Plants That Pack a Powerful Protein Punch

Row of spoons with different dried pulses

There are many pros to a plate full of plants. From nuts to lentils to wholegrains, plant-based foods are antioxidant-rich and high-fibre wonders. But what’s often overlooked is their ability to pack a protein punch, especially when swapping out meat and dairy from your diet.

Here are the 5 best plant-based sources, and how you can easily add them to your diet.

Soy bean is a vegetarian’s delight. Just one cup of cooked soy beans (aka edamame) has a massive 18g of protein. So next time you’re at sushi train, hit up this protein-packed appetizer.

Tofu. Another soy-based option made from curdled soy milk, contains up to 8-12g of protein per 100g serving. It’s also your perfect blank canvas to marinate, fry, scramble, bake, you name it really.

Nuts. Just like eating fruit and vegetables, eating nuts is a daily ‘must do’. Not only do they dish up hunger-busting protein and fibre, they’re filled with waist-friendly fats. Research shows that eating a handful (30g) of nuts daily can reduce the desire to overeat later in the day, helping to reduce your overall daily kilojoule intake. Looking for intake inspo? Add them to stir-frys, smoothies, salads or just chomp them raw for an afternoon snack.

Wholegrains. Grain foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats are naturally rich in plant-based protein, on top of other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and phytochemicals. Recent findings from the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council’s (GLNC) annual food category audit, revealed that close to one in every five loaves of wholemeal/whole grain bread assessed was considered a ‘good source’ of protein, boasting at least 10g per serve – the same amount found in a glass of milk or two boiled eggs.

Legumes like chickpeas and lentils have a unique package of protein, fibre and slow-digesting carbs – the ideal combination for weight control.  With around 9g of protein per half a cup, they’re a cheap and nutritious addition to salads or curries or veggie patties.

Baked beans are another legume that are a solid protein source (around 9g per 100g). They’re also a source of energy-boosting iron and their slow-releasing carbohydrates help stabilise blood sugar, helping to keep sugar cravings at bay.

The Humble Onion – A True Health Star


Onions are a budget-friendly pantry staple that are bursting with health benefits due to their high levels of vitamin C, phytochemicals and prebiotics. Their unique bundle of nutrients will even help ward off viruses, along with boost gut health.

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Whether blended, sautéed, baked or fried, this tasty vegetable can be easily ‘disguised’ for fussy eaters in your favourite family meals and can help keep you and your kids healthy on the inside and out.

While aussie parents fight a daily battle to get their little ones to eat more veg, a recent survey, undertaken by Australian onions showed that children tend to shy away from meals where onions are obvious, and this often means the whole family skips them in order to keep the peace.

According to Australian chef and ex-My Kitchen Rules (MKR) finalist Scott Gooding, the secret to success lies in the preparation.

Bring onions back on the menu

Thanks to a series of delicious cooking tips to handy hacks for avoiding the tears, Scott has revealed how he prepares onions for his family in a bid to encourage Australians to boost the vegetable content of any meal.

Download The Secret Serve e-book or visit the Secret Serve website for more health information and many tips on ways you can utilise this versatile veggie to boost nutrition and taste.


Fast Fixes For Food Cravings

food cravings

Just can’t stop at two squares of chocolate or devouring the entire packet of salt and vinegar chips? Crush cravings with these fast food fixes.

The sweet craving

If visions of ice cream, chocolates or banana bread dance in your head, what you may be craving more than the sugar in these foods is the fat that provides their texture, taste and aroma. Several studies have shown that fat and sugar may release endorphins into the brain (neurotransmitters that can produce a feeling of pleasure or euphoria).

Beat it by

Guess what? Good old-fashioned exercise also boosts levels of endorphins. So next time you feel like biting into a chocolate brownie, lace up those walking shoes. You’ll get the same pleasing feeling and the benefits of doing something good for your body. If youre on the job or unable to get immediate fitness gratification, you can still get the creamy taste and texture you yearn for from yoghurt or nut butters with fruit.

The salty craving

Unfortunately, cravings for salt often result in the consumption of foods that are also heavy in fat (think chips, French fries, pizza), and sometimes the desire for salty foods, such as chips or pretzels, may have more to do with the wish to crunch than the actual salt.

Beat it by

Get Spicy. Experiment with spices other than salt for flavouring meals and dishes. Pepper, curry, paprika, oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary all give dishes not wonderful flavour, but has nutritional benefits, too. Need to crunch? Reach for crisp, fresh, munch-able foods, like baby carrots with hummus or low-fat dip – they make great stand-ins for chicken flavoured chip or pretzels.

Craving carbs

Cravings for refined carbohydrates are most frequently associated with times of stress. The explanation behind this relationship? Heavily refined carbohydrates found in such foods as rice crackers, baked goods, biscuits, cakes, and white bread have been shown to help boost levels of the serotonin (a mood-enhancing brain chemical), shown to produce a feeling of calm and well-being.

Beat it by

Anything that relieves stress can help to inhibit these cravings. Try deep breathing techniques, yoga or simple exercise instead of resorting to the refrigerator. When you feel the need to feed, go for snacks that have a combo of low GI carbohydrates and protein. Think yoghurt, wholegrain crackers or veg with and hummus, smoothies, trail mix, or nut butters with fruit.


Why You Need More Blood Oranges In Your Diet


Over the past few months, I’ve been working on some exciting projects, and one being researching the health benefits of blood oranges. Here are some of the highlights and why you need more of these crimson beauties in your diet.

box of blood oranges

Blood oranges come with genuine sass.

With colour like no other, these bloodied splendours have long been revered for their natural beauty. What you may not know is they’re technically classified as a berry* (yes, really!); they’re at their absolute optimum onwards from August – a time when we can often be left uninspired as we wait to usher in the spring deluge of stone fruits and summer berries; and they pack a serious health punch.

Nutrition wise, blood oranges are unique amongst citrus varieties. When compared with other citrus fruits there are significant differences in nutrients between blood oranges and other orange varieties. Beyond the alluring aesthetics, blood oranges offer health-promoting nutrients and traits that have wide-ranging protective powers.

With nine times the antioxidants, double the Vitamin A of navel oranges and a raft of polyphenols (potent plant chemicals) that regular oranges don’t have, they outclass their citrus cousins for their health promoting benefits with one blood orange equivalent to eating a whole bag (around 2 kilograms) of navels to get the same hit of antioxidants.

blood oranges affordability

They also hold their own against berries, particularly when assessing affordability and glycaemic load (GL). What’s more, blood oranges are the only commercially available citrus fruit to contain anthocyanins (which are more commonly found in blueberries, cherries and red wine). In addition to anthocyanins, blood oranges contain many other beneficial phytonutrients, known as phenolics (or commonly referred to as polyphenols).

These phenolic compounds in blood oranges have been associated with improved cardiovascular health, protection from UV cell damage and improvements in metabolic disease including type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, obesity and have an array of immune boosting properties.

blood oranges health benefits

As a bonus, blood oranges also represent an economical way to get these phytonutrients into your diet. Nutrition wise this health cocktail of phenolic compounds make blood oranges unique amongst citrus varieties.

blood oranges affordability

Well, what are you waiting for? Be sure to add some of these bright red beauties into your shopping trolley today.

You can download the full health report here.



Blood orange no bake tart


tart base

  • 3.5 cups pecans
  • 6-7 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

cashew cream filling

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1/3 water
  • 2 tb maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut


  • 7 blood oranges, peeled, pith and seeds removed, and evenly sliced into small segments
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


  1. Place all tart base ingredients into a high-speed blender and process until it forms a crumb like texture.
  2. Place mixture into a 23 cm flan (tart) pan with removable base and evenly press into the base making sure you press against the sides of the pan to create a crust like shape for the tart base. Damp fingers work best. Set tart shell aside.
  3. To make the filling, blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and thick mixture, about 5 minutes, scraping sides as needed. Pour into prepared shell, spreading evenly. Place in the fridge to set for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  4. Just before serving, arrange orange slices on top of tart and sprinkle with lemon zest and crushed nuts and serve immediately.

Originally post on the Fitness First Get There site





Onions – The Easy Hidden Vegetable That Your Kids Won’t Refuse

onions health benefits

From boosting the immune system to improving gut health, onions are a reliable, versatile and affordable staple that can be easily ‘disguised’ for fussy eaters in your favourite family meals.

Here are 7 healthy facts about onions you didn’t know

A forgotten vegetable. A staple in most shopping trolleys, the humble onion is added to a variety
of common dishes, however many of us don’t think of it as part of the recommended five serves of vegetables each day. Just half an onion each day counts towards your five serves of vegetables. It’s easily disguised for fussy eaters in the family and packs a nutritional punch

Immune booster. One onion provides between 15-20% of an adult or child’s recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. This essential nutrient is important for normal growth and development and warding off the winter bugs.

Plant power. Onions deliver a unique bundle of plant compounds, like quercetin, which help fight inflammation, as well as sulfur-containing compounds that protect against some cancers and assist in removing the stress on our bodies from environmental factors, such as UVB damage.

Good for your gut. Onions contain prebiotic fibres that help with digestion and assist with increased mineral absorption, including calcium, magnesium and iron.

Slim picking. A 75g serve of onion provides only 96 kilojoules – a great waistline friendly choice.

Heart health. Onions are packed full of flavonoids – a type of antioxidants are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Cooking onions does not significantly alter the nutritional value.

Whether raw, sautéed, baked or caramelised, go ahead, toss in an onion and reap the benefits. It’s the everyday veggie that helps keep you healthy on the inside and out.

A summary of this recent health research can be found in the Australian Onions Health Review 2017 via The Secret Serve