Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why we're all confused by milk - Part 3

Over the past couple of days I have given you a quick run-down on all things milk-related. From low/no fat and full cream, to unhomogenised and homogenised.

You see, not all people out there are into dairy. The thought of hormones and antibiotics in our milk is a major turn off for some, and I'm not even going to go into the treatment of cows to ensure their milk supply remains constant...

Cow's milk contains a type of casein (protein) that promotes inflammation and congestion in some people. This can worsen asthma and other lung conditions, and may also play a role in Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism, and autoimmune conditions. Hmmm...

But surely a glass of milk a day helps to keep your calcium levels up, no?
Well, while cows milk is a good source of calcium, many people aren't aware of just how many other foods out there are just as rich in calcium and can be easily added to our diet. In fact, calcium is in every single natural food that we eat!
Some good examples that are easy to add to your diet include green leafy vegetables, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, beans, almonds, oats and tofu.

So, if I've got you thinking that maybe, just maybe, you wanna try some alternatives to cows milk then check these out:

Soy Milk
Probably the most commonly consumed alternative to cows milk, soy milk originated in China way back when.
There has been much controversy surrounding soy milk, with some people swearing by it's high fibre and protein content. Order a take away coffee and 99% of coffee shops will have a soy milk option on the menu.
One major negative is that most soy is genetically modified. If you haven't heard about genetic modification you should know it's bad (more on this soon...) According to Dr Mercola, a US based physician:
'The genetically modified variety planted in 91 percent of US soy acres is Roundup Ready -engineered to survive being doused with otherwise lethal amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Monsanto produces both the Roundup Ready soy seeds and the herbicide Roundup.The logic - if you can call it that after all factors are considered - behind GM crops such as soy is that you can decrease the cost of production by killing off everything except the actual soy plant.'
So the most important thing to do if you decide to take the soy road is to ensure make sure you look out for soy milk that has 'non genetically modified' on it.
The other thing is, for anyone with thyroid issues, soy milk is best to avoid.
Well, soy is a goitrogen. Goitrogens are foods that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with thyroid function. So for anyone, like me, with thyroid problems, you might want to give soy a miss.

Now the whole 'soy is good v's soy is bad' thing is a very contentious issue. Many people believe that soy is a great alternative to cow's milk.
If I go into the full argument I would be here for ages so I'll say make your own decision on this one.

Rice Milk
Rice milk is becoming more popular, with supermarkets stocking many different brands on their shelves.
While it is quite high in carbohydrates and lacks the protein and calcium of cows milk, rice milk is a good alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or those that have nut allergies.
Rice milk is quite high on the GI scale so may not be the best alternative for those trying to lose weight, however can be good after exercise to help re-fuel carbohydrate stores.

Almond Milk
It may not be as well known as some other cows milk alternatives, but almond milk is a good source of magnesium, selenium and Vitamin E. Selenium is good for our immune system. It helps in reproduction, and in the metabolism of thyroid (good news for us thyroidy people!)
Unlike soy milk, almond milk is high in protein and it is really quite easy to make. Check this recipe out:

1/2 kilo fresh raw almonds, preferably organic
4 cups filtered water

- Place 1 cup of almonds in a large bowl or container (bowl must be big enough to hold the almonds, as well as a few cups of water)

- Add 4 cups of water to the container
- Place in the refrigerator and let it soak overnight
- Put the water and almonds mixture in a blender and blend until smooth
- Strain the blended almonds through a cheesecloth

This should keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Oat Milk
Oat milk is high in fibre and is lactose and cholesterol free. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, A, C, K, B12, folic acid and riboflavin B2. It is also high in iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium.
Only thing for me is the taste. It was quite watery and not really an ideal replacement for me. But that's just me. Many people love the taste.

Coconut Milk
I am totally intrigued by coconuts of late. Coconut milk, coconut water and coconut oil. I love the stuff!
Coconut boosts immunity, as well as containing calcium, potassium, chloride, Vitamin A and E. It is anti-bacterial (kills bad bacteria in the gut) and can also aid in digestion.
Now, I have to say that when I think of coconut milk I think of savoury foods like curries, soups and stews, not really something I would put on cereal or in my morning coffee. Maybe this is something I'll have to give a whirl soon to check it out...

So there you go.
I might have confused you even more, or inspired you to go out and try alternatives to your regular cows milk.
Either way, it certainly is a great thing to see so many products out there for those with allergies, digestion problems or for the vegan community.

What's your thoughts on milk?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why we're all confused by milk - Part 2

Yesterday I posted about milk and the confusion caused amongst many of us when it comes to low fat v's full cream.

In the past I had always been a skinny cappuccino kinda girl. That is until recently.
I have swapped my skinny caps for full cream ones.
Why you ask? Well, it's part of my journey to quit sugar. As I mentioned yesterday, more often than not, low fat milk = higher amounts of sugar.
The other main selling point for me was the fact that full fat dairy fills you up. Plain and simple.
When the afternoon munchies hit I now reach for a piece of cheese over a piece of chocolate, and I feel full and satisfied until dinner.

So while my occasional take-away coffee has changed from skinny to full cream, I was intrigued when I started reading about the difference between unhomogenised and homogenised milk.

In short, homogenised means that the chemistry of the milk has been altered so that the cream won't separate from the rest of the milk.
Now, if the thought of a creamy layer on the top of your milk makes you think your milk is off, you're not alone. The other day my hubby opened a carton of unhomogenised milk and ended up binning it because he (actually, I have to admit, we) thought it had gone off...
The thing is, when our parents were growing up, the milk they used to drink every day was in fact unhomogenised. People would rush to be the first to get the creamy layer off the top of the milk bottle. And milk tasted so much better, none of this watery crap that we see around these days. We're talking full, creamy, rich milk that fills you up.

So what does homogenising entail you ask?
Well, put simply, milk is forced through tiny holes at very high pressure so that the fat molecules break apart.
As the much smaller fat molecules reassemble, fragments of whey and casein are included in their walls, some completely surrounded by a layer of protein.
As these chemically altered molecules tend to clump together, the next stage is to break them up.

Some researchers believe that these protein-heavy fat molecules can potentially increase allergic reactions due to the active enzymes that are no longer present.

Not only this, but the enzyme xanthine oxidase, in it's altered state (i.e. after it is homogenised), can enter the bloodstream and react against arterial walls, causing the body to protect the area with a layer of cholesterol... hmmm... not so good for the heart really.

Many people out there think that homogenised milk is nutrient poor. Before homogenisation was around very few people were allergic to milk. That is because of the active enzymes present. In unhomogenised milk there is exactly enough lactase to digest the lactose, protease to digest the protein and lipase to digest the fat. These enzymes also help the absorption of calcium.

Not meaning to confuse you any more, but many people out there are of the opinion that any kind of milk that comes from an animal is bad.
What about the antibiotics and growth hormones that can be given to cows and which, in turn, passes through to their milk? And that milk is then made into things like cheeses, butters and creams.

Ok, so I'm not willing to give up my dairy entirely just yet!
I'm just trying to get informed, and share what I have found out with you.

Many people who have now turned their back on cows milk opt for alternatives including rice, soy, oat and almond milk.
I'll be giving you a run down on these dairy-free-alternatives soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why we're all confused by milk - Part 1

Whether it be in your afternoon coffee, morning bowl of cereal, or your cup of tea after dinner, milk is something we have all grown up on.

Some stick with low fat, some full cream and some opt for alternatives like rice, oat or almond milk.

Milk is something that while I love it, can give me a bloated, upset stomach from time to time.
So I'm going to do a bit of a run down of some fave's out there, and why they're good, and not-so-good for us:

Low/No Fat Milk 
  • Low in fat
  • Low in calories
  • Contains valuable levels of protein and vitamin A
  • Studies suggest that low fat milk, along with other dairy products can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Many studies also show that fat free, or at least low fat milk can reduce the risk of hypertension
  • Improves bone health
  • Low fat dairy products have been linked to heightened allergic responses
  • Low fat diary often equals high amounts of sugar (now we all know how I feel about that one...)
  • Dairy products may contain hormones from cows
  • Some people find the lactose in dairy difficult to digest
Full Cream Milk 
  • High in fat = fills you up for longer (this is a hotly debated point. Whilst high amounts of fat aren't necessarily seen as good for us, eating full fat dairy instead of low/no fat fills us up more as our bodies are designed to metabolise fat and to be satiated by it. When we compare eating fat to eating sugar, our bodies simply don't register when we are full from eating sugary foods as we are not designed to metabolise fructose. Ever wondered why we feel the need to keep eating the whole block of chocolate????)
  • Like low fat milk, full fat milk contains valuable levels of protein and vitamin A, as well as improving bone health
  • A study undertaken in the US showed that while low fat milk decreased fertility in women, full fat in fact increased fertility
  • A Swedish study found that women who regularly consume at least one serving of full fat diary each day gained around 30% less weight than women who didn't!
  • Higher in calories
  • Higher in fat (there are good and bad points to this, as mentioned)
  • Dairy products may contain hormones from cows
  • Some people find the lactose in dairy difficult to digest
Check out this article that discusses the whole low fat v's full cream debate...

While I personally have swapped from low/no fat milk to full cream, I don't go overboard with the amount I consume.
To break it down even more, I still have issues with the whole homogenised thing. Something I'll be chatting about in my next entry...

Monday, March 28, 2011

When I grow up...

Turning 30 made me stop and look at my life and how much I had achieved over the past 10 years or so.
I was pretty happy with where I was. I was married to the love of my life, we have our house, and I have a decent job. But you know what? It's not always the things people see on the outside that make you feel like you're 'ok' when you hit the next big milestone in life.

While I consider myself to be happy, I feel as though something is missing.
I still don't really know what it is that I want to be when I grow up.
That may seem silly to some, as surely by 30 I would have my shit worked out right? But some of you out there will totally feel me on this one.

We take paths in our lives that, looking back 10 years ago, wouldn't have necessarily been the ones we would have chosen for ourselves. But the thing is we have no idea where our lives are going to take us, and I guess we just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sure, there are the exceptions of those that have left high school, graduated from uni, and now work in the industry they studied in all those years back. Some even in the exact same job that they were in all those years back when they graduated and joined the work force.

But that certainly 'aint me. I have studied nursing, business advertising (this one I actually graduated from), jewellery design, and life coaching. And now I work in marketing and recruitment. Hmmmm...
Now when I think about going back to study, or making any kind of work-life change, I feel as though I have left it too late. Sure, 30 is still young, but giving up a decent salary to become a student again is out of the question as those bills simply won't pay for themselves. And then there's part-time study. Now 6 years isn't exactly my idea of fun... And what if another course only leads to more confusion? Or no job at the end?

So what then?
Well, I'm still trying to work that out really. I have hit a time in my life when I am starting to do things that make me feel good, not only about myself, but about what I'm putting out there to others. That's why I started this blog really. To get my thoughts out there and write about what I'm passionate about.
I have no doubt that I'm on the path to whatever it is that I'm meant to be doing and one day I'll get there.
For now, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and I'm sure one day the universe will give me a helping hand (or shove) in the right direction.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you living your dream or just living the 'in-between'?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet weekend - tomatoes

I've talked about superfoods before, but this is one that has only recently come to my attention as having some super health benefits.

I'm a massive fan of tomatoes. I used to eat them like an apple when I was younger. Now I love them with avocado, ham and cheese on toast.

The best thing about tomatoes is their versatility. Cooked or raw, they are great in stews, sauces, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and just about anything else you can think of. And they're pretty easy to grow as well. Even if you don't have a large backyard, a pot is all you need.

Did you know that there's more to the bright red colour in tomatoes than you think? The pigment in ripe tomatoes is called lycopene, an effective antioxident. Although more research needs to be done, it is thought that lycopene may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and other types of cancer.

Some recent research has also suggested that the jelly around the tomato seed may be able to help stop blood from clotting, a process known as thrombosis. Blood clots are often responsible for heart attacks, strokes and blood vessel problems.

Tomatoes are also rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for a healthy immune system and it helps increase the absorption of iron.

Do you love tomatoes too?

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Product review - Pai Camellia and Rose gentle hydrating cleanser

    I have always suffered from dry skin, and so I'm constantly on the lookout for a nourishing, rich cleanser that provides my skin with moisture, without making it oily and giving me pimples.

    For the past couple of weeks I have been using Pai's Camellia and Rose gentle hydrating cleanser and it really has delivered on it's promise to 'hydrate skin, leaving it soft and supple'. Before I tried it my skin had been pretty dry and I really noticed it in the application of my make up. My skin would flake and my foundation was patchy.

    Pai recommends using their cleanser with their exfoliating muslin face cloth. This helps to remove all traces of make up and lifts away dead skin cells, leaving the skin smooth and soft.
    Without the muslin cloth I don't think the cleanser would be as effective. Due to the creamy consistency of the cleanser, without the cloth to wash it off I doubt it would take off all of my make up. And I don't think it would rinse all of the cleanser off either.
    I wasn't too keen on using the cloth on the delicate area around my eyes so I have been removing my eye make up with organic coconut oil first.

    I have to say that so far so good. I really like the result I have been getting and my skin is much more hydrated, even having used it for only a couple of weeks.
    It may have something to do with the moisturiser I have been using with it too. I'll review on that one soon.

    The only downfall I have to say is the lack of communication I have had when trying to contact Pai. I had sent them 2 emails regarding a discount offer I had received straight after I placed my order, yet I never heard back from them.
    Disappointing really, as poor customer service is something that is important to me when dealing with companies...

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Living in the fog of thyroid disease

    For those who suffer from thyroid disease you will understand what I mean when I talk about the 'fog'.

    It can feel like you need a decent night's sleep. Or a double strength cappuccino. It makes you feel dazed and you struggle to focus on what's going on around you.

    The fog can make you feel stupid. And lost. By the time you walk to the kitchen you forget what you went there for. You stop mid sentence when telling a story and forget what you were talking about.

    I used to have a brilliant memory. I could recall things from years back that people had totally forgotten about. Now I find I can forget something that was said to me yesterday.

    The fog is probably one of the worst side effects of thyroid disease to me. It is something that I am yet to control and it is something that makes me feel helpless, confused.

    The only way I know how to deal with it in the best way possible is to do the following:

    • ensure I get an adequate amount of sleep
    • try not to overload myself with too many tasks at once
    • work on my listening skills when having a conversation with someone. While the fog isn't something I have control of, it is important that I try to focus and listen to the person I am speaking with at the time
    • cutting back on refined foods, including sugar, has made me feel less 'foggy'
    • exercising on a regular basis helps to clear the mind and create focus
    I'm sure as time goes on I will learn how to deal with things better. For now, I want to put it out there. I want others who suffer to know that it's ok, that they're not alone.
    It's a common side effect that is not often talked about, or accepted by medical practitioners. We are told that as long as our levels are in the normal range there is nothing else that can be done.
    I will continue to research and find ways to improve my side effects. I know there is a better sense of normal out there for me.

    What's your experience with 'the fog'?

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Thought for today

    “We can not change our past.
    We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way.
    We can not change the inevitable.
    The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have,
    and that is our attitude.”

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Food Inc

    “The industry doesn't want you to know the truth about what you're eating – because if you knew, you might not want to eat it"

    You may or may not have seen it, but Food Inc certainly is an eye opener.

    Do you know where your food comes from and how it got there? Do you know how the animals we eat are treated, and how greed and money makes the world go round (and keeps our supermarket shelves well stocked)?

    This doco, made in the US back in 2008 looks at what happens to the food we put in our mouths. 
    Not for the faint hearted (I struggled with the sight of meat for the next week or so after watching it), but definitely worth a watch for those who like to be informed.

    Check out the trailer...

    This is one of those films that sticks with you. I watched it almost a year ago and I still remember certain scenes vividly... The day after I watched this I started to buy organic.

    If you're interested, you can buy the DVD on ebay.


    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Sweet weekend - when it's ok to just stop

    This week I ran myself into the ground. I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary, but I crashed and burned. A sore head followed a sore throat and I felt like I could sleep for years. Well, 12 hours to be exact. And it was wonderful.

    Suffering from AI disease means that from time to time I find I have days like this. I fall in a heap.

    Although it has been many years now since I was diagnosed, it is only recently that I have taken notice of this. Really listened to my body and just stopped.

    I slept... and rested... and basically did nothing for a day. And I feel so much better for it.
    In the past, before I learned to listen to my body, I would just keep going until I got really sick.
    Now, I know that I just need to stop. And it's perfectly ok.

    How often do we really listen to our bodies. Many of us run on empty much of the time. Work, then kids, then cleaning, then cooking, then running from here to there... Who has time to rest, right?
    AI disease or not, we all know when we can push ourselves more, and when it's time to just stop.
    Learning to listen to our bodies is something we are should be doing.
    Rest is important, not only for our health, but our entire well being.

    Do you listen to your body when it tells you to stop? 

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    All things beautiful... March

    Ok, not the most idea thing for the sugar-free people out there, but gorgeous even still.
    These laser cut cupcake holders from Paperfiction would be lovely for a wedding, birthday or special occasion.


    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Product review - Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation

    A few weeks back I reported on my search for a great foundation and how I had come across RMS Beauty "un" cover-up.
    Now, while I was happy with the result I got from this cover-up/foundation, I wanted something that was going to give me a little more coverage and would last me through the long work-day ahead, or a night out on the town.

    So I placed an order for Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation, a loose powder foundation that I sourced through my favourite US make-up supplier, spiritbeautylounge. At at $22 a pop, I thought this was pretty good value, that is of course as long as I was happy with the end result it gave me...

    Initially I struggled with the powder as it seemed to highlight dry areas of my skin. However, in the past couple of weeks I have now realised that it wasn't the foundation that was the problem, it was my cleanser and moisturiser that wasn't quite cutting it.
    So, I changed my skincare (I'll update on this soon) and voila, my skin looked great, and in turn my make-up looked great too!

    It goes on easily and you don't need to use much to give good coverage. I find it lasts all day long and can be topped up if needed when heading straight from work out to dinner.
    Plus, the colour I ordered (straw) was perfect for my skin tone. No nasty make-up lines in sight!
    When I am after a slightly darker, more bronzed look, I add one of Alima's bronzers afterwards to highlight my cheekbones.

    One important tip I have to add is to make sure you get your skincare system right before trying to update your foundation. This was a great lesson to learn for me.
    No matter what your foundation is and how much you have invested in it, it will look bad if your skin is dry and not cared for properly.

    All in all, I'm really happy with the foundation. I have been using it for around 2 months and have just run out this week. As it's a pretty good price I'm happy with this result.

    What's your fave foundation?

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Sugar is evil

    Last week I filled you in on my decision to quit sugar. Yep, cakes, biscuits, soft drink and... chocolate - argh!

    Well, here's a little bit of background info on why sugar is so bad. I'm going to give you the ultra short version, because frankly, some of you might find all the scientific stuff a little boring (me included!)
    For the full story I highly recommend reading David Gillespie's book 'Sweet Poison'.

    There are various types of sugar in foods we consume. These include fructose, glucose and lactose.
    In short, the bad guy here is fructose.
    Table sugar, or sucrose, is made up of half fructose and half glucose.
    We can eat fructose until the cows come home and our bodies simply don't recognise that we are full. All other foods, aside from fructose, have a corresponding hormone that makes us feel full when we've had enough to eat.
    Ever wondered why we can eat row after row of a block of chocolate?

    Now, not only does fructose make our bodies struggle to recognise when we are full, but it's converted straight to fat. Yep, no opportunity to burn this stuff off. Useless food you might call it. Or, as our mothers might say 'a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips'!

    So, how do we know how much sugar is in the foods we eat and what type of sugar it is that we are consuming? Well, a good start is to get into the habit of checking out the nutritional table on the back of products in the supermarket aisle. Take tomato sauce for instance. Look on the back of the bottle and under 'sugar' you'll see around 25g or so per 100g. That's around 1/4 sugar content! And BBQ sauce is double that!
    What you really want to aim for is less than 3g of sugar per 100g. And with dairy you can look for less than 8g per 100g (that's because 5g of that is lactose, not fructose).

    A really good tip is to start getting the whole 'low fat' thing out of your head. More often than not, low fat means high sugar! I know, I know. I was brought up thinking low fat was best too. But you know what? It's actually not fat that makes us fat, it's sugar! Now I'm not saying go out and eat saturated fats to your hearts content, we're talking good fats here. Full fat dairy, avocado, nuts, good oils - this is all good stuff guys!
    Try replacing biscuits and fruit for cheese, nuts and milk. Full fat products fill you up and help satisfy those sweet cravings.

    Now, even if you're not wanting to drop a few kilos, cutting out sugar has loads of other health benefits too.
    Personally I have found that I am less bloated and I am actually craving more good, healthy foods (perhaps a coincidence?) Along with this, kicking the sugar habit can help to stabilise moods, avoid those energy highs and then crashing lows, decrease inflammation, lower your diabetes risk, and keep your teeth healthy and filling-free.

    So, there you have it.
    Now, it's not as bad as what you'd think, trust me. If anyone was going to struggle with cutting out the sweet stuff you're looking at her! You might find the first few days are a bit hard but after that, as long as you are adding in lots of good, fresh food and healthy fats you should find it gets easier.
    More on how my quitting sugar journey is going soon.

    What's your thoughts on quitting sugar? Have you tried it yourself?

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day

    There are two types of people in this world.
    Those who eat breakfast, and those that don't.
    For those of you who do, you would know what I mean when I say no brekky = cranky hungry monster rearing its ugly head. Simply put, without breakfast I turn into cranky bitch.

    So we've all heard the saying 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day'. But why?
    • Evens out blood sugar levels
    9-12 hours or so without food and your body hasn't had fuel for a very long time. If you leave your first meal 'til lunchtime it's even longer, and your body doesn't like you too much for it.
    Blood sugar levels drop and that's when you can become irritable, tired, and find it hard to concentrate.
    • Helps control appetite for the rest of the day
    Leave your first meal to late morning or lunchtime and you run the risk of grabbing the first thing you find to fill your belly. Often that can be a muffin, muesli bar or sugary treat.
    Make the effort to eat a protein rich, nutritious meal first thing in the morning and you make the best possible start to the day. After eating a hearty brekkie you last longer without your next meal or snack, and by the time you feel hungry again you have the time to throw together something healthy, balanced and wholesome.
    • Kick starts your metabolism and helps control weight
    Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism and helps give you all the energy you need for a busy morning ahead. Skip it and you'll find you're sluggish and slow. Not only that, but a big chunk of those who skip breakfast find that they struggle to control their weight as well, binging later in the day on starchy, sweet foods to help keep them going.
    • Looks after your long term health
    Going without breakfast over a long period of time can increase your risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Enough said.
    • Improves concentration
    Research suggests that eating breakfast improves mental performance later in the morning. It is particularly important to teach your kids how eating breakfast will mean they will perform better at school, and find learning new things much easier.

    Now, not only is it important to eat breakfast, but what you put on your plate in the morning is equally as important.
    A bowl of sugary cereal, blueberry muffin or piece of banana bread isn't going to cut it.
    To help us run for longer, perform better and control weight, a well-balanced, high protein breakfast is a must.

    My fave at the moment is a morning smoothie. I'm not talking the type of sugar-loaded smoothie you'd find at your local ice-cream shop, but the kind that you throw together yourself.

    Here's what I'm having right now to fill me up each morning:
    • rice milk/water
    • 1 raw egg
    • 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
    • 1 scoop WPI (whey protein isolate)
    • cinnamon
    • 1 heaped teaspoon raw organic cacao powder
    • 1-2 teaspoons organic coconut oil
    • 1/2 - 1 frozen banana
    • a few ice blocks
    I have been having this for the past couple of weeks and I love it!
    For those who find this isn't quite sweet enough for them you can always add a little agave syrup or other natural sweetener. Personally, I find I don't need any, probably because I haven't been having sugar in my diet for the past few weeks.

    What's your favourite breakfast meal?

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Sweet weekend - do you yoga?

    Although I don't do new year's resolutions, this year I did make a promise to do things that make me feel good about myself, as well as looking after my health.

    Now yoga is one of those things that I had read about in the past and that really interested me, but it had always remained on my 'gunna list'; the list of things I was gunna do but have never got around to.

    So I researched and found a place close to my house that sounded great, and as it was for beginners I knew I wouldn't be alone when making a fool of myself trying to do moves my body was very unfamiliar with.

    Well, a couple of months down the track and I have to say I'm loving it! Yoga is all that I'd hoped it would be. I feel focused, calm and strong during the class, and clear and relaxed afterwards.
    I am starting off with Hatha yoga, which is probably the most basic, slow-paced type of yoga out there. It is slow paced and gentle - perfect for beginners.

    Some other types of yoga include:

    Vinyasa is breath-synchronised movements based on a series of poses called Sun Salutations. It is more vigorous than Hatha and usually involves more intense stretching at the end of the class.

    Ashtanga mean 'eight limbs' in Sanskrit. It is a more faced-paced, intense style of yoga. It involves a series of poses that are performed in the same order each time. It's physically demanding because of the constant flow from one pose to another.
    - check out this vid of David Swenson (Ashtanga extraordinaire) - this guys is amazing!

    Iyengar focuses on bodily alignment. Poses are held over longer periods of time and often includes the use of yoga blankets, blocks and straps to help align the body.

    Kundalini emphasises breath in conjunction with physical movement. The purpose of this type of yoga is to free the energy in the lower body, allowing it to move upwards.

    Also called hot yoga, Bikram has become quite popular amongst yoga-goers here in Australia over the past few years. It involves yoga poses in a room heated to 40 degrees. The heating of the room allows for loosening of tight muscles, along with cleansing the body through profuse sweating.

    Do you yoga? What's your favourite type of yoga?

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Why I've quit sugar

    I've always been a sweet-tooth. I would take chocolate over chips any day.
    Afternoons are probably the worst time. Around that 3pm mark. The time when the work day feels like it's gone on forever and the sweet cravings creep in.

    Carrying a couple of extra kilos than I'd like and, partially thanks to my AI disease, often battling with tiredness and a foggy mind (more on this later), I thought that maybe, just maybe, the problem may very well be sugar. I had cut back on carbs in the past and this worked well for me, but I wasn't a fan of cutting out such a large food group, and I didn't understand how this entire food group could be so bad for me.
    Like many of you, my diet is pretty good. A while back I had made the decision to stop punishing my body with strict diets and depriving myself of certain foods. Instead, I chose to nurture my body and eat foods that were good for me and that made me feel great.
    But you see, the thing was, even though I was still eating pretty well, there was something that wasn't quite right. I still felt sluggish and foggy, and my weight was not changing at all.

    After being inspired by Sarah Wilson's post on how she was quitting sugar, I decided that this might be the thing to get me on track.
    Sarah was reading a book called 'Sweet Poison' by David Gillespie, which explained just how bad sugar was for you, and how, by omitting it from your diet, you can not only drop the kilos but feel great at the same time.
    Funnily enough I already had the book sitting on my bookshelf! Yep, I had been given it to read a few months back but it had become a dust collector, waiting ever so patiently for me to pick it up and give it a read.

    So I got stuck into it. And I was pretty surprised by what the book told me. I had read so many books on dieting and healthy eating in the past, but this was some totally new info to me.
    We all know that sugar is evil but did you know that certain types of sugar are better for you than others? And do you know how many items are in fact packed full of sugar without us even knowing? Here's a perfect example - BBQ sauce is over 50% sugar! Yep, crazy right?! Just because something falls into the savoury category of our cupboard, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's sugar-free. In fact, the majority of processed foods on the supermarket shelves have a certain amount of sugar in them.

    Not only that, but I had always been a skinny milk, low-fat yoghurt kinda girl. But did you know that skinny milk and other low-fat products often have far more sugar in them than fat, and put simply, while many of us have been brought up thinking that fat makes is fat, this is incorrect! Yep, it's not fat that's the bad guy here, it's sugar!

    Now, before I go on with more about how this all works and how sugar is making us fat (and tired), I'll leave you to precess what I have just told you, and to watch the below clip...

    more on sugar and my journey soon....

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Tea time - green

    Many people's fave, green tea is awesome to sip on all day long.

    Discovered thousands of years ago in China, green tea is said to have been discovered by Shien Non Shei, who, whilst out walking one day, accidentally tasted the juices from a leaf of a tea plant. He loved the taste and even felt the tea had special medicinal properties.
    Another legend suggests it was in fact an Emperor called Shen Nung who discovered tea when a blossom fell into a cup of hot water he was drinking.
    Whatever the story, I'm sure us green tea drinkers are ever grateful for the discovery!
    Back then, all tea was green, and it was only years later that black, red and oolong tea was discovered.

    So what exactly are the health benefits, if any, to drinking green tea you ask?

  • Increases metabolism

  • Reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks

  • Assists in the prevention of cancer

  • Reduces the level of cholesterol in blood, improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad

  • It is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

  • Improves immune function

  • Now, for those who avoid caffeine in their diets, it's important to be aware that green tea does contain caffeine. However, compared to coffee, which has over 100 mg of caffeine, green tea contains between 30 and 60mg. Something to keep in mind if you're brewing up a big pot after dinner and wondering why you can't get to sleep...

    Personally, green tea is my favourite tea by far. I love it and I could drink it all day long! I have even replaced my morning coffee with a nice cup of green tea.

    Do you drink green tea?

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Product review - Jane Iredale Purelash Lengthening Mascara

    I have been using Jane Iredale's Purelash Lengthening Mascara for a couple of months now after hearing some great reviews on the Jane Iredale range.

    Mascara is something that I wear on a daily basis and while I was after something that made my lashes fuller and not clump, I most certainly didn't want anything that would run or smudge on me.

    What I found with this mascara was that it did give me a reasonably full, natural looking lash and it did last throughout the day. Also, if I wanted to layer I could, making them slightly more plump. I also haven't really seen any running or smudging issues, as yet.

    The only downfalls I can see is that I have to apply quite a few strokes to cover the lashes to the extent I would like, and for a night time look, it didn't really make the cut. When I am out for a night on the town I want something a little heavier, and unless I was willing to spend the time putting on layer after layer, I would opt for another mascara.
    I am still on the hunt for a thicker mascara for this purpose, I will let you know what I come across.

    So all in all, a good, long-lasting, every-day mascara, and at a decent price too. I ended up getting mine on ebay so if you're based in Australia like me this might be the cheapest, and easiest way to try out the Jane Iredale range.

    Have you found a great, clean mascara?

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    I am woman...

    Today is International Women's Day.

    Since the early 1900s, since this special day has been around, we women have come so far.
    We have a voice, we are educated, respected and independent.
    We manage companies, while at the same time managing family life and fabulous friendships.
    We should be proud of how far we have come and what we have achieved.

    Happy International Women's Day lovely ladies!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Sweet weekend - dry brushing

    Happy weekend!

    A couple of weeks ago I came across an article about dry brushing. Sounds a little weird right?!
    Well, think of it like this, a massage for your body, but with a brush instead of hands.

    Dry brushing, while fairly new to many of us, has been around for centuries. The Russians, Turks and Scandinavians used this technique way back when to detox through the skin.

    Check out this video on what exactly dry brushing looks like:

    By becoming a regular dry-brusher, you are helping your skin to not only detox, but to remove dead skin cells, help improve cellulite, tighten the skin, tones the muscles, strengthen the immune system and help digestion. Not only that but it's quite invigorating!

    I have been dry-brushing for the past week and I really like it. It not only helps wake me up in the morning, but I have noticed my skin isn't dry and flakey like it can be.
    Especially coming up to Winter here, where many of us struggle with extremely dry skin, this is an easy, cost effective technique that I personally will be keeping up.

    Give it a go and let me know what you think!

    Do you dry-brush?

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Product review - Living Nature lipstick

    I have been on the hunt for a good, clean lipstick for some time now.

    This one was a little hard for me as I still haven't been able to part with my favourite Nars lippy. It's still sitting at home and I have used it on a couple of 'special occasions' as I adore the colour.

    So when I came across some rave reviews on Living Nature's lipstick in 'Laughter' I thought I best give it a try.

    At $25 AUD it's not a bad price either. And I was interested in trying some of their range as it sounded great.

    Well I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The colour is great. It's a pinky/neutral colour that works for both day and night. And the consistency is creamy and moist, it goes on really well.

    This is one that I now keep in my make-up bag and have been using every day since I got it. Well worth the try if you're thinking about it. Not sure what the other colours would be like but would love to know if anyone has tried them, or any of Living Nature's products for that matter!

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Getting off the diet merry-go-round

    This week I've been thinking a lot about all the diets I have come across in the past.

    From ones that work initially, to ones that work and then fail when it comes to keeping the weight off, to ones that are a total flop from the get-go.

    The amount of diets I have been on in the past I can barely count on both my hands. I have had little to no success with most, and good success with only a couple.

    Although I have found success in low carb eating (not the extreme Atkins style ones, but more like the meal replacement with added veggies and protein type ones) I know that this isn't for everyone.
    While I lost a great deal of weight eating this way (and kept the majority of it off) I know of many that simply hated this way of eating and have found more success with other programs like Weight Watchers or Lite n Easy.

    You see the thing is that even though I have a serious dieting history, I really hate the idea of diets.

    When people think of diets, the first thing many of us think of is going without. Whether it be low fat, low calorie, or low carb. 'Low' is the key word here. Or even 'no' in many instances.
    Restricting foods and teaching us that it's bad to eat certain foods can be really quite damaging for us long term.
    Cutting out foods can lead to binges and feelings of low self esteem when we mess up.

    This year I have turned over a new leaf and I am trying to be 'healthy'. I don't want to restrict myself anymore. I want to nourish myself with good food and listen to my body to see what it's telling me it needs.
    I'm trying to limit things like sugar (or actually, cutting it out of my diet totally - more on this soon), and eating more good fats, proteins and raw veggies. But I'm not thinking of it this time as 'going without', I'm simply feeding my body what it works best on and avoiding the food that makes me sluggish and flat.
    I am going to have to call on my strong willpower again here. But this time it will be to stay away from negative thoughts about my body and why I feel I need to go on yet another diet.

    One step at a time hey? :)

    What's your thoughts on dieting?

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    sweet iphone apps

    I'm not talking about the ones that fling birds out of slingshots, or that repeat everything you say, in the voice of a 4-year-old child. I'm talking about apps that are actually really good. Really sweet.
    Here's a list of some I've come across and that I actually think make life, and the environment sweeter, and greener.

    Dirty Dozen
    Sometimes it's hard to find (and afford) all organic fruit and veg each and every week. This handy little checklist names and shames fruit and veggies that you should always aim to buy organically as they are most affected by nasty pesticides. It also goes over the ones that are not-so-nasty, meaning if you are stuck for choice, these are the ones that are safer to buy non-organically.

    Good Guide
    This one is mentioned on numerous blogs and websites, and with good reason.
    It rates products on a scale of 'totally toxic' to 'good and green'.
    You can search for your favourite products and see just how good or bad they are for your health, the environment and on society.

    Go Green
    Handy little tips on greener living each time you log on, like... 
    'When you're in the market for a new computer, consider a laptop. It saves space, goes anywhere and uses five times less energy than desktop models'

    'Instead of sending old rugs to the landfill, check with local animal shelters to see if they can use them. Old towels, blankets and sheets are also appreciated'

    'Take your own reusable coffee mug each time you get coffee. Think of all the paper cups you'll prevent from ending up in landfills'

    Ingredient Watch
    I have just found this one - and I love it!
    Look up hard-to-pronounce ingredients on personal care products and make-up. It not only shows you just how harmful it is to your health, but gives you other words that is can also be listed as.

    I'm sure there's plenty of green, sweet apps out there. Have you found any good ones?

    Picapp Widget

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