Meal prep for success!

Food is the centre of everyone’s day! We love it, we need it, but someone has to prepare it! So here is my challenge to you reading this! There needs to be a time in your week when you feel rested and happy to be at home to dedicate some time to meal prep. It can only be 1 or 2 tips from below, or be inspired to come up with your own in accordance to your diet and lifestyle!  You may need to be disciplined at first however once you start, you will dedicate more time once you realise how much better you eat and how much more organised you are! I personally guarantee it!
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So i have put together a list for you, may personal meal prep tips that will hopefully make it a little easier for you!

 

The Prep Commandments

1. When you bring your produce home, get into the habit of soaking them ASAP. To do this I invested in a bucket from bunnings. The moment i get home i soak all my hard vegetables ( i do delicate greens all separately) for approx 20 min in cold water and bi carb soda. This helps removes residual pesticides, herbicides and dirt from your produce. I line my table with a table-cloth and then place all my rinsed produce on there to dry off before packing them away into the fridge. Why does this set you up for success?  I know whatever is in the fridge is ready to be used and ready to be eaten!
2. My mum taught me this one: Buy onions in bulk and stick them in your food processor to chop finely. Divide them into freezer snap lock bags so you always have diced onions ready to go. I remember when i was little going into the freezer and seeing all these containers of ice cream only to discover it was all chopped onion inside!
3. Make up stir fry bags for the freezer. Next time you head to the market.. grab those big bags of green beans, snow peas etc. I usually clean them watching tv. I then divide them in freezer bags along with thinly chopped carrots, zucchini and broccoli. Whenever we have impromptu stir fry nights, I grab them from the freezer!
3. When meat is on sale buy them.. marinade them in a freezer bag.. stick some root veggies in there and freeze it ready for a quick roast dinner. Just remember to stick it into the fridge in a dish the night before so it can slowly defrost the following day!
4. Make a salad every 3 days. I like to cook up some quinoa, brown rice or cous cous so i can mix it into the salad.
5. Make a big batch of roast veggies every 5 days. I keep roasted veggies for a max of 4 days in the fridge, and re-roast  a fresh batch on the 5th day. What can’t be done with roasted veggies? You can add them to every single meal inc alongside your breakfast eggs!
6. Make a vegetable based sauce. My fav is roasted eggplant, capsicum, zucchini and olive. This type of sauce can be used for pasta, on-top of fish, onto of chicken parmigiana, stirred through beans and legumes and heated on the stove top, on top of poached eggs and as a base for baked eggs!
7. Sauté asian greens like bok choy, pak choy, chinese broccoli, choy sum, green beans until slightly tender. The green veggies can be used to mix with some rice or sweet potato noodles for a quick delicious nourishing bowl. Top it off with a fried egg that is gooey  or some marinade tofu for a great vegetarian protein meal.

A meal prep like this.. can become a meal like this!

8. Have the mentality: “Cook today to feed us another time” Try to include meals into your weekly schedule that are freezer friendly. Think: meatballs, vegetable rissoles, cottage pie, crumbed veal, fish cakes.
9.  Try to have a protein source in the fridge ready to consume. Some fried crispy tofu, a bean salad, boiled eggs, marinated cooked chicken, some grilled spiced portobello mushrooms. Try to include protein in every meal, a good amount of veg and finally some whole grain low gi carbs! Your goal is to eat less but fill up quicker! protein and complex carbs are your winners here!
10. Cut up carrot, celery, fresh fennel and Cucumber ( deseeded ) stick in cold filtered water in the fridge! Change water daily. I usually cut them up every 3rd day! Make sure you have dips on hand! Even some cottage cheese! Again pairing veg with something that contains some protein will leave you feeling more satisfied and prevent endless snacking.
Hope you found this useful! Share this with your friends or someone you know that needs some inspo! Any questions, fire them below!

 


Panzarotti

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These little pillows of fluffy potato are divine! Whenever we would go to my Nonna’s house for dinner, we could tell when we were getting out of the car when these were on the menu! the smell that they produce is warming, addictive and truly delicious!
I have added the addition of greens to this traditional dish.. really you could make them how you see fit! One tip here when it comes to frying: the longer a food takes to develop a crust or to develop its seal.. the more oil it is going to drink. You want the oil hot enough to quickly develop that crust in  a few seconds to prevent it from soaking up oil.. wether it is veggie patties, hamburgers.. no one enjoys greasy fried food. make sure you have a plate on hand with a paper towel to soak up residual oil.
One last point, instead of frying this can be pressed into a in an even layer and baked! It is equally as delicious!
In a bowl combine:
  • 3 cooled mash potato ( with a fork is fine)
  • 1 med zucchini grated
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped greens ( spinach or kale)
  • 1/4 cup grated hard cheese ( i used pecorino)
  • 1/2 breadcrumb of your choice ( i used sourdough)
  • Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
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When you have done this, shape each into little long oval pillows, apron 1cm thick. Depending on the moisture content of the potato you may need to add extra breadcrumb.
As mentioned previously, ensure the oil is hot so the moment you add them they quickly seal up and get that crispy outer crunch!
Nothing left to say other then:
“Buon Appetito”

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Spiced Pumpkin Soup

 

Give this Classic Soup a Shake.. or should we say BAM! Bursting with Flavour, Nutrients and read to fill the hungriest of tummies!

This is the type of soup that is well balanced and can really be as potent as you want it to be. I love the way the flavours come together on your tastebuds; the tanginess from the Lime leaves that cut through the Tumeric and Ginger, whilst the Lemongrass gives it a depth to it that warms your body from the inside out. I have used Tumeric Paste in mine, you can easily grate or process your own in a food processor but I love the convenience of the packaged one. It contains only Tumeric and Filtered Water. No added nasties, fillers or preservatives…WINNING! I always end up staining something when I prepare Tumeric so this is a no stain guaranteed method!
Ingredients:
– 1.2kg JapanesePumpkin
– 1 large Sweet Potato
– 2 Carrots
– 1 Shallot
– 3 Garlic cloves
– 2 Springs Lemon Grass
– 4 Lime Leaves
– 1 TBL Turmeric Paste
– 1 TSP Grated Ginger
– 1.5-2 Litres Of either Vegetable or Chicken Stock depending on what consistency you prefer! You may want even less if you like a really thick Soup!
I like to use homemade Broth but you can use store bought just check those ingredients!
Method:
– I Like to start by sautéing the the Shallot, Garlic, Lemongrass, Tumeric, Ginger and Lime Leaves all together in a touch of Olive Oil. Fry until the beautiful aroma’s start lifting, then you know to add the vegetables and stock! You can season if you like with Salt and Pepper in this step swell, bare in my mind the stock will have seasoning aswell.
– Bring to boil, then simmer gently for approx 30-45 min or until the vegetables are tender. Once cooked, remove the Lemon Grass Stalks and Lime Leaves and then blend until super smooth.

“Buon Appetito!”

Pumpkin Soup
A warming, grounding soup that is pure and rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients
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Is your child exercising enough?

One of my areas of passion apart from food and family is exercise for kids. Children love to play. By encouraging them, we can play a part in setting up a great foundation of values that will hopefully be long lasting (please read disclaimer at the end of the article for some exclusions.
I have had the pleasure of teaming up with Dr Vivian Chen , a family physician originally from the Uk who is now residing in sunny California! As a mother of 2, she is very passionate about her own kid’s health  and enjoys leading an active lifestyle with her family. They make exercise a part of their family time and they enjoy going for long walks all together. In her clinic, she has seen first hand so many lifestyle preventative diseases that staying fit can help reduce. Here is what she had to stay:

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By Dr Vivian Chen
You might think it is OK for kids not to be physically active because they are young and not ridden with clogged up arteries, but actually there are so many health benefits of exercise in children, which I will go into later (and scarily, studies have found that some kids as young as 10 years have clogged up arteries in the US).
Did you know that the recommendation for kids under 5 (who can walk) is 3 hours of physical activity a day? (Department of Health, UK) It might sound like a lot, but, as any tired moms of toddlers would know, toddlers are quite active without even trying, and on average spend about 2-2.5 hours being physically active everyday anyway. By physically active I don’t mean running or a sport, I mean, moving their bodies, using their muscles and not sitting down.
The recommendation for 5-18 year olds is a minimum of 60 minutes a day (or more).
The guideline in the US is 60 minutes minimum for children OF ALL AGES.

What are the benefits?

  • Heart health- is a big beneficiary of regular exercise, and since heart disease is the number 1 killer in the western world, it makes sense to get into a habit of regular exercise and build a healthy heart from a young age.
  • Change our epigenetics  epigenetics determine which of our genes are expressed and which are silenced. It underlies many of the diseases that are on the rise, and preliminary studies have shown that exercise is linked with the up-regulation and expression of some beneficial genes associated with health.
  • Improves bone health- Many parents worry about calcium intake in their children, especially if they have allergies and cannot drink milk. But actually that is only part of the picture. In fact, studies have found that calcium supplementation does not increase bone density and is notcorrelated with a reduced fracture risk.  Exercise, on the other hand, stimulates bones to take up calcium to strengthen it, and has been shown in numerous studies to help increase bone density.
  • Builds stronger muscles
  • A Better Immune System- Exercise boosts your bodies production of germ fighting white blood cells.
  • Improves coordination- This is important for brain development, and actually a few studies have shown that children who exercised regularly had higher test scores. Childhood is a period of time when millions of neural connections are made along with growth, and exercises helps to build those neural connections as well as improve blood flow to the brain bringing important nourishment.
  • Improves social skills and confidence- Studies have shown that, especially in adolescents, exercise helps to improve social skills.
  • Maintain a healthy weight- and therefore reduce the incidence of obesity and the illnesses that come with it e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.
  • Better sleep
  • Less stress- Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones into our blood stream . This might not be so applicable to younger kids, but certainly for teens who are increasingly under more pressures (academic, social) it can be a great stress-reliever

So what are our top tips for sneaking in extra exercise at home? here is My Top 5 Tips for kids exercises home:

We can definitely plan and make time for structured play, but try looking at your overall day and your routine. For example some families cannot take their child to the park every single day or organise play dates, so start with home life:
  1. Get the Kid’s involved in basic housekeeping. Kids can help at home by passing you the laundry to hang, carrying things for you, putting things away for you, fetching items from the pantry, putting the grocery away. The list is endless.
  2. Teaching Life Skills To Kid’s indirectly keeps them active as well. Let me explain: Equipping a child with skills such as responsibility, independence and accountability from birth onwards can all be practiced many times a day. For example one of the first things you can do from when a child is crawling is packing away their toys. Get them to pick up a toy and bring it to you so you can put it into their toy box. Next time, get them to reach up and place it into the box. As they walk and gain confidence, get them to walk and put their toys away. This is also a great way to teach teamwork: “Mummy will help you! We can take turns placing an item into the box! My Turn… now it’s your turn!” This also helps with developing speech, emotional vocabulary, social skills and taking turns. When it is bath time, get a toddler to place their clothes into the laundry hamper. Congratulate them! Acknowledge what a big help they are to you for cleaning up after themselves. Indirectly they are moving, rather then you doing it all for them. As they reach 3 or 4 years of age get them to start pulling their bed sheets up, passing you the cushions (sure you will have to fix it later, but again a major feat to celebrate!)
Teaching your child to be responsible for their belongings and respecting your house is such a great investment. I personally have never tidied up after my kids nor will I in the future. They work together and make it a game and I am always acknowledging them and thanking them for their help. Kids should take pride in their home and their belongings. Instilling this value is important.
  1. Play Music. Dancing provides a lot of laughs, movement and memories! When I have to get things done or need to prepare dinner last minute and need half an hour to cook, I hand over a CD to the kids. If your kids love technology not only are they getting an indirect Tech Fix, but they are moving their bodies, singing and playing with their toys non stop!
  2. Balloon play for kids aged 2+. Tie up Balloons on a string. Tie them up from air con vents or another safe place. Get your child to keep the balloon from touching the floor by using their hands and feet to keep the balloon up. Can you do it 10 times? 15 times?
  3. Get your child involved in a sport. Find an activity that your kids can get into. It doesn’t have to be about playing a game with the purpose of winning. While learning about winning and losing games is important, at this age the goal is to encourage and celebrate movement and activity. Some great options for kids include – Dancing, Yoga, Pilates, Martial Arts and Gymnastics. Find what your child is interested in and see what local schools and clubs are available.

Here are some more specific age-specific guidelines:

Birth to 5 Years of Age
Kids under the age of 5 are recommended to get 3 hours of exercise a day (not all at once!) with a mix of structured play (play with an intent to learn) and unstructured play (letting them use their imagination to help develop skills such as Problem Solving, Creativity and Role Playing)
For Babies; tummy time, reaching for items e.g. a squeaky ball in front of them, streamers. Playing with Bubbles and supervised Bath Play
From 1 year of age: Animal Movements and imitating animals which is great fun e.g. bear walking, crab walking, monkey walking, playing with different sized ball, chasing bubbles and even playing with Kitchen Pots and Pans.
As a Child starts to walk encourage them to help you put light items away in the house; unpacking grocery, putting clothes away, make their bed.
5-12 Years of Age
At this age kids will begin to attend Primary School so they will be introduced to some forms of exercise and movement. The Australian New South Wales Education Standards list that children in primary school should be getting 1.5 to 2.5 hours per week (however it should also be noted that the allocation of hours is up to the teacher and the school policy). We cannot assume that children will be moving and playing during their break times as kids choose to use their break time in accordance with the interests, their friends, and weather/resources available.
For this age group we should be aiming for a minimum of 1 hour a day and for added health benefits up to several hours a day. Activities should be varied and include exercising at a moderate to vigorous intensity as this is where we can achieve great health benefits.  As this age group will be at school, try walking to and from the car for drop off and pick up’s. A 10 minute walk every morning and afternoon is a great way for parent and child to get in some extra exercise and serves as an opportunity for bonding with a morning or afternoon chat.
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Body weight exercise can be safely introduced to this age group

At this age we should also be getting kids involved in Resistance or Weight Bearing Activities with the purpose of strengthening their Musculoskeletal system. At this age we are not recommending kids to lift weights for muscle hypertrophy. Pre-Pubescent Children are prone to an increase risk of injury due to over exertion, and they lack the male hormone testosterone that contributes to muscle gain. Any activity your child participates in should be safe and appropriate for the age and ability. Instead, focus on activities that will naturally create resistance such as Monkey Bars, Pull Up’s, Climbing and Jumping. Most Kid’s Play Equipment at your local park will have these items. I also like to introduce exercises such as squats, planks and sit up’s for Children.  
13-17 Years of Age
As Children move into High School, they begin to become more independent as they become young teenagers. At this stage they are possibly juggling School Work and Study, a Paid Job, and maybe even extra curricular activities such as Sport and Music. Because of this, there may be difficulty to find the time to fit in regular exercise – unless they belong to the group who participate in Sport outside of school. The 60 minutes a day of exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity is still advisable with at least 3 of those days during the week dedicated at strengthening muscles and bones. If you haven’t commenced yet, now is a great time to introduce Children to some staple body weight exercises such as plank’s, push ups, sit ups and squats. A lot of clubs will do this as part of their training so your child can learn proper technique and safety perform them at home.
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Fitness is a great stress buster for teens

This age range can be a sensitive time for some teens as their bodies begin to change and they become more and more conscious of how they look compared to their peers. Because of this we don’t want to continuously mention words such as “exercise” and “looking good” – remember we want to embed a healthy attitude towards exercise and movement from a young age so that as kids grow older, they will always seek ways to get out and be active. What we are trying to communicate with Children is that exercise is needed to keep our bodies strong and fit. A strong and fit body will do wonders for the inside of the body promoting a healthy heart and helping to fight sickness.
For my family, we love being active, we love eating nutritious foods, and we love doing it all together. Exercise and movement doesn’t have to be boring, it just needs to be something that we enjoy doing. Whether its long walks, bike riding, or punching a bag, exercise is one component that helps keep us fit, healthy and feeling young. The key to getting kids involved is to start young and to do it as a family – we model our behaviour for our children to mimic. We use words such as ‘Thank You’ and ‘Please’ to model behaviour, so why not show the kids that as parents we’re also trying to live a healthy and active lifestyle? For more inspiration and some seriously tasty food ideas for all follow us @fitfamilysydney
* As with any guideline you read, this is a general overview of how much exercise children should be accumulating in a day to take advantage of the wide range of health benefits associated with exercise and movement. It is important to note that these guidelines are in place to help families assesswhether their child is getting enough. It should also be noted that every child is different and that should also be taken into consideration.  
* Please note that as per the Guidelines: these apply to all young people, irrespective of cultural background, gender or ability. Remember if your child has a medical condition, you must always consult with an accredited Medical Professional regarding exercise and their condition and remember to always receive clearance before commencing a new activity. In the case of older children who are more sedentary, we would recommend starting at a light intensity and slowly build up over time. Remember exercise should always be safe and age appropriate.