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. 

Are Nutritional Supplements The Key To Beauty, Gut Health & Mood Maintenance?

vitamins hair skin health

I have long taken vitamins in whatever form they come – tablets, capsules, liquids, powders. If it’s touted to be good for me, there’s every chance I’ll swallow it. I have even been known to make a thick paste of turmeric and gulp it down, or spoonfuls of chilli powder, an entire ginger root chomped through and even garlic bulbs.
I’m sort of the Bear Grylls of nutrition.
When I was a teenager, I had really bad acne. There were days I wouldn’t go to school because my sister had stolen my makeup and I refused to go anywhere without covering up the spots as thoroughly as I could. To this day, I’m super fussy about my skin and if I even get the whisper of a spot, I change what I’m using immediately. At the moment, I’m using Formula 10.06, Medik8 Vitamin C serum, Gernetic and Kryolan makeup. All of these are doing wonders for my skin and none of them will break the bank. I’m also undergoing laser for pigmentation caused by sun damage (and I had a skin check last week to make sure none of my freckles warrants concern).
Back to nutrition though. There’s every reason to believe that clear, radiant skin begins with gut health. Mood and brain function are also related to the gut flora and so is your overall energy. What you eat affects it, but also HOW you eat and your overall lifestyle. Under pressure, I can eat too much and too quickly. This is bloating and makes me feel lethargic and crappy. No matter how many superfoods you eat or how perfectly you’ve calculated your macronutrient intake, if you feel guilty or afraid of food, you eat that guilt and shame and that affects your guts and your mood too.
vitamins hair skin health

So, this is a holistic approach that you must take if you want to feel good, look good, and know you’re functioning in a way that this short life is lived with full energy and joy.
Coming up in May 2019, Melbourne Museum has a show devoted to gut health: Your Mind, Your Microbes.
I’ve been taking supplements daily to improve my overall energy and especially since becoming vegan a year ago, I am mindful that my diet doesn’t always meet my protein requirements, or I overdo the vegetables and legumes and end up feeling bloated and blah. I’ve been taking a probiotic and also magnesium powder daily, as recommended by a naturopath at Natural Chemist. You can get a free health check and ask any questions via their online or phone chat with a naturopath.
I’m also taking Arbonne powder supplements – pomegranate flavoured energy satchets are brilliant for the full spectrum of B vitamins and the magnesium/fibre supplement is great for calm, post-workout muscle maintenance and also improving sleep quality.
Whether you need supplements or not is up to you. I’d rather take them and know I’m plugging any holes that my diet isn’t meeting but I have had a doctor tell me I’m essentially peeing out all my money. Each to their own. Keep in mind that there’s so much we don’t know about the brain, gut and the body as a whole though so only you can know if what you’re eating, drinking, swallowing and doing is making you feel fit, well and alive. If not, change. Send me an email or post on Twitter letting me know if you take supplements and what works for you.

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



Surf Star Sally Fitzgibbons on Strength Training, Body Image & Living Well

Sally Fitzgibbons

creamy healthy chicken wrapSally Fitzgibbons is synonymous with surfing. Funnily though, she excelled at athletics, touch football and soccer in her teens. It's fair to say, if it required energy and sportsmanship, Sally was into it and mastering it. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for my iTunes podcast, Core Integrity With Cat, today. In light of her book, Summer Fit All Year Round, which I really enjoyed and am still referring to for recipes and body weight training ideas, I took the opportunity to ask Sally about how the book came to be, the role of athletes and authors in sharing their fitness and nutrition programs and how to do this responsibly.
pesto kaleAs you may suspect of an elite athlete, who rises at 5am to train and has a singular dedication to being the best she can be, Sally is an intelligent and articulate interview subject. She's also funny and energetic and inspiring. I may come to regret this, but I was so enthused by her I agreed to a trade of yoga training for a surf lesson. I fear I'll need more than one!

Here's some recipes from Sally's book. I've posted them as downloadable PDF so you can print and paste up on the fridge! Yes, old school.









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.

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


Plant Based Food Melbourne

Plant Based Food Melbourne

There's so many places for great food and great vibes in Melbourne. If you're vegan, vegetarian, gluten, lactose intolerant, paleo, raw, any and all of the above or NONE of the above, you will find options that cater to you and do so with flavour, joy and generosity.

Herewith, and I must confess I haven't tried all of them, are some great finds in Melbourne. Some I have dined at, some I am YET to dine in, but all of them come highly recommended by friends, colleagues and fellow Melburnians.

I'm also going to give a shout-out to my raw food workshop on February 7 at Kotch Lane Cafe in St Kilda. For $45 you get a handbook, goodie bag of products, entry to a doorprize, hands-on raw food meal making, and the fun of being in a group of curious, inspired people.
Plant Based Food Melbourne

Fed Up Project
South Melbourne


Good food, local produce. This relative new-comer is a haven of nutritious and yummy offerings located right near the South Melbourne market so you can dine and then be inspired to go and buy your own ingredients. OR you can walk in circles around the market to build up an appetite and then go nourish your body and soul. Visit Fed Up Project.

Uncle & Jak
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

Easy parking, yes please. This is a menu that doesn't turn into a novel, which is promising. Doing the menu options you offer WELL with fresh, carefully selected produce is worthy of respect. Pretty easy to park this end of Johnston Street, especially on weekdays. A brunch or lunch post yoga is easily catered to. I can vouch their coffee is excellent and George is a sucker for the turmeric latte here (I can vouch it LOOKS cool.) Visit Uncle & Jak.

Fourth Chapter Cafe
Prahran

Plant Based Food Melbourne
All day breakfast menu? Yes, please! Lunch available from 11am. There's meat for your carnivorously inclined friends and fam. There's some absolutely belly loving bounty on the menu here and like most things in Prahran, the venue is super chic. Environment is vital! Visit Fourth Chapter Cafe.

Vegie Bar
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

This is a stalwart of Fitzroy and you simply must. Their raw food offering is genuinely divine. Raw Pad Thai, tacos, cheesecake. This is an offering that goes beyond superfood salads and proves raw food is creative, expansive and exciting. Visit Vegie Bar.

Gut Microbiota And Your Health


I recently had the opportunity to interview Professor Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology at the University of New South Wales. She and her colleagues are involved in some extremely relevant and fascinating research into the role of the gut bacteria in regulating weight, mood, overall health and how this research might apply to treating obesity and major illness and disease. While there is still much to be discovered and investigated, there is also much to be excited about.
Essentially, if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, unprocessed foods including plenty of veggies and fruit (organic is ideal!) and meats, fish, tofu, soy and legumes then you're setting up your guts and your body for optimum fitness, stable energy and mood and an overall more happy, healthy life.
The good news is - though it takes time for change to show definite, measurable results in regards to weight, mood and wellbeing, it doesn't matter how old you are, how active you currently are or how often you dine on Krispy Kremes at this point. You can make small changes from today and see results over time and you can change your guts, you can change your whole life for the better.

My interview with Margaret is a podcast on iTunes or free stream on Soundcloud.

Cat:  For those new to the term, what is the gut microbiota?

The term refers to the suite of organisms that reside inside our gastrointestinal tract (gut).  There are many bacteria in our intestine and colon, that number in the trillions.  In fact the number of bacteria outnumber the number of cells in our  body!

Bacteria is usually a word associated with germs and dirtiness. Can you explain the role of bacteria in the gut and why the term “bacteria” is not referring only to the “bad” bacteria?

The bacteria in our gut perform a wide range of functions, and in fact, they are required for a healthy gut. Some of the functions include- They are harvesting nutrients from food; vitamin production; maintaining a healthy lining of the inside gut wall; healthy immune function.

How long have you been working in the field of gut microbiota and its role in health?

I have been working on obesity for 20 years, focusing on how the brain regulates appetite (and what goes wrong in the face of unlimited palatable food) and more recently began to examine the changes in gut microbiota profile  across a range of  interesting experimental models  that we have – so about 4 years.

What are the most exciting studies you’ve been involved with lately and what do they show us about lifestyle choices affecting gut microbiota and overall health?

We are very excited by our research in animals into the link between cafeteria diet induced changes in memory, and the effect on the gut microbiota.  Consumption of an unhealthy diet (e.g. high in saturated fat, high sucrose, low in fibre) is associated with less diversity in the bacteria in the gut - so-called ‘dysbiosis’ -  and we found that the reduction in cognitive function was linked to changes in certain types of bacteria.  This means that in the future, we may be able to introduce the missing bacteria to improve cognition.

What role does the gut bacteria play in regulating mood and could studies lead to better treatment of depression, psychiatric illness and sleep problems such as insomnia and apnoea? Could these studies also mean that there will be preventative approaches & holistic non-pharmacological interventions provided by the educational, government and healthcare industries in future?

Evidence suggest that the composition of the gut microbiota is altered in people  with mood disorders  (although the issue of causality arises here).  In terms of using knowledge about the gut microbiota to more effectively treat certain disorders, there is a precedent for this with some serious infections of the gut. I can refer your listeners to our piece in The Conversation.

Other work of Pedersen et al, Nature 2016 has shown that the microbiota may  be very relevant to insulin sensitivity, leading to the conclusion that ‘Our findings suggest that microbial targets may have the potential to diminish insulin resistance and reduce the incidence of common metabolic and cardiovascular disorders', so  I think there will be future developments in this space.

How is the medical and health industry (private and public) as well as government responding to your studies and conclusions around dietary, behavioural and lifestyle choices in overall health of children and adults?

No formal responses from government -  but interest from the scientific community.  And we have funding to continue  some of this work.

Can you explain the link between the intestinal function and cognition and memory? What does this say about memory, learning and how it is related to diet?

There are a range of studies demonstrating a link between a healthy diet and memory and learning.  Many of these are observational -  they study a large number of people and look for associations between diet and brain function. Some studies have shown that various food patterns  are linked to poorer cognition,  or greater cognitive decline over time.  Clearly it is time-consuming and difficult to conduct this type of work -  and showing a cause-effect relationship is challenging.  However on balance, there does appear to be evidence for poor diet linking with poorer function, and possibly brain changes  (e.g. smaller hippocampus).

How does a high fibre diet affect the gut microbiota and what sort of foods are ideal to add or increase in the diet?

Diets that are rich in plant fibre are generally good for the gut microbiota.

Have studies into omega 3 (and healthy fats found in nuts, fish, avocado and seeds) shown to have a positive effect on hormones and the gut microbiota?

Yes, omega 3 in the diet can influence the makeup of the gut microbiota, so this may explain some of the benefits of  eating foods that are  rich in omega 3.  In humans there is evidence that low omega 3 is linked to increased risk of depression.
See ‘Role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression: Current status and future directions’ Robert K. McNamara;  Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism 5 (2016) 96e10.

While highly processed carbohydrates such as those in white bread, donuts, chips and takeaway burgers are well known to be “unhealthy” choices, it is also unhealthy to cut whole food groups. As an active person, what carbohydrates are healthy choices for balancing the gut microbiota?

Generally complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed  are best – these include whole grains, oats and the like.  Refined sugars are less helpful. In fact, we observed changes in gut biota and impaired memory in animals that are eating a healthy diet,  but supplementing that with high sugar intake.
Of course, small amounts of refined sugar are probably ok and  it is important to enjoy food  and eating with friends…

Agreed that the importance of sharing meals and enjoying food is vital so the occasional donut or Tim Tams with the workmates should not be declined or denied!

What role does the timing of meals have in regulating gut microbiota and how can people use this to their advantage? For example, many people skip breakfast or eat smaller lunches to excuse late night snacking.

Not much know (I believe)  regarding impact of meal timing on the microbiota – it is an interesting question.

What current studies are under way and what do you hope to see as far as investment in this area from public and private government and health investors?

We have a range of studies underway -   for instance, we are interested in the effect of exercise on the gut microbiota (even in the face of an unhealthy diet)  as well as the impact of probiotics on gut microbiota and memory.

Fresh Fit Food: Which Meal Delivery Services I Recommend


I know how to cook, prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals.
I can also talk macronutrients, energy, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
In short, I'm not in the dark when it comes to food and how to look after myself. There are other reasons for using a meal delivery service.

Good Reasons To Use Meal Delivery:

  • Being caught up in a hectic, unpredictable time where shopping, planning meals and feeding yourself and your family or housemates just isn't possible (ie. new job, illness in the family)
  • Experiencing injury or illness that can sap you of energy and the physical ability to get out and about to shop and then to do the preparations also.
  • Feeling caught in a rut and eating the same meals over and over again
  • Struggling to find inspiration for new ideas at meal times and wanting a kick in the butt
  • Curiosity
Why I Use Meal Delivery

I am guilty of being caught in eating the same meals all the time because it's easy. I know exactly what I need to buy in advance, I know how long it takes me to prepare and I know I like it. Only, I get so bored and if I'm bored, so is my body! Variety - just as in the classes you do, the friends you have, the places you go - is fuel for the soul. The body also benefits in every way from a variety of flavours, nutrients and just the mental effect of discovering something different and inspiring.

Which Meal Delivery Service To Use

There's already some really great services that deliver around Australia, and there are new ones popping up every week. This is both fabulous and also overwhelming if you're not sure where to start or you've had a bad experience. 
I've used the following and I highly recommend them. None of them require contracts or an ongoing relationship. You can order a one-time-only delivery and never do so again if you want!




This is for the person too busy to shop but not completely inept in the kitchen. This is for people who enjoy the preparation factor, but don't want to walk through supermarket aisles for the sake of a few meals. The box arrived for me on Tuesday morning (delivered silently in the very early hours of morning!) and had each meal packaged in a separate large paper bag.

In the box, recipe cards that described the preparation of each meal including cooking and prep time. I was provided herbs, flavourings, raw ingredients and ultimately, I had to cook and prepare. The great thing about this is that I felt like I had control over the level of flavouring I could add, and I could be a little creative as far as presentation and making any little adjustments like changing the choice of herbs or adding different vegetables.

I heartily recommend the chicken and fish meals as well as the superb Superfoods Veggie Bowl. I did add extra protein to this one but if you didn't, it's ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

Marley Spoon




Kate Save is a clinical dietitian with a true passion for food and it shows in the delicious menu options she offers. She designs meals with a real focus on balanced amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and micronutrients to ensure hormonal balance, weight control and VERY importantly, flavour. From frittata to curries, chunky soups, chia pods, protein ball snacks through to vegetarian friendly tofu dinners, there is no skimping on quality and yumminess.

Kate has worked with eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, juveniles and adults in her clinical role of dietitian and it was this, combined with her genuine love for preparing healthful, flavourful foods, that acted as the catalyst to start her own business. She has raised her children on these same meals and it is imperative to her that they are well fed, nourished and loved. This comes across in the food that arrives on my doorstep. It is full of flavour, perfectly balanced for a fit and weight-conscious individual, and also full of love and soul. There is nothing dry and boring about Kate's meals and even though they are perfectly measured as far as macronutrients (safe for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight), there is nothing boring about Kate's menu.

You can put in an order as late as Sunday evening and be assured of delivery the following Tuesday - everything is prepared and delivered fresh and clearly labelled.

I totally recommend the chia puddings - in fact, I'd put in an order for these alone! - and the frittata with kale and chickpeas. Delicious. Definitely don't skip the Berry Bliss Chia Pudding and the Blueberry with Chia Seeds.
I also loved the South American Chilli Beef And Beans for lunch on the go.

Be Fit Food


My Muscle Chef was the very first meal delivery service I tried and it is not at all what I feared it might be: tiny portions of NASA-grade food for body sculptors who subsist on a couple of almonds and a lettuce leaf. THANKFULLY these are divinely tasty and the fact they are energy-controlled and designed with the ideal ratio of protein to carbs is an afterthought once you dig the fork in. The meals range from vegetarian through to kangaroo, fish, chicken and beef.
I'm a big fan of the kangaroo with brown rice. It's so easy to overcook and dry out kangaroo meat but this is perfectly prepared and delivered for maximum flavour and texture. I admit, the meals are not nearly as big as I need for dinner. As a lunch option, perfectly portioned. I add nuts, extra rice and loads of vegetables to the dinner portion and occasionally, extra protein depending on my appetite. They deliver weekly to Melbourne and Sydney.

My Muscle Chef

Other delivery services I recommend trying include Aussie Farmers Direct, Woolworths Online and Nourished Life for supplements and healthy meal preparation tools.

Basic Health Hacks


No matter how healthy, well, fit or fully spiritually evolved you are. there can always be little tips and ideas you haven't considered or that you ONCE practiced and forgot about. Without further ado, some basic health hacks you may already be aware of (applause for you!) and some extra ideas you can keep in your arsenal for Living 101.

Keep frozen veggies stocked up
This one is so simple. Mixed vegetables, diced up and ready for cooking. They bulk up any meal from simple steak and veggies to a hearty soup or stew. It's not always convenient to go shopping for fresh veggies and fruit when you're under time pressures. Fail safe!

Flavour with organic herbs and spices instead of chemical laden, sugar and MSG rich stuff
It can be easy to reach for those cheap bottles of "Thai" "Indian" "Moroccan" flavourings in the supermarket, but if you read the ingredients list, chances are they are full of sugar and random ingredients like "chicken flavour" (what IS that?!).
My favourite find is Australian made, ALL NATURAL, gluten free, no additives and preservatives Pinch Spices. The Hunter Valley Rub is delicious on meat dishes and the Spicy Caribbean Rub is amazing with eggs and veggies, pulses and rice based meals. And fish. And pretty much anything really. Yum.

Look for free gym trials and yoga/pilates/dance studio special offers

Try a Google search for local gyms and studios and if they don't list trial offers, don't be afraid to ask. Many studios and gyms understand that you don't want to sign up for a membership or even a month of visits unless you get a good feel for their offerings on the initial visit. 



Keep teabags in your handbag

Found yourself stuck in a meeting or the office for a deadline-based issue and stomach rumbling? Is your colleague offering you Instant Coffee as the only option? You will thank me for this! I take them on flights too. It's like a little bit of home you can indulge in anywhere. 

Stock up on long-life milk and  basics like tinned tuna and salmon, brown rice and quinoa
The best way to avoid indulging in the 2-minute noodles your flatmate has conveniently stocked up on in case of armageddon or even eating Cornflakes for dinner (guilty - but Special K, surely that's a TAD better?) is to ensure you have some basic staples that are adaptable. Since you've already got a cupboard full of Pinch Spices now, any rice and fish, or chickpea and quinoa meal is going to taste delish.
Coles does a range of 2-serve rice, quinoa options. These are genius for the pantry at home and at work. I swear by brown rice/quinoa combo. Zap it in the microwave (or don't, if you're me) and combine it with whatever pulses, veggies, proteins you love and voila! 

Use Facebook groups to buy, sell and swap fitness gear 

There's plenty of location and product/services based Facebook groups where you can buy, swap and sell. This is a convenient and affordable way to pick up new fitness gear, from DVDs and sneakers to leggings and fitness trackers, while also being able to swap or sell what you no longer use.

Learn how to create some basic, healthy meals so that you're confident to cook for yourself

This may be watching YouTube or it may be asking a friend or family member to share recipes and cooking tips with you. For some of us, boiling an egg is a complete mystery. If you're feeling a bit braver and want to make your cooking lesson a bit more of a social affair, see if your local market runs cooking courses. Some councils, food stores and natural health stores run classes too. As per any major life decision, Google is your friend. I love these zucchini fritters with smoked salmon and poached eggs.

Use a meal delivery service for a week to introduce new flavours and recipes to your palate

I can wholeheartedly attest to the quality and reliability of My Muscle Chef. I became addicted to the kangaroo-based meals but the basa fish fillets and chicken were also fabulous. They come in different sizes but all labelled and securely packaged in separate trays ready for the fridge. Pick your meals for a week or longer, and you can take some to work, keep some for home and know that you don't have to worry about shopping or preparing food if you're under enough pressure with work, family or personal issues. Also fabulous if you're injured or post surgery or just unwell. Everything is done for you! These are also ideal if you can't manage to get beyond the same old ritualistic meals - egg and lettuce roll from the cafeteria every day? Steak and potatoes every night? Change it up!

A new player is Marley Spoon. I'm about to give this a whirl as they are releasing a whole new super healthy range of meal options. Their current options look fab too though so go check it out. Never hurts to try something new.


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.

How Much Cardio Should I Do and What Type?

With any workout, it depends on what your goals are and where you're at now. It also depends on how much time you are willing to commit to it and what resources you have.

I am breaking my own rules about not doing boring workouts by engaging in steady state cardio that is both a mental and physical grind to get through. Habit.

High intensity interval training wins my vote for all-round strength, cardio and efficiency in a workout. It's short, it's intense and it keeps you focused. With a trainer who is dedicated to your safety and fitness, it's also a great way to pick up technique and ideas for your own workouts. This requires no equipment usually - body weight cardio and strength are very effective when done properly. Classes that are based on this method include CrossFit, F45, Tabata and HIIT.
Try CrossFit Collingwood, F45 Training in Victoria, or talk to a personal trainer about designing one particularly to meet your training goals.

Circuit style training is a similar idea to HIIT, only you don't need to do the short bursts of really intense activity to such a strict time limit. That said, using your phone to time yourself in each activity or even designing your workout playlist around your circuit plan is perfect. I used to spend longer making my running playlist than I did actually running! Carl Cox got me through a lot of endurance distances. What might a circuit look like?
Cardio: Treadmill warmup 10 minutes
Strength: Wide stance push ups for chest; deadlifts and rows with a barbell or dumbells; clean and press
Cardio: Running up and down staircase for 2 minutes
Strength: Plie squats, plank hold (try the medicine ball plank pictured if you're up for a challenge!)
Cardio: Rowing machine or bike for 20 minutes
Try BodyPump, Barre Circuit or any type of hybrid class. My latest Fitness Network article is all about interesting and effective hybrid classes!

Whether your goal is weight loss, cardio fitness or building strength and definition, circuit style training and getting your heart rate up while combining cardio and strength work is going to meet your goals. It is the intensity and duration that you will need to tailor to your needs. Speak to a trainer with experience in working with clients that have similar goals to you.

Beware of overdoing it. Been there, done that. If you end up hating and dreading your workouts, and you're punishing and pushing your body, you will not only end up with injuries but even worse, a feeling of misery, exhaustion and failure. Work with a trainer who recognises your goals and provides realistic guidance and motivation. If you need help with diet and wellbeing, see a dietitian and/or a psychologist with experience working with sportspeople or others with your particular goals and health background.
There are free fact sheets and a list of accredited Sports Dietitians at SDA Australia.

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.

Time For Tea - Higher Living Giveaway

One of the highlights of doing my Yoga Teacher Training is the abundance of tea. I go a full day without a drop of coffee. Ok, that's a lie. I drink it in the morning but then the REST of the day, tea tea tea tea tea.
Tea.
I have a thing for licorice - it's super sweet and despite not having a sweet tooth, it's my favourite. That being said, I am also a sucker for ginger and green tea. Not together! I tried hibiscus yesterday and let me just say...No. Don't.


There's an abundance of tea out there but go with Higher Living if you want reliable taste, and the packaging is gorgeous too. From the graphics to the typography to the handy boxes, everything about their tea is spot on.
Because I love their tea, and I love my readers, I'm doing a giveaway. You'll be sent the Chocolate Rooibos and Green Tea & Coconut loose leaf Higher Living teas if you win. It's super simple.
Share this post on Facebook and Like Higher Living and Core Integrity With Cat.
Winners chosen at random and notified via Facebook or email. If you win, I'll notify you and get your address for posting your prize.
www.higherlivingherbs.com



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!

Vital Glow - Melbourne Made

Having determined that no sleep and coffee guzzling at 3pm is not conducive to a well and happy body, I did a bit of online research to find some natural support for my body.


Turns out, there's a lovely young naturopath in Melbourne making herbal supplements of the highest quality. Organic, clean, potent and delivered in gorgeous glass bottles in old school apocathery style.

In each bottle, nestled amongst the herbal capsules, is a note on what the benefits are and what the recommended dosage is. Excellent idea. I've been taking Ginseng for energy as well as Digest & Soothe and Nourish & Strengthen (great for liver and skin!)

I have been skipping the coffee in the afternoon and getting through my new evening classes with energy to burn. Sure, it's not entirely dependent on herbal supplements, but I definitely feel better and results are real.

Check out Vital Glow online store and also Danika's Instagram.

Danika is currently completing a bachelor of health science, majoring in naturopathy. She became interested in herbal medicine after struggling through numerous health issues the first years out of high school. "At that time I was actually completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in media and communication and I felt so unhappy and lost," she explains. "I left that degree and travelled through Europe and Canada. It was when I was living in Canada in 2013/14 that I had some sort of epiphany and realised that I could actually turn my love of natural medicine into a career! As soon as I came home I started my degree."
Danika started to make her own capsules and teas for her personal use. "It started as a hobby but then I thought hey, why not create a business! And here we are!"

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.