Sleep, catching zzz’s, the blanket show…

Whatever you want to call it – it is essential!

Honestly, a poor night’s sleep makes us all a bit cranky, but if it happens regularly it puts us at risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  Just as an FYI, adults should sleep 7-8hours/night.  Hmm, maybe improving that wind down routine prior to bed could help a lot – no blue light (that’s computers, phones or TV) at least an hour prior to bed and no caffeine alcohol or ciggies in the 4-6hours prior to bed. 

Sweet dreams
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

But have you ever though about the food angle?  No, well check these out & I will also let you know the whys.

Sour Cherries

I like mine in the form of sour cherry juice.  They are not only rich in antioxidants but melatonin AKA the sleep hormone.

Almonds

These have both tryptophan and carbs in them.  Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that makes you feel calm, relaxed and sleepy.  Almonds additionally contain magnesium which helps your muscles relax plus it is great for sleep.

I was recently told of a recipe that uses both of these are part of a nightly wind down.  Make a hot chocolate on almond milk, then add 50ml of sour cherry juice…voila, a tasty sleepy time treat.  Make sure you add the sour cherry juice last, otherwise it won’t be effective.  Oh, I have done this with coconut milk in lieu of almond milk – it didn’t have the double hit, but it did taste like a cherry ripe, so I’d still call it a win!

Pumpkin seeds

Another tryptophan rich food!  Tryptophan helps with the synthesis of serotonin, which your body then converts to melatonin.  These work particularly well with carbs, so maybe a little snack of cheese and pumpkin seeds prior to bed.

Walnuts

Maybe add to your pumpkin seeds and cheese snack as walnuts are rich in both melatonin and serotonin to help you off to the land of nod.

Cow’s milk

Nana was right on the money with this one, it is rich in both tryptophan and melatonin. 

Salmon

OK, really most fish but especially salmon and tuna have oodles of vitamin B6 which is needed for the synthesis the hormone melatonin.  Another great reason to include fish in your evening meals.

Now for a couple of randoms to add in…

Kiwi fruit

These are chock full of goodness!  They contain serotonin, but also vitamin C and E, so perhaps put a couple of them with your nut and cheese bedtime snack or just eat as is. 

Bananas

These are famously rich in potassium, but also vitamin B6 – yup it helps with the synthesis of melatonin.  Maybe a banana smoothie with almond butter?

Plenty of options to suit plenty of different tastes.  If you indulge in a little night-time snack, choose wisely and the effect you see you off to the catching zzzs in no time.

#why #easyadditions #notallequal #nutrition #wellness #consciouslynutritious #happyhealthypeople

Fermented Foods

OK, so what is the deal?  Throughout history, fermenting of foods happened in many areas and was used as a way to preserve produce so it was available during different seasons.

Fine, but what is it?  A process of fermentation has occurred (basically the natural bacteria feeds on sugar and starches) which creates lactic acid.  This is what is actually doing the preserving, but the process also created beneficial enzymes, omega 3 fatty acids, plus various probiotics.  Basically, all the stuff your gut loves & needs to keep it healthy.  As a bonus, this fermentation also breaks food down so it’s more digestible whilst preserving the original nutrients.

Hmm, how does that benefit me?

  • You absorb nutrients better – due to better digestion.
  • Boosts your immune system because you’ve more good bacteria in your gut.
  • Preserves food better.  An example I have seen used previously is – salsa will only last a few days, but pickles will last a couple of months.
  • Great skin, again due to that balance of good bacteria & healthy gut.
  • Saves you dollars.  You can add bits into your everyday diet, without breaking the bank.  Whoo hoo!
  • Great for mood.  The link between gut and mood is amazing – there are quite a few people thinking how mind-boggling it is, so as there is loads of research being done on it.

Sounds great, what are some good options?  How do I get hold of this uber-amazing stuff for my diet?

Kombucha

A fermented drink based on black tea and sugar.  There are colonies of bacteria and yeast which start the fermentation process, when the sugar is added.  It does however contain small amounts of alcohol.  It’s been around awhile, but it’s currently gaining popularity again.  I remember my Mum having a go at it in the 80s.

Sauerkraut

Probably one of the best-known fermented foods, with history in Germany, Russia and even China.  It’s made from fermented cabbage.  The name is actually German for “sour cabbage”.  It is high in fibre; vitamins A, C, K & B,  plus a great source of iron, copper, calcium and magnesium.

It is good to be aware that traditional sauerkraut needs to be refrigerated & is often in glass jars.  The canned or processed kind is not fermented.

Pickles

These have heaps of vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants & some gut friendly probiotics.

Again, store bought are not usually fermented, generally they are just sitting in vinegar to make the pickles taste sour.  Fermented pickles will have brine (AKA salt and water). 

Miso

Traditional in Japan & best known for its use in miso soup.  It is fermented soybeans, barley or brown rice, with koji (a type of fungus).

Kimchi

A traditional fermented Korean dish, made from vegetables such as cabbage, ginger, garlic, pepper and lots of chilli – a LOT of chilli.  Pretty much served with any Korean food (think rice bowls or bibimbap).

Yoghurt

Finally, what is probably the best-known probiotic, which most people eat regularly – yoghurt.  When shopping for yoghurt look for whether the type of milk it’s based on (especially if cow’s milk is problematic), and go for organic where possible.

Super easy and portable – just how I like my snacks!

There are lots of options and lots of reasons to include at least one if not a few of these in your diet every day.

#why #easypeasey #nutrition #wellness #happyhealthypeople #consciouslynutritious

Mental Health

Being healthy is a body & soul type of deal.  You can’t always see what is happening in someone’s life or how they are feeling.  Something which is often overlooked is what we eat.  That said, it can easily be summed up with the phrase “rubbish in rubbish out!”

Fresh is best!
Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

I have attached an article about Felice Jacka’s work on the subject.  This amazing lady is based in Melbourne and doing a LOT of research on the mood/food connection – the results are very interesting.  She came on my radar last year, when I was researching for an assignment (the name kept popping up), then I saw she had a book out “Brain Changer”. 

Yup, so now I’m a bit of a fan girl! I try to minimise processed foods and keep it as fresh as possible, I know I feel better when I do.

#RUOK #mentalhealth #wellness #happyhealthypeople #consciouslynutritious

Foodie Plants

There are a few plants which are easily grown either in pots or gardens. These can add a touch of special to your cooking, so whether you are a beginner or a diehard foodie, these are my favs.

Parsley

There are two types curly or flat leaf (AKA Italian).  I love the flat leaf & use it heaps – curly kinda reminds me of the garnish off the pub meat tray!

It is rich in vitamins K, C, B12, & A, as well as high in beta carotene, iron & folic acid.  So why wouldn’t you put a handful in your salad, with your vegies or in your soup.

  • It loves full sun with a well-drained soil.
  • Water regularly.
  • If it gets stressed it will go to seed & die.  Should this happen – you will need to either get yourself a new one, or let the seeds fall & start from scratch. 

Lemon trees

I love lemons & use them for a few things – it irks me to pay for them in the supermarket.  Currently we have a lemon tree in the back yard, but I have dabbled with a dwarf lemon in a pot previously.

  • They love the sun, but not the wind (kinda like me but not yellow)!
  • Water regularly but let it dry out between watering’s (so no wet feet for this plant).
  • They are hungry critters & love a regular feed of fertiliser.

Nutritionally speaking lemons have a great amount of vitamin C, as well as a smaller number of other vitamins & minerals (a few Bs, such as niacin, folate, thiamine, & riboflavin; plus, potassium, zinc & magnesium).

Back to my potted dwarf lemon – it was pretty easy, requiring a little pruning (really just shaping), lots of sunshine, regular watering & fertiliser.

Cherry tomatoes

These are dead easy to grow, especially in pots.  Cherry tomatoes seem to have less problems with pests & disease when compared to regular tomatoes.  What I love about them is the amount they give you back, oh yeah I feel like a bountiful farmer with these!

  • They love the sun.
  • Water regularly & deeply, preferably in the morning (so the leaves can dry – then there is less chance of disease also).
  • Again, they are hungry critters & love a regular feed of fertiliser.

These are always popular, super easy to use (if they make it to the kitchen of course) plus they are high in vitamin C.

Basil

Absolutely love this one, it smells like summer!  I love this fresh & use it a lot when it’s in season.  There are heaps of different types of basil, but they are all rich in antioxidants.  I just pick the tips out each time to use, which promotes plant growth.

  • Another sun lover.
  • Water & fertilise regularly (I’ve noticed seaweed extract is especially good for basil).

Growing your own herbs, not only gives you great flavour (& a smug feeling) – it’s way cheaper than !buying them from the supermarket.  You don’t need a big garden bed, you can just start with a pot.

I also love rosemary but that story is for another day 😉

This makes my heart happy!
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Vegies and body parts…

I had a fabulous conversation with my niece, Miss 7, about how different vegetables are good for different body parts.  The funny part was sometimes the vegies looked like the body part – other times it took some imagine but it was a good convo.

Here is the low down on our vegie discussion.

Carrots & Eyes

Yup, you heard right, carrots do in fact help your eyes.  It’s the high amount of beta carotene, which is used to generate vitamin A, which in turn is vital for eye health.  After a bit of discussion, we decided they kind of looked like eyes with their darker centres being similar to pupils.

Ironically zeaxanthin & lutein, in kale & spinach actually make them a better choice for eye health – but we couldn’t make them look like eyes (not even with a 7year old imagination on the job)!

Broccoli & Bones

Broccoli is a winner in the calcium stakes.  Although spinach has a higher amount of calcium, you body doesn’t absorb it as easy.  We decided that the broccoli stood up like a tree, all strong & tall – so it was like a skeleton helping us to stand up straight.  Work with me here 😉

Sweet Potatoes & Skin

Sweet potatoes have a natural antioxidant, vitamin E, as well as high levels of vitamin C.  This means the humble sweet potato helps with protection from sun damage, lowering development of wrinkles & the production of collagen.  This combo helps with keeping your skin soft & supple.  Admittedly this one did involve a bit of squinting, but we thought it looked a bit like skin due to the relative smoothness of the skin of the sweet potato.

Green Leafys & the Brain.

Kale, silver beet both have that wrinkly appearance kinda like cartoon pictures of brains.  Although cauliflower deserves a special mention, even though it’s not green.  It’s the vitamin K which improves cognitive function & decreases inflammation & oxidative stress.  Kale particularly has vitamins A, C, E & selenium as well – a powerhouse nutrients for the brain.

Red Tomatoes for your Heart.

A little less imagination required for this one, a cut tomato does look like there are different parts to it.  These are not only rich in potassium; they are full of carotenoid lycopene both of which are great for heart health.  Tomato juice is great for blood vessels & reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol. 

We often have cherry tomatoes growing, which the Miss loves to pick when visiting (although not all make it back to the kitchen).

Carrots & Hair.

This was pretty entertaining as we discussed what carrots could look like with different hairstyles!  It is actually any orange or yellow vegetables which contain beta carotene, which in turn is great for your hair.  It worth noting that the vitamin E in root vegetables helps assist hair with protection against sun damage.

It was a fun convo, with plenty of turns, lots of imagination plus a tad of education….but mainly giggles & fun!

#why #nutrition #wellnesss #consciouslynutritious

Unsure, where the convo would have gone with dragonfruit?!
Photo by Marissa Rodriguez on Unsplash

Kaizen

I was recently told about this idea & I love the simplicity of it.

What is it I hear you say?  Kaizen is based on creating a continuous improvement in small increments which build to a larger change, which reaps major improvements.  As very basic example, you make a 1% change every day, which adds up to a 31% change in a month or 365% over a year. I know sounds so easy, right?

Kaizen is a composed from two Japanese words which together translate as “good change” or “improvement”.  Over time it has evolved to mean “continuous improvement”.  This part action, part philosophy ideal was originally applied to business, but I think it could just as effectively apply to personal life.

Give it a go – small changes add up to big changes!
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

The main principles

  • Let go of assumptions.
  • Be proactive about problem solving.  Set goals & make sure you have any relevant background.
  • Don’t just accept the current situation.  Review the current situation & develop a plan for an improvement.
  • Let go of perfectionism & have an attitude embracing constant & adaptive change.  Implement the changes, do it.
  • Look for solutions as you find mistakes.  Keep reviewing & fixing any issues.
  • If a work or even family environment – make sure everyone feels empowered, so they contribute.
  • Don’t just accept the obvious issue – ask “why” five times, to get to the root cause.
  • Get information & opinions from multiple people
  • Be creative to find low cost, small improvements
  • Never stop improving, keep the cycle going.

Sounds impressive – straight forward & logical, but how could that apply to your health & wellness?  Kaizen will help to make it a lifestyle.

Day 1 – Add an extra glass of water for the day

Day 2 – Walk for 5min extra.

Day 3 – Put an extra vegetable on your plate.

Day 4 – Have a piece of fruit.

Day 5 – Be mindful for 10 min.

Day 6 – Cook an extra meal, to freeze for later.

Day 7 – Add a cup of green tea to your day.

All small changes by themselves but over a month it’s an extra 4 glasses of water, 20min walking, 4 more vegetables & pieces of fruit – it adds up.  It doesn’t have to be the same change each week it could be a yoga class, it could be checking in with a family member or friend, it could be reading a book in the sun for 15min.

#Kaizen #smallsteps #motivation #candothis #rightdirection #movingforward #naturalhealth #happyhealthylife

Water in Winter

The temptation is so high for a coffee…sigh!  I know there should be more water being consumed, but the ritual, the smell, the taste – it’s just so damn nice.  We should be drinking approximately 2 litres a day – but it can be hard when the weather is cooler.

In order to try get more into me, I’ve endeavoured to mix it up a bit.  I’ve busted out some herbal teas for the warm hit.  Pukka do a great range of herbal organic teas.  I recently tried their Night-time blend with oat flower, lavender & lime flower but I think my heart still belongs to Revitalise which has cinnamon, cardamom & ginger.

I’ve also put some infused water out to make it more interesting too.  If you are infusing water, citrus is pretty instant, but herbs will take a bit longer.  As for berries, they also take longer but release a beautiful colour.  If you are keeping your water in the fridge, keep it at eye level to you are encouraged to have a drink.

Some favs I’ve picked up through experimentation:

Cucumber & lime – great for detox, combine all ingredients & infuse.

  • 1 litre of water
  • ½ lime, quartered
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced.

Summer fruit – combine all ingredients & infuse.

  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 lemon or lime, quartered
  • Handful of raspberries or strawberries, roughly mashed
  • Spring of mint, lightly bruised
  • Combine all & infuse

Mandarin, basil & black tea – a nice mid-morning drink, combine all ingredients & infuse for 2-3hours. NOTE: this does have a bit of caffeine, but it’s delish!

  • 1 litre of water
  • 2 mandarins, broken into segments
  • 1 black tea bag
  • 4 basil leaves, roughly torn

Pineapple & Mint –  another great one for detox, again combine all ingredients & infuse overnight.

  • 1 litre of water
  • 3 chunks of pineapple, roughly chopped
  • Handful of mint, lightly bruised

The extra fluids, without the caffeine, will aid with digestion, metabolism & cognition.  Plus, it helps with weight loss & glowing skin.  Oh yeah, that sounds good.

#waterinspo #recipes #easypeasey #consciouslynutrititous #naturalhealth #wellness

Love me a cuppa tea!

Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

Immune boosters

Almost 70% of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract!  So, it makes sense to keep it healthy right?

In Brisbane, the Ekka has started which means there are about to be a lot of sniffles and coughs going around. Some top players to boost your immunity are:

✅ Oily fish

Tuna, salmon & sardines are packed full of omega 3, which is not only great for gut health but also have an anti-inflammatory effect.  Plus, a great source of vitamin D. Yup, this is a winner from a few angles!

✅ Oranges

Well really any citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C, which is great for your immune.  Hmmm, interesting how they are in season right now.

✅ Garlic.

Legendary for its effectiveness as a preventative but also a great antibacterial.  BTW also handy for keeping those vampires at bay 😂

✅ Kiwifruit

Full of vitamin C & K, as well as potassium & folate.  My niece loves oranges & kiwis together as a snack, sounds good to me.

✅ Leafy greens

Packed full of antioxidants! Yup, that old chestnut – eat your greens!

✅ Nuts & seeds

Lots of healthy fats, zinc & vitamin E.  Great for portable snacks – I always have a small bag of them in my uni backpack or handbag – pretty darn easy.

✅ Orange vege

Rich in vitamin A, which is great for your digestive lining.  Think carrots, sweet potato & pumpkin to name just a few.

✅ Eggs

A powerhouse packed with vitamins most notably vitamin D, plus they are protein rich.  I did a FB post late last week on how good eggs are – check it out if you’ve not already looked.

✅ Tea

Green or black, both are high in antioxidants.  I’m always up for a cuppa – who else?

✅ Fermented foods

Full of gut friendly probiotics, think of sauerkraut, miso, or pickles.  Every culture seems to have a favourite fermented food, even the hipsters are embracing kombucha. 

#immunebooster #top10 #wellness #happyhealthypeople #consciouslynutritious

Photo by Joseph Kellner on Unsplash

Salsa time!

Yummo!  What an easy way to add a bit of pizzazz to a meal.  I recently caught up with a friend for a picnic – we took a little BBQ & made Mexican – there was mince, rice, salsa, guacamole & salad.

A Mexican feast at Scarborough… ole!

It got me thinking about some salsa recipes I have, why wasn’t I using them more often?  You will be glad to know, this has now been remedied as they have been dug out & are ready for some summer loving at BBQs, Mexican nights, or even with beans & tuna to make an easy lunchtime salad – these little multitaskers are going to spruce up a few meals over the coming months.

I’ve listed the ones I have on high rotation.  Just combine in a bowl, let sit for 10minutes & voila!

All-purpose salsa

390g can corn kernels, well drained – even better use fresh corn

1 large, or 2 small firm ripe avocados, diced

3 tomatoes, diced

½ small red onion, finely diced

½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 chilli, seeded and finely diced

Juice 1 lime or ½ lemon, to taste

Mango salsa

This seemed to come out often for Christmas & it was always a big hit (great with ham, chicken or fish).

1 large mango, cut & cubed

3 green shallots, finely sliced

1 tbspn fresh lime juice

1tbspn chopped fresh mint leaves

A splash of olive oil

Paw-Paw Salsa

Again, delish with fish, chicken or ham.

1 pawpaw, diced

½ red capsicum, finely diced

½ chilli, finely chopped

½ red onion, finely chopped

4 sprigs mint, finely chopped

2 limes, juiced

A splash of olive oil

Strawberry salsa

Sounds weird, but great with BBQ meats (think steaks & snags)

1 punnet of strawberries, diced

1 lime or lemon, juiced

2 tspn chillies, finely chopped

4 spring onions, finely chopped

¼ tspn ground black pepper

Pinch of salt

Experiment & add whatever you like to them (add capsicum, coriander or basil, leave out the chilli) or adjust quantities (more tomato & less corn).  Whatever you do, it is a fun way to get in more of the good stuff into your diet!

#options #sideinspiration #easypeasey #delish #nokalehere #consciouslynutritious #happyhealthylife

Self-care 101

As I head into my last semester of Uni, I want to make sure I look after myself, so I don’t burn out.  To do this I’ve scheduled some regular days (well half days actually) into my diary – so I can recharge the batteries.  Whether it be getting some sunshine and reading a book, a walk through the local Farmers Market, having a bubble bath or meeting friends for a coffee … the point is, it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as there is some re charging time for me.

Long periods of relentless stress play havoc with our bodies.  So often you hear people saying they are tired, stressed or chasing their tails – these are all code for burnouts of varying degrees, as people impose deadlines on themselves and trying to do too much.

It’s OK to take your foot off the accelerator and say no to things which don’t benefit you.  Go to bed earlier, leave the unfolded washing – instead sit in the sunshine, breathe the fresh air, smile and laugh.

#timeout #selflove #wellness #stressless #happyhealthylife #naturalhealth #recharge

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash