Fermented foods have exploded (in some cases literally) onto the shelves of health food stores and even some mainstream convenience stores. Many cafes and restaurants are embracing the unique flavour profiles of these often mysterious foods and drink items. With names like kombucha, jun, kefir and crazy alive giant mushroom looking SCOBYS that brew away in cool looking glass and ceramic crocks, hipsters are all over it. But these curious fermented foods aren’t anything new- in fact most of the traditional ferments pre-date historical records. Fermenting started out as food preservation, and according to records it was the humble cabbage, transformed by the microbial wonders and turned into a preserved nutrient dense vitamin C rich sauerkraut that kept Captain Cook’s fleet free from scurvy whilst on their expedition. Since the advent of refrigeration however, many of these fermented foods have fallen by the way side, until recently when they have jumped back on the scene in a flurry, and for good reason……
Is Gluten-Free a Healthy Choice?
I am often asked whether going gluten-free is a healthier choice. My answer, which may surprise you, is usually no. Now before you start booing and throwing loaves of grain-free artisan sourdough my way, let me explain (although if you do have any grain-free artisan sourdough available, I won’t say no to a loaf or two).
In growing numbers, the world is embracing a gluten-free lifestyle. Where the health food aisle in your local supermarket was once sparsely stocked, it’s now overflowing with choice. Most of these choices are assumed to be a healthier option. However, unless you cannot process the protein, there is no proven health benefit to going gluten-free. When studying nutritional food labels, it becomes apparent that gluten-free products contain fewer vitamins and fibre while having higher sugar and fat content. While I appreciate that the popularity of the gluten-free lifestyle has led to many companies expanding their product ranges, I am also concerned that the availability of these products has lulled us into a false sense of ‘healthfulness’.
The Delicious Benefits of Raw Cacao
In this world of over processed and sweet-tooth inducing foods, you’ve probably been more aware of cocoa rather than cacao. Both are from the same origin, it’s just the process or lack of processing that differentiates the two. Cacao is the pure, unroasted form, whereas cocoa is generally roasted. The roasting leads to a bitter flavour, which you’ll find most manufacturers cover with refined sugars and dairy products.
I first discovered raw cacao (raw means it’s never heated above 42’C) around 3 years ago and it’s since become a key part of my own diet. The small bean, which grows in pod-like fruits on cacao trees in Africa and South America, is cold pressed in its unroasted form. This process separates the fat (the cacao butter) whilst protecting the enzyme content, overall nutritional value, and natural flavour. Raw cacao is a bit of a superhero when it comes to nutritional benefits.
The ABCs of Healthy Skin
Want healthy skin that glows? Want to prevent deterioration? Or to cure skin concerns?
Your skin will show you the truth (the good, the bad, and the ugly) about how you are looking after your most valuable asset: your body. Just as the food that we crave is a signal from our bodies, everything troublesome that occurs in our skin can be interpreted a sign of negligence, product overuse, internal disharmony or nutrient deficiency.
We live in a world where we research obsessively to try to decipher how to be the very best we can be. But honestly, the only information you need is within you. Our bodies are the most amazing machines we will ever have, and even today with our advanced technology we don’t understand it completely.
The body will send you signals when it requires something, or when you have created an internal imbalance. Much like the pain you might feel after eating gluten or a highly saturated meal, or the after pain of a workout, your body is telling you exactly what is happening inside- we just need to stop and listen.
Here’s the ABC’s of skin care you need to know:…
My Vegan Pantry
Switching to a plant based diet? Or perhaps you’ve been vegan for a while and need a refresher on the fundamentals of a successful, healthy, plant based diet. Stocking up a vegan pantry can be a daunting task, if you’re unsure of which ingredients are best to supplement a plant based lifestyle.
A successful vegan diet takes a lot of passion, planning and commitment. For me it is a wholesome, affordable and sustainable way of life. I recognise that this is what works for me and that every individual has different needs- so whatever your requirements are, use the below list as a guide and make sure your listen to your body…
The Switch to Vegan Wellness
I read an article recently, which stated that 80% of people that attempt the switch from a meat to a vegetarian or plant based diet fail. Its not hard to believe- we’ve all heard it before at some point.
As someone who was raised vegetarian and is now vegan, I don’t really know how big of a switch it is from a carnivorous to a plant based diet but I do know is that a wholesome, well planned, plant based diet provides me with all the nutrition that I need. In addition, it’s good for the planet, our fury friends, is affordable and completely satisfying. More than ever, it’s becoming a choice that is easy to stick to, if you know how.
When I was first introduced to veganism I didn’t think it was for me- I didn’t think I’d ever want to, nor be able to, give up the foods I enjoyed (now I wonder how I ever enjoyed them in the first place) so much. Veganism sounded so restrictive and bland but oh how naïve I was! I have never felt healthier or happier in my life than I do now as a vegan. The stigma around changing to a plant based diet is that you will be ‘giving up’ so much, even though I’ve gained far more foods than I ‘lost’. It did take time, patience and learning, however, and was a long road to the nourishing, satisfying and abundant diet I have today.
Vitamin B12 on a Plant Based Diet / Part II
Best Sources of B12
Vitamin B-12 is the only essential vitamin produced exclusively by bacterial synthesis and is found in the colon of healthy mammals.1 In healthy humans, B-12 is produced in the colon and can be found in saliva,7 but there is no proof that this B-12 is the active vitamin, or is abundant enough to contribute as a reliable source of vitamin B-12. Drinking water, raw home-grown vegetables, fermented foods, fortified soy products, breakfast cereals, faux-meats, nutritional yeast and mushrooms are other possible sources of vegan sourced vitamin B-12, but the reliability of these sources is extremely untrustworthy, unless specifically fortified with the vitamin.8
Tempeh and fermented foods
Tempeh is actually a good source of vitamin B-12 in its home country, Indonesia, however its Western counter-part is not so unless specifically fortified with B-12. While the Balinese street vendor is a viable place for bacteria to synthesis B-12, the sterile, air conditioned western tempeh kitchen is not so. This was discovered by a study in the 1980s, which showed that, oddly, Western-produced tempeh was completely devoid of vitamin B-12.9…
Vitamin B12 on a Plant Based Diet / Part I
The Quest to Find the Missing Nutrient
The goal of this two-part post is to dish the dirt on perhaps my favourite nutrient, B12, a little guy that plays hard to get in a plant based or vegan diet (so yes, its true, playing hard to get actually works, especially if you’re a cute wee vitamin). Vitamin B12 is a wonderful vitamin, a champion at keeping our nervous system in tip-top shape, protecting us against a long list of degenerative diseases, aiding DNA, blood cell and protein production, metabolising fat, protein and carbohydrates, and giving us bounce-of-the-wall energy levels. All that from one vitamin? You betcha.
Years ago, as a student naturopath immersing myself in the wonderful world of nutrition, I was introduced to vitamin B12 and became a little obsessed. I learned every plant-based source and I was pretty certain that I could, and would, get my vitamin B12 from my nourishing plant-based diet. I ate sea weed galore, I consumed fermented goods like I was Sandor Ellix Katz himself, I wolfed-down microalgae, nutritional yeast and all sorts of beautiful fungi and my B12 levels were AMAZING ! Well, so I thought, right up until the moment I received my blood test results. …