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


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Goodness From Goop : Gwyneth, Guts, and Clean Beauty


Look, let's not live in dreamland. Goop has gotten a lot of hate over its lifetime and I am the most sceptical of all about celebrities touting wellness brands and books. In fact, I believe there are several lines across my forehead that are totally down to grimacing with every new celebrity "how to be well" glossy hardback. BUT.

But.
Goop Clean Beauty (Hachette Australia, Hardback RRP $45; eBook RRP $19.99) really is full of good, substantive advice and knowledge. Gwyneth hasn't written some "drink juice for 20 days, do yoga and you'll look like me!" style tome. Thank goodness. It's actually wry, real and it asks the leading experts in the fields of dermatology, dietetics and digestive health, fitness training, yoga and beauty manufacturing for their opinions and real life advice. Of course, the photos are fabulous. It's a good looking book, but let's face it, you don't buy a book on beauty if you don't value good looks, right?

What I also love about this book is that it doesn't have a holier-than-thou approach to all aspects of beauty. We all want to look and feel as great as we can. That means we can eat an abundance of organic foods and use only all-natural beauty products but we can also accept that age inevitably means a loss of fullness and wrinkles. Some people embrace this fully and accept it. Some of us think we wouldn't mind using the beauty of science and technology to do some plumping and freezing IN MODERATION for a natural lifting effect. The book goes through these options - including Botox, fillers, thread lifts, plasma and stem cell injections and so on. There is a no-judgement approach. I like that. There is an emphasis on being careful in selecting a practitioner and in starting small and maintaining your natural appearance only improved rather than going for a dramatic overhaul. Wise.
gwyneth paltrow tracy anderson

Here's some quick, simple "I Can Do That!" inspiration from the editors of goop.

A detox of your life does not mean you need to rule out everything that gives you some joy. It is not an abstinence regime that is only bearable for a week before you throw yourself into a weeping, wailing despair that can only be healed with organic dark chocolate and cacao smoothies. A detox rules out the most likely culprits for inflammation of the gut - which is most likely the origin of other health and beauty concerns from acne to mood swings to poor sleep, bloating, sensitive sinuses and hair thinning or loss. Here are the rules of Clean Eating according to Dr Alejandro Junger and it is recommended you follow for at least 10 days. After that time, try introducing what you really want to back to your life gradually to see if it may be the cause of mood, skin, hair or digestive problems.

No alcohol
No caffeine
No dairy
No eggs
No beef or pork
No raw fish or shellfish
No gluten
No soy
No nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers/capsicum)
No strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, grapes or bananas
No corn
No white rice
No added sugar
No peanuts (all other nuts totally fine!)
No processed oils or butters (stick to nut-based oils and coconut oil)

Before you have a breakdown thinking you'll need to eat apples and kale for 10 days, there's pages and pages of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner meals and they are all simple, doable and delish.

After you've committed to 10 days minimum of avoiding common inflammatory foods, here's some of the other recommended detox tips and consider this, the body DOES have natural detoxifying tools in the liver and kidney but any way you can optimise their functioning and decrease the amount of pollution internally and externally, the greater energy your body can devote to absorbing the good nutrients you're filling it with and to fuelling your brain, skin, muscles, hair and nervous system. Nobody is toxin free - it's a matter of how well we can manage our own system of detoxifying to feel, look and live as purely and well as possible.

Sweat.
Yup, get yourself into an infrared sauna and sweat it out. This is a highly effective means of sweating out heavy metals as well as providing benefits in alleviating arthritis, musculoskeletal ailments and increasing endorphins (feel good hormones). Wheher it's 10 or 30 minutes, try to get into a regular practice. A regular sauna will do.

Exercise.
Moving fluid through the lymphatic system supports the immune system by filtering out toxins and avoiding retention and lethargy. Exercise also boosts happy hormones, enables us to challenge ourselves physically and mentally, provides an opportunity to do something healthy and fun with people we know or to make new friends. Weight-bearing exercise also builds bones, muscle and enables our bodies o function healthier well into old age.

Meditate.
Calm the mind. Bring yourself into the present. Find a sense of peace that isn't dependent on anyone or anything external.

Get On A Foam Roller.
Get your fascia flexible. Many instructors and personal trainers I know swear by the foam roller as a regular part of their fitness routine. Sure, it can be deeply uncomfortable, especially if you have a tendency towards really tight muscles or you rarely stretch. It's entirely worth it. It is vital to stretch, lengthen and release tightness in the muscles to avoid that tension becoming habitual or loading the joints because the muscles that should be doing the work are too fatigued, overworked or dysfunctional to do their job. Hit up google and youtube - there's loads of guidance online as to how to use a roller.

Sleep.
Everyone knows this - just as you have a routine for beauty, fitness, travelling to and from work daily, so you must have a routine for sleep. Switch off social media at least an hour before bed and if you are panicking over something, write it down and know you can deal with it in the morning.

Try Yoga Nidra.
"Psychic sleep" is an ancient practice that deeply restores, relaxes and rejuvenates the body. It is a guided relaxation wherein you don't actually sleep as the mind is still active, but the body completely melts into blissful quiet. Try downloading Kirit Thacker, head of yoga at Ananda Ayurvedic spa in India.
Also try Elena Brouwer's 10 minute version from Yoga Journal.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Digestion: What We Can Take From Paleo, Raw Food, Vegan and Plant Based approach to eating

From the outset, let me make clear that I don't follow any food regimen strictly and zealously nor do I advocate a restrictive approach to eating, movement or living at all.

I believe - as I hope you will - that each of us needs to make choices that align with our values, our beliefs, our needs and our enjoyment and engagement with life. That means that your approach will likely differ over time and I've known many people who go from meat eaters to vegetarians and have periods of returning to seafood or meat if they feel their nutritional needs aren't being met sufficiently without it, or just because they want it and choose it.

It's not for any of us to say what is right and wrong for anyone else - so this post is not advocating a dietary approach, rather it is looking at the importance of gut health to quality of life and the ideas and lessons we can take from each of these approaches and consider when preparing and sharing meals.

I've been reading The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans and naturopath, Helen Padarin. While the book does strongly follow paleo guidelines to eating, there is a recurring reminder that these are suggestions and not a strict advocacy of one way to eat or live. Regardless of your preconceived ideas around Pete, his genuine desire to share a love of eating well and with awareness of how food affects overall health is contagiously joyful.

The consistent message across paleo, vegan, raw food and plant based eating is that food is more than simply calories and fuel. Food has medicinal and spiritual value. Choosing to eat to truly nourish rather than just to curb the appetite reflects a greater commitment: choosing to live in a way that nourishes our selves and those around us.

However, back to the gut.
gut health foods

Many diseases and lifestyle-based illness including diabetes type 2, angina, leaky gut, obesity and metabolic syndrome are the result of eating diets high in processed foods, lacking in vital micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes) and the approach to eating food on the run, with little consideration for how important it is to sit down, savour and enjoy food as part of feeling genuinely satiated, nourished and allowing food to digest without the impediment of stress hormones creating a maelstrom of poor digestive consequences: bloating, indigestion, leaky gut, constipation etc.

There's much research to show that gut health is intrinsically connected to brain health and the strength of the immune system and all other systems of the body. When you get a moment, have a look at this TED talk: Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain.



Gut flora is a term that refers to the environment of bacteria within the gut which is highly sensitive to foods, environment, stress and overall fitness and health. The healthier and richer our gut flora, the more energy we have, the greater absorption of nutrients from food and the greater ability to CREATE nutrients. It also feeds the immune system, fending off disease and allergic responses as well as maintaining a fit metabolism and regulating weight.

The most common and preventable factors that damage gut flora are continual use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, over-the-counter and prescription pain killers and anti inflammatories), chemicals found in processed foods and commonly used in agriculture, household cleaners and beauty products, preservatives and food colourings and flavours, excess fructose and simple carbohydrate consumption, chronic stress and lack of sleep and routine sleep and meal times.

Raw food - food not heated above 36 degrees - contains the richest source of nutrients and enzymes. These enzymes allow for foods to be digested without requiring the body to use up its own enzymes in trying to break down foods and extract micronutrients during the digestive process. With sufficient quantity and diversity of raw vegetables and plant-based foods (nuts, legumes, etc), these simple protein chains create complex chains of proteins that fuel the body adequately and ideally. It is common for vegans to be deficient in iron and B12 though and in these situations, it may be wise to supplement with the recommended daily dosage or with the assistance and advice of a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.
gut health

Here's the essential spices to start including in your meals to boost gut health

Turmeric
Cinnamon
Ginger
Fennel
Cumin
Coriander
Peppermint
Chilli
superfoods


Here's the essential prebiotic & probiotic foods to include in your weekly meals (bitter and fermented foods are superpowered gut medicine, don't be afraid to try them)


Dandelion Greens
Jerusalem Artichoke
Leeks
Asparagus
Garlic
Onions
Bananas
Apples
Walnuts 
Almonds
Cacao
Flaxseeds
Kelp & Seaweed
Bananas
Pickled ginger
Quinoa
Miso


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Beauty & A Tan That Doesn't Cost The Earth

natural beauty cruelty free

The skin is actually one of the largest organs of the body. We often think of heart, kidneys, liver when we think of organs of the body, but actually the skin is a living, functioning organ that absorbs elements of the environment and especially, the products we put on it.

This is why it's so important to choose carefully what you apply when it comes to skincare, shower gels, cleaning agents, hair products and if you're sensitive, laundry products too.

Many cheap and chemical based beauty and skincare products rely on parabens as a cheap, easy preservative to extend the life of products on shelf. Parabens are entirely man-made and synthetic.
butterfly tattoo
They mimic hormones within the body and once absorbed into the skin, can change and warp the natural balance of hormones within the body. The short and long term effect of this has not been thoroughly researched but since hormones rule everything from mood, fertility, appetite, appearance, sleep and immune system, it would pay to be careful with the endocrine system. 
Natural products often opt for ingredients like grapeseed oil as a natural preservative. Pay attention to the ingredients list and there are quite a number of great books out on natural beauty that explain ingredients and what to avoid in common household and body products.

Another excellent reason to opt for natural ingredients in your skincare is to be earth friendly. Less chemicals produced and manufactured into skincare and beauty products means less toxic products released into the waterways, air and earth before, during production and after use.
nutrimetics vegan beauty

Here are some of the products I've discovered recently that align with my goal to use primarily organic, natural and eco-friendly, skin friendly beauty and body products. Nutrimetics makes a whole range of targeted skincare as well as body care from shower gels to deodorant and makeup. I've been using and loving their Black Cherry Shower Gel, Honey and Almond Scrub for face, and the super nourishing apricot based Nutri-Rich Oil


Ink Nurse is a Melbourne-made tattoo healing cream that is just as vital for your freshly done work as it is for years' old work that you want to keep fresh after a bit too much time exposed to the sun. It uses all natural products and is vegan friendly and no parabens. As they say themselves, "A badass, ethical, cruelty-free, product that no one else compares to when it comes to tattoo skin care." True! Hoping to see it at more Melbourne studios.
eco tan natural tanning

Eco Tan is an organically certified, skin loving and naturally derived tanning range that has won awards for its face and body products. As someone who lives in Lycra and doesn't tan naturally, I'm all about the tan in a bottle! Just as with Ink Nurse and Nutrimetics, Eco Tan is fully organic and vegan. Their Eco Tan Face Tan Water is the best facial tanning product I've ever used and I've used plenty of tanning brands over the past 15 years. No nasty smell and the colour of both face and body (my choice is Cacao Firming Mousse) are totally believable: deep enough to look like you've been sunning on St Kilda beach but not so deep it looks like you fell asleep there all day.



Sunday, 29 January 2017

February Gym Bag Loves - The Style, Beauty & Body Gear For Now

fitness fashion beauty body
Hello February!
Exactly a month in my new beachside abode and I've still got so much to explore locally. It's been a struggle trying to build more classes into my schedule but (apart from a few hair-pulling, nail biting evenings of angst) I'm feeling hopeful of making this happen. My other goal is to increase my freelance writing and collaborative work. I'd also really love to schedule some more workshops and encourage people to come together locally to share food, stories, inspirations and ideas about life and living it well, fit and joyfully.
hair body fitness body beauty lululemon

There's a bit of a theme going on with my February gym bag - it must be living so close to the salty air! It's...being naked. Now wait! Don't go pulling your top off and risking mega fines just for the sake of solidarity!
Phew.
lululemon naked align pants

It's naked in regards to an approach to ingredients and elements. The Naked Dry Shampoo from Herbal Essences has none of the nasty chemicals usually associated with both dry shampoos and aerosols generally. It took me a while to get on the dry shampoo bandwagon but as someone who gets oily roots within a day of washing, it prevents overdoing it on the shampooing OR walking around with nasty oilslick hair. Important.
Try the whole Naked range - I'm all about the Naked Volume Shampoo and Conditioner.
The Naked lululemon Align Pants II are designed with no ruffles, frills and bows, literally. They are ideal for wearing independently or pairing up with your favourite booty shorts, jogging shorts, slouchy shirt or T, or even going out in your best 90s style with a pair of ripped denim shorts (man, I LOVED that look at the time.)

It's also a mindset I encourage you to adopt in February.
Get naked.
Strip off all the history. Strip off yesterday. Strip off the labels that have been placed on you, or that you've placed on yourself. Daughter, wife, mother, teacher, Australian, American, Young, Old, Friendly, Rude, Determined, Lazy, Fit, Flexible, Friend, Foe.

This is not to dismiss everything that you are, but to recognise that beneath and beyond all these labels and these ideas you develop about your life, you are so much more than that. Come back to your roots. Your heart beats, your lungs pump air, you exist from one micro-moment to the next in a world where we are all so vulnerable. This is quite wonderful - and it doesn't depend at all on any labels you put on yourself or what you own or what you do.

Once you've had a little smile to yourself, ensure that you hold onto these sunbeams of joy in your very core so that they radiate out through your pores and make your face glow with the beauty of being alive and appreciative of it. Then pack your gym bag and get out there. The gym bag featured in above image is the Lululemon Urban Warrior Duffle Bag. Yes, you can attach your yoga mat.

Post showering, keep the fresh scents lasting all day by applying my absolute, all time favourite body moisturiser, Laura Mercier Souffle. There's a few delicious choices but I'm in love with almond and coconut (it gets SO many compliments!) or pistachio. YUM.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Plant Based Food Melbourne

Plant Based Food Melbourne

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

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

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

Fed Up Project
South Melbourne


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

Uncle & Jak
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

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

Fourth Chapter Cafe
Prahran

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

Vegie Bar
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

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

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...