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Food talk – Understanding nutritional labels

August 19, 2014 in Food talk, Nutrition

#Fact – Healthy eating starts with knowing exactly what you are putting in your mouth…


but In order to do so you first need to understand nutritional labels

Although food manufactures are required by law to include nutrition information on their products, the information still seems to be intimidating and sometimes misleading to the average consumer.

So here is what you need to know.

South Africa is a metric country, the energy value of foods must be expressed in kilojoules (kJ).

So, if a food’s energy value is listed as 700 kJ per portion, then this is how much energy you will ingest when you eat a portion of this food.

However, many manufacturers still list the energy content of foods in calories (kcal) or use both kJ and calories.

1 kcal = 4.187 kJ

Energy in food is always expressed in kcal, but most manufacturers forget to use the ‘k’ in front of the ‘cal’ in the abbreviation. Even though the abbreviations ‘cal’ and ‘kcal’ actually have different scientific meanings, manufacturers use them interchangeably.

So when a food label states that the product contains 50 cal and another product contains 50 kcal, it actually might mean the same thing.


Ingredients are listed from the largest amount to the least on the food label.

Think twice when purchasing a product if one of the top three ingredients is either fat, sugar or salt .

Check the serving sizes

Ensure that you look at the correct column in the Table indicating the portion size of the product.

Nutritive value of the food will be listed  as  per 100 g or per 100 ml (liquids), or both per portion and per 100g (100ml).  This is the standard and will make it easier for the consumer to compare two of the same kind of products with each other.

However the serving size will also be noted in the second column.  That will be where the portion size “suggested”.

But! Keep in mind that you might not eat the same serving size in reality.

Cereal for instances:  they might suggest  40 gram but you might actually be eating 60 gram in reality.


So I am on a diet, but how would I know if it’s low in kilojoules?

Food that contains less than 170 kJ per 100 g (40.6 kcal per 100 g)  or less than 80 kJ per 100 ml (19.11 Kcal) in the case of liquids can be regarded as ‘low in energy’.

This is a very small amount of energy and  you will probably notice  that most processed foods will not meet this requirement.

 This is why most weight loss diets recommend a higher intake of fruit and vegetables as they contain much less kilojoules compared to commercially pre-packed foods. 

What about low-fat?

“Low Fat” foods should not contain more than 3 g fat per 100 g  and beverages no more than 1,5 g per 100 ml.

There are four different types of fats that make up Total Fat: Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, Saturated and Trans fats. The Trans fats and Saturated fats are the baddies.

 If you are at risk of heart disease you should always look at the Saturated fatFoods with a low saturated fat value that contains less than 1 g saturated fat per 100 g or less than 0,75 g per 100 ml.

Trans fats  are linked to heart disease and cancer. Opt for products that have less then 0,1 g trans fatty acids per 100 g or 100 ml. Pies, chips and cookies are the biggest culprit foods when it comes to trans fatty acids.

Remember 5 g of fat is 1 teaspoon of fat. If there is 30 g of fat per serving you will be eating 6 teaspoons of fat!

Look out for the  South African Heart and stroke Foundations logo on products.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF) plays a leading

role in the fight against preventable heart disease and stroke.


What about protein?

Keep in mind that animal products (meat, cheese and milk) will be a better quality of protein than plant-based proteins.

If a product claims to be “High protein” foods it should have  10g of Protein per 100g


What about Carbohydrates?

If you are a diabetic , an athlete  or simply trying to limit your carb intake you will be interested in this value.

Carbs are our main source of energy, when you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into individual sugar molecules and converts them into glucose, which your cells use for energy.

Nutrition labels will reveal the amount of total carbohydrate, fibre  and sugar in a serving of food,


Total Carbohydrates

The total carbohydrate value refers to all the sugars and starches found in all fresh fruit, vegetables, all grains , milk and milk products. Total carbohydrates of a product is of little value unless you are following a weight reducing diet and know how much carbohydrates you should consume per day.

If you carbohydrate count, you should look at total carbohydrate, not sugar, to determine the amount of carbohydrate in each serving. If you’re counting carbs in your diet, be aware that 15 grams of carbohydrates count as one serving.

Take special note that the Total carbohydrate value is NOT the GI value of the product.

Research have found that not all carbohydrates are digested and absorbed at the same rate. This means that different carbohydrates can have different effects on the glucose and blood insulin levels.

Look out for the GIFSA  symbol (Glycemic Index Foundation of South Africa).

The GI index or list will indicate which foods are low GI, Intermediate GI and High GI.

Based on the Glycemic index of each carbohydrate food they are divided in three categories.

  • Slow release carbs with a GI value of 55 and below is regarded as LOW GI FOODS (Listed in green )

      Often foods, ideal before exercise or when inactive, most of the time.

  • Carbs with a GI value of 56 to 69 is regarded as INTERMEDIATE GI FOODS (Listed in orange)

      Ideal during and after exercise lasting longer than one hour

  • Fast release carbs with a GI value of 70 and above is regarded as HI GI FOODS (Listed in Red )

      Ideal after exercise lasting one hour (healthy sportsmen and woman)

Carbohydrate (of which sugars) tells you how much sugar the food or drink contains and includes both added sugar and naturally occurring sugar from fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars include sugars such as sucrose, glucose, glucose syrup, invert syrup, maltose and honey.

Look out for the GIFSA logos on products.

 Untitled picture

Carbohydrates of which sugars

Keep in mind that 5 g sugar is equal to one teaspoon of sugar.  Most processed foods contain hidden sugars, Here’s a list of 56 names of sugar.


Sugar-free products should have less than 0.5 grams of sugars per serving.

Sugar free products often contain sugar alcohols which are lower in calories. Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, Xylitol or Sorbitol, which could cause diarrhoea, so don’t consume a lot in one sitting.

What about Fibre?

Fibre is good for you and we often eat too little of it. Fibre helps prevent bowel problems and keeps you fuller for longer when trying to lose weight.

Fibre is one type of carbohydrate that does not raise blood glucose, in fact  the presence of fibre can slow down the impact of the other carbohydrates in a meal.

When counting carbs we subtract the grams of the fibre from the total carbohydrates. This gives us a value also known as Net carbs, usable carbs or impact carbs.

Food that claims to be “High fibre” should contain 6 g fibre per 100 g or 3 g per 100 ml.

What about Sodium?

Sodium can raise your blood pressure and it’s advisable to limit your sodium intake. We should aim for less than 1500 mg (3.75 gram or 3/4 teaspoon)   – 2300 mg (6 gram or 1 teaspoon) of sodium per day.

A product is “Sodium free” if it contains less than 5 mg of sodium per serving.

Remember food labels are there for you the consumer to make informed decisions and better food choices.

Remember your Health matters!

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by Max

2 minute Health muffin for Breakfast

August 18, 2014 in Breakfast, Diabetic friendly, Diet Friendly, Gluten free, low fat, Muffins

Posted by: Daily Dose of Fresh


Oh my! When you run around on a Monday morning and you still haven’t had breakfast…

Then take a deep breath, relax and bring a mug.

This quick and easy muffin will blow your socks off…and get this, it’s really healthy as well!

Sugar free, fat free, lactose free, and if you use gluten free baking powder it’s gluten free too.

I mean come on, this is as good as it gets!


Yields one muffin

(Nogal blerrie groot hoor!)


3 TBS Oat bran

2 TBS rolled oats

1 sachet Sweetner (I’ve used Canderel vanilla flavoured sweetner)

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 Egg

3 TBS mashed banana (1 small or 3/4 medium banana, just eat the rest!)

Spray a large MICROWAVE SAFE mug with baking spray or grease with a little butter or coconut oil.

Add all the dry ingredients to the mug and give it a quick mix.

Add your egg and the banana and mix well.

Microwave for 1 minute and again for 30 – 40 seconds, keeping an eye on it.

Your muffin is ready when it’s cooked through.

Allow to cool for 2 minutes (difficult I know!, waiting for 2 minutes after the longest 1 minute of baking..)

Be careful the mug might be hot.  (Yip sometimes things ain’t as microwave safe as the sign said  :)  )


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by Max

Spinach bread – Gluten free

August 14, 2014 in Bread, Breakfast, Diabetic friendly, Diet Friendly, Gluten free, low fat, Veggies

Posted by: Daily Dose of Fresh


Let’s just get one thing straight, I still love carbohydrates (Like a lot!).

But I have to admit, eating a little less carbohydrates is very good for my waistline.  And whenever I get my hands on a gluten-free, or low carbohydrate recipe I get very excited.

Look at this spinach bread!  Perfect for breakfast or lunch with a slice of turkey rasher and tomato.

Best of all you can slice and freeze the slices for “next time sandwiches”.


2 Bunches of fresh spinach

1 Small onion

1 Glove of garlic

1 tsp Salt

4 Eggs

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Wash and finely chop the spinach.

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic glove.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a fork.

Use a large mixing bowl and mix all the ingredients, adding the eggs to the mixture last.

Grease a ceramic, or use a non-stick loaf tin.

Add all the ingredients to your loaf tin, firmly pressing it down.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until firm.

Leave the bread to cool down in the loaf pan for +- 15 minutes before removing.

Slice and enjoy!

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Gluten free Seed loaf

August 7, 2014 in Bread, Gluten free

Posted by Daily Dose of Fresh 


Sometimes you are blessed to have special people in your life that share wonderful recipes like this gluten free bread with you!

This bread will truly change your life.

If you love nuts and seeds as much as I do you will truly appreciate the textures and taste of this bread. Pop it in the toaster and you have a bit of heaven to indulge in.

This bread contain no flour, eggs or rising agents.

It contains oats instead of flour, and oats in its natural form is gluten free. However if you are severely sensitive to gluten opt for a specially packed gluten free oats. The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye.


Prep time 10 minutes plus at least 2 hours resting time before baking

Cook time 50 minutes

Yields 1 small loaf or 16 slices

Note Replacements can be made to suit your own needs or preferences.

Basic ingredients                                                                                Alternative ingredients
1 cup (250 ml) (135 g) sunflower seeds                 (mixed seeds, pumpkin seeds)
½ cup (125 ml) (90 g) flax seeds                                     (sesame or partly poppy seeds)
½ cup (125 ml) (± 6o g) hazelnuts                                       (almonds or mixed raw nuts)
1 ½ cups (375 ml) (150 g) rolled oats                               (quinoa flakes – adjust the liquid)
2 Tbsp (15 ml) chia seeds                                (no replacement – see about chia below)
¼ cup (60 ml) psyllium seed husks                                  (3 Tbsp psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp (5 ml) salt                                                                       (add ½ tsp if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup        (pinch stevia or honey or molasses for a dark bread)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) melted butter or oil of your choice (coconut or olive oil)

1 ½ cups (375 ml) water (room temperature)


Select a medium size loaf tin and grease with butter or cooking spray. Measure out all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix well and add to the loaf tin.

Place the maple syrup, oil and water into a measuring jug and mix well.  Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until all is completely moistened and a stiff dough forms – sticky and too thick to stir. If necessary to make the dough come together and become manageable, add one or two extra tablespoons of water.  Smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon.

Cover the pan and let the dough sit on the counter for at least 2 hours (or all dry or overnight) to allow the liquid to become completely absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 180°C when ready to bake. Place the loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn out the firm bread and place it onto a baking tray or onto the overturned loaf tin to bake for another 20 minutes – the bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important!).  Store the bread in a sealed container for up to five days.  The bread freezes very well – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!


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Healthy Banana bread

August 6, 2014 in Bread

 Posted by Daily Dose of Fresh  


One slice of this moist sweet banana bread and you will also feel like a monkey with a new banana!

This Banana bread is not only much healthier compared to your regular banana bread but also very versatile.

Your kids will adore you when they discover banana bread instead of the regular sandwich in their lunch boxes.

 It’s also the perfect treat for that up and coming summer picnic we are all waiting for!

Left over Banana bread ? (WHAT LEFTOVER BANANA BREAD???…) 

Use any left over banana bread for a trifle with some low-fat custard and sugar free jelly!

Each slice equals 1 Carbohydrate (23 g) ,    1/2 fruit,    1/2 fat  with 563 Kj per slice .

Banana Bread Recipe 

30 ml Canola oil

190 ml Brown sugar

3 Eggs

60 ml Low fat milk

1 Apple,  peeled and finely grated

3 medium bananas mashed

295 ml Cake flour

10 ml Baking powder

2,5 ml salt

125 ml Oatbran

125 ml Whole-wheat ProNutro (Original or Apple bake)

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Mix the oil and sugar.

Add the eggs and milk to the sugar mixture and mix through.

Add the grated apple and mashed banana to the  mixture.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add  the ProNutro and Oatbran.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon, be careful not to over mix it.

Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake 40 -60 minutes or until the bread is done on the inside.

Allow the bread to stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the loaf tin.




Money saver tip: Make your own Oatbran by simply whizzing up rolled oats in your food processor.


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Healthy Corn bread in 14 Minutes!

August 1, 2014 in Bread, Breakfast, low fat

Posted by Daily Dose of Fresh 



I adore this easy corn bread. It’s low GI,  low in fat, deliciously moist and you bake it 14 minutes flat in the microwave!

Have it with soup, kebabs, for breakfast and especially with your next summer “braai”.

Kids love it! so it’s also winner in the lunch box department.

It’s a very dense and filling bread, and my favourite way of having it is with a stingy helping of butter and a little grated cheese with fruit along side for a quick lunch.


Yield 20 slices 

Paprika to dust the cake ring mould

30 ml Cake flour

10 ml sugar

10 ml chopped spring onion

150 ml Maize meal *

100 ml Oat bran *

7 ml Baking powder

2,5 ml Salt

15 ml Canola oil

3 Eggs

125 ml Low fat milk

1 Tin Creamstyle Sweetcorn (415g)

Spray ring mould with cooking spray and sprinkle with paprika.

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl.

Mix the  milk, eggs and oil in a measuring cup and mix with the dry ingredients.

Add the Sweetcorn to the mixture.

Pour mixture into your cake ring and Microwave at 70% power for 12 minutes and again for 2 minutes at 100% power.

Let it stand for 5 – 10 minutes before you take it out of the cake ring.




If you can get your hands on yellow maize meal use that instead, it gives a lovely colour to this bread.

You can make your own Oat bran by simply grounding up oats in your food processor, also much cheaper.



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Gluten & sugar free Peanut butter almond cookies

July 29, 2014 in Cookies and Biscuits, Gluten free




Every time I come across this recipe I think to myself: “Seriously?…how can you bake cookies with just peanut butter? Impossible!”

Well turns out you can! and they taste flippen good too.

Actually they are a bit addictive….Hello treadmill!

Now before you panic when you realise you don’t have all the ingredients at hand, have a look at the tips below!


1 Cup Sugar free Peanut butter

20 g Canderel sugar substitute

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg  beaten

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup almond flour

a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Get your cookie sheet ready with a quick whiz of cooking spray.

Mix all the ingredients above. Magically the mixture will set a bit which allows you to scoop it out with a spoon and roll it into balls. Press down with a fork and bake +- 12 – 14 Minutes.

Let it cool down on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before you remove them, they are a bit fragile until cooled.




Use plain peanut butter instead of sugar-free

Use 1 cup sugar instead of the sugar substitute (Non sugar free option)

The almond flour is additionally added and can be left out

Don’t have almond flour, just whiz a 1/2 cup of almond flakes in your food processor or use a mortal and pestle to crush them.


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Dead easy Tomato soup!

July 28, 2014 in Diabetic friendly, Diet Friendly, Gluten free, low fat, Soup, Veggies

mato soup!

Tomato soup

 Tuh-may-toh or Tuh-mah-toh , it doesn’t matter how you prefer to pronounce or to enjoy it, but one thing is for sure, you have to try this gorgeous dead easy tomato soup recipe.

It’s hard to believe that this luscious fruit known as a vegetable was once considered poisonous, grown as an ornamental plant rather than food.

It was Colonel Johnson who on September 26, 1820 once and for all proved tomatoes non-poisonous and safe for consumption when he so bravely stood on the steps of the Salem courthouse and ate an entire basket of tomatoes.

Thank goodness for the brave men!

Good news is, you don’t need a whole basket of tomatoes for this soup.  Try this gorgeous soup with freshly baked corn bread for the ultimate meatless supper.

Enjoy !

Tomato Soup Recipe

2 Carrots

2 medium onions

 2 cloves garlic

 olive oil

2  chicken or vegetable stock cubes

 1, 5  kg peeled and diced tomatoes (can also use the food processor instead of chopping)

 Vegetable spice (*I’ve use Ina Parmaans garlic and vegetable spices)

 sea salt

 freshly ground black pepper

Peel and slice the carrots.  Chop the onions and the garlic. Put a pot on a medium heat and add enough olive oil. Add the chopped ingredients, and veggie spices and mix together with a wooden spoon.

Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the carrots have softened and the onion is lightly golden, stirring occasionally.

Put the stock cubes into a jug  and pour in 1.5 litres of boiling water. Stir until the stock cubes are dissolved, add to pot with your fresh tomatoes. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.  Using a hand blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. Season again before serving. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

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Did somebody say skinny Zucchini Casserole?

July 22, 2014 in Diabetic friendly, Diet Friendly, Protein, Veggies



Just when you thought you’ve tried all the good low carb meals…

Surprise! Skinny Zucchini Casserole 

I love the simplicity, super low in carbs, crunchy topping, creamy filling and protein loaded.

You don’t need the breadcrumbs though, but I’ve turned an absolute blind eye considering I can have all the delicious crunchiness from only 1 slice of bread used on the whole casserole.

The original recipe doesn’t call for any meat, so be my guest, have it on its own if you would prefer a meatless version.




½ tablespoon butter

3 and ½ cups grated zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs / 1 slice

4 tablespoons grated cheese (+- 50 g)


300 g lean beef mince

a pinch of paprika

1 small onion chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for frying.



Saute’ the onions in a little olive oil until translucent and add the beef mince and paprika, continue to brown the meat.

Season the beef mince to taste with pepper and salt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Grease the casserole pan with the butter.

Squeeze the grated zucchini with your hands to remove the excessive water.

Add the beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon cheese, salt and black pepper and combine them well.

Pour half of this mixture into the baking pan and spread evenly.

Layer the beef mince on top and add the remaining zucchini mixture on top of the beef mince.

Sprinkle with Cheese and breadcrumbs.

Cover the casserole pan with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Take it out, uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm.

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“The salad needs a makeover” Salad Dressing

July 1, 2014 in Diabetic friendly, Diet Friendly, low fat, Salad, Vegetarian


Salad Dressing


See this is the problem, we don’t mind eating salads, comes rain or sunshine but at some point it just get so boring!

That’s when you know your salad needs a serious makeover.

Relax, we are not going to spoil the whole negative calorie lunch for you by adding more high calorie ingredients. No way!  we are simply going to pimp the salad dressing until its Rad and cool! with low-fat ingredients off course…

This is my “The salad needs a makeover” salad dressing, have it over salads, a baked potato, tomatoes for a quick snack, over chicken, over fish, just have it already.


You will find the recipe here  

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