Browsing Tag

self-isolation

Fashion, Fashion & Beauty

The best denim pieces for your iso wardrobe

5th May, 2020

If it wasn’t a regular feature of your weekly wardrobe before, then I’m betting it will be now. For me, jeans have become quite the iso style staple and I’m in my favourite pair a few times a week, whether it’s working from home or ducking out for a quick grocery shop. I’ve been in the market for a denim update so I decided to chat to stylist Jess Pecoraro about all things jeans. While Jess and I would normally be working together on looks for big events and race days, right now, I’m choosing to tap into her fashion expertise for my at-home wardrobe for the next little while.

So I decided to share our latest video call above, because who doesn’t want free wardrobe advice from a professional? Here we chat about the super affordable brand doing an amazing version of the current must-have style, to how to store denim and the one style she and I aren’t so in love with anymore…

Your denim dossier

Jess’ go-to denim brands. Commit these to memory!

For the best mum style jeans: Zara

Go to all-round denim brand: Nobody

Classic with a twist: AGOLDE + Frame

Vintage: Levis, Etsy and Farfetch 

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Stephanie Conley’s tips for easy cooking at home during isolation

4th May, 2020

With a successful career as a fashion designer, with the likes of Naomi Watts and Kim Cattrall wearing pieces from her eponymous label, Stephanie decided to follow a different path, one that would allow her to follow her passion for food. Having studied at the Le Cordon Bleu and a brief stint in catering, she decided to start her blog, The Hostess. The hugely successful site is now where Stephanie is able to share her love of food with the world. From her favourite recipes to helpful entertaining tips, Stephanie’s aim is to make cooking and hosting friends and family a fun, exciting and enjoyable experience.

With all of us now having to self-isolate, and with more time spent at home, it means we’re all getting very acquainted with our kitchens and cooking is on the cards every night. To help make getting dinner on the table nightly an easier but also tastier exercise, I turned to Stephanie to share her top tips for quick, easy cooking that will still impress.

Get organised at the start of the week

“Thinking of a new dish to cook every night for the family can be a challenge. Make no mistake that cooking and the time it takes to get a meal on the table is not a quick fix. I always say the only way to combat this is to be organised. At the beginning of each week take the time to sit down and work out your menu for the week ahead, you can be ahead in what you need to buy which will give you more time to do other things rather than continuously go to the market to pick up food.”

Stock your freezer

“I always have a few things in the freezer that I can easily take out and defrost. If you can make two of something and freeze the other you can have a cheat day!”

Set a time limit

“When thinking of meals to cook, choose weekly dinners that can be prepped and cooked in around 30-45 minutes. More involved recipes should be for the weekend or when you can take your time and enjoy the cooking process.”

Stephanie’s new cookbook At Home with The Hostess will be available this week

Experiment with condiments

“Focus on experimenting with salsas and sauces that can add flavour quickly and using lots of fresh herbs. Fish tacos are a great way to get the kids to eat fish, make a simplified version for them then spice yours up with a quick salsa and cabbage slaw. I always have meatballs in my freezer and the kids love them with pasta but I like to add black olives and chopped parsley to mine and have a rocket and fennel salad.”

Stock up on the basics

“Have a pantry stocked with the basics such as oils, vinegar, dried herbs, spices, nuts, grains, beans and pasta. Look to these pantry staples for inspiration. Other great ways to simplify your cooking is to gravitate to recipes that can be cooked in one pot or meals with 5 ingredients, it takes the pressure off  and they are quick and easy to pull together.” 

Have go-to weekly dinner options

“Some of my favourite weekly dinners are fish tacos with fresh salsa, meatballs in tomato sauce, beef stroganoff, roasted veggie bowl with freekeh, seared salmon nicoise and beef burgers with homemade pickles. We love to have a BBQ which is very simple but I always make great sides of salad and veg to keep it interesting. I like to focus of fresh produce and home cooked simplicity.” 

Fashion, Fashion & Beauty, What I Wore

What I wore working from home

30th April, 2020

Another week in the home office and I’ve taken to doing complete looks on some days ie wearing proper shoes as it just helps me get into work mode. I’ve also taken to reworking my activewear and popping on some brights to mix things up a bit. I’m embracing the comfy WFH pant more and more, while I’ve still managed to make blazers very much a part of my work from home wardrobe (they’re a great for “I’ve got a video call in five minutes and need to look decent” scenarios). All in all, I’m trying to have fun with my outfits which helps give my days a little normality, as it’s definitely something that I would always have done pre-isolation.

A little injection of brightness always helps me feel energised. We’ve had some warm days in Sydney this week so I opted for this yellow dress by S/W/F. I’ve really been loving my Aje chainlink necklace, it’s so easy to work back with several of my outfits.

Credits: Dress, S/W/F; Necklace, Aje

This is one of my fave office looks as it’s comfortable but looks polished at the same time—perfect for video calls. I can’t praise these white Uniqlo t-shirts enough. They hold their shape well and are a great staple to have as they’re so reasonably priced. I popped on this longline jacket by Manning Cartell just because and these Bottega Venetta heels because I just felt like doing a complete look.

Credits: Top, Uniqlo; Jacket, Manning Cartell, Jeans (similar here), Levis; Heels, Bottega Venetta

I saw a friend do this look on her Instagram Stories and loved it (thanks, Jess!). I’ve been really getting into this new activewear set by Camilla and Marc as it looks really polished and is unbelievably comfortable too. The shirt just helps it feel a little more like a fashion look and helped me rework these pieces in a different way.

Credits: Crop and bike shorts, Camilla and Marc; Shirt (similar here), Anna Quan; Headphones, Huawei FreeBuds

I’ve been getting a lot of use from this long sleeved Bec & Bridge knit. It’s a great autumnal shade and I love the thumb holes in the sleeves which gives it an interesting design element. I’m all about comfy WFH pants and this white pair, also by Bec and Bridge, ticks all the boxes. Also loving these mules by Seed—they’re priced well and go with so many things.

Credits: Top and Pants, Bec and Bridge; Mules, Seed

Lifestyle & Social

Where I’m clicking for educational screen time

29th April, 2020

Being at home with both Sophia and Grace over the last few weeks has made us have to be re-think screen time. With Luke and I still trying to work, it means that at times we have to rely on screens to keep the girls occupied. And while sometimes all they want to do is watch Frozen or another Disney princess movie, we have been trying to balance that with being able to watch and engage with shows or games that are educational too.

One of the most helpful things over the last few weeks has been the list of recommendations I’ve gathered from friends and family and Grace’s pre-school for great educational programs, games and shows for kids. With the focus of most of these online resources being on literacy and maths, it has been great for building on the things the girls have been learning at school and at pre-school. There have also been some really fun activities such as visiting some of the world’s best museums virtually or story time online that has entertained the girls and allowed them to learn at the same time.

I know there are countless parents out there in the same boat right now so I thought I’d collate the most popular sites that parents can check out, based on the recommendations I’ve been using during isolation. There’s a great mixture of learning tools, shows and games so hopefully it makes navigating screen time a little easier.

Online resources

There’s a mixed bag on this list, with the majority focusing on reading and writing and maths. There are different levels with most of the programs so they’re suitable for different ages. Some require sign up whereas others you can just launch straight into the program or games. Hopefully there’s something here that you and your kids will approve of.

Starfall

ABCYa

Funbrain

Splashlearn

Story Online

PBS Kids

Highlights Kids

Coolmath4Kids

MathGameTime

Unite for Literacy

Literactive

Science Kids

Switch Zoo

Seussville

Turtle Diary

E-learning for kids

BrainPop

Curiosity Stream

Tynker

Outschool

Khan Academy

Creative Bug

Scholastic learning magazine

Museum virtual tours

YouTube Channels

YouTube: more than just cat videos! There are some really good educational channels to check out on this platform. While you can find virtually anything on YouTube, I’ve found most of the kids’ channels are great for science and geography content as you can check out everything from sharks and dinosaurs to doing experiments and profiling different countries around the world. I’ve listed a few below but a quick search based on subject matter will unearth plenty of options.

Crash Course Kids

Science Channel

SciShow Kids

National Geographic Kids

Free School

Geography Focus

SciShow

Kids Learning Tube

Geek Gurl Diaries

Mike Likes Science

Science Max

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Easy and healthy recipes that will have dinner AND lunch sorted

27th April, 2020

If iso life has you feeling like you’re spending a helluva lot of time in the kitchen trying to prep meals then you’re not alone. So why not just make it easier by cooking once but eating twice? These recipes by nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge are nutritioust, delicious and best of all, can be eaten for dinner and lunch. Because less time cooking is something we all could use right now.

Meatballs with ragu and zoodles

SERVES 4  PREPARATION TIME: 25 MINS COOKING TIME: 35 MINS

1 kg tomatoes, halved

1 1/2  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 brown onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 carrot, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves

1/4 bunch basil, leaves picked

4 zucchini, spiralised

1 tablespoon

balsamic vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

TURKEY MEATBALLS

400 g turkey mince

400 g chicken thigh mince (it’s important you use thigh meat as it stops the meatballs from drying out)

2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano leaves

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons pitted green olives, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons grated parmesan

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons rice breadcrumbs

Steps

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced) and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Spread out the tomatoes on the prepared tray and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and collapsed. Allow to cool slightly, then purée until smooth.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook for a few minutes or until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme.

Add the stock, oregano, most of the basil (leaving a few leaves to garnish) and the puréed tomato and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, to make the meatballs, combine the turkey and chicken mince, oregano, parsley, olives, garlic and parmesan in a bowl. Add the egg and then the rice breadcrumbs, ensuring everything is evenly mixed.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll the mince mixture into golf ball–sized balls and place on the prepared tray. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place the meatballs in the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, briefly blanch the zoodles until tender.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Stir through the meatballs and season to taste.

Divide the zoodles among four bowls and serve with the meatballs and ragu on top.

CHANGE UP THE PROTEIN: Omit the turkey mince and use 800 g chicken mince, or try a mix of half pork and half beef mince. Lamb is good too. In fact, any mince will do!

FOR CARB-LOVING FAMILY MEMBERS: Serve with pasta.

Chicken and Cauliflower bake with creamy tahini sauce

SERVES 4  PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINS COOKING TIME: 30 MINS

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander (or Moroccan spice mix)

8 chicken thigh fillets, sliced

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

4 handfuls of baby rocket or baby spinach

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

CREAMY TAHINI SAUCE

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup water

splash of extra virgin olive oil

Steps

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the olive oil and ground coriander in a bowl.

Remove and reserve half the mixture. Add the chicken to the remaining spiced oil in the bowl and toss to coat well, then set aside to marinate.

Use your hands to coat the cauliflower in the reserved spiced oil. Spread it out on the prepared tray, taking care not to overcrowd it, and roast for 10 minutes. Stir the cauliflower and add the chicken to the tray. Roast for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, to make the tahini sauce, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork or stick blender until smooth and creamy.

Serve the roast chicken and cauliflower on a bed of rocket or spinach, topped with the tahini sauce and parsley.

GO VEGETARIAN: Use almonds or GMO-free firm tofu for protein, roasting just as you would the chicken, reducing the roasting time accordingly.

NIX THE TAHINI: Replace the tahini with a soft goat’s cheese or feta, or plain full fat Greek style yoghurt.

FOR CARB-LOVING FAMILY MEMBERS: Serve with quinoa or brown rice, or add a serve of legumes, such as lentils or chickpeas.

Scrumptious fish cakes

SERVES 4  PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINS COOKING TIME: 15 MINS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 avocado

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

lime wedges, to serve

sweet chilli sauce (preferably low sugar), to taste

FISHCAKES

700 g firm white fish fillets (such as flathead, snapper, whiting or dory), skin and bones removed, roughly diced

2 tablespoons coconut cream

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons green curry paste

1 bunch coriander, stems and leaves chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons chopped ginger

2 spring onions, white part

only, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Steps

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease eight holes of a standard muffin tin with the olive oil.

To make the fishcakes, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a medium coarse texture.

Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared muffin holes, filling them only three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and cooked through. Rest on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, mash the avocado flesh and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the fishcakes with the mashed avocado, lime wedges and sweet chilli sauce.

MAKE IT A NEW MEAL: Turn these muffins into meatballs and toss through konjac noodles dressed in sesame oil and lime juice.

FOR CARB-LOVING FAMILY MEMBERS: Make the patties bigger and serve on wholegrain buns as burgers.

Now how to turn dinner into lunch…

(Clockwise from top)

Tahini chicken salad

Make a salad with the roast chicken and cauli above – just add a green leaf of your choice, 1/4 tin drained chickpeas, some diced red capsicum and thinly sliced red onion, then drizzle over the tahini sauce as a dressing.

Fishcake salad

Serve the fishcakes above with a rocket, tomato and cucumber salad dressed with olive oil and your favourite vinegar.

Meatball salad bowl

Take the turkey meatballs above and transform them into a salad bowl by adding cooked brown rice and fresh greens, and seasoning with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle some flaxseeds on top and you’re ready to go!

These recipes and more can be found in ‘Eat, Drink and Still Shrink by Michele Chevalley Hedge, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99, Photography by Cath Muscat’

Fashion, Shop

The comfiest and nicest pyjamas to get you through isolation life

25th April, 2020

If there’s one wardrobe staple that’s guaranteed to be getting plenty of use right now it’s pyjamas. With plenty of time at home, there’s no doubt we’re probably spending a little more time in them, so why not make them fun to wear? I know pjs aren’t the most exciting thing to buy, not compared to a great bag or beautiful pair of shoes, but there is something about having a pretty and cosy pair of pyjamas that makes going to bed, or just relaxing around the house that much nicer. I know for me, I’m really appreciating the small things that can make a day in isolation that much better and a luxe pair of pyjamas is definitely a nice little treat amongst the craziness right now.

If your current sleep wear situation needs a little update then you’ll be happy to hear there are so many great sets available right now. I think it’s always nice to have a chic pair of pyjamas up your sleeve, it just makes lounging around that little bit more stylish—and if there’s one thing that’s important right now, it’s finding a way to make even the simplest of daily activities feel that little more special. So, prepare to cosy up in these…

Fashion

What’s getting me through the week

24th April, 2020

I’ve discovered very quickly that during this time of self-isolation it’s the little things that matter. Without the distractions and busyness of life, I’ve grown to appreciate that often it’s the simplest of acts which make the days all the better. In our house we’ve learned to embrace fun new activities as a family, started new rituals and tried to find a different groove. Here’s what’s currently helping me to get through another week in iso.

Puzzles

My girls love them and they have got me hooked too. We try and do ones that the whole family can enjoy so we can all work on one together.

Ozark on Netflix

It’s always so great when I find a new series on Netflix that I can binge watch with Luke after the girls are down. We’re currently watching Ozark. Only a few episodes in but loving it. 

Take away once (or twice) a week 

At the moment I’m cooking kids’ and adults’ meals three times a day, which is a lot more than I usually would be doing. So it’s a welcome break to order in. As a family we usually would go out for dinner once or twice a week so now we make that a take away night from our favourite local restaurants.

Pancake Sunday

This ritual has become a real thing in our house. My girls ask if it’s Pancake Sunday every day!

Long family bush walks 

Being indoors for such a long time has meant that we really savour the times we’re out and about a lot more. We’ve got a trail that we like to do that’s pretty quiet and secluded so it’s a nice way to get a dose of fresh air and some exercise, let the girls stretch their legs a bit but maintain social distancing at the same time.

What’s currently helping you get through the week?

Fashion, What I Wore

What I wore working from home

23rd April, 2020

I had a few work calls this week so it called for a few dressier pieces. It’s actually something I was quite happy to do as it gave me an excuse to get dressed up a little more—sometimes you just need a break from comfy clothes to change things up! Also I did a little experimentation this week with a few alternatives to jeans, and I have to say, I’m becoming all about relaxed pants. They’re so great to wear while working and it helps me feel a little more polished. Here’s what I wore this week:

Getting maximum wear from every purchase is key to me so I decided to wear these pants from a Manning Cartell suit I own and pair with with a simple black tank given the weather was a bit warmer in Sydney this week. I’m also wearing heels! I was just missing that feeling of being dressed for a day out so thought why not? I didn’t have them on the entire day but it did feel nice to look put together.

Credits: Tank and pants, Manning Cartell, Shoes, Camilla and Marc

Back in jeans here because I cannot live without them right now. I love the jeans as they’re comfortable, and I love the fact they have a high waist. I paired it with a simple brown skivvy and popped on a pair of Aje earrings to elevate the look.

Credits: Skivvy, Bec and Bridge; Jeans, Levis; Earrings, Aje

Here I am in my other go-to WFH pants. They’re so unbelievably comfortable and perfect for working but also for running around after the girls. I just popped a tank as it was a warm-ish day and added a great Aje necklace to finish off the look. Also I can’t stress enough how important good basics such as simple tanks and tees are right now. They’re easily the workhorses of my wardrobe right now and I’m wearing them non-stop.

Credits: White tank, Cotton On; Pants, Manning Cartell; Necklace, Aje

Work call day. I could’ve just worn the blouse with some pants but I was in the mood to wear something dressy so I paired it with the matching skirt. Also I had all these new winter pieces ready to go so I’m trying to at least get some wear out of them even if I’m not really leaving the house. I’m a big fan of this pink hue and wearing bright colours is a nice way to lift my spirits and help me feel more energised to tackle work.

Credits: Shirt and skirt, Camilla and Marc

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

How I’m keeping my kids entertained during self-isolation

22nd April, 2020

Spending a serious amount of time at home over the last few weeks has meant that we’ve really had to step up our entertaining game at home when it comes to Sophia and Grace. Sophia is being home schooled but she’s currently on school holidays which means that we’ve had to come up with a a lengthy list of activities to keep both the girls occupied. We have a few favourites in our home, which I’m sharing below.

LEGO

The girls love building things with LEGO, and there are so many different play sets available now that you’re guaranteed to find one to suit any child’s interests. The one above is a house, which the girls absolutely love playing with and keeps them entertained for ages.

Books

Reading books is always a go-to activity in our house. The girls really enjoy being read to and have a collection of favourites that they love. They’re also fine to just flip through a book themselves as well so it’s a great activity they can also do on their own.

Colouring in

We’ve always got a healthy supply of colouring books on hand and have found that it’s one activity that the girls really enjoy as they’re able to do it together and unleash their creative side. Also colouring books are generally pretty inexpensive so it’s something we can always replenish.

Puzzles

Working on a puzzle is a great activity to do as a family. Now that the girls are a bit older we’re able to work on bigger puzzles together and it’s something that will keep them (and us) occupied for a long time. However they still enjoy completing puzzles on their own and as an added benefit it’s a great mental workout, no matter your age.

Toys

Independent play is particularly important right now as Luke and I are trying to get work done at the same time, so we’ve made sure that the girls are readily able to access all their favourite toys any time. They’ve got plenty to keep them occupied but I’ve read that it’s also a good idea to switch out toys and put some away, so whenever they see their old toys again they feel brand new.

Board games

Good ol’ fashioned board games are a favourite in our house. And depending on what kind of board game it is, it’s something that the kids can do regularly and not get bored of. This is another activity that’s perfect to do as a family.

Baking

Are you even in isolation if you haven’t baked? We have been tackling a lot of different cooking projects of late, and it’s something that that girls really enjoy. It’s also a good way to sneak a little maths into an activity as the girls are tasked with working with different measurements.

Play dough

Sophia and Grace are really into play dough and I’ve found that just popping a few pots in different colours in front of them will keep them occupied for awhile as they go about creating different things. There are lots of different play dough sets available too, from cooking to unicorns and fire trucks which steps up the play dough game even further. Plus if you want a project to tackle for the day you can always make your own.

Fashion

Nutritionist-approved tips on simple ways to make eating well during isolation easier

20th April, 2020

Being in isolation can really wreak havoc on one’s good intentions to eat well. Having access to snacks aplenty all day while WFH, not having access to all the ingredients we need and often feeling exhausted after a long day means that often we’re not eating as well as we could all the time. So, what are some ways to actually make it easier to eat healthily? I spoke to nutritionist and author Michele Chevalley Hedge recently, and here’s what she had to say…

What are some ways we can make it more feasible to eat well during isolation?

“It has always been a general nutritional philosophy to eat with a plan but certainly now that is even more important as most of us are only working several tempting metres from our pantries and snacks. If you find yourself wandering in boredom to kitchen to eat throughout the day then please map an eating plan a day or two in advance. A plan with a vision becomes a reality and one that comes with no guilt.

If you are in insolation and find yourself moving less than please consider reducing the amount of carbs you are eating.  Still have them, make sure they are smart carbs ( brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potato, barley, oats )  but only have them at breakfast and lunch. Smart carb, starchy carbs, slow carbs—the terms are interchanged—but what you really need to know is that they break down to sugars. If we are not burning those sugars with brain energy and physical energy they will end up on your new ‘corona’ muffins.”

What does a day of healthy eating entail?

“There has never been a more appropriate time to look at our diets and build our immune systems than now. What a day of healthy eating looks like today should be the same as it should in one year from now. A diet that is full of real, whole foods, unpackaged and unprocessed as often as possible.  This type of diet with good fats, quality protein and smart carbs is abundant in vitamins, polyphenols, antioxidants, fibre and do not have added sugar. 

I encourage everyone to be eating three meals a day right now to keep their blood sugar stable for sustainable all day energy to keep up with teaching the kids at home, tidying and tidying again, cooking and you might even be working whilst doing all of this. When people skip or skimp on a meal especially during times of high stress, they might be buzzing along fine and then hunger hits and you reach for anything that is easy and often sweet.”

What are some essentials to aim to have in every meal? 

“Breakfast and lunch should have all three macro nutrients in your meal.  Good fats are brain food they also balance hormones and dampen sugar cravings. Protein helps balance blood sugar, builds immunity, and underpins collagen. Smart carbs are fuel for your brain and your body, and a good source of B vitamins

Consider for breakfast avocado, eggs, and sweet potato ( leftovers from dinner the night before); smoked salmon with extra virgin olive oil on a slice of buckwheat bread.

For lunch consider a version of what you ate the night before.

When it comes to dinner leave out carb or go low carb for adults but leave in for the children and use that carb as your breakfast in the morning.”

What essentials should people aim to have in their pantry and fridge to help making healthy eating easier and tasty?

Spices are full of antioxidants and can make the same old veggies and meat taste like completely different meal. 

Eggs are brain boost food. As well as containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, eggs are among the richest sources of choline, a nutrient that makes acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain involved in nerve and brain functioning and memory. Many of the B vitamins found in eggs are important for mental wellbeing. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are critical for good vision. Eggs are among the few food sources of vitamin D, needed for bones, teeth, muscles and a strong immune system. Several studies have shown people feel fuller for longer when they eat eggs for breakfast. 

Milk is a versatile and budget-friendly way to pack a variety of nutrients into your diet, including B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iodine. Great for healthy bones and teeth. Dairy products are especially important for bones—research shows higher intakes support healthy bone development and help maintain density and strength. Of course, that’s if you can tolerate dairy. If not try A2 Milk, almond, oat, or soy. 

Canned tuna and fish is a no-fuss, economical, clean protein that needs no preparation – simply open the can. There’s hardly any waste and, unlike fresh fish, it has a long shelf. Check it is from a sustainable source and look at salt values as some canned fish can be high in salt, especially if it’s smoked, canned in brine or in a sauce. Salmon, anchovies, and sardines are high in heart and brain-friendly omega 3 fatty acids which are great for dealing with inflammation. They are also high in Vitamin D, which is important for immunity, as well as low levels being linked to depression in some studies. 

Almonds and nuts generally are nutritional powerhouses. I know they do not appear to be economical, but they are when you consider the nutritional density. Nuts are heart-friendly and provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats which helps explain why many studies link them to better heart health and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. There’s also evidence that, rather than encouraging weight gain, almonds may help us better regulate our weight and reduce belly fat, possibly because they help fill us up and replace other snacks in our diet that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients. Seven nuts and cup of herbal tea is the perfect snack, so we boost our brain and not our waistline.

Canned and frozen veggies are antioxidants that come in packages. Canning and freezing have come a long way and canned and frozen vegetables still provide lots of antioxidants, fibre and vitamins. Pick up frozen broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, mushrooms, broad beans, green beans which have long freezer life. Most vegetables include the essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health, including fibre, B vitamins such as folate, and vitamins A and C.

Tomatoes are packed with an antioxidant called lycopene, higher intakes of which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers, such as prostate cancer. Better still, the body can absorb the lycopene from processed canned tomatoes more easily than it can from fresh. Use canned tomatoes in pasta, curry or soups. Remember, most vegetables are rich in flavonoids, which have been linked to better heart health – enjoy five serves a day, especially green ones!

Sweet potatoes/kumara are the “super taters”. Better than white potatoes as they contain a wider range of nutrients and are especially rich in beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, a nutrient that’s vital for our immune system, vision and healthy skin. Keeping the skin on all potatoes boosts their fibre content so scrub then mash or chop and dose with olive oil and spices to bake. 

Whole grains provide fibre and brain fuel.  Oats, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal bread and bulgur wheat are fantastic budget buys loaded with nutrients and will keep you pipes moving. The soluble fibre also keeps your blood sugar balanced, lowers LDL and provides satiation so you don’t binge later. Walk past the white rice, white pasta or white bread – the outer bran layer and germ of the grain are stripped away, with the result that the grain loses much of its fibre and many of its nutrients. 

Legumes are both carb and protein. Canned or dried chickpeas, lentils, and beans such as kidney, haricot, butter, black, cannellini, borlotti, flageolet, adzuki, pinto and black-eyed are an inexpensive way to satisfy hunger with protein and fibre as well as add nutrients such as potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and B vitamins. Pulses and legumes are full of fibre, which is linked to reducing blood cholesterol and improving glycaemic control. Beans and pulses are a source of probiotics for friendly bacteria in the gut. We need a healthy gut for a strong immune system.  

Go here for full pantry list.”

What are your tips for adapting cooking when so many ingredients are not readily available right now?

“Adapt away without worries. Get creative. You cannot really fail at cooking…there is always toast! If the recipe is using herbs or spices you do not have, use something you like. If the recipe is a calling for a protein you do not like then swap it for another protein-based food. Lamb and beef can be replaced with chicken. Tofu can be replaced with chickpeas . When in doubt, google it.”

What are your top meal prep tips? How can people make it easier on themselves?

“Always double and sometimes triple the recipe. For example when I make chicken soup, I triple the recipe. The first night I will serve this on a bed of barley,  the next day I will add a can of tomatoes and a fresh chili just for a new taste and look and serve with small pasta tubes and parmesan cheese.  It is not only a time saver but a cost saving idea.”

If people do find themselves ordering takeaway, how can they make healthy menu choices while doing so? What are some things to keep in mind?

“Look for foods that you know you would make for yourself or your own family. Deep fried food, heavy syrups and sauces, sugar laden, heavily processed food should not be part of your takeaway plan—now or ever.   If you are in doubt on what is in the food you are ordering, just ask. A quality takeaway outlet will be proud to share their ingredients.”

For more recipes ideas and health tips follow Michele on Instagram at @ahealthyview. Check out her new Low Sugar Lifestyle 28day online program for busy families who want health but not hassle.