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Are you enjoying the warmer weather? Feeling inspired to reignite your health goals? Spring is the perfect time to learn more about:
- Organic produce power
- Mediterranean diet marvels at our next cookshop
- Why you should trust turmeric
- Papaya in Australian greengrocers right now
- Cancer-fighting foods
- Nutritional yeast and how to use it
Is Organic Food Really Better For You?
The message of “clean eating” seems to be everywhere these days, with healthy eating defined as choosing “unprocessed”, “natural” and even “organic” foods. But will shopping the organic aisle of your supermarket or health food shop really make a difference to your health?
Size, shape, taste
The first noticeable difference between organic and conventional produce is the appearance. Organic produce tends to be available in all sizes and shapes and often has an “imperfect” look, whereas conventional produce is intentionally bred and selected to ensure consistency of size and shape. Have you ever noticed that the apples at your local supermarket look exceptionally shiny? Yet the organic versions have a more dull finish. Actually, it’s how apples look like naturally, as the conventional ones are waxed after picking.
Even organic cuts of meat (beef, pork, and poultry) can differ from the non-organic versions. While the colour is fairly similar, organic meat – especially organic chooks – tend to be slightly smaller.
As for the taste, this may be influenced by personal bias. Many lovers of organic food praise it for the superior taste, but we all have flavours we like and dislike. While no significant differences in taste have been scientifically proven, scientists have demonstrated the influence of perception bias when it comes to our palates. For instance, cheaper wines poured into bottles with a more expensive label have been rated higher by wine tasters in several studies. Could the presentation of organic food be colouring your tastebuds?
Until recently it was thought that there was no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic and organic foods. However, a scientific analysis led by Professor Carlo Leifert from Newcastle University in the UK found that organic foods contained a significantly higher level of antioxidants, ranging between 19 – 69 %. In fact, switching to organic versions of fruits, vegetables and grains could give an antioxidant boost equivalent to adding an extra 1-2 serves of fruit n’ veg each day.
Previous thinking that farming doesn’t affect the quality of our food supply has been shattered by this new research. Plants produce antioxidants to help fight pest attacks. Therefore, the higher levels of antioxidant compounds in organic crops may result from their lack of artificial protection by chemical sprays and pesticides.
What does it all mean? Organic food may be better at helping you fight off chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and brain and thinking disorders.
Pesticides and other nasties
Conventional crops are commonly treated with various chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides to ensure they grow to the optimum size, shape, colour and consistency to appear more pleasing to the eye of consumers. But what are these chemicals doing to your body? Giving a gold star to your child for eating their fruit for the day may not have the same value if you consider the extra nasties they may be consuming along with that shiny red apple.
Researchers have discovered higher levels of cadmium (a toxic metal) in conventional crops compared to organic. Even though these levels were still below regulatory limits, scientists have concerns because cadmium is a metal that accumulates in your body over time. Pesticide residues have also been found to be four times higher in conventional crops than organic foods!
But organic food is so expensive!
One major factor affecting cost of organic produce is seasonality. The banana is a good example. The cost of bananas at mainstream supermarkets generally hovers around $2.95 AUS per kilo. Yet when organic bananas are in season, the cost is fairly comparable. But competing in the off-season means organic bananas are fighting against undesirable climates to grow. The key to buying organic produce without breaking the bank is therefore to shop seasonally! Look for what’s in season before you plan your meals and shopping list.
A survey from UK-based charity The Soil Association showed 44 % of consumers were choosing organic foods for environmental reasons. It is true that with less synthetic manipulation of the growing process, there is far less harm to our environment.
Organic farming usually also means greater animal welfare due to less human manipulation of animal feeds to promote more rapid growth and breeding conditions for that perfect cut of meat.
The question of organic vs. non-organic, in terms of overall quality, can be quite subjective. If you prefer more “perfect” physical characteristics in your food then organic might not be the way to go. However, if you also consider the nutrient value (particularly antioxidants), use of synthetic chemicals and pesticides as well as the environmental impact, then you should definitely consider going organic. Or perhaps try buying organic produce more often.
“The single most important thing any of us can do to shrink the environmental footprint of our eating is to cut back on our meat eating – doing so has a bigger impact than eating local or organic.” - Michael Pollan, author and food activist.
What’s Cooking? – The Magic Mediterranean Diet to Fight Disease & Increase Your Longevity
Have you ever thought healthy food tastes bland? Well, we’re about to send your taste buds soaring on an exciting journey to the Mediterranean, where the food is irresistible and your body gets all the benefits!
If you’d like better health results, without giving up on flavour, then this is for you (and you’re in for a treat!).
Join us for Sue Radd’s personal favourite cookshop and discover the delights of the Mediterranean diet. From simple ways with black eyed beans to lemony roast potatoes – you will be licking your fingers! Healthy food never tasted so good!
Just back from Greece with the latest culinary tricks and inspiration to share with you, Sue will also explode the myths about cooking with extra virgin olive oil and recommend an amount that’s right for you!
The best news is a Mediterranean style of eating is easily adapted to your Australian kitchen. And research has shown it may do wonders for many conditions ranging from heart disease and breast cancer to depression and fatty liver. Sue is personally studying the potentially beneficial effects on thinking ability and brain function at The University of Sydney.
So why not make delicious food your medicine? It’s easier to stick to and so much more enjoyable.
When: Tuesday 13th October 2015, 6.30 pm - 8:30 pm
Learn more about our cookshops
You will get to sample all the delicious dishes and take home recipes and nutrition handouts!
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to avoid disappointment. We run this event only once per year and it always sells out fast. Bring your partner and make it an evening out!
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Trust Turmeric
Why should you love that aromatic yellow spice used daily in Indian kitchens? Read Sue Radd’s article to discover what turmeric can do for you and how much to use for health benefits.
What’s Fresh – Papaya
As the weather starts to warm up, so do our appetites for delicious tropical fruits. One main attraction this time of year is the papaya or paw paw. Papayas are native to the American Tropics and grow on a tree-like plant. In Australia they grow in the warmer climates of North Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The fruit itself is oval in shape and as you slice it open you will see soft orange coloured flesh surrounding a centre of black seeds, which have an almost peppery taste. The fruit can range in colour from red and deeper oranges to bright yellow. The darker the colour, the sweeter the fruit! So, if you’re less keen on bitter flavours and prefer more sweetness, go for the papaya in preference to paw paw.
Adding some papaya to your diet this time of year can help give you essential nutrients for digestive function and improved immunity. A single serve of papaya (about 1 cup cut up) provides more than twice your recommended vitamin C for the day. The fruit also contains a unique combination of phytonutrients, which help to fight inflammation. For expecting mums, papaya contains folate, which is essential for the development and growth of babies during pregnancy.
Red papaya is ripe when its skin is yellowy green and yellow papaya is ripe when the skin is yellowy orange. Both should yield to gentle pressure. Make sure to store your papaya in the refrigerator when ripe!
6 ways with Papaya:
- Add some papaya to your fruit smoothie for a tropical zing.
- Bake some healthy papaya and coconut muffins.
- For a light ending to a dinner party simply serve Sue Radd’s Fresh Papaya Drizzled with Lime.
- Got papaya seeds leftover? Try throwing some through a salad for a peppery/bitter twist.
- Papayas make a great layer in a fruit trifle – a fancy breakfast idea that is perfect for spring. Just layer a glass with muesli, yoghurt and papaya and sprinkle a handful of seeds on top.
- Add some thin slices of papaya to your homemade pizza for a tropical spin on a family favourite.
Food InFocus – 6 Eating Principles to Fight Cancer
Are you at risk of cancer? Modifying your diet using precautionary nutrition principles now could keep you cancer-free for longer – or help prolong the life of somebody you care for who already has cancer. Watch this TV segment with Sue Radd and share with your friends.
Kitchen Tips – How to Use Nutritional Yeast
It may have an unappealing name but ‘nutritional yeast’ boasts B vitamins (some brands contain vitamin B12) – qualities that are nothing to sneeze over. But what is it? And how do you use it?
Not to be confused with the more common baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast (which have a bitter taste), nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of the microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is a popular condiment among vegetarians and vegans. Why? It has a nutty cheesy flavour and makes a great substitute for cheese in many dishes. In Australia, nutritional yeast is often sold as “savoury yeast flakes” but is also available in a powdered form. You can find nutritional yeast at any health food store.
Our Tip: Buy nutritional yeast flakes rather than the powder for better texture and versatility.
If you love cheese but find it a trigger that leads to overindulgence, or if you have gone dairy-free but miss that sprinkle of parmesan, nutritional yeast might be for you! It adds a subtle cheesy taste as it dissolves into soups and casseroles!
To get started, try:
- A sprinkle on your pasta sauce
- A shake into legume and vege soups
- A pinch on top of a mushroom and barley risotto
- A seasoning for your popcorn