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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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Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol?

Posted on : 30-01-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Maori kai, Seafood, Travelling


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 of omega-3’s to help stabilise the heart muscle, reduce triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), make arteries more elastic (which helps reduce blood pressure) and reduce blood clotting and inflammation.

Douse your mussels with butter, cream or other saturated fat and they will be more of a heart hazard than anything else. But if you eat them as we did at the Boat Shed Cafe in Nelson (northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island) – steamed with garlic, wine and parsley and served with a local pinot gris – your heart and your taste-buds will be very happy.

Last week we jumped on board the Pelorous Sound mail boat which chugs the length of Pelorous Sound three times a week delivering mail

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

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


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!

Healthy aging {part 3} – keeping your gut moving and your food tasting good!

Posted on : 22-07-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Older-age


Let’s start where we finished off yesterday – with a glass of wine! As we age our sense of taste and smell isn’t so great and a glass of wine with dinner may be just what we need to enjoy our meal. It also encourages us to sit down to a ‘proper’ meal – wine just doesn’t go well with tea and toast! We lose tastebuds as we age and food just doesn’t taste the same. To add some flavour, it’s tempting to add extra sugar or salt. Some people get into the habit of shaking the salt shaker for a certain time without even tasting the food. One nursing home was having trouble with the amount of salt their residents were lavishing on their food. So they covered some of the salt shaker holes with tape. For the same amount of shaking they got less salt! Too much salt speeds up calcium loss from the bones, sends up blood pressure and makes us more prone to dehydration. Try using more herbs and spices for both flavour and a few extra antioxidants.

Some medications, pain, depression, mild zinc deficiency, poor oral hygiene, gum disease and poorly fitting dentures can all make eating more of a chore than a pleasure. Try these ideas to help. Go for a pre-meal walk to stimulate appetite. Set the table attractively. Eat small, frequent meals. On your plate use lots of colour (from vegetables, not artificial colours) and try different textures – crispy roast veges and salad with a casserole rather than sloppy mashed potato. Stimulate your tastebuds by eating individual foods rather than piling them all on your fork in one uniform taste. Chew food well – just like your mother told you! It extracts more flavour.


About one-third of people over 65 suffer deterioration of their stomach lining which means it doesn’t make so much hydrochloric acid, pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and intrinsic factor. This reduces how much vitamin B12, folate, iron and calcium they can absorb. Vitamin B12 deficiency seriously affects the nervous system and can lead to dementia. B12 comes mostly from animal foods. To get the recommended 2-3mcg a day include some lean meat, salmon, tuna, oysters or liver.

Constipation is common in older people, especially those who are inactive. Some try to solve the problem with laxatives (not a good idea long term) and others by taking copious amounts of unprocessed bran. The odd bran muffin makes a yummy morning tea but too many will bind up vitally important minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc. One study found that eating two tablespoons of wheat bran three times a day halved the amount of calcium absorbed.

Our gut contains many ‘friendly’ bacteria that enhance the immune system and make us more resistant to food poisoning and tummy bugs. But as we head into our 70’s there are less of these ‘friendly’ bacteria around. Eating yoghurt or fermented dairy drinks will add a few ‘friendly’ bacteria back into your gut. Check the use-by date to buy the freshest yoghurt as the bugs die off over time. To help these bacteria survive the perilous journey through your stomach, eat foods with resistant starch such as rolled oats, nuts, seeds, lentils, baked beans or cold rice or pasta. You may find yourself sitting on the toilet a bit more often but straining will be a thing of the past!

These foods are great for keeping your gut in top working order:

  • Banana or berry yoghurt smoothie
  • Porridge or muesli topped with yoghurt
  • Baked beans on grainy toast
  • Pasta or rice salad
  • Stir-fry beef with lots of vegetables on rice
  • Fruit salad with yoghurt
  • Sushi
  • Lean mince cooked with red lentils, vegetables and a jar of pasta sauce.

Remember to add in a little exercise, plenty of water and lots of smiles! … more tommorrow (part 4)


Can my child have too much fibre?

Posted on : 12-06-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Kids nutrition


Is your toddler not growing so well and running to the toilet a lot? Perhaps he or she is eating too much dietary fibre? Sometimes this happens with super-health conscious parents – including the occasional dietitian!

Fibre is the stuff that fills us up and keeps us regular. It prevents over-eating and keeps cholesterol and blood sugar levels normal. Your children can easily get enough fibre simply by eating a good variety of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.tab

Where we can go wrong is assuming that our little ones need as much fibre as we do. They don’t. We should have 30-40 grams of fibre a day but a toddler only needs about 10-14 grams. A couple of pieces of fruit, a cup of vegetables and about four serves of bread and cereal will more than cover their daily fibre needs.

For children over the age of five there’s a simple guide to work out how much fibre is enough: age + 10. This means a seven year old needs about 17 grams fibre.

Children who don’t eat enough fibre are more likely to become constipated and spend hours on the toilet straining. At the other extreme children, especially toddlers, who eat too much fibre will be so full they won’t be able to eat enough food for their rapid growth needs.

The three keys to a healthy, regular bowel are fibre, fluid and exercise. Make sure your children get all three – but remember that just because a little is good, more is not always better.