Posts Tagged ‘food preparation’

How dangerous are the oils you use?

Posted on: August 21st, 2020 by Analeigh Brown No Comments

Earlier this year we spent 3 weeks travelling around the south island of New Zealand and stayed in a few caravan parks during that time. Camp kitchens are a really good place to meet other travellers and hear their story, and for someone like me who is obsessed with food, it’s a great place to see what other people are eating. The main thing I noticed was that the majority of people were cooking with vegetable or canola oil, which really worried me. It highlighted the fact that most people aren’t aware of the dangers associated with vegetable oils so I thought it would be worthwhile writing about it in the hope of spreading the word.

I feel these oils are up there with the worst of the worst when it comes to the toxic foods we’re ingesting today. For years these oils have been portrayed as a healthier option because they are low in saturated fat and have a high smoke point, but there’s a lot that we haven’t been told. It’s worth noting that there are numerous studies showing that vegetable oils contribute to disease while saturated fats DO NOT.

I’ll start by telling you how they’re made and hopefully that’s enough to make you vow to never eat anything cooked in these oils again. Keep in mind that olive oil is made simply by pressing the olives to extract the oil.

Are you ready for this shocking truth…?

How vegetable oils are made

Firstly, oil is squeezed from the seeds at high pressure leaving behind the protein portion called ‘seed cakes’. Some of them can also be processed at unnaturally high heats which oxidises the oil meaning they go rancid even before you buy them.

The ‘seed cakes’ are then washed in a vat of chemical solvent (usually petroleum) to extract the remaining oil.

The oil is sent through a refining process where it’s washed with sodium hydroxide or lye which is an extremely harsh chemical used in soap making (which is another whole blog post in itself!). While bathing in the sodium hydroxide it’s spun in a vat so the centrifugal force separates the impurities and the by-products of it are sold to soap manufacturers.

As the oil contains natural waxes from the seeds it has a cloudy appearance so it receives further treatment. The wax is used to make margarine (another item you should AVOID!). To do this they use a process called hydrogenation, during which trans-fats are created.

The newly created oil is treated with more chemicals to improve the colour.

Finally, the oil is washed and filtered before it is bleached.

After all these processes it unfortunately has a harsh smell,  so the final step is for it to be chemically deodorised.

As if this isn’t enough, the oil is then funnelled into plastic containers, many of which contain chemical additives to give the plastic more durability. Plastic is known to have negative effects on both the environment and human health such as disruption to the endocrine and immune systems.

 

Vegetable oils and the ones to avoid:

Canola oil
Soy oil
Sunflower oil
Corn oil
Cottonseed oil
Rice bran oil
Grapeseed oil
Peanut oil
Safflower oil
Margarine (and any vegetable spreads that are an imitation of butter)

Mass production of these oil means the price is driven right down. You will find them on the shelves of every supermarket for only a few dollars per litre. And this fact alone means that they end up in nearly all processed food… salad dressings, sauces, biscuits, chips, cakes, crackers, frozen foods, even some drinks contain them!

You don’t eat processed foods? Great! But, you’re still not in the clear. Most feta, sun-dried tomatoes, olives are all bottled in the same toxic oils. ‘Healthy’ marketing on food packets, gluten free rice crackers, expensive gourmet chips, dips and more can all contain these same toxic oils.

 

Don’t be fooled!

Awareness is the first step. Now next time you go shopping at the supermarket, turn the package over and check out the ingredient list. This is the only way to know what’s in the food you are eating. Learning to read the ingredients list is the only way to ensure you’re avoiding them.

You’ll notice that vegetable and canola oils have a 5 star health rating (higher than olive oil!). Hopefully this begins to highlight the fact that health star ratings are not to be regarded with any trust, along with all the marketing of food products.

Most restaurants will unfortunately cook in these oils too, especially when serving deep fried things as it is way too expensive to use healthy oils in those deep frying vats.

These oils are linked to inflammation and an increased risk of cancer, whereas olive oil is shown to increase heart health plus has many other benefits. With the massive rise in production of these oils over the last 20 or so years, it’s no wonder we are facing a health crisis with alarming rates of cancer, obesity and other chronic illnesses.

 

So what oil can you use…

The only oils we should be using are:

Olive oil
Coconut oil
Avocado oil
Macadamia oil
Walnut oil
Alternative good fats include butter, ghee, animal fats such as lard, tallow and duck fat.

Hopefully this information has helped you to have a better understanding of the broad term of ‘vegetable oil’ and why it should be avoided at all costs. If you know anyone who still uses it, be a good friend and pass them this information in the hope that it will change their mind and improve the health of those you care about.

If you’d like to have a conversation with me about this, i’m all ears and would love to help guide you towards a healthier low tox life. Get in touch via email lifestyle@aspencoaching.com.au or find us on Instagram.

Making Your Food Go Further

Posted on: May 14th, 2020 by Analeigh Brown No Comments

This COVID-19 crisis has really highlighted the importance of making your food go a long way. Now that my whole family is at home together I’m finding it way harder to keep up with the amount of food we’re going through. It seems like a lot of people are having the same issues so I thought I’d share a few of the ways I keep our foods stocked up, meaning less waste, less spending and way less cooking time.

Firstly, some facts that will help to provide some background as to why less food waste is important. Sorry to those who have already read this on my instagram but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person!

The average Australian household sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week.

In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year. Of the 7.3 million tonnes of food that is lost or wasted, 1.2 million is recycled, 2.9 million is recovered, and 3.2 million is sent to landfill – enough to fill 5,400 Olympic sized swimming pools!

75% of all food that is sent to landfill comes from our households.

Up to 25% of all vegetables produced never leave the farm.

So where does 7.3 million tonnes of lost or wasted food come from? Households are the biggest contributors (34%), followed by primary production (31%) and manufacturing (24%)

Food waste also plays a role in harming the environment. Rotting food in landfill produces methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated.

When we waste food, we also waste the natural resources that go into making it, like land, water and energy.

1,460 gigalitres of water is used annually to grow Australian produce that is thrown out.

In fact, it takes 50 litres of water to produce just one orange.

The economic cost of food wastage in Australia is estimated at more than $20 billion per year.

(These food waste facts are from the Foodbank website)

“Banana’s being dumped because they are too big, too small or too curvy to sell!”

Pretty eye opening hey? These stats make me extremely committed to not throwing ANY food away. Being prepared is a really good way to stop this.

Tips on cutting down waste and staying healthy

Double it, Triple it! 
This is the most helpful step I take that makes the biggest impact on my weekly workload in the kitchen. Always double (or even triple) up when cooking. If I’m making bolognese, a curry or slow cooked stew/casserole, I triple it. This means 2 nights of the week I don’t need to cook – I love those nights!! Any extras, pop them in the freezer for another lazy day. Sometimes I even use the bolognese for breakfast and poach an egg in it.

Leftover dinner makes for a great breakfast!

If I’m making a roast chicken, I roast 2 chickens and shred one of them to leave in the fridge for lunches. If i’m stir frying veggies I double the amount of veg and keep it in a container in the fridge to use for breakfasts or lunches.

Having this organisation means I’m less likely to make last minute decisions to eat out or have something unhealthy, and it also means when the kids are “starrrrrving” there’s always something nutrient dense in the fridge for them.

Meal Prep + Planning
Meal prep is another great way to lessen your workload. Sometimes it feels hard to commit to an hour or two per week in the kitchen to do some bulk cooking or meal prep but in the end it saves you so much time throughout the week. I like to spend a couple of hours on Monday each week preparing some food for the week ahead. I usually bake a tray of roast veggies, slow cook some meat, make a sweet of some sort and fry up some chicken all at the same time meaning I have a fridge full of options.

I find that meal planning really helps. When I have a plan, not only does it stop me from those “what’s for dinner?” thoughts constantly rattling around in my brain taking up valuable space, but it also stops me from eating out or making unhealthy choices because it’s become too late and I can no longer be bothered working it out. I usually write out a loose plan for the week (sometimes even a month if i’m feeling super organised). I don’t always stick to it but it really helps me to know what to shop for so I’m not buying things I’ll end up throwing out.

Cheaper cuts and buying bulk
Eating well and feeding a family can definitely be expensive so any way to save money is always helpful. Buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save. Buying cuts like chuck steak are super cheap and perfect for the slow cooker. A slow cooker is actually a really good way to save money because no matter what cut of meat you get slow cookers seem to deliver deliciously tender meat every time. You can also double up your meals really easily. I always make a big beef stew, freeze half of it and then have it over either mash potato and sweet potato, or over steamed veggies.

Storing your leftovers
Instead of throwing food away, make sure you have a dedicated place in your fridge to store leftover foods so none of them get accidentally forgotten about. Go through your fridge twice a week to find out which fruit and veggies are becoming overripe and in need of being used asap and work out how to use them. If you struggle to think of ideas, just google the foods you have eg. “broccoli, zucchini, chicken recipes”

Here are some ways I shared on my instagram recently to reduce food waste:

Stale bread can be turned into breadcrumbs (and frozen if not needed yet)

Leftover porridge can be turned into pancakes another day (simply add banana, an egg and cinnamon and blend it up)

Over ripe bananas can be frozen and used in any baking (banana bread, pancakes etc) or even blended to make ice cream. My kids just like eating whole frozen bananas (they taste like banana paddle pops!)

Leftover veggies can be stored in the fridge and used another day in a frittata, curry, casserole, or just a fry up with some bacon and eggs (is this called bubble & squeak?)

Fruit and veg sticks not eaten by kids can be frozen and go into smoothies or stock

Leftover smoothies can be turned into icy poles or ice blocks

Leftover meat and veg can be put into rice paper rolls or sushi wraps

Ageing veggies can be frozen and used to make bone broth/stock. It’s actually a good idea to store all veggies scraps (think carrot tops, onion skins etc)in the freezer to use in broth/stock-so little waste!

Once a week go through your fridge, pull out any food you need to get rid of and google recipes (eg. mushrooms, spinach, pumpkin recipes)

Start a compost!!!! This is the BEST way to get rid of food waste.

After cooking a roast chicken, keep the leftover carcass and make bone broth. I have attached a recipe link for bone broth for you to try.

Bone Broth Recipe

I hope this helps you to feel like you’re not constantly slaving away to cook meals that don’t seem to go very far. I used to feel like I would spend hours cooking and the meals would be woofed down in 5 minutes with little appreciation for the time or effort it took me to make. It’s taken me years to learn how to cut down my cooking time and even writing this has reminded me of strategies that I seem to have recently forgotten.

If you’re ever stuck for ideas, I love talking about cooking so feel free to hit me up.

Analeigh – Health Coach

Nourishing Toasted Muesli

Posted on: October 10th, 2019 by Analeigh Brown No Comments

The prices charged for muesli are absolutely ridiculous, especially considering it’s relatively simple and cheap to make.

Most of the store-bought muesli contains some pretty undesirable contents that you should steer clear of wherever possible.

One of the nastiest in my opinion is vegetable oil, and trust me, it’s in close to every item you buy in a packet.

This may be overwhelming, but I’m hoping to show you (through the recipes I share) that there are some pretty simple alternatives that you can turn to when avoiding processed foods.

I thought I’d share my recipe with you all so that those who do like to start their day with muesli can do so at a cheaper cost to both their wallet and their health.

I would normally double the quantity for this recipe as my kids tend to inhale muesli!

I don’t often eat it, apart from the occasional dessert, but if the kids could, they would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

For anyone who is grain free, I will post a granola recipe in the coming weeks.

Ingredients:

 

Method:

  1. – Mix together all dry ingredients in your oven tray
  2. – In a saucepan add the coconut oil and honey. Heat over a low-medium heat stirring until combined and turned into a thin liquid. Don’t over heat as it can burn.
  3. – Pour the liquid over all the dry ingredients and give it a good stir.
  4. – Place in the oven and cook for roughly 30 mins stirring a few times during, keep an eye on it in case it over cooks as it can quickly change from golden to burnt.
  5. – Remove from oven when golden and enjoy!

 

Optional Extras:

 

Lazy Slow-Cooked Chicken Curry

Posted on: July 19th, 2019 by Analeigh Brown No Comments

I love cooking, but to be honest, I am a pretty lazy cook.

I rarely like cooking recipes that take a long time or have lots of ingredients.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook an elaborate meal on occasions, but most of the time I’m just looking for something nourishing and delicious that I can whip up with as little effort as possible.

I also refuse to use jars of pre-made sauces or spice mixes as 99% of the time they contain some questionable substances and I think most people would be surprised at how easy it is to make tasty flavours without using pre-made products.

This is a chicken curry recipe for people like me who want to spend as little time as possible but make a meal that satisfies. It doesn’t contain a whole heap of fancy expensive ingredients that cost an arm and a leg and you should be able to find all the ingredients in one shop.

If you don’t own a slow cooker, then I really suggest you invest in one, not only are they quite cheap to buy, but they rarely get it wrong. Slow cookers produce some of the most tender meats and the shortest preparation times possible. I’d say this meal takes 15-20 minutes preparation time. How often is that possible with a substantial meal?

Perfect for these chilly winter months, but I still enjoy curries throughout the year.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

 

Method:

 

Chicken Curry