Monday, October 8, 2018

Got mylk? Our new audit shines light on the growing plant-based milk category


The trend for plant-based foods is bigger than ever, with vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets all gaining popularity alongside the increasing importance of a sustainable food future. One category that’s seeing record growth is plant-based milk - with the global plant-based milk market expected to surpass $16bn later this year. Traditionally occupying the top spot in non-dairy milks, soy is now facing increasing competition from a number of other nut, grain and legume milks. So what’s new in the Australian milk category? 

Our new audit has revealed category growth of a staggering 58% in number of products in the last two years, but Australians buying plant-based ‘mylks’ should be aware that not all products are nutritionally equal.

We captured 112 products on shelf in the four major supermarkets, including nut milks, grain milks (oat, rice), legume milks (soy, pea), coconut milks and mixes, whilst also reviewing all on-pack nutrition information.

Since our last plant-based milk audit in 2016, the number of coconut milk products has more than doubled with 220% growth, nut milks have increased by 90% and even the well-established legume milk category has grown by 36%. But compared to dairy milk, the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council’s Nutrition Manager Felicity Curtain said some plant-based milks don’t stack up nutritionally, with many falling short on valuable calcium and protein.

“30% of products did not mention calcium on-pack, suggesting they weren’t fortified with the important mineral. While those that were fortified had consistent amounts, it highlights the importance of checking labels to be confident in the choice you’re making.”

According to Accredited Practising Dietitian Joel Feren, achieving equivalence in terms of calcium content should be a focus for industry.

“Encouraging dairy alternatives to include calcium makes sense to consumers, who expect it to be in a product that is replacing calcium-rich cow’s milk”.

When it came to protein, legume milks like soy were the only plant-based milk that were consistently comparable to dairy milk, with around 3g protein per 100ml – up to three times more than that found in nut, grain and coconut milks.

Few Australians fall short on protein however, so it’s possible to enjoy a variety of plant-based milks as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

“Having so many options is great for those avoiding dairy milks but knowing what to look for is key to making a healthy choice and for plant-based milks, that’s generally calcium and protein.”

With so much choice in plant-based milks, it can be difficult knowing what to look for if you need to avoid dairy. So check out our tips for choosing the best plant-based milk for you…
  • If you need to replace dairy milk, then look out for products fortified with calcium and protein on pack.  
  • Aim for at least 200mg of calcium per serve and at least 5g of protein per serve.
  • Choose mostly non-flavoured milk alternatives to reduce intake of free sugars from beverages. 
We run rolling audits of a range of grain and legume foods on shelf in the four major Australian supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, IGA, ALDI), revisiting major categories biennially - for more details visit our website here. Stay tuned for the results of our next audit on Breakfast Cereals!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Enjoying legumes on a low FODMAP diet


by Chloe McLeod

Enjoying legumes on a low FODMAP diet can be a challenge, but the good news is that it is possible! But firstly, what are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are all different types of carbohydrates. These types of carbohydrate are poorly absorbed or digested for some. When these are poorly absorbed, increased water may be drawn into the gut, which results in diarrhoea for some people. For others, the carbohydrates travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria, which then produces gas. This gas can lead to additional symptoms of IBS including bloating, constipation, flatulence, pain and nausea.


Many legumes are high FODMAP, with the galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) found in legumes being one of the FODMAPs that people even without IBS don’t tolerate well.

The key reason to include legumes is fibre. When starting a low FODMAP diet, fibre intake is one of the first things that can start to drop. Legumes are a rich source of prebiotic fibres. These fibres are the ones that provide fuel for the healthy bacteria in your gut, with avoidance showing there may end up being a change in your gut bacteria, and not necessarily for the better!

But how on earth do you include legumes in your diet when following a low FODMAP diet, and still keep your symptoms in check? Especially when the bloating and wind that develops as a result of the legumes fermenting in your gut can be uncomfortable and downright embarrassing.


Check out my tips for including legumes whilst following a low FODMAP diet!

·        Look at how they’ve been prepared. Canned legumes are much better tolerated than dried legumes, due to having a lower FODMAP content. Canned lentils are safe at 1/2 cup, whilst butter beans and chickpeas are low FODMAP at 1/4 cup. Keep in mind that if you choose dried over canned, it is likely the same portion won’t be tolerated if you are sensitive to GOS.

·        Start small: if you know you don’t tolerate legumes well, start small and infrequent and build up over time. Have you ever noticed that people who regularly eat legumes seem to tolerate them better? This is due to the gut getting better at digesting the prebiotic-rich fibres with regular consumption. Maybe try 1-2 tablespoons of one of the options mentioned below and work up from there every few days.

·        Remember that portions add up: whilst having 1/4 cup canned chickpeas is likely to be ok, if other GOS rich foods are added in, you may be more likely to experience symptoms. Instead, bulk out your meal with whole grains that are low in FODMAPs, for example brown rice, quinoa or millet.


So now you know what to look out for, how can you still include legumes as a regular part of your diet, even when sticking to low FODMAP options?

1    Canned legumes are one of the easiest ways to incorporate legumes into your diet, as they’ve already been cooked! Used in the quantities above, they’re so versatile and will work added straight into a salad or add texture to a sauce or casserole if cooking. Why not try adding into spaghetti sauce, or including in a spinach salad with some feta and orange slices. Just remember to drain and rinse canned legumes prior to use.

-     Sprouted mung beans: find these in the fridge  in the vegetable section in your local shops. The perfect addition to up the nutrient density of your salads, and mung beans are low FODMAP at 2/3 cup! Try incorporating these into your chicken and quinoa salad for some crunch, or top your favourite baked vegetable dish.

-    Dried red and green lentils: dried lentils require a little more prep, and will take some time to cook prior to being ready to eat. Keep these to 1/4 cup serve of cooked lentils – they’re a fabulous addition to curries and soups! Try mixing coconut milk, zucchini and chicken along with red lentils to make a delicious creamy curry and serve with brown rice.


So however you incorporate legumes, remember you can still enjoy them as part of a balanced low FODMAP diet. Take a look at our recipe for low FODMAP Lentil Nut Burgers.

Chloe is a Sydney based dietitian who works closely with individuals and companies, develops recipes and writes about nutrition to help individuals and the wider population to optimise their health through elite nutrition. Chloe particularly specialises in the areas of food intolerance, sports nutrition and nutrition for arthritis and autoimmune conditions.
She developed and runs the online course The FODMAP Challenge, and provides individual nutrition services for both face to face and online consultations, and co-owns nutrition consultancy business, Health & Performance Collective


Sunday, July 29, 2018

What’s all the hype about seitan?


With flexitarian and vegan diets booming in 2018, there’s no shortage of plant-based proteins on offer, but have you heard of seitan? Read on to discover more about this devilish-sounding plant-based alternative, and decide whether you should give it a go…

Seitain: what actually is it?
Seitan (pronounced ‘say-tan’), is a product made of the protein found in breads and cereals, called gluten. It’s produced by washing a wheat flour dough with water until the starch is removed, leaving only the elastic, meaty-textured gluten, which has led to other names like wheat meat, wheat protein or wheat gluten. Although it’s been gaining more attention recently, seitan has actually been around for centuries, dating back as early as the 6th Century in Asian countries like China. It’s been adopted as a plant-based form of protein for people who follow meat-free diets, and is similar to tofu and tempeh – although these soy-based proteins lack the meat-like texture that seitan has.

Per 100g serving
Firm Tofu
Tempeh
Seitan
Kilojoule (kJ)
270
850
441
Protein (G)
9
20
21
FAt (g)
4
7
1
Carbohydrate (g)
2
14
4
Fibre (g)

11
1
Sodium (mg)
24
9
450

Jenny Sugar (2011), Meat Alternatives Explained: Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan. Popsugar.com

What are the pros?
·        High in protein, low in kilojoules
·        Plant-based source of protein which can mimic the taste of meat
·        Soy-free meat substitute for those with soy allergies

What are the cons?
·        Not suitable for those with gluten-sensitivities or coeliac disease
·        Doesn’t absorb much flavour
·        High amounts of sodium (salt) in the packaged product
·        Seitan is hard to source unlike other vegetarian protein alternatives meaning you may have to venture to a specialty vegetarian “butcher”

Where does it fit in the Australian Dietary Guidelines?
Seitan is protein-rich, so falls into the ‘meat and alternatives’ group of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines suggest including between 1 – 3 serves of this food group per day, where 1 serve is equal to 2 large eggs, 1 cup cooked or canned legumes/beans, palm sized lean beef, one small can of fish or about 1/3 cup of seitan.

But if it’s a plant-based meat alternative you’re after, seitan just doesn’t stack up when compared with grains and legumes. They may not be the first foods that comes to mind for protein, but GLNC’s 2017 bread audit found 1 in 5 wholemeal sliced breads were a ‘good source’ of protein (at least 10g per serve), and legumes are known for being one of the most cost-effective protein choices available. And while seitan packs a punch when it comes to protein, it lacks other goodies like vitamins and minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients that are found naturally in grains and legumes. On top of that, legumes double as a serve of vegetables, so it’s a win-win!

Back to Seitan… What’s the bottom line?
If you have a committed meat eater in your family, seitan may be the way to convince them to eat more plant-based foods with a taste, texture and appearance similar to animal based protein. But nutritionally boasting little other than protein, seitan falls behind other meat-free choices, so choosing options like tofu, tempeh, legumes and whole grains may be a better bet to boost your health. After some recipe inspiration? Take a look at our recipe page, featuring plenty of grain and legume options!


Terri Maister is a student Dietitian and began her final year of study at GLNC on a placement program in January 2018. She has experience in multiple areas of Dietetics including clinical paediatrics, food service management and community public health. Terri is determined to explore the diverse role of a Dietitian and help make important changes in the population and is due to graduate with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours) in November 2018.

Connect with Terri through:
Instagram: @Terri Maister
Twitter: @TerriMaister
LinkedIn: Terri Maister


References:
1. NHMRC. Australian Dietary Guidelines. 2013.
2. Go Grains Health & Nutrition. The Grains and Legumes Health Report. Go Grains Health & Nutrition Ltd. 2010.
3. NHMRC. Eat for Health Serve Sizes. 2015
4. Dr Axe – Food is Medicine. Is Seitan Healthy? The Pro’s, Cons + Alternatives. 2017
5. Pop Sugar. Meat Alternatives Explained: Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan. Jenny Sugar. 2011.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

3 reasons you should be making homemade soup this winter


As the weather starts to cool down, there are few things more nourishing than warming up with delicious comfort food, like a big bowl of homemade soup. Not only is soup a quick, easy and healthy dinner solution, it's easily reheated for a wholesome lunch the next day - often tasting even better! Or simply freeze your leftovers for up to a few months - it’s the ultimate cheap and nutritious frozen meal.

Here are 3 reasons why you should make soup part of your weekly routine this winter:

1. Homemade soup can be a balanced ‘one-pot’ meal

Gone are the days of having a one or two veg soup as an entrĂ©e to the main course. These days, exciting and balanced soup recipes are the main course, one that will ensure you're getting a variety of food groups and nutrients in one meal! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different whole grains and legumes to mix things up – quinoa, barley, rice, beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas – these all add important nutrients to your soup, add variety and help keep you full. Several studies also show that eating soup is associated with higher diet quality and lower body weight (1).


2. Soup is cheap, quick and easy to make

Most soup recipes make 4-6 serves, and are easily stored in the fridge or freezer. Additionally, when you compare the cost of ingredients against the number of meals you get out of the pot, soup works out to be an extremely economical option! Most soups are also low on prep and cooking time – just chop up your veggies, throw in a mix of herbs, spices, grains, legumes or lean meats, then leave to simmer.


3. Soup is the ultimate staple for meal-prepping

Homemade soup is an obvious choice when meal-prepping for the week, due to its versatility with storage and reheating. You’ll be the envy of your co-workers when you have a chicken, barley and vegetable soup to pop in the microwave at lunchtime. Coming home from a long day in the office, with hungry kids in tow, there’s nothing better than having a freezer full of rich tomato and cannellini bean soup to throw on the stove and reheat. You know you’re consuming a healthy, nutritious and warming meal in the time it takes to come to the boil – just toast a few slices of wholemeal or whole grain bread and you’re set.

Get creative, experiment, and mix and match to get the most out of your soup this winter!



Quick tips on making your soup super healthy:

-        Choose low salt/sodium stock
-        Experiment with plant-based sources of protein such as tofu, beans, eggs or lentils
-        Skip the cream – thicken with milk, yoghurt, sweet potato, pureed white beans or beaten eggs 
-      Add flavour with fresh herbs and spices
-        Cook with lean meats such as chicken, turkey, fish or seafood

Take a look at our recipe collection here for more great soup inspiration!

Reference
(1) Zhu Y and Hollis JH, Soup consumption is associated with a lower dietary energy density and a better diet quality in US adults. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr 28;111(8):1474-80

Monday, May 21, 2018

Do it like the Danes this Whole Grain Week!

In Australia, Nordic nations are best known for their chilly climate, flat-pack furniture, and addictive TV crime shows, but why not their whole grain habits? This Whole Grain Week, we’re encouraging you to eat like the Danish – who enjoy more than three times the amount of whole grain than most Aussies!

Whole Grain Week (18-24 June) is all about spreading the word on how important whole grain foods are in our diet, and inspiring Australians to make simple swaps for big health benefits.

Whole grain foods like brown rice, pasta, oats, and wholemeal bread are packed with nutrition, and there’s good evidence that people who eat them regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, even bowel cancer.



But unfortunately few Australians eat enough; 59% of us choose refined grains, eating an average of just 21g whole grain per day – less than half the recommended 48g Daily Target Intake.

The ‘New Nordic Diet,’ is one of the latest diets where whole grain foods feature heavily - think rye bread, oats, and barley, so it will come as no surprise that Danes devour an average of 63 grams of whole grain each day – trebling the Aussie effort!

Most of us know whole grain foods are full of fibre, but Accredited Practising Dietitians Alex Parker and Anna Debenham from The Biting Truth say there’s actually much more to it. “Whole grains are little nutrition powerhouses, delivering more than 26 nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, fibre, even antioxidants.”



So why don’t we eat more whole grain? For many Australians, it comes down to the extra time it may take to cook whole grains, as well as simply being in the habit of choosing refined grains like white bread, rice, and pasta. So how can you enjoy the health benefits of eating more, without compromising on taste or time? Themis Chryssidis and Callum Hann, from Sprout Cooking School say a bit of prior planning is key:

“Many whole grain varieties actually only take an average of just 4 minutes longer to cook than white varieties. But you can cut cooking time further by soaking grains like freekeh or brown rice overnight, or for a few hours in advance. You could also cook a big batch of whole grains on a free afternoon and freeze individual portions in snap-lock bags or containers – ready to throw in your lunch bag or defrost for dinner!” says Themis, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.



The duo also suggest checking out the expanding grains section in the supermarket, which is bursting with convenient microwaveable products and interesting new varieties – think quinoa/rice mixes, wild rice and every colour rice you can imagine - red, black, purple, barley, teff, amaranth, buckwheat and many more.

So why not try a few simple swaps this Whole Grain Week to boost your health, without compromising on taste or time. Check out our handy ready reckoner to see how you can reach your 48g every day!


The Biting Truth’s top three whole grain nutrition benefits!

1. Eating whole grains protects our health in the long-term, against things like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. 

2. Choosing whole grain foods may help with weight maintenance: people who eat whole grains regularly are likely to have a healthy weight and waist circumference.

3. They’re great for our gut: the fibre in whole grains ‘feeds’ our good gut bacteria, which may improve our health in other ways – controlling our appetite, reducing inflammation, and boosting immunity. 



Try these delicious recipes to help you hit your whole grain target!

These delicious Baked Oats are a breakfast the whole family will love.
Enjoy a classic for lunch with an Egg & Lettuce Sandwich on wholemeal bread.
Make a batch of these Corn & Zucchini Muffins to tide you over for morning or afternoon tea!
For dinner, this Freekeh, Lentil & Bean Salad makes a great stand-alone or side dish with fish.

For more information on Whole Grain Week or to find out how you can help spread the whole grain message, visit our website here.



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What’s all the fuss about the New Nordic Diet?


Almost every week we see a new diet being touted as the next big thing. Few diets come out on top, but the New Nordic Diet (New Nordic Diet) is up there along with its close cousin, the Mediterranean diet. We’ve taken a closer look at just why it’s meant to be so good for us…

Firstly, where does the New Nordic Diet come from?

The New Nordic Diet shares its roots with the traditional Nordic way of eating and was created in 2004 as a collaboration between the Nordic Council for Ministers and the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant NOMA, to celebrate the simplicity of the Nordic style of eating. It’s based around seasonal, regional food with a particular focus on health, sustainability and flavour and ties in with several key food trends for 2018 and beyond, including the recent focus on plant-based foods.

So what do I eat on the New Nordic Diet?

The New Nordic Diet is often described as a ‘cooler temperature’ take on the Mediterranean diet, which is widely considered to be the best diet for preventing heart disease. It features plenty of fruit and vegetables - think berries, cabbage, root vegetables and beans, as well as peas and lentils, potatoes, herbs, mushrooms, nuts and whole grains like barley, oats and rye. Lean meat and fish is eaten occasionally with a focus on quality - all these elements are similar to the Mediterranean diet, with one key difference; followers of the New Nordic Diet use canola oil instead of the traditionally Mediterranean olive oil.


Why is it good for me?

The core elements of the New Nordic Diet help to promote good overall health, alongside providing protection against being overweight, suffering from obesity and a range of other diet related diseases.
Research on the New Nordic Diet and weight management shows that people who closely followed the New Nordic Diet lost more weight1 and also gained less post-study2, compared to those following an average diet - which included refined grains, meat, dairy, confectionary and smaller amounts of low fibre fruit and veggies.

Additionally, another study showed that the New Nordic Diet can improve cardiovascular risk factors including blood lipids, insulin and blood pressure3.

Whilst data on the New Nordic Diet is limited so far, research is showing that sticking to a mostly plant-based diet and eating quality carbohydrates and whole grains, can help protect our overall health. Here’s how to eat New Nordic style for the day…
  • Start your day with a bowl of oats and berries
  • Switch your lunchtime sandwich bread to a wholemeal rye version
  • Choose whole grain crispbreads and pea hummus for an afternoon snack
  • Mix up your grains and try cooked barley with salmon for dinner instead of rice
Interested in adding more whole grains and legumes to your day? Visit our recipe section for delicious foodie inspiration.


References 
  1. Poulsen SK., Due A., Jordy AB., et al. (2014). Health effect of the New Nordic Diet in adults with increased waist circumference: a 6-mo randomised controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 99:1, 35-45. Accessed from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/99/1/35.long 
  2. Poulson SK., C rone C., Astrup A., Larsen TM. (2015). Long-term adherence to the New Nordic Diet and the effects on body weight, anthropometry and blood pressure: a 12-month follow-up study. Eur J Nutr. 54:1. 67-76. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24664189
  3. Adamsson V., Reumark A., Fredriksson I-B. et al. (2010). Effects of a healthy Nordic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolaemic subjects: a randomised controlled trial (NORDIET). J Intern Med. 269 150-9. Accessed from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02290.x/full


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Enjoy your legumes a new way!

Over the last few years, a wave of plant-based trends, coupled with the International Year of Pulses in 2016, has led to the humble pulse - more commonly known as legumes - increasingly being seen for the nutritional powerhouses that they truly are. And as these trends develop, their true potential and versatility is just now being discovered. With pulses in the brain, we've been looking at the health benefits pulses provide and new ways in which to incorporate them into our diet!

But first, what actually is a pulse?

Pulses belong to the wider legume family, which is a group of plants whose fruit or seed is enclosed in a pod. Pulses refer specifically to the dried, mature seeds of these plants and include dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. The term ‘legume’ includes these dry varieties, as well as fresh peas and beans and is a more commonly used term than pulses.

Many people are most familiar with legumes in the form of the much-loved baked bean, but there are hundreds of different varieties of legume out there with some of the most familiar including chickpeaslentilspeas and beans - like butter beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans and soybeans.

Legumes and pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be eaten in many forms including whole, split, ground into flour, dried, canned, cooked or frozen.


Why are they so good for me?

Legumes are packed with a whole range of essential nutrients, they are...
  • An economical source of plant-based protein.
  • Higher in protein than most other plant foods.
  • Generally low in fat, and virtually free of saturated fats.
  • Rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, with a low glycaemic index to help maintain blood glucose control.
  • A good source of B-group vitamins including folate, plus iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
  • Abundant in fibre, including both insoluble and soluble fibre, plus resistant starch - all essential for maintaining good gut health!
There are many studies which show that legumes offer significant health benefits including protection against chronic diseases, assisting with weight management and helping to maintain good gut health.

How much should I be eating?

Pulses like chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans are full of nutrients, inexpensive and important for health and well-being. We recommend aiming for 100g or ½ cup of pulses at least three times a week to maintain good health.

So how do I add more legumes into my diet?

  Enjoying legumes as part of a healthy habit is easier than you might think...
·        Use hummus instead of mayonnaise in a sandwich
·        Substitute a mix of kidney beans and red lentils for half the mince in your next spaghetti bolognaise or chilli
·        Mix in a handful of black beans or lentils when cooking scrambled eggs
·        Try whizzing a handful of cannellini beans into a fruit smoothie 
·        Use mashed cooked brown lentils in a nutty bliss ball mix

Why not try something new with these legumes…

Chickpeas offer a creamy texture and mild taste and make a great base for soaking up flavours.

Try something new with chickpeas: why not mix up your hummus with additions like sundried tomatoes, feta or cooked sweet potato or why not try the latest foodie trend, sweet hummus!
 

Black beans have a delicious meaty texture and make a great addition to burgers or as a mince substitute in chilli.

Try something new with black beans: use them to add a fudgy texture to black bean brownies.


Lupins are slowly making their mark in the world of legumes due to their incredible versatility - they can be eaten fresh and lupin flour and flakes can be used to up the protein and fibre content when baking.

Try something new with lupins: use a mix of lupin flakes and oats for a nutritious homemade muesli.


  Top tips for prepping and storing your legumes

·        Cooking dried legumes (or pulses) in large batches is easy and cost-effective - simply freeze individual portions of cooked legumes for up to three months for ready-to-use convenience.
·        When using canned legumes, rinse contents thoroughly to reduce sodium content by more than 40%.
·        Soaking dried legumes for an hour or two, or overnight if you have time, ensures that they're easier to digest and maximises nutrient bio-availability. Split peas and lentils don't need to be soaked.
·        Store cooked, cooled legumes in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days - this applies whether they're from a can or cooked at home.


With so many varieties to choose from, there are many reasons to love your legumes - their health benefits, versatility and abundance of nutrients being just a few. But however you choose to eat them, know that whenever you do you’re making a significant contribution to your health.

Visit the GLNC website for more information on the nutrition benefits of legumes, handy tips and recipe inspiration.