The Perfect Diet

Atkins, candida, low-fructose, raw food, gluten-free, high protein – I wonder, how many different types of diets exist and which one is perfect for everyone? Some of us have probably tried one, two or all of these diets in a bid to make a change in our health, whether it be for weight loss or to battle illness. Personally, I have dabbled in at least three of these diets over the years and have not found complete success with any of them. But just take a look online and you can be sure to find thousands of people who can advocate for the benefits of each one. At the same time there are thousands of people who claim that none of these diets work. With so many mixed messages, how is someone like me meant to figure out what’s best?

Over years of experimentation with raw food, low carbs, gluten free and the like, I have discovered that there is no popular diet that is perfect for everyone.  While one diet is perfect for one person, it may be harmful for the next. The problem is, there are so many diets now accessible online that people simply download a plan, follow it exactly and expect results. And they may get those results. But there are always those who don’t and that is because if a diet is not personalised, it is likely to fail. To find the perfect diet for you, it’s about being conscious of how your body responds to certain foods. I discovered early on that dried fruit was a no-go for me when I ate half a bag of dried apricots and ended up doubled over in pain from bloating and gastrointestinal issues. The same thing happens to me when I eat grapes and too much ice-cream. Both dried fruit and grapes are very high in fructose while ice-cream is high in lactose so I put two and two together and decided that I probably have some sort of sugar intolerance. As a result, I  avoid the kinds of sweet foods which lead to those gastrointestinal issues.  Interestingly, I have no problems drinking freshly squeezed juice, eating wheat and various other high-sugar fruit and vegetables which may have negative effects for others following a low FODMAPS diet. So it’s really about discovering what works for you.

As a general rule, fresh, unprocessed foods and plenty of water is the foundation of a great diet. From there, it’s all about experimentation to find out what foods and meals work best for your digestive system, energy levels and palate! Recording how your body responds after each meal is a fantastic way to pinpoint some of the foods that could be potentially contributing to great health or ill health. And my final tip: the perfect diet is the one that makes you feel good on the inside and look good on the outside! x

Strawberry Picking at Beerenberg, South Australia

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Wee bit excited about my harvest!

I used to think Hahndorf was pretty lame but that was before I actually went there. It’s not lame at all! It’s a cool little German town with quiet streets, cute cafes and best of all, its very own strawberry farm! Giggedy! (That was my best excited farmer noise). We decided to go there because I have never picked my own strawberries before and it excited me to think I could forage through bushes to find the reddest, juiciest ones (as opposed to the pale, inadequate ones you generally find at Woolworths). Beerenberg is famous for its jams and condiments and every year they employ a small amount of people to pick the best strawberries to be used in their products. As for the bruised, unattractive strawberries? They get kicked to the kerb. How discriminatory! I felt it was our duty to save as many innocent strawberries as possible! Well, not really, I was most probably going to choose the pretty ones :S

At the main entrance, you are greeted by a lovely lady who slaps a wristband on for $4, hands you a plastic container and tells you to fill it to your heart’s content. Once you’re done, your containers are weighed and you pay for the weight you picked. At over $10 a kilo, it’s a bit pricey but I figured we were paying for the experience, and surely the strawberries would taste amazing! It was a lot of fun creeping through the rows of strawberry bushes, peeking in and around to find the most luscious looking berries. Pretty soon, both of our containers were full and $30 later we headed home!.

Sadly, the strawberries didn’t take well to travel and by the time we got home, they were slightly bruised. And taste-wise, it was disappointing. I’ve tasted better strawberries from my local supermarket. So unfortunately the strawberries themselves were a fail, but I still recommend hitting up Beerenberg on a nice day to be part of your own strawberry hunt. It’s a bit of fun and there’s nothing stopping you from finding a nice patch of dirt and eating strawberries until the cows come home!

x

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Mini Bento Boxes

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After my recent Asian grocery haul, there are a bunch of foods in my pantry and fridge that are perfect for creating dishes inspired by Korean and Japanese flavours. So tonight I decided to create a mini bento box-type meal combining korean sweet brown rice, boiled egg, spinach and kimchi. It’s a very simple and quick way of putting a meal together which is perfect when you don’t have a lot of time for cooking! Generally I’m not a fan of brown rice but this Korean variety has great flavour and despite what I had heard about how hard it is to cook, it turned out really well in the rice cooker! It’s surprising how filling this meal is, despite the small amounts used. The great thing about these boxes are that you can use whatever you like! In another box, I’ve gone with a more Japanese style using the same brown rice with pickled ginger, wasabi and miso flavoured egg. The possibilities are endless! A great tip I picked up was to use silicon cupcake pans to separate the different ingredients in your container 🙂 Hope you give these great mini meal boxes a try!

Mini Bento Box (Korean style)

Ingredients

Korean brown sweet rice

2 large handfuls of baby spinach

1 egg

Kimchi

Sesame seeds

Gochujang + Honey + Sesame Oil for the sauce

Method

1. Cook up some brown rice in a rice cooker (or on the stove if you know how!)

2.  While the rice cooks, boil some water. Cook an egg for a few minutes until it’s hard boiled.

3. Combine gochujang with honey and a drizzle of sesame oil to your taste.

4. When egg is cooked, remove it from boiling water but do not turn off the stove. Add your spinach and let it cook for a minute or so. Take the egg, cool it under some cold water, peel off the shell and slice in half. Drain the spinach and pop it in some cold water to stop it from cooking further. Squeeze out the extra water with your hands.

5. Assemble your bento box! Add rice first, then pop some silicon cupcake pans into your box for dividers. Fill the pans with the kimchi, and spinach topped with egg. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice and add a dollop of sauce. Eat!

The Liebster Award & 10 Questions!

Liebster-Award

Who is Liebster? I’m not exactly sure, but they have this blogging award named after them and the gorgeous Love From Tara has nominated me to be part of it. According to Tara, it’s an award for up and coming bloggers with followers under 200. That’s me! On further investigation, it seems that the Liebster Award is kind of like an online chain letter. It’s a cool way to simply link people up in the blog world and no-one really knows who started it, or where! But it’s a great idea and a bit of fun, so why not! So what happens if you get nominated?

-Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. ☑
-Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. ☑
-Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. ☑
-Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. ☑
-Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. ☑

So basically it’s a great way to spread the word about cool, undiscovered blogs, as well as a way to promote your own! Aaaand, you get to find out more about the people behind them. Special thanks to Tara for nominating me and allowing me to get involved! Check out her blog here – it’s an insightful, witty look into her mind, along with lots of other really cool stuff so check it out! Below are my answers to Tara’s questions and the 10 blogs I’ve nominated for the award. And for those awesome bloggers, below that are my questions for you!

Tara’s Questions:

1. What’s one possession you can’t live without and why?

I guess this isn’t really a possession because it’s rented, but I could not live without my apartment! Everything else I could probably do without, but a roof over my head is one thing I am eternally grateful for and it’s something many people take for granted.

2. Would you rather have a rewind button for your life or a pause button?

Definitely a pause button. I never dwell on the past. Right now is a really good time for me and I wouldn’t complain at all if I spent the rest of my life in this moment, with the people around me, and with this (semi)wrinkle-free face!


3. What celebrity would you like to meet and why?

I think it would be cool to meet someone really funny, who would be a lot of fun…like Donald Glover from Community! I can totally see us drinking up and having a mad party! Haha.


4. If you were given $3million and had to spend all of it, how would you spend it?

I have to spend all of it?? How unfortunate. LOL. Well I would buy houses for all my family here in Australia and in the Philippines. Then I would give them some cash as well so they don’t have to worry about working. The rest I would spend on myself, buy a pimpin’ house near the beach or some scenic area, a car and another house for investment. So you know, basically houses. HAHA.

5. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging when I was in my teens! I had always kept diaries as a kid and when the Internet came around in like ’95, I got into making my own webpages using templates on Dreamweaver. I even learnt how to write html a little bit. LOL. Anyways, I would make these websites and make graphics and write little blogs or rants about daily stuff, tv shows I hated, movies I loved…Expressing my opinion has just always been something that I’ve done.


6. Who inspires you?

I’m definitely inspired by my best friend, Nicole. She is a super successful hair & make up artist and she is just really creative and ambitious. She achieves everything she sets her mind on. However, I’m mostly inspired by other bloggers! Reading about other people’s stories and seeing how many people out there are trying to make a difference really inspires me to do the same.


7. What’s in your handbag/purse?

My handbag is a mess! It’s probably reflective of the kind of person I am, all over the place! It’s full of random receipts and papers, lipsticks, Paw Paw lip balm (essential!), my wallet and phone (also essential) and usually there’s a bag of dried fruit or nuts because I’m always hungry! It’s always full of stuff and I can never find anything in there!


8. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I guess I would like to have the speed of Superman or The Flash! Some kind of power where I can travel long distances really quickly because I’m always waiting around for a bus and so that would totally save me time!


9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have always wanted to go to Egypt and see the pyramids. But right at this moment, I want to go to New York!


10. What fashion trend do you wish you could erase from the world?

Crocs is too easy isn’t it? I guess I’m not really a fan of those sneaker stilettos! So weird!

The Blogs I nominate for the Liebster Award:

Love From Tara – random thoughts and cool stuff

Alexis is an Addict – insights and opinions from an independent woman

My Gluten-Free Life – the title sums it up!

A Twenty Something Flight Attendant – stories from the sky and beyond

Macthought – everything Apple

Nicole Abela Hair Fashion Makeup – latest stuff from award winning hair & make up artist Nicole Abela

Dbites – an Adelaide food blog

Bijou Girl – stories of strength from a woman battling cancer

I Woke Up Fat – hilarious stories of dealing with weight gain

My questions for the nominated bloggers:

1. What’s your favourite thing to do on your days off?

2. Your favourite book?

3. What are your top 3 necessary qualities in a partner?

4. Who do you most admire?

5. What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

6. What’s one thing on your bucket list?

7. What’s your vice?

8. Do you believe in ghosts?

9. What’s your favourite TV show of the moment?

10. Which food makes your tummy the happiest?

Oodles of Noodles!

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If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only choose one food to eat, what would it be?

My answer to this question is always SUSHI! It seems like a good choice because not only is it DELICIOUS, it has all the nutrients required for optimum health and there are so many different types to choose from that you could never get bored with it (I do presume that on the deserted island I get to pick from a myriad of sushi types, like on the train? haha)!

Despite my love for sushi and having visited a few Japanese restaurants around Adelaide, I have never tried other types of Japanese fast food, in particular their noodles. I’ve heard about ramen and udon being really popular but for some reason, I’ve never tried it.  With Japan in the top 3 healthiest countries in the world, they must be doing something right with their food!

The other night, I was looking for a recipe that would be suitable for someone with an upset tummy; the criteria being subtle in flavour, low fat, gluten free but also filling and soothing. That’s when I came across this delicious recipe from The Longevity Kitchen via Epicurious. It’s a Japanese soup with a miso base, tofu, vegetables and soba noodles. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat so they are gluten free! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any that were 100% buckwheat in the stores so I had to settle for a buckwheat/wheat combination. The soup was flavoursome and very satisfying! And it also inspired me to explore recipes using soba noodles.

Today I hit up my fave asian grocery store in the city, the Kim Wang Asian Supermarket, which stocks a very nice range of Japanese goods at decent prices. They have many brands of soba noodles to choose from so I was a bit confused as to which one was the best! I finally decided on a bulk 900g pack which was not only better value for money than the other brands (about 60 cents per 100g compared to over $1 per 100g in regular grocery stores), but the noodles were also darker in colour which I can safely assume means a higher buckwheat content. So go for the darker noodles!

This dish is very easy to put together with whatever vegetables you have leftover in your fridge and it takes no time at all. The recipe I’ve used is based on the one I’ve put a link to above with some inspiration from some ramen noodle recipes. I have no idea how authentic it is – it’s more about experimenting with the ingredients and your personal preferences as to what you include in the dish! That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself, you can make it up just as long as you think it tastes good!

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Vegetarian Soba Noodles

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

Any vegetables you like! I used –

1 handful of baby spinach

4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

Small handful of bean sprouts

1 spring onion/scallion, sliced diagonally

1 egg

1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce or Tamari

Soba noodles

White miso

1 tsp Vegetable stock dissolved in 2 cups of hot water

Sesame Oil

Wasabi, pickled ginger or nori (on the side)

Method

1. Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent futher cooking and drizzle some sesame oil over the top. Put it to the side.

2. In another small saucepan, bring water to the boil and cook a whole egg for a few minutes. Switch heat off and leave the egg in the water while you prepare the broth.

3.. Put the 2 cups of vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer while adding all of your vegetables except the spring onion and bean sprouts. Only add half of the spring onion and save the rest for garnish, along with the bean sprouts. Add soy sauce and another drizzle of sesame oil. Let veggies simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Take 1/4 cup of the broth and mix 1 tbsp of white miso paste, mix until dissolved and add it back to the main broth.

5. Take your hard boiled egg and run it under cold water until it is no longer warm to touch. Peel off shell and cut in half.

6. Assemble your soup. Place some noodles in a bowl, fill it up with the vegetable broth, add the two halves of egg, bean sprouts and spring onion. On the side you can have wasabi, nori and some pickled ginger. Easy & delish!

Peas Pilau

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I’m still here, guys! Just took a mini half week hiatus to get some study done and catch up with some friends. Tonight I have a night in to do some reading and thought I would cook myself up a little vegetarian dish with some of the leftover bits and bobs I had in my freezer and pantry.

This recipe comes from the Kuruksheta region of India and I adapted it from the Fair Trade Cookbook. You can find the recipe here. I did find the dish to be a little bland but I resisted on adding salt because I’m trying to wean my tastebuds off it! *Daydreams of salted nuts* Oh, and for those who are interested, I have relaxed on my gluten-free diet. I’m eating gluten free 80% of the time and that’s enough to stop me from eating too many naughty biscuits and cakes 😛

To Juice or not to Juice?

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I know I’m a little late to get on this bandwagon but, how good is juicing?! A couple days ago, I was introduced to a juicer and I’ve been going mad pulverizing every kind of fruit and vegetable I can find. It doesn’t cease to amaze me how I can turn a whole apple, 3 carrots and a bunch of spinach into a small container of colourful liquid goodness, just like that! I feel like David Copperfield!

In my internet travels, I’ve read a whole lot of “don’ts” for juicing. Since when is making juice so complicated? I didn’t know there was any more to think about than throwing the food in the machine and drinking whatever comes out! But if you want to get the most out of your juice, there are apparently a few things you need to consider. Let’s see if we can separate some fact from fiction first.

1. Don’t drink juice with food – TRUE

When you take a tablet with food, the absorption of that drug is reduced as the tablet passes more slowly through the stomach and the surrounding acids destroy some of its effects. The same goes for drinking juice with food. So if you want to absorb all the nutrients from your juice, the best idea is to drink it separately from your meals, like first thing in the morning!

2. Don’t throw away the pulp – THIS DEPENDS!

When you juice fruit, the solid of the fruit becomes separated from the liquid. The solid is made up of fibres which are the undigestable components of food that pass through your bowel, keeping you “regular”. Fibre also keeps you full for longer. Anti-juicers would say juicing is not beneficial because you are throwing away the fibre, however, all the nutrients are contained in the juice and being in liquid form, are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Obviously it’s great to have fibre AND nutrients, but it’s still beneficial to drink only the juice if you want a quick vitamin/mineral hit. My advice is that juicing should not be a total substitute for eating whole fruits and vegetables, it should be a supplement to your current intake.

3. Don’t mix fruit with vegetables – FALSE

Well, in my opinion, this guideline lacks evidence. The reasoning behind not mixing fruit with vegetables seems to stem from the idea that whole fruit and vegetables are digested by different enzymes. Consequently, when you eat them at the same time, your gut goes a little crazy and has problems trying to digest both, leading to gas and bloating. Whether or not this actually occurs, it doesn’t seem relevant to juicing because juice does not require digestion. As explained above, juice is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and therefore that whole digestion process is removed. In my own experience, I have never had any gut issues drinking fruit and vegetable juice, even when drinking two glasses of juice day. But everyone is different – listen to your body and if something doesn’t make you feel good, experiment with different food combinations! I usually juice 1 fruit to 3 vegetables as a general ratio.

4. Don’t drink juice later – TRUE

When juice comes into contact with air, the nutrients and enzymes within the juice are gradually destroyed. Therefore it’s best to drink your juice immediately or pop it into an air-tight container to freeze. Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice though!

So there you have it! Whether you make juice, drink smoothies or simply eat the whole fruit or vegetable, they are all practical and delicious ways to incorporate more nutrition into your diet.