CHALLENGE: Connect with your food

sustainable swaps, weekly challenge

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My latest challenge has been to re-connect with my food. I think a lot of people blindly shop for their food these days. We simply don’t ask enough questions (where did this come from? Who grew this? What are these ingredients? What does this food do to my body? Are these ingredients harmful? etc). By connecting with your food, you connect with your body and health and happiness.

My “re-connection” with food was sparked by a recent dietary challenge* after trying veganism (FYI I was inspired to go vegan after watching the documentary Cowspiracy). However my body reacted so badly (terribly, painfully) to this new seemingly healthy diet that I had to keep a food diary and really, truly, think about everything I ate.

If you’ve watched a documentary like Cowspiracy, Food Inc, or even Jamie Oliver’s Fowl Dinners (I was vegetarian for years after watching that one!), you’ll start to question what (or more importantly WHO) you are eating.

Here are some simple challenges you can set yourself to reconnect with your food:

BUY LOCAL

There really is not comparison to buying your fresh food (fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy + more) from the farmer’s markets. You are buying direct from the grower. You can ask questions and get answers. It’s also a great way to buy food in season (i.e. not buying vegetables flown in from the other side of the world). It’s also a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning!

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EATING MEAT

Spending a good portion of my life as a vegetarian (and that small time as a vegan!), I have had to learn the hard (and emotional) way that I need meat in my diet. Some people make this choice because they simply like the taste. But hey, let’s at least give a shit about how this animal came to be yeah?

Some easy ways to keep meat in the diet in a sustainable and ethical way:

  • Get your portions right. The Australian Department of Health suggests a maximum of around seven serves of protein a week. A serve of meat is around 90-100g raw meat (that’s about the size of a burger patty!). So that means only one meal a day should be meat, or if you have a large portion of meat in one meal then skip the meat the next day. Don’t forget two eggs are considered a portion of protein, so you could forgo the meat all together if you had eggs for breakfast! Some quick and easy solutions: Cut your steak portions in half. Roast a whole chook at the start of the week and you’ll be set for days (you can even freeze the leftovers).
  • Choose ethically sourced meat. Livestock kept in natural habitats (i.e. pasture fed cows and free range chickens) are a better choice. Organic and bio-dynamic is even better. Their livestock are generally given a much better life and the farms they come from don’t use pesticides, herbicides, growth promotors or hormones – and they don’t eat genetically modified food.

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GROW YOUR OWN

I know, easier said than done – and nothing is more demotivating than being a plant killer. I’d suggest starting small; herbs are generally pretty easy and move on to leafy greens from there. Check on your plants regularly to check they’re happy and healthy and look out for pests. More on this later!

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REFUSE PLASTIC

This goes beyond remembering to bring your ‘green bags’ (which by the way, are an environmental nightmare in themselves – the fabric is made out of plastic!). But extending your bag collection to produce bags (some are made from mesh, or you can make your own hessian ones), and bringing plastic tubs with you (for bulk buying fine things like flours or liquids etc).

If you buy through a bulk buy store (who openly welcome you BYO container) or local farmer’s markets it will be a lot easier to avoid this conundrum. I fear that refusing plastic containers at conventional supermarkets will just have them thrown in the bin.

When I went to the farmer’s markets however, it was super easy. I asked the organic farmer if I placed my cherry tomatoes into my own bag would they take the plastic tubs back to reuse them? They were more than happy to accommodate me and even commented that the plastic tubs are quite expensive. I also managed to visit a banana stand just as the lady was about to bag up a kilo of bananas, I told her to not bother bagging them up and to simply had them over. No problem.

So here are some initial challenges to get you reconnected with your food. What will you choose first? What will be your biggest challenge?

 

* by dietary challenge I mean the doctors can’t seem to diagnose why I react to certain foods. I’ve spent the last 10 years eating a self-diagnosed gluten intolerant diet but am now finding myself intolerant of other foods too. The GP has simply handed over a FODMAP diet information sheet and wished me luck.

Where do I begin?

the journey

snake vine out my window

Everybody has to start somewhere I guess. Every day I think about the environment, the planet, the human race. I have two young children and I worry about what state the planet will be in when they are my age. I try to be a good human every day, make ethical and informed choices, consider all the options, read the label, ask the questions, say no to that plastic bag, compost our scraps, recycle that glass, resist buying another thing, repair something that is broken, water my garden and look out my kitchen window to the snake vine and its yellow flowers and thank my lucky stars that I am where I am. I made a conscious decision in 2011 to start blogging about caring for the environment, mostly because at the time my friends and family didn’t understand it. I think since then it’s not so unknown, and I have met other friends who share my passion. Whilst I have come a long way since then, I still feel like I’m on a journey to becoming a good human. I still haven’t figured it all out. It is a really big job to change old habits and stand up for what you believe in. But I’m getting there. Some ‘eco blogs’ are scary, they are so full-on that you are left feeling like a failure, like the job to becoming environmentally conscious is so big (too big) that you wonder if it’s even possible. It is. And you don’t have to be superhuman. Being good even 50% of the time is amazing. That’s reducing your impact by half. So give yourself a break and start small.

What could you change today that can make a positive impact on the planet?

Tomorrowland

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When I rented the DVD “Tomorrowland” I was expecting a futuristic and adorable Disney movie starring the loveable George Clooney. I wanted something easy to watch as I lay exhausted on the couch on a Friday night. I didn’t expect it to be about the world being destroyed by… us. Without giving too much away, this movie is about a teenage girl who discovers a place affectionately called Tomorowland where Earth’s brightest and most innovative people go to try and make the world a better place – only it turns out they can’t compete with destructive humans who are killing the planet at a fast rate.

I felt like I had been slapped in the face. WAKE UP! DO SOMETHING! I think I’ve been lying on the metaphorical couch for a while now. Too exhausted with my young children and business to have time to do much else, I have watched friends do environmentally UNfriendly things and haven’t said a word. But if everybody is like this, then who is left to save the planet from this destructive behaviour? I might not be able to save the entire planet, but as Ghandi famously said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” or in other words, “get off the couch and do something!”.

So I ‘dusted off’ the old blog and I say hello to you again. I keep wandering off but I keep finding my way back here, eager to influence people into eco-conscious living. I’m not entirely sure where to start, but a step forward is still in the right direction.

Oh, and don’t worry the movie Tomorrowland ends on a good note (thanks Hollywood). I won’t give away the ending in case you want to see it for yourself, but it was a great reminder that humans can be pretty darn special when they set their minds to it.

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The Mother’s Day book

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I’ve seen this idea somewhere on the internet and what a fantastic idea it is. Basically, if you’re a mother grab a journal and give it to your kids prior to Mother’s Day so they can decorate a page each year. When they’re older they might like to write you a note. If you’re not a mother, give it to your own mother – it’s never too late to start a tradition. Better yet, suggest it to the husband of a mother so he can surprise her with the very thoughtful new family ritual (it works for Father’s Day too of course).

This is the first year we’ll be starting the tradition. I let my three year old choose one for Mummy and Daddy. I think I might take a polaroid of myself with the kids and stick it in there too. I love the idea that instead of cards all these precious memories are kept in one journal and it’s certainly better than getting caught up in the all the mass marketed consumerism of the “you only love your mother if you buy her …” lie. All a Mum needs is to be reminded of what an amazing job she’s doing and how much her kids love her.

Quick, get out there and grab a journal ready for this Sunday!

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happy hair

The no ‘poo revolution – how to have happy hair!

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happy hair

I’d first heard about NOT using shampoo many many years ago, after I’d heard Jerry Hall (model, Mick Jagger’s ex wife) didn’t shampoo her hair. She was a MODEL, she had trademark long luscious locks, she was a rockstar’s wife! This was no smelly hippy. But back then I didn’t have the guts to even try it. Fast forward 15+ years and I finally *met someone who had the guts! Her name is Lucy and she’s just written a book about it!

Having frizzy and wavy hair I avoid washing my hair too often because it takes so darn long to dry and style, but the longest I can go without washing it is about four days – and that’s at a stretch. By then the front of my hair (especially if I have a fringe) is covered in grease and my roots are the same – however the ends remain dry (this is how I get to four days without washing – I wear a hat to cover the greasy roots while the dry ends give the appearance of clean hair!).

So what is this book all about?

Basically, giving up shampoo. I know, I know, it’s a shocking thought – like giving up soap? But Lucy explains WHY and HOW in the most hilarious and clever way. There’s science, there’s research, there’s experience, there’s testimonials. By the end of reading this perfectly sized e-book you’ll be convinced to give it a go. Best of all, the e-book only costs £2.20! I mean it probably costs you more to shampoo your hair!

Lucy Lulastic and the Hippyshake

You can read all about why Lucy gave up shampoo on her blog Lulastic and the Hippyshake

But why?

Toxins, health related issues, time, cost – there are actually many good reasons to give up shampoo (which Lucy explains in her book), for me it’s the idea that I won’t be so desperately in need of washing my hair every few days. With two young kids washing my hair (let alone drying it) is quite indulgent. Also, I’m frightened by the amount of toxins I put on my body and the fact that my scalp seems horribly dry.

Mostly though, it just makes sense. My eldest son is just over two and I think I’ve washed his hair twice in his whole life – yet he has the most gorgeous, shiny, healthy looking hair.

Now Lucy will take great pleasure in finding out that when her new book made it to the Australian press just recently, my partner sent me a link to the online article saying “maybe you should try this”. Ha! I had already planned to darling, but thanks for the beauty tip!

So, I’m on the mission to go ‘poo free. I’d already planned to chop off my long locks for more easy styling, so a new washing routine seems like good timing! My dear partner, the no fuss bloke he is, is pretty stoked actually. He’s the one who has to babysit the kids while I ‘deal’ with my difficult hair!

You can buy “Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide To Giving Up Shampoohere.

*Whilst I have never met Lucy in person, we are what I will call “internet pals” – we found each other by mutual admiration!
kikki k happiness book

Choose to be happy

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kikki k happiness book

My friend The Wellness Mummy recently wrote a blog post about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. I couldn’t have agreed with her more, it’s such an awesome thing to do as part of your bedtime routine – to sit and think about all the good things that happened that day so you can write down what you’re grateful for. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for over a year now. I actually found a five year journal where each date (i.e. 18th of March) has five entries for five years of thoughts. I’ve now crossed over into my second year and reading what I was grateful for a year ago really puts it into perspective! A year ago I was thankful for my toddler sleeping better and here I am with a newborn!

The point of this post however is to let fellow readers know of an awesome little thing I spotted at Kikki.K today – the Happiness Journal, which I believe ties in with Gretchen Ruben’s “The Happiness Project“. Along with other gratitude style journals, the Happiness Journal focuses more on, well, keeping you happy! Kikki.K are actually running in-store workshops on how to use the Happiness Journal. How great is that? It would be such a fun project to do with a friend or take a ‘not so happy’ friend along to. I had a browse through the book and it uses each month to focus on things you’re going to do or change to make yourself happy.

If you don’t think you need to work on your happiness as such, keeping a daily gratitude journal is another awesome way to leave the day on a good note. This is the five year journal I used, but there are a few more out there!

five year journal

I love all the projects becoming dedicated to happiness. Personally, I am a big believer that we can choose to be happy. It’s the ‘glass half full’ idea. It’s not just me that thinks it – apparently it’s a scientific fact – read this article about it!

So what are you grateful or happy about today?

 

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Raw (un)cooking class

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Straight from the garden

I love raw food. It can be some of the tastiest food I get to eat. One of my absolute favourite cafes is a raw vegetarian cafe. For some time now I’ve been dreaming of going to an A Foodly Affair raw (un)cooking class. Finally I had enough free time and a good excuse (early Christmas present) to go! A Foodly Affair is actually the lovely Hannah and it was so enjoyable to listen to someone who is really passionate about delicious raw food and general health and wellbeing, and if you weren’t already a raw food convert then seeing Hannah’s glowing skin would certainly change your mind!

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Hannah from A Foodly Affair

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The class getting involved

This particular (un)cooking class was Christmas focused. I was intrigued to see how Hannah would pull off a raw Christmas meal as there are some very particular traditional flavours associated with Christmas – but Hannah managed to put together an amazing spread of food that even the fussy eaters would be happy eating on Christmas day. I was particularly surprised by the Faux Turkey with Cranberry Sauce – a ‘stuffing’ like mixture was placed in a lettuce leaf with cranberry sauce poured on top and then it was all rolled up in the leaf – it really did have all the flavours of Christmas and I kept going back for more! It was so addictive!

Making almond milk for a 'nutty nog'

Making almond milk for a ‘nutty nog’

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Shaving some cacao butter

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Preparing some raw coffee and cardamom bites

The class certainly inspired me to get more involved in my raw (un)cooking as well as eating more organic and healthy foods. I also just bought her e-book “Love Thy Food” which I’m pretty excited about – especially the section on feeding toddlers. My toddler really listens to his body and it’s been so interesting watching his food journey. He is really into salads at the moment and recently discovered vegetable juice and smoothies and is absolutely addicted. I can’t wait to see what else I can tempt him with!

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

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Sweet potato and cranberry salad

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Pesto stuffed mushrooms

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Cheesy cucumber bites

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Maple cherry bombs

If you’re interested in going raw then I absolutely recommend a raw (un)cooking class. It’s a great way to be introduced to the entire process of buying and (un)cooking raw food as well as picking up heaps of great tips along the way. Plus you get to sit down and eat everything at the end! You can find some of Hannah’s upcoming classes listed here.

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Potato Printing Tshirts

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I try to get most of my toddler son’s clothes secondhand – though the older he gets the less secondhand clothes are available and I’m starting to realise why – toddlers get really dirty and active so the clothes don’t last. So I’ve started getting clever with his wardrobe. I’ve started buying affordable, well made, ethically produced plain tshirts and personalising them – and potato stamping is by far the easiest way to do it.

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I feel like this is so simple it barely justifies a tutorial. Just peg the tshirt to some cardboard (so the paint doesn’t go through to the back of the tshirt). Then simply cut a potato in half, make a shape, dip it into fabric paint and blot it onto some paper towels (or brush the paint onto the potato stamp using a brush if you have one) then stamp it onto the tshirt. Then just let it dry.

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I think they came out pretty well! It’s actually been months since I initially wrote this post and took the photos and the tshirts are still going strong!

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DIY Chalkboard Menu

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This was one of the easiest DIY projects I’ve ever done that I feel ridiculous for not doing it sooner. I bought a small tin of chalkboard paint years ago with the intention of making myself a kitchen menu. I’ve always liked writing down a list of all the meals planned for the week (mainly so I don’t forget about them and waste food) I also like lists – they help me think. Now that I have a toddler it’s even more important to meal plan. So for years I’ve been thinking about the perfect ‘something’ to make into a menuboard. I thought about new frames, thought about hunting down secondhand frames, thought about finding some scrap wood and painting that up – which just meant this little project has sat off to the side for too long. So the other day on an absolute whim I went down the road to the local Op Shop, saw the perfect frame (The Op Shop Gods were looking out for me that day!) and bought it for a grand total of $5. The frame had an ugly 80’s ‘painting’ in it (by painting I mean a print of a painting but then clear lacquer is messily brushed over the image to give the appearance of a real painting). I lightly sanded it, cleaned it, put masking tape around the frame edges and then gave it two coats of the blackboard paint. It honestly took about 15 minutes (not including the dry time). I think it’s turned out so well! What do you think?

 

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