We really are what we eat, so it's vital to know what we put in our bodies. Here you can find loads of information about the ingredients I use in my products - from cereals to nuts & seeds to fruit.
Real or natural ingredients can be scarce or look or taste slightly different depending on the season. This is simply proof you're eating real food from the real world. So if my mueslis occasionally look or taste slightly different, please savour the difference!
Today, 'cereal' means the processed breakfast 'food' made by big supermarket brands. However long ago, cereal referred to all the grains like barley, oats, millet, rice and wheat.
Indeed, cereals have formed the foundation of many civilisations. Once cereals could be cultivated, nomadic tribes settled in fertile areas to sow and harvest fields. To this day, many continents still have a dominant cereal culture:
- Asia - rice
- Africa - millet
- America - corn (maize)
- Australia - wheat
- North Eastern Europe - rye and oats
While cereals and carbohydrates have been under attack in recent years by the paleo tribe there is still plenty of research and reasoning that shows our bodies need quality, complex carbohydrates. Just remember – it’s all about moderation, not elimination.
Cereals are rich in carbohydrates, contain eight essential amino acids and are a good source of minerals (especially iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc), vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate).
They're cholesterol free and relatively low in fat (which appears as polyunsaturated fatty acids).
This grain from the Andes was traditionally used by the Incas who called it 'the mother grain'.
Like buckwheat, Amaranth is used as a cereal but it's also a seed. It's renowned for exceptional nutritional qualities of protein, iron, amino acids and vitamin E.
We love it because it has more protein than any grain. It also has twice the iron and four times as much calcium as wheat.
Amaranth contains high quantities of all eight essential amino acids not produced by the body plus most of the 14 other non-essential amino acids.
It also contains a rare group of vitamin E isomers and phytosterols common in soya beans.
Amaranth is easily digested and gluten and cholesterol free. Its amino acid composition is ideal for human needs and it has high quantities of quality carbohydrates and dietary fibre.
See what we mean? Amaranth is ace! That's why it's in our products. You'll easily spot it as it looks like tiny beanbag balls.
Barley is a centuries-old grain which is high in (soluble and insoluble) fibre. It's a very good source of important vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin) and minerals copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
Barley contains antioxidants and phytochemicals. It's low in fat, with less than 0.4% saturated fat. It's also low in calories and has low GI. Barley is not only cholesterol free, it reportedly has cholesterol-lowering properties. This nutritional powerhouse has a lovely nutty texture and taste.
Barley flakes are made by steaming and rolling hulled grains (like rolled oats). Pearl and pot barley are from the same grain, but different stages of the hulling process.
Bran is the fibre-rich cell layer under oat and wheat husks. The bran in our products comes from oats and has a fine texture.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that average Australians consume 18-23 g of dietary fibre daily, but because fibre supports important digestive system functions, many nutritionists suggest we consume 30 g per day.
Oat bran is a very good source of soluble and insoluble fibre which helps to keep you regular and can assist the digestive process. Oat bran expands by 25% of its volume once in the stomach so it makes you feel full.
Oat bran is a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin), magnesium and iron. It contains less than 1.0% of fat and 0.1% of saturated fat. Like barley, it can help to lower cholesterol.
Millet is a prized, ancient gluten-free grain that's easy to digest. One of the few alkaline cereals, millet's protein is superior to wheat's. That's one reason we use it in our blends.
Millet is a tiny pale-yellow bead which is high in fibre and protein (15%). It's rich in B1 (thiamin), B3 (niacin), B6 and B9 (folate) as well as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains essential amino acids and phytochemicals.
Oats (rolled & quick)
Rolled and quick oats are a rich source of dietary (insoluble) fibre which helps you feel fuller for longer. Dietary fibre also helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Soluble fibre, also found in rolled and quick oats, can help lower cholesterol absorption and control blood sugar levels.
Oats are also high in complex carbohydrates (the body's preferred energy source) and a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin) - important in energy metabolism - calcium and plant-based protein.
Leading Australian nutritionist Catherine Saxelby recommends that 40-50% of our daily energy requirements should come from complex carbohydrates. Other nutritionists put this figure as high as 70%.
The body breaks down carbohydrate foods. The glycaemic index (GI) measures the rate at which this occurs. The low GI of rolled oats means energy is released slowly - giving sustained power for longer. The medium GI of quick oats means energy is released at a moderate rate.
Our rolled and quick oats are made from Australia's finest grains. They undergo little processing to ensure the grain retains most of its goodness and nourishment.
Rye is considered a 'supergrain'. It has a low GI and is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals including magnesium phosphorous and selenium. It's low in fat and saturated fat.
Rye has a delicious robust nutty taste and texture, and is very nutritious. It's 15% protein and contains 15% fibre. Rye flakes can have a green-grey tinge.
Spelt is an ancient wheat variety that was cultivated widely in Europe until the 20th century. Always difficult to grow, it was almost lost to higher yielding, more pliable (higher gluten) wheat that baked better.
Fortunately, spelt's merits are again patent and it's enjoying a resurgence. Yet it has only been grown In Australia since 1988, when an enterprising NSW farming couple went to Europe to buy seeds. (Guess who supplies our spelt!)
Spelt is a nutrient-dense grain. It's an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fibre. It contains protein (including eight of the essential amino acids our bodies can't produce) and iron.
Slightly lower in calories than rolled oats, spelt has a naturally sweet taste. It's low in fat and contains less than 0.4% saturated fat.
A cross between wheat and rye, triticale contains the high protein content of wheat and the high lysine content of rye. It has 16.0% fibre but less than 0.4% saturated fat.
Triticale is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and a good source of iron, phosphorous, potassium, manganese and plant-based protein. It's high in fibre, low in fat and has less than 0.4% saturated fat.
The small flakes of wheatgerm are very rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins. In fact, they're the most vitamin and mineral rich part of the wheat kernel.
Wheatgerm is packed with vitamins B1 (thiamin), B6 and B9 (folate) which are important for cardiovascular health.
Wheatgerm is a very good source of complex carbohydrates and fibre and a good source of protein. It's low in calories, very low in unsaturated fat and cholesterol free.
Nuts & seedsNuts and seeds are cholesterol free and a good dietary fibre source. Due to their high fat content, they've been demonised in the past. However, around 85% of their fat is essential fatty acids which every human cell needs to function.
Nuts and seeds supply protein (to maintain and renew muscles) plus key vitamins and minerals including magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Nuts are high in the antioxidant vitamin E. They're also high in calories, but this simply means eat them in moderation. A growing body of research suggests that people who eat the widely recommended 30 g daily may live longer.
This pointy, flattish, brown-skinned and delicately flavoured nut is from the same family as apricots and cherries. It has been cultivated since prehistoric times and is an excellent source of copper, magnesium, manganese and vitamin E.
The biggest commonly eaten nut is (surprise!) native to Brazil. A great source of copper, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium it has a pale skin with brown markings and tastes a bit like coconut (which is a 'drupe', not a nut ... in case you're wondering! The world's biggest nut is the Coco de Mer.)
As Brazil nuts grow on trees up to 50 m tall, they're 'harvested' by waiting for them to fall. Inside each fruit are one or two dozen nuts, each with its own woody shell. Though sold shelled and unshelled, they're tricky to shell at home.
Pecans originated in North America from a walnut-related hickory tree. Like the walnut, the pecan is a seed or kernel with two lobes encased in a smooth, oval shell. A regular nutcracker will get you past this to the lovely flesh.
A brown, ridged, flattish nut, the pecan's sweet flavour (milder than the walnut's) makes it a favourite. A few pecans with dried fruit make a perfect afternoon snack.
An excellent source of copper, magnesium and zinc, pecans comprise 87% unsaturated fatty acids (so watch how many you eat!)
The only 'wheat' in buckwheat is in its name. It's actually a triangular seed from an herbaceous plant related to rhubarb and sorrel.
Despite not being a cereal grain, buckwheat's nutritional profile is more like a cereal than a seed, so it's treated like a cereal grain and used in breads, pancakes and noodles.
Buckwheat kernels are easily digested. They're low in fat (3.4%), contain some protein and are a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Grown here in Australia, this seed is the richest plant-based source of omega-3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants.
Easily digested and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, it's no wonder it's considered a superfood.
This ancient seed is considered a superfood because it's one of the most potent natural omega-3 sources.
Very high in fibre, it's packed with important vitamins such as B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenate), B6 and folates.
Linseed is also a rich source of minerals (including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc) and an excellent source of vitamin E.
An unshelled pumpkin seed has a thin, white edible shell. A shelled pumpkin seed (also called a pepita) is bright green.
The pumpkin seed is an excellent source of B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) plus copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
A good source of calcium, copper, iron and magnesium, the sesame seed is very high in protein.
The Ancient Babylonians thought this seed enhanced sexual prowess, and ate it in large amounts. Today, the seed is still thought to increase sexual vitality - and it's much cheaper than Viagra!
Sesame seeds come in white, yellow, red, brown and black (not to be confused with poppy seed). We use white, as the local supply is better and more reliable.
Small and grey, the sunflower seed is a good source of vitamin E, B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenate) and B9 (folate). Rich in protein and fats, up to 45% of the seed's weight is oil (which is why it's used to produce the pale yellow, delicately flavoured oil).
All dried fruits are naturally low in fat and cholesterol, contain antioxidants essential for a healthy diet and are five times as nutrient dense as fresh fruit of equal weight.
A good source of fibre, most dried fruits have a low to moderate GI. They're also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and B.
Dried fruits let us eat out of season. Their natural sweetness means we needn't add sugar or honey to our breakfast bowl.
We always use the best dried fruits we can get. Organic and local if available, conventional and imported if not. Much depends on seasonal and market conditions.
Some dried fruits are prepared with sulphur dioxide to prevent discolouration and deterioration.
The apple has made key appearances in history, starting with the Garden of Eden. An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away, as it contains fibre, pectin (which helps control cholesterol and blood sugar) and vitamin C (ascorbate).
The apricot is naturally sweet, rich in potassium and very high in vitamin A. It also has small amounts of iron and zinc.
Apricots have some exotic cultural names. We call them 'absolutely delicious' and can't imagine a cupboard without them!
Coconut tastes naturally sweet and is very high in fibre. Shredded, it has a lovely texture. More and more research is showing us the importance of coconut in our diet for health and wellbeing. For years coconut has been tarnished with the 'high in fat' brush however researchers have found what ancient civilisations have known for years - that eating foods high in fat (like nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut) can help us to lose weight. Coconut has a low GI, is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. It can improve digestion, speed up metabolism and reduce sweet cravings. It’s also gluten-free and hypoallergenic.
Though it looks like a sultana, the currant is no relation; it's the separate genus Ribes nigrum. Currants are extremely sweet for their size. We add them instead of sugar.
Sweet but tart, this vibrant red bauble punches way above its weight. For centuries Native Americans have used the zingy cranberry for food and medicine (e.g. to cure blood poisoning).
A good source of fibre, iron and vitamin C (ascorbate) cranberries also contain potassium and small amounts of zinc.
A sultana is a dried grape. Of the many varieties, we use jumbo sultanas for their size and juiciness.
In both our initial and ongoing research, we've found that people have either ambivalence or a strong dislike for sultanas. As sultanas are what people pick out of their muesli, we've created a possible world first: a sultana-free natural muesli!