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How to: Easy Food-Prep

Food prep truly is the foundation to our health. Whether you work from home, an office or are at school/university, a certain amount of preparation is critical if we are to make healthy choices.  Without it, we are likely to reach for the convenient option, the takeaway shop near the office, the food delivery app, or scrounge together some snacks from the pantry. Not prepping properly can also lead to over-eating, because you get home famished, making a proper meal seems so far off when you have nothing prepped, so you reach for anything and everything before making a proper meal. Sound all to familiar? It doesn’t have to be.

Let’s get prepped!

Sure, we can go overboard here… you can have 5 lunches pre-portioned, a snack, a healthy treat, dips, dressings, and grains all soaked and cooked up. However this “go-hard” strategy, is likely unsustainable. What we want to set up is a solid routine that you can adhere to week after week. You can rotate the varieties e.g. swap from broccoli to Brussels sprouts, brown rice to quinoa etc. each week, in fact, I encourage you to, in order to obtain a broader spectrum of nutrients, but the principles are simple. I will list the 5 non-negotiable, and add on a few “additionals”, should any of them jump out at you and you have a little extra time.

How to get your fiancé, boyfriend, husband, child, loved one to eat more veggies? Do all the slicing, shaving, washing, blending, shaking, baking, soaking, boiling for them!!! It doesn't have to be this or this much, do what suits you. I've sliced raw veggies, roasted cruciferous veg, eggplant & sweet potato, blended cauliflower rice (raw, ready to be cooked), soaked and boiled quinoa, soaked chia seeds, shaken up a salad dressing, washed spinach and shaved cabbage. We are ready to roll! Salads, smoothies & snacks made easy for the week. Never underestimate food prep! ✨

  1. Buy and wash/dry a big bag or two of spinach – Easy! Put it in a large glass Tupperware and store it in the fridge. It can now be added to smoothies, salads and cooked meals with ease. I buy 1kg for Mike and I. Why? High in vitamins such as A, C, E and some Bs as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium, chlorophyll-rich spinach also provides additional fibre as well as the added benefit of alkalising our bodies.
  2. Roast a BIG tray of Cruciferous & starchy veggies – I like to choose three options such as 1 x head Broccoli, 1 x head Cauliflower & 3-4 medium Sweet potatoes. Other cruciferous options are Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, cabbage. Starches include: potato varieties, beetroot, turnips, parsnips, peas, pumpkin, organic corn. Why? Because a serving of cruciferous vegetables a day is healthy to support our liver and detoxification pathways as well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. Starch is a satiating, delicious way to amp up our fibre and feed the friendly bacteria in our gut which in turn produces butyrate (beneficial and important to the colon).
  3. Boil 1-2 cups dry gluten-free grains – Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, 100% buckwheat soba or rice noodles… these are WHOLE grains. Whilst refined grains are stripped of most of their nutrients, these beautiful grains are full of fibre, minerals, phytochemical, vitamins and amino acids. Do not be afraid to consume. For any digestive issues, try soaking them overnight, draining and then cooking in fresh water. Why? Grains assist with brain function, fat metabolism, energy production and tissue repair.
  4. Stock up or cook legumes – Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, cannelloni beans are always in my pantry. I buy organic, no-salt-added varieties that have no preservatives or nasties. Be sure to wash them thoroughly in a strainer, until all bubbles disappear, to avoid bloating. You can also soak dry legumes and then drain and cook them yourself. Why? As well as possessing the benefits of other starches as stated above, they are loaded with protein, are low GI and help to balance blood sugar and appetite, and are choc-full-of antioxidants and fibre to promote good digestion, heart health, and prevent cancer.
  5. Make a batch of salad dressing – there are so many combos you can try here. This ensures putting together a salad is easy and tasty in a pinch. Why? Because store-bought ones are generally full of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary salt and sugar. These have incredibly beneficial ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, lemons, miso, tahini, spices etc. that only bring you more health, not empty calories!

Up on the blog, a salad dressing for you to make for a healthy week! Chickpea dressing... two ways – plain or with a hint of tomato As you know, I prefer to use wholefoods to thicken up my dressings – avocado, nut and seed butters, veggies, legumes – and skimp on oil. See my blog for why. This is a delicious hummus-like dressing, whilst the herbs and/or tomato added lend a different flavour profile Make a big batch and keep it in a jar in the fridge for the week! One of my top tips to easy healthy meal prep. Just shake it up & pour Add a drop or two of water if it thickens over the days Legumes such as chickpeas have the remarkable effect of controlling blood-sugar/appetite well after you have eaten them, to your next meal and beyond, meaning a healthy dressing like this will keep you satiated post-meal ✨

Additionals:

Cha-cha-cha-CHIA!! My fave seed with a little bit of everything good ✨ Healthy #pudding? I think so! This Coconut Berry Chia Pudding is up on the blog, along with 3 other varieties ... Choc-Chip Chai ☕️ Choc Mint #YUM! Indulged a little this Easter weekend? No biggie, get back on track... Check out my Chia recipes, make a big batch tonight & be set for early breakfasts or night-time (anytime) sweet cravings

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.

3 Ayurvedic practices I am making a habit of

Dinacharya – “Dina” meaning day and “Charya” meaning activity – refers to the Ayurvedic daily routine that is encouraged to reduce stress, improve digestion and prevent chronic disease. Many of the practices are applicable to the morning time to set up the day with balance, cleanliness of mind and body and ease.

There are some elements that I, and perhaps you, might already be performing… Early rising, engaging in exercise and/or meditation, brushing teeth, showering, warm lemon water, eating a healthy breakfast… So without necessarily being aware of it, you might already be partaking in Dinacharya! However strictly and traditionally, it is quite a process! Whilst I respect it, I definitely don’t stick to the letter of it.

After some recent reading, I have decided to make more of an effort to incorporate three aspects of Dinacharya into my already established routine. I feel these are easy to implement and believe they will boost my day and improve overall wellbeing. Join me!

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Tongue Scraping

This simple practice removes bacteria and toxins accumulated overnight, whilst also stimulating and cleansing the digestive tract and vital organs (different points of the tongue are said to relate to specific organs). From my research, this should be the first step in your oral hygiene routine. So whether you brush, gargle or floss, scrape your tongue first – 7-10 brisk strokes should do the trick, and wash off excess where necessary between scrapes. Don’t be too vigorous, it should not hurt. Once done, brush your teeth and then enjoy your warm lemon water.

Oil Swishing

This practice is believed to strengthen the teeth, gums and jaw. It also shows some promise in gingivitis and plaque build-up prevention and overall oral health. You may have heard of oil pulling. I originally shied away from this practice, placing it in the “too hard” basket…. The idea of swishing oil in my mouth for upward of 15 minutes seemed ludicrous to me! Who has that time? However, my reading has revealed that traditionally, this practice need not be so indulgent, 1-3 minutes will do the trick. Yay! Once you have had your warm lemon, place about 1 tbsp of oil (preferably warmed, unrefined, organic and cold-pressed sesame or coconut oil) into your mouth, swish for a minute or two, spit out (do not swallow!), and before rinsing use your finger to massage your gums softly to increase circulation. Tip: to warm the oil I recommend using a small container filled with 1 tbsp of the oil, secured tightly and placed in warm water for a minute, perhaps whilst you drink your lemon water. Confession: I only do this 3-5 times a week, do it when you remember/have time, I think this is good enough!

Abhyanga

This is an ancient practice of oily self-massage, said to nourish the skin, promote good circulation, lubricate tissues, optimise detoxification and soothe the nervous system. Before you shower, perhaps after exercise, warm about 1/4 cup unrefined organic sesame, almond or coconut oil, by placing it in a hot bowl (you can add essential oils to the base oil as well). Then, massage your entire body, starting from the head. Pay particular attention to the soles of your feet, your ears, nail beds and the scalp. If you don’t want to wash your hair, choose to forgo the oil here and use dry hands to give yourself a scalp massage (great for stimulating the hair follicles and promoting growth!). See a good tutorial here. If you don’t have time for the full body massage, at least massage your hands, feet, and neck, as these are said to be major stress points and benefit most from stimulation. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing off oil. You could oil swish whilst you wait, tidy up or prepare breakfast or dinner (being careful with your oily feet!), meditate… Then, enjoy a warm shower, the heat of which will allow the oil to penetrate the skin, nourishing and strengthening the connective tissue. Bonus points to turn the tap to cold for 10 seconds at the end of your shower, then hot, then cold! Always finish on cold. This is great for circulation. Morning is believed to be ideal for Abhyanga, but it can also be done in the evening, choose when suits you best. Tip: try using a dry brush on your body before Abhyanga!

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.

The Truth Behind Osteoporosis (and some exiting new research on how nutrition and exercise can prevent it!)

Arthritis is a pain, isn’t it? Being a clinical sports physiotherapist one of the regular findings we see in the clinic is people suffering from osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, most people are clueless as to what it is and how it occurs.

There are no more great wife’s tales out there than ones that surround arthritis. Most of the time it usually involves your great gran who did back breaking work their whole life lifting hay bales, and thus has a degenerated spine. Or your uncle (who you never see) who has a dodgy knee from his years dominating local footy.

These stories are generally powerful in that they are emotive and capture our imagination. But they lead to harmful myths such as ‘bending your back is bad’ or that ‘playing sport will always leads to arthritis’. They create misconceptions that can last multiple generations as the story is passed down from one member to the next. However, science is now confirming they are just misconceptions, not reality.

Now before I go on I can hear you yelling saying ‘well my gran has a does have bad back for that very reason!’ To make my argument more convincing, you must remember all the rest. All the rest who did the same hard labour well in to their later years, and have fabulous health and a strong spine. Or all the rest that played footy into their forties and can still run around the tan with no problems.

The better question to ask is if it were general overuse that causes arthritis, why doesn’t everybody have it?

To answer this, we must first understand what arthritis is. The technical way to explain osteoarthritis is degeneration of the surfaces between the joints, leading to pain and difficulty moving.

The non-technical way to explain it is wear and tear. The cartilage is the tissue that helps the bones roll and slide on top of each other. It allows for a smooth glide, but in arthritic cartilage the joint finds it difficult to bend. This can lead to rubbing, swelling, and pain.

Now I am sure we all know someone, or ARE someone, who suffers from osteoarthritis. It can be debilitating at times – with stiff, sore and puffy joints being the hallmark. It stops people doing the things they love, like going for a run through the park or getting on the floor to play with the grandkids, and reduces your quality of life.

In recent years’ science, has gone leaps and bounds into understanding what is happening, with 2 very important papers being released that must be discussed.

The first was a landmark study by Vanwanseele et al 2002. They showed significant thinning of cartilage in people with spinal cord injury. They found that it is actually parts of the cartilage that are NOT being compressed that start to break down. It is because pressure or load, helps to squeeze nutrients into the cartilage to keep it healthy.

It is the opposite to what most people believe. We need healthy load and movement to keep it strong. It is when people stop moving or the joint is in the wrong alignment that we see cartilage degradation. Now being overweight or doing high impact activities without sufficient strength can add to this, so they must be addressed. But staying active and strong are your best weapons.

The second was as recently as May of this year. In this paper titled The role of metabolism in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritisNature Reviews Rheumatology, 2017, the researchers found the biggest single influence on the cartilage was diet and our metabolism.

They found that like everything in our body, the cartilage requires a nutrient dense diet to remain healthy and viable as we age. It stops the cells from breaking down, and as described above they respond positively to loading and stress, which actually keeps it strong and healthy.

Most people are under the impression that arthritis occurs because we have overworked a joint. Therefore, they are under the impression they need to stop moving when they have arthritis. As you can see, this is not the case.

The 3 most important things you can do are if you suffer from arthritis:

  • Eat a nutrient dense diet, full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will also help to keep you in a healthy weight range
  • Keep moving and gently progressively loading the joint in a minimally painful way. Examples of this are gentle walking, Pilates or swimming
  • Maintaining as much muscular strength around the joint as possible, by doing resistance based exercises

 

Chris Jellis is a physiotherapist and director of Sum Of Us. SUM is a health and wellness studio in Prahran that combines the science of modern physiotherapy and health care, in a nourishing holistic environmentwww.sumofusstudio.com.au 

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“I’m Vegan and Always Hungry. Help!” Appetite Control and My Top Tips To Reduce Insatiable Hunger

Amongst its many jobs, the hypothalamus (in the brain) is responsible for appetite regulation by stimulating metabolic and behavioural responses to maintain energy balance. Many factors come into play here, including the roles and reactions of biological hormones and peptides as well as psychological cues.

A lot of people fear or find that when they cut out meat and dairy, essentially everything they have been conditioned to associate with protein, they won’t be satiated. Well, protein is indeed satiating, and lucky for us, it is in everything. So if it is protein you are worried about, simply ensuring you get enough calories daily should suffice to meet protein requirements (.8g/kg of body weight), read more here. While the effect of protein on appetite control is well-documented, increasing protein consumption beyond what is necessary does not appear to be helpful, and clearly shows a 75% increase in overall mortality, and a four-fold increase in cancer death risk! Interestingly, some experiments show that high animal-based protein diets might help with quick weight-loss and appetite control short-term, but these effects tend to dissipate after one year. Further, these diets deplete the bodies glycogen stores and the water that goes with them, so it stands to reason that participants lose (water) weight.

In one study, a vegetable-based meal (beans/peas) influenced appetite and energy intake favourably compared to an animal-based meal (pork/veal) with similar energy and protein content. Further, a vegetable-based meal with low protein content was as satiating and palatable as an animal-based meal with high protein content! So we can see, protein isn’t the only thing that is important to consider when it comes to appetite control!

Aside from protein, nutrient density and fibre are extremely important when it comes to satiety. Nutrient density is important because if you are eating nutrient-poor but calorie-rich foods (fast, processed, refined foods), your body may send you hunger signals, hoping that you choose to feed it the nutrients it so needs. There is ample evidence that increasing consumption of high-fibre foods may decrease feelings of hunger. High-fibre foods are shown to take a while to digest, controlling blood sugar, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and having the added bonus of “cleansing” the system and feeding beneficial gut bacteria.

Without knowing an individuals diet, it is tricky for me to answer why they are feeling constantly hungry. A common mistake people make is forgetting to replace the meat in their meal with something else nutrient-dense e.g. a chicken salad, minus the chicken, will not fill you up. You must add staples like chickpeas, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, nuts or seeds in place, to amp up the energy and nutrient-density, and thus the satiety.

Lastly, we are supposed to get hungry! “If I eat a vegan meal, I find I am hungry a few hours later”… Well, that is often a positive when transitioning to a vegan diet, we become more in tune with our appetite. We must stop looking at hunger as a bad thing. You need food to fuel your body to function, it is simply about choosing the right fuel. Waking up hungry, feeling hungry every 3-5 hours is a very natural, normal and healthy indicator of your body working efficiently. Food is not the enemy!

Hunger-fighting Tips:

– Replace the meat in your meal with something nutrient-dense, fibre-rich and substantial;

– Ensure you reach adequate protein daily through a variety of plant-sources: fruits and vegetables (everything adds up), beans, legumes and grains, tempeh and tofu, nuts and seeds. If you wish to incorporate a protein powder, you may, but that isn’t always necessary. Remember, sufficient calories = sufficient protein, read more on this here. Include beans and legumes in your diet, evidence suggests that such plant-proteins provide a longer feeling of satiety than animal proteins;

– Fill up on non-starchy vegetables – 3+ cups per meal is not too much! Go hard! Snack on these freely;

– Nutritious mini meals, such as the three S’s – salads, soups and smoothies – can also be snacks and are often healthier and satisfying than packaged and processed snack options;

– Think nutrient density – perhaps your body is craving nutrition rather than calories;

– Don’t deprive yourself of carbohydrates – carbohydrates are a mainstay in a plant-based diet. Gluten-free grains, legumes, beans, fruit… these foods are not to be feared. They are the bodies primary source of fuel, crucial for healthy brain, thyroid and digestive function and keeping you full, happy and healthy.

– Not too long, not too short, just right – Don’t wait too long between meals to the point where you are famished, make poor choices and guzzle your food, but don’t eat too soon, as we need time between meals to cleanse the digestive system! Aim to wait at least 2-3 hours;

– Plate your food – if snack items are out of reach, studies suggest you eat less. Ensure you are seated when eating, not on-the-go (or standing over the sink!);

– Do not inhale food – eat slowly and mindfully, away from distractions. Chew each bite 10-20 times. Set an alarm in your phone to go off after 20 minutes, this is a good guide for how long you should eat. Place utensils down between bites, and swallow each mouthful before going for another!

– Sleep – a lack of sleep actually leads to heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after a meal due to its relationship with the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Essentially, it reduces the amount of leptin in your body, the “stop-eating” hormone;

– Ensure you are hydrated – Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, particularly with fruit cravings. Have a glass or two of water, wait a few minutes, then decide if you are truly hungry. Note: it is best to drink away from meals, so as not to dilute digestive enzymes needed to break down food;

– Apple cider vinegar – fights candida and may help with sugar cravings, bloating and stimulation of stomach acid;

Cinnamon – trials ustilising cinnamon as a means for blood sugar stabilisation, particularly in diabetics, have yielded mixed results. However, given the little downside, why not try it in meals. Be sure to choose Ceylon as opposed to Cassia (more common/cheap), due to potential coumarin toxicity;

– Phenylalanine – Is an amino acid thought to help suppress appetite, due to its relationship with the satiety hormone cholecystokinin. Bee pollen and chlorella (can be taken as tablets) are nutritious superfoods, rich in phenylalanine;

– Peppermint tea – may help suppress appetite, and is a lovely way to end a meal. Note: avoid if you are prone to reflux.

 

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 🙂

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!

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.

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.

A love note to Soy…

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is regarding the health of soy foods. I either hear that someone would love to go vegan but wants to avoid soy (which is fine, but also not necessary), or that they wish they “could” consume it, but are worried about relying on it as a source of plant-based protein because of all the negative implications they have heard from someone, somewhere. Regardless, my answer is the same! The right types of soy are unequivocally, a healthful choice. I talk more about the right types below.

Let’s look at the evidence in regard to some major concerns:

Soy contains oestrogen: No it actually doesn’t. It does however contain phytoestrogens (beneficial constituents of plants, also found in flaxseeds). This type of oestrogen “imitator” is not bad, but indeed, beneficial, with its naturally occurring oestrogenic activity. They adapt to what the specific individual needs, raising or lowering oestrogen levels accordingly. Regarding female fertility, a large-scale study at a fertility centre demonstrated improved birth rates in females consuming soy and undergoing fertility treatment. A note on menopause, women dealing with hot flashes found relief from soy products according to this study.

Soy makes men grow breasts: Nooo! Men’s sex hormones, including testosterone remain unaffected by consuming soy products. This study concluded that soy does not “exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to and even considerably higher than are typical for Asian males.” Soy does not adversely effect semen quality, and a study at Harvard University found soy intake had no effect overall on male fertility.

Just so we are clear on this topic, I’d like to point out the ludicrously of these claims by illustrating that the milk from a cow comes from a female animal that has just given birth. Not only is this a much bigger animal than us, with a different hormonal profile, but just as humans, when cows give birth, their oestrogen levels elevate. Therefore, it stands to reason that the concerning source of oestrogen in the diet is cows milk! And so far, I’ve just mentioned the natural oestrogen (due to their recent pregnancy)… think about the hefty doses of synthetic hormones dairy livestock are injected with to increase their milk production! This only adds to the oestrogen load of most cows milk. Yuk!

Cancer growth and recurrence: research appears to indicate soy consumption has a positive effect on preventing or slowing down the growth of cancer. Phytoestrogens (present in soy) act as antioxidants and have anti-proliferative properties to inhibit tumour growth. Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption has been significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence. This study suggests that greater consumption of isoflavone-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women. Other analyses have found that soy foods are protective against prostate cancer in men.

Bone health: I hear you, don’t we need dairy to protect against osteoporosis? No, we don’t, and evidence suggests that populations consuming higher amounts of cows milk actually have higher incidence of osteoporosis versus populations who don’t. There are a number of reasons for this, namely, the acidity of the milk causing greater calcium excretion from the body. However, I thought it apt to point out that whilst soy generally does contain less calcium, it contains triple the amount of magnesium, a vital mineral for bone maintenance. Indeed, the latest research suggests soy milk is actually much better for bone health. Interestingly, the beneficial isoflavones (types of phytoestrogens) in soy are thought to inhibit the breakdown of bones. For example the isoflavone Daidzein, is actually used to create the drug ipriflavone, which is used to treat osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism and soy: Soy products do not cause hypothyroidism and hypothyroid adults need not avoid soy foods. However, the isoflavones  in soy may potentially reduce iodine availability, required for healthy thyroid hormone production. It is therefore suggested that people who consume soy might need slightly more iodine in their diets (which we can get from sea veggies like dulse and nori).

***There is always conflicting evidence and debate around the statistical significance of the findings in such studies. However whether there is no benefit, little benefit, or substantial benefit, I am yet to find a negative finding regarding soy, and that should be the message we hear loud and clear.

At the end of the day, the fear around soy seems to stem from a few sources:

  • The grouping of all soy together – the bad: i.e. concentrated soy proteins and soy-derivatives used to thicken or emulsify products (often non-vegan products too), GMO, non-organic, non-traditional varieties such as highly-processed faux soy meats + the good: i.e. traditional sources of soy, non-GMO and organic such as tempeh, tamari, miso, natto and even a little good quality tofu from time to time is ok. So too is edamame. Combining the good and the bad like this is akin to saying that the questionable ground meat in a fast food chain burger is the same quality as the meat from your local organic butcher (whilst I don’t think either meat is healthy, this is a helpful comparison!);
  • Rare cases of harm due to consumption of ridiculously large amounts of soy on a daily basis;
  • Similar to point 1 above, because soy is grown in ginormous quantities and added to absolutely everything, including often unhealthy packaged foods, it is viewed negatively, similarly to corn. Again, non-GMO and organic varieties in their wholefood form are fine!; and
  • Poorly-conducted research based and/or articles by groups with vested interests e.g. the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).

 

Soy sources to include:

organic and non-GMO edamame and fermented sources such as tempeh, natto, miso, tamari (easiest to digest and assimilate). Whilst soy milk and tofu are more processed, organic varieties from time-to-time if you really enjoy them are not going to negatively impact your health and should not be feared.

I am not claiming soy to be a miraculous cure-all, I am simply pointing out that there is a lot of good evidence indicating its benefits, and that you should feel confident in including it as part of a plant-rich varied diet (if you so choose). 

 

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.

Why I skip/skimp on Oil + 7 simple Salad Dressings

The biggest misconception about salads is that they are always, always healthy. Well, this isn’t always the case. They are certainly a step in the right direction, if they actually include greens in them – I have seen white pasta/cous-cous/rice lathered in dairy with a few minuscule herbs or potatoes thrown in, being dubbed a salad. Not exactly!

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.

So, why am I not such a big fan of oil? Yes, even the extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed type…

Well put simply, oil is not a whole-food. It is the fatty part, extracted from what was once a whole food – the olive, the macadamia nut, the coconut etc. Thus, it is processed. It is also extremely energy dense. All the other nutrients from the plant have been thrown away – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and water – leaving nothing but energy-dense, fat. Wholefoods are usually buffered by fibre and water, to naturally portion control for us, but extracted foods like oil, are not. And with all that density, there really is little nutrition – as mentioned, a lot of it is discarded, and what remains is omega-3 fatty acids, valuable, but not necessary if you consume a healthy, wholefood diet which naturally contains it anyway. So whilst I believe in consuming healthy fats for our cardiovascular health, brain, skin, mood, immune system etc. I just see oil as excessive and unnecessary, and often the missing piece to the puzzle when someone is struggling to loose weight but is following an otherwise healthy, wholefood diet.

As Dr McDougall describes:

“…there are adverse effects from consuming free oils, when added from a bottle to meals or taken as pills.  The most obvious adverse effect is people gain weight when they eat even so-called “healthy oils,” like olive oil. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, these women were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories).  Of the total calories from fat, 55% came from olive oil.   My point: a Mediterranean diet which is loaded with olive oil, rather than fruits and vegetables, will make you fat… the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet… Avoiding free vegetable oils is the last important hurdle for people seeking better health…

As such, I much prefer perfectly packaged, wholefood healthy fat options like nuts, seeds and avocados. They are far tastier too! When it comes to cooking, I use a light spray, 1/4 tsp, or simply a splash of water or tamari.

So, when making salad dressings, I prefer to skip or skimp on the oil, and favour delicious, wholefood ingredients. Here are some easy concoctions you can shake together in a jar, no fancy equipment required. Plain and simple, but tasty as ever!

Miso Tamari: 1/2 lemon or lime (juiced), 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp tamari, 1 tsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp sesame oil (optional), pinch of chili flakes (optional);

Lemon Dijon: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or maple syrup (optional), cracked black pepper;

Lemon Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp ACV, splash or two of filtered water, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin or turmeric (optional);

Nutritious Creamy Citrus: 1 lemon (juiced), 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp ACV, 1 tsp dulse, a pinch of chili or cayenne (optional);

Passion-fruit Lime: 2 passion-fruits, 1 lime (juiced), 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard;

Apple Almond: 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 3 tbsp ACV, 1 level tbsp almond butter, 1 tsp maple syrup (optional), pinch cinnamon.

Miso Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1/3 cup warm water, 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp tamari.

IMG_1429

Key ingredients to have on hand: dijon mustard (look for ones with no added sugar or preservatives), Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), lemons, limes, passionfruits, unpasturised miso paste, nutritional yeast, dulse flakes, tahini, almond butter, unsweetened apple sauce, tamari, maple syrup, herbs and spices.

 

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!!

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