Spring & Summer in our house means pineapples….yummo! I have fond memories of road trips to the beach which always included a stop at a roadside stall to pick up fresh pineapples. These sweet treats originated in South America & were named by early European explorers who thought it kinda looked like a pinecone. Hmm, I guess – if you squint & maybe tilt your head.
There are loads of reasons to love a pineapple. Need more? They are rich in loads of vitamins & minerals – especially Vitamin C & manganese. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants; they also contain the digestive enzyme, bromelain; & is an anti-inflammatory.
I often just serve pineapple with mint, but I discovered this at the end of last year. It may be a new fav.
Pineapple Coconut Sorbet
Yield: approx. 4 cups
Great for: Dairy free, vego & paleo
🍍 3 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
🍍 1 can full fat coconut milk
🍍 1 tbspn pure maple syrup – optional
🍍 Put all ingredients in a food processor & blitz.
🍍 Scrape down sides & blitz again.
🍍 Pour into freezer friendly container & freeze approx. 5 hours (or better still overnight).
🍍 When ready to serve, allow about 10min so you can scoop it up.
When your nervous system is under pressure – your body responds with a switch to fight or flight mode. Whilst some stress is normal, a prolonged state of high-level stress is not. It will push your body into overdrive & can actually increase how often you experience anxiety attacks.
Food choices can have an impact on how your anxiety affects you. How you deal with anxiety can be a challenge which often requires lifestyle changes. Whilst neither diet nor lifestyle can cure anxiety, they can set you on an improved path which helps you cope with anxiety better.
OK, the limit or avoid scenarios
Limit or avoid caffeine. I know the smell of fresh coffee is divine, but caffeine actually increases your cortisol (which is your stress hormone). Whilst some cortisol is good, you do not want it to always be on high alert. High levels of caffeine exacerbate anxiety & nervousness, as well as decreasing the production of serotonin (a feel-good chemical). Avoid or limit coffee, black tea, &/or energy drinks, instead try a matcha green tea. It does actually contain caffeine however it also has a high amount of the amino acid, L Theanine, which inhibits the possible caffeine side effects. Even try a herbal tea, there are loads to choose from & most are caffeine free.
Also limit or avoid alcohol. Why? It is altering the levels of neurotransmitters, again serotonin, in your brain. Initially you may feel calmer (it varies for each person) but as your body processes it, levels of anxiety can worsen. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system which may make you feel calmer, almost sedative effect, which is why alcohol can feel like a relief from anxiety. Alcohol induced anxiety can actually last for several hours & for some the whole day after.
Food sensitivities can also impact anxiety levels, pay attention to when you feel anxious. Some people suffer from unpleasant physical reactions from particular foods or additives. Think about symptoms of allergies & compare them to symptoms of anxiety, there is a big overlap. (THINK rapid heartbeat, sense of dread, irritability, headaches, restlessness, hot flushes, or feeling dizzy/lightheaded).
Now more about what to include.
Complex carbohydrates. Definitely add these in, they are thought to increase serotonin which has a calming effect. What is a complex carb? THINK whole grains (oats, brown rice, or quinoa), or sweet & white potatoes, or even kidney beans. Steer clear of foods containing simple carbohydrates THINK sugar & sugar sweetened foods.
Breakfast should include a protein. It will keep you feeling full for longer as well as assisting your blood sugar regulation. Basically, it will give you energy & keep your mood more consistent.
Keep hydrated – yup, that old chestnut. Keep up the water – even mild dehydration can affect your mood.
Be patient, it may take time & the addition of some lifestyle changes to make improvements but remember little changes add up to be big changes. If your anxiety is proving difficult to manage seek help from a professional.
Essentially it is actually our immune system that processes acute issues like an ankle sprain or an infection. Wow, interesting right? However, an injury can sometimes be a more prolonged affair (often described as chronic). This can be triggered by poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise or even just exposure to environmental pollutants. Bottom line our body’s immune system responds to both short term & long-term injuries with inflammation.
Whilst an acute type of inflammation serves the purpose of ensuring we fight the problem & regain our health; the chronic type is a totally different story. If we are in a chronic inflammation state it means our defence systems are a bit out of control – yup, you guessed it, this is a not so good scenario. Adding to this, people with overactive immune responses & too much inflammation often also suffer from allergies (pick me!), rheumatoid arthritis, asthma &/or autoimmune diseases. It is important to note that sometimes the inflammation can be hidden & be at the heart of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia or even cancer to name just a few.
OK – we can all agree that long term inflammation is not the least bit desirable. We need to get ahead of the game on this chronic inflammation issue. Best approach is addressing it prior to an issue happening, (especially when it is generally noted that multiple issues are linked by inflammation). Yup, that means taking preventative actions with lifestyle &/or dietary changes to help the body’s natural immune system rebalance. Sadly, often people only start the fight when they are already feeling the effects of inflammation which is less than ideal.
Game plan options to help prevent inflammation, can include:
⭐️ A diet rich in plant-based options is fabulous. Even a focus on whole foods & high fibre is a great anti-inflammatory option. Yup, load up the fruit & vege, the more colour the better & remember to include lots of cruciferous vege (THINK broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts). Perfect world, I’m talking vege at EVERY meal!
⭐️ Ensure you eat healthy fats. THINK extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, & omega 3 fats from oily fish such as wild salmon, herrings, or sardines.
⭐️ Make sure you have probiotics in your diet. They keep your gut healthy by feeding the good bacteria & keeping that population high. Flip side is the bad bacteria don’t have an opportunity to thrive (& create problems). THINK yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso or kimchi for a few easily accessible add ins for your diet.
⭐️ OK this one is kinda obvious but worth saying. If you have a food allergy, don’t eat the allergen (or trigger) as it will promote the inflammation.
⭐️ Get moving & exercise. The old adage of “move it, or loose it” is very true! Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can make a difference (THINK a brisk walk, water aerobics, dancing, or a bike ride).
⭐️ Make sure you actively relax; the knock-on effect is lower inflammation. THINK yoga, deep breathing or even a warm bath.
Diet can calm inflammation & a Mediterranean diet is a great starting point. There are many studies on this diet which are promising. Try adding some of the good stuff into your diet & lifestyle this week.
We have all been in those convos where the other person was listening but not really listening. To be an active listener is an amazing skill, which everyone can gain BUT it does take time, energy & practice.
Need some tips?
⭐️ Be present
I know it sounds incredibly easy, but you need to pay attention & immerse yourself in the conversation. You can’t just tune in for the highlights, you need to listen to the other person’s story or point of view. It is also a great idea to ask if they need advice or just to be heard.
⭐️ Wait& Listen
Often people want to show they are listening by jumping in & adding thoughts or an experience. In reality it is redirecting the conversation. So, just wait your turn – watch for facial expressions & body language, as your cues. Listen for the main points of what is being said & ask questions to deepen your understanding.
I was once told active listening is about learning. I believe this has an element of truth, if you want to take the conversation further sometimes you need to find out more information. Summarise what you learnt in the conversation, to check your understanding is clear. Take a mental note of anything you want to look into further or anything that piqued your interest or curiosity.
If something in a conversation did catch your attention, check it out further. There are loads of resources available to us: google, books, podcasts (just check your source is legitimate & reliable). If an article was shared with you – read it & let them know what your thought in your next convo.
⭐️ Ideas can change
Sometimes you can enter a convo with one idea, but it can change. Being an active listener means listening ideas which may be different to your own & sometimes new ideas align better with your thoughts. Take the opportunity to hear new ideas, think about them & sometimes change your mind.
By thinking about ideas, seeking more information & reflecting – you can be part of a solution. If you don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, it is harder to fix. Reflecting back to the person what has been said, as an example “that sounds like it left you confused (or angry / happy)…”
Be an active listener, it really will be a great skill & can be utilised in all aspects of your life. Sometimes they just need to be heard & that is OK, too.
Honestly, these offer bang for your buck when it comes to protein (over 25%) & they are rich in satiating fibre. Lentils are also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc & potassium. Yup, this plant-based food source has got a lot going for it.
We did not really have these growing up, so I am a bit late to the game on this one. Bearing this in mind, I thought I’ would give you the low down on what I’ve found.
Often there are a few types at the store, but they pretty much fall into 3 main categories.
Pretty common. They have a mild flavour & hold their shape during cooking. I add these to meat dishes (THINK spag bog or shepherd’s pie). They are also great as a vego option too (delish in lettuce wraps with some salad). They have an earthy flavour.
This would be my preference to use in salads as it is a stronger flavour which is often described as peppery. These vary in size, unlike the Puy lentils which are approx. 1/3 the size of green lentils. Just as an aside Puy lentils originate from the le Puy region in France & also have a peppery flavour profile.
⭐️ Red or yellow
These are “split” which means they are cut into smaller pieces. These are a sweeter, nuttier flavour. As they are smaller, they cook faster (makes sense right). I often use red lentils in soups or stews to boost the fibre & thicken a soup or stew. These are often used in dal/dahl.
OK, so you can now recognise what you are buying BUT how do you see it in the shop? There are 2 options.
Just drain & rinse … easy peasey.
This means a little amount of prep, but still an easy process.
Give the legumes a good rinse in a colander under cold running water& remove any discoloured or broken ones. Soak lentils overnight in acidic water (THINK lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, use approx. 2 tbspn acid : 1 cup lentils). Just leave covered in a bowl on the countertop. Not everyone does this, it is an optional step which has benefits twofold – it will reduce the cooking time & make digesting them loads easier. Sounds like a good deal to me!
Then, drain & rinse in fresh water. Tip into a pot with plenty of water & bring to the boil (skimming off any scum on the surface). Reduce the heat & simmer until tender. FYI: unsoaked approx. 15-20 min.
First blog of the month, so of course, a new recipe to share. Silver beet (AKA chard) is often found in home vegie patches. Why? Because it is super easy to grow. It is rich in vitamins A, B6, C & K, as well as folate. It is towards the end of its Australian growing season – so you may be looking for a new idea to try out. This is a super easy option. It is a great accompaniment to a meat dish but perfectly OK to stand by itself as a main. Oh, & for the win – it’s delish!
Rainbow Silver beet with Rice
Source: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos
Serves: 2 as a main / 4 as aside
Great for: Mediterranean style, vego
✅ 2 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
✅ 1 red onion, chopped
✅ 1 clove garlic, chopped
✅ 1kg rainbow silver beet, roughly chopped
✅ 1 cup pureed tomato
✅ 1 cup water
✅ ½ cup rice
✅ Red chilli, finely sliced – optional
⭐️ Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté onion & garlic until they are translucent.
⭐️ Add the silver beet (& chilli if desired), sauté a further 2-3 minutes or until silver beet is wilted.
⭐️ Add tomato puree & water, stir well. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for approx. 5 minutes.
⭐️ Add rice & simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
⭐️ Remove from heat & allow to stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.
Yup, it is a super important skill to add into your life. Sometimes however it can also look very practical as you set up your future self with some practical kindness.
Let me put it another way – reading a book or eating chocolate all day, isn’t going to help you out when you haven’t had a shower in 3 days & have dishes piled in the sink, plus all your clothes heaped up in the laundry. Yup, it’s a moderation thing & that can be the tricky part.
It is important to take care of yourself but you also need to tackle your surroundings to help out future you.
💧 Honestly you are probably not drinking enough water. Grab at least 2x 1L bottles, fill them both. Drink one in the morning & the other in the afternoon. Do it again tomorrow (& the next day). It is fabulous for your skin but also great for everything inside (remember you are pretty much 65% water).
🍴 Have you been eating well? Did you have breakfast? You need to fuel your body if you expect it to work. Get in some fruit & vege, some protein, carbs & good fats.
👉 Household chores…sigh! Still wearing yesterday’s clothes – do some laundry. Then tackle those dishes still in the sink, wash them up whilst the laundry load goes through. Then open your windows & let the fresh air in…maybe even get a little wild & light a scented candle.
🚿 Always rushing through the shower? Take a non-rushed shower with cold water to wake you up & boost circulation or warm water to relax those muscles.
📞 Return that one phone call. It is soooo easy to avoid ‘that’ call (for days). Set yourself a time limit, say 10 minutes & just make the call.
☀️ Go outside. Get out there for at least 10 minutes a day to start. Breathe in some fresh air. Whether you go for a walk or just sit in the sun – that vitamin D will feel good & some deep breathes of fresh air will make you feel great.
Practical tips for sure, but they do pave the way for a better you. Tackle one thing at a time. Future you will love it!
Heard of it, but don’t know what it is? It is an everyday way to add ‘detoxing’ into your life. It is a technique to remove dead skin build up & it stimulates the lymphatic system (which helps with elimination of waste).
The brushing helps to speed up the elimination process as it stimulates the lymph. OK, so lymph what does the lymph do? It transfers toxins to the bloodstream for elimination it. The lymph doesn’t have a “pump” like the heart for the circulatory system (so a little help doesn’t go astray). The lymph system depends on contraction of muscles. This happens with breathing, exercise, or manual stimulation – such as brushing.
What you need & how to do it: • You will need a firm but soft, natural fibre brush, ideally with a long handle so you can easily reach your back (unless you are a bit flexible). I picked one up at Priceline pretty easy. • You only brush on dry skin with the dry bristles of the brush. • Stroking towards the heart which encourages the lymph flow to the main lymphatic ducts. A great rule of thumb is to always brush towards the centre of the body. • Where skin is thinner, use softer strokes, but where skin is thicker EG: your legs & thighs, use firmer strokes. Makes sense. • I like to do my body brushing before I have a shower or bath & then slap on some moisturiser.
Some don’ts: • Avoid your sensitive bits (breasts & genitalia). • Avoid if you have sensitive skin, a history of eczema or any other skin conditions, this may flare it up. • Avoid using on open wounds, inflamed or sunburnt skin, rashes or varicose veins. • Avoid if in an active cancer state or have enlarged lymph nodes.
For me, I like how it makes my skin feel – plus if it is setting up for a better detox, that is a double win. It’s easy, doesn’t take long & is cheap – def worth a try I think.
Seriously how good is this weather! Vitamin D has some pretty impressive effects on the body. Sadly, a lot of people are currently vitamin D deficient.
Lifestyles are just more indoors now, often – we work indoors & weekends involve more indoor activities, or for the southern states there is less sunshine during the day in winter. Even the ‘slip slop slap’ campaign plays a role as people cover up a bit more & wear sunscreen more. There are loads more reasons, but you get the idea.
Bottom line is you have to get some vitamin D. I try to work it into the day with 2x 10min ‘outings’ in the sun, when on breaks either in the garden or even a walk around the block. I try to go mid-morning or late afternoon, not around midday (stay sensible, peeps).
Just a couple of reasons why vitamin D is important? 🌞 Assists in protection against dementia – even a moderate deficiency can increase dementia risks. 🌞 Stay slimmer – early morning sun exposure helps regulate your internal body clock, which regulates your metabolism, which in turn influences weight gain. 🌞 Lowers your blood pressure – the sun exposure helps with a pressure reducing compound which is released into your blood vessels