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Five questions to ask yourself to assess your health

HEALTHY ROLE MODELS: Participants in the Chinchilla Secret Mummy's Business walking group, an initiative from the QCWA Country Kitchens program.
HEALTHY ROLE MODELS: Participants in the Chinchilla Secret Mummy's Business walking group, an initiative from the QCWA Country Kitchens program. Georja Ryan

HOW much fruit and vegetables do you eat daily? Do you know the real size of a healthy portion of food? Do you cook at home? Do you exercise every day? Do you know how much sugar is in that drink?   

To find out what your answers to these questions should be, register for the Queensland Country Women's Association (QCWA) Country Kitchens program which is visiting towns state wide, providing Hands On Nutrition Workshops.   

Funded by the Queensland Government, the program's team of accredited practising dietitians are supporting people living in rural, regional and remote areas improve their health by adopting healthier eating practices.   

For the 12 months to December 2016, 826 people participated in the program, learning how to modify traditional recipes by giving them a healthier twist.  

"Adding more fruit and veg, checking portion sizes, cooking at home, sitting less and moving more and being aware of sugar in beverages are all simple and easy ways to improve your health and that of your family," program coordinator Fiona McKenzie said.  

"QCWA's Country Kitchens program is a very accessible and practical approach to improving your knowledge and capacity to eat better."  

When preparing a roast dinner for example, make a second tray of roast vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, pumpkin, potato, onion or beetroot.

Then add your left-overs to salads, quiches, omelettes or even sandwiches. Grate zucchini, carrot, and apple into your salad or slaw. And when you get peckish, reach for an apple or banana.   

Cooking at home doesn't have to be a chore. Save time and effort with one pot wonders such as stir fry's or hearty casseroles and soups.

Start by cooking the firmer and denser ingredients first and add the softer ones towards the end of your cooking time. These delicious meals don't require a lot of expertise or finessing. They are a stress-free way to increase vegetable consumption as well.  

By checking portion sizes with a household cup measure you'll quickly learn how much is enough. In general terms, a portion of cooked vegetable equates to half a cup. For a comprehensive list head HERE.

It's also a good idea to know how large your plates and bowls are. By using a cup to measure the food into your plate and bowl, you have a guide to how many portions of food is actually there.   

We consume a lot of hidden sugar in our meals and beverages. The quickest way to reduce sugar is to switch a high sugar drink for water. If you find the taste needs a bit of an adjustment, try adding sliced orange, lemon, lime or mint leaves.   

The benefits of exercise are well documented and even 10 minutes of increased activity can deliver health benefits. Move at every opportunity, incidental exercise such as standing up while ironing in front of the TV, can improve health outcomes.

Ideally, accumulate 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. To find out more on the physical activity guidelines head HERE.

Formal evaluation of the QCWA Country Kitchen program to date is promising. Early data suggests vegetable consumption has increased from 3.7 to 4 serves per day as a result of the program.   

"The program is inspiring state-wide action as each participating QCWA Branch and their community adopt these important health messages," Ms McKenzie said.  

17 out of the targeted 64 communities have completed the program, and a further 24 locations are committed for activity this financial year alone.   

Getting involved is as easy as contacting your local QCWA Branch or member, heading HERE and signing up to the Monthly Munch newsletter.   



Watermelon Salsa 

Serves 8   

Prep time: 20 minutes   

Cook time: 10 minutes  


1/2 cup finely diced red onion  

1 teaspoon Olive oil  

1 cup melon juice  

1 cup craisins  

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar  

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin   

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric  

2 cups of finely diced and drained watermelon  

3/4 cup green capsicum  

1/2 cup chopped coriander  

2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger  

1 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric (optional)  


SAUTE in olive oil, sauté the finely diced red onion  

ADD melon juice, craisins, apple cider vinegar, cumin and turmeric   

SIMMER gently to reduce liquid and plump cranberries. Base may be made ahead of time.  

ADD finely diced and drained watermelon, green capsicum, coriander, ginger and additional turmeric. Stir to combine.   

TRANSFER to a serving bowl.  

Serve on a plain scone with a splash of Greek yoghurt for a savoury flavour.   Salsa could be made fresh and uncooked.      


IN PROFILE: Five minutes with Glynis Stevenson   Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA's Country Kitchens program?

Glynis Stevenson of the Chinchilla branch.
Glynis Stevenson of the Chinchilla branch. Georja Ryan

What part of the QCWA Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why?   The Hands On Nutrition Workshops allowed participants to receive healthy eating guidance while preparing healthy meal options.   

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a facilitator?   Knowing I am a small part of the big picture to improve health and wellbeing in our community with this wonderful health initiative. And with wonderful support from the extremely professional and tireless Country Kitchens team.   

In what ways have you been able to reinforce QCWA's Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?   At the recent Melon Festival we highlighting sugary beverages to a wide community audience by offering tastings (and recipes) for Country Kitchen's "approved" watermelon flavoured cool drinks. 

  Does your Branch have a QCWA Country Kitchens inspired community activity or event planned in the near future?   Chinchilla Secret Mummy's Business is a walking group for mums with bubs in strollers. The walk is followed by a healthy snack and health information conversation; all benefiting our community.         

Topics:  bil-qcwa country kitchens

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