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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...


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...


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...


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....


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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Will I get cancer from frying with olive oil?

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


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.

Top 4 ways to cut your risk of bowel cancer

Posted on : 10-10-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Bowel, Cancer, Disorders & Diseases, Older-age, Super-healthy...er...stuff


colon polypBowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in New Zealand and on a world ranking we’re way up there. Around 2500 New Zealanders develop bowel cancer each year and about 1000 die.

Considering there are just over 4 million of us, it’s pretty high. Bowel cancer is not so common in Maori people but those who do develop it are less likely to be diagnosed and therefore more likely to die.

Bowel cancers begin as polyps. As you can see in the picture, taken at virtual colonoscopy, these are small growths that can enlarge within your bowel on a stalk. As they grow bigger, the more chance there is of one of these turning into a killer –  a malignant cancer.

Bowel cancer is more common as you age but it’s never too early to get into healthy habits to cut your risk. Here’s the top 4 ways…

1. Physical activity
2. Fibre especially from wholegrains and fruit
3. Garlic
4. Calcium – have some low fat milk and yoghurt each day

From a diet perspective, here are the top 4 ways to increase your risk of bowel cancer?

1. Obesity, especially around the stomach
2. Processed meat such as sausages and salami
3. Red meat – it’s great for iron and zinc but keep it to less than 500 grams a week
4. Alcohol

My scoops 24.9.09

Posted on : 24-09-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Scoops, Special diets, Super-healthy...er...stuff


Dug these stories up while surfing around the web…

Supermarket ad trials: your shopping trolley knows what you want — In a move that brings new meaning to the expression “taking the thinking out of shopping”, advertising will be delivered directly to supermarket trolleys based on a shopper’s in-store behaviour and purchasing history.

It could make shopping more entertaining but I prefer to choose my groceries without my trolley telling me what to buy!

The rise and rise of gluten-free — The global market for gluten-free food and drink products has grown exponentially in the past five years with a raft of new products hitting the market. Clear leaders are starting to emerge in what was once a niche.

The gluten free market is growing at almost 30% a year. Pity it’s not my bank account!

Green tea slashes heart disease death risk: Study — Compared to people who drank less than one cup a day, seven or more cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by a whopping 75 per cent, report scientists from Okayama University in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Yet another study to remind us why drinking green tea is so good for us. Or is it that if you drink 7 cups a day you just don’t feel like that burger and fries?

Why gluten free foods are booming — Why do so many foods now declare themselves free of gluten – the protein found in grains like wheat, oats, rye and barley? Because around one million Australians are now eating gluten free foods, says Dr Sue Shepherd, a Melbourne dietitian, specialising in gastrointestinal problems.

Too many people think if a food is gluten free it’s more healthy. This is a sensible story that explains the truth about gluten free.

Prostate cancer – the lifestyle changes that (might) help — Prostate and breast cancer might affect different sexes but they share some similarities. They’re both common cancers, both influenced by hormones and both kill similar numbers of people each year.

OK boys – I know you love a good barbie but if you want to keep your prostate in good shape you’ll skimp on the steak and stack on the salad!

Foods that help fight mesothelioma

Posted on : 15-09-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Cancer, Disorders & Diseases, Special diets


Mesothelioma is a horrible cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was used widely in New Zealand in the 1960’s and 70’s – the home I grew up in had a lovely asbestos ceiling! Between 1992 – 2005 there were 164 cases of mesothelioma in New Zealand, and the number of cases is increasing. A large number of the people who contracted this disease were tradesmen such as builders, plumbers and electricians.

Although the main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos, not poor diet, it always helps to eat healthy food. Here’s a story from the US Mesothelioma Centre, that they have asked me to post, on how healthy eating can help people with mesothelioma:

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The main cause of mesothelioma cancer is exposure to a naturally occurring mineral called asbestos. The cancer develops in the mesothelial cells that make up the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Like many types of cancer, it is most treatable when caught early. The symptoms of mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to become obvious and by the time the cancer is diagnosed, it is typically in advanced stages making it more difficult to treat.

It has been confirmed by the National Cancer Institute that at least 35 percent of all cancer cases are linked to poor nutrition. And while malignant mesothelioma is not a cancer that is related to poor nutrition, improving nutritional intake can help strengthen mesothelioma cancer patients’ bodies to fight the progressive disease.

Eating a balanced and healthy diet is vital to help fight cancer. A more balanced and healthy diet can not only improve chances of survival, but also alleviate painful symptoms and unwanted treatment side effects.

Garlic can be helpful for mesothelioma patients as it produces a chemical called allicin. Garlic seems to have the greatest affect on stomach cancer and prostate cancer in men, but affects have been noted in all types of cancer and on different carcinogens. Animal trials have been completed with positive effects. In one such study, a number of mice with cancer were injected with allicin. The control group (those not injected with the compound) lived an average of two months, while those receiving the injection lived an average of six months or longer.

Fruit is also a definite must. There are many delicious types of berries you can incorporate into your diet to benefit from the cancer-fighting nutrients they contain, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, cranberries. Berries contain a number of cancer-fighting phytonutrients like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, pterostilbene and resveratrol. In one study, extracts of six types of berries were tested for their ability to prevent the growth and spread of different types of cancer cells. Amazingly, each different type of berry was found to have an entirely unique combination of phytonutrients, and all six varieties of berry extract were able to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.

One of the most common side effects of mesothelioma treatment is nausea. There are a number of dietary changes you can make to help this problem. Dry grain products like crackers and toast can help calm an upset stomach. Bland foods will also help with nausea, as well as acid reflux problems.

Low white blood cell count is another common trait found in cancer patients, which raises the risk of contracting an infection. To avoid this side effect, a number of changes can be made in the foods you eat. It is most important to avoid “bad” bacteria, which is common in foods that are spoiled or not prepared well. Avoid buffets when eating out, wash your hands before preparing meals, avoid raw meats and fish (like sushi), and throw away any foods that are bruised or damaged.

Cancer is a complex medical condition, with many factors playing various roles in development and treatment. However, most patients will undoubtedly benefit from good nutrition in a number of ways.