Food

Meal Prep - 5 Meals in 1 Hour

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Because I so frequently upload meal prep videos I thought it’d be easy if I place all the instructions / macros etc for this latest one in one place! Watch the video here.

It took me 1 hr and 15 mins to do this meal prep, and film it! So if you’re not filming your kitchen escapades it should be even quicker than that.

I don’t eat these meals in a specific order. I save the recipes in Lifesum so I can plan my day and select when I eat them. We picked out of these for 3 days (amongst cooking other things - we eat 5-6 x daily) before we ran out.

Note: Eat the salad the same or next day you make it.


Chicken Tray Bake

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Makes 4 serves

(per serve) 238 kcal / 28 P / 17 C / 2 F

INGREDIENTS

  • 600g (21oz) chicken

  • 1 x sweet potato

  • 1 x parsnip

  • ¼ pumpkin with skin

  • Roast vegetable seasoning

  • Mixed herb seasoning

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180c (350f)

  2. Chop veggies and place on a lined tray in the oven, flip over after 10 mins

  3. After a further 10 mins chop up chicken and add seasoning, place in the oven for around 20 mins

  4. Remove all when veggies are baked to your liking


Breakfast Muffins

Adapted from the blog eatyourselfskinny

Makes 10 muffins
(per 1) 74 kcal / 6.2 P / 1.8 C / 4.4 F

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 x eggs

  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan

  • ½ brown onion

  • 1 x handful rocket (arugula)

  • Salt (to taste)

  • ½ red capsicum

  • ½ zucchini (shredded)

  • Garlic (to taste)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 190c (350f)

  2. Chop onion and garlic and cook in a pan for 2-3 mins

  3. Add chopped capsicum and grated zucchini to pan

  4. Transfer cooked veg to mixing bowl and add chopped rocket, eggs, parmesan, salt and mix

  5. Line muffin tray with coconut oil

  6. Pour mixture into bowl

  7. Bake for 20mins


Turkey Burgers

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Makes 8 patties

(per 1) 133 kcal / 16 P / 4 C / 5 F

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 500g lean turkey mince

  • 1 cup bread crumbs

  • 3 x eggs

  • ½ brown onion

METHOD

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl

  2. Heat up a pan and roll mixture into 8 patties

  3. Cook for 8-10mins flipping halfway through


Beef Stroganoff (sorta)

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Makes 4 serves

(per serve) 399 kcal / 32 P / 40 C / 13 F

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 500g extra lean beef

  • ½ punnet mushrooms

  • frozen green beans

  • frozen broccoli

  • 1 packet brown rice (2 cups)

  • 1 packet beef stroganoff sauce

METHOD

  1. Cook beef for 5 mins in skillet before adding mushrooms

  2. Allow to cook for a further 10 mins and add in stroganoff sauce

  3. Cook rice and add to dish

  4. If eating immediately add green veg to pan, if meal prepping keep veg frozen so they only need to be cooked once


Mango Lime Side Salad

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This is a side salad, serve with a protein source.

Makes 2 serves

(per serve) 90 kcal / 2.3 P / 21 C / 0.5 F

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x lime

  • 1 x mango

  • spinach

  • coriander

  • 1/3 cup black beans

METHOD

  1. Place spinach and desired amount of coriander into a bowl

  2. Chop mango and add black beans (cook if you like)

  3. Squeeze juice of ½ a lime over the top

  4. Serve with protein of choice


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Leaky Gut + How To Fix It

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What exactly is leaky gut?

Intestinal Permeability, AKA leaky gut is a specific condition whereby the lining of the smaller intestine is damaged. The resulting factor of this damage is that specific bacteria, food particles, and toxic waste products to seep out via the intestines and overflow into the bloodstream.

When this happens, it can cause a number of different reactions in a person’s body in the form of an autoimmune response. This can present in a number of ways, such as eczema, food allergies, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

When a person develops a leaky gut, it also means that the damaged intestinal cells will no longer produce the proper enzymes needed to digest food correctly. As a result of this, the vitamin, minerals, and nutrients that are needed do not get absorbed into the body, which can lead to a weaker immune system, and potentially unbalance levels of hormones as well.


What Can Cause a Person to Develop a Leaky Gut?

In nearly all instances, a leaky gut is developed as a result of a person’s diet. While it differs greatly from one person to the next, there are certain foods such as those which include dairy, soy, and gluten, which can trigger a person’s body to take the fight and respond. In many cases, when a person is sensitive to a particular substance or food, this can result in the production of antibodies, which in turn, trigger an immunological response that can cause headaches, tiredness, inflammation, and diarrhoea.

Aside from the diet, there are also some forms of medication that cause irritation to the lining of the intestine and the protective mucus layers as well. Some of these include aspirin, steroids, or even regular antibiotics.

How can you tell if you have a leaky gut?

As with all conditions of this nature, each person will have slightly different signs and symptoms, and what may present in one individual, might not be present in another. Here are some of the top signs that you could have a leaky gut.

1.   Nutritional Deficiencies

2.  Constipation

3.  Gas

4.  Bloating

5.  Weakened Immune System

6.  Chronic Diarrhoea

7.   Excess Tiredness or Fatigue

8.  Brain Fog

9.  Memory Loss

10. Headaches

11.  Rashes on the Skin

12. Carbohydrates or Sugar Cravings

13.  Joint Pain

14.  Inflammation

15.  Arthritis

16.  Anxiety or Depression

17.  Autoimmune Conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease or Lupus

What type of foods should you be avoiding or eating more of with leaky gut syndrome?

There are lots of different types of foods that can really help if you have a leaky gut; similarly, there are certain types of food you should try to avoid. Here is a quick summary of both what to eat and what not to eat with this condition.

Avoid These Foods if you Have Leaky Gut Syndrome

Sugar – Refined sugar is the worst of all the types of sugar you could have. This is what is usually added into your typical deserts and drinks. Even natural sugars such as maple syrup and syrups can be problematic as the sugars can imbalances within the gut by further feeding bacteria and yeasts.

Milk – There are lots of people who can have problems with milk and dairy in their diet, and it is one of the most common food sensitivities. However, there are so many alternatives for traditional dairy products, such as coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk.

Grains – There are lots of grains which contain a high level of gluten, such as rye, barley, spelt, and wheat. Although there are plenty of whole grains that form part of a healthy diet, it is important to try to only eat whole grains which are sprouted or soaked as this can deactivate any anti-nutrients.

TIP: Usually, if a person has a leaky gut, then it is best to avoid all types of gluten altogether until such a point that the lining is fully functional again.

 

Try to Eat These Foods if you Have Leaky Gut Syndrome 

Healthy Fats – There are good fats, and there are not-so-good fats. Omega-3 fats are notoriously anti-inflammatory in nature and very easy to digest. Healthy fats are renowned for improving digestion and helping to feed the good bacteria in the gut.

Phytochemicals – There are some very powerful plant-based foods that are enriched with phytochemicals, and which are renowned for their anti-inflammatory and healing capabilities. Although raw fruits and vegetables are often difficult to digest, when they are blended or cooked, you can still benefit from the nutritional properties. The best way to choose fruits and vegetables that are high in phytochemicals is via the colour, the brighter, the better!

Bone Broth – This particular type of broth is known as a super-food and one which is exceptionally beneficial for a leaky or inflamed gut. The best variety is home-made organic bone broth that is made from grass-fed animal bones.  

Turmeric – This is swiftly becoming one of the most popular spices in the nutritional and healing realms. It has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties, and it can also help to support the detoxification of the liver.

Fermented Foods – These types of foods introduce a specific type of good bacteria into the guy. There is a range of cultured vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi that are ideal, and also some specific types of fermented drinks such as Kefir and home-made kombucha that are good examples that help to support a healthy intestinal flora.

How can you get rid of a leaky gut?

There are a number of ways that a person can heal a leaky gut. For most, changes to the diet are a key first step:

1.     Stop consuming drinks and foods that are known to damage the lining of your gut (soda, coffee, alcohol)

2.     Start consuming drinks and foods that reduce inflammation and restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut (bone broth, kombucha, kefir)

3.     Reduce stress in your life where possible

4.     Get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis

5.     Review gut healing supplementation options

 

The key to getting rid of a leaky gut is to stop putting foods into your body which are known to cause stress or damage to our gut lining. Caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, soy, and sugars are all typical problem foods for many people, and, in most cases, the elimination of some or all of these foods alone can significantly improve a person’s symptoms.

Aside from this, adding in certain foods such as fish, flax, avocados, and coconut oils can restore the proper levels of good bacteria within the gut. L-Glutamine is a specific type of amino acid that is typically found in these founds and can be supplemented in order to rejuvenate the lining of the intestinal wall.

Food

Home Made Strawberry Jam (No Refined Sugar, No Pectin)

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Yield: 1 cup (330g)
Serving size 15g (approx 1tbsp)
(per serving) 10cal / 0.2P / 2.4C / 0.1F


Although far gone are the pre-school days where I’d have a blackberry jam sandwich for lunch every day, every now and again I do love some strawberry jam, particularly on protein pancakes. The one thing that always bugged me about it was refined sugar being the main ingredient, and it generally only containing 40% strawberries! 1 tbsp usually gives you a whopping 9.9g of mostly processed sugar.

Strawberries are already sweet enough, so I decided to have a few goes at whipping up a batch of jam. This is the recipe I have decided I liked the best so I wanted to share it. The natural sugar provides more than a bunch of sweetness, and only has 1.45g of sugar per table spoon, plus it stores in the fridge just perfectly. Next time I’m making a much larger batch to create 2-3 jars to store in the fridge.

The goal after that is to make them with strawberries I’ve grown myself with the plants I just bought haha.


Ingredients

  • 5 cups roughly chopped fresh strawberries

  • 3 tbsp water

  • 1.5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 4 tsp finely ground tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)


Method

  • Loosely chop strawberries (removing tops) to accurately measure in a measuring cup

  • Place all ingredients into a saucepan and heat on a very low temperature until the strawberries are soft (this should only take 2-3mins)

  • Place the entire mixture into a blender or food processor and blend (or just pulse). I made mine smooth, but in another attempt I made a ‘thicker’ batch, either works well.

  • Pour mixture back into the saucepan on the lowest heat possible

  • Allow the mixture to simmer, and then keep an eye on the stove and stir the mix regularly.

  • It will start to thicken, and if you don’t stir it every 5 or so minutes it will stick to the bottom of the saucepan

  • It will need to cook for around an hour on the lowest heat with occasional stirring

  • You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture stays separated for 2 seconds when you run a wooden spoon or a spatula through it

  • Once this happens remove and allow to cool before placing in a jar of choice - the mixture will continue to thicken in the fridge.

  • Store in the fridge (serve after it has cooled for approximately 2 hours. I photographed mine before it was fully cooled).

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Organic vs Non-Organic: What's the real difference?

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With organic foods being so popular, and more often than not costing more than their traditional counterparts, understanding exactly what the difference is between the two is good information to have. The reasons people choose to eat organic foods differ greatly, and what motivates one person to choose organic is of no interest to the next. What you eat is exceptionally personal, but why you choose to eat it is just as important.  In this post, I will outline the key differences between Organic and Non-Organic food and discuss the pros and cons of each.

What is the difference between non-organic and organic food?

 The key difference is the way the food is produced. If you take eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables, for example, the organic version is produced without:

·       Genetically Modified Organisms

·       Growth Hormones

·       Irradiation

·       Antibiotics

·       Synthetic Pesticides, Fertilisers, or Herbicides

Essentially, if you buy organic food, you are purchasing food that has been created without any generic engineering, preservatives or radiation. In order for it to be officially certified as organic, then it will need to be made from at least 95% of ingredients that are classified as organic.

Pros and Cons of Organic Food

The Good Bits

 They leave a lower carbon footprint

It is a well-known fact that there is a range of pollutants that are derived from the agricultural sector that cause lasting and widespread damage to the environment. The groundwater in these agricultural areas is often highly polluted with various pesticides and fertilisers. This is not the case with Organic farming as it drastically reduces any water pollution risks and it can also prevent soil erosion through damage.

Higher Nutritional Value

Organic crops tend to have an elevated concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. These are essential to help protect you from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, organic milk contains more than twice as much omega-3 that the standard variety.

Free from Additives, and Pesticides

With normal foods, there is a range of pesticides that are used to prevent any damage occurring from weeds, fungus, insects, and rodents. Some of these chemicals used are toxic, and there is a 25% likelihood that there will be residues left on non-organic products. Amongst those most likely to harbor leftover pesticides are leafy greens and peppers - while asparagus, avocados, and sweetcorn are those foods which are most likely not to be affected. While the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides are not known, there is an increasing amount of research that links concentrated exposure to pesticide residue with cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.  They are also particularly hazardous for pregnant woman and children.

Avoid GMOs

GMOs are not required to be labeled in all countries. With organic food, you can rest assured that you are eating completely free from GMO. Thanks to the strict rules that dictate what makes a food organic, many other things such as MSG and artificial sweeteners are also prohibited.

Organic Meat is Safer

Because organically farmed meat is raised without hormones, it is considered to be far safer to consume that non-organic meat. There are also no antibiotics or pesticides used which only adds to this assurance.

The Not So Good Bits

 Risk of Food-Born Illness

As is the case with all foods, there is a risk of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and other illnesses. Organic foods are just the same as their non-organic counterpart’s in this case.

The Cost

If you have ever bought organic food, then you will know that they can tend to cost a lot more. The high prices are due to the fact there are lower yields compared to other more conventionally farmed crops, and there is a relatively high demand. Because the production of organic foods is a lot more labor-intensive, this also attributes to the higher cost of organic produce.

Shorter Shelf-life

Both organic vegetables and fruit are prone to spoil quicker than non-organic varieties. The reason behind this is that they do not get treated with the same preservatives or waxes that are put into non-organic fruits and vegetables for the purpose of helping them to last longer.

 

Organic food doesn’t always equal healthy food. Just because a label says organic, it can still be an unhealthy product that contains high levels of sugar, additves, or salt. Whatever you eat, you need always to check the label thoroughly first. To some people, eating fresher food is tastier than not doing so, and this is why some people believe organic tastes better as well as being healthier overall. Whichever way you look at it, if you eat eggs, lean meats, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables are all highly nutritious, whether they are organic or not.

Food

Recipe: Prawn Pesto Pasta

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Makes 4
(per serving) 574 cal / 34P / 48.7 C / 26.1 F


Ingredients (Pesto)

  • 1/2 cup pistachios

  • 1/2 to 1 bulb of garlic

  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil

  • Handful of fresh parsley

  • Handful of fresh mint

  • Pinch of salt

  • Pinch of pepper

  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Ingredients (Rest of dish)


Method

  1. To create the pesto place all pesto ingredients into a blender or NutriBullet and blend until mixed well, place in the fridge until the rest of the dish is ready.

  2. Preheat water and cook pasta for 8-10 minutes

  3. While pasta is cooking heat the prawns on a frying pan

  4. Remove hot prawns from pan and stir pesto through evenly.

  5. Serve with pasta and small amount of shaved parmesan on top

Food

Recipe: Strawberry Protein Bars

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Makes 12 bars
(per 1) 90 kcal / 8.2 P / 8.9 C / 2.1 F

I decided to whip up some home made protein bars using what I had in the fridge/pantry. The reason I opted for quinoa as the base as it’s got all 9 essential amino acids, making it a great little additional protein source. Dark choc chips are an optional (but delicious) addition if you have any or want to pick some up to include in the bars!


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa 

  • 1 cup oats 

  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

  • 3 scoops whey (I used Cinnamon Bun Flavoured ISO100, you could also use vanilla)

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

  • 1/8 cup honey 

  • 2 tbsp dark choc chips (optional)

  • 1 egg 

  • 2 tbsp almond milk 


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (300F)

  2. Place 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups cold water and bring to the boil, after its boiled allow to simmer for 5 mins before removing from heat and allowing to cool slightly.

  3. Melt peanut butter

  4. Combine peanut butter, oats, quinoa, protein powder, and baking powder and mix well.

  5. Add egg, vanilla extract, almond milk, chop chips, and honey, mix well.

  6. Chop strawberries and add to the mix. 

  7. Like a baking tray with baking paper and scoop mix into tray (it will not fill the whole tray, I folded up the edge of the baking paper to create a border, if you have a loaf pan, use the bottom of this instead!)

  8. Bake for 15 mins

  9. Remove, allow to cool before serving, as it’s cooling it will firm up more.

  10. Slice into 12 pieces (once down the middle, and then into roughly 1” wide pieces)

  11. Keep stored in airtight container at room temperature.

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Get To Know Your Skin (With An Expert!)

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This post has been put together for you by an expert in holistic skincare, and friend of mine, Madilyn Wolens. After suffering with skin issues herself, Madilyn realised that skin health is not just about good skincare, but also healthy lifestyle practises. Madilyn is available in-clinic and you can find her website here and check her out on Instagram @the_functional_nurse (her Functional Friday Instagram stories are a must-watch!)


I’m Madilyn, ‘The Functional Nurse’.

I am a Registered Nurse, specialising in Cosmetic Injectables and Dermal Therapies. I have spent nearly 10 years working on my patients’ skin health and educating them on how to create their glow from inside out and outside in. I myself have suffered with inflamed/ reactive skin since a young age. Failed by the conventional medical system, I began to delve into the world of functional medicine. I now treat myself and my patients skin with a more holistic approach.

Our skin is probably one of our most underrated organs. We lather it in hundreds of toxic chemicals daily, smother it in makeup and spend hours out in the sun destroying and denaturing our collagen for short term tans. We then want to find a new beaut cream or serum to help reverse the damage we have caused. But unfortunately it does not work that easily. A concoction of chemicals in serum form, can not reverse the toxic overload in your liver, or replenish good bacteria in your gut or increase the circulation of oxygenated blood throughout your body. This is where a ‘Holistic Approach’ to skin comes in.

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I am a big believer in following Chinese facial mapping to understand what myself and my patients skin are saying. Dermatology is a recognised specialty in traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine treatments for skin disorders have been in use since 1100 to 221 B.C. "Face mapping," is an ancient practice rooted in Chinese Medicine teaching.It is based on the premise that the entire body is reflected on the face, with each area relating to an internal body system. If there is an imbalance in that internal system, we (in theory) should see skin changes such as breakouts, milia, inflammation, discolouration and texture changes in the corresponding facial areas. By paying close attention to the connections within the body and its ailments, practitioners are often able to help more than one illness at a time, giving the more ‘holistic approach’.

Internally the spleen provides the source of blood and gi (vital energy) and the lung is responsible for dispersing the blood and qi to the skin. Along with these two organs, other bodily functions are also responsible for helping smoothness and health of the skin, such as our gut health, bowel motions and metabolic rate.


Here are some Chinese facial mapping areas of concern:


Area: Forehead.

Symptom: Breakouts, wrinkles, congestion

Corresponding organs: Small Intestine/Nervous System

Triggers: The intestines are majorly influenced by our nervous system. Recurrent skin concerns across the forehead can indicate an overactive nervous system and poor intestinal health. It may specifically indicate leaky gut, SIBO, or a bacterial imbalance.

Recommendations: Focus on restoring gut health through micro nutrient dense foods high in good pre and probiotics. Reduce the strain on your liver by limiting stimulants, refined sugar and alcohol intake. Ensuring your water intake is at least 2-3L per day.


Area: Nose and upper cheeks.

Symptoms: Oiliness, rosacea, acne.

Corresponding organs: Heart, Cardiovascular and the lymphatic System.

Triggers: Poor circulation, high blood pressure, food intolerances, pollution, vitamin deficiencies.

Recommendations: Reduce inflammatory foods, reduce refined sugar intake, increase antioxidant rich foods, have a blood test to determine any vitamin deficiencies. Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.


Area: Around lips and mouth, between the eyebrows, under the eyes and on the side of the face on the jawline

Symptoms: Acne, cysts, congestion and inflammation.

Corresponding organs: Spleen & stomach areas

Triggers: Problems in these areas can manifest as irritable bowel syndrome, dysbiosis, bloating, bad breath, decrease or increase in appetite and inconsistent/ irregular stool movements. Inflamed cystic acne around your jawline is very often a sign of hormone imbalances and will typically find correlation with irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, use of contraceptive pill, Endometriosis or Poly-cystic ovaries.

Recommendations: Restore the good bacteria in your gut with nutrient rich foods and probiotics. Ensure you are moving your body daily to excrete toxins and improve bowel motions. Ensure you are having a regular period, if you are on a contraceptive, avoid ‘skipping your period’ and interrupting your bodies natural cycle.


If you're finding your skin is at a loss and you can't get it under control, just remember your skin is a tool of elimination. Your body is letting you know there is a form of toxicity that needs to come out, so try not to add more in! Take a look at what you're putting into and onto your body on a daily basis.

Coffee, alcohol, the chemicals in manufactured foods, even some ‘health' foods (protein bars, juices, fruit bars etc), plus the products we put onto our skin (deodorant, perfumes, heavy makeup and hairsprays) are generally compiled of toxins. All of these products can make their way into our bloodstream causing a strain on our elimination system. As long as the toxic intake continues, your skin will be in constant battle to heal, no matter how much money you spend on products.

In terms of treatment and professional guidance for your skin, the holistic approach continues. Just seeing your local beautician may not treat all areas of your skins aliments. I personally recommend incorporating a consultation with a Dermal Technician, Nutritionist and furthermore a GP, Chinese Medical Practitioner or Kinesiologist to give your skin a medical, physical and psychological approach to heal.


If you’re interested in holistic skincare and treating your skin from the inside out, Madilyn provides lots of great content on her blog and her Instagram! You can find her website here and check her out on Instagram @the_functional_nurse.

Food

Recipe: Cinnamon Protein Bites

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Makes 20
(per 1) 84 cal / 4.7 P / 8.4 C / 3.5 F


Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats

  • 2 scoops cinnamon whey (I used this one - you could use a vanilla and add extra 1/2 tsp of ceylon cinnamon)

  • 1/2 cup melted almond butter

  • 1/4 cup natural honey (can be melted too if needed)

  • 1/2 cup light shredded coconut (look for one with reduced fat and lower cals)

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/2 tsp ginger

  • 1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon

  • 1-2 tbsp water (if needed)


Method

  1. Place almond butter and honey into a mixing bowl, microwave for approx 30-60 secs until they are a thinner consistency

  2. Add all other ingredients into bowl and mix together well

  3. If the mixture is still slightly dry either add some extra honey (will change macros) or 1-2 tbsp of water

  4. Place the bowl with the mixture in the fridge for 10-15 mins to cool down

  5. Remove bowl from the fridge, line a baking tray with baking paper

  6. Roll mixture into small balls (should make 20)

  7. Place tray in the fridge for 20 mins until they’re ready to serve

  8. Store in the fridge or freezer!

Food

Recipe: Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash

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Makes 2 servings
(per serve) 435 cal / 47 P / 33 C / 11 F


Ingredients

  • 200g (7oz) lean turkey mince (+ cooking spray)

  • 2 small sweet potatoes

  • Roast vegetable seasoning or a combo of salt, pepper, and rosemary (example)

  • 2 tbsp salt and sugar reduced BBQ sauce (example) - included in macros

  • 4 whole eggs


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper

  3. Wash and chop sweet potatoes (leaving skin on)

  4. Place sweet potatoes on baking tray with roast vegetable seasoning

  5. Cook sweet potatoes in the oven for 15 mins, remove and flip potatoes over

  6. Clear room on the tray between the potatoes for 4 eggs

  7. Crack and pour eggs into gaps between potatoes

  8. Put the tray back into the oven for a further 10 minutes

  9. Heat up a pan, add a small amount of cooking spray and cook turkey mince for 10 mins (breaking into small pieces)

  10. Add turkey mince to plate and serve with potato hash, eggs and BBQ sauce on top.

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GUT MICROBIOME vs your Hormones, Stress and Mood

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Suddenly being mentioned everywhere, your ‘gut’ is something you may have heard referred to. It’s the nickname given to your gut microbiome, a community of microorganisms which live in your Gastrointestinal (GI) tract (and also in the tract of every animal). For the most part, the microbiota and your gut live in relative harmony. The gut has a bi-directional relationship (two way communication) with our central nervous system (CNS), this is referred to as the ‘gut-brain axis’. This gut brain axis allows the gut, specifically the microbiota, to send and receive signals to and from the brain.

 

Some signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:

·      Regular cravings for sugar and carbs

·      Stomach disturbances such as gas, bloating, irregular toilet habits

·      Unintentional weight changes (either up or down)

·      Sleep disturbances and fatigue

·      Skin issues such as acne or eczema

·      Food intolerances

·      Autoimmune conditions

·      Headaches, brain fog, memory issues

·      Poor immune system

 

It is important to note, due to a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, diet, environment, season, and health status it is virtually impossible to pin down one response to what is a ‘normal’ microbiome for the average human. Gut microbiome can also vary due to genetic diversity, however the dominant species generally results from the composition of a person’s diet (Clapp et al. 2017).

 

HORMONES

Healthy gut function has been linked to normal CNS function. This in turn means that you’ll have more stability with your sex hormones, thyroid function, and even adrenaline function. Recent studies suggest that the gut-brain axis extends also to the neural, endocrine, and immune pathways (Carabotti et al. 2015).

 

Both internal hormones and exogenous hormones (those from external sources) affect the body, and the gut. Oestrogen also has a gut biome access, resulting in our gut health altering our hormonal health. β-glucuronidase (an enzyme that breaks apart oestrogen into it’s active forms) is produced by the gut to influence oestrogen regulation throughout the body. This process can be disrupted when the gut is not performing at it’s best, resulting in reduced diversity in the gut microbiota, and then a decline in the amount of active oestrogen that can be used in the body.

 
“Estrogens are primarily produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and adipose tissue and circulate in the bloodstream in free or protein-bound form and first undergo metabolism in the liver, where estrogens and their metabolites are conjugated. Conjugated estrogens are eliminated from the body by metabolic conversion to water-soluble molecules, which are excreted in urine or in bile into the feces. The conjugated estrogens excreted in the bile can be deconjugated by bacterial species in the gut with beta-glucuronidase activity (constituents of the ‘estrobolome’), subsequently leading to estrogen reabsorption into the circulation. Circulating estrogens exert effects on target tissues including breast, which stimulate cellular growth and proliferation. By modulating the enterohepatic circulation of estrogens, the estrobolome affects both the excretion and circulation of estrogens. In turn, the composition of the estrobolome can be shaped by factors such as antibiotics, other drugs, and diet that modulate its functional activity.” Cell Host Microbe.  2011;10(4):324-335.

“Estrogens are primarily produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and adipose tissue and circulate in the bloodstream in free or protein-bound form and first undergo metabolism in the liver, where estrogens and their metabolites are conjugated. Conjugated estrogens are eliminated from the body by metabolic conversion to water-soluble molecules, which are excreted in urine or in bile into the feces. The conjugated estrogens excreted in the bile can be deconjugated by bacterial species in the gut with beta-glucuronidase activity (constituents of the ‘estrobolome’), subsequently leading to estrogen reabsorption into the circulation. Circulating estrogens exert effects on target tissues including breast, which stimulate cellular growth and proliferation. By modulating the enterohepatic circulation of estrogens, the estrobolome affects both the excretion and circulation of estrogens. In turn, the composition of the estrobolome can be shaped by factors such as antibiotics, other drugs, and diet that modulate its functional activity.”Cell Host Microbe. 2011;10(4):324-335.

 

Oestrogen

The gut microbiome manipulates oestrogen metabolism, and therefore can alter how much oestrogen gets excreted once used, or how much gets re-circulated through the body. Some gut bacteria produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase (BG for short), and the more BG which is produced, the less oestrogen is excreted from the body and the more is recirculated (Maryann et al., 2016). Oestrogen is great for female hormonal health, healthy skin and a functioning reproductive system, but too much oestrogen can lead to decreased sex drive, irregular menstrual cycles, frequent headaches, weight gain, and increased PMS symptoms. Greater reabsorption of free oestrogens can also increase the risk of oestrogen-driven cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

 

Strong links have also been made between the gut microbiome and thyroid function, these can include:

·      Disruption in iodine uptake;

·      Alterations to thyroid-hormone receptors; and

·      The liver’s reduced ability to convert T3 and T4 (resulting in a ‘sluggish’ thyroid).

There are currently studies underway looking into the relationship between gut microbiota diversity and autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), which includes Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) and Grave's disease (GD).

Mental Health

GI homeostasis (overall gut health) is imperative to our general health and wellbeing (Lyte, 2010). Recently, studies have shown that variations in the gut microbiome and the effect these have on various central nervous system (CNS) disorders, including (but by no means limited to) depressive disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, and autism (Mayer et al., 2014). Your gut microbiota are capable of delivering neuroactive substances such as GABA and serotonin, which interact with the gut-brain axis. Current research suggests that certain strands of probiotics can have anti-depressant and anxiety-relieving properties (Evrensel and Ceylan, 2015).

 
The gut-brain axis pathway. Image created by Megan Clapp and Emily Wilen.

The gut-brain axis pathway. Image created by Megan Clapp and Emily Wilen.

 

In a double-blind placebo-controlled and randomised parallel group study by Messaoudi et al in 2011 researchers used healthy volunteers who took either Lactobacillus helveticusR0052 and Bifidobacterium longum or placebo for 30 consecutive days. A variety of parameters were tested using the Hopkins symptom checklist, hospital anxiety and depression scale, the perceived stress scale and coping checklist. The results from these tests showed that self-perceived psychological stress levels, as well as tested urinary free cortisol levels were both reduced in the subjects who took probiotics regularly. This means those who were on the frequent probiotics ended up with test results that showed less stress, and less depressed moods.

In summary

There is so much more down the rabbit hole of microbiota which I am currently researching, but I felt the connection to oestrogen metabolism, thyroid health and mental health were the most prevalent. Clearly the relationship between our physical and mental health and gut microbiome is a complex one, where much research still needs to be done. However in saying this, even the current amount of research which has been brought to light reinstates the fact that we need to look after our gut, so you may be wondering, how exactly do we do this?

Some events which can cause changes in our gut microbiome:

·      Poor, unvaried diet

·      Low fibre diet

·      High amounts of artificial sweeteners and/or refined sugars in diet

·      Recent course of antibiotics

·      Have been on heavy medications (such as during cancer treatment) or other immune suppressant medications (such as those used to treat Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or even psoriasis).

·      Chronic stress

·      Lack of prebiotics in the diet (think: asparagus, rolled oats, bananas, nuts, leeks, beans)

·      Drinking too much alcohol

·      Lack of physical activity

·      Smoking

·      Insufficient sleep

As you can see, there’s many lifestyle factors (not just diet-based factors) which can alter the balance of your gut microbiome. Let’s take a look at some adjustments you can make to repair or maintain the integrity of your gut.

1.     Eat more prebiotic foods

Foods rich in prebiotic fibres (which help ‘feed’ the good guys in your gut) include leeks, onions, asparagus, rolled oats, bananas, nuts. I personally like to include the addition of a supplement called Gut Performance. Disclaimer: this is not sponsored (nothing on this blog is ever sponsored and no free product is ever received as part of my commitment to only offer unbiased information and genuine product feedback), I do not have an affiliation with the company, it’s just a genuinely great product I have found, and have yet to see something work as effectively for my gut.

2.     Consume more probiotics.

Probiotics increase the abundance of good gut bacteria. Keep an eye out for fermented foods, including traditional Greek yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

3.     Stress reduction.

Learn to manage your stress levels through mindfulness techniques such as exercise, meditation, mindful breathing techniques, and others.

4.     Sleep properly

Never underestimate the power of consistently good sleep. Train your body to sleep and wake up at similar times each day, remove digital distractions before bed, and make getting AT LEAST 7 hours a priority, 8 is better.

5.     Basic healthy eating patterns

Your diet needs to focus on wholesome foods, variety and quality. Alter what fresh produce you consume based on what’s in and out of season to get a diverse range of micronutrients, and consider exactly what it is that’s making up your macros, not all foods are created equal.

Food

Recipe: Roasted Potato Bowl

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Makes 2 servings

(per serving) 565 cal / 46 P / 60 C / 17 F


Ingredients:

  • 1 hot BBQ chicken from supermarket (I used 150g or 5oz per serving)

  • 4 red potatoes

  • Kale (roughly 2 cups - 1 per serve)

  • 5g unsalted butter (for cooking kale)

  • Roasted vegetable seasoning mix (could also use a combination of salt, pepper and rosemary - I used this one)

  • 1 shallot

  • 1/4 cup spring onion

  • 1.5 tsp honey

  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1/2 handful sesame seeds

  • Chopped parsley (to taste)

  • Salt (for boiling water and for massaging kale)


Method

  1. Wash potatoes but leave skin on, chop into small pieces

  2. Preheat oven to 200C (390F)

  3. Bring a saucepan to the boil with salt in the water

  4. Place potatoes in salted water and allow to cook for approx 10-15 mins (check to see when fork easily goes through, do not over cook or they will fall apart!)

  5. While potatoes are cooking slice up 1/4 cup of spring onion and 1 scallion

  6. When potatoes are finished drain them and place them on a baking tray

  7. Put spice mix on potatoes, then put sliced spring onion and scallion on the baking tray with the potatoes

  8. In a separate bowl mix vinegar, sesame oil, and honey, stir well before pouring over potatoes

  9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley and place in the oven for approx 15 mins (until skins of potatoes are crispy)

  10. While potato is in the oven prepare your kale. You will want to massage the kale to make sure it isn’t chewy. To do this, rip of pieces of kale, place in a bowl or on a cutting board with salt on top (Himalayan salt works well for this) and massage salt into kale until it becomes a darker colour and feels wilted.

  11. Put kale in a microwave safe bowl with 5g (1 tsp) butter and microwave for approx 60sec until cooked.

  12. Chop up BBQ chicken and weigh out desired portions.

  13. Remove potatoes from the oven when done and serve with kale and chicken!

Food

Recipe: Chicken Burrito Bowl + Pico De Gallo

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Makes: 1 serving (bowl) / 4 servings (pico de gallo)
(Per 1 serve) 456 cal / 69P / 33C / 4F


Ingredients (Pico de Gallo)

  • 1 small red onion

  • 4 tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup coriander

  • 2 jalapenos (or cayenne peppers)

  • Juice of 2 limes

Ingredients (Burrito Bowl)

  • 1 BBQ chicken

  • 1/2 cup brown rice (per serve)

  • 1/4 cup black beans (per serve)

  • 10g shredded cheese (per serve)

  • 1 tbsp greek yoghurt (per serve)

  • (optional) Taco sauce

  • (optiona) 1/4 avocado

  • (optional) Shredded lettuce


Method (Pico de Gallo)

  1. Finely chop 1 small onion and 4 tomatoes and place in a bowl

  2. Pick or chop 1/2 cup coriander and add to the mix

  3. Chop 2 jalapenos to add in, if you cannot find any sub for 2 cayenne peppers (slice in half, remove the seeds, chop)

  4. Squeeze juice of 2 limes over the top

  5. Keep mixture in the fridge for up to 3 days

Method (Bowl)

  1. Either cook rice from scratch or use microwave rice packet

  2. Heat up 1/4 cup of black beans and rice

  3. Place rice and beans in a bowl with 200g of chicken

  4. Spoon pico de gallo on top

  5. Serve with toppings of your choice. Included in the macros: shredded cheese and greek yoghurt (instead of sour cream), you could also add avocado, taco sauce and shredded lettuce.

Food

Recipe: Hot Chicken Stir Fry

Makes: 3 servings
(per serve) 370 cal / 47P / 37C / 3F


Ingredients

  • Chicken (150g per serve)

  • Green beans, capsicum, broccoli, snow peas (any mix of stir fry veg)

  • ¼ cabbage

  • ¼ cup mushrooms

  • Liquid aminos

  • Cooking spray

  • Hot sauce (I used sriracha)

  • (optional) ½ cup rice per serve (included in macros)


Method

  1. Either cook brown rice from scratch or use microwave rice packet

  2. Finely slice 1/4 a capsicum

  3. Chop up chicken

  4. Heat up a skillet and spray with cooking spray

  5. Cook chicken for 5 minutes before adding in frozen stir fry veg mix and coconut aminos

  6. Cook for another 2-3 minutes before adding in cabbage and mushrooms

  7. Stir frequently and cook for a further 5 minutes

  8. Serve with siracha or hot sauce of your choice

Food

Recipe: Tuna Pasta

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Makes: 1 serving
423 cal / 33P / 52C / 9F


Ingredients

  • Tuna (2 small tins per serve)

  • 1 handful Spinach

  • ½ punnet Cherry tomato

  • ½ tbsp Olive oil

  • Himalayan salt

  • 60g Pasta (per serve)


Method

  1. Bring water to boil in saucepan, add pasta

  2. In a separate skillet place tins of tuna, cherry tomatoes, and spinach

  3. Allow tuna to cook lightly until pasta is ready

  4. Drain pasta, serve tuna on top

  5. Add olive oil and Himalayan salt

  6. (optional) Serve with some parmesan