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Food For Thought

Catherine Burns
ISLAND LIFE COLUMNIST
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Catherine Burns (BA Hons, Dip ION) is a Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, UK. After marrying her Bermudian husband and moving to the Island she worked in the worksite wellness field for seven years. She is currently the Managing Director of natural ltd - a nutrition consultancy offering preventive health solutions. Catherine has been running Nutrifit since 2007 and has been writing a weekly nutrition column for The Royal Gazette since 2005. Food for Thought began as a factual nutrition column that quickly took on some humour as stories of Catherine's domestic highs and lows crept in. Catherine is mum to two girls (1.5 and 4) who are often perfect examples of healthy living and occasionally the polar opposite. Catherine strives every day to nourish her daughters and to help people in Bermuda lead healthier lives. Please note that Catherine is not a Registered Dietitian. For contact details, go to www.natural.bm.

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  • Help children develop a good food philosophy
    Feb 12, 2016 8:00 am

    Help children develop a good food philosophy

    Half-term is here and, with it, a glitter explosion of epic proportions. I have an all-or-nothing approach to children’s crafts and am liberal with the supplies. But my real mistake was baking while the girls completed their masterpieces. I could barely yell “don’t take the lid off” across the kitchen before 47,000 particles of glitter became airborne. Ah well. Most things look better with glitter on them anyway.

    It was a lighthearted...

  • The hazards and highs of running
    Feb 5, 2016 8:00 am

    The hazards and highs of running

    Goodbye dry January, hello February! Thank God for that. I made it through with just a few slip-ups. I’m not a big drinker by any stretch — I peaked when I was exploring all my teenage freedom. At university, I founded the Blondes’ Cocktail Society with a friend to raise money for the Leukaemia Research Fund.

    All those sugary-sweet cocktails make me cringe now, and it seems ironic that we raised lots of money for cancer research by...

  • Can quick-fix shopping harm your health?
    Jan 29, 2016 8:00 am

    Can quick-fix shopping harm your health?

    OK, we need to have a word about those Tasty videos on Facebook. I know they look deliciously amazing, but sharing how to make a chocolate croissant pastry ring from instant dough and chocolate chips is mean.

    Yes, it looks delicious. Yes, it makes me want to lick my screen. But it’s a nutrition disaster, a heart attack on a plate, a fat-related train-wreck of epic proportions.

    So many people eat badly because it’s cheap, easy...

  • Top tips for your child’s lunch snacks
    Jan 22, 2016 8:00 am

    Top tips for your child’s lunch snacks

    I have a confession. I broke my dry January promise today.

    Not because of a celebration or a major disaster but because Belle spent her life savings on a dancing, musical elephant.

    We’d gone to Phoenix and despite being tempted by a series of cool geology toys (so close!) she sniffed out the elephant on a high shelf at the back of the shop.

    It shakes its head and sings, “Do your ears hang low?” I knew it would drive me...

  • A super healthy winter warmer
    Jan 15, 2016 8:00 am

    A super healthy winter warmer

    Really unsure how to get dressed at this time of year! Never feel like I can trust the forecast and always have to leave the house before the day has settled in. Some days I am freezing in flip-flops and other days I am sweating in my sweater. Is it winter or summer? God knows.

    Regardless, not knowing what to wear has added a new layer of the ridiculous to our farcical mornings at home. Two nights before Christmas, Ellie the cat broke...

  • Make this your healthiest year yet
    Jan 8, 2016 8:00 am

    Make this your healthiest year yet

    Happy new year! How are we all feeling this side of Christmas? I hope you had a wonderful time and still fit into your jeans.

    For two people with small children, I thought our celebrations were fairly rock‘n’roll. That was until I talked to Naughty Nana, who had been singing O Come All Ye Faithful around a bonfire with the guitarist from Black Sabbath. Amazing what they get up to in the Cotswolds.

    As usual, I slid down a...

  • Allergy-friendly sugar cookies
    Dec 18, 2015 8:00 am

    Allergy-friendly sugar cookies

    The supergranny effect is in full swing! The house is more organised, the kids are occupied, my shopping list once again reads gin, tonic and cheese. The favourite pastime seems to be gardening and we now have tomatoes, lettuce and basil on the go.

    I only hope they survive my lack of gardening skills and Julian the ginger cat. He likes to sit in the plant pots and pee in them I suspect. Salad anyone?

    Meanwhile, the girls have...

  • Healthy stocking stuffers
    Dec 11, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthy stocking stuffers

    I have a diary entry today that says “clean like a mad woman”. Somehow my mum’s visit has crept up on me and I only have one small cleaning window before she arrives.

    If only I had to clean one small window everything would be fine. Instead I need to clean EVERYTHING — from the ceiling fans to the baseboards, underneath the cutlery trays and behind the toaster. There’s no real need to look behind the toaster, but she will! I have one...

  • Top tips to help prevent or manage hangovers
    Dec 4, 2015 8:00 am

    Top tips to help prevent or manage hangovers

    Day four of Elf on the Shelf and so far I haven’t managed to mess it up. Move the elf too early and any late-night adventurers will spot the pre-emptive strike, or worse, catch you in the act.

    I threw our elf into the kitchen sink one night to avoid being caught red-handed. He swam among the suds with some dirty wooden spoons while I settled Belle back into bed.

    But if you leave the elf til later, the danger is you’ll forget...

  • Christmas salad packs a flavourful punch
    Nov 27, 2015 8:00 am

    Christmas salad packs a flavourful punch

    Ho ho ho, the Christmas season is upon us! I know this because Phoenix has been overrun by enormous tins of Quality Street.

    We’re talking a wall-to-wall invasion of chocolate. It makes me sweat a little just walking past this national flirtation with diabetes.

    I mean, I know it’s Christmas and it’s a treat … but unless serious complications like erectile dysfunction, kidney disease and amputation count as a “treat” too, I think...

  • Top tips for dinner-table harmony
    Nov 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Top tips for dinner-table harmony

    Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house to help her “bedazzle” some tutus for a dance recital.

    This involved sticking teeny tiny crystals on to netting with a hot glue gun. I can’t decide if the wine was a help or a hindrance.

    It stopped me being obsessive about spacing things perfectly, but I burnt every single finger in the process. We all know we shouldn’t drink and drive, but perhaps we shouldn’t drink and glue either.

  • Is nutrition a health and safety issue?
    Nov 6, 2015 8:00 am

    Is nutrition a health and safety issue?

    I have a little mantra — comparison is the thief of joy — and I have to remind myself of it often. Half-term was a perfect example. I’d taken the week off to hang out with the kids as I’d been working so many evenings. The girls are 7 and 5 now and I really love this age. Sure there are some meltdowns (mainly mine, ha ha) but they are great company.

    In my head, it was all fun and laughter with lots of lazy mornings and afternoon...

  • Can red meat cause cancer? A voice of reason
    Oct 30, 2015 8:00 am

    Can red meat cause cancer? A voice of reason

    Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that earlier this week the World Health Organisation declared processed meat as definitively carcinogenic to humans and red meat as “probably” carcinogenic. Within hours my inbox had exploded and my intern Sarah checked in to test the waters. She’s aware that I have a deep affection for bacon. Obviously I love kale and quinoa and broccoli too, but I love them best with bacon. It’s an...

  • Pumpkins offer more than Hallowe’en decor
    Oct 16, 2015 8:00 am

    Pumpkins offer more than Hallowe’en decor

    Hallowe’en is on the horizon and I am getting excited. The costumes are on their way. Chloe is still a raccoon but Belle, who changes her mind at the speed of light, is going to be a rainbow monster. If you don’t know what a rainbow monster is, you are not alone, but rest assured it exists. Imagine the cast of Monsters Inc attending a gay pride parade and you will be somewhere on the spectrum.

    Between all the costumes and trick or...

  • Ditch mayo with this Green Goddess Dressing
    Oct 9, 2015 8:00 am

    Ditch mayo with this Green Goddess Dressing

    Most of us are busy … crazy busy. It’s not helped by the fact that “busy” isn’t cool any more. We’re realising that yes, busy often means successful, but it can also mean overstretched and less focused. If you, like me, sometimes feel like you’re standing in the middle of a swirling vortex with all the different components of “life” circling around you at high speed, then maybe it’s time to slow on down. The problem is finding the time to...

  • Time to embrace superfoods
    Oct 2, 2015 8:00 am

    Time to embrace superfoods

    The lovely husband is overseas again and I would like to say things have been going smoothly … yet one Emergency Room trip and a Watlington water overflow would suggest otherwise.

    Over the weekend I had decided to top up the tank. If only I had looked at the radar and spotted the mini-monsoon on the way.

    But I didn’t and the tank was low so I let it run overnight. I then left for the usual Saturday morning activity juggle, but...

  • Healthier muffins to tempt your taste buds
    Sep 25, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthier muffins to tempt your taste buds

    Feeding children is a minefield. Mainly because we give them “children’s food” rather than just “food” in general.

    Do you ever wonder if cave babies rejected the sustenance their parents dragged in? I doubt there were many fussy eaters in our hunter-gathering days.

    And yet, in these relative times of plenty, most of us find ourselves worrying about what our children will choose to eat, rather than whether or not we can feed them...

  • Low-sugar snacks for adults
    Sep 18, 2015 8:00 am

    Low-sugar snacks for adults

    October is nearly here, which is a surprise as I am pretty sure it was January yesterday.

    Life is flying by way too fast — especially with my littles being not-so-little. I am seriously enjoying their company these days.

    “Stop growing!” I’ve asked. “We can’t, mummy. You feed us too many vegetables.” And so my words come back to haunt me ….

    There are obviously days when I chase my girls up the stairs to bed.

  • Sugar-free after-school snacks
    Sep 11, 2015 8:00 am

    Sugar-free after-school snacks

    Facebook is awash with back-to-school photos and it’s hard not to feel the love. There’s so much pride and affection tallied on there, it almost drowns out the collective sigh of relief: to all our amazing teachers, tag, you’re it!

    My girls are literally leaping out of the car to discover what’s new in their day. They equally gleefully jump back in to tell me all about it. And because we car pool, the stories are told at deafening...

  • Nutrition advice to help your child sleep
    Sep 4, 2015 8:00 am

    Nutrition advice to help your child sleep

    The lovely husband is away on a business trip to Costa Rica. I know it’s all meetings and hard work, but I cannot help feeling a little jealous. And he gets to sleep star-shaped in a hotel bed.

    True, I can sleep star-shaped in ours, but last night’s peace was interrupted by a certain small person.

    I took the short-term-gain, long-term-mistake route and threw back the covers. I then spent four hours being pushed off the bed and...

  • Healthy eating – tips for keeping it simple
    Aug 28, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthy eating – tips for keeping it simple

    There are good surprises and bad surprises involved in parenting. Bad surprises include the green slime in a newborn’s diaper and the staggering reach of projectile vomit. Good surprises include the fiercely unconditional love and the moment you realise your kids feel the exact same way about you. Warm hugs with sleepy bedheads are also pretty amazing. One thing is for sure, life will never be the same. And neither will your handbag.

  • Bean brownies even picky eaters will love
    Aug 21, 2015 8:00 am

    Bean brownies even picky eaters will love

    I have always been an awkward dancer. A trusty glass of bubbles helps, but I’ve never dashed on to an empty dance floor. I am most comfortable in the middle of a sweaty mob where there is barely any room between bodies and a simple shimmy will do.

    I am not being modest. When your friend leans over with the tip, “less elbows, more ass”, you know you’re not knocking it out of the park.

    I was once laughed off the dance floor at a...

  • Home-baking a summer hit with little ones
    Aug 14, 2015 8:00 am

    Home-baking a summer hit with little ones

    A short note from me this week as I’m reporting from the trenches of Natural Kids camp. Twenty-seven hilarious children, five amazing staff, toys and books galore ... it is so much fun and the most exhausting thing I do all year.

    Once upon a time a group of scientists had a legendary multisport athlete (Jim Thorpe) mimic the activity of a toddler. He couldn’t keep up. Now I know why. I am not sure how all the teachers out there do it.

  • Treat yourself — with a little bacon
    Jul 29, 2015 8:00 am

    Treat yourself — with a little bacon

    By the time you read this I’ll have been in France for a few weeks, spending quality time with my kids and drinking lots of red wine (funny how those two seem to go together).

    We’re celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday with family from England, Hungary, France and Australia, so it will be a crazy gathering and I can’t wait!

    We’ve been counting down the days for months so it’s strange to think that by the time this prints we’ll be...

  • Ditch junk food and get your five-a-day
    Jul 24, 2015 8:00 am

    Ditch junk food and get your five-a-day

    I am sure you have all heard the recent statistic that 74.6 per cent of our population is overweight or obese.

    That has major implications when it comes to the risk of disease, quality of life and the viability of health insurance benefits.

    Although using body mass index (BMI) as a yardstick is not 100 per cent reliable — for example, people with a high ratio of heavy muscle mass can be incorrectly classified as obese — it is...

  • Chocolate hazelnut crumble: a good treat
    Jul 17, 2015 8:00 am

    Chocolate hazelnut crumble: a good treat

    Last night Sarah and I wrapped up our second cooking night at the Chef Shop. She delivered some amazing recipes and tasty samples. I added the nutrition know-how and several inappropriate jokes. I had been nervous about entertaining that many people but whether it was the help from our hosts, the kindness of our guests or the steady flow of organic wine, it all went smoothly. It turns out that feeding 38 enthusiastic adults is a total joy.

  • Quick summer desserts for kids!
    Jul 10, 2015 8:00 am

    Quick summer desserts for kids!

    When I was little and went to birthday parties, along with pass-the-parcel and musical statues we played something called The Chocolate Game.

    We all sat in a circle and rolled a die; if you were lucky enough to roll a six, you would race to the middle, put on a pair of gloves, a scarf and hat, and proceed to eat an enormous unwrapped bar of Dairy Milk with a knife and fork. You had to use the cutlery and you had to cut the chocolate...

  • Learning to simplify and let it go
    Jun 26, 2015 8:00 am

    Learning to simplify and let it go

    I am a big fan of keeping life simple. But I am also very bad at it. Take Chloe’s bake sale for example. Last year she was determined to have a pop-up snack stand in the first week of the holidays, to raise money for Open Airways and the SPCA.

    Everyone loves Liz Boden [co-founder of Open Airways] so that one was a no-brainer.

    Chloe’s concern for the SPCA arose when I let her watch a “safe” video on YouTube from the World...

  • Avoid the pitfalls of clean-eating!
    Jun 19, 2015 8:00 am

    Avoid the pitfalls of clean-eating!

    There are a lot of roles within parenting. Above all, we are chief distributors of love and affection and I am keeping my fingers crossed (permanently) that if we get that bit right, then the other things don’t matter quite so much.

    If my kids grow up feeling loved then I am hoping my haphazard timekeeping and other domestic challenges won’t keep them in the psychiatrist’s chair too long. Like many of you, I am a cook, a cleaner, a...

  • Healthy barbecue habits reduce cancer risk
    Jun 12, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthy barbecue habits reduce cancer risk

    Naughty Nana has landed back in Bermuda and the girls couldn’t be more delighted. She does have a day job (where she is not naughty at all, I should add) but the after-work antics have already begun.

    So far we are knee-deep in metallic tattoos and eyeliner, so who knows what the rest of the summer will bring. We have lined up a lot of swimming lessons for Belle though, who has outwitted all her instructors so far. I think Naughty Nana...

  • The not-so-sweet 16: savoury snacks
    Jun 5, 2015 8:00 am

    The not-so-sweet 16: savoury snacks

    Susie Switch paid a midseason visit to our house last week, scooping up a bucket full of candy that the kids had been stashing since Christmas.

    The excitement level was pretty major, you honestly would have thought that Santa himself was on his way. Waking up to a surprise toy is pretty cool, even if it’s a small one. Add in a magical character and it’s a done deal really!

    The switch witch concept is simple. After Halloween you...

  • How healthy is too healthy?
    May 29, 2015 8:00 am

    How healthy is too healthy?

    Back from England, where I spent an amazing week doing some extra training and catching up with family. I stayed with my stepsister, who is a juicing fanatic, so I woke up to adventurous combinations almost every morning.

    It’s so easy to be healthy when you roll out of bed and find a nutritious option right there waiting for you. No crazy kids to feed, dress or chase into the car. Only one person’s bag to prep for the day (mine). It...

  • Clean up your salad dressing!
    May 15, 2015 8:00 am

    Clean up your salad dressing!

    After all the fear and anticipation of last week, the plague has finally descended upon our household. No nits, but little Belle caught the big bad bug. She’s lying next to me as I type, watching TV and cautiously sipping electrolytes. It’s taking her a while to work up to the half cracker we decided on for lunch. The downside is that Belle has developed a serious case of Stink Eye — looking at us as if we are half-mad and whispering stern...

  • Tempted by takeout? Try this instead
    May 8, 2015 8:00 am

    Tempted by takeout? Try this instead

    I have three irrational fears in life. The first is of public toilets. Specifically ones where you can’t reach the door once you are sitting down.

    At some point I must have been involved in an embarrassing incident because I am always afraid that someone will burst in. The worst toilets are the ones where you can’t test if the door is locked, without actually unlocking it again in the process. One of the perks of having kids is that...

  • Three things great diets have in common
    May 1, 2015 8:00 am

    Three things great diets have in common

    Among my worst parenting mistakes (and there have been many) was the innocent purchase of some days-of-the-week underwear for the girls. I bought matching socks too. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Belle is a Sunday-on-a-Monday kind of girl, but Chloe is a rule-follower. If this behaviour hangs around when she is a teen, I shall put on a robe and rejoice in Biblical style. In the meantime, not having the correct pair of knickers with the correct pair of...

  • Chia and chocolate chip cookies
    Apr 24, 2015 8:00 am

    Chia and chocolate chip cookies

    **Spoiler alert! To get to the really delicious cookie recipe, you have to read through lots of stuff about babies and what they do to your body. If you are squeamish or eating your breakfast, skip to the end!**

    Friends of ours have just had a perfect, squishy, smiling, amazing-smelling baby and I confess my ovaries felt a little lively. So much so, that I opened our first family album to reminisce. That was an effective contraceptive.

  • Nourishing food for body and soul
    Apr 17, 2015 8:00 am

    Nourishing food for body and soul

    Last week, Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post, landed on our pink sandy shores. She spoke to a packed ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton about her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder.

    She was fabulous. Of course she was. Full of dry humour and compassion, too. Her philosophy of “no brilliant jerks allowed here” has...

  • Food fight breaks out on social media
    Apr 10, 2015 8:00 am

    Food fight breaks out on social media

    Having just spent 40 minutes chasing Shadow around the neighbourhood, getting stuck in a hedge and leaping over a few flower beds, I have retreated inside to contemplate how ridiculous this situation is. Not only is Shadow (the bunny) NOT in the hutch but he is now outside the French door, looking in and taunting me … as if to say, “Come and get me lady, I am not done making a fool of you yet!” I don’t know if he enjoys this little game, but...

  • Upgrade hash browns for healthier breakfast
    Mar 27, 2015 8:00 am

    Upgrade hash browns for healthier breakfast

    It’s been one of those weeks — lots of the domestic and none of the bliss! Three family fevers, a minor surgery, courses starting, e-mail exploding ... I wish I could click my heels and disappear to a far-flung corner of the globe.

    Although, I want to be the one tending to the fevers. So there we have the mummy conundrum in a nutshell: as much as it sometimes feels overwhelming, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

    With one...

  • Follow the gritty, witty, pretty rule
    Mar 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Follow the gritty, witty, pretty rule

    Last Sunday, Julia Pitt and I did a presentation for the Business and Professional Women’s Association of Bermuda.

    We combined success coaching and nutrition to discuss, ‘Is having it all hurting your health?’

    We weren’t really trying to answer the question of whether it’s possible to “have it all”, but rather how our pursuit of both career and family can knock us sideways if we’re...

  • Here comes the Easter Bunny!
    Mar 6, 2015 8:00 am

    Here comes the Easter Bunny!

    Hop hop, here comes the Easter Bunny! With a basket of eggs and a bag full of Peeps, he has already made his delivery to the pharmacy. A walk through Phoenix brought me out in a cold sweat this morning. I went in for eye make-up remover but almost left with an armful of chocolate I didn’t know I wanted and some paraphernalia I definitely didn’t need. Seasonal holidays are an issue for shopaholics and chocoholics alike. And God help you if you...

  • Food ethics: what to do when you can’t afford them
    Feb 27, 2015 8:00 am

    Food ethics: what to do when you can’t afford them

    Some houses are ruled by the parents. Some are ruled by the kids. I suspect very few are ruled by a bunny. And yet somehow ours is. How did that happen? Shadow, the free-range bunny, is now an official member of the Burns household and ruling the roost — or whatever the bunny equivalent would be. Bossing the burrow?

    He came to stay after we noticed a limp and a big old cut on his nose. After being given the once-over from the vet,...

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