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6 Weeks To Sexy Program: What I learned, What I most Enjoyed

So by now you must be thinking, I thought she was doing 6 weeks to sexy, not 18 weeks?! It’s true, I have totally become hooked on this program, and have carried it through to the 3 month mark. Whilst my first two programs really saw me commit to the 5 days a week workouts, this last one I have been nursing an old back injury, and focusing on more pilates, walking, yoga and Physio exercises. However, as I will explain below, each 6 weeks taught me something different about myself and my body, and I guess that is just realistic and reflective of life in general. We can’t be perfect, things come up – emotionally, work-wise and physically – and at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you at that point in time. I have seriously loved every single workout throughout this program, and can’t wait to share with you what I have learned, and what I have most enjoyed!

What I have learned:

  1. Appetite increase – I get much hungrier when I am working out intensely, and need to ensure I fuel my body properly. For this, smoothies have been a dream – and I never have more protein than a 3-4:1 carb:protein ratio. I’ll make myself a turmeric latte for afterward, and that would hold me over to a mid-morning snack which I now always need!
  2. Listen to my body – In terms of hunger, energy and injury it is so important to listen to your body. It will repay you, and it will also catch up to you if you don’t! Even when it didn’t feel right to train, I still took care of myself in some way- whether it was a rest day or I chose to move my body in a different way (walking, yoga, pilates, Physio exercises).
  3. It’s about frame of mind – set the goals you wish to achieve and focus on them every day. I can tell the difference in my attendance and performance the weeks I said to myself (and out loud) that I was going to smash every day of that week. You make less excuses and you make the time to see it through- whether it be setting your alarm, a reminder on your phone, telling a partner or friend of your intention, packing your bag etc. etc. being in the right frame of mind get’s you to training every  day and pushes you to do your best.
  4. Overall energy boost – my gosh I have so much energy lately!  I really have no energy crashes, and I attribute it to working out daily and eating accordingly. Exercise should invigorate you, if it doesn’t, it might be worthwhile to speak to a practitioner about your adrenal health.
  5. Increased water consumption – this might be a silly one but I have also never drank more water and I feel like the combo of this, plus sweating daily, has really helped my skin.
  6. It’s not about what you weigh, but rather how you feel. I made the decision to not weigh myself as I went along, as I didn’t want any old insecurities to creep back in. I also now know how it is your body composition that often changes most, and that might not see a shift on the scales. 6W2S is very intent on letting you know this, with weekly emails and info regarding muscle, body fat and overall weight. As we get measured in a variety of ways at the start of each program (InBody Scan showing body fat percentage and muscle mass etc., body measurements, and strength capabilities), having this 6 week weigh-in is all you need. I also love how it is not simply weight, but rather, there are so many ways to track progress!

What I have most enjoyed:

  1. Having a solid routine, and taking the thought piece out of the exercise equation! This might sound silly, but choosing what to do each day can be stressful, and ensuring you have carved out the time to do it can be challenging! With 6W2S- I just get up and go and have someone tell me what to do 🙂
  2. Blake has a few “tests” he runs throughout the programs whereby he times you going through the session – without a doubt, I constantly bettered myself every time I was re-tested, showing me how much stronger and fitter I was becoming.
  3. Being outdoors for the most part, especially our once-a-week at Bondi. Sunrises always make a workout that much more rewarding and set a beautiful calming, energising tone to the day.
  4. The crew – the girls and trainers are the best of the best, and really motivate, inspire and make it all the more enjoyable turning up each morning. Not to mention the support and community generated through external activities and events and the FB set up each and every program.
  5. Feeling like my body has moved sufficiently each and every day – for someone that is seriously desk-bound either blogging or seeing clients, it can be challenging to get the 10K steps in we should all be aiming for. Whilst I still make a conscious effort to take breaks and walk around, these morning sessions ensure that I have moved my body daily to counteract the hours of computer-time.
  6. The results! Whether it be a more positive mindset, cleaner eating patterns, weight-loss, increased muscle mass, commitment, or hitting new goals, each 6 weeks actually offered me something new. The first one I was most committed to and saw the most physical progress, the second was all about new goals in fitness and strength and this third has been about mindset and listening to my body (due to my injury). Overall within the 3 months I’ve seen a significant drop in body fat %, comparable for what I had to loose, and am really happy with my overall results.

How to Implement & Stick to Change

CHANGE – this word either excites or incites fear in people. I know for myself, I have struggled with change my whole life. When it comes to changes in emotions and relationships, I can be rigid and at times, unaccepting. I have had very little change in my life, except my parents divorcing when I was very young, so I think this has something to do with my resistance. Interestingly, my fiancé, Mike, who has moved all around the world since age 5, is much more flexible when it comes to change in any form, and I think that might have something to do with having had to change so much from such a young age!

I invite you now to think about change in your own lives… how much change have you gone through? How did it affect you? How do you respond to change? This might give you insight into how you address changes in other aspects of your life, such as the way you tackle a new way of eating or living.

Change is inevitable… it is the one thing we can count on! 

When it comes to reassessing our health, and introducing a new routine/habit, implementing and maintaining positive changes is key. This is something I have had lots of experience with – having changed from a corporate career to the health profession, tackled an eating disorder, worked through self-doubt and insecurity, and tried many, many diets, to finding a balanced, wholefood, vegan diet now. Here is what I have learned from my health journey and tools I find useful when it comes to making a health shift and sticking to it!

  1. Write down your WHY – Write down what this change is, and then 3-5 reasons why you are making it. It might be hard to come up with 1, but I promise you, you can think of a few to mentally support yourself and reinforce just how justified and necessary this change is. Try to think outside the square, for example “to lose weight” or “to lose 3-5 kg” is a common one. Whilst weight-loss may be appropriate, try to focus on something more positive, that doesn’t stir up negative emotion e.g. “to support every cell in my body” or “to eat for health and longevity”. This is far more “big picture” and in those moments of “weakness”, you will feel far more supported and good about a positive outcome (living a long healthy life) than simply fast weight-loss. Specific to a vegan diet, one of my reasons was for the good of the planet and for my love of animals. Every time that I ever thought about taking a slice of cheese from the cheese board at social events, or caving at a restaurant because there was nothing suitable, I had that as my motivation. Often, we feel like we can let ourselves down (and then scold ourselves later 🙁 ), but when our reasoning is tied to something or someone greater than us, it is just what we need to see the change through. Something to think about…
  2. SCHEDULE it in – Regarding exercise: How many times will you work out? What activity will you do? When will you do it? Re food: What will you eat? When will you do the food shop? When will you food-prep? Pen this all out into your weekly diary and set reminders if needed. Treat these as arrangements with other people, that you cannot cancel! My best advice is to also schedule self-care… 15 mins a day to step away from work, get outside or have a lie down/meditation.
  3. MOTIVATE yourself – Spend time researching/reading books/watching documentaries and articles that support you. There are some fantastic vegan/healthy ones out there! Be a constant sponge for new and exciting information that can help you on your health journey. Aside from info, books, social media, magazines and blogs are great tools to finding new, delicious recipes that align with your values. Keeping information fresh and a repertoire of new and innovative meals on hand keeps you motivated and makes the experience more pleasurable.
  4. ESTABLISH a morning routine that supports the change – starting the day on a healthy foot sets you up right and has you walking out the door on a high. I like to do deep belly breaths and visualise my goals. Other options are morning meditation, journalling thoughts or reading. Whatever it is, incorporate this into a healthy routine of hygiene, lemon water and exercise (unless you prefer to workout later) and do it every day.
  5. REWARD yourself – maybe that is a sweet treat, a massage, a new pair of leggings, a longer rest… whatever it is to you… reward yourself weekly. Acknowledge your hard work and dedication, and say thank you.

Be sure to check out my 7 sunday rituals (some are included in here!) for what to do to set yourself up for a healthy, productive week. This can definitely help with organisations of any health changes that you are currently making or aspiring to. You can do this!

In health & love,

Sami

x

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.

SKIN FOOD: How to eat your way to Healthy, Glowy Skin

Our skin is a powerful indicator of what is going on inside, particularly the liver, blood and colon. It is in fact our largest detoxifying organ. What we feed ourselves gets distributed through our bodies, effecting each and every cell, our organs and their various functions. If what we eat can make us go to the bathroom (or not), keep us trim (or not), boost our energy (or not), you can bet that it also effects every one of our other bodily processes, and skin repair is one of them! Years of consuming artificial ingredients, preservatives, additives, hormones and toxins eventually take their toll, and often the first thing to “go” is keeping our skin “glowy” and our hair shiny because frankly, the body has more important functions to focus on maintaining our beauty! But by making the load easy for the body to bear, it can work on protecting us from the signs of aging, unburdened.

What to avoid:

Dairy is the main culprit here! Dairy is highly acidic and inflammatory to the human body, with little beneficial dietary components – it has no antioxidants to fight free radicals, or fibre to ensure a well functioning digestive tract. Dairy is also pumped with hormones and antibiotics, which not only promote acne but can lead to hormonal imbalances and even antibiotic resistance. Replace dairy with dairy-free alternatives such as nut milk, coconut yoghurt, coconut/almond ice creams, cashew cheese and nutritional yeast. Once you get the hang of it you will find there is something for everything and everyone! See my replacement advice here and here.

Avoid processed, packaged and refined foods, refined sugar, excessive caffeine consumption, alcohol (especially sugary drinks), vegetable oils.

What to include:

Hydrate with 2L of water daily, ensure 8 hours of quality sleep each night, optimise digestion and eat a clean whole-food diet with copious amounts of greens as well as a variety of colourful plant foods, to get adequate fibre, vitamin A, C, E, zinc and omega 3… including (but not limited to) many of those listed below, on a regular basis:

Red capsicum – high antioxidant levels, vibrant red capsicums help to keep your skin healthy and supple. They are a wonderful source of both vitamin C and the mineral silicon, assisting the strengthening and regeneration of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue. Healthy collagen production keeps the skin firm and reduces oxidative damage! Skin tip: much on capsicum throughout your day as you would celery or carrot sticks, enjoy it with dip for extra satiety.

Sweet potato – it’s high levels of beta-carotene convert to vitamin A in the body, meaning it provides us with both vitamins A and C, the antioxidants that fight free radicals from damaging our cell tissue, causing premature aging. Skin tip: choose sweet potatoes that have the deepest orange colour, these contain the most carotene!

Cabbage – containing the skin-loving combo of vitamins A, C and E, cabbage is highest in some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables. Interestingly, it actually contains more vitamin C than oranges! By now we know that vitamin C is critical when looking to minimise wrinkles, fight inflammation and heal damaged tissue. It’s impressive nutrient content makes it a potent detoxifying food, slowing the aging process.

Lemon – another 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!). Skin tip: Consume the juice of ½ lemon with a cup of warm water first thing daily to cleanse the body and prepare metabolism, and use lemon throughout your day in salad dressings, stir-fries and smoothies.

Almonds – the monounsaturated fats within almonds help retain moisture within the skin, softening and protecting it. These beautifying nuts are rich in vitamin E, the primary antioxidant in human epidermal tissue. Vitamin E works to protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays, whilst also nourishing the skin from within to prevent dryness.

Fermented Vegetables – loaded with probiotics and enzymes, fermented vegetables work on ensuring the gut is a friendly environment for good bacteria to thrive! This helps with digestion and the absorption of all these skin-loving nutrients. Probiotics also work to keep your system free from nasty pathogenic bacteria that cause digestive upset, poor immunity and inflammation, which may lead to skin irritation, acne or dull, unclear skin. Skin tip: don’t be afraid of it, just spoon a few tablespoons on top of a salad, crackers or alongside a meal!

Other foods to include  – all green leafy vegetables, carrots, avocado, berries, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and brazil nuts.

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 🙂

All About Protein

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

Let’s take a look…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other researchers have also cleared up this myth:

 protein myths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sufficient calories = sufficient protein.

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

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

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

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

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

My hope with this article is this:

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

Eat for health & longevity, always.

Sami xo

 

What I eat in a Day to keep healthy

Everyday superfoods I aim to include…

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

Liquids I choose…

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

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

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Breakfast

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

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

Morning tea

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

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

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

Lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dinner

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

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

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

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Dessert

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

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

How to add more veggies to your day

Often, we focus on getting in enough protein. We track our intake of fat. Some closely monitor their sugar intake… but is anyone counting their vegetables?! 5 servings a day is a minimum requirement, but frankly, I rarely see clients who meet this conservative amount. We know that the consumption of fruit and vegetables is linked to a reduced likelihood of chronic disease. Fibre, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, water, vitamins and minerals, and even nutrients like omega 3 and protein, yes protein! are in our beloved vegetables. Therefore, for optimum health and in line with using food as preventative medicine, the amount we strive for should be much, much higher. I believe eight servings a day is a better recommendation, with no end in sight! My advice: Eat as many as you can fit in! The below ideas are ways to creatively include veg into your meals, for you or perhaps for fussy kids, to boost the nutrient content, colours, flavours and even texture, and far exceed 5 servings a day…

Smoothies – 1,2,3 even 4 handfuls of greens! When you blend them, they break down and you won’t even notice, especially spinach or cos lettuce.

Aim for 3+ cups with main meals such as salads and stir-fries – leafy greens, a variety of chopped raw salad veggies, and roast veg. Include a combination of all three.

Soups – you can make soups 100% vegetables, from using veggie stock (loaded with nutrients), to chopping veg in or pureeing it. Sometimes I even puree it e.g. cauliflower soup, and then top it with mushrooms, broccoli or sliced zucchini for texture. A cup of veg soup makes a great afternoon snack or dinner starter.

Snack on carrots, capsicums, cucumber, celery – crunchy foods are often more satisfying, aren’t they? Keeping sliced veg sticks handy are a quick go-to snack to enjoy, whilst upping your veggie intake. Pair with dip such as hummus or nut butter for satiation.

Blend them into a dressing – sometimes I throw in capsicum, zucchini, cucumber, beetroot or carrot in a salad dressing with things like tahini or miso. Makes for a beautiful colour and tasty flavours!

Veggie Juice – juice more veg to fruit for a healthy juice combo that is sure to give you an energy boost! Even better – use things you would usually throw out, like celery or beet leaves, where there is actually a substantial amount of nutrition. Throw in lots of lemon and/or some green apple, and you will mask any bitterness.

Grate carrot or zucchini – in your oats +/bircher, blend tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, broccoli in your dips like hummus, try beetroot muffins… easy, delicious and great for variety!

The 5 Items You Need In Your Pantry

There is no argument, good health begins in the kitchen. The choices we make three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – ultimately influence our wellbeing now, and in the future. Whilst fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet, we can also look to shelf-stable, tasty additions to not only jazz up our meals, but amp up their nutrition. Keep these delicious staples on hand and feel their powerful benefits.

Nutritional yeast

  • B vitamins – for energy production, brain function, stress response and hair growth;
  • Chromium – assists blood sugar stabilisation and thus appetite control;
  • 16 different amino acids – the building blocks of protein, important for muscle repair.

Use for: a great cheese-replacement due to its “cheesy” flavour, make salad dressings, soups, nut-cheeses with it, or simply sprinkle it atop a pasta dish.

Sea vegetables

  • Iodine – thyroid and hormonal balance;
  • Omega 3 – assist in balancing the important omega 6:3 ratios, crucial for cardiovascular health, brain function, immunity, youthful skin and mood;
  • Binds to toxins – such as heavy metals and radioactive pollutants present in the environment, leeching them from our system;
  • Antibiotic activity – destroys harmful gut bacteria, cleanses colon and enhances nutrient absorption.

Use for: as a salt replacement due to their naturally salty taste, stir-fries, stews, salads, soups, snack on nori sheets.

Pulses

  • Good source of both complex carbohydrates and plant-based protein;
  • Cardiovascular-protective;
  • Maintains healthy blood glucose and insulin levels;
  • Fibre – the most fibre-rich plant food! This helps with digestive function, colon health, appetite control and weight-loss;
  • Contain phytochemicals such as saponins and tannins – antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects;
  • Blood-sugar stabilisation – beans and legumes have been shown to keep your blood sugar levels under control well and truly until your next meal, and even the next day!

Use for: a quick way to bulk and nutrition-up meals such as salads, curries, stir-fries, pasta sauces and dips. 

Tahini

  • Calcium – one of the richest sources of plant-based calcium, 1 tbsp has 64mg;
  • Iron – a decent source of plant-based iron, 1 tbsp has 1.3mg;
  • Healthy fats – contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, assists hormonal balance, satiation, mood and skin health;
  • Contain phytoestrogens and lignans – beneficial for hormonal balance, cancer-prevention and healthy cholesterol levels.

Use for: making salad dressings or sauces creamy, in dips, drizzled atop veggies.

Konjac noodles

  • Quick easy meals – they take 5 mins to make with no equipment required!
  • Gluten-free, light, low-calorie;
  • Associated with reduced blood sugar, insulin levels and cholesterol;
  • Fibre-rich, Prebiotic-containing – assists appetite control and colon health, as they are a resistant starch they act as prebiotics, nourishing healthy gut bacteria.

Use for: a noodle or pasta alternative in Italian or Asian cuisine.

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!!

Healthy Replacements for all your favourites

ELIMINATE: red meat, eggs, dairy, gluten/wheat, refined sugar and caffeine…

For some, these words are absurd. Others, are subtly aware (deep within them) that they were a long time coming. For most, it is completely overwhelming.

When I tell my clients to eliminate certain foods from their diet, it is my priority to replace those foods with healthy alternatives. My goal is to not only offer a more nutritious option, but an item/s that taste similar and/or better, making the transition far easier and less daunting than initially thought.

The truth is, we all love to have our unhealthy habits or choices confirmed – we like to be told that a glass or two of red wine each night is good for us, that “butter is back”, that we need to eat cheese and ice cream because… well, calcium! But the second you start to question that, the overwhelm sets in and cutting out these staples, that so many of us have grown up on, seems unbearable. Impossible. Cruel! Well, I am here to tell you, it isn’t so bad. Here are some suggestions I put forward in my plight to have my clients and readers, not only looking better, but feeling a whole lot more lighter, energetic and clear-headed…

Instead of coffee:

Order an almond or coconut milk chai tea, hold the sugar – ask if they have Natvia instead or carry some in your purse. Extra cinnamon please!

Most cafe’s these days have alternatives like matcha, turmeric, or chai lattes. Swap your regular milk for a plant-based option, and be sure to ask what it is sweetened with. Again, if it is sugar, ask for it unsweetened and add your own BYO Natvia. 

At home, try making my hot cacao, or your own turmeric latte.

Instead of dairy:

Swap dairy milk with plant-based options – almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, soy milk (definitely organic and non-GMO). *A note on soy… we are all so quick to dismiss it as having “too much oestrogen”, but may I remind you the biological and often synthetic oestrogen in cows milk, as it comes from a pregnant cow obviously producing her own hormones however additionally often injected with hormones… compared to the natural, weak phytoestrogens found in the soy bean. Just think about that for a moment. Read here for more on soy and oestrogen.*

Cheese – nut-based cheeses, for creamy pasta sauces add coconut milk, pumpkin puree or soaked cashews with nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese and is AMAZING for you), sprinkle nutritional yeast on a salad, instead of adding fetta or goats cheese, add avocado for the same creamy, “fatty” addition, cheese cake can be made with soaked cashews as a base.

Yoghurt – Coconut yoghurt, almond yoghurt – check ingredients for added sugar, cashew or coconut cream.

Also check out my post on going dairy-free, here.

Instead of gluten/wheat:

Grains – Brown, basmati or wild rice, Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth, Teff, Buckwheat;

Bread – Sprouted bread varieties, DIY your own bread, or choose a gluten-free option (check ingredients for eggs if avoiding, sugar, and additives you can’t pronounce);

Crackers – flax crackers, rice crackers, corn or rice thins, buckwheat crackers, seed crackers;

Pasta – Quinoa pasta, rice pasta, Konjac noodles, Zucchini pasta, kelp noodles, 100% buckwheat soba noodles;

Flours – Almond meal, Buckwheat flour, Coconut flour, Teff flour, Chia flour, Banana flour.

Instead of red meat:

Tempeh, lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, rice, portobello mushrooms, stuffed veggies… some meal ideas:

Tempeh stir-fry with or without brown rice; Mixed Bean salad with roast veg + avo; Stuffed sweet potatoes with beans, cashew cheese, guacamole; Quinoa salad with roast veg and roast tamari pumpkin seeds; Stuffed capsicums with rice/teff and lentils; Stuffed mushrooms with quinoa, capsicum and capers, Zucchini pasta with lentil bolognese, Cauliflower rice with chickpeas, almonds and greens, Mushroom and lentil san choy bow, Cauliflower mash with peas and mushroom gravy….

Instead of eggs:

Breakfast options – smoothies, chia pudding, bircher muesli, oat porridge, quinoa porridge, pea protein powders (I like Nuzest), Avocado smash or hummus and mushrooms on gluten-free toast, breakfast salad of quinoa, sauteed greens and mushrooms, roast tomatoes, avocado and pumpkin/sweet potato and pepita’s;

Cooking – flax egg, arrowroot, tapioca flour, chia, chia flour, mashed banana, water or almond milk

Order out – if there is a big vegetarian brekky with eggs, ask for it without eggs but add extra veggies, avocado or sweet potato to bulk it up or opt for the porridge options (there is always is one!) with a dairy-free milk.

Instead of sugary snacks or treats:

All homemade or health-food store bought treats made with stevia/xylitol OR coconut nectar, maple syrup, dates

Bliss balls, DIY muesli bars, DIY granola, Cacao/turmeric lattes (as above), Raw chocolate (In Aus, Pana chocolate is a good brand, Well naturally from Woolies, or see if you can get your hands on BSKT vegan chocolate), or make your own raw choc, Cacao smoothie, Berry smoothie, Chocolate or coconut/berry based chia pudding, Vegan pancakes, Strawberry Chia Jam, Avocado chocolate mousse.

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 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.
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