Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcome Winter.

Essential Health's guide to Winter Wellness

These colder months are a time for hibernation and inner reflection. Don't push yourself! Be gentle with yourself by rugging up in warm clothes and going to bed a little earlier. Move slower and enjoy bowls of creamy porridge, steaming hot chai and thick vegetable stews from the slow cooker, rather than raw foods like salads and juices.

As we move into the cooler weather you may naturally want to eat more, so ensure that your choices are warm, nourishing and vegetable based foods and resist the temptation to overindulge in the foods that do not support your body’s daily needs. Nourish yourself with seasonal fruit like apples, custard apples, oranges, mandarins, lemons, persimmons, pears and rhubarb. Winter vegies include beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, onions, parsnip, peas, potato, pumpkin, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, sweet potato, turnip. My rule is: If you can find it at a local farmers market, it's generally in season.

Although it’s tempting to hibernate during the cooler months, it is so important to keep your body active to increase circulation and burn off those comfort foods we all indulge in this time of year. If it’s raining outside, try indoors activities like pilates, yoga, zumba, gym workouts or swimming and aqua aerobics at an indoor pool. Make the most of the times when it is sunny with an invigorating, brisk walk outdoors.

Food as medicine
*Fresh pesto with lots of garlic and basil
*Chicken and vegetable soup
*A warm bowl of oats with banana and cinnamon
*Fresh slices of lemon and ginger in a mug of hot water
*A super spicy curry to get the nose running
*A beef stew with a variety of root vegetables
*A fresh vegetables juice with lots of ginger and parsley
Tip: when cooking with garlic, add to the dish and stir through just before serving to retain its therapeutic properties.

This term means to return to good health and grow strong again after being sick. We do this by listening to our bodies, taking it easy, rugging up in warm clothing, eating nourishing food and not returning back to work before completely recovered. If we haven’t fully gotten rid of the bug it will come back before you know it.

Stay cosy :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hello Cupcake.

Gluten-free Banana Cupcakes with Passionfruit Icing

What you’ll need:
1 ½ cups gluten-free self-raising flour
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup mashed banana (2 over-ripe bananas)
100g gluten-free margarine, melted
¼ cup milk (you can use dairy-free milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon zest, to serve (optional)

Passionfruit icing:
1 ½ cups gluten-free icing sugar, sifted
1 passionfruit

What you’ll need to do:

*Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

*Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add caster sugar. Stir to combine. Combine banana, margarine, milk and vanilla in a large jug. Add to flour mixture. Stir until smooth.

*Spoon mixture into cases. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make icing: Place icing sugar, passionfruit pulp and one to two teaspoons of hot water in a bowl. Stir until icing is smooth and spreadable. Spread cupcake tops with icing. Top with lemon zest (if using). EAT!! Makes: 12

Farewell Autumn.

Thankyou for your falling orange leaves and hot pumpkin soup. See you next year.

Click here for more Essential Health goodness on seasons

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The dog ate my homework.

It’s a fulfilling job being a naturopath. Having said that, it can also be very frustrating. My role is to teach people the steps they need to take to improve their condition and have a better quality of life. Leaving the only thing standing between them and a symptom-free existence is the effort required to put these changes into place. It’s that easy, right? Wrong.

I spent a lot of time last week thinking about excuses. “I don’t have time” is the most commonly used excuse in my clinic. Perhaps taking responsibility for one’s actions and saying “I didn’t make the time” would be more accurate. Another popular justification is “But I don’t drink or smoke, so I should be allowed to drink my four coffees a day”.

What holds them back? Maybe fear of leaving their old self for a new and improved version of themselves. This is an odd concept because consciously they have come to me for help, but on a subconscious level there can be an underlying fear of stepping out of their comfort zone and into the unknown where they can no longer hide behind a protective layer of excuses.

I grabbed a book off of the shelf this morning and opened to a random page and read something that sat well with me and gave me clarity:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, 1992.

What are you making excuses for or try to justify in your life?

Friday, May 27, 2011

There's something fishy going on...

There are fish cakes like the little greasy, rubbery things they serve you at thai restaurants.... Then there are THESE fish cakes! Here is a recipe I made up the other night for these tasty morsels of joy.


*Chop up a zucchini, a small sweet potato and ½ a cauliflower and steam until tender.

*Drain away the water and mash vegies together.

*Drain a 375g tin of pink salmon and empty into a separate bowl. Mash together with a fork til all the little bones are broken down. Sounds creepy but this is where all the calcium comes from.

*Add a teaspoon of chilli paste, one egg, a tablespoon of thai curry paste, a tablespoon of finely sliced coriander leaves and stir together.

*Combine the mashed vegies with the salmon mix.

*Get a bit of a production line going: form little balls about the size of a golf ball with the mix, roll in rice or spelt flour that you’ve poured into a bowl and drop into a fry pan on medium heat that is about ½ a cm deep with olive or coconut oil.

*Press down on them with an egg flipper and flip them over when the first side is golden.

*Lay them out on some paper towel to soak up the excess oil and serve with a fresh salad.

Ta-da! The recipe makes up about 18 patties. I made up a little dipping sauce out of sweet chilli, a squeeze of fresh lime and some more coriander.

Yummy cold the next day for lunch.

P.S. I like the picture because:

1. The fish is smiling

and 2. The chef kind of looks like my Dad :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Books for cooks.

Cookbooks seem to be the latest trend, don’t you think? I was biding time in the book shop at the Sydney airport last week and saw cookbooks by actors (Gwyneth Paltrow), designers (Fleur Wood), reality TV show winners (Julie Goodwin) and even the chick from Playschool in the 80s (Monica Trapaga).

Cookbooks have gone from dog-eared Women’s Weekly favourites to glossy, hard covered masterpieces for decorating coffee tables. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

We received an order from Brumby Books on Friday overflowing with inspiring and creative books. One of which being Eating for the Seasons by naturopath Janella Purcell.

Purcell has created this fantastic book based on Asian and naturopathic principles of eating nutrient dense foods, listening to your body as the seasons change and nourishing the particular organs that are more sensitive to that time of year eg. balancing the lungs and colon in autumn and building the blood in preparation for winter.

The book is divided into four sections for each of the four seasons with breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts designated accordingly.

For example:

Smoked trout, broccolini and lemon pasta in spring

Baked sweet ricotta with mango cheeks in summer

Pumpkin and sesame tarts in autumn

Baked pears with ginger compote in winter

Needless to say that I now have my very own copy strategically placed on my glass coffee table and am making thai fish cakes and nori rolls for dinner tonight because after all, it is autumn.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Possession obsession.

I remember standing on somebody’s shoulders at the Byron Bay Blues Fest in 2003 and hearing Jack Johnson play his song, “Gone” for the first time. The line “Cars and phones and diamond rings. Those are only removable things” really imprinted itself on me. I think it should be our goal to detach ourselves from physical possessions like hair straighteners, slow cookers, $300 jeans, lap tops and iPhone.

I truly admire travellers. I think it takes an enormous amount of courage to quit your job, leave behind your loved ones and comfort zone to venture into the unknown with literally the things you can carry on your back. I respect these people who go overseas for the aspiration to expand their consciousness and create new experiences rather than to instantly post photos on Facebook.

This year a gorgeous friend of mine embarked on a solo journey across the seas to India where she did yoga, felt lonely, visited temples, made friends, cried, learnt to make silver jewellery, got scared, bought sari’s and genuinely felt happy again. When I met up with her last week for the first time since her return, I saw a light inside of her that was glowing again, which was just flickering before she left. She was the new and improved version of herself. She just needed to step outside of her environment and spend some time on her own to do so.

How bright is the light inside of you burning?

True wealth is the ability to let go of your possessions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

head over heels.

You know that feeling when you’re first in love? You wake up thinking about them and when you talk about them you get a little sparkle in your eye. You get excited about when you can see them again and when you’re with them it’s the best feeling in the world.

This is how I feel about pilates. Seriously. My boyfriend often talks to me about the “surfing bug”. Well I have the pilates bug.

At the beginning of the year I was pondering a new hobby to enrich my life a bit more. Yoga felt too slow and I’ve never really been a team sports person. Then Suzanne McCarty dropped in to the shop with a stack of brochures for her new pilates and gyrokinetics studio in Sawtell so I thought I’d give it a try. To be honest I was expecting a bit of an abdominal workout. What I was not expecting was to fall head over heels for this new passion. As I write this I’m even rolling my eyes at myself at how ridiculous this must sound, but it's honestly how I feel!

If I could give somebody a massive high five, it would be Joseph Pilates, the pioneer of pilates, who dedicated his life to improving the health and vitality of others. This dude was born in the 1880s to his professional gymnast father and naturopathic mother and was obsessed with anatomy as a child, constantly studying physiology books and animals stretching in the forest of Germany. By the age of fourteen, Pilates had such a rig that he became a model for anatomical charts.

As a young man Pilates moved to England where he began teaching self defence and boxing at police schools and performed acts in the circus. After becoming imprisoned during World War I, Pilates began acting as a physiotherapist by disassembling the camp bunk beds and using the springs to create resistance to rehabilitate the injured and bed-ridden prisoners. This concept then went on to become the basis of the equipment used today in pilates studios. As the flu epidemic swept through populations of the world in 1918, it was reported that not one of the prisoners who followed Pilates’ routine fell ill.

Once released Pilates returned to Germany where he worked with dance and movement experts then immigrated to New York where he met his wife Clara, a nurse who he then went on to develop holistic ‘Contrology’ methods that incorporated deep breathing, proper posture and the correction of various physical ailments.

The studio they opened was situated below a ballet studio which attracted the dancers to quickly recover from their injuries while maintaining their flexibility. One professional ballet dancer was Romana Kyrzanowska, who went to Pilates in 1941 for help with an ankle injury. She then went on to become Pilates’ protégé and taught my teacher Suzanne, a ballerina from The Vienna Volksoper Ballet.

I could ramble on forever about the benefits of pilates that I've noticed in my own life on not just a physical but mental and spiritual level. But how about you go try it for yourself.

"After 10 sessions you will feel better. After 20 sessions you will look better. After 30 sessions you will have a completely new body.” ~ Joseph H. Pilates

Check out Suzanne's pilates studio on the link below and get inspired.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I unconditionally love Melbourne for its alleyway cafes, falling autumn leaves and the outlet Gorman store on Bridge Road. Of course a city full of men that resemble Calvin Klein models never hurts either. I arrived back in Coffs this afternoon after spending five days down there for a blood analysis seminar in Richmond.

Although I lived in Melbourne while completing my second and third year of uni, I felt totally overwhelmed and nearly anxious by all the traffic, loud music, crowds and 24 hour noise. After adapting to living in a peaceful coastal town I found all of the city noise a little hard to digest.

It made me think of all the unnecessary noise and stimulus we create in our own lives. Do you turn on the TV while you cook dinner or listen to average radio stations while driving? What about flicking through a magazine while talking on the phone or watching a crime show while checking your emails? We are all so overstimulated by technology and noise that it’s no wonder that we resort to wine at night to help us sleep and coffee in the morning to get us through the day.

I’m not saying live in silence like a Buddhist monk in a cave, but instead choose your stimulus and be present in your daily life. Watch the TV shows that interest you, play music that makes you happy, have conversations instead of just talking and go for a walk or have a bath to clear your head instead of pouring another glass of wine.

And if you’re really quiet, you might even hear your own thoughts…

PS. Here's an example of some rad music to listen to....

Friday, May 6, 2011

The second Sunday of May.

I guess if I had to sum up my Mum in one word it would be thoughtful. Mum was always the one who worked long hours running the family business with Dad, but never failed to have homemade biscuits in the cupboard, an immaculate house and a proper dinner on the table each night.

Mum wasn’t just Mum. She had other secret alter ego’s too: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. She was the one who bought all our Xmas presents and would put the 50 cent pieces in our glasses of water from the Tooth Fairy.

Ever since I moved out of home I’ve received a package of flannelette pyjamas every winter and a package of marshmallow Easter eggs and a bunny for my boyfriend at the time.

She's the one who told me that being sensitive is a gift and that I could be whatever I wanted in life.

Mum's dream in life was to go to provincial Italy and her and Dad finally got to go last year. This is a photo of Mum pinching figs in Tuscany from some unsuspecting Italian's tree.

When I was young and innocent I would make a continental breakfast menu every Mothers Day and get her to tick the boxes according to which type of juice she would like or if she would prefer jam or vegemite on her toast. Of course she still has all of my little menu's stored away in her wardrobe somewhere. Her and Dad are in a campervan in South Australia somewhere at the moment drinking wine and sampling cheese, otherwise I would have made another menu, or at least taken her out for breakfast.

Happy Mother’s Day MummyBear. I love you xxxxxx.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The 'Awesome Day' smoothie.

Good morning everyone!

On Monday morning I was really keen for a smoothie but soon realised that I was out of soy milk. So I figured out a new smoothie/juice recipe and have been having it every morning since!

Add to a blender:

1 cup of watermelon

5 strawberries (or 1/3 cup of frozen berries)

1 cup of fruit juice

1 heaped dessert spoon of protein powder

1 level teaspoon of spirulina

1 tablespoon of LSA or chia seeds

and whizz up!

It's a really adaptable recipe. You can add whatever your little heart desires... a banana, barley grass, slippery elm, probiotic powder, LSA, magnesium powder, flavoured fish oil, maca powder..... This morning I was feeling a bit sniffley so I added a scoop of BioCeuticals ImmunoFactors which is an awesome little powder with vit C, vit A, zinc, quercetin and elderflower to boost the immune system! You could even freeze the smoothie and make into little iceblocks!

So go on, shake things up a bit! Bahaha :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Live the life you love and love the life you live.

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of having dinner with a beautiful friend of mine I’ve known for ten years now. She wrote me a very sweet email today with the last line saying “You’re living the dream I reckon”. With a little smiley face :)

Time to get philosophical: I truly believe that every decision we have ever made in our lives has led us to exactly where we are standing right now. So if you’re not happy with your job, your relationship, your financial status or the type of person you are to others, accept responsibility for your actions and start making changes.

You're never too old to change careers. I've spent hundreds of hours serving rosewater lassi's and kofta balls at a Hari Krishna restaurant, made countless cups of (really bad) flat whites, gotten up at 4:30am to do the breakfast shift at the Sheraton and sat in front of a computer with a headset on at JetSet Travel before I finally became a naturopath.

Now I’m far from being a wise old sage with decades of life experience in front of me. However, from my understanding of life, the trick to create your ideal life is to make decisions from the heart and everything else just seems to fall into place.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?