With the weather as cold and miserable as it currently is, you’d be forgiven for reaching for any kind of comfort food to keep you going during the winter months.
But if you find you’re reaching for things that are a little less nutritious more often than not, accredited practicing dietitian Simone Austin has a few tips up her sleeve.
Here, the nutritionist and sports dietitian shares her average day on a plate, including the perfect winter treat.
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A good dose of protein and calcium is super important for our nutritional health. That is why I’d recommend and usually start my day with a muesli that has a variety of grains, nuts and seeds. I’ll top that off with fresh fruit and ReMilk.
I’d suggest trying one of my favorite smoothie recipes, which will give you a kick of protein and calcium to help get your day started.
- 250ml milk
- Generous handful of frozen fruit (banana and mango are my favorite as they give a velvety texture and provide some vitamin C as well)
- 2 dessert spoons of yogurt
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Sometimes a teaspoon of hemp or chia seeds (chia seeds contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing several health conditions, including heart disease)
To get a few of the five servings of veggies we are recommended to eat per day, I try to pack some in at lunchtime with a hearty bowl of soup. A good range of vegetables and some lentils will do the trick. The lentils add protein and help get some of the serves of vegetables we need in a day. I like to add in some fresh chilli, which is packed with vitamin C.
Dinner varies depending on who in my family is cooking but we always think about what vegetables we are going to have rather than planning around the protein source to ensure we get enough veggies in our day.
To get in a range of vitamins and minerals eat a rainbow of vegetables – plenty of colors on the plate, as different colors bring different vitamins. I aim for my plate to have a third to half of veggies, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrates.
One-pot dishes, such as a curry with at least one orange/red vegetable (carrot, pumpkin or capsicum) and some green vegetables (beans, broccoli or peas) with a protein are great, and brown rice or roti go perfectly with it . When veggies taste good, we’re more likely to eat them and don’t be afraid to add in some healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, herbs and spices and use dressings with vinegars and mustards for flavor.
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I often want a snack around 10:30/11:00am, which might be a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. Now that it’s started getting colder, I find myself going for a warm drink, such as a cup of hot milk as I’m not a coffee or tea drinker.
The dairy milk helps keep me hydrated with the electrolytes it naturally has like phosphorus and potassium. Tip: shake the milk up before heating and it will become frothy or use a milk frother if you have one, and sprinkle a little chocolate on top!
In terms of afternoon snacks, this depends on if I am hungry as our appetite can change from day to day depending on how active we are, hormonal changes, what we have eaten earlier and more. There will be days where I opt for an early dinner instead. If I am peckish, I might have a slice of homemade cake, a couple of squares of dark chocolate or a handful of nuts.
Do you have dessert?
For dessert I choose dark chocolate or a scoop of yoghurt with fresh berries or a slice of homemade cake or pudding. A healthy diet has room for all sorts of foods. Eating slowly and enjoying each mouthful means I can enjoy dessert without needing large volumes. I try to include fruit, whether frozen, fresh or canned, for flavor and nutrients too.
Do you change your meals depending on how busy your week is?
I can’t recommend meal prep more! It helps ensure nourishing meals and makes life during the week so much easier. I usually prepare a pot of soup and curry on the weekends. A roast or BBQ are often weekend meals with plenty of salads or roasted vegetables, where we cook extra vegetables to be used for meals during the week.
A quick pasta is often easy during the week – adding broccoli or green beans, fresh herbs with onion and garlic and a salmon filet or canned fish broken up through it. Pop that in the freezer and it’s good to go throughout the week.
Eggs are always a quick back up too. Throwing spinach, tomato and mushrooms in the pan while cooking the eggs and serving them on sourdough grain toast. This can often be a lunch too.
As it gets colder, any go-to winter treats?
I think my best winter treat is heating up some milk to make a frothy warm drink or as I call it a large babycino. Sprinkle hot chocolate rather than adding in spoonfuls of chocolate as the milk is tasty enough on its own. This is also a great evening treat after a workout that provides the protein needed for good muscle growth and repair.
I love to make a good custard as well. I stew the custard with rhubarb to add plenty of fibre. Rhubarb is low in fermentable fibers known as prebiotic fiber, which are good for those who need to keep FODMAP’s low.
Even when it’s cold I still love a good smoothie and would definitely recommend giving this immune boosting smoothie recipe a try to help look after yourself in the colder months:
- ¾ cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 kiwi fruit
- Handful of baby spinach leaves (~30g)
- 200ml milk
- 3 tablespoons Almond meal
- l¼ teaspoon turmeric
Austin is currently the Chief Health Officer at Healthy Life, and nutrition ambassador for ReMilk. She’s also a Sports Dietitian having worked with many of Australia’s elite men’s sporting teams including 12 years with Hawthorn AFL Football Club.
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