Be A Food Label Detective #1

Food labelling can be so overwhelming!

It can take a matter of minutes to interpret exactly what the food is, let alone sort through the hundreds of words and numbers on the packaging to find out if it's actually any good for you.

Because we spend hours looking through packaged foods when trying to make a healthy choice, we wanted to help you navigate your way through the supermarket with ease.

In this blog, let's distinguish what is on the packaging of our foods.

HEALTH CLAIMS - These are things like "nutritious", "healthy" and "no sugar added". These claims can be the most misleading part of the food label. They are not well regulated and often the claims are false. Most of the time, avoid making a judgement based on these claims!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION - This is the panel which tells you how much fat, carbohydrate and protein are in the food. This is where things get tricky.

First of all, if you are going to refer to this panel, look at the values per 100g, not per serving size, as serving size differs across the board.

Again, you shouldn't judge your food too much by this panel, but main things you might want to look out for are the amounts of sugar (you'd be surprised when you start thinking about the % of sugar in your food) and perhaps the amount of protein and fat if you are trying to find a satiating food choice.

INGREDIENTS LISTING - This is where the gold is! The list of what is actually in your food. The listing begins with the ingredient that is in the food the most down to the least. 

It is easy to see by looking at this panel whether the food is going to be good for you or not.

In the next blog, we'll talk more about what the numbers and chemical-sounding names mean, but for now, look for foods that sound the most whole.

Do you recognise the ingredient listed? Is it a whole food?

If the answer is YES than you're probably on the right track. If no, you may need to look for an alternative or weigh up whether to go ahead or not. 

IE. If sugar is your number one ingredient, perhaps best to stay away!

Other easy to avoid ingredients are vegetable or canola oils, processed flours, gluten and dairy if you're intolerant, highly processed parts of whole foods and flavourings (even natural ones).

We'll cover these more on the next blog, but for now, start taking notice of what goes into your trolley.

The easiest thing to do? Avoid the packaged foods where possible. Use the outside aisles of your supermarket more than the inside ones.

Can you make it yourself or find an alternative? Or do you even need it?

For more nutritional tips, recipes and alternatives please make an appointment with Mel.

Struggling With Sleep?

You're not alone.

Research by the Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of us Australians have poor sleep patterns that lead to fatigue and irritability that's putting us at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health and unsafe behaviours.

You might already been experiencing these symptoms, and more. Reliance on coffee and sugar to keep you going through the day. Disruption to your digestion and hormones, leading to fatigue, weight gain, stress, anxiety and a whole host of other symptoms.

We all know we should be getting more sleep, but what if we simply cannot fall asleep? Or maybe we keep waking up through the night?

There are some really simple methods that my family and I use that help us get a healthy amount of sleep (most nights, Callie is still interrupting that a little!). Start introducing these into your bedtime routine and let's prioritise our sleep for a healthier life!

1. Lights Down, Devices Down

At least half an hour before bed (one hour is possible). Dim lights if you can, or at least turn the bright ones off. Electronic devices out of the bedroom and screens off! Use this time to wind down, connect with your loved ones, or maybe even meditate or journal before bed.

This puts your nervous system in a state of calm and prepares your body for sleep.

2. Teatime

Herbal tea before bed is a fantastic bedtime ritual. Choose an organic blend of sleep or calming tea, and enjoy this in bed (maybe during your lights down time). Herbs in the tea can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Small cup is perfect, because you don't want to be going to the toilet all night!

3. Herbal Help

My Sleep Tonic is a classic and effective blend of passionflower and kava, with a hint of rescue sleep remedy. 

The passionflower in the mix will assist sleep onset helping you get to sleep quicker. Perfect for those who are tired and snuggle up but then lay there thinking about everything or nothing and don’t drift off easily. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning!

Meanwhile the blend of traditional Kava will allow you to get a deeper and better quality sleep. This means it may help to keep you asleep for the entire night rather than that pesky midnight toilet wake or early morning wide eyed think.  Kava has a 3000 year old history of use and folklore. It is used today to assist relaxation and stress as well as insomnia by people in multiple countries. It is safe and effective if used correctly.

Neither of these herbs is a heavy sedative so there is no hungover feeling in the morning. After a good night’s sleep with less worries you can wake feeling refreshed and ready to start your day.

4. Get To Bed On Time!

And at the same time every night, or as close to as possible. Studies have shown that sleep before midnight is much better quality, so make sure you are going to bed before then!

Also, getting up at the same time every day will help your body settle into a healthy rhythm.

5. Watch What You Eat

Eat well before you're planning to go to bed. Minimise caffeine and sugar, especially in the hours before hitting the sack. 

Ensure your dinner is satiating so you won't be hungry and tempted to eat late night treats!

Lastly, don't worry! Enjoy creating a healthy bedtime ritual that works for you.

Still struggling to sleep?

Make an appointment with Mel and get a personalised sleep plan today.

How To Be Healthy For Less

It's probably the most common reason I hear why people can't be healthy...

"It's too expensive!" as well as "It's too hard!".

I totally get it. Living a healthy lifestyle can come at a higher cost than not. But the way I see it, it's an investment. 

Think about living a healthy life like paying for your health insurance. It's a preventative measure for your health and it can even save your life. The amount of money you won't have to spend later on in life for having better health will pay off!

My goal is to try and encourage as many people as possible to change their lives for the better. I understand to do that, I need to help people understand that living well doesn't have to be hard.

Let's start by changing the way we eat. Good health starts with excellent nutrition. Nourishing the body to feed the cells to maximise your health and wellbeing. It makes sense!

But people look at healthy eating and believe they can't afford it. Maybe it's an excuse? Or maybe it's partly true. Sure, my family spends more money on good quality food than most other things, but being well is our priority. Plus we love food!

You can't compare the cost of eating a salad with some good quality protein to eating a white bread sausage sandwich. What you can compare though is how good your body feels after it!

Here are five ways you can start to eat healthy, without breaking the budget.

1. ORGANISATION

Sure, we all know that if we do one grocery shop per week instead of five little ones that we'll spend less. Do we actually follow through on this though?

It's best to have a plan. Make meal planning fun, involve the whole family and make room for flexibility.

From your meal planner, write a list that covers all bases and stick to it. 

2. SHOPPING

Your local supermarket may be the most convenient way to shop, but have you ever looked at other options?

Most of your meals should revolve around fresh, healthy produce (look for inspiration in my cookbooks here) and less around packaged foods. Thus, going to the supermarket doesn't have to be a necessity.

Farmers markets are a brilliant way to buy bulk produce, often for cheaper than the supermarkets, much better quality and less packaging. Plus you get to buy what is in season, which works out more affordable.

If you don't have access to them, Woolies now has "Odd Bins", produce that isn't perfect for a much cheaper price. Harris Farm has the same thing. And Aldi often has some cheap produce buys.

3. BULK FOOD ORDERS

The moment I discovered these, was an exciting time!

Sure, buying in bulk costs more in the short term, but in the long term it pays off.

Here in Newcastle, you can do this with eggs (The Local Yolk), toilet paper (Who Gives A Crap) as well as wholefoods (The Healthful Pantry). 

Wholefoods bulk ordering is great for all your staples, like non-dairy milks, grains, oils and so on.

Scoop is brilliant for this as well, as you can simply buy what you need!

4. WASTE NOT WANT NOT

Broccoli stalks - eat them! Avocado seeds - blend them in smoothies! Almost dead veggies - cook them up into fritters! Overripe bananas - make banana bread, or peel and freeze for smoothies or ice cream!

There are so many ways you can get the most out of your food. 

Also, is there something you are throwing out every week? Is there a way you can make sure you use it or not buy it/buy less in future?

5. MAKE THINGS FROM SCRATCH

There is a common misconception that being healthy means buying a pantry full of fancy products, expensive alternatives and one-off ingredients.

This is often untrue and for much less, you can re-create your own versions with fewer ingredients.

Gone gluten free? You don't need to go and buy a whole host of gluten free products. See what you can make yourself. See what you can eliminate. Same goes with going dairy free. Or any other elimination diet!

You'll find that many wholefood, healthy recipes use the same base herbs and spices, so invest in these in bulk. If there is something you don't have, use good old Google to search "alternative to ..". If it's only a small amount, maybe you don't even need it! 

Experiment and have fun with it.

I would love to hear your best healthy eating on a budget tips!

Comment below or share them with us on Facebook

 

CLEAN OUT YOUR PANTRY!

How is the health of your pantry?

For many of us on this health journey, we have cleaned out our fridges. We have the nutritionally inspiring cookbooks (like mine) on our shelves to replace the old Women's Weekly classics. 

But hiding in the back of our pantries are most likely some nasties that you may be still holding on to.

It's easy to get into the habit of using certain ingredients or having go-to's that actually aren't serving us. 

Chemical-laden canned goods are probably one of the main culprits that are probably hiding up the back of your cupboard right now. From the packaging, you would think you are doing the right thing, perhaps buying some mixed beans to go into your homemade nachos, or some lovely vegetable soup to take to work for lunch. But look at the ingredients panel (note, not the "nutritional information" panel, which really doesn't give you much actual information) and you will usually find sugars, preservatives, unknown numbers and colours, salts and less-than-desirable oils.

Many of these canned goods can easily be swapped for healthier alternatives, you just need to know where to find them! Often the organic canned goods have better ingredients (although always check) as well as better quality cans, so you know you won't have extra chemicals leaching into your food. If it's just an oil or salt, you can rinse out the contents before consuming. Or make your own version at home! Google is your friend here, with millions of recipes to choose from. Or ask me during your next consultation.

There are many other simple swaps you can do RIGHT NOW to improve you and your family's health and ensure you are getting the most out of your food. 

1. Swap table salt for a natural pink or Celtic salt. Look for a good quality version of these salts! I stock a beautiful Changing Habits Seaweed Salt online and in the clinic. 

2. Swap white vinegar for raw apple cider vinegar. You can buy Braggs now from most supermarkets in the health food section. 

3. Swap supermarket nuts for fresh good quality nuts from health food or whole food grocer. Store them in the fridge.

4. Swap oily meals to the the fridge so they don’t go rancid. These include your LSA, almond meal, etc.

5. Swap overly processed seed oils like canola, vegetable and safflower for olive oil or coconut oil. Ensure you go for a good quality version of these oils!

6. Swap white sugar for a natural sweetener like stevia, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. You can also use medjool dates as a natural sweetener.

7. Swap white wheat flour for a good quality whole meal or ancient grain like spelt. There are so many flour options now, especially if you have a bulk whole foods store handy like Scoop in Newcastle!

We'd love to hear from you - What is one of the pantry swaps you have made to improve your health?

Comment below!

Do I Have Post-Natal Depression? 

* Please seek advice from PANDA or call 1300 726 306 if this resonates with you *

This is not just another blog about how hard it is to be a Mummy. Sometimes I struggle to find topics to write blogs on and other times I find myself writing in my head about anything from the book I am reading to my deepest darkest feelings. 

This is the latter, but instead of making it just about me I hope it can reach out and empower some of the many women around me who may be struggling as well.

I think many of those women and my clients see me as Super Herbalist and Mummy and possibly put me up on a pedestal in terms of successful clinic, healthy baby and happy marriage. She can cope with it all! But there is no need. I do have all of those amazing blessings in my life, however you never really know what’s going on in someone’s life and mind unless you are them.

More to the point, I want to stamp out the competitive baby comparisons and have always tried to be very transparent with my mental health to open that conversation for anyone else who is trying and those that are struggling. 

I have always been a high achiever and I have always worked my butt off. As we speak I am in bed, having put Callie down three times so far, writing this blog. She is ten months old and this week is the first I have started to truly feel like myself again.

While these glimpses of my old self have made me feel happy and secure (OMG, light at the end of the tunnel), they have also made me realise where I have been mentally and where I can easily slip back into in-between these moments.

I should say, I have a pretty bloody good kid. She has had no health issues, she eats everything, no allergies and she loves to sleep (mostly with me, which I secretly love as well). She is happy and content, she plays with other kids and by herself. She loves people and will give anyone a cuddle and she comes to work with Sam and I most days. 

This led to a burden of guilt like I have never carried. How dare I feel anything but pure elation when I have a perfect little baby girl? What is wrong with me and why the baby blues? 

When we set out on this baby journey I never thought about the fact that I would have to slow down. Then, in my baby bliss it never bothered me. I would get done what I got done and that would be that (yes, signing a deal with a publisher for a third cookbook is just what I happened to get done in this downtime, cut yourself much slack Mel?!).

Now, for the first time since she was born, I am starting to enjoy things again. This is a big shift.  

Before, I guess it was just like going through the motions. There have been unfathomable highs watching her grow, hearing her laugh and feeling her soft skin against mine. But the in-between feels a little fuzzy and the relationships with everyone else a little further away.

I have had moments of Callie and I against the world (sorry Sammy) where I think of just running away with her and being done with the rest, and others of thinking she would be better off without me. I have thought I couldn’t cope and I have felt numb with exhaustion.  

One in seven women experiences post-natal anxiety or depression and one in ten men.

These stats feel quite low compared to the reality and maybe this is because many of us feel it is just normal. Of course, you will be stressed, tired, teary, furious at your partner, overwhelmed, out of routine, have piles of washing with no end in sight, and no energy for groceries after having bought a new life into the world and attempting to keep it alive. Right? Right? 

Of course, you will be! But we need to know when to ask for help. It may just be family and friends (literal lifesavers), but it may need to be a doctor or health care professional who can tell you what’s normal and if you need extra support. PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) has some great resources and a free helpline which you can access as well. Common signs of depression are common signs of being a new mum as well, so sometimes it is hard to tell and we need someone to look from the outside in.

I have taken support in the form of any and all volunteers and visitors. I take strength from my family and my amazing support group of super strong wonder women who surround me and prop me up. I ask for help, often.

I lean on Sam like he is the hardest brick wall I have ever seen and I tell him how I am feeling. We learnt early on that to manage our mental health best, we needed to share our thoughts and feelings, and tell each other when we were acting crazy, when we needed therapy, and when we needed medication. I have taken support from my herbs and supplements and food. I have taken support from talking to a professional. There is no shame in asking for help and no shame in getting it.  

I have seen women in the clinic who still carry their post-natal depression despite their baby starting school or being teenagers. The burden unlifted, their self still lost and hazy. So many of us give ourselves over so completely and so unconditionally that the road back can be difficult.

Sure, we will never be the same and for the better. Most of us are left with a new most important thing for the rest of our life (said baby). But despite this we still need self-care, self-recognition, mummy and daddy time, mummy alone time, daddy alone time and so on.  

When I first went back to work, an hour was agony. I would text my poor Mum or Mother-in-law between every client demanding photo updates. Has she taken her milk, did they burp her like I do, were they holding her how she likes, how long did she cry?

Now that the initial anxiety has dissipated around leaving her with others for a few hours and that has allowed me some clarity. All in all, maybe the clearing fuzz at ten months is not so bad. The precious glimpses of my old self are a nice treat. The timeframes where I don’t worry about her dying are getting longer. Most importantly, the breaks allow me to be a better Mum and appreciate all those little moments more. The shift has allowed me to open my heart again and to love people other than my new baby again.  

* If this blog has triggered something in you, please seek support from PANDA *

All About Cold & Flu Tonic

 Got snot?

Not only do herbs sometimes work better than meds in situations like a winter cold to eradicate symptoms while boosting the immune system, they also stop the infection hanging around so long.

I love making mixes that people can take home, use for a few days, feel awesome and then pop in the cupboard for when they need them again. This idea of building people’s first aid kit of herbal remedies at home is my dream come true!

My Cold and Flu herbal mix is great for treating symptoms like runny noses, dry coughs, sore throats and headaches, whilst nourishing your body.

This mix boasts:

- The sweet flowers of Elderflower to help clear any mucous congestion in the sinuses.

- Andrographis, known as the King of Bitters, which comes in fists swinging and kills any lingering bacteria or viruses. 

- Well known for its effects on the immune system, Echinacea clears congestion in the lymph glands and pushes out toxins, boosts the immune system and has an adaptogenic action which helps to get you back on your feet quicker.

- The root of Elecampane has been used for centuries as medicine for coughs and lung complaints. It has an expectorant action, helping to bring mucous up from the chest so it can be expelled.

- To top it all off, Ginger adds its special zing to help all the herbs work together as well as help out with general symptom relief. 

Suffering from the sniffles?

Grab my Cold & Flu Tonic now!

Please make an appointment if symptoms persist. 

Why You Need HERBS In Your Life!

Humans have used plants as medicine for millennia. In fact, Barbara Griggs in her book Green Pharmacy talks of Neanderthal man laying eight different flowers around the grave of a loved one, seven of which are still used for medicine today. These plants may have been chosen to protect the person from sickness in the next life (or they may have just been really pretty flowers) but the fact we still use nearly all of the today is astounding to say the least! These plants include the beautiful slippery marshmallow root, perfect for a sore throat in winter and present in my own dispensary in 2018. 

Herbalists have evolved from witch doctors, spiritual leaders and shamans (not to mention your local pharmacist) to become the middle man between community healer, doctor and big pharma today. We sit on the cusp of traditional and modern medicine and ensue a balancing act between those herbs used by caveman and those proven to work via double blind placebo controlled clinical trials. 

However, before a lab worked out how to synthesise and isolate chemical constituents from herbs, every doctor and pharmacist was in fact a herbalist! Big pharma was in plants and medicinal trade was a shipment of an exotic herb from across the seas, rumoured to cure syphilis, to England or America.

Naturopathic principles are simple and astute. Trust in the healing power of nature and that of the body to heal itself, do no harm, treat the cause not just the symptoms, treat the whole person, educate and prevent. 

Medicine in all forms quickly became a way of earning money or livelihood. Today, herbal medicine is thought of as expensive and inaccessible to many. It is not under Medicare and only loosely covered privately in Australia. 

My goal is to educate every single one of my clients to care for themselves herbally when it comes to everyday ailments, rather than relying on me as their only source of medicine and healing. If we can each learn to heal ourselves and our family and pass this knowledge on I believe we can contribute to a healthy community with less disease and better quality of life.

Now, we aim to complement modern medicine. To assist in reducing side effects when an isolated ingredient is necessary but volatile. Or to treat diseases that are yet to have a medicine, prevent a genetic disease or help manage chronic illness. Why don’t we also continue to use the herbs we know work on the simple everyday ailments? Tummy upset, stress, mild pain in the form of menstruation or headache, cold and flu. 

Once upon a time every housewife would have collected and cherished her own herbal medicine first aid kit. The local healer encouraged the lady of the house to care for her family and treat common sickness herself, only calling the doctor in when needed. I want you to have access to your own kit, and to add to it as your family needs grow.

To have access to such effective natural medicine is a privilege today. I am a huge advocate of medicine in all forms but I think if we can treat it naturally we should. This means that we will lessen our need for pharmaceuticals, side effects and allow them to work better when we do need them. 

Check out my first aid kit specifically made for you and your family!

All About Tummy Tonic

I started making general tonics so that people could experience the amazing benefits of herbs for everyday complaints. Things that maybe didn’t need a full naturopathic appointment, but that herbs worked wonders for.

My Tummy Tonic is one of these and has been a mix that has survived the last seven years without change. The blend of herbs in this tonic will help soothe most tummy complaints. I first made it for my many clients with food intolerance, IBS and bloating to their extreme relief.

Usually within 30 minutes, any stomach pains or bloating will subside. It often works faster than this and gives such relief that we keep it on hand in our house for all tummy complaints.

The beautiful ingredients of this tonic include Chamomile, which soothes and heals the stomach, while fennel and chen pi will mobilise any stagnate food from sitting heavy in the gut, moving it through. 

Chen Pi is the citrus peel of mandarin and has been used traditionally for digestive discomfort, indigestion, bloating, flatulence and nausea.

Fennel was used by ancient Romans for over 22 different ailments. It was used in ‘gripe water’ for infants with colic so is perfect for an upset tummy in us big kids as well.

This mix is perfect for accidental ingestion from food intolerances and any IBS symptoms.

You can order Tummy Tonic here and keep it at home to use whenever tummy troubles occur.

I gave it to my 7-year-old niece recently as she had been nauseas and unwell all day and within an hour she was feeling well, had no pains or nausea and was fine to go to school the next day!

Natural Health For Babies

My baby Callie is now almost a year old and we spend a lot of time with other kids. She loves being with them and is a social butterfly, but it does mean that she picks up whatever bugs they have.

She has had two colds in her short life and when she is sick it is hard to just sit and watch her suffer. If she has a fever I go for the baby Panadol, but there are so many other things you can do as well as pharmaceutical pain relief that will assist babies, despite the lack of options at the pharmacy.

I find that Callie is happier for it, not sick as long, has reduced symptoms and it may help prevent the need for further medications such as antibiotics. So, I thought I would share what I do as aNaturopath and Mum combined to help us both get through it as painlessly as possible.

You may also find some of these tips helpful during teething, growth spurts and general discomfort or unsettled times.

Rescue Remedy: I spray this on Callie’s head (and my own) when she is upset or before bed.

Magnesium foot wipes: Specially made for babies these are great to relax bubba and help with any pain.

Herb Mix: I make Callie a special little mix which assists with calming, pain and sleep.

Homeopathics: Brauer have a great range of baby homeopathics including teething liquid and gel, colic, sleep and more.

Bath: Do not underestimate the power of a warm bath or steamy shower for little one. It helps Callie to loosen mucous from her little sinus passages plus is a great relaxer. Once the mucous is softened it will easily run out or can be removed with a baby snot sucker or a brave Mum’s mouth (gross but effective, yes I do it). A bath was my choice of pain relief when giving birth to her and it was amazing. The bath solves most problems in our house.  

The bath – or the shower- are also a great place to feed if baby is unsettled. As they relax and become more comfortable it will be easier for them to latch and feed plus you will be more relaxed with them happy so your milk will come easier.

Olive Leaf: Is very safe for Mum to take while breastfeeding. This helps boost immune system and will assist stop the cold hanging around. I take 1 teaspoon in the morning and 1 at night when Callie is sick.

Vitamin C: Dose up as Mum and baby will get through the breastmilk. Get a high-quality vitamin C with no additives.

Cod Liver Oil: Callie gets this in her breakfast every morning. It has vitamin D and A and is great for her immune system. It is also full of beautiful omegas for her brain.

Probiotics: I pop these in Callie’s breakfast a few time s a week generally but every day when she is sick. Get baby-age specific probiotics.

If you are interested in more info or a special tonic for you or your bubba please make a booking with Mel in clinic or via Skype. Please get advice that is right for you and high quality supplements always. 

Why We Should Use PLANTS As MEDICINE

Humans have used plants as medicine for millennia. In fact, Barbara Griggs in her book Green Pharmacy talks of Neanderthal man laying eight different flowers around the grave of a loved one, seven of which are still used for medicine today.

These plants may have been chosen to protect the person from sickness in the next life, or they may have just been really pretty flowers but the fact we still use nearly all of the today is astounding to say the least-including the beautifully slippery marshmallow root, perfect for a sore throat in winter and present in my own dispensary in 2018. 

Herbalist's have evolved from witch doctors, spiritual leaders, shamans and here’s the kicker-your local pharmacist to become the middle man between community healer, doctor and big pharma today. We sit on the cusp of traditional and modern medicine and ensue a balancing act between those herbs used by caveman and those proven to work via double blind placebo controlled clinical trials. 

However, before a lab worked out how to synthesise and isolate chemical constituents from herbs, every doctor and pharmacist was in fact a herbalist. Big pharma was in plants and medicinal trade was a shipment of an exotic herb from across the seas, rumoured to cure syphilis, to England or America.

Naturopathic principles are simple and astute. Trust in the healing power of nature and that of the body to heal itself, do no harm, treat the cause not just the symptoms, treat the whole person, educate and prevent. 

Medicine in all forms quickly became a way of earning money or livelihood. Today, herbal medicine is thought of as expensive and inaccessible to many. It is not under Medicare and only loosely covered privately in Australia. 

My goal is to educate every single one of my clients to care for themselves herbally when it comes to everyday ailments, rather than relying on me as their only source of medicine and healing. If we can each learn to heal ourselves and our family and pass this knowledge on I believe we can contribute to a healthy community with less disease and better quality of life.

Now, we aim to complement modern medicine. To assist in reducing side effects when an isolate ingredient is necessary but volatile. Or to treat diseases that are yet to have a medicine, prevent a genetic disease or help manage chronic illness. 

Why don’t we also continue to use the herbs we know work on the simple everyday ailments? Tummy upset, stress, mild pain in the form of menstruation or headache, cold and flu. 

Once upon a time every housewife would have collected and cherished her own herbal medicine first aid kit. The local healer encouraged the lady of the house to care for her family and treat common sickness herself, only calling the doctor in when needed. I want you to have access to your own kit, and to add to it as your family needs grow.

To have access to such effective natural medicine is a privilege today. I am a huge advocate of medicine in all forms but I think if we can treat it naturally we should. This means that we will lessen our need for pharmaceuticals, side effects and allow them to work better when we do need it. 

BROTH IT UP TO STAY WELL THIS WINTER

NINE EASY WAYS TO GET MORE BROTH IN YOUR LIFE

1. Broth in your smoothie? Don't knock it until you try it!

Add some cold gelatinous bone broth to a banana smoothie for one of the best breakfast options my heart could desire.

2. Try an omelette in broth.

Callie and I have been loving this lately and it is so easy to do. Simply cook eggs (I like an omelette) as you usually would and heat up some broth to go over the top. It kind of looks like an egg in soup. I then add loads of pink salt, fresh cut herbs, pepper and a good few splashes of Tabasco or some Kim chi to top it off. 

3. Make hearty miso.

Using good quality unpasteurised miso paste and dried seaweed this is a stunner on a cold winter afternoon to beat that 3pm sweet tooth. 

4. Use it for warming risotto.

Way better than water this will make your risotto not only extra tasty but super charged with nutrition to keep you full longer an stabilise blood sugar levels, avoiding the need for an after dinner snack.

5. Ramen or soba in broth.

The hard part is done if you already have broth made, just add noodles! Top with a boiled egg and fresh kim chi.

6. Add broth to all slow cooked, pressure cooked, oven baked or even pan fried food.

Put a cup into your spaghetti mince, use it instead of wine or water in the slow cooker and add potato or veggie bakes in the oven. 

7. You can also make some really simple tasty soups at home which will do lunches for a few days, save you loads of money on meals and will warm the soul.

Simply bake pumpkin, onion and garlic in the oven and then blitz it all up with a few cups of broth. Or, add flavour and nutrition to your pea and ham soup this winter with broth instead of water. 

8. Make vegetarian, not so.

Use broth to cook fresh veg like zucchini, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower in a fry pan. Simply fry veg in some olive oil until it has a little colour and then add a cup of broth until it is just soft. Yum!

9. Enjoy a brotthee instead of coffee on cold winter mornings.

Winter Warmers

There are a few little tricks that I use to keep the family well and full during winter. Along with some good quality vitamin c and a winter immune boosting tonic, I like to do this with food.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways that you can load yourself and the kids with nutrients, keep the gut healthy and bolster the immune system is with bone broth. During winter I like to keep a broth in the slow cooker most days. I just set it on low and add more water as I take the broth out and use it. This is known as a master stick in restaurants and it is our master broth at home. Every second day I take out some of the bones and veg and add fresh stuff to keep it packed with goodness and tasty.

It’s all well and good for me to tell you to make bone broth but many of my clients aren’t really sure what to do with it and are not too keen on drinking it straight from a mug each morning. Whilst I love a brothee to replace my coffee on a cold winter morning, there are other tasty ways to use your broth.

Try an omelette in broth. Callie and I have been loving this lately and it is so easy to do. Simply cook eggs (I like an omelette) as you usually would and heat up some broth to go over the top. It kind of looks like an egg in soup. I then add loads of pink salt, fresh cut herbs, pepper and a good few splashes of Tabasco or some kimchi to top it off. 

You can also add your broth to all slow cooked, pressure cooked, oven baked or even pan fried food. Put a cup into your spaghetti mince, use it instead of wine or water in the slow cooker and add to potato or veggie bakes in the oven.

You can also make some really simple tasty soups at home which will do lunches for a few days, save you loads of money on meals and will warm the soul. Simply bake pumpkin, onion and garlic in the oven and then blitz it all up with a few cups of broth. Or, add flavour and nutrition to your pea and ham soup this winter with broth instead of water. 

We love winter food in our house. Winter is when you can put something in the slow cooker in the morning and come home to a house filled with delicious smells and dinner already done. It is easy to super charge your food in winter by simply adding broth to your meals. 

Mel's Health Journey

In 2014, I went to Bali for a friend’s wedding and brought a parasite home with me. After a year and no luck killing it I was sickly, underweight, depressed and suffered constant stomach troubles, migraines and fatigue. When I finally succumbed to antibiotics (literally my life saver) I was left with 11 food intolerances and a journey of discovery as to what anaphylactic allergies I had developed.

Obviously, my diet was limited, but as fellow foodies will know this does little to diminish a passion for food. And so, I started to adapt recipes and get creative in the kitchen. At first, I made complex and expensive meals with gluten and dairy free alternatives, egg replacer and faux foods. However, I soon got tired of needing an assortment of special foods just to make dinner or whip up a treat for the weekends. 

From this came a return to real food (with my own twist) and a return to healthy well-balanced food. Many gluten free options are high in refined starches and sugar, many dairy alternatives are full of soy or sugar and something like egg replacer suddenly seemed ridiculous. Why not use a banana, some chia seeds or psyllium husk to hold a cake or meatball together? Using food as food and adding nutrition at the same time. 

I found myself going back to recipes that my Grandparents had taught me and made for me as a child. Stews, casseroles and slow cooker meals, roasts, braised meats and curries. Eating slow cooked meals and including offal where I could, meant that I could access an array of nutrients which were already broken down so my poor tummy could absorb them. All naturally free from inflammatory foods, filling, homey and packed with fat, protein and nutrition.

My years in health food made it easy for me to start to replace simple things like nuts with seeds, eggs with chia eggs and milk with a range of seed milks and coconut milk. Along the way, I learned the value of fermented foods and developed skills in doing this at home, which I now teach all my clients and anyone else who is interested. In addition to tasting great and adding new flavours to my palate, fermented foods were key to healing the damage done to my gut by the parasite. 

And then there are my clients. If I thought I had it bad I had no idea - the tummy troubles that people struggle with! Do we think it’s normal? Or is it because we have been given the diagnosis of IBS we think there is nothing more to be done? From chronic diarrhoea to chronic constipation, bloating and pain after eating and then fatigue, depression and anxiety that this can cause.

I will never forget the lady who had suffered terribly with chronic stomach trouble since childhood; Swinging bowels, urgency, weight gain, sharp pains and severe bloating. Only to be told there was nothing wrong and nothing to be done. She just had IBS. Working together for the last 3 years, she is now healthy, fit, strong and well with absolutely no stomach or bowel complaints. I could not be happier or prouder of all her hard work. We have now started to successfully reintroduce some of the foods which had previously caused her pain. 

As I started to find wellness again and develop a tolerance to reintroduce foods, I wanted to share this way of healing through food. Of course, I am an herbalist and I use herbs and supplements as well to help heal the gut but this is short term and the goal is always to help the body find normality again. Food is long term medicine, lifestyle change and re-working how you think about food is essential. 

Rather than new ideas, I find myself preaching old ways of eating and enjoying food that we have moved away from and lost throughout the many years of fat free, sugar free, low carb, fad dieting. This way of eating involves going back to our roots and how our ancestors ate. I could then integrate my knowledge of health foods and really utilize the best offerings of the super food movement. 

To me, all whole foods are super foods. Whole foods are foods that come just as they are and have been, for the best part, unchanged. Think fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and many animal products. The study of nutrition and implementing a balanced way of cooking and eating really took me back to my childhood and what my grandparents cooked, ate and shared with me. Reintroducing butter and throwing away margarine, saving the lard from the cooking process and learning to prepare, cook and eat new (and old) parts of each animal. 

Moving away from fast food cooking and towards slow cooking, braising and pressure cooking allows so much more nutrients to be transferred from the food to our bodies plus gives such a better flavor. It is also a wonderful way to eat for leaky gut and an easy way for kids to enjoy tougher cuts of meat. An extra bonus is that when we eat this way we save money! By eating cuts that are not as popular and using the whole animal we get better yield (so are able to feed more people) and we do not pay a premium. It is cheaper to buy one whole chicken than a few kilos of chicken breast. This allows us to afford better quality meat and move away from mass produced, feed lot animals and to stop supporting such industries. 

My favorite part of all of this is being transported to my Grandad’s kitchen as a child whenever I smell offal cooking, such as kidneys or liver. Many people will screw their nose up at the idea of eating offal but as you read through the book hopefully you will see the beauty that I do in using these incredibly nutritious and delicious parts, and maybe even try them! Starting with something as simple as a steak and kidney pie is a great way to introduce new flavors to the family in a familiar and tasty way. 

Eat well and be well.

What Is A "Normal" Period?

As women, we love to talk and one thing we love talking about is our cycles. There are many different types of periods but when you find someone who is in your club it’s like winning the menstrual jackpot. There is the PCOS club, the endo club, the dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea club plus everything in between. 

Let’s get armed with some serious facts so next time we chat we know what’s normal, what’s not, just how common menstrual dysfunction is and what can be changed and fixed with herbs and what might need little extra help.

A normal bleed can come anywhere between every 21 days to every 35 days. Irregular menstruation affects 1 in 5 Aussie women of reproductive age. This does not just affect our cycle but impacts on our lifestyle, relationships and mental health. 

A period should not be painful! Cramps, dragging and clots can all be assisted by herbal medicine. Along with mood swings, sugar cravings, anxiety and headaches.

A longer cycle may be PCOS, a shorter cycle may be endometriosis.

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects around 20% of women worldwide. The most common symptoms are irregular bleeding and period and normally a long cycle. This means that you may not bleed as often as your friends. This makes it a little harder to get pregnant as your ovulation will also not occur as regularly, plus it’s sometimes hard to know when you are ovulating.

There are some really effective herbs for this and I use them all the time in the clinic. These herbs can help support normal ovarian function, regulate menstruation and alleviate adverse effects such as pain. There may also be a blood sugar dysregulation with PCOS that can play into weight management issues. Want more info? Check out: https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2012/october/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/ 

Endometriosis is far more common than most realise affecting 1 in 10 Aussie women, including myself. It is one of the most common things I see in clinic and generally responds quickly to herbs that support endometrial tissue.

Endo occurs when endometrial cells grow outside the uterus (where they should stay).  A major symptom of endo is pain with a period, pain with intercourse and sharp pains outside of a bleed. Many women think this is normal and it can take an average of 7 years for endo to be found and diagnosed. Taking the pill can mask the symptoms but does not treat the issue. Check out: https://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/endometriosis-facts for more info. 

If you are worried, see your doctor. If you want help with these or any hormonal complaints, symptom relief or just to create a more regular beautiful cycle, come in and see me in the clinic.

Put A Little Offal In Your Day!

Offal is not awful. These parts of animals were traditionally the parts fought over at the family dinner table as they were so tasty. In many cultures, the brain is the most prized part of the animal. It is so delicious that it is hidden from children for the adults to enjoy alone. Organ meats are also more nutritious than the lean muscle counterparts.

It is so interesting to me that our ‘normal’ food choices, including what cuts of meat we eat, are culturally determined. As an adult, it is not difficult for me to try new parts of animals as I had some experience growing up with offal, but it can be overwhelming for those who are new to it. Start slow and introduce small amounts of offal into the normal foods that you enjoy at home.

If you have had a bad offal experience than you just haven’t tried it in the right way. Make it how you feel you would like it. If you are just starting out, don’t go for the full offal! Start by adding it to your normal weekly meals. Make a pie with some kidney cut through it. Add some liver to your spaghetti bowl. Don’t overdo it- just a little each week will add buckets of nutrients.

The most important thing about offal is the quality. We need to ensure that the offal we are eating is from an animal that has been cared for, loved and fed well. Grass fed, not grain fed.

WANT TO LEARN HOW TO COOK OFFAL?

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF FROM PEASANTS FOOD TO SUPERFOODS TODAY! 

Why I Am Releasing A New Book.

I should start by saying I am no chef!

My new book, From Peasants Food To Super Foods has come about through my own journey with food intolerances and the need to share this information with my clients, who were experiencing similar things.

It started to grow and expand when I realised that there was a gigantic gap in what people thought was healthy and what actually IS healthy, what we are being told for financial gain and what is the truth for our best health.

One of the biggest obstacles that people face when trying to change their diet is the onslaught of opinions about good and bad food. I believe there is no ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ food. Sure, there are some imposters on our supermarkets shelves pretending to be food, but when you stick to whole real food there are no enemies. The key to a balanced diet is moderation, not avoidance or restriction and simply eating the real, seasonal food that nature has gifted us.

I do not have time for strict fad diets, extremism or dogmatism. What I want to share is everyday food, to educate people that life is not all or nothing, it is a constant balance. An effort and a choice to maintain equilibrium...That means eating cake at the party sometimes and enjoying a drink too!

I come from a genuine place when I give advice. I believe in what I tell my clients, I believe it is the best way to live a healthy life. I practice what I preach and I preach what I practice. I do not believe in giving a false sense of perfectionism. 

I want to educate people on a way to live a simple and balanced life through the food and medicine we have been surrounded by in our environment. I believe this is the key to good health, happy minds and managing chronic conditions effectively.

I hope you can use the recipes in my new book and that some may even hold a coveted space on your weekly meal planner for the family.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW BEFORE THE END OF MARCH!

All About "From Peasants Food To Super Foods"

From Peasant’s Food to Superfoods features over 100 recipes using old and new ingredients from my perspective as a qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath. Based on cooking for the entire family, this book guides cooks from all experiences on how to integrate healthy foods into everyday life. Using ingredients we all take for granted in the kitchen this book aims to educate people of the benefits of the food we eat and how we can use food as medicine as well as filling our tummies.

This book welcomes you with an open and honest manner, telling my own story and the similar story of many clients I have seen in private practice over the years-my inspiration for writing the book. Recipes are complemented with nutritional information, personal experiences and recommendations throughout, including the reasoning for including certain ingredients and how we can nutritionally enhance even the simplest home-cooked dishes.

From Peasants Food to Superfoods explains the simplicity of food and removes much of the confusion and fear around healthy eating. I take traditional home recipes and transform them into nutritionally dense super-meals. I use culinary history to shape the book and educate you about food origins and why we ate particular foods and should continue to do so. 

Rather than produce overwhelming recipes that need expensive and exclusive ingredients commonly associated with health and super foods, I'll show you how you can use many of the everyday ingredients you have at home, and how to add to the pantry so this becomes the norm. The recipes use many of the same base ingredients to make them easy for people to create without having to shop every time. 

My recipes are fresh, of our time and take into account modern tastes and trends such as fermentation and pickling as well as the use of pressure and slow cookers. In the book I address common concerns of the clients I see, as well as the general public with regards to diet, health, lifestyle balance, time constraints, seasonality and cooking techniques.

For first time cooks this book offers simple, delicious and nutritionally balanced meals to whip up on a weeknight for the whole family. For the seasoned foodie, it provides over 100 innovative recipes that will excite and delight.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE

INTRODUCING...My Brand New Book!

I never planned to write a cookbook. I had been helping clients in clinic with their diets and providing meal plans, recipes and ideas that they could work the whole family into for a host of different goals from weight gain to weight loss. The feedback was always positive and made my heart swell.

For some reason, as human beings we think we need to be hurting for something to work, to attack everything at an all or nothing pace-and this goes for diet and nutrition as well. When I suggested a balanced, moderated, real food approach I was often worried I was boring people, that they would think my advice was too simple. But, as more and more clients flowed through the doors, sent by the previous client who told them about the meal plan I wrote for them, I realised that simple was really what these guys needed. Not only needed, but liked, enjoyed and continued long term.

There is so much conflicting advice on nutrition, what to eat and what not to eat, and we have come to a place where anyone can give food advice from t.v breakfast hosts to the old lady down the street. It is confusing and I noticed a sense of fear when I asked people to recount their daily food intake. Thinking that my clients felt judged, even by me, about what they were eating gave me a great sadness and reinforced the ridiculous state we are in when it comes to food. It made me start doing talks on banishing fad diets and avoiding extreme restrictions. It made me reach out to my clients on what they really wanted and what was really working at home. 

At some point my recipes became so popular the suggestion of a cookbook became a weekly comment from clients and friends. SO, being the good Virgo girl that I am, I set about getting it done. It took well over a year to write my first book. It was only 70-odd pages and took almost as long to edit, eventually a third version was released which (I hope) has no typos! I thought, sure I’ll write a cookbook, it can’t be that hard, right? Ha, not only was it difficult, frustrating, all consuming, time-eating and expensive-it was also small and cost a fortune to get printed! But, there was so much support and love that to date I have sold over 300 copies. What else was there to do but to set about writing a second! ☺

Now, I want to bring these recipes to more people. So, I have joined the 2 books together and added 50 new recipes as well as loads of extra info including a 2-week weight loss meal plan which has been the most popular and successful meal plan I have written to date. AND, I am pre-selling it, starting at only $20 for both a hard copy and ebook version. The more pre-orders that this book gets the more publishers will be interested in finalising and printing it and my greatest hope is to have it in BIGW nest to Pete Evans!

If you have my first 2 books, then I know I am asking a lot, but the extra info and 50 recipes alone make this book worth the $20 investment plus I’ll love ya forever! There are also loads of extra bonuses if you want to give a little extra support-would you like to have your name in the book??? It is only for pre-sale for 30 days. That’s it, after which-finito!

I want to bring joy back to food. I want it to be nutritious, enjoyable and above all easy. I want everyone in the family to enjoy it and I don’t want people to be restricted unless absolutely needed for health reasons. I want to get this book into more hands to remove some of the confusion and fear around food. I do need your help to do all of this – please and thank you from my big foodie heart. 

PRE-ORDER NOW

The Job Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is not the easiest thing in the world to pick up and it reminds me of starting a new job. To begin, you meet all the new people in the office including the lactation specialist, the many midwifes plus the other new Mums also starting work on the same day and trying desperately to quickly pick up the ins and outs of this new vocation.

Then, all of a sudden you are left at your desk on your own with sole responsibility of the task. Except, this task is not just learning how to input numbers into Excel. It is feeding a little live human being in the unbelievable hope of simply providing them with enough milk to let them live. 

All the other workers who have been there awhile can walk on past and give helpful handy tips but at the end of the day it is your responsibility and this is a job that only you can do.

There’s no 9-5 work hours. This is the ultimate full time job with round the clock hours and no set breaks, if any.

It is honesty one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. It is also the most rewarding, extraordinary and valuable things I have ever done. There have been low points when I wanted to give up, quit and walk out, and there have been high points when I have had the ultimate exhilaration.

IT DOES GET EASIER!

Those first few weeks you need help just to fill up your water bottle or if you are really lucky, plonk a cup of tea on your desk. As time goes by, like with any new job, it gets easier. You learn a few tricks to the system, some shortcuts that suit you and the workload lessens. There is the occasional hiccup but overall you work hard and get better at the job as you go. Plus, baby gets better at it as well!

Unlike a desk job though, this is not just a job of the mind, but of the whole body. Planning and care must be taken in food and hydration to maintain output. A breastfeeding woman needs 2000 more kJ than when she is not. Plus, they really should be appropriate kJ to get the best possible milk you can produce.

Like any dietary change, a breastfeeding diet is another job in itself. Plenty of protein and good fats but also more carbs than I have ever eaten before, are necessary to sustain you and your new little life.

It’s a job that I feel blessed to be able to do and that I wouldn’t change for the world. It’s also a job that must not be underestimated. To breastfeed well and stay sane you must rest often, drink litres and litres of fluid per day and eat plenty of nutrient dense food. On top of all of this, I also find I need some breastfeeding support herbs once or twice a week to keep my supply up. Not to mention lots of love and support from a husband who is learning his own unique new job!

If you need help with final trimester, birth preparation or breastfeeding support book in to see Mel.

Composting Is FUN!

Composting is one of the most fun and rewarding things I have done around the house in a while. I know you’re thinking I must have a pretty boring old little life, but composting really gets me excited. Plus, domesticity is bliss, right?

Yes, it’s an extremely satisfying and rewarding way to help the environment but in all honesty, I love to compost because it significantly reduces the amount of rubbish I have to carry out. So, really, it’s a selfish act in the end.

You would be surprised at the things that one can compost in the right composter. I treated myself to an Urban Composter and then when I couldn’t rotate it quick enough I got a second. Now I can be adding to one and letting the other work its magic for a fortnight before I bury it. With this particular compost, I can put all organic waste in, except large bones.

Before you think of any excuses not to compost let me tell you this. I live in an apartment on the fourth floor. I have a very small balcony and a few little plants. You can get yourself a small bucket sized compost and find somewhere else to bury it like me. (Thanks Dad.) And, if you do your research you can compost it in a way that reduces the odour and fastens the break down. 

I love this list of things to compost from How Stuff Works. Our compost gets toilet paper rolls and the packaging (from Who Gives a Crap), paper towel, tissues, all food waste, tea and coffee bags and grinds, small light bones such as chicken, hair from my brush, compostable bags I keep dirty nappies in while we are out and so much more! 

It really is surprising how much less garbage we have and also just how much we all now love to find more things around the house that we can compost!