Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Keep your finger on the pulse this Global Pulse Day!

Over the last few years, a wave of plant-based trends, coupled with the International Year of Pulses in 2016, has led to the humble pulse - more commonly known as legumes - increasingly being seen for the nutritional powerhouses that they truly are. And as these trends develop, their true potential and versatility is just now being discovered. With Global Pulse Day on the horizon - 10th February 2018 - we've been looking at the health benefits pulses provide and new ways in which to incorporate them into our diet!

But first, what actually is a pulse?

Pulses belong to the wider legume family, which is a group of plants whose fruit or seed is enclosed in a pod. Pulses refer specifically to the dried, mature seeds of these plants and include dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. The term ‘legume’ includes these dry varieties, as well as fresh peas and beans and is a more commonly used term than pulses.

Many people are most familiar with legumes in the form of the much-loved baked bean, but there are hundreds of different varieties of legume out there with some of the most familiar including chickpeaslentilspeas and beans - like butter beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans and soybeans.

Legumes and pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be eaten in many forms including whole, split, ground into flour, dried, canned, cooked or frozen.


Why are they so good for me?

Legumes are packed with a whole range of essential nutrients, they are...
  • An economical source of plant-based protein.
  • Higher in protein than most other plant foods.
  • Generally low in fat, and virtually free of saturated fats.
  • Rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, with a low glycaemic index to help maintain blood glucose control.
  • A good source of B-group vitamins including folate, plus iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
  • Abundant in fibre, including both insoluble and soluble fibre, plus resistant starch - all essential for maintaining good gut health!
There are many studies which show that legumes offer significant health benefits including protection against chronic diseases, assisting with weight management and helping to maintain good gut health.

How much should I be eating?

Pulses like chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans are full of nutrients, inexpensive and important for health and well-being. We recommend aiming for 100g or ½ cup of pulses at least three times a week to maintain good health.

So how do I add more legumes into my diet?

  Enjoying legumes as part of a healthy habit is easier than you might think...
·        Use hummus instead of mayonnaise in a sandwich
·        Substitute a mix of kidney beans and red lentils for half the mince in your next spaghetti bolognaise or chilli
·        Mix in a handful of black beans or lentils when cooking scrambled eggs
·        Try whizzing a handful of cannellini beans into a fruit smoothie 
·        Use mashed cooked brown lentils in a nutty bliss ball mix

Why not try something new with these legumes…

Chickpeas offer a creamy texture and mild taste and make a great base for soaking up flavours.

Try something new with chickpeas: why not mix up your hummus with additions like sundried tomatoes, feta or cooked sweet potato or why not try the latest foodie trend, sweet hummus!
 

Black beans have a delicious meaty texture and make a great addition to burgers or as a mince substitute in chilli.

Try something new with black beans: use them to add a fudgy texture to black bean brownies.


Lupins are slowly making their mark in the world of legumes due to their incredible versatility - they can be eaten fresh and lupin flour and flakes can be used to up the protein and fibre content when baking.

Try something new with lupins: use a mix of lupin flakes and oats for a nutritious homemade muesli.


  Top tips for prepping and storing your legumes

·        Cooking dried legumes (or pulses) in large batches is easy and cost-effective - simply freeze individual portions of cooked legumes for up to three months for ready-to-use convenience.
·        When using canned legumes, rinse contents thoroughly to reduce sodium content by more than 40%.
·        Soaking dried legumes for an hour or two, or overnight if you have time, ensures that they're easier to digest and maximises nutrient bio-availability. Split peas and lentils don't need to be soaked.
·        Store cooked, cooled legumes in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days - this applies whether they're from a can or cooked at home.


With so many varieties to choose from, there are many reasons to love your legumes - their health benefits, versatility and abundance of nutrients being just a few. But however you choose to eat them, know that whenever you do you’re making a significant contribution to your health.

Visit the GLNC website for more information on the nutrition benefits of legumes, handy tips and recipe inspiration.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Australia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition Wrap-Up

In late November last year the team from GLNC headed to Adelaide for the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition (APCCN). With the theme ‘Nutrition Solutions for a Changing World,’ APCCN brought together nutrition scientists from across the globe to share the latest in nutrition research. Read on for a wrap-up of the key themes from APCCN:
  • The future of food: how can we contribute to a more sustainable food system?
Author and science communicator Julian Cribb opened the first Plenary Session with a sobering reminder of the risks involved with the modern day food system. Our population is growing at record rates, yet over-consumption and current practices are straining both our health, and the environment. Cribb noted over the next few decades, there is a need to grow more food to sustain the growing population, but produced from less land, using less water. But it’s not all bad news: Cribb’s presentation shared the endless opportunities and areas for innovation in sustainable food systems – a shift to a more plant-based diet, cultured meat and the use of food printers, and ‘Agritecture,’ the art of growing more food in urban environments, which can be observed in major cities with sustainably built high-rises covered in greenery.

  • The microbiome: a trend that’s here to stay, but there’s so much more to learn!
Gut health made waves in 2017 for its links with health and possible disease prevention, and a number of research presentations at APCCN focused on how the microbiome can be altered through eating probiotic or prebiotic foods. Associate Professor Melinda Coughlan from Monash University shared interesting research around the potential for resistant starch to protect against Chronic Kidney Disease in mice, by suppressing or reversing inflammation from dietary AGEs, and decreasing changes in gut bacteria. But despite the hype, there was a consensus that nutrition science is still in the early stages of understanding how diet can affect gut health, so stay tuned!
  • Food innovations and new product development: high-amylose wheat
Dr Anthony Bird from CSIRO presented research on a newly developed strain of wheat which is high in amylose and looks set to become a useful functional food ingredient. With ten times the amount of resistant starch than ordinary wheat, the newly developed high-amylose wheat can be milled into flour and used in food products as normal. This means people could benefit from the digestive and chronic disease protection resistant starch offers, without drastically changing or increasing the foods they eat.
  • Whole grain: where we're falling short
GLNC General Manager Dr Sara Grafenauer also presented research findings from GLNC, alongside the University of Wollongong: ‘The whole grain gap: comparing intakes to recommendations.’ The study found that from a nationally representative sample of Australians, only 30% met the 48g Daily Target Intake of whole grains, so are missing out on the known health benefits. Find out more about the whole grain DTI here.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

4 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Sandwich!

by Lisa Sengul

It’s that time of year again when the kids are headed back to school and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the thought of so many lunches to prepare. We’ve got your back this new school year - creating a nutritionally balanced lunchbox doesn’t have to be so stressful. Take a step in the right direction by making your kids a wholesome sandwich!   


Did you know bread contains vital nutrients such as fibre, B-group vitamins, folate, thiamine, zinc, vitamin E and antioxidants? So it’s the perfect vehicle for creating a nutritious, portable lunch.

If you’re lacking inspiration when it comes to packing school lunches, simply follow our 4 easy steps to creating the ultimate portable lunch…

1.     Choose your base - a well-constructed sandwich relies on a substantial base! Whatever you choose to build your sandwich on, we recommend choosing whole grain, wholemeal or high fibre varieties where possible. Whole grain and high fibre foods can reduce our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If you have a picky eater on your hands try using one slice white and one slice wholemeal bread or use a high fibre white bread!   

2.     Add flavour - use your favourite spread like vegemite, hummus or avocado to add a pop of flavour, colour and nutrients. Mix things up and try this bright beetroot hummus.

3.     Add your veggies - use a handful of salad or any other raw or cooked vegetables you have at home. Don’t look past last night’s leftover roast pumpkin or zucchini!

4.     Finally, choose your protein power - quick and easy sources of protein like cheese, tuna, boiled eggs or leftover roast meat are great for sandwiches.

Getting the kids involved...
Now that you’re ready to get creative, why not get the kids to help? A great way to get younger kids involved and make lunchboxes fun is by cutting sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters!

Encourage your kids to get involved in lunchbox choices too - asking them to choose their fruit and veggies will help to reduce uneaten food at the end of the day.

Top tips for avoiding soggy sandwiches
·       Very lightly toast bread, just 1-2 minutes 
·       Make sure lettuce leaves, rocket and salads are nice and dry before assembling - use a paper towel to remove most of the moisture
·       Put condiments like mayo in the middle of your sandwich, between meat or cheese
·       Use lettuce leaves as a barrier - layer first so they are directly in contact with the bread

Still lacking inspiration?
Don’t worry, we’ve prepared a bunch of lunchbox sandwich, wrap and roll recipes that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. You can find all these and more on our website. Check out our Mexican Bean Wrap - it takes just 5 minutes to prepare and it’s a winner with the kids!