Saturday, 12 November 2011

Health Blogging Month Day 12: Teach a Class

Teach a class. What’s something that you’re uniquely great at and could teach a class on? Write the tutorial in a blog post. Bonus points for images, links to resources, and video.

What made me think it was a good idea to sign up for this?

What have I learned, that I could teach a class on?

One of my favourite topics is food. I've learned lots about food over the past few years. I've learned about nutrition and diet and weight loss (great theory, even had it practised a few times, but much harder with steroids and other medication). I've learned a bit about the importance of a low glycaemic index diet, not just for weight control but to avoid diabetes. I've learned about the importance of a low saturated fat diet, not just for weight, but to avoid heart and vascular disease. And I've learned to cook without lactose - and more recently I've learned to cook without gluten. (I've also been vegetarian for a while, to see if that helped with my abdominal problems - before I gave up gluten.)

So my friends, here's Iris' master-class on low-saturated fat, low-gi, low-lactose, gluten-free food.

Let's start with let's visit the pantry. What's in yours?
Some of the basics are: 
  • Oilive oil (extra virgin is the real thing - "pure", "light", or any other description isn't as healthy and doesn't taste as good.
  • Lots of dried herbs and spices. Food needs flavour - when you cut down on the amount of fat you use, you're reducing the amount of one key carrier of flavour, so you need more.
  • Gluten free pasta (much of this isn't low GI - so use sparingly with other things that will help bring down the GI such as legumes in the sauce.)
  • Rice noodles.
  • Basmatti Rice (or Doongara Rice) Other rice is high GI.
  • Brown Rice. This has a higer GI than Basmatti, but has extra flavour and nutrition, so a little with an otherwise low-GI meal is good.
  • Dried beans, peas and lentils. (Canned beans, peas and lentils as well.)
  • Almond meal.
  • Variety of nuts, raw, unsalted.
  • LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond meal)
  • Psyllium husk
  • Flours: All purpose Gluten Free plain; All purpose gluten free self-raising; rice flour (brown rice flour has a little more fibre), soya or lentil flour, corn flour (pure maise), potato flour, besan (chick pea flour). The soya and besan flours will be better in terms of GI, but sometimes you've just got to use a white flour, and lots of them just aren't low GI. (I've just heard about a low-GI gluten-free cookbook and I'm very excited about it.)
  • Vinegar
  • Raw popping corn (heat pop it, don't use oil) it's a healthy snack.
  • Polenta (cornmeal)
While we're here, what don't we want to see?
  • Potato chips (high GI, high fat, high salt - no nutritional value)
  • Salted, roasted nuts (high salt, extra fat)
  • Most pre-packaged "snack foods" - especially museli bar-type things, they're junk masquerading as healthy.
Now the fridge, open it and have a good look. If it's not at least half full of fresh fruit and vegetables, you have a problem. What belongs in your fridge?
  • Skim lactose-free milk. (Or low-fat lactose-free, gluten free soy milk.)
  • Lactose free margarine, check the label. If it says words like "saturated fat" or "trans fat", that's bad. Repeat after me: "Saturated fats are bad, and trans fats are pure evil!" Look for monounsaturated fat.
  • Skim yoghurt. Flavoured is OK, but try to go for sugarless.
  • The lowest-fat cheeses you can find. We're going easy on the cheese because while it's really good for our calcium intake, that often comes with a tad too much salt. A little cheese is good, a big bit might not be so good. 
  • Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Sweet potato. Remember regular white potato is fairly high GI - if you serve it with sweet potato (low GI) you lower the GI of the whole meal, making it that much better for your body's blood sugar levels and insulin response.
  • Eggs (I prefer cage-free, but that's for the chicken's sake, not mine.)
  • Acidic, oil-free salad dressings.
While we're here, let's look for bad things that shouldn't be in the fridge:
  • Soft drink. It has no redeeming features whatsoever. Drink water, tea, coffee, milk, not sugar and fizz mix.
  • Fruit juice. (Yes, I mean it.) Fruit juice is basically fruit with the healthy bit removed. That stuff you chew when you eat fruit, that's the bit that's good for you. 
  • Vegetable juice (see fruit juice.)
Now for the challenge of the freezer. We want to see:
  • Very lean meats. Beef, lamb, pork are OK as long as they are trimmed of all visible fat. If you buy mince, make sure you ask for the leanest they have. (What Woolworths calls "heart smart", and one of the butchers I've been to calls "Weight Watchers" and another calls "Diet Mince".)
  • Chicken, turkey etc are great, but when you cook them you're doing it without skin.
  • Kangaroo's good.
  • Fish is good.
  • Bread - get the grainiest gluten free bread you can find. Whole grains are lower GI than white flour. Bread with fruit in it is also lower GI than regular bread.
  • Dairy-free sorbet. (What, did you think I was totally against treats?) Only a small tub.
  • Low-fat, lactose-free ice cream. (Goes great with fresh fruit.) Only a small tub.
  • Extra serves of healthy meals you've cooked and put in the freezer for when you're in a hurry.
  • Frozen vegetables. (Actual vegetables you can steam or microwave, nothing with fat or batter, etc. A hash brown not a vegetable, nor is it any other sort of  food.)
  • Frozen berries (always good - you can put them in a blender with fruit for a smoothie, add them to pancake or cake batter and the fruit helps reduce the GI, add them to yoghurt so the frozen berries freeze the yoghurt and make a great substitute for ice-cream.)
What does not belong in your freezer?

  • Most pre-packaged food. Check the labels - you might find some that are OK. What you want to avoid is saturated and trans fats - high amounts of salt or sugar - or things made with lots of flours etc for thickening. (So pretty much most pre-packed meals you'll find.)

So, now you're feeling so virtuous because you've looked at your kitchen and everything is perfect - lets' find some nice recipes.  I'm going to cheat here, and give you recipes I've already put up on Sometimes it is Lupus. You'll notice I've got dessert covered as well as meals.

Buttermilk Pancakes with blueberries.
  • Quick and Easy Scones Definitely not low-GI, but much lower in fat than traditional scones, and a quick thing to make if you're going to bring a plate to morning tea somehwere.
  • Chicken and mango salad.  Just yummy. Remember to take the skin off the chicken, and use an oil-free dressing.
  • Blueberry and almond pavlova This looks decadent, but is low fat and actually has some good nutrition in it.
  • Buttermilk pancakes Adding fruit, eg berries, will help lower the GI. Cooking in a non-stick pan removes the need for oil, and means there's very little fat. 
  • Crustless Zucchini Quiche This is one of those things that really belongs in your freezer!
  • Blueberry and almond pavlova.
  • Red lentil dahl with spiced basmatti rice. All I can say about this recipe is yum!
  • Corn Frittata Very nice, and can be frozen.
  • Red Lentil and Tomato Soup Again, Yum. (Not so exciting at this time of year, but when the weather's cold this is just the best.)

Want more information? Check out these resources:


This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:


  1. Good list! If you haven't tried quinoa, I highly recommend it. It's GF and I like to use it in place of rice.

  2. Fancy forgetting quinoa! I've got a great recipe that uses it like couscous - so yummy! I must remember to put it up some time soon.


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