A Stress-free Health-wise Advent Calendar That’s Just For You!

We all dream of holidays to be stress-free, leisurely and idyllic times, before somehow getting wrapped and caught-up in all the chaos, hustle and bustle they bring. We need reminders to take it slow and easy. To have a meaningful holiday true to the spirit of the season!

This got me thinking! What better way to do it than to lay out reminders in an ‘Advent Calendar’ style.  Advent calendars are all about counting down to the big day. And they pack little surprises – a cookie, a chocolate, a mint, a card, a toffee, a joke, a knick-knack, a small gift – for every morning, for 24 mornings, leading to Christmas.

How interesting would it be if we can borrow this idea and create a calendar that is meant especially for us? A calendar that reminds us to keep the focus on important things and not get carried away (or dragged unwittingly)! Like that voice in our head, just way cooler, with notes, jokes and treats just for us!

Here’s how we do it:

 

Draw a sketch

Begin by imagining all the days from December 1st leading to the 25th! Think about all the things you will be doing, and what type of reminders would serve you best.

Do you tend to overcook? Or spend time in the kitchen away from your family and friends? Are you a perfectionist, always cleaning, trimming and endlessly chasing chores? Will you need a reminder to call a special someone who can’t visit? Or book tickets to a concert you enjoy?

Think of everything! And, lay it out on a simple piece of paper. This is your sketch.

 

Fill it in

Now that you know what reminders you need, put them all on colourful pieces of paper (or on white paper using colourful pens). Get creative and have fun. If there are days when you need no reminders what-so-ever, write a silly joke for yourself that will make you smile or opt for an activity such as 15 minutes of meditation!

If you are an energetic person who tends to get overexcited, your reminders should be such that calm and soothe you. And if you are an anxious person who is dreading the holidays, make your reminders about simplicity, faith and belief.

Overall, your notes should uplift you. Give you all the confidence in the world. And, they should be filled with warmth, love and that special kind of attention only you can give yourself!

 

Go shopping

This is the most exciting part of the activity! And I am sure you ladies (and gents) are simply going to love it! It is a bit different from your usual shopping but no less fun, I assure you. Let me explain how.

When you go shopping for your advent calendar, buy small treats that will go with your reminders. For example, if the reminder is to care for yourself, a petite sachet of bath salts or a pretty pair of earrings is a nice buy. Similarly, if the reminder is to take a pause and breathe, a floral incense or a small bottle of perfume can complement that. If you’ve decided to be more conscious of your food choices and stay away from unhealthy sugary treats, buy a single-serve packet of organic quinoa or a jar of herbs and toppings you love.

The idea is to give your little treats some thought and shop for some simple things that will bring you great pleasure.

Now, combine your notes together with your little gifts, and wrap and number them. You can also put them into small gauze or linen bags, depending on their size. Choose a Christmas stocking, a large mason jar or simply lay your calendar out on your counter!

Don’t forget to unwrap, read and use each little gift starting 1st December!

 

As a final thought, creating a calendar for yourself is definitely satisfying, but if you can do gift a calendar to someone you care about. It will make their season a little less stressful and a little bit happier, and they’ll love you for it!

How Do You Create Your Own Salad – an Amateur’s Step by Step Guide

For some people putting a salad together is like blinking an eye. For some however, especially if your cultural background doesn't involve eating salads, then putting a salad together can be a very daunting job. I must admit; I find it very challenging.
So with summer just round the corner, I thought it would be timely to put together a simple step by step 'create your own salad.'

graphic-spacer

Choose 3 LEAVES

1. Romaine lettuce
2. Ice berg
3. Rocket leaves 
4. Spinach 
5. Kailan
6. Mixed salad leaves

Choose 4 VEGETABLES

1. Cherry tomato
2. Broccoli
3. Beet root
4. Capsicum
5. Carrots
6. Mung Bean sprouts
7. Onion
8. Green beans
9. Cucumber
10. Alfalfa sprouts

Choose 3 CONDIMENTS

1. Green olives
2. Black olives
3. Walnuts
4. Almonds
5. Capers
6. Chickpeas
7. Tempeh croutons
8. Tofu croutons

Choose 1 DRESSING

1. Tahini
2. Olive oil and lemon juice dressing
3. Honey and Balsamic vinegar

Choose 1 SIDE

1. Quinoa
2. Brown Rice
3. Rye bread
4. Raw seed crackers
5. Brown rice chappati
6. Couscous
 
graphic-spacer
There you go. Dozens of salad recipes all in one place. Let me know if you found this helpful.
pH-scale-food

How to Take Charge of Alkaline and Acidic foods in Your Diet.

Recently when I visited a health professional, I was advised not to take juice. I must have had this confused look on my face, so the health professional said, skip juice for a few days as it is acidic. That got me thinking; do most people think of juice as acidic because they think it is fruits blended together? Or at the mention of juice they picture only orange juice and immediately think that orange is acidic? 
So I thought that I would list alkaline and acidic forming foods for you so that at one glance you know what is in your diet.

graphic-spacer

ALKALINE FORMING FOODS (80% of your diet)

Almost all fresh foods (includes dried fruits)
Most fresh vegetables (whole)
Millet, quinoa, amaranth, sprouted grains
Raw goat's milk, goat's milk yoghurt
Tofu, tempeh, miso
Eggs
Almonds, dry roasted chestnuts, whole sesame seeds, fresh coconut
Apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, homemade pickles and sauerkraut
Agar-agar, arrowroot flour
Honey (raw), brown rice syrup, stevia, carob powder
Dandelion coffee, herbal tea, green tea
Sprouted legumes
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices
Sea salt, Tamari, spices, nutritional yeast
The best alkaline body is when you have lots of LAUGHTER, LOVE, HUGS, FRESH AIR, PRAYER, MEDITATION, PEACE, KINDNESS and REST and SLEEP

ACID FORMING FOODS (20% of the diet)

Unripe bananas, plums, cranberries, prunes, blueberries
Rhubarb, peeled potatoes
All grains except those mentioned in the Alkaline foods
All processed grain products
Salted butter, sweetened yoghurt, homogenised milks, 
Most processed dairy products 
Meat, fish, fowl, whole cooked eggs
Unsprouted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews, dried coconut
White malt, wine, balsamic vinegar, store bought pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise
Gelatin products
Sugar, jams, candies, heated honey, unprocessed maple syrup, fructose, barley malt syrup, artificial sweeteners, sulphured molasses, brown sugar
Coffee, coffee substitutes, cocoa, black tea,
Unsprouted dried legumes (pulses)
Soft drinks, soda water, alcohol
Iodised table salt
The acidic body is formed when you have WORRY, ANGER, JEALOUSY, RESENTMENT, STRESS, LACK OF SLEEP, STALE AIR, AIRCONDITIONED AIR

graphic-spacer

Hope this quick reference to alkaline and acidic foods will help you create a more alkalined body for yourself and your beautiful family.
Five Percent Loophole

How The 5% Loophole Made Me healthier!

 

The first time I heard about the 5% loophole was when I heard Julie Eady speak and read her book called ‘Additive Alert’. That was like a light bulb went on moment.  Since then I have become very aware of additives and become passionate about sharing such information.  The information for this blog has been taken from Julie’s book.

More and more consumers are deciding everyday that it makes sense to avoid certain food additives in the foods they choose to buy. Knowing that certain food additives are linked to health problems and yet still permitted legally in our foods, you would think it would be an easy task to just read the labels and find safe products which don’t contain the suspect additives – right??

Wrong. Unfortunately, labeling of food additives is just another area where the Australian food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is letting the Australian consumer down.

The labels on food products in this country don’t always tell the full story. There are several loopholes in our labeling system that can frustrate the attempts of the most dedicated consumer to make informed choices about what they eat.

FSANZ implemented new food-labeling legislation that came into effect in December 2002. These changes to the labeling laws improved the system in some regards by giving more information to the consumer at a glance. The nutritional information panel was improved, and some changes were made in relation to manufacturers’ requirements to detail ingredients.

The changes still did not go far enough, however, and there remain numerous inadequacies with the current laws. These loopholes exist because of industry pressure, which is driven by profit, and hinders consumers’ rights to full knowledge about what is in the food we eat.
When amending the labeling laws in 2002, FSANZ had the opportunity to bring in legislation to oblige manufacturers to list all the ingredients in their products, no matter how small the quantity, but they didn’t. Once again, the pressure from the food manufacturers won out over the rights and protection of consumers’ interest.

Under the laws at the moment there’s what is known as the 5% loophole. This gaping hole in the legislation means that manufacturers can get away with not listing additives if they are present in an ingredient that comprises 5% or less of the product.

Antioxidants in vegetable oil are the most common example of this. Many products have vegetable oil as an ingredient, and the oil will also contain antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants (such as 310, 319 or 320) are banned in other countries and associated with adverse health impacts, but these antioxidants aren’t listed if the amount of vegetable oil in the product is less than 5% of its weight. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is another additive which many people wish to avoid because it causes so many adverse effects in so many people. However, additives like these are often legally concealed in ingredients like “beef booster” or “chicken flavour” under this labeling loophole.

Often, suspect additives aren’t declared on labels under the protection of this loophole. Manufacturers can list compound ingredients such as margarine and breadcrumbs, and not list what is in those ingredients if they make up less than 5% of the final product. These ingredients often contain suspect antioxidants, colours and preservatives, but this will not be declared on the label.

Prior to December 2002, the 5% loophole was the 10% loophole. Why FSANZ bothered to change the law from 10% to 5%, rather than just get rid of the loophole altogether, is incomprehensible from a consumer’s point of view.

Under current legislation, manufacturers now have the choice of listing additives by either their number or their name. This means consumers have to be familiar with both the numbers and names to be able to decipher labels. It would have been a simple matter to legislate that manufacturers list both on their labels, but the manufacturers won out on this one. Manufacturers like to have the choice of which one to use as market research shows that consumers can be put off by too many chemical names.

For example, preservative 385 may be less confronting on your tinned crab meat than calcium disodium ethylene-diaminetetracetate, and flavour enhancer 635 sounds a lot more appetising in your packet soup than disodium 5 ribonucleotides.

5percent_titleDespite the well recognised adverse effect of some additives on health, FSANZ don’t entertain the notion of warnings on foods. Many preservatives, especially the sulphites and nitrites, are well known to be associated with asthma attacks, and yet these are added widely to fresh and processed foods with no warnings. These preservatives are sometimes added to fresh meat, especially mince and sausages, and even to fresh fish, but the consumer has no entitlement to a warning under the current laws.

There are also many additives that are specifically banned in foods intended for infants and young children because of their proven adverse health impacts. This, in effect, just keeps them out of infant formula and baby food, yet FSANZ is quite happy for these same additives to be widely used in foods developed and marketed fairly and squarely at older children.

For some reason it’s deemed perfectly safe to feed these additives to children over one, yet they are prohibited and considered dangerous in foods for children under one. A warning on these foods that they contained additives not recommended for consumption by young children would no doubt have a dramatic effect on the sales of such foods. These include some two-minute-noodle snacks, chips, rice crackers, most sausages, frankfurts and savoury biscuits.

Despite introducing much stricter nutritional labeling, FSANZ still resists any move towards labeling of suspected carcinogenic additives in food. (After all, if it’s approved, it’s safe according to FSANZ.) Food labels tell us how much salt, sugar, fat and carbohydrates are in 100 grams of every product, but they don’t mention the presence of potential carcinogens. If warnings declaring the presence of any known or suspected carcinogenic additives were mandatory, I am sure that consumers would vote loudly with their shopping dollars and avoid these products in droves.

The next time you are pushing the trolley down the supermarket aisle, lookout for these nasty numbers.

Low GI Muesli

3 Ways to Lower Your Dietary Glycemic Index (GI)

In the past, carbohydrates were classified as simple or complex based on the number of simple sugars in the molecule. Carbohydrates composed of one or two simple sugars like fructose or sucrose (table sugar; a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose) were labeled simple, while starchy foods were labeled complex because starch is composed of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose. Advice to eat less simple and more complex carbohydrates (i.e., polysaccharides) was based on the assumption that consuming starchy foods would lead to smaller increases in blood glucose than sugary foods. This assumption turned out to be too simplistic since the blood glucose (glycemic) response to complex carbohydrates has been found to vary considerably.

Thus the concept of glycemic index (GI) has been developed in order to rank dietary carbohydrates based on their overall effect on  blood glucose concentration relative to a carbohydrate, generally pure glucose.

Glycemic Index (GI) is a method of ranking foods containing carbohydrates. GI measure the rate at which carbohydrates are broken down and appear in the blood as simple sugars. Low GI foods are absorbed by the body at a slower rate than high GI foods and provide greater satiety and sustained energy. Research shows that choosing low GI foods in conjunction with a healthy eating plan may be beneficial if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes. 

Such foods can be classified into one of two broad classes, in respect to carbohydrate content i.e.

  • “No carb” foods that consist entirely or mainly of proteins, fats, and/or water.
  • “Good carb” foods that – because of the biochemical properties of the component carbohydrates, which are the main objectives and should constitute our carbohydrate sources.

Glycemic index (GI) measures the effect on blood glucose level after a food containing carbohydrates is consumed. Glucose is one of the body’s main sources of energy. It is the fuel used by the brain, muscles, and other organs of the body. Low Glycemic index foods affect blood glucose and insulin levels less and has a slower rate of digestion and absorption.

The goal of the low glycemic diet is to eat unprocessed and unrefined carbohydrates in combination with healthy proteins and fats to improve satiety by keeping digestion slow. To understand the low glycemic diet, everyone needs to understand the way that the carbohydrates affect blood sugar and that all carbohydrates are not created equal.

Low glycemic foods are often rich in fiber, protein, or fat, though it is not healthy to eat foods containing fats just for the sake of our blood sugar unless those fats are “good” (so- called unsaturated) fats.

Some strategies for lowering dietary glycemic index includes:

  • To increase the consumption of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and no starchy vegetables.
  • To decrease the consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread.
  • To decreasing the consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and soft-drinks.

Carbohydrate-containing foods can be classified as high-GI (≥70), moderate-GI (56-69), or low-GI (≤55) relative to pure glucose (GI=100).