Skip to content

A breakfast frittata, and post-tongue debrief.

August 29, 2012

Afternoon health musketeers!

If you’re dropping by from Michelle or Melissa‘s blog, thanks for taking a peek at Head Plant Health. Marvellous to have you!

If you are one of my three remaining followers, clutching at recyclable straws and hoping I’ve moved past my offensive offal-fetish, you’re in luck! Feedback I received after the infamous tongue post has prompted me to reconsider the appeal of graphic, early-morning organ meat. Seems i’m quite alone in my enthusiasm for strange and slimy hunks of dismembered cow. Granted, a few of you squealed with genuine glee at the thought of reinstating tongue as a dinnertime option! Others described it as ‘gross’, ‘confronting’ and ‘so disgusting I almost barfed up my scrambled eggs’. Thanks! Glad it had the desired effect!

To repent, I thought i’d treat you to some more wholesome imagery; complete with non-threatening ingredients, snazzy photographic filters and strategically placed herbal garnishes. Naturopathic fun for the whole family! Free from bloody bovine bits.

Are we back on speaking terms? Frittata is the ultimate make-up gift.

See, I’ve had this dilemma for the past week and a half. My friend and I are being ridiculous and dabbling in a hefty whack of dietary experimentation. (Nothing new about that!) This protocol is pretty exceptional though – you may have heard of it. It’s called the Leptin Reset. I won’t go too far down the hormonal rabbit hole here, but basically it’s a program designed to re-sensitise you to your correct hunger signalling. And involves such delights as Cold Thermogenesis (otherwise known as, plunging yourself recklessly into iced water. And sobbing), not snacking, correcting your sleep/wake cycles and eating an embarrassingly large breakfast. To the tune of 50 grams of protein. And fat. And not being hungry until 6pm.

It’s incredibly efficient to be so stuffed you aren’t compelled to eat for the rest of the day, but reaching that monumental threshold comes at a price. What to cook to keep myself enthused about my giant, buffet breakfast? (Next week I plan to just slop leftovers into a pig’s trough and attack it face first).

This morning, I whipped up a baked-egg frittata, just for something different. And was surprised how well it turned out!

Y’all know I’m an irritating intuitive chef so i’ll merely supply you with guidelines and leave you colour between, outside or over-top-of the lines.

Squeaky clean, green breakfast frittata

Makes 4 servings

  • 10 pasture-raised eggs
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced into rounds
  • diced green vegetables – as many as you fancy. I used broccoli, spinach, zucchini and brussels.
  • coconut oil or tallow for cooking & lining the pan
  • herbs for flavour – I used italian-style; basil, oregano etc.
  • sea salt & pepper
  • coriander, to garnish
  • 1/2 avocado, to spoon over top.

The general gist:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to a medium temperature.
  2. Line a bread pan with baking paper and coconut oil or butter.
  3. Slow-cook onion on a low heat in a pan with a spoonful of tallow, butter or coconut oil.
  4. Once translucent and amazing, add other vegetables. Give a quick stir, add a slurp of water and place a lid on to quickly steam.
  5. Meanwhile, crack and lightly whisk eggs in a bowl.
  6. Add salt, pepper and dried/fresh herbs.
  7. Once onion & veggies are tender, add them to the bowl with the eggs, stir and pour into pan.
  8. Place in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
  9. (Optional step: Can sprinkle over sweet paprika and high-quality grated cheese for extra zing!)
  10. Dump a bunch of torn coriander on top, scoop out some avo, a squeeze of lime and hit of sea salt. Breakfast is served!

Next time you are faced with the grim prospect of poached/boiled/fried eggs for the 5th day running, why not slink out of bed just that little bit earlier to create a simple, morning treat?

Don’t let me dissuade you from your tongue though.

Until next time! Happy Wednesday x

Tongue to tail eating

August 27, 2012

You may have heard of ‘nose-to-tail eating’, that thoughtful philosophy where every part of the animal is used, appreciated and (by default) honoured. If you haven’t, let me take a moment to lecture you about why this practice is so essential for the modern health aficionado (i’ll let you know when the scolding is over and we can return to being friends).

The fruits of tongue-to-tail eating. Have a stab at the mystery meat!

I think it’s fair to say that, as a society, we have a collective infatuation with ease. Ease of consumption, ease of travel, ease of cleaning, ease of communication (simply scan your bestie’s microchip to download the latest goss!). Quick, hyper-palatable and non-threatening foods sustain us – to hell with the icky bits!

To us, steak grows in perfect symmetry inside test tubes; the rest of the cow and all it’s challenging bodily bits simply evaporate. Gone, in a puff of active forgetfulness. We deftly avert our gaze as the piles of waste from our materially expensive habits accumulate in massive smouldering heaps behind us. Mountains of perfectly usable bits and pieces that, with a little effort, can be transformed into cheap, environmentally friendly masterpieces!

Today, I want to challenge you to shake off your soft, societal veil, through which everything is neat and pretty and vaccuum sealed. I urge you to consider what happens to the rest of the animal after we select our preferred cut and wastefully wave away the rest. You may turn your nose up at offal, organs, bones and boiled appendages, but it’s merely a matter of recalibrating your expectations, ethics and attitude. In short, move past your conditioned antipathy and man the hell up! 

We can transpose this argument onto many examples of modern, wasteful extravagance. Single-serve packaging, made-to-break appliances, nappies, water bottles, phones, computers, clothing – all devoured at warp speed and tossed.

Well. The antidote to that is tongue. 

Yep. Licky, taste-bud-speckled, COW TONGUE. Many of my cultured, foreign friends squealed with delight as I mentioned my latest offal experiment – it seems that svelte European cultures still appreciate the beauty of a choice cut of bovine tissue. My Aussie friends? I was met with more overt scepticism.

To me however, it symbolises everything we need to embrace in order to live more thoughtfully. For it’s all well and good to be ‘paleo’, ‘primal’, ‘cave-person’ or ‘Weston A. Price’, but if you’re still coveting muscle meat and avoiding the challenging bits, you’re really just cruising on easy-meat-street. Traditional cultures utilised the ENTIRE animal – meat, bones, organs and hide. Nothing was wasted. Everything was cherished. A single cow could last a frugal family an entire season. It’s time to re-sensitize ourselves to tongue!

So where did I procure such a beauty? It was actually at a local farmer’s market while chatting to the abundantly good-humoured and knowledgable farmer behind Paddock to Plate – supplying grass-fed/finished Angus beef, pork, lamb and goat from the Hawkesbury Valley. I was thrilled to meet likeminded, conscientious producers who not only humoured my naive offal enthusiasm, but also offered it to me for free! It is testament to the fact that so few customers request the ‘ugly bits’ that he was willing to bestow a giant lolling tongue AND a bag of the most incredible marrow and joint bones on me, merely in exchange for a friendly conversation. Head over to Like their facebook page, if you feel so inclined – i’ll be contacting them to order more meat, bones and tongue in future as I was so impressed by the quality of their meat and ethical standpoint.

So how do you wrestle such an appendage, if you do take me up on my tongue testimonial?

It’s actually not so tough.

Let this vague set of instructionals guide you:

  • Sweet talk yourself a grass-fed beast tongue from a friendly local farmer. Fist pump, and parade it around with unparalleled glee. (I recommend waving it in the face of squeamish friends, or ‘french kissing’ unsuspecting family members – not to horribly disrespect the animal or anything).
  • Place in a pot of cool water, complete with a random assortment of herbs (I used peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, garlic and ginger) and bring to the boil.
  • Turn down and simmer with the lid on for 2-3 hours, depending on the hugeness of the tongue. Sticking a knife in with ease should be an indication that it’s ready.
  • Remove with tongs and plunge into a cold water bath for easy ‘peeling’ of the skin. This bit may elicit squeals, dainty ballerina dancing and hysterical giggles – persevere and challenge your inner princess.
  • Once the outer later has been removed, you may like to trim excess jiggly/spongy bits off the meat. If not, more potent offal power to you!
  • Now your meat is cooked and ready to consume – you can slice it thin like cold deli meat and serve on sandwiches, with salads and vegetables, or fry it (like we did) in butter or coconut oil, salt and a few choice herbs for a delicious warm dinner.

(Frying in a healthy dose of coconut oil).

What is it like?

Look, i’ll admit that i’m still relatively new to the ‘nose-to-tail’ scene, and am striving to familiarise my tastebuds with unusual edible specimens. But I handled tongue like a pro, only wussing out when I thought too deeply about the realities of what I was chewing. Don’t do that. It tastes meaty yet delicate, thanks to it’s soft, buttery texture and high fat content. It’s rather delicious warm, especially served with a side of homemade pickle, relish or your (flourless, real-food) version of gravy.

Nutritional benefits:

  1. Tongue is extremely high in fat – of the excellent, saturated variety.
  2. It is a great source of cholesterol (read about why we love it here!)
  3. A 100gm serving has upwards of 50% of your daily B-12 requirements.
  4. It is relatively high in minerals, with around 30% of the RDI for zinc (based on a 85gm portion), 16% of the RDI for selenium and 12% of your iron. Of course, you’d be forgiven for gobbling a little more. Go to town!

If I haven’t convinced you to seek out a huge, hulking organ for dinner, I hope to at least have imparted some appreciation of the forgotten bits. The parts that end up as dog food, fertiliser, or simply emitting methane in a big stinking landfill. As much as we don’t want to look/touch/taste the parts of the animal that look decidedly, well, animal (perhaps they are too stark a reminder of what we’re truly eating) it’s important that we overcome our collective squeamishness and make an effort to consume thoughtfully. If that involves eating liver, trotters and tongue for the rest of my days, so be it. We have it too easy – picking and choosing rump and eye-fillets, leaving the rest for the peasants. Well, today I embrace peasant-hood and declare this tongue a wiggly, sustainable SUCCESS!

Tell me your favourite offal recipes? Any creative tips for minimising food waste?

Your guide to Raw Milk

August 18, 2012

All of a sudden, raw milk has the public frothing. The topic springs up at dinner parties, in health food stores, on woefully bland current affairs programs – everyone seems to have an opinion on whether the warm, creamy elixir, straight from the Bovine’s boob, has a place in the modern Aussie diet (except perhaps commercial news networks, who appear unable to provide one iota of intelligent discussion and generally resort to apathetic fence-sitting).

(Source)

It’s a difficult topic to traverse; highly emotionally charged and, like many issues of food production, at the mercy of an overarching oligopoly – small scale farms and boutique producers have no place in an industry concerned with mass production. It is all too easy for anti-raw proponents to invoke the persuasive power of scary bacterial infestations, Tuberculosis outbreaks and the health of our children, painting raw enthusiasts as irresponsible idealists.

After cringing at the inadequacy of information provided by all mainstream accounts, I thought there was room to explore more thoroughly the arguments concerning raw and pasteurised milk. That way, when someone decides to challenge you to a dairy-based dinner-party duel, you have fodder for fightin’, whichever side of the picket fence you may find yourself.

Why Pasteurise?

Pasteurisation is a process that came about after the experiments of Louis Pasteur pinned microorganisms (bacteria) as agents of disease. Heating fluids to a certain temperature was shown to sterilise and inhibit the proliferation of these disease-causing pathogens, and, at the turn of the 20th Century as poor sanitation and food borne illness reigned, pasteurisation appeared a miracle.

(source)

In Australia, all milk sold for human consumption must adhere to this 72C, 15 second + rule, with the general consensus being that nutritional losses that occur as a result of this process are outweighed by the risk of possible infection.

Ironically, most issues with hygiene and contaminants can traced to sub-standard production techniques – they are not inherent in the product itself. Cows crammed into tiny, grubby cubicles and mass milking that champions quantity over care, facilitate the spread of disease and rampant malnutrition (as well as psychological trauma and bovine depression, but that’s for another day). In this way, pasteurisation can be seen as a ‘band-aid’ stuck firmly over a wider, weeping gash. It allows us to continue our malpractice and ‘fix’ the problem downstream, rather than raise the unhappy question – should factory farming exist at all?

To inject some balance and an appreciation of the practicalities, I agree that pasteurisation does allow large amounts of milk to be rendered ‘safe’ for human consumption (although, even this process isn’t foolproof). With society’s preference for abundance, mindless consumption and on-tap tipples, a huge demand is placed on farmers and the positive feedback loop for hyper-supply persists.

My point remains however, that embracing slow food, cultivating an attitude of care in consumption and fundamentally re-evaluating our farming practices would (positively) change the agricultural landscape. And in turn, negate such hefty requirements for sanitisation.

What are the actual risks?

It’s difficult to find solid data on the incidence of raw-milk related illness, especially in Australia. There are also a number of confounding factors that are worthy of investigation before we even think of numbers and percentages.

  • What does ‘You could become sick from drinking raw milk!’ even meanDoes it involve a transient episode of gas, or full-blown case of death? There are degrees of ‘danger’ – not all consequences may be dire, requiring hospitalisation.
  • Where are you sourcing your raw milk? Common sense dictates that enjoying a raw creamy bevvo from the udder of a sickly, pus-ridden cow may not be a wise choice. (Likewise, questioning the origins of all of our food should be a matter of culinary course). As I mentioned earlier, raw milk from healthy, pasture-raised cows on a small, specialty farm is going to be vastly superior to fermented bathtub cheese smuggled across the border in mouldy plastic buckets (seriously, an American CDC report included data on the safety of illegal home-made cheese in it’s anti-raw-milk statistics, wildly skewing the results and proving not all official reports are created equal).This is yet another case of ‘outrageously simplistic presentation of the facts’, a government/big-business fave. 
  • Are diseases such as Tuberculosis even transmissible between cows and humans? An interesting question to ask, as it is often assumed that TB is all the same, home-wrecking bug. Actually, Micobacterium bovis is the species of bacteria infecting cattle, whereas Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the human strain. It seems that there is a lower risk of transmission between species’ – farmers in contact with diseased cattle rarely become ill and sources suggest it is a lot harder to contract than we’ve been led to believe. Add to this the fact that Australia was declared Bovine Tuberculosis free in 1997, and my vision of a big phlegmy TB monster lurking at the bottom of every milk carton is rapidly diminishing.

So we’ve established that, as always, there are contextual (and common-sense-tual) factors at play. But we want numbers, right? Because statistics are always favoured over random guessing (not that i’d EVER do that here. GULP).

A recent article by Chris Kresser imbues the whole debate with a little more perspective. It’s easy to paint raw milk as a dirty, poisonous, microbial orgy, however just what are the chances of becoming infected?

A choice quote:

The risk of dying in a plane crash (1 in 2,000,000) is orders of magnitude lower than dying in a car accident (1 in 8,000) – and yet most people who are afraid of flying don’t hesitate to get in their car. But as unlikely as dying in a plane crash is, it’s about 3 times more likely than becoming hospitalized (not dying) from drinking unpasteurized milk. (source)

For the numbers geeks, he broke it down further (keeping in mind these are American statistics – not sure if we could consider Australian farmers more or less conscientious? I’m going with a whole lot more! National pride and all.)

Based on a study done between 2000-2007 investigating raw milk safety, he estimates that we have roughly a 1 in 94,000 chance of becoming ill after consuming unpasteurised milk – that’s ill, not walking the tightrope of death. In order to ellicit the most sympathy and actually wind up in hospital, you’re looking at a 1 in 6 million chance that raw milk will put you there.

Hardly compelling statistics when we contemplate the public health risks of items that are legal, ubiquitous and worse still, marketed towards children. Things like fast food, soft drinks, bottled fruit juices, lollies, chips, cereal and – i’ll go so far – adulterated dairy. Why are all these hazardous goods upheld as valid, edible, mealtime options when a highly nutritious, traditional beverage is vilified? The eternal frustration of modern nutrition.

What happens when milk is pasteurised? Is it really that bad?

I mentioned ‘adulterated dairy’ as one of those evil usurpers, stealing the place of far more worthy dietary inclusions. But what exactly happens to dairy when it is homogenized, pasteurised, flavoured and impregnated with artificial colours, flavours and preservatives?

Pasteurisation

As I mentioned, pasteurisation is a process that involves heating milk at 72C for 15 seconds or longer, in order to ‘sterilise’ it.

An excerpt from Nourished Magazine sums up the problems with this practice beautifully:

  • Destroys folic acid, vitamins B2, B12 and two thirds of the Vitamin A as well as Vitamin C (cows produce more vitamin C than citrus crops but most is destroyed by pasteurisation),
  • Inactivates the enzymes required to absorb fats (lipase), carbohydrates (lactase digests lactose) and calcium (phosphotase),
  • Oxidizes cholesterol
  • Alters milk proteins
  • Damages omega-3 fats (source)

Homogenisation

Milk is homogenised in order to stop it separating into it’s various parts and to extend shelf life. If you’ve ever had the real deal, fatty globules rise to the top of the jug while the milk resides at the bottom. Of course, the modern consumer must be protected at all costs from interacting with his/her food – shaking the bottle, skimming off the cream, winking at the milkman – all unnecessary and frankly troubling requirements of raw milk consumption.

Instead, the milk is forced at extremely high pressures through tiny holes, changing the structure of fats and proteins and dispersing them evenly through the solution. This practice alters milk at the microscopic level – irreparably damaging fats, proteins and nutrients. As these tiny fragments reassemble, there is speculation that the ‘clumped’ particles are responsible for increased milk allergies and less bioavailabilty of nutrients such as calcium. Not to mentions stark links to cardiovascular disease.

How’s this for a quote from the NZ Naturopathic society?

According to Dr Oster, with Dr Donald Ross of Fairfield University and Dr John Zikakis of the University of Delaware, homogenising allows the enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO) to pass intact into the blood stream. There it attacks the plasmologen tissue of the artery walls and parts of the heart muscle. This causes lesions that the body tries to heal by laying down a protective layer of cholesterol. The end result is scar tissue and calcified plaques with a build-up of cholesterol and other fatty deposits. We call these arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. According to these experts, dietary cholesterol is not the main cause of heart attacks; it is homogenised milk. (source)

Homogenisation it seems, is a questionable practice at best and diabolically unhealthy at worst.

Other hidden nasties

Apart from undergoing these delightful experiments, conventional milk may also house other interesting additives.

There’s been an ad campaign recently highlighting the addition of something called ‘permeate’ to Australian milk – smug dairy companies who don’t use this cheese-making by-product are lording the fact over their cringing counterparts. But, goddamnit, it shouldn’t be a matter of permeate-free, it should just be MILK! Without any fillers, weird watery stuff or chemical discombobulation.

Sugar and flavourings in ‘lolly-milk’ are also a choice thing to behold. If you combine the natural sugar (lactose) found in milk with the added sugar in an 8oz carton, you’re looking at 28 grams of sugar, all in one hit. Along with whatever other flavourings and magical dyes they put in there, i’d sooner feed my child mouldy McDonalds! (Just kidding, Maccas ain’t nutritious enough to rot).

The benefits of raw milk

Fresh milk from pasture-raised cows is a powerhouse of nutrition (and I don’t use that cliche lightly!). Many traditional (and exceptionally healthy) societies included a large portion of raw dairy, fermented milk drinks and home-made cheeses in their diets (such as the Massai).

Nutritional benefits include:

  • High levels of essential fatty acids and CLA.
  • High levels of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, K & E. Also, vitamins which are usually degraded by pasteurisation remain, such as Vitamin C and the B-group vitamins.
  • Raw milk is a ‘living’ food; it contains enzymes and helpful, healthy bacteria that aid in its digestion and promote fabulous gut health.
  • A great source of fat, protein and absorbable calcium.
  • Can be ‘clabbered’ – if you leave raw milk out to sour, it will actually become yogurt-like and highly nutritious, full of probiotic strains and lower in lactose. 
  • Many people who usually consider themselves ‘lactose intolerant’ find they can digest raw milk fine; the extra enzymes and full spectrum of synergistic nutrients may play a part in this.

Let’s not forget that milk is a perishable commodity, necessitating a local focus; procure it regularly, and close-by. If we were all to hypothetically purchase our diary from small-scale farmers we would support a beautiful local economy, reallocating power that is currently in the hands of supermarket chains and multi-national corporations.

The verdict

Ultimately, it is still illegal to peddle raw milk in Australia. People have been fined big bucks for selling it and disseminating irresponsible, villainous lies as to it’s health benefits. It is therefore at the discretion of the consumer to seek out and purchase whatever milk product they see fit, confident in their ability to make informed and positive choices. Personally, I would always choose a big glass of frothy raw milk, cracking a huge white-moustachioed smile as I surveyed the inferior candidates – homogenised and pasteurised dairy. (You can purchase it under the guise of ‘bath milk’ – a sneaky store-holder loophole). Ultimately the choice rests in your fiddly fingertips – my only wish is that now you’re slightly more savvy to the details of the debate. Or at least, convinced that I have entirely too much time on my hands and should stop writing essays on milkshakes*.

* I really, really wanted to title this post ‘My raw milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and then I give them a huge lecture as to it’s superior health benefits as opposed to conventional, pasteurised dairy. Then they don’t want my milkshake anymore, and my yard is empty’ but I didn’t think it would give me a great ranking on Google. Or add to my credibility.

What’s your opinion on Raw Milk? Do you drink it? Have you noticed any health benefits?

What to do if you’re getting a cold and have somewhere bloody important to be.

August 14, 2012

Getting sick is totally lame. Snot explosions, rudolf-nosin’ and coughing til you herniate are just a few bodily highlights. Even worse is when you have somewhere sensationally important to be exactly in exactly 24 hours and a couple of punk viruses get randy & start replicating in your throat. As if shagging microorganisms weren’t enough, what ensues is unpleasant at best – a rapid descent into phlegm town.

Source

Fortunately, you can drastically reduce the potential severity of the lurgy and emerge unscathed by launching an immediate counterstrike! (Employing dramatic military terminology aids this process). There’s no room in our lives for avoidable illness – I would much rather be spending my time sipping superfood mocktails on a secluded beach in the Bahamas. Or going to work. To save for the Bahamas.

Know thy enemy

What are we dealing with when we contract a cold or flu? Most of the time, it’s a virus. Rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus (INF) and parainfluenza virus (PIV) are the most common offenders.

Source

Viruses don’t respond to antibiotic treatment, and can be quite difficult to gun down with traditional medical weaponry, due to the fact that many encase themselves in a tough outer shell. They’re the Bane of everyday illness –  intimidating get-up, hell-bent on anarchy and privvy to your weak spots. Luckily, we have a herbal dispensary full of bottled botanical Batman to annihilate the suckers.

How does it feel?

Colds are traditionally accompanied by symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat, watery eyes & nose with general, mild, upper-respiratory discomfort. Flu’s on the other hand tend to cause fever, cough, body aches & pains, headache, chest discomfort, fatigue, malaise and exhaustion. Generally, the recommended treatment is to crawl home and saturate yourself with paracetemol or aspirin, but that sounds like defeat to me, and we’re not in the game of letting microscopic upstarts get the better of us. There’s also very compelling reasons NOT to employ the aid of fever & symptom suppressing drugs, but more on that later.

Declare war

There’s always a tipping point with illness – that moment between innocently wondering what has inspired you to sneeze 5876 times in the last hour to realising, crud! you’ve got yourself a viral squatter. It is in this window of pre-sickness opportunity that it’s necessary to ACT! Halt the viral replication in its tracks and bombard your unwelcome respiratory guest with unmistakable hints to leave. 

Here’s what I usually do:

  1. Get to a herbalist, stat. Many health food stores have naturopaths who can make up a mix for acute infections – most include herbs such as Andrographis, Echinacea, Licorice, Cat’s Claw, Yarrow, Eyebright, Fennel, Thyme, Sage, various mushroom extracts, Goldenseal & GinsengBecause I suffer a (sometimes questionable) ‘more is better’ mentality, I normally go to town on the herbs, especially in the early stages of an illness. The practitioner will recommend an appropriate dosage, but unless you’re taking concurrent medication or have another, pre-existing condition, don’t be shy. Be warned – they could taste worse than ox bile. Let it inspire you to never get sick again!
  2. Get stinky and add garlic & onion to EVERYTHING. Garlic is one of the best all-round anti-microbials. It’s seriously tops. Crushing it (to release Allicin, an active chemical constituent) and eating it raw is the most potent & badass form of ingestion. If this sounds too grotesque, try mixing it with some raw honey, throwing over a salad with olive oil and lemon, or sourcing some high quality liquid extract in capsule form. Onion is likewise super immune-boosting, containing bucketloads of sulfur and the supreme ability to break down and help expel mucus. Old school herbalists sometimes recommend onion poultices, made with the grated flesh, bound over your chest. Sexy scented nighttime attire indeed.
  3. Warm up! Warming herbs and spices like cinnamon, chilli and ginger will all assist in raising your core temperature – contrary to what we are told, fevers are actually a vital and healthful bodily process. Of course, monitoring children and the weak & acting before their fevers climb too high (above 38-39 degrees C) is a responsible course of action. But for us robust folk, stoking the inner furnace and facilitating a fever can be exceptionally beneficial. Our bodies raise the thermostat to try to inhibit viral replication & activity, with many other immunological and chemical processes initiated by rising temperatures. I think of it like a forest fire, with tenacious green shoots springing from blackened ash. In fact, many studies have shown that outcomes are markedly better for patients who’s fevers are allowed to run their course, in contrast to those who have had theirs ‘dampened down’. Astonishingly, in super sick hospital participants, the mortality rate was 16% with aggressive, fever-suppressing treatment compared to only 3% in the fever permissive group. Needless to say, that study was abandoned on ethical grounds. 
  4. Keep fluids high. All cellular processes require water, moreso when dealing with a large viral load. Mucus formation (to trap and excrete viral particles), immune cell formation/function and sweating during fever, all necessitate extra fluids. The literal ‘flushing’ action of H2O provides a  torrent of liquid that will help flood lurgy HQ.
  5. Supplement where necessary. Dosing up on zinc (50mg a day in acute stages – with food, at first signs of sickness), vitamin D (lay in the sun for 10-20 minutes until flushed), vitamin A (indulge in some liver pâté, take a swig of Cod Liver Oil or eat some eggs) and vitamin C (fresh fruits & veggies, lemon/citrus) will help to stave off the enemy troops. All of these nutrients are vital for proper immune function, and can assist in the creation of new immune cells, the health of epithelial tissue (ie. skin – inside nose, throat etc), exert anti-histamine effects (decreased sneezing and irritation) and provide anti-oxidant support. 
  6. Take a hot epsom salt bath. Magnesium will assist in symptomatic relief of aches and pains and will enhance channels of detoxification. The warmth is supremely comforting, relaxing and will help raise temperature. You’re sick – demand your significant other, small child or pet draws you a luxurious tub. 
  7. Eat fat! Especially coconut oil. Did you know that fat can inhibit viral replication? All the more reason to eat a big hock of slow-cooked lamb with a chaser of coconut oil chocolate if you’re feeling under the weather. What’s more, the lauric acid in coconut oil is amazingly immune enhancing – in fact, it’s also found in breast milk (gives you an indication of it’s superhero status). Eating a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil with cinnamon, honey, ginger and a pinch of chilli is a delicious cold-combatting cocktail. 
  8. Listen to your body! Avoid running 10kms if you’re feeling fatigued; likewise, if you’re up for it, a light walk can be a great way to mobilize phlegm and loosen up stubborn chest goo, getting some sun while you’re at it (a romantic afternoon walk complete with hacking and gagging; what could be better?!) If you’re craving a particular (reasonably healthful) food, perhaps there is a nutrient that can assist you within – honour it. And finally, keep a peppy mindset that refuses to submit to the ravages of a pesky virus – positive thoughts and mental strength activate your immune system in ways we can’t as yet comprehend. But it does. Because I’m telling you. Science be damned.

Of course, maintaining a perpetually healthy immune system is the key to avoiding the latest swine/toad/llama flu. A nutrient-dense diet, avoiding allergic or intolerant foods, and cultivating strong, happy, hippy thoughts, will see you forge ahead, free from the shackles of viral oppression, ready to embrace the important stuff in life. How do you combat a cold? Ancient tips or wizard-like wisdom?

Why care about health?

August 9, 2012

We all occupy a body, a mind and (depending on how much incense you’ve burned that day) a soul. These humanly attributes provide the basic conditions for life; they form an inhabitable, fleshy home – our own personal universe.

Without the gift of health however, we cease to revel in the joy of living. Our entire existence is dependent on the certainty that we can wake up each day and do humanly things; eat, laugh, travel, love, be.

Swinging like a loco on a flying fox is an essential, healthful practice.

If the body and mind are ailing and inhospitable, there is no alternative residence. We need a healthy torso to house efficient organs, to propel limber limbs, to grasp and seize at the juicy stuff in life. And perhaps more importantly, we need a well-oiled brain to be cognizant of the beauty that surrounds us, daily.

Why care about health, you ask? Why take it for granted?! It represents everything we will ever achieve, experience, feel and discover.

(Freedom from degenerative illnesses and incontinence pads is pretty sexy too.)

The populations of the developed world are rapidly succumbing to diseases of lifestyle, opulence and ignorance. Ignorance that sees us force-feeding ourselves sugar, adulterated oils and frankenfoods only to rely on the remedy of a pill. We are turning our livers to foie gras, our bellies to jelly and our brains to boiled cauliflower. 

Without the proper input of fuel, basic functions begin to suffer. We wake up feeling gloomy, blaming external circumstances, relationships, stressors. Whereas the real culprit could in fact be hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiency, and an absence of the co-factors required to literally create the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. We wouldn’t expect our pot-plant to thrive in a bucket of ash; why should we be any different? Water, sunlight, nutrients and the occasional trim with hedgeclipperes are essential for growth.

Beginning to take responsibility for our health also triggers something deeper. The very act of questioning what we eat, who is selling it to us and why, sets in motion a chain of positive events; we begin to delight in our sudden freedom. We are not at the mercy of ‘villainous’ modern diseases; rather we can actively take steps to prevent their occurrence. Getting old, becoming senile and belligerent may not be awaiting us after retirement. Hurrah! Headaches, dull-skin, constipation, bloating and fatigue become faint relics of a forgotten state. We feel better than ever as our bodies hum efficiently, our thoughts clear and minds focused on the things that make us happy.

Taking care of your physical body sends the powerful message that you are worth looking after; that you love yourself unconditionally and deserve to have the greatest, most adventure-filled and laughter-infused life imaginable.

If you’re ready to view things from a new perspective, start prioritising diet, lifestyle and positive emotions. Let them be the launching pad for big, graceful leaps in the direction of your dreams, or whatever else you care to tackle.

It all starts with health, people.

The beginning; the best place to start.

July 30, 2012

Today, I wrestled with the most frustrating (conceptual) opponent; simplicity. It is the Jackie Chan of nouns – turning an elaborate choreography of ideas into something so remarkably, comically effortless. All with a ponytail and broken English.

(source)

For I was reminded that the main challenge in learning ‘how to be healthy’ is not knowing your facts, but being able to harness them, distill them into an achievable goal. 

The biggest, most ball-bustingly inconvenient part of it all?  The more you ‘know’, the harder it is to slash through the thicket of all that scrubby, thorny information. It’s easy to become lost and disoriented if your healthy hedge has overgrown – you lose sight of the homestead (and the end of the increasingly irrelevant metaphor).

So today, as I pondered the best way to take alllllllll this information, nutrition knowledge and 10 000 ways to use coconut oil…how to smush it all together and dish up something vaguely appetising…this inspirational lady suddenly came to mind:

(source)

Maria!

Everybody deserves a bit of cheesy musical whimsy in their life. And who hasn’t torn down the living room curtains and fashioned themselves a fetching drape-ensemble, Mum coming home to find naked windows and her daughter declaring she wants to become a guitar-weilding nun…? Who hasn’t, indeed.

Yes, Maria certainly imparted a plethora of punchy life-lessons.

The one to which I refer today is a favourite. As a prelude to all the Doe, Ray, Meeeee-ing, Maria reminds her wide-eyed, Austrian charges that it’s always best to start at the beginning. It’s a very good place to start!

It is such sound advice, for when we traverse the depths of our chosen interest, we sometimes forget which way is up. Even more tricky is passing that information on; teaching others. Where to begin? How to implant that knowledge into the brains of your students, clients, family or friends in a way that is retainable? Sensical.

Truth is, it’s not up to us to ‘implant’ – that’s kinda creepy and George Orwell-ish. A better way is to help others find the starting point. Leading gently; guiding them to the beginning, a beginning, their beginning, and letting things unfold.

Same goes for us, as we stack an increasingly precarious pile of information high in our minds. It can feel like we’ve read so much, like every dietary philosophy is so soundly backed by science and sense that choosing just one torments and confounds us. Once again, start at the beginning. Cement the basics. Go with what you know to be personally true and work from there. The beginning – don’t forget its fundamental importance.

I could go on (as always – it’s a problem), but that’s all I really wanted to put out there today. The wisdom of simplicity once again challenges and liberates us.

How do you cope with information overload? How do you keep it real & simple? What are your Doe, Ray, Me’s of nutrition?

The truth about ‘wild caught’ salmon.

July 26, 2012

Did you know that sometimes… labels lie? (Don’t all keel over at once).

(source)

Well, they do. Frequently. Incessantly. It’s quite insulting really, to be fooled by a small, colourful piece of plastic.

But unfortunately, being the innately trusting and good-seeking citizens that we are, we fall prey to this repeated attack on our intelligence.

Especially when things are labeled so sneakily, so bloomin’ abstractly, that we could never be expected to decipher their true meaning.

Let’s look at a case study; one that’s been on my radar lately as I tried to make nice, wholesome choices about the kind of seafood I consumed. (For, when I’m not knee-deep in frigid glacial waters grabbing at Salmon like a deranged gollum, I’m forced to purchase it from the store). Despite my best efforts to buy ‘wild caught’ fish, it seems that this little detail is up for creative interpretation.

(source)

This is the image that comes to mind when we see ‘Wild Caught’ emblazoned on the package of a pink, juicy-looking piece of Salmon. However the reality may be more akin to…

(source)

…AQUA ORGY!

Seriously. Salmon can be labeled as ‘Wild’ EVEN IF they’ve been bred and raised in a hatchery – the fishy loop hole? They’re released for a time, to mingle and froth about with their untamed counterparts, only to be recaptured and stamped with the seal of wild approval. Charming. These fish are giving everyone a lesson in English – inhabiting every definition of the word “caught”.

Why should we be hung up on such a technicality? Surely if the farm-raised fish have at least been given the opportunity to fulfil all their scaly dreams, swimming in the open water, inflating their gills with pride as they flirt briefly with freedom…surely this counts for something?

Kinda. It’s swell that they can finally gorge on natures bounty as opposed to the protein pellets they were fed being raised. But the implications of these beginnings linger on into adulthood.

…many to most “wild” salmon actually spend half their lives in hatcheries before being released. While these quasi-wild fish are a better nutritional deal than fully farmed salmon, they still bear the burdens of early exposure to toxins (dioxin, PCBs, etc.) and a less impressive omega 6:3 ratio.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/salmon-factory-farm-vs-wild/#ixzz21aRBf2L6

How do they become so nutritionally inferior? Like humans, early diet can inform the lifelong health of a fish. And when that early diet consists of protein pellets stuffed with concentrated fish goo, concentrated toxins from that fish goo, antibiotics (to defend against lice), flame retardants, pesticides, copper sulfate (to oppose algal blooms) and unnatural pigments to make the salmon appear a healthy shade of pink (canthaxanthin), there’s reason to hesitate before ordering seconds of sashimi.

I am in the throes of writing a proper (hopefully publishable!) article about this issue, featuring a wonderful interview with the founder/director/enviro-superhero David Cost-Chretian of Australia’s The Canadian Way Salmon suppliers…so i’ll spare everyone the verbose, 2000 word original. BUT! I wanted to share my own preliminary findings on the whole dilemma.

Because it IS a dilemma. One we shouldn’t ignore.

Not only is it incredibly uncool of companies to label fish so deceptively, there are more unpleasant sides to fish farming than meets the gills.

Cop this:

  • Salmon that are raised in hatcheries, then released, actually strain the local ecosystem, gobbling up finite fishy resources and crowding out local, native populations.
  • Those bred and hatched in farms possess ‘inferior’ DNA, thanks to limited breeding stock and a delicious case of inter-familial-sexytime. Or, inbreeding. If they’re romping about in the wild, spreading their slightly-slow genetic code, what are the risks for the true robust Salmon of the wilderness?

And don’t even get me started on fully farmed fish. Ones that don’t even bother with the ‘wild caught’ label; often flaunting a ‘sustainable’ logo to try to make cramming 90 000 fish into a 10×10 meter pen sound remotely healthy. Actually, do get me started. It’s rather enlightening.

  • It’s claustrophobic, living amongst herd of 90 000 fish in a tiny ocean pen. (And yes, i’m changing the collective noun ‘school‘ to ‘herd‘. More dramatic). These insanely close quarters lead to a host of problems such as rampant sea lice, monumental excrement, plague-like diseases and scaly gang rape (imagine being the sole lady amongst 89 000 virile man-fish!).
  • Not only do these unnatural concentrations of fish cause the above issues, they also damage local ecosystems and salmon breeding cycles. According to David, many farms are situated at the mouths of rivers. As the young salmon, not yet old enough to have proper scales, swim past the farms on their way out of the river into open water, they are attacked by a swarm of sea lice – they don’t stand a chance without adequate armour. This decimates wild populations and causes horrific deaths for innocent and (I imagine, heartbreakingly cute) baby Salmon.
  • Did you know that ALL Atlantic Salmon is farmed? Incredible! It’s so fetishised, marketed as the gold-standard Salmon, like a rare and pricey jewel. Not so! It’s certified, intensively farmed, shonky sushi.
  • And the biggest shocker of all – it takes 4kg of fish products to make 1kg of farmed fish. What a wasteful, resource-draining practice.

(source)

This all leaves us in a bit of a bind, for I’ll be the first to admit that it’s rather tricky to navigate the muddy waters of seafood labelling.

I have the following suggestions:

  1. Question your produce. This is a blanket rule for everything we consume – being a nutritional sleuth is now a prerequisite for successful supermarket expeditions. Get online, check out the cred of the company, heck, harass them if you have to! It’s worth it to feed your money to deserving parties.
  2. Check out The Canadian Way salmon suppliers. A company with incredible integrity and attention to detail, they are now my main trusted source of glorious, unadulterated sockeye salmon. Other good picks include Vital Choice, Fish for Ever and Safcol if you’re after some quality canned varieties.
  3. Peruse local fish markets; you can then chat to the suppliers first hand and cast a discerning eye over the offerings. Try the Sydney Fish markets if you’re in the area.
  4. Don’t buy Atlantic Salmon! Now you know the depressing truth; it’s all farmed.
  5. Download the Sustainable Seafood App for your iPhone or iPad to help you wade through the best & worst options. Ethical choices at the touch of a finger. (And it’s free).

How do you source happy seafood?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 140 other followers