Getting A “Flow On”...

If you have ever worked directly with me, you may have heard me say “…once you get your flow on.”.  Now that I witness the magic of this ‘flow on’ effect so regularly, I thought it would be good to officially explain what it means so many more can take advantage of being in the flow – in your kitchen at least.

The concept is quite simple, although it does take consistent effort until it becomes a natural, new habit.  Once you get your flow on, you will be benefiting from efficiencies that will make your life a whole lot stressful and hopefully, a whole lot more healthy.  I have yet to meet a person who has got the flow on, who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy the process and results. They usually say how much they wish they had been taught it earlier.

Getting your flow on in the kitchen means making all your ‘major’ efforts in the kitchen pay back more than just once. As an example, if you’re making dinner anyways, why not at least make a double batch so you have leftovers tomorrow. Many of you are doing this already, which I will call level 2 (level 1 is just cooking for the current meal). The magic begins at level 3, if you will, when you are starting to think a little bit beyond tomorrow. If while making that same meal, you could also triple or quadruple part of it and freeze that, then you would benefit from tomorrow’s leftovers, as well as another meal in the future.  In doubling, tripling, or quadrupling a meal, you do not multiply your time in the kitchen by the same amount. The bigger the batch (within reason), the more time you will save, as compared to making each one in an individual effort with their own lot of shopping and dishes.

Making your favourite cake? Why not mix up a quadruple batch of the dry ingredients and put them back in the pantry for the next time you go to make that cake? The same applies for homemade muesli, trail mix, pancake mix, pizza dough etc.

Have crazy mornings with kids begging for packaged treats in their lunchbox? By having your flow on, you would be making a double/triple batch of different healthy treat once per week such that by week 4, there would be a selection of at least 4 things in the freezer for little Johnny to choose from, no more complaining allowed. 

Don’t know what to make for dinner? Because you made a double batch of coleslaw two days ago, you now conveniently have a bunch of veggies cut up and ready for a super fast sauté (apple pieces are fine and you can pick out the sultanas, no big deal). Add in a few freshly cooked rice noodles, melt 3 cubes of your frozen thai green curry paste in a pot with some coconut cream and TA-DAH!!! There’s dinner, in under 10 minutes – because you have your flow on.

Another word for getting your “flow on” is being “organised”, but you need to know what that means and how to make it magical in your life so that it sticks.

So what’s stopping you? If it is something you have never done before then it is new. Most new things are scary, until they’re not anymore, because you got to know them. It helps having someone show you how. But just start - Tonight! If you’re not already making enough for leftovers every single time you cook anything more complicated than baked beans on toast, then do that tonight. Start playing with how you can enjoy the leftovers in various ways tomorrow. On the weekend, make a bigger batch of your favourite raw dessert and start the flow.

Once you get into it, you will learn a few more things. One is that you actually need to make sure your pantry is well stocked at all times so you are free to create these larger batches when the inspiration strikes. This is part of the foundation organisation and is a topic for another day. The main key here is to start making bigger batches and learn the ways in which you can do things smarter-not-harder. As soon as you feel the results, it will power you up to keep the flow on!

Comfort Foods Made Healthy

What makes a comfort food? It's the food that we crave or make when we are feeling nostalgic, or unwell or looking for something comforting. It's the food that our mother made us as children, or when we were unwell. It's the food that takes you to the place where you first tasted it, whether it was Christmas, Thanksgiving or your birthday. It is comfort food becomes it reminds you of a time of fun, joy and laughter, or of a time where you were being cared for while unwell. 

This blog post is brought to you by FMTV, the host to my Comfort Foods Made Healthy Series.

This blog post is brought to you by FMTV, the host to my Comfort Foods Made Healthy Series.

Many delicious comfort foods that we know from our childhood are heavily based on meat, dairy, fat and sugar, I'm not here to say that these foods aren't to be eaten (that's for you to do your own research!), but I do know that they are relied on WAY too much in our diet today! How often do we reach for the sweet and fatty comfort foods when we are sad (to fire off those serotonin hormones)? 

My ABSOLUTE comfort food growing up was Mac and Cheese (click here to access my Mac & Cheeze recipe), full of processed wheat pasta and frankenfood cheese sauce (my pre-Coeliac diagnosis days were blissfully unaware of the damage I was doing!). With the changes I have made in my diet, I had to get creative and do some swap outs, and most of the time it just did NOT satisfy! Fortunately I am perseverant, and with many foods from my childhood that I love love loved, I was able to not just swap out but replace the ingredients that I wanted to avoid (or use real versions of the ingredients NOT from the packet!). If you can't let go of "that" food, then making a healthy twist will reduce the guilt and help you look after yourself.

What can you do to make your favourite comfort foods healthy? Here are some examples (with a-ma-zing swap outs!):

  • Chocolate - swap out the dairy chocolate and reach for the dark chocolate, you will find you don't need to eat as much AND you are reducing the processed sugar intake;
  • Ice Cream - freeze some bananas and berries, and make up some delicious Nice Cream! Seriously, mix some coconut cream in there and you've got the natural sugars and healthy fats making you feel comfy;
  • Burgers and Chips - pre-make some delicious burger patties and freeze them, so they are easy to grab when you feel like a burger (many of us have memories that revolve around certain burger joints);
  • Donuts - hmmm, I'm working on this one - I'll come back to you soon on that! 

What is your comfort food go-to? I'd love to hear what is in the comments - I'll be sure to add that to my Cook With Me LIVE recipe schedule to change it up a bit for you! 

Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners - Replacing One Problem With Another

This week, there was some interest in a post I made on social media regarding a "health" product containing an artificial sweetener. There was plenty of robust discussion on the article, with some leaping to the defence of artificial sweeteners in products. I thought it ideal to have a little discussion on this sweet situation, and talk about the elephant in the room, why are we replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners?

A Short & Sweet History of Sugar

Sugarcane (the main source for sugar) was first domesticated around 10,000 years ago in Papua New Guinea - from there it was transformed over the next 9,000 years from plant, to juice to sugar crystals. It escalated very quickly with the industrialisation of sugar production in the 19th Century, when sugar moved from being a rare, high-cost food to being produced on a large scale, and becoming a "staple" for many larders. Suddenly, the human diet had gone from having a scarce treat of sugar to having it freely (and cheaply) available. We went from a famine of concentrated sugars to a feast of immense proportions. Fast forward 200 years, sugar production (AND consumption) has rapidly increased with the improvement of production and processing.

The War on Sugar

In recent years there has been a war on refined sugars (and understandably so), as more and more of the processed foods we eat contain very high levels of processed sugar. The average world consumption for sugar is 66 grams (What the World Eats), this ranges from 19 grams in China to 166 grams in USA (and Australia with 127 grams), the World Health Organisation recommends approximately 35-50 grams for an adult person for free sugar intake. It is an absolute imperative that we reduce our refined sugar intake, so make sure you check your ingredient labels, and treat your sweet tooth to a real whole food piece of fruit! How do we "quit" sugar (as Sarah Wilson says) or at the very least bring our sweet tooth back a notch by significantly reducing our free sugar intake? Read on to discover how you can make a change.

The Hunger For Sweetness

As the world seeks to cut out processed sugars from our diet, there has been a massive increase in the availability of "sugar-free" products, which contain artificial sweeteners (more on the common artificial sweeteners can be found on another blog of mine here). Rather than change behaviour, food companies have sought to chase the sweet tooth of homo sapiens by replacing refined sugars with chemical sweeteners, which mimic the taste without the calories. It seems the effort involved in changing behaviour of both the consumer and the manufacturer is far too much, and non-food additives are now freely used (and accepted) in many foods.

Why do food companies still either load foods full of refined sugar or with chemical sweeteners? I can't answer that for all food manufacturers, but I know there is some primal triggers in our body that LOVE fats and sugars, this is because they are incredibly fast energy sources for the body. In nature to access fat and sugar, you would have to eat something whole to access the fat or the sugar. If you were to eat the equivalent sugar in a bottle of Coca Cola in the form of a whole apple, you would need to eat 3 APPLES! I don't know many people that would happily munch down on three apples in one sitting. By targeting the primal fat and sugar triggers in our brains, food companies have you coming back for more, so buyer beware.

I do know that with perseverance, consumer behaviour can be changed. That is part of my passion, I help people rediscover real, whole foods - without the need for refined sugars or artificial additives. If the companies who fill their processed foods with refined sugars or artificial chemical additives choose to hold their ground, they may get left behind as consumer behaviour changes...

My Take On The Debate

My take on sugars vs artificial sweeteners remains true to my view on all food. If you want something sweet to eat, then eat a piece of WHOLE fruit (yes, that includes all that awesome fibre and skin!).

If you are in a position where you presented with two options, a product that is sweetened with an artificial sweetener VS a product sweetened sweetened with refined natural sugar, AND you can't avoid it (no excuses or "I've been good" here people) then choose the lesser of two evils - have the refined natural sugar option. Avoid artificial sweeteners, and if you are avoiding refined sugars due to health conditions such as diabetes, stick to complete whole fruits and vegetables. Send the message to the food manufacturers that you want LESS sugar, not REPLACEMENT chemicals additives.

My sugar food option ranking:

1. Eat real whole foods, if you want something sweet, go for complete whole foods (e.g. fruit);

2. Avoid refined natural sugars, unless completely unavoidable (Note: unavoidable doesn't mean you should eat that crappy sugar loaded chocolate cake if it is the only option at the staff morning tea);

3. Completely avoid chemical artificial sweeteners.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I would love to see some robust discussion as I saw on social media this week!

Beating the dinner time stress...

Let me paint you a picture. Actually, let me show you the movie of so many lives. 

You arrive home from work (on a good day) at 5pm, the kids have rolled in from sport training or after school care, and the first words you hear aren't "hello Mum/Dad how was your day?", it's "I'M HUNGRY!!! WHAT'S FOR DINNER???". The feeling bubbles up inside, it's like groundhog day, what IS for dinner? You check the fridge, there's some limp veggies and some sauces, you forgot to defrost the roast, and it's all getting a bit much. Witching hour is upon you, the baying hordes are screaming for food, and well, you just want to reach for that magic wand to make dinner appear!

This story is on repeat for so many, and it's simply not fun, the human brain when under stress and pressure sometimes can make poor decisions, or seek the shortcut to make it easier. Many opt for:

  • Running to the shops to get a few bits and pieces to pull together dinner (consuming 30+ minutes doing so);
  • Toast (YES, toast!);
  • Takeaway;
  • "What the kids want" - e.g. chicken nuggets and chips.

How can you get out of this hamster wheel? It's not easy, but there are some steps you can implement right away:

  • Think ahead (yes, think ahead) and get ready for dinner tonight this morning (or even better, have your meals planned ahead, so you can shop, prep and be ready to cook all week!);
  • Big batches are saviours, here's a tip, make a big batch for dinner tonight, and save some for freezing! Do this once or twice a week to build up the back up supply for "those nights"!, in quick time you'll have back ups that will last you a week!
  • Lost for inspiration? Tune into www.cookwithme.live to get inspired!
  • Fire up the slow cooker, that way you can have dinner cooking while you are out and come home to dinner ready to serve straight away! Slow cook soups, stews, stocks, lasagne etc. 

For more guidance and ideas, you can join me on November 2nd at The Source Bulk Foods Maroochydore for a very special event - Reducing WHAT'S FOR DINNER stress!. Grab your ticket today!

What do I eat?

What do I eat?

One of the most common questions I am asked.

So, what do I eat? My first answer is this, REAL FOOD! Whole, real, food. The second part to this answer is, what I eat is what works for ME, I have identified which foods help me thrive and be the best I can be. Does that mean it works for everyone? If only it was THAT easy!!!

Many of us seek a label to connect with, looking for words ending in -an, -ian, and -eo. I completely understand why, because as humans we use words to succinctly describe and to simplify our communication. Diet now lives in a world that was once exclusive to politics and religion, where it almost always results in there being RIGHT vs WRONG, depending on your viewpoint. 

I teach you how to discover real, whole, and fresh foods, to seek foods that are gentle to your body and the earth, and most importantly to listen to your body.

Where will that lead you? I don't know, but I do know by shifting the food you eat away from processed, additive-laden products towards food that is fresh, local and full of vitality WILL result in better health for you, your family and the beautiful ecosystems that support us.