The IMPACT Community Health Service staff have been running the popular weekly 'Up and Active' classes in each of their Discovery Coast communities. But as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, those group activities have been put on hold.

'Up and Active' was an exercise program aimed at 50s and over for people in the Discovery Coast region. It consisted of low- to medium intensity exercise for strength and balance and cardio for health. It was also a great opportunity for social contact.

When the coronavirus restrictions came into play the classes had to be suspended and the team had to come up with something that would fill the gap.

And that's where 'Engage in U' was born. 'Engage in U' is a way to distribute information to get people moving and to stay healthy while we are all in lock-down.

It contains exercise info and suggestions, but also dietary and nutritional advice, like leftover recipes and how to get the best out of what's in your fridge.

And that is right in 'Engage in U's' dietitian Marina Chang's wheelhouse.

“It's all about education and encouragement,” Marina said. “Getting people to improve their wellbeing through their diet.”

The program is for people of all ages, for those with health conditions or people who just want some great options to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“Our strategy is to help them understand it is easier than they think and to give them all the necessary info they need,” Marina said. “To turn the facts into changes that will have the most impact.”

Marina's two top tips for switching to a healthier diet are:
• eat more vegetables
• ditch the processed food

Part of Marina's approach is finding out where you shop and what food is available to you: finding the best place for you to source the best food, and then looking for the best choice.

“And then the trick is making all these changes practical and including them into your daily routine,” Marina said. “And this will be different for each person so we individualise the advice and recommendations. It must be applicable to you.”

Marina will help you modify recipes where that is needed, how to make serving more effective and delicious and even how to change the visuals of the dish on the plate.

And to get your taste buds in gear, here is a great recipe from Marina's recent 'Cooking on a Budget' workshop.

Tex-Mex Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

Sweet potatoes cooked and halved

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

500gm mince beef

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp smoked paprika

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Black pepper, chilli powder if desired

Grated cheese

Method:

· Precook sweet potatoes in oven or microwave

· Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh. Set aside flesh

· Bake sweet potato skins in oven 10-15mins or until crisp

· Saute chopped onions and garlic in a pan with little olive oil until softened

· Add spices and stir or 1 min

· Add mince and stir until browned, add black pepper

· Add tomatoes and kidney beans

· Simmer, uncovered, until meat cooked.

· Mix through sweet potato flesh.

· Scoop mixture into sweet potato skins and top with grated cheese

Nachos

Ingredients:

Wholemeal pita or Lebanese bread

Tex Mex mince mixture

Tomato, chopped

Grated Cheese

1 avocado and ½ cup greek yoghurt, mashed together

Spring onion

Method:

· Cut or break pita bread into triangle shapes and place on oven tray

· Cook in oven 10 mins at 180 degrees C or until crisp

· Arrange pita crisps on plate

· Top with tex mex mince, grated cheese, tomato and avocado mix

· Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Engage in U is available to residents on the Discovery Coast. For more information call IMPACT Community Health Service on 4902 2000.