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Skin Health & the Gut – My S.H.E talk

Recently, I did a talk with the Skin Health Emporium at their mindfulness beauty event. It was a wonderful evening and I loved connecting with so many of you! I spoke on the importance of good gut health when we talk about beauty from within. This is because skin, being the only organ we can touch and see daily, is often a good reflection of what is going on internally. This is especially so for gut health. I thought I would share with you some of the key talking points we touched on in the event, so you too can benefit! We also spoke about ageing at the event, but I think I will save that for a future blog post as there is so much to cover! Read on to understand your gut better, and learn how you can optimise it to see results in your skin (and of course, digestive symptoms too!).

It is not simply “you are what you eat”, rather “you are what you absorb”. The primary role of the gut is to utilise the nutrients from your food that your body needs. When the body doesn’t receive enough nutrients, it sends the few it can use to vital organs – heart, brain, liver – & our skin, hair & nails get pushed aside. We want food to be absorbed as quickly as possible to ensure that it doesn’t sit in the gut & ferment, which can then cause unpleasant gas, bloating & microflora imbalance.

Phases of Digestion:

  • Food preparation: sight/smell – The moment you see or smell your food our bodies stimulate the release of digestive enzymes, stomach acid & bile to help break down food.
  • Weak enzymes, acid & bile place a greater burden on our organs to assimilate larger chunks of food, & may contribute to bloating, bacterial overgrowth, parasites & leaky gut syndrome.
  • Amidst stress, real or perceived, adrenaline is produced. The presence of adrenalin diverts the blood away from digestion & concentrates it to the arms & legs → ‘fight or flight’.
  • Chewing: should be done 12-20 times per mouthful! Arousing the sense of taste can also encourage stronger digestive “juices”. This specifically activates amylase, a digestive enzyme specific to carbohydrates present in the mouth, helps digest approx 50% of the carbs in the meal.
  • This is your only chance at “mechanically” breaking down your food. There are no little teeth down the walls of our digestive tract.
  • Swallow → stomach: physical distention activates receptors to initiate stomach acid. We want this to be very acidic! Stomach breaks the food down into a substance called “chyme”.
  • Reflux, is mostly due to stomach acid not being acidic enough. Your stomach brings your food up because it is having difficulty breaking it down.
  • Liver – bile helps digest fats & some vitamins. The nutrients get distributed into the bloodstream.
  • A lack of digestive enzymes can reduce the amount of fat & protein that you absorb, & leave your skin feeling dry & dull – which can be the cause behind many skin conditions including eczema & psoriasis.
  • Colon – 3–4kg of bacteria living here! The goal is to have more good than bad bacteria. Beneficial bacteria breakdown fibre & synthesise certain vitamins, amino acids & release short-chain fatty acids.
  • Water from food is absorbed here, to help with easy bowel formation. Constipation can place an extra toxin load on your body due to toxin reabsorption. Reabsorbed substances may be excreted through the skin.

 

What You Can Do Right Now!

  • Eat a high-fibre, colourful plant-based diet centred on vegetables, fruits & legumes. Include small regular servings of wholefood fats such as nuts & avocado with each meal. Choose lower glycemic load foods. Favourite skin foods incl: Acai, pineapple, cabbage, sweet potato, seaweed, almonds, brazil nuts, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocado, lemon.
  • Limit refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, dairy, processed foods, alcohol & caffeine.
  • Address food allergies & intolerances.
  • If consuming animal-based products, including fish, eggs & dairy, these are to be a “side dish” to the plant-based main & never charred/smoked. Really try for at least 2 vegan days/week or even 1 meal a day!
  • Take time to see, smell & prepare your food. If buying food, really take it all in before scoffing it down.
  • Eat in a calm environment, away from stressors & distractions. Chew each mouthful 12-20 times. Place knife & fork down between bites. Set a 20 min alarm for eating!
  • Drink 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar in water 10-20 mins prior to main meals (or just one main).
  • Consume bitter foods (think rocket, endive, radicchio, watercress, dandelion, kale).
  • Drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning.
  • Do not drink water with your meals, drink at least 30 mins before or after.
  • Sip ginger tea and/or dandelion tea throughout the day.
  • Eat fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics e.g. kim-chi or take a quality strand-specific supplement with meals.
  • Adequate hydration. Try a pinch of mineral-rich sea salt in your water bottle for better cellular uptake.
  • Supplementation that might help depending on your condition (always only as prescribed specifically for you under a qualified health practitioner): probiotics, vitamins C & E, Algae oil (omega 3), zinc, COQ10, Selenium.

A good e.g. diet to get you started for radiant skin:

Upon waking: Hot water with lemon + a pinch of cayenne pepper

Breakfast: Good morning Green Smoothie (using 1/3 papaya instead of banana if possible) + ginger tea

Snack: Chia seed pudding (2-3 tbsp dry chia soaked in nut milk) with a handful of blackberries, tbsp goji berries, 2-3 tbsp coconut kefir, 4 crushed Brazil nuts + cinnamon;

Lunch: Mixed dark leafy green salad with 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1/4 avocado, colourful raw salad veg (think carrot, beetroot, capsicum, tomato, cucumber, fennel, red onion etc), fresh herbs, seaweed flakes + a lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, miso dressing (can add a splash extra virgin olive oil or maple syrup if desired). Optional 1/3-1/2 cup sweet potato. 

Snack (optional): all green veg juice (w ginger, lemon and optional pineapple) OR Sliced carrot and capsicum with baba ganoush OR sliced papaya sprinkled with pepitas (or chia pudding if you didn’t have it earlier). 

Dinner: Apple cider vinegar in water then… 100-150g Tempeh “steak” (baked or pan-fried) with abundant steamed/sautéed greens (particularly cruciferous vegetables), mushrooms and coriander. Topped with 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds, 1 tsp black sesame seeds + lemon zest. On a bed of 1/3 cup turmeric + black pepper spiced quinoa. 

 

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! 

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 😉

 

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

7 Steps to Spring Cleanse 

A change of seasons is a natural time of transition. Spring in particular, is a time many feel compelled to hit reset on their lifestyle choices. Embracing the fresh crisp air and keeping an open mind, I invite you to try these cleansing tips as you move away from the colder, darker months into the sunshine and vitality of Spring! 

Begin your day with the juice of ½ lemon in 250 ml warm water – lemons are not just a good source of vitamin C, lemons also support the hard-working liver, our main detoxifying organ. They strengthen liver enzymes and promote the secretion of bile, which in turn aids digestion. A detoxification agent, blood purifier and digestive aid, they are in actual fact alkalising once within the body (despite their acidic taste!).

Sip on herbal tea throughout the day – if a hot drink isn’t your cup of tea, try it iced! Dandelion tea in particular is a renown tonic with vast medicinal properties. It is fantastic for getting rid of bloating as it too stimulates bile, necessary for the proper breakdown of food and ensuring we absorb our nutrients efficiently, as well as having a diuretic function = say goodbye to water retention! Another good option is green tea which is loaded with catechins, potent antioxidants that also supports the liver… sensing a theme here?! This cleanse tea combines a few healing, digestive-assisting herbs and is a great spring-time brew.

Include vegetables at every single meal – especially cruciferous vegetables which contain sulphur, folate, calcium, iron vitamins C, E and K to support our overworked livers! Vegetables are also alkalising and full of fibre to ensure we are “eliminating” properly. If breakfast is usually a sweet meal such as porridge, chia puddings or bircher, try consuming 1-2 tsp of a quality greens powder just after your meal- I like this one.

Try 1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar in water 15 mins prior to meals – it might seem as though this magical elixir is included in every “health” oriented post, but the truth is, it seriously is that good for us, and has so many roles to play. Ensure you get one that has the “mother” in it, like this one. The bitter taste stimulates digestive enzymes which helps us break down and reap the benefits of our food. As it is fermented it is incredibly beneficial to the growth of our good gut flora. It is also fantastic for preventing/reducing bloating and reflux, and detoxes us by altering our blood pH to becoming more alkaline.

Ensure your bowels are moving daily – if not twice daily! Magnesium, a mineral that can be found in foods or supplemented, helps ease constipation by relaxing the muscles in the intestinal walls. Try this internal magnesium powder, which relaxes the body and can help move “things” along, or for some more external relaxation (which can also help!) try these bath salts. You can consume magnesium in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, but for chronic constipation, this may not be enough and supplementation may be appropriate.

Declutter – fresh space, fresh mind, fresh outlook. Clean out the wardrobe, the pantry, the fridge and the cupboards! Maybe change out the screensaver on your computer, the arrangement of small furniture items in your living space, buy a new indoor plant, and consider diffusing essential oils in your home or using them instead of perfume. Lemon, orange, grapefruit and peppermint are all great detoxifying and purifying oils to try!

Commit to purchasing from your farmers market – to avoid pesticides and waxes on our beautiful fresh produce! It is a great way to get in an active catch up with a friend; a stroll through the markets as opposed to opting for coffees, wines or heavy meals. It is also the best way to shop in season, pesticide-free/organic, affordably. With the Spring weather, there is no better reason to get outside and support local farmers!

 

Detox support – if you really feel like you have a lot to get rid of and need the extra support, take your cleansing up a notch by employing these foot detox patches. According to ancient Eastern medicine, toxins build up in our bodies throughout the day, travelling to the lower extremities such as the feet at night. These detox foot patches have been designed to absorb such toxins as the blood circulates throughout our bodies during our sleep.

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.

Yoga for Mental Clarity & Focus

Yoga is not simply a workout. It can (and should) be used for a variety of therapeutic benefits, physical and emotional. What’s more, you don’t necessarily need one hour, a yoga studio or a teacher to reap the benefits of yoga. Try these four poses to clear your mind, enhance focus and foster new energy and ideas. In each of these poses, remember that connecting to the breath is key. Hold each posture for 6 or more deep breaths, and feel your energy shift.

Childs pose with a “twist”

Everyone love’s childs pose, but instead of simply resting on your forehead, try to roll side-to-side across the brow, or the third eye. This gives your face a little massage, relieving tension, and stimulating blood flow to this area. The third eye-centre is the space associated with your intuition, an important part of the body to tap into when making decisions! Forward bending is also known to relieve stress and stop that endless flow of thoughts. Sink into the posture, rock back and forth, surrender to your thoughts and enjoy.

Warrior II

A strong pose, often overlooked, Warrior II opens the chest, lungs, shoulders and hips. Taking this pose, you must open up your arms, bend into your front leg and remain tall. Symbolically, this could mean opening up your heart and/or mind to possibilities, opportunities or ideas. Your eyes pierce out in front of you over the fingertips, as you keep a soft but steady gaze. Gaze with purpose, open the body with conviction. This is a stamina building posture that will bring confidence to your decisions.

Tree Pose

Keeping your feet firmly rooted into the ground beneath you, taking tree pose is not only a balancing asana but also a strengthening one. You use the muscles in your feet, ankles and core and a focused gaze to stabilise yourself.  It is both invigorating for the body and tranquil for the mind. Find self-esteem, focus and strength in tree pose, and take these qualities into your day.

 

Crow Pose

Crow pose is usually the first arm balance we learn in yoga. Arm balances are a fantastic way to cultivate inner focus and concentration. Shifting your weight forward, use the strength of your wrists, arms and core to lift rather than fall. Focus is very important here, and you will find that it comes quite naturally as you try to remain in flight. What’s more, the inversion increases blood flow to your face, encouraging fresh energy and invigorating the mind. Overcome fear as you take your feet off the ground one-by-one, and trust your body and the present moment as you fly in crow!

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 🙂

4 ways with Tempeh

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

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

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

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

Pan-fried – chicken/fish replacement

Marinated – steak replacement

Ground – mince replacement

Crusted – schnitzel replacement

Using 1 x 300g packet of tempeh….

SIMPLE PAN-FRIED TEMPEH

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

JUICY MARINATED TEMPEH STEAK

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

GROUND TEMPEH

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

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

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

SESAME-CRUSTED TEMPEH

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

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.

My Vegan Superfood Staples

Ever since turning 100% plant-based, I have become fascinated with all of natures sources of beautiful and beneficial nutrients. What many of us are unaware of is how every nutrient we need comes from the sun (vitamin D), or the earth (everything else). Therefore, in terms of optimal absorption and utilisation, it makes sense to consume them from the primary source. Here is a list of my vegan staples, all of which are brimming with nutrition and make me feel energised and satisfied, not to mention I feel they have helped my skin, hair and nails become smoother, stronger and healthier overall. I actually manage to incorporate most of these in one single meal – my superfood lunch salads. It might seem like a lot, but they each add so much flavour and texture that you begin to crave them! I hope you find them intriguing, try them out and feel the difference in your own body 🙂

Nutritional yeast – brimming with key vitamins and minerals it is also a complete protein (with 18 amino acids), containing 71% protein by weight! Stress and poor diet deplete B vitamins so we could all do with a little dietary boost. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B’s, which offer us assistance with energy levels, brain health, fat metabolism, sleep quality, and hair growth. Note, unless fortified with B12, nutritional yeast is not a reliable source. As a guide, 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast = 9g protein! I often sprinkle this amount on a big green salad, soup, or in a veggie mash.

Sea vegetables – dulse and nori are my go-to’s, but I occasionally also enjoy other varieties such as wakame or kelp (particularly high in iodine). Sea vegetables are full of trace minerals that we don’t usually have access to, specifically iodine. Iodine ensures healthy thyroid function, which is important for metabolism, energy levels and hormonal balance. Sea veggies are a great way to replace salt in a meal, as they are naturally salty and arguably, more nutritious. Another hair-loving nutritious source, they also contain vitamins A, E, B6 and B12, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and magnesium! Powerful stuff!

Saurkraut/kim-chi – fermented veggies are living foods! This means they contain active enzymes which help digest our food, as well as good bacteria called probiotics that ensure healthy gut function, and B vitamins. All this assists immunity and digestive health for optimal wellbeing. I try have about 2-3 tbsp at least once a day.

Chia/flax – just 1 tbsp a day can ensure you meet your omega-3 quota! Omega-3 is important for many things including hormonal balance, brain health and nerve function. These two seeds also provide you with healthy doses of insoluble AND soluble fibre which helps with blood sugar/appetite control, steady energy levels, and healthy colon function. Flax also provides us with lignans, cancer-protective and important for heart health. Try 1 tbsp of either in bircher/porridge, flax on top of a stir-fry, or sip on a few tsp chia in your water throughout the day (you won’t even taste it!).

Hemp seeds – 3 tbsp = 11g easily assimilated protein for long, lean muscles! This is one of natures most concentrated sources of essential fatty acids, particularly GLA. I don’t have this every day, but try to have it on a particularly active day. When I do I sprinkle it on my oats or enjoy it in/on top of a smoothie.

Quinoa/brown rice/oats/millet – I try to rotate the grains I use as much as possible to ensure a broad spectrum of different nutrients, as each grain has a different nutrient profile. One of the best thing that has come out of me going vegan is my new-found appreciation for quality carbohydrates, ridding myself of any trace of “Carbophobia” I definitely once had. The truth is, we are designed to eat carbohydrates as a mainstay in our diet (we produce the digestive enzyme amylase, which break down carbs, whilst some other animals don’t), and thus carbs are required for optimal muscle and brain function. These grains are gluten-free (oats contain trace amounts of gluten in Australia due to crop rotation, but they seem to be fine with most people, and if not, you can source gluten-free oats usually from abroad). Fantastic for amino acids (protein), B vitamins and fibre, these either go in my breakfast (oat or quinoa porridge), in my lunch-time salads, or with a stir-fry/curry for dinner. Complex carbohydrates like these keep me full, energised, non-irritable, and focused.

Parsley – a great vegan source of antioxidants and loads of vitamins and minerals like iron, try my tabbouleh for a healthy hit! You can also throw a bit of parsley into a green smoothie, juice or salad regularly to up your dose. As a powerful natural detoxifier and diuretic that prevents bloating, water retention and cellulite, it’s a goodie.

Miso – think of it it as vegan bone broth! This is a great gut-loving, plant-based alternative, that is soothing and provides enzymes and probiotics to promote healthy digestive function. Note, you must choose unpasturised miso, in order to reap these benefits. Alkalising, anti-viral, immune-boosting, cancer-preventative, antioxidant-rich and great for digestion… perfect as a snack with some sea veg (bonus points!) or used in salad dressings, try to incorporate it regularly.

Sprouts / Microgreens – the most powerful foods for cellular regeneration and health, sprouts are up to 50 x more nutritious than their mature counterparts!! They provide antioxidants, protein, enzymes and minerals that are easy to absorb and utilise.

Non-negotiable Green Drink – this one isn’t so much a food as a meal/snack, but it definitely is part of my everyday routine and something I source an abundant amount of nutrition from. Brimming with greens, I make sure I have one of these each day to slot in a huge amount of dietary fibre (it is usually a smoothie with over 3 servings of greens, but if I am out and about, it might be a juice), antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. A power-packed green drink is really the best energiser, I feel cleansed and incredibly vibrant after mine!

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.

Are we tired of avoiding fruit yet?

Hi guys,

what I am about to post might be a little controversial. I get it, I myself jumped on the “all sugar is sugar” bandwagon and went through a long period of avoiding all things sweet, including fruit. In fact, if you look back at some of my recipes, you will see I used to make a lot of fruit-free smoothies, replacing it with avocado or soaked nuts and stevia/xylitol.

Whilst I think limiting fruit has a place, like in issues with Candida overgrowth, my transition to a 100% plant-based diet has seen a revival in my love affair for fruit. It has brought to my attention the very warped way in which I once viewed whole foods, like fruit, and the way I believe so many of us still do.

You see, we live in a world where packaged food with nutrition panels, ingredients we can’t pronounce, flavour numbers we don’t understand, and buzz words that deceive, are viewed as “good”, yet we are afraid of the plant foods that grow from the earth and have been eaten by humans for centuries. Hmmmmm...

It goes back to the simple concept, if you can recognise it, your body probably does too!

Fruit is natures beautifully alkaline, perfectly packaged, fibre-rich supplement.

When we consume fruit we get vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate and calcium. We also get the benefit of antioxidants such as organic phenols, which have been shown to decrease oxidation helping to prevent chronic disease and promoting healthy aging. The fibre acts as a buffer to the natural sugar being consumed, ensuring it is slow releasing and preventing those dreaded highs and lows of refined sugars. Not only that, but ripe fruits are the most alkaline of all foods. We want our body to stay alkaline to prevent chronic disease and toxicity and make us feel and look our most vibrant (animal-based foods are acid-forming, which causes the body to leech specific nutrients that balance this acidic effect, like calcium). And last but not least, fruit contains water making it extremely hydrating, which never goes astray when so many of us struggle to meet our daily quota of 2L water.

With all these incredible health benefits, we have somehow managed to demonize fruit and glorify artificial, man-made formulas.

So how did we get here?

Big bad fructose: Any ill effect of fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is strictly limited to that of industrial fructose such as high-fructose corn-syrup, and not fruit. In fact, this study proves that a diet that restricts fructose from added sugars but includes fruit, is more beneficial for weight-loss than a diet that limits both fruit and added sugars! It is definitely a combination of the above health benefits that ensures fruit doesn’t have the same effect on our blood sugar as refined sugars. Indeed, restricting fruit intake has even been shown to be ineffective in type 2 diabetes patients.

Here is something else I have come to understand – when you cut a food out completely you usually need to fill it’s void with something else. What I found myself doing was replacing a lot of my fruit with nuts, seeds and oils, essentially replacing healthy carbohydrates with good fats. I didn’t feel good on a high-fat diet, and even though I still promote good fats as part of a balanced diet, I think we are all too concerned with eating fat and not concerned enough about eating fibre and nutrient-dense plant foods.

We are in fact designed to eat carbohydrates as a large portion of our diet – particularly land and ocean fruits and vegetables, even whole grains. Yet so many of us are crowding out carbohydrates with protein and fat. We actually have 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. As you can see, sweet is indeed one of them, meaning we need not feel guilty for wanting something sweet! And fruit is the perfect answer.

The more I eat real, whole foods, the more I can eat fresh fruit and even a little dried fruit, with no guilt, no bloating and no weight gain. It actually makes me feel so, so good and alive! This is where another age old comes into play – listen to your body. We are unique individuals.

Experiment, eat consciously, tune into yourself.

Don’t fear a whole food group, especially one as vast, nutritious and natural as fruit. We are fruit eaters – look at the banana-loving chimpanzee, our closest relative!

I just want you to think about how you view food, and begin to see the irony of fearing foods that are whole, pure and come from nature.

Surely, that doesn’t seem right?

Love, health & wholefoods, always

Sami xx

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