The Lean Aubergine Newsletter #65 April 2020

April 21, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Notices

What’s In This One?

  • Notice – Hi there, how are you doing?
  • Q&A – Are frozen and canned veggies and fruit a good substitute for the fresh ones?
  • Recipes – Soups
  • Article 1 – Are you hungry?
  • Snippet – How do I stick to healthy eating during lockdown?
  • Recipe Vegetarian chilli
  • Article 2 – Are your cravings going through the roof?
  • Recipe Mushroom and sausage pasta
Hi there
How are you doing?

I hope you’re all coping with the lockdown.  I can’t believe that we have already made it through three weeks.  To me they went slowly, yet quickly!

I just wanted to pop in and let you know that I have been working on the online side of my business.  I started with this process last year, but was usually too busy with my practice clients that I didn’t find enough time to focus on this.  Lockdown has given me the chance to proceed.  But it’s not only because of lockdown that I am choosing to go online, but also because I believe I can reach more people in this way, as well as make it more affordable for you. Note for my current clients: I will still be working in the physical practice once life resumes with some normality.

This is what I have been working on: I have developed and had a trial run on my class called Building your Personalised Eating Plan.  It was very well received and enjoyed all round.  However, I did realise that this class is not adequate for my emotional eating clients.  I am therefore in the process of developing a class specifically for the emotional eater, looking at some important strategies that you can implement to help you with this difficult problem.

But, as we all know, changing eating habits is a process that takes time.  Having someone to walk the path with you, someone that you are accountable to during the process, someone who will remind you what to focus on, is a very helpful way to keep you on track and working constantly on the new habits.  We do this in the practice – and I believe it can be done online just as effectively.  The biggest difference with face-to-face vs online is that you cannot get the physical measurements done (weight, height, centimeters, body fat etc.) done.  But the numbers are just one part of the story.  Changing the habits is the important part of the story that will get the numbers to move (in the right direction!).

With accountability in mind, I am developing two programs. The first one is an eight-week program (Nutrition Basics) where I work you through the different nutrition topics such as incorporating treats and alcohol into the diet, label reading, eating out, healthy cooking etc.  I have run this program once last year and am in the process of updating and improving it.  The second program is a twelve-week program (Breaking the Fad Dieting Habit) where we look at different psychological strategies to prevent you from falling into the trap of fad dieting again.

It’s an exciting time for me, and I hope you will be there with me!

Have a great day


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Question and Answer
Are frozen and canned veggies and fruit a good substitute for the fresh ones?
Kim Hofmann RD(SA)

Frozen and canned veggies and fruit seem to be thought of as ‘not as good’, especially when compared to their fresh counterparts.  But is this really the case?  Let’s take a look at what freezing and canning of the foods means.

Frozen foods

Frozen veggies and fruit are typically picked, blanched and then frozen (Blanching means food is placed into boiling water for a short period of time, then put into iced water to stop the cooking process; this is done to help lessen the quality loss of the colour, smell, flavour and nutritional value over time).  Frozen produce is therefore minimally processed and these veggies and fruit have very similar overall nutrition value to fresh ones.

Canned foods
Canned veggies and fruit undergo a bit more processing than frozen foods.  They often also get blanched, but are generally placed into a syrup or have salt added, and many contain other additives as well.  It is therefore important with canned foods to read ingredient lists.

Although fresh mostly beats frozen and canned from a quality and taste perspective, frozen fruit is fantastic for smoothies and frozen veg work very well in soups or stews.  In addition nutritionally, they can give as much benefit to your diet as fresh ones. That is good news right now, when we are trying not to go out the house as much.


Simple frozen vegetable soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups frozen vegetables (vary it between root veggies, peas, carrots, corn, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli etc.  I like using 2 cups of stir-fry vegetables to get a greater variety of vegetables)
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. sweet basil
  • 1 tbsp.mixed herbs


  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil
  2. Add the frozen vegetables, and sweat them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes over medium heat
  4. Check seasoning
  5. Serve and enjoy

This is a very simple soup that contains just carbohydrates (the amount would depend on the number of starchy vegetables versus free vegetables that you used).  It can be used as is as a snack or with some protein as a main meal.

Chicken soup

  • Some olive oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • ½ leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup noodles/pasta
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil, then add the whole chicken breasts.  Sear the breasts on both sides
  2. Add the chicken stock, cover the pot, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is done
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot, reserving the stock for soup. Once cooled, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces
  4. Sauté the onion, carrot, celery, leek, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir occasionally, and cook until vegetables are soft and translucent, but not browned. Add reserved stock, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the noodles/pasta, and cook until the noodles are al dente
  6. Stir in the shredded chicken
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
  8. Stir in parsley leaves and serve
Are you Hungry?
By Kim Hofmann, RD(SA)
How many times have you found yourself going to the kitchen to look into the fridge or cupboards in these last few days of lockdown?  Now that you are home every day and are not allowed out, there may be some boredom setting in, and so you find yourself in the kitchen (again) trying to find something to do.  And what’s better to do than eat when you are bored!

There may be reasons other than boredom that have you finding yourself in the kitchen.  It could be frustration of not getting out, trying to escape the rest of the household, desiring food because you are watching a movie, or you could be hungry and in need of energy.

Whatever the reason, you don’t want to come out of lockdown having gained weight (unless you need to of course!)

Whenever I ask clients why they eat I get a whole host of answers, and most of them are not the correct reason for eating.  Do you know why you eat, and when you are truly hungry?  Real stomach or body hunger should be felt in the stomach.  It is a light emptiness or hollowness in the stomach area.  The problem is that many people cannot feel this at all or only feel it when they are too hungry.  They have a pain in the stomach area (too empty or hollow) or are feeling nauseous.  This happens because the connection between the brain and the stomach is severed.  We generally stop focussing on what is happening in our bodies, because we are too busy and preoccupied with life.

Because the signals are not evident, we often mistake other signals for real hunger. They may be legitimate sensations, but they are not true stomach hunger.  They tend to come from the head area and are generally known as mouth hunger.

Some of these hungers include:

  • Mouth, eye or nose hunger – the senses trigger a response of wanting to eat; for example seeing or smelling food can make you desire it
  • Mind hunger – just thinking about a food can cause you to feel like it; our minds have often associated certain activities with food for example having a biscuit with coffee or having popcorn at the movies
  • Emotional hunger – food fills the void of an ache or emptiness in your heart due to unmet emotional needs
  • Thirst – confusing dehydration with the need to eat
  • Tiredness – low energy from not sleeping enough or working and exercising very hard can make you feel like your energy levels are low

Understanding why you eat is an important part of learning to improve our eating habits.  Use the lockdown time to learn about and practice listening to the hunger signal.  Keep asking yourself, ‘am I really hungry?’
If you cannot feel the light emptiness or hollowness in your stomach when it’s time to eat, you need to reconnect the brain and the stomach so that these signals can be ‘heard’ again.  Try the hunger awareness exercise below.

Hunger awareness exercise
Sit down and relax
Take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on your stomach area (the stomach is between the lower ribs – see pic)

Describe what are you feeling? *
Ask yourself:
Am I really hungry? 
Do I need to eat?
Could I do something else instead of eating if I am not really hungry?

It may take some time to understand the hunger signal especially if you have done a lot of dieting and calorie restriction, so be patient with the process.

* If you can’t feel anything, just say ‘I can’t feel anything’.  It is OK if that is the answer to begin with.  In time something will come through.


How do I stick to healthy eating during lockdown?
By Kim Hofmann, Registered Dietician

Are you struggling to keep to healthy eating during lockdown?  Here are some tips to make it easier.

One of the most important things to do (and this is not just for eating, but to get through the lockdown in general) is to get yourself into a rhythm.  From the eating side, get a routine going.  Have breakfast, lunch and dinner at specific times in the day.  Snacks may not be necessary currently if you are not feeling hungry in between the mealtimes, but have something small if you are hungry.

Think health
No one is immune to Covid-19, so choose to eat the healthy foods more often as it can save you.  I generally find that if we know why we need to do something it is easier to stick to it.  Knowing that your immune system will do better if you eat lots of vegetables and fruit can be a great motivator to incorporate more of these foods instead of the unhealthier junk food.

Plan ahead
Because we are trying to go out to the shops as little as possible, it is important that you know what you are going to be cooking for the next week (at least) so that you can get all the ingredients and be prepared.  This also helps us not having to ask ‘what am I going to make today?’ and feel that laziness of not wanting to cook creep in.

Remember to keep hydrated
It’s getting colder now, and much easier to ‘forget’ to drink water.  The problem is that dehydration can cause havoc on the hunger signal, making the body ask for food instead of water for the fluid that it so desperately wants. It is easy to forget about thirst when you are constantly going for food and are not in the routine of keeping your glass of water or bottle by your side at all times.  Although tea and coffee can be used to some extent, nothing feels better for the body than water.

Don’t by junk (or just a little for the occasional treat)
It’s the age old saying – if it’s not in the house you’re less likely to have it.  This is true in our normal lives and definitely true here too.  Even the cravings for food will be less when you don’t see it every time you open the fridge or cupboard!

Stay strong, and know that there is help out there if you find yourself in an unhealthy eating routine.  Sometimes talking it through with someone and being steered in the better direction is all that it takes.

Vegetarian curry
Serves 4-6


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 peppers (different colours)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 red chilli, chopped OR 1 tsp. dried chillies
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tin kidney beans, rinsed


  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms and pepper in a small amount of oil until soft and fragrant
  2. Add the paprika, chilli, tinned tomatoes and beans and simmer for about 20 minutes
  3. Serve with rice and a tomato, onion, avocado salad
Are your cravings going through the roof?

By Kim Hofmann, RD(SA)

What’s happening with your cravings?  Are you managing to keep yourself busy and not needing food to combat the boredom, or is it so bad that you’re stopping by the kitchen every few minutes? As the weeks’ of lockdown are increasing, I’m finding that more and more people are struggling with being pent-up in one space, not being able to do many of the nurtures that would normally keep them busy – work, socialising, shopping, being in nature etc.  So I thought I’d take this time to explain the different types of cravings, and help you determine whether you can manage them.

Cravings analysed
When I see a client, they often tell me that they are chocoholics, and can’t do without their daily fix.  But two weeks later when I see them for their first follow up, they are feeling very different and many ‘had no cravings at all’.  Why would that be?  How can cravings just disappear?  The simple answer is that most of the cravings that people have are in fact self-inflicted.  I divide cravings into 3 groups, physiological, habitual and psychological.  Let’s take a look at them and what they entail.

Physiological cravings
Physiological cravings are cravings that come from your body because it requires energy.  When your blood sugars drop your body starts sending out messages to say that there is a need for food.  In the early stages of this message, there is no major effect on the body, just a small emptiness or hollowness in the stomach area.  If the blood sugar drops lower, these signals become stronger and eventually you will want to eat ‘anything’ and the food that seems most appealing tends to be the favourite junk food – that food just stands out for you and the ‘craving’ for it has begun.

Many people have these cravings at night, after dinner, in which case the above analysis does not make sense.  But it is still a physiological reason, because the body was not adequately fed during the day and so there is an excessive craving at the end of the day.

To physiologically keep your body at its happiest, you need to make sure that you eat regularly during the day, starting early and eat more during the day than later in the day.  Once you set your plan up this way, and eat enough for your needs, your physiological cravings will subside.

In the example above with two weeks into an eating plan there are ‘no more cravings’ – it is precisely the physiological cravings that I have removed by balancing the clients eating plan and giving the body the energy and correct nutrition when it needs it.  This helps us to determine whether there are psychological cravings at play.

Let’s look at habitual cravings now as these often come together with the physiological cravings and are also easily ‘cured’.

Habitual cravings
Habitual cravings are those cravings that you have paired with another event or situation.  For example:

  • Having a biscuit with your tea or coffee
  • Having popcorn at the movies
  • Having a glass of wine when you get home after a stressful day
  • Eating at night when you are watching TV

There are many situations and events that we pair with food.  This takes a little more time and energy to figure out, but it’s worth it if you want to learn how to conquer your cravings.  The best way to determine this is to keep a food diary.  Write down when (and what) you eat, and what you are doing at the time, whether it is for stomach hunger or ‘just because’.  You should see a pattern emerge.

I believe a lot of stress or even boredom eating are actually habitual cravings.  It is a habit we have learned over time to use food to dissipate the stress or get rid of the boredom.  Food (and drinks too) have become such a ‘helper’ with the little frustrations of life.  And because the junk food tastes soooo  good (completely subjective as to what you like or don’t like, but I’m saying this as a general to what people feel) it’s become the norm to use it for anything – fuel as well as nourishment.  The bottom line is that we need to learn to nourish our souls with things (walks, relaxation, exercise, spending quality time with loved ones etc.), not food!

And that brings us to psychological cravings.

Psychological cravings
Psychological cravings are those cravings when people use food to fill a void, an unhappiness.  When the conversations in their heads are very negative and self-sabotaging, and their anxieties are high.  They generally have a very different approach to food, and food is the one thing that can make them feel better.  These cravings are real, very real.  And they unfortunately take lots of time, practice and patience to correct.

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the psychological cravings, but the good news is that they are not half as common as people actually think.  Work out first if you are keeping your body in a good physiological space, then look at whether you can get rid of some of the bad habits you have developed.  Make sure that you are giving yourself enough non-food nurture, and soon you’ll be able to get to your peak physical health.

P.S.  I work with clients to get them out of their bad eating spaces – set up eating plans to maximise their potential, and work through any psychological eating that may be holding you back.  I am here to help you if you would like help with this.  The group programs also tap into and work with these topics.

Mushroom and sausage pasta
Serves 4
I found this recipe when I was looking for a recipe with mushrooms.  It is so super easy and the whole family really enjoyed it.  I found it on BBC Good Food, but have adapted it quite a bit to suit my healthy cooking

  • 4 sausages, chopped (I used the Fry’s traditional sausages, but you can use any that you enjoy – just remember that chicken or ostrich sausages have the least fat)
  • 150g mushrooms, sliced
  • 200g pasta (any type works)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g cheese, grated (Parmesan is suggested)
  • small bunch parsley, finely chopped (I did not add this as I didn’t have any, but I believe it will be a tasty addition)
  • 2 tbsp milk/yoghurt


  1. Lightly fry the sausages until browned – set aside
  2. Stir-fry the mushrooms – add to the sausages
  3. Cook the pasta – drain, reserving a cup of the water, and add to the sausages and mushrooms
  4. Make the sauce by combining the eggs, Parmesan, parsley and milk
  5. Reheat the pasta mixture and add the sauce.  Season to taste. Add some of the reserved water if it needs a bit of moisture
  6. Serve with a salad or steamed veg and enjoy
Copyright © 2020 Kim Hofmann Registered Dietician, All rights reserved.
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South Africa

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