Words to live by.

December 30, 2010 § 5 Comments

Hi friends!

Hope you’re all having beautiful, fulfilling days, as I am. Fulfilling, because I just accompanied my two girlfriends to see Tron. In 3D no less. My eyeballs bled. Yes, we ditched the men in our lives, and decided we needed a hearty dose of sci-fi, cheesy one-liners and geeky video game references. Don’t ask me why; it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I would have infinitely preferred Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, but apparently I am banned from seeing it until a certain cinephile buddy of mine gets his butt back to NSW.

Anyhoo, trivial details of my day aside, I wanted to properly recap Christmas day. Because besides the present butchering and the face stuffing, we actually accomplished something meaningful that left me with some thoughts i’d like to share with you.

Family shot (note: not my dad, my mum’s lovely new partner Andrew)

On Christmas day, after we attended to our own display of giving and receiving, Mum and I decided to try to give to others who may not have the good fortune of spending the holidays with loved ones. We organised to help out for the morning at a retirement village and serve bourbon-spiked tea and sugar-encrusted shortbread to the residents, and generally provide fresh ears for conversation and company. This was no great sacrifice, as I personally find older people fascinating and was looking forward to breaking with tradition on Christmas day.

I feel it’s a sad indication of our collective fear of aging and death, that the elderly are so often hidden away in homes and villages where their wisdom and worldliness is diminished; forgotten, lost. In other cultures, including many Asian ones I believe, families live in extended form, together, with grandparents looked after and supported by their growing families, and in turn imparting invaluable knowledge and helping shape the lives of the young. They are respected; a respect that is all but lost in Western society where ageism abounds.

As you can tell, it’s an issue that’s close to my heart, and on the day I felt quite emotional speaking to people who (for the most part) had so much to offer, yet who evidently lacked living, nearby or simply concerned relatives.

After chatting with some wonderful, insightful, wise individuals, I came away not only with the friendship of a few amazing characters but also a new sense of what it is to live, live well and reconcile with the inevitable physical decline of old age.

One lady, Betty, who agreed to adopt me as her surrogate granddaughter for the day, was exceptionally witty and grounded, and shared some invaluable advice that I felt would be nice to pass on.

She spoke frankly about aging and death, and said the most important thing is to simply get out and do as much as you can throughout your life; seek out adventure, embrace change and create those fond and happy memories that will later sustain you when you are no longer physically capable.

Being content with the sum of your achievements and knowing you grasped each and every opportunity must be a comfort when you are faced with the imminent possibility of your own non-existence. That confounding condition that is so utterly incomprehensible to us, as we make every effort to stave it off each day until we are forced to reflect upon it’s significance; when we too may find ourselves old and alone.

Heavy stuff, right? I didn’t intend to get so dull and dreary, but for a gal who contemplates daily the meaning behind our bizarre little life, preferably à la Monty Python, it seems an opportunity to learn from more experienced parties.

As someone who also likes to play it safe, be a bit of a wuss and embrace her inner nanna, it pays to remind myself that challenge, adventure and experience is what gives life it’s colour. And as much as i’d like to stay home on a weekend, sipping tea and perfecting the latest vegan cookie, I also have to temper this with a little excitement – shooting to fulfill my life in deeper ways than simply seeing Tron on a Thursday afternoon with two of my silliest girlfriends. {Although, the main character was rather cute (sorry Jarad). And I did happen to enter into a raging discussion with the girls as to his greatest physical attribute (Sorry again Jarad. No one compares to you, and I totally would not launch myself at the man if he were in the nearby vicinity).}

I’m so glad I spent some of Christmas day with new faces; ones that ultimately challenged me to consider not only how we treat the elderly, but also how it is that I want to remember my youth when I become old, stiff and incontinent. Moreso, obviously.

What are your thoughts on getting old? Do you feel you are ‘living to the full’?

Peace out, hombres.


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Christmas pics with interspersed health talk.

December 26, 2010 § 9 Comments

I’m always a big grinch in the lead-up to Christmas, but when the day arrives, a sheepish smile spreads across my gimpy features as I delicately unwrap gifts on xmas morning, and watch my loved ones do the same. Even better, is sitting around a simply laid table in the stillness of a sweltering Australian afternoon surrounded by excellent food and charming, intelligent and slightly intoxicated individuals.

2 tiny bursts of flavour as grown on our balcony, still warm from the sun.

Mum has a Kombi fetish. She evidently carries the dominant hippie gene that has been passed down; although I can’t say I share the same enthusiasm for novelty salt & pepper shakers.

Amongst the happy snaps, I thought I’d share a little health-related happenings of late. After all, this is a health blog if I remember correctly, with a decidedly photographic slant of late.

One of the reasons my healthy-living libido dropped a few weeks ago, and the blog became decidedly undernourished, was that I became sick. Sick with some kind of viral infection that, while not severe enough to lay me low, persisted with irritating, uncomfortable symptoms. In fact, on day 10 of the raw food trial I started coming down with these flu-like symptoms; my nose was gushing like Victoria falls and at the same time, I turned to cooked comfort food to satisfy an errant cookie craving. In hindsight this was probably part of the entire detox process, and I’ve also read that illnesses that you’ve had in the past can resurface before leaving your body for good. I had quite severe glandular fever when I was about 16 (mononucleosis) and I felt perhaps this was again rearing it’s fugly head.

Since then it’s safe to say, I’ve been a cruel mistress to my already immunocompromised insides. Compounding the sickness, i’ve been eating super clean for one week, then downing an array of franken-foods the next (some not even vegan – no meat of course, but ice cream and cheese may have featured). I don’t feel I have to stick to a rigid vegan ideal (however I would never touch cringe-worthy cage eggs or pig-fat soft serve); it’s more that my innards have been subjected to a roller coaster of dietary randomness, with foreign foods not seen for months, interspersed with super-food smoothies and wholesome raw goodies.

In an oversized nutshell, I have felt decidedly unhinged and have called into question both my general health, and the respect that seemed to be altogether absent in my dealings with my own body.

Why was I sick when I continually invest so much into my health?

Am I deficient in something?

Did I go into the raw diet too fast and cause myself greater harm than good?

Why do I find myself constantly placing undue stress on my body (ie. eating way too many sweets in a sitting & effectively sending my body into crazy adrenal overload)?

Why why why why why for the love of all that is sprouted why?

For if there’s one thing i’ve learned, it’s that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. I have a rudimentary understanding of food combining and the importance of proper elimination; I realise that eating some things in combination with others can inhibit the absorption of certain vitamins; I know that if we eat while stressed, we are unable to digest food effectively; I believe that overeating places stress on the body and contributes to ageing and other chronic illness; I feel we need to allow ourselves a little room for fun, frivolity and freedom because happiness is crucial to health, and vice versa.

I could talk about these things until I was blue in the jowls, however putting them into practice has proven more difficult.

So with my recent resolve to avoid orthorexia and be more flexible in my dietary needs (without giving up my predominantly vegan values and committment to health) I also made the decision to:

a) improve my immune function and make sure I am not missing essential factors in my diet.

b) bring more mind into mind/body wellness. A repeat offender for ignoring mental health in favour of the physical, I am taking the lead of individuals I admire and bringing some yoga and meditation into my life. My new mantra is OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM….nom, nom, nom.

c) play nice with my body. Don’t bully, belittle or badger; criticize, castigate or condemn; denounce, degrade or disparage…

d) quit alliterating. It’s doing my head in.

With bizarre illness still kicking on, in a pretty muted, fatigue-ey, throat-ey, gland-ey kinda way, I went and stocked up on Astragalus (for immune function), milk thistle (treat possible liver inflammation from mononucleosis) and Zinc (also for immune function, amongst other things), dosed up on Spirulina, barley grass and seaweeds, have been trying to include adequate protein, and lots of fresh fruit for vitamin C (as always). I’ve also been doing yoga each morning, and sometimes of a night, and generally trying to focus my attention on pacifying my peevish mind (ah, seem to have already reneged on committment d).

Treating your body with kindness may just be the best gift you could give yourself. What do you all think about this approach? Ever had health doubts or moments of questioning your own resolve?

Onto lighter topics, look what Santa brought maj! Isn’t he a hip, rockin’ dude? The speediest, flashiest model of VFF’s no less. I have vibram envy.

Camera bag!

Leftovers from christmas eve dinner. I made a fairly scrumptious quinoa salad from a recipe here. And also a strawberry & baby spinach salad from Golubka – please go to this blog now. It may just be heaven in html.

Dissecting the goods.

Typical aussie bouquet of natives.

Clean plates.

Hope you all had a beautiful, relaxing holiday x

Bonne festivus!

December 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

As predicted, my last minute christmas scramble has resulted in a rain check on the meaningful post!

But from Bonne Santé to you, i’d like to wish you all a fabulous Christmas, in whatever capacity you may celebrate.

Enjoy some glorious eats. Focus.

A salad by candlelight.

A second helping of silliness.

And a lucrative bounty from this breaking & entering fiend!

Bonne vacances!

x

Random happy snaps.

December 23, 2010 § 3 Comments

Morning!

Man oh man am I enjoying the sublime relaxation of holidays – no work, no school, no responsibilities. Visiting family makes me want to join the ‘people-over-20-who-live-a-cruisey-life-at-home’ club. Could. So. Do. It.

My days have been filled with leisurely mornings of blogging, jogging and non-egg-nogging. Yoga features heavily, as do jaunts to the park, use of the free-gym facilities and over-jealous photography of each and every mundane object and scene.

Mum chopping vegetables. Don’t miiiiiiind if I do!

How cute is this photo!? I need to get others to hand model for me, due to my chub-scout fingers. If you know me in real life, you would have witnessed the sausage-like appearance of my digits.

More garlic modelling. Looks like it’s on a little stage, no?

Skinned.

Is this post getting stinky from all the garlic action?

There are some beautiful parks in Perth, and although the weather has been a little off i’ve been acting quite the tourist wandering around snapping pictures of the sights. A man asked me the other day if I was from the local paper as I took photos at the growers markets. I said yes, and to check on page 7 for a transcript of our conversation.

I refused to lug my pair of joggers cross country, so brought the Vibrams as my work-out shoe of choice. They pack so easily, and now that i’ve broken them in, feel like I could walk around in them all day.

Baby got butt-ress roots.

So many unique textures and colours of bark.

Sprout!

GRAN?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I talk about new habits, respecting your body, and taking responsibility for your health.

Namaste (I will be a yogi yet!)

x

Sour puss.

December 22, 2010 § 11 Comments

Ever since  I was a wee lass, I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with lemon.

Lemon squeezed on toast, lemon on steak (ick), lemon used in all manner of potentially wrong and mind-boggling combinations.

Lucky for me, this bizarre fetish turned out to be exceptionally healthy.

Lemons have been revered throughout history for their medicinal and therapeutic value; the Romans considered them a weapon against all types of poisoning and Ayurvedic medicine uses them for…well…pretty much everything.

On and off throughout the last couple of years, and now religiously of a morning, I wake up and skull a mega glass of water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in. If it’s organic, I just throw the whole hunk in there at the end for easier refills!

Let me spin the lemon sales-pitch:

  • Despite being acidic in taste, lemon juice is highly alkalizing. (An alkaline internal environment is less-hospitable to disease and chronic illness).
  • Lemon helps to detoxify, heal and restore the liver, and is currently being trialled as a remedy for hepatitis, liver cancer and AIDS!
  • When consumed in warm water on an empty stomach, it can help relieve constipation.
  • Consuming lemon in water before meals also helps to stimulate digestion. (Just remember not to drink too much too close to meal times – copious amounts of liquid can dilute stomach secretions).
  • It is a potent anti-bacterial – proven effective against a range of infectious pathogens such as malaria, cholera, diphtheria and typhoid which are destroyed in lemon-juice
  • As you all know, it is high in vitamin C – a necessary vitamin & anti-oxidant that supports immune function, lessens oxidative stress, synthesizes collagen (goodbye premature wrinkles!), acts an an anti-histamine and is currently being investigated in megadoses for the treatment of cancer.
  • Helpful in treating acute and chronic conditions of the mouth and gums.
  • The vitamin C content also helps in calcium metabolism.
  • Beautifying properties – I rub lemon on my skin if i’m having a breakout and leave it to dry. It works quite well to reduce acne scarring and dry out flare-ups.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of sauntering downstairs to the little garden out the back of my mum’s apartment, and plucking a fresh ripe lemon straight from the tree. I threw half in the blender, pith and all, with some fresh mint that I also snagged, water and ice and a small dollop of honey.

Refreshing!

I did remember to thank the tree afterwards though, and give it a soothing pat. Why? I was watching this crazy show called Weird or what? with William Shatner (best. host. ever. So much suspense between sentences!) and it looked at these amazing experiments conducted on plants. A plant was hooked up to a lie detector (that basically measures changes in physiological reactions) while a man cut off a stem. Incredibly, the lie detector registered a huge spike before the guy made the cut – as he was approaching with scissors. They did other experiments too, and the consensus was that plants may have some kind of consciousness and ability to feel. I’ve long been a believer in this theory, and my mum, avid gardener, subscribes wholeheartedly to the notion that touching and caressing plants will help them grow.

The question is, if plants have feelings…..WHAT THE HELL WILL I EAT NOW?

Breatharian anyone?

xxx

Thoughts on lemons/plants with ESP?

Ortho-what?

December 21, 2010 § 14 Comments

Orthorexia. Have you heard of it?

It’s a term coined by Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician who decided to put a label on the un-healthy obsession with healthy eating. Despite sounding quite oxymoronic – can excessive health really be unhealthy? – I thought it was fitting to talk about in a community of healthy living bloggers in the lead up to perhaps the most notoriously indulgent time of the year.

Here is a quote from Bratman’s original article, found here.

“Many of the most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating. In fact, I believe some of them have actually contracted a novel eating disorder for which I have coined the name “orthorexia nervosa.” The term uses “ortho,” meaning straight, correct, and true, to modify “anorexia nervosa.” Orthorexia nervosa refers to a pathological fixation on eating proper food.

Orthorexia begins, innocently enough, as a desire to overcome chronic illness or to improve general health. But because it requires considerable willpower to adopt a diet that differs radically from the food habits of childhood and the surrounding culture, few accomplish the change gracefully. Most must resort to an iron self-discipline bolstered by a hefty dose of superiority over those who eat junk food. Over time, what to eat, how much, and the consequences of dietary indiscretion come to occupy a greater and greater proportion of the orthorexic’s day.”

Unfortunately, this sounds all too familiar, I won’t lie.

Are you giving yourself the gift of health this Christmas? Or are you paralysed by obsession?

An unfortunate side-effect of spending countless hours researching nutrition, is a shift in the balance away from eating to live, and instead fixating on the notion of living to eat. I myself am guilty of this black and white, good and bad mentality when it comes to food, sparked by my increasing interest in the benefits of a clean diet, veganism and especially raw foodism. Especially since undertaking my raw food experiment last month, I feel I have become altogether too consumed by eating ‘properly’ and more prone to extremes and excess in my diet. With my birthday just passed, and Christmas around the corner, I find myself falling harder if I happen to eat unplanned food, or that which doesn’t fit in to the healthy-eating ideal.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect it is a problem for many people out there, and can go unnoticed until it becomes seriously unhealthy and debilitating.

If we are eating for vitality and longevity, I believe the secret is not in the minutiae of what we ingest, or the perfection of our eating plan, rather it is a combination of all aspects of our daily practice – overcoming stress and expressing happiness and gratitude topping that list.

Mealtimes can be a struggle for people with orthorexia.

In fact, in the much-quoted Deepak Chopra book ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’, he delves in to the commonalities between centenarians – those living to 100 and beyond, with surprising results. Did these men and women live lives characterised by strict rules and penitence for culinary wrongdoings? No. Actually, the common link was moderation. These people reported that they ate neither to excess or restriction, enjoyed all food groups moderately, engaged in regular exercise and generally lived average, happy lives.

I personally think that our quality of life rests more on a foundation of mental stability and spiritual contentment than it does on the finer details of our diet. That is not to say I am suddenly dismissing the benefits of clean, unprocessed food. Ohhhh ho ho ho no. I am merely exploring the possibility that allowing yourself a little more grace, as Kate over at Green and Juicy recently put it may be key to living a happier, healthier life.

I admire those people such as my Nan, a fine specimen of youthful vigour at 80+, who embody this philosophy; confident in their choices at all times, allowing themselves dessert and balancing it with an easily maintainable, healthy dietary standard.

Achieving this peaceful balance may seem simple, yet I know I struggle to embrace the spirit of moderation.

I thought it may be helpful to list some personal motivations for healthy living, with strategies for implementing more balanced behaviour:

  • I want to eat my ideal diet (free from most animal products, processed foods and chemicals) because it prevents chronic illness, promotes vitality and FEEELS AMAZING!
  • Eating consciously and taking time to examine the sources of my food helps support local farmers, enhances it’s energy and nutritional value and promotes compassion towards other living things.
  • Superfoods help me achieve new goals in health & fitness and meet my daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They kick the asses of free-radicals and give me that warm, beta-carotene glow.
  • I want to enjoy food made with time and care – if that means eating a large portion of my Grandma’s sponge cake, so be it.
  • I want to set an example for others – healthy food is delicious, satisfying and exciting.
  • I also want to make sure that I allow myself to eat what it is I truly crave – eating smaller amounts of foods shunned by health extremists, more frequently, is better than out-of-control gorging on cookies because I’ve become overly restrictive. Similarly, I don’t want to eat junk ‘just because’ – most of the time I would infinitely prefer one of my own vegan concoctions. Force of habit?
  • Lastly, I don’t want what I eat to rule my life. Having a food blog may be an issue in this case, but I am determined to focus on balance, not perfection. Being a perfectionist may also be an issue in this case :P.

Personal posts are always hard to publish, and I hope that by being open about my own crazy foibles, I can help people understand that there is no ‘perfect’ way to eat or live; there is merely a constant evolution of our principles and motivations on the road to achieving balance and contentment.

Oh, and because it lacked some, please find attached <humour>. 😀

What are your thoughts? Do you think food bloggers and healthy-living enthusiasts are in danger of suffering from orthorexia? What are your motivations and strategies for living a healthy, balanced life?

Hunger pangs.

December 20, 2010 § 4 Comments

Hi loverrrs!

Welcome to Christmas week. Who’s excited!? Just today i’ve been scheming up sneakily healthy and supremely tasty Christmas day recipes to catch people unawares.

‘Mmmmmm Katey, this is SO GOOD, what is it?!’

‘THAT is a RAW VEGAN dessert made with no sugar, gluten or dairy, with added Spirulina.’

‘…What’s Spirulina?’

‘Oh, y’know, just a type of ALGAE with amazing and abundant super food health properties.’

*gulp*

Congratulate yourself for popping your friend/parental/distant, senile relative’s super-charged sea vegetable cherry.

*************************************

In other news, I am continually ravenous.

Not because I no longer have enough money to feed myself after the photography splurge (although that will probably become an issue once I return to Sydney to fend for myself).

Not because my metabolism has suddenly gone into overdrive (although that could be handy on Christmas day. Increased speed + efficiency of digestion = more scope for x-mas feasting).

Namely, because I am spending far too long doing this.

They say you should guzzle a smoothie within the first few minutes to reap the benefits of the freshly pulverized ingredients before they oxidize. My smoothies hang around so long, i’m certain I end up spooning nutritionally empty mush into my mouth, 20 minutes later. All my meals have had to be adjusted to compensate for this self-imposed time difference. Katey plates up 30 minutes before the family in order to do her kooky photography thang.

This breakfast smoothie was merely to tide me over while I took photos of the mung bean sprouts I’ve grown over the last few days (see below) but I ended up subjecting it to it’s own shoot, and slurping it whilst perusing iPhoto, and surfing the net. Mindful eating – I think not.

It was seriously yummy though:

2 small frozen bananas

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

massif handful of baby spinach

2 heaped tsp Spirulina

hazelnut & rice milk

Blend blend blend for a smooth, creamy and dreamy breakfast delight.

***********************************************

I also promised SPROUTS. And sprouts ye shalt receive!

As you know, I’m a complete chicken when it comes to preparing things that have more than a few, easily comprehensible steps. Things i’ve never attempted before, and the cultivation of ‘living’ foods (such as sprouts and Kefir) also fall under the umbrella of daunting kitchen processes that I put off for a rainy day.

In the spirit of the challenge (and because my mum has superior resources such as pretty mason jars and cheesecloth) I decided to sprout me some mung beans that I picked up at the farmers market.

Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as hard or labour intensive as I imagined. I followed my gut (always a dependable option) and found myself with gorgeous living sprouts two days later!

 

Steps:

Get your hands on some organic dried mung beans (would work with other beans/legumes too I assume).

Measure out half a cup of the beans and rinse thoroughly, picking out any stones or debris.

Pour into a glass jar, and cover with a decent amount of water. No measurements here, just remember the beans will expand to about double their original size.

Let soak overnight (8-12 hours).

In the morning, strain and rinse beans and place back in jar, laying it on it’s side and covering the opening loosely with some cloth or paper towel.

Rinse your little babies every 8 hours or so, and watch them start to shoot! (N.B They are not sitting in water anymore, just moistened from the rinsing).

After 2 days, this is what I awoke to.

I plan to throw them on salads, try out some new raw recipes, and enjoy eating food that is literally still living and growing.

I’ll pop them in the fridge soon to stop them sprouting, and apparently they can keep for a week or two.

What have you made in the kitchen lately that has challenged you?

Catch you soon! xx

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