eggs and bacon bay tasmania - to her core

I thought I’d start a new series of posts here to outline a bit f what I’ve been doing, what I’m loving and what I have coming up. The purpose of this is two-fold; firstly as I feel it’s important to take note of all of your achievements, no matter how small, and I also hope it will allow you all to get to know me a little better. And, hopefully you’ll join in the conversation and share some what’s new and good with you too!

So lets kick it off shall we?

What I’ve been doing

  • Weekend getaway – the other weekend our little family (B, Maggie and I headed off on a little family holiday down to Eggs and Bacon Bay in Southern Tasmania (check out the view from the deck of our shack at the top of this post!). It was such a nice way to get away and relax for the weekend – we went for a few walks, ventured into the nearest town for pots of chai, had lots of Jenga and Uno championships, plus indulged in a little local Tasmanian wine and delicious food – a mix of our usual clean diet plus a few extra little treats. I strongly believe that whilst it’s important to eat well the majority of the time, the occasional treat – especially on special occasions – is fine. We came back from our weekend away feeling relaxed and rejuvenated (and wanting to do it all over again!)
  • Eat More Veggies Comp – We are half way through my Eat More Veggies competition. I started this competition as I strongly feel that a diet high in fresh, seasonal, and organic (where possible) vegetables is crucial in forming a healthy diet and contributes to a healthy lifestyle. I also believe that the more you cook and prepare your own vegetables, the more you will find new ways you like to enjoy them for both you and your family. Therefore the competition is a little bit of incentive for people to start experimenting a little with their veggies and finding new ways to enjoy them. There have been so many amazing entries, but you could still have the chance to win the amazing prize pack – make sure to get your entries in soon if you are planning on entering
  • ES Wellness Well Woman – I was recently featured as a Well Woman by the lovely Erin on her gorgeous blog ‘ES Wellness’ – you can check out my interview here.  Erin writes in an honest and friendly tone about wellness, inner peace and self love, make sure to stay a while and check out some of the other great posts while you’re there.
  • IIN Takeover – I’m currently studying holistic health and wellness at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) from which I’ll graduate from as a certified holistic health coach in just a few short weeks – watch this space! :)  The other day, I had the amazing experience of taking over their Instagram account and sharing what my typical day looked like.  It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with a wide audience and share some health and wellness tips that I live by. If you missed the posts, you can still check them out here.

What I’ve been loving

  • New blog - There seems to be so many new blogs popping up all of the place, I thought it would be great to share one new (or “new-to-me”) health or wellness related blog that I am loving each month with you. My favorite new-to-me blog currently is Natural Minimalist, a blog dedicated to all natural solutions for all areas of your life from health to beauty to the home. Filled with some delicious, simple recipes like Cardamom & Sea Salt Chocolate made with only five (all natural) ingredients, and house hold products such as Natural Household Cleaner, there is something here for all aspects of your life.
  • Vita: Nature + Culutre - For those of you in Hobart, a delicious frozen yoghurt shop has just opened up called Vita: Nature + Culture. Its a gorgeous little space when you can enjoy handmade frozen and fresh yoghurt and cold pressed juices. Its definitely worth checking out if you haven’t yet.
  • Pana chocolates - This stuff is a tad on the exxy side, but sooooo worth it! Handmade using natural, organic ingredients, this is my new favorite not-so-naughty indulgence.
  • Cauliflower – is there nothing this vegetable can’t do? I’ve been blending, chopping, add it to pie crusts and using it to make porridge - the opportunities are endless!

Next months goals and plans

  • I very much believe that we should constantly be working on improving ourselves, and therefore I thought I would list some of my goals for the next month.
  • Improve my photography skills – particularly around controlling the white balance. Our house is quite dark, and the gloomy winter lighting hasn’t really been helping things. My photos have been quite dark, with a horrible tinge of blue which is a constant source of frustration. I have been doing a little market research though, so I’m hoping to practice some of my newly found skills – though if you have any other tips – I’m always open to suggestion, so please feel free to share!
  • Seeing this movie - Its not so much a goal, but I am very excited to see The Human Experiment Movie which looks at all of the chemicals that we are exposed to in our everyday life and what effect this is having on us.
  • And verrrry much looking forward to attending the upcoming Changing the way we eat” conference in Hobart this coming month. With a whole host of interesting speakers, plus a bunch of local organic produce to sample, this conference is the first of its kind here in Tasmania and I’m loving the noise it’s making.

So that’s me for the month, now I’d love to hear, whats new and good with you this month, and what are your goals for the coming month?

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Quick and easy spiced berry chia jam by to her core

When visiting grandparent’s as a child, dessert would either be fruit at my Italian grandparents house or on special occasions, Vienetta icecream, or at my other grandparents house we would get a traditional baked dessert (golden syrup dumplings, apple crumbles or rice pudding were common – Nan even used to leave the sultanas out to cater for my aversion to dried grapes) or – our favorite – sliced white bread slathered in jam and cream. I think this was viewed as not only a quicker, but slightly healthier dessert option. Arguably it may have been a tad healthier than some of the other baked treats, but sliced white supermarket bread smothered with generic cream and sugar-laden jam is hardly a “healthy” option. I’m guessing this view was related to the thinking of the time – something we’ll be discussing here in more detail over the coming weeks – a “healthy” diet back in the 80s included a lot of grains and cereals, and large quantities of added sugar in our diets was the norm. I’m guessing the cream and it’s high fat-content would have been the only issue back then.

Quick and easy spiced berry chia jam by to her core

Nowadays, the fat would probably be the least of my concerns (though admittedly I can’t remember the last time I ate dairy cream – coconut cream though is a whole other story!) – I try to limit my sugar and therefore traditionally made jam doesn’t feature highly – or at all – in my current diet, and at risk of sounding like a massive snob, there is no way I would eat overly-processed, nutritionally-devoid sliced white supermarket bread. Asides from the fact that there is nothing there to nourish my body, I fear it would do a lot more harm than good, and – lets be honest, it tastes pretty crap!

But let’s leave bread alone for today, and instead look at jam. Traditionally, jam is made through cooking down fruit with jam and a little lemon, however you may have noticed a much simpler and healthier way to make jam appearing throughout the internet over the past few months – chia seed jam. It is such an ingenious, and if you think about it – obvious – idea; chia seeds mixed with water create a gel-like texture, similar to jam. I am a huge chia seed fan and eat them daily – they are high in protein, fiber and loaded with antioxidants. This jam is just spices, berries and chia seeds – no added sugar, just wholesome, healthy ingredients, and loads of flavour!

Quick and easy spiced berry chia jam by to her core

Spiced berry chia jam

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen berries
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2.5 Tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Place berries, water, spices and vanilla in saucepan over low to med heat and mash with fork or potato masher as the berries start to thaw. Once completely heated and fairly smooth, stir through the chia seeds and leave to cool at least half an hour before serving - the mixture with thicken up and the seeds soften as it cools.

Notes

I don't feel this needs any additional sweetener, but you could always add a few teaspoons of coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup if you wanted it a little sweeter.

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paleo cavemen 1

Last week I went along to a Paleo event held in Hobart, and with Paleo diets being quite topical at the moment –  especially in my neck of the woods – I thought I would share my thoughts here with you.

The event was The Paleo Way tour with Pete Evans, Nora Gedgaudas and Luke Hines. Initially, when I first heard about the tour I wasn’t too keen to go along as I’m not “Paleo” myself, and my image of the Paleo diet (prepare for an onslaught of stereotypes! ;) was a meat-eating, holier-than-though Cross-Fitter. Having met and worked with a few Paleo devotees who were more than willing to share their opinions on diet and fitness at any opportunity, promoting it as not only the healthiest option but also the only option, and then see them down a whole “clean” (unrefined) sugar-laden Paleo dessert before drinking a few liters of beer at the pub on the weekend, I was a little hesitant to earn more about what I had perceived to be a somewhat cult-ish movement that was extremely rigid and narrow-minded in some respects (the high level of meat consumption and intense exercise) yet lax when it suited the paleo follower – ie when they wanted a sweet or two have a few (or a lot!) of drinks on the weekend.

However, as most of these health and wellness-related events that tour around the country don’t make it down to Tassie, I felt it was important to go along and support it, and ended up helping out the event coordinators on the night.

After attending the event, I was really glad that I went along. Asides from being able to connect with a lot of other local health and wellness advocates and enthusiasts, I was actually surprised to hear how closely my current diet aligned with the Paleo diet that was presented at the talk which focused largely on cutting out sugar and processed foods, and instead eating sustainable wholefoods. In fact, when Nora described the ideal meal, or “plate”, it sounded quite similar to my standard meal – lots of fibrous veggies, and fruit; a moderate amount of protein; and a generous amount of fats. This plate actually differed to the perceived idea I had of a paleo “plate” which was lots of meat, some (saturated) fats, a little veggies and no fruit.

I now realise that just as “vegetarian” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, neither does Paleo, and the Paleo I had previously witnessed was not the Paleo that Nora and the other presenters were promoting.

A large portion of the talk focused on how the overly processed and refined diet of contemporary Western societies was damaging – even killing – us, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. Nora presented a lot of facts and data – a lot of which I had already heard of through my own studies and readings – to illustrate this point, and well as demonstrating the political and economical drivers behind the food industry as it currently stands.

comic

The other concept that was presented that I felt drawn to was the concept of eating more fats. When I stopped eating sugar, I increased my fat intake as I felt I no longer needed to worry as much about calories. I started to reintroduce previous “bad” foods that I felt would ultimately lead to weight gain such as nuts, olive oil and avocado and I found that through eating these foods I felt fuller for longer, and also noticed my skin getting clearer and my hair healthier. I have read a lot of other studies recently (including studies outside the Paleo camp) that all vouch for the moderate use of these fats in a healthy diet and I strongly agree – personally, when I eat a diet high in vegetables supplemented with healthy fats such as those mentioned above (plus full-fat coconut products), I definitely find that I feel better, I’m not as hungry through the day, and I have energy all day long. A difference here though was that Nora advocated strongly for saturated fats, whereas my fat intake comes mainly from poly- and monounsaturated fats.

I also liked the emphasis on eating organically, sustainably and locally. This is definitely something that I agree with and have been working towards myself. I did find it a little interesting that there were a lot of examples of how mass produced grains – and vegetables – can be harmful to the planets soil and unsustainable in the long run, yet no mention of what the equivalent mass-produced meat industry was also doing to our soil and greenhouse gas emissions. I think that whether you are Paleo eating mass-produced meat, or vegan/vegetarian eating mass-produced grains and vegetables, the end result is that you are consuming unsustainable produce which is likely lacking in nutrients, high in chemicals, and most likely tastes pretty average too! Rather, I feel that regardless of our personal dietary preferences, we should all be striving to eat locally sourced, fresh nutrient rich food regardless of our diet.

On the whole, whilst I felt that the Paleo diet that was presented had a lot of valid points and was very informative, however I still feel that the Paleo diet in it’s entirety is somewhat restrictive and not quite for me. Whilst I agreed with a lot of what Nora said, up until around 2 years ago, I spent the best part of the previous 16 years on a diet of some sort or other and I feel further restricting my diet I would only lead to further food-related stress and guilt that I just don’t want in my life.

I think another issue for me is that nutritional science is often contradictory, and often changing. I appreciate that there is research out there which shows that grains and legumes are detrimental to our health, however there is also other research which argues that these foods are nutritious and can form part of a healthy diet, and whilst the bulk of my diet is vegetables, I definitely feel that sometimes I need carbohydrates in the form of whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or oats to feel full – and after eating them, I don’t feel bloated, inflamed, or foggy, rather I feel satisfied and healthy.

The main thing that I took away from the conference was that we need to be eating more mindfully, locally and sustainably, and eating (a lot!) less processed foods, and I think that these factors are important for any diet, not just those following the Paleo way of eating. I think when it comes to healthy eating, Michael Pollen sums it up best -

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I wholeheartedly agree with this and recently wrote an article about why I choose to follow a plant-based diet which is very high in plants – mostly vegetables – and supplemented by other whole foods including nuts, seeds, fats, legumes, eggs, a little fish, a little dairy, and some whole grains. My personal experience, as well as all the studies and research I have read, have lead me to believe this is the perfect diet for me, and eating this way for a while now and the positive effects it has had on my physical and mental health further supports this for me.

So – tell me, what are your thoughts? Have you changed your diet recently, and if so what has influenced your decision on how you eat?

paleo way crew 1

Please note that these are my own personal beliefs and opinions and my thoughts relating to diet and health are based on my own personal experiences and studies – I am not a qualified health professional and am not advocating for one particular way of eating.