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Run out of butter or eggs? Here’s the science behind substitute ingredients

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>It’s an all too common situation – you’re busy cooking or baking to a recipe when you open the cupboard and suddenly realise you are missing an ingredient.</p> <p>Unless you can immediately run to the shops, this can leave you scrambling for a substitute that can perform a similar function. Thankfully, such substitutes can be more successful than you’d expect.</p> <p>There are a few reasons why certain ingredient substitutions work so well. This is usually to do with the chemistry and the physical features having enough similarity to the original ingredient to still do the job appropriately.</p> <p>Let’s delve into some common ingredient substitutions and why they work – or need to be tweaked.</p> <p><iframe id="IitfH" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IitfH/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>Oils versus butter</h2> <p>Both butter and oils belong to a chemical class called <a href="https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_Chemistry/Map%3A_Fundamentals_of_General_Organic_and_Biological_Chemistry_(McMurry_et_al.)/23%3A_Lipids/23.01%3A_Structure_and_Classification_of_Lipids">lipids</a>. It encompasses solid, semi-solid and liquid fats.</p> <p>In a baked product the “job” of these ingredients is to provide flavour and influence the structure and texture of the finished item. In cake batters, lipids contribute to creating an emulsion structure – this means combining two liquids that wouldn’t usually mix. In the baking process, this helps to create a light, fluffy crumb.</p> <p>One of the primary differences between butter and oil is that butter is only about 80% lipid (the rest being water), while <a href="https://www.nutritionadvance.com/types-of-cooking-fats-and-oils/">oil is almost 100% lipid</a>. Oil creates a softer crumb but is still a great fat to bake with.</p> <p>You can use a wide range of oils from different sources, such as olive oil, rice bran, avocado, peanut, coconut, macadamia and many more. Each of these may impart different flavours.</p> <p>Other “butters”, such as peanut and cashew butter, aren’t strictly butters but pastes. They impart different characteristics and can’t easily replace dairy butter, unless you also add extra oil.</p> <h2>Aquafaba or flaxseed versus eggs</h2> <p>Aquafaba is the liquid you drain from a can of legumes – such as chickpeas or lentils. It contains proteins, kind of how egg white also contains proteins.</p> <p>The proteins in egg white include albumins, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5912395/">aquafaba also contains albumins</a>. This is why it is possible to make meringue from egg whites, or from aquafaba if you’re after a vegan version.</p> <p>The proteins act as a foam stabiliser – they hold the light, airy texture in the product. The concentration of protein in egg white is a bit higher, so it doesn’t take long to create a stable foam. Aquafaba requires more whipping to create a meringue-like foam, but it will bake in a similar way.</p> <p>Another albumin-containing alternative for eggs is <a href="https://foodstruct.com/compare/seeds-flaxseed-vs-egg">flaxseed</a>. These seeds form a thick gel texture when mixed with a little water. The texture is similar to raw egg and can provide structure and emulsification in baked recipes that call for a small amount of egg white.</p> <h2>Lemon plus dairy versus buttermilk</h2> <p>Buttermilk is the liquid left over after churning butter – it can be made from sweet cream, cultured/sour cream or whey-based cream. Buttermilk mostly <a href="https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(06)72115-4/fulltext">contains proteins and fats</a>.</p> <p>Cultured buttermilk has a somewhat tangy flavour. Slightly soured milk can be a good substitute as it contains similar components and isn’t too different from “real” buttermilk, chemically speaking.</p> <p>One way to achieve slightly soured milk is by adding some lemon juice or cream of tartar to milk. Buttermilk is used in pancakes and baked goods to give extra height or volume. This is because the acidic (sour) components of buttermilk interact with baking soda, producing a light and airy texture.</p> <p>Buttermilk can also influence flavour, imparting a slightly tangy taste to pancakes and baked goods. It can also be used in sauces and dressings if you’re looking for a lightly acidic touch.</p> <h2>Honey versus sugar</h2> <p>Honey is a <a href="https://resources.perkinelmer.com/lab-solutions/resources/docs/APP_Analysis-of-Sugars-in-Honey-012101_01.pdf">complex sugar-based syrup</a> that includes floral or botanical flavours and aromas. Honey can be used in cooking and baking, adding both flavour and texture (viscosity, softness) to a wide range of products.</p> <p>If you add honey instead of regular sugar in baked goods, keep in mind that honey imparts a softer, moister texture. This is because it contains more moisture and is a humectant (that is, it likes to hold on to water). It is also less crystalline than sugar, unless you leave it to crystallise.</p> <p>The intensity of sweetness can also be different – some people find honey is sweeter than its granular counterpart, so you will want to adjust your recipes accordingly.</p> <h2>Gluten-free versus regular flour</h2> <p>Sometimes you need to make substitutions to avoid allergens, such as gluten – the protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley and others.</p> <p>Unfortunately, gluten is also the component that gives a nice, stretchy, squishy quality to bread.</p> <p>To build this characteristic in a gluten-free product, it’s necessary to have a mixture of ingredients that work together to mimic this texture. Common ingredients used are corn or rice flour, xanthan gum, which acts as a binder and moisture holder, and tapioca starch, which is a good water absorbent and can aid with binding the dough. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202036/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, Associate Professor (Food Science), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/run-out-of-butter-or-eggs-heres-the-science-behind-substitute-ingredients-202036">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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“Completely tacky”: Bride slammed for asking for dinner payment

<p dir="ltr">A bride has caused a stir online after asking if it is appropriate to ask her wedding guests to pay for their meal when they RSVP to the big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman took to a popular wedding Facebook page to ask the opinions of other brides, sharing an example of her invitation created by her wedding planner. </p> <p dir="ltr">The invitation asks guests to confirm whether or not they will be attending the nuptials, before asking if the guest intends to eat at the wedding ceremony, and which meal they would prefer. </p> <p dir="ltr">The price of each meal was also included: $20 for grilled chicken with rice, mashed potatoes and green beans and $25 for a salmon alternative.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We invite you to eat with us but ask for you to provide your own payment. Please select which meal you'd prefer,” the invite stated. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My wedding venue requires me to purchase food through them for the reception, but has said people sometimes choose this option,” the woman wrote on Facebook. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Nothing about my reception is very typical anyway, SO I'm wondering how insane or rude or cost-effective/smart this is.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The planner set me this as an example of how to present it to guests.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But when the post was quickly criticised by others, the bride clarified the event was more of a “fun dinner party” rather than a “wedding” as she and her partner had already legally married five months prior. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Ultimately I'll do what I want BUT I did not choose this option. It was only a suggestion from the venue that I was curious about others' opinions on,” she added. </p> <p dir="ltr">“This is for the reception. I'm most definitely not asking for money or gifts and by the time they come to the reception, we will have already been married for five months.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The post was shared in another wedding shaming Facebook group and critiqued by dozens of wedding experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh hell no! This is completely tacky!” one wrote, another said, “So she asks if it is rude then gets offended when people say it's rude?”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am a veteran pro planner and would NEVER suggest this!” another said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Someone else wrote, “I'm especially shaming the venue for suggesting that people often pawn off the cost of dinner to their guests. Encouraging rude behaviour.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

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South Australian Government's sprinkles ban sparks outrage

<p>New guidelines for school canteens in South Australia have sparked outrage for "taking all the enjoyment away from children". </p> <p>Sprinkles of any kind, including 100s and 1000s - which are an essential ingredient for the iconic fairy bread - have been categorised as “red 2", meaning that they “should not be promoted or encouraged in schools on any occasion”.</p> <p>The ban comes after processed meats including ham would be limited at canteens in Western Australia, with similar restrictions now in place for South Australian canteens. </p> <p>Processed meats fall into the “red 1” or “amber” categories in South Australia, which means that products featuring them would be limited depending on nutritional criteria. </p> <p>These restrictions mean that children will no longer be able to regularly enjoy Australian staples like ham and cheese toasties and fairy bread at school. </p> <p>“Why are they taking all the enjoyment away from children?” one person told 7News. </p> <p>Dieticians have also questioned the decision, saying that it might only cause further problems in the future. </p> <p>“All your brain wants to do is eat that food, and eventually, you can restrict it for a little bit, until you get to that point where you just give in, you want to eat it, and then you binge,” dietitian Mattea Palombo said. </p> <p>Another expert suggested changing the foods we associate with good times. </p> <p>“Celebration foods aren’t so much about the foods that we have at the time of the celebration, but the friends and family we have around at the time of celebrating,” dietitian Dr Evangeline Mantzioris said.</p> <p>“So I think we probably need to balance it out a bit, so healthy foods are available at those celebrations.” </p> <p>Although the changes impact canteens, parents are still free to pack whatever they want in their kids' lunchboxes. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Food & Wine

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Supermarket worker finds 2000 Olympics relic between the shelves

<p dir="ltr">A worker at an Aussie supermarket has discovered a relic of Australian culture that is over two decades old. </p> <p dir="ltr">While moving some old shelves in the grocery store as they prepared for renovations, the supermarket worker was shocked to discover a long-expired chocolate bar that was released for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. </p> <p dir="ltr">Posting about the discovery on a Facebook page called Old Shops Australia, a man posted about his wife’s unusual find. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My wife works in a supermarket and they were moving the shelving around and this was stuck between two shelves. Still wrapped up with chocolate inside,” the man said. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 'Sydney 2000 Games Story Block' had the three characters, Syd the platypus, Millie the echidna and Olly the Kookaburra on the front. </p> <p dir="ltr">It also had one of six collectable Olympic Games story book inside the wrapper, with the chocolate expiring on July 30th 2001. </p> <p dir="ltr">Images of the almost-forgotten treat have been circulating online triggering old memories in thousands of Aussies. </p> <p dir="ltr">One person noted the wrapper was made out of paper and foil rather than the plastic used today. </p> <p dir="ltr">Others pointed out the generous size of the chocolate block which is 250g compared to the 180g bars available now. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh wow!! This brings back memories!! A near 24 year old block of chocolate!! Would anyone be up for tasting it?! Wonder how much it's worth?! How long since the supermarket had a good clean and update?! So many questions!” one woman asked. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Partly want this to go to a museum, partly just wanna see it unwrapped,” a second wrote.    </p> <p dir="ltr">“Oof, right in the nostalgia,” a third said and another chimed in, “Mouldy as hell. I wonder what the story book looks like.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

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The best countries for food lovers to visit

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to travelling, one of the best things about exploring a new place is sampling the local cuisine. </p> <p dir="ltr">From cafes adored by locals and the best of fine dining, to charming markets and unassuming but delicious street food, discovering a country’s culture through their food is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in all the world has to offer. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to TripAdvisor’s 2024 Traveller's Choice Awards, some cities are better than others for foodies, with their top ten list showcasing the best destinations for lovers of food. </p> <p dir="ltr">Coming in hot in the number one spot for foodies to visit is the city of Hanoi, situated in the north of Vietnam. </p> <p dir="ltr">With a plethora of street food, fresh markets, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, you won't be leaving hungry in this popular tourist destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">The national dish of Vietnam, a noodle soup called Pho, is a speciality for visitors to fall in love with, and compare between the hundreds of restaurants that offer the delicious meal. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other foods to try there include banh mi, rice pancakes, and Bun cha, or Vietnamese meatballs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Check out the entire top 10 list of foodie destinations below. </p> <p dir="ltr">10. Phuket, Thailand </p> <p dir="ltr">9. Lisbon, Portugal </p> <p dir="ltr">8. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA</p> <p dir="ltr">7. Barcelona, Spain</p> <p dir="ltr">6. New Delhi, India </p> <p dir="ltr">5. Florence, Italy</p> <p dir="ltr">4. Cusco, Peru</p> <p dir="ltr">3. Crete, Greece</p> <p dir="ltr">2. Rome, Italy</p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">1. Hanoi, Vietnam</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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The best diet for 2024

<p>Over years of research and diet rankings, there is one regimen that scientists have crowned the "Best Diet Overall" for seven years in a row. </p> <p>The Mediterranean diet has topped the list in <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>US News and World Reports’</em></a> annual ranking for 2024, followed by the DASH diet, and the MIND diet coming in third.  </p> <p>The ranking is based off the findings of a panel of leading medical and nutrition experts, who analyse the nutritional completeness, health risks and benefits, long-term sustainability and  effectiveness of the diet in addressing its goals. </p> <p><strong>What sets it apart from other diets? </strong></p> <p>The Mediterranean diet emphasises multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily, alongside whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and seafood. </p> <p>Red meats, dairy and poultry are consumed occasionally and in moderation, and highly processed foods and added sugars are generally avoided. </p> <h4><strong>What are its benefits?</strong></h4> <p>The experts found that following the diet long term can increase the odds of living a longer, healthier life, with a few other studies suggesting it lowers the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, while potentially slowing cognitive decline.</p> <p>“It’s a way of life, it’s a cuisine, it dates back thousands of years, and in the last five to six decades, it is the most highly researched cuisine in the world,” said Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at RMIT University in Melbourne.</p> <p><strong>Lowers risk of heart disease</strong></p> <p>A 2021 research review found that the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women by 29 per cent and stroke by 13 per cent. </p> <p>A 2017 analysis found that on average it lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes by 40 per cent. </p> <p>Experts suggest that this may be because  the fats in olive oil, seeds, fish and nuts are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats aka healthy fats. </p> <p>Additionally, because of its emphasis on fruits, vegetables and legumes, which contain antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, it is believed to combat chronic inflammation. </p> <p><strong>Lowers chances of developing type 2 diabetes </strong></p> <p>Because this diet relies heavily on honey and cinnamon as sweeteners, and fruits as a primary source of sugar, it reduces the risk of developing this disease. </p> <p>One study conducted on 300,000 participants found that those who were on the Mediterranean diet had a nearly 30 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. </p> <p><strong>Good for your gut</strong></p> <p>The diet contains a lot of fibre which are associated with more regular bowel movements, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration.</p> <p>This is because good bacteria in our stomachs feed off fibre, which creates a stronger lining in the intestines. </p> <p>There are a few other potential health benefits including reducing risk of dementia among seniors by almost 25 per cent, and lowering the risk of death from cancer including breast, colorectal, head and neck and lung cancers. </p> <p>See the full list <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Body

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Restaurant's kind act for struggling Aussies

<p>As Aussies continue to adapt to the rising cost-of-living, one restaurant owner took it upon herself to give back to the "struggling" community. </p> <p>Aleeya Hamidan the owner of Manoosh & Co in Eagle Vale, southwest of Sydney, realised that a lot of people in the community are struggling to afford food.</p> <p>"Prices are going up in rent, and there are a lot of large families that live here as well. They don't have much spare money to go out and eat with their kids after school,"  she told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>.</p> <p>So, she decided to implement a system where customers in need can get a free meal that has been paid for by other customers. </p> <p>The text: "Please take one if [you're] in need!! Already paid for from our beautiful customers" is written on a whiteboard, with six receipts containing various orders valued at around $10-$12 attached to it. </p> <p>Hamidan was the first to put up an order on the board a few weeks ago to encourage other customers to do the same, and the system has grown in popularity since. </p> <p>"One man came in a few weeks ago and took one of the free meals, but the following week when he did have money, he purchased one for someone else," she said. </p> <p>"We just didn't want it to be intimidating for people who can't afford our products.</p> <p>"It was just something we started doing for a little but have now continued to do. We've had such amazing feedback on it."</p> <p>The restaurant owner's kind deed was praised after local woman Amanda Mauga posted a picture of the board on social media. </p> <p>"If you are having a hard time and need a meal or coffee, go down to Manoosh Eagle Vale," she shared in a community Facebook page. </p> <p>"People buy food for people who need it. So if you're in need head down there, I have left you a coffee. Enjoy."</p> <p>Mauga said that she "felt inspired to help" after seeing the thoughtful gesture, and wanted to help those who were homeless and struggling in their community "in some small way". </p> <p>The post racked up thousands of likes and comments from people impressed by the "great initiative". </p> <p>"What a great idea! We need more like this. So many people are struggling, bravo," one wrote. </p> <p>"Well done folks... nice there are caring people around," another commented</p> <p>"What an amazing shop for even doing this," a third commented.</p> <p><em>Images: Manoosh & Co</em></p> <p> </p>

Domestic Travel

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Better Homes and Gardens unveils new celebrity chef

<p>Last November, <em>Better Homes and Gardens </em><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/better-homes-and-gardens-star-announces-exit-after-20-years" target="_blank" rel="noopener">farewelled</a> chef "Fast" Ed Halmagyi, after 20 years on the show. </p> <p>Fans have since been left wondering who will replace him, but the wait is now over. </p> <p>Celebrated chef and <em>My Kitchen Rules</em> judge Colin Fassnidge is set to join the cast  from Friday, 2 February 2024. </p> <p>The Irish TV personality will share his much-loved family recipes as the show celebrates it's 30th anniversary.</p> <p>“Working on Better Homes and Gardens really feels like coming home,” he told<em> 7Life</em>. </p> <p>“I’ve been friends with Johanna Griggs ever since I started at Channel 7, and the rest of the cast and I get on like a house on fire.</p> <p>“I can’t wait to get out on the road and travel around this beautiful country, cooking with some of the best and freshest produce in the world.”</p> <p>He also added that he is a bit intimidated as he has big shoes to fill in after Fast Ed's departure. </p> <p>“It’s a little bit scary, but it’s a good challenge and a lot of fun as well,” he said.</p> <p>Fassnidge also shared what he is planning to bring to the table in the coming year. </p> <p>“This show means a lot of things to a lot of people. I’m going to bring a bit of Irish spice to the table!</p> <p>“I want to do fun, affordable cooking — I’m a chef, but I’ve also got kids as well, so I know how hard it is to put food on the table in this day and age with the cost of living and interest rate rises.</p> <p>“I want to show people how they can use cheaper cuts of meat, how to save time, how to feed the family on a budget, but still make delicious meals.”</p> <p><em>Better Homes and Gardens </em>executive producer Russell Palmer said he was excited to welcome the <em>MKR</em> star to the team, saying it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the show. </p> <p>“He’s a talented and well-respected chef and brings his own charm and innovation, which is sure to inspire our audience,”  he said. </p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 ways to avoid weight gain and save money on food this Christmas

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>As Christmas approaches, so does the challenge of healthy eating and maintaining weight-related goals. The season’s many social gatherings can easily tempt us to indulge in calorie-rich food and celebratory drinks. It’s why we typically <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012">gain weight</a> over Christmas and then struggle to take it off for the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938414001528">remainder of the year</a>.</p> <p>Christmas 2023 is also exacerbating cost-of-living pressures, prompting some to rethink their food choices. Throughout the year, <a href="https://dvh1deh6tagwk.cloudfront.net/finder-au/wp-uploads/2023/03/Cost-of-Living-Report-2023.pdf">71% of Australians</a> – or 14.2 million people – <a href="https://retailworldmagazine.com.au/rising-cost-of-living-forces-aussies-to-change-diets/">adapted</a> their eating behaviour in response to rising costs.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are some simple, science-backed hacks for the festive season to help you celebrate with the food traditions you love without impacting your healthy eating habits, weight, or hip pocket.</p> <h2>1. Fill up on healthy pre-party snacks before heading out</h2> <p>If your festive season is filled with end-of-year parties likely to tempt you to fill up on finger foods and meals high in fat, salt, and sugar and low in nutritional value, have a healthy pre-event snack before you head out.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015032/#sec-a.g.atitle">Research</a> shows carefully selected snack foods can impact satiety (feelings of fullness after eating), potentially reducing the calories you eat later. High-protein, high-fibre snack foods have the strongest effect: because they take longer to digest, our hunger is satisfied for longer.</p> <p>So enjoy a handful of nuts, a tub of yoghurt, or a serving of hummus with veggie sticks before you head out to help keep your healthy eating plan on track.</p> <h2>2. Skip the low-carb drinks and enjoy your favourites in moderation</h2> <p>Despite the marketing promises, low-carb alcoholic drinks <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.531">aren’t better for our health or waistlines</a>.</p> <p>Many low-carb options have a similar amount of carbohydrates as regular options but lull us into thinking they’re better, so we drink more. A <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/K-013_Low-carb-beer_FactSheet_FINAL.pdf">survey</a> found 15% of low-carb beer drinkers drank more beer than they usually would because they believed it was healthier for them.</p> <p>A typical lager or ale will contain less than 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml while the “lower-carb” variety can range anywhere from 0.5 grams to 2.0 grams. The calories in drinks come from the alcohol itself, not the carbohydrate content.</p> <p>Next time you go to order, think about the quantity of alcohol you’re drinking rather than the carbs. Make sure you sip lots of water in between drinks to stay hydrated, too.</p> <h2>3. Don’t skimp on healthy food for Christmas Day – it’s actually cheaper</h2> <p>There’s a perception that healthy eating is more expensive. But studies show this is a misconception. A <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/swh-study-finds-eating-a-healthier-diet-is-actually-cheaper-at-the-checkout/#:%7E:text=A%20recent%20study%20from%20the,does%20not%20meet%20the%20guidelines">recent analysis</a> in Victoria, for example, found following the Australian Dietary Guidelines cost the average family A$156 less a fortnight than the cost of the average diet, which incorporates packaged processed foods and alcohol.</p> <p>So when you’re planning your Christmas Day meal, give the pre-prepared, processed food a miss and swap in healthier ingredients:</p> <ul> <li> <p>swap the heavy, salted ham for leaner and lighter meats such as fresh seafood. Some seafood, such as prawns, is also tipped to be cheaper this year thanks to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/goodfood/lobsters-up-prawns-stable-a-buying-guide-to-seafood-this-christmas-20231208-p5eq3m.html">favourable weather conditions</a> boosting local supplies</p> </li> <li> <p>for side dishes, opt for fresh salads incorporating seasonal ingredients such as mango, watermelon, peach, cucumber and tomatoes. This will save you money and ensure you’re eating foods when they’re freshest and most flavoursome</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>if you’re roasting veggies, use healthier cooking oils like olive as opposed to vegetable oil, and use flavourful herbs instead of salt</p> </li> <li> <p>if there’s an out-of-season vegetable you want to include, look for frozen and canned substitutes. They’re cheaper, and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157517300418">just as nutritious</a> and tasty because the produce is usually frozen or canned at its best. Watch the sodium content of canned foods, though, and give them a quick rinse to remove any salty water</p> </li> <li> <p>give store-bought sauces and dressings a miss, making your own from scratch using fresh ingredients.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Plan your Christmas food shop with military precision</h2> <p>Before heading to the supermarket to shop for your Christmas Day meal, create a detailed meal plan and shopping list, and don’t forget to check your pantry and fridge for things you already have.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586574/">Eating beforehand</a> and shopping with a plan in hand means you’ll only buy what you need and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206473/">avoid impulse purchasing</a>.</p> <p>When you’re shopping, price check everything. Comparing the cost per 100 grams is the most effective way to save money and get the best value. Check prices on products sold in different ways and places, too, such as nuts you scoop yourself versus prepacked options.</p> <h2>5. Don’t skip breakfast on Christmas Day</h2> <p>We’ve all been tempted to skip or have a small breakfast on Christmas morning to “save” the calories for later. But this plan will fail when you sit down at lunch hungry and find yourself eating far more calories than you’d “saved” for.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> shows a low-calorie or small breakfast leads to increased feelings of hunger, specifically appetite for sweets, across the course of the day.</p> <p>What you eat for breakfast on Christmas morning is just as important too – choosing the right foods will <a href="https://theconversation.com/im-trying-to-lose-weight-and-eat-healthily-why-do-i-feel-so-hungry-all-the-time-what-can-i-do-about-it-215808">help you manage your appetite</a> and avoid the temptation to overindulge later in the day.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703415/">Studies</a> show a breakfast containing protein-rich foods, such as eggs, will leave us feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p>So before you head out to the Christmas lunch, have a large, nutritionally balanced breakfast, such as eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em> <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-avoid-weight-gain-and-save-money-on-food-this-christmas-219114">original article</a>.</em></p>

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5 ways to make Christmas lunch more ethical this year

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>What we eat matters - not just for our health, but for the planet and other living things too.</p> <p>Most of us know meat consumption <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00358-x.epdf">contributes to global warming</a> and many of us are aware of animal cruelty and human exploitation in global food supply chains.</p> <p>So what are some ways we can use our “fork power” to make our Christmas lunch more ethical this year?</p> <h2>1. Replace your turkey or ham with a vegetarian dish</h2> <p>Vegetarian options are not boring or tasteless — just look at this <a href="https://annajones.co.uk/recipe/squash-chestnut-roast">festive squash and chestnut roast</a>.</p> <p>A plant-focused diet has strong <a href="https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/the-planetary-health-diet-and-you/">environmental benefits</a>. Livestock not only <a href="https://theconversation.com/cop28-begins-4-issues-that-will-determine-if-the-un-climate-summit-is-a-success-from-methane-to-money-218869">produce greenhouse gas</a> when they burp, they take up huge amounts of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9024616/">land and fresh water</a>.</p> <p>Reducing the number of animal products on your plate also reduces the likelihood you are contributing to the suffering of animals. Even though many countries have <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/welfare/standards-guidelines">ethical standards</a> for the treatment of farm animals, these are not always followed, and many of the practices considered legal <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-03-28/pig-slaughter-methods-defended-by-pork-industry/102153822">still cause pain and suffering to animals</a>.</p> <p>While cutting out all animal products can be difficult, any reduction in consumption makes a difference. For example, consider swapping out the brie on your Christmas platter for hummus this year.</p> <h2>2. Choose ‘good fish’</h2> <p>Many of us don’t realise fish and other seafood is often sourced unsustainably, negatively impacting ocean ecosystems and wildlife. An Australian organisation called GoodFish produces a <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/">Sustainable Seafood Guide</a>, where you can find out how ethical the fish you buy is.</p> <p>Unfortunately, many salmon products are <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/sustainable-seafood-guide/?q=salmon">not as sustainable</a> as companies claim them to be. In comparison, farmed Australian barramundi, Murray cod, prawns, oysters and mussels, and wild-caught Australian Eastern and Western rock lobsters are classified as better choices.</p> <p>Additionally, an international not-for-profit organisation called the <a href="https://www.msc.org/en-au">Marine Stewardship Council</a> has an “MSC blue fish tick label” certification scheme, which endorses products from well-managed and sustainable fisheries. Have a look for MSC-certified frozen crumbed fish in your next shop.</p> <h2>3. Choose at least one organic item, such as your roast potatoes</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en/">Organic agriculture</a> aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil infertility or pest problems over the longer term. It strengthens the dynamics and carbon storage of soil, stops freshwater pollution with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, reduces the use of fossil fuels needed to produce these chemicals, and promotes biodiversity.</p> <p>Yes, organic products are more expensive, but you will hopefully now feel they are worth it (you could also look out for organic produce that is reduced in price during “on special” promotions).</p> <h2>4. Choose Fairtrade chocolate</h2> <p>Of course, humans are heavily involved in the production, packaging and transport of the food we eat every day. Organisations such as <a href="https://fairtradeanz.org/">Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/">Rainforest Alliance</a> aim to improve the lives of rural farmers and workers in developing countries – who otherwise might get unfair deals for their produce and work (these organisations also target environmental issues).</p> <p>You can buy Fairtrade- and Rainforest Alliance-certified products in supermarkets (and elsewhere), such as chocolate, coffee, tea – and even ice cream.</p> <p>Similarly, there are companies called <a href="https://bcorporation.com.au/find-b-corps/">B Corps</a>, or Certified B Corporations. These are organisations that also care about social and environmental issues. B Corp food products can also be found in supermarkets (and elsewhere), and include things like peanut butter and seaweed snacks.</p> <h2>5. Make friends with your freezer</h2> <p>When we waste food, we are wasting the energy, land, water and chemicals that were used during the <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/food">long process</a> of getting it into your home.</p> <p>Lots of us worry at Christmas about “having enough food for everyone”, and consequently buy too much. Why not talk through your menu plan with someone else before you go shopping, to check that you are not anxiety-buying to feed 50 people (instead of your extended family of ten).</p> <p>But even with calm planning, you may still have leftover food. If this happens, you can get creative with using leftovers on Boxing Day (OzHarvest has some recipes online, including <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/use-it-up/tips/">Christmas rockyroad</a>), or you can preserve food to eat at a later date using your cool friend, the freezer.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218351/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, Adjunct lecturer and nutritionist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-make-christmas-lunch-more-ethical-this-year-218351">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Poh reveals birthday plans for her big 5-0

<p>Aside from her cooking skills, <em>MasterChef's </em>Poh Ling Yeow is also known for her “ageless beauty” and this year, the beloved cook is gearing up for a double celebration. </p> <p>“My 50th birthday falls close to Christmas, and my dad wants to combine the two celebrations this year,” she told <em>Yahoo Lifestyle</em>. </p> <p>Poh told the publication that she opted to merge her birthday celebration and Christmas festivities in an effort to make the holiday season “stress-free” for her and her loved ones. </p> <p>“The key to a stress-free Christmas is reducing your personal workload, and I can’t think of a better way to get into the festive spirit than sharing preparations for the big day with family. It’s always potluck at the Yeow family Christmas!”</p> <p>And as you'd expect from a seasoned chef, this year's menu consists of a few of her own “centrepiece mains”.</p> <p>Her other tip for reader's at home hoping to make Christmas more stress-free is to ask guests to bring a side or dessert.</p> <p>“I love a grated beet, chickpea and mint salad with white balsamic that’s full of crunch and almost like a pickle,” she said. </p> <p>"Also, a Thai roast chicken and glass vermicelli salad, and a Korean japchae (sweet potato noodle salad).</p> <p>“My family, bless them, loves a proper retro trifle. It starts with making finger jello by adding 1 tablespoon of powdered gelatine to a raspberry or strawberry jelly so you can easily cut them into cubes after it’s set." </p> <p>She then shared her tip for making the trifle. </p> <p>“Then it’s just a matter of layering sliced, store-bought jam rollettes drowned in regular strawberry jelly mixture, tinned peaches, fresh strawberries, custard made with powdered custard mix, fresh cream then piling on the prepared jelly cubes.”</p> <p><em>Images: Yahoo Lifestyle</em></p>

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Genius Christmas hack divides viewers

<p>Christmas, a time when the kitchen becomes a battlefield and culinary warriors seek ingenious hacks to conquer the chaos!</p> <p>Thankfully, Janelle from @thedailynelly on Instagram, armed with the wisdom of her grandma, has unveiled a potato-cleaning strategy that has shaken the very foundations of traditional holiday prep.</p> <p>Enter "Grandma's best Thanksgiving secret" – a cryptic title that foreshadows a culinary revelation of epic proportions. And yes, we know it's for Thanksgiving – but we are just going to give some thanks and use it for Christmas prep anyway.</p> <p>Janelle took to Instagram to showcase her revolutionary potato-cleaning hack for her followers and – spoiler alert – it involves a dishwasher, and things are about to get wild.</p> <p>As Janelle stacks unwashed potatoes into the dishwasher, she confidently claims that this unorthodox method saves her both time and effort. The video unfolds like a suspenseful thriller, with the person behind the camera questioning her every move. "This is the best way to do it. It saves you so much time," Janelle declares with the conviction of someone who has cracked the Da Vinci Code of holiday cooking.</p> <p>In a daring move, she populates not only the top rack with filthy potatoes but also the lower shelf, even utilising the cutlery holder – because who needs spoons when you can have spuds? Janelle defends her potato-loading strategy, pointing out that traditional methods in a bowl are impractical when faced with three bags of potatoes. Practicality, meet pandemonium.</p> <p>Janelle also points out – a little redundantly, but to be honest you never really know the caliber of person watching Instagram videos – that it's crucial not to use any dishwashing tablets or soap in this peculiar cleaning ritual, because, you know, that would be weird. We wouldn't want our spuds to taste like lavender-scented detergent, now would we?</p> <p>The climax arrives when the four-minute rinse cycle is over – a pivotal moment in this culinary odyssey. Janelle gleefully showcases the now pristine potatoes, claiming victory over the tedious hand-washing process. "They're clean, you didn't have to hand wash them. I'm telling you – it saves time on Christmas when you're hosting a tonne of people," she declares triumphantly.</p> <p>However, the internet, ever the skeptic, has of course reacted with horror and disbelief. Some commenters expressed their disgust, labelling the dishwasher technique as "gross" and "nasty". </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The Daily Nelly (@thedailynelly)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Concerns about dishwasher residue and the efficiency of the method compared to traditional hand washing also echo through the comments. The naysayers argue that the time spent stacking potatoes in the dishwasher outweighs the alleged time saved.</p> <p>In the end, @thedailynelly's dishwasher potato video has become something of a cautionary tale, a reminder that not all culinary shortcuts are created equal. But here at OverSixty we are firmly on Team Janelle. At least she is out there giving it a go, listening to her grandma, and sharing her wisdom with the world.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram / <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">@thedailynelly</span></em></p>

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Bring a plate! What to take to Christmas lunch that looks impressive (but won’t break the bank)

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-kirkegaard-1401256">Amy Kirkegaard</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-lepre-1401257">Breanna Lepre</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Christmas lunch is at your friend’s house this year, and they’ve asked you to bring a plate. Money is tight. So, you find yourself wondering, “What’s cheap, healthy but also looks impressive?”</p> <p>While a tray of mangoes would certainly be a cheap, healthy and colourful contribution, you want to look as if you’ve put in a bit of effort.</p> <p>If you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some tried and tested ideas.</p> <h2>First, choose your ingredients</h2> <p>Check your pantry for inspiration or ingredients. Crackers, dried fruit or nuts are great ideas for a charcuterie board. You can use herbs and spices to add flavour to dishes, or you could use up packets of dried pasta to make a <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/salmon-and-pasta-salad">pasta salad</a>. This is also a great way to clean out your pantry.</p> <p>Focus on fruit and vegetables that are in season, so are cheaper and more readily available. Keep an eye out at your local fruit and veggie shop or market as it will usually have in-season fruit and vegetables in bulk quantities at reduced prices. Check out <a href="http://seasonalfoodguide.com/australia-general-seasonal-fresh-produce-guide-fruits-vegetables-in-season-availability.html">this seasonal food guide</a> to help you plan your Christmas menu.</p> <p>Ask around for deals by chatting to your local butcher, fishmonger or grocer and let them know your budget. They may suggest cheaper cuts of meat (such as, <a href="https://www.australianbutchersguild.com.au/the-blog/the-abg-blog/underrated-cuts-of-beef/">oyster</a>, <a href="https://www.australianbeef.com.au/know-your-meat/beef-cuts/">blades, rump caps</a>). Try cooking <a href="https://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipes/slow-cooker-corned-beef-mustard-sauce-recipe/z47lwrbv?r=entertaining/9clz7475&amp;h=entertaining">corned beef</a> or <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooker-roast-chicken">roast chicken</a> in a slow cooker with lots of vegetables. Slow-cooked meals can be frozen and can come in handy for left-overs.</p> <p>Lean into <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/">legumes</a>. These are packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also budget-friendly and a great way to add texture to salads. Tinned chickpeas, or cannellini, kidney, or butter beans are quick and easy additions that can make filling dishes go further. You could even turn tinned chickpeas into homemade hommus for a healthy and delicious side dish. Check out these healthy legume <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/filter/keywords--legumes">recipes</a>.</p> <h2>7 ways to keep food costs down this Christmas</h2> <p><strong>1. Plan ahead</strong></p> <p>Plan your menu by asking how many people are coming and checking for any food preferences or dietary requirements. Check for items you already have at home, and make a shopping list for only what you <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/BFJ-12-2017-0726/full/html">need</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Use free recipes</strong></p> <p>Use free online recipe collections and e-books tailored for budget cooking that can help you design your Christmas menu to meet your budget. This <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/uploads/Our-Guide-to-the-Perfect-Christmas-Feast.pdf">one</a> was created by a group of <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/working-dietetics/standards-and-scope/role-accredited-practising-dietitian">accredited practising dietitians</a> and has healthy, budget friendly recipes and ideas. You could also try this budget friendly collection of Christmas recipes from <a href="https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/budget-christmas-recipes">taste</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Involve the family</strong></p> <p>Get together with other family members and make it a challenge to see who can make the cheapest, most delicious dish. Get the kids involved in fun activities, such as making a DIY gingerbread house or putting together mixed skewers for the barbecue.</p> <p><strong>4. Pool your resources</strong></p> <p>Larger quantities of a single dish will be cheaper than multiple different dishes (and easier to prepare).</p> <p><strong>5. Frozen is fine</strong></p> <p>Use frozen fruits and vegetables if you need to. These can have just as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">many vitamins and minerals</a> as fresh, are often cheaper than fresh produce and last longer. Try using frozen berries to decorate the pavlova or add them to your favourite cake, muffin or pie.</p> <p><strong>6. Make your own drinks</strong></p> <p>You could make your own drinks, such as home-brewed iced tea. See if anyone in your family has a soda stream you can borrow to make sparkling mineral water. Add some freshly squeezed lemon or lime for extra flavour.</p> <p><strong>7. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>Use your own crockery and re-use leftovers to reduce waste. After all, washing up is cheaper than buying plastic or paper plates and better for the environment. Remember to save any leftovers and re-use them. Leftover fresh vegetables could be used to make a hearty soup or chutney.</p> <h2>It doesn’t have to be perfect</h2> <p>Christmas comes and goes quickly. If your cooking ideas don’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Choosing healthy foods on a budget is important all year around, so you may like to think about trying these tips throughout the years to come. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196565/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718"><em>Lauren Ball</em></a><em>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-kirkegaard-1401256">Amy Kirkegaard</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-lepre-1401257">Breanna Lepre</a>, Research Fellow, Mater Research Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Dietitian and Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bring-a-plate-what-to-take-to-christmas-lunch-that-looks-impressive-but-wont-break-the-bank-196565">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to make the perfect pavlova, according to chemistry experts

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nathan-kilah-599082">Nathan Kilah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-taylor-1400788">Chloe Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>The pavlova is a summer icon; just a few simple ingredients can be transformed into a beautifully flavoured and textured dessert.</p> <p>But despite its simplicity, there’s a surprising amount of chemistry involved in making a pavlova. Knowing what’s happening in each step is a sure-fire way to make yours a success.</p> <p>So exactly what does it take to make the perfect pavlova? Let us break it down for you.</p> <h2>Egg whites</h2> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/eight-cracking-facts-about-eggs-150797">Egg white</a> is basically a mixture of proteins in water. Two of these proteins, ovalbumin and ovomucin, are the key to forming a perfect foamy meringue mixture.</p> <p>Whipping the egg whites agitates the proteins and disrupts their structure, causing them to unfold so the protein’s interior surface is exposed, in a process <a href="https://theconversation.com/sunny-side-up-can-you-really-fry-an-egg-on-the-footpath-on-a-hot-day-172616">known as denaturing</a>. These surfaces then join with one another to trap air bubbles and turn into a stable foam.</p> <p>Egg yolk must be completely removed for this process to work. Yolk is mostly made of fat molecules, which would destabilise the protein network and pop the air bubbles. It only takes a trace amount of fat, or even just a greasy bowl, to disrupt foam formation.</p> <p>You should always whip your egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl. Plastic bowls are more likely to hold leftover grease.</p> <h2>Sugar</h2> <p>A traditional pavlova uses sugar – a lot of it – to provide texture and flavour. The ratio of sugar to egg white will differ between recipes.</p> <p>The first thing to remember is that adding more sugar will give you a drier and crispier texture, whereas less sugar will lead to a softer and chewier pavlova that won’t keep as long.</p> <p>The second thing is the size of the sugar crystals. The larger they are, the longer they’ll need to be whipped to dissolve, and the greater the chance you will overwork the proteins in your meringue. Powdered icing sugar (not icing mixture) is preferable to caster or granulated sugar.</p> <p>If you do happen to overbeat your meringue (which may end up looking clumpy and watery) you can try to save it by adding another egg white.</p> <h2>Acid</h2> <p>Many pavlova recipes call for adding cream of tartar or vinegar. Cream of tartar is also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, which you may have seen in the form of crystals at the <a href="https://theconversation.com/louis-pasteurs-scientific-discoveries-in-the-19th-century-revolutionized-medicine-and-continue-to-save-the-lives-of-millions-today-191395">bottom of a wine glass</a>.</p> <p>These acids act as a stabilising agent for the meringue by aiding in the unfolding of the egg white proteins. More isn’t always better, though. Using too much stabiliser can affect the taste and texture, so use it sparingly.</p> <h2>Heat</h2> <p>Cooking a pavlova requires a very slow oven for specific chemical reasons. Namely, egg white proteins gel at temperatures above 60°C, setting the meringue.</p> <p>At higher temperatures a chemical reaction known as the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kitchen-science-from-sizzling-brisket-to-fresh-baked-bread-the-chemical-reaction-that-makes-our-favourite-foods-taste-so-good-58577">Maillard reaction</a> takes place in which proteins and sugars react to form new flavourful compounds. We can thank the Maillard reaction for many delicious foods including <a href="https://theconversation.com/brewing-a-great-cup-of-coffee-depends-on-chemistry-and-physics-84473">roasted coffee</a>, toast and <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-makes-smoky-charred-barbecue-taste-so-good-the-chemistry-of-cooking-over-an-open-flame-184206">seared steak</a>.</p> <p>However, excessive Maillard reactions are undesirable for a pavlova. An oven that’s too hot will turn your meringue brown and give it a “caramelised” flavour. Recipes calling for pavlova to be left in the oven overnight may actually overcook it.</p> <p>At the same time, you don’t want to accidentally undercook your pavlova – especially since uncooked eggs are often responsible for <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-avoid-food-borne-illness-a-nutritionist-explains-153185">food poisoning</a>. To kill dangerous bacteria, including salmonella, the pavlova’s spongy centre must reach <a href="https://foodsafety.asn.au/eggs/">temperatures above 72°C</a>.</p> <p>An alternative is to use pasteurised egg whites, which are briefly heated to a very high temperature to kill any pathogens. But this processing may also affect the egg white’s whippability.</p> <h2>Substitute ingredients</h2> <p>People love pavlova, and nobody should have to miss out. Luckily they don’t have to.</p> <p>If you want to <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-taste-for-sweet-an-anthropologist-explains-the-evolutionary-origins-of-why-youre-programmed-to-love-sugar-173197">limit your sugar intake</a>, you can make your meringue using sweeteners such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-sugar-other-natural-sweeteners-and-artificial-sweeteners-a-food-chemist-explains-sweet-science-172571">powdered erythritol or monk fruit</a>. But, if you do, you may want to add some extra stabiliser such as cornflour, arrowroot starch, or a pinch of xanthan gum to maintain the classic texture.</p> <p>Also, if you want a vegan pavlova, you can turn to the chickpea instead of the chicken! <a href="https://review.jove.com/t/56305/composition-properties-aquafaba-water-recovered-from-commercially">Aquafaba</a> – the water collected from tinned or soaked beans – contains proteins and carbohydrates that give it emulsifying, foaming and even thickening properties. Egg-free pavlova recipes typically replace one egg white with about two tablespoons of aquafaba.</p> <p>And for those of you who don’t do gluten, pavlova can easily be made <a href="https://theconversation.com/gluten-free-diet-is-expensive-socially-challenging-for-those-with-celiac-disease-and-wheat-allergy-155861">gluten-free</a> by using certain stabilising agents.</p> <p>All that’s left is to get creative with your toppings and decide what to do with those leftover yolks!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196485/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nathan-kilah-599082"><em>Nathan Kilah</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-taylor-1400788">Chloe Taylor</a>, Research Fellow - PhD candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-make-the-perfect-pavlova-according-to-chemistry-experts-196485">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Meal kits are booming – but how do they stack up nutritionally?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-fraser-1483094">Kylie Fraser</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-spence-720195">Alison Spence</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karen-campbell-224857">Karen Campbell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/penny-love-1060241">Penny Love</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Meal kits are a <a href="https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/online-food-delivery/meal-delivery/australia">billion dollar industry</a> selling the promise of convenience while cooking healthy meals at home. Delivering ingredients and step-by-step recipes to the doorstep, meal kits reduce the time and energy to plan, shop and prepare meals. But do they deliver on their promise of health?</p> <p>While people may <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666321007236">think</a> meal kits are healthy, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1">our new research</a> suggests this varies.</p> <p>The range and quantity of vegetables in a meal is a great indicator of how healthy it is. So we assessed the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1&amp;login=false">vegetable content</a> of recipes from six Australian meal kit providers. We found when it comes to nutrition, whether it be budget friendly or high-end, it’s more about the meals you choose and less about what company to use.</p> <h2>What we found</h2> <p>For our <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1&amp;login=false">new research</a> we purchased a one-week subscription to nine Australian-based meal kit companies to access weekly recipes. Six companies provided their full week of recipes. The vegetable content of these recipes were analysed.</p> <p>Of the 179 meals analysed, we found recipes use a median of three different types of vegetables and provide a median of 2.5 serves of vegetables per person. At first glance, this looks promising. But on closer inspection, the number and types of vegetables vary a lot.</p> <p>Some recipes provide less than one serve and others more than seven serves of vegetables per person. Not surprisingly, vegetarian recipes provide more vegetables, but almost one-third of these still include less than two vegetables serves per person.</p> <p>The variety of vegetables included also varies, with recipes providing between one and six different types of vegetables per meal.</p> <h2>What’s for dinner?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10200412/">Dinner</a> is the time when we’re most likely to eat vegetables, so low levels of vegetables in meal kit meals <a href="https://theconversation.com/food-as-medicine-why-do-we-need-to-eat-so-many-vegetables-and-what-does-a-serve-actually-look-like-76149">matter</a>.</p> <p>Eating vegetables is known to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5837313/">reduce the risk</a> of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266069/">obesity</a> and some cancers. What’s more, food preferences and eating habits are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17367571/">learned</a> in childhood. So being exposed to a wide range of vegetables from a young age is important for future health.</p> <p>But few Australians eat enough vegetables. According to the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a>, children should be eating 2.5 to five serves and adults at least five serves of vegetables each day. Currently children eat an average of <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.012main+features12011-12">less than</a> two serves and adults less than three serves of vegetables per day.</p> <p>So there’s room for improvement and meal kits may help.</p> <h2>Meal kits have advantages</h2> <p>The good news is that using meal kits can be a healthier alternative to ordering takeaway delivery or prepared ready-to-heat meals. When we cook at home, we have much more say in what’s for dinner. We can use healthier cooking methods (think grilled rather than deep-fried), healthier fats (olive or canola oil) and add in plenty of extra veg. All make for better nutrition and better health.</p> <p>Meal kits might also build your cooking confidence to cook more “from scratch” and to learn about new ingredients, flavour combinations and time-saving techniques. Cooking with meal kits may even <a href="https://theconversation.com/cooking-from-meal-boxes-can-cut-household-food-waste-by-38-new-research-192760">cut household food waste</a> by providing the exact amount of ingredients needed to prepare a meal.</p> <h2>5 tips for getting the most out of meal kits</h2> <p><strong>1) Select some vegetarian options</strong></p> <p>This way you can have <a href="https://meatfreemondays.com/about/">meat-free</a> dinners during the week. Vegetarian recipes are more likely to help you meet daily vegetable intakes and to eat a wider variety of vegetables</p> <p><strong>2) Choose recipes with at least 3 different types of vegetables</strong></p> <p>Eating a range of vegetable types and colours will help maximise nutritional benefits. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7195662/">Research</a> shows eating a variety of vegetables at dinner can increase our vegetable intakes. Exposing children to “<a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-get-children-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-97546">eating the rainbow</a>” can also increase their willingness to eat vegetables</p> <p><strong>3) Choose recipes with unfamiliar or new vegetables</strong></p> <p>Research tells us that learning to prepare and cook vegetables can increase cooking <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20399299/#:%7E:text=Households%20bought%20a%20greater%20variety,at%20least%20one%20minor%20(difference%3A">confidence</a> and skills. This can influence our willingness to buy a wider range of vegetables. Worried about fussy eaters? Add your child’s favourite cooked or raw veg to their plate (one familiar, one new)</p> <p><strong>4) Look for ways to add more vegetables</strong></p> <p>It’s OK to tweak the recipe! Adding vegetables from your fridge – maybe some lettuce on the side or chopped up carrots to a cooked sauce – to meal kit meals will help reduce household <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/food-waste">food waste</a>. You can also extend meals by adding a can of lentils or beans to mince-based meals, or frozen peas or chickpeas to a curry. This adds valuable fibre to the meal and also bulks up these recipes, giving you leftovers for the next day</p> <p><strong>5) Use less</strong></p> <p>While vegetables are important for health, it’s also important to consider the <a href="https://academic-oup-com.ezproxy-b.deakin.edu.au/heapro/article/36/3/660/5908259">salt</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31694291/">fat and energy</a> content of meal kit recipes. When using meal kits, you can <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/salt-and-heart-health">use less</a> seasoning, spice mix or stock cubes and add more herbs instead.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218339/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-fraser-1483094">Kylie Fraser</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-spence-720195">Alison Spence</a>, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Population Health, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karen-campbell-224857">Karen Campbell</a>, Professor Population Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/penny-love-1060241">Penny Love</a>, Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/meal-kits-are-booming-but-how-do-they-stack-up-nutritionally-218339">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Trying to spend less on food? Following the dietary guidelines might save you $160 a fortnight

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>A rise in the <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook47p/CostOfLiving#:%7E:text=Consumer%20Price%20Index%20over%20time,but%205.1%25%20in%20the%20second">cost of living</a> has led many households to look for ways to save money.</p> <p>New research suggests maintaining a healthy diet, in line with the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/guidelines">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a>, is cheaper than an unhealthy diet and <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/wp-content/uploads/SWH-HP-Healthy-Diets-ASAP-Protocol-Warrnambool-Report-2023.pdf">could save A$160</a> off a family of four’s fortnightly shopping bill.</p> <p>Poor diet is the most common preventable risk factor contributing to chronic disease in <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30752-2/fulltext">Australia</a>. So improving your diet can also be an important way to reduce the chance of developing chronic disease.</p> <h2>First, what are the dietary guidelines?</h2> <p>The guidelines provide information on the quantity and types of foods most Australians should consume to promote overall health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Recommendations include eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the main five food groups:</p> <ul> <li>vegetables and legumes</li> <li>fruit</li> <li>grains</li> <li>lean meats and meat alternatives such as tofu, nuts and legumes</li> <li>dairy products.</li> </ul> <p>The guidelines recommend limiting our intake of foods high in saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.</p> <h2>What are Australians eating?</h2> <p>Fewer than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">7%</a> of Australians eat sufficient vegetables, in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. In fact, Australians have an average healthy diet score of <a href="https://www.csiro.au/-/media/News-releases/2023/Total-Wellbeing-Diet-Health-Score/Diet-score-2023-Report_September.pdf">55 out of 100</a> – barely passing.</p> <p>Foods that aren’t part of a food group are known as “discretionary” items, which includes alcohol, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and confectionery and most takeaway foods. Because they’re typically high in kilojoules, saturated fat, sodium and added sugars, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend they only be eaten occasionally and in small amounts (ideally zero serves).</p> <p>For many households, discretionary items make up a big portion of their grocery shop. Australians consume an average of <a href="https://www.csiro.au/-/media/News-releases/2023/Total-Wellbeing-Diet-Health-Score/Diet-score-2023-Report_September.pdf">28 serves</a> of discretionary choices per week (equal to 28 doughnuts, 28 slices of cake, or 28 cans of soft drink or beer). This is an increase of ten serves since 2015.</p> <p>One recent <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12966-022-01389-8">study</a> estimated 55% of Australians’ total energy intake was from discretionary items.</p> <h2>What did the researchers find?</h2> <p>Researchers from the Health Promotion Team at South West Healthcare <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/wp-content/uploads/SWH-HP-Healthy-Diets-ASAP-Protocol-Warrnambool-Report-2023.pdf">recently</a> visited four local supermarkets and takeaway stores in Warrnambool, Victoria, and purchased two baskets of groceries.</p> <p>One basket met the Australian Dietary Guidelines (basket one), the other aligned with the typical dietary intake of Australians (basket two).</p> <p>They compared prices between the two and found basket one would cost approximately $167 less per fortnight for a family of four at the most affordable supermarket. That’s equal to $4,342 a year.</p> <p>Basket one was sufficient to supply a family of four for a fortnight, and aligned with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It cost $724 and included:</p> <ol> <li>fruit and vegetables (made up 31% of the fortnightly shop)</li> <li>grains and cereals (oats, cornflakes, bread, rice, pasta, Weet-bix)</li> <li>lean meats and alternatives (mince, steak, chicken, tuna, eggs, nuts)</li> <li>milk, yoghurt and cheese</li> <li>oils and spreads (olive oil).</li> </ol> <p>Basket two reflected the current average Australian fortnightly shop for a family of four.</p> <p>In the project, the team spent over half of the fortnightly shop on processed and packaged foods, of which 21% was spent on take-away. This is based on actual dietary intake of the general population reported in the 2011-2012 <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-nutrition-first-results-foods-and-nutrients/latest-release#:%7E:text=Food%20consumption,across%20the%20major%20food%20groups.">Australian Health Survey</a>.</p> <p>Basket two cost $891 and included:</p> <ol> <li>fruit and vegetables (made up 13% of the fortnightly shop)</li> <li>grains and cereals (oats, cornflakes, bread, rice, pasta, Weet-bix)</li> <li>lean meats and alternatives (mince, steak, chicken, tuna, eggs, nuts)</li> <li>milk, yogurt and cheese</li> <li>oils and spreads (olive oil, butter)</li> <li>drinks (soft drink, fruit juice)</li> <li>desserts and snacks (muffins, sweet biscuits, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips, muesli bars)</li> <li>processed meats (sausages, ham)</li> <li>convenience meals</li> <li>fast food (pizza, meat pie, hamburger, fish and chips)</li> <li>alcohol (beer, wine).</li> </ol> <h2>But a healthy basket is still unaffordable for many</h2> <p>While this piece of work, and other <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/11/2469">research</a>, suggests a healthy diet is less expensive than an unhealthy diet, affordability is still a challenge for many families.</p> <p>The Warrnambool research found basket one (which aligned with guidelines) was still costly, requiring approximately 25% of a median household income.</p> <p>This is unaffordable for many. For a household reliant on welfare, basket one would require allocating 26%-38% of their income. This highlights how the rising cost of living crisis is affecting those already facing financial difficulties.</p> <p>Around 3.7 <a href="https://reports.foodbank.org.au/foodbank-hunger-report-2023/">million</a> Australian households did not have access to enough food to meet their basic needs at some point in the last 12 months.</p> <p>Policy action is needed from the Australian government to make recommended diets more affordable for low socioeconomic groups. This means lowering the costs of healthy foods and ensuring household incomes are sufficient.</p> <h2>What else can you do to cut your spending?</h2> <p>To help reduce food costs and support your health, reducing discretionary foods could be a good idea.</p> <p>Other ways to reduce your grocery bill and keep your food healthy and fresh include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>planning for some meatless meals each week. Pulses (beans, lentils and legumes) are nutritious and cheap (a can is <a href="https://coles.com.au/product/coles-chick-peas-420g-8075852?uztq=46abcbb7e16253b0cdc3e6c5bbe6a3f0&amp;cid=col_cpc_Generic%7cColesSupermarkets%7cPLA%7cCatchAll%7cAustralia%7cBroad&amp;s_kwcid=AL!12693!3!675842378376!!!g!326304616489!&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=CjwKCAjwkY2qBhBDEiwAoQXK5SceYhU2VtKepNLXWN218GH8Cp8Vs9cnYynCBwRqQPaW3UYNX2SVIBoC_6EQAvD_BwE&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds">less than $1.50</a>. Here are some great pulse recipes to <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/filter/keywords--vegetarian/p2">try</a></p> </li> <li> <p>checking the specials and buy in bulk (to store or freeze) when items are cheaper</p> </li> <li> <p>making big batches of meals and freezing them. Single-serve portions can help save time for lunches at work, saving on takeaway</p> </li> <li> <p>Australian supermarkets are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/2023/jul/27/cost-of-living-grocery-store-price-rises-cheapest-fresh-produce-australia-woolworths-coles#:%7E:text=The%20results%20showed%20independent%20and,best%20place%20for%20affordable%20groceries">almost never</a> the cheapest place for fresh produce, so shop around for farmers markets or smaller local grocery shops</p> </li> <li> <p>buying generic brands when possible, as they are <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/streamlined-datagathering-techniques-to-estimate-the-price-and-affordability-of-healthy-and-unhealthy-diets-under-different-pricing-scenarios/872EA6396533166E0C6FA94C809D9CAC#r">notably cheaper</a>. Supermarkets usually <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-that-makes-us-spend-more-in-supermarkets-and-feel-good-while-we-do-it-23857">promote</a> the items they want you to buy at eye-level, so check the shelves above and below for cheaper alternatives.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216749/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Dietitian &amp; Academic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/trying-to-spend-less-on-food-following-the-dietary-guidelines-might-save-you-160-a-fortnight-216749">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Taste depends on nature and nurture. Here are 7 ways you can learn to enjoy foods you don’t like

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464">Nicholas Archer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p>You’re out for dinner with a bunch of friends, one of whom orders pizza with anchovies and olives to share, but you hate olives and anchovies! Do you pipe up with your preferred choice – Hawaiian – or stay quiet?</p> <p>This scene plays out every day around the world. Some people ferociously defend their personal tastes. But many would rather expand their palate, and not have to rock the boat the next time someone in their friend group orders pizza.</p> <p>Is it possible to train your tastebuds to enjoy foods you previously didn’t, like training a muscle at the gym?</p> <h2>What determines ‘taste’?</h2> <p>Taste is a complex system we evolved to help us navigate the environment. It helps us select foods with nutritional value and reject anything potentially harmful.</p> <p>Foods are made up of different compounds, including nutrients (such as proteins, sugars and fats) and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P_0HGRWgXw">aromas</a> that are detected by sensors in the mouth and nose. These sensors create the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZn2PMUWO-Y">flavour of food</a>. While taste is what the tastebuds on your tongue pick up, flavour is the combination of how something smells and tastes. Together with texture, appearance and sound, these senses collectively influence your food preferences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MZn2PMUWO-Y?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Flavour is the overall impression you get when eating.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Many factors influence food preferences, including age, genetics and environment. We each live in our own sensory world and no two people will have the same <a href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-do-some-people-find-some-foods-yummy-but-others-find-the-same-foods-yucky-77671">experience while eating</a>.</p> <p>Food preferences also change with age. Research has found young children have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">natural preference</a> for sweet and salty tastes and a dislike of bitter tastes. As they grow older their ability to like bitter foods grows.</p> <p>Emerging evidence shows bacteria in saliva can also produce enzymes that influence the taste of foods. For instance, saliva has been shown to cause the release of sulphur aromas in cauliflower. The <a href="https://www.acs.org/pressroom/presspacs/2021/acs-presspac-september-22-2021/childrens-dislike-of-cauliflower-broccoli-could-be-written-in-their-microbiome.html">more sulphur that is produced</a>, the less likely a kid is to enjoy the taste of cauliflower.</p> <h2>Nature versus nurture</h2> <p>Both genetics and the environment play a crucial role in determining food preferences. Twin studies estimate genetics have a moderate influence on food preferences (between 32% and 54%, depending on the food type) in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">children</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27385609/">adolescents</a> and <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics/article/dietary-patterns-and-heritability-of-food-choice-in-a-uk-female-twin-cohort/8507AAF01330C599BAC62BCC0EF4CF06">adults</a>.</p> <p>However, since our cultural environment and the foods we’re exposed to also shape our preferences, these <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">preferences are learned</a> to a large degree.</p> <p>A lot of this learning takes place during childhood, at home and other places we eat. This isn’t textbook learning. <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/9780851990323.0093">It’s learning</a> by experiencing (eating), which typically leads to increased liking of the food – or by watching what others do (modelling), which can lead to both positive or negative associations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">Research</a> has shown how environmental influences on food preferences change between childhood and adulthood. For children, the main factor is the home environment, which makes sense as kids are more likely to be influenced by foods prepared and eaten at home. Environmental factors influencing adults and adolescents are more varied.</p> <h2>The process of ‘acquiring’ taste</h2> <p>Coffee and beer are good examples of bitter foods people “acquire” a taste for as they grow up. The ability to overcome the dislike of these is largely due to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>the social context in which they’re consumed. For example, in many countries they may be associated with passage into adulthood.</p> </li> <li> <p>the physiological effects of the compounds they contain – caffeine in coffee and alcohol in beer. Many people find these effects desirable.</p> </li> </ul> <p>But what about acquiring a taste for foods that don’t provide such desirable feelings, but which are good for you, such as kale or fatty fish? Is it possible to gain an acceptance for these?</p> <p>Here are some strategies that can help you learn to enjoy foods you currently don’t:</p> <ol> <li> <p>eat, and keep eating. Only a small portion is needed to build a liking for a specific taste over time. It may take 10–15 attempts or more before you can say you “like” the food.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329302001106">mask bitterness</a> by eating it with other foods or ingredients that contain salt or sugar. For instance, you can pair bitter rocket with a sweet salad dressing.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it repeatedly in a positive context. That could mean eating it after playing your favourite sport or with people you like. Alternatively, you could eat it with foods you already enjoy; if it’s a specific vegetable, try pairing it with your favourite protein.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it when you’re hungry. In a hungry state you’ll be more willing to accept a taste you might not appreciate on a full stomach.</p> </li> <li> <p>remind yourself why you want to enjoy this food. You may be changing your diet for health reasons, or because you’ve moved countries and are struggling with the local cuisine. Your reason will help motivate you.</p> </li> <li> <p>start young (if possible). It’s easier for children to learn to like new foods as their tastes are less established.</p> </li> <li> <p>remember: the more foods you like, the easier it’ll become to learn to like others.</p> </li> </ol> <p>A balanced and varied diet is essential for good health. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666315003438?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=82a5fd5069821f63">Picky eating</a> can become a problem if it leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies – especially if you’re avoiding entire food groups, such as vegetables. At the same time, eating too many tasty but energy-dense foods can increase your risk of chronic disease, including obesity.</p> <p>Understanding how your food preferences have formed, and how they can evolve, is a first step to getting on the path of healthier eating.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215999/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464"><em>Nicholas Archer</em></a><em>, Research Scientist, Sensory, Flavour and Consumer Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, Principal Researcher, Public Health &amp; Wellbeing Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/taste-depends-on-nature-and-nurture-here-are-7-ways-you-can-learn-to-enjoy-foods-you-dont-like-215999">original article</a>.</em></p>

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“Imagine being offended by gingerbread": Woolies shopper slammed online

<p>A Woolies customer has come under fire after pointing out a "woke" change in the iconic Christmas cookie. </p> <p>The shopper took to Reddit to slam the Woolworths Bakery for renaming the festive packs of cookies to Gingerbread People, rather than Gingerbread Men.</p> <p>“Woolworths has renamed their biscuits Gingerbread ‘people’,” they wrote in the forum, with a picture of the new label. </p> <p>“Apparently Gingerbread ‘man’ isn’t woke enough.” </p> <p>Instead of people agreeing, many thought he was a weir-dough (pun intended), and said that it was “no big deal”. </p> <p>“I’m trying really hard but too busy caring about my electricity bill doubling in the last year to have energy left over for gingerbread people,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine being offended by gingerbread," another commented. </p> <p>“Seriously? Like if you wanted some gingerbread, you wouldn’t buy them because they’re called people?" a third wrote. </p> <p>“Once again confirming that anyone that actually uses the word ‘woke’ is a pathetic little manbaby," a fourth slammed. </p> <p>Others agreed that it was strange to see people get annoyed about a name change. </p> <p>“And you got so offended you came to Reddit to post about it. Who is the d***head here them or you?”</p> <p>“God I love watching the snowflakes melt over this," responded another. </p> <p>There were only a few people who agreed with the shopper, and said that the supermarket giant had gone too far. </p> <p>“At some point soon I’m just not going to care about offending people. If you can’t handle a biscuit with man in the name, simply grab a box of tissues and retreat to your safe space,” wrote one user. </p> <p>“Jesus Christ. It’s a f***ing biscuit vaguely shaped like a human. Do we need to make a biscuit gender neutral so we don’t offend people?” added another. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty/ Reddit</em></p>

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A quick and easy guide to the holliest and jolliest Christmas cocktails

<p>When it comes to the holiday season, nothing screams festive like Christmas-themed food and drinks. </p> <p>For your next holiday party, or if you're looking for a festive tipple on Christmas Eve to welcome in the big day, here's a list of our three favourite Christmas cocktails. </p> <p>All easy to make and undeniably delicious, these festive cocktails are guaranteed to have you in the Christmas spirit quicker than you can say "Another round!"</p> <p><strong>Holiday Margarita</strong></p> <p>·         30 ml Cointreau</p> <p>·         30 ml Blanco Tequila</p> <p>·         30 ml Fresh Lime Juice</p> <p>·         6 drops Aromatic Bitters</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Method:</em></span></p> <p>1.    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice</p> <p>2.    Shake and strain into a cinnamon sugar-rimmed coupe glass</p> <p>3.    Garnish with rosemary sprig</p> <p><strong>Holiday Cosmopolitan</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ingredients:</em></span></p> <p>·         20 ml Cointreau</p> <p>·         40 ml Vodka</p> <p>·         20 ml Fresh Lime Juice</p> <p>·         20 ml Cinnamon Clove Cranberry Syrup</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Method:</em></span></p> <p>1.    To make the syrup: Add 1 cup cranberries, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 stick cinnamon, 5 cloves in a saucepan and heat up until boiled</p> <p>2.    Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled</p> <p>3.    Strain into chilled glass</p> <p>4.    Garnish with a cinnamon stick</p> <p><strong>Holiday Jam</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ingredients:</em></span></p> <p>·         20ml Cointreau</p> <p>·         40 ml Vodka</p> <p>·         20 ml Fresh Lime Juice</p> <p>·         10 ml Cranberry Juice</p> <p>·         1 Bar Spoon Blackberries</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Method:</em></span></p> <p>1.    Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled</p> <p>2.    Strain into chilled glass</p> <p>3.    Garnish with a blackberry</p> <p><em>Image credits: Supplied</em></p>

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“I’m being racist to eggs”: Wellness influencer slammed for innocent comment

<p>An Australian influencer has been forced to address a "racist" comment she made about her son's lunch. </p> <p>Health and fitness influencer Sarah Stevenson, who is known by her millions of followers as Sarah's Day, was filming herself as she made lunch for her son.</p> <p>The 31-year-old stopped herself as she made her child a curried egg sandwich, saying he be dubbed “the smelly boy in the playground” if he took the meal to school.</p> <p>“Do you want to be ‘smelly curried egg boy’?” she asked him.</p> <p>While the seemingly innocent comment went unnoticed by many of her followers, one person sent her a message demanding an apology for her "borderline racist" comment. </p> <p>The entrepreneur and mum-of-two replied to the private message in a video response to her followers explaining that she meant the “egg smell” and didn't mean anything racist. </p> <p>“Didn’t everyone go to school with someone who brought eggs in their lunch and you’re like, ‘ew, you smell like rotten eggs’... not ‘you smell like curry!’,” she said in the video on her Instagram Stories.</p> <p>She said sarcastically, “I’m being racist to eggs.”</p> <p>Stevenson then doubled down on the follower’s outrage, following that with a cooking tutorial for “racist eggs”.</p> <p>The late night social media saga was re-shared by a popular account, where it was dubbed “egg gate” and plenty more people weighed in on the drama. </p> <p>“She should have apologised and taken it down instead she’s made it worse,” one commenter wrote.</p> <p>The general consensus from the public was that the original racism accusation “was a definite reach”, but she went too far with her explanation. </p> <p>“Honestly don’t think there was any malice in the original comment — she definitely scrambled (ha!), way too far in explaining herself afterwards though,” someone wrote.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

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