Monday 6 February 2012

Let's start with a recipe!

The fact that I do not eat some form of breakfast cereal and/or yoghurt seems to puzzle so many people. “But WHAT do you eat for breakfast?” they ask. To this I have many responses – bacon and eggs, leftover dinner re-jigged in one way or another, zucchini frittata….but this does not seem to whet the appetite. They like the texture of the grains, the sweetness of the sugar, or the creaminess of the yoghurt. At this point I bust out the big guns with my Berries & Coconut Extraordinaire (gratuitous food shot below). 

Why would I choose this over your traditional breakfast cereal? Well, I have a short answer and a long answer. Today I’ll just stick with the short answer (not so short, really). Feel free to skip the explanation and scroll down to the recipe.

Short answer: sugar. All of your traditional breakfast cereals will contain sugar, even the ones that taste like cardboard -

Exhibit A - Kellogg’s All Bran ingredients: Wheat bran (85%), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, vitamins. When reading ingredients lists it is important to remember that they are listed in order of decreasing quantities, so sugar is the second major ingredient in this cereal (who’d have known, given the taste!). In gram amounts, there are 6.1g of sugar per serve, however most servings tend to be double the recommendation, which gives 12.2g or almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, just on your crappy tasting cereal, without the necessary honey, fruit and milk which add further insult to injury.

So what?! Sugar isn’t so bad, is it? Yes. Yes it is. And word is getting out about just how bad it is. Robert Lustig and friends made headlines last week with the publication of their latest research, titled “The toxic truth about sugar”, in the reputable Nature journal. I will summarise the effects of sugar (specifically fructose, which constitutes 50% of table sugar and yes, it is found in fruit) with some easy-to-read dot points:
  •  Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  •  High triglycerides (fat in the blood)
  • Insulin resistance (leads to diabetes, among many other complications)
  •  Accelerated aging process (due to damage to proteins, lipids (fats) and DNA) – that’s right – wrinkles!!
  • Toxic effects on the liver similar to alcohol
  • Cancer
  • Cognitive decline
  • Addiction

Thanks Rob and team!

And if you are concerned about your weight, you make want to kick the sweet stuff. Nerd-speak coming up (feel free to skip).The problem with sugar (all types) is that it releases insulin, a hormone which switches off the body’s ability to burn fat and switches on the body’s fat storing mechanisms (seriously, it does both at the same time! Damn you, insulin!).  This is why I generally recommend a lowish-carbohydrate diet if you want to be a lean mean fat-burning machine. Without excess sugar sticking around (pun intended), the body will quite happily revert to fat as its main source of fuel. In fact, most tissues, especially your heart, prefer to burn fat (ahh the irony of the heart foundation tick). Sarah Wilson has written a great e-book called “I Quit Sugar”. You can check it out via the link on the side.

Luckily, there are many tasty, and healthy, options around to keep you looking and feeling great. So (finally) here is the recipe for my brekkie special:

**RECIPE: Kate Callaghan’s berries and coconut extraordinaire!

  • 1 handful each of blueberries and raspberries (we get frozen and thaw what we need overnight)
  • 1-2 handfuls mixed nuts, chopped
  • Small handful pepitas and/or sunflower seeds
  • Small handful organic coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
  • ½-1tsp cinnamon (very good at controlling blood sugar levels and preventing insulin spikes)
  • Organic coconut milk to mix – add as much as you like. You may want to start with a bit of water with the coconut milk if you find it too rich. Stir and enjoy!!
Why this recipe is good for you:
  • Berries – high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and low in fructose
  • Nuts and seeds – high in protein, good fats, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • Cinnamon – controls blood sugar levels, cleanses the blood and improves circulation, possible anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
  • Coconut products – The benefits really require a full dedicated blog post but, to name a few - boosted energy levels, improved digestion and absorption of other nutrients, improved calcium and magnesium absorption, reduced inflammation, supports thyroid function.

·         Lustig, R.H; Schmidt, L.A. & Brindis, C.D; 2012, “The toxic truth about sugar”, in Nature, Vol. 482, Iss. 7383, p. 27
·         Kellogg’s All Bran nutritional information:


  1. Oh but I like sugar... I know it's no good for me though - particularly fructose as it "reacts" with my body straight away.

    Can you recommend any good books or blogs on healthy eating when you're not trying to lose weight?

    Also - another way to get more traffic to your blog is to sign up to (Expose Your Blog).

    1. Hey Bec! Thanks for the tip! I'm very new to this and can use all the tech-savvy advice I can get.
      As far as good books and blogs - all the blogs I have listed on this page are excellent sources. A great book to start on would be "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf. Eating paleo will help you lose weight if you need to. However, it is also a great model for healthy living and can even be tweaked to help you maintain or put on weight, if that is what you are after. I'll be doing a post on this soon. Stay tuned!

  2. Good work Kate, I'm going to be keeping a very close eye on this blog you nerd Hahahaha! ...loving the breakfast recipe...

  3. Hey Kate!
    Thanks for the receipe -
    I've been (trying) to follow a gluten free diet for the past few months to reduce my eczema. Amongst other benefits, my eczema has all but gone...but I do find it difficult to find tasty, filling breakfast alternatives (I have loved Organic Museli for a long time). I have been doing something similar to this with some berries, mixed nuts, LSA, organic shreded coconut and yoghurt - and I now get excited about breakfast again!
    I'm definately subscribing to your blog. Great work! See you at the gym soon! xxx Sophie

    1. Hey Sophie!

      Glad to help and happy to hear your eczema has cleared! Thanks for your support! If you are interested in another really good site for recipes, go to - so good!! Keep me updated! xx

  4. Hi Kate, I was wondering if you could help with some confusion about coconut milk. Which is the best one to buy and where do you recommend to buy it from?

    Do you know how long coconut milk usually lasts for? Also what are your thoughts on almond milk? There seems to be a few different brands and types.


    1. Hey Sally,

      The best one to buy is the coconut cream from Tropical Traditions (online), however their postage is crazy expensive! We buy Ayam from Woolworths. Unfortunately it is not organic, but it is the only one without added guar gum/vegetable gum/emulsifier. Make sure you get the green tin (coconut cream) or the DARK blue tin (coconut milk full fat). Once opened, I would keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days max (in a container, not in the tin).
      Almond milk is a good option if you make it yourself. Unfortunately a lot of the commercial brands have agave syrup in them, which is really not the health food it is hyped up to be.

      Hope this helps!