Sunday, 22 July 2012

Recipe for a perfect Sunday lunch

  • ·         A small handful of friends (and a gorgeous puppy for good measure)
  • ·         Some good quality red wine (and a couple of cheeky glasses of Bolly)
  • ·         Delicious whole food cooked to perfection

Combine all ingredients together around a dining table and enjoy!

This was our day yesterday. It was perfection in every way, shape and form – the company, the food and the wine.  And the best part? It was all “primal”. That’s right! No grains, legumes or sugar (bar the Bolly)! Rach and Robbo, the hosts with the most set to task early in the week to create a menu that was both delicious and nutritious (and suitable for us special snowflakes) and the result was above and beyond our expectations!

So what did we have?

  • Platters of prosciutto and smoked salmon

  • Slow-cooked lamb shoulder, along with the juices (I may post the recipe for this one if I can coax it out of Robbo)
  • Sweet potato puree
  • Roasted carrots, parsnips and eschallots
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Fresh peas with fetta and mint
  • Cabbage slaw with olive oil and parmesan

  • Grain-free, sugar-free cherry tart

Now Robbo is quite the cook. This lunch was fancy-pants gourmet. And seriously – all “primal”-friendly!

Robbo carving up his delicious "experimental" Cherry tart in my dream kitchen

Close-up of said Cherry Tart
OK, so the purpose of this post was not to gloat about how fabulous my Sunday was. The purpose was to show you that eating paleo or primal does not have to equal lack of flavour or pizazz (haven’t used that word in a while!). In fact, when you take out the flours, the sugars and all of the other processed junk, you are able to really experience all the flavours that the food has to offer. You see, flour is simply a dodgy filler with no nutritional value (quite the opposite – it has anti-nutrient properties….dodgy!) – take it out of baked goods and you are left with something more nutritious and more dense (i.e. richer in flavour).

What about for gravy? Use arrowroot powder to thicken or none at all. We simply drizzled some juices over the meat. Alternatively you could serve the juices as a consommé beforehand – it tastes fantastic and is incredibly nutritious, containing minerals, collagen and glycosaminoglycans (great for joint health) that have seeped out of the bones during the cooking process (an acidic medium, such as wine or vinegar, helps to draw the minerals out of bones when slow-cooking).

And sugar? Well the sugar that we add to foods is there to “enhance” flavours, but in reality, what it is doing is dulling our taste-buds to the point where we will need more and more over time to continue to enjoy the foods. Take sugar out of your diet for 30 days and I can guarantee your sense of taste will increase, enabling you to appreciate a greater spectrum of flavours and textures.

Despite the deliciousness (that’s actually a word! Microsoft didn’t try to correct me!), the best part for me was the joy that Robbo got out of taking on the “primal challenge” and creating something new and different that turned out to be a huge success with all attendees, even 13 year old Darcy, who is apparently quite the food critic!

Now, it's no secret that I don’t like the word “diet”. To me, it suggests deprivation. Using symbols:

Diet = Deprivation ≠ Long-term success/happiness

Unfortunately, my future job title is going to contain this very word. And I don’t really want to be known as a “deprivationist” (dietitian/nutritionist). Healthy eating should be something that can be maintained and enjoyed for all people throughout their entire life. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing clients’ body composition change after adopting the paleo/primal lifestyle, but nothing pleases me more than being able to add to, rather than take away, elements of people’s life and then hear these types of statements:

“It’s actually quite easy!”

“I am loving the food!”

“… and I don’t even feel hungry!”

"Are you sure it's OK for me? It tastes SO good!"

To me, THAT is success!

And finally what I would like you to take out of this post is to RELAX! Take time to enjoy the company of good friends over a long lunch and maybe a couple of glasses of good quality wine. All too often we are so busy with being busy that we forget to live. So this weekend (or sometime in the near future), stop being so busy, get a group of friends together and ENJOY LIFE!! Just like Tommy:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Paleo-ish No-bake Mixed Berry "Cheese"cake

Just the other night I discovered that my husband’s favourite dessert is (or was) cheesecake! It has only taken me 6 years to discover this (bad wife, I know)! The finding came about after he was speaking with a client who was expressing her difficulty in following the “paleo” diet. He decided to ask her what the worst thing she has recently eaten was. The answer? Cheesecake!! 

So naturally, there was only one thing for me to do…..make a paleo-style cheesecake that was in line with our nutritional philosophy (free of grains, dairy and processed junk; made with whole foods and a touch of love) and at the same time incredibly delicious. After searching, tweaking and creating I can happily say I created a dessert that ticked all the boxes. This little baby was approved not only by my husband (who was not too happy about having to share it), but also my fellow personal trainers and all of our clients that we trained the following morning at Primal Fitness! Not only that, but it was up against some pretty tough competition as Lachy, our Primal Fitness Masterchef, had also whipped up an insanely delicious pecan pie (also Primal-approved). Yes, it was (and has been for the past few weeks) a Primal Fitness bake-off. 

Another layer of challenge was added on with the 3rd member of the bake-off team, Tracey-Anne, following a FODMAPs diet at the moment to help with some digestive issues she has experienced throughout her life. If you currently suffer from digestive problems (i.e. irritable bowel syndrome), and a general paleo-ish diet hasn’t helped, perhaps FODMAPs would be worth a shot!

Anywho – this whole FODMAPs business limited what could be added to the baked goods. 
While not 100% FODMAPs, the cheesecake is mostly there and could be tweaked to get it over the line if necessary. 

I also decided to make quite an occasion of it and made my husband’s favourite dinner – Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (amazing recipe from Civilised Caveman), serving the broth as an entrée (kind of like a consommé – fancy, right?) and dishing up some mashed sweet potato and roasted cauliflower to accompany the main. Yes, I was definitely in the good-books that night!

OK, enough blabbering on. Here it is:

Paleo-ish No-bake Mixed Berry “Cheese”cake

Grain-free crust:

  • 1 ½ cups raw macadamias
  • ½ cup medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded dried coconut

Dairy-free filling:

  • 3 cups cashews, soaked for 1-2hrs
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (around 3 juicy lemons – buy extra just in case)
  • ¾ cup organic maple syrup (the real stuff, not the imitation kind – yes, the real stuff is expensive)
  • ¾ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ½ - 1tsp vanilla bean powder (add a small amount and taste test before adding more; can use 1tbp pure vanilla extract instead if desired)

Fruit topping:

  • 1 cup each frozen blueberries and raspberries, allow to thaw slightly
  • ½ cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped roughly


  • Blend nuts and dates in a food processor until well-processed. 
  • Sprinkle coconut on base of cheesecake pan (or whatever you are going to “cook” it in) – this will prevent the mix from sticking to the base and will also add texture and flavour
  • Press the nut/date mixture down into the pan to form a crust


  • Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spoon mixture evenly over the crust. Place in freezer for around 1hr


  • Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Take cake out of freezer and spoon berry mixture evenly over the top. Return to freezer.
  • This can be kept in the freezer until around an hour before you would like to eat it. It’s also nice frozen – whatever floats your boat! 

Now remember, while this is a much healthier version of a traditional cheesecake, and also a great option for us special snowflakes who can’t handle (or just choose to avoid) dairy and/or gluten, it is still a dessert and should be treated as such, enjoyed on special occasions only. It is not a breakfast alternative, although to be completely honest it is probably more nutritious than 99% of the breakfast cereals available, so if you are currently eating some form of packaged, sugar-coated cardboard for breakfast and want to improve your diet, then sure – go ahead and have this cheesecake for brekkie! But for all of you who have your diet pretty dialled in, here are just a few reasons to keep this as a special treat:

  • It is jam-packed full of nuts which, while nutritious in small doses, in large quantities they can cause problems with digestion due to a high amount of phytic acid/phytates. For more on nuts and phytates, check out my post here
  • Maple syrup, while also beneficial in small doses (only if it is the real deal), is still essentially glucose, which causes spikes in insulin (though not as much as sugar, agave or high-fructose corn syrup) and can disturb overall health and wellness.
  • It jam-packed full of nuts and organic maple syrup… it is one VERY expensive (yet insanely delicious) cheesecake!!

Why have I called it “paleo-ish” and not simply “paleo”?? Well the paleo lifestyle is based on how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived and ate and I just haven’t come across any evidence that shows paleo-man whipping up a storm in his high speed food processor. Go figure! I’m also pretty sure that they would never have bothered to shell 1.5 cups of macadamias just to blend them up, given that they come like this in nature and would be hard as hell to crack open:

But, here we are in the modern world, with pre-shelled nuts and very handy kitchen tools, so let’s just enjoy the goods in moderation….and preferably in good company!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Growing Healthy Babies....Naturally pt.2

OK, so part 2 of the “Growing Healthy Babies” workshop with Soulla was extremely eye-opening for me. While part 1 was reinforcing a lot of the information I already know, this session sufficiently filled my brain with new concepts. It was also a longer session, so there is no way I will be able to fill you in on everything, but I will give you a little food for thought and some places to look for further info.

I also want to say right off the bat that some of you may not agree with the concepts discussed. That is fine – everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions. The important thing, I believe, is in understanding why you feel a certain way. If it is simply because the alternative “just isn’t normal”, then perhaps you might consider opening up to new ideas and possibilities….just sayin’.

First off, something non-controversial (hopefully)…..BREASTFEEDING!!

Image source:
That’s right – if you breastfeed, you too can look as hot as Miranda! 

Not sold? Fine. Let’s go through some other reasons why breastfeeding is the bees’ knees.
Soulla describes breast milk as “nature’s perfect food”, and I couldn’t agree more. What’s in it that makes it so special (1)? This calls for a list:
  • Protein to provide essential amino acids for growth, protective factors (immune health), vitamin carriers (folate, vit.D, vit.B12), hormones (thyroid and stress hormones), enzymes such as amylase and lipase (to break down carbohydrates and fats also found in the milk).
  • NOTE: maternal nutrition affects the protein composition of breast milk. Read: what you eat is what your baby eats – get it right! If you are vegan/vegetarian, chances are you are not getting adequate protein in your diet. I know what you’re thinking “that’s why I have soy!”. To that I say, for the love of God, please put the tofu down!! While it may provide protein, it has other components which can disrupt the hormonal balance of both mum and bub. Please don’t.
  • Fat! Majority of breast milk is fat (around 50%), mostly triglycerides (holy moly my baby is going to get heart disease!!). This is a perfect example of how important fat is. Fat is essential for growth and energy, but most importantly for retinal (eye) and neuronal (brain) development.
  • Carbohydrates, mostly lactose, but also oligosaccharides and bifidus factors which help to build the good bacteria in baby’s gut.
  • Vitamins and minerals. Again “when maternal vitamin status is low, human-milk contents are correspondingly low”. I’m not going to go over which vitamins and minerals, because they are all in there….all of them, but only if mum is getting adequate nutrition (which should look like this).
  • Natural anti-biotic – apparently breast milk is good for ‘sticky eye’! Who knew?
A baby is born with a completely sterile gut. This highlights the importance of probiotics, which are obtained through breast milk, but also via passage through the vaginal canal. These two factors are so important for life-long immunity and gut health. Studies have shown that babies born via caesarean or who are not breastfed are more susceptible to allergies, asthma and other gut-related conditions (i.e. EVERYTHING!). If you cannot do either of these things, I suggest looking into a good baby probiotic supplement.

So what about formula?

Unfortunately all of the formulas available are pretty dodgy and don’t even come close to the real deal. In fact, they can potentially be quite damaging to the digestive system and can wreak havoc on the hormones. If you can’t breast feed, buy Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code (also see banner at side of page) or Sally Fallon’s “NourishingTraditions”, both of which provide nutrient-dense home-made formulas without the added nasties you would get from a store-bought formula.

Interesting fact:  “It is estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day” (

Now that’s just wrong! If you must buy formula from the store, please check the labels and avoid soy at all costs!

There are also benefits of breastfeeding to the mum, including bonding, losing baby weight faster, hormonal activity and also protection from osteoporosis and cancer!

Milk production works in a “supply and demand” fashion. Frequent feeding will ensure milk supply is adequate. Also note that it may be quite uncomfortable at first, but try to stick with it – it’s worth it!

How long? 6mths exclusive (i.e. nothing else to supplement) and continue to 2+ years. The world average for breast feeding is 4.7yrs!! I know many of you are turning your noses up in disgust now, but why? Is it due to our perception of what is “normal”? As Soulla points out, this doesn’t mean you are going to pop the boob out for your child to have a drink in the middle of a restaurant. At a later age, feeding may be as infrequent as 1-2 times per day, and this can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home – no-one needs to know!

Next up – introduction of solids

Again, I cannot recommend highly enough Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code – it covers EVERYTHING you need to know, pre  and post birth and is not just nutrition, providing a very holistic approach to baby-making. It’s a little exxie, but then again if it helps, it’s worth it, right?

Cue cute baby shot:

Yes, she is chewing on a T-bone and no, this photo was not set up! This is Chloe, the gorgeous and robust daughter of Billy and Paula of Plus Fitness in Thornleigh. Chloe is a "primal baby" and is absolutely thriving - living breathing proof that this stuff matters!

Contrary to popular belief, rice cereal is NOT a good first food: 1)it is nutrient poor and 2)it may contain “anti-nutrients” which affect the baby’s nutritional status. Same goes for other grains, especially wheat, which are hard to digest and lacking in nutrients.  Also avoid fruit juices and dried fruits, which are high in sugar and many have preservatives and/or damaging vegetable oils (I’m looking at you Sunbeam Sultanas!).

First foods should be nutrient-dense, yet easy for the baby to digest due to having an immature digestive system. Great foods to start off on at 6mths are egg yolks (cooked, but still soft; NOT egg whites), liver, and cod liver oil (Green Pastures), and banana (if you really want to do the whole mashed fruit thing). Later on, when you start to add vegies, make sure you add some coconut oil or butter to provide some fat, which is needed to absorb all of the vitamins. If you want a full solids schedule, I suggest you get Chris's Baby Code, or pop me an email.

Remember that it can take up to 15 tries to get your child to like a certain food. If he or she doesn’t like carrot this week, it doesn’t mean they never will. Leave it and come back to it next week. Be persistent! 

What about later on? I can’t deprive them of cake and chocolate and [insert other crap here]….

I’m sorry, but this gives me the shits. I know, I’m not a mother so I don’t know what it is like, but as I mentioned before, Soulla is a mother and holds the same views. Think of it this way, while you may be depriving them of cakes, sweets and lollies and all that "fun stuff", you are also “depriving” them of long term health and behavioural complications, such as diabetes, ADHD, obesity, auto-immune conditions. The eating habits you instil in them at a young age are carried through with them for the rest of their lives. So again – get it right. And remember, you are their parent first, not their friend. 

Easier said than done? Yes, there will be times when your kids go to parties or play dates and they are exposed to less-than-optimal foods and beverages. So what do you do? Well you could go with them, be a helicopter parent and smack the fairy bread out of their hands as soon as they touch it and scream “POISON”, then hose them down, bundle them up and take them home right away yelling “WITCH” at the host as you pass her.

OR… could make healthy alternatives (yes, these can still be tasty – go to or for ideas) and present them as a gift to the host. When Soulla first mentioned this to me a while back, I asked her if the parents hosting the party/play date were offended. On the contrary, she said most were very grateful and she is constantly asked for recipes by other mums! Give it a try! If you feel like you are being judged, just tell other mums that your kids have allergies – can’t argue with that!

In terms of what they eat at other times – that is entirely on you, the parent. Especially when they are young – it’s not like they are going to go down to the shops and buy themselves a pack of Allen’s lollies. If you don’t have it in the house, if you don’t give it to them, they won’t eat it. Soulla also recommends explaining to your kids why they should and should not eat certain foods – have a conversation with them, rather than just telling them they can’t have something.

Some great blogs to check out for tips and recipes on raising healthy kids are:
Other excellent resources for topics we have covered today:
OK, I think I am going to have to make this a 3-part series. I feel that this is enough info this week (and my hands are too cold to type any more!). As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and questions!

What to do next week


The Real Food Summit!! A.K.A massive FREE nerd-a-thon with some of the best minds in food and nutrition that should not be missed!

If you are sold already, go HERE to register now


The fabulous Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness has once again put his heart and soul into creating a stellar line up of professionals for the benefit of us., the people! And it’s FREE!!
If you haven’t heard of Sean before, you really need to come out from under your rock and get listening to his podcasts – pop them on your iPod and make use of your travel time! This guy is quite possibly the most well-connected man in the business, and he’s not just paleo – his deal is this:

J.E.R.F – Just Eat Real Food!

Simple. Or is it???? Not so much these days….which is why he has created this awesome FREE event.

Who else? 

Everyone who’s anyone. Here’s a little sample of who you can learn from:
  • Real farmer Joel Salatin leads off the summit, as he defines what real cows, real chickens, and real pigs really are
  • My nerd-crush Chris Kresser (yes, my husband is aware) talks about the importance of fish and seafood in the Real Food diet
  • Paul Chek discusses how eating whole foods impacts your mind, body, and soul
  • Jeffrey Smith dishes the real dirt on genetically modified foods
  • Mark McAfee shows you how raw milk can heal a broken immune system
  • The always brilliant Chris Masterjohn shares the nutritional wisdom of Weston A. Price
And those are just a handful of the 27 -- yes, TWENTY-SEVEN! -- video presentations that you will be able to watch for FREE during this 9-day event.

  • Because we have become so disconnected from our food supply it’s not even funny!
  • Our kids think yoghurt comes from plants. Need I say more??
  • Education is key in enabling us to make informed decisions about what to eat and why
  • Knowledge is power – build a more sustainable food supply for now and for the future by voting with your dollar – this is something I am becoming more and more passionate about as I realise how much we are f#@king things up. Sorry for the implied language, but as I said – I’m getting pretty passionate (and hence, worked up) about this issue, and you should too!
  • Did I mention it is FREE?? For now! After the 9 days it will be packaged up into a nice little dealio that you can purchase.


The summit kicks off Sunday, July 8th...BUT you don’t have to wait until then for the goods.
When you register today, you get to jump start your summit experience with Joel Salatin’s presentation entitled Real Food Defined. I listened to it today and it was fabulous!

What are you waiting for?? Click here to register now!