Nourish Your Soul

Inspired by nature, beauty & potential, inspired by the healthy, whole, genuine & real. Inspired by love & honesty & the magic that surrounds our everyday lives.

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[HAPPY EASTER] Hot Crossed Buns

Happy Easter! I hope that you are spending it with loved ones and making the most of the abundance of public holidays!!!

Martina has outdone herself with these super healthy and super yummy hot crossed buns. I ate waaaay too many, and I hope you do too!

INGREDIENTS
[makes 12-16]

Buns
- 375 g plain flour (bio)
- 125 g oats (oats and quinoa mixture) blend together to make a powder
- 2 egg yolks (room temperature)
- pinch of salt 
- 1 sachet of yeast
- 100 ml oil (75 ml rice bran oil with 25 ml coconut oil)
- 250 ml milk (room temperature, we used rice milk)
- 100 g honey (if using rice milk you only need 80g of honey)
- 70 g cranberries (blended/chopped)
- 70 g dried dates (blended/chopped)
- 75 g pistachio (blended/chopped)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinamon
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- apple peeled, cored and diced

Crosses
- 4 tbs almond flour
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 tsb water 
Make to a piping consistency

Glaze
- equal parts honey and water
 

1. Combine half of the milk and honey with yeast. Stir together and put to one side for 10 minutes
2. Sift flour, oats, salt and spices
3. Whisk egg yolks with oil
4. Combine the milk with the egg yolks and add to the flour mixture, add in the rest of the milk and honey
5. Work the dough with a wooden spoon (this is best done by scraping the mixture downwards from the side of the bowl) do this for 3 minutes
6. Add in nuts, dried fruit and apple, continue to work the dough for another minute.
7. Leave the dough in a warm place (with no breeze) covered with clean tea towel. Let it rise for 1 and 1/2 hours, air the dough with a spoon every half an hour for a minute. If you have a bread maker you can use it to do this part for you.
8. Preheat your oven to 180C
9. Dust the surface of the dough with some flour
10. Divide the dough into 12-16 balls, depending of preference for size and place them onto a tray lined with baking paper 
11. Pipe crosses onto the buns and bake them for 30 minutes
12. Once ready remove from the oven and immediately brush the buns with the glaze.



Serve with love, tea and friends.
 
Love, J x

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[EASY PEASY] Delicious Dates

Are you feeling peckish? Something to hit that afternoon sweet craving? Well look no further!!!

Why eat dates?
Dates are a fantastic choice for a sweet craving. The natural sugars combined with fibre makes this a healthy way to enjoy your sugar. The notable nutrients include potassium; important for hydration at a cellular level, magnesium; known as the ‘happy’ micronutrient it plays an important role in cognitive function and serotonin production, and B6; which plays a role in producing neurotransmitters, important for brain power!

These little beauties are deliciously healthy and have a surprising little kick that will make you feel refreshed as well as satisfied.

INGREDIENTS

- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup pistachio
- 1 tbs coconut oil
- juice of 1/2 lime
- pinch hymalaiyn salt
 
1. Remove the seed from each date, make sure you only cut only half way through the date, so it remains intact.
2. Blend together all the other ingredients, I used a hand/stick blender with the blade attachment, you could do this all by hand if you wished, just make sure that the mixture ends up reasonably smooth.
3.Stuff the dates with the pistachio mixture and enjoy. Easy Peasy!
 
The zesty lime and salt, combined with the pistachio cuts through the sweetness of the dates, taking your afternoon sugar fix to a whole new level. We enjoyed some cranberries and mint leaves with ours, as well as a freshly brewed herbal tea!
 
D E L I C I O U S.
 

Love, J x

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[HEALTHY] Anzac Cookies

With Anzac Day around the corner, we played around with a banana cookie recipe that I had, to try and bring you a healthy Anzac Cookie. I have to say the results were quite delicious plus these would have to be the laziest cookies to make… my kind of cooking!!!

Ingredients

2 bananas
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup chia seeds
10 pitted dates
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon maca (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Combine oats, coconut, chia seeds and maca and put to one side.

3. Blend bananas until runny, add in dates and blend some more until dates are chopped into little chewable pieces. I used a hand/stick blender with the base and blade attachment, but you could mash your bananas and chop your dates if you didn’t have a hand blender.

4. Combine oats and banana mixture and mix well.

5. Spoon onto a paper lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. We got a little bit fancy and topped some with coconut and some with dates, but you can decorate them (or not) as you please!

The results were a chewy, coconuty, caramely cookie that didn’t last long at all, at afternoon tea time.

Enjoy!

Love, J x

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Is anybody out there?

Ok, so I have been MIA for a while now, I even wonder if anyone comes to my little corner of the world wide web anymore? Will you have me back?

Let me fill you in…

They say that time heals all wounds and a change is as good as a holiday. Add these both together and that just about sums up our past year.

It’s been almost 11 months since we left our little abode in NSW, packed up our car and headed up the coast to North QLD. And so much has happened in that time…

We settled into our new tropical life and within weeks we found out we were expecting.

Joy. Nerves. Excitement.

A skip, hop and a jump… And nine months later we have a daughter. Little Francesca Mae or as we call her Frankie. She is peaceful and patient and content. Our wildest dreams came true and she has completed our family, healed our wounds and set us free.

In the time that has passed we also; spent lazy days on the beach, indulged in serious quantities of tropical fruit - hello mango season - joined a circus (for a while), studied far less than I had hoped, completed hundreds of projects with Emerson and spent time with the new people who have found their way into our lives.

This brings me to the reason behind my reappearance, besides that I think it’s high time I reconnect with you all, I’d like to introduce you to someone.

A certain someone who is a marathon-running-yoga-junkie-whole-food enthusiast! Someone who lives and breathes what NYS embodies. She is passionate, motivated and inspired and spends loads of time creating in the kitchen. Much to my bellies delight! Over late nights playing cards and sipping chai I shared my dreams for NYS and so a plan was concocted.

Her name is Martina, her recipes kick butt and you will all love what we are going to share. So welcome Martina!

We are going to start things off with a few sweet treats, so watch this space for some serious delicious, healthy wholefood recipes and far more blogging from yours truly.

Love, J x

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Anonymous asked: Could you explain your skincare (face and body) and hair routine? Pleeease. Also, is it true that its OK to use oil (natural oils) on oily/normal skin, because oil fights oil?

Hi there! I use Kora Organics and have found it the only organic skin care that doesn’t make me dry or break out, I have heard and read the oil fighting oil theory; for me it didn’t prove true and it actually made my skin very dry and I had masses of pimples. A clean diet, lots of water and deep cleansing (perhaps a few facials) should have you glowing with health! Love, J x

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This is what inspires me…

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I have been working with an amazing client Alicia for over a year now. She is such a delight to work with, taking the programs I develop for her and embracing them in every way.

If you have ever thought that you might like to try a detox program, lifestyle program or wellness program, but don’t know what to expect, here is a little more about Alicia and her experiences with Nourish Your Soul…

________________________________________________________________

Alicia: tell us about why you choose to take a detox?
I was feeling lousy in the body and mind and knew I needed to make some serious changes. I had addictions that were hard to crack like chocolate and coffee and needed to shock my body back into a healthy state.


What did your detox encompass?
Green smoothies, veggies and salads initially, then incorporating some more protein the second time around.


What did you like and not like about your program?
I loved the results - how it made me feel after about a week, my increase in energy levels and how it curbed my sugar habits. I had issues with cutting out coffee and it took a bit of getting used to initially.


Was it worth the things you didn’t like?
Absolutely


How did it make you feel? (day 1, week 1,2,3,4, last day)
Day 1 - crap but inspired; week 1,2,3,4 - great!; last day - what last day? I don’t think I have had this yet - my detox sort of evolved into a lifestyle change and smarter choices. I still have the off day/s but I know I can help these with some great veggie juice and healthy choices and get back into balance.


Did you lose any weight on your program?
Yes - about 7kgs over about 4 months following my initial detox


What were your initial goals? Did you achieve them?
I wanted more energy and to get out of a ‘rut’ - yes definitely!


How did you stay motivated?
My husband helped by doing some also and we both watched inspiring films like food matters, hungry for change and fat, sick and nearly dead etc.


Do you think your lifestyle changes will stick?
Yes - I live a much more balanced lifestyle now


How has the program affected family life?
It has had a positive affect on all of us!


Did your program fit with having a young family?
I have a very fussy nearly 5 year old so I often had to do separate meals for her, however she is slowly increasing her foods and incorporating more vegetables and salads. I have managed to sneak vital greens in her fresh OJ too!


What’s the best thing about working with NYS?
Jen is awesome. Someone who is passionate and knowledgeable and is able to tailor her approach to suit the needs of individuals. Something to aspire to Jen!


Would you use NYS again?
Absolutely - I see Jen as a key player in my ongoing nutrition and health learning. I know she will always be there for questions and advice, and I enjoy keeping up-to-date with blogs and posts.

We are now expecting our next baby. So I am over the moon. I strongly believe I have achieved this blessing by changing my lifestyle with my nutrition and also headspace - so thank you Jen!________________________________________________________________

Thank you Alicia, you inspire me so much!

I have just spent the last few days designing an amazing new program for another Client I have been working with for over a year. I cannot wait to share her journey with you.
 
Each and every client is such a source of inspiration and I always find that when I spend the time designing a killer program, I too lift my game and endeavour to improve my lifestyle. It is about gently asking myself… What can I do better? Is this serving my life and the person that I am?
 
May this ever-evolving journey into all things health, wellbeing and happiness never cease!
 
Love, J x

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MUESLI SLICE | for lunch boxes, snacks or breakfast

Ill warn upfront, this is my most lazy and disorganised recipe, yet it is the most important and lifesaving recipe I use every week; an instant snack, a dessert on the fly, breakfast when running late and a lunch box filler that is cheap and healthy.

It is also important to note that I make this by throwing ingredients in a bowl until I see the right consistency so amounts are all approximate. Rebel cook!

INGREDIENTS
2 cups oats
2-3 eggs
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 little packet of sultanas
Sprinkle goji berries
Sprinkle chia seeds
Sprinkle rice milk
4 nectarines
1/4 cup coconut sugar

I simply combine everything into a bowl at once and play with the balance of wet vs dry ingredients until I get a consistency that is sticky but not runny. Each week I change the ingredients depending on what I have on hand so sometimes I need more flour sometimes more milk. Sometimes I use honey, agave or coconut sugar, sometimes eggs, sometimes not…

This week we had ripe nectarines to use up so I stewed them lightly, mashed them up and added them, no added sugar or juice when stewing just in a pot with the lid on, as the liquid comes out of the fruit use it to mush back in and make a nice gooey fruity sauce.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C degrees. Keep it the fridge, I wrap it, in the baking tray with a tea towel and slice off pieces as I need it.

Tasty. Simple. Healthy. Versatile. 

One of my favourites.

Love, J x

MUESLI SLICE | for lunch boxes, snacks or breakfast

Ill warn upfront, this is my most lazy and disorganised recipe, yet it is the most important and lifesaving recipe I use every week; an instant snack, a dessert on the fly, breakfast when running late and a lunch box filler that is cheap and healthy.

It is also important to note that I make this by throwing ingredients in a bowl until I see the right consistency so amounts are all approximate. Rebel cook!

INGREDIENTS
2 cups oats
2-3 eggs
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 little packet of sultanas
Sprinkle goji berries
Sprinkle chia seeds
Sprinkle rice milk
4 nectarines
1/4 cup coconut sugar

I simply combine everything into a bowl at once and play with the balance of wet vs dry ingredients until I get a consistency that is sticky but not runny. Each week I change the ingredients depending on what I have on hand so sometimes I need more flour sometimes more milk. Sometimes I use honey, agave or coconut sugar, sometimes eggs, sometimes not…

This week we had ripe nectarines to use up so I stewed them lightly, mashed them up and added them, no added sugar or juice when stewing just in a pot with the lid on, as the liquid comes out of the fruit use it to mush back in and make a nice gooey fruity sauce.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C degrees. Keep it the fridge, I wrap it, in the baking tray with a tea towel and slice off pieces as I need it.

Tasty. Simple. Healthy. Versatile.

One of my favourites.

Love, J x

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RECIPE | simple pumpkin with haloumi dippers and dressed with spinach and chilli flakes

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic (finely diced)
1 cup vegetable stock
100ml cream (optional)
Couple of handfuls of spinach
2 slices of haloumi (1/2cm off the end of the block and cut into sticks) 
Dash of chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, cut the pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with a smidge of olive oil, roast for 30 minutes or until a knife glides through the pumpkin. 

If you have a high powered blender, place the roast pumpkin, stock, cream (optional - I just needed to use a small amount up but wouldn’t normally put cream in, sour cream will also work) and garlic into the blender. Whizz for a minute or so until the soup is mixed and creamy.

If you don’t have a blender use a hand stick blender.

Meanwhile heat a non stick pan and fry the haloumi until golden brown.

Serve soup and haloumi immediately while hot, top with spinach and chilli flakes.

D E L I C I O U S!

Love, J x

RECIPE | simple pumpkin with haloumi dippers and dressed with spinach and chilli flakes

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic (finely diced)
1 cup vegetable stock
100ml cream (optional)
Couple of handfuls of spinach
2 slices of haloumi (1/2cm off the end of the block and cut into sticks)
Dash of chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, cut the pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with a smidge of olive oil, roast for 30 minutes or until a knife glides through the pumpkin.

If you have a high powered blender, place the roast pumpkin, stock, cream (optional - I just needed to use a small amount up but wouldn’t normally put cream in, sour cream will also work) and garlic into the blender. Whizz for a minute or so until the soup is mixed and creamy.

If you don’t have a blender use a hand stick blender.

Meanwhile heat a non stick pan and fry the haloumi until golden brown.

Serve soup and haloumi immediately while hot, top with spinach and chilli flakes.

D E L I C I O U S!

Love, J x

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RECIPE | simple pumpkin with haloumi dippers and dressed with spinach and chilli flakes

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic (finely diced)
1 cup vegetable stock
100ml cream (optional)
Couple of handfuls of spinach
2 slices of haloumi (1/2cm off the end of the block and cut into sticks) 
Dash of chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, cut the pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with a smidge of olive oil, roast for 30 minutes or until a knife glides through the pumpkin. 

If you have a high powered blender, place the roast pumpkin, stock, cream (optional - I just needed to use a small amount up but wouldn’t normally put cream in, sour cream will also work) and garlic into the blender. Whizz for a minute or so until the soup is mixed and creamy.

If you don’t have a blender use a hand stick blender.

Meanwhile heat a non stick pan and fry the haloumi until golden brown.

Serve soup and haloumi immediately while hot, top with spinach and chilli flakes.

D E L I C I O U S!

Love, J x

RECIPE | simple pumpkin with haloumi dippers and dressed with spinach and chilli flakes

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic (finely diced)
1 cup vegetable stock
100ml cream (optional)
Couple of handfuls of spinach
2 slices of haloumi (1/2cm off the end of the block and cut into sticks)
Dash of chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, cut the pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with a smidge of olive oil, roast for 30 minutes or until a knife glides through the pumpkin.

If you have a high powered blender, place the roast pumpkin, stock, cream (optional - I just needed to use a small amount up but wouldn’t normally put cream in, sour cream will also work) and garlic into the blender. Whizz for a minute or so until the soup is mixed and creamy.

If you don’t have a blender use a hand stick blender.

Meanwhile heat a non stick pan and fry the haloumi until golden brown.

Serve soup and haloumi immediately while hot, top with spinach and chilli flakes.

D E L I C I O U S!

Love, J x

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CHEAP SKATE | today I bagged a $1.79 bargain… A pumpkin!!

We love pumpkin so I spent the afternoon making a few delicious meals for the week, the first of which is a pasta sauce!

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic
Couple handfuls of peas
3/4 cup macadamias
Pasta
Goats cheese (optional)
Spinach leaves

Warm a sauce pan and put a drizzle of olive oil in, once warm place in cubes of pumpkin, cover and lightly cook. Once the pumpkin softens mash up.
Either by hand with a mortar and pestle or with a whizzer crush/whizz up the macadamias until small but still with a few chunky bits.

Finely dice the garlic.

Mix all ingredients into the sauce pan.

Cook your pasta. Once cooked mix together and serve straight from the stove.

Dress with a few chunks of goats cheese and a handful of spinach leaves.

So simple. So cheap. So yummy!

Love, J x
Ps. For those who work long hours; the sauce will freeze, cook pasta fresh and dress upon serving…

CHEAP SKATE | today I bagged a $1.79 bargain… A pumpkin!!

We love pumpkin so I spent the afternoon making a few delicious meals for the week, the first of which is a pasta sauce!

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pumpkin
1 clove garlic
Couple handfuls of peas
3/4 cup macadamias
Pasta
Goats cheese (optional)
Spinach leaves

Warm a sauce pan and put a drizzle of olive oil in, once warm place in cubes of pumpkin, cover and lightly cook. Once the pumpkin softens mash up.
Either by hand with a mortar and pestle or with a whizzer crush/whizz up the macadamias until small but still with a few chunky bits.

Finely dice the garlic.

Mix all ingredients into the sauce pan.

Cook your pasta. Once cooked mix together and serve straight from the stove.

Dress with a few chunks of goats cheese and a handful of spinach leaves.

So simple. So cheap. So yummy!

Love, J x
Ps. For those who work long hours; the sauce will freeze, cook pasta fresh and dress upon serving…

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[RECIPE] creamy quinoa pudding

This pudding rocks! Quinoa (keen-wah) is literally packed with protein, its baked with coconut milk, with hints of cinnamon and lightly sweetened with coconut sugar, sure does meet mama’s approval for the dinner table!

Theres alot to be said for quinoa. here are a few great facts…

Quinoa is a complete source of protein so it’s a great choice for those choosing a meat free diet. The main health benefits are found in the manganese present which is used in the body to activate enzymes to metabolise carbohdrates, lysine an amino acid important for the bodies production of collagen and lysine is also used in the absorption of calcium and finally it is a grain approved by diets such as body ecology, that looks to reduce candida causing foods…

INGREDIENTS
1 cup quinoa
1 tin coconut milk
1 cup rice milk
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sultanas and vanilla yoghurt to serve.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Wash the quinoa, beware it filters through a sieve! Lesson learnt the hard way! I just used my hand to block the bowl and drained most of the water. Mix in all the ingredients I left the sultanas out to top the pudding before serving, but you could mix them in if you wanted to.

Transfer mixture to a loaf pan, the mixture is very wet, this is normal.

Bake for 35 minutes or until firm, once ready top with sultanas and serve straight away with a little vanilla yoghurt on the side.

This pudding will stay in the fridge for a few days, if it lasts that long! I am going to add shredded coconut and raspberries next week or perhaps some cacao for a chocolate pudding! Have fun experimenting with this one…

Love, J x

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[RECIPE] spelt bread

Twice weekly my little one steps into the world of Steiner preschool, full of imagination, exploration and fun and each afternoon when I meet him on the wooden verandah he rushes over to me with a giant grin, filled with joy and excitement; “mama, mama! … Can I have my bun?”

Yep. Bun. Not me. *sigh* But I have to say, it’s little wonder that he is excited, these morsels are delicious, just eaten alone with nothing on them. Mmm-MMM yummy.

So imagine how popular I am going to be when he wakes up from his afternoon nap…

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups and 3 tablespoons of organic spelt flour [excuse my dodgy measurements I converted this from an old recipe]
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 320ml organic rice milk
  • sprinkle of chia seeds and flax seeds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine the dry ingredients and separately whisk the eggs, then add the milk. Combine the dry and wet ingredients, be careful to not over work the dough, bare minimum mixing only.

Get your hands dirty by taking out blobs of the mixture and plopping them on a lined baking tray, the mixture is very sticky so don’t worry about pretty blobs, they will bake to be beautifully rustic. Try to keep the sizes consistent for baking.

Place them in the oven for 25 minutes. Use a skewer to test that the bread is cooked through once they come out (skewer should come out clean). Easy peasy.

They will only last a few days so dig in.

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Love, J x

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[CLEAN ME] why I need a detox

My little family just took a road trip southbound to see family and friends and share in a most beautiful wedding, for the trip I packed raw nut bars, fruit and rice crackers but alas the usual 12 hour trip turned quickly into 16 hours and we sinned, oh yes we did, unfortunately the Hume, littered with fast food chains, claimed us. And my goodness do I feel (sh)it.

When you live clean, changes in the diet, contrary to what you enjoy, hits you hard! So I am planning some hard core cleansing over the next week to re-alkalize myself and my boys. Now let me share with you what we are going to do…

Daily green smoothies will adorn our breakfast table along with raw muesli, antioxidant rich berries and culture laden natural yoghurt.

My favourite green smoothie recipe - rice milk, spinach, banana, spirulina, kiwi, coconut oil, chia seeds, honey and ice.

Homemade muesli - rolled oats, coconut flakes, goji berries, macadamia nuts, chia seeds and flax seeds topped with pot set organic vanilla yoghurt.

For lunch we will be munching on giant raw salads topped with sea vegetables (dulse) and sipping on our favourite superfood smoothie - rice milk, banana, cacao, camu camu, ice, honey, maca, spirulina.

Snacking on fruit and homemade superfood bliss balls.

Dinner will be a mixed plate of, curried lentil burgers, smashed avocado, quinoa infused beetroot, spinach and cherry tomato salad with fresh asparagus or broccolini. There are such a mix of amazing flavours in this dinner that we can eat it over and over with out getting bored, plus because ill be working massive days to make up for being off today, it’s me just being plain lazy!

I am reminded daily of why we choose this organic, clean lifestyle in how healthy and vibrant I feel, today I am reminded by the opposite! But it’s the knowledge gained daily and the lessons sent that remind us to keep striving for the best possible versions of ourselves. Plus falling off the wagon every now and again only motivates us more to keep going.

In the end it’s not the length but the breadth of life that keeps things interesting!

Love, J x

Photos: all my own.

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Not all calories are created equal


Written by Ann Gibbons
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

When it comes to weight loss, a calorie is a calorie; a kilojoule is a kilojoule. That is been the mantra of nutritionists, dietitians, and food regulators for more than a century. But when it comes to comparing raw food with cooked food, or beans with breakfast cereals, that thinking may be incorrect. That is the consensus of a panel of researchers in Boston who list the many ways the maths doesn’t always add up correctly on food labels.

Our current system for assessing calories is surely wrong, says evolutionary biologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University.

In a wide-ranging discussion of how food is digested in everything from humans to rats to pythons, the panel reviewed a new spate of studies showing foods were processed differently as they moved from our gullet to our guts and beyond. They agreed net caloric counts for many foods were flawed because they did not take into account the energy used to digest food; the bite oral and gut bacteria took out of various foods; or the properties of different foods themselves that sped up or slowed down their journey through the intestines, such as whether they were cooked or resistant to digestion.

The process used to estimate calories for food was developed at the turn of the 20th century by Wilbur Atwater. It was a simple system of calculating four calories for each gram of protein, nine calories for each gram of fat, and four calories for each gram of carbohydrate (modified later by others to add two calories for a gram of fibre).

Although it has been useful for estimating the energetic costs of metabolising many foods, its shortcomings have been known for decades - and some nations, such as Australia, have dropped the system because it is inaccurate and impractical, says panelist Geoffrey Livesey, a nutritional biochemist and director of Independent Nutrition Logic in Britain.

One key area where the system is inaccurate, Wrangham reports, is in estimating the calories for cooked food. Cooked items often are listed as having more calories than raw items, yet the process of cooking meat gelatinises the collagen protein in meat, making it easier to chew and digest - so it takes fewer calories to eat. Heat also denatures the proteins in vegetables such as sweet potatoes, says Harvard University evolutionary biologist Rachel Carmody, who studies the energetics of digestion.

The way foods are processed can also make them easier to digest. Take starch in cereal kernels, such as barley grain, or beans, which take a long time to digest. Grind the same cereals into flour or process it into breakfast cereal or instant oatmeal, and it becomes easy to digest, says biochemist nutritionist Klaus Englyst of Englyst Carbohydrates, a carbohydrate chemistry firm in Southampton, in Britain. This is why bread is more rapidly digested; beans more slowly he says.

New studies also are finding that bacteria in the gut respond differently to processed foods and cooked foods. Carmody reports she and Peter Turnbaugh of Harvard University are finding key differences in the type of bacterial communities in the guts of mice, depending on whether they are fed chow or cooked meat.

The food you eat has an enormous impact on the gut bacteria, and, in turn, on the energetics of digestion, Carmody says.

Why does all of this matter? Because the West is in the midst of an obesity epidemic and counting calories has been misleading, says David Ludwig, a paediatric endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. How the body processes different foods matters. The quality of calories is as important as the quantity of calories.

While others welcome applying the best science; to the problem of weight loss, they provide a word of caution about getting too worried about precise calorie counts.

You can put a tonne of effort into getting more accurate calorie counts, says nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner of Stanford University. But why are you doing this? Will it make a real difference? If you want to lose weight, you still have to cut back on calories.

A few calories here or there may not matter to most people. But to the panel members, every little bit counts.

Love, J x

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