Tuesday, 23 May 2017

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.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bowls Of Goodness

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Blonde - the magazine

I'm in the midst of my blonde ombre transformation via hairdresser extraordinaire, Mariah at Hairhouse Warehouse. My barre and yoga classes have been lucky enough to see the various stages of yellowness on the way to being a clean blonde. I'm definitely keeping my dark roots though - this is how this look becomes sustainable without constant bleaching and maintenance. Even when my hair has grown out in a few years, I'll still have super light ends. To maintain, lots of hair masks and definitely use a purple-based shampoo and conditioner (Redken Blonde Idol) to avoid brassiness from pollution and tap water. I imagined up the magazine I'd want to read for inspo. What do you think? Could it be the new Vogue?
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Yoga, Plant Based Eating and Natural Balinese Beauty in Ubud

Plant Based Eating
Plant Based Eating Ubud Bali

On this, my second visit to Ubud in the past five years, I was told over and over again by friends and strangers that I must visit Moksa if I loved raw food. Or even if I didn't know I loved it. 
On their recommendations and with a fierce curiosity, I trekked up Penestanan past Y Resort towards the rice fields and Moksa's incredible permaculture garden and restaurant. I was not disappointed!
Chef Made is a genius, and I don't bestow this claim lightly. I was fortunate to see him at work in the kitchen and when I asked for the recipe for my favourite dish (avocado enchiladas in pumpkin wraps), he sent me the recipe that very evening!
Moksa was founded by Janur and Made after they had worked together at a five-star resort serving raw food in Ubud. With dreams of running their own sustainable farm/cooking school and restaurant, Moksa was the stunning result.
The menu changes seasonally and the space easily accommodates single diners, families, romantic dates and group dinners. With wi-fi and candlelit tables at night, it's not to be missed. Cannot recommend those avocado enchiladas enough. Even if you don't know the slightest thing about raw food, nor plant based food, this is flavourful, decadent food at seriously affordable prices. There's a cookbook coming out this year and I'm hungrily awaiting it. 
Check out their Facebook page for updates and events. Highly recommend enrolling in a class with Chef Made. 

Natural Balinese Beauty
Utama Spice Ubud Bali

There can be no better marketing for Utama Spice than Ria Templer. Her mother began Utama Spice in the 1970s after she had determinedly raised her children and family with traditional Balinese practices regarding natural solutions to skin, health and wellbeing. Using recipes, herbs, spices, fruits and plants to create tailored treatments, it
Utama Spice beauty Bali
wasn't long before her skills and talents spread from friends, family and local community to reach international interest. Soon, she was providing natural, organic skin and body treatments to five-star spas and hotels. Utama Spice provided her with her own business and freedom to create products she knew were essential to wellbeing under her own label. Importantly, Utama Spice employed local women at a time when it as traditional for the man of the house to be the breadwinner and women to stay at home. The business has a renewed vigour and strategy under the loving management of Ria and her partner now. Still producing the highly popular Bug Spray, they also do face, hair and body scrubs, washes and serums. I made my own lemongrass, ginger and bergamot scent and can also vouch the Yoga Spray is THE BEST. I recommend visiting the store but you can also find the products at Yoga Barn, Bali Buda and other quality yoga, organic and natural produce venues around Ubud. 
Go to the Utama Spice website for stockists, story and product info.

Yoga
Yoga Barn Bali

Yoga Barn runs yoga and lifestyle classes throughout the day, every day. The Ecstatic Dance evening has a queue for hours before it begins so if you are inclined to truly get your yoga groove on, get there early! I was fortunate to try Vinyasa Flow with fabulous Nadine and also a really creative, flowy and strong Vinyasa Flow with Murni.
The OMG? OMG! I'll be borrowing that one for my own classes.
I also tried classes I never normally would have if not for the fact I was at a loose end and it was a convenient time. Shamanic Healing which honestly, I wouldn't recommend with the teacher who I experienced BUT still an interesting experience and certainly you meet a lot of international yogis and wellness warriors so that's worth the entry price and more.
I also did Iyengar Yoga with Christine who studied under the late, great Iyengar himself. She is a complete treasure chest of knowledge on the body and yoga. The concept of movement that focuses on joint integrity and health with the AID of muscles rather than a muscular focus really got me thinking about where to place the focus and intention when moving and teaching. Recommend you try this long-time Ubud venue before trekking elsewhere. And Denise Payne is unmissable. Make sure you get to her Yin and Power Yoga. All teachers listed here.




Thursday, 27 April 2017

Instructing Versus Teaching: Delivering Lessons That Last Beyond Class

In over 12 years of group fitness training and personal training, I have come to recognise the vital role an instructor can play in delivering lessons that go beyond the hour you spend with students. It is the difference between instructing while holding attention for a single class, and delivering knowledge that lasts a lifetime.
A teacher has many opportunities throughout class, and via social media, newsletters, online videos and digital channels, where they can sow a seed of curiosity, build a relationship with students and instil appreciation for our bodies. Instructors can also play a part in cultivating mental strength and resilience, the ability to take ownership of our fitness, and our cognitive processes around movement, mobility and endurance.

After two recent classes, the highly skilled and highly respected teachers admitted to me that they worried they may have spoken too much or used anatomical terms or energetic cues that might be “too much” for participants. In fact, I have learned that many – perhaps all – students attend group fitness classes because they ARE curious about their own bodies, they ARE passionate about movement and fitness; they want to know more. People don’t necessarily need to understand the myofascial system or the insertion and origin of muscles to fully appreciate when you tell them to work the full range of a muscle or give a cue regarding physical or energetic systems of the body (ie: in yoga, relating the breath or areas of the body to their spiritual or traditionally held beliefs around where emotions are held or the spiritual aspects of breath relating to movement).

Spark curiosity.

Sow a seed that enables the curious students to consider. Don’t be afraid to share what you know and to do so confidently and invite interest.
There will always be instructors who have 10 years more experience than you. There will always be instructors who are labelled “Master” instructors in what they do, but that doesn’t mean your experience and knowledge and particular approach is not relevant, meaningful and impactful. When you enter the room as an instructor, you are charged with the responsibility and credibility to teach what you believe is right and valid. Just as in any discipline from quantum physics to medicine to sculpture, there are constant discoveries and developments so it is only natural that there are differences between teachers as to approach and ideas.  As long as you can explain the what, how and why, you are doing your job.
fitness instruction inspiration

What: The movement, sequence or pose (ie. Wide squat)
How: The cues, alignment and technique (ie. Stand with heels outside hips, sit weight back and down with knees wide)
Why: The purpose and benefit of the move (ie. To work the glutes, postural chain of muscles, engage strong thighs and challenge core strength and raise the heart rate)
Think about your role as a value proposition. There are thousands of instructors who could teach under the same label (yoga, pilates, BodyPump, step, etc) but what experiences have you had, and what particular strengths and interests can you share and communicate with your class? Have you rehabilititated your body after an injury? Have you found a particular cue or mental focus during exercise really invigorates and motivates your own activity? Share that. Students want to connect with you. Let them!

Think of different classes as being like different languages. While each language, from Japanese to Inuit, has its own rhythm, sound, cadence and calibre there are universal laws of communication. Listen to the people you’re speaking to, measure your expression and delivery for your audience, consider what your body language says just as much as what you’re saying, and pay attention to the timing, volume and message of your words and actions.

Find the right balance though and take into consideration the different venues and classes you take. There is definitely no place for “over-sharing” or giving lectures as if it’s an Anatomy 101 class, unless of course you are taking a specific workshop or advanced class that is prepared and open to this sort of teaching. Consider context and circumstances, always.
There is a balance to be found between giving the standard instructions (timing, direction, alignment) and then building the blocks that really deepen the effectiveness of your teaching and the actual structure and sequence of your class.

This is where you develop your teaching beyond the a) What; and
b) How;
to explain the essential Why.

Why does a particular pose or sequence work? Which muscles are being activated and what role do they play both in the class and then in life? Why does it matter to have strong glutes?
Armature Pilates owner, Pilates teacher trainer and herself an instructor, Stephanie Glickman identifies an “ability to keep a large and diverse group  moving and in good form with attentive and individual correction” as a skill key to memorable and inspiring instructors.
“It’s important that an instructor is able to give constructive feedback and cueing because they have a good eye, not just saying “good work” all the time...but giving corrections that the client wouldn’t get elsewhere,” she elaborates.

The key to having a good eye can come back to having a strong commitment to your job but also, importantly, your own personal practice and experience.
Good instructors “have their own solid personal practice and commitment to what they are teaching; they truly know and understand the work in their bodies themselves,” Glickman says.

She nominates the following qualities as those that make a teacher stand out from the rest:
  • relates to clients personally - knows everyone's names, asks how they are, remembers their "issues" and injuries and is attentive to them; goes up to clients they don't know and talks to them, finds out about who they are and what they need
  • technically clear and accurate cueing, not too complex to be confusing but still challenging exercises
  • considered pace and control of exercises throughout class
  • programming that considers participants' weaknesses, make them do things they need but may not like
  • a mix of giving the clients what they need and what they want
  • making clients feel good about themselves and excited to come back to class
  • friendly, nice, humble, not rude, pretentious or precious

Glickman also emphasises the importance of knowing your own strengths and interests so that you can master what you’re especially good at rather than trying to cover all the bases or mimic other instructors. Her essential lessons for instructors seeking to elevate their “instructor” role to “Teacher” as follows:
  • Find your own "thing"/style/way of teaching and just stick to that and keep improving on that; don't be pressured to follow fads or trends
  • err on the side of solid basics rather than high complexity and try to extract the best from your clients without over cueing or correcting them or making them feel overwhelmed
  • have your "set" things that you know work that you can always draw on and then add to that more creative  or different things
  • have some jokes up your sleeve
  • don't wear low waist leggings and demonstrate cat stretch - embarrassing wardrobe malfunction!




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

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

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

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



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

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

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

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


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 exper...