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Why Hemp Could be Considered a Household Staple & Thompson’s Exciting New Range of Hemp Foods

I am so excited that low THC hemp seed foods have finally been permitted for sale  in Australia, so that we can all enjoy the wonderful benefits of these powerful seeds. Hemp is considered one of the most nutritious plants in the world! Yet despite this, over two million Australians are still confused about hemp foods and, as a result, may miss out on the benefits of this superfood. Below are the key benefits to using hemp powder, seeds and oil in your daily life, what they taste like, how to use them, and why they won’t impair your state of mind!

PROTEIN: The seeds are a good source of protein and they contain the essential amino acids our bodies do not produce naturally, thus helping our bodies building and repair muscle and tissue;

ESSENTIAL FATS: Hemp is a plant-based source of essential fatty acids (omega-3 & omega-6) in an ideal ratio. These fats are crucial to support the structure and function of cells. The human body doesn’t produce essential fatty acids, so it’s important that we get them from our diet;

DIETARY FIBRE: A good source which is Important for healthy digestion, supporting gut health and offering steady energy.

TASTE

Hemp products have a pleasant, mild, nutty flavour that is not overpowering, and lends them to both sweet and savoury dishes.

HOW TO USE

x Sprinkle the seeds on top of salads, stir-fries, soups or smoothies

x Blend hemp protein powder with fruit into a strengthening smoothie

x Stir through the powder or the seeds into porridge or bircher muesli

x Bake with the powder/seeds in muffins, loaves or cookies, or roll them up in bliss balls

x Add the seeds to bean burger patties for added texture

x Mix hemp oil with other ingredients to form a salad dressing or simply drizzle on salads or over steamed veggies (Note, not to be used for heating)

x Soak seeds in water and blend into hemp milk

FINALLY… Whilst yes, hemp is derived from the Cannabis genus of plants, the seeds do not contain enough THC (<.5%) to produce any psychoactive effects! So it’s not going to alter your state of mind in any way.

Thompson’s Hemp Range is now available in Australian pharmacies and health food stores.

Check out @thompsons_nutrition_au on Instagram, @ThompsonsNutritionAustralia and www.thompsonsnutrition.com.au for more information.

 

How to: Easy Food-Prep

Food prep truly is the foundation to our health. Whether you work from home, an office or are at school/university, a certain amount of preparation is critical if we are to make healthy choices.  Without it, we are likely to reach for the convenient option, the takeaway shop near the office, the food delivery app, or scrounge together some snacks from the pantry. Not prepping properly can also lead to over-eating, because you get home famished, making a proper meal seems so far off when you have nothing prepped, so you reach for anything and everything before making a proper meal. Sound all to familiar? It doesn’t have to be.

Let’s get prepped!

Sure, we can go overboard here… you can have 5 lunches pre-portioned, a snack, a healthy treat, dips, dressings, and grains all soaked and cooked up. However this “go-hard” strategy, is likely unsustainable. What we want to set up is a solid routine that you can adhere to week after week. You can rotate the varieties e.g. swap from broccoli to Brussels sprouts, brown rice to quinoa etc. each week, in fact, I encourage you to, in order to obtain a broader spectrum of nutrients, but the principles are simple. I will list the 5 non-negotiable, and add on a few “additionals”, should any of them jump out at you and you have a little extra time.

How to get your fiancé, boyfriend, husband, child, loved one to eat more veggies? Do all the slicing, shaving, washing, blending, shaking, baking, soaking, boiling for them!!! It doesn't have to be this or this much, do what suits you. I've sliced raw veggies, roasted cruciferous veg, eggplant & sweet potato, blended cauliflower rice (raw, ready to be cooked), soaked and boiled quinoa, soaked chia seeds, shaken up a salad dressing, washed spinach and shaved cabbage. We are ready to roll! Salads, smoothies & snacks made easy for the week. Never underestimate food prep! ✨

  1. Buy and wash/dry a big bag or two of spinach – Easy! Put it in a large glass Tupperware and store it in the fridge. It can now be added to smoothies, salads and cooked meals with ease. I buy 1kg for Mike and I. Why? High in vitamins such as A, C, E and some Bs as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium, chlorophyll-rich spinach also provides additional fibre as well as the added benefit of alkalising our bodies.
  2. Roast a BIG tray of Cruciferous & starchy veggies – I like to choose three options such as 1 x head Broccoli, 1 x head Cauliflower & 3-4 medium Sweet potatoes. Other cruciferous options are Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, cabbage. Starches include: potato varieties, beetroot, turnips, parsnips, peas, pumpkin, organic corn. Why? Because a serving of cruciferous vegetables a day is healthy to support our liver and detoxification pathways as well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. Starch is a satiating, delicious way to amp up our fibre and feed the friendly bacteria in our gut which in turn produces butyrate (beneficial and important to the colon).
  3. Boil 1-2 cups dry gluten-free grains – Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, 100% buckwheat soba or rice noodles… these are WHOLE grains. Whilst refined grains are stripped of most of their nutrients, these beautiful grains are full of fibre, minerals, phytochemical, vitamins and amino acids. Do not be afraid to consume. For any digestive issues, try soaking them overnight, draining and then cooking in fresh water. Why? Grains assist with brain function, fat metabolism, energy production and tissue repair.
  4. Stock up or cook legumes – Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, cannelloni beans are always in my pantry. I buy organic, no-salt-added varieties that have no preservatives or nasties. Be sure to wash them thoroughly in a strainer, until all bubbles disappear, to avoid bloating. You can also soak dry legumes and then drain and cook them yourself. Why? As well as possessing the benefits of other starches as stated above, they are loaded with protein, are low GI and help to balance blood sugar and appetite, and are choc-full-of antioxidants and fibre to promote good digestion, heart health, and prevent cancer.
  5. Make a batch of salad dressing – there are so many combos you can try here. This ensures putting together a salad is easy and tasty in a pinch. Why? Because store-bought ones are generally full of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary salt and sugar. These have incredibly beneficial ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, lemons, miso, tahini, spices etc. that only bring you more health, not empty calories!

Up on the blog, a salad dressing for you to make for a healthy week! Chickpea dressing... two ways – plain or with a hint of tomato As you know, I prefer to use wholefoods to thicken up my dressings – avocado, nut and seed butters, veggies, legumes – and skimp on oil. See my blog for why. This is a delicious hummus-like dressing, whilst the herbs and/or tomato added lend a different flavour profile Make a big batch and keep it in a jar in the fridge for the week! One of my top tips to easy healthy meal prep. Just shake it up & pour Add a drop or two of water if it thickens over the days Legumes such as chickpeas have the remarkable effect of controlling blood-sugar/appetite well after you have eaten them, to your next meal and beyond, meaning a healthy dressing like this will keep you satiated post-meal ✨

Additionals:

Cha-cha-cha-CHIA!! My fave seed with a little bit of everything good ✨ Healthy #pudding? I think so! This Coconut Berry Chia Pudding is up on the blog, along with 3 other varieties ... Choc-Chip Chai ☕️ Choc Mint #YUM! Indulged a little this Easter weekend? No biggie, get back on track... Check out my Chia recipes, make a big batch tonight & be set for early breakfasts or night-time (anytime) sweet cravings

4 pre-prepped breakfast ideas for those rushed mornings

Every meal is equally important, so you can forget that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mantra that has become so popular. Proper fuel is required throughout the day to keep you energised and nourished, however studies show that those who skip breakfast tend to form other poor eating habits, and are more likely to have difficulty loosing or maintaining a healthy weight. Breakfast is also extremely important for those of you who are active in the mornings. Our cortisol levels are highest in the morning, and can be even more so after strenuous exercise, so proper nourishment is crucial at this time, particularly for already-stressed individuals (often the ones to pass on breakfast, unfortunately). Often when we try to fit a lot in before we head out the door, we are quick to let our breakfast game slip in the name of “saving time”. Let this not be the case with these four simple brekky ideas you can pre-prepare and rotate throughout your week (or simply stick to one!). In fact, if you are a chronic breakfast skipper, I want you to commit to breakfast every day this week. After the 7 days, assess your energy levels, digestion and appetite (particularly toward the end of the day). I am confident you will notice positive changes!

Easy Oat Breakfast Muffin

Serves 1

  • 1/2-2/3 cup liquid (water/plant milk or ½ and ½ combo)

  • 1/2 cup oats

  • 1 tbsp protein powder

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

  • 1 tbsp xylitol

  • ½ banana

  • Small handful berries of choice

  • 1 tsp tahini or almond butter

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • Optional: pinch of sea salt, ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170 C fan-forced.

Blend all ingredients (except berries and tahini) together in a blender.

Grease a small-medium ramekin with coconut oil.

Scoop out with a spatula and fill the ramekin up halfway. Sprinkle with berries and a drizzle of tahini.

Pile the other half of the batter on top add another berry or two for decoration (optional) and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

If not eating immediately, store in the refrigerator. Make one or several, to keep in the fridge for the week!

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Crunchy Coconut Chia Pudding

Serves 1

  1. Place all dry ingredients into a tupperware or jar and mix to combine.

  2. Pour nut milk and maple syrup in, and stir well.

  3. Cover and allow to soak in the fridge overnight or for several hours (until it forms a pudding-like texture).

  4. Once ready, add fresh fruit and head out the door!

Basic Bircher

Serves 1

  1. Soak all ingredients overnight in a jar or tupperware.

  2. Stir well before consuming. Feel free to add fresh berries and/or cinnamon.

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Sunshine Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 cup coconut water

  • 1 banana

  • ½ cup frozen mango

  • 1 large handful fresh spinach

  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds

  • 2 cm sliced ginger (optional)

  • 2-3 tbsp granola (for serving, optional)

  1. Blend all ingredients together the night before.

  2. Place in a large jar in the fridge, and take with you the following morning.

  3. Sprinkle with granola when consuming, if desired.

Health Foodie Guide to NYC

Many of you may not actually know this, but I used to live in New York. Back then, I was a very different person, excited by very different things (insert martini and dance emoji)! Nevertheless, NYC holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons: firstly, it was my dream to live there and I got to do it with my incredible best friend, so I have 1000s of fond memories made there! Secondly, my brother and his wife (and baby-on-the-way) still live there, so I get to go back often. Now, I have a third reason to add to the list, my oldest brother just got married there… So, you could say the love of NYC runs in the family!

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(My brother and I mins before he walked down the aisle)

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(My brothers wives, my sisters!)

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(The beautiful Bride and Bloom ;))

Which was the reason for my most recent visited… Having not been back since I really changed my life around, this time, I wasn’t looking for exotic cocktail lists or the best NY slice… it was all about the plant-based, healthy dining scene. And let me tell you, what a scene it is! I literally did not have enough meals in the day to keep up with extensive list I had been recommended and had researched. New York is bursting with trendy health hubs! So here is my must-see list that I have compiled, with a few on there that I didn’t quite get to myself (for you locals or those with more time)…

Happy travels!

To Dine in:

Blossom – I was so pleasantly surprised here, we had such an interesting and mouth-watering spread for lunch – vegan caesar salad, mushroom “scallops”, “fish cakes”…

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Avant Garden – upscale but not overly fancy, best to make a reservation. Insane plant-centered meals that make veggies the star of the show!

ABCV or ABC Kitchen – I have been to ABC kitchen previously, but this time had to try their vegetarian version, ABCV. I love the vibe, and the menu was interesting. I only made it to breakfast (I recommend the mango smoothie bowl) but I think lunch would be more impressive!

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The Butcher’s Daughter (below) – go here for those vegan pastrami sandwiches / cheese toasties you likely have to (or want to) skip whilst visiting NYC. This place makes them vegan-ized, healthy and so tasty! The toasty is insane. I also really enjoyed the adzuki bean bacon 🙂

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Inday – this place is literally bowls of heaven! Cute bowsl, cute drinks, cute vibe. Not 100% vegan but tonnes of options! So healthy!

Sun in Bloom – it can be difficult to source savoury plant-based options… this is a great spot for a vegan breakfast/lunch if you are in search of one in Brooklyn. You can have lunch for brekky too, so I tried their collard wrap burrito, definitely add avo! Their tofu scramble was also very tasty. I don’t recommend their acai smoothie though :

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Cafe Clover – I didn’t get here, but my brother recommends it for a nice evening out. Looks really interesting and has a few veg options.

Westville – an old favourite of mine I used to go here a lot, even when I was less health-conscious. I couln’t go past “market plate” whereby you can choose 4 sides and turn it into a divine, veg-filled plate!

Urban Vegan Kitchen – didn’t make it here but looks like my kinda place!

Souen- organic, macrobiotic restaurant that serves up delicious Asian-inspired dishes. Easy, well-priced, bursting with flavour.

Hearth – we had a big family dinner here and they had several vegan options for us! Great for large groups or a night out. Lots of veg!

Double Zero – no need to miss/crave cheese on a pizza when the toppings are this tasty! Cool vibe, would be great for a date night and a drink of vino too.

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On the fly:

Pressed Juicery – not only good for a quick juice fix but also for all fruit soft serve with the best toppings like raw nuts, vegan choc chips, nut butter etc.

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Juice Generation – In Equinox, good for a post-workout juice or smoothie.

Liquiteria – I was a little underwhelmed with their acai just FYI, but its a good go-to if you can’t find anything healthy as there are a few around and you can bet you can get a greens fix!

Sweet Greens – I didn’t get here, but hear it is a salad bar dream!

By Chloe – healthy-ish fast food! Hehe, it makes plant-based eating enticing for the masses. We had an insane creamy green smoothie and a small mac n cheese with mushroom bacon to share… delish!

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Taim – yummy, different flavoured falafel pockets! Great after a busy day shopping in Soho 🙂

Orchard Grocer – Reallllllyyyy wanted to go here. Please tell me if you do! They have vegan cream cheese and lox… need I say more?

Beyond Sushi – all vegan sushi! Exotic & interesting combos for all you plant-based sushi lovers who are perhaps a little over avo and cucumber… amiright?!

Screamers Pizza – Didn’t make it here, but feel like it is a take on NYC slice (whereas Double Zero is a little more “fancy pizza”). Would love to try it!

Erin McKenna’s bakery – all vegan baked treats, missed this one, tell me if you go!

Union Square Markets vegan bakery stall – Ahhh so many options! I got a delicious corn bread scroll at the recommendation of the stall holder, it was yum!

To workout:

Soul Cycle – the vibe here is insane, I hate spin but I loved this class! Wish I could go back for more.

Laughing Lotus – Gorgeous yoga studio with great teachers

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Strala Yoga – Try make a class with Tara! So much fun

Equinox – All your gyming needs 🙂

Why you may be getting bloated after a healthy, “clean” meal….

I’m still bloated, and I have cut out dairy, gluten, wheat and refined sugar… now what?” Words I hear often. There are so many things at play when it comes to our complicated but wonderful digestive system. I recommend keeping a symptoms diary for at least two weeks if bloating is a serious concern, noting what you eat and when you become bloated (take strict note of the time between food consumption and onset of symptoms). This is important to not only identify what triggers you, but which part of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) requires attention. You will likely need to provide this information to a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to really understand your digestive issues. However, first, take the below points into consideration and give a few of the tips a go! You might surprise yourself with how easy it is to fix up those bloating woes with just a few simple tweaks 🙂

  1. You might be eating too fast and not be chewing enough – there are no more teeth past the mouth! We must chew, chew, chew to not only break down our food so it can fit through our GIT, but also to wake up those ever important digestive enzymes that actually begin digestion. Without these in full swing, bloating is guaranteed. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway ;)) that this also causes over-eating, another common contributing factor to bloating, discussed below. Tips: Always sit down for your meal/snack and set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes, this is how long you should be eating for! Aim to chew each mouthful 10-20 times. Place knife and fork down between bites. Try to drink water away from meals not with meals, again, so as not to dilute those critical digestive enzymes.

  1. You might be stressed or distracted – when we are distracted or emotionally strained, the digestive system is not at full capacity. This is because it is busy doing other things that seem more pressing at the time. This is also a scenario where you are likely to over-eat and under-chew. Use the tips from above to really slow down and focus on the delicious, abundant, nutritious plate in front of you, and put away your phone! If stress is an issue, take several deep belly breaths before commencing your meal, and channel your energy into honing in on the senses – the sight, smell and taste of your food!

  1. Your stomach acid might be low – whilst we wont our bodies (blood) to be nice and alkaline, our stomach requires a different pH that is actually acidic. Contrary to popular belief, indigestion is usually the result of inadequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid – HCI), not high! The reason you may experience a burning sensation is because the stomach is sending the food back up as it cannot digest it, bringing with it some of that HCI which whilst not acidic enough, is still acidic when compared to other areas of the body. Interestingly, low stomach acid might not only cause bloating, but also, more acidic blood (not a good thing!). Tips: To increase HCI consume things like lemon water first thing in the morning, and incorporate fermented foods such as saurkraut/kimchi, kefir, unpasturised miso etc. A shot of apple cider vinegar or mixing it in water 15 mins prior to meals should also do the trick!

  1. You have difficulty digesting fats – fats can take a long time to digest. Couple that, with a “sluggish” liver, which is crucial in processing fatty foods (bile production), and you have a recipe for tummy trouble. If your stools are particularly “greasy”, this be indicated. Tips: Try nurturing your liver through consuming things like bitter greens (dandelion leaves, rocket, endive, radicchio) apple cider vinegar and cooked cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts). You could drink some liver-loving teas like dandelion root/leaves, milk thistle or nettle, and drink warm lemon water each morning. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, deep-fried food, processed food, artificial sweeteners/flavours and unnecessary medication/supplements.

  1. Portion distortion – perhaps your simply eating too much. Excess food consumption can definitely lead to discomfort, especially if you are eating a variety of foods which require different digestive enzymes to break down (this is a theory, but there is some evidence to suggest this can cause a “traffic jam” in the GIT. Look into “Food Combining” if interested). Tips: You could follow some food combining rules here. One I like to follow is consuming fruit mostly alone, or at least first thing in the morning. Alternatively, smaller meals, more frequently, could help some people really sensitive to larger portions. Eating slowly so you register when you are indeed full is a simple but effective tip. Again, consuming liquids away from meals, particularly large ones, is helpful.

  1. You might have an intolerance to something else, or aren’t reading labels correctly and are accidentally consuming some of the usual culprits – consider allergy/intolerance testing, consulting with a healthcare practitioner.

“I’m Vegan and Always Hungry. Help!” Appetite Control and My Top Tips To Reduce Insatiable Hunger

Amongst its many jobs, the hypothalamus (in the brain) is responsible for appetite regulation by stimulating metabolic and behavioural responses to maintain energy balance. Many factors come into play here, including the roles and reactions of biological hormones and peptides as well as psychological cues.

A lot of people fear or find that when they cut out meat and dairy, essentially everything they have been conditioned to associate with protein, they won’t be satiated. Well, protein is indeed satiating, and lucky for us, it is in everything. So if it is protein you are worried about, simply ensuring you get enough calories daily should suffice to meet protein requirements (.8g/kg of body weight), read more here. While the effect of protein on appetite control is well-documented, increasing protein consumption beyond what is necessary does not appear to be helpful, and clearly shows a 75% increase in overall mortality, and a four-fold increase in cancer death risk! Interestingly, some experiments show that high animal-based protein diets might help with quick weight-loss and appetite control short-term, but these effects tend to dissipate after one year. Further, these diets deplete the bodies glycogen stores and the water that goes with them, so it stands to reason that participants lose (water) weight.

In one study, a vegetable-based meal (beans/peas) influenced appetite and energy intake favourably compared to an animal-based meal (pork/veal) with similar energy and protein content. Further, a vegetable-based meal with low protein content was as satiating and palatable as an animal-based meal with high protein content! So we can see, protein isn’t the only thing that is important to consider when it comes to appetite control!

Aside from protein, nutrient density and fibre are extremely important when it comes to satiety. Nutrient density is important because if you are eating nutrient-poor but calorie-rich foods (fast, processed, refined foods), your body may send you hunger signals, hoping that you choose to feed it the nutrients it so needs. There is ample evidence that increasing consumption of high-fibre foods may decrease feelings of hunger. High-fibre foods are shown to take a while to digest, controlling blood sugar, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and having the added bonus of “cleansing” the system and feeding beneficial gut bacteria.

Without knowing an individuals diet, it is tricky for me to answer why they are feeling constantly hungry. A common mistake people make is forgetting to replace the meat in their meal with something else nutrient-dense e.g. a chicken salad, minus the chicken, will not fill you up. You must add staples like chickpeas, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, nuts or seeds in place, to amp up the energy and nutrient-density, and thus the satiety.

Lastly, we are supposed to get hungry! “If I eat a vegan meal, I find I am hungry a few hours later”… Well, that is often a positive when transitioning to a vegan diet, we become more in tune with our appetite. We must stop looking at hunger as a bad thing. You need food to fuel your body to function, it is simply about choosing the right fuel. Waking up hungry, feeling hungry every 3-5 hours is a very natural, normal and healthy indicator of your body working efficiently. Food is not the enemy!

Hunger-fighting Tips:

– Replace the meat in your meal with something nutrient-dense, fibre-rich and substantial;

– Ensure you reach adequate protein daily through a variety of plant-sources: fruits and vegetables (everything adds up), beans, legumes and grains, tempeh and tofu, nuts and seeds. If you wish to incorporate a protein powder, you may, but that isn’t always necessary. Remember, sufficient calories = sufficient protein, read more on this here. Include beans and legumes in your diet, evidence suggests that such plant-proteins provide a longer feeling of satiety than animal proteins;

– Fill up on non-starchy vegetables – 3+ cups per meal is not too much! Go hard! Snack on these freely;

– Nutritious mini meals, such as the three S’s – salads, soups and smoothies – can also be snacks and are often healthier and satisfying than packaged and processed snack options;

– Think nutrient density – perhaps your body is craving nutrition rather than calories;

– Don’t deprive yourself of carbohydrates – carbohydrates are a mainstay in a plant-based diet. Gluten-free grains, legumes, beans, fruit… these foods are not to be feared. They are the bodies primary source of fuel, crucial for healthy brain, thyroid and digestive function and keeping you full, happy and healthy.

– Not too long, not too short, just right – Don’t wait too long between meals to the point where you are famished, make poor choices and guzzle your food, but don’t eat too soon, as we need time between meals to cleanse the digestive system! Aim to wait at least 2-3 hours;

– Plate your food – if snack items are out of reach, studies suggest you eat less. Ensure you are seated when eating, not on-the-go (or standing over the sink!);

– Do not inhale food – eat slowly and mindfully, away from distractions. Chew each bite 10-20 times. Set an alarm in your phone to go off after 20 minutes, this is a good guide for how long you should eat. Place utensils down between bites, and swallow each mouthful before going for another!

– Sleep – a lack of sleep actually leads to heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after a meal due to its relationship with the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Essentially, it reduces the amount of leptin in your body, the “stop-eating” hormone;

– Ensure you are hydrated – Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, particularly with fruit cravings. Have a glass or two of water, wait a few minutes, then decide if you are truly hungry. Note: it is best to drink away from meals, so as not to dilute digestive enzymes needed to break down food;

– Apple cider vinegar – fights candida and may help with sugar cravings, bloating and stimulation of stomach acid;

Cinnamon – trials ustilising cinnamon as a means for blood sugar stabilisation, particularly in diabetics, have yielded mixed results. However, given the little downside, why not try it in meals. Be sure to choose Ceylon as opposed to Cassia (more common/cheap), due to potential coumarin toxicity;

– Phenylalanine – Is an amino acid thought to help suppress appetite, due to its relationship with the satiety hormone cholecystokinin. Bee pollen and chlorella (can be taken as tablets) are nutritious superfoods, rich in phenylalanine;

– Peppermint tea – may help suppress appetite, and is a lovely way to end a meal. Note: avoid if you are prone to reflux.

 

Healthy Cooking Time Savers

After a long day of work or study, crafting a healthy meal may not excite or delight you, but realistically, this is the time we need it most. To restore and replenish. We need to make sure energy levels and stress hormones are well taken care of through a proper, nourishing dinner. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be tricky. I know sometimes my meals seem extravagant, but I truly believe that is because of the variety of vegetables and spices I use, making it super vibrant and colourful. Truly, it’s never too difficult! Before studying nutrition I was no chef. I still am no chef. I am just a nutritionally-minded cook, who breaks all the rules, is very messy, and hates cleaning up. In light of that, let me share some tips and tricks to save you time and ensure that at 7pm you aren’t ordering in or settling for toast or oats 😉

Prep your leafys.

Slice or shave, wash and spin-dry bundles of spinach, rocket, lettuce, purple cabbage (this is my fav one), or pre de-stem kale, and keep in air-tight glass containers in the fridge. I try to rotate my options. That way when you are ready to make a quick lunch/dinner you can grab a handful for the base of your salad. You can also quickly access your greens for smoothies.

Bake your veggies whole.

Walk in the door, throw a whole pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic etc. in the oven on 180 C and let it cook whilst you shower, tend to children, or just simply put your feet up for a few moments. No need to peel or chop (especially if buying organic). Just let it cook for 20 mins – 1 hour (depending on your veg and the size), and either unwind, do some chores or prepare a side salad whilst it cooks.

Have a bunch of grains pre-soaked/cooked.

Soak grains in the fridge in glass tupperware for a few days, so it is at the ready for you to drain, rinse and cook. Soaking can help digestion and absorption of nutrients. I do 1 cup brown rice in one tupperware, 1 cup quinoa in the other. If this is simply ridiculously prepared for you or you don’t feel it necessary, quinoa is a quick 14 mins to cook, soaked or not, so should always be kept on hand for a fast food choice to bulk up your salads!

Spice up your meals!

Having spices on hand is essential to making meals more interesting and nutritious. Turmeric, cumin, curry, chili, cinnamon are my most used. Herbamare is also a great way to intensely flavour meals with no added salt required. You will be surprised how good your whole-cooked veggies, tempeh or boiled grains taste with some of these thrown on and some greens.

Try tempeh.

It is the easiest thing to cook. Honest! Simply slice or chop it up, mince some garlic and fry it in a pan with coconut oil and tamari, 3-4 mins each side. Ready in less than 10! Fast food!

Keep beans on standby.

I know clean-eating involves minimal packaging, but there is no need to cook beans and legumes from scratch (unless of course you wish to!). There is also little evidence to suggest that beans do indeed make you bloated, that could simply just be placebo. So give them a go! They are an easy, substantial addition to any meal. Be sure to drain and rinse them thoroughly to reduce the likelihood of a bad reaction.

Canned or bottled diced tomatoes.

This makes the easiest curry, soup or pasta sauce base! Add it to a pan with some cumin spice, garlic, salt and pepper (at minimum) and you are good to go in 10!

Pre-make a salad dressing on a Sunday.

Salads can take as quick as 15 mins of chopping. 2-3 cups leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, onion, avocado, seeds… Add ½ cup canned beans or legumes to that and you have a decent meal! The only thing sabotaging it is a lack of healthy salad dressing options at the market. Don’t douse your goodness in oil, have a big batch of clean salad dressing made up ready to use for the entire week. Find some easy recipes here.

Settle with a smoothie (late night).

If you get home later, don’t feel guilty about taking the easy route out. A smoothie is an quick and easy meal with minimal washing up and maximal nutrition. Including handfuls of greens is a good way to still get your vitamins and minerals in now that you are replacing a full meal with a liquid alternative. Fibre! My late night smoothie would look something like this: 1 banana, 2-3 cups spinach or other leafy greens of choice, almond milk, 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1 date, 3-4 brazil nuts or walnuts, ½ cup berries or mango (optional). Pinch of nutmeg to induce sleep might also help 🙂

Healthy Easter Hacks

Easter can be a tricky time for some people, with chocolate eggs and bunnies crowding office kitchens and store aisles. Not only have we put together fuss-free, guilt-free Easter hampers for you to keep your chocolate choices simple and pure, we have also put together this list of what to look out for when making an Easter purchase, healthy swaps, ways to have fun and how to indulge this weekend! Happy Easter!

1. Stay on the Dark side…

of chocolate that is! A good rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. 70% and higher is a good guide. That is not only because it’s antioxidant content will be greater, but usually, the higher cacao percentage it is, the less sugar/milk you can usually find in it. In fact, dark chocolate v milk chocolate is less likely to contain dairy, and dairy-free is definitely the way to go when opting for a guilt-free treat! When sugar or milk/milk powder is the first ingredient, you can be sure that bar has fewer health benefits. My pick for all the best dark and dairy-free chocolate this Easter is this assortment of goodies.

2. Make your own

Be completely confident with what is in the chocolate you’re munching on by DIYing it. Try the easiest chocolate recipe here. You will need this and this. You can also find a more decadent Easter chocolate truffle recipe here. Another fun choc-treat to make yourself is dark chocolate coated fruit by melting down this chocolate. If you would like to minimise the chocolate used, simply drizzle it over instead of fully immersing the fruit in the melted chocolate. For added crunch, sprinkle with crushed nuts. This is a fantastic way to get the whole family involved, so that it isn’t just about eating, but more about creating and spending time together.

3. Chocolate replacements

There is no need to completely skimp on that chocolatey flavour you crave around this time of year. If you don’t want to splurge on chocolate, why not try and incorporate it into your day in other fun ways? Try this chocolate thickshake for a protein-packed breakfast, a bliss ball for that mid-morning or afternoon slump, a soothing creamy hot cacao or the healthiest chocolate mousse for those nighttime cravings!

4. Work for it!

Kids or no kids, an Easter egg hunt is a great Easter activity to do with family or friends, that actually sees you work for your chocolate! Get creative with the hiding spots, scattering them over a greater area of space to get you all moving further for longer! What’s more, you can also hide other Easter-related items: think baby carrots, bunny ears, pom-pom baby chickens, spiced teas, chocolate-scented lip balms. Get creative!

5. Apply the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule is a realistic one to live by: you abide by a healthy diet and lifestyle 80% of the time, and allow room for indulgence the other 20%. Whilst to some, this might mean a weekend of “blowing” out, because the rest of the week they have been “good”, I prefer to think of it with a little more moderation. Enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, whilst also savouring those chocolate eggs (i.e. don’t skip meals! You will only over-indulge). If you can sneak in a walk or a workout over the Easter weekend, great! but if you are busy having fun, don’t sweat it, you ate fresh healthy meals, spent quality time with loved ones, and you treated yourself without the guilt!

All About Protein

Protein… Definitely the most popular of the macronutrients! Fat has had its fair share of bad press, now it’s back to poor carbohydrates… But protein prevails. So, what is it about our devout obsession?

Let’s take a look…

What is protein? Protein is one of three of the macronutrients (the other two being carbohydrates and fat), and is made up of amino acids. Of the twenty amino acids found in protein, some can be made by the body, while it is essential we obtain others through diet i.e. essential amino acids.

What does it do? Amino acids are “the building blocks” for muscle tissue as well as required for the structure of bone, skin and hair. Proteins also support the creation of enzymes, hormones, vitamins and neurotransmitters all required for proper bodily function. (Note the words required and support, thus while extremely important, not the only nutrient we need!).

To understand nutrition, it helps to look at the origins of nutrients… All nutrients come from the sun (vitamin D) or the soil (everything else). For example, calcium in milk is only present due to the fact that the cow ate plants, which obtained calcium from the soil. The same goes for omega 3, iron, B12… the common nutrients under the firing squad when it comes to questioning the adequacy of the vegan diet.

Amino acids, are no exception. Just like humans, other animals don’t produce them either, they too obtain essential amino acids from their diet. Thus, all essential amino acids originate from plants and microbes.

As such, ALL plants have ALL essential amino acids, despite what you might commonly hear. The idea that they don’t was debunked by the scientific community decades ago, but for some reason, no one is talking about it. This notion that plant protein is inferior is based on studies conducted on rodents over a century ago, whereby baby rats didn’t grow as well eating plants. But rats have different requirements to us, because they actually grow 10 times faster! Reflecting this, their mothers milk has 10 times more protein in it than human mothers milk! Therefore, the two are incomparable.

The Protein Combining myth – the idea that vegans need to consume complementary sources of plant protein e.g. grains + beans, to obtain all essential amino acids. Whilst yes, some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, the body has the incredible ability of doing all the “complementing” for us – we have an efficient protein recycling program, whereby around 90g of protein is dumped into the digestive tract daily from our own body, broken down, reassembled and added to, effectively mixing and matching amino acids to the proportions we require. Amazing!

In fact, the very concept that protein combining was required was adamantly retracted by its propagator Frances Moore-Lappe in the edited edition of her book, Diet for a Small Planet, in which she wrote:

“In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only way to get enough protein … was to create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought… if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein.”

Other researchers have also cleared up this myth:

 protein myths

Thus we do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances when the dietary amino acid supply is from the plant-food proteins that make up our usual diets.

But how much protein do I need? The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for adults is based on the amino acids needed to maintain body tissues and replace losses. Believe it or not, this can easily be met. The calculation is simple: your weight in kg, divided by 0.75g for adult females, and 0.84g for adult males.

E.g. a 60 kg woman, aged 19-69 years old, would require 60 x 0.75 = 45g of protein/daily.

Note: it really requires intensive training to require significantly more than this amount e.g. moderate-elite endurance athletes.

What does 45 grams of protein look like? To give you some perspective…

  • 150g of fish or meat ranges from 30-40g protein;
  • 1 cup of beans/legumes is approximately 18g protein;
  • 1 cup quinoa is around 8g protein;
  • ½ cup dry oats 6g protein;
  • 1 handful almonds (28g) 6g protein;
  • 1 cup of broccoli 4g protein.

Why I show you this variety is to point out how with just one serving of meat, the woman in our example above would almost hit her quota. Yet surely she is eating other things throughout her day? Hopefully she is eating at least 5 servings of vegetables, which could add up to approx 5-20g. Let’s not forget a piece of fruit or two, some oats for breakfast, maybe a handful of nuts and seeds on her lunch. And boom! We are now well and truly over. Yet most people are intent on consuming animal protein at every meal, whether it be eggs or protein powder for breakfast, tuna for lunch and chicken for dinner!

My point… The rice in your sushi. The spinach in your salad. The peas next to your main. The pumpkin seeds atop your oats. The oats themselves! It. all. adds. up.

Sufficient calories = sufficient protein.

But wait, so what if I well exceed my “quota”? What’s the harm of too much protein? So glad you asked! Because no one really does! Well, higher protein diets, especially those obtained through excessive meat consumption, are linked to chronic diseases such as kidney disease, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, not to mention the other uncomfortable conditions often associated such as constipation, IBS, bad breath, acne, hormonal imbalance and other lifestyle impedances. The type of fat, excess protein, natural carcinogens, synthetic hormones and antibiotics, the natural hormones in the animal and of course, the absence of fibre in all animal products all play a part in these problems. What’s more, pathogenic bacteria in our bodies thrive on accumulated excess, unused proteins (“junk protein”). However when we give our bodies a break from protein or consume it moderately, our natural recycling process, autophagy, is allowed to operate smoothly, breaking down these accumulated “junk proteins” into usable amino acids. Autophagic dysfunction is associated with cancer, neurodegeneration, microbial infection and aging. High protein diets have also recently been found to have adverse effects on metabolic function, because protein consumption reduces the bodies sensitivity to insulin after a meal. A quick note on high-protein diets for weight-loss, this statement really sums it up – they offer quick weight loss (a large part of which is attributed to the diuretic effect due to low-carbohydrate intake), that has been found to be unsustainable and carries negative health consequences. There are very few long-term studies on the safety and effectiveness of such diets.

Interestingly, whilst there has been no established upper limit i.e. highest amount one can consume safely, the Australian Nutrition Reference Values recommends consuming no more than 25% protein as energy…

A quick calculation I did of a 60kg 25 year old woman: consuming a whey protein smoothie with banana, berries, spinach, a chicken wrap for lunch, and a salmon fillet with salad in the evening, equals a total of around 80g of protein. That is without me adding in snacks, and many vegetables at all! That is very close to double her required intake, and approximately 35% of her diet sourced from protein. Yet this is a common dietary pattern amongst both women and men trying to stay “lean” by choosing animal protein breakfast, lunch and dinner.

See how easy it is to meet and exceed your required intake?

And whilst, vegan diets are likely to be lower in protein compared to the intake of meat-eaters (to vegan’s benefit, as we established above), this is generally because those eating meat consume far more than actually required of them.

My hope with this article is this:

  • Do not be afraid of not hitting your protein quota by following a plant-based diet;
  • Do not assume vegans lack protein;
  • Do not think of a vegan diet as lacking in nutrients;
  • Reassess your protein intake, whichever diet you choose to follow.

Eat for health & longevity, always.

Sami xo

 

What I eat in a Day to keep healthy

Everyday superfoods I aim to include…

  • 1 tbsp kimchi (probiotics, gut health)
  • 1-3 tbsp flax (omega 3, blood-sugar stabilising, fibre)
  • 1 tsp dulse flakes or 2 sheets nori (iodine and trace minerals, thyroid and hormone health)
  • 1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (B-vitamins and amino acids, great for energy)
  • 2-3 Brazil nuts (selenium, important for thyroid amongst many other functions)
  • Greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans/legumes, lemons, parsley, coriander, turmeric, maca, goji berries (antioxidants, fibre, detoxifiers, mineral and vitamin-rich, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar regulating foods!)

Liquids I choose…

  • Lemon water (stimulates digestion, supports liver)
  • Filtered water with a pinch of celtic/rock salt (enhances of absorption/hydration)
  • ACV in water (improves stomach acid and gut health) – when I remember!
  • Herbal teas- Dandelion, Tulsi, Women’s cycle, chai or soaked goji berries in hot water (stress, hormone and liver helpers)
  • Glass of Kombucha / kefir (gut health) – every second day or so
  • Celery & Beet juice – (liver and circulatory health)
  • Miso soup

6:30am First thing in the morning I have ½ lemon juiced in warm water.

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Breakfast

8-9am: Green Smoothie – find my everyday recipe here. Sometimes, particularly at the moment, I leave out the celery and lemon, and add 1 tbsp ground flax, 2-3 brazil nuts and 1 medjool date to it. It tastes so creamy! I make a herbal tea for right after this to tie me over – often we go back for more not because we need more but because we haven’t allowed our appetite to settle post meal.

Green smoothie heaven ✨ Post a killer barre workout @leanbeanfitness thanks to the gorgeous Lizzie via @classpass You've gotta try it! • By now you know that I like to start each day with a clean green smoothie to fill myself up with fibre & the beautiful vitamins & minerals we get from #raw greens Nothing makes me feel better! Did you know 95% of us don't meet our veg intake, which probably means a similar % don't meet our fibre needs We need fibre for a beautiful healthy body- to stabilise blood sugar & cholesterol & ensure a well-functioning digestive system. Yet we're all so concerned with protein (which hardly anyone is deficient in btw). 95% is staggering! #Fibre is key Try to work out how much fibre you get today & see if you need to up the ante. A smoothie a day will definitely help ☺️ #greensmoothie #healthystart #asmoothieaday

Morning tea

10-11am: Because my breakfast is quite light, I often find I am hungry 1-2 hours later. I like it this way! I personally don’t do well on a heavy breakfast, I feel it slows me down and leaves me feeling less vital. Fruit is easy and quick to digest, so it makes sense I am hungry again. As such, if I am out and about I will bring this bircher muesli: 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbsp flax, 1 tbsp chia, 1 tbsp hemp/pumpkin/sunflower seeds, 3 crushed walnuts, 1 tbsp goji berries soaked in coconut water or nut milk/water + sprinkle cinnamon, and sometimes ¼ cup berries. Alternatively, at home I have 1 x sprouted gluten-free toast w smashed avo, a sprinkle of dulse and nutritional yeast and some sprouts or herbs. If I am not hungry, a herbal tea, nut milk turmeric latte, or glass of homemade coconut Kefir or Kombucha will do me fine!

Activated Omega Pot! A staple in our vegan diet at the moment. Early mornings I like to have a light green smoothie, and then this little pot of goodness for morning tea, gets me through to lunch! It packs a powerful punch with both soluble & insoluble fibre, it's high in both omega 3 & protein (around 17g) Plus when you soak it all overnight it assists #digestion and what's more, the goji go really soft & plump like juicy sultanas ☺️ Except they're much more #nutritious! Just soak 1/3 cup oats in @h2coco coconut water with 1 tbsp of each: chia, ground flax, goji, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds & 4 crushed walnuts & you're ready to go in the am!!! ✨ #plantbased #healthybreakfast

Goji tea - an easy home remedy recommended by my TCM-enthusiast fellow nutritionist & yogi @balancedbymaya Said to be a liver/kidney tonic to help replenish & purify blood for improved circulation, menstrual flow & fertility May be a helpful addition for those with low-iron/anemia. Ideal with Chinese red date too however a little tricky to get your hands on! I just love it because it turns these little #antioxidant powerhouses into juicy plump sultana-like treats that burst in your mouth I added a few sprigs of mint but perfect on its own - 1 tbsp Goji to 1 cup boiling water ❤️ @balancedbymaya full of yummy, natural ideas! This has been an arvo / evening staple for a month now!! #gojitea

Lunch

12:30-1:30pm: I try to have some apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice in water before my lunch salad. This is consistent, I just rotate my choice of veg and pulses. My guide is: roughly 3 large handfuls of leafy veg (options include: rocket, cabbage, spinach, kale, cos) + sliced salad veggies of choice (tomato, cucumber, capsicum, onion, shallots, carrot, fennel, snow peas etc) + 1/2 cup beans/legumes + 1/2 cup starch (potato, pumpkin, beetroot) + handful cruciferous veg (if I have some roasted up, e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts), 1/4 of a ripe avocado, 1 tbsp fermented veg/kimchi. Herbs and sprouts are great additions if I have any on hand. I toss this all up with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar then sprinkle with 1 tsp dulse, 1-3 tbsp nut yeast, and a pinch of chili flakes and black pepper. Otherwise I use one of my dressings using a combo of lemon, lime, ACV, dijon, tahini, hummus, miso, tamari etc. See my blog! Note, if I have leftovers from dinner I might have this instead, but I do like to get my raw veg in this time of day 🙂

Are all salads created equal? ✨ New blog post is up! ~~~~ An area so many of us get lost in is salad dressings. Firstly, because the store-bought or cafe-ordered ones are usually overrun by oils of varying quality, excessive sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc. which can turn your otherwise healthy meal on its head. And secondly, I believe, we are all looking to oil as they key ingredient... Find out why I prefer to skip/skimp on oil in favour of delicious, whole-food ingredients, and learn 7 easy dressings you can shake together in a jar, no fancy equipment required: • Miso Tamari • Lemon Dijon • Lemon Tahini • Nutritious Creamy Citrus • Passion-fruit Lime • Apple Almond • Miso Tahini (my fav at the moment!)

A squeeze of lemon atop your food makes the iron more available, as vitamin C has the ability to increase iron absorption Of course, plants like green leafy vegetables have the miraculous combination of both iron + #vitaminC ... because nature is clever like that but a little extra lemon love boosts it even more!! We should also be careful not to consume tea & coffee around meal time too, which can inhibit iron #absorption. ~~~~ Good sources of #plantbased iron: Lentils, beans, tempeh, quinoa, brown rice, oats, cashews, tahini/sesame, pepitas, sunflower seeds and leafy greens!!

If I am on the run I might grab 2 x brown rice (if possible) avocado and cucumber sushi rolls and a serving of edamame, veg rice paper rolls, a cup of soup from a cafe,or a fresh DIY salad with beans or falafels…

Lunching today at the gorgeous new @thebrunchlady !! DIY salads & the yummiest smoothies- try the Acai!! And definitely get the gluten-free vegan falafels My face says it all

Afternoon tea – note, I don’t always have this, I tune in to my hunger.

3-5pm: A few days a week, I have a “pick me up” smoothie… 1 banana or ½ banana + ½ c berries/unsweetened acai, handful of spinach + 1 tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp glutamine, 1 tsp maca, 1 tsp bee pollen and sometimes cacao, cinnamon or tahini for flavour. If I am very hungry I will add a scoop of Nuzest vanilla clean lean (pea) protein, or 2 tbsp hemp seeds. Other options I like: carrot + hummus, nori veg rolls, homemade bliss balls, green juice, an apple, miso soup or I will simply choose one of the drinks I mentioned for morning tea if I haven’t already had one and am not too hungry.

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Riceless sushi snack inspo. Including the star of so many of my meals: Sea vegetables ⭐️ ~~~~ Have you started incorporating sea veggies into your meals? I try to include a little each day! They are full of trace minerals that we don't always have plentifully in our land veg, mainly iodine- a very important nutrient for a healthy thyroid. I say a little, however, as too much iodine can be as bad as not enough (note my caveat below with kelp). Here are some great ways to include it: - Chomp on seaweed/nori sheets as a snack. Try find untoasted varieties - "Ricless sushi" #rainbowrolls (pictured): roll veggies, tempeh, avo, dip, kimchi in seaweed - Slice up a nori sheet and throw it into a salad or stir fry - Sprinkle 1-2 tsp dulse flakes into your salads, soups, stir-fries and stews - Try kelp noodles as a pasta/noodle alternative- Note kelp is very very rich in #iodine so should be consumed rarely and sparingly !! - Veg brown rice sushi rolls (good on-the-go option when in the city/shopping centre) - Throw some dulse/nori/arami/wakame in miso soup as a snack ! Love miso

Dinner

6:30-7:30pm: I like to keep it grounding and warming for dinner, even into the summer months. This usually means a cooked dinner, sometimes with a side salad. Good, complex carbohydrates don’t scare me at dinnertime like they used to. My days are designed so that I eat fresh, healthy, wholefoods that are easy to digest, so at night, my body can handle them. There is also research to suggest they help with sleep. Of course, as mentioned, it comes down to the quality i.e. unrefined, complex carbs, paired with plenty of veg. I choose: brown rice or noodle tempeh stir fries, lentil/chickpea curries, veggie-based soups with some grains or beans, split red lentil Dahl with rice, mung bean and brown rice kitchari, bean burger patties atop greens, zucchini or konjac/quinoa pasta with lentil bolognese and greens, mushroom, lentil and brown rice san choy bow… to name just a few of my staples! Basically, I always pair my beans and grains with lots of greens, especially cooked cruciferous veg, and sometimes I have a side salad too. I try to cook with: ginger, turmeric, coriander, parsley, miso, flax and lemon regularly, and use condiments like tahini, tamari/coconut aminos, vegetable broth and organic canned tomatoes or coconut milk. I use minimal oil in my cooking, just a little coconut oil to pan-fry where needed, or I “steam-fry” my veg with water/broth.

Tonight My lentil Dahl recipe on the blog ✨ With all the fixings.... love adding fresh (very bitter) rocket from the garden to it & purple sweet potato The bitterness is good for digestion Try it this week and let me know what you think!

Miso & sea vegetable soba noodle soup! I like using sea veg where I can, usually dulse flakes in my salads but here I've used the whole leaf plus wakame & nori too! Sea vegetables are a wonderful way to get a wide variety of beneficial vitamins & minerals into your diet, especially as our soils become more & more depleted. Not just iodine (which is important for healthy thyroid function) but also Bs, zinc, potassium magnesium & iron I basically whisked miso paste into warm water and allowed the sea veg to soak in it as I lightly cooked it on the stove, before adding the steamed broccoli & zucchini, stir-fried mushrooms & silverbeet, & cooked 100% buckwheat soba (careful, some varieties include wheat). Combined it all together with a few drops of tamari. Very quick nutritious dinner. Chilli optional but recommended! I love Asian-inspired dinners!

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Dessert

8-9pm: Most nights 🙂 I try to keep this the latest I put anything in to my body, even herbal tea! I don’t want to be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night! My favourite choice is a warm milky drink, as this is both sweet and comforting, perfect for this time of day. Cacao, turmeric or a chai latte, made stove-top with almond milk and stevia are my choices. Alternatively, 1-2 dates with a few raw nuts, or a few squares of dairy-free dark chocolate (probably choose this twice a week, the rest I have my latte/tea). Weekends might be a trip to a vegan gelato bar or enjoying a vegan treat I have made or bought 🙂 Alcohol is not a big part of my life, but if I have a glass or two I avoid “binging” like I did in my early 20s, and enjoy it for special occasions. A dirty martini is my go-to, I promise you will drink it slow!!

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Made a batch of Choc Mint Slices for a housewarming dinner tonight My girls can be the taste testers Almond, buckwheat & coconut base + avocado, fresh #mint centre + cacao @h2coco oil layer on top! As if it wasn't healthy enough I also snuck a healthy booster into the middle- @grassesoflife superbiotic greens powder! Jam-packed with barley grass, alfalfa, chlorophyll, spirulina, probiotics, kelp....... Soo this is basically a salad, right ? Stay tuned for the recipe ✨ #vegan #glutenfree #chocmintslice #cleantreat

4 ways with Tempeh

The beauty of tempeh is how easy it is to cook. Yet, I meet so many people afraid to give it a go! It has actually already been fermented, and thus, partly cooked, so unlike chicken, you really can’t undercook it.

Firstly, I have spoken about this before, but let’s reiterate that there is no good evidence suggesting traditional soy-foods like tempeh are detrimental to your health and should therefore be avoided. Tempeh is a healthful source of protein. Tempeh is made using the entire soybean, but it is fermented, making tempeh more easily digested and “antimutagenic” than unfermented beans, as well as making it a great source of vitamin K2 (bone, heart, brain and cancer protective nutrient).

Secondly, it is important to source non-GMO and organic varieties of tempeh. In Australia, Woolworths stocks Nutri-Soy, my go-to. I buy the unflavoured one to avoid cheap soy-sauces and other additives. Stick to the plain like me, and make your own flavours with the below suggestions.

Quick guide. Choose your tempeh variety by comparing it to meat options…

Pan-fried – chicken/fish replacement

Marinated – steak replacement

Ground – mince replacement

Crusted – schnitzel replacement

Using 1 x 300g packet of tempeh….

SIMPLE PAN-FRIED TEMPEH

½ tsp coconut oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp tamari OR 1 tsp curry powder. Allow the garlic to heat for 3 mins before adding slices of tempeh. Cook first side for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, cover with tamari or spices, flip and cook the second side for a further 3 minutes. Serve with vegetables for a veggie stir-fry.

JUICY MARINATED TEMPEH STEAK

Boil tempeh whole for 30 minutes. Remove from pot and then marinate in 3 tbsp tamari, ½ lemon juice, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp dried for 1-3 hours. Once ready, fry whole 5 minutes each side. Slice into 4 servings and serve over veggies.

GROUND TEMPEH

Grind the tempeh by pulsing it in thirds in a food processor until it resembles mince. Then heat up your stove with a little coconut oil, just to coat, throw the tempeh mince in and pan fry with the following spices and condiments…

Mexican-inspired: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1-2 tsp of spices like cumin, paprika, cajun, chili or a Mexican spice blend. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 6 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Pair with brown rice and black beans.

Italian: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 can organic diced tomatoes, 1 tsp dried Italian herbs or oregano, handful fresh chopped basil. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 4 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Then add the diced tomatoes and pan-fry for a further 4 minutes. Lastly, add the basil, stir, remove from heat and serve over grains, roast veggies or pasta.

SESAME-CRUSTED TEMPEH

Preheat oven to 200 C. Prepare your “sticky” mixture of 1 tbsp flax meal soaked in 3 tbsp coco milk, 1 tsp tamari and ¼ tsp garlic powder. Allow it to soak for at least 10 minutes whilst you prep the rest. Place ¼ cup sesame seeds in a dry wide bowl. Slice the tempeh into thin-medium slices and dip each in the sticky mixture. Place onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle each slice with 1-2tsp sesame seeds. Press down on them with the back of the spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping each after 15 minutes. Optional to sprinkle the other side with more sesame once flipped and before baking for the last 10 minutes.

A love note to Soy…

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is regarding the health of soy foods. I either hear that someone would love to go vegan but wants to avoid soy (which is fine, but also not necessary), or that they wish they “could” consume it, but are worried about relying on it as a source of plant-based protein because of all the negative implications they have heard from someone, somewhere. Regardless, my answer is the same! The right types of soy are unequivocally, a healthful choice. I talk more about the right types below.

Let’s look at the evidence in regard to some major concerns:

Soy contains oestrogen: No it actually doesn’t. It does however contain phytoestrogens (beneficial constituents of plants, also found in flaxseeds). This type of oestrogen “imitator” is not bad, but indeed, beneficial, with its naturally occurring oestrogenic activity. They adapt to what the specific individual needs, raising or lowering oestrogen levels accordingly. Regarding female fertility, a large-scale study at a fertility centre demonstrated improved birth rates in females consuming soy and undergoing fertility treatment. A note on menopause, women dealing with hot flashes found relief from soy products according to this study.

Soy makes men grow breasts: Nooo! Men’s sex hormones, including testosterone remain unaffected by consuming soy products. This study concluded that soy does not “exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to and even considerably higher than are typical for Asian males.” Soy does not adversely effect semen quality, and a study at Harvard University found soy intake had no effect overall on male fertility.

Just so we are clear on this topic, I’d like to point out the ludicrously of these claims by illustrating that the milk from a cow comes from a female animal that has just given birth. Not only is this a much bigger animal than us, with a different hormonal profile, but just as humans, when cows give birth, their oestrogen levels elevate. Therefore, it stands to reason that the concerning source of oestrogen in the diet is cows milk! And so far, I’ve just mentioned the natural oestrogen (due to their recent pregnancy)… think about the hefty doses of synthetic hormones dairy livestock are injected with to increase their milk production! This only adds to the oestrogen load of most cows milk. Yuk!

Cancer growth and recurrence: research appears to indicate soy consumption has a positive effect on preventing or slowing down the growth of cancer. Phytoestrogens (present in soy) act as antioxidants and have anti-proliferative properties to inhibit tumour growth. Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption has been significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence. This study suggests that greater consumption of isoflavone-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women. Other analyses have found that soy foods are protective against prostate cancer in men.

Bone health: I hear you, don’t we need dairy to protect against osteoporosis? No, we don’t, and evidence suggests that populations consuming higher amounts of cows milk actually have higher incidence of osteoporosis versus populations who don’t. There are a number of reasons for this, namely, the acidity of the milk causing greater calcium excretion from the body. However, I thought it apt to point out that whilst soy generally does contain less calcium, it contains triple the amount of magnesium, a vital mineral for bone maintenance. Indeed, the latest research suggests soy milk is actually much better for bone health. Interestingly, the beneficial isoflavones (types of phytoestrogens) in soy are thought to inhibit the breakdown of bones. For example the isoflavone Daidzein, is actually used to create the drug ipriflavone, which is used to treat osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism and soy: Soy products do not cause hypothyroidism and hypothyroid adults need not avoid soy foods. However, the isoflavones  in soy may potentially reduce iodine availability, required for healthy thyroid hormone production. It is therefore suggested that people who consume soy might need slightly more iodine in their diets (which we can get from sea veggies like dulse and nori).

***There is always conflicting evidence and debate around the statistical significance of the findings in such studies. However whether there is no benefit, little benefit, or substantial benefit, I am yet to find a negative finding regarding soy, and that should be the message we hear loud and clear.

At the end of the day, the fear around soy seems to stem from a few sources:

  • The grouping of all soy together – the bad: i.e. concentrated soy proteins and soy-derivatives used to thicken or emulsify products (often non-vegan products too), GMO, non-organic, non-traditional varieties such as highly-processed faux soy meats + the good: i.e. traditional sources of soy, non-GMO and organic such as tempeh, tamari, miso, natto and even a little good quality tofu from time to time is ok. So too is edamame. Combining the good and the bad like this is akin to saying that the questionable ground meat in a fast food chain burger is the same quality as the meat from your local organic butcher (whilst I don’t think either meat is healthy, this is a helpful comparison!);
  • Rare cases of harm due to consumption of ridiculously large amounts of soy on a daily basis;
  • Similar to point 1 above, because soy is grown in ginormous quantities and added to absolutely everything, including often unhealthy packaged foods, it is viewed negatively, similarly to corn. Again, non-GMO and organic varieties in their wholefood form are fine!; and
  • Poorly-conducted research based and/or articles by groups with vested interests e.g. the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).

 

Soy sources to include:

organic and non-GMO edamame and fermented sources such as tempeh, natto, miso, tamari (easiest to digest and assimilate). Whilst soy milk and tofu are more processed, organic varieties from time-to-time if you really enjoy them are not going to negatively impact your health and should not be feared.

I am not claiming soy to be a miraculous cure-all, I am simply pointing out that there is a lot of good evidence indicating its benefits, and that you should feel confident in including it as part of a plant-rich varied diet (if you so choose). 

 

7 Sunday Rituals for a successful week

There are a few reasons that things just don’t get done during the week… stuff pops up, life happens, I get it. You cannot prepare yourself for every little thing. However, there are some insurances you can implement, to ensure that when life gets crazy and you have little time, mentally and physically you are prepared (as best you can be). Here are 7 Sunday rituals that I think we should all make a habit of…

1. Schedule the week ahead I’m talking about work commitments, to-do lists, social occasions, workouts, time to yourself… everything you can think of! Add to this as the week goes on, but at least this way when a friend asks you to walk or dinner, you know what you have on and aren’t racking your brain madly, stressing yourself out and probably over-committing yourself! Another great thing to do here is look at your schedule and visualise a successful week!

2. Meal plan – this might seem obsessive, but I am talking about doing it from an economic and time-efficient perspective. If you plan your meals, you will have everything you need to cook them in your kitchen, and therefore not waste time going to-and-from the shops multiple times unnecessarily, or fall victim to the quick and easy take-out option because you don’t have all those beautiful fruits and veggies for what you really would like to make. Write out a list of 3 or 4 meals you want to cook for the next few days to 1 week, and that way you have the ingredients sitting there, know what you are having each night, and hopefully have leftovers for the next day’s lunch!

3. Food-shop – get in early to avoid the Sunday afternoon crowds! Sunday’s are pretty notorious for a stock-up. Better yet, head to your local farmers market for produce and leave the pantry items etc. for a quick supermarket run. Make an occasion of it! Take your partner, kids or meet a friend for a walk, chat and grocery haul. Once you have planned your meals, you can get everything you need so that a healthy meal is just waiting to be made from your fridge or pantry.

4. Food-prep – This one doesn’t have to be carefully planned, measured and portioned meals. Make some staples so that each morning you can throw some things together. I like to roast some veggies (sweet potato and cruciferous veg), boil some rice or quinoa, prepare a salad dressing/dip and make a sweet treat like my raw chocolate, bliss balls or granola. That’s me at a minimum most weeks. Sometimes I might whip up some almond milk,  others I might also make a batch of lentil bolognese or soup to keep in the fridge for a quick meal. You work out what works for you – but it helps to have these on hand for easy salad bowls, and those times when you are craving a sweet treat.

5. Something restorative for you – there are so many options, and I am not going to suggest them all because as I always say, that makes the wonderful things stressful! Whether it be exercise, meditation, yin yoga, spending 10 minutes dry brushing, a face mask at home, or time set aside to read a book… choose one that speaks to you and use it as your way of treating yourself before another busy week.

6. See friends or family over breakfast or tea not wine and cheese – self-explanatory. The weekend is a time to relax and refresh, but also a time to spend socialising. I get it, sometimes it’s hard to be healthy, as eating and drinking is “social”. But if you can’t or don’t want to choose a healthy cafe to venture to with a friend, get social in other ways- a hike or coastal walk to catch up with a friend, see your mum over juice or tea, a movie with your own healthy treats tucked away in your handbag, a picnic or BYO healthy plate dinner with the girls… don’t start Monday trying to undo the sins of the weekend.

7. Bed by 10pm – sleep is so integral to our body, not just our minds. It is required for proper detoxification, hormone function, metabolism, optimal energy levels etc. Don’t start your week already trying to play catch up! There is no such thing as catch-up sleep! Be in bed at 10pm to start a healthy sleep routine for the week ahead. Studies show that a good sleep regimen is linked to maintaining healthier weight, eating patterns and stress levels. Do not disregard this key component of a healthy lifestyle.

Why I skip/skimp on Oil + 7 simple Salad Dressings

The biggest misconception about salads is that they are always, always healthy. Well, this isn’t always the case. They are certainly a step in the right direction, if they actually include greens in them – I have seen white pasta/cous-cous/rice lathered in dairy with a few minuscule herbs or potatoes thrown in, being dubbed a salad. Not exactly!

An area so many of us get lost in is salad dressings. Firstly, because the store-bought or cafe-ordered ones are usually overrun by oils of varying quality, excessive sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc. which can turn your otherwise healthy meal on its head. And secondly, I believe, we are all looking to oil as they key ingredient.

So, why am I not such a big fan of oil? Yes, even the extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed type…

Well put simply, oil is not a whole-food. It is the fatty part, extracted from what was once a whole food – the olive, the macadamia nut, the coconut etc. Thus, it is processed. It is also extremely energy dense. All the other nutrients from the plant have been thrown away – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and water – leaving nothing but energy-dense, fat. Wholefoods are usually buffered by fibre and water, to naturally portion control for us, but extracted foods like oil, are not. And with all that density, there really is little nutrition – as mentioned, a lot of it is discarded, and what remains is omega-3 fatty acids, valuable, but not necessary if you consume a healthy, wholefood diet which naturally contains it anyway. So whilst I believe in consuming healthy fats for our cardiovascular health, brain, skin, mood, immune system etc. I just see oil as excessive and unnecessary, and often the missing piece to the puzzle when someone is struggling to loose weight but is following an otherwise healthy, wholefood diet.

As Dr McDougall describes:

“…there are adverse effects from consuming free oils, when added from a bottle to meals or taken as pills.  The most obvious adverse effect is people gain weight when they eat even so-called “healthy oils,” like olive oil. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, these women were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories).  Of the total calories from fat, 55% came from olive oil.   My point: a Mediterranean diet which is loaded with olive oil, rather than fruits and vegetables, will make you fat… the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet… Avoiding free vegetable oils is the last important hurdle for people seeking better health…

As such, I much prefer perfectly packaged, wholefood healthy fat options like nuts, seeds and avocados. They are far tastier too! When it comes to cooking, I use a light spray, 1/4 tsp, or simply a splash of water or tamari.

So, when making salad dressings, I prefer to skip or skimp on the oil, and favour delicious, wholefood ingredients. Here are some easy concoctions you can shake together in a jar, no fancy equipment required. Plain and simple, but tasty as ever!

Miso Tamari: 1/2 lemon or lime (juiced), 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp tamari, 1 tsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp sesame oil (optional), pinch of chili flakes (optional);

Lemon Dijon: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or maple syrup (optional), cracked black pepper;

Lemon Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp ACV, splash or two of filtered water, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin or turmeric (optional);

Nutritious Creamy Citrus: 1 lemon (juiced), 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp ACV, 1 tsp dulse, a pinch of chili or cayenne (optional);

Passion-fruit Lime: 2 passion-fruits, 1 lime (juiced), 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard;

Apple Almond: 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 3 tbsp ACV, 1 level tbsp almond butter, 1 tsp maple syrup (optional), pinch cinnamon.

Miso Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1/3 cup warm water, 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp tamari.

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Key ingredients to have on hand: dijon mustard (look for ones with no added sugar or preservatives), Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), lemons, limes, passionfruits, unpasturised miso paste, nutritional yeast, dulse flakes, tahini, almond butter, unsweetened apple sauce, tamari, maple syrup, herbs and spices.

 

How to keep it clean when dining out

Socialising over food is a part of life, and shouldn’t be the bane of your existence. There are times when you want to indulge and the rules go out the window (that is fine), and there are times where you would like to stick to the rules a little more closely. I eat out once or twice a week for a main meal, and whilst I usually find it relatively easy as I seek out health-oriented cafe’s and restaurants, there is the occasion where I have no control over where we go, or end up somewhere I wouldn’t usually choose. That is often the case when traveling or dining with larger groups! But these occasions don’t need to be avoided entirely, nor do they need to be stressed over. Embrace them and enjoy them for the company and experience, and keep these tips in mind, or in your phone, to gently guide you toward more healthful options.

1. Skip the bread basket, order crudités if on the menu, a veggie based starter to share, or simply olives, if you feel tempted to snack whilst you wait for your meal.

2. Avoid words like creamy, crumbed, crispy, or deep-fried on the menu, it is likely loaded with nasty oils and saturated/trans fats.

3. Let them know you are dairy-intolerant – vegan or not, there is no need for milk, milk powders/solids in your sauces and mains. This also means steering clear of creamy based dressings and sauces which often contain other undesirables like preservatives, thickeners and unhealthy fats etc. Find out why I choose to avoid dairy here.

4. Ask if they can cook in less oil, or use extra-virgin olive oil/coconut oil instead of butter (for vegans/dairy-free) or other vegetable oils.

5. Request dressings and even sauces on the side. Ask for a lemon, balsamic vinegar, tahini or avocado to compensate.

6. Order a bunch of side vegetables as a main – a balanced meal can often be created from a side of sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, steamed greens, grains, side salad etc. Alternatively, see what produce ingredients they use in their other dishes and single out one or two you would like e.g. avocado, quinoa or beans, to add to your sides. This is also a great tip if you are vegan and there is no suitable plant-based option.

7. Ask if they have a vegetarian / vegan menu – these often exist, and are often healthier as veggies are the star of the show! They also tend to be grouped together with other diet-specific requirements i.e. gluten-free, refined sugar-free too.

8. Skip the fries and double the veggies or see if they will steam you some rice or sweet potato instead, if craving something more starch-based. NB: sometimes I do have the fries, moderation 😉

9. At Asian restaurants, see if they have gluten-free Tamari sauce available in place of soy sauce for a happier tummy. Be wary of the sugar used in some sushi-rice, ask if they would be open to swapping for steamed rice, however this might not always be possible.

Enjoy your food, but mostly the dining experience and the company you keep! There is no perfect, and your body can tolerate less-than-ideal choices from time to time 🙂

Healthy Snacks Available at the Supermarket

I thought I would do something a little different for you – I took 20 mins to browse the health food aisle at Woolworths & sourced the best on-the-go snacks on offer I give my tick of approval ✔️ Decent, affordable and accessible snacks that you can reach for when out & about with little time!

 
I tell my clients to find a few favourites – 1-2 sweet, 1-2 savoury, that they can pick up & pop in their bag for later, so that office snacks don’t become tempting These are all around $2-4, gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar-free & most importantly artificial flavour/preservative and vegetable oil free (which is soo difficult to find! Particularly with dips)… Just FYI the Well Naturally chocolate bar has a little sugar alcohol in it, but total sugar is only 0.6/100g. If you have difficulty digesting sugar alcohols, i.e. follow FODMAPS, avoid, but this is definitely one of the best treat options available, in my opinion.

 
Craving crunch or something salty? Choose the crackers or carrot + dip. A mars bar? Try the sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate. Cake? The Emma & Toms life bar or Soma Bite! Ice cream or a milk shake? Chia pudding w blueberries. Fizzy drinks? Kombucha! Something light? A piece of fruit or cold-pressed green juice. Easy, good-for-you swaps!
I’ll do the same for Coles shortly!!

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