Obama’s head.