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Healthy, Cruelty-free Holiday Gift Ideas

The holiday season is here and with it, a lot of pressure to get great gifts for those you love. I actually really enjoy gift-giving, and begin to think about it far earlier than I need to so that I can feel extra prepared and don’t miss out on finding the perfect present! With that said, I’ve been compiling this list of ideas that I have had and thought I would share them with you. I try to think of the person I am giving it to of course, but I like a gift to align with my own values of vegan and health-promoting, and support amazing small businesses too. I hope you find these ideas helpful. Let me know if I have missed anything or if you have any interesting ideas of your own. I’d love to hear them 🙂

 

Nutrition Consultation Gift Voucher – I offer gift voucher’s for initial consultations or consult packages. You or a loved one will receive a 1-1 consult that runs through health history, family history, presenting symptoms, health goals and interpretation of existing pathology/functional testing and receive a full treatment plan with dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes, a meal guide, recipes, shopping list and strategies for success. Practitioner only supplementation and further testing recommended where needed.

Health & Bloom Meal plans – A little bit more personalised, but not as intimate as a consult. Find out more here.

Tabletop Water Filter best water filter I have found, water tastes amazing, remineralises your water and it gets rid of everything you don’t want in your cup, including flouride.

Urbipod – grow your own herbs and micro greens inside and with ease! Have loved mine.

Byron Bay Chopping Boards I love my chopping boards from these guys! They are such incredible quality and they offer engraving which looks awesome. Highly recommend. 

Saint Belford 2019 Diary – goal-oriented, clear and useful. I loved my 2018 one and already have mine for 2019 🙂 15% off with code: samibloom

Eminence Organic Skincare – my go-to for organic, clean skincare. Most are vegan, all cruelty-free. Stone crop is one of my favourite ranges. 

Sans beast Vegan Leather Bags – amazing quality vegan-leather bags, everyone always compliments me on mine. I love every single one!

Adidas Slides – I find these soooo comfortable. My go-to yoga shoe 🙂

Infrared Sauna or Float Tank Voucher – relaxation central…

TDE Vegan Leather Range – so supportive of any company that caters to vegans, even if they are not 100% vegan. Gotta celebrate small wins! I encourage you to purchase from the vegan capsule, the make up bags are gorgeous.

Bath Caddy – I want one of these! You can find a few other ones on Etsy too, but this one seemed the most affordable available in Aus

Essential Oil Diffuser– every house (room :p) needs one

Earthing Mat– I think these look really interesting, and am thinking of getting one myself. The small ones are a great idea for under the desk if you are in an office 5 days a week!

Reusable Coffee Cup – support the plastic-free, no-waste movement

Stainless Steel Drink Bottle another way to encourage less plastic, and also keep your family/friends hydrated and healthy!

Kiipiixx – print Instagram pics!

Ninja – kitchen appliances. I love the 4-in-one set. Overall, a fantastic quality set that is definitely value for money.

Breathe by Dr Belisa Vranich – life-changing info about breathing and how to improve your health by something you’re already doing (and actually have to do)!

 

STOCKING STUFFERS!

Blue Light Blocking Glasses – protect those eyes from all that computer time! Such a thoughtful gift.  

Nut Mylk Base– not only good for you, but an incredible environmental initiative that tackles both food waste (from the pulp) and garbage (from the cartons)

Ere Perez – Mineral make up, vegan make up brushes (No need for real hair), and ten-free veg-based nail polishes. 

A’kin Rose Hip Oil

Lemon Squeezer – my long-time favourite!

Dusty Girl Makeup – I love their Earth Cream

Essential Oils

Magnesium Bath Salts

Natural Soaps – I always love to receive pretty soap! Not offensive, in my opinion 😉

 

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-Inspired Christmas Feast

Last year was our first Christmas in our new home. My family is scattered all over the world – Canada, Florida, Melbourne, New York, London… so it was just a small one. Nevertheless, I welcomed the challenge to tackle our first vegan Christmas feast as a family! Whether you choose to abide by a vegan diet, or dabble with it, or just want to introduce some healthier meals into your Christmas spread, here is what I put together to make our Christmas delicious, whilst keeping it clean and plant-based.

Cashew cheese and shaved lemon-dill marinated papaya (mimicking smoked-salmon) “lox” on seed crackers – a great one for us Aussies who are used to summery Christmas’ and lots of fish! If you don’t have time to make your own, “Mary’s gone Crackers” is a great brand.

Caramelised baked sweet potato (infused with orange juice, cinnamon + a hint of maple syrup), toasted pine nuts and fresh basil

Sun-dried Tomato dip (try this recipe here, and replace carrots with 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes)

Lentil, mushroom and walnut “meatballs” with cranberry dipping sauce

Roast brussels sprouts with cumin tahini sauce, toasted pine nuts and fresh pomegranate

An easy chopped kale, silverbeet, parsley, crushed walnut and cranberry salad with a avocado and nutritional yeast creamy dressing

Desserts: Christmas shortbreads, Pumpkin Pie and Christmas Crumble!

 

I hope you all have a healthy and happy Christmas! Here are some other HAB recipes to add to the table…

Christmas Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Pistachio Salad

Sesame, Sweet Potato and Brown Rice Balls

Tomato & Lentil Teff Tart

Self-Sauced Rainbow Rice Paper Rolls

Creamy Tahini Coleslaw

Turmeric, Cinnamon & Basil Cauliflower Rice with Almonds

Sweet & Spciey Glazed Rainbow Carrots

Za’atar Carrot & Almond Dip

Vegan N’Egg Nog

Gingerbread bliss bites

N’Egg Nog Protein Muffins

Christmas Coconut Rough

How to Stay on Track during the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be… happy? tired? overwhelmed? overworked? celebrating? Whatever it is you are feeling right now about 2016 coming to an end, holidays upon us, and the prospect of 2017 on the horizon, really take this time to wrap the year up nicely. Don’t let well-formed healthy habits dissipate, and if they haven’t formed yet, don’t wait until Jan 1st 2017 to put them into place! The time is always now to put your best foot forward. I know that there is probably a lot of temptation throughout December, so I have put together a little survival guide. You don’t have to take all of these suggestions, find the ones that speak to you and make it work with your schedule. Every little step toward good health counts. So let’s get started!

Keep healthy habits

  • Wake up to warm water with ½ lemon juice each and every morning, 30 minutes or more before food
  • Maintain your exercise regimen – don’t let it subside during the holidays too much, as this is likely when you need it most! Start your day with something active, as with all the festive activities/family commitments, you are less likely to get it done later, even if this is your usual routine. Definitely a good idea to get a good workout in before any big celebratory feasts! Try to make it fun- try a new class, commit to walks with friends, enjoy the Sydney summer by exercising outdoors, and on days where you just don’t feel like it (read: slightly hungover), opt for a gentle stroll or yoga class. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Drink lots of water, 2L+… hydration is important at a time where there is lots of “cheersing” going on.
  • Sleep should be a priority, when we are overtired, our appetite takes a hit and we tend to overeat.

Further support yourself

  • Keep breakfast light, healthy and nutrient-dense, think green. Breakfast is likely the one meal that won’t be overtaken by festivities, so make it count! Don’t skip it altogether to make up for the fact that you have big lunch/dinner plans. Please! My non-negotiable green smoothie would be a great one to make a habit of throughout the season.
  • Include 1 tsp-tbsp bee pollen in your day to regulate appetite – easy to sprinkle on your morning smoothie (or oats). Bee pollen helps increase energy, alleviate stress, control appetite (due to its phenylalanine content) and assist digestion, woohoo! Note, be careful to make sure you are not allergic to it first, and do not consume if you have asthma.
  • Prioritise fibre – veggies, fruit, gluten-free grains, starches, ground flaxseeds, chia, psyllium husk – we want to ensure you are “eliminating” properly.
  • If you’re noticing reflux or extra bloat, try having 1 tbsp ACV in warm water 15 mins before meals.
  • Sip miso soup (made at home from unpasturised miso paste over low heat so as not to loose the beneficial properties), as it is very soothing for the gut.
  • Try this super soothing digestive aid in the evenings: 2-3 thin slices ginger, small handful mint leaves (or peppermint tea bag), 1 tsp fennel seeds (if you have). Allow to warm on the stove over a low flame, strain as you pour into a mug and drink to ease discomfort.

Come prepared

  • Don’t skip meals to “make-up for” the spread you know you can’t resist later on, it will just make that big meal even bigger.
  • BYO healthy dish that you know will make you feel good and that you can enjoy and share with loved ones. Choose one from here.
  • Have a healthy snack before the party/occasion to ensure you don’t arrive ravenous – my go-to is always vegetables… a bowl of pan-fried broccoli with garlic, Tamari and miso, sprinkled with chili (boost that digestive fire) and a few tbsp of hemp seeds or pumpkin seeds. Or try 1 cup of this super cleansing soup as a snack.

Navigate the table/bar like a nutritionist

  • Greens, greens, greens at every meal
  • Eat more of the sides and salads, where possible leave dressing on the side, you probably don’t/don’t want to know what’s in it! Ask for a lemon instead.
  • Eat slowly, chew lots, and place fork and knife down whilst you chat across the table. Allow your appetite to catch up!
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation – you know this one! Enjoy the antioxidant properties of a good red wine, or opt for vodka/white rum/gin with soda + loads of lime or lemon or even a splash of fresh orange juice. Skip the tonic- it is full of sugar. Better still, BYO Kombucha instead 🙂

No deprivation

  • Enjoy that holiday treat you have been looking forward to, mindfully and whole-heartedly. Just don’t keep eating the leftovers for breakfast!
  • Make healthy versions of traditional favourites and keep them on hand – gingerbread bliss balls, shortbread, crumble, coconut rough, egg nog etc.
  • Guilt does nothing for you, so leave it behind! If you do “slip-up” and over-eat or eat something you wish you didn’t, accept it, forgive yourself, move on and don’t let it snowball i.e. that mentality where you feel that if you’re already this far in, why not keep going (all night, or even for days). This guilt can also often be the cause of bloating as well! Love yourself enough to pick yourself back up. In these moments it helps to do something nice like sip a tea, take a bath, laugh with a friend, go for a walk, journal, face mask, breathing-exercises etc. do what works for you.

Perspective

  • Remember what this time means to you – maybe it has religious significance, or perhaps it is about family time – whatever it is, it isn’t simply food, food, and only food. Cherish the moments not the meals.
  • Write down your goals right NOW so that you have them fresh and clear in your mind ASAP, and begin to work toward them before the new year. Why wait?

I hope you all have the most wonderful holidays!!

Love and health,

Sami xo

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