Deliciously Ella Plant Based Recipes

I don't know about you, but I am a total sucker for cookbooks. Sure, blogs and websites and instagram are all awesome inspiration and I regularly end up recreating dishes or even just condiments and seasonings I've seen online, but nothing beats the loveliness of a solid, old-fashioned cookbook.
plant based ella cookbook

My new kitchen helper is Deliciously Ella The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills (Woodward), published by Hachette Australia (RRP $32.99). All photographs by Nassima Rothacker.

The following recipes are my favourites from the book. I'd love you to tag me if you make them and want to share a photo to instagram! I'm at @cat13gram.

Vegan Deliciously Ella Plantbased Recipe Lentil Balls

HERBED LENTIL BALLS
WITH TOMATO RELISH
AND GARLIC CREAM


I know these may sound a little strange, but they taste amazing – especially
sitting in a bed of tomato relish and dressed with garlic cream. They’re
full of flavour thanks to the thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic and onion.
I love them served simply with some brown rice and salad.

MAKES 10

150g dried green lentils
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of parsley, roughly
chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper
for the tomato relish
6 tablespoons tomato purée
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
100ml water
handful of parsley
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of chilli powder
pinch of smoked paprika
for the garlic cream
100g cashews, soaked for at least
3 hours then drained
10 tablespoons almond milk
3 garlic cloves, roasted (see
page 35)
splash of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200.C (fan 180.C).

Start by placing the lentils in a pan of boiling water. Cook for
20–25 minutes until tender but still with a slight bite. Once cooked,
drain and leave to cool to room temperature.

While the lentils are cooking, place the onion and garlic in a pan
over a medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and cook
for 5–10 minutes, until soft. Then leave to cool to room temperature.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until
it forms a thick paste. Scoop balls of the mixture out of the food
processor using an ice-cream scoop, smooth them a little by rolling
them in your hands if you like, then place them on a baking tray
and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes. Check the lentil balls are
cooked through by inserting a knife into the middle of one ball –
if it comes out clean they’re ready, if not bake for a little longer.

While the balls are in the oven, prepare the tomato relish and garlic
cream. Simply place all of the ingredients for the relish in a food
processor and some salt and pulse until smooth. Then do the same
for the garlic cream, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve the
lentil balls piled high with the relish and garlic cream.

TIP
These are delicious served warm straight out the oven – if you’re
doing that then gently warm the tomato relish too.

Vegan Deliciously Ella Plantbased Recipe

YELLOW THAI CURRY


Aubergines are one of my favourite ingredients to use in a curry as they
soak up all of the flavours like a sponge. I’ve lost count of how many
bowls of this curry I’ve eaten in the last few years; when I’m having a
busy week I pop into the deli and devour a bowl with brown rice – it’s
warming, hearty and always keeps me going for hours. This one also
happens to be one of Matt’s favourites too.

SERVES 4

for the curry paste
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger,
peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed and
roughly chopped
1 lime leaf
31/2 tablespoons coconut oil

for the curry
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut
into bite-sized chunks
1 large aubergine, cut into bitesize
pieces
100g button mushrooms
100g baby corn, cut in half
olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 x 400g tins of coconut milk
(see tip on page 174)
1 tablespoon tamari
handful of Thai basil,
roughly chopped
salt

Preheat the oven to 240.C (fan 220.C).

Place all of the paste ingredients in a food processor and blitz
until smooth.

Place the peppers, aubergine, mushrooms and baby corn in a baking
tray with a little olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for 10–15 minutes,
so that they take on a bit of colour, then remove and leave to one side.

Next, place the coconut oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium
heat. Once hot, add the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes until
soft. Add the coconut milk and tamari and bring to the boil – then
lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and
blitz using a hand blender, then pass through a sieve to remove any
unwanted bits (if needed). Place back on to a medium heat and
add the roasted vegetables, then cook for a final 5 minutes. Try not
to overcook this curry – the sauce only needs this short cooking time
and there is a chance it could form a layer of oil on top if you cook
it for longer and reduce it too much.

Once everything is cooked through, sprinkle with a handful of chopped
Thai basil.

TIP
You could make a double batch of this curry and freeze half for
another day. It freezes so well and is really easy to cook straight
from the freezer – just place it into an oven set at 200C (fan 180C)
for 20–25 minutes until cooked through.


SPICY MISO AUBERGINE AND BROCCOLI SALAD


This salad was a real hit in the deli, and it’s one of my go-tos as well.
We used to serve it cool, but have recently discovered a new love of
serving it warm, straight out the oven and couldn’t recommend that
more. The dressing is partly what makes this so good and I use it a lot
in other dishes – the ginger, miso, sesame and lime mix is a real winner.

SERVES 2
AS A MAIN DISH,
4 AS A SIDE

2 medium aubergines, chopped
into bite-sized chunks
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
into florets
pinch of chilli flakes
handful of coriander, chopped
handful of sesame seeds
salt and pepper
for the miso dressing
4 tablespoons miso paste
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger,
peeled and grated

Preheat the oven to 240ºC (fan 220ºC).

For the dressing, blitz the miso, lime juice, vinegar, sesame oil,
ginger and some salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. If
you don’t have a blender, dissolve the miso paste in a tablespoon
of boiling water then stir through the other dressing ingredients.

In a large baking tray, mix the aubergine with the dressing and
roast for 30–35 minutes. At this point, remove the tray from the
oven and switch the oven over to the grill setting. Mix the broccoli
florets with the aubergine, then place the tray back in the oven for
another 10 minutes until the broccoli is lightly charred on top and
the aubergine is soft and golden.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, place in a serving bowl
and sprinkle with the chilli flakes, coriander and sesame seeds
before serving.





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. 


Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

denise payne yoga bali

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life saver”. Yoga became her life’s work through practice and teaching. Many Australian and international yogis have met Denise through her regular Power Yoga and Yin classes at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. When not speaking (not entirely fluent) Indonesian or Sanskrit, there is the obvious accent that serves to remind that Denise is originally from Phoenix, Arizona.

It was in Portland, Oregon – her home of 10 years - that she owned Yoga Bhoga and campaigned for the working rights of yoga teachers to continue as contractors. This is also where her son, 14-year-old Charlie was born.

Denise has a rich and nuanced understanding of yoga which culminates in classes where stories from the Bhagavad Gita are seamlessly interwoven with smart anatomical and energetic cueing, sutras and explorations into bandhas, mudras and pranayama.

denise payne yoga bali
At 55, Denise has become even more physically strong and her inversion practice continues unabated. Her motto of being fearless, brave and loving life emanates beyond words and into practice. She holds regular Yoga Teacher Trainings in Jakarta and Ubud, and has travelled worldwide to host training, workshops and courses. Throughout the year, she runs Yoga Teacher Training, enabling Yoga Barn regulars and those who are new to her teaching to be enriched by her experience in yoga practice, teaching and teacher training for over 30 years. 

Whether it is her thorough knowledge of the chakras and nadis, or the art of mudra, there are many aspects of yoga which are not commonly taught either in classes nor the standard 200 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings in Australia. Denise’s particular focus is on the koshas and their relation to every other aspect of yoga and life. The body, breath, mind, inner wisdom and sense of bliss are integral to the experience of living yoga on and off the mat. In Bali, the spiritual life is not an afterthought – it is in the morning and evening rituals, the approach to nature, food, dance, art and life. This has been attracting Australian yogis, surfers and spiritual seekers for decades.

While Denise has best been known for her Power Yoga practice, chakras and mudras workshops over the past 8 years at Yoga Barn, and prior through One Song in Portland, she has also won over many yogis with her meditative approach to Yin Yoga. She describes the experience of Yin as “a deeper conversation with the body and the self”.

Yoga has become even more of a sanctuary for Denise now that she has moved back to the United States after 8 years of living in Ubud, Bali. As anyone who has faced a major move or life event knows, the practice of yoga can provide a sense of groundedness in uncertain and challenging times.

Denise took time between teaching, planning an upcoming Ubud Teacher Training and finalising her book on Yin Yoga to answer questions.

How old were you and how did you first discover yoga?

I was 8 years old when I first met my teacher and 15 when I was first introduced to Kundalini yoga. I was kind of a sick kid that wasn't allowed to do anything really, and being introduced to that was literally a life saver.

Do you feel that you chose to be a teacher or that it was almost inevitable once you immersed yourself in study with your teacher?

Teaching has always come naturally to me, and my teacher, Sat Jiwan Singh was very pushy and determined to get me teaching, as well. But I never thought yoga would turn into what it is today. Back in the 70's you did it in a back room, and didn't really talk about it to friends!

Your classes weave the yamas, niyamas, stories of the Bhagavad Gita, the yoga sutras, chakras and koshas into a vinyasa context. Is this a challenge?

The wonderful qualities of yoga open us up to always learning and studying some new aspect. As I continue to grow and evolve, so do the elements I bring into a class. I do strongly believe in the power of the combination of philosophy and asana, and it's always a work in progress. 
When you first moved to Ubud, you initially planned to write rather than teach. How did you come to join Yoga Barn?

I did want to write, but was really without direction! About 3 months in, I was lucky enough to become friends with Meghan Pappenheim, one of the founders of The Yoga Barn. The rest is history!

What are the challenges of teaching short-term, international yogis in Bali?

I really appreciate this question. There is a lot to be said for the regular students I had at my schools in Portland. It was a natural progression for us over the years. In any given class during the week the most incredible yogis would show up to practice. In Ubud, I feel more of a sense of urgency with students at times. If I feel I really have something to offer any particular student I'll ask them how long they're in town for, I'll give them homework and always ask that they email me with their progress. I also ask for requests before every class to ensure I'm working on what they want to work on; maybe I have some fresh ideas for their technique.

The physical asana practice can take a toll on the body. Have you altered your practice at all to prevent injuries or overuse?

Honestly. Cat, it's yoga that helps me recover from injuries from doing things other than yoga! I just turned 55 and I' so grateful for the practice. It's something I'm always making progress with and there’s always work to be done. I'm actually relearning handstands right now to change my technique. I think it would be tough to do that if I didn't have all the years of yoga keeping me strong.

Yin yoga is being embraced by major gym chains here in Australia. Can you tell me what role yin yoga plays in the system of yoga compared to styles such as Power Yoga and typical Hatha yoga?

That's really cool to hear that it's becoming more mainstream in your neck of the woods. Yin is so new, relatively speaking, that interpretation is up for grabs and just about anyone can teach it. I think the tattvas, or principles of yin yoga, are essentially the same as a yang practice in many ways. Stillness, holding poses, finding the edge in a pose can be translated equally in both styles. The breath, as I do recommend a soft breath in a yang practice, the meditative qualities, as well can play a roll. Because yin transcends the yang elements of the physical body, slowly creeping into those nooks and crannies of the plastic parts, the role of yin becomes more about a deeper conversation with the body and the self. I love to support a daydreamy type atmosphere, in fact, and allow for the students minds to wander. This might get some thumbs down in the comment box. But, seriously, Cat, daydreaming is a lost art. We are so busy being mindful, or scrolling, or whatever. Yin offers the perfect environment for such an important and healing practice like mind-wandering/mindlessness.

Tell me about Waheguru and how this affects your approach to daily life and meditation?

Waheguru translates to Wonderful Teacher. Everything is Waheguru. Samadhi, the 8th limb of Astanga yoga is Samadhi, which means to See Equally. To see equally, one must let go of any judgement and increase their compassion 1000 fold. When you begin to see equally, you see that everything is your wonderful teacher with no judgement. Waheguru!

One of my most memorable moments in class with you was being half-way into the splits and you recounted the story of Hanuman leaping.

I'm so glad you remember that! The philosophy is vast and many teachers play with it so well! I have my moments, glad you were there to witness one of them. But me, I'm a great big chakra geek. It's how I see students, how i sequence, and most of the language I use in class revolves around the system of the sacred chambers. Every now and again I'll bust out a story, a few weeks ago it was Trivikrama, however my chakras studies never end, so I always have something new to work with in class. There are so many dimensions to the physical practice and so many elements to focus on for students. That’s the magic of hatha yoga.
The book that you had intended to write when you first moved to Ubud... how’s that going?

Well that book will get written someday. In the meantime I have a gorgeous book coming out on Yin yoga and myofascial release work. It’s based on a class I've been teaching for almost 15 years. Hopefully it's in full swing by the time this article is published.

Thankyou. Waheguru.


denise payne yoga teacherWaheguru.

Denise is holding Yoga Teacher Training at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali in September. More details on her site at http://www.denisepayneyoga.com

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



Beauty Treatments To Heal Summer Skin Breakouts & Make Your Skin Glow

heal breakouts summer skin glow
Did you go hard with the partying, drinking, merriment over New Years? I didn't. But nonetheless, here I am in this ridiculous 30 degrees and upward heat of Melbourne, not idling in air conditioned office space but happily trundling off to Hot Yoga or walking instead of taking the tram.

All of this has an impact on the skin. Fortunately, much research has proven that at any age, exercise strengthens and fortifies the skin from the very deepest layer of the dermis to essentially create "young", naturally radiant skin. There is a catch though - not all exercise is beneficial. Just like healthy food is good for you, even too much of it is...too much. So, while short bursts of high intensity training are good, doing over 45 minutes of intensive training on regular occasions will deplete the skin and body. Especially if that training is outdoors in the elements.

Some people like to get a manicure as their luxury treat-to-self but I'm much more into having my face kneaded with delicious smelling things or having all the nasties sucked right out of it with high powered machines. If it's going to make my skin clear and glowy, bring it on! I've done the hard work for you and tried and tested stuff. Here's the essential treatments in Melbourne and skincare to know now.
natural beauty therapist melbourne

Belinda Hughes is an award-winning organic beauty therapist. She is an absolute master face massager. I was sceptical, to be honest, the first time I saw her over a year ago. Could natural, organic skin products applied gently without a whole lot of high powered lights and lasers and harshness really impact my skin? Turns out, yes.
There's not many occasions when I'm totally bare-faced but after Belinda massaged and cleansed and masked me, my skin was so dewy and fresh and there was zero puffiness around my eyes: I felt absolutely confident with not a skerrick of concealer. I mean, for the rest of the day! I have a tendency to get spots after a facial too, but nothing. Total clarity and dewiness. The key is that Belinda doesn't apply the same treatment and products to everyone. She is an expert at analysing, suggesting and then making the magic happen. Her latest development is the Matcha Treatment. I have used a matcha face mask in the past and nothing tightens my skin like that fabulous green powder. It's like an antioxidant powerhouse. If you are conscientious of sustainable, ethical skincare and products and you have concerns around your skin, I cannot recommend Belinda enough. You can find her via her website, Facebook and Instagram.

claire francoise microhydrodermabrasion

If you have never had Microbrasion with the added benefit of water (hydrabrasion), you have never known the joy of a magic wand exfoliating all the dead skin cells and blockages right off your face, literally. It's fantastic. I have seen Claire for infrared laser and also for skin needling in the past. To meet Claire, with her radiant, clear skin and cut-glass cheekbones, is to know you are in expert hands. This is a woman who takes her skin, and your skin, very seriously. Microhydrabrasion is painless and quite relaxing. The skin is thoroughly cleansed before the wand is applied over the face. Two days later, my skin looks and feels 100% smoother. A few spots I had before the treatment have cleared up too.
Claire Francoise clinic is based on High Street, Prahran and fortunately, you're a simple walk from several amazing cafes, plus a great fruit and veggie store and a whole lot of vintage clothing places. What's not to love? Make a booking via the website, Facebook and Instagram.

makeup to get the glow

Time to glow. After the facial, the microdermabrasion, the skincare that is going to keep your pores clean and clear... that's when the makeup comes into play. As a teenager with terrible acne for a few years, I relied on makeup to conceal, cover, hide. Now, I respect that makeup can be used to enhance great skin and features. Rather than rely on makeup to hide, focus much more on skincare and establishing routines and a lifestyle that protect and nourish your skin. I always find that a diet rich in protein and exercise that is moderate without being excessive and tiresome is the best way to master a natural glow. I'm completely loving the lavender, fresh, pink-based tones right now. Could it be that Valentine's Day is approaching? Or just that I love a fresh, playful pink any time of the year?
Both.
Any excuse.
I'm loving the new MAC Next To Nothing foundation, which gives a sheer coverage so that your natural skin just looks smoother and more even with a dewy glow. If you've got a few post-hot-yoga spots (a small price to pay for enlightenment!) then dot on some MAC Studio Waterweight concealer.
Contour your cheeks (aim for the centre of the cheek, right under the pupil of each eye and brush upwards towards the top of the ear) with shades of blossom but keep a light touch. You want to look a little flushed, not as if you've been slapped. I am loving ZOEVA Blush Palette in Pink Spectrum. Try a combination of MAC Lavender Jade (purple/pink) with nude, coffee coloured ZOEVA Pure Lacquer in Strong Career.I like to use the darker shade as a base with a pop of deeper pink that allows the outline of beige to remain. 

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.









Make Friends With Veggies & Kick Sugar To The Curb


We're already in the second week of the New Year - that's approximately 168 hours you've had to lapse on your New Year Resolutions. So, how's that going?

In the first week of January, I asked my barre class, "IF we were making resolutions, which we're not, what would they be?"


The Vegetable Book Recipes
I was surprised that almost everyone said their resolution was to eat less sugar and more vegetables. Surprised, because I love vegetables and find it easy to incorporate them into my daily meals. I suppose I take it for granted that I don't have any desire for sugar either... I think we can change our palate and what we desire to eat when we change our habits with persistent and dedicated focus. Choice by choice. This doesn't mean a life of no joy at all - and certainly, there's a number of naturally sweet foods that are extremely good for you! Some zealous celebrity trainers and insta-nutritionists will carp on about fruit being detrimental to healthy weight and body but that is absolutely baseless and irresponsible. Any food, in excess, isn't healthy. I hate to be boring, but remember that quote, "Eat, not too much. Mostly plants."

Yes. And I'd add to that, ENJOY what you eat because guilt tastes bitter and toxic and no amount of "clean" eating will eradicate that bitterness. 

So, in the spirit of supporting you to get excited about vegetables, here is a recipe from The Vegetable by Caroline Griffiths & Vicki Valsamis (Simon & Schuster). 
Zucchini mint cheese fritters


Raw Is More Recipes
I also want to recommend another book that I received over the holiday period and that I am VERY excited about. Raw Is More by Eccie and Gini Newton (Simon & Schuster). As some of you know, I'm studying to be a Raw Food Chef with the Raw Food Institute of Australia. I get so excited by the amount of delicious and flavourful food that can be prepared and shared: all raw. Anyone who has been to Ubud, Bali has discovered a world of raw, plant based food menus, where colour, freshness, flavour and nutrition are bursting off the plate morning to evening. Bring a bit of that raw, wild, colourful energy into your daily life here.


Just to keep you inspired and dedicated to adding veggies to your day, I've designed you a 7 Day Vegetable Commitment planner! All you need to do is circle at least three vegetables you've eaten that day. It is also a list that gives you a huge range of ideas for when the only idea that vegetable conjures up is brussel sprouts and lettuce. Free download (PDF).




The Free Apps & Tools I Use

Free Apps For Content Makers

There is no debate over this. If you don't have a digital space where you communicate your work, your ideas, your services and how to get in contact with you, then you aren't being realistic about what it takes to run your own business. If you think you don't HAVE a business, then you're wrong. As long as you have knowledge, experience and something to express, teach or offer, then you have a business.

It took me much longer than I desired it to, but I finally organised my own website last year. My site CatWoods.me is home to information on Ballet Sculpt, my writing portfolio, my blog, my business as a content creator and my podcast. It also enables people to communicate directly with me and also links to my social media platforms. I designed it using Squarespace, which is super simple to use and enables you to embed existing content from blogs to podcasts, YouTube and so on. It makes the process of choosing a domain name and publishing your site simple for non tech people.

I use Canva to edit and create images for my website, social media, blog and and events. It is an easy-to-use layout with drag and drop function. Again, you don't need to be a whizz to choose a template then add your own elements. Canva has a new function in enabling video editing (great for Instagram short videos!).

I use Mailchimp to create email newsletters. Like Canva, this is a simple template-based site where you can choose how you want your end product to look and then take your own images and content (video, audio, text) and drop it in the right places. When you're done, you can track how people interact with it from how many people open it, to how many people click on the links and also, how many people unsubscribe! You can also choose whether to send the newsletter to a select group from your email contacts or to an entire list. You can have multiple lists. So perhaps, you have a list for the yoga participants who you want to update about your workshops for the month, and you also have a list of friends and family who you need to update about your travel plans.

I use Audacity and Voice Recorder to make my podcasts and my music comes from Creative Commons, where artists specify how they'd like their work to be credited when you use it and whether there are any limitations or restrictions around how their work is used (ie. only for personal use, or only for commercial use where they are openly credited).

I use Issuu to publish my work as PDFs that are readable online and this is also a great way to ensure your articles are stored somewhere beyond your hard drive.

Need a fancy new font and Helvetica just isn't rocking your boat any more? I go to DaFont. Icons are at DryIcons

When you need some creative inspiration or a tutorial, try Creative Bloq

If you would like me to set up your website for you, assisting with content creation, or even setting up your podcast or YouTube channel, let's talk. You can reach me via the form on my website.




Cut The Caffeine - Why & How

You get up, you have a coffee. Maybe two.
Midway through the working morning, everyone else is having one so why not? It's the communal thing to do. Then maybe one with lunch or even mid afternoon to fight the fuzzy head.

Ultimately, by early evening, you have had anything from 3 to 6 coffees and if you're like me, you feel totally normal, but this is your body on caffeine. It adapts, despite this being a natural drug. A stimulant.

Look, I'm not big on New Year resolutions, but anything that wakes us up and makes us change a habit that is long overdue for change is very welcome. For me, the coffee dependency has to be challenged. Mind you, I'm not going cold turkey! That morning coffee is my kickstart and I'm keeping it. It's the afternoon or even post-dinner coffee (guilty) that really has to go.

I'm not being cruel here - I'm not saying DON'T DRINK COFFEE, WATER IS GOOD. Even though is is. I'm saying, cut the coffee down to one or two a day as a challenge for two weeks. Line up your alternatives and have them at the ready for when you get antsy for a coffee fix. Here's the alternatives and also the reasons you want to join me on the #TwoWeekCoffeeCut


  1. You'll save money. Whatever arguments you come up with (but it's free at work, I buy in bulk, etc, you will still come out on top)
  2. You'll prove to yourself you can break a habit. This is powerful. You build muscles to resist habits and you can flex these muscles again and again
  3. Your hormonal regulation and balance will reset. Caffeine amps up your cortisol level, which not only makes you feel flighty and stressed, but also plays a part in weight gain, anxiety and overall energy. For all that caffeine makes you feel like you can fly, there's an inevitable falling.
  4. Your sleep will improve. This isn't a quick-fix! It will take time for your body to flush the caffeine and adapt to your new habits. Even if you fall asleep at 10pm like a baby, if your caffeine habit is regular, chances are that you wake up throughout the night or feel restless in the early hours.
  5. Lower blood pressure. Your heart won't be working on the double, drugged up on coffee, so your blood pressure will naturally lower. You'll feel calmer.
  6. Weight maintenance. If your coffee comes with a few sugars and milk (or any other fancy flavour additions), these add up if you're doing it several times a day. Studies have proven that sugar & caffeine together make for a potent addiction. 
  7. Cutting preservatives and toxins. Not so much in the organic, fair trade java you buy from your bearded barista each day, but if you have a lust for energy drinks, be aware that they are choc-full of nasty chemicals for flavour and the energy kick (whether it's the full or diet version). Carbonated caffeinated drinks will leave you both anxious, buzzing and also bloated and lethargic.
  8. Happy teeth. A constant coffee habit will inevitably stain your teeth and weaken the enamel. Even if you have an expensive dental whitening, then return to coffee, you'll only be weakening your enamel with a whole load of chemicals and caffeine in unison. Lay off the coffee and amp up your water and milk intake (whatever type of milk you're into).
  9. Happy kidneys and happy bones. Calcium is leached from your bones when you drink caffeine and your kidneys work overtime to flush it out of your system. Not only is calcium vital for strong bones but it is also vital in muscular contractions, enabling you to lift strong, run hard and build muscle.
  10. Discover healthy ways to up your vitamin and minerals & get a natural glow. If you have a green juice or a watermelon juice, or herbal tea instead of coffee, over time you'll find your complexion is much clearer and your hair and skin respond to less caffeine and thus less hormonal and physiological stress. Do it for your face.

  1. Organic herbal tea. My pick is Melbourne based tea gurus, The Loose Lips Tea Co. Everything from sencha green tea to special blends to aid in anxiety, sleeplessness and skin trouble. In the heat of Melbourne summer, I like to make a strong brew then allow it to cool and refrigerate for iced tea. 
  2. Watermelon juice. Throw some chunks of watermelon into a blender and whizz into pink, juicy yumness. Perfect to put into a large thermos for hot days, whether you're on the beach or in the office.
  3. Ginger Beer. Need I say more? If you have a tendency, like I do, to not stop at one, you might want to take my lead and buy the diet version. Keep in mind though, all carbonated drinks are going to make you bloated and damage tooth enamel so keep it to the occasional indulgence!
  4. Vegetable smoothies/juice. An ideal way to get a solid vitamin dose while also staying hydrated, I recommend adding as many greens as possible. I'm not a big fan of kale, but spinach, cucumber, celery with a sweetness hit from carrot and beetroot are always a winner. Add a big chunk of ginger if you like a bit of a zing (who doesn't?)
  5. Kombucha. Whether you make it yourself or buy it (and there's loads of great options in health food stores and at markets), kombucha is a fermented drink that strengthens your gut lining and aids in promoting good bacteria for immune and digestive health.
  6. Milk. Dairy, almond, soy, oat, coconut...whatever you fancy. Ultimately, I recommend going for a milk that has high calcium because your bones and muscles need it. Some almond milks are calcium enhanced - you can always do comparisons using the nutrition table on the back of bottles or cartons. Dairy milk has the highest calcium, and almond and soy milk with higher calcium are good options, but everything else is pretty unimpressive. 
What's are your tips for laying off the coffee? Can you commit to a maximum of two coffees a day before 2pm? Join me - share your tips on instagram, twitter and facebook using #TwoWeekCoffeeCut
The Loose Lips Tea Co Sencha Tea




Music For Yoga Practice

I am an unashamed lover of Om Aloha on Soundcloud. By the way, are you following me? Do It Now.
In the meantime, have a listen to Dances of Unity - sure, it's an  ideal soundtrack for practicing your headstand, but it also doubles nicely for writing articles (everyday), tuning out your co-workers (occasionally) or responding to emails (every hour!)

Beauty Foods: The Recipes, The Aussie Skincare Brand To Know & Fake Tan Tried & Tested


Every year at around this time, beauty and fitness experts make their predictions for what will be trending in the next 12 months. I won't bore you with my magical predictions but I will champion some trends that have begun this year and will pick up pace into 2018 because they work.


Beauty Supplements are nothing new - Hair, Skin and Nails tablets and capsules have been around forever but now the trend is for wholefoods, herbal and protein rich powders that can be added to smoothies, infused in water or diluted in juices. Elle McPherson brought out her own brand, The Beauty Chef has her own custom blends and now Vita-Sol have brought out a range of wholefood powders. Each blend combines organic superfoods, traditional and ayurvedic herbs and plants with pure protein to slow down the ageing process. I've been taking the Infinity Blend (vegan, gluten free) with collagen powder and almond milk every morning. I also take Swisse supplements for skin and liver function.

Eating for health, strength, muscular and joint integrity and with an awareness that our skin, hair, nails and overall beauty is inherently the result of how we eat, move, sleep and work. I think the whole "clean" eating moral judgements on food is toxic, don't get me wrong. But there is a lot to be said for choosing foods that we love and also have nourishing properties for our bodies: unprocessed veggies, fruits, seafood, meat, legumes and a moderate amount of coffee (working on that!). I've been luxuriating in Beauty Food by Lola Berry. Recipes are below.



Every day I try to take a moment or several to remind myself I'm very fortunate to live in a time, place and in circumstances that allow me to take care of my body and my mind with freedom. I shower, I moisturise, I dress and I appreciate that for all the criticisms I've had of my own body, it is mine. I live in this skin, I've grown up in this skin, this body is much more valuable than I sometimes remember. I treat my shower and moisturising and makeup and dressing each day as a ritual of preparation for living. As a way to look after my body because she does a lot for me. I've been using new Australian skincare from Olive Oil Skin Care Co. The Rose Geranium Body Wash and Citrus Revival Body Butter smells gorgeous and the packaging is divine.

This time of year it gets super hot, super fast. As someone with naturally pale and an inability to naturally tan (straight to red!) I fake it. My parents have had multiple skin cancer scares and I don't have any desire to risk it. Plus prolonged sun exposure is ageing - I don't need that. I've used a zillion tanning products and there's only a few I truly recommend because they are streak-free, completely natural looking, easy to apply and they don't go all streaky and uneven as they fade. The pick of the pack is absolutely Bondi Sands (Ultra Dark please) and Eco Tan by Sonya Driver.

Recipe Time. Get Beautiful From The Inside Out (Happy Thoughts Will Radiate From Your Skin Like Sunbeams)

Recipes and images extracted from Beauty Food by Lola Berry, published by Plum, RRP $24.99, available now. For further information visit: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760552671/





Nourish - Two Superfood Salads to Love

From my new cookbook of choice, Nourish by Amber Locke (published by Mitchell Beazley, $24.99), two recipes that you can add to your lunch or dinner repertoire. Excellent for a solo meal or make it for family, friends or the workmate who has the same, boring ham and cheese sanga every day. 

Edamame Bean Salad Vegan

Edamame beans are young soya beans that are picked before they start to harden so they’re tender and fresh – a bit like young broad beans. They’re a great source of protein and are a general all-round nutritional super-food, and are particularly beneficial in a vegan diet.
They’re combined here with poppy seed-specked avocado and served on a bed of matchstick carrots (I’ve used purple, orange and yellow carrots).

Any citrus or creamy dressing, or the spicy Rose Harissa Dressing would work well with this salad.

  • 3–4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled
  • 1–2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 300g (10½oz) shelled edamame beans
  • dressing of choice

Cut the carrots into fine matchsticks (there’s no need to peel them if they are organic) using a mandolin or julienne peeler, or coarsely grate them – they’ll taste just as good. Place them in a serving bowl.
Halve, peel and remove the stones of the avocados, then cut the flesh into large chunks. Put the avocado chunks in a bowl and lightly coat in the poppy seeds.
Place the edamame and avocado on top of the carrots, pour over the dressing of your choice and mix well to combine.

Protein boost...
Seared, poached or barbecued salmon goes well with this salad. Cooked, shredded tofu also an option.

Mango Beetroot Kale Radish Salad

For this salad you can either chop the kale finely or break it into pieces and massage it in the mango dressing. It can get a bit messy, but tastes delicious! I’ve cut the yellow beetroot and pink watermelon radishes into decorative shapes for the photograph, but slice, grate or shave them as you prefer. If you’d like to serve a dressing with this salad then I recommend the Orange Vinaigrette (see page 127).

  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 2 teaspoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ripe mangoes
  • 1 large raw yellow beetroot, scrubbed or peeled
  • 1 large watermelon radish or 5–6 regular radishes, trimmed
  • Orange Vinaigrette (optional)

Tear the leafy parts of the kale away from the stems (save these for juicing) and remove any tough veins in the leaves. Tear the leaves into 2.5–5cm (1–2in) pieces and place in a large bowl.
Anoint the kale leaves in the olive oil and start to massage and scrunch them with your fingers. It will take a while for the leaves to yield but they will gradually start to soften and become more pliable and tender. They’re done when they feel silky soft.
Peel and stone the mangoes. If the mangoes are really ripe it’s a good idea to massage them into the kale as they may be difficult to cut up neatly. Simply mush them up with your hands and get going.
Slice, grate or shave the beetroot and watermelon radish, or cut into decorative shapes and scatter them over the salad just before serving.
Pour over the orange vinaigrette, if using.





Beauty & Wellness October Obsessions


Who doesn't need stirrup barre pants, grippy ballet socks, one-piece leotards and flattering, high waisted capri pants in their life? WHO?

I discovered Zakti Activewear via a British Health & Fitness magazine and haven't looked back. Not limited to UK customers, obviously. They have done a brilliant collaboration with dancer Kimberly Wyatt. Ideal for barre, pilates, yoga and dance classes and - bonus! - you won't see 20 women with the same pants as you in class.

Research backs up the many health benefits of fish oil omega 3. It isn't naturally produced by the body and needs to be consumed, either through fatty fish, walnuts (ideal plant based omega 3!) or supplements. BlackMores Fish Oil is my daily joint, skin, heart, gut, muscle and overall wellbeing supplement of choice.

On the path of essential muscle, joint, bone, skin and gut health, did you know elite athletes and ballerinas take collagen supplements? The alternative is bone broth, but a tasteless collagen powder like GelPro Advanced Marine Collagen in your water, nut milk smoothie or even your acai bowl in the morning is an ideal way to boost your protein intake and feed your cells essential nutrients to build and maintain bone, muscle and skin tissue.

Recovery time demands magnesium. This mineral is present in most cell functions within the body so if you are stressed, getting sweaty a lot or post illness, you're likely in need of a magnesium boost. Taking capsules is okay, except that it's likely you're just going to pee them out rather than really benefit. If you apply magnesium as a cream, spray or even soak your feet in a magnesium salt bath, you absorb a great deal more and the massage effect has additional benefits. Go for pure, high grade stuff like Elektra Magnesium Spray & Flakes

Michael Kors Wonderlust because life is too short to stay in one place and also too short to not smell like heaven in a glass bottle. Plus...Christmas Is Imminent. Time to make a wishlist.

BYS Highlight Palette is my key to GLOW - like a beacon of beautiful good health and because a little bit of contouring (not Kardashian level everyday...) will always be welcome.

Sukin Shampoo & Conditioner because this organic company and their products are all about no toxins, no nasties, no animal testing. Also because it's affordable, Australian and gentle on your skin, scalp, hair and the earth.

My Froothie Blender is the B O M B. I can whizz up my protein smoothie in the morning (try roast pumpkin left to cool overnight with cinnamon, almond milk, big spoonful of marine collagen and a little shake of nutmeg) and also make a whole lot of raw food goodies like purees, dips, sauces and even mashed sweet potato and carrot/turmeric soup. Oh the endless possibilities! 900W or go home.

Last, but not least, my bathroom cabinet is a mecca of wonderfulness. At the ready every week is my Medik8 Clay Mask to nix the nasty stress/pollution and sweaty-face spots that occasionally appear. My nails always benefit from a layer of super glam - loving the cult brand Smith & Cult. Because it's a cult thing, and it's the goddess queen that is Kat Von D... on the daily, long lasting lip colour demands Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick (either Lolita or K-Pop).

Ballet Sculpt 1 minute move

Can't make it to class? No worries. Do this pulse move for one minute minimum and ideally keep it going until you can't maintain technique. Squeeze your glutes. I mean it!

Start in plié position, heels raised and pressed together.Squeeze your butt cheeks together, get down, P U L S E.Step forward, pulse. Step to starting position, pulse.Step to 2nd, pulse.Step back, pulse.Keep going.Keep going.Keep...on...pulsing.



Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true?
There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three boxes:
Glowing Skin
Optimal Metabolic Function
Smooth Digestion

It takes time for these processes to heal and alter too, but the habits you start today are going to kick in within months (some of us will feel the effects within days!) and that's one year sooner than if you started next year. If, like me when I'm not being more careful about what ingredients and fitness work for me, you find yourself tired, easily bloated and feeling uninspired, here's my tried and tested methods.

detox digestion health

Detox Your Digestion

I believe in eating with nutritional balance at the core but ensuring that all your meals are foods you really love to eat and that there are no "bad" and "good" foods as long as you know how they make you feel and you're sure to get all the vitamins and minerals you need alongside your macronutrient balance over a week. If you happen to eat sponge cake for dinner now and again it really isn't a drama.
Consider why you make that choice and then when you eat a meal, feel energised and satiated, consider what you could do to make that a regular practice. Have equipment to make all your own juices, smoothies, shakes and condiments. I love Aussie made Froothie (1000W, no messing around here).Filling your pantry with the ingredients to make good meals, setting out a plan at the start of the week so you have everything you need at hand, reading books or magazines that inspire your food choices and exploring new flavours and combinations? I've been reading Paleo magazine for recipes - I am not paleo nor do I advocate any particular regime or take part in any! Their recipes are excellent though and they don't buy into the nutritional table of calories, protein, carbs etc that so many recipes do. It isn't necessary. Eat well, listen to your body and your appetite and get to know what satiates and what leaves you craving (ie. most diet foods and zero calorie beverages!) if you want a sustainably nourishing approach to food and life.
Daily, aim to get a decent serve of high quality protein (whether it's from food or a supplement) to ensure optimal muscle, bone, joint, skin, hair and organ function. I kick start most mornings with a vanilla protein smoothie and almond milk (I love the taste and I choose a high calcium one). Plus a good dose of coffee, black. Not only an energy kick pre-workout but also allows me to pretend to be Italian/French/ miscellaneously Euro.
To ensure you are getting the best out of your diet and that it is digested in such a way that the nutrients aren't wasted, supplement your diet with a probiotic. You may choose - like one friend - to take a big old spoonfull of kimchi daily, but I prefer a high quality pre/probiotic powder supplement. I add it to my protein shake in the morning.
My pantry is stocked with Nature's Sunshine supplements for preventing, treating and strengthening digestion and gut health. I'm as guilty as you are when it comes to overdoing it or allowing stress, poor sleep or jet lag to impact my food choices.
Try Bowel Calm, Activated Charcoal and Slippery Elm Powder. I also swear by Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother!) for the mega dose of protein, enzymes and the energising bitterness at the start of the day and after each meal. My pick is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


skincare quality cosmeceuticals

Use High Grade Cosmeceuticals Alongside Your Usual Skincare

I don't consume many chemicals - my food is majority wholefoods (unprocessed veggies, fruit, seafood, legumes, meat, nut milks) and organic wherever possible. But when it comes to skin, I'm a convert to cosmeceuticals. You can usually only get the best ones in salon and they cost more than your supermarket beauty buys, but they also work. As someone who prizes her skin after teenage years of acne and sunburn, I don't skimp. Totally recommend medik8 for retinol based resurfacing cream (my choice is Retinol 1 TR) and moisturisers (Hydrate 360 please). I'll also be adding the new Dark Circles eye cream to my bedside table... no need to look like I've been tossing and turning for 8 hours!
alpha h cat13gram

Alpha-H does an amazing copper/B vitamin serum that I apply every morning under my moisturiser and makeup.


lean protein health fitness

Maintain A High Quality Protein Intake Daily

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or happily carnivorous, you must select high quality proteins. This means choosing lean, organic salmon rather than chicken wings deep fried and covered in salt. You want your
proteins to give you bang for their calorific buck, so to speak. Red meat, chicken and legumes are rich in protein. A serve of baked beans or chickpeas is an excellent alternative to meat proteins. While whey and milk-based protein powders are ideal for ultimate calcium and easily-absorbed protein, there's plenty of plant-based proteins that are worthy of cupboard space. Choose powders that have the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid sugar-loaded, toxic tasting candy powders unless you want to bulk up your guts more than your muscles.



crystals rock salt lamps energy
rock salt lamps cat woods

Embrace Rock Salt Lamps & Crystals In Your Home

Sure, I know it sounds all Gwyneth, but I can't tell you how peaceful my space feels when I have my rock salt lamps on and only natural lighting. It feels like bringing an ancient big old chunk of nature into my home. It feels restorative. I have both a 4kg lamp in my bedroom and a smaller sphere that plugs into my laptop USB port and lights up when I'm working.- totally recommended for travel and workplaces.
 Whether you believe the negative ions the salt lamps emit are genuinely beneficial is secondary. Just having that gentle glow emanating near you is calming in itself. My rock salt lamp and a Selenite crystal tower that I keep by my bed for the positive energy it symbolises and channels into my home are from Rock Salt Lamps

Cruelty Free Beauty


Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and desire for products that aren’t made of any animal products nor tested on animals. 

Fortunately, there’s no lack of choice and quality in this area. Being vegan can be a challenge when it comes to finding sharp shoes, but when it comes to hair and makeup there’s a treasure trove of brands and products that are guilt-free. Where these brands are not 100% vegan, they are absolutely cruelty free.

INIKA is all organic, all natural Australian makeup. There’s a vast array of mineral eyeshadow shades, certified organic lipstick (Orchid Fields is the perfect shade of violet) and also offers mineral bronzer, foundation, illuminiser and blush. Prefer fluid foundation and in need of an eyebrow pencil? No worries, they’ve got you covered for that too.

Zoeva is high-end makeup (your budget will need to stretch a little here..) and there’s also a range of professional standard makeup brushes. In store, it’s available in Australia via Sephora but there are several online stores that stock it too. While the entire range is not certified vegan, the brushes are synthetic and entirely vegan and every product is 100% cruelty free.

Laura Mercier is entirely cruelty free and does not test products or ingredients on animals. None of their suppliers nor third parties test on animals either. Because Laura Mercier is cruelty free, their products are not sold in China, which requires animal testing on makeup by law. Here’s a hint too...if your favourite brand (perhaps one that has Miley and Lady Gaga in their ads?) is sold in China, there’s a good chance it tests on animals and won’t be ceasing this any time soon.

Kat Von D makeup is not only a cult range fronted by one of the most beautiful, tattooed goddesses on the planet but also entirely vegan.  The liquid lipsticks (especially Lolita) are raved about by makeup artists, instagram makeup stars and beauty lovers internationally. The liquid eyeliners and palettes are one of the top sellers at Sephora both in the US and Australia. While buying Kat Von D makeup won’t guarantee the perfect cat’s eye look, nor that you’ll turn into a 6”4 punk rock goddess, it will allow you to get a small step closer to the dream.
3ina cruelty free beauty

3INA is a Cult Beauty Brand. Three words to send shivers of excitement down the spines of mascara loving maidens and lipstick lovers. 3INA (pronounce it "MEENA") launched in Melbourne in 2016 with stores in Melbourne Central and Soutland. Professional quality Euro-made makeup that doesn't cost your weekly wage. Guaranteed cruelty free, super bold colours and unique collections. The latest UV collection takes on a nightclub attitude under UV lights where it goes all disco under the lights. I love the richly pigmented pink and purple mascaras especially. The Chubby Highlighter is better than two espressos for disguising no sleep. 
elf cosmetics cat woods blog

ELF is the super budget friendly vegan brand you can depend on for all the basics as well as the bells and whistles products. From foundation to concealer, eyeliner to blusher, bronzer and lipstick, ELF products commonly fall into the under $20 basket meaning you can live guilt free and debt free after stocking your makeup cupboard. Beautiful. Literally.



Winter Wellbeing: Body, Hair & Face

As you know - or will come to know - I get excited at anything that sparkles, glows, emanates colour, smells beautiful, looks amazing... whether it's eyeshadow, yoga pants, organic coconut oil, if it's divinely presented and a joy to use, I'm all for it.

Now that Winter Is Here, it's time to ease up on the self tanning if you're so inclined and instead to slather on moisturiser under your socks and sleeves. If, like me, heavily over heated rooms and shops really play havoc with your sinuses, I totally recommend Xlear. I discovered it at a health foods store but it's also in Priceline and other pharmacies. No steroids, no nasties, all natural and it clears up and moisturises at the same time. Alternatively, saline spray might be your best friend.

Life is short, and you only get one, so use all the good things and indulge yourself in beauty and wellness rituals that revive your body and your spirit. Sometimes it's the tiniest luxuries that remind you there are simple joys to be had every single day.

Eminence Coconut Body Firming Lotion is a richly scented, creamy lotion that is perfect for winter. Rather than disguising your scaly little limbs under full length leggings all winter, get out of your steamy shower and smear this all over. Then go forth into your day or night, knowing you are channelling some tropical summer vibes of your own.

I've just had my hair lightened to a very pale blonde ombre at the ends so it is super sensitive and dry. Because I refuse to give up on sleek, smooth and straight, I have to do all the things. Here's my advice regardless of whether you have coloured hair or not:
  • Use a heat-protection spray or leave-in product
  • Don't use the same old straightening irons you've been using for years (they're too hot!)
  • Invest in quality hair care and high tech stylers if you use them regularly (I have recently discovered 100% Australian EVY iQ styler. Never going back - this is the best!)
  • Wash twice a week and use a masque once a fortnight or more often if needed

Plump Your Skin: 5 Treatments To Do In Your Thirties & Forties


As a magazine junkie, I admit I can see how women would gain the idea that an entirely crease-free, plastic-fresh face would seem like a normal goal in life. The airbrushing is madness! But there are images sometimes, like the divine Christy Turlington for Valentino, with her untamed hair and the gentle lines of a lifetime of smiling, where true natural beauty is on show.

In the age of the selfie, where snapping photos of your food and your face and your dog in the middle of conversation is seemingly de rigeur, it's only natural we should be more aware of lines, creases, blotchy skin and spots. There is no particular age at which these start to show... and really, we need some perspective too. These are signs of ageing, which is inevitable and beautiful. The alternative is either never having lived at all, or being dead. Those creases, those lines, those sun-spots are all proof you have lived, laughed and loved. So I am forthwith, not giving you the low-down on how to be entirely frozen faced and line-free! Nobody wants to kiss and cuddle and converse with a puffer fish stuck on a human body. These are treatments, with the benefits and details, that you can consider as an investment in slowing down and reversing signs of facial ageing. Great skin: glowing, evenly pigmented, bright eyes and healthy, hydrated skin and hair are beautiful at any and every age.
beauty 30s blue hair jaime king

Celebrity nutritionist and naturopath, Nigma Talib advises to minimise, and ideally cut, the following from your diet on a semi-regular basis for two weeks to enhance digestion and improve skin health from the gut:
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
 Start with the very insides and then come with me and try the following:

Enzyme Facial

face mask salon beauty baysideI have had the "Time Less Enzyme" facial at Bayside Skin & Laser two months ago and my skin looked firmer and the shape of my face more defined for days afterwards. This has NEVER happened after any other treatment. It can feel like your face and decolletage are being squeezed under pressure from the treatment masque as it absorbs, but this doesn't last longer than 10 minutes before cleansing so hang tight. The Enzyme facial is part of a treatment plan. Ideally, you'll do this facial as part of a program of other treatments which it prepares the face for: hydrating, balancing and stimulating cell turnover.

Laser

Who here hasn't watched Star Wars? Everyone knows lasers are good news!
bayside skin skincare laser 30sBut seriously, get this on your face, stat. All the celebrities are doing it, so you know it must be worth your pennies. Taking less than half an hour, I have a quick cleanse, don eye protection and a laser wand is directed over my cheeks, chin, forehead and briefly over my nose pulsing 40 degree heat deep into my facial skin to stimulate the cells. The heat brings blood flow to the face and causes micro-damage which forces the skin cells to recruit collagen for repair. The result? Plumpness. Right where you want it - cheeks, chin, under-eyes and forehead. Again, Bayside Skin & Laser is my salon of choice. Make sure you entirely trust the clinician you go to (word of mouth counts!)


Skin Needling

I have only had one treatment and so I can't vouch for it being a long-term effective treatment as the recommendation is to have around 6 treatments minimum over a series of months. I'd be more than happy to continue to try this and it has been highly recommended for treatment of acne scarring or pigmentation (or both!). There are also now some tools for at-home use but ultimately, the salon experience will always be conducted by a trained professional and when it comes to needles and your face, consider the approach you want to take.
I went to Claire Francoise in Prahran. I have also had a professional full body tan at Claire Francoise and it was the best one I've ever had - totally natural, dark, non-sticky and fast developing.

If you have experienced a treatment that changed your skin or stopped the clock at 35, tell me. Go on. I'll be on Facebook and Instagram awaiting!

xCat




Burn at the Barre (or Chair, or Kitchen Bench...)

I'm often asked what resources I recommend for my barre, pilates and yoga participants when they're on extended holidays, travelling or just working irregular hours that mean a consistent class attendance just isn't gonna happen. Without fail, I always recommend Sadie Lincoln from barre3 and the divine, funny, challenging and inspiring Tracey Mallett who posts regular pilates and barre videos that enable you to workout at home.

You don't need a barre - the back of your chair will do the trick. Try this one. If these attitude "in-out-tap" moves don't give you the burn, I will fall onto my barre-toned bum in amazement.