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Super Citrus


The ‘spring clean’ may be something we associate exclusively with the homewares sphere, but the season of regeneration is also time to hit refresh on your meal mindset! With spring just around the corner, it’s time to pack all the veges and superfoods we can into our days; citrus may be just what you need to kickstart your health! We check out some of our favourite ways to pack in the nutrients.

 

 

 

SUPER CITRUS: It’s no secret citrus is a great source of immunity-boosting vitamin C. But there’s other lesser-known benefits to these tasty, fresh fruits, too. Did you know eating and drinking citrus may improve brain and lung function, and speed up your metabolism?


WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS: Lemons are always in season in New Zealand, and the yellow gems can help hydrate, improve your skin and aid digestion. A squeeze of lemon will add a health-promoting zing to your water, tea, or salad dressing.


MARVELLOUS MANDARINS: Mandarin season is in full swing, and these handy little guys with their own natural packaging and convenient segments are an easy-to-eat addition to the kids’ lunch box (or your hand bag) for a no-fuss on-the-go health boost.


PHYTO-FIT: Citrus contains phytonutrients, clever little chemicals produced by plants which the fruit itself uses to stay healthy. When you eat or drinks foods rich in the compounds – like citrus – you benefit from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, too.


NAVEL GAZING: New Zealand produces about 9 million kilograms of navel oranges between July and December, so it’s no surprise they’re one of our favourite fruit bowl residents. However, you may be surprised to learn they’re also a great source of fibre and potassium.


ZEST FOR LIFE: There’s more to citrus than juice (though a freshly squeezed glass of OJ never goes astray). Consider freshening up your next winter salad with slices of orange or grapefruit, or use the zesty delights for tart desserts like an orange cheesecake or sweet-but-tangy lemon curd.


HANDY TIP: Focus on the nutrients count and not the calorie count, if you want to improve the quality of your diet.


 

Clean Cuisine


You’ve been told your whole life about the importance of clean eating right? Well what if you’ve been taking the concept of clean eating wrong this whole time? Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen is a clever little ditty that tells us that some of our veges are clean and some of them are not so much. We break it down for you.

 

We all know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, but we often disregard how the produce was grown.

Take pesticides, for example. There’s a huge body of evidence that links these nasty chemicals to a variety of health concerns.

The Dirty Dozen refers to 12 most ‘dirty’ crops, or those which farmers use the most pesticides on.

Alternatively, the Clean Fifteen refers to 15 crops that use the least amount of pesticides.

It’s not just a random guess, nor is it static data; the list is compiled from an analysis of the United States government’s Pesticide Data Program report, a pesticide residue monitoring system enacted back in 1991.

A new report is released every year and, although most of the information stays the same, sometimes crops come in at different numbers depending on varying pesticide residue levels.

Importantly, these handy little lists determine which fruits and veggies you should be buying organic, where possible, making your next grocery shop that little bit healthier.

The Dirty Dozen defines the top twelve crops that farmers use the most pesticides on, and therefore have the most pesticide residue when the reach the shelves of the supermarket – despite being washed beforehand. The EWG recommends buying organic:

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
6.Grapes
7. Peaches
8. Cherries
9. Pears
10. Tomatoes
11. Celery
12. Potatoes

While it’s also wise to buy the Clean 15 when it’s organically grown, these fruits and vegetables are recorded as having little to no pesticide residue in a conventional setting:

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Frozen sweet peas
5. Onions
6. Papayas
7. Eggplants
8. Asparagus
9. Kiwifruit
10. Cabbages
11. Cauliflower
12. Cantaloupes
13. Broccoli
14. Mushrooms
15. Honeydew melons


 

Eating for immunity


Great Greek Philosopher Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

 

Science has found the proof is in the pudding and many of our tastiest foods are also immunity boosters, that are both affordable and versatile to boot.

A healthy habit is to have these superheroes as pantry staples. Whole, natural, colourful fruits and vegetables all have unique benefits, working in synergy with each other.


PLANT POWER
Kale was and still is king, and is rich in vitamin C. Its cousins in the brassica family, such as cabbage and cavolo nero, are also immunity-boosting powerhouses. Spinach has flavonoids which help ward off colds. Kumara is an antioxidant-rich satisfier, whereas berries such as blackcurrants and elderberries are renown beneficial flu fighters.


SOUP SAVIOURS
Onions and garlic offer allicin for immunity and are a great base for mineral-rich bone broths. Slow boil a chicken or cheap cuts of meat on the bone to extract the goodness – or buy the prepared version. Add in herbs and vegetables for more immune fuel.


WASTE NOT
Use the whole food. For example, grate the zest of a spray-free lemon, before you do the big squeeze – it’s an additional immunity boost. Beetroot leaves are delicious and nutritious in stir fries, salads or added to smoothies.


FROM OUR SHORES
New Zealand harvests its own superfood spirulina – delicious with pineapple and banana in a Shrek-coloured smoothie. Also, our seaweeds, mussels and oysters are high in all-important flu-flighting zinc. And oily fish such as Tuna and Salmon have Vitamin D.


SNEAK IT IN
Add gelatinous all-round healthy chai seeds to desserts or soups. Ground flax seeds sprinkled onto breakfast or salads or smoothies add the anti-inflammatory Omega 3. Toss in the tempeh and mix in the miso to increase the immune system’s antibodies.


NATURALLY SWEET
How lucky are we to live in the land of treasured manuka honey? An anti-viral, it supports the respiratory system, whereas too much sugar suppresses it. So swap to bee-made sweetness for toast and teas.


HEALTHY PIZZAS
Hold the cheese overdose and pile a thin base generously with immunity enhancers like onions, broccoli, vitamin C-loaded red bell peppers, mushrooms for zinc, and top with olive oil and fresh herbs.


SPICE IT UP
Use ginger for stir fries, pumpkin-soup pep, or medicinal hot drinks with honey and lemon. Superfood turmeric makes a warming latte or can be used to spice up your porridge, unless you prefer the flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg with their anti-inflammatory benefits..


NOT SO HUMBLE HERBS
Herbs are medicinal powerhouses. Thyme contains thymol – which is wonderful for the respiratory system. Oregano too, has anti-viral properties, so liberally add herbs for medicinal magic.


PREBIOTICS
Healthful sauerkraut and kimchi are piquant sidekicks on the dinner plate. Immunity starts in the gut, so prepare an army of good bacteria.


SWEET AND SOUR
Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, an essential micronutrient which contributes to the improved health of your immune system. Because our bodies cannot produce nor store vitamin C, it’s important we pack it into our diets wherever we can!


 

The stress eating equation


For many of us, stressful times means picking up the packet of chocolate biscuits instead of the kale salad. Dr Libby Weaver breaks down the ‘why’ for us and provides us with some effective strategies for eliminating stress.

 

Many people believe weight is all about calories in versus calories out, why do you think it is so much for complex than that?

The calorie equation, which was first published in 1918, and on which today’s dieting mentality is still based, fails to factor in crucial elements of the modern world.

For example, it does not consider the metabolic consequences of modern day food.

It continues under the false belief that all that matters to body shape and size is your fat, protein and carbohydrate (and alcohol) intake: the macronutrients from where you obtain your calories.

Yet there are nine factors that influence whether the body gets the message to store fat or burn it.

For example, when your fight or flight response is activated – done by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – your body gets the message that your life is in danger.

To supply you with fuel to escape from the danger, you need one that is fast-burning.

The only two fuels for the body are glucose (sugar) and fat so the body will preferentially utilise more glucose than fat in this situation.

As a result, too many people have lost the ability to efficiently burn fat as a fuel due to stress, so they store more fat and crave sugar to top up what they are burning.

Yet the stress we face these days is primarily psychological rather than a physical threat to our life so the SNS is constantly and relentlessly activated for many people these days.

Another example involves our gut bacteria.

Research published from 2008 onwards has shown that the types of bacteria you have inhabiting your colon can influence what calories are worth – yet another example of how a calorie isn’t always a calorie.

There’s far more to it as most women who have tried a calorie-restricted diet from about age 35 onwards will attest and all of this is a major focus of my work.


How does stress make you put on weight?

Stress—whether real or perceived—communicates to the body that it is in danger and triggers the production of stress hormones.

It’s just how we are biochemically wired.

When that stress becomes ongoing and persistent, our long-term stress hormone, cortisol, begins to rise.

Because this hormone is linked to times historically where food was scarce (think of long-term stress sources in the past such as war, drought or famines), it signals to the body to start storing body fat as this can be used as energy.

To do this, it has a catabolic effect, meaning it breaks your muscles down so you’re your metabolic rate is slower, giving your more of a chance to still be alive when the food supply is restored.

However, for most people in our modern world, food isn’t scarce so all of a sudden we’re getting the message to store more body fat and it often influences us to make different food choices as well.


How does that stress influence whether we pick up a bag of chips or a kale salad?

There are two aspects to this—one is biochemical and the other is emotional.

Biochemically, as I just mentioned, the stress hormone cortisol, communicates to the body that it needs to start storing body fat in case food becomes scarce.

The quickest and easiest energy source for us is glucose (sugar) and so when our cortisol levels are raised, not only will we be more likely to store instead of burn body fat, we’ll also be more drawn to carbohydrate-rich foods which are broken down into glucose in the body.

Emotionally, when we are stressed we tend to feel less motivated and lack energy.

This in itself can lead us to make different food choices.

Throw into the mix that many people use food to TRY to make themselves feel better or numb out to what might be uncomfortable feelings (even though you may not recognise that this is what you are doing at the time), and you’ve got another scenario in which you’re more likely to opt for potato chips over kale salad.


What are some of the best foods that we should be reaching for during particularly stressful times to support our overall wellbeing?

When we experience stress, our need for nutrients increases because now, on top of all the other important biochemical processes that happen within us all day every day, we also have to build stress hormones as well.

Our body requires specific nutrients in order to build these stress hormones—many of which are needed for other vital biochemical processes – things like B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.

Yet stress hormones are considered the priority so the nutrients will go to their creation before anything else.

This is one mechanism through which stress can begin to take a toll on our health and we may begin to experience symptoms in our body that we don’t initially connect to extended stress.

So what we really need to focus on during times like these is increasing our intake of whole, real food—especially plenty of vegetables.


What are some of the most effective strategies for eliminating stress?

It’s very difficult to reduce your experience of stress without exploring your perception of pressure and urgency as well as any beliefs you have that might be creating perceptions of stress.

Restorative practices such as diaphragmatic breathing, restorative yoga, tai chi, meditation or qi gong are wonderful balms to a stressed nervous system, however, we need to get to the heart of what is causing our stress in order to transform it.

Most often it is our mind.

To examine what’s truly at the heart of our stress, instead of scrutinising WHAT stresses us out, we need to examine HOW we actually think.

This is a concept I dive into deeply in my book, The Invisible Load.

For example, when a colleague phones you and asks where some work is as she needed it yesterday, we often don’t really hear what the person has said – instead we hear what we think they meant.

Behind their request for work, we’ll perceive that they think we are lazy, or inefficient, or not a hard worker – in other words we perceive that they now see us in an unfavourable way.

So the stress comes from worrying about what they think of us. Yet we dreamed that bit up. All they did was ask for work and we created their “disapproval” of us with our thinking. That’s the type of “stress” we can change. That’s the part I’m interested in.


 

Get your gardening on


What’s flourishing in the gardening world in 2020? From supersized houseplants to 80s flower inspiration, we give you the rundown on some of the coolest gardening developments expected to blossom over the coming year.

Super-sized species

2020 – the year of the houseplant? It’s no surprise that these indoor beauties are top of the list, but this year sees super-sized greenery take centre stage in many homes.

Forget the small decorative plants and modest, lonely aloe vera – it’s all about bigger, bolder species. Increase the health benefits of greenery by making a statement with showstopping varieties like the giant-leafed alocasia, the deep green monstera and the fiddle-leaf fig.

Don’t totally discount your miniature favourites, though – horticulturists predict 6-9cm plants will remain popular.


Grow-your-own

Your garden should always be a place of peace and purpose.

With environmental welfare at the forefront of many minds, what better way to take advantage of your outdoor space than sustainably sourcing your own fruit and veges?

Herbs, beans and peas are still high on the agenda this year, alongside highly nutritious microgreens, chillies, legumes and soybeans.

Sit back and reap the rich rewards of a fruitful vege garden; like fresh organic food and a reduced weekly grocery spend – not to mention the satisfaction that comes with it.

Add a creative touch to your food with edible flowers, flavour a cocktail with homegrown herbs or berries, or whip up a fresh vegetable salad, all with the fruits (literally!) of your labour.


Bug-friendly backyards

The new decade is all about being kind to wildlife thanks to growing concern over the catastrophic decline in insects and the overall impact of this on the environment.

In 2020, overgrown gardens teeming with wildlife take the top spot over neatly manicured lawns, as gardeners ditch pesticides and promote pollination.

Dubbed ‘rewilding’, the trend has sparked interest in outdoor spaces with a more natural aesthetic, which incorporate eco-friendly gardening concepts such as bee hotels, wildlife ponds, log piles, pollen-rich plants and compost heaps.

Plastic-free gardening is also a hot topic; consider using compostable plant pots made from rice husk and sustainable wood and bamboo fibres over wasteful black plastic ones.


80s flower power

The wild and beautiful blooms of the 80s are having a well-deserved revival with nemesias and diascias front of the line.

Not only do these pretty flowers offer a compact size, long flowering period and sweet scent that attracts bees and butterflies, they’re also incredibly flexible supporting plants that can be grown at the edge of any basket, bed or pot.

Expect to see a wider range of these beauties as new breeding programmes produce sensational colour schemes such as ‘berries and cream’.


 

Spicy Sprout & Mushroom Noodles with Five-Spice


INGREDIENTS
300g brussels sprouts and their sprout tops, the sprouts halved or quartered, the sprout tops shredded
1 tbsp oil or ghee
400g mushrooms, any type, roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1 fresh red chilli, seeds too, finely chopped
3/4 tsp five-spice
2 bundles of noodles
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice or vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce or extra tamari
2 tbsp black sesame seeds or chopped nuts or seeds, to serve
Fresh herbs such as coriander or mint, to serve (optional)
Chilli garlic sauce to serve (optional)

 

Fry the sprouts in oil or ghee in a wok or large deep-sided frying pan over a high heat for four minutes. For the first few minutes, fry them in an even layer, untouched for a minute or so, then stir or shake the pan to get to the other side.

This will give you nice golden edges, which adds flavour.

Chop the mushrooms, then add them too, stir-frying for five minutes along with the ginger, garlic, chilli and five-spice. If you’ve got sprout tops, add them now to briefly fry.

Meanwhile, get the noodles cooking in a second saucepan following the label instructions; they should be ready once the sprouts are.

Once the sprouts are tender and the mushrooms have started to go golden and any liquid they have released has been cooked off, add the maple syrup, tamari, citrus (and fish sauce if using) to the sprouts pan and mix everything together.

Finish by adding the cooked noodles and tossing everything together for 30 seconds so the noodles pick up the flavours, adding a tiny splash of water if you need to. Serve with the sesame seeds, fresh herbs and chilli sauce (if using) on top.

Extracted from Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley, published by Random House UK, RRP $50. Copyright © Melissa Hemsley 2020. Photography © Philippa Langley 2020


 

2020 Food Predictions


In recognition of the new decade, we caught up with My Food Bag’s development kitchen team, comprising of Nadia Lim and 13 talented chefs and nutritionists, about what we can expect to see on the culinary horizon for 2020.

 


1. Mindful eating – Consideration for health and the environment are on the rise.

When it comes to our food choices, people are more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies and their footprint.

Mindful eating is also about being present while we eat, appreciating food and spending quality time at the dinner table.


2. Out with fad dieting – When it comes to health and weight loss, sustainability in all things is the way forward.

Understanding the tried-and-tested method of eating real, nutritionally balanced food with a vegetable focus will become the ultimate goal.


3. Home food fast, not fast food – Convenience is key.

With Kiwis short on time, they want to be able to prep and cook food fast, but this doesn’t have to mean eating badly.

Homecooked and veggie-packed ready meals are in hot demand.


4. Zero-waste and home composting – Over the past decade ‘nose to tail’ and ‘stalk to tip’ have become commonplace.

This year we’re continuing to lessen our waste from the beginning to the end of our food’s journey.

Home composting is also on the rise with composts and urban worm farms increasing in popularity.


5. Mezze plates are the new platters: The bowl reached its peak in 2019 and although this movement isn’t going anywhere, the platter is catching up – think Middle Eastern influences, elaborate grazing platters and mezze plates.


6. Mini foodies: The next decade will see kids’ palates continuing to evolve. Forget chicken nuggets and chips!

Thanks to the rise in popularity of baby-led weaning, olives and sushi are becoming everyday staples for many youngsters.

My Food Bag predicts New Zealanders are raising a generation of foodies interested in eating and cooking nutrient-dense foods with bold flavours.


7. Nut butters: New Zealand’s nut butter industry has taken off in the last five years with several artisan suppliers such as Pic’s and Forty Thieves providing a range of simple, minimally processed nut butters free from sugar and added vegetable oils.

Peanut, almond, cashew and hazelnut butters, as well as tahini are becoming more common in cooking, adding flavour and texture to sauces and dressings.


8. Alternative flours: Alternative flours have been used as replacements in baking for years but now they’re going mainstream and forming the bases of staple food items like pasta and bread.

Rapidly growing in popularity due to the rise in gluten-free and coeliac and the desire for more diverse foods, these flours are becoming regular supermarket purchases for those without dietary requirements.


9. Fermentation: Kombucha and sauerkraut are so 2019! However, the rise and focus on gut health is here to stay in 2020 and this will see an increased focus on improved digestion from prebiotics, the non-digestible starch our gut bacteria feeds off, which is typically known as fibre.

Think lots of veggies and fibre-rich foods like broccolini, sweetcorn, whole grains and chickpeas.


10. Is smashed avo out? We’d be lying if we said avo on toast is on the out, but the bread base is changing and Kiwis are becoming increasingly creative when it comes to their avo toppings and add-ons.

We’re moving from ciabatta and rye to bespoke sourdoughs made from fermented oat and potato, as well as gluten-free almond, turmeric and cricket bread.

Meanwhile, favourite toppings in 2020 will include whipped pumpkin and feta, tahini or almond butter and kimchi mushrooms, crushed peas or crispy buckwheat and hummus.


 

Time shine


Ever want to look like you’re in a hair care commercial? We’ve pulled together some of our hottest tips for hair that is both smooth and shiny.

 

 

 

OPT FOR OILS:
a little goes a long way with argon oil, so be sure to only use two to five drops!

Start by warming the oil up – to do this simply rub your hands together after placing the drops on your palms.

Finally, run your hands through damp, freshly-washed hair and massage the oil into your scalp.

Apply two to three times a week to ensure silky smooth hair.

A FINE SHINE:
for our readers with finer hair this is the tip for you.

The answer is three words and some beautiful alliteration: boar bristle brushes.

It’s hard to deny the effectiveness of a hair tip that has been around since the 1800s and is so easy to implement… just use it like a normal brush.

OH MY OMEGA:
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help towards hair health (which will contribute to its silkiness and shine).

Load up on fish such as mackerel or sardines.

If you’re not a big fan of seafood, there’s other ways to get your omega fix – fish oil capsules are a great alternative.


 

Feeding the Soul


Early human civilisations viewed food as medicine. Today, taste and convenience trump nutritional objectives when it comes to our food. Yet as more of us are seeking healthier lifestyles, there’s a growing interest in nutrition. We check out a few of the most nutrient-dense foods and how to incorporate them into our diets.

 

  1. Kale

    Of all the dark leafy greens, kale takes the top spot.

    Without a doubt one of the most super superfoods, kale is brimming with vitamins C, A, K1 and B6, plus large amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese.

    It also has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

    Kale also packs a powerful punch of antioxidants such as quercetin (an anti-viral that can combat the common cold) and carotenoids for good eyesight.

    Kale can be eaten raw or cooked – add it to pasta sauce, soups, curries, smoothies and salad!

    And why not switch out your potato chips for a healthier alternative?

    Line a tray with washed kale leaves, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the edges are brown (10 to 15 mins) and voilà – kale chips!


  2. Quinoa

    Perhaps the most nutritious grain of all, quinoa is a one of the few plant goods considered a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts.

    This complex carbohydrate is a fantastic energy source that will keep you fuller for longer and is not only high in protein and fibre – it’s also packing several B vitamins, magnesium, iron, potassium and phosphorus.

    Good news for coeliacs and gluten-free folk: this whole grain is naturally free from gluten!

    Quinoa can replace pasta or rice as the primary source of carbs in a meal.

    It can also be used as a substitute for your morning porridge!

    For dinner, why not stuff capsicums or heirloom tomatoes with a seasoned quinoa mix for a hearty plant-based and gluten-free meal?


  3. Garlic

    These amazing little cloves are in a league of their own!

    Not only does garlic make almost every savoury dish much tastier, it’s also loaded with vital nutrients such as calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.

    Allicin, garlic’s active ingredient that gives it its unique odour, is an incredibly important nutrient that reduces inflammation and offers antioxidant benefits.

    Garlic has also been shown to fight off the common cold, and lower blood pressure and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

    Garlic can be incorporated into most savoury foods like pasta, salad, pesto, soups/stews, stir-fries and more.

    Not a fan of the garlic taste? Dried garlic capsules are available from most health food stores and vitamin retailers.


  4. Seaweed

    Seaweed/kelp deserves more recognition than it currently gets – it’s not just for fish!

    Seaweed has been found to be even more nutritious than land vegetables in many cases; it’s particularly high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese – and iodine!

    Iodine is vital for optimal thyroid function, and because New Zealand soils are relatively low in iodine, many Kiwis are lacking this nutrient in their diet.

    Eating kelp or consuming kelp supplements once a week can give your body all the iodine it needs.

    Try adding a sheet of nori to a wrap or sandwich, make your own sushi rolls, or incorporate small pieces of nori into your salads or stir-fries.

    Seaweed snacks are also available from most supermarkets and Asian food stores, as are kelp noodles.


Get your glow on


We’re heading into a new working year – it’s time to refresh, rejuvenate and replenish before we’re dragged back to the daily grind. How about a facial massage for a healthy glow? We explore the benefits.

 

Just like the rest of your body, facial muscles (all 43 of them!) require exercise to keep you looking toned, younger and healthier – and that’s why many beauty experts recommend incorporating regular facial massage into your daily skincare routine to maximise anti-aging benefits.

Facial massages primarily increase blood and oxygen flow to the face, which:

  1. Increases the production of collagen – your body’s own anti-aging ‘serum’.
  2. Allows the skin to work more efficiently, increasing the absorption of skincare products. Exfoliating before a facial massage increases this further. We recommend doing this before bed so the product can absorb overnight without any additional coverage (like makeup or sunscreen).
  3. Stimulates the lymph nodes, which flush out fluids and toxins that congest the skin and cause under-eye bags/dark circles.
  4. Relieves tension in the facial muscles, stopping wrinkles in their tracks. Focus gently on the soft lines around the mouth, eyes and eyebrows for maximum results.
  5. Can help to alleviate stress! According to a study in the journal Biomedical Research, facial massage activates the sympathetic nervous system, which reduces anxiety levels and uplifts mood.

TOP TIP: Always use upward circular motions – you want to work against gravity, so everything goes up!