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8 Healthy Snack Ideas That Hit The Spot

As with most things in nutrition, snacking can be a controversial topic! Based on my own clinical experience, the majority of people like to enjoy at least one snack, usually in the afternoon. I do feel like our meals should be satisfying enough to see us through to the next, however sometimes due to activity levels, stress, boredom, or poor planning, it helps to have an arsenal of healthy snacks in your repertoire that you can rely on. I like the below because whilst they might require a little more effort (some of them), they are brimming with real food nutrition and allow you to sneak in extra vitamins and minerals to your day. I hate the idea of empty calories – food that purely provides quick “energy” and no micronutrients – so I have put together some of my favourite nutritionist-approved snacks for you to enjoy…

 

Nori wraps – Seaweed is an underrated, under-eaten superfood! We need not only enjoy it in sushi. In fact, I suggest you try using it as a “wrap” to gather up some of your favourite vegetable sticks (carrot, capsicum, cucumber, green onion, fennel, zucchini, broccolini) with 1/4 sliced or smashed avocado and a drizzle of tahini. Ginger, wasabi, chilli, vegan mayo, Kim-chi and Tamari can all be added too if you want to get a little more fancy. This is way more exciting than plain crudités and dip, and is the perfect opportunity to add in more mineral-rich, thyroid-balancing seaweed. 

Green smoothie – There is no reason that a breakfast recipe cannot be had as a snack. I prefer to start my day light, and find many people feel the same. However on days I didn’t, or days I feel like I need another dose, a green smoothie is perfect to fill the gap between meals. I have plenty of green recipes on the blog and in my eBook, but the formula is: 2 handfuls greens, 2 servings fruit, 1.5 cups liquid, 1 tbsp greens powder (optional). Enjoying this or halving the recipe for a smaller snack is a great way to fill up on vitamins, minerals, fibre and yes, even amino acids. 

Pranaon protein balls – Bliss balls have long been a go-to snack and a staple in food prep for the week. But to be honest, I stopped preparing them when I found these guys! They are so delicious, plus the ingredients are clean, just how I would make them, and the convenience factor cannot be overlooked. Plus they keep out of the fridge, which is always a plus in a house where taking things out of the fridge is like playing Tetris! I’ll keep one in my bag or car for emergency snack situations, and have the full box in the pantry for an after yoga snack or post-dinner sweet craving.

Warm superfood latte – this one is great for those sweet cravings that sneak up in the afternoon/evening. If you work in an office, I recommend packing the powder of whichever ingredient you choose, and making it by either heating up your nut milk on a stove (if available) or in a microwave (it will do). Once your warm milk is ready, stir in your powder of choice. Some of my favourites are: cacao w 1 tsp peanut butter/tahini; ground turmeric, black pepper + a pinch of grated ginger (optional); matcha vanilla; or cinnamon + nutmeg. All sweetened with vanilla stevia drops or natvia natural sweetener. For frothier latte’s, blending is always a nice idea if at home.  Try my homemade almond milk recipe here and bring it with you in a small glass jar!

Power up Protein BlendPranaon protein powder in 1.5 cups nut milk or coconut water. If you have the option of blending it or pre-blending it I would also add  in a piece of fruit like a large handful of berries, cherries or 1 banana, spinach leaves and some cinnamon for extra flavour.  I generally only have these on days I have been super active where I feel I need it… or sometimes, as a morning snack if I am starving and lunch is going to be far away. 

1/2 small papaya filled with 2-3 tbsp coconut yoghurt, cinnamon and a sprinkle of bee pollen – easy-to-digest, hydrating and anti-inflammatory, papaya’s are another overlooked food that is actually delicious. Many people get confused with paw paw, but red papaya is actually much more tasty. It’s one of those fruits you get quite a decent amount of in one serving (low glycemic-load) so you can feel satisfied. The extra fat added by the coconut yoghurt also helps to keep you fuller for longer, with cinnamon and bee pollen offering appetite-controlling, blood-sugar stabilising properties. If the coconut yoghurt is not of interest to you, you could always pair it with 2-3 tbsp raw nuts or seeds, or enjoy it on it’s own with some lime juice.

Miso soup with nori/dulse and edamame – this warm concoction can either be made at home (preferred, due to cleanness of ingredients) or definitely can be ordered from your local Japanese shop. It is quite low in calories/energy, but soup can actually be quite satisfying. The edamame definitely bulks it up. It is a great protein boost to eat alongside your miso or enjoy in the soup. When buying miso for the home, try to find an unpasteurised version. Even better, also gluten-free.

Nut butter + celery – 1-2 tbsp nut butter in a celery “boat” is an oldie but a goodie and something I will never get sick of! Any snack that is accompanied by veg is a win in my books.

For more healthy recipes and appetite-controlling tips, check out my eBook Rebalance – a 3 step protocol.

Answering FAQs on the Rebalance Protocol

WHAT MAKES THIS PROTOCOL DIFFERENT?

The Rebalance Protocol is entirely plant-based, giving your system the opportunity to fully rest and fuelling your cells with an overflow of easily assimilated nutrition. It also offers blended food/salad as a means of cleansing, usually unavailable or not encouraged on a typical juice cleanse you might purchase. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these types of cleanses, I feel they do not instill sustainable habits you can integrate into your life post cleanse, are less appealing and enjoyable meaning compliance is low, and are often unrealistic for those still working and exercising during this time.

WHY VEGAN?

A whole food, vegan lifestyle is the most effective way we can avoid or reverse many chronic conditions. As a society, we have moved so far away from the way we are naturally intended to eat. A plant-based diet allows us to use food as preventative medicine and work with our bodies natural healing processes, not against them.

Biologically, we are designed to eat this way (if you look at our teeth, our digestive enzymes and our GIT), and it just so happens to support the health of the environment and the welfare of other beings. These foods are anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich, and come as a package-deal with water and fibre as well.

Initially, some people describe discomfort with a plant-rich diet, but that is not the plant-foods fault, that is from years of improper eating, stress, environmental toxins, medication etc. We can get back to the way we were designed to eat, with ease and enjoyment. Animal-products are more acidic and complex to break down, and bring a host of unwanted additions, e.g. heavy metals and toxins in their fat, hormones from the animal and excess saturated fat. A well-planned vegan diet can meet all nutrients requirements (except vitamin B12, which must be supplemented), with fewer adverse health side effects. Once you optimise your digestion, you will find you actually absorb and utilise nutrients better too. Protein deficiency is actually extraordinarily uncommon, and so long as you consume enough calories, you should meet requirements.

Most fad diets and trends are much more restrictive and extreme. This type of real food diet, food from mother nature, in its most basic form, just becomes an easy way of choosing the right foods for your body, and your taste buds and cravings quickly adjust.

WHO IS THIS PROTOCOL APPROPRIATE FOR?

Anyone looking to challenge themself, trial or transition toward a plant-based diet, free up energy, clear up skin, improve sleep, steady mood and appetite, banish cravings, lose and maintain a healthy weight and improve their overall quality of life. If you identify with more than 2 of the following symptoms, this protocol might be the right fit for you:

  • Constipation or loose stools/diarrhoea;
  • Bloating;
  • Flatulence/Gas;
  • Reflux;
  • Thick coating on tongue;
  • Bad breath;
  • Cravings, sweet or salty;
  • Low energy, particularly first thing in the morning;
  • Poor sleep or insomnia;
  • Poor immunity;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Headaches;
  • Difficulty focusing;
  • Brain fog;
  • Mood swings/irritability;
  • Anxiety;
  • Acne/skin congestion;
  • Asthma;
  • Allergies.

WHEN TO DO IT AND FOR HOW LONG?

Now, tomorrow, next week! This protocol can begin when you feel ready. You can simply do Phase 1 or Phase 2 in isolation, or you may choose to do a few days of each.

You can use it as a three-step program regularly for a few days a month, at the start of a new season, or a few weeks a year. The possibilities are endless and are yours to realise. I just recommend you modify your activity level, really tune into your hunger and energy signals and check-in with how you are feeling throughout. Of course, if you come straight off the back of a fast-food diet or something similar, you might experience more extreme symptoms, in which case please be realistic with yourself and ease into it accordingly. Consulting with a healthcare professional is advised if any serious side effects are noticed.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM EATING THIS WAY

During the Rest Phase, it is likely you might feel more hungry than usual. Depending on your goals, you might wish to eat more than the allocated portions, i.e. if you don’t wish to lose weight. Don’t be afraid to eat a little more regardless, a piece of allowable fruit, a handful of nuts, or a warm latte won’t be the undoing of your Rest! You will still experience immense benefits. When it comes to hunger signals, I invite you to tune in—sometimes it is boredom, thirst or comfort we seek. Honour this with the appetite control strategies as well as mindful eating tips, and work out what you truly need.

In any phase, however more likely the Renew, you may experience some digestive symptoms—bloating, changed bowel habits, more frequent urination. Please monitor these, however don’t be too alarmed. Nothing too out of the ordinary should occur.

Sometimes we feel worse before we feel better. As your systems heal, things bubble to the surface, and inactive pathways take a little while to reawaken. You may experience:

  • Lethargy;
  • Poor sleep/heating up in the middle of the night;
  • Brain fog;
  • Headaches;
  • Irritability/emotional;
  • Appetite changes;
  • Gassiness;
  • Bowel irregularity.

What this can be due to is the increased quantity of plant-foods and therefore fibre and water. This is a good thing in the long-term, but can create minor discomfort or changes in the short-term. We are designed to process these foods, so this transition is all about letting your body re-adjust to its new way of eating. Further to this, often when we have had a highly processed diet, our body becomes lazy at recognising and digesting real food. It may take a while for our digestive enzymes and stomach acid to rebalance. Finally, detox symptoms can be a bit nasty at times, so keep this in mind. The key here is to remember that these should be short-term. If anything persists, please contact a qualified natural health practitioner. You should be filling out your symptom diary and/or worksheets as you go along, so monitor symptoms and act accordingly. Do your best to work through minor shifts and changes, and speak to your doctor if symptoms continue.

WHAT DO I DO AFTER THIS PROTOCOL IS COMPLETED?

After Phase 1 of this protocol, I always recommend transitioning for at least a few days with Phase 2. Ideally, you will do at least two weeks of Phase 2–3. If you find yourself extra hungry at any phase, you can always ‘bulk up’ meals with more of the same foods. Both Phase 2 and Phase 3 can be maintained longer for a well-rounded, plant-based diet. Please look to the 7 principles (in eBook) to follow as a guide when looking to implement more long-term habits and rituals.

DO WE REALLY NEED SUPPLEMENTS AND CLEANSES/ DETOXES? IF WE EAT WELL, SHOULDN’T THAT BE ENOUGH?

I hear you. And I wish this were the case. And maybe one day it was… but we live in this modern world where stress is rampant, financial and emotional pressure common, pollution in the air we breathe, depleted soil quality, hidden toxins in our food, drinking water and household products that we don’t know the full effects of yet… there is so much outside of our control. This brings about compromised digestion and most importantly absorption of our nutrition, and adds a heavy burden to our body. In order to combat these challenges, even whilst stringently sticking to a clean diet and conscious choices, good quality supplements are beneficial and necessary. And so too are regular clean outs and resets in order to optimise our health. We can minimise these outside influences through things like stress management, buying organic, only using natural products… but the truth is, we are not zen yogi’s without demands to meet, living in a clean and pure world.

Purchase your copy here!

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CLEANSE & A DETOX

A cleanse and a detox are often used interchangeably, however, in my opinion, there are some key differences. A lot of people and brands, may not stop to think about what they are actually talking about on a physiological level when they embark on or put together some kind of “fast” or “overhaul” health program. Of course, this highlights a huge oversight, and indicates a lack of knowledge or understanding in the industry and the greater public. I’m not here to point fingers, I just want to educate each of you so that you can make informed decisions, and get to know your bodies a little better.

Before we dive in, I want to address some of the negativity toward these types of protocols. One of the reasons cleanses and detoxes get given a bad rap is because the concept of them is a bit ironic when the body naturally does them itself, every second of every day. At the cellular level, many quick fixes, cleanses, baths, enema’s and topical applications do little to detox the body, especially in isolation. It really comes down to nutrition, from food or supplements, and consistency. A lot of health practitioners take issue then, with a program that claims to do it for you. However, I disagree with this because just because the body is supposed to do something, doesn’t mean it is doing it at full capacity. Digestive dysfunction and liver impairment are not uncommon, and therefore, a well-constructed protocol can be of benefit. At its core, it is about supporting the body, providing it with the perfect conditions and tools to do what it is always meant to do… Keep you alive and healthy.

In a nutshell, a cleanse is about the removal of unwanted build-up in your gastrointestinal tract (GIT) to promote healing. During a cleanse, what you are consuming is easier-to-breakdown and likely, smaller quantities than usual. This offers the body a well-deserved break from digestion. This is important, as it takes around 10-30% of our energy (depending on what we eat) to metabolise food. This mightn’t seem like a lot but when you consider that on average, 60% of our energy goes toward simply staying alive (basal metabolic rate = breathing, blood circulation, organ function), it leaves little energy for other things like physical activity, or functions the body does not prioritise like skin repair and hair integrity. 

Whilst cleanses emphasise the digestive system, a detox focuses on the liver…

Detoxification mainly centres around carrying toxins out of the body – everything from heavy metals and pollution to pesticides and excess or old hormones. Essentially, it is about cleaning up the blood. A detox is also aimed at restoring the body’s natural healing processes. It focuses on providing your body with the nutrients it needs to support its inbuilt filtration system – the liver. We can, and should, therefore eat an abundance of plant foods brimming with nutrients to supply the body with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes our cells need to function optimally.

As with all good things that last, this is never about a quick fix. Real health shifts take time. Rather, it is about restoring the body’s natural healing capabilities and then incorporating this into life-long, maintainable healthy habits . Phase 3 of my protocol is a “forever” phase, meaning it teaches you how to eat in a way that supports these critical bodily functions, whilst being flexible, sustainable and enjoyable -> critical to compliance and quality of life! Phases 1 and 2, essentially cleanse and detox support phases respectively, can always be revisited from time-to-time when needed e.g. seasonally or annually. Ultimately, the choices you make for your health should support ongoing cleansing and detoxification. Take care when altering your diet and lifestyle, always tune-in to how you feel and be responsible for your own wellness.

My soon-to-be-released eBook, Rebalance, will delve into all of this and much, much more. It explains various critical bodily functions, principles for wholefood eating and guides you through an enjoyable and effective 3-step protocol to support your bodies natural healing mechanisms in order to get the most out of your food and eat your way to optimal and abundant health! 

The Physical & Mental Benefits of Tea Drinking

As a nutritionist I love the idea that we can eat and drink our way to good health. Consuming things that are beneficial, in a way that is enjoyable is really a nutritionist’s goal for their clients. Compliance relies so heavily on sustainability when it comes to treatment.

A good place to start is always adding good things in. This paves the way for a term coined “crowding out”… whereby you add so much goodness in – veggies, fruit, herbs, spices, teas etc. – that you leave little room for the “not so good”. You also inadvertently create healthy habits as well as healthy taste buds. When your plate is so full of real natural foods, people’s cravings dramatically change. Further, new health rituals are created. One such ritual I love to introduce to my clients is tea drinking.

It sounds so simple, boil water, infuse it with a tea bag, drink. But so often people forget about tea-drinking because they are so busy relying on coffee, downing soft drinks, or not drinking at all. When I introduce herbal teas to my clients, they “crowd out” these less beneficial things, whilst simultaneously boosting hydration. Did you know that thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger? I have found that drinking tea between meals can be extremely helpful for appetite regulation, especially for those perpetual “grazers”.

When it comes to tea, I have been a long-time consumer of Pukka. Not only do they come up with incredible, quality organic herbal blends rooted in Ayurvedic therapeutic wisdom, they are also a socially responsible company with a heavy emphasis on sustainability and fair practices. They go the extra mile to help address the issues of global inequality and poverty through their commitment to organic farming, ethical sourcing of ingredients, use of recyclable materials and over 1% of annual sales being dedicated to global environmental causes.

Pukka teas are certified Fair for Life, one of the highest independent fair trade standards in the world and many of its teas use FairWild herbs. As such, introducing tea into my client’s treatment plans also offers them a way of obtaining a vast array of nutrients from plants such as turmeric, ginger, lavender, fennel, peppermint, tulsi etc., beautiful herbs that they either would never be able to consume otherwise, or simply don’t think to. These unique ingredients each come with their own benefits – for example, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, contains potent antioxidants and is good for brain function; ginger is well renowned for its digestive stimulating properties, reducing nausea as well as supporting the immune system; lavender is a well-known relaxant and can calm the nervous system and improve sleep; fennel encourages a healthy inflammatory response whilst also being anti-bacteria against yeast, bacteria and fungi; peppermint is wonderful for relieving bloating, headaches and freshening the breath; and tulsi is beneficial for the respiratory system and helps with stress relief. I could go on and on!

On top of the crowding out effects of increasing tea consumption, the improved water intake, and the increased nutrition, tea-drinking can actually be mentally therapeutic. Tea ceremonies have a long history in Asia, and whilst can be very strict and involve many steps, at their core, they are about devoting all of one’s attention to the act of preparing, pouring and sipping tea. Similar to meditation, it is a honing in of the senses by focusing on one single thing. This can be simplified and adjusted to suit the individual. I find it great for those with busy minds, or those who are not quite open to or interested in a more traditional meditative practice. The next time you make a cup, really focus on setting up your mug, opening your tea bag, smelling the herbs, boiling the water, and pouring it from the kettle into your tea cup. Again, smell the aroma, allow it to cool, sip slowly and enjoy the warmth in your palms and the different flavour notes.

Combining these physical and mental health benefits of tea-drinking with the exceptional quality standards, focus on therapeutic ingredients, unique, delicious flavour combinations and commitment to ethical practices, a cup of Pukka really is a “feel good” experience! I share this information with to hopefully introduce more “crowding-out”, increase your consumption of quality tea, and inform you of the wonderful work Pukka does so you too can make conscious choices. There has definitely been a shift of high quality, organic, sustainable brands from niche to the mainstream. When more people jump on-board by supporting fair companies with these brand principles, the positive effects on the planet cannot be overlooked.

If you are interested in learning more about Pukka, have a look at their website here. I love their Pukkapedia!

How to stay healthy / plant-based during the holiday season

It can definitely be an intimidating time of year – lots of upcoming food and drink celebrations, people weighing in on each-others life choices, financial stress of buying presents and knowing what to get everyone… I can totally relate and empathise with you. I get so many questions from clients and through social media about not only how to stay on track, but also how to deal with relatives and loved ones who have A LOT to say about their dietary choices. A small part of the equation is diet, but by and large, i would say a larger component is having the mental fortitude to get through the challenges with ease and most importantly, whilst enjoying yourself. Keep my Holiday season tips in your back pocket over the next few weeks:

  • First and foremost, relax – ‘Tis the season to be jolly. You can not and really should not be too strict this time of year. No matter what kind of year you have had, or what kind of holidays you do or don’t celebrate, I really believe December is a time to relinquish control and enjoy yourself, treat yourself, and reflect on the year that was. If this does not come naturally to you, give yourself explicit permission to. Write it down in a journal, or a place you see daily, and keep reassuring yourself that a few weeks of a very long year is not much in the scheme of things. Remind yourself that a huge part of the health equation is love, laughter and pleasure. You are deserving of these things, free of guilt.

 

  • Keep up a few good habits – Whilst I encourage you to indulge, try to stick to a few key principles to ensure you still feel good throughout the silly season:
    1. Warm water with lemon or ginger tea upon rising;
    2. 1 x green drink / day – even better if it is your breakfast green smoothie – best to have one meal of the day that is brimming with easy-to-digest nutrients! If not, a mostly veg green juice as a snack, or a greens powder in water will do just fine;
    3. Try not to eat too many snacks/starters before you sit down for food. Go easy on the cheese plate, and if vegan or dairy-free, BYO nut-based cheese or hummus so you don’t feel like you miss out here. Best eaten with some cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or seed crackers, if possible;
    4. Fill up on sides – often a celebratory spread has plenty of good options, they just might not be the star of the show. Make them the star of your plate i.e. have more of the salads, roast carrots, baked potatoes, or steamed greens than the meaty main;
    5. Consider bringing a delicious home-cooked meal of your own to share how tasty clean plant-based dishes can be – that way you can load up on this and have little bites of other, less-healthy foods alongside. If you need a little inspiration, see my plant-based Christmas spread here;
    6. Drink a glass of water 20-30 mins before your meal to make sure you don’t overeat out of thirst, rather than hunger;
    7. Always plate your food, try not to eat standing, and place fork and knife down in between mouthfuls. Fun lunch/dinner chat makes you eat slower, so get chit-chatting but do not scoff your food in the process!
    8. I’m not going to give you too many guidelines around alcohol. We all know what it is and what it does to us. Be honest with yourself if you need to take it easy, drink mindfully, and always with food in your stomach, and try to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage;
    9. Carry a water bottle with you and keep up 2L/day, more if you are drinking alcohol;
    10. You might want to consider a magnesium supplement and vitamin C – whilst this is a time for relaxation, if you are running about, cooking like crazy, meeting the demands of 20 different relatives, drinking a lot of alcohol, eating less healthy foods or just find this time of year stressful, use these supplements to nurture your adrenal glands. Chat with your healthcare practitioner or the practitioners at a health food store for specific advice;
    11. Try to walk 10K steps every day. Dancing is a great way to get these up! If you are having a beach day, do a lap or two of the sand. Meet a friend for a walk, or enjoy a scenic hike. Release the pressure to do anything more.
  • Meet people where they’re at – We’re all doing the best we can and are all on our own journey. Be ok with the fact that that person questioning you is at a certain stage in his/her life, and that’s their prerogative. We cannot change people or convince them. All we can do is be respectful of others, be confident in our choices, and lead by example. This is powerful.

 

  • Come armed with a little, light-hearted research – this might seem counter-intuitive after I just said the above, but whilst we cannot change people, we can inform them. Be cautious here, you do not want to come across as preachy. But if you know you are going to get questioned about your dietary choices have a few fun facts in your arsenal for confident and quick responses, with kindness. Note, vegans, this is probably not the time to detail what you saw in Earthlings. It will probably fall on deaf ears and dampen the Holiday spirit. Keep it relatively light. You might teach them something new and make a huge positive impact in their lives.

 

  • Let them know you feel your best when you eat this way – sounds so simple, but it works. No one can argue with how you feel. It’s a great way to cut a conversation that won’t go anywhere without having to say too much or offend anyone 🙂

 

I hope these tips help you embrace the holiday season a little more. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and do something that brings you joy every day 🙂

 

A Vegan-friendly Foodie Guide to Byron Bay

Byron bay is a well-known Australian holiday destination for foodies, surfers, yogi’s and health enthusiasts. It has a little something for everyone. However it attracts the wellness crowd due to it’s plentiful array of health food stores, cafes, restaurants and modalities/therapies. It can definitely get crazy busy, so if possible, visiting on a random weekend is recommended if possible. Mike and I drove here from Sydney in our van, stopping along the way (Newcastle, Port Maquarie, Crescent Head, Bellingen/Emerald Beach) and stayed in a clean, well-located camping ground called Glen Villa. Whether you are camping, glamping, vanning, or hotelling, be sure to check out these 7 must-dine’s… our top vegan-friendly, health-conscious joints that we discovered on our travels… you won’t regret it!

Elixiba – the highlight! 100% vegan. It is the most enchanting little set up with everything your vegan heart could desire – jackfruit, tempeh “bacon”, bean burger patties, coconut “calamari”, nachos, burgers, caesar salad, incredible seasoned sweet potato chips, nutritious macro bowls, matcha mojito’s, elixir’s, tonics, teas, and desserts. Nothing disappointed!

Orgasmic – don’t bother with the plate, get the falafel pocket and enjoy the pita! It is exactly as it’s name describes it.

The Beet – a gorgeous restaurant that makes a lovely date night. I always appreciate a vegan/health-concious dinner restaurant! The beet burger is so worth it, and we really enjoyed sharing the zucchini flowers. Great bar too.

Cardamon Pod – I love this style of food – no-frills, eastern-influenced, casual, wholesome, hearty and tasty! This place just has good vibes. The kombucha is also really good here 🙂

Folk (Byron) and/or Woods (Bangalow) – both are beautifully set up, albeit Woods is smaller and a short drive to Bangalow. Both are not only a boho paradise, but the food, chai and coffee is always on the money! I love the Soba noodle salad here.

Bay leaf / Leaf & Grain – best coffee, hands down. We walked here every morning and took our coffee’s to the beach. Perfect way to start each day.

Top shop – The place to go for good Acai, and believe me, we tried them all! Yum!

Health food stores worth checking out for supplies and snacks: Fundies Wholefood Market, The Source Bulkfoods, Santos Organics

3 Nights at Gaia

Just over a month ago, I visited a beautiful luxe health retreat in the hinterlands of Byron Bay, Gaia. Gaia means spirit of Mother Earth, and the entire operation – from the hand-picked ingredients used to nourish us to the pristine grounds and fresh air all around us – embodies this philosophy. I chose the mother-daughter package, to enjoy some quality one-on-one time with my gorgeous mumma before the silly season and my wedding festivities, and to thank her for all she has done. It is a really lovely thing to do with your mum or sister, and we both really enjoyed this package. We felt well and truly pampered and rested by the end of it!

The moment I set foot on the property, I could feel it was special. There is no tranquility like that of green rolling hills, quietly rustling tall shady trees, happy birds and the trickle of a water fountain or two. That’s it! Literally, no building for the eye to see or highway for the ear to hear. It is pure, unadulterated quiet and serenity. The retreat is small and intimate, so there aren’t herds of people to-ing and fro-ing. No hall or elevator music as each room is it’s own little bungalow, accessed from the outdoors. The main dining area, yoga room, spa and pool area are all speckled around the property keeping everything just close enough whilst still encouraging a pleasant stroll through the grounds.

The days looked like this:

  • A deep, vibrational gong to wake you up nice and early.
  • They provide tea, a kettle, lemons and fruit to start the day right! Hot water with lemon for me.
  • A morning yoga session.
  • Breakfast of a cold buffet + a hot plate – they were very accomodating to our vegan request, and most meals were predominantly plant-based anyway.
  • I’d then go for a walk around the property with mum, stopping off at the veggie garden and the scenic lookouts. One morning we walked in to Newrybar town, approx 40 mins each way. It’s a beautiful street to walk around with eclectic furniture and a gorgeous cafe, Harvest. You can also use the retreat bikes.
  • There are mid morning activities to choose from, that change daily e.g. cooking class, skincare seminar, a workout, garden tour etc.
  • Lunch was a la carte and always delicious! One giant plate of goodness, with lots of the ingredients fresh from the garden.
  • In the afternoon spa treatments were usually scheduled, and I would head to the pool to enjoy a swim and a few laps before indulging in whatever spa treatment they had in store. Every single one was 10/10 amazing. One of the best spa’s I’ve ever been to!
  • More lying by the pool reading and swimming. There is also a hot tub and sauna to make good use of.
  • There is the option of an afternoon activity, similar to the morning options.
  • Early dinner around 6pm – 3 courses! Never skipped dessert, it was too good!
  • Maybe a tea to finish off the evening whilst I relaxed in the bath or read my book.
  • Bedtime at 9pm… I slept so well here.

The highlights:

  1. The food – never missed a beat! Whether it was the incredible gluten-free porridge mix, the sautéed veg breakfast hot plate, an exotic blend of greens from the garden, light but insanely flavourful dressings and sauces, and incredibly crafted desserts, the meals were a true highlight. Honestly, it might be easy to overindulge what with a buffet for breakfast, a three course meal on offer for dinner and wine available on request, but my best tips are:

  • take advantage of the turmeric shot at breakfast, skip the smoothie and opt for water or the veg juice, stick to one cold plate from the breakfast buffet (start with fruit) and make sure the hot plate is mostly veg, skip the snack table that is available all day (you should be eating enough at meals to get you through), enjoy your entire plate at lunch and the three courses available at dinner – opting to share dessert if you feel you want to stay on the lighter side, say no to wine for the entire stay! I think with the lack of snacking, keeping active and going to bed early, the food provided without the extra’s is just the right amount to nourish your body properly and showcase just how amazing healthy food can be. If going vegan is of interest you, this is definitely the place to try it out!

  1. The Spa + Retreatment – they use their own home-brand… Retreatment, beautifully crafted and thoughtfully put together with certified organic, cruelty-free, vegan, locally-sourced, active ingredients. I have been lucky enough to be using the full range and absolutely adore the white cypress mist, the H20 vita boost serum and the face dew moisturiser.

      

  1. Sound meditation – this was incredibly relaxing and healing for me. Not only stimulating auditory senses, but also kinaesthetic, as you feel the vibrations in your entire body. The sound bowls are made from precious materials from the earth such as quartz infused with jade and even white gold, and they make a unique, incredibly soothing sound. Do not miss this one!
  1. The garden – maybe it’s the mini gardener in me, but I have such huge appreciate for harvesting your own food. The garden tour was really great to learn some new tips and tricks and bring you closer to the food you find on your plate.

  1. Check in – can be any day, unlike other health retreats where you must start and finish at the same time as other guests. Gaia allows flexibility and ease so that you can slot in some R&R at a time that works best for you.

As you can see, I absolutely loved my time at Gaia, and highly recommend it for those looking for a holiday they don’t need a holiday from! There is no shortage of feel-good things to do or delicious food to eat, and you will feel nourished from the inside out after just a short stay. It truly is worth the money. I hope you find yourself there one day soon!

Light, love & good health,

Sami

xx

FIVE SURPRISING VEGAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN

Article recently contributed to Rescu.com.au.

Protein is an important macronutrient found within every cell in the body. When we consume it in food, it is utilised by our bodies to repair and rebuild the tissues of our muscles, skin and organs. Yet despite the popular idea that “we always need more protein”, protein is actually very misunderstood. Unfortunately, society has been conditioned to view plant protein as inferior to meat protein. Further, many believe more is a case of better when it comes to protein intake. These notions couldn’t be further from the truth….

Read More here.

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.

  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!

Additionals:

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!

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