Good or Bad?

(Article via: www.stralayoga.com)

When we try to discern what’s good and bad for us, sometimes the decision is not always that easy. We think, for example, that coffee is bad. It’s addictive, stains our teeth, increases the release of our stress hormones, causes heartburn… I am sure you have read other reasons why coffee is bad. On the other hand, there are research news stating that coffee actually might not be that bad. Some scientists say that coffee can help with prevention of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and it may also help with lowering depression. It is great to have a lot of information available to us, but when we come across contradicting opinions, how do we decide which side to choose?

Most foods and drinks, I would think, have some good and bad aspects. That also includes kale, which we tend to consider as superfood. The benefits of kale do make up for the bad aspects, although those with kidney or gall stones may want to be careful with their kale consumption. Apparently the oxalates contained in kale have been linked to these health issues.

We can research endlessly about the pros and cons of our food, but at some point, we may want to step back and listen to what our body really needs. It all goes back to tuning into ourselves and feeling how our body really feels. We can gain as much nutritional information as we want, but it may be of little relevance if we are disconnected from our body.

When we are in sync with our body, deciding what is good and bad for us can be a lot easier. It does not always have to be about weighing nutritional pros and cons. Some days we may feel like drinking coffee, and some days when we may feel like staying away from it. While we love our superfood kale, there may be times when our body needs something easier to digest, so we may opt for steamed or cooked vegetables instead.

Therefore, the next question is: how do we get in tune with our body? You probably already guessed the answer. Take time to yoga, meditate, or engage in any other activities that help you to achieve a better mind-body connection. Yoga does not have to be on your mat, and meditating does not mean you have to sit still in your living room. Some days tuning in may mean taking a walk, going to the beach, or going for a nice long drive.

So keep up with the health and nutrition news, but don’t forget to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Your healthy life begins with you :)

5 Ways to Begin Meditation

Article via: MindBodyGreen.com
By Rebecca Seed
 
1. Throw rules out the window.
 
There is no right or wrong when it comes to meditation. During the many hours of yoga class and stacks of reading I did, I realized I’d always been afraid to attempt to sit in solitude because I would be doing it “wrong.”
 
Well, it’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable with being still, even for the most seasoned practitioners. Today, most of us spend our days on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email—and that’s just when we AREN’T working at our desk jobs. It’s much, much harder to quiet the brain than it was 3,500 years ago when yogis sat in caves for months and years to meditate.
 
So give yourself a break. A yoga teacher once told me, let the thoughts come in and then float away like a piece of driftwood on a river.  Acknowledge your thoughts. Say hello, even. Then say, okay, we’ll touch base later. And focus on your breath instead.
 
2. Create a sacred space.
 
I am very much a creature of habit, so this is important to me. Make a space in your home where you can commit to your meditation practice. You might even consider making an altar. I just made one in a corner of my living room and it was actually a fun little process. Take things that are meaningful to you, and put them in a spot where you can sit quietly. 
 
Reflect on them for a few moments before you close your eyes. It doesn’t have to be anything that will rearrange your entire room. It could be a picture of your dog, if that’s what brings you peace. My altar is a gilded Buddha statue I somehow acquired from an ex, a picture of my sister and I as kids, a tiny vase of dried lavender, a copy of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and a candle. Simple. I’ll add to my altar as my meditation deepens, but it’s perfect for now.
 
3. Aim to meditate at the same time each day.
 
And keep in mind it doesn’t have to be before dawn! Don’t read into that when you’re first starting out. You’ll never last. And I haven’t even tried it. I just know myself well enough to know I’d end up falling asleep. But, get into the habit of fitting it into your routine each day.
 
4. Don’t time yourself. And don’t look at a clock.
 
During my practice, I’ve been sitting quietly for as long as I can, until I feel the need to open my eyes. I’m pretty sure the first few days I lasted maybe three minutes. But I’m okay with that. I’m learning. I’m a total beginner. Sure, I can almost hold handstand in the center of the room in yoga class, but no, I can barely sit still for 10 minutes. Patience is all part of the process.
 
5. Learn a few simple breathing techniques.
 
You might be familiar with Ujjayi breathing from your yoga class. That’s a great place to start. And there are dozens of other breathing techniques out there, many of them are beginner appropriate. I’ve been doing several rounds of alternate nostril breathing while I meditate. It helps me to focus on something. This may not be the total enlightenment, but at least I’m not thinking about my grocery list or the bills I have to pay. 
 
I propose we all attempt a little meditation in 2013. The benefits are just too much to ignore. I know I will be better for it. I’m looking forward to getting there, slowly but surely.
 

Dining Out: Panacea

Sorry about the delay RE: posts lately, I’ll admit it, I’ve been a lazy bum. I just got a new desktop the other day and all I have been doing the past 72 hours is deciphering my new toy.

But, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to post about. The other night I had the night off work (which was rare considering it was a Friday night), so we all decided to go out to dinner as a family. Seeing as we booked at 4pm that night some of the first restaurants we called up were all booked, but managed to grab a place at Panacea, a small restaurant on Halifax Street.

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I didn’t really have any idea what it was going to be like, as the website didn’t have any photos, but looking at the menu I noticed a lot of the meals had ‘Gluten-Free’ labelled next to them. This I liked. I find it hard to eat out most of the time (without ordering a salad), as lots of restaurants use vegetable oil (my own work, explains my stomach pains after every meal), or ingredients that contain gluten, so it was nice to know that Panacea had items on the menu that you could be sure contained NO gluten whatsoever (not sure about what oil they used, but hey, we are eating out, you can’t have it be exactly as you would make it at home). When we walked through the door I was pleasantly surprised. The atmosphere is warm and cosy, but very hip at the same time. A turquoise painted brick wall with large colourful paintings acts as the feature at the front end of the room, and at the back there is a large tree, whose arms branch out and hang lights over the tables that surround it.

I was so excited at my new find! And they are open for breakfast too! I couldn’t stop thinking about having end of the day jugs of sangria after uni – in the summertime it would be perfect as they have cute wooden benches and seats out the front 🙂

But anyway, back to the food. We ordered a platter of antipasto to begin with: Chicken Liver Pate (Back left), Chorizo (Back right), Olives (Front left) and anchovies (front right). Image

It was all delicious, and inspired me to create my own chicken liver pate sometime soon.

For mains Mum and Tyler both ordered pizzas (both have the sugar-burner genes and the ability to eat anything without gaining a single thing). Mum got the Panacea special and Tyler the duck pizza!

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While Dad and I opted for some protein!! Dad ordered the steak…

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And i chowed down on some fish wrapped in ham and a yummy salad!

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I think my eyes might have been bigger than my stomach that night…

We then headed home for some tea and gave our filled stomachs some rest.

Overall it was a very delicious night 🙂

Have you found dining out following a Paleo or Gluten-Free diet difficult? What sort of cuisine do you find is the cleanest when dining out? Me need advice! 🙂

Day with Mumsy & Coconut Butter

Me and Mum, Santo Spirito, Vanuatu, 2009

Yesterday Mum and I took a little girls trip for some shopping and coffee. Mum’s always a busy bee, as ladys captain at her golf club as well as an employee there, it’s hard to catch her when she’s not out of the house or taking a nap after a long day (and she still manages to cook us yummy and nutritious dinners every night 🙂 ). So when she told me she had the day off on Wednesday I locked her in for a girls day. We headed down to Zara for some retail therapy. I bought some basic long sleeved tops for layering, and mum bought me a beautiful printed shirt as an end of semester gift. She still didn’t find anything for herself, but I swear the next time we go shopping I’m going to force her to by a nice dress for herself!

We then headed over to Queen Street at West Croydon (If any Adelaidians haven’t been there yet I urge you to!) and got a bite to eat at Let Them Eat Cake, which is a lovely little cafe with an assortment of Gluten-Free & Vegan nibbles and cakes. I ordered the Sweet Potato & Ricotta Pie and a Chamomille Tea and mum ordered the Soup of the Day, which was an Asian Pumpkin Soup.

After a good feed we popped next door to the Queen Street Grocer. I had always wanted to go here but every time I would go it would be closed, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was open this time! Queen Street Grocer is a charming little spot tucked amongst the cafes of Queen Street, and is reminiscent of the times when small corner stores were a frequent occurrence and people were friends with their local butcher or baker. Its walls are lined with an assortment of herbs & spices, tasteful teas, coconut products (my love!), nuts, flours, superfoods (think chia seeds and cacao nibs) and whole lot more, which are all neatly organized in either beautiful glass jars or rustic brown paper bags with Queen Street Grocer printed on the front. How could we not buy something?! They also had fresh oranges and coconut chips available for sampling! Free food – just when I thought it wasn’t possible I think I just fell in love with this place a little more!

Mum and I walked away with a bag of Desiccated Coconut (the cheapest price that I’ve come across – $4.95 for 400g), some coconut chips, and some fresh licorice (gotta treat ourselves somehow!)

However, the desicatted coconut did not last long, as today I decided to transform it into something so much more than shredded coconut. I reunited with my good old friend, coconut butter.

Oh coconut butter how I missed you so.

Why must our time together come just as quickly as it ends?

Because you taste so darn good that’s why! (and are hugely addictive 🙂 )

Yes, if you have never made coconut butter before, my oh my you are missing out.

All you need is unsweetened shredded/desicatted coconut (I try to steer away from some of the regular homebrand stuff because it has preservatives in it, and I have found that I always get a sore stomach or (sorry TMI) reallllly bad gas after I eat any). So yeah, try to stick to organic, unsweetened stuff where the only ingredient is coconut!

Method:

1. Pour coconut into a food processor so that it is full (about 2-3 cups depending on size of food processer) and blend for about 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is creamy!

That is all! *

Note: You may need to scrape the coconut from the sides a few times.

And you are left with a beautiful, creamy coconut butter. Mmmmmmm coconut butter…*drools*

Have it with anything! Or by itself! It is mighty tasty just outta the jar mmmmmmmmm

Personally I love to spread some on a sheet of nori and roll it up into a delicious coconutty seaweed wrap. Nutritious and delicious! Or for dessert I will mix mushed avocado, raw cacao powder, tumeric, cinammon, chia seeds, a few coconut flakes, and then drizzle some coconut butter ontop. Deliciousa!

What is your favourite way to eat coconut butter? Please do tell 🙂 I love hearing new ideas!

*Scraping the leftover remnants of the food processor into mouth is not frowned up, if anything it is encouraged.

Amanda Russell, Tabata Training

For a while exercise hasn’t exactly been included in my weekly, let alone monthly schedule. I play basketball once a week, but that’s about it. Food-wise, I developed some pretty good and balanced eating habits, but lately I’ve been feeling a bit bored, or unchallenged you might say. I don’t know what influenced my decision to start exercising again, but once I introduced it back into my life again, I was hooked. That may be slightly exaggerated as it was only a week ago that I started doing it again, BUT STILL, i have been constantly searching for new workouts and inspiring routines to start my morning. And I did find gold during my search, not just gold, but a treasure trove of diamonds and pearls galore!

I introduce to you: Amanda Russel. I stumbled across Amanda the other week whilst surfin’ one of my new favorite health blogs, pure2raw. Amanda is a former 10km runner and fitness junkie who makes these AMAZING workout videos! She knows pretty much everything there is to know about fitness and transforming your body, and has some pretty great tips on nutrition too.

This workout video has got to be one of my favourites. It’s based on Tabata Training, which basically includes you working your ass off until you just want to collapse in a heap on the floor panting like a dog in the heat for a short period of time. Tabata Training method is based on a system of 20 seconds of INTENSE (the harder you work during these 20 seconds, the better your results) physical activity, and 10 seconds of rest, which is typically repeated 8 times. I did this workout the other day, and I will warn you, it’s not easy, but don’t be put off because the results afterwards are way worth it. I did it in the morning before breakfast and I felt energized for the rest of the day! Workouts like Tabata and high intensity interval trainings increase your heart rate and pushes your body past its limits, which is great for your heart and pretty much every muscle in your body, and leaves you burning fat even after you’ve finished working out (even when you’re sleeping). How great is that?! Yeah. I thought so 🙂

Butyeah, I can definitely say that I will be including this routine, or something similar, into my workout routine once a week.

What’s your take on Tabata Training? Do you prefer short, high intensity workouts, or cardio for an extended period of time?

Lemme know 🙂

Kora Organics

There are few celebrities that I look up to and think are decent role models but Miranda Kerr and Sarah Wilson are two of them. I just stumbled upon this video where Miranda talks about her skin-care line, Kora Organics – how beautiful is she?! Inside and out.

It’s so good to know that even though she is a supermodel and could probably eat anything she wanted to anyway and still be thin, she prefers to take care of herself, and is passionate about health and well-being.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like an outsider where people look at you like an alien because you don’t eat bread or sugar, “you don’t eat bread, well what do you eat then?!”, but it’s uplifting to know that someone as influential and inspiring as Miranda is promoting such as healthy and fulfilling lifestyle 🙂

Not feeling guilty while watching The Real Housewives of NYC

That is the feeling I love. I am currently sitting at home watching MTV movie awards (following episodes of Sex & the City, Modern Family, and the Real Housewives of NYC) after handing up my 50% Design Studio Assignment this morning! Yes, granted I still have a 50% Design Drawing Assignment due in 3 days, and a 50% History Essay due in a week which I haven’t started, BUT, that is not the point. The point is that a massive load has been lifted off my shoulders, and that I am so close to finishing semester 1 (yes it’s only first year, but still, it’s a lot harder/stressful than it seems!), and that long awaited 6 week holiday is so close I can taste the sweet, sugar-free, organic cocoa balls that I will constantly be whipping up.

Along with baking bundles of scrumptious paleo goodies, there are SO many other things I want to do in the holidays, which I feel are slowly being pushed out of my life as I struggle to find a balance between uni, work, friends, family, and my boyfriend. Finding new music is definitely one of them. I used to get the biggest thrill out of discovering new artists, and would fall asleep with my ipod buds in my ears listening to their tracks. I also want to play The Sims for a week. Yes it will probably destroy my brain cells and result in me having no physical contact with any living thing but my cat for more than 72 hours, but really, who doesn’t enjoy controlling and creating their own little cities?

Another thing that I am dying to address is my mums knowledge of nutrition. My mum is one of those lucky ladies who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight – growing up she would make us lots of pastas, lasagnas, pizza, potatoes – basically anything that was easy and quick to make – and consequently most of these foods were full of starch, carbs, and sugars. So my goal is to convert her!!

Anyway, I’m finally on holidays now, which means hopefully I will be able to develop this blog into something super interesting and cool n shiz.

Stay tuned for some delicious and hopefully inspiring posts 🙂