Monday, December 2, 2019

Is plant-based meat all it’s cracked up to be?


Plant-based meats are booming on supermarket shelves, with our latest Australian-first study showing that the category has grown a massive five-fold in number - up 429% - since just 2015. There are now a staggering 137 products on the shelf, ranging from ‘bleeding’ burgers, to nut roasts and plant-based tuna.
This research was published in October in the International journal Nutrients* and was presented at the Nutrition Society of Australia conference in Newcastle in early December. Data was collected from the four major Australian supermarkets, comparing plant-based meats to their animal-based equivalents.
Researchers found that plant-based meats were generally lower in kilojoules, fats and protein and higher in carbohydrates and dietary fibre in comparison to their traditional animal-based meats. 
One third of the products captured were made with protein-rich legumes such as beans and lentils, while 20% of plant-based burgers contained whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. GLNC Nutrition Manager Felicity Curtain points to these findings as opportunities to bridge gaps in the Australian diet.
“We know convenience is a major barrier to eating both whole grains and legumes, so if you’re looking at plant-based meats, choosing one made with these ingredients may be an easy step to getting more of these short-fall foods into your diet.”
 
But there is room for improvement in the category, with plant-based mince six times higher in sodium than its traditional counterpart, and less than a quarter of products fortified with nutrients like Vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc, which are naturally contained in many animal-based meats.
Based on these findings, GLNC are calling for more guidance in the development of plant-based meats, alongside input from nutrition professionals to ensure consumers can make healthy choices at the supermarket shelf.
The plant-protein trend is predicted to continue well into 2020 and beyond; the impacts of which may be a ‘win-win’ for our health and the environment.
“Plant-based foods like beans, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are packed with nutrition, and have a smaller environmental impact compared to animal products,” said Ms Curtain.
Although some of the plant-based meats contain valuable nutrients from the whole grain and legume ingredients and offer a convenient option, it's also beneficial to choose protein-rich whole foods on occasion too. Enjoying half a cup, or 100g, of beans, peas or lentils provides a valuable protein boost. 

Alternatively, making your own plant-based burgers with a variety of whole grains and legumes is an excellent choice. Take a look at just how easy it is by trying our delicious Black Bean Burgers  or McKenzies Supergrain Burgers for dinner tonight!



Reference
*Curtain, F.; Grafenauer, S. Plant-Based Meat Substitutes in the Flexitarian Age: An Audit of Products on Supermarket Shelves. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2603. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112603

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Choose the simple whole grain swap backed by global research!

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!

Our second Whole Grain Week (17-23 June) is all about spreading the word on how important whole grain foods are in our diet, inspiring Australians to make simple swaps for big health benefits and switch up their whole grain variety. And this year we're encouraging you to take the Whole Grain Challenge.



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.


Monday, February 4, 2019

More peas please!

Sunday 10 February is the first ever World Pulses Day, celebrating all things beans, peas and lentils across the globe. We're singing the praises of the humble pea - often overlooked as a legume - peas are an easy and tasty way of upping your veggie and legume intake.

Peas are packed full of essential nutrients to help maintain our health, including fibre - just 1/2 cup of peas provides us with a fifth of our daily fibre intake.
1 cup of legumes provides us with... World Pulses Day website
Fresh, frozen or dried, there's a recipe to suit, so give peas a chance this World Pulses Day and take inspiration from our 10 ways with peas...

1. Add a sprinkle of green peas to your pasta


2. Pep up your salad and add some fresh green peas for a summery feel

3. Smash those peas and use to top your toast!


4. Pack your stir-fry with a pea punch

5. Easy peasy dip made easy!


6. Colour your breakfast with green by adding to your omelette!

7. No avocados? No problem! Try guacamole-pea by using fresh green peas for a light alternative

8. Looking for something different to try for a lazy brunch this weekend? Then why not give pea pancakes a bash?


9. Snack happy on yummy and crunchy roasted peas

10. Add to a frittata for a quick and fuss free reciPEA!


We recommend eating 1/2 cup of legumes 2-3 times a week to benefit from all the nutrients legumes provide. However you celebrate World Pulses Day this weekend, add a handful of beans, peas or lentils to your dish and enjoy! 

For more ways to enjoy legumes like black beans, chickpeas and legumes, read our article here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The top four food trends for 2019...

With 2019 well underway, we've taken a look at some of the biggest trends affecting grains and legumes this year...

1. Digestive Wellness

Digestive wellness is once again the number one trend for the coming year and with good reason. Emerging research, media attention and consumer demand is driving this trend, with prebiotics and fibre leading the way for innovation.

Pushing the fibre trend, resistant starch (RS) - a specific type of fibre - looks set to hit the mainstream in the very near future - only recently promoted on pack and in general media, RS looks set to redefine the future of fibre, appealing to younger consumers and Millennials.



FODMAPs are making their mark too, with this trend now being forecast as the next gluten free - new to FODMAPs? Find out more in our latest hot topic here.


2. Plant-Based 
Another consistent trend and one that’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon, plant-based presents opportunities for everyone in the food industry.
Snacking in particular is a key sub-driver for the plant-based trend (previously a top 5 trend in its own right) with most consumers not only wanting to snack more frequently, but wanting to snack better and include more veggies. Convenience plays a big part here, specifically for young consumers.


Advances in technology are also helping drive this trend, with many fruits, vegetables and legumes now being used in previously unthinkable formats - the proliferation of ‘healthier’ alternatives to chips is a key example, with chickpeas, lentils and peas increasingly being used in place of potatoes.
3. Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

With the ketogenic diet currently a media focus and a recent survey revealing that 25% of Australians are avoiding carbs(1), the low-carb diet is still very much on our radar.

In recent years though, the message has been one of balance rather than exclusion, with ‘quality’ carbohydrates being shown as an essential part of a healthy diet. This has led to the evolution of the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs, the former generally including whole grains, vegetables and fruits and the latter consisting of refined carbohydrates like biscuits, doughnuts and other 'non-whole grain' grain foods.


While there is undoubtedly a way to go on general perception of carbohydrates, for now both the public and the media are moving in the right direction with a focus on ‘quality’ carbs.  

Find out more on the merits of carbs in a balanced diet here and how carbs can assist with sports performance here. Plus our hot topic on the Ketogenic Diet delves into the pros and cons of this controversial diet - read more here.

4. Authenticity & Provenance

The trend for product provenance has been growing at a steady rate for the last few years, and is now just beginning to take off as many mainstream consumers buy into the trend.

Several factors have helped push this trend, perhaps one of the most important being a move back towards a more traditional style of eating for younger consumers. Generation X and Millennials particularly seek a point of difference in their food.



Industry has also taken a big step in promoting these products with the realisation that products with a story offer more to many consumers and help to foster connections between people and industry. The popularity of sourdough bread is a prime example of the provenance trend making an everyday product exceptional.

To find out more about other current trends like Snacking and the New Nordic Diet, simply search our blog!

References
1. New Nutrition Business. 2018. 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2019.

Monday, January 7, 2019

How to create a balanced sandwich in four easy steps!

by Lisa Sengul

It’s that time of year again when the kids are headed back to school, you're off to work and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the thought of so many lunches to prepare. We’ve got your back this new school year - creating a nutritionally balanced lunchbox doesn’t have to be so stressful. Take a step in the right direction by making your kids - and yourself - a wholesome sandwich!   


Did you know bread contains vital nutrients such as fibre, B-group vitamins, folate, thiamine, zinc, vitamin E and antioxidants? So it’s the perfect vehicle for creating a nutritious, portable lunch.

If you’re lacking inspiration when it comes to packing school lunches, simply follow our 4 easy steps to creating the ultimate portable lunch…

1.     Choose your base - a well-constructed sandwich relies on a substantial base! Whatever you choose to build your sandwich on - sliced, wraps or rolls - we recommend choosing whole grain, wholemeal or high fibre varieties where possible. Whole grain and high fibre foods can reduce our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If you have a picky eater on your hands try using one slice white and one slice wholemeal bread or use a high fibre white bread!   

2.     Add flavour - use your favourite spread like vegemite, hummus or avocado to add a pop of flavour, colour and nutrients. Mix things up and try this bright beetroot hummus.

3.     Add your veggies - use a handful of salad or any other raw or cooked vegetables you have at home. Don’t look past last night’s leftover roast pumpkin or zucchini!

4.     Finally, choose your protein power - quick and easy sources of protein like cheese, tuna, boiled eggs or leftover roast meat are great for sandwiches.

Getting the kids involved...
Now that you’re ready to get creative, why not get the kids to help? A great way to get younger kids involved and make lunchboxes fun is by cutting sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters! Or get them to roll wraps in foil to make it easier for them to eat.

Encourage your kids to get involved in lunchbox choices too - asking them to choose their fruit and veggies will help to reduce uneaten food at the end of the day.


Top tips for avoiding soggy sandwiches
·       Very lightly toast bread, just 1-2 minutes 
·       Make sure lettuce leaves, rocket and salads are nice and dry before assembling - use a paper towel to remove most of the moisture
·       Put condiments like mayo in the middle of your sandwich, between meat or cheese
·       Use lettuce leaves as a barrier - layer first so they are directly in contact with the bread

Still lacking inspiration?
Don’t worry, we’ve prepared a lunchbox planner for the week ahead, plus a bunch of sandwich, wrap and roll recipes that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. You can find all these and more on our website. Check out our Mexican Bean Wrap which takes just 5 minutes to prepare, plus it’s a winner with the whole family!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Do you take the time to breakfast?

by Kathleen Alleaume

You've heard it before and you’ll hear it again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and it’s good to see that message is really sinking in.

A new study of Australian breakfast habits showed that just over 80 per cent (81%) eat breakfast every day. Very few respondents (3%) never ate breakfast, but of those who did (1), the main reason being that they were not hungry in the morning

Why is breakfast important?
Breakfast is important for several reasons. Eating a meal in the morning provides necessary fuel for your body and brain. It can also help stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn regulates appetite, meaning we are less likely to be hungry and mindlessly snack throughout the day. For children, eating breakfast has been positively associated with brain function, cognition and academic achievement (2).

So what makes a nutritious breakfast?
For the most nutritious start to the day, aim to choose foods from each of the five food groups: fruits and/or vegetables, whole grains, protein foods and dairy. The first step is to choose quality carbohydrates, such as whole grains (e.g. rolled oats, buckwheat, quinoa), whole grain breads, high fibre breakfast biscuits, whole fruits and vegetables. These foods dish up a healthy dose of fibre to keep hunger at bay help and aid digestion and provide longer lasting fuel. 



Step two, combine your carbs with a serve of protein from foods like yoghurt, eggs, nuts and seeds or legumes. These foods help to promote satiety (feeling full) and ease blood sugar fluctuations, and also contain other nutrients like calcium and heart healthy fats. 


The final step is to choose a variety of fruit or vegetables for added fibre, antioxidants, as well a small amount of healthy fats, such avocado.

Get your day off to a great start with these nutritious breakfast ideas!

  • High fibre smoothie; use a combination of fruit or vegetables with milk or yoghurt, rolled oats and nut butters
  • Boiled eggs with whole grain toast
  • Porridge or cooked quinoa parfait with yoghurt and fruit
  • Slice of whole grain toast with baked beans and spinach and/or mushrooms
  • Whole grain toast with smashed avocado and feta and a sprinkle of lupin flakes
  • High fibre breakfast biscuit with milk and banana
  • Buckwheat or lentil pancakes with fresh fruit and ricotta cheese

Or for more inspiration, take a look at GLNCs delicious breakfast recipes here.

Kathleen Alleaume is a nutrition and exercise scientist who is passionate about making sense of the conflicting health buzz.

References

  1. Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2018. Do you take the time to break-fast? Australian Breakfast Survey. Unpublished.
  2. Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243.


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!