How to have a sugar free Easter…really!

easter-eggs-3343Let’s face it; Easter is the holiday for sugar. We can’t set foot into a supermarket without passing the aisles full of chocolate bunnies, eggs and hot cross buns. In fact, we’ve had to ignore these shelves since just days after Christmas!

If you have been trying to eat healthier, reduce or give up sugar or if you have seen That Sugar Film, then you are probably cringing at the thought of all the chocolate and sugary treats that will surely be on offer over Easter.

Personally, I have never really been into the Easter egg part of Easter. When I was a kid I would often still have an Easter egg collection in September. These days, I rarely eat chocolate. A sugar free Easter will probably be very easy for me. Would it be easy for you?

Whether you are religious or not, Easter will mean something to you. Maybe it is the best time of year for you to go camping, or possibly you are just counting down the days for a four day long weekend. What does Easter mean to you? For me, it is definitely about family, food and enjoying the outdoors! Easter brunch in the park with the family, with lots of food and conversation.

So, when did Easter become all about chocolate? I have a huge issue with the commercialism of significant holidays. Why don’t we take Easter back and begin some of our own traditions? Traditions that don’t involve sugar!

So how can you make this Easter sugar free? Here are some ideas to replace Easter eggs with Easter gifts, healthy treats and fun. There is something here for all ages.

Presents and activities for kidseggcup2

  • A soft, cuddly Easter bunny toy
  • An egg painting kit
  • Instead of an egg hunt, set up a treasure hunt
  • Easter craft, think Easter bonnets, baskets etc
  • A gorgeous egg cup and warmer like the one here that I am gifting my 2 year old neice

For teens

  • An itunes card
  • A movie voucher
  • Magazines or DVD’s as gifts – these should keep them occupied over the holidays too!

For all

Easter does not have to be expensive or sugar focussed. How will you celebrate a sugar free Easter? Do you think it’s possible?

That Sugar Film – Review

TSFAs someone who has significantly reduced the amount of processed foods and particularly sugar from my diet, I can’t imagine taking on this crazy experiment myself. For 60 days, Damon Gameau, sacrifices his healthy body and consumes a high sugar diet, documenting the effects this has on his body, emotions and health.

The scariest part is that he doesn’t seek out junk food for this experiment. Instead he only eats foods which are commonly perceived as healthy. Think low fat yogurt, ‘healthy’ cereal, muesli bars, juice, sandwiches etc.

Earlier this year the World Health Organisation published draft guidelines recommending the average daily intake of sugar for an average adult should be 6 teaspoons. However, the average Australian is having up to 40 teaspoons of sugar a day. This is the magic number that Damon went with to increase his sugar intake to each day.

On the first day of his experiment his breakfast included cereal, low fat yogurt and a glass of apple juice. A common breakfast for many people, including children before a day of learning at school. The sugar content was 20 teaspoons. This left us thinking about how easy it is for people to be consuming 40 teaspoons a day and also, what is the consequence of all of this sugar on our health and wellbeing?

Along with following Damon on his sugar laden journey, the film is punctuated with facts about how sugar affects our brain, our hormonal system, our organs and our emotions. We take a look at how the brain responds to sugar, the ‘sugar high’ and how we become addicted. We learn about the history of sugar and how it came to be included in 80% of foods we see on supermarket shelves.  We also hear how marketing and big business has impacted the availability and inclusion of sugar in most food products.

During the experiment, Damon travels to the USA. This portion of the film was incredibly fascinating to me as it was at this point that he found it very difficult to find ‘healthy’ foods. The majority of foods were straight up junk food. It was also during this part of the film that we were introduced to the negative effects of soft drink on people’s health and appearance. I was horrified to hear that some parents put soft drink in their baby’s bottle. I was also horrified to hear that it is ‘normal’ in some areas to drink 12 cans of Mountain Dew a day. I was even more shocked to see the effects of this on a 17 year olds’ teeth, or lack of.

In just a week he had put on 2kgs. By the end of the 60 days he had added 10cm to his waist and was in danger of a variety of illnesses if he continued the diet. His appearance had changed significantly, not only was he bigger but he had dark circles under his eyes and his complexion was dull.

Damon’s story is fascinating and the facts behind it are compelling.  It is all presented in a highly entertaining and engaging format. He obviously has a sense of humour and this really succeeds in keeping the audience involved the whole way through.

The main take away from the Q&A session was that this is something each one of us has power over. We may watch a film about global warming and think, “What can I do about it?” But with this film, the message is that each of us is empowered to make our own choices that positively impact our own health right now. On your next supermarket visit, put less packaged food into your trolley and only shop from around the aisles. Eat real food!

In my cinema there were a variety of age groups enjoying this film, from young kids to old folk. I encourage everyone of every age to go and see this film. Take your kids, your parents, your grandparents. You can make a change to the way you eat at any age!

The final question after the movie was from a young girl around the age of 8. She asked how she could get That Sugar Film into schools. She got it. At 8 years old she got the message that there needs to be a change with the way we eat. Isn’t that encouraging?

Have you seen That Sugar Film? What was your key take away? What surprised or inspired you?

Find out more about That Sugar Film here.

Nut Free Bliss Balls

nutfreeblissballThis one is dedicated to my dear friend who has a severe nut allergy.  With the rise and popularity of raw desserts and healthy desserts, there is usually one common ingredient: nuts. I am totally on the bandwagon when it comes to these desserts but unfortunately I can’t share these delicious treats with my friend. What a wonderful opportunity to look into some nut free versions!

Living with a severe allergy or sensitivity to a particular food isn’t easy. You may find yourself bringing your own food to social occasions or being singled out at get-togethers with your ‘special’ section of the food table. At restaurants you may be questioning how the food is prepared and what is in it, ruling out any cross contamination. Maybe you avoid eating out altogether. Often people really consider their friends or guests who have particular food requirements and cater for that. I love nothing more than getting creative in the kitchen by seeking and testing alternatives to many types of foods. In my experience, I have created some really delicious meals and treats that my family and friends love.

This recipe is also dedicated to parents who value the health of their kids and are constantly on the look-out for healthy treats and lunch box ideas. Many schools have a nut-free policy due to severe cases of allergies. Kids love to share and swap food so this policy eliminates the chances of allergic reactions from nuts. This bliss ball recipe is a nutritious and filling lunch box item, without the worry about whether it fits in with the school’s nut policy. Plus it tastes a bit like a lamington!

Just as regular bliss balls with nuts are packed full of health benefits, so is this recipe. Included is an excellent source of iron, dietary fibre, protein, antioxidants, zinc and plant-based omega 3 fats. Just to name a few! Plus it is dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free. Everyone is sure to love this treat!

You will need

12-15 pitted dates (soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and check if they actually are pitted, you don’t want to chip a tooth!)
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup shredded coconut
½ cup pepitas
2 tbsp cacao
3 tbsp coconut oil
A little date water – save the water, you may need a little to make the mixture wet enough to roll. I used 2 tbsp.

Blitz all ingredients in the trusty food processor, roll into balls and enjoy! I rolled mine in shredded coconut, goji berries and a cacao cinnamon mix (it’s quite bitter).

Do you want some support with your restricted diet? Are you curious about how to choose foods to keep you healthy (and your taste buds happy)? Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!

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Crazy About Kale

kaleBy now I’m sure you’ve heard about the superfood kale. It is a green, leafy vegetable and packed with fantastic health benefits, making it one of the healthiest vegetables around. Kale can be curly or flat and dark green, but may have a bluish or purple tint. Have you tried it? Read on to find out why you should try it, how to use it and how to prepare kale.

The benefits

  • Kale is a powerful anti-inflammatory food packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including vitamin A and selenium. Dark leafy greens are celebrated for reducing inflammation and associated conditions.
  • Kale is a great source of fibre to maintain bowel regularity and prevent the risk of health problems.
  • Kale is an excellent source of the beauty vitamins A, C and E, which have powerful anti-aging properties and help promote new cell growth.
  • Kale is a good source of iron.
  • Kale is high in calcium.
  • Kale is a good source of protein with one cup of raw kale including nearly 3 grams of protein.

The health benefits of eating kale may improve diabetes, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, support bone health, digestion and healthy skin and hair. Read more about the benefits here and here.

How to use kale

  • Add raw to a smoothie
  • Add to soups, stews and pasta sauces
  • Sauté with mushrooms, shallots and rosemary as a toast topping or mix with egg for breakfast
  • Kale pesto to add to scrambled eggs, pizza toppings, pasta or noodles
  • Add to salads such as a Veggie and Soba Noodle Salad

How to prepare kale for a salad

Because the leaves are quite hard and crunchy, kale may not be pleasant to eat raw. Here is how you can soften the leaves for a salad:

1. Remove stalks from kale.
2. Wash and cut into ribbons.
3. In a bowl add the kale and squeeze half a lemon.
4. Massage the kale with the lemon juice and a little extra virgin olive oil (optional).
5. Allow to stand for up to 30 minutes, the kale will soften.

Are you crazy about kale? What is your favourite way to eat kale?

Are you positive about health?

_DSC6642How is your negative self-talk ruling your life? Many of us make choices based on fear. Fear of being judged, fear of being disliked or fear of failure. It’s time to make a change. We need to make the conscious decision to allow our thinking about ourselves to be positive and based on love. But how do we do this? What does this look like in everyday situations?

In the area of health and wellness, fear and negativity is common. Just a small shift in perception could be life changing. For example, making time to exercise so you don’t put on weight can be a chore. This mindset towards exercise can greatly affect your self-esteem and your routine may not be easily maintained. However if you choose to exercise because you love yourself and you know you are capable of great things, your whole approach to physical activity would be a lot more positive and sustainable.  I recently saw a fitness campaign for real women in the UK with the slogan; “I swim because I love my body, not because I hate it.” This is a powerful example of positivity, confidence and choosing love over negativity.

Food choice is another area we need to navigate each day. We barely eat breakfast then eat a salad for lunch because we don’t want to put on weight. By the afternoon we’re tired, cranky and craving junk food because we are actually hungry. Rather than making decisions created by fear of gaining weight, we could make food and meal choices based on love. Start your day right with a healthy filling breakfast because eating is an opportunity to nourish the body that you love. Remove the guilt and the fear and fuel your body with what it needs.

This week I invite you to truly understand and witness your negative self-talk. Are you making healthy choices based on fear? Once you acknowledge this, accept it without self-judgement. This awareness will enable you to think about how you can turn your negative statements into positive self-talk.

5 Awesome Aussie Websites for Healthy Recipes

imageI’m keeping this one local. If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that supporting local business is really important to me. We have so much talent, passion and knowledge, as well as many resources and amazing health and wellness expert’s right here in our own backyard. Make sure you bookmark this and share it with your friends. These websites and blogs are so valuable!

The Healthy Chef – Teresa Cutter

One of Australia’s leading authorities on healthy cooking. She has a huge variety of delicious recipes and includes the health benefits of ingredients too. I particularly love her salad recipes. A perfect place to go if you’ve been invited to a BBQ and need to bring a salad! You’ll never scratch your head wondering what to cook again! Vegetarian and meat dishes included.

Loving Earth

So much healthy deliciousness here! I’ve tried many recipes from this site and have never been disappointed. Added bonus is being able to easily search for recipes if you have a restricted diet or allergies. Not to mention a quick visit to their online store to purchase their high quality organic and fair trade superfoods (love the raw chocolate!). Plus the photos will have you drooling!

Veggie Num Num

Mouth-watering vegetarian meals only! This would have to be my favourite place to go for vegetarian and meat free Monday recipes. I’ve also made many dishes from this site which are now family favourites.

I Quit Sugar

I love everything about the recipes and meals on this site. It’s all about just eating real food, what’s in season and reducing waste. Nothing too complicated. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Wilson’s books too. Even if you don’t want to quit sugar, it’s worth a look for some meal and snack inspiration.


It’s all about real food, getting the right nutrients for you and healing. Recipes that are quick, easy and tasty along with great health advice too.  You’ll definitely feel inspired after checking out these recipes.

Well, they are my favourite, top five, most visited websites to find recipes and meal inspiration. I know there are many other worthy Australian sites too and I’d love you to share some of your local favourites in the comments. Which of these sites will you check out first?

The only bliss ball recipe you need!

Bliss balls are a great healthy snack to have on hand. I usually make a batch on a Sunday afternoon so I am organised in the snack department for the week ahead.  This recipe is refined sugar free and is full of heart-healthy fats. Some people avoid nuts because they fear putting on weight. Studies have shown that those who eat nuts twice a week are less likely to put on weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Of course this would be a different story for salted or flavoured nuts.

Other health benefits of the nuts in this recipe include antioxidants, bone health, aid in lowering the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals, help provide good brain function and alkalise the body. Dates are also an excellent source of iron, dietary fibre and assist in replenishing energy. What a power-packed snack!

I use this recipe as the base for a lot of my bliss balls. You may wish to add cacao, apricots, protein powder, chia seeds, coconut, spirulina, lemon zest or goji berries to yours. Otherwise, they are just as satisfying and delicious on their own.

You will need:

1 cup of cashews
1 cup of other nuts eg, almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia
12-15 pitted dates (soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and check if they actually are pitted, you don’t want to chip a tooth!)

First process the nuts. Add the dates without the water (and any other addition) and process until it sticks up the sides of the processor. Check the mixture, if it is too dry or crumbly you may like to add some of the date water. If necessary, place in the fridge before rolling into balls. Roll into balls and refrigerate.

How do you like this bliss ball recipe? Did you add anything to yours?

Seven Days of Self-Care

2014-08-life-of-pix-free-stock-photos-Countryside-trees-hammock-chill-RelaxationHow well do you care for yourself? Do you only make time for yourself once you’ve looked after everyone else? If you have set an intention for 2015 to love yourself more or if you rarely make time for yourself then this is for you. Late last year I ran a “Seven Days of Self-Care” guide. I don’t feel ‘challenge’ is the appropriate word here when speaking of self-care. The feedback was positive and some of the changes and insights by those who participated was profound. Follow the guide below at your own pace. Notice which self-care tips resonate with you and which ones you struggle with. Try to focus on just one strategy per day. Remember, taking good care of YOU means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.

Day 1: Breathe

Breathe through the nose. Notice the inhale, notice the exhale and connect with your breath. Breathe deeply into the belly. Notice how the nose warms the breath as it enters the body. Notice how your belly expands. Notice how your chest rises. Exhale slowly.

Three deep breaths can be enough to calm and de-stress your body and mind. Take a moment to connect to your breath. Focusing on the breath will bring you back to the present moment. If you are feeling stress levels rise, take a moment to breathe.

Day 2: Take a break

A real break. The kind of break without distractions or interruptions. Switch off your phone, turn off the TV, wait until your kids go to bed if you need to. This is not the time to be making mental ‘to do’ lists either!

Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it. Put your feet up, read a book or magazine or simply close your eyes. Slow down and savour it. Enjoy the stillness! Completely stopping for as little as ten minutes could make all the difference.

Day 3: Move your body

Exercise produces the feel good hormone serotonin, which has an uplifting effect on your entire body. It also increases energy and reduces anxiety and stress.

Moving your body outside in nature can also improve your mood. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice natures’ beauty. Breathe in the fresh air and feel recharged.

You may like to try a yoga, Pilates or Zumba class. Maybe a walk, run, bike ride or swim outdoors is more convenient for you. Or perhaps a game of tennis or soccer with your friends or kids is your type of exercise. Even turning up the stereo and dancing around the house counts! Enjoy whatever you do and have fun. If you can’t spare more than 15 minutes, don’t worry, do as much as you can.

Day 4: Be Positive

Think positive and positive things will happen. Positive thoughts boost your mood, spirit and can even generate more positivity and happiness in your life.

Let go of negative self-talk, make the choice to be positive. When you notice the negative chatter going in your head, replace it with something positive. Even when you don’t think you have it all, focus on what you have today.

One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.

Day 5: Pamper Yourself

It’s time to relax and recharge. Show yourself some love and care. You deserve some you time!

You could try dry body brushing before a shower, a body scrub, facial, massage, pedicure, manicure or a relaxing bath. A DIY spa night could be the perfect way to pamper yourself and unwind.

Day 6: Play!

Most of us have jobs and roles that require responsibility. All work and no play is no way to live a life of depth. Life shouldn’t be so serious and busy all of the time.

Make it a priority to let go of the stresses in your life and make time for play. Not only will you enjoy it but you’ll also be modelling healthy work-life balance behaviours to those around you.

So dust off the cricket set, tennis rackets or board games and have fun just playing. Remember playgrounds aren’t just for kids! Play, laugh and relax!

Day 7: Connect with nature

Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature. Enjoy the simplicity of nature, it’s good for the spirit.

Nature will quiet your mind and you will feel connected with life all around you. You may emerge from your nature break feeling more alive, inspired or more relaxed than ever. Getting outside will nourish, de-stress and empower you!

Take off your shoes and sink your bare feet into the grass or sand, tend to some gardening, or go for a walk outdoors. Breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh air. You could even bring nature to you with a plant, freshly cut flowers or some shells collected from the beach.

Finally: Reflect

How will you incorporate self-care into your days ahead? Which self-care tip resonated with you the most? Which one did you struggle with? I’d love to hear from you!