Food for thought, and a deliciously clean salmon salad

At the risk of sounding too Game of Thrones, winter is coming. This is an ominous time. Did you know over half of all Australians put on a couple of kilograms over winter? Forget that. The only heavy coat that I’ll allow this winter will look like this:

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and I’ll totally look this good..

I’m going on a bit of a journey over the coming winter months, and I could do with some support! My goals are twofold: first, to get to my loooong-time goal weight by my birthday (in June, just in case you want to send presents), and second, to run the City to Surf race (14km, for my overseas readers) in August.

Are you striving towards goals of your own? It’s so important to set yourself measurable and achievable goals, be it weight loss, being better to yourself, becoming more active – write it down and say it out loud (or tell all of your readers about it!). Tell those closest to you so that they can support you. My motivation board on Pinterest looks much like this:

May motivation

My Pinterest motivation board

If yours is a weight loss goal, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all of the conflicting information out there – no sugar, go paleo, eat clean, 12 week body transformations, celebrity diets, South Beach, Atkins, lemon detoxing, the list goes on. I’ve done a fair bit of reading over the last few weeks, and amongst all of these plans, there are some important, fundamental (and common sense!) principles:

  • Eat MORE: vegetables, good proteins, fruit

The Paleolithic, or ‘caveman’ diet, mirrors the eating habits of our ancestors before the agricultural revolution. Significant research indicates that our ancestors were generally free from the modern epidemics that plague Western countries: obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

The paleo diet is all about grass-fed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit and nuts, and healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Excluded are dairy products, potatoes, refined sugar, grains and legumes. From my humble perspective, legumes are a great source of protein and fibre, low in calories and perfect for meat free meals, so I won’t be cutting these just yet!

To read more about going paleo, visit my lovely friend and self confessed nutrition nerd Kate Callaghan’s blog, ‘Against the Grain Nutrition‘. I’ve learned a lot from Kate’s helpful dot points, Family Guy references (!) and will be testing some of her recipes over the next few weeks.

  • Eat LESS: processed foods, sugar, empty carbohydrates

Dr Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, recently published a book ‘Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar’. His research likens sugar to controlled drugs – in two words, addictive and toxic. Dr Lustig has spent 16 years studying how sugar affects the central nervous system, metabolism, and disease. Papers published in prestigious medical journals have linked soft drink consumption to heart disease, and a recent study out of ANU examined 249 residents in Canberra, between the ages of 60-64, which showed that those with high blood sugar were more exposed to brain shrinkage. A scary thought.

Journalist Sarah Wilson quit sugar back in 2011 as an experiment for her column in the SMH. Sarah credits this decision for her improved energy levels, clearer head, glowing skin and incidental weight loss: a pretty compelling case. Sarah has since published an 8 week quitting program, and a cookbook of sugar-free recipes. They’re both available here, or take a sneak preview at her slow-cooked beef and coconut curry here. Again, loads of inspiration on this blog.

  • DO: Eat smaller portions

If you want to lose weight, there’s a simple equation involved: your calorie intake has to be less than your calorie output. Jessica Irvine, economics writer from the SMH, wrote a very straightforward article about this a few years ago. Essentially, you work out your resting basal metabolic rate (this is the amount of calories your body uses to perform your daily tasks, including even sleeping). For a 0.5kg weight loss every week, you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit, which equates to 500 calories a day. Use this calculator to work out your basal metabolic rate.

As an example – my BMR is 1368. To create a 500-calorie a day deficit, I can either choose to eat 868 calories a day, or burn off some extra calories through exercise (this is my preferred option).

  • DO: Plan your meals

It’s far easier to stay on track if you plan, plan, plan. This goes generally against my nature but it’s really so important. Every weekend, I plan my meals for the week to come, so I will start sharing these with you, highlighting any must-share recipes.

Of course, I am not a health and nutrition expert (Tim Tam Brownie anyone?), I’m just cherry picking the best parts of my reading to share with you. I would love to hear your feedback on what your own personal goals are, what has worked for you, tips, tricks and any other comments you may have.

That’s more than enough reading for today – on to a recipe!

I discovered Saimaa Miller’s awesome cookbook, Aussie Body Diet & Detox Plan last week, and I’ve cooked from it most nights since. Part 1 of the book is dedicated to seven healthy ‘lifestyle secrets’, discussing the importance of movement, staying hydrated, of being food aware, tips on detoxing, and on how to bring some oft-needed positivity into our lives. My favourite part of the book however is the deliciously healthy recipes.

The first recipe I cooked was a Salmon Salad, so it’s only fitting that I share this with you.

Clean eating Salmon Salad  

(Adapted from Saimaa Miller’s ‘Aussie Body Diet & Detox Plan’. Serves 2)

300g skinless, pinboned salmon
200g cherry tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus
150g rocket/spinach
2 eggs

1T flaxseed oil, 1T olive oil
1T apple cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon

Here’s what to do:

1. First things first – pop a saucepan of salted water on the stove to boil (for the asparagus), and preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

2. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and roast in the oven for 12 minutes. Let them cool a little before serving, if you have time (I skipped this part.. home late from work and getting hangry [hungry/angry])

3. My tips for soft boiling eggs – to avoid that yucky grey ring around the yolk, start them in cold water on the stove. Once the water boils, leave the eggs in for 3-4 minutes for soft boiled eggs, and 6+ minutes for hard boiled.

4. Cook the asparagus in boiling water for one minute, before refreshing in cold water

5. Spray a frying pan with a little cooking spray or 1T of olive oil, and pan-fry salmon for 2-3 minutes each side

6. Whisk together the lemon juice, flaxseed oil and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl

7. That’s all your elements – combine asparagus, tomatoes, rocket/spinach leaves together in a large bowl, before transferring to smaller serving plates

8. Top the salad with flaked salmon, eggs and drizzle with dressing.

Calorie count: 380 calories per serve.

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