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Motivation for cultivation, all year round!

There’s no doubt about it, digging in the dirt and growing your own fruits and vegetables is rewarding both physically and mentally. People who grow their own vegetable garden tend to have an increased level of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption which lowers their risk of developing some chronic diseases (Etheredge et al., 2016). But how do they keep up their enthusiasm for gardening during the cooler months? We understand that each region has their own set of environmental factors to consider. But one thing is for sure, as the weather cools down in Queensland, it is a great time to sit less and move more outside. So, let’s get moving in the garden!

We have put together our top three tips on how to keep up your motivation to move and veggie patch thriving all year round;

  1. Talk to your family and friends. Someone you know that loves to garden may have a wealth of knowledge up their sleeve that you haven’t even thought of yet. I decided to spark up a conversation with our Fabulous Facilitator, Jean Rosendahl of Silkwood Branch, for some of her best tips on how to maintain a vegetable garden during the cooler months.

“In the tropics I advise people to keep up their mulch to keep the weeds down.  I use Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser as it is slow release and put plastic white butterflies on sticks to keep the cabbage moth away.  Do not spray for insects or grubs but pick them off early in the morning and just on dusk.” Jean Rosendahl, Silkwood Branch.

  1. Laying the ground work in Winter will be a benefit for Spring. An example of this is that the ground is too cold in Winter to plant citrus, but we can lay the foundations for Spring. Find a space you would like to plant your trees and then during winter try this:
  • Loosen up the top soil with a pitch fork.
  • Layer 1: approx. 6cm of horse manure or a similar matter packed full of nutrients.
  • Layer 2: Add green waste like plant and lawn clippings or kitchen compost.
  • Layer 3: A layer of mulch to keep the weeds down such as straw.
  • Leave over winter and you will have a nutrient rich garden bed ready for Spring.
  1. Plant your herbs and colourful vegetables in pots. Growing your own fruits and vegetables all year round is a good way to ensure you are getting enough into every meal. By growing your vegetables in pots, it allows you to move them around for the maximum benefit of the sun in Winter. Just make sure to keep the moisture up and be mindful of drainage.

As a bonus tip, QCWA Country Kitchens, has put together a How to Guide on starting your own community garden. If you have established the need within your community for a green space that everybody can benefit from, then Winter is a great time to start the planning process. If you would like a copy of our Community Garden resource then please contact us on countrykitchens@qcwa.org.au today!

Written by Anna Lynch, Health Promotion Team Leader Northern Region.

ck3@qcwa.org.au

References

  1. Etheredge, C., Waliczek, T., & Zajicek, J. (2016). The Influence of Gardening Activities on Self-reported Health Problems, Allergies, and Body Mass Index. Horttechnology26(6), 776-782. doi: 10.21273/horttech03546-16
  2. Vegies, P. (2019). Potted Winter Vegies. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/potted-winter-vegies/9428804
  3. Work, W. (2019). Winter Work. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/winter-work/9440400

Brain Food

Healthy Eating for Mental Well being

Mental Health is a complex issue, stemming from a variety of social, biological and environmental factors.  While many of these factors may be out of our control, one contributor to mental health we do have control over is the food we consume.   Even if you do not suffer a form of mental illness in your lifetime, it is likely someone you know will, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year (ABS, 2009).

In recent years there has been a focus on the connection between mental health and the food we eat. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to this connection between food and brain health, with strong links between poor mental health in children and adolescents, to diets high in processed foods (O’Neil eta., 2014). Before we get into the specifics of how to eat for a healthy brain, let’s take a step back with a lesson on why what we eat effects our mental health. In order for your brain to decide how to interact with the world around you, elicit appropriate behaviours, improve your chances of survival and make you happy, it has to communicate with your body (Wenk, 2019). It does this through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The food we use to fuel our bodies has a direct impact on how these transmitters, or brain communicators, work.

The essential vitamins and minerals found in healthy, whole, unprocessed foods are essential to keeping our brain communicating properly; contributing to good mental health. By eating more fruit and vegetables, cooking at home and being aware of the sugar in our drinks it will help ensure that we receive all the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies and brains need. Some especially good brain foods include: fish, oysters, leafy greens, lettuce, capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower! (LaChance & Ramsey, 2018).

Remember those brain communicators we talked about? Well an important one linked to our mood and happiness called serotonin actually has 90% of its receptors in the gut (Naidoo, 2018). High-fat, ultra processed foods common in Australians diet tend to cause inflammation in the gut, negatively affecting these receptors (Naidoo, 2018). Opposite to processed foods, nutrient rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and lean proteins help your gut thrive. A group of good bacteria called probiotics, found in fermented foods, are particularly good at restoring healthy gut bugs. Try including foods high in naturally occurring probiotics, rather than supplements, into a balanced diet. This includes fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kimchi and more. Refer to Country Kitchens Good Gut Health Guide for more info on how to keep your gut and brain happy! Good Gut Health Guide

Remember, food and nutrition is only one contributing factor in mental illness. If you or someone you know are suffering from mental illness, mood or anxiety disorders consult a professional. https://www.qld.gov.au/health/mental-health/help-lines/services

Written by Lindsey Nash, Health Promotion Team Leader Southern Region

ck5@qcwa.org.au

References

Wenk, G. L. (2019). Your brain on food: How chemicals control your thoughts and feelings. Oxford University Press.

O’neil, A., Quirk, S. E., Housden, S., Brennan, S. L., Williams, L. J., Pasco, J. A., … & Jacka, F. N. (2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review. American journal of public health104(10), e31-e42.

Naidoo, Umo. (2018). Gut feelings: how food affects your mood. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/gut-feelings-how-food-affects-your-mood-2018120715548

LaChance, L. R., & Ramsey, D. (2018). Antidepressant foods: An evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression. World journal of psychiatry8(3), 97–104. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.97

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.

How to Fall-proof Yourself!

Have you or someone you know ever had a fall?  It can be a scary experience. While slips and falls can happen to anyone, there are strategies you can put in place to lower your risk of injury producing falls. Falls are more common and more impacting as we age. Approximately one third of people aged 65 years or older fall more than one time a year (Don’t Fall For It, Australian Government). Many of these falls require hospitalization and/or medical attention. Reducing risk of falls and the subsequent medical complications, is important as we age. Through incorporating the Country Kitchens key messages into our daily lives, notably sitting less and moving more and eating a variety of healthy foods as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines, you will lower your risk of falls. The benefits of being physically active include: improved balance and falls prevention, improved bone strength, strengthened muscles and helping to keep lifestyle associated diseases at bay.

So, what is physical activity and how much is enough?

  • Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.
  • This includes everyday activities (e.g. walking to the shop, gardening) and organised activity (e.g. exercise classes)
  • You can prevent falls by trying some balancing exercise each day (e.g. stand on one foot, heel raises, walking heel to toe)
  • Accumulate at least 30 min of moderate activity on most, preferably all days (e.g. brisk walking, recreational cycling, gardening, swimming)
  • Remember to Sit Less, Move More every day!

Poor nutrition may increase the likelihood of a fall which includes: not eating a balanced diet, not eating enough food and not drinking enough water. This can result in reduced strength and inability to move safely and achieve everyday activities. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is an important factor that contributes to living a healthy life.

How can you make sure you are eating healthy?

  • Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into each meal and aim for 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit. Only 8.50% of Australians 75 years and over are getting enough fruit and vegetables!
  • Colourful vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
  • That’s 5 cups of lettuce leaves, or 2.5 cups of cooked veg, or 2.5 cups of beans and lentils – each and every day.
  • A serve of fruit may be, 1 banana, 1 apple, 2 apricots or 1 cup of canned fruit (no added sugar).
  • Visit eatforhealth.gov.au for more information on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the 5 food groups.
  • Limit discretionary (sometimes) food as these are high in saturated fats, and/or sugars, added salt and are low in nutrients such as fibre.
  • Visit http://www.qcwa.org.au/countrykitchens/recipes/ for healthy recipe ideas.

 

What to remember:

  • Visit your doctor if you have a fall as this may be a sign of balance problems, muscle weakness, a new medical issue or possibly a combination.
  • Try to stay as active as possible
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods from the five food groups, especially increasing vegetable intake
  • Avoid alcohol and packaged foods.
  • Be aware of sugar in your drinks and always choose water for hydration
  • Cook at Home: this makes you in control of what goes into your meals, so you don’t over-consume foods high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt
  • Check your portion size: check your hunger cues and only eat until satisfied, not eating until fullness.

Department of Health and Ageing 2011

https://bit.ly/2oSBy4k

Mixing Kids with Veggies

 

[caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="516"] Do you grandchildren or kids struggle to eat their colourful veggies?[/caption]

We all know that habits start at a young age. So it’s really important to help children learn and to enjoy healthy food choices by introducing them to a wide variety of foods, early on.  The best way to do this is through play.

 

Introduce new foods to your young ones by making fruit and vegetable creations with them.  Country Kitchens Pinterest page has some fabulous ideas. 

 

Pick an activity your young child or grandchildren really likes. When it’s time for a snack, make it fresh fruit and yoghurt. The extra serve of fruit will increase fibre intake and the protein in the yoghurt will fill them up, diminishing the desire to snack more.

 

Involve children in making choices in the kitchen, such as what should we have with our pasta tonight. This way you’ll be encouraging them to take responsibility for their food selections as they grow. And you’ll be improving their food literacy as well as their nutrition.

 

Another idea is to encourage kids to contribute to the shopping list, focusing attention on what fruits and vegetables they’d like included. When shopping allow children to choose a new fruit or vegetable that your family has never tried before.

 

Craft is a good way to involve children with positive food associations, especially if you’re not a cook or find cooking laborious.

 

When children are irritable or combative, try avoiding discretionary items like chocolate, sweets or chips. Easier said than done sometimes. But, if the younger members of your family have favourite foods that are everyday foods, such as an apple, banana or berries, make that the reward for improved behaviour or for doing a task they are asked to do.

 

When making a roast, prepare an extra-large tray of pumpkin, potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, and even beetroot and use these in sandwiches and salads, and as snacks.

 

If children are fussy about certain flavours, you can easily sweeten a meal with vegetables such as carrot, cherry tomatoes or pumpkin.

 

Eat a rainbow! Each distinct colour vegetable carries its own set of unique disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. So make it a game by asking children how many colours they can get into the days’ meals. Remember we “eat with our eye,” so including different coloured vegetables makes a meal visually more appealing, as well as adding a variety of nutrients.

 

Teaching children how quick, easy and enjoyable preparing vegetables or fruits at home can be is a fundamental way to set them up well for their future relationship with food.

 

For more information go to www.eatforhealth.com.au.

 

 

GET MORE F&V INTO YOUR MEALS: 4 tips to eat more in-season

Basket with vegetable and fruit, some pots in the urban garden, London city, UK.

Eating seasonal fruit and veg is positive for the environment and our health. Choosing to include seasonal fruit and veg goes hand in hand with eating locally grown produce and this can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the production and transportation process (Gareth Edwards-Jones, 2010).

 

From a nutritional perspective, there is no evidence to suggest local foods are more nutritious than non-local food, but eating locally and shopping at the local farmers market has been shown to increase food appreciation, and stimulate positive social networks compared to shopping at the supermarket (O’Kane 2011). Also adding seasonal fruits and vegetables to your diet increase the variety consumed throughout the year. This is a source of different fiber, vitamins, and minerals all required for optimal health and wellbeing.

Extra benefits of eating foods in the season include:

  • They’re often cheaper than out of season options
  • It supports the local economy and our local farmers
  • Food often tastes better when in season
  • Reduces the use of fossil fuels used to run cool rooms

Despite these benefits, seasonal eating can be a little bit tricky especially if you are located in a rural or remote area in Queensland. Often what is grown in the regional food bowls are transported across the Country to central markets in larger cities and the town is left with little fresh produce, and unfortunately, this fresh produce often costs a lot more to purchase compared to the city counterparts.

To eat seasonally here are four top tip

 

1. Shop at the local farmer’s market:

Chat to the farmers about what is currently in season. If you are in doubt, ask the lovely staff what is currently in season and where it is from. Knowing more about the distance the food has traveled to get to your shopping cart and dinner plate can help to make informed decisions about whether or not you want to make a purchase.

2. Go directly to the farmer: 

Don’t have a local grocer or farmer’s market in your area? Why not go directly to the farmer? There are also some great companies like Aussie Farmers Direct and Food Connect that source local and fresh produce from independent farmers, support seasonal produce and cut out the middleman so more money goes back to the farmer. It supports local economies, farmers and makes seasonal eating a lot easier.

3. Download the seasonal wheel:

A seasonal wheel is an online resource that can be printed and stuck on the fridge. It provides a good summary of what is in season for South East Queensland. Download it here: http://www.ecofriendlyfood.org.au/media/pdf/A3%20Food%20Wheel.pdf

4. Start a veggie patch:

One of the best ways to know more about where your food comes from is to grow your own. Although this can require a lot of effort, balcony and pot veggie gardens are still a great way to grow your own fruit and veg and supplement cooking at home with freshly grown herbs and spices. Check out some useful tips and tricks.

 

Have some seasonal eating tips you wish to share? Comment Below:

 

BE AWARE OF SUGAR in YOUR DRINKS: HEALTHY CHRISTMAS ICE TEAS TO KEEP YOU REFRESHED THIS CHRISTMAS

Shot of a group of friends making a toast over dinner

Can you believe Christmas is already upon us?

With an abundance of delicious and treat foods available to enjoy over the silly season, often many families over consume sugary drinks during this period. Events in the park with friends on a late Sunday afternoon can result in too many laughs and too many drinks. Additionally, those Sunday BBQ’s at mums can lead to a little too much of the sweet stuff.

The team at QCWA Country Kitchens has put their heads together to come up with some delicious and healthy iced teas. Although some recipes below have sugar in them, compared to a standard bought iced teas which often have upwards of 4.5 teaspoons per standard 300ml glass (equivalent to 15 teaspoons of sugar per 500ml), making your own iced tea is a great way to reduce the amount of sugar consumed over the festive period.

 4 iced tea recipes to keep you hydrated this silly season:

 


Lemon Myrtle and Raspberry Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 2.4

Serves 6                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

lemon myrtle iced tea

 

8 green and lemon myrtle tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

4 tablespoons of a sweetener of your choice

1 bunch of fresh mint shredded

2 litres of filtered water, boiled

1 punnet of fresh raspberry or frozen if preferred, to garnish

A few sprigs of mint, to garnish

 

Method

COMBINE the tea, sweetener, mint and boiling water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 30 minutes.

REMOVE the tea bags or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

ADD mint, raspberries, and ice to serving glasses or jug.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.

 

Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Madura Tea Recipes

 

 


Pineapple and Thyme Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0

Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Pineapple iced tea

 

2 litres water, boiled

8 teabags of green tea

½ fresh pineapple, skin removed and chopped to small 1 cm cubes

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 lime, quartered and juiced

2 sprigs fresh thyme, to garnish

 

Method

COMBINE the tea and thyme in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 15 minutes.

REMOVE the teabags and thyme or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

ADD pineapple, lime.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug and garnish with thyme leaves.

 

Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team

 


Raspberry and Ginger Fizz 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0.3

Serves 4                                Preparation Time:  60 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Raspberry and ginger fizz

 

2 handfuls of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 teaspoon sugar

1 handful mint, roughly shredded

3 tablespoons fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 litre of mineral water

1 handful fresh raspberries, to garnish

 

Method

PLACE raspberries, sugar, ginger, and mint in a bowl or jug.

MASH until well combined.

ADD mineral water.

REFRIGERATE until cool.

SERVE over ice, garnished with fresh raspberries.

 

Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Jamie Oliver

 


Peach and Rosemary Iced Tea

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 1.8

 

Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  50 minutes                        Cooking Time: 5 minutes

 

Homemade peach and thyme iced tea

 

2 litre boiling water

4 tea English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

6 large peaches, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

2 stalks of rosemary, rinsed

 

 

Method

COMBINE the tea and water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 10 minutes then remove the teabags/strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

PLACE peaches and sugar into a pot and simmer until the peaches have reduced

PUREE the peaches and sugar until a smooth consistency forms.

STRAIN the peach mixture and add it to the tea.

ADD the rosemary stalks.

REFRIGERATE for 40 minutes until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.

 

Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team

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