Cook a Pot of Soup

There are few dishes more satisfying than a bowl of delicious soup. Here are three reasons why:

1. Soup helps you reach your five a day

You’re making a minestrone. You add chopped onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, capsicum, kale and mushrooms to the pot. You’re on your way to creating a dish that contains seven or eight different vegetables, with a wide range of disease-fighting nutrients to help you get your daily quota of vegetables. Add healthy grains in the form of brown rice, barley, or quinoa, plus a can of beans or lentils and you’ve got added protein and fibre for a satisfying chunky soup. Your gut bugs will thank you too as your soup will be loaded with prebiotics.

2. Soup keeps you fuller for longer

The bulk of soup helps to fill us up, so we feel satisfied with fewer calories. Studies show that when people have soup before a main course, they tend to eat less overall, which is how soups can help you lose weight.

3. Soup’s convenient and easy to cook

Soups don’t need lots of hands-on time, particularly if you use a slow cooker. Once your vegetables are chopped, you can sweat them gently in olive oil, add water or stock and meat such as chicken or beef, and wait until they’re cooked through. Soups are simple to cook ahead of time, and you can easily double the quantity to freeze for a later meal.

Are Plant-based Milks Better for You?

For anyone who doesn’t want to drink cow’s milk there are many alternatives available. Are these healthier than traditional milk, and should we all be making the switch?

First it was soy, now there’s almond, cashew, hazelnut, oat, rice and coconut. Plant-based milks are increasingly popular, with no shortage of people promoting their supposed health benefits over regular milk.

Plenty of us don’t drink cow’s milk, and there’s no reason why you have to, says nutrition researcher Dr Tim Crowe.

“If you don’t like milk, or if you’re intolerant to it, or have ethical issues with it, then seeking out an alternative that some of these plant-based milks may offer seems a logical step.”

That said, continues Dr Crowe, if you’re happy drinking cow’s milk, then there’s really no reason to switch to a plant-based option. Milk contains important nutrients including protein, vitamin D and A, and many micronutrients. It also plays a significant role in bone health, being a particularly rich source of dietary calcium.

And for anyone concerned that milk promotes inflammation in the body, a number of review studies have shown the opposite – that diary acts as an anti-inflammatory.


How to choose a healthy milk alternative

None of the plant-based milks naturally contain enough calcium to rival cow’s milk, which is why many of them – but not all – are fortified. Whatever one you choose, read the nutrition label. This will tell you if it contains added calcium and any sweeteners. Vegans may also want a milk that has added B12.

Soy: If you’re after the closest match nutritionally with diary milk, then choose soy. Soy typically contains more protein than other plant-based alternatives (and like milk it’s a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids), along with carbohydrates and B vitamins. Most soy milks are fortified with calcium and contain healthy unsaturated fats and fibre.


Almond: You may have heard that almonds contain calcium, so it makes sense to assume almond milk is rich in calcium, doesn’t it? Not unless it’s fortified.

A 2017 survey conducted by consumer group Choice found almond milk contained only two to 14 per cent almonds, with water being the predominant ingredient. Almond milk is also low in energy and protein but as a bonus does contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Other nut milks like cashew, hazelnut and macadamia have a similar nutrition profile, although tend to be more expensive.


Oat: Blend oats and water, strain off the liquid, and you have oat milk. Low in fat but also low in protein, oat milk is naturally sweet, contains fibre (including the cholesterol lowering beta-glucan), vitamin E, folate and riboflavin.


Coconut: There’s little advantage to choosing this, as it’s low in protein and carbs, and high in saturated fats.


Rice: Produced from milled rice and water, rice milk is naturally high in carbs and sugars, but low in protein and calcium, unless fortified.


Are any plant milks good for children?

If you want to give your children plant-based milks, it’s a good idea to discuss the best options with a dietitian first as many may not be suitable.

Of all the plant milks, soy milk comes out on top for children as it provides similar nutritional benefits to diary milk. Protein is an important part of a child’s diet, essential for normal growth and development, and soy provides a similar amount of protein to diary milk.

For children, look for a soy milk that is full fat and fortified with calcium, ideally at least 100mg per 100ml.

Rice milk is the plant milk least likely to trigger an allergy but it is still not a suitable milk substitute for children because of its low protein content.

How To Handle a Chatty Co-Worker

Chatting to colleagues at work is one of the things we’ve missed most while working from home during COVID-19. But how do you respond when a workmate talks too much?

Those small conversations you have with your workmates can be powerful interactions. Casual talk about your life, what you’re doing at the weekend, and even discussing work politics builds rapport and nurtures budding friendships.

As valuable as those conversations can be, sometimes you need to let a co-worker know that they are chatting too much and you need to get on with work. How do you do this without causing offence?

“When you have an incessant talker, you have two options,” says author and workplace advice columnist Alison Green.

“You can deal with it on a case-by-case basis as it happens, or have a big picture conversation about your need for more space to focus. The second option will probably feel more awkward in the moment, but it tends to be less exhausting in the long run.

But if you’re not ready for that – and it’s fine if you’re not – then the approach to try first is being more assertive about setting boundaries in the moment.”

Green advises saying things like:

  • “Sorry, I’m swamped today and can’t really chat!”
  • “I’d better get back to this X project, I’ve got a ton of work to do.”
  • “I’m glad your weekend was good! I can’t talk much today, got to finish up X.”
  • “Sorry to cut you off – I’ve got to get back to this.”


Liz Fosslien, co-author of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Feelings at Work suggests a similar approach: “A great way to frame the problem is to make it about either a) your need for heads-down time to focus on and finish important work, or b) your need for more alone time,” she explains.

Fosslien also suggests setting a time in the future when you’re likely to be available and more in the mood to chat. “You can offer an alternative time to talk by adding, ‘Maybe we can grab coffee together tomorrow morning?”

If chattiness is becoming a frequent problem, it might be necessary to have a more direct conversation about it, uncomfortable as this may be. Green suggests saying: “I want to let you know that I’m trying to focus better during the day so I probably won’t be able to chat as much as we used to.”

Once you’ve said that, you’ll likely find it easier to be direct in the future.

You Like to Move It, Move It

Do you tell yourself you should move your body more? Do you feel guilty at the end of the week for not exercising enough?

This guilt-driven “should” mindset is a clue to why you might not be incorporating enough movement into your day.

Too often we turn exercise into yet another thing we have to do. Or, worse, yet another example of how we’ve failed.

Instead, start to change the way you think about movement and exercise and how it can make your life better.

Follow these steps to motivate yourself to move your body more:

1. Create a list of reasons WHY you want to exercise

Does it simply make you feel good? Does it help you with stress or sleep? Do you want more energy?

2. Imagine your life once you’ve achieved those outcomes

Take a moment to visualise your future self once you’re reaping the benefits of step 1. Imagine what your life would be like when you have lots of energy, or when you get better quality sleep, or when you feel fit.

3. Understand the real reasons why you’re putting it off

What’s actually stopping you from moving more? Unless it’s a medical condition or injury, there is something else stopping you from prioritising exercise. And it’s not time. We all have time for things we really want to do, even if it’s just scrolling through social media for half an hour before bed.

For example, you might be embarrassed about how unfit you’ve become. Or, you might not be prioritising self-care because work/family/personal issues have taken over. Find out what the problem is, so you can address it head-on.

4. Make it easier

Too often we take an all or nothing approach. We tell ourselves we’re going to run for an hour every day before breakfast. And then when we inevitably fail, we give up.

Yet, research shows that movement “snacks” can be just as effective. Start by finding 10 minutes to move your body: a brisk walk, or simply stand and roll your arms and shoulders to get the blood pumping.

Make it so easy that there’s no excuse not to do it.


The motivating magic of music for movement

Next time you take a movement break, pop on some headphones and blast some music. Numerous scientific studies have shown that music is not only motivational but can improve your exercise performance.

The best tempo for exercise is 120 beats per minute, or bpm. The five most popular 120bpm songs right now, according to jogfm, are:

  • Pink – Raise Your Glass
  • Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
  • Lady Gaga & Colby O’Donis – Just Dance
  • Journey – Don’t Stop Believin
  • Ke$ha – Tik Tok