Winter Wellness tips from AFL dietitian extraordinaire Simone Austin

April 11, 2017

Winter winners

On cold days warm foods are very comforting. Toasted sandwiches with ham and cheese at lunch time, curries and maybe even a steaming hot pie. Stop and think before you bite, to see if you are maximising your immune system.


Toasted sandwiches can be so much more: add loads of vegetables- capsicum, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, onion and flavour with antioxidant packed herbs and spices- oregano, chilli, garlic, ginger, turmeric. And a protein source; lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, baked or kidney beans or tofu.

Make home made pies using filo pastry (virtually no fat). Add in vegetables zucchini, carrot, chop up mushrooms or eggplant and throw in a can of tomatoes and some peas or beans. Use lean meat and freeze extras for spare.

Curries can have loads of vegetables added and legumes too. Legumes are high in dietary fibre, provide protein particularly for a vegetarian meal and carbohydrate along with zinc, iron and other immune boosting minerals.


How-to fuel your body like an AFL athlete

It’s cold, and players have had a morning session on the track and an afternoon in the gym. What do we provide them when that midafternoon hunger hits?

A hearty winter soup has always been a dish I push for athletes and non-athletes, to have as an afternoon go-to. It nourishes with:

  • vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the vegetables
  • spices like turmeric for its anti-inflammatory effects & ginger for its warmth on a cold day.
  • protein for muscle recovery and for satiety, important for those with big appetites that must keep lean. Add meat, fish or legumes.
  • carbohydrate content that you can vary by adding rice, pasta, legumes, corn, sweet potato, potato or eat with a slice of wholegrain bread depending on your activity level.

I am into my 9th season working with the Hawthorn Football Club and it can be a challenge to find an afternoon food that satisfies the appetite and nourishes. Soup, particularly chicken, seems to have been a winner though.


AFL Chicken survival soup


·       2 tablespoons olive oil

·       1 teaspoon of finely grated ginger

·       1 teaspoon finely grated turmeric

·       1 teaspoon of minced garlic

·       1 medium onion, finely chopped

·       1 medium carrot, diced

·       1 large stick celery, thinly sliced

·       handful of celery leaves

·       1 medium potato, peeled and diced

·       ½ can of green organic lentils

·       6 cups (1.5 litres) organic chicken stock

·       300g chicken breast fillets, diced

·       2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

·       Pinch of Himalayan pink salt



Step 1

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add turmeric, ginger, garlic, carrot, celery and potato and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.


Step 2

Add stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken and lentils, partially cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.


Step 3

Stir through parsley. Season to taste. Ladle soup into serving bowls and serve with fresh celery leaves on top with cracked pepper and Himalayan pink salt .


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