Fitness and Health Podcasts To Inspire and Inform


I have to admit, I used to be a massive advocate and consumer of fitness and health podcasts. I loved Jillian Michaels and Janice's witty, smartass banter that covered types of plant based milks, the reasons particular exercises and routines paid dividends and mindset adjustments. As the length of episodes increased and it became more about Jillian's parenting, it became an exhausting test of patience. So, I took a lengthy break but I'm back listening to pods for inspiration and here's my  pick of what you should get your earbuds wrapped around.

My own Core Integrity podcast, featuring interviews with gut, mind, body and spirit role models and practitioners.

Hurdle, in which Emily Abbate chats with wellness entrepreneurs and leaders like the co-founder of Headspace.

YogaPeeps is a lifelong love affair. Though it's no longer producing new episodes, every single episode is eminently listenable and full of yoga wisdom from teachers who live, breathe and love the practice. Lara Hedin is a wonderful host.

TEDTalks Health gets across astonishing facts and information in bite-sized podcast episodes. This will make for excellent conversation starters if nothing else.

Nutrition Matters takes a no-bull approach to food and the mental, physical and spiritual approach to a nutritious life. Paige Smathers is a registered dietitian and nutritionist who interviews experts.

The Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous

Oh I love this one so much and it's so short and easy to listen to. It really is a quick dive into a topic, ingredient or trend. Monica Reinagel is a joy to tune in to for advice, intelligence and simple, memorable tips.


Quick and Simple Salads - Stick To Your Healthy Resolutions

Whether you are already a fruit, vegetable and earth-loving nutrition guru or you're working on improving the amount of fibre, vitamin and macronutrient rich foods in your daily meals, I've got you covered. The 5-Minute Salad Lunchbox has a whole bunch of kickass ideas around combinations of flavours and colours to make your lunch delicious, satiating and balanced. Far from bland or insubstantial, as sometimes salad can be, these recipes have a protein, fibre-rich vegetables or pulses, and flavour rich seasoning that will keep you satiated for hours. Eating healthily is not about compromising what you actually enjoy and want for something you feel you should have. This is about discovering meals and foods you DO enjoy and that you DO want, recognising that foods that are good for you are also freakin' delicious once you start experimenting and realising you can have so many things you hadn't factored into a healthy diet and really enjoy them. Sometimes, exchanging full fat butter for nut butters, or using roast vegetables and crunchy roasted chickpeas in place of chips and starchy, processed burger patties can be a revelation.

Without further ado, the recipes. What are you going to make this week? Let me know on Facebook.


LEFT-OVER ROAST VEGETABLE SALAD

Substitute toasted pine nuts or almonds if you don’t have cashew nuts.

200 g (7 oz) left-over roast vegetables, such as carrot, pumpkin (winter squash), parsnip, potato, sweet potato and beetroot (beets), sliced or cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large handfuls of baby English spinach leaves
small handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz) cashew nuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
               
TAHINI DRESSING
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



LENTIL, HALOUMI & HERB SALAD

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I substitute vegan haloumi or chickpea tofu for the halouomi in this recipe. There's also nut-based vegan "cheese" or you could fry some tofu or add tempeh instead.
  
50 g (1¾ oz) slice of haloumi, fried in hot oil for 3 minutes, cubed * vegan halloumi recipe
150 g (5½ oz/⅔ cup) drained tinned brown lentils
1 tomato, diced
handful each of mint, parsley and coriander (cilantro), chopped

LEMON & CUMIN DRESSING
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.
RAW BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PEAR, HAZELNUTS & PECORINO


The sweetness from the pear and cranberries (also known as craisins) are the perfect foil for the peppery bite of the raw brussels sprouts. Apple will work just as well as pear and, while the hazelnuts bring something really special to this salad, walnuts are great here, too.

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I don't add pecorino but if you want an alternative, there's a cashew based vegan cheese alternative below.

150 g (5½ oz) brussels sprouts, shredded
1 pear, thinly sliced
30 g (1 oz) roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz/⅓ cup) grated pecorino
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

CIDER VINEGAR DRESSING
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



Vegan parmesan cheese
ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (150 g)*
  • 4 tbsp brewer’s or nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

instructions

  1. Grind all the ingredients in a grinder or food processor until well mixed.
Extracted from THE 5-MINUTE SALAD LUNCHBOX by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books, RRP AU$24.99 or NZ$28.99 Photography © Chris Middleton / Food styling © Deborah Kaloper. 

Hair And Scalp Health: Preventing thinning, Repairing Damage. The Tried & Tested Products

hair health scalp health coloured hair damage repair

I've always had a wild mane of LOTS of hair, but it's quite thin and prone to breakage. I'm also prone to an itchy, irritated scalp. Training daily, putting my head on foreign yoga mats and a habit of touching and playing with my hair all make it much worse!

There's a zillion and two hair brands and products all on the shelves right now that claim to treat dandruff, soothe a sensitive scalp, make hair grow longer, halt thinning and more. But how many of them are legit? I can't honestly answer, because I don't have the time or funds to trial a zillion and two things. But I do try a lot of hair products and I only stick with what I genuinely find works for my hair. I have naturally red-brown brunette hair, curly and dry. It's a pain in the butt to style and I insist on dyeing it all the colours (that's my latest "do" below) so it's even more in need of conditioning treatments and care than most.

VIVISCAL

For the past year, I've been taking Viviscal supplements daily. I tend to notice a much greater impact on my nails than my hair, but I have certainly noticed considerably less split ends and the strands appear to be a little thicker than before. Jennifer Aniston swears by it and it has multiple clinical trials to back up its effectiveness so it certainly can't do any harm to try it.

DIET

healthy hair diet plant based
The key to a healthy hair and scalp is much more internal than external. In addition to any supplements, you need to ensure you're consuming adequate quality proteins like beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh if you're vegan or organic beef, fish and eggs if you're not. A rainbow of vegetables and fruits, plus B vitamin rich carbs will also feed your hair, scalp and skin generally.

I eat a super colourful, varied vegan diet with plenty of healthy fats and proteins (tempeh, tofu and veggie burgers plus a vegan protein powder in my smoothies). I have also been washing my hair every 3 to 4 days because too often strips the hair of its natural oils and leaves it damaged and prone to further breakage. I also try to leave it out when I'm not training so that I don't pull it at the roots constantly (traction damage).

TREATMENTS

There's four brands I recommend and their particular ranges that work for my hair. I tried each for several weeks to be sure I saw measured improvement in my hair. The products you don't see listed made a lot of promises and yet, they left my hair greasy, or my scalp was itchy a day later, or they stripped my hair of any moisture and left it brittle. Here's the gold medallists.

alfaparf hair scalp hair growth reconstruction

Alfaparf Milano Reconstruction Range

The whole goal of the Reconstruction range was to protect hair against environmental damage, including pollution and harsh styling regimes. It's perfect for my hair because it also enhances coloured hair and prevents fading. The whole range is formulated with bamboo marrow to strengthen the hair fiber. I won't lie - the deep marine green colour is super chic and displaying it on my bathroom shelf makes me happy. Thankfully it also smells divine and actually leaves my hair really smooth and shiny. It's much easier to dry and straighten and so far, my purple and pink colour has stayed strong. I use the shampoo followed by the masque and one ampoule of the treatment every week. I also use the leave-in serum after styling.
Find the range here.

After using the shampoo and hair mask, my bright purple colour was exactly as bright as it was on the first day. My hair dried smooth and soft too, as opposed to the Kramer-like fuzz I sometimes deal with.


green people vegan organic haircare cruelty free

Green People Organic Irritated Scalp Range


Quinoa in my shampoo? Sure. If Green People says it's the way to go, I'm all for it. It makes sense. It's rich in protein, vitamins and minerals which are all elements the hair needs. I swear by the Irritated Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner. They're certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. Lavender and rosemary naturally soothe an itchy scalp and there's no toxic scents or preservatives. It's perfect for adults but also really good for kids, especially if typical hair products cause scalp irritation or itchiness.

Less Is More organic haircare scalp protein natural hair

Less Is More (Organic and Natural)

Just like Green People, Less Is More is all about a natural, gentle approach to scalp and hair care. The products are all organic, with gorgeous minimal packaging. The big selling point, apart from how genuinely good they are for my hair, is how divine the scents are! I use Chitinspray daily - it smells like a citrus garden with hints of rose and aloe vera. Totally heavenly. Flower Whip is a mix of orange, rose, ylang ylang and aloe - a styling cream that I work into my hair when it's wet and just leave to dry. Perfect for warmer weather. The Herbal Tonic and Protein Spray are ideal for both soothing my scalp and the Protein Spray in particular for after I've had my hair bleached and coloured. 


Stress Hormones: How to combat belly fat, bloating and blemishes

stress hormones belly fat blemishes acne health
In over 10 years of teaching, I've been asked the same few questions repeatedly. Two of the most common are:

  • How do I fix blemishes/acne/dry skin?
  • How do I target excess belly weight?

Now, as we all should know, I don't buy into body hate and shaming and guilt. Women naturally have curves and a tendency to hold weight around the belly and hips because women are designed to create, house and nourish new human life within their bodies. That's pretty amazing. Whether you choose to have children or not, your body is engineered for it.

That said, there's a fine balance to find between functional and healthy amount of particular hormones and the sort of irregularity and imbalance that will lead to a cycle of nasty symptoms that indicate hormonal problems and that lead to MORE hormonal imbalances if not addressed through lifestyle.

The culprit - in all my discussions with medical and natural health practitioners, and in my personal experience - is the stress hormone, cortisol. An excess of cortisol leads to inflammation within the body, creating dramas with digestion, sleep, mood, acne and blemishes, insatiable appetite, cravings, bloating and weight gain particularly around the belly and hips.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (in the kidney area). It isn't all bad! Cortisol is produced to enable the body to handle and respond to danger. It is also heightened during exercise or at the beginning of the day to put the body into a more alert state.


Too much cortisol results in a number of symptoms, including weight gain around the face and abdomen, thin and easily broken skin, acne, bones more vulnerable to fracture and breaking, depressed mood, increased facial hair and irregular periods.

Some medications can mimic cortisol, including some asthma medication and topical steroid creams or steroidal drugs.

What can you do to prevent excessive cortisol and a crappy mood, bloated belly and tired, dull skin? Here's some simple steps. Take one at a time, or all at once:

  • Stop the extra long workouts. No wonder your body believes your under pressure and in need of hormones to cope with stress if you're forcing yourself through training regimes that run over 90 minutes
  • Cut the coffee. Sure, addictive, sure. But if you want to sleep and look 10 years younger, stop.
  • Eat wholefoods. Organic wherever possible, but maintain a diet where at least 80% of your food is a plant that you can recognise as exactly the same as it was on the tree or in the earth (powdered beetroot doesn't count)
  • Take high-quality supplements if your diet is restricted at all (vegan protein, omega 3 supplements, vitamin D if you don't get much sun, multivitamins)
  • Did I mention Omega 3 supplements?
  • Eat a high fibre diet to maintain good gut health
  • Take adaptogenic herbs: licorice root tea or medicinal mushrooms are easy to find at health food stores or online
  • Take 5 minutes every morning and/or evening to sit quietly, eyes closed and breathe fully into the belly then slowly out again. Set a phone timer if you need.
  • Get away from screens. Put the phone down.
  • Go to yoga - any type.
  • Do pilates
  • Dance
  • Laugh
  • Omega 3 supplements (seriously, though)
Image from Wholefood Merchants, Melbourne

New To Vegan Life: Meeting Nutritional Needs


vegan nutrition

Are you a Negan (New Vegan)? Welcome to the club.

I have been eating mostly plant-based meals for over a decade but it is a new choice to consume a purely vegan diet. I had been safe in my knowledge that chicken, fish and yoghurt were enabling me to earn top marks on my blood test results. B12? Iron? Calcium? Gold stars!

While it can take a little more planning and awareness around combining plant based foods to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs for optimum health, once you understand which foods have the highest quality of calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and protein, you can go wild with exploring flavours knowing that within each week, you're ticking all the boxes.
plant based cat woods

For me, I know the foods I really love and rely upon for essential nutrients, but I have a bad habit of not incorporating enough variety and adventure into my meals. I can get into a rut of the same thing daily for a week! That said, have you discovered purple sweet potato? If any food is worthy of a 12-step program, purple sweet potato is it.

Still. I digress.

Plant Based Meals For Inspiration and Convenience

To save myself from my own boring routines, I have ordered a Soulara delivery to get me through just over a week. I hugely recommend this meal delivery service to anyone and everyone, whether you're vegan or not. Having trialled a range of meal delivery services over the past few years, I can honestly say this is a no-fails option that is totally fresh, totally organic, and genuinely delicious. It doesn't feel like diet food and the serving sizes will genuinely satiate your appetite (not aeroplane-meal sized like some delivery services).
soulara meal delivery

The great benefit of a meal delivery service for me (and you!) is that I can explore a variety of vegan meals and get a true sense of what I really love so that I'm inspired to get into the kitchen and create meals based on those flavours and ingredients. When I go to Ubud, Bali, I eat purely plant based meals and mostly raw food too. It is energising, it connects me deeply to the earth and it feels good in my belly and my body. Soulara is the closest I've come to home-delivered plant based meals that transport me straight back to a table overlooking rice paddies and yoga studios. Check out their Instagram for food inspiration.
soulara plant based meals

Common Nutritional Deficiencies In A Vegan Diet

I recently went to the doctor for blood tests and under "Health Conditions" she listed "Vegan". I'm not sure this is typically considered an ailment! However, if you aren't doing your research and maintaining an eye on your calcium, iron and B12 levels, then you'll feel like being a vegan truly is an ailment. Apart from reading as much as you can and educating yourself, it's entirely worth making an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist who has expertise in vegan or vegetarian diets. They can advise - based on your gender, age, height, weight, general health and level of activity - what your nutritional needs are and how to meet them.
vitamins vegan

The most common nutritional deficiency is B12 because this is purely available in animal based products (meat, seafood, dairy). The most reliable vegan source of B12 is nutritional yeast or fortified milks. Alternatively, a supplement is your best bet. But ignoring B12 is dangerous. B12 is linked to mood, the nervous system and also works co-operatively with B9 (folic acid) to enable optimal absorption of iron. Calcium is vital to healthy bones and muscles. Especially important for women. There are many fortified milks (almond, soy often have "Calcium Fortified" on the label where this is the case). There's no question you can meet your protein requirements easily with soy based proteins such as tofu and tempeh but spirulina, peas, hemp seeds, brown rice and quinoa, chickpeas and beans also provide rich sources of organic protein. Again though, see a dietitian for a personalised plan. Once you know how to meet the requirements of your body, you can confidently go it alone. It's definitely worth telling your GP you are vegan so that they can keep an eye on your blood test results (in the first year, worth doing this every few months).

Supplements

There's a good argument that you can meet your every nutritional need with wholefoods. But since the quality of food, soil and produce is not 100% reliable due to production and farming measures, it's absolutely worth investing in some supplements to ensure you're giving your body every opportunity to be well.
evening primrose oil

I am not a huge fan of turmeric as a flavouring so I'm very happy to take it in supplement form. My pick is Alitura Revitalize which contains ingredients based on Chinese Medicine, Western and Eastern Science. Turmeric, He Shou Wu (iron and zinc), chaga and reishi mushrooms (immune system and anti-ageing properties). I also take Evening Primrose Oil (Sports Research brand) which is rich in healthy fats for glowing skin and is also championed as support for women experiencing painful menstruation. Don't opt for any brand please - if you're going to spend on supplements, make sure you go with a high-quality product that's worth your dollars. I get my vitamins from Vibeality - the best spot to find Sports Research and Alitura brand in Oz. 
alitura


Raw & Organic Vegan Essentials

The raw deal ingredients

Long Jetty in New South Wales has a lot of healthy selling points - the divine yoga studio/cafe Modern Organic as well as the raw and organic food, home and lifestyle store The Raw Deal. Since I'm only in Long Jetty for short stints (unless someone wants to offer me a full time job teaching yoga, writing and blogging?) I do my shopping online. Whether it's bulk chickpeas and lentils or organic almonds and raw cashews, nut milk or superfoods in liquid and powder form, it's all super affordable and the best, freshest quality. Steve who runs things at The Raw Deal is a genuinely good, generous human with the pure desire to bring healthy, chemical free produce and products to his local community and to the wider Australian community via the website. There's a lot to be said for connecting with the people you shop with.
the raw deal natural foods



My Muscle Chef Food Delivery for Fitness Foodies

I'm no stranger to food delivery services and I've had the good, the bad and the ugly (ahem, see last post on food delivery experience!). My Muscle Chef is one I've returned to twice since my initial order and the only one I've actually returned to wholeheartedly. I can honestly affirm that they are always bang on time with delivery, notifying the night before via SMS to remind us forgetful types, and every single meal tastes freakin' amazing.

Since they began, the plant based and vegan options for meals has expanded and I can swear by the green curry tofu and brown rice. I could eat that at every meal for weeks and not crave anything else. There's a real misconception that if you want to maintain a fit, lean, athletic body you need to restrict and retreat from anything enjoyable. That's about as old-school as leotards, legwarmers and headbands in an aerobics class.

What joy would there be in living to 100, strong, fit and flexible, if you were counting out the almonds and turning down invitations to dinner and dessert? Food is not purely a fuel. It's a source of nourishment the same way that movement, nature, studying, work and relationships nourish. And just as any relationship comes down to quality over quantity, finding the right balance and knowing what works for you, so you need to find foods that you love to eat, have the nutrients that keep your body energised and satiated, that are available and affordable.
plant based muscle food

I'm a big fan of having staple meals that you can always rely on - even if you only learn to make 4 things in your life - there's always small ways to vary those meals by adding herbs or changing the condiments you use or the brand of rice or fish or lentils!

The real beauty of a meal delivery service - beyond having every meal perfectly portion controlled (for those who could easily polish off three servings without pause... ahem!) - is that I'm challenged to try new flavours and combinations I wouldn't necessarily put the time and effort into creating myself. Salmon and brown rice with a mushroom sauce, for example. Vegetarian frittata. Tofu curry. I'm inspired to crack open one of the zillion recipe books I own and keep on turning my meals into a rainbow of colours and flavours.

If you're thinking that food delivery is a luxury you can't possibly justify, then see it more as an investment in expanding your flavour and taste repertoire for life. Think of this as one week where you readjust your palate to desire and crave nutritious foods like tofu and brown rice, to anticipate the spicy curry sauce or veggie stew you'd never bother to make for yourself. Think about what you normally spend on all the raw, unprocessed ingredients throughout a week and how many snacks or wasted food you throw money at. Then decide whether having portion-controlled, easy to heat-and-serve meals for one week is actually not such an indulgence at all.
Check out My Muscle Chef.

Bowls Of Goodness

I've been a big fan of Nina Olssen on Instagram for a few years. She is the creator of Nourish Atelier, dedicated to creating and sharing divinely delicious plant based recipes and her buddha bowls (combinations of colourful and vibrant, healthy ingredients all in one bowl) are to die for. So, naturally, when her book of bowls was released this year, I was all over it. Luckily, I'm able to share two of my favourite recipes with you. Hope you love them and make them your own - perhaps you change one or two of the ingredients or you opt for a different condiment. Let me know how you modify these recipes and any of your favourite buddha bowl recipes are always welcome. Stay in touch via my Facebook page.

Recipes from Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment by Nina Olsson. Published by Kyle Books. RRP $39.99. Out now.


Rainbow Pad Thai
ALMOST RAW RAINBOW CARROT NOODLES, TOASTED CASHEWS AND SPICY TOFU

rainbow pad thai
My family loves noodles in all shapes and colours. Serving a rainbow Pad Thai pleases both small and grown up eaters. It’s a little juicier and fresher then regular rice or buckwheat noodles, so it complements the spicy tofu and peanut sauce beautifully. The avocado plays an important role here, adding a buttery creaminess that binds it all together. This noodle bowl is just as good as dinner as it is a side salad.
   
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 handfuls of cashew nuts
6 rainbow carrots, spiralised
2 avocados, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 head of a small red cabbage, shredded
handful of chopped coriander
6 spring onions, finely chopped
   
4 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sriracha
2 tablespoons coconut oil
200g firm tofu, pressed
water, to thin
             
50ml peanut butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped to a paste
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
30ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
juice of 1 lime
water, to thin

Mix the ingredients for the spicy peanut sauce and set aside. Mix the coconut sugar with soy, olive oil and sriracha for the tofu.
Heat up a frying pan over a medium– high heat and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes until golden, then pour over the soy mix and fry for another 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat. Add another tablespoon of coconut oil and stir-fry the cashew nuts for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat, then remove from the heat. Mix the carrot noodles with the avocado, red cabbage, coriander, cashews, tofu and spring onions and serve with the spicy peanut sauce.


The Loyal Lentil Chilli
Lentil chilli with butternut squash, coconut milk, pepper and lime

Do you have a dish that never fails you, like a loyal friend, who keeps showing up and impresses you by always being top-notch? I have a few and this lentil chilli has been the star of my regular repertoire for years. This is also one of the most made and loved recipes from my blog. Lentils can come across as a bit dull sometimes, but this dish is nothing like it. With flavours that really sing together – earthy cumin and cinnamon, tangy lime and coriander, hot chilli and garlic – it harmonises perfectly with sweet butternut squash and chewy lentils. Instead of butternut squash you can use cooked pumpkin, aubergine or any other fleshy vegetable you have.

SERVES 4
250 puy or beluga lentils
1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
5– 7 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a
paste with 1 teaspoon salt
1 + ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
400g butternut squash, cooked and chopped into small pieces
400ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

SIMPLE YOGURT SAUCE
200g yogurt or vegan yogurt (soygurt or coconut yogurt)
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

QUICKEST CUCUMBER SALAD
½ cucumber, shaved into ribbons
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
TO SERVE
fresh coriander
hot sauce, like sriracha
cooked brown rice or other whole grain
lime wedges

Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions, rinse, drain and set aside. Heat a frying pan over a medium– high heat. Add the oil and gently fry the shallots until transparent. Add the garlic, spices, pepper, chilli and tomatoes and fry for a few minutes over a medium– low heat. Stir in the lentils, squash, tahini and honey. Pour in the coconut milk and stir, then let the chilli simmer over a medium– low heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if needed and stirring regularly. Add the lime juice and soy, then let it simmer for a further few minutes while stirring. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Mix the ingredients for the yogurt sauce. Make the cucumber salad by combining the shaved cucumber and rice vinegar. Drizzle the chilli with extra virgin olive oil, top with freshly chopped coriander and serve with the cool yogurt sauce and salad. Serve with a hot sauce, rice and lime as extras on the table. 

Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

This isn't the first time I've explored meal delivery services to support and encourage eating portion controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Why would a trainer and instructor, with thorough knowledge of how to buy, prepare and plan healthy, delicious meals opt to have them delivered to me? For several reasons.
Despite having enough recipe books to build a small community library, and also having the time to prepare meals, I often find that I fall into routines of eating the same meals, day after day after day. It's boring.
It can also be easy to opt for making the same, boring meals I know when I don't have the incentive of preparing meals for anyone other than myself!
lean protein no gluten thr1ve vegetarian meals

Here is where Thr1ve has come to my rescue. I first saw the promotions for Thr1ve at the fitness centre I work at. Curious and dreading the inevitable dinner that would be exactly the same dinner I ate lastnight and the night before, I looked up the website. The founder of Thr1ve is the entrepreneurial fitness and fashion industry veteran, Josh Spark. This is a man who knows how to move, live and eat fit. Goal. I also looked through the menu and thought, I WANT to eat that, and that...and definitely that. Goal two. It could all be delivered to my door without fuss. Triple goals. Sold!

Now, there are various plans to opt for but here is the approach I took. I have ordered a 7-day week of meals along with probiotic water to support digestion. My prime goals are:
balanced macronutrients with wholefoods, plants and lean protein as the prime ingredients!



  • flavour rich, simple meals that I can be inspired to recreate in my own kitchen on an ongoing basis
  • well proportioned meals - tiny frozen blocks that are masquerading as lunch and dinner are a no go. I won't be sitting around watching netflix all day so I need food that fuels my active life
  • FRESH, non-frozen meals ready to eat (Thr1ve is one of the rare meal delivery services that delivers food freshly made, non-frozen so that if you don't get through it in the 7 days from delivery, you can choose to freeze it yourself)

My Thr1ve options are also intended to maintain my weight but for anyone who has a tendency to eat high-carb, multi-servings or excessive portions or desserts, you'll lose weight on these meals (if you're not eating extra meals between the planned meals!).

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

What's a ketogenic diet? High in protein and fats, low in carbohydrates and gluten free.

As you all well know, I do not advocate for strict diets of any nature. While I see the health benefits of kickstarting a healthy approach to meal planning and nutritious eating with a low-sugar, minimally processed food approach, it is not ideal to maintain a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet in the long term. While some fitness and bodybuilding fanatics will swear black and blue the ketogenic diet is the ultimate way to eat, the high protein and fat content is violently unhealthy on the liver and kidneys and the extreme lack of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, fruits) can cause fatigue, lethargy, poor function of the nervous and hormonal system.
Thr1ve vegetable frittata meal delivery
Fortunately, Thr1ve meals are well balanced to include smart, wholefood carbohydrates with thorough nutritional density (brown rice, quinoa, root vegetables, potato) and even the classic Atkins' diet advocated eating sweet potato, moderate servings of fruit and complex carbs after the initial week or so of high protein meals. The meals I've opted for, and the meals generally, are moderate carbohydrates, lean and moderate protein and low-fat. As a healthy-fats advocate (they promote vitamin absorption, hormonal balance and appetite fulfilment!) I have been adding sweet potato and raw cashews and almonds to my meals but you must read your own appetite and decide what you want to add. Unless you're trying to shed weight, you'll want to be adding smart snacks between meals as they are small serves.

Disclaimer: Of 14 meals (over a 7 day trial) FOUR meals went rancid by the fourth day and had to be thrown out. The "fresh greens" in two more also went bitter, flaccid and were inedible. I let Thr1Ve know and they made the excuse they were new to the meal delivery business and offered no remedy. Hopefully this issue is resolved but be warned.

Probiotics - Give Your Guts Some Goodness

probiotics the gut guide

Why Probiotics?


  • Your gut is home to between 500 and 2,000 species of bacteria, yeast, parasites, viruses and other micro-organisms

  • Our bodies have 10 times more microbes than human cells

  • Everything can affect the balance of the gut micro-flora from stress, sleep, antibiotics and prescription medicines, excess of food, undereating or malnutrition, highly processed foods, food preservatives and environment



  • Digestive diseases are common - from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to urinary tract disease, allergies to foods and yeast infections

  • Abs are made in the kitchen. Common imbalances in gut flora can lead to indigestion, bloating, fluid retention and gas

  • While you absolutely must consume probiotic-rich foods, stay active and have a plan in place to deal with stressful situations (counselling, friends to talk to, a regular meditation and yoga practice), I regularly take probiotic supplements to bolster my gut health (I highly recommend Restore Daily Probiotic from Nature's Way. There's also the Restore 100 Billion option.)


  • Chronic inflammation of the guts can erode the gut lining, leading to Leaky Gut (allowing vital nutrients and even food particles to leak from the gut, creating a toxic environment in the body)

  • Your gut bacteria produces vitamin B12 and K2, vital for energy, nervous system function and immunity 

  • Probiotics assist in balancing gut bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria, yeast and fungi causing gut inflammation

  • Probiotics create enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria and stimulate the T-cells, responsible for immune system integrity



  • We naturally produce probiotics in the gut but lifestyle choices and disease can threaten their quality and quantity

  • A lack of probiotics can lead to digestive disorders, skin issues, yeast infections, vulnerability to colds and flus on a regular basis

  • Probiotics can prevent and treat urinary tract infections

  • Probiotics have been shown to improve and manage eczema in children


What To Do After A Binge

I occasionally still have an episode of binge eating when the perfect storm of situation, emotions, tiredness and opportunity come together. Thankfully it is rare but still devastating and emotionally and physically draining and stressful. I know I'm not alone though and that for many of us, the easiest response to anger or anxiety or sadness can be to seek comfort in food.

I struggled with this in my early twenties and while it is rare now, the guilt and shame is even worse than the physical effects of pain and exhaustion. My trigger is highly processed "diet" foods and I need to remind myself these are designed to be "nothing" foods that don't satisfy or nourish the body. They are a marketing gimmick.

Here's my advice if you have had a binge episode - either if it's the first time ever or something that happens regularly.

Don't get angry at yourself. Be proactive. Analyse what triggered the binge - how did you feel? What happened today or recently that might explain how you feel? And then, what else can you do if you feel this way or these events happen again?

Sometimes it's as simple as breaking the circuit or routine that might lead to a binge. Maybe you force yourself to take a walk. Maybe you open a game of Tetris on your phone. Maybe you start to write or draw.

In the following 24 hours, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and assist your poor digestive system to handle rebalancing.

Do NOT make plans to diet or detox or restrict. This only leads to a feeling of deprivation and self-punishment and the likelihood of bingeing.

If you are worried this is something you don't feel in control of, speak to a professional. There are phone lines for The Butterfly Foundation and National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

Take fish oil supplements and B vitamins to assist in supporting the immune system and hormones. A binge episode puts the organs and bodily systems under a lot of stress.

Don't do any excessive or exhausting exercise. Allow the body to recover. Walking, swimming, slow yoga are all good options.

Remember that even elite athletes, celebrities and models have written or spoken about coping with binges. They are not uncommon and yet they can be devastating at the time. Don't encourage a cycle. Identify the triggers and change the situation and your responses.

Maybe you quit your job.
Maybe you leave a relationship.
Maybe you need to re-evaluate the restrictive diet that isn't working out so well!
Maybe you need to work on sleep habits or asking for help with too many obligations.

Whatever else you do though, know that you are lucky enough to be able to make new and different choices every day. And you'll be ok.

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook Allergen Free Treats

Another afternoon, another 3.30pm "WHERE ARE THE TREATS" dilemma.

Never fear. I bring treats with nutritional credit so you can feel satisfied AND highly self-righteous. And who doesn't need a bit of that during the mid-afternoon crawl to the finish line?
Coming to you from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott (Murdoch Books) - I know, it sounds very Pete Evans, hipster Crossfit what-have-you, but once you get beyond the title, the recipes are fabulous. Everything from salad to post-workout snack to dinner for 10.

Here's two of the fabulous finds - my favourites. I hope you love them and share them. I highly recommend popping the fig balls in a tupperware container and keeping in the fridge at work. They also make for some very happy post-school snack time and school fete fare.

FIG ENERGY BITES

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 Bites
Tools: Food Processor

370 g unsulphured dried figs
130 g fine shredded coconut, divided (unsweetened)
80 ml coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

1 Place the figs, 100 g of the coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse on and off until a thick paste forms (you may have to stop and scrape the sides of your food processor a couple of times).

2  Form into 2.5 cm balls, then roll them in the reserved 30 g of shredded coconut.

3  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the coconut oil set.

Note: Feel free to play around with the dried fruit in this recipe-—dates, dried apples and apricots are all good substitutions for the figs.

Storage: Keeps for a week or two stored in the refrigerator. Also freezes well.

SEARED BROCCOLINI WITH COCONUT BASIL PESTO


Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons solid cooking fat
450 g broccolini, washed, ends of stems removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 ml Coconut-Basil Pesto (page 124)

1 Heat the cooking fat in a large frying pan on high heat. When the fat has melted and the pan is hot, sear the broccolini for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the broccolini is tender.

2 Serve with coconut pesto drizzled over the top.

Storage: Keeps well in the refrigerator.


coconut-Basil Pesto

Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: 375 mls

125 ml coconut water or filtered water
100 g fresh basil leaves
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
A few sprigs of fresh mint

1 Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides if needed. If you want a smoother pesto, continue to blend until desired consistency is reached.

Variation: Use apple cider or coconut vinegars and add sea salt to taste, as those vinegars are not as salty as the plum.

Storage: Keeps for a couple of days, sealed, in the refrigerator.

Real Delicious Food

Too often in fitness and in food, there is a message from media, friends, family, personal trainers, supermarkets and pretty much everyone, that you need to follow a specific plan.

Usually, a specific plan that reaps plenty of money and devotion to a brand or individual. Drink our shakes! Purchase our appliances! Follow our instagram! And so forth.

What if you really considered what foods you like, what makes you feel good, what enables you to feel energetic enough to do what you have to do and what do you have the time and the enthusiasm to prepare?

I do have some paleo cookbooks and some raw food and vegan ones. I am not paleo, raw foodist or vegan. I think they have some fabulous recipes and I absolutely respect their ethos. I just know that I find I need animal based protein to feel truly satiated and energised.

I want to share some of the awesome books that are giving me recipe and happy, healthy food love at the moment. They are beautiful to look at and the recipes are not complex. They are not pushing a regimen on you - there's no self righteous eat THIS and NOT THAT! There's just a genuine celebration of flavour, fresh food and great combinations. Divided up between salads, main meals, sweet options and side dishes. Here's the lowdown on Real Delicious and Deliciously Ella.

Real Delicious by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books) is fabulous. The images are gorgeous - but don't be fooled by all the colour and prettiness - the recipes are simple and really good for both singles, small groups of friends and also feeding the whole family. Here are two of my must-try recipes: Japanese Pancakes and Fish and Sweet Potato

Japanese pancakes with mushrooms and chicken
Filled with shredded vegetables, minced lean chicken and protein-packed eggs, this version of a Japanese pancake makes a nutritious and filling lunch or light dinner. In Japan it’s traditionally served with mayonnaise, but I prefer to skip this in favour of a little sweet soy sauce and some salad leaves.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 8


75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal spelt flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
11/2 tablespoons peanut or  macadamia oil
200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken  or pork 
150 g (51/2 oz) mushrooms,  finely chopped 
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
130 g (41/2 oz/13/4 cups) shredded  savoy cabbage 
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
Sweet soy sauce, for drizzling
2 teaspoons sesame seeds,  lightly toasted
Sliced spring onions (scallions),  to serve
Baby kale leaves, to serve

Whisk together the flour, eggs and 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold water until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the mushrooms, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely.

Stir the chicken mixture, cabbage and carrot into the egg batter.

Heat half the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into the pan  and spread out to 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cook for 3 minutes each side  or until golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook  the rest, adding a little more oil when necessary.

Serve the pancakes drizzled with a little sweet soy sauce and scattered with the sesame seeds, spring onions and kale leaves.

Fish and sweet potato cakes with dill dressing
These fish cakes are made with mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato, and they’re coated in wholegrain oats instead of breadcrumbs. I love using sweet potato because it doesn’t need any butter or salt to taste great. It has a lower GI than regular potato and it’s packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Preparation time: 20 minutes,  plus 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

400 g (14 oz) orange sweet potato,  cut into 3 cm (11/4 inch) dice
400 g (14 oz) firm white fish fillets
4 spring onions (scallions),  finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 long red chilli, seeded and  finely chopped
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) rolled  (porridge) oats
1 tablespoon olive or macadamia oil
Baby English spinach leaves, to serve

Dill dressing
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of caster (superfine) sugar

Steam the sweet potato in a steamer over simmering water for  12 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash roughly with a fork and cool.

Steam the fish in a steamer over simmering water for 6–8 minutes  or until just cooked through. Set aside to cool, then flake with a fork.

Combine the sweet potato, fish, spring onion, herbs, lemon zest and chilli in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Form the mixture into eight 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick patties.

Place the oats on a large plate. Press each fish cake into the oats  to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.

Combine all the ingredients for the dill dressing.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat and cook the fish cakes for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden brown, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Serve with spinach leaves and dill dressing.

TIP
Young children love these fish cakes, but you might need to leave out the chilli.
Recipes and images from Real Food by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books)


Deliciously Ella Every Day (Hachette) is exactly what it promises: simple recipes from wholefoods that are totally delicious. Some of you have followed Ella's blog and she has a massive social media following. You don't need to be familiar or a fan to find this recipe book totally reliable and enjoyable though. In fact, I am blissfully new to Ella and her wholefood approach. I love it though and want to share some of my fave recipes with you. Enjoy!

Pad Thai

Such a delicious dish, I think it may end up being a favourite recipe for lots of you... it’s certainly very popular in my house! It’s inspired by a recipe that a friend sent to me; I fell in love with it and adapted it over time to create this version. The sauce is definitely my favourite part, as it’s so incredibly rich with the most amazing array of flavours.

Serves 2

For the noodles
2 large courgettes
2 large carrots
100g buckwheat noodles
1 red pepper, cut into very thin strips 
handful of sesame seeds
30g cashew nuts 
10g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

For the sauce
8 tablespoons olive oil
15g bunch of fresh coriander
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon tamari
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the courgettes, then use a vegetable peeler to peel the flesh into strips around the core. I normally discard the seedy centres, as they’re hard to peel. Do the same with the carrots.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Simply place everything into a blender or food processer with 9 tablespoons of water and whizz until smooth.

Once the noodles have cooked, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes.

Place the noodles, carrots, courgettes, pepper, sesame seeds and cashews in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together, then sprinkle the mint on top.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large pizza crusts / Serves 4–6
4 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cauliflowers (about 1kg), roughly chopped
200g Apple Purée (page 40)
300g brown rice or buckwheat 
flour
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons tamari
salt
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil

For the toppings, I like:
tomato purée
sliced tomatoes
canned sweetcorn
sliced mushrooms
fresh basil leaves
handful of rocket 
salt and pepper
olive oil

Place the chia seeds in a bowl with 280ml of water. Leave for 10–15 minutes, until the chia has formed a gel.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C).

Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend it until a flour-like substance forms; this should take about a minute (you may need to do this in 2 batches). Place in a nut milk bag (page 53) and knead out excess water: it may take a few minutes but it’s a really important step, so please don’t skip it!

Add the cauliflower to a mixing bowl with the chia and apple purée and stir until blended. Mix in the flour, lemon juice, tamari, salt and dried herbs. Slowly pour in 150ml of ice-cold water, using your hands to mix it to a sticky dough. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and spread each piece of dough out over it, to form a pizza base. Bake the crusts for 20–30 minutes.

Once they are firm and slightly crispy, add the tomato purée and your toppings (except any basil or rocket), then cook for another 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the leaves, if using, and a drizzle of olive oil, then slice and serve!

Kitchen Know-How
I know it sounds strange to tell you to take the water out of the cauliflower and then add more water to the mix, but – trust me – it’s vital for the recipe to work, as it means you get exactly the right amount of liquid needed for the crust to bake properly.

These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia RRP $29.99.

Lean Green Superfood: Matcha for Weight Loss

As a green tea lover of many years, I know of the reported benefits: high in antioxidants, energy boosting, appetite stabilising (no riding the serious ups and downs of coffee!), but matcha green tea is a new beast. Entirely more intense than your standard green tea.
Matcha is touted as being the anti ageing ingredient the Japanese have been indulging in for centuries. American, UK and Australian holistic health practitioners are raving about its benefits and while it isn't going to cure cancer or immediately see you drop 2 dress sizes, it DOES have research to back up some serious health and fitness benefits.

  • Rich in trace minerals and vitamins, matcha is consumed by adding hot water (NOT boiling!) to powder and drinking the entire concoction, ground leaves and all
  • The vital ingredient in matcha is a substance called EGCC (epigallo-catechin gallate), which has shown weight loss benefits in numerous studies.
  • Levels of EGCC are 137 times stronger in matcha than green tea
  • Like all green superfoods, matcha contains chlorophyll, minerals and vitamins that support the immune system and deliver powerful antioxidants
  • L-Theanine levels in matcha green tea can have a calming effect within 30 - 60 mins of consuming the tea
The greener the powder, the higher the quality of the tea. While EGCC has been shown to prevent the growth of new fat cells and to aid in weight loss, this is only of benefit as part of a healthy regime of eating and exercise overall. You can't drink matcha while you're gobbling KFC and expect miracles. Try replacing your second coffee, or your afternoon Diet Coke with matcha to avoid the jittery caffeine effect. A great post-workout beverage as well - stabilising your energy and appetite before your next meal.
Matcha Maiden Matcha Green Tea Powder from Nourished Life
Izu Japanese Matcha Green Tea from Tealyra

Brushing Off Dandruff - The Gym Girl Hair Dilemma

My immune system has gone a bit haywire recently - and my body is sending out signs it is not happy and would like some rest, please!
Waking up at 3am with a ridiculously itchy scalp is one of those signals. Did you know...


  • Dandruff affects about 50 per cent of the population.
  • Itching scalp can be caused by conditions, including dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis and psoriasis.
  • Medicated shampoos can be used to treat dandruff and relieve itchy scalp.

Between work and study, trying to find more work, and also trying to indulge my creative pursuits, my sleep and my sense of peace have been shot. While I can't change my schedule, I do know that study ends at the close of January and I will have a bit more calm in my life and time to work out what I want to do next.

As for the dandruff dilemma, I have consulted hairdressers, nutritionists and dietitians and their advice is here for your benefit. I have read that apple cider vinegar applied topically is a treatment, but the dietitians and hairdressers found this amusing and there is no evidence for that! Stick to medicated and targeted dandruff treatment if you want a safe bet.

Also, don't ignore what this might say about your diet. I can safely put this down to stress and going a little heavy on the retinol (vitamin A) skin products, but a lack of vitamins B, C and zinc could be culprits. There can be other causes for dandruff including infection, digestive disorders and allergy. If it's persistent, see your GP.

Foods to prevent and treat dandruff: Garlic (Allicin is a natural anti-fungal compound that is found in garlic when the plant is crushed or chopped), Chickpeas, Ginger, Pumpkin Seeds (a rich source of zinc, especially if you don't eat animal-based foods) & Apples

Products to treat dandruff and dry scalp:
Kiehl's Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo

Kiehl's Magic Elixir (with rosemary and avocado oil)
Cedel Anti Dandruff Shampoo (with 2% zinc pyrithione, the highest level available)
Lee 'Supercharged Food' Holmes, nutritionist and author of Heal Your Gut, recommends vitamin C rich foods and also rinsing the hair with coconut oil. I have heard the coconut oil recommendation quite a bit as a scalp remedy and it is rich in minerals and nutrients so this may aid in keeping the scalp nourished AFTER you've treated the dandruff with zinc pyrithione-rich and targeted shampoos.

Heart Chakra Nutrition - Eat Your Greens

This is a guest post by the wonderful holistic nutritionist, Teri Mosey. She has been a much valued contributor to fitness and wellbeing journals and media, especially in the US. 


The Food Chakra Connection

When most people think of food, the conversation commonly goes towards calories, carbs or protein. What if a different conversation arose and you asked how does food nourish all of me; body, mind and soul?

Welcome to the world of holistic nutrition.

Holistic nutrition, practiced for thousands of years, sees food as a healer, nurturer and way of life. Foods goes beyond the calorie, having energetic characteristics that interact with your bio-field; more specifically, the chakras. Chakras are vortexes of Universal energy that run up and down your spine regulating your life force energy or qi. This energy is what gives the gift of life. With that said, chakras are the link between your energetic and physical beings, and the universal consciousness.

What does that mean? Each chakra vibrates at a particular frequency that impacts specific biological processes. For example, your heart chakra energy influences the health of your heart, lungs, cardiac nerve plexuses and thymus gland. Each chakra has a level of consciousness it reflects; with underlying universal life lessons. Your personal journey, all that you are meant to experience and learn in this lifetime is tucked into your biology!

A way to identify these lessons and discover your true nature is through your relationship to food. The link between food traits and chakras comes from sharing the same vibrational energies, corresponding physiological systems and your behaviors around the act of eating. Let’s look at the heart chakra; surrounded around the theme of love. Universal life lessons in love can be experienced through gratitude, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness; of yourself and others. These lessons around love manifest in heart and lung illnesses, making food choices that nourish the heart and strengthen the lungs at the forefront to foods for the heart chakra.

Food and eating strategies to nourish the flow of energy to the heart chakra begins with emphasizing a plant based dietary pattern. Plants are loaded with phytonutrients; health promoting compounds that assist the body’s self healing abilities while altering gene expression. Begin by adding colorful root vegetables, legumes and the grain quinoa to your dietary pattern. Two qualities that specifically vibrate with the heart chakra energies are green color foods and the flavor bitter. So add cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, rapini and bok choy into your weekly meals. Add those bitter leafy greens like arugula, watercress and lacinato kale to the mix. Daily! Instead of raw, place them under a little heat, wilting them. This makes nutrients more bioavailable and keeps your digestion happy. In recipe terms, explore a soba noodle soup, an adzuki bean stew, roasted root vegetables, a wilted green salad or a grilled veggie quinoa salad. The options are endless. Just keep in the plant family with a heavy presence of greens! And while you’re at it; add a little pungent flavor to these dishes, in the form of scallions, garlic or leeks. They help keep the lungs clear!

Observe if you have an aversion to the above mentioned foods; especially the bitter greens. That’s an underlying message that your heart chakra is asking for your attention! Take a moment to contemplate, “am I willing to live with an open heart?” It can even invite contemplation on questions like, “Do I have underlying resentment? Or “Are the majority of my decisions intellectual, keeping my heart out of the conversation?”

While in the kitchen which can become your space of active meditation, put on your favorite tunes and hum along as you cook! Humming deepens your breath and lowers your heart rate; perfect additional nourishment for the heart energies. Cooking a meal for yourself shows self-love, share it with others and you are expanding the vibration!

The chakras become a bridge between your soul and physical being, with an invitation to use your relationship to food as a way to discover your most authentic self. What an amazing opportunity.  Are you up for it?

Teri Mosey


Here's a VEGAN, heart chakra nourishing Spinach & Artichoke Pizza with garlic sauce. If that's not your cup of chai, have a Quinoa and Potato Crust pizza (also vegan!) You're welcome!

Chakra and Holistic Nutrition - An Ayurveda Exploration

I don't prescribe diets or subscribe to any particular mode of eating so please don't think this is going to be a "This is how to eat" post! It's just an introduction to the ideas around traditional Ayurvedic approach to the body and food and also to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ideas on meridiens in the body and how certain areas and organs have emotional and spiritual significance.
In both traditions, there is a belief in food as both nourishment and medicine, with the capacity to heal physically and also to address cravings, restrictions and anxieties.

Teri Mosey wrote a fabulous introduction to the idea of Chakra Nutrition in Fitness Journal last year. This is what awakened my interest in the idea. I had already seen the popularity of ayurvedic consultations in Bali and read a little. I can't claim to be an expert at all! But if it gets you thinking and curious...I'd love to know if you visit a practitioner or even study or practice Ayurveda yourself!

According to Chinese philosophy, the universe is made up of two energetic forces: yin and yang. The interplay between these forces creates the five elements:
Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
A universal energy enters the human body through the crown of the head and becomes "prana" or "qi".

Along the spinal column, spinning vortexes receive and manifest this energy. Each vortex is a chakra with a defined role and relationship to the body.
While Wesern nutrition is very focused on the macronutrients and calories, the chakra nutrition approach is much more holistic and respects that food is more than a physical fuel. The colours, tastes and source of food have a physiological consequence and also an emotional and energetic one.
Practice forward head to knee bend (Janu Sirsasana) to connect physical movement with the primary, or Root Chakra

We can judge by our cravings or feelings what we are lacking, what needs attention, and how we are affected by the seasons, our emotional state and our physical world. Right now, it's the red chakra - or The Root Chakra - for me that is my primary focus. The root chakra is about balancing, grounding, needing a strong foundation. When it is blocked, the immune system suffers, there is overeating, rigid and anxious thinking, fearfulness and rigidity in routine.
According to Teri Mosey, foods that nourish and support the root chakra are rich in protein - primarily bone, blood and immune supportive nutrients. Root vegetables and red-coloured foods such as tomatoes, apples, beets and radishes are also ideal.

By no means do I suggest you base your entire diet and choices on your chakras. But this is a way to think about food as nourishment for the soul as well as the body. Perhaps it is a way for you to be more mindful of what you desire to eat and how you feel or function as a result.

Going Green for Protein & Cleansing & Superfoods Affair

No, I'm not about to set up home in the tree tops, scaling up and down the trunk by rope and sending communications via pigeon.

I'm just going to green-ify my insides and refresh, rejuvenate, re-energise.

I'm not into a cleanse or a detox. I don't believe the body is "toxic", only some of our habits. You can't outrun or disguise bad habits but you can gradually try to build and establish good ones.

The more good habits, the better. Some naughtiness and indulgence is absolutely necessary for the spirit so don't become a total puritan!

After indulging my coffee habit to the point of 8 hardcore black coffees a day, I know I need to face the horrible sleep deprivation and wonky appetite I've dealt myself. I'm going green.

I've stocked up on green tea and can't wait until Forest Superfoods starts stocking matcha green tea. Soon, I'm promised.
In the meantime, I've ordered moringa powder and aloe vera juice. There's every sort of green and raw, natural supplement you could want or need and they are super friendly. I had questions and mere minutes after sending an email, bam! Responses. 

Moringa contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It's commonly used in Africa and India as a treatment to restore nourishment where vitamins and minerals are sorely lacking. The leaves, when dried and powdered, can be used as a condiment or added to your daily juice/smoothie. 
It is also recommended for iron deficiency, arthritis and rheumatism (joint pain), heaches, fluid retention and to boost the immune system after an infection.
Or just too much coffee.


My nan once snapped off the sharp blade of an aloe vera plant and told me the juice would nourish my skin and clear up spots. Since this same woman taught me that boston bun is the best frigging sweet thing on earth and buying fish and chips then wrapping it in your own newspaper like you prepared it yourself, I totally trusted her. Not only was she correct that aloe vera is nourishing and cleansing when applied to the skin, it is also a great tonic to drink. Hugely popular in herbal medicines, it contains many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe Vera is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12. Some of the 20 minerals found in Aloe vera include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, and manganese.
PLUS it aids in digestion and stomach pain. Again, coffee havoc.

Aloe Vera juice from Forest Super Foodshttp://forestsuperfoods.com.au/

Thanks nan.




Protein for Body, Mind and Muscle

Protein is essential for building, maintaining and restoring your muscle, especially if you're active.
There's a lot out there about what types, how much and the timing around it. So I'm going to make it simple and you can take it or leave it, but do read it.

Eat protein in the morning to recharge with nutrients. Protein also satiates the appetite so you are less likely to find yourself craving jelly beans at 10am. This can be as simple as milk (protein fortified is good), a handful of nuts, miso soup or soy-based cereal. Rolled oats (WHOLEGRAIN) or eggs (boiled or poached!) are also a fabulous source of protein.

Consuming protein before a work out kickstarts muscle synthesis (repairing and building muscle) throughout and even after hitting the weights.

Drink chocolate milk after a workout. Eat within half an hour of your workout. A milk-based smoothie is an excellent choice. Throw in some berries and you've got an antioxidant fix too!

Eat a fish, lean meat, soya/tofu based lunch. Go heavy on the protein in the middle of the day to ensure you have the energy to restore from your morning and have ongoing energy through the afternoon until evening. Don't ruin your meal by choosing high-fat, overly processed foods and please don't think a protein bar is a healthy choice. Yuck. Choose lean meat with a high protein content, like chicken, beef, lamb or kangaroo. Trimmed of fat, these are power foods.
Combined with fresh vegetables and a healthy choice of fat, you have a well-rounded and nutrient rich fuel for living. Healthy fats might include avocado, walnuts, coconut oil or inherently omega-3 rich foods like salmon and trout.

Snack on protein before dinner. A 250g tub of yoghurt, a smoothie, a handful of walnuts... your body will use the protein to repair and rebuild overnight.

Eat a protein-rich dinner. All the lunchtime protein options are great. You might also include a chickpea or kidney bean salad, quinoia or boiled egg.

Great picks: Salmon, Skinless Chicken Thigh, Wholegrain Rolled Oats, Kangaroo fillet, Quinoa, Eggs, Steak, Chickpeas, Homemade Protein Balls or slices.

Try this recipe from The Naked Kitchen: Chocolate Almond Protein Bars


Fat that Burns Fat?

Don't get too excited. I'm not going to reveal some magic greasy burger you can eat and turn into Kate Moss.

This is genuine science and it's a fascinating discovery that has potential implications for the management of disease and diabetes as well as weight management for healthy, fit people.

The body stores 3 types of fat: white, beige and brown.

White fat is the one you normally think of - the most common type of fat that is typically stored around the stomach, thighs and hips.

On the other hand, the more rare brown fat has heat-producing properties that burn major calories just by existing. Science - as discussed in a recent New Scientist magazine article - has proven that brown fat is activated through cold temperatures. Nothing too extreme - even wearing a tank top in 14 degrees will do it. Brown fat cells play an essential role in wild animals, allowing them to survive in cold and harsh environments by ensuring blood circulates and body heat is maintained.

Beige cells develop in the common white fat when brown cells are activated and THIS is where and when the fat-burning and metabolism boost happens. Beige fat cells = leanness in humans and the reduction of metabolic disease and obesity in mice. Current studies are looking into genetic and drug therapy that can produce and encourage growth and activation of beige fat cells.

While humans typically store only a very small quantity of brown cells, they are to be found in the deep back muscles around the spine and neck. Interestingly, overweight and obese people have been found to have a lower concentration of brown fat cells. In trials of drug therapy that looked at increasing the activity of brown cells, dangerous side effects were noticed at high doses so at present, there is no effective means of increasing their quantity or activity safely.

Beige cells on the other hand develop through being exposed to the cold, as I mentioned. Once they have been activated in the cold atmosphere, they are retained even when you warm up again. So it would seem that intermittent exposure to cold environments can maintain a metabolic boosting quantity of beige fat cells, which limit and reduce weight gain.

This is all still in the early stages of study. What HAS been proven is that there are systemic factors that influence brown and beige fat and look promising for weight loss therapy.
Irisin is a hormone found in muscle - built through exercise - which has obesity-prevention qualities and enhances energy production in cells. The takeaway message? EXERCISE. Both endurance and high-intensity bursts are recommended.

Calcium - either three or four daily servings of low-fat dairy or a supplement - can increase your body's fat burning ability. Calcium is stored in fat cells and regulates how it is stored and broken down by the body. The greater the level of calcium, the more fat it will burn according to studies.

Being TOO lean and having TOO LITTLE body fat will have the reverse effect. The body requires fat to retain calcium, vitamin D and other essential hormones and vitamins which are dependent on fat to remain and stay active.

A study from the Nutrition Institute of University of Tennessee showed mice given calcium supplements had good weight loss results, when supplements were combined with a restricted-calorie diet. Mice getting their calcium via supplements had a 42% decrease in body fat, whereas mice eating without supplements had an 8% body fat loss.

However, calcium from dairy products produced the best results. Mice on the "medium-dairy" diet had a 60% decrease in body fat, while those on the "high-dairy" diet lost 69% body fat.

The takeaway message? GET YOUR CALCIUM. I am not a major dairy fan and I know many people prefer alternatives. If this is the case, I recommend Nature's Way Calcium & K2 + Vitamin D.

Research shows that Vitamin K2 binds calcium to the bone mineral, ensuring that it is absorbed where it is NEEDED rather than depositing in the arteries. I recommend this supplement because it's the first to make K2 available and it's widely available (supermarkets, pharmacies and online at www.health365.com.au)

And eat well. There's no great mystery to it. If you are in need of some ideas, go recipe book hunting. My latest find is "the SuperFoods Kitchen" which has breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert options compiled from home cooks all over Australia. So inspiring! A crowd sourced cookbook!

Supplements. Women, Food & Desire


How are these relevant and interlinked? 

Think about what you eat and drink daily and how much of that is dictated by what you think you should be eating, should be drinking...the pills or herbs or blended green mulch you should guzzle according to magazines, your Chinese Medicine practitioner, your naturopath!

There's a whole website I could devote to desire and women's food and choices around their bodies, but thankfully, someone much more expert has dedicated a book to it and it is new to my bookshelf. It's called Women, Food and Desire by Alexandra Jamieson.
Admittedly, I'm yet to really delve in and read it thoroughly, but I fully intend to! The book encourages us to "Embrace your cravings, make peace with food, reclaim your body' - a message that I need and that many women do. It certainly doesn't mean go and eat a block of family sized chocolate and feel empowered. It means look at why you so want to eat chocolate, whether you can stop at 2 squares of it, and why you might feel bad about wanting it, let alone eating it. Awareness of your body makes you stronger, more attuned to it. More peaceful in your own skin. You can follow author Alexandra Jamieson on Twitter.
The book is available through Hachette Australia.

Anita Bean is a well-known and much respected nutritionist from the UK. Her latest book out is Sports Supplements 2nd edition: Which Supplements Really Work. I have a sometimes-I-do...sometimes-I-don't approach to vitamin and mineral tablets, but I know what works for me and I know where my diet falls short of giving me what I need, or how my body responds to particular stimulants, and I choose when and how much is necessary when it comes to taking tablets or capsules. Her website is a thorough introduction to her work.
The book is available at Bloomsbury Australia.

Have you considered that your barista is actually your supplement dealer? Well, that bearded beacon of hope every morning is in fact also your ticket to a more powerful Power Yoga! Anita's book not only looks at your run of the mill multivitamins and protein bars, but also coffee, herbal supplements, antioxidants, common "fat burners" and performance enhancers such as creatine and
DHEA. What the effects are, what the side effects are, and what the studies show in terms of effectiveness. My drug of choice is caffeine and Anita informs: "Caffeine is a stimulant...It works by increasing levels of endorphins (hormone-like substances) in the brain. These endorphins affect mood state, reduce the perception of fatigue and pain, and create a sense of well-being. Thus caffeine helps increase alertness, concentration and performance; and reduces fatigue. It can also help increase muscle fibre recruitment..."
Studies have proven that taken 30 minutes to 3 hours prior to performance, caffeine can improve sprint times, increase endurance ability and reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue.