Monday 6 March

Welcome back to Minus 5 Monday! We are excited to have you and your children on board. What we aim to achieve with our sugar reduction programme is to make a nations children, parents and teachers aware of the amount of sugar in the food that we are consuming and the associated health risks.

You will soon start to see our -5 label appearing on food and beverage items with 5% or less sugar making it easy to identify better options when grocery shopping. Our children are a great place to start, they absorb so much information, but they need your support to start making the right choices regarding their diets.

So let's make a difference, send your children to school on Monday with the best lunch possible and start making a difference! We have got some great information on the subject from our Nutritionist Stacey ( and 3 amazing lunch box options from Geraldine ( all depending on how adventurous your feeling. Don't forget! There will be a spot prize in every class for the best lunch.

Stacey 6th March 's Nutrition Blog

Is there a healthier sugar?

This followed by what is the healthiest sugar is probably one of the most common questions I get asked. We are all hearing that too much sugar is not healthy, which then leads us to wonder if there is a ‘healthier’ sugar we should be swapping too. The first place to start to answer this question is with a quick biochemistry lesson. Don’t panic, I promise it is not too arduous and it will help to explain what is the healthiest sugar.

The Basic Biochemistry of Dietary Sugar

Sugars are essentially very simple carbohydrates that taste sweet. Our body uses three main types of simple sugar molecules as sources of energy.  Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose (there are some others but these are the main ones). Our remarkable digestive system takes the more complicated sugars and carbohydrates we eat in our diet and breaks them down in to these three usable forms. Once they are in these forms they can be absorbed into the blood stream and provide the energy our body needs to do its daily business.

Most of the ‘sugar’ that we consume in our diet are two of these simple sugar molecules joined together. For example table sugar (Sucrose) is essentially a glucose and fructose holding hands. So all our body’s need to do is break that join, and then it has a pretty instant energy source.

White cane sugar currently seems to be taking the biggest beating in the media and googlesphere. Recently I have been seeing a plethora of recipes and processed foods containing seemingly ‘healthier’ forms of sugars. Ingredients like coconut sugar, organic sugar, organic honey. They do sound like they may well be a lot better for us than white cane sugar, but are they better for us, or are they the same sweet mistress but in a different disguise.

Sugar Biochemistry Part 2

  • Cane sugar = Sucrose (This includes all variants: white, brown, raw, organic, molasses etc)
  • Coconut/palm sugar = Sucrose (Coconut and palm sugar are essentially the same thing just from two different species of palm)
  • Maple syrup = Sucrose
  • Sugar beet = Sucrose (It’s grown areas of the world where it is better suited to the climatic conditions than sugar cane)
  • Honey = Fructose and Glucose

 So essentially sugar is sugar is sugar.

Our body treats it all in pretty much the same way. They are all concentrated sources of energy with very little vitamin or mineral content. So in my opinion it’s a same same but different scenario. None of these sugars are drastically healthier than others. So if you are going to have sugar then you may as well use the one that is best for the job, and tastes the best with whatever it is being served with.

This article covers off concentrated forms of sugar, the types of sugars that are added to foods, what I haven’t covered is the sugar that comes from Fruits and Vegetables (Fructose) and Dairy Products (Lactose). These will be covered in the next article.

Easy Peasy - Suggestion #1

Chicken Wholemeal Pita Pocket, Rice Wheels, Peach & Apple


Ingredients used in this recipe


This Greek flavored pita pocket contains chicken, cheese, Lisa's Greek dip, cucumber and mixed lettuce. Dips can be quite versatile and make for great dressing alternatives.  

Left over roast chicken is perfect for using for lunches which means less food waste.  

Additional Notes

When making pita pockets or even sandwiches make sure to keep the wet fillings on the inside layers to avoid the base going soggy over the day


Pesto pasta salad, Hummus, Oat cakes, Capsicum, Mandarin, Kiwi fruit


Ingredients used in this recipe


To make the pasta salad cook 1 cup of uncooked pasta according to the directions on the box. Allow pasta to cool. Cook peas, slice cherry tomatoes and cube cheese. Add tomatoes, peas and cheese to the cooled pasta. Mix through 2 tablespoons of pesto. If you are in a hurry and need to cool the pasta quickly then run the cooked pasta under cold water.

Additional Notes

Pasta salad will last in the fridge for up to 3 days if stored in an airtight container. This means you can make a large batch and make it spread over a few days to save time when packing lunch boxes. Hummus is very versatile and can be used for sandwich/wrap fillings, dipping vegetables and used for a spread on crackers. 

I'm an expert - Suggestion #3

Baked bacon & cheese Kumara, fruit kebabs, carrot sticks, snack cucumber, peanut free mixed nuts


Ingredients used in this recipe


To make the baked Kumara - Pre heat the oven at 200' C. Part boil four whole kumara for around 10 minutes. Take the kumara from the boiling water and place on a oven tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 mins or until cooked. While the Kumara bake, dice and cook 200gms of bacon in a pan. Finely dice red onion, halve 1 cup of cherry tomatoes and grate 1 cup of cheddar cheese. When kumara are done, allow to cool for 5-10 mins. Cut a circle in the top of the kumara and scoup out the middle of the kumara. Add the scoped out kumara to a bowl and mash. Add the red onion, bacon, tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste to the mashed kumara. Mix to combine. Fill the kumara back up with the mixture. place remaining cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until golden.

Additional Notes

Fruit kebabs are a fun way to get children to eat fruit. There are so many options on what fruit you can do, these fruit kebabs are made with pineapple, watermelon and rockmelon