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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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Living long, living well in the Blue Zones

Posted on : 13-10-2016 | By : Cindy | In : Aging, Conferences, Event buzz, Insightful perception, Legumes, Uncategorized

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‘You don’t have to believe in God to live a long life but it’s a common feature of the Blue Zones,’ said Associate Professor Tim Crowe. I had never heard of Blue Zones so was really looking forward to the private briefing for nutrition communicators and dietitians at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney this week.

Yes, there was product to promote and yes, we were given a wonderful goodie bag of Be Natural’s new range of whole grain granola cereals and snack bars which my teenager will devour with delight! But the organisers did a great job of informing us through Tim Crowe’s fascinating talk and entertaining us with amazing food displays and even exercise bikes to power blenders to make our own smoothies!

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Blue Zones are pockets of the world where people live especially long and healthy lives. The phrase was coined over ten years ago when Dan Buettner, National Geographic and a group of longevity researchers highlighted these pockets on a map of the world with – you guessed it – blue circles.

What I love about the Blue Zone concept is that they all eat different foods. Some eat lots of tropical fruit, others sourdough bread, red wine and olive oil, and others tofu, turmeric and a bit of fish. There is no one super food or super diet. But there are a few features common to all.

They all eat lots of plant foods – stacks of vegetables as well as protein rich foods such as beans (fava, borlotti, cannellini etc ), chickpeas, lentils, tofu and nuts. In fact around 80% of their food is plant based.

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They do a lot of integrated activity which is a fancy way to say their daily routine involves plenty of movement – walking to get food or see friends, chasing goats up the hillside, gardening. None of the blue zone people do triathlons or go to the gym!

If you ask people in the Blue Zones, ‘Why do you get up in the morning?’ they will have an answer. And it’s not just ‘Because I have to go to work.’ They have a sense of purpose, of being necessary and needed. Imagine if we could give this gift to each of our teenagers and young adults.

Community plays a large role in each of the Blue Zone pockets. Connection and caring for others obviously helps keep you young. According to the Blue Zone philosophy ‘Happy Hour’ is not swilling back as much beer or wine as you can rather it is drinking, usually red wine, with friends or family. It is the social aspect that is so important.

And finally faith. People in each of the Blue Zone pockets have faith and a belief in the spiritual, mostly a belief in God. Research shows that when a person prays, there are positive changes in his or her brain’s activity and the chemicals or neurotransmitters produced. Perhaps this is partly why the Bible says repeatedly to ‘Pray at all times.’ Prayer, and faith it seems, is good for our health.

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So how ‘Blue Zone’ have you been today? Have you eaten some hummus, beans or nuts? Have you filled your bowl or piled your plate with veges? Have you walked to work, the school or the cafe? Or done some gardening? Have you talked to or at least smiled at someone today? Do you have a great reason to jump out of bed tomorrow? Have you stopped and inhaled the fragrance of a flower, gazed at the view or enjoyed the warmth of the sun? Have you said thank you or laughed so hard your belly ached?

If you want to learn more about this latest buzz word, listen to Tim Crowe here on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/thinkingnutrition/videos/1183135265108172/

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Diary of a stay at home mum

Posted on : 03-02-2014 | By : Cindy | In : Behaviours, Funny, Insightful perception, Kids nutrition, Uncategorized

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I wake from a peri-menopausal sleep and glance at my watch. 6.15am. I jump out of bed, peeling off the sweat soaked PJ’s and race to the shower. I am already 15 minutes late.

I hurry downstairs to chop the apple and almonds for the Swiss Muesli. I stir in plain yoghurt and currants to the apple juice soaked oats and plop a fry pan with a dash of canola oil on the gas for an egg. The leisurely breakfasts and 9am start of primary school are finished. This year it’s high school and a 7.15am start to catch the bus.

My husband is already sipping his coffee and checking his ipad for news, stock prices and mail. The red teapot sits waiting for me on the bench. He’s made me tea and I gratefully pour the amber liquid into my favourite cup. Nothing like a good cup of tea in the morning. I flip the egg, pour a glass of water and place it all on the table with the Swiss Muesli. My son stumbles downstairs, already wired to his ipod and grunts a good morning. I sit down with my cup of tea for a few minutes of meaningful conversation.

“Just let me finish listening to this song, Mum.” He munches on his muesli. Eventually he unplugs himself and is ready to chat. The clock ticks relentlessly towards 7.15. My brain switches from meaningful conversation to task oriented talk.

Feeling down? Feeling depressed? 3 tips that can help

Posted on : 06-04-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Behaviours, Insightful perception, Uncategorized

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Feeling down? Feeling depressed? Here are some practical strategies you can try – both physical and emotional.

Eat plenty of salmon and other oily fish. Omega-3 fats make up a large part of our brain and are critical for it to function properly. Although not conclusive, research has found a link between omega-3’s and depression.

Do some exercise. Better than any mood enhancing drug, a regular dose of exercise makes the body produce endorphins – the ‘feel-good’ hormone.

Change your clothes – the emotional ones. ‘Put on the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’ (Isaiah 61:3) When we feel depressed it’s like wearing a heavy blanket. The last thing we feel like doing is praising, thanking or singing. That sodden, heavy blanket weighs us down, making us sink into depression and self pity.

It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, and the last thing I feel like doing, but if I force myself to praise God, that heavy blanket of depression soon starts to slide off. Even if you don’t feel like it, make yourself listen to some praise music or read Psalm 66 out loud. It really works!!

It’s all in your head!

Posted on : 30-06-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Behaviours, Insightful perception, Losing it - weight loss & obesity

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My grandfather was in the medical corps in World War One. In his diaries he tells the story of two soldiers in the ward (actually a tent) at the same time; one had a ‘cushy wound on the buttock’ while the other was seriously wounded, his body smashed in many places. No-one expected him to live. But despite his injuries he was positive, kind and concerned about others in the ward. He recovered. In contrast, the guy with the flesh wound was fearful, negative and worried that he might die. In the end, he did.

This is a dramatic and tragic true story of how our thoughts and attitude affect our physical health. I’m sure most of us can relate to it. I once had to say good-bye to my husband at the airport, knowing he wouldn’t be back for nine months. At the time I was recovering from a cold. Within a few hours of that tearful farewell the cold returned with a vengeance and dragged on for another month as I struggled with my emotions.

I know a woman who had struggled with being overweight for many years. One day her sister sat with her and said sorry on behalf of the whole family for the various ways they had hurt her. Within a few months this woman had joined Weight Watchers and over the next year dropped from a size 20 to a beautiful size 14 (USA size 12). Coincidence? Perhaps. But I’m not the only one who’s observed that a lot of eating problems – over-eating, under-eating or unhealthy choices – are just a symptom of an unhappy heart.

‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he’. These words of wisdom from over 2000 years ago apply just as much today – and science bears it out. Researchers at Harvard measured the immune response of people as they watched various images. When they watched (and engaged with their emotions) scenes of Mother Theresa their immune factors increased. Watching war scenes had the opposite effect.

So much of our physical health starts with our thoughts, and not just the thoughts in our head, but how we really feel in our heart. What emotions do you mostly feel: love, joy, gratefulness, peace? Or anger, fear, worry, boredom and unforgiveness? Even if you know what foods you should be eating to lose weight or keep healthy, your emotions could be sabotaging your most determined attempts.

Before you beat yourself up for not being self-disciplined enough, take some quiet time-out – all by yourself – to check your thoughts and emotions. It may be the key to good health you have been searching for.

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