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Time as a social and environmental determinant of health for rural women

Time as a social and environmental determinant of health for rural women

We are excited to have another paper published on the QCWA Country Kitchens program. This paper presents research that was led by the team at Central Queensland University or CQUniversity during March – June 2018.

The team travelled with the Country Kitchens Health Promoters (Nutritionists/Dietitians) to communities in the Maranoa and North Western Divisions of the QCWA. The participants and Branch Facilitators they met participated in the research project whilst also attending our Hands on Nutrition Workshops.

You can read more in the Journal of Health Education & Behaviour.

Authors: Wendy Madsen BA, MSc, GCFL, PhD, MPH (1)  Jenni Judd DHSc, MPH, MEd, DipHPE (1) Sue Williams PhD, GDHN, GCSN, BHSc (1)

Fiona McKenzie BSc (Biol/Health), GCHSM, GCHP, Cert IV WAT (2), Jay Deagon PhD, MEd, BEd (Secondary) (1)

Kate Ames BBus (Comn), GCTertiaryEd, MLitt(CultStud), PhD, Cert IV TAE (1)

(1) CQUniversity, (2) Queensland Country Women’s Association

Acknowledgements: The authors wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the QCWA Country Kitchen’s Nutritionists – Chloe Dyce, Alice Cameron and Connie Conyard – for engaging with the communities and helping facilitate this research.

Funding: CQUniversity Merit Grant.

Conflict of interest: The authors confirm there is no conflict of interest.


Background: Time insufficiency is frequently cited as a reason for poor dietary habits. This does not adequately explain the variations in how time is perceived as a factor in healthy eating.
Aims: This study placed the eating behaviours of rural Australian women within the contexts of their stories to understand the factors that influenced healthy eating and how rural communities could enhance their health and well-being.
Methods: A three-phase sequential multi-mode narrative inquiry was used within four communities in rural Queensland, Australia. Each phase used a different mode of data collection: photo elicitation focus groups; narrative interviews; participatory workshops. Data were thematically analysed iteratively to inform subsequent phases.
Results: Nine final themes were identified. This paper explored the theme of time and two contrasting perceptions of time sufficiency regarding healthy eating within a rural context during a drought.
Discussion: Exploration of “time as a commodity” and “time as a duty” allowed a deeper understanding of time as a social and environmental determinant of health.
Conclusion: Time’s influence on healthy eating is much more than the minutes it takes to prepare a meal. To fully appreciate its impact, time should be considered as a social and environmental determinant of health.

Valerie Stevenson, Quilpie Branch

Meet our Fabulous Facilitator from Warrego Division of the QCWA

Fabulous Facilitator Val Stevenson (left)

Mrs. Valerie Stevenson, QCWA Quilpie Branch

My name is Valerie Stevenson. I am a member of Quilpie Branch in the Warrego Division. I have been a Branch Facilitator for just over 12 months now. My other hat within QCWA is Branch Secretary. When I am not wearing my Fabulous Facilitator hat, I occasionally like to write poems when I’m in the mood.

I really like the idea of trying to encourage people of all ages to enjoy eating healthy food. I believe that fast foods play too big of a role in our world today and we need to reduce this. The five key messages are a great idea, especially for our young people. I would like to see people of all ages eating and enjoying more vegetables, we have such a wonderful selection these days, fresh or frozen.

I am a background person. Michelle Donohue and I work well together as she is excellent with front of house. My likes are cooking and knitting. Together with Michelle, I have facilitated several Country Kitchens Showcases at our Cent Auctions, Soap Making Day, Biggest Morning Tea and our Pop-up Market which went for 18 days. We have connected one on one with hundreds of people of all ages. We have had many discussions about our cookbooks and quite a few sales! Our branch members have been very supportive and have lots of fun with sit less, move more! We have taste testers for recipes promotions at meetings and all events.

Country Kitchen’s Facilitators Michelle Donohue (front) and Val Stevenson (back) setting up their pop-up shop.

Country Kitchens Showcase by Quilpie Branch

Pop-up shop featuring Country Kitchens

Janelle Reeves, Kingaroy Branch

Meet our Fabulous Facilitator from Gympie & South Burnett Division of the QCWA.

Janelle Reeves (first on left) with other branch members at CK lunch catering

Mrs Janelle Reeves, QCWA Kingaroy Branch

I first heard about Country Kitchens in a branch meeting. I have always been interested in cooking and leaning about new flavours and techniques. Since having children, the nutrition aspect of food has become more important also. I have been a branch treasurer for 4 years also. I’d like to see our branch engage with the community more. There are many in our area that would benefit from the message the Country Kitchens program is promoting. My strengths are that I like to help people, I like to cook. I was a mathematics teacher at high school before dedicating time to my children. I hope to go back to it one day. I enjoy teaching people new things, so the Country Kitchens program came at the right time for me to be involved. I like working with branches in our division and have met some wonderful people that would not normally cross my path.

In 2016, our branch was involved in a pilot version of the current CK program. We have continued our involvement since then with activities such as a walking group, our 5 key messages presented to a Mums ‘n’ Bubs group, partnering with local organisations to demo/cater for events such as Women in Ag days, we have promoted CK at local cattle sales too. This year we have helped children at the local school of distance Ed improve their cooking skills so they can help cook more at home with more fruit and veg and leaned about the amount of sugar in their drinks. We now have 2 more members keen to help with Country Kitchens. We also demonstrated some of the healthy lunchbox recipes to 100 employees at a local organisation as part of their professional development.

I like combining cooking and gardening – growing the food we eat. I’m interested in making our food choices sustainable and teaching my children the importance of learning where their food comes from and understanding what ‘real’ food is and how it makes our bodies feel better and function properly when we eat it. As farmers, they see some of the processes it takes to grow crops. Much of my time is taken up with farming and the children, though I do enjoy reading with a good coffee or hanging out by the pool with my family.

Back to Basics cooking workshops










Back to Basics workshops with School of Distance Education Kingaroy











Healthy cooking class at Kingaroy Branch with home-schooled children.

Paula Hetherington, St George Branch

Meet our Fabulous Facilitator from the Western Division of the QCWA.

Paula (4th from the right) at Focus on Food & Fibre Conference.

Mrs Paula Hetherington, St George Branch, QCWA

I’ve been a CK facilitator for probably 3 years. I signed up to become a facilitator after our branch completed their series of Hands on Nutrition Workshops. They sort of brought our branch to life again and we have grown stronger and bigger these last few years. I am also currently the President of St George branch. When it comes to food I would like to make people aware of how important it is to follow the 5 key messages from Country Kitchens. They are simple but can be hard to follow at times when life is so busy and we have gotten in to bad habits.

My strength I think, is that I can delegate and like to delegate and share the workload. I also enjoy working together with the other branches in our division and feel that we are all stronger when we work together. I cook but it is not my favourite thing, but I do like to try new recipes. I love being in the garden and I enjoy learning new things, I’m learning French at the moment!

We have been getting much support from our local paper Balonne Beacon and have featured a few times with pictures which has been great for us. The last one was when we did the catering for a Food and Fibre Conference in St George. This time we worked together with Thallon, Dirranbandi and Bollon QCWA branches. We do work well together. We have stalls at the show, International Women’s Day, Christmas markets and others. Each time we have Country Kitchens recipes to give away and we talk to people about QCWA and what Country Kitchens is about.

I am also a member of the Toastmasters Club here in St George and would encourage anyone to join if you’ve got one in your town. I also try to play golf. But I do love my time at home when I can be out in the garden.

Paula (right) Showcasing Country Kitchens at International Women’s luncheon.











Hands on Nutrition Workshops done in partnership between St George branch and Bond University Nutrition Students with local children.

National Nutrition Week: Try for 5!

This year National Nutrition week is all about how to try for your five serves of veg each day by embracing your food “waste”! Trying to reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in landfill is good for our health and the health of our environment. Did you know that food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year? It can cost the average household up to $3800 per year, and if that is not enough to shock you, we waste enough edible food to fill 17,000 747 jumbo jets. Here are some tips to try for five serves of veg a day while helping your wallet and the environment:

  • Eat more parts of your vegetables; such as skins, stalks and leaves. You would be surprised with how tasty some of the more overlooked parts of fruits and vegetables can be. Cauliflower leaves are a great side dish and pumpkin seeds roasted in the oven make the perfect snack. Other parts of your vegetables can be stored in a container in the freezer and used as a base for your own vegetable stock.
  • Use up your ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin. We love getting experimental with our leftovers. So many leftovers can be repurposed into something different but are just as tasty for a quick weeknight dinner or meal. Casseroles, soups, dips and stews are great dishes for using up ageing veg.
  • Choose “ugly” and “imperfect” vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. 25% of farmers crops do not leave the gate simply because they are deemed “ugly”! These imperfect vegetables are just as nutritious, and often cheaper. By selecting “imperfect veg” you are keeping money in your pocket, trying for your five serves and reducing food waste.
  • Extend the life of vegetables by freezing. If your vegetables are starting to deteriorate cook them prior to freezing to retain flavour and nutrients. This will also halt any degradation and the heat will destroy any bad bacteria prior to freezing.

For more Country kitchens Tips on how to “Waste not, Want not”, look to page 26 in our Healthy Cooking Guidelines and check out our recipes at To learn more about this year’s nutrition week topic and for some eat more, waste less recipes head to We especially like their Summer Table recipe for Roast Veg and Quinoa Salad… see below!

Roast veg and quinoa salad


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
50g sugar snap peas or snow peas
400g roasted pumpkin (or other roast vegetables)
4 handfuls rocket
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 handful flaked almonds, toasted
50g feta, crumbled

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
6 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon of honey


  1. Heat saucepan and add quinoa to toast for a few minutes until it starts to crackle. Remove, rinse and then place back in the saucepan.
  2. Add stock and bring to the boil. Place a lid on the saucepan, reduce heat to medium–low and simmer for 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid. When time is up, remove from the heat and stand for a further 5 minutes (without lifting the lid). Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Steam peas for 1 minute until they are bright green but still crisp. Drain, fill pot with cold water and drain again to stop them from cooking.
  4. To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking.
  5. Toss cooked quinoa, peas, pumpkin, rocket, onion and mint leaves together in a large bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over salad and combine. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and feta. Serve cold or warm.

Tip: Quinoa should be rinsed before cooking as the seeds are coated with saponins which, if not rinsed, gives the quinoa a bitter taste. When cooked perfectly, the quinoa will be slightly translucent, with a visible ‘tail’, which is part of the hull.

Variation: Quinoa comes in a range of colours, so experiment a little. White quinoa is softer, while red and black quinoa are slightly crunchy and don’t stick together as much.

Recipe courtesy of Summer Table by Jodie Blight



Nutrition Australia. 2018. Try for 5. Available from

National Food Waste Strategy: Halving Australia’s food waste by 2030, Commonwealth of Australia 2017. Available from

Susann Ranson, Charleville Branch

Meet our Fabulous Facilitator from the Warrego Division of the QCWA.

Susann Ranson (second from the right).










Mrs Susann Ranson, Charleville Branch, QCWA

I became interested in the program at the first workshop I attended. My strengths are communication and action. I do not ask members to do anything I would not do myself. I am ‘front of house’ as well and collaborate with other community groups for an opportunity to assist / showcase Country Kitchens during their activities. I do take photographs at most CWA activities and provide video’s and power point presentations for members and Facebook. I enjoy cooking, new recipes and eating with friends and family.

I have provided hands on Country Kitchens experiences at the Charleville Healthy Ageing Centre, Thargomindah School of Distance Education Sports week, Charleville School of Distance Education Sports Week, Quilpie CWA workshop and Foodie Talk and Cooking demonstrations at the Charleville Show (2017 – 2018 and 2019).  Photographs are of these activities are available on School of Distance Education website and Facebook pages. Branch members are aware of the role I have taken in Country Kitchens and frequently thank me for my commitment.

I am also the current Warrego Division International Officer and Photography Convenor. I have also been responsible for organising any catering and street food opportunities. I enjoy reading and gardening. I have recently completed art works to include in the Mental Health Weeks Exhibition and Fractured Frames Exhibition in October at our local art gallery, Mulgar Lands Gallery.

Mini Pizzas being prepped for a Back to Basics workshop with the School of Distance Education in Thargomindah.











Susann Ranson running a Back to Basics workshop with the School of Distance Education in Thargomindah.











Our healthy rice paper rolls prepared for Tambo Stock Show Country Kitchens Showcase.











Cooking workshops with Charleville School of Distance Education.



Lisa Rolph-Smith, Ambrose Branch

Meet our Fabulous Facilitator from the Capricornia Division of the QCWA.
















Mrs Lisa Rolph-Smith, President, Ambrose Branch, QCWA

The Queensland Country Women’s Association when thought about, most people have a image that pops into their head of old ladies, tea and scones. I know I did until I walked into my local CWA to hire the hall for a playgroup disco. Membership numbers had dwindled in the branch, and they were facing closure as many other branches had throughout Queensland. A wave of concern and determination hit me. I grew up in the country and I worked in the cattle industry for most of my career life. The CWA was a association for me and all the women in our community, so with that I was on a mission!

Off I went to rally friends and community members to join -the response was amazing. After being a member for a short time I was asked to be Branch President and I was honored to accept. Now this is when I really came to understand the QCWA MISSON: Empowering and Inspiring women Though Friendship, Education, Service and Advocacy.

At the first Division meeting I attended I was introduced to a program called Country Kitchens, a partnership between the QCWA and the Queensland Government. The program endeavors to support QCWA Branch members to provide nutrition education and cooking skills in health promoting community activities  across rural, remote and regional Queensland. I signed up straight away to be a Facilitator and yet again I felt that determination to share this program with my community. Off I went to the local school where we were welcomed to run Country Kitchens cooking classes and we haven’t looked back!


Lisa with Michelle Cameron and Suellen Tappenden after a solo HONW-FT

Lisa with Rachael (Nutritionist from Country Kitchens) and participants from their first HONW-FT

Lisa raising awareness of sugar in your drinks

Country Kitchens healthy sausage rolls for the Mt Larcom brunch

Cauliflower and Zucchini Scones


NAIDOC 2019 Recipes

Gin Gin Branch led by Country Kitchens Regional Facilitator Rose Aston hosted a spectacular showcase at the Yarning Stones

on Saturday July 13th for NAIDOC week 2019. Rose and Central Region Health Promotion Team Leader, Rachael Belot, created a range of bush tucker recipes for the event.

Keen to try some Emu Burgers with Saltbush and Native Basil Salsa…. Kangaroo… or delicious Bush Tomato, Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseed Muffins?  Download our recipe booklet, and let us know which is your favourite.


Download Recipe Booklet


Bush Tucker


Top 3 Ways to Achieve Good Gut Health

Everyday is a good day to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer. Helping to raise funds to support research, prevention, early diagnosis and quality treatment of bowel cancer is something we can all do to help. Did you know that our body contains millions of bacteria and microbes – in fact, we are 90% bacterial cells and 10% human cells. Many of these bacteria (our microbiome) provide health benefits; help us to digest fibre in foods; and produce a wide range of enzymes, chemicals, hormones and vitamins. Good gut health creates a healthy environment for  cells in your bowel and boosts your immune response which reduces your risk of bowel cancers and the effect of diseases such as Crohn’s and Colitis.

Intestinal microbiome, bacteria colonizing different parts of digestive system, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus and Escherichia coli, 3D illustration

Country Kitchens recommends the top three ways to achieve a healthy gut are:

  1. Increasing the dietary fibre in your diet

Consuming a plant-based diet, high in fibre is the best way to achieve good gut health such as the Mediterranean Diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups to reduce the risk of chronic disease and some cancers. Foods such as: vegetables with skin on, fruit with skin on, wholegrain cereals and beans contain high fibre. Studies show that people who eat more dietary fibre, have a more diverse microbiome which is beneficial for gut health. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, we need to consume 25-30g fibre each day. We detail how much fibre is in certain foods in our Good Gut Health resource, found on our website at

Health food concept with legumes, grains, seeds and organic vegetables.

2. Including Probiotics and Prebiotics

Introducing probiotics (such as: fermented vegetables, yoghurt, kefir, bananas, onions and garlic) and prebiotics to your diet is also recommended. Prebiotics are the functional non-digestible food components (eg. fibre) that stimulate activity or the growth of beneficial bacteria. It is also recommended to reduce saturated fats, added sugars, processed foods and alcohol in your diet for good gut health.

Fermented preserved vegetables in jar.

3. Consume all three types of dietary fibre

  • Soluble: helps manage blood cholesterol and blood glucose, helps restore good bacteria and repairs colonic epithelium. Found in: oats, artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, bananas, legumes, lentils, peas and miso.
  • Insoluble: keeps stools soft and bulky, assists with diverticular disease, haemorrhoids, constipation and bowel cancer. Found in: wholegrain cereals, nut, seeds, brown rice, corn, vegetables with skin on, fruit with skin on.
  • Resistant starch: consumed by good bacteria and helps keep the bowel lining healthy. Found in: unripe banana, cooked and cooled potatoes and pasta, lentils and plantain.

To find out more and access our Good Gut Health resource and healthy recipes, visit:


NHMRC, 2005, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes, Dietary Fibre, Commonwealth of Australia, 2006.

Olendzki, BC, Silverstein, TD, Persuitte, GM, Ma, Y, Baldwin, KR & Cave, D 2014, ‘An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a case series report’, Nutrition Journal, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 1-7.

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 today!

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


  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
  3. Work, W. (2019). Winter Work. Retrieved from

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