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The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That's the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy - my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving...

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Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol?Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol? The short answer is yes - you can eat mussels if you have high cholesterol. Mussels are low in kilojoules, cholesterol and fat. The little fat they do have is mostly healthy unsaturated fat with plenty...

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Bran MuffinsBran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...

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Beat the flu with Chicken Noodle Soup It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica....

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My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...

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Chocolate – don’t share it with your pet!

Posted on : 19-03-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, Snacks

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In the story of Winnie-the-Pooh, Pooh Bear gets stuck in Rabbit’s hole and has to lose weight so he can become unstuck. Rabbit puts up a sign which says “Don’t Feed the Bear”. At Easter, all families with a dog need a similar sign attached to their chocolate Easter Eggs: “Don’t Feed the Dog.”

Animals can die from eating chocolate. They are sensitive to theobromine – a compound similar to caffeine. Compared to humans, animals metabolise theobromine more slowly which means it stays in their body for much longer. Even a small amount of chocolate may be enough to cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and even death.

Will I get cancer from frying with olive oil?

Posted on : 01-12-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Cancer, Food safety, Interviews, Research

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olive oil 6Last night I heated some extra virgin olive oil and fried chopped potatoes, onion and asparagus. After a few moments I tossed in some spinach leaves and chopped tomato, then poured over beaten eggs. A sprinkle of cheese and a light grill to brown the top and voila – yummy frittata for an easy Sunday evening meal. The big question is have I increased my risk of getting cancer by frying in olive oil?

“Exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke or going outside without sun-block is much more likely to cause cancer than burning your cooking oil,” writes fats and oils expert, Laurence Eyres, in the October/November issue of Food New Zealand – the official journal of the NZ Institute of Food Science and Technology. But what about all those cancer causing chemicals – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – that are formed when we burn cooking oil? It’s true that when oil is repeatedly heated to its smoking point it will begin to accumulate cancer causing substances and lose its natural antioxidants. But who uses the same oil over and over again, especially when we’ve burnt it? We usually just heat and eat.

When researchers feed ‘severely heat-abused frying fats’ (more than we would ever do at home) to some poor experimental animals there are ‘very few deleterious effects’. In fact olive oil is especially stable because it is monounsaturated. Extra virgin olive oil is even better than a lower quality olive oil because it has more natural antioxidants to soak up nasty free radicals. And good news for those of us who love New Zealand extra virgin olive oil. Compared to overseas olive oils it has more antioxidants and a higher smoking point, so you can heat it hotter before it starts to burn.

Energy drinks can make you fat, fidgety and feisty!

Posted on : 18-09-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, Unhealthy

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I’ve just returned from ‘school pick-up’ – that time of day when mums and dads gather at the school gates to collect their children and gossip. My mind was on energy drinks and as I chatted to a friend about writing this story another mum interrupted me. “Are you talking about those energy shots?” she asked. “They are terrible. My daughter was at a disco last week and a boy gave her a Demon shot to drink. It wiped her out. She became really nauseous and shaky. It gave her and her friends a big fright.” No wonder! That innocent looking 60ml bottle that anyone can buy at the local store or service station contains 200mg of caffeine. That’s more than a double shot espresso!

How many people do you know who drink double strength coffee with 10 sugars? I don’t know any. But I do know that thousands of people are getting exactly that when they drink certain ‘energy drinks’. Some are artificially sweetened – like the Demon shot mentioned above – but plenty are packed with sugar to add to the ‘energy’ boost you experience.

Egg nutrition update – how many can I have a week?

Posted on : 09-08-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, On my plate

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time eggs[tweetmeme] Mention cholesterol and what food jumps to mind? Probably the egg. Since the early 1980’s it has been the much maligned food icon of high cholesterol. True, it is high in cholesterol but it has hardly any saturated fat which, as we now know, is the real culprit that sends our cholesterol levels soaring. A ‘big breakfast’ of eggs with fatty bacon, sausages and toast lathered with butter will certainly send up your cholesterol level. The bacon, sausages and butter will do a pretty good job of that even without the eggs! But egg sandwiches (without butter), poached eggs, nicoise salad (hard boiled eggs, green beans, tuna, potato, tomatoes with a garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing), scrambled eggs or omelette with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and herbs are all fantastic nutritious meals.

So it was with a collective sigh of relief that we heard the good news – we’re finally allowed to eat more than 3 eggs a week. At least that’s the latest decision made by the Australian Heart Foundation who now allow up to six eggs a week. It follows similar relaxing of egg restrictions by the Irish and British Heart Foundations based on the latest science.

It’s never felt quite right to limit something as nutritious and unadulterated as an egg. And I wonder, during these past 30 or 40 years of minimal eggs, what we have eaten in its place – perhaps a low fibre, sugary cereal for breakfast or maybe chocolate nut spread sandwiches for lunch? Just a few weeks ago a friend asked me if it was OK to give her kids more than three eggs a week. “They really love eggs,” she explained. “And I feel mean saying they can’t have them.” I told her that of course she could give them more – and there it was again, that sigh of relief.

Eggs are high in protein, they have great satiety value which means you won’t feel hungry for ages after eating them, and they have all sorts of antioxidants and other nutrients for good health. The yellow colour of the yolk is from an antioxidant called lutein. It helps protect the rods and cones at the back of your eye so you are less likely to suffer macular degeneration. Even more interesting is a nutrient called choline. It has anti-inflammatory effects and, like folate, is critical for normal development of the brain. That’s a whole story in itself which I’ll write about sometime soon.

See also: my article on 15 eggs a day!

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