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Intermittent Fasting, My Day On a Plate + Recipes

Spring has arrived in Sydney, and a fresh and new change is in the air.  Spring is a good season for us to be in the fresh air, take in some vitamin D and witness the awakening of nature.

When it comes to spring eating, I like to keep it light and fresh so with that being said, today I'm sharing my "Day on a Plate"- Intermittent Fasting style and including some delicious recipes.

If you’re worried that intermittent fasting may look like drinking endless amounts of celery or beet juice, there's no need to worry. You may be surprised by how many delicious foods you can eat while doing intermittent fasting. So, that’s why I’m sharing a sneak peek at my intermittent fasting day on a plate to inspire you, just in case you'd like to give it a try.

As you probably already know from reading my blog, I’m a little gut health obsessed. After tackling some personal health issues, healing my digestive system was key to helping me get my health back on track. Once my gut lining started to repair itself and my gut flora became balanced, every aspect of my health improved. 

One of the things I learnt through this experience was that the digestive system, like you and I, sometimes needs a little rest to function optimally; this is where intermittent fasting comes in.  

Most people who want to try an intermittent fasting approach are;

  • Tired of feeling tired
  • Keen to hop off the diet rollercoaster for good
  • Eager to lose weight and keep the weight off
  • Wanting to improve their gut health
  • Desiring to rev up their metabolism
  • Ready to have more vitality and improvement in their day to day energy levels

If any of the above sound like you, then you might like to consider intermittent fasting. If you’re looking to dive right into intermittent fasting (IF), check out my life-changing fast your way to wellness online program here. I've also written a book with lots of information, meal planners and delicious IF recipes called Fast Your Way to Wellness.

I practice intermittent fasting to give my digestive system some well-needed TLC. Before you panic and hit the red x at the top of your screen, intermittent fasting doesn’t mean you have to stop eating altogether, deprive yourself of food or starve. Intermittent fasting is simply eating less and focusing on nutrient-rich and easy to digest foods.   *And, a big exhale from the crowd.

I follow the 5:2 method, where I eat fewer calories two days a week, but various fasting methods are available that can suit your unique needs and lifestyle. As a guide, the daily total calorie intake on fasting days should be around 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. But there are other IF protocols where calorie consumption is higher. Just do what works for you and find your own number.

When it comes to  breakfast, I usually make...

Breakfast  

Layered Blueberry Pistachio Parfait

In a hurry? Not a worry. The parfait can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for 4 hours or overnight for the chia seeds to reach full volume. It fills you up and keeps you energised which is helpful when doing (IF). This recipe comes in at 202 calories per serve.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • stevia, to taste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons black chia seeds
  • 310 g (11 oz/2 cups) blueberries
  • 20 pistachio nut kernels, optional
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 lime, optional

 Method:

In a medium bowl, mix the coconut cream, lime juice and stevia.

Add the chia seeds and stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.

Take half the blueberries and distribute them evenly between four glasses.

Distribute the coconut cream mixture evenly between the glasses. 

 Add another layer of blueberries to each glass. 

Top each with five pistachio kernels and a pinch of lime zest, if using.

Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate for 30 minutes to set, then serve. 

Supercharged Tip: For juicier blueberries, place them in a small saucepan with two tablespoons of water and cook for 1–2 minutes over low heat until they start to soften. 

Drink Throughout the Day

By choosing to intermittent fast, you give your body the gift of healing, regenerating and detoxifying, so you’ll need to drink adequate fluids to help out these processes. Aim to drink at least 2L of water during the day.

Some of my favourite ways to increase your water intake include:

  • Bringing a bottle of filtered water with you wherever you go.
  • Sipping on herbal tea throughout the day.
  • Infusing your water with mint, berries, cucumber or whatever else tickles your fancy to make you want to drink more water. 

Lunch

At lunchtime I usually go for a protein based meal...

Minty Zucchini Fritters

Makes 8

To get your metabolism going, these fritters are wonderfully light, delicious, and high in nutrients and thermogenic ingredients such as chilli and paprika. They’re gluten-free, and the addition of mint also makes them very soothing on the digestive system. Make a batch before your fasting day, then warm one up in the oven for lunch. Each fritter is 103 calories.

Ingredients:

  • 405 g (14 1/4 oz/3 cups) grated zucchini (courgette)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 15 g (1/2 oz/1/4 cup) chopped mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
  • 155 g (5 1/2 oz/1 cup) brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil or coconut oil spray

Method:

Using your hands, squeeze any excess liquid from the zucchini, then put it in a large bowl. 

Add the chives, mint, chilli, paprika, lime zest and juice, and eggs. Stir to combine. 

In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Heat a few drops of coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat, then drop heaped tablespoons of batter into the pan. 

Cook on each side for 3–5 minutes, or until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Dinner is generally a veggie heavy meal with lots of flavour.  I tend to eat earlier around 5pm or 6pm, then have breakfast later the next day.

Dinner

Sweet Sicilian Caponata

Caponata is a glorious Sicilian dish that consists of eggplant, other vegetables, celery, olives and capers in a divine sauce. It’s the perfect dish to round out a fasting day and weighs in at 138 calories per serving. 

Serves 2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 350 g (12 oz) eggplant (aubergine), cut into dice
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) filtered water, plus extra as needed
  • 1 small zucchini (courgette), cut into dice
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • a small handful of green olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. 

Add the eggplant and cook for 5–6 minutes, or until soft. 

Add the water, a little at a time, to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan.

While the eggplant is cooking, put the zucchini, celery, onion and tomato in a saucepan with a large splash of filtered water. 

Cook for 15–20 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Add the cooked eggplant with the capers, olives, apple cider vinegar and thyme, then cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve topped with basil and pepper. If you’re ready to take the fasting leap, but still a little sceptical about the benefits of intermittent fasting, I’ve got your back! Research studies show intermittent fasting can;

  • Reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol
  • Reduce inflammation and heightened blood pressure
  • Reduce free radical damage
  • Increase fat burning and your metabolic rate
  • Improve the bacteria in your gut
  • Lower your blood glucose and normalise insulin levels
  • Normalise ghrelin (the hunger hormone) for better appetite control   

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me! 

Not only does my Fast Your Way to Wellness program include delicious healing recipes like the ones above, but it also contains critical tools to show you how to implement intermittent fasting and self-care routines into your weekly life. 

Over the six-week plan, you’ll discover:

  • What your cravings mean and how to knock them back.
  • Self-care practices that work.
  • How to practice portion control.
  • My tips on cleaning out your pantry and enjoy foods that benefit your health without restriction.
  • How to re-wire your brain for complete wellness. 

And so much more!  

If you’re ready to heal your gut, brain and body and give it time to reboot and recover, head here to join Fast Your Way to Wellness.

Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? What’s your favourite method and did it help you? Let me know your experiences in the comments below.

How to Level Up Your Energy and Stay Motivated Plus a One Pan Salmon with Greens

Does this sound familiar? 

Your third alarm for the morning goes off. You feel groggy and have a dull headache. 

Why? Well, you ended up going to bed later than you had anticipated, thanks to that new show you’re hooked on (yes, Netflix, I’m still watching. Don’t judge me!), and now, you’re suffering the consequences. Your brain feels foggy, your body aches all over, and you feel like you’re running on empty. You roll out of bed and head straight to your local to pick up your coffee (extra strong, please!) and something sugary to get you going. And there it is, that sweet, yet momentary, relief.

Then, a couple of hours later, you feel that mental and physical exhaustion start to creep in, so you dive straight into another coffee and munch on something deliciously sweet. 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Most of us think having low energy levels and feeling tired are standard parts of life. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they’re not, and the good news is that they don’t need to be.

Let’s uncover why you may have low energy levels and strategies to help boost your energy levels and up your motivation naturally. 

Drivers of Low Energy:

  1. Poor Sleep 

Let’s start with the lowest hanging fruit: poor sleep.  

Poor quality sleep, combined with a short amount of time spent asleep, is one of the biggest culprits behind low energy levels. If you’re not sleeping deeply or for a long enough time, your circadian rhythm, or sleep/wake cycle, which regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness, will be disturbed, causing low energy levels.1

  1. Elevated Stress

Chronic fatigue and decreased energy levels can cause prolonged stress.2 In 2017-2018, an estimated 2.4 million Australians reported high or very high levels of psychological stress, which may explain why everyone at work is complaining about being tired.3

  1. Imbalanced Gut Bacteria

The gut microbiota regulates several processes in the body, including the absorption and digestion of nutrients; this plays a significant role in sustaining energy levels.4 So, things that impact the balance of the gut microbiota, such as broad-spectrum antibiotics, can dysregulate the gut and disturb normal energy levels. 

  1. An Inflammatory Diet and Caffeine

Excess dietary consumption of foods high in fat and refined carbohydrates may alter sleep quality and quantity, leading to low energy levels.5

Ways to Up Your Energy:

  1. Enhance Your Sleep

Sure, poor quality sleep is associated with low energy levels, but it’s also linked to weight gain, hormonal dysregulation, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and reduced overall well-being.6

Here are some of my simple own sleeping tips: 

  • Set a consistent bedtime and wake time.
  • Create a bedtime routine to prime your body to help you fall asleep.
  • Sleep in a completely dark, cool and quiet room.
  • Expose yourself to bright light, preferably the sun, as soon as you rise.  
  1. Try Exercise Snacking

If you’re tired, the last thing you may feel like doing is an exercise class, but the research shows that low to moderate activity may be just what you need to increase energy and reduce fatigue.7 If you’re low on energy, you may want to skip the HIIT class and choose something like a light jog, brisk walk, Pilates or yoga class. 

So, what’s exercise snacking? Exercise snacking is a promising strategy where someone breaks down exercise into short bouts performed a few times a day.8 Doing ten squats while you wait for the kettle to boil or going for a few walks around the block a day are just two simple examples of exercise snacks.

  1.     Manage Your Stress

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (if so, hello! I’m glad you’re here! Fancy a cup of tea?), I’m sure you’ve experienced some level of stress over the last few years. Unfortunately, we know that experiencing high amounts of stress for an extended period can lead to many health consequences. 

Some of my favourite ways to reduce stress are:

  • Taking a few deep breaths.
  • Moving your body
  • Eating nourishing foods.

For more tips on ways to instantly destress, click here.

  1. Fulvic Humic Acid

In Ayurveda, the Indian traditional medicine system, they use fulvic acid as a health rejuvenator. It holds adaptogen qualities, which means it helps the body adapt to stress. I drop Fulvic Humic Concentrate (or, as the cool kids call it, FHC) into my water daily; it promotes mental health, enhances gut healing, and supports the integrity of the gut lining.9

  1. Eliminate Energy Robbers

Be warned: this is the point no one wants to hear, but it’s one of the most important.

I know when you’re tired, you’re likely to grab that cup of coffee and a sugary snack for some energy, and sure, that will give you a quick energy boost; however, the research shows that a few hours later, you’ll have less energy than before your treat!10

I feel more vibrant since cutting out coffee several years ago, but I know that cutting out coffee altogether isn’t for everyone. 

So, if you do want to continue your sugar or caffeine hit, and you don’t experience too many adverse reactions, I recommend the following: 

  • Keep to one coffee a day before midday. 
  • If you’re consuming a higher in sugar food, add a quality source of protein to slow down a possible blood sugar spike. 
  1. Foods to Eat

So, if high-sugar and caffeine food and beverages are a no-go, what can you eat? Well, unless you’re intermittent fasting, which you can find out more about here, I recommend consuming three regular meals a day with plenty of healthy protein, fats and lots of salad. This will help keep you satiated and keep your energy stable. Plus, vegetables deliver vital nutrients that support balanced blood sugar for regulated energy levels. 

  1. Regular Hydration

Here’s a simple thought: are you drinking enough water? Water is essential for maintaining blood volume and transporting nutrients throughout the body. Aim to consume around 2L of water a day, and add one glass of water for every cup of coffee, caffeinated tea or alcohol you drink. 

  1. Watch Out for Nutrient Deficiencies

If you’ve been struggling with low energy, it may be a good idea to get some basic blood testing done to see if a nutrient deficiency is the underlying cause of your fatigue. 

Some important markers to ask your healthcare practitioner to check include:

  • Iron 
  • Complete blood count
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Thyroid panel 

One of my favourite nourishing meals that will elevate your energy is this one-pan salmon with greens. It’s so clean and pure in flavour, and one of my ideal energy giving protein sources, both for its health benefits and its luxuriousness when presented simply.

This pan-fried salmon with asparagus, fresh herbs and sweet tomatoes is a lovely, fresh and incredibly easy lunch or dinner.  Seek out wild- caught salmon for its superior quality and flavour. 

One Pan Salmon with Greens

{ SERVES 1 } 

  • 40 g (11/2 oz) butter or 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed and for drizzling 
  • 1 x 150–180 g (51/2–61/4 oz) salmon fillet or cutlet, skin on 
  • 6 large sage leaves
  • 6 asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed 
  •  large handful baby English spinach leaves 
  • 8 small tomatoes, halved if large 
  • handful mint leaves sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon (optional) 

Method:

  • Heat the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the salmon, skin side down for a fillet, and the sage leaves, then cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Turn the salmon over, add the asparagus, and fry the other side for 2 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
  • Remove the sage from the pan once it is crispy and the asparagus when cooked through, with brown patches but not burnt. Add the spinach and tomatoes to the pan with a little extra butter if needed (but there should be enough pan juices).
  • Meanwhile, tear the mint leaves and spread them on a plate. Top with the tomatoes, drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt.
  • Add the salmon, spinach and asparagus, and squeeze lemon juice over the top, if using.
  • Garnish with the fried sage leaves.

No matter the cause of your low energy levels, enhancing your diet, adding in more movement, and reducing stress will always benefit your life.

I’d love to know – what will you do today to improve your energy levels? Lee x

15 Natural Immune-Boosting Foods to Add to Your Diet

Your immune system is what protects you against nasties like bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and even pollution. It’s a complex system of various cells, organs and proteins that all work together to give you front-line defense to battle invaders.

Your body’s immune system has two main parts. The innate immune system, which you’re born with, and the adaptive immune system, which you develop over time as your body is exposed to the world around you.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that causes COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is considered a novel – or new – pathogen. That means that your body’s adaptive immune system isn’t able to battle it alone if you’re unvaccinated. However, having a solid innate immune system is critical, vaccinated or not, as it will help avoid severe symptoms. Bolster it with the correct diet, including superfoods and natural supplements, like CBD products derived from hemp plants, to give your body the best fighting chance.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to 15 immune-boosting foods and supplements that you need to immediately start including in your diet.

1. Garlic: According to research from the University of Copenhagen, garlic contains sulfurous molecules capable of inhibiting the defense mechanism of bacteria. It has also traditionally been used as an antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal agent.

2. Yogurt: Plain yogurt is excellent for you, thanks to the vitamins, protein and probiotics it contains. A great source of lactobacillus, this probiotic will help improve gut health and bolster your immune system as a result.

Sautéed Scallops with Mushrooms and Spinach

3. Spinach: This is a versatile leafy green that you can eat in salads, lightly steamed and add to smoothies. It’s rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, increasing your immune system’s infection-fighting ability.

4. Papaya: This sweet, soft fruit hails from Central America but is now grown in tropical regions worldwide. It’s a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin E, all essential antioxidants. In addition, the fiber is good for gut health and the folic acid in papaya converts potentially harmful homocysteine into less harmful amino acids.

5. Lobster: This delicious gift from the ocean is rich in zinc, which is great for boosting immune cells’ effectiveness. Best prepared in salted boiling water, be sure not to overcook your lobster as it will become tough and chewy.

6. Oysters: These shellfish are high in zinc like lobsters. They also contain selenium, a potent antioxidant that helps lower oxidative stress in your body. That means lower inflammation and increased immune response.

Red Capsicum and Hazelnut Pesto

7. Bell Peppers: Did you know bell peppers contain more vitamin C than most citrus fruits? That’s good news since vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that is involved in microbial defense.

8. Chicken: Chicken is a lean protein that will help boost your immune system in a heart-healthy way. There’s a good reason why chicken soup is so popular when we’re sick and need extra comfort. It also contains arginine, which helps with healing functions and fighting infection.

9. Almonds: A great addition to any diet, almonds are packed with vitamin E that will protect cells in your body from damage. That vitamin E is building a more robust immune system! Almonds are available raw, roasted, in nut butters and even as almond milk, giving you many ways to add them to your diet.

Bohemian Baked Vegetable Bowl

10. Hemp: The hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, has been used by various cultures worldwide for thousands of years. One specific derivative, cannabidiol (CBD), is being researched for its anti-inflammatory effects and benefits for the immune system. CBD can be added to your diet through simple-to-take CBD gummies or as CBD drops in your morning coffee or smoothie.

11. Ginger: This potent root vegetable is renowned for its flavor and ability to spice up an otherwise bland dish. Ginger has numerous health benefits, including bolstering immune response due to antioxidant activity and the stimulation of probiotics in the gut of those who eat it regularly.

12. Matcha: This specially ground green tea powder originated in Japan. This warm drink has been widespread and regularly consumed for thousands of years. In addition to providing the drinker with a slight caffeine boost, it is also rich in antioxidants which may reduce the damage done to cells in the body due to free radicals. Rich in catechins, matcha is being researched for its ability to combat metabolic disorders and boost immune health.

13. Turmeric: Best known in its bright yellow spice form, turmeric starts its life as a root much like ginger. It also contains high amounts of curcumin, which aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions. It can be incorporated into the food you eat or taken as a supplement in capsule form.

14. Kefir: You might not be familiar with this fermented milk drink, made from kefir grains which are a mesophilic symbiotic culture. This drink’s probiotic nature has been studied for its ability to modulate the immune system’s ability to suppress infections from viruses like Zika, hepatitis C and influenza.

15. Citrus Fruit: A class immune booster, popular citrus fruits include lemon, grapefruit, limes and, of course, oranges. But there are many others like pomelos, yuzu and sudachi, which are cultivated in various parts of the world. Whether eaten whole or as a juice, citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C and folate, essential to healthy immune cells and reducing inflammation.

Other Ways to Stay on Top of Viruses

You indeed are what you eat, and a healthy diet is important, but other measures can ensure you keep a healthy body. Additionally, taking precautions, so you don’t introduce the coronavirus into your system to begin with, is a great idea. We recommend the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly and use a high quality hand sanitizer that doesn’t dry out your skin.
  • Wear a mask when in public, especially while in enclosed or crowded spaces.
  • Get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise or activity per day.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of clean, filtered water.
  • Avoid things that will damage your immune system like junk food, smoking cigarettes and alcohol.

Ten Ways to Find Light and Hope in Challenging Times + Recipes 

It’s been an incredibly challenging year for many. We’ve been thrown many curveballs in both our business and personal lives. For some, it feels a bit like a game of dodgeball that never ends.

So, today, I’m sharing some simple daily practices and rituals that when I'm feeling in a frazzle, lift my spirits and support my mind and body in the hope that they may just do the same for you.

Before I dive in, I'd love to draw your attention to a couple of quotes that have been inspiring me lately. 

Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle says this: 

“This moment that humanity is living through can be considered a door or a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the door is yours. If you consume information 24 hours a day, with negative energy, constantly nervous, with pessimism, you will fall into this hole. But if you take the opportunity to look at yourself, to rethink life and death, to take care of yourself and others, you will go through the door. Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual home. When you take care of yourself, you take care of others at the same time"

You can read more of the quote here.

For many of us who are in lockdown in states across Australia, our freedoms have been compromised, the ability to see extended family and friends, travel outside our local government areas and live our usual lives has been taken away. 

I have found Vedic meditation to very helpful in these times, my teacher Anna Young Ferris says "Freedom, from a Vedic perspective, is seen from a much deeper viewpoint and true freedom is actually none of these things. True freedom is our natural state of bliss, beyond the identification with our physical body and our mental tendencies, thoughts and the drama". For more about Vedic meditation, here is a free online intro talk.  

Freedom can be as simple as switching off the news and social media, not buying into social pressures, respecting the choices of others with compassion, remaining in a state of balance and equanimity no matter what the external circumstances are and being ok living in uncertainty.

When times are difficult both externally and internally, I have found creating a self-care toolbox to dive into when needed can be helpful. I’d love to know what’s in your toolbox and what’s helping you lift your spirits right now? If we share these things collectively, we can help bring light into dark times. 

Here are ten things that I include in my self-care toolbox that can help in challenging times. I hope that they may help or resonate with you. 

  1.     Tick off Your Values Daily

This year I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I value. If I tick off my values every day, I know I’m on the right track to living a life that inspires and excites me.

My top three values are:

  1.   Health (I know, how original?). I tick off my health value by moving my body and eating nourishing meals, and getting enough sleep. 
  2.   Personal development. I tick off personal growth through daily Vedic meditation and reading things that inspire me. 
  3.   Connection. I foster my relationships through speaking to friends or family members every day. I also make sure to listen to and support my friends during this time. Today is Are you ok day?, which serves as a gentle reminder to regularly check in with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to make sure they are ok. 

What are your values, and how can you integrate them into your daily routine? Maybe yours include creativity, balance, truth, faith, kindness, ambition, or trust? 

Whatever your values may be, think about one thing you can do that aligns with your three highest values daily. While it seems relatively simple, if you don’t do anything but just tick off these three things each day, you know that you’re using the tools you have to live a life aligned with your values. Anything else is just a bonus.

  1.     Have a Morning Routine 

I’m not so strict with what goes into my morning routine, but it usually includes: 

  • Vedic Meditation

If you’ve read this blog here, you’ll know that I love meditation; it’s helped me through some of my most challenging times. Meditation isn’t about stopping my thoughts, becoming a monk, or levitating (although that does sound pretty good to me!). It’s about dropping into the present moment. Meditation has had a profound impact on my mental health, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.  

  • Movement 

Whether it’s a walk with my dog, online yoga class, movement is essential to get my energy going, especially in the morning. Maybe for you, it’s a walk in nature, a swim in the ocean or simply a stretch.

  • Other Morning Routine Features

I also love breath-work, journaling, reading a book, and listening to an inspiring podcast. 

  1.     Create a Schedule 

It can be tempting to roll straight out of bed, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and do work in your pyjamas the whole day, but creating some sort of schedule will excel you in terms of productivity and make you feel better.

So, I recommend you:

  • Get dressed as if you’re going to work.
  • Set yourself a start time and end time.
  • Write the three most crucial things you have to do each day. 
  • Prepare your meals and snacks the night before.
  • Take a lunch break.

  • Stock up on your favourite drinks. I’ve been making a big batch of my Turmeric Toddy to sip on all day. And I make this Lockdown Gut Immunity smoothie daily, it's got all the rainbow colours and lots of health benefits too.
  • End your lunch break with a walk around the block.
  • End your day with the third space.
  1.     Invest in the Third Space 

 Hang on, the third what? 

The third space is the transitionary space between work and home life, and it allows us to move between the two. Usually, this space is the drive or ride home from work. However, when you’re sleeping, living and working in the same room, it can be challenging to create a third space, making it hard to move out of work mode and into home mode.

Some of my favourite ways to move into the third space are:

  • Take a dance break to your favourite song.
  • Take a shower and wash off the workday.
  • Go for a walk when you finish work.
  • Do a micro meditation.
  • Put your work stuff away. (This one really helps!)
  1.     Boundary Setting 

 While the term boundaries gets thrown around a lot, many of us don’t know how to set clear boundaries.

If you need some help, think about your boundaries with the following:

  • When do you work, and when is it time to switch off?
  • What’s your relationship like with your phone? Is there a time at night that you should turn it off?
  • How about social media? 
  • When do you connect with your people? Is it at a time that works for you, or do you take calls midday when you get a phone call? 

Regardless of what your boundaries are, it’s essential to write them out and aim to stick to them to avoid any possible feelings of resentment, conflict or anxiety.

  1.     Enjoy the Simple Pleasures

Connecting with nature and living in alignment with it is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It helps put things into perspective, activates your parasympathetic nervous system response (that’s your rest and digest system) and clears the mind. Some ways to connect with nature are;

  • Gardening: Plant a tree! Getting my green thumb on is one of my favourite ways to connect with nature. Head here for the 411 on growing your own veggies. I also just ordered and put together two new vegepods and planted them out for spring. I've planted edible greens, lettuces, spinach, rocket, kale, cucumber, basil, sage, coriander and capsicum. Roll on spring and summer greens!

  • Grounding: Do you remember the feeling of having the sand or grass in between your toes as a kid? It’s pure bliss. Little did seven-year-old you know, grounding or earthing can increase feelings of alertness and energy. Why not try it today?
  • Ocean swimming: if you’re near an ocean, jump in! Swimming is excellent for the immune system and is completely rejuvenating. Plus, it’s the ultimate mood booster. 
  • Becoming the conscious observer: learning to witness events and feelings without identifying or judging them is crucial in becoming an observer and not getting caught up in emotions. Becoming an observer is key to turning on your inner flashlight. Maybe go for a walk in nature or to a nearby park and tune into the sounds of the birds, the rustling of the trees, the sound of the earth underfoot. I promise you, you'll feel better for it.
  1.     Declutter Your Space

If I weren’t a clinical nutritionist or author, I would be a Marie Kondo-er. There is nothing I love more than a good old spring clean. I do a wardrobe clean-out every few months you can find my tips on this here.

But perhaps, maybe it’s time to declutter your digital space.

You could try the following:

  • Clean out your computer or phone and delete the things you don’t use or need anymore.
  • File everything in a way that serves you.
  • Delete any paid subscription services you don’t use (I mean, who needs five streaming services?). 

  1.     Cook Meals that Nourish You 

As I’m not a professional declutterer and food is a passion, my favourite ways to live with more joy and lightness is to cook meals that make me feel (and others when not in lockdown) good. 

  • Chocolate and Coconut Roughs: we all need something sweet now and then, and who could argue with chocolate’s antioxidant benefits (not me, that’s for sure!). My Chocolate and Coconut Roughs are a crowd favourite (and by a crowd, I mean me, because, well, #lockdownlife)
  • Antioxidant-Rich Salad: nourish yourself from the inside out with this Antioxidant-Rich Salad

  1. Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side 

Life isn’t predictable; there are many ups and downs. These ups and downs can make it hard to keep the faith, and that’s okay; it’s part of being human. Having a spiritual belief or connection with something greater than you, whether that’s God, community, the universe, can help put things into perspective and help you lean into trust. 

You don’t need to have blind faith; a spiritual practice for you might look more like being in conversation with the universe or God. Trusting in the spiritual is primarily the work of creating a connection with something greater than yourself.

There are lots of ways to create a conversation with your spiritual side.

I recommend trying:

  • Closing your eyes and simply breathing
  • Meditating with a mantra
  • Praying
  • Honouring your intuition
  • Spending time in solitude
  • Writing down your thoughts

It’s easier to find trust in something bigger than you when you’re doing your part, not just patiently waiting for things to improve.  

10. Exercise your Creative Muscles 

 A fun way to ignite your light is to exercise your creativity. When you do this, remember that it’s more important to enjoy the process than worry about how the outcome looks. 

Some of my favourite ways to exercise creativity are:

  • Writing poetry
  • Painting
  • Taking up pottery 
  • Sewing
  • Knitting – I’m currently knitting Red Cross Trauma Teddies for my local Red Cross. You can get involved here.
  • Colouring in

One of the biggest challenges of being alive is witnessing the injustices of the world and not allowing them to consume our light. When we are guided by intuition and learn to tune into our inner guidance, we can be true to ourselves and live from a place of gratitude.

What I have found is that it's important to look at ourselves honestly and check for negative or dark spots, traumas, or parts of our lives that we keep hidden and then address them in a way that is most comfortable for you, that may be by speaking to a friend, a family member, a medical professional. 

Letting go of fears or narratives that are holding us back, means we can look at the world with a different perspective. One where we can start to live with more lightness and compassion and move towards self love and self-reflection. Living from this place, rather than from pain or fear, opens us up to evolving into the best versions of ourselves, and it’s from this place that we can help others.

It's when we live in the light that personal and planetary transformation can occur.

I would love to know how you are finding light and hope at the moment? 

Let me know in the comments below! xx

COVID-19 Vaccine Protocol

Yes, you read that title correctly. *Cue a protest in the comments section. *

But seriously, your body is truly incredible. Every single day, your immune system fights off hidden bacteria, viruses, and parasites to keep you safe. 

Regardless of how strong your immune system is, it won’t always be able to stop you from getting sick; that’s where traditionally, vaccines have come in. I believe everyone is entitled to their own choices, and I’m not here to judge, but whether you’re pro or anti-vax, the truth is, vaccines are here to stay, so it’s essential to be across what they are and how they work, that way you can make informed choices and decide what is best for you. You can use this protocol whether you are vaccinated or not the choice is up to you.

What is a vaccine, and what does it do to the body?

A vaccine is a biological product that induces an immune response to protect the body against infection and disease. There are a variety of vaccines that work in different ways. 

What are the different COVID-19 vaccines available, and how do they work?

COVID-19 has urged the scientific community to find solutions quickly. Mostly, the technologies used to create these vaccines have been around for several years. Here are some of the more common vaccines you might have heard of broken down simply.

AstraZeneca (viral vector type)

AstraZeneca is a modified, low-pathogenic virus that functions as a vector to shuttle pathogenic antigens into host cells, inducing an immune response against the target pathogen. In this case, the target pathogen is SARS-CoV-2.1

Pfizer (mRNA type)

Pfizer is a nucleic acid-based vaccine consisting of mRNA sequences that help proteins in the body induce an immune response and code for a COVID-specific antigen.

The cells use the instructions contained in the RNA to produce the spike protein (SARS-CoV-2). Immune cells recognise the spike protein as foreign and initiate an immune response against it. 

The data indicates that Pfizer is up to 90% effective by day 21, reducing COVID-19 infections and decreasing symptom severity.3 However the latest research shows that the effects of waning immunity may be beginning to show in Israel and more time and investigation is needed.

Moderna (mRNA type)

Moderna has just been approved in Australia, and Dolly Parton donated $1 million to help fund it, so you know it must be good. Like Pfizer, Moderna is a synthetic mRNA vaccine. It uses a genetic code that triggers the production of the coronavirus’s protein in the body, which helps immune cells fight it.3

Novavax (sub unit protein type)

Coronavirus is studded with spike proteins that it uses to enter human cells. The Novavax uses recombinant nanoparticle technology, which teaches the immune system to make antibodies to the spike protein. So, if someone were to receive Novavax and then get exposed to the virus, the antibodies would lock onto the spike proteins, and coronavirus won’t be able to enter cells, blocking the infection.12

In one clinical trial, adult participants conferred over 89% protection against COVID-19 after two doses of the Novavax vaccine.12

Johnson & Johnson (viral vector type)

Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine, where a vector enters the cells in the body and uses the cell’s machinery to produce a spike protein. The cells then display the spike protein on its surface, and the immune system recognises it doesn’t belong there. This triggers the immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. In the end, the body learns how to protect itself against future infection. 

Unfortunately, Johnson & Johnson is only 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in clinical trials.13 It did, however, prevent hospitalisation and death for people who did get sick.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Side effects are common with any vaccination. Most adverse effects associated with these vaccines have been transient, lasting up to 72 hours. They include pain at the injection site, headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains.4

You may have heard, AstraZeneca has been linked to blood clots (thrombosis) and low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).11 While the risk of either of these is low, it is estimated to be higher in those under 60. 

If you are unsure and want to find out more about the possible risks of vaccinations, VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) records and investigates adverse effects. You can read more about it here.

I recommend speaking to your doctor to find out what is most suitable for you, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions.

What can you do to protect your body before, during, and after the vaccine? 

If you choose to vaccinate, supporting your immune system through specific practices, such as a healthy diet, can enhance the efficacy of a vaccine and reduce your chances of experiencing potential side effects. 

The Weeks Prior: 

To stay well, actively supporting your immune system is essential. Optimising your physical and psychological health every day is the single best thing you can do to help your immune system before a vaccine. 

Gut Microbiome

The state of the gut microbiome can impact the immune system’s response to COVID-19. The research indicates that adverse reactions to the vaccine can be due to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.5 So, before you receive the vaccine, support your gut health as much as possible. Head here for a gut health 101.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods

While there’s not enough research to indicate that a nutrient-rich diet will make the vaccine more effective, in general, eating a nutritious diet supports the immune system. Focusing on increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods is vital for helping the immune system thrive. Here’s the 411 on inflammation. 

The Day Before: 

As a qualified clinical nutritionist, one of the most regular questions I’m asked about in my clinic is whether there is a specific protocol for vaccinations. 

My COVID-19 Vaccine Protocol can help prepare your body for any potential side effects. If you choose to go down this road, I recommend implementing the following;

1.     Stay Hydrated 

It’s no secret that hydration is important for your health. Natural side effects of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps, which are also common side effects of the vaccine. By avoiding dehydration, you can help reduce these side effects from occurring. Aim for eight glasses of water a day, and add one more for every cup of coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated tea.  

2.     Increase Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an integral role in regulating immune function and can help neutralise infections by stimulating white blood cells.6-7 Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher levels of bodily inflammation and fewer antibodies to fight infection, which may exacerbate adverse reactions to the vaccine. 

The best way to increase your vitamin D intake is through spending time in the sun. You can also obtain vitamin D from salmon, egg yolks, sardines, and mushrooms that have been exposed to natural sunlight. I recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested to assess whether supplementation is necessary. 

3.     Prioritise Sleep and Rest

While the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of hitting the hay before the COVID vax, short sleep duration before other vaccinations have proven to result in lower antibody responses to the vaccine, making it less effective.8 Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep before the vaccine. My Pumpkin Almond Bake is mood-lifting and sleep-enhancing, making it a perfect side dish to try the night before vax-day.   

4.     Manage Your Stress

Stress is a no-go when it comes to preparing for your vaccine. While acute stress impacts the liver, which affects our mRNA expression, chronic stress impacts the microbiome, leading to less effective vaccine metabolism.8 Head here for ten of my favourite ways to manage stress.

5.     Zinc is Zinc-credible! 

Zinc is one of the most underrated immune-boosting minerals on the planet. It’s involved in several aspects of the immune system, helping to guide the normal development of immune cells.9 It can also improve the metabolism of the vaccine. 

Unfortunately, zinc is deficient in most modern diets. Increase your zinc intake by consuming oysters, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, and seeds or supplement if necessary.

6.     Emphasise Omega-3 

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce it by itself and needs to be consumed through the diet. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that work together to fight inflammation, which may help reduce COVID-19 vaccination side effects. Find EPA and DHA in fish, krill and algal oil supplements and oily fish, such as salmon, herring, and sardines. 

Unlike EPA and DHA, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a short-chain acid found in flax, chia, and hemp seeds. ALA is not biologically active and must be converted by the liver into EPA and DHA for the body to use. Unfortunately, this conversion process is relatively inefficient, with approximately 5% for EPA and 3.8% for DHA.10 So, consume ALA-rich foods with EPA and DHA-rich foods. 

7.     Favour Fulvic Humic

Fulvic Humic helps carry nutrients into the cells and makes cell membranes more permeable, which may help in improving the metabolism of the vaccine to improve its effectiveness.14 Fulvic Humic also allows for a higher volume and more usable form of nutrients to enter the body, crucial for replenishing the gut microbiome and immune system. As the vaccine causes immune dysregulation, Fulvic Humic Concentrate is a welcome addition.

Current research indicates that Fulvic Humic is incredibly anti-inflammatory and beneficial for the immune system.14 Dilute up to 3 drops of Fulvic Humic Concentrate 3 times a day in your water bottle for maximum impact. 

After the Vaccine

1.     Win With Water

Ensure you’re well-hydrated to reduce any possible side effects. Aim for at least eight cups of water a day. 

2.     Prioritise Sleep and Rest

The vaccine can trigger fatigue, so if you can, take it easy the day after your vaccine and prioritise rest.8 Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep and watch your stimulant intake. If you want more tips on how to up-level your sleep routine, click here

3.     Nourish your Body

Continue to nourish your body with colourful, anti-inflammatory fruit and vegetables. I know you'll love my antioxidant-rich salad.

4. Quercetin and Vitamin C

Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid) which has promising signs when it comes to symptoms. It's safe and in combination with vitamin C, could aid in improving the severity of vaccine side effects. It displays a broad range of antiviral properties which can interfere at multiple steps of pathogen virulence -virus entry, virus replication, protein assembly- and these therapeutic effects can be augmented by the co-administration of vitamin C15.

For the Second Shot:

Repeat this protocol for the second shot. It typically takes two weeks after the second vaccination for the body to build protection against COVID-19, so focus on hygiene and rest. 

As always, this information is general. I recommend speaking to your healthcare practitioner to help you figure out what’s most suitable for you. 

 

Research

1Rauch S, Jasny E, Schmidt KE, Petsch B. New vaccine technologies to combat outbreak situations. Front Immunol. 2018 Sep 19;9:1963. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01963.

2Zhang C, Maruggi G, Shan H, Li J. Advances in mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases. Front Immunol. 2019 Mar 27;10:594. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00594.

3Mahase E. Covid-19: Israel sees new infections plummet following vaccinations BMJ 2021;372:n338 doi:10.1136/bmj.n338.

4Kaur, S. P., & Gupta, V. (2020). COVID-19 Vaccine: A comprehensive status report. Virus research, 288, 198114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2020.198114

5BMJ 2021;372:n149

6Fisher SA, Rahimzadeh M, Brierley C, Gration B, Doree C, Kimber CE, et al. The role of vitamin D in increasing circulating T regulatory cell numbers and modulating T regulatory cell phenotypes in patients with inflammatory disease or in healthy volunteers: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2019 Sep 24;14(9):e0222313. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222313.

7Manzano-Alonso ML, Castellano-Tortajada G. Reactivation of hepatitis B virus infection after cytotoxic chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar 28;17(12):1531-7. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i12.

8Zimmermann P, Curtis N. Factors that influence the immune response to vaccination. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2019 Mar 13;32(2):e00084-18.: 10.1128/CMR.00084-18.

9Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide. 3rd ed. Sydney (AU): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2010. p. 1037-51.

10Gerster H. (1998). Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 68(3), 159–173. 

11Australia’s Vaccine Agreements. Australian Government Department of Health. 2021. 

12Saddof, J., Gray, G., et al. (2021). Safety and Efficacy of NVX-CoV2373 Covid-19 Vaccine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021, 384.

13Saddof, J., Gray, G., et al. (2021). Safety and Efficacy of Single-Dose Ad26.COV2.S Vaccine against Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021, 384.

14Winkler, J., & Ghosh, S. (2018). Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes. Journal of diabetes research, 2018, 5391014. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5391014

15 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01451/full

How to Eat More Colour + an Antioxidant Rich Salad

Eat the rainbow; it’s one of the first things I recommend when someone sees me in my clinic and one of the most common health tips you’ll probably ever read.  

But before you ask, no, I’m not referring to skittles, M&M’s, or fruit loops (nice try, though). 

What I’m talking about is eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables made of various colours. 

The number one reason I’ll tell you to eat colourfully is that it’ll make your food pictures pop. 

Just kidding (kind of).  

My second reason is that it’s likely that you’re currently not consuming enough fruit and vegetables. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 96% of Australian’s don’t eat enough vegetables!1 While most of us know that vegetables are crucial for a healthy digestive system, they’re also associated with a reduced risk of developing diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. So, focusing on increasing the colours on your plate will inevitably help you eat more fruit and veg. You’re welcome. 

The other reason to start eating more colours is that each colour offers a different health benefit. For example, blue fruits may help protect against heart disease, and orange vegetables are vital for eye health.  

If you want the specifics (I know you do), read what each colour offers and where to get more of it below. 

Blue/Purple 

The deep blues, purples and reds of eggplant and blueberries are brought to you by anthocyanins – a supercharged antioxidant. Anthocyanins are excellent for protecting cells against damage, promoting a healthy heart and sharp memory, and reducing overall bodily inflammation.2

You can increase your blue and purple intake through:  

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Eggplants
  • Figs 
  • Prunes
  • Plums
  • Grapes

BTW you seriously have to try this roasted fig, walnut and goat’s cheese salad

Orange/Yellow 

Carotenoids give our orange and yellow fruit and vegetables their vibrant colour. A well-known carotenoid, called beta-carotene, promotes healthy eyes, supports immune function and is crucial for strong joints and bones. My favourite benefit of beta-carotene is that it protects the skin from sun damage and pollution.3 I know – what can’t it do? You can read more about my love for beta-carotene here. 

To increase your orange and yellow foods, include the below in your diet. 

  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Carrot
  • Corn
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon 
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

Get the recipe for these sweet lemon thyme roasted carrots here.

Green

While all colours offer different health benefits, green vegetables are (not so secretly) my favourite. Green vegetables contain a range of phytochemicals that protect the body from damage, restore vitality, aid tissue healing and provide digestive enzymes. Plus, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli offer an excellent folate source – a nutrient vital for pregnant women to prevent congenital disabilities. 

I also love green broccoli and Brussels sprouts because they’re part of the cruciferous vegetable family, enhancing immune function and assisting liver detoxification.4

Get your greens here: 

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Green cabbage
  • Kale
  • Kiwi fruit 
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Rockmelon 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Spinach
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini

Swap out your noodles for zoodles (zucchini noodles) in my chocolate chilli beef zoodles here.

Red & Pink  

Ever wondered what makes that red tomato of yours so red? It’s because of a natural plant pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that’s great for the heart, improves the skin’s appearance and quality, and supports healthy eyes. Some research indicates that lycopene may even protect against certain cancers.5

Increase your red and pink fruit and vegetables through the following:

  • Apple 
  • Beetroot 
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Capsicum
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon 

My strawberry and chia roll-ups are delicious for kids and adult-like kids. 

White 

I know what you’re thinking – Lee, what are you doing? White isn’t a colour! 

I know that technically white is a shade and not a colour, but I wasn’t going to call this blog – how to eat more colours and shades of white, was I? So, do me a favour and play along for a second 😉

White fruit and veggies support bone health, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and help balance hormones. These guys also contain phytochemicals such as allicin, found in garlic, which has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties.6 They’re worth including in the rainbow conversation.  

Increase your white foods through:

  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Shallots 

My go-to immune booster is this thick and creamy garlic bisque

So, how can you start to eat more colour? 

An excellent way to track your colours is by creating a daily rainbow calendar, where you can tick off when you’ve eaten a specific colour. While this idea is excellent for kids and parents, anyone could find it beneficial. If you prefer, keep it in the notes section of your phone. 

Make a tropical rainbow fruit salad at the beginning of the day to serve up at snack time. You may like to include red apples, green kiwi fruits, yellow bananas, blue blueberries and orange mango. 

Do you love stir fry? Well, next time you’re making one, diversify it by including carrots, broccoli and red onion. 

Make a nourish bowl with deliciously nourishing colours, grains, nuts, and seeds, like my vegan roasted sweet potato with basil pesto and chopped salad.

This colourful lunch idea is so delicious! It's my brand new Antioxidant-rich salad.

Antioxidant-rich salad

Serves 2
 
How to Make It

Place the following in a large baking dish

  • 2 carrots sliced into batons with 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin chopped into cubes with 1/2 tsp cumin and coriander, a sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • 1 zucchini roughly chopped with 1/2 tsp lemongrass and ginger and one tbs tamari
  • Drizzle olive oil on top of all of the veg and season to taste
  • Bake vegetables in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 mins

Whilst the carrot, pumpkin and zucchini is cooking make up the salad with handfuls of Cos lettuce, rocket, or any salad greens you have

  • Add two radishes sliced
  • Add 1/2 cucumber sliced
  • Drizzle with your oil of choice, I used Sacha inchi oil mixed with my Golden Gut Blend 

I’d love to know - how are you going to include more colour into your diet?

Let me know in the comments below.

Lee x 

References

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018 

2Khoo, H. E., Azlan, A., Tang, S. T., & Lim, S. M. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: coloured pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1361779. https://doi.org/10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779

3Schagen, S. K., Zampeli, V. A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 298–307. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.22876

4Guan, Y. S., & He, Q. (2015). Plants Consumption and Liver Health. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 824185. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/824185 

5Story, E. N., Kopec, R. E., Schwartz, S. J., & Harris, G. K. (2010). An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annual review of food science and technology, 1, 189–210. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120

6Bayan, L., Koulivand, P. H., & Gorji, A. (2014). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(1), 1–14.

Mastering Menopause Bundle Offer

If you're experiencing peri-menopause or menopause symptoms and are looking for a natural approach to managing it, I'm sharing a wonderful bundle offer for you today.

Many of my clients struggle with sleep deficiencies, hormone imbalances, hot flushes, irritability and other often unexplained symptoms. We all know menopause happens, but you don't need to just deal with it!

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The Mastering Menopause Bundle has a large amount of up-to-the-minute resources to help you better understand and balance your hormones. It also includes my cookbook Flourish and Nourish Through Menopause which is part of a 6 -week Flourish and Nourish Through Menopause eCourse. The course is run by qualified healthcare practitioners, my good friend and naturopath Belinda Kirkpatrick and myself as a qualified clinical nutritionist. Between us, we’ve helped thousands of women to optimise their health and feel their very best.

In the Mastering Menopause Bundle you'll find a library of fantastic resources that will help you to understand what changes your body is going through, and information to help you address the root causes of your sleep issues. Other symptoms that can be improved are mental health during menopause, skin and hormone health and energy and weight. 

When you buy the Mastering Menopause Bundle, you’ll get access to:

  • 7 eBooks
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The One Thing You Should Be Eating for Your Immune System + a Seedy Loaf Recipe

Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates suggested that all disease begins in the gut, and you know what? I have a gut feeling he was onto something. 

We know the gastrointestinal tract houses almost 70% of the immune system and is impacted by the microbiome, diet, and stress levels.1  

If you’ve ever been stressed about an important meeting or presentation, drank a few too many coffees, and then fallen sick a couple of days before your big moment, you’ll know this to be true (and highly inconvenient!). Science says that stress, along with an imbalanced diet, can trigger inflammation and lead to a cold or flu.  

Luckily, a balanced diet with minimal stress helps reduce inflammation and regulate immunity.  

What can you do to support a healthy immune system?

Along with stress-busting activities that you can read about here, there are plenty of ways you can naturally support your immune system. 

Eating a nourishing and balanced diet is my preferred way to support your immunity. I recommend you focus on functional foods, which act as a form of preventative medicine.2

One of my favourite classes of functional foods is called polyphenols, which naturally support immunity, regulate the gut response, and decrease allergic symptoms.3 Polyphenols are some of the most abundant chemicals in the plant kingdom and are produced by plants as their own medicine to help them protect against stress (how’s that for a bit of iso trivia?).  

Plants also use polyphenols to protect themselves against pests, diseases, and UV light. The healthier, more diverse the soil, the higher the polyphenol number, which is good news for our plants. That’s another vote for plants being grown organically rather than chemically with fertilised soil.

But I know you’re not here to talk about foliage (or, maybe you are. In that case, check out my plant!) 

Green thumbs, unite!

Luckily for us, polyphenols have a similar impact on human health, and, like plants, the healthier the soil (or, in our case, our microbiome), the more polyphenols can be used.   

While polyphenols may sound like a bit of a fancy-schmancy trend, you’re likely sipping on polyphenols right now; they’re not hard to find. Tea, vegetables, and fruit are all rich in polyphenols. Examples of polyphenols are flavonoids found in herbal tea, cacao, chia seeds, ellagitannins in pomegranate and resveratrol found in red wine. 

How can we absorb polyphenols? 

Polyphenols are too big to be absorbed directly by the gut, and our gut can’t break them down into smaller fragments.

So, what can we do? 

Nothing. I just thought I’d share this information with you! 

Thanks for reading the blog; I hope it was worthwhile. 

Just kidding. 

While polyphenols can’t be absorbed in the small intestine, they can travel down to the part of the gut inhabited by trillions of microbes. These microbes can break it down (insert DJ noise here) into smaller absorbable molecules which can enter the bloodstream and exert their health-promoting effects throughout the body.4 Isn’t the body capable of incredible things? 

So, what exactly are these health-promoting effects, you ask. 

Pomegranate is a good source of polyphenols. Indian Chicken with Pomegranate

Health Benefits of Polyphenols

Immunity 

Polyphenols are antioxidants that contribute to the prevention of immune diseases.4 Polyphenols promote immunity by removing foreign pathogens to fight infection and bacteria and signal pathways that initiate immune responses.4 Evidence has found that polyphenols are effective in regulating the immune system response, decreasing symptoms of allergic disease, and even inhibiting tumour-related activity.4

Asthma, allergies, and eczema, and related disorders, can be associated with overactive immune cells  and studies indicate that Fulvic Humic Concentrate can act as an anti-inflammatory by reducing the release of pro-inflammatory mediators from cells. 

Gut Health

Polyphenols are excellent for gut health as they modulate bacteria in the gut microbiome. Specific polyphenols can increase or inhibit the growth of particular bacteria, which can change the composition of the gut microbiome and reduce pathogens.5,6 And we know that a balanced digestive system is key to a healthy immune system, so this is the news we needed to hear!  You can also try our Love Your Gut powder or capsules to help balance your digestive micro flora and modulate bacteria. 

Where can you find polyphenols?

The best way to consume polyphenols is through the diet. 

You can find polyphenols in:

  • Chia seeds: get bready for my Chia and Flaxseed Loaf down below! 
  • Nuts: go nuts for my Sweet Spiced Nuts.

  • Turmeric: these delectable fudgey Turmeric Fudge pieces will surprise and delight. 

What else can you do to support the immune system?

  • Eat a variety of plant foods daily and ensure you have enough fibre, as this is required to digest polyphenols. 
  • Prioritise rest and aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night.  
  • Move your body regularly in a way that works for you. 
  • Try to manage your stress levels. 
  • Focus on maintaining hygiene.  

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for: My Chia and Flaxseed Loaf

Chia and Flaxseed Loaf

Makes One Loaf

This is my daily polyphenol hit in the form of a slice of toast. Use it for a blissful open-top sandwiches or a mouthwatering and satisfying toasted sandwich. 

Ingredients

  • 350 g (12 oz/21/3 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) ground flaxseeds
  • 20 g (3/4 oz/1/4 cup) chia seeds
  • 115 g (4 oz/3/4 cup) mixed sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 80 ml(21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) tablespoons additive-free coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or 6 drops stevia liquid
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) filtered water

 Method

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F/Gas 3–4) and grease and flour a 20 x 9 cm (8 x 31/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.
  • Combine the flour, flaxseed, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
  • In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs for about 2 minutes – they should be pale and fluffy.
  • Stir in the apple cider vinegar, butter, coconut milk, maple syrup or stevia and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

This loaf will keep for one week in the fridge or two months in the freezer. 

References

1Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology, 153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x

2M. del Cornò, B. Scazzocchio, R. Masella, and S. Gessani, “Regulation of dendritic cell function by dietary polyphenols,” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 737–747, 2016.

3Sujuan Ding, Hongmei Jiang, Jun Fang, “Regulation of Immune Function by Polyphenols”, Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2018, Article ID 1264074, 8 pages, 2018.https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1264074

4Filosa, S., Di Meo, F., & Crispi, S. (2018). Polyphenols-gut microbiota interplay and brain neuromodulation. Neural regeneration research, 13(12), 2055–2059. https://doi.org/10.4103/1673-5374.241429

5Rastmanesh R. High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chem Biol Interact. 2011;189:1–8.

6Duenas M, Munoz-Gonzalez I, Cueva C, Jimenez-Giron A, Sanchez-Patan F, Santos-Buelga C, Moreno-Arribas MV, Bartolome B. A survey of modulation of gut microbiota by dietary polyphenols. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:850902

Five Herbal Infusions that can Supercharge your Smoothies

If you're a lover of smoothies, but bored with the same old bananas, berries or greens, I've got some great news for you. If you're keen to switch things up and supercharge your nutrition even further, then read on...

I'd love to introduce you to our brand-new resident herbalist and naturopath Sulin Sze who'll be sharing some wonderful information about herbalism and naturopathy.

You can read more about Sulin and her qualifications here.

Over to you Sulin...

Using herbal medicines in your cooking and smoothie making is a simple and fun way to turn your everyday smoothie into a super-healer. So I’m going to introduce you here to my top five healing herbs to use in smoothies, and show you what parts to use and how much. Exciting right?

Everybody can make a herbal infusion. They’re prepared by adding fresh or dried herbs to a liquid like water or milk. Sometimes they’re made with oils as well, but often that’s more as a way of preparing ointments and creams. I use infusions ALL THE TIME (#infusionqueen) in my kitchen, as medicines, in drinks and in foods as well. For example the gluten-free seed loaf below uses a base of Nettle infusion so it’s even richer rich in minerals, vitamins and protein. Sound good?

Read on and I’ll tell you all about Nettle and more.

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019)

One of my favourite ways to use infusions is in smoothies. Simply replace the water or milk in your recipe with a cooled infusion and you’re ready to go. It’s as easy as that!

So let’s look at my top herbs to use in infusions and get you started. I’ll be breaking down the best way to prepare each one in an infusion to maximise your extract quality. Not all herbs like hot water. Some like it cold, some like milk. Anyone interested in learning more on infusion techniques can check out my dedicated infusions webinar here.

In this post we will be exploring different smoothie themes:

  • Boosting your Beauty with Stinging Nettle
  • Boosting your Brains with Ginkgo biloba
  • Healing your Digestive System with Calendula
  • Calming your sweet soul with Chamomile
  • And a glow-inducing Women’s health booster with Shatavari

Now it’s time to ramp up your smoothie repertoire!

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019) Stinging Nettle is great in smoothies, consider adding the fresh herb or an infusion of the dried leaves to your next morning smoothie for a green multivitamin booster.

  1. Beauty with Urtica dioica - Stinging Nettle (leaf)

Benefits: Detoxifying – Antioxidant – Blood Sugar Lowering – Nutrition Boosting

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite nourishing, anti-aging herbs that also happens to cleanse your blood and support healthy blood sugar regulation. It’s Stinging Nettle, and it contains a plethora of vitamins including vitamins A, B, E, C, K and P along with the minerals selenium, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.

It also contains lots of protein (in effect, lots of amino acids) to help you build your neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Along with the ample protein content, the herb contains coumarins, fatty acids, antioxidants that fight free radicals and the amazing quercetin (which is thought to inhibit the activity of elastase and collagenase, enzymes that break down collagen and reduce skin elasticity. And we don’t want that!)

I prescribe Nettle regularly to clients in clinic for a range of conditions from acne, rheumatism and hair loss to pre-diabetes. A 2019 systematic review of nettle in diabetes revealed the herb can assist in control blood sugar levels in type two diabetic patients. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 1.2 million Australian reported having diabetes in 2017/2018 with the condition contributing to 11% of deaths nationwide during that time. Bringing in a herb that fights ageing and helps manage blood sugars is a good thing!

Try adding 1 Tbsp of dried Stinging Nettle leaves to a cup of water. Leave it in the fridge overnight to infuse slowly. No need to use hot water. However, if you’re pressed for time, pop the leaves into hot, boiled water and sit for 15 minutes, then cool in the fridge until you’re ready to make that beauty boosting smoothie.

I recommend Nettle infusion + Spinach or Kale leaves + Pineapple (fresh or frozen) + vitamin C powder + Collagen powder

  1. Brains with Ginkgo biloba - (Ginkgo) leaves

Benefits: Antioxidant – Cognition Boosting – Memory Enhancing

Who wouldn’t love a little more focus, memory and cognition? I’m a full-time parent and worker and I couldn’t live without my Ginkgo! It keeps me clear-headed and helps me get through my daily ‘to do’ list with grace 😊

Herbalists use the leaves of the Ginkgo tree to enhance memory and cognition and to reduce oxidative damage to the brain. So this herb is perfect for a morning smoothie with a cleansing action that might also include celery, greens, chlorophyll and a touch of dates (because well, sweet dates ground the blend and your brain thrives on a little natural sugar in the morning.)

Ginkgo improves brain function by acting as an antioxidant and protecting cell membranes from reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause the breakdown of important neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which play a role in memory and cognition. Depletion of acetylcholine is associated with conditions like Alzheimers and Dementia. High level scientific evidence suggests that Ginkgo is an effective herb in improving cognitive health in Alzheimers and Dementia, and is safe and useful when taken long term (6 months and more).  Infuse 1 Tbsp dried Ginkgo leaves in hot water and steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your smoothie. If you take blood thinning medication, check with your Doctor before taking Ginkgo as it theoretically can slow blood clotting.

Ginkgo infusion with celery, apple, dates and pear

I suggest Ginkgo leaves infusion + celery + apple + chlorophyll + dates in the morning. You could also do celery + apple + dates + pear.

  1. Gut healing with Calendula officinalis (Calendula)

Healing – Lymphatic booster – Anti-inflammatory – Anti-microbial

You really step into the realm of gut healing with you start working with Calendula. This plant is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and mildly anti-microbial, and has a resinous, sweet and warm taste. It’s the perfect soothing addition to any gut smoothie, particularly a sweet one because the quality of sweet has an affinity with the digestive system, which is where we want to send those delicious healing nutrients.

Calendula contains chemicals in its volatile oil that fight bacteria and fungi like Candida albicans (a pathogen that causes thrush). A 2000 study of Calendula on various fungal pathogens demonstrated efficacy similar to standard antibiotics, while a 2016 trial found Calendula cream provided longer term benefits in thrush compared to conventional anti-fungal applications. Other chemicals in the plant like the saponins and flavonoids reduce inflammation and calm the gut lining, as well as supporting healthy immune function.

The flavonoids calm down angry, inflamed and damaged mucous membranes, helping them repair. The lining of the gut is central in gut health for harbouring healthy bacteria and flora, protecting the gut lumen against damage and participating in the exchange of nutrients into and out of the digestive tract. Issues with mucous membranes such as damage or breakage, can translate into conditions like leaky gut, ulcerative colitis and immune dysfunction. Even if you don’t have a gut condition, you can enhance and support your gut health with herbs like Calendula to harness your inner glow.

To make Calendula infusion add 2-3 Tbsp dried flowers or petals to hot boiled water. Cover (to retain the volatile oil) and leave to infuse for 15 – 30 minutes. Then strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your digestive system healing smoothie.

I recommend Calendula flower infusion + strawberry+ cucumber + apple/pear + coconut yoghurt + L-Glutamine powder + your favourite probiotic powder.

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019) I LOVE Chamomile lattes, and what better way to use them than in a super luxurious smoothie the next day! Consider preparing a Chamomile milk before bed to help you sleep, and putting aside half a cup for your smoothie the next morning.

  1. Calming with Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile) flowers

Soothing – Digestion enhancing – Sedative (mild) – Anti-inflammatory

Chamomile is an aromatic hug for the digestive system, so call on it whenever you experience digestive cramps, sluggishness, diarrhoea, nausea, anxiety or stress. The latter can aggravate and trigger digestive symptoms. Herbalists use Chamomile to relieve inflammation and spasm, likely due to the flavonoids and coumarins that the plant contains. Other nutrients this warm and slightly bitter plant provide include vitamin C, iron, zinc and calcium.

However, Chamomile also has a volatile oil that is popular worldwide in topical products for its calming action. (Note: don’t ingest the essential oil or add it to your smoothie.) Other medicinal actions of Chamomile include anti-oxidant, analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-bacterial.

I love Chamomile for its relaxing and digestion-soothing qualities and this is in part due to its magnesium content. So I recommend using Chamomile in an afternoon smoothie, especially good for kids. Use 1 Tbsp of dried Chamomile flowers in hot boiled water, leaving covered to infuse for 15-30 minutes. Strain and then pop in the fridge to cool until you are ready to make your smoothie.

Chamomile is a bitter herb so if you leave it to infuse for more than 30 minutes, use half the amount. If you’re like me and you prefer to luxuriate in your smoothies, then pop 1 Tbsp Chamomile flowers into a saucepan with 250 mL of your favourite gut loving milk (oat, almond, whatever you like) and gently warm on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep covered as much as possible. Strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your smoothie.

I suggest trying Chamomile milk + Banana + Mango + Honey + Yoghurt

  1. Women’s health booster with Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) in milk

Rejuvenating – Women’s Tonic (“Queen of the Herbs” in Ayurveda) – Adaptogen (Adrenal enhancer)

A lot of my clients are women looking to be the best version of their 40 and 50 something selves. I work with them on balancing and boosting hormonal health, particularly in perimenopause and beyond, because by this time of our lives, we’ve often run our adrenals pretty hard. Even if you’re not feeling like you need a booster, you can still enjoy the harmonising benefits of this ancient Ayurvedic herb! I’m talking about Shatavari (translated from the Sanskrit as something like ‘woman with a hundred husbands’). You get the idea!

Shatavari is rich in compounds called steroidal saponins and they have a beneficial effect on steroid hormone health in humans, especially women. Herbalists use Shatavari partly to improve stress response, and is useful in peri-menopause and menopause where women are at a higher risk of anxiety, sleep disturbance, mood swings and depression. Fear not! We have Shatavari.

It’s also rich in plant oestrogens known as isoflavones (think along the lines of soybeans with their beneficial effects in menopause) along with the minerals zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium and selenium. Sounding a bit of a miracle plant so far!

I love so much about Shatavari, and I use it to boost adrenal function, improve hormonal status, reduce the symptoms of depression and support new mums.  A 2011 study revealed that daily use of Shatavari in nursing mothers increased their prolactin (and thus milk production) levels three-fold, proving the ancient use of this herb as a lactation booster. I also love the nutty, sweet taste of this herb which blends superbly in milk with a dash of honey.

I suggest adding 2 tsp of Shatavari powder to 2 cups of milk and warming gently on the stove in a small saucepan. Strain and its ready to drink. Drink one cup if you like, and pop the other cup in the fridge so that it can cool down for your next smoothie. It’s best in the morning and loves a lashing of cinnamon powder on top 😉.

Shatavari milk smoothie with cacao, banana and mango

I suggest trying Shatavari milk + Banana and/or Mango + Avocado + Cacao powder + Collagen powder + Chia seeds

I hope I’ve inspired you to break out into the world of herbalism with your smoothies routine. They are powerful healers and a great example of where simple is best! Enjoy!

X Sulin

Special Offer:

Feeling inspired? Want to take your infusions to the next level? Find out how in “Art of the Infusion” the only webinar that is specifically based on infusion making, at wildmedicineacademy.com bringing together my expert knowledge of herbal medicine, formulating and of course, infusion preparation. www.wildmedicineacademy.com

Research

Bourgeois C, Leclerc ÉA, Corbin C, Doussot J, Serrano V, Vanier JR, Seigneuret JM, Auguin D, Pichon C, Lainé É, Hano C. Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) as a source of antioxidant and anti-aging phytochemicals for cosmetic applications. Comptes Rendus Chimie. 2016 Sep 1;19(9):1090-100.

Semalty M, Adhikari L, Semwal D, Chauhan A, Mishra A, Kotiyal R, Semalty A. A comprehensive review on phytochemistry and pharmacological effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Current Traditional Medicine. 2017 Dec 1;3(3):156-67.

Kianbakht S, Khalighi-Sigaroodi F, Dabaghian FH. Improved glycemic control in patients with advanced type 2 diabetes mellitus taking Urtica dioica leaf extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Lab. 2013 Jan 1;59(9-10):1071-6.

Ziaei R, Foshati S, Hadi A, Kermani MA, Ghavami A, Clark CC, Tarrahi MJ. The effect of nettle (Urtica dioica) supplementation on the glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Phytotherapy Research. 2020 Feb;34(2):282-94.

Adhikari BM, Bajracharya A, Shrestha AK. Comparison of nutritional properties of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) flour with wheat and barley flours. Food science & nutrition. 2016 Jan;4(1):119-24.

Rutto LK, Xu Y, Ramirez E, Brandt M. Mineral properties and dietary value of raw and processed stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.). International journal of food science. 2013 Oct;2013.

Kregiel D, Pawlikowska E, Antolak H. Urtica spp.: Ordinary plants with extraordinary properties. Molecules. 2018 Jul;23(7):1664.

Singh O, Khanam Z, Misra N, Srivastava MK. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): an overview. Pharmacognosy reviews. 2011 Jan;5(9):82.

Chauhan ES, Aishwarya J. Nutraceutical Analysis of Marticaria recutita (Chamomile) Dried Leaves and Flower Powder and Comparison between Them. International Journal of Phytomedicine. 2018;10(2):111-4.

Crane PR, Crane P, von Knorring P. Ginkgo: the tree that time forgot. Yale University Press; 2013 Mar 19.

Cohn R. Ginkgo: The Life Story of the Oldest Tree on Earth. Interview published in Yale Environment, 2013, 360.

Thomsen, M and Gennat, H. Phytotherapy: Desk Reference. Global Natural Medicine; 2009. Australia

Fermino BA, Milanez MC, de Freitas GB, da Silva WC, Pereira RP, da Rocha JB, Bonini JS. Ginkgo biloba L.: Phytochemical components and antioxidant activity. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2015 Oct 15;9(38):950-5.

Alok S, Jain SK, Verma A, Kumar M, Mahor A, Sabharwal M. Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review. Asian Pacific journal of tropical disease. 2013 Apr 1;3(3):242-51.

Sharma A, Sharma DN. A comprehensive review of the pharmacological actions of Asparagus racemosus. Am. J. Pharm. Tech. Res. 2017;7(1).

Gupta M, Shaw B. A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial for Evaluation of Galactogogue Activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research: IJPR. 2011;10(1):167.

Bromberger JT, Kravitz HM, Chang Y, Randolph Jr JF, Avis NE, Gold EB, Matthews KA. Does risk for anxiety increase during the menopausal transition? Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Menopause (New York, NY). 2013 May;20(5):488.

Kulkarni J. Perimenopausal depression–an under-recognised entity. Australian prescriber. 2018 Dec;41(6):183.

Weinmann S, Roll S, Schwarzbach C, Vauth C, Willich SN. Effects of Ginkgo biloba in dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC geriatrics. 2010 Dec;10(1):1-2.

Hashiguchi M, Ohta Y, Shimizu M, Maruyama J, Mochizuki M. Meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba extract for the treatment of dementia. Journal of pharmaceutical health care and sciences. 2015 Dec;1(1):1-2.

Liu H, Ye M, Guo H. An updated review of randomized clinical trials testing the improvement of cognitive function of Ginkgo biloba extract in healthy people and Alzheimer’s patients. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2020 Feb 21;10:1688.

Zhou Y, Zeng R. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on anticoagulation and blood drug level of warfarin in healthy wolunteers. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica. 2011 Aug 1;36(16):2290-3.

Stoddard GJ, Archer M, Shane-McWhorter L, Bray BE, Redd DF, Proulx J, Zeng-Treitler Q. Ginkgo and warfarin interaction in a large veterans administration population. InAMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings 2015 (Vol. 2015, p. 1174). American Medical Informatics Association.

Johansson ME, Sjövall H, Hansson GC. The gastrointestinal mucus system in health and disease. Nature reviews Gastroenterology & hepatology. 2013 Jun;10(6):352.

Kasiram K, Sakharkar PR, Patil AT. Antifungal activity of Calendula officinalis. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2000;62(6):464.

Saffari E, Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi S, Adibpour M, Mirghafourvand M, Javadzadeh Y. Comparing the effects of Calendula officinalis and clotrimazole on vaginal Candidiasis: A randomized controlled trial. Women & health. 2017 Nov 26;57(10):1145-60.

Low Carb Fisherman’s Pie

With Sydney lockdown in full swing and searches for how to lose “COVID kilos” at an all time high, I’ve been keen to make ‘healthier’ versions of my favourite hearty comfort dishes. Speaking of weight, it's important to remember that weight is bound to fluctuate during these times, and when you're out of your usual routine, change is almost inevitable. A good thing to understand when it comes to body changes is that when you experience feelings of guilt and shame, these can be worse for your health than noticing a few extra kilos on the scales, so be kind and gentle with yourself and practice self love.

Speaking of scales, I'd love to share with you my low carb fisherman’s pie. It’s the ultimate comforting dish to warm the heart and fill your tummy. 

In this version, instead of the traditional white sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato, I’ve opted for a coconut cream and fluffy cauliflower mash as a topping. If you prefer to lower the fat content you can also switch from coconut cream to coconut milk or stock.

I’ve also swapped the cheese for nutritional yeast flakes, to impart a cheesy nutty feel and I've added peas, because as they say, it's good to speak your truth or forever hold your peas.

This adaptable fish pie recipe has so many variations available, which means that you can do the whole DIY thing entirely.  If you prefer to add more vegetables you can add spinach, carrot, and leek. Also, some traditional fish pies use boiled eggs, an ingredient that you may like to include in yours.

A fish pie can be created with different varieties of fish, I’ve used basa and salmon for a dash of pink, but you could use any mixture of cod, barramundi, or your favourite firm white fish.

Please enjoy this fish pie pie-ping hot as a weeknight or weekend dinner. It’s a great freezer friendly dish that can be perfect for the whole family. I served mine with mix of pumpkin and potato chips to mop up all the deliciousness.

You can watch a video about how to make it here...

I’d love to know what you think?  Let me know in the comments section below.

 Low Carb Fish Pie

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 2 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 4 spring onions sliced finely
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream/coconut milk or stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 skinless salmon fillet (250 mg)
  • 300 gms white fish fillet (ling, snapper or basa), cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Large handful chopped flat leaf parsley plus extra to serve
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and add golden gut blend or love your gut powder
  • Potato or pumpkin chips, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius

Place the florets in simmering water and cook covered until tender. The florets can be verging on soft but shouldn’t be falling apart. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor and add the olive oil or butter if using, and a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Blend until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.

Meanwhile in an oven proof saucepan or casserole dish/pie dish heat olive oil in the pan on the stove top. Add the spring onions, celery and garlic and sauté over a medium heat until caramelised.

Pour in the coconut cream/milk or stock if using and simmer for a couple of minutes then add the peas, fish, lemon juice, parsley and mustard and stir for a few minutes

Carefully remove from the heat and cover with the cauliflower, dragging a fork across to make little trenches. Top with nutritional yeast flakes.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes

When crispy on top remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with a few springs of flat leaf parsley and serve with greens or pumpkin fries 

Lee xo

Gut Friendly Salmon Chowder

salmon chowder

If you haven’t tried my salmon chowder recipe yet you’re in for a soFISHticated treat. Holy mackerel it’s good. I've been making this alot during our (extended) lockdown in Sydney, it's such a comforting dish and you can store all of the ingredients in your freezer and pantry.

Bursting with flavour and anti-inflammatory fats, this creamy, hearty dish tastes just as good as if served in a restaurant, but being completely additive-free it’ll leave you feeling satisfied without the digestive storm aftermath.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation in the body and even reduce the symptoms of certain conditions that are either caused by or worsened by inflammation, such as heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and arthritis. Best of all, many anti-inflammatory foods are often classed as “superfoods” in that they are nutritionally dense and offer a number of additional benefits, including disease prevention, weight loss, and boosting energy levels.

Chow down on this chowder to experience the gut-healing effects of salmon, one of the best foods to consume for its anti-inflammatory properties. The Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have been linked with protection against several gastrointestinal diseases, through their anti-inflammatory activity and their ability to boost healthy microorganisms in the gut. It's also a great skin booster to plump up skin cells and avoid any need for a plastic Sturgeon. (more…)

Foods to Eat While Taking Birth Control Pills

While it continues to be a controversial topic, the birth control pill has offered women the opportunity to have more control over their reproductive health and choose the time when they are ready to have children. However, in recent times, science has also shown that taking birth control pills comes with some very real risks.

Blood clots, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer are just some of the potential side effects of taking hormonal birth control pills. Studies are also now showing that these pills may have an effect on gut health as well.

What Birth Control Pills Do to the Body

Birth control pills introduce hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy. However, since the natural function of the body is to maintain hormonal balance, any introduction of hormones causes a disruption.

Here are some ways birth control pills affect the body:

Deplete antioxidants

Antioxidants protect us from free radicals, which are molecules that cause DNA damage. They are also anti-aging because they are able to protect and repair cells. However, birth control pills may deplete us of important antioxidants. Two of these major antioxidants are vitamin C and vitamin E.

Deplete Essential B Vitamins and Key Minerals

The birth control pill is known to deplete us of vitamins such as folate, biotin, pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). Selenium, zinc, and magnesium are some minerals that may also be depleted while on the pill. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals may lead to conditions such as depression, mood disorders, and anxiety.

Affect Gut Health

According to studies, oral contraceptives affect gut flora as well as the metabolism of estrogen. As a result, the gut’s health is affected and women on the pill have reported experiencing conditions such as:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mental fog
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux

Love Your Gut powder, capsules and Fulvic Humic Concentrate can help with gut related issues.

What to Eat While on the Pill

If you are currently on the pill, there are a few things you can do to negate some of the side effects and mitigate vitamin and mineral deficiencies through a healthy and conscious choice of nutrient-dense foods to heal our gut. Take a look at some of them.

Banana

The vitamin B6 in bananas boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Higher serotonin levels counter mood swings caused by birth control pills. Bananas are also high in potassium, a great energy source.

Curd

Curd is made by curdling milk with an edible, acidic substance such as vinegar or lemon juice.  

Curd is very rich in probiotics and vitamin B. It helps reduce feelings of nausea and headaches.

Citrus Fruits

Damage to skin and hair can occur when one is nutrient-deficient. You can reverse this damage by consuming citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin C. This vitamin can also be found in other foods like strawberries, bell peppers, pineapple, tomatoes, kiwi, and broccoli. 

Avocado

Avocado is probably one of the healthiest fruits in the world. It is rich in folate and omega-3 fatty acids, and is a tasty source of magnesium. It helps regulate hormonal imbalances by reducing absorption of estrogen while boosting testosterone levels.

Fish

Hair loss may be one side effect of taking the pill. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is believed to help regulate the body’s functions. In the process, it triggers hair growth, nourishes hair follicles, and promotes hair strength.

Oats

Aside from providing fibre, whole grains are a rich source of magnesium. This is a great way to replenish the magnesium and other minerals lost by taking birth control pills.

Almonds

Free radical damage on the skin may cause premature aging. Almonds are rich in antioxidants, and may help negate this effect.

Taking oral contraceptives is a personal choice. If birth control pills are a necessary part of your life, work on incorporating foods like those listed above into your diet as often as possible so your body can mitigate any potential side effects.

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