Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Super Veggie Minestrone Soup Recipe

This week in celebration of the seasons changing from summer to autumn, I made the most delicious and nutritious vegetable minestrone soup for my husband and I. It was so warm, comforting and nourishing. The best bit was I made so much of it that it lasted me through the busy work week. SO CONVENIENT! This recipe is very easy to make and you can be flexible with ingredients. I am sure it will be one of your family favorites. Give it a try...

Serves 4, inspired by the amazing Jamie Oliver! 

All ingredients organic, fresh and of the highest quality possible. I am a big pan of shopping once a week at the local farmers market. Please ensure you have washed the produce thoroughly before use. 

INGREDIENTS

1 pint of stock (homemade is best, if you are buying it always opt for organic, low sodium and no added sweeteners)
1/2 cup gluten free penne brown rice pasta (I like "Jovial" brand best)
1/2 cup sweet potato or yam, cut into small cubes
1 cup dino kale (washed thoroughly, stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped)
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
1 zucchini or summer squash, chopped
1 tbsp. ghee or cooking oil / fat of choice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 x 13.5 ounce cans chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked / canned chickpeas (rinse thoroughly before adding to the soup if canned)
Optional add ons: shredded organic roast chicken (protein), hemp seeds (protein) and / or avocado (healthy fat)

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large pot on the stove top on medium heat and add the ghee / cooking oil / fat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini / summer squash, leek, oregano and bay leaf and cook  for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes, sweet potato / yam, chick peas and broth, then cover with a lid and bring everything slowly to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes until the sweet potato / yam is soft and cooked through.

Add the kale and pasta, and cook for 10 more minutes, until the pasta is cooked. If the soup is too thick for you at this stage, thin it with a little more broth or water.

Serve and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. ENJOY!

*When I heated leftovers of this soup up on the stove top, I added some shredded roast chicken, hemp seeds and avocado to give it an extra satisfying nutritional boost. 


I personally invite you to email me for tailored nutrition, health and lifestyle support. Together we will share delicious food inspiration and ways to enhance the quality of your life so that you can feel and look your best! The time to love yourself and embrace this empowering journey is always NOW!    

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Increase Your Daily Water Intake

Many of my clients come to me dehydrated and struggling to drink enough water during the busy work day. Hydration is essential for brain function, focus, maintaing healthy cells, getting rid of water-soluble toxins, alkalizing the body and so many other important functions. Basically we can live without it and we need to ensure that we are getting enough.

Here are my super sneaky ways to get more water into your body so that you can enjoy vibrant health:

- Start the day with a tall glass of water with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice (room temperature or warm water is ideal)

- Hydrate between meals by taking a glass water bottle with you everywhere you go. Refill as needed.  I also like to have a regular glass of water by my desk throughout the day so I can sip on it to stay hydrated while I work.

- Drink a freshly made organic vegetable juice each day (vegetables contain a significant amount of water)

- Consume broth based soups packed with veggies (homemade is best and oh so easy)

- Drink a cup of bone broth each day. To make this yourself, simply save the bones off your meat from dinner and put them in a glass container in the freezer. Keep collecting bones and once you have enough to make a broth, put them in a large pot on the stove top, cover with water, add a slash of apple cider vinegar, bring to a boil, then simmer away for at least 8 hours. You will need to keep an eye on it occasionally to top up with water as it simmers away. Once done, simply strain and store in the fridge for up to a week in a large air tight jar. If you have leftovers, you can freeze the broth in a glass jar but be sure to leave enough room at the top for expansion as it freezes.

- Drink a wide variety of herbal teas. Rotate your tea of choice each day to keep the flavors exciting. Some of my favorites are Pau d'Arco (great for candida sufferers), mint (a digestive aid), a good liver detox blend (try Traditional Medicinals), rooibos (antioxidant packed) and turmeric with ginger (anti-inflammatory).    

- Enjoy a big leafy green vegetable salad meal for lunch. In doing this, you are literally eating your water intake! Very cool hey! Be sure that you add healthy fat such as olive oil and avocado, as well as clean protein such as wild salmon or pasture raised organic chicken. Healthy fats and clean protein create satiety and provide your body with the building blocks it needs to function optimally.

- Make your smoothies using water... I often do 1 part pure coconut milk since it is so thick and creamy, with 1 part chilled water to thin out the consistency. The brand of coconut milk I like best is "Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk" found in a can in the Asian cooking isle of your local Whole Foods store. Click here for one of my favorite green smoothie recipes that uses nut milk (made from soaked nuts and water).

- Add flavor enhancers to your water such as slices of citrus fruits (lime, lemon, blood orange, organ and grapefruit), cucumbers, fresh herbs (mint, basil, thyme) and berries. YUM... you can even eat the fruit and cucumber slices at the end for added nutrients!

- Drink sparkling mineral water at social occasions instead of alcohol. For me when I add some fresh orange or lemon slices, I feel like I am having a cocktail! Ask for a fancy glass :-)


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Friday, September 12, 2014

How To Eat Like A Healthy Goddess

We have all heard how important a healthy digestive system is for our wellbeing.  The microbiome is the hottest topic among integrative health practitioners.  Microbes outnumber our tissue cells 10:1, and a significant number of these reside in our gut. Scientists are catching on to the fact that the gut and its state of health is linked to almost everything else that happens in our body. From food sensitivities, allergens, inflammation, illness, disease, cancer, mood disorders, and immunity. While you read on, you will discover simple and natural ways that can help to prevent these nasty things from happening. It’s time to start eating like a healthy goddess for enhanced digestion, nutrient absorption, microbial balance and vitality.

1. Drink water in between meals to avoid diluting your gastric juices.  Drink liquids at least 30 minutes before a meal and 1.5 hours after a meal to enhance digestive fire. Wetting the palate with a few sips of water during mealtime is ok if you need to or are thirsty. You want your hydrochloric acid to be strong to prevent acid reflux, aid in the efficient breakdown and separation of food particles, especially protein so that minerals can be extracted for efficient absorption later on down the track in the small intestines. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach also helps to kill off any bad bugs from entering the body.

2. Digestion starts by what you smell and see.  Engage your senses while cooking by appreciating the visual beauty of the food that is designed to nourish your body. Also give your food a good sniff!  This helps to get the digestive system ready to receive food and process it efficiently. Even the idea of a delicious home cooked meal is enough to get your stomach churning, gastric juices flowing and your mouth salivating.

3. Take goddess sized bites and chew your food like a lady. It should be a thin liquid consistency before you swallow. This allows the digestive enzyme amylase in your saliva to start breaking down the carbohydrates in your food so that your stomach and the intestines can do their job properly. Chewing your food properly forces you to slow down while eating so that you can recognize when your body has had enough. It takes approximately 20 minutes for this to happen. A general rule of thumb is to spend as much time eating your food as you spent preparing it!

4. Relax! Take deep breaths before a meal to calm your nervous system and gut.  When we are stressed or focused on other things, our body is in a heightened state of alertness commonly called “fight or flight mode”. When we are in this state, our digestive system slows down or shuts off completely so that energy can be used to survive in a threatening situation. We want our digestive fire to be strong and our gastrointestinal tract to be relaxed in order to break down our food and absorb nutrients smoothly. This is an important step for people suffering from IBS.

5. Give thanks for the food on your plate. Know that it is not only fuel but it is vital nourishment. Where your food comes from and the standard of quality are two very important factors. We should all eat a wide variety of SOUL Foods (Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local). As Michael Pollen says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Plant foods are nutrient dense whole foods with endless health promoting properties. When you eat this way, you save yourself from all the modern day diet confusion, food trends and having to decipher ingredient lists on packaged foods. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing the SOUL Foods on your plate have “high vibe” energy that fuels your life force.          

Join me for personalized nutrition and lifestyle coaching that is fun and inspiring. Contact me now for a FREE 30 minute chat to get started! 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Green Smoothie That You Will Fall In Love With

Many people say, "Eew green smoothie, not for me thanks!" But I have found a way to make greens taste delicious to anyone. The secret is this amazing recipe:

1 cup homemade almond milk
1/4 - 1/2 ripe banana (I prefer 1/4 banana to make the smoothie less sweet)
1 tablespoon raw nut or seed butter of choice
2 1/2 cups (or 1 very large handful) of leafy greens such as kale and spinach
3 ice cubes
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon goji berries

*Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by my dear health guru friend Amanda. 


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

BREAKFAST IDEAS FOR THE BUSY WORK WEEK! (Plus Bonus Smoothie Recipe)

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I want to inspire you with yummy ideas so that it becomes your favorite meal too.

Skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism, can contribute to weight gain, cause unhealthy eating habits like binging on junk food like processed sugar, throw your blood sugar levels out of whack, made you moody and give you brain fog.

Breakfast can be made very simply for the busy work week, here are some ideas to enjoy:

*Gluten free toast with different toppings:
- smashed avocado with smoked salmon, a runny fried egg or a slice of turkey breast
- nut butter with smashed berries
- hummus and tomato with a drizzle of olive oil

*1/3 cup of steel cut oats with your choice of toppings such as raw nuts and seeds, nut butter, goji berries, fresh berries, green apple, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, cinnamon, pure vanilla extract and homemade nut milk etc.

*Green smoothie (stay tuned for this yummy recipe coming to the blog next)




*My signature coconut smoothie:
- 2/3 cup pure coconut milk (chilled)
- 2/3 cup of cold water (you can adjust the amount of water you add based on desired creaminess)
- Optionally: 3 ice cubes
- 1 tsp. maca powder
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds and / or 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. goji berries
- 1 tbsp. nut butter
- 1 handful berries of choice (fresh or frozen)

Optional Add Ons (or substitutions):
* 1 tbsp. raw cacao powder for a choc-olicious berry smoothie
* 1 handful of spinach for green goddess power
* 1 tbsp. freshly ground flax seeds if you need a little help going to the toilet
* 1/2 ripe banana if you are a fitness junkie
* 1 tsp. spirulina powder for protein punch and blood purification / detoxification  


*Eggs any style with vegetables of choice (poached, scrambled, fried, boiled, omelet, frittata, baked etc.). Eggs go great with any of the following toppings: avocado, smoked salmon, bell pepper, onion, mushroom, kale, tomato and spinach.

*Homemade granola with homemade nut milk and fresh berries (get inspiration from the list of toppings above for steel cut oats)

*Chia pudding (get inspiration from the list of toppings above for steel cut oats)

*Overnight oats (find a recipe for yummy overnight oats in my Pinterest folder)

*Think of breakfast as if it were any other meal: savory dishes using clean animal protein and vegetables are great! Cook extra for dinner and enjoy a quick and easy breakfast for on the go.

*Hot cereal varieties: quinoa, brown rice, oat bran, and buckwheat etc. You can buy these from any health foods store such as Whole Foods or online... they are just like porridge / oatmeal and very quick cooking for busy mornings.

OR... cook a batch of whole grains earlier in the week e.g. quinoa, buckwheat, millet, brown rice or amaranth and turn some of it into porridge yourself by warming up 1/2 cup max. of the cooked grains on the stove top with some homemade nut milk. (Get inspiration from the list of toppings above for steel cut oats.)



For more healthy inspiration, contact me for a complimentary health consultation, the first step in getting your own unique balance and wellness back! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top 6 Ways To Lose Weight Naturally

*Eat consistently: enjoy balanced and healthy meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner (with a mid morning snack and / or afternoon snack if needed). This will keep your blood sugar levels stable and your metabolism revved so that your body is in burning mode, aiding natural weight loss. It is also important to make health supporting food choices which brings me to point 2…  

*Eat nutrient dense whole foods: I believe in the power of “SOUL Foods”: Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local for fueling our life force. We need a balance of macronutrients (healthy fat, clean protein, and complex carbs) and a wide range of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for vibrant health. Fiber in plant foods helps to create satiety and maintains a healthy digestive tract, while the water content helps to hydrate the body. Plant foods should be the base of our diet, as Michael Pollen says so brilliantly, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The key to choosing the best produce is freshness and quality (free of toxins)!   





*Drink water: toxins get stored in fat cells, so as you burn fat, these harmful toxins are released into your body. It is important to eliminate them efficiently by drinking enough water to ensure a healthy weight loss and detoxification process occurs. Filtered water is ideal. Even better infuse it with fresh herbs, slices of cucumber, citrus and / or berries for added nutrients and a flavor boost. Herbal teas are magically therapeutic and good for the soul. Broth based soups, snacking on raw veggies and drinking veggie juice are great ways to hydrate through food.  

*Move your body: I’m not going to tell you to hit the gym hard or do an intense work out every day of the week. I’m going to suggest that you move your body daily in any way that you like. Have a lot of sweaty sex, go to Soul Cycle, walk along the beach, bust out your best moves dancing, walk the dog or play with the kids. Just put it on the calendar and make it happen. Getting active will help you to lose weight naturally. I advise adding some weight training or strength exercises to your weekly routine to help your body to burn baby burn those excess pounds away. 





*Sleep and rest: in this busy world we live in, we need to prioritize chill time like an important meeting with the CEO of an important company.  This includes making time for yourself to enjoy life at a slower pace and embrace the moment with all your senses engaged. Rest can make you more productive when you have to work, rather than slugging it out for hours on end and experiencing a burn out. Sleep will make you feel more energized, as it repairs and rejuvenates the body and mind, so that you can function optimally. It’s a know fact that people who lack sleep feel more stress, get sick more often, experience cravings, make poor food choices, eat more, gain weight and are prone to depression. Who wants to live like that? So get some sleep darlings! 

*Mindset: Think yourself slim. The power of the mind is incredible. Stop saying you are fat, chubby, pudgy or ugly. These are not supportive beliefs to have and they will not allow you to launch forward and achieve natural weight loss success. To make changes and create new behaviors, we need to start with the way we think about ourselves. Interrupt these old disempowering opinions about yourself by saying “stop” and replacing them with something that is loving, empowering and supportive. Our brain is like a muscle and if we managed to learn these unloving habits, then we can train it to adopt more loving ones.   




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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yoga. Nourish. Inspire. - Living in a state of balance and bliss.

I was blessed to be a guest at Wild Soul's amazing event last Sunday at Slide Ranch in Marin, Norther California. We arrived at 10.30am for a blissful yoga flow in a super cool yert overlooking the Pacific ocean with the soothing sound of the waves. Next up, a tour around Slide Ranch exploring their organic garden, hanging out with their happy goats and feeding the chickens. The grand finale to the day was a farm to table lunch full of nutritious goodness overlooking spectacular views of the water. Here's what this soulful outing taught me:

- It is so important to surround yourself with "high vibe" people (a term that my dear friends Amanda and Chris always use in relation to anything that feeds your life force). Get together with your friends and go hiking, pack a picnic, soak up the sun, lay on the beach, tell stories, laugh, eat good food and embrace each other in the moment. Bring a sparkle to each others lives. Support each other in tough times and inspire each other every single day. Life is full of wonders, but I feel that it is even more wondrous when you can share it with special people.




- Embrace mother nature on a daily basis: eat your breakfast in the morning sun, walk amongst the trees, breathe the fresh air in deeply, eat nutritious seasonal produce, and wind down in the evening with the sun. We are designed to live in harmony with the natural cycles of the day. Put away your technological devices and stop to take in the moment. Pause to take in the shape of the clouds in the sky, the feeling of the grass under your bare feet, the colors of the flowers in your garden and the stars in the sky at night. All this connects you to life, the world and the universe on a deeper level. Start to simplify the way you live. Spend time with your loved ones. Cook at home. Move your body in any way you like. Go to bed early and rise early with the sun. These are the things that feed the soul and make life so beautiful.




- Eat not only for energy, but for nourishment. As I always say, "Eat SOUL Foods" (Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local). Go to the Farmers Market weekly to stock up on nutrient dense whole foods for the week or order a local organic CSA produce box delivered to your door. Pay a little more for higher quality foods and save money on health issues down the track. There really is no excuse. I have clients from all over the world and there is always a way to source top food that fuels your life force. What you eat and absorb is literally what you become, on a cellular, mental and spiritual level. It's not a corny line when you hear that "your body is a temple". It is the home for your soul, so build it every day with nutritious meals that allow you to be your best and most vibrant self.



- Be yourself. This is the most attractive trait someone can have. 
When going to events like this one, you realize that there are so many unique and kind individuals in the world. Get to know one another, ask questions, listen with interest, smile and show kindness. It is fascinating to learn about what others are doing with their lives and to better the world. You can make so many beautiful friends this way, by being open and willing to engage. Put your true self out there and the universe will respond. You will attract other like minder people who inspire you and make you feel good. We are all created equally, no matter where you are from, what you look like or how you choose to live your life. Respect this without judgement and simply share love with everyone you come into contact with. The little things can really lift someones spirits. So say hello, be friendly, radiate light and live in peace.  




Allow me to guide and support you on your unique journey to balance and wellness. Eat real food for vibrant health and enjoy a feel good lifestyle. I will give you the tools you need to achieve your health goals. Email sarah@mybalanceandwellness.com to set up a free consultation and feel empowered.