Diet for Flat Stomach

Bad diet itemsMany people eat the wrong foods in their bid to get a flat tummy. They may end up harming themselves. Dieting is not about eating nutrition-less foods. It is about consuming healthy foods in limited amounts. If you want burn belly flab, read on to learn more about healthy diet for flat stomach. Try to implement a few of the below ideas to gain benefits.
Diet for Flat Stomach
  • Starving yourself to become slim is a bad idea. You may invite a host of ailments that way. The wise thing is to eat regular, smaller meals through the day. Your meals should contain adequate amounts of carbs, protein and healthy fat.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins and stay full for longer. Water is also a great antidote to hunger pangs and you can drink it instead of indulging yourself with unhealthy snacks.
  • Avoid sugary fruit drinks and soda as much as possible. Sugar has no place in a diet for flat stomach.
  • Healthy fats are essential for good health. You can find them in flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil, natural peanut butter and almonds.
  • Your diet for flat stomach should also be in rich in protein, which helps to rebuild muscles after workouts. And, more muscle means less fat, which leads to a flat belly.
  • Complex carbs are good for health. You can get them in some cereals, vegetables, fruits and grains.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables every day. They don’t have much calories and are rich in fiber, which will make you feel full for longer and also ease bowel movements.
  • Blueberries are tasty and nutritious, and great for the stomach. They contain antioxidants and also have cancer-fighting properties.
  • Omega-3 fish oils are a boon for the joints, heart and brain. They also lower blood sugar after meals, so they are essential in a diet for flat stomach.
  • Eat a hearty breakfast every day. Most dieticians say it is the most important meal of the day. You are basically fasting through the night and your body needs nourishment in the morning. A hearty breakfast will keep you full and energetic through the day and prevent snack cravings.
  • Green tea burns fat and they also come in many tasty, flavored varieties.
  • Don’t starve after a workout. Your body needs nutrition and nourishment after a workout to help it recover and burn fat.
  • Maintain a food journal and record what and how much you eat. Review this journal every week and check for progress or lack of it.
  • Positive thinking and perseverance are important. Willpower will help you stick to your diet goals. And, if you have a bad day and gorge at a party, don’t lose heart. Get right back on the ladder the next day and maintain your diet thereafter.
Ideal Foods in Diet for Flat Stomach
Read on to learn about a few fat-burning foods that can trim your belly. Ideal foods to burn belly flab are rich in fiber and protein. In fact, your body consumes more calories to digest protein compared to fat. So, a protein-rich diet is essential to burn extra fat. Ensure that you include the following fat-burning foods in your diet for flat stomach:
  • Eggs
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Olive Oil
  • Oatmeal

  • Your goal in eating a healthy diet for flat stomach should be to remain healthy and robust, rather than weak and skinny. In the long run, a strong body with good immunity is more welcome than just a skeleton skin and bones figure, which seems to be all the rage among models and young girls. So, eat healthy and exercise regularly to maintain a slim and trim body and waistline. 

Mediterranean Diet: Get Slim with Yummy Food

The Mediterranean diet makes it possible to lose weight with delightful food. Ingredients like olive oil and fresh herbs make this diet a culinary journey to the south. It is a culinary and healthy way to get slim, so no wonder that this diet got rated as the best diet to lose weight in the long term.
This diet is nothing else than cooking the way southern Europe does. Countries like Italy and Greece are known for eating healthy food with lots of vegetables, fruits, fish and healthy olive oil. In addition, this food makes you sit down and enjoy the food, an important factor, since most people gain weight because of having a too hectic life and therefore eating unhealthy fast food.
The southern countries take time during the meal and eating slowly gives your stomach time to send signals to the brain when you are satisfied. This diet is one of the best rated since it combines healthy eating with conscious use of the meals, which will help you not just to reach the desired weight but also to better health.

Benefits of this diet
It is a very healthy way to lose weight because of its fresh ingredients. Even though you use high quality olive oil, it is good for your body because it needs those fats to utilize the nutrients from the vegetables. If you are precise, this is actually not a typical diet since you eat normally, but the switch to a healthy one.
The dishes are very tasty too, which of course has a positive effect on stamina. Many ingredients can also been eaten raw such as salads or fruits. This gives the body an extra boost of healthy vitamins. In addition to vegetables, fruit salads and lots of fish, you eat lean meat, dairy products and bread. Hence, the diet is very balanced and recommended by many doctors. 

Disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet
Even the best diet has somewhere a few drawbacks but there are not many. In this diet, the problem exists only in the fact that many things taste too delicious and therefore it is easy to cross the line. And even though olive oil is healthy, you shouldn’t use too much of it. Also the so-called antipasti contains too much of oil and should be enjoyed in moderation or take a salad with little vinegar and oil instead of this. The same goes for all dishes which contain cream. Take reduced-fat milk products instead of the calorie bomb. 
Prospects of success
Anyone who follows this diet has good prospects to have their weight permanently under control. However, you should consider some important points to reach your dream weight. In the preparation, you should make sure not to use too much oil and cream. It is also important to eat every meal with a serving of fresh fruits, vegetables or a salad so that the body gets enough fibre and vitamins. 
The Basic Principle of the Mediterranean diet
It is very simple, because to determine the ideal amount of food, you can use your palm. For an adult, the amount of protein-food like meat, fish, seafood, dairy products and eggs matches the size of one palm three meals daily. The ratio of vegetables, legumes and most fruits should be twice the protein ration, namely two palms.
A meal of the day can be one-third of the protein ratio, a half of the vegetable and fruit ratio and a sixth of high carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice or cereals. So when you are looking for a diet to reach a healthy weight in the long term, this one is for sure a great choice. Your body still gets all it needs – just on a healthier way than before. But it is not the right one if you want to lose some kilos fast, with the risk to have the yo-yo effect at the end. Experts also agree that a crash diet doesn’t help much because if you want to lose weight in the long term, you must permanently change the diet!

Healthy eating tip 5: Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains

C:\Users\Robert Home\Pictures\HG new format\Healthy_sandwich.jpgChoose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Studies have shown people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.

A quick definition of healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs

Healthy carbs (sometimes known as good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.

Tips for eating more healthy carbs

    Whole Grain Stamp
  • Include a variety of whole grains in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.
  • Make sure you're really getting whole grains. Be aware that the words stone-ground, multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran, can be deceptive. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the US, check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.
  • Try mixing grains as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole grains, like brown rice and whole wheat pasta, don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.
Avoid: Refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain. 

Healthy eating tip 6: Enjoy healthy fats & 

avoid unhealthy fats

Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails.  Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood and help prevent dementia.

Add to your healthy diet:

  • Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
  • Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Reduce or eliminate from your diet:

  • Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products.
  • Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Healthy eating tip 7: Put protein in perspective

Sizzling SalmonProtein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.

Here are some guidelines for including protein in your healthy diet:

Try different types of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu and soy products—will open up new options for healthy mealtimes.
  • Beans:  Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good options.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices.
  • Soy products: Try tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and veggie burgers for a change.
  • Avoid salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.
Downsize your portions of protein. Most people in the U.S. eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans or nuts. When you are having meat, chicken, or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics. 

Healthy eating tip 8: Add calcium for strong bones

Add Calcium for Strong BonesCalcium is one of the key nutrients that your body needs in order to stay strong and healthy. It is an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women, among many other important functions.You and your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body’s calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K—nutrients that help calcium do its job. Recommended calcium levels are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if you are over 50 years old. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet.

Good sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy: Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms.
  • Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.

Healthy eating tip 9: Limit sugar and salt

If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet—sugar and salt.


Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup. Here are some tips:
  • Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice.
  • Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Healthy Eating



Healthy Eating: Guide to New Food Pyramids and Tips for a Healthy Diet
Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible– all of which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and using them in a way that works for you.
Healthy eating begins with learning how to “eat smart”—it’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Your food choices can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as defend against depression. Additionally, learning the habits of healthy eating can boost your energy, sharpen your memory and stabilize your mood. You can expand your range of healthy food choices and learn how to plan ahead to create and maintain a satisfying, healthy diet.

Healthy eating tip 1: Set yourself up for success  

    To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.
  • Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety and freshness—then it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
  • Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart.  Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking.  As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
  • Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet.  The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts. 

Think of water and exercise as food groups in your diet.

Water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins. Yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.
Exercise. Find something active that you like to do and add it to your day, just like you would add healthy greens, blueberries or salmon. The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise may even motivate you to make healthy food choices a habit. 

Healthy eating tip 2: Moderation is key 

People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation.  Despite what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.
  • Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
  • Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in restaurants. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entrée, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms and start small.  Visual cues can help with portion sizes—your serving of meat, fish or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards. A teaspoon of oil or salad dressing is about the size of a matchbook and your slice of bread should be the size of a CD case.

Healthy eating tip 3: It's not just what you eat, it's how you eat 

Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.
  • Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
  • Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of what is in our mouths. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
  • Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
  • Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going. 

Healthy eating tip 4: Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables 

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day—the brighter the better.
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet—they are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Fruits and vegetables should be part of every meal and your first choice for a snack—aim for a minimum of five portions each day. The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases.

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day—the brighter the better.

The brighter, deeper colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits. Some great choices are:
  • Greens: Greens are packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, and they help strengthen the blood and respiratory systems. Be adventurous with your greens and branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce—kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options.
  • Sweet vegetables: Naturally sweet vegetables add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets. Some examples of sweet vegetables are corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes or yams, winter squash, and onions.
  • Fruit: A wide variety of fruit is also vital to a healthy diet. Fruit provides fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on. 

Don’t forget to shop fresh and local whenever possible

The local farmer’s market, fruit stand or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group are great ways to get access to fresh, local produce. To find local growers, farmer's markets, and CSAs in your area, visit Local Harvest (See "Related Links for Healthy Eating" below). 
the fifth follow-up tips click here


Delicious Pumpkin Pancakes – Shape them like Mickey for fun!

It’s been a wet and icky weekend here in New England, a bit reminiscent of Fall.  This morning was a perfect time to make some pumpkin pancakes.  I used frozen  pumpkin puree.  I cooked and pureed the pumpkin then froze it in 1 cup measurements.  Caveat, upon thawing, push out any extra liquid by dumping the pumpkin into a fine mesh strained and squishing it with a large spatula.  You can also use canned pumpkin for this. These pancakes are great for little self-feeders and will also travel well in lunchboxes for your older kiddo.  Make a double batch and then freeze the extras for quick and nutritious breakfasts!

Delicious pumpkin pancakes! 8months+ due to egg & milk & wheat or as your pedi

1 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C unbleached white flour
(or use 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1 C pureed pumpkin or winter squash
1 tsp vanilla
2 C milk
3 Tbs melted butter

Stir (and sift) together all the dry ingredients in a med. size bowl.  Beat the eggs with the pumpkin & vanilla then beat in the milk & butter until smooth. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture. 

Preheat a griddle to 375F or preheat a frying pan on medium.  Pour the batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto the pan or griddle – I use a 1 cup glass measuring cup and pour from this.  Cook until you see bubbles then turn over and cook other side until pancakes are golden.  Serve warm.

Due to pumpkin and whole wheat flour, pancakes will be more heavy and dense than what you get when you use a boxed mix for buttermilk pancakes.  You could increase the baking powder by 1 or 2 teaspoons if you like to get a lighter (though still heavy/dense) texture.
*****      If you will be using a cookie cutter or other type device to make shaped pancakes, you may want to lightly grease the inside of the cutter.  My Mickey egg/pancake cookers are coated.  It is VERY important that you not remove the pancakes from the cutters until you see lots of bubbles and can tell the pancake is almost cooked.  You may also need to gently poke out the pancakes using the tip of a spatula.

Pumpkin in Baby Food Recipes - When Can Baby Have Pumpkin; Age for Introducing Pumpkin: 6-8 month

Did you know that Pumpkins are actually fruits. Many of us think of pumpkin as a fruit so it's also included it in the Fruits pages. Of course, there are also many people who think of pumpkin as a veggie. How do you think of pumpkin? A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae). This family also includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons. Pumpkins are jam-packed full of some of the best nutritional compounds around. They are highly loaded with Vitamin A and beta carotene. Beta Carotene is one of the plant carotenoids that when eaten and digested, turns into Vitamin A in the human body. Beta Carotene may reduce the risk of cancer as well as heart disease. It also may be responsible for combating or putting off the degenerative effects of ageing.Pumpkins are also good sources of potassium, protein, and iron. Pumpkin seeds also contain a good amount of protein and iron so eating the seeds does provide some nutritive value. We don't recommend that you offer your baby or toddler pumpkin seeds however. Pumpkins are wonderfully low in fat, low in calories but high in fiber. 

The Nutritional Goodness of Pumpkin

PUMPKIN: (one cup - cooked)
Vitamin A - 12230 IU
Vitamin C - 11.5 mg
Vitamin K - 2.0
Folate (important during pregnancy) - 22 mcg
Niacin - 1.01 mg
Potassium - 364 mg
Phosphorus - 74 mg
Magnesium - 22 mg
Calcium - 37 mg
Sodium - 2 mg
Iron - 1.40 mg
Also contains trace amounts of zinc, manganese and copper.

When can my Baby eat Baby Food Recipes with Pumpkin?

Babies may begin to eat Pumpkins from 6 months old. You may feed your baby plain pumpkin in pureed form or mixed into homemade cereals, yogurts, and even in meats such as chicken. Adding a dash of cinnamon to pumpkin gives baby a first exposure to the wonder of spices.
You may also bake pumpkin as you would a butternut or acorn squash and serve the baked pumpkin in small dices as Baby Finger Foods. Rub a wee bit of butter and a bit of cinnamon on the inside of the pumpkin prior to baking for a tasty nutritious treat. 

Choosing a Pumpkin to cook for Homemade Baby Food Recipes

need to buy organic? According to the EWG, pumpkins are not one of the "dirty dozen" foods that are most highly contaminated with pesticides - purchasing organic is a personal choice
.If you will be using Pumpkins in food dishes, look for smaller, immature pumpkins - sometimes these "cooking pumpkins" are labeled as "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins". The smaller, sugar/pie pumpkins provide the most flavorful additions to any baked dish or baked good and are great as a soup. These smaller pumpkins are more tender and less stringy than the larger variety. Try to find a pumpkin anywhere between five to eight pounds.

time saver for baby food Is it Safe to Feed my Baby Canned Pumpkin

You may use canned pumpkin for baby food.  Ensure that you purchase canned pure pumpkin and NOT "Pumpkin Pie" mix.  The Pumpkin Pie mix contains sugars, starches and other additives. We do not recommend using canned foods for all of baby's homemade food. Please visit our Using Canned Foods for Making Homemade Baby Foods.

How do I cook a Pumpkin?

Pumpkins may be poached, boiled, steamed or baked. Please be aware that Pumpkins tend to loose their nutritive value with prolonged cooking. Baking pumpkins for homemade baby food will ensure the most nutrients are retained for your baby. A Pumpkin must be cooked immediately after you have cut it open or you will find a brownish-blackish mold begin to immediately set into the flesh. Once cooked, Pumpkin should be used and/or chilled immediately. If you will not be using the cooked pumpkin immediately, store it either pureed or in the cooked chunks, in the freezer. it does freeze well. The cooked pumpkin will turn a brownish orange so don't be alarmed when you peak into the bowl and find that color. Baking pumpkins, like many other fruits/squashes may be the best choice of cooking for optimal flavor and nutrient retention.
hint When scooping out the "meat" of many winter squash types, you may encounter some very hard "strings". These strings are actually the veins of the shell. Look at the acorn squash or sugar pumpkin and notice it's ridges. Between these ridges are the "veins" or strings that you may find once you have cut and then baked the squash or pumpkin. Check out the Is your pumpkin or winter squash puree plagued with hard strings? Blog post to see what I mean.
To avoid getting these hard little strings in your puree, scoop the insides out gently and not too closely to the shell. If you have baked your squash or pumpkin enough, these strings or veins will easily fall away from the shell as the meat is separated from it.

How to super-charge your breakfast

What can the most important meal of the day do for you? We have expert advice on the most tasty and nutritious breakfasts. Nutritionists believe there is great logic in the old saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”, because the best way to kick-start your body in the morning is to give it the right fuel.
The word ‘breakfast’ literally means to 'break the fast' from the eight or 12 hours since your last meal the night before. By morning, your brain and muscles are crying out for starter fuel to spring them into action and face the day ahead.

Why is breakfast so important?

Eating breakfast has been identified as one of seven healthy habits that promote long life and good health.
Three keys reasons not to skip breakfast

1. It boosts your nutrient intake

Studies in the USA and UK dating back as far as the early 1960s consistently show that breakfast eaters have better overall diets. Breakfast eaters have been shown to have a lower fat intake, a higher fibre intake, plus significantly higher intakes of almost all vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, iron and magnesium.

2. It improves memory and concentration

Nutrition researchers have found that people who eat a balanced breakfast can concentrate better and are more efficient at their work than those who skip it. For kids, there’s no doubt that breakfast is a must. Studies show that children who miss breakfast are less alert during the late morning hours and find it hard to concentrate on tasks that require prolonged mental effort. Factory workers who skip breakfast have been found to be more prone to accidents and have a lower production output compared to those who have something to eat in the morning.

3. It helps prevent binge eating

Contrary to the beliefs of those who skip breakfast in the hope of losing weight, breakfast is a good friend. Skipping it means we are more likely to over-eat later in the day, usually something that’s quick to hand or a non-nutritious, high-fat fast food.

Breakfast nutrition

Unless you have a physically demanding job or play a lot of sport, a light cereal-and-toast style of breakfast is perfectly adequate and will meet all your nutrition needs. Comparisons with other breakfasts like egg and bacon, scrambled eggs, croissants, cheese on toast and banana smoothies show that cereal-based breakfasts are nutritionally superior, being lower in fat, cholesterol and kilojoules and higher in fibre and essential nutrients.
Here’s a checklist of healthy breakfast options:


Eaten whole or sliced over cereal. To save time, prepare a plate of sliced fruit the night before and leave in the refrigerator. Melon slices, kiwifruit, berries, grapefruit segments, papaya or oranges in quarters are all good choices. Fruit juice is a quick alternative with the same valuable vitamin C, but has little fibre. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron from cereals. Prunes, sultanas and other dried fruit add fibre and the mineral potassium.


Many people get most of their fibre for the day at breakfast so it pays to maximise your fibre intake at this meal. Aim for a mix of soluble fibre such as oats, for a healthy heart, and insoluble fibre such as wheat bran for regularity and bowel health. Choose a non-sugary whole grain or bran type cereal, or else go for muesli or rolled oats (porridge) in winter. There’s no shortage of choice at the supermarket. Sprinkling some wheatgerm, rice bran or oat bran over a plainer puffed or flaked cereal will boost your nutrition. Many cereals are now fortified with B vitamins and iron which, along with the milk that is consumed with them, makes them a nutritious food. If you prefer toast or muffins to cereal, make these wholemeal, mixed grain or white high-fibre if your kids hate 'brown bread'.

Milk, yoghurt or cheese

These offer calcium for strong bones and protein as well as the B vitamin riboflavin. Many children are happy to drink a glass of milk (or hot milk with malt chocolate powder in winter) with breakfast. Cottage cheese and ricotta team nicely with raisin toast and make a good low-fat option, but are not as rich in calcium as cheddar cheese or yoghurt.

Eggs (boiled, poached, microwaved or lightly scrambled), or baked beans

These are ideal if you’re super hungry or want a hearty Sunday brunch. Add mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach for more bulk.

Breakfasts to suit different lifestyles

Ideas for breakfast-on-the-run

Scale up the servings to suit your activity and lifestyle. If you exercise regularly or have a physically demanding job, you will need larger portions, or a cooked breakfast to refuel your body, than if you don’t get to exercise much or are trying to lose weight.

No time to eat in the mornings?

Try our quick and easy ideas:
Breakfast at home
  1. Try a liquid meal. Pour one cup of milk into a blender or food processor with any cut fruit (banana, strawberries, pear), 3-4 tablespoons of yoghurt and a pinch of nutmeg. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth and frothy. For a high-fibre shake, add 1-2 tablespoons of bran cereal or wheatgerm. Drink and run.
  2. A bowl of muesli or bran cereal with low-fat milk and sliced banana.
  3. Bircher muesli: start this famous oat breakfast the night before: Soak 1 cup of rolled oats and 2 tablespoons sultanas in 3/4 cup low-fat milk and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, peel and grate an apple (with the skin) into the oats with a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt and a sliced banana if you’re ravenous.
    Serves 3-4.
  4. An orange or half a grapefruit.
  5. Half a grain muffin, toasted and topped with cottage cheese or a slice of cheddar cheese.
  6. Muffin with grilled cheese.

In the car, train or bus

Bolt out the door with
  1. A sandwich you’ve made the night before plus a carton of flavoured milk.
  2. A breakfast bar or muesli bar and a drinking yoghurt.
  3. Throw a handful of Mini-Wheats, dried fruit and nuts into a plastic bag or container. Munch on the way to school with a carton of milk.
Gluten-free or wheat-free options
  1. Avoiding wheat, oats and barley at breakfast is not easy! Look for cereals based on rice or corn (maize).
  2. Fresh fruit salad with a bowl of Rice Bubbles or Corn Flakes (check for malt if you need to avoid it). Add cows’ milk or soy milk.
  3. Rice cakes or rice crackers spread with margarine can replace toast. Add peanut butter, jam or marmalade as required. Tea, coffee or milk.
  4. Eggs with tomato on gluten-free toast.

Breakfast out before work

Try these healthy café options
  1. Thick fruit loaf toasted and topped with ricotta or cottage cheese. Cappuccino, flat white or latte with trim milk.
  2. Grilled cheese and tomato on grainy toast. English breakfast tea.
  3. Poached or scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms and grilled tomato. Glass of fresh juice.
  4. Fresh strawberries or diced melon tossed in a bowl with passionfruit pulp. Top with thick Greek yoghurt and  crunchy muesli.
  5. Wholemeal muffin topped with grilled mushrooms or sliced tomato and a large glass of reduced-fat milk.
  6. Milky coffee (latte, flat white) with bran and raisin muffin.

Breakfast and kids

Children need to start the day with a good breakfast. Breakfast functions as 'brain food', re-fuelling children’s brains as well as their bodies. Deprive children of breakfast and you may be depriving them of their ability to learn. Study after study shows that children who skip breakfast report tiredness and lethargy, have trouble concentrating on the morning’s lessons, and find complex mental tasks difficult.
Breakfast enhances
  1. working memory
  2. problem-solving abilities
  3. accuracy in maths and other complex tasks (which teachers often schedule for the morning)
  4. creative thinking
Breakfast makes a significant contribution to children’s overall nutrient intakes, according to the many studies on breakfast eating patterns. Children who eat breakfast tend to have a much healthier diet and are more likely to be consuming their recommended intakes of key nutrients such as iron, calcium, B vitamins and fibre. Children who skip breakfast do not make up the differences in dietary intake at other meals. A higher percentage of skippers do not meet two-thirds of the recommended intake for vitamins and minerals compared to those who eat breakfast. Most children miss breakfast for two or three reasons: lack of time, being too tired, or not feeling like eating in the morning. If this sounds like your child, offer something light like fruit or a bowl of flake cereal with milk. Eating breakfast often helps them to wake up! If he or she wants to rush off to school without eating, give them a breakfast bar to munch on the way to school or even a glass of milk, so at least they have something to see them through the morning. This combination is preferable to arriving at school with nothing to eat – it will still provide carbohydrate, some protein, B vitamins and fibre, depending on the cereal.

Choose a good cereal

“It’s better to eat the cardboard box than the cereal” is often chuckled over when buying cereals. But the truth is that even the sugary kids’ packet cereals today make a contribution to nutrition (especially with milk) and are better than having nothing to eat for the morning. Certainly they aren’t ideal in terms of fibre and whole grain content but they are inexpensive, low in fat, fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals and can be eaten as a snack any time of the day.

That said, how do you pick a good cereal?

More than 6g per 100g minimum
Preferably more than 10g/100g or more
Less than 15g per 100g
Less than 25g per 100g if from dried fruit
For a low-sodium diet, look for less than 400mg per 100g

High fibre
Look for a minimum of 6g fibre per 100g, but preferably about 10g. Check the list of ingredients for wheat bran, whole wheat, whole barley, oats, brown rice. Oats and corn are always whole grain but what, rice and barley are often refined. Bran cereals (All-Bran, Sultana Bran) have 6-9g per serve, while Corn Flakes and Rice Bubbles are down at 1g. NZ adults should aim for 25-30g fibre each day,but man get a lot less. An easy way to increase your fibre is to choose a high-fibre cereal like All-Bran and start the day with over a third of your requirement.

Low sugar
Look for less than 15g added sugar per 100g serving. When a cereal has dried fruit, you can't tell from the nutrition panel how much is coming from the fruit and the added sugar, so you can allow a higher sugar level (up to 25g per 100g). The dried fruit adds fibre and vitamins.

Sodium (salt)
If you are watching your sodium intake for health reasons, look for a cereal with under 400mg per 100g.

Serving size
The standard serve of cereal used to be 30g, which means one cup of bubbles or flakes or two breakfast biscuits. Some manufacturers have decided to say a serve is 40g in an effort to claim the 'highest fibre content' or the 'most vitamins'. So to get a true comparison, it’s best to use the 100g column when you’re looking at similar products.

For those who burn up lots of kilojoules with a physically demanding job or are into sports in a big way, here are two hunger-buster breakfasts:
  1. Fresh fruit salad; cheese omelette with wholemeal toast; tea, coffee, milk or juice.
  2. Bowl of whole grain cereal with sliced banana and low-fat milk; crumpet, toasted and covered with a slice of cheese and grilled until melted; tea, coffee, milk or juice.
There are good reasons not to skip breakfast if you’re exercising but trying to lose body fat. Skipping breakfast reduces the quality of your training session due to lower blood glucose levels. It also makes you hungry and invariably leads to impulsive snacking and increased kilojoule intake later in the day.

How good is the liquid breakfast?

They taste good and they’re quick – grab one from the fridge and drink it in the car or bus – and Sanitarium’s Up&Go® claims to contain the goodness and fibre of two Weet-Bix with milk, although a quick glance at the ingredients list will tell you that it is not a liquefied version of that. The fibre is from chicory inulin, which acts like soluble fibre. This is fermented in the gut. Soluble fibre from oats has been shown to be good for heart health.  Insoluble fibre, found in whole grains, is good for your bowels.
Nutritionists are cautious about comparing the fibre from inulin with the fibre from cereals, which have been well researched over many years. While there is good evidence so far that inulin has a positive effect on health, there is still a lot of research to be done to fully understand whether it is as good. Plant foods contain other nutrients, and fibre is not the whole story as to why whole grain cereals are so good for us.

Our advice
They’re a handy alternative when you’re in a rush, but plan to include insoluble fibres from whole grains and brans in your breakfast on most days. And be aware that they’re high in sugar: one Up&Go® has 18.5g, one CalciTrim Liquid Breakfast has 19.5g – both are more than 4 teaspoons – of sugar.