Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stave off the blah this festive season

vegie loveAs we head out the door this afternoon for a wee holiday break, we thought we’d send you a quick email with a super easy one day refresh plan to give your system a bit of a reboot between Christmas and the New Year. To make it easier, you can prepare everything the day before.

Start the day with hot water and lemon. This one is a habit for life that we highly recommend.

Breakfast detox juice (make at home or from a juice bar)
2 apples
1 carrot
Handful of flat leaf parsley (or mint)
Handful of fresh spinach (or other leafy greens)
2 sticks of celery  

Mid-morning super green smoothie
Small handful baby spinach
2 cos lettuce leaves
1 kiwi fruit
1 banana
½ cup apple juice
Optional superfood like spirulina
Optional chia seeds or linseeds
Some ice cubes
Wash/peel ingredients, blend, serve.

Lunch – healthy lentil salad
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup tinned or cooked dry brown lentils.
Season with sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil.
Minted yoghurt dressing optional (1 tbsp of yoghurt mixed with fresh chopped mint).

Mid afternoon snack
Hummus with cucumber and capsicum sticks.

Dinner – detox salad (serves 2-3 as a main)
150g red cabbage, shredded
2 small or 1 large carrot, grated
1 apple, thinly sliced
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
1tbsp toasted pinenuts
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp linseeds

1tspn grated ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
Little honey to taste
Serve with grilled salmon or on its own.

Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries

Having only a juice and smoothie up until lunchtime will give your digestive system a really nice break. The lunch and dinner salad recipes are super healthy and packed with fibre, protein and good fat.

We hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season.

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Green is the new black

We’re loving our superfoods at the moment and supergreens are no exception. Just like berries, our greener friends are highly concentrated sources of energising vitamins and minerals, not to mention jam-packed full of antioxidants.

But why go green? You’re probably thinking you would rather stick to berries. We love berries, don’t get us wrong, but each superfood has its area of expertise. Master healers, the greener of our superfoods help nurture an alkaline environment for our body to achieve optimal health in (an acidic body is the ideal habitat for disease).

A glass of supercharged green juice is also the perfect detox partner, with the added bonus of being low in kilojoules – we like. From the almighty spirulina, to the popular wheat grass, there’s a greenie out there for everyone.

Here are some of our more unusual faves:

supergreenchlorophyll \ this green plant pigment has a structure similar to haemoglobin, with magnesium as its central atom. Packed full of alkalising vits and mins, chlorophyll even freshens your breath!

supergreenbarley grass \ a forgotten wonder, barley grass is charged with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It contains 30x more vit B1 than milk!

supergreenaloe vera \ this supergreen is the queen of healing. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, aloe vera soothes the stomach lining and skin, promoting healthy circulation, immunity and digestion.

supergreencelery root \ also known as celeriac, this green superfood is loaded with alkalising phosphorous and potassium, and rich in vitamins C and K. Like celery, this little root is great for weight loss!

supergreenolive leaf \ packed full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, this leafy superfood is particularly rich in oleuropein – an antioxidant 5x as powerful as vit C and almost 2x as mighty as green tea!

Unlike their berry counterparts, supergreens don’t win in the taste department – the secret is in the mix.

Check out our blog for some great green juice and smoothie ideas. Time for a glass of green apple…

Monday, December 6, 2010

Get your superberry on

From the common strawberry, to the slightly more upmarket blueberry, all the way to the exotic and luxurious acai, we just can’t get enough of berries.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well for starters they’re deeelicious. They ward off infection and keep your immune system revving with bucketloads of vitamin C. As for the antioxidants in berries, they keep you looking beautiful by declaring war against ageing free radicals. Even better, these berries keep you thinking young – they ‘clean up’ your brain by removing toxins, boosting your memory and preventing mental decline.

Here are a few of our more luxurious faves:

super heartacai \ this little amazonian is the king of berries. Royal purple and packed full of vitamins, minerals, omegas and more than sixteen antioxidants, the acai berry even helps shrink your waistline.

super heartgoji \ other wise known as the ‘wolfberry’, this red superfood was hailed as the fruit of longevity in Tibet and China. The goji berry contains 500 times more vitamin C than oranges!

super heartnoni \ this little berry has made its way from the Pacific islands packed full of antioxidants. Also knows as the ‘Indian mulberry’, the noni is rich in lignans, polyphenols and polysaccharides.

super heartpomegranate \ this giant Persian berry is loaded with anthocyanins and polyphenols. Rumour has it pomegranate contains three times more antioxidants than green tea!

super heartblack cherry \ the last of our superberries is a powerful source of anti-inflammatory anthocyanins and sleep-promoting melatonin. It’s also nature’s richest source of vitamin C.

So get your berry on. They really are super, we think so anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ditch that sugar addiction

3pm sugar craving. After dinner dessert desire. Low energy sugar hit. The list goes on. Whatever your justification for having that sugary treat is, you should reconsider it. It's just not good for you.

The more sugar you eat, the more you crave; sugar gives you an initial high, and then you crash and crave more, and so on. It's a vicious cycle.

Practical tips to combat those cravings

Eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels stable. This will help to avoid feeling the need for a sugar hit.

Eat whole foods and chew well to bring out the natural flavour and sweetness of foods. Complex carbs like grains, legumes and vegetables become sweeter the more they are chewed.

Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to flavour foods naturally.

Choose alternatives like fruit and treats sweetened with honey, agave, maple syrup, rice syrup, barley malt and stevia, but eat in moderation as they are still high in natural sugar.

Eat less salt as salty foods increase cravings for sugary foods.

Eat naturally sweet vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, and beetroot. Raw carrots have been shown to be particularly helpful with sugar cravings.

Do a detox to help your body to remember what it should be eating.

Think about why you want sugar and note if the reasons are emotional. For example, if you are in the habit of cheering yourself up with a sugary treat, try to find an alternative that makes you feel good, like taking a bath, listening to music or exercising.

Pay attention to how you feel when you don't have sugar for a few days. Notice the lift in energy and absence of blood sugar lows or 'hanger' (angry-hunger). This feeling alone should demonstrate that you are much better off without the sweet white stuff.

If you're finding it really tough to go without sugar, supplements containing chromium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium can be helpful. For very strong sugar cravings, l-glutamine can be added. 

Good luck! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We're not going to sugar-coat it

There are different views on carb consumption but the jury is in when it comes to sugar. We need to moderate and choose carefully!

If you’re going to cut back on the sweet stuff (particularly the bad and ugly sugars revealed in our last blog), you’re probably wondering what your alternatives are. The big divide when it comes to sugar substitutes is artificial vs. natural.

The real baddies: artificial sweeteners
Most artificial sweeteners have been listed as safe for human consumption but scientific studies say otherwise. Some research even suggests that they make you fat! A study carried out by the University of Liverpool has revealed that artificial sweeteners stimulate sweet receptors in our intestines that in turn increase the body’s ability to absorb more sugar.

But what other side effects are we facing? Let’s take a closer look at two of the artificial substitutes listed as ‘safe’ for human consumption:

Acesulfame-K (Sunette and Sweet One) is found in diet drinks, lollies, diet yoghurts and baked goods, and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Studies have linked it to cancer in rats; we can’t say for sure what its long-term effect will be on humans.

Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) is found in diet soft drinks, low calorie or sugar-free foods, and even some vitamins. In 1995, the FDA listed 92 adverse Aspartame symptoms, including headaches, memory loss, seizures, cancer and coma. It contains phenylalanine, which is dangerous for people with PKU (phenylketonuria).

Other artificial sweeteners include: neotame, saccharin and sucralose.
We’re not saying you should avoid them at all costs, but you definitely need to cut back on these baddies. If consumed in large quantities, their health risks are too significant to overlook. And anyway, in our humble opinion, natural is always better.

Natural alternatives
Here are some of nature’s answers to the sugar controversy:

Agave nectar (or syrup) is a favourite of the Aztecs in Mexico. This natural sugar alternative is made from the sap of the Agave Tequilana plant, and has a low glycemic index (GI).

Barley malt syrup is made by malting barley grains to produce maltose. It is about half as sweet as conventional sugar and has a malty flavour. The sugars in barley malt syrup are broken down slowly by the body and it is therefore a low GI food.

Coconut palm sugar is a favourite in Southeast Asia and India. The flower nectars are boiled into a syrup, dried, then ground to produce a crumbly sugar that's organic, unbleached, nutrient rich (B vitamins, minerals and amino acids) and low GI. Palms grow in sustainable eco-systems that support the natural habitat.

Maple syrup is a mineral-rich, lower kilojoule natural sweetener derived from maple tree sap. A wide range of imitation syrups exist, often containing no actual maple syrup – wherever possible, go for pure organic maple syrup.

Organic honey is a raw, unprocessed sweetener derived from flower nectar that is transformed naturally by bees. Manuka honey is particularly good for you as, unlike many sugars, it does not feed candida. It also has incredible healing properties.

Pear or apple juice concentrate is created by concentrating the juice through evaporation to retain the natural sugars and minerals. The end product is roughly a third lower in kilojoules than refined sugar by weight.

Rapadura sugar (also known as muscovado sugar) is the only unrefined sweetener derived from sugar cane. The cane is squeezed, evaporated, then ground – no further refinement occurs. Rapadura sugar is chemical-free and nutrient rich.

Stevia is a South American herb used as a sweetener in Paraguay for hundreds of years. It is essentially kilojoule-free (and a great weight loss or management tool) as the body does not metabolise the glycosides from its leaves. It does not cause blood glucose spikes and may be used by diabetics. Stevia crystals are 300 times sweeter than sugar, so use sparingly!

Xylitol is a natural sweetener with 40% less kilojoules than sugar. It looks and tastes exactly like sugar but is in fact an alcohol molecule. Derived from plants (corn, birch trees) and brightly-coloured fruits, xylitol is used in chewing gum, mints and mouth washes due to its anti-microbial properties, and as a sugar substitute in beverages or cooking. It produces no insulin spike and leaves no aftertaste. As is the case for most sugar alcohols, it can contribute to bloating and gas, so people who tend towards IBS need to be careful with this sugar substitute.

Yacón is related to the sunflower and originates from the Andes. The syrup is made by juicing the tubers of the flower and boiling the liquid obtained to concentrate it. Its sweetness stems primarily from fructo-oligosaccharides, compounds that the human body doesn't absorb; yacón is low-kilojoule, low GI and even helps feed the good bacteria in your stomach.

For other natural alternatives, check out the table in part one of our sugar blog (you’ll find them in the ‘good’ column).

So does this mean no more sweet treats? Ever? Rest assured, the occasional guilty pleasure won’t ruin your good efforts; instead it’s the small changes you make on a daily basis that really deliver. Keep it simple and break the sugar addiction in four of your daily habits: tea, coffee, cereal and yoghurt. Bring a packet of stevia or xylitol with you to work and be in control of the kilojoules in your coffee. Your waistline will thank you in the short term, as will your whole body further down the track!

It is important to remember that even natural sugar alternatives add a little to your kilojoule intake (and impact your blood sugar levels). Moderation is still key!

In a nutshell…
Two things to remember from part two of our sugar blog:
  1. Avoid artificial sweeteners wherever possible.
  2. Think natural.
At Urban Remedy some of our faves are stevia, agave nectar, honey and maple syrup. Sugar is so last year.

Thomassian M, 2010: Cutler M, 2010: Ursell A, 2009: Helm A:

Your bestie in a bottle - Chlorophyll

Here at Urban Remedy, we're big fans of liquid chlorophyll. Big fans. It tastes good, smells good and does good things to your insides. Good? Good.

It's like sunshine in a bottle. Chlorophyll is in fact the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesise CO2 and water, AKA photosynthesis, which is the basis for sustaining the life of all plants. Pretty important stuff. It also gives plants and plant foods their beautiful green colour.

Why is it so good for you?
It acts as a deodoriser, promoting a healthy digestive tract and minimising bad breath and perspiration. Chlorophyll is also a rich source of antioxidants and studies have shown that it helps to prevent liver cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It's also jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals; vitamin A, C, K, and E, folic acid, iron, calcium and protein.

Chlorophyll is naturally occuring in in green vegetables like asparagus, green capsicum, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, celery, spinach, green beans, green peas, kale, leeks, green olives, parsley, cos lettuce and seaweed.

If you want to supplement your diet with a little extra green goodness, try liquid chlorophyll. Simply mix a teaspoon or two in your glass of water, juice or smoothie.

Brands we like:
Grant's Liquid ChlorophyllNature's Sunshine
One of the strongest concentrates and best brands available, Nature's Sunshine is a little more expensive, but comes highly recommended. Available from most heath food stores or online at Natural Health Direct for $22.27 per 475mls.

Grant's Liquid Chlorophyll 
This one is Emma's favourite. While not as potent as Nature's Sunshine, it has a really nice minty flavour. Available from most health food stores or online at Organic Beauty for $13.85 per 500mls.

A little tip from Emma: It tastes better if you drink it from a wine glass. (Note: this is not strictly true, but much more fun all the same.)

As the old saying goes, if you're green inside, you're clean inside.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sugar, not so sweet after all

A spoonful of sugar…
Carbs have been given a bad rep these last few decades (think Dr Atkins and his revolution) but what about actual sugar? When we say sugar, we usually mean sucrose (aka table sugar) but the term is also used to refer to simple carbohydrates and refined sugars in general.

You can find simple carbs naturally in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose) but it’s the refined sugars (in cake, biscuits, lollies, fast food, soft drinks) that you should be worried about, and they’re sometimes hidden in places you would least expect them.

So when did sugar become such a problem?

A very modern romance
We have always consumed carbs but the quantities have changed. In the early 19th century, the average Australian ate roughly 2kg of sugar in a year, mainly from honey and ripe fruit. Fast-forward 200 years and that figure has risen to 50kg – that’s almost a kilo of sugar a week! It’s no wonder our generation is struggling with so many sugar-related health issues.

Sugar, white death
In the right quantities, carbs are an invaluable source of energy. But what does sugar do to our body when we consume it in excess? According to Nancy Appleton (author of Lick the sugar habit), there are 124 ways in which too much sugar can damage our health. Among these are: accelerated ageing (sugar consumption causes an instant free radical surge), loss of skin elasticity (sugar changes the structure of collagen), candidiasis (sugar feeds bad bacteria), reduced immune function, high triglycerides, fatty liver, obesity, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, diabetes, tooth decay, energy spikes, mood swings, hyperactivity, depression and even cancer.

We’ve established that too much sugar is bad for you but of the sugar we do consume, some types are worse than others. Refined sugar is the one to avoid – according to ayurvedic medicine, it’s a ‘dead food’ (processed and of little nutritional or health value). From the moment it enters the body, its destructive path commences. It steals other nutrients (chromium, zinc, calcium and vits B and C) to enable its metabolism without providing any valuable nutrients itself.

The good, the bad and the ugly
Sugar has many disguises and can easily sneak into foods unnoticed – when you’re scouring through food labels, check the ingredients list for the words ‘syrup’, ‘sweetener’ or anything ending in ‘ose’. But how can we separate the sweet from the not-so-sweet sugars? To help you make the distinction, we’ve broken them down into three categories:

The good (or not-so-bad)

The bad
The ugly
Beet sugar
Artificial sweetener
Barbados sugar
Brown sugar
Corn syrup
Barley malt syrup
Cane sugar
Corn-syrup solids
Brown rice syrup
Crystalline fructose
Date sugar
Castor sugar
Fructose (refined)
Evaporated cane juice
HFCS (see below)
Fruit-juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Maple syrup
Ethyl maltol
Refiner's syrup
Muscovado sugar
Palm sugar
Golden sugar/syrup
Yellow sugar
Raw honey
Granulated sugar

Sorghum syrup
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Malt syrup

Powdered sugar

Turbinado sugar
Raw sugar

Table sugar


Keep your eyes peeled and steer clear of the bad and the ugly; when it comes to the good guys, they may not be bad but they’re not good for you in large quantities either – don’t forget to stay within the limit! The recommended daily allowance (maximum intake) of sugar is 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men.

Don’t even get us started on artificial sweeteners. There are differing views on these bad boys but they definitely fall in the ugly category as far as we’re concerned.

In part two of our sugar blog, we give you the lowdown on sugar alternatives and some handy tips on reducing your sugar intake. Stay tuned.

Cabot, S and Jasinka, M 2005 The Ultimate Detox, WHAS, Camden
Marber, I and Edgson, V 2004,The Food Doctor – Healing foods for mind and body, Collins & Brown, London
Gillespie, D and
Helm, A

Friday, October 8, 2010

Food Rules - a quickie review of Michael Pollan's latest book

I love this book. I bought it for about $8 from The Book Depository (free shipping to anywhere in the world and cheaper AND faster to ship than Amazon - I highly recommend it).

Michael Pollan is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World (2001). He's pretty sharp. He was named in the 2010 TIME 100, Time Magazine's annual list of the world's 100 most influential people. Suffice to say, he writes darn well and he's pretty sharp.

It's a lovely little book. He's managed (quite brilliantly I think) to distill healthy eating principles into 64 simple food rules. Even better than that, he's simplified those 64 rules even further into seven little words:

"Eat food.
Mostly plants.
Not too much."


Here are ten of my favourite rules to whet your appetite.

2. Don't eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognise as food.
13. Eat only foods that eventually will rot.
19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
20. It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
24. "Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods), is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (pigs, cows and other mammals)."
32. Don't overlook the oily little fishes.
39. Eat all the junk food you like as long as you cook it yourself.
41. Eat like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
46. Stop eating before you're full.
49. Eat slowly.
60. Treat treats as treats.
63. Cook.
64. Break the rules once in a while.

Ok, so that was more like 13, but if  I'm honest, they are all my favourites - it really is a brilliant little book. I recommend it. In fact, if I lost my copy I'd buy it again. So there you go.

Happy eating to you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Easy DIY detox yoga sequence

As promised, here is an easy DIY detox yoga sequence.  The postures are suitable for all levels and you only need to set aside 20-30 minutes. This is a great sequence to do in the morning as it helps to get your body into detox mode for the day.

The purpose of this routine is to stimulate the body's natural detox processes as well as firm up the body, improve circulation and reduce fluid retention. It includes mainly twists and backbends which are both ideal for detoxification.

The sequence
Warm up by doing some sun salutations. I usually do three rounds of Surya Namaskar A and three rounds of the Surya Namaskar B holding the downward dog for 5 breaths.

Hold each of the following postures for 5 to 10 breaths.

1. Tadasana - Mountain Pose

2. Adho mukha svanasana - Downward dog

3. Eka pada rajakapotasana – One legged pigeon pose (both sides)

4. Parsvakonasana – Extended side angle pose (both sides)
5. Twisted lunge (both sides)

6. High lunge (both sides)

7. Virabadrasana 3 – Warrior 3 (both sides)
8. Paschimottanasana – Seated forward bend

9. Bharadvajasana – Bharadvaja’s twist (both sides)

10. Ustrasana – Camel pose

11. Balasana – Child’s pose
13. Viparita Karani - Legs up the wall pose

12. Savasana – Spend five minutes (or more if you have time) in this relaxing posture. I like to say to myself "let go" with every exhalation for the first minute or so of this posture.

This sequence will boost the detoxification process and really get things moving in your body. It's a great sequence to do everyday if you have the time, and especially while you are doing a cleanse.

Feel free to comment or email me if you have any specific questions. I'm more than happy to help.


Images courtesy of Yoga Journal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Smoothie-licious – yummy juices & smoothie recipes for your DIY detox

Juicing is awesome. It is a brilliant way to get loads of nutrients into your body without consuming a massive mountain of fruit & veggies. In our kitchen on Tuesday, I took a pic of the amount of fruit & veg that goes into a 3 day cleanse. Holy nutrients Batman! That doesn’t even include the ingredients for our smoothies.

As well as bursting with nutrients, fresh juices also contain antioxidant vitamins, natural antibiotics, anti-inflammatory properties and enzymes to improve the quality of your digestion. Good stuff.

A couple of things to remember about juicing:

1.    Drink your juices straight away. If you are using a home juicer or buying your juices from a juice bar, make sure you drink them straight away. We use special slow, cold press juicers that retain nutrients for way longer, but if you’re using a commercial or home juicer, they tend to oxidate (you know how apple juice starts to turn brown after a few minutes) rather quickly, so you should drink them immediately after juicing.
2.    Use high quality ingredients. You want the freshest and most lovely ingredients to go into your juices.
3.    Experiment and innovate. I’m always making new juices and smoothies, depending on what’s in season (and what’s in my fridge) at the time. Throw whatever takes your fancy in.

As promised, here are some de-lovely smoothie & juice recipes.

Apple, mint & lime juice
3-4 Granny Smith apples
2 sprigs of mint
¼ lime

Wash all ingredients. Core and quarter the apples. Roughly chop the peel off the lime. Juice. Drink. Yum.

Carrot, apple and celery juice
3 carrots
2 Granny Smith apples
2 celery stalks

Wash all ingredients. Core and quarter the apples. Cut the bottom ends of the carrot and celery and chop into pieces that will fit through your juicer. Juice. Drink. Yum.

Blueberry, spinach and apple juice
1 cup blueberries
Small handful baby spinach
3 Granny Smith apples

Wash all ingredients. Core and quarter the apples. Juice. Drink. Yum.

A word about smoothies
Smoothies are pretty awesome too. That's why we've added some to our cleanses. They are very easy to digest - your digestive system is best able to absorb nutrients from 1mm size pieces of food. That's why juices and smoothies are so good - they make all the nutrients readily available and easy to absorb. Green smoothies are particularly good. The late Dr Ann Wigmore (a pioneer in the healthy eating and living movement) spoke of an instant surge of energy and brain focus with her first green smoothie. That's how I feel when I drink my morning smoothie - bursting with energy and enthusiasm.  

Strawberry mango smoothie
1 cup frozen mango cheeks
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup rice milk

Combine all ingredients and blend. So yum.

Blueberry kale smoothie
1 cup frozen blueberries
4 kale leaves (or small handful spinach)
½ cup of water
1 banana

Wash kale leaves. Peel banana (duh). Combine all ingredients and blend.

Green smoothie
Small handful baby spinach
1 celery stalk
1 banana
1 pear
1 apple
½ cup water

For extra protein and essential fatty acids, you can add a tablespoon of linseeds (also known as flax seeds) or chia seeds to any of the smoothies. If you use chia seeds, soak them in ¼ cup of water first until they form a gel like substance and then add them to the blender.

You can also add superfood powders or liquids to your smoothies. I love Vital Greens (it almost has a chocolatey taste), spirulina and acai berry powder. We use these in the Urban Remedy smoothies and they add an extra burst of goodness and nutrients.

Next week I’ll talk more about cravings and how to satisfy them with healthy options. I’ll also upload a DIY detox yoga sequence as well as some other ideas, hints and tips.

Happy DIY detoxing.

What’s your plan to make the most of your DIY detox?
Do you have any juice or smoothie recipes you want to share?

Emma x

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Easy DIY detox

Um, hello… it’s already spring. That’s right. It’s September. It’s literally a matter of weeks before the weather hots up and it’s time for the beach. WHAT? Did I say weeks? Holy bikini-time Batman!

I don’t know about you, but I’m staring down the barrel of bikini shopping and not feeling all that excited about baring my not-so-tanned winter body in a change room with 3 way mirrors and florescent lights (Yes, I’m talking to you Myer).

I feel all blurgh and I need a plan. Lucky for you, I have one. I always have a plan. It’s called Project Fab-u-Cleanse – a simple DIY detox  to get your mind and body feeling change room friendly.

How long? As long as you like. I recommend a week to start and continuing for another two weeks if you have the time and inclination. Don’t get stressed out if you have an event or something on. It’s not meant to be hardcore. If you need to eat/drink outside of the guidelines below, that’s fine. Just get back to it the next day. Easy.

What do you have to do? It’s soooo easy. Follow the simple detox guidelines below for the 1-3 week cleanse period and exercise for at least 4 hours per week (walking, running, yoga, aerobics, pole dancing, zumba – whatever takes your fancy). Couldn’t be any easier. If you want to throw in a 3 or 5 day juice cleanse as part of the program, go for it (you can order from the Urban Remedy website.

Print out your cheat sheet here. I’ll also be uploading lots of detox recipes (especially salads, juices and smoothies) and a detox yoga sequence to this blog so keep an eye out if you’re interested.

Easy DIY detox guidelinesThis is a pretty gentle, do-at-home with minimal disruption, detox, aimed at reducing the bad stuff and increasing the good stuff. One benefit you’ll probably notice is a little bit of weight loss (due to replacing “less good for you” foods with better choices). You’ll also have more energy (you have no idea how much the “eliminate” foods slow you down – for example, white sugar and white flour are devoid of nutrients, and what’s worse, is that when you eat them, they actually take nutrients out of your body in order for your system to process  them – seriously), you’ll feel much fresher and lighter, and most importantly, it will set you up in a healthy zone for spring and summer (and your bikini).

Red meat and other processed meats
White flour – white sugar, white bread, white rice, white pasta, cous cous
Refined sugar – cakes, pasties, lollies, chocolate (ouch)
Processed and packaged foods, especially with preservatives, flavours or colours (look on the back for numbers)
Artificial sweetener (aka poison)
Fried, heavy and fatty foods

Food to reduce
Dairy (switch at least half of your dairy intake with soy or rice milk products). Plain, unsweetened yoghurt with live cultures is fine (good for you in fact).
Caffeine – drink green or white tea instead of coffee and black tea
Eggs – 3-4 per week are fine, but try to make them organic
Salt (sea salt ok)
Bread – wholemeal or spelt sourdough ok
Starchy high GI veggies like potatoes
Chicken – organic chicken once or twice a week is fine

Food to increase
Fish (steamed and baked best)
Nuts and seeds
Fruit and veggies
Vegetable protein; lentils, chickpeas, navy beans, lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, tofu
Whole grains; brown rice, quinoa, oats, spelt, buckwheat, millet
Make smoothies as breakfast/snacks or meal replacements; banana, spinach, cos lettuce and apple juice makes a delicious smoothie. I’ve been making them every day lately for breakfast. Yum.

Other stuff to do to increase benefits
Drink hot water and juice of ½ a lemon in the morning (great detoxifier and also kick starts digestion)
Drink loads and loads of water and herbal tea to flush out toxins. Aim for 30mls per day for every kilogram of body weight. 

Try a colonic - see my (rather graphic) post about colonic hydrotherapy
Do some cardio – sweat out toxins
Have a steam or sauna
Meditation – detox your thoughts too
Try some yoga
Also consider
Eat slowly and chew thoroughly – this alone can make an enormous difference
Eat mindfully – give meal times your full attention
Eat a little less than normal – you’ll be surprised at how you don’t need to eat as much as you think you do
That’s it. Pretty easy. I’ll be doing this for the next 3 weeks. Come along for the ride.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A simple, short post on keeping your life simple (but not short)

My life is busy. Oh so busy. It seems that the busier I am, the more I seem to be able to get done. Especially fake tanning (it makes me feel good). And of course yoga and eating well. I always seem to find time for those important things.

How? I manage my time, prioritise and simplify my life.

Time management
Years ago I read a book about time management called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, which I highly, highly recommend. It was years ago, but I still follow a lot of the time management tools and rules that he espouses.

The key principles that I follow are:
1. Keep a to do list - I have a personal one and a work one. Everything is on the list so I never (read: very rarely) forget things
2. Make sure your to do list has projects and actions on it, not just vague references for things you need to do. For example, if I were planning a wedding (hint, hint), invitations would be one of my "projects" and then I would have a "next action" against that project like "research invitation design themes online". Once that action is complete, I would then work out the "next action" needed to complete the project. That way I am making sure that at all times I know what I need to do next to complete the task.
3. If you can do something in 2 minutes, do it straight away. It's often the ten little two minute tasks that play on your mind and make you feel like you have too much to do.

We spend so much time doing urgent but not important tasks, instead of doing important but not urgent tasks. The important but not urgent tasks don't really get a look in until they become urgent. Meanwhile, we've wasted loads of time of tasks that are seemingly urgent, but not that important. Try this exercise and see if it helps for you:

Look at all the tasks that you have to do. Categorise them as follows:
A - Urgent and important
B - Important, but not urgent
C - Urgent, but not important
D - Unimportant and not urgent

Do them in order from A to D. Or even better, just do A and B and forget about C and D. Sounds simple, but put it into practice and it will change your life. You'll be amazing to realise how much time you actually spend (waste) doing C and D tasks.

The most important thing to spend more time on B and less or no time on C and D.

Simplify your life
Don't just do stuff. Do important things. Do things you love. This post was inspired by a blog post on Zen Family Habits called 43 simple ways to simplify your life. Read it - you'll love it too.

PS. I am really busy today, but I decided that this was an important post and that it wouldn't take me too long to write. Voila!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chia seeds - a superfood friend with benefits

I'm loving chia seeds at the moment. I'm using them in EVERYTHING. One might even say that I'm chia-tastic.

What you need to know (or maybe just want to know) about chia seeds
They are:
1.    A wholegrain
2.    Super high in the essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are vital as they help the body recover after exercise and help to increase metabolism, helping with fat burning and weight loss.
3.    High in fibre, which helps to make us feel fuller for longer and keep us “regular” (lovely)
4.    Gluten free
5.    Rich in iron (3 times more than Popeye’s favourite food)
6.    A complete protein, containing 8 essential amino acids. It’s a little complicated, but many plant sources of protein are incomplete proteins that need to be combined with another protein. These little babies do it all on their own.
7.    High in other good stuff like calcium (higher in calcium than milk and more absorbable too), B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and zinc
8.    Rich in antioxidants to battle those nasty free radicals (I seriously imagine a little battalion of antioxidant warriors going to work on the insurgent free radicals). Antioxidants help to slow the process of aging. Sounds good to me.

Just throw them in
Salads, soups, stirfrys, smoothies. A tablespoon or so will do the trick. Yum. 

Black versus white seeds
According to The Chia Co, there is very little nutritional difference between the white and black seeds, so it really depends on the colour that your recipe or mood calls for.

Yummy chia smoothie
One the weekend I bought some chia seeds from About Life in Bondi Junction (you can get them from any health food store). The packet had a great smoothie recipe on the back, which I had for breakfast this morning and it was delish. Hopefully they don’t mind me sharing it with you!

1 cup banana and/or berries (I used ½ banana ½ strawberries)
½ cup yoghurt
½ cup milk (or your preferred milk replacement)
½ cup coconut milk
1tbs chia seeds (soak the seeds in a little water until the seeds and water form a thick gel, then add them to the smoothie)
1tbs honey (I prefer maple syrup with yoghurt as honey is antibacterial and kills all the good bacteria in yoghurt)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp grated ginger (I left this out)

1.    Soak seeds
2.    Add all ingredients to blender
3.    Blend
4.    Drink (I can hear you saying “duh…”)

Try them out. Suffice to say that I’m a fan of these tiny little suckers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Healthy take out tips

I have long been a pain in the ass when it comes to eating out and ordering take out, so I thought I’d share some of my tricks to make take out a little bit healthier.

•    I’m not going to tell you to avoid tempura. I’ll assume you know that already.
•    Don’t have too much sushi rice as it contains lots of sugar and is high GI (meaning it causes an insulin spike, which will leave you craving more sugar not too long after).
•    Don’t have too much soy; it’s very high in salt, which leads to fluid retention (water weight)
•    Sashimi, salads, edamame, tataki, steamed and baked fish, sukiyaki, noodle soups all great options (though do be aware of high salt content)
•    Don’t have too much sweet sauce like teriyaki or miso as they are high in sugar and kilojoules 

•    Go vegetarian
•    Ask for less cheese
•    Avoid marinated vegetables as they often have lots of oil
•    Go for a wholemeal base if they have one. Or gluten free, but I find this isn’t as nice and if you’re going to have pizza, you might as well have proper dough

•    Add Parmesan yourself to control the amount
•    Go for red sauces (tomato based) instead of white (oil or cream based)
•    Try not to fill up on bread before the meal or you’ll end up having a carb-overload (and definitely a GI spike leading to a sugar crash)
•    Don’t overeat – eat to 70-80% full and then have a break, otherwise you’ll end up with a pasta baby in your belly (we’ve all been there…)

Thai, noodles, etc
•    Ask for less or no oil. Most of the sauces used have a little oil in them anyway, so there is no need for your stir-fries or noodles to be cooked in oil. If you’re like me, you’ll like the taste much better and it will open up a whole range of options for healthy take out
•    Rice noodles are best – easiest to digest and lower GI
•    Avoid fried rice (duh) and go easy on the Pad Thai
•    Steamed and baked fish are great options
•    Order a side dish of mixed or steamed vegetables (hold the oil please)

•    Ask for less oil and hope for the best. This almost never works with curry, so you might be on your own here…

The key when ordering is to be very polite and appreciative. Don’t sound like a madam or you’ll end up with more cheese and more oil. This happened to me on occasion until I refined my technique.

The best advice I can give you however, is to watch your portion sizes. Serve yourself the amount you think is reasonable to eat in one sitting and don’t go back for seconds. It’s so easy to have a little bit and then a little bit more and so on. Before you know it, you’ve eaten twice the amount you normally would (remember the pasta baby…).

Also, check out some of the healthy take out options in Sydney, that I mentioned at the bottom of my recent Eat for Warmth in Winter post.

Happy take out!