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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.

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!!

Lemon Water Etiquette

When something becomes an everyday habit, it is important to ensure you are doing it right! By now, most of us are making warm lemon water an essential part of our morning, which is fantastic. However, over the years I have noticed people have a lot of questions about how to do it “properly”. Not to over-complicate it, because the very fact you are doing it regularly deserves applause, but here are the answers to some FAQs so that we can all get the most (beneficial) juice from each squeeze ;)…

1. Keep your lemons in the fridge!

To properly maintain their nutritional integrity. I understand it is nice to have a fruit bowl, but to be honest, with fruit and vegetables, water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants are depleted every hour they are exposed to even just room temperature! Best to keep them in the fridge, particularly vitamin C rich lemons.

2. Use cold water first.

When you squeeze your juice into your glass, don’t pour boiling hot water over the lemon juice. Instead, make sure you fill it up about half way with cold, filtered water first, then add the hot water. This will make warm lemon water, and will not destroy the heat-sensitive vitamins, such as vitamin C.

3. Boosters.

Do you ever vary your brew? Try it a little different week-to-week. You could grate some ginger, or sprinkle ground cayenne, turmeric or cinnamon in your warm water. These are stimulating spices that further assist digestive function and metabolism. This can also help if you are getting bored and need a flavour variation.

4. Use a little zest.

Did you know that much of the lemon’s nutrition, in fact most fruit/veg, is in the peel? There are over 60 different types of flavonoids (antioxidants) in citrus, most of which are highly concentrated in the outer peel. Make sure you save some zest for salads, dressings, sauces and marinades, or grate a little into your morning lemon water. If doing this, it is particularly important you are using organic lemons, as the outer skin of conventional lemons can contain concentrated pesticides and/or wax.

5. Consider a straw.

I must admit, I have only started being more conscious of this lately, however there are some that believe the acidic juice (which is alkalising once it enters our digestive system) can damage tooth enamel. To avoid this, don’t stop drinking lemon water! Rather, drink it through a straw. Personally, I’ve not experienced any damage and have been drinking without a straw for years, however if you are worried or have noticed a change, try using a straw to sip your morning warm lemon water.

6. Wait at least 15 minutes.

I try to stretch it out to 30 minutes, and sometimes leave it 1 hour if I sneak it in before my workout. This gives the body time to digest it, cleanse the system, fire up metabolism and prepare you for your first, delicious meal!

7. Rinse.

You may have heard not to brush your teeth straight away, again, in line with it stripping your teeth and causing damage. However you also don’t want to leave any excess juice sitting on top of your teeth all day. So, a swish of water around your mouth is the way to go to cleanse your pallet and rid the teeth/mouth of any excess.

 

That’s it! Now get squeezing and sipping 🙂

My favourite Fast Foods…

When we hear the words “fast food”, all kinds of nasty thoughts enter our minds, right?! Fast food chains, instant and artificial powdered vegetables, frozen minute-meals, or unhealthy snack foods (often disguised as healthy, I’m looking at you, muesli bars)… the list goes on. Basically things that are cheap and convenient. However, grab-and-go foods don’t have to be so nutritionally deficient. Here are some of my absolute favourite fast fixes when I am on the go…

  1. Seaweed – whether it’s a 5 minute nori roll consisting of raw vegetable sticks, avocado and tahini, or simply munching on a sheet or two, I love seaweed for a salty snack. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that are not always plentiful in land vegetables, such as thyroid-healthy iodine. Even better, throw a few broken pieces in a miso soup (another amazing fast food!) for a delicious seaweed and miso gut-healthy broth. Try for the untoasted vatiety.
  2. Carrot – I snack on 1-2 carrots a day! I love their starchy quality, and find them so, so satisfying even when I want something sweet. I generally just wash them, without even peeling their skin, making them even faster to prepare! A lot of quality nutrition is found in the peels of fruit and vegetables, and carrots are an easy one to leave on. Vitamin A rich, in the form of Beta-Carotene, they are fabulous for healthy skin and eyes, and should be a regular part of our diets. Enjoy on their own, grated with some lemon, or grab a little dip as well – hummus, baba ganoush, tahini, pesto etc.
  3. ¼-1/2 avocado – I could eat avocado all day! On it’s own, with a squeeze of lemon, in a sheet of seaweed (double points!), or on a rice/corn thin. So creamy and satisfying, avocados are full of the good monounsaturated fats, as well as skin-moisturizing antioxidants such as vitamins, A, C, E.
  4. Chickpeas – Yep, I sometimes just grab a tin of organic chickpeas, drain them, rinse and enjoy solo or with some salt and cajun spice. Of course, crispy roasted chickpeas or hummus dip is also a great way to get them in, however when you are in a pinch, a can of chickpeas are a much more nutritious alternative to popcorn or chips, and can be better than nuts for those of us who tend to overeat on them! They contain a good amount of iron, zinc, folate, potassium, fibre, protein, and phytates, and have been found to stabilise blood sugar, well after the meal they are consumed with. Plus overall, beans and legumes are associated with longer life!
  5. Mung bean sprouts – Definitely the healthiest snack! Again, a little better for our waistline then eating an abundance of nuts (which by all means are healthful, just are often eaten in excess which can inhibit weight loss if that is your goal). These beauties are crunchy, satisfying by the handful and powerful for cellular regeneration and health, being up to 50 x more nutritious than their mature counterparts!! Sprouting actually enhances the nutrient value of the seed, packing it with efficiently absorbed vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes. In fact, the sprouting process works as a form of “per-digestion”, expelling digestive inhibitors ensuring these beneficial nutrients are more available and thus better absorbed.
  6. Banana – I used to be terrified of bananas. Perhaps terrified is a bit dramatic, but I definitely viewed them as a treat. Not any longer! I have at least ½ a day. Frozen bananas straight from the freezer are an amazing sweet treat, they taste just like ice cream, and a perfectly ripened regular banana is the ultimate on-the-run snack that provides delicious dietary fibre, potassium, antioxidants and B vitamins.
  7. Dried figs – Another thing I used to view as a treat, which now, I enjoy a few times a week 🙂 Dried figs have such a great texture! Is it strange I don’t really like the fresh ones? Dried are actually higher in calcium, making them a great vegan source, and also contain more soluble fibre and less sugar than dates. One or two are the perfect sweet snack, and are even better when stuffed with a couple of raw nuts, or sprinkle of cinnamon.
  8. Kale chips – we all know the benefits of the almighty kale – fibrous and nutrient packed (iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, K), it is antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering and extremely detoxifying. Whilst kale chips aren’t always the quickest to make at home, they are a great options when out and about looking for a quick snack to grab from your local health food store, that is easy to eat on the go. Sometimes they come with a cashew and/or nutritional yeast crust, making them even more nutritious and satisfying! For an at-home version, try my recipe here.

Best Natural Beauty Buys!

Let me just say, I am no expert in navigating the beauty aisle in a store. I know food labels like the back of my hand, but when it comes to beauty products… not so much! Since moving into my new home I have made a big effort to educate myself when choosing household and personal products. Just as with food – buzz words like “natural” and “pure” don’t always mean what they might appear to. With all the environmental toxins out there that are unavoidable, it makes sense to me to try to minimize exposure through making conscious consumer choices when it comes to what you bring into your home. Why? Well, in a nut shell, these chemical substances can interfere with our health (endocrine and reproductive functions), in a similar way to what we eat can. We often forget that our skin is one of our largest organs, and absorbs what we “feed” it just as much as what we put into our mouth does.

I trial a lot of products- some I buy, some that get recommended to me, others that get sent my way or handed out in goodie bags from events… so I have accumulated quite the collection of good, and not-so-good personal care items. Here are a few that I have used long enough to notice true benefits, and would love to share with you to help you clean up your own regimen…

As I mentioned, I am certainly no authority when it comes to beauty products. For that, I turn to one trusted website that I know scrutinizes each product to ensure it is 100% natural, no nasties, ethically produced and of high quality. These goodies are my top picks of the moment from Orli and have really added value to my beauty regimen (note: you can get 15% off with my code “SamiBloom”!):

Erica Brooke Deodorant – When I say I’ve tried a lot of natural beauty products, the one I have trialled the most is natural deodorant. I have been recommended dozens, by people I trust, and still haven’t found one that suits me. Until now! I love this one because it isn’t roll on which means your not spreading your own bacteria around, has the Orli tick of approval and it actually works- no funny smells, streaks, or sweat patches. I’m a fan!

Adorn Cosmetics Make-Up I can safely say this is one of the better natural make ups I have used. I love this hydrating crème as it moisturizes my skin as well as offers coverage, and is also really great when combined with my moisturiser for a lighter coverage, making it last longer. I haven’t tried all their products, but this foundation has so far proven to be a favourite. I like their concealer too.

Earth Yard Essential Oils – ahhh oils, I really have grown fond of them! This is my go-to brand because it is Australian, 100% pure, organic and reasonably priced. They don’t add synthetic fillers and don’t even mix oils if they’re from 2 different native regions! Some favourites are lavender for calm, lemongrass/tea-tree diluted in cream for blemishes, rosemary to assist study/memory, and a blend of jasmine and frankincense in my diffuser. Delicious!

Kester Black Nail Polish – I am not the best at painting my own nails, but I do take this brand with me to the salon when I treat myself to a mani/pedi. Nail polish is hardly a natural product, so when choosing to paint your nails it is best to choose a “five free formula”, meaning it is free from the 5 main nasty chemicals commonly found in polish.

Some other goodies…

Konjac sponge – a 100% natural sponge made from vegetable fibers of Konjac (this one also includes exfoliating bamboo charcoal). I use this to wash my face with. It ensures I don’t pull on my face or aggressively rub my skin with a towel – not to mention that it itself is rich in natural vitamins and mineral to enrich and rejuvenate the skin.

Jason Sea Fresh toothpaste – Say what you will about the flouride debate, I know where I stand on it. Please do your own research, here is a great article on it, but this is a toothpaste that I love that is SLS and flouride free and hasn’t made my teeth fall out! In fact, I often get compliments on how white they are. Pleasant taste too!

A’kin Revitalising Cellular Radiance Serum – This is more of an oil than a serum… organic, cruelty-free and enriched with antioxidants and omega 3, 6, 9. I find it really hydrating and “plumping”, meaning it is getting well used in the colder months where I find my skin is dryer. I wear it underneath my moisturiser at night time. I’ve really noticed a difference!

Dry Brush – the benefits of dry brushing are well-known- it increases circulation, promotes lymph drainage, removes dry/dead skin and reduces cellulite. I find it invigorating and like to use it before a shower (if I am not sweaty from a work-out!) 3-4 times a week. You simply start at your feet and brush upward toward your heart, using light pressure, and then downward toward your heart from the upper sections. You can usually find one at a chemist or health food store.

Supplement Dispenser – just thought I would throw this in as the organised, perfectionist in me just loves my little (or rather, big) pill case! Pick one up at your chemist, and re-fill each week with all your non-refrigerated supplements to ensure you never forget to take them 🙂

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