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Sit Less, Move More: Lessons from Steptember


During the month of September, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team stepped it up a notch and joined Steptember. The team thought it was a great opportunity to increase our daily exercise, and create new healthy habits that align with sitting less and moving more. Plus we also wanted to raise some much-needed money for people living with cerebral palsy who often don’t have the opportunity to walk and move around as much as us.

To learn more about cerebral palsy please visit The Cerebral Palsy Alliance that aim to support people living with a physical and neurological disability.

The goals set by the team behind Steptember were to achieve 10,000 steps per day. So did the QCWA Country Kitchen Team achieve this? And What did we do to get many more steps in each day?

Here’s how we did:

Despite an amazing effort by the team, aiming for 10,000 steps per day was a challenge. Our final number of steps was 819, 979 steps. That’s an average of around 6000 steps per day with a team of five of us.

Here’s what we did:

Bec started getting the train from the Gold Coast just to get some early morning steps in and has started running up some big beachside hills occasionally after work.

Fiona used everyday activities such as shopping and gardening to get her steps up. She also noticed that being on the road and conducting Hands On Nutrition Workshops achieved an amazing 7500 steps!

Alice started a daily exercise routine and would make an effort to put her headphones in when talking to friends and family so she could get stepping.

Chloe started getting the train in the morning to work and added a few extra steps to her morning routine

Connie decided that getting to work early was the best way to get some extra steps on her a morning run. Connie also made a huge effort to do an hourly was in her local area each day.


Lessons from Steptember

Achieving 10,000 steps per day is challenging but it is no excuse not to try. Here are some of the QCWA Country Kitchens teams’ ideas on how we can all bump up our steps every day.


Before work

  • Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier and get out for a crisp morning walk or run
  • Choose to take public transport, bike or walk to work
  • Meet a colleague or friend before work and head to the local park for a chat and walk


During work

  • Set a reminder to get up, get a glass of water and do some steps on the spot
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity
  • At lunch, get the team together, put your walking shoes on and head out for a stroll
  • Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk and ready to go


After work

  • Get outside, get some fresh air and get those steps up
  • Cook dinner to music and move your body
  • When grocery shopping, choose a carpark furthest away from the entrance and walk the extra distance
  • Join a sports team once or twice a week
  • Call a friend, put your headphones in and get walking


Every day we can all aim for more steps, remember that every little bit counts and investing in a good pair of walking shoes can add motivation. Although Steptember is great, remember to sit less and move more every day not just for the month of September. Setting a goal and aiming for 10,000 steps each day is a great way to stay motivated for the remainder of the year.

For more tips and tricks on how to get more active check out the Healthier. Happier website for easy to do, everyday activities.

COOK AT HOME: Flying solo? Tips and tricks to get you cooking at home.

Woman cooking

Did you know that 1 in 4 Australian households are a one person only households? (ABS Census of Housing and Population, 2011).

Although living alone can depict a picture of loneliness and isolation, some people enjoy living along as the benefit include increased independence, a stress-free environment and taking the time to do what they want, when they want. However, living alone can also be a challenge when it comes to cooking and preparing meals.

Cooking for one whether you live alone or with others can be thought of as a barrier but don’t fret, cooking can still be enjoyable, taste great and be highly nutritious, all without much of the effort. In line with the QCWA’s Cook At Home key message, cooking for one is no excuse not to get back in the kitchen and experiment with old and new recipes.

To make cooking for one more enjoyable and less time consuming, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team have put together some tips and tricks to making cooking for one, easy, nutritious and enjoyable.


Top tips and tricks to get you cooking for one:


  1. Take time to cook a nutritious meal and enjoy experimenting with old and new recipes in the kitchen: We are all living such busy lives these days and the joy of cooking seems to have been replaced with resentment. Take the time to plan your meals, buy the produce, speak to the locals and enjoy the entire process of nourishing your body.
  2. Invite the neighbours over or a friend to enjoy a meal with you: Cooking for one can get a bit boring and lonely at times. To combat this, broaden your social network and invite the neighbours over or reconnect with family or old friends and enjoy great conversation over a tasty meal.
  3. Cook for 2, 3, or 4, pack away and store in the freezer for a later date: Once a month, cook up a big pot of soup or savoury mince and portion these into smaller packs ready for the month ahead. This makes cooking much easier when you simply can’t be bothered, fall sick or have an extremely busy day.
  4. Opt for a nutritious toasty: Cooking a nutritious and tasty meal doesn’t have to be a huge effort. A simple toasted cheese sandwich can do the job. On a slice of bread, add pesto, baked beans, and top with fresh spinach. Slice up your favourite cheese and place over the spinach. Bake until the cheese melts.
  5. Buy vegetables that go with multiple dishes: Choosing vegetables that are versatile and that you enjoy. For example, zucchini is a great veggie, perfect for soups, on toasties, grated into Bolognese or even chargrilled on the barbecue.
  6. Add frozen vegetables to meals: These days frozen meals are a great option. It is better to pull the veggies out of the freezer than to have none at the dinner table. For extra convenience, choose the packets that a pre-portioned and add to any breakfast, lunch or dinner for an antioxidant boost!


If you have any tips or tricks, please let us know. We would love to hear from you and share your ideas with the rest of the QCWA Country Kitchens Community!

COOK AT HOME: Quick and easy tips to making vegetables appealing and easy.



Hands up if you’re frequently too busy or too tired to prepare fruit and vegetables at home? Even when a quick meal is already planned, it too can seem too long.

As you open the fridge looking for inspiration, you’re greeted with a limited number of ingredients, few or no vegetables. This further adds to the potential dinner effort and the desire to cook reduces even more.

If this is a common occurrence or even a random occasion, here are some top tips to ensure preparing vegetables and fruit become easy. Remember, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends five serves of vegetables each day. One serve is either ½ cup (75g) of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad.

List all your families staple ‘go to’ meals:

Once you learn which ingredients suit your tastes, preparing fresh fruit and vegetables will become much quicker and easier than you thought.

 A good place to start is to think about the types of meals that you and your family really enjoy. Most families have a small set of meals and recipes that they rely on, which are prepared regularly across a week or fortnight. For example, it might be lamb chops on Monday, Spaghetti Bolognaise midweek and a take away roast chicken on Sunday.

Match your favourites with a set of colourful veggies:

Alongside your list of meals, make a list of the fruits and vegetables you like. Now think about how you could add these to the family recipes identified. For example, add diced mushrooms, celery, carrot or silver beet to your Spaghetti Bolognaise.

At this point it’s a good idea to write up the families modified recipes and put them somewhere obvious so whoever is cooking that night, knows the plan.

When making a roast, prepare an extra-large tray of pumpkin, potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, and even beetroot and use these in salads, pasta or risotto over the next few days. In my household we use roasted pumpkin as a spread in sandwiches for school. It’s a real hit!

Look at each meal as an opportunity to get added veg:

Increasing the amount of vegetables in you and your families diet is a great way to improve health. If you leave the dinner meal as the only opportunity to eat vegetables, there is no way you are going to each the 5 serves per day. And even so, your meal is likely to just be veggies and not balanced with whole grains and lean proteins. The best way to get added veggies in is to look at breakfast, lunch and dinner as an opportunity increase  your veg intake. Try a vegetarian omelette or baked tomatoes for a savory breakfast.

In the evening and after dinner:

Try substituting chocolate at the end of an evening meal with low fat yoghurt and fruit. The extra serve of fruit will increase your fibre intake and the protein in the yoghurt will fill you up so you’re not tempted to snack more.

Stock up on frozen veg:

When fresh food is difficult to obtain, canned or frozen has almost the same nutrition as fresh.  It’s a good idea to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer for an easy meal that just needs a little meat added, a sauce and some heat applied. Canned tomatoes are a great pantry staple.

Choose different colours:

If children are fussy about certain flavours you can easily sweeten a meal with vegetables such as carrot, cherry tomatoes or jap pumpkin.  Remember we eat with our eyes, so including different coloured vegetables makes a meal visually more appealing, as well as adding a variety of nutrients.


Armed with these simple ideas and your family’s updated recipes, you’ll not only be adding more fruit and vegetables to your diets but you’ll be improving the health of your family as well. Enjoy!


For more information go to



COOK AT HOME: How to make a healthy cheese platter

Cheese platters are a great way to entertain and provide nutritious snacks to your family and friends. It is important however to ensure delicious cheeses which are often high in saturated fat and salt are coupled with healthy snacks including vegetable sticks, wholegrain crackers, nuts and seeds.

Here are some step by step instructions to get you started.


1. Start by choosing your platter. This is an important step as a platter too small will likely end up with the cheese, veggies and other delicious goodies all over the table. A wooden chopping board or plain white plate is also good choices.











2. Choose one cheese and one dip and place each at opposite ends of the cheese board. These cheese and the dip need to be showcased and from this point on the crackers and veggies sticks chosen typically do complement the cheese and dip chosen.












3. Choose an assortment of veggies and use these to decorate the base of the dip container. The more colour the better. Carrot, capsicum, cucumber and celery are great choices and can be chopped in numerous ways including sticks to dunk into the dip.  Choose wholegrain crackers where possible and place these next to the cheese. Different crackers provide a variety of textures and flavours and when the grain can be seen, it also provides a little boost in fibre.












4. Choose at least 1 fruit to add colour to the platter. Slicing green apple thinly and piling up fresh berries is a great way to make a cheese platter that little bit healthier. Go for seasonal fruit where you can or choose canned peaches and pears for something different. Drain these natural juice and place on a hot plate for some extra flavour and texture.











5. Once all the veggie sticks, fruit and crackers are layered around the cheese and dip, choose nuts, dried fruit and even dark chocolate to fill in the missing gaps. Sprinkle a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme from the garden to garnish and provide some greenery, and serve!











COOK AT HOME: Host Christmas in July

Decorative green wreath on a napkin as a part of table appointments, clean white tablecloth background, top view. Christmas table place setting.

If this current cold weather reminds you and your family of warm roasts, mulled wine and snow, then it may in fact be the season to be jolly. That’s right, Christmas in July is a great reason to get the family over, invite some friends and enjoy delicious food, wine and spread some Christmas-like joy.

No-one really knows where the term Christmas in July originated from however, it is thought to have come from the crispy, cool and snowy Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Aside from real Christmas being celebrated on the 25th of December, Christmas in July is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Christmas like our Northern hemisphere families do.

To host a festive July celebration below are some great QCWA Country Kitchen approved recipes to get you started.

Start with a delicious and healthy cheese platter packed with fruit, vegetables and wholegrain crackers. Opt for seasonal varieties in your local area.


fried cutlet in ceramic form on a wooden table

Enjoy pork, apple and sage burgers with a macadamia mustard for the main meal. Pair this with a side of seasonal vegetables coated in fresh herbs and spices.

green salad green beans with pesto.selective focus

For a side of delicious greens, go for this green bean salad.


For dessert, try this warm bread and berry pudding made with blueberries, sultanas on wholemeal bread.

Insights from Janelle Reeves – CK Facilitator at Kingaroy Branch

Janelle Reeves

Janelle Reeves, QCWA Gympie South Burnett Division, Kingaroy Branch.

Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA’s Country Kitchens program?
I was a new member to QCWA Kingaroy Branch and just learning about the different activities offered to members. I enjoy cooking and like putting a healthy spin on old recipes. I also enjoy gardening and cooking with fresh produce. When the Country Kitchens program was introduced, I thought it sounded a great opportunity to combine the things I love and pass this onto others.

What part of the QCWA Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why?
It has been great to meet a variety of people wanting to learn how to make meals heathier.

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a facilitator?
The interaction with our Country Kitchens’ Nutritionists/Dietitians has been fantastic. They have passed on a wealth of information.

In what ways have you been able to reinforce QCWA’s Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?
The five key messages were displayed at the Kingaroy Show and promoted at the cooking program. Ten workshops were held in Kingaroy during 2016 – five workshops in Kingaroy with Kingaroy Branch and another five with Kingaroy Twilight Branch. The hands-on demonstration preparing rice paper rolls was great and it encouraged participants to prepare meals at home and to eat more colourful vegetables in each day. At a recent Fair, fruit salad was promoted as a healthy snack. This helped reinforce what a serve (of fruit) looks like and that fresh fruit tastes great!

Does your Branch have a QCWA Country Kitchens inspired community activity or event planned in the near future?
This year we will be promoting a weekly walking group that would conclude with a healthy snack and some take home information about the five key messages.

Insights from Raymonda Hall – CK Facilitator Blackwater Branch

Raymonda Hall Portrait RW #1

Raymonda Hall, QCWA Central Highlands Division, Blackwater Branch.

Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA’s Country Kitchens program?
The program offers ways of introducing healthier food options for QCWA branches. And I saw it as a great opportunity for younger people to get involved in the QCWA and possibility become members.

What part of the Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why?
I really like the five key messages part of the program, I think they are really easy to follow. I also really like how the program teaches people to modify a recipe to make it healthier.

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a facilitator?
Meeting new people. I am a people person and it was a new way for me to interact with them. Enjoyment! I thought the QCWA Country Kitchens program was a great way to bring the QCWA into the “new age”.

In what ways have you been able to reinforce the Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?
Myself and local personal trainer Natalie Sanderson started the Blackwater Health Movement which focuses on improving healthy eating (cook at home and increase fruit and vegetables) and physical activity (sit less, move more) in the community. Within our branch we have started offering Country Kitchens approved options at our stall at the Blackwater Markets and also we have a greater emphasis on health at our meetings, discussing topics such as safe food handling and physical activity.

Does your Branch have a Country Kitchens inspired community activity or event planned in the near future?
The Blackwater Health Movement held its first event on 6 December at the Blackwater QCWA Hall for local miners who have an interest in improving their health. The day included a physical activity session with a local PT and a hands-on nutrition workshop with myself. In the future I also plan to do some workshops with the PCYC and the local schools.

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