running another organ meats cooking class this Thursday 24th July 7:30pm

stir fried chicken livers

stir fried chicken livers

For those who missed out on my first organ meats workshop (to be held tonight) I will be running a second class in exactly 1 week. For details please click here and please follow the instructions regarding booking and payment to secure your spot. All of the details are exactly the same except for the date- which will be Thursday 24th July 7:30pm. I will send out an email to participants with more details closer to the time.

My products now selling in Wollongong!

My products are now selling at a gorgeous organic store in Wollongong called All Good Things Organic Market. They are currently stocking my activated nuts, muesli and snack mix  and soon my broths, chicken liver pate, and sokolata chocolate will be sold there too.  Owned by the lovely Jen Skylas and Grant Barlow this store offers a wide range of organic food including fresh fruit & vegetables, pastured meat & poultry, organic dairy, pastured eggs, cosmetics, herbal supplements, house hold goods, bulk goods and much more including Ovvio Organic teas and spices. You can grab a bite to eat or have a smoothie/juice/coffee/tea at their health bar as well. For their menu click here.

For opening hours and more information about All Good Things Organic click here. If you live in or around Wollongong check them out.

For a complete list of my stockists, click here.

Of course you can always purchase my products directly from me from my home in Waverley (Sydney) by mutual appointment by texting me on 0407 871 884. I also send products anywhere in Australia.

IMG_9137

IMG_9005IMG_8991

Organ meats workshop- Thursday 17 July 2014 7:30pm

IMG_5068I will be running an organ meats cooking class/workshop on Thursday 17th July (first week of school term 3).

I will be showcasing ways in which you can easily incorporate (and sometimes disguise!) nutrient-dense organ meats into meals including:

(a) black pudding (blood sausage)
(b) chicken livers (in the form of pâté and as chopped liver and bacon stir fry)
(c) lambs brains (via omelette)
(d) lamb sweetbreads
(e) bone marrow (via vanilla berry custard)

 

vanilla berry marrow custardsCost is $60 per person and includes:
  • information on the nutritional benefits of organ meats
  • detailed handout including information on where to purchase organ meats with prices, and step by step recipes
  • practical demonstrations
  • hands-on experience
  • food tasting
  • opportunity to ask questions

————————————–

When: 7:30-10pm (ish) Thursday 17 July 2014
Where: 23 Kent Street, Waverley.
IMG_3584
Spaces limited
 
RSVP:  To secure your spot you will need to:
1. text me on 0407 871 884 to confirm that there are spaces available. Spots can only be reserved for 24 hours; and
2. transfer $60 (referencing your name and ‘organs’) into my new bank account:
Account name: star anise organic wholefoods (aust) pty ltd
BSB: 062 000
Account no: 15110110
————————————–

Please feel free to forward to any friends or family members.

Cancellation policy: once funds are deposited into my bank account they are non-refundable but can be transferred to another cooking class/workshop upon 48 hours notice.

Organ meats from pastured animals are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Liver is loaded with fat soluble vitamins A and D, essentially fatty acids, highly absorbable iron, B12, protein, zinc and the richest source of folate. Organ meats should ideally be consumed at least once a week, if not more frequently. They are an especially important source of fuel and nourishment for athletes, children, those who are iron-deficient, those wishing to fall pregnant, as well as pregnant and lactating women. Organ meats were part of all traditional diets and were the most highly prized parts of the animal for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Most people in modern society simply don’t consume organ meats on a regular basis. Here’s your opportunity to build reserves of strength and vitality by learning how. 

pates in a French deli

bone marrow entree in France

sweatbread dish in France

the big chill…..my 8 favourite ways of keeping warm over winter

I’m not a fan of the cold. My Mediterranean ethnicity coupled with my upbringing on the balmy Gold Coast has conditioned me for warmth and heat. But over the years I’ve learnt to shoulder the cold with the following coping strategies that make the colder months a little more bearable:

1. Hot water bottles. Yep, that good old-fashioned heating method that grandma used. I fill with boiling water and pop into my and my kids’ bed a hour or so before sleep time. There are soft covers you can now buy that makes for a cuddly bedfellow!

IMG_95092. Heat packs. The ONLY time I use a microwave oven and the ONLY reason why I still own one is to heat up my heat pack. I place a glass of water in the microwave when heating my heat pack for safety reasons in case the heat pack overheats and catches fire. I lay the hot heat pack lengthways down my spine from the base of neck and lie over it in bed before falling asleep. It’s a great way to instantly feel warm and a lovely chest opener to counter the effects of all of the forward motions we do all day. Especially great for breastfeeding mums! Seed Clothing sells cute little heat packs for little people (pictured).

3. Thermals. I buy woollen thermal tops and bottoms from Target each winter. Can be used as outerwear, underwear, PJs etc.

4. Flannelette sheets: these make a massive difference to keeping warm in bed. The new range of plain-print brushed-cotton sheets areIMG_3093 a far cry from the  hideously-printed wog versions I grew up with.  Chemical-free flannelette sheets that are very affordably priced can be purchased from Ecodownunder.

5. Hot baths and showers before bed. I can’t sleep for life or death if I’m even slightly cold not matter how tired I am. If you don’t have  a water filter attached to your bath to remove chlorine (or if your bath – like mine  –  can’t accommodate a water filter) then consider purchasing a bath ball dechlorinator to remove chlorine which can be purchased from  iherb for $35. Simply stick ball in bath, fill bath, allow to stand for 5 mins, remove ball then stick in kids (or yourself!). Replace ball annually. I also add 1/2-1 cup of Epsom salts to the bath for mineral (esp magnesium) aborption and a few drops of lavender essential oil for a calming effect.IMG_9265 IMG_9264

6. Put on an extra layer of clothing before turning on heating but if you must turn on heating do NOT use an unflued gas heater. i.e. the portable ones with a gas hose that you plug into a gas bayonet to heat your house. A few months back I read a research paper issued by NSW Health (dated 3/3/11) on the dangers of unflued gas heaters. The upshot is that:

(A) Gas heaters produce heat through burning gas fuel. When gas fuel is burnt, air pollutants are produced and released directly into the room.

(B) The air pollutants released are carbon monoxide (which deprives body of O2, impairs thinking and reflexes) and nitrogen dioxide (which can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and shortness of breath). Children, unborn babies and elderly are more effected.

As my integrative GP Dr Min Yeo wrote to me, if you have an unflued gas heater  “get rid of it IMMEDIATELY! They are horrendously toxic and poisonous! You will have chronic carbon monoxide poisoning amongst other toxins. They are banned in Victoria with good reason.”

Flued (fireplace) gas heaters, electric heaters or central heating (while they do have a dehydrating/ drying effect on the body) do NOT have this problem of toxicity.

7. Hot drinks. Dust off the old fashioned thermos container, fill with home-made stock, hot water or herbal tea and sip away all day. Click here to read about my favourite hot drinks.

8. Move.  high-intensity interval and strength training gets the heart rate going, the blood pumping and heats the body. Not to mention the feel-good endorphins that are produced that buoy the spirits at this naturally dreary time of year. Releasing (via foam rollers and small balls that trigger pressure points) and stretching (eg yoga) are equally  important in this weather as muscles tighten and everything contracts. If you’re looking to train at a gym a few that I have been to and can highly recommend are Centennial Health Club at EQ Moore Park where I currently train ($20 per week for unlimited classes- say I referred you!), Primal Fitness at Double Bay (specialising in one on one PT sessions) and Origin of Energy at Bondi Junction (specialising in group classes). If you are self-motivated you could d0 your own sprints at a park or beach or up some hills (anything that provides resistance is preferable) and even better is to get a group of friends to join. If you’ve got kids in tow and can’t make it to a gym or class you might like to read one of my earlier posts here about suggestions for movement while mothering.intervalsmove1

Do YOU have any tips for keeping warm over winter? I’d love to hear. 

Apple and rhubard crumble (gluten-free, sweetener-free)

My ultimate winter comfort dessert. Here’s my very simple gluten-free, sweetener-free recipe:IMG_9646

Ingredients:

Filling:

5 red apples, chopped  and cored (leave skin on)
1 bunch rhubard, chopped (discard green leaves)
2 star anise
2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoon coconut oil

Crumble topping:IMG_9645

7 medjool dates (approx 160g), seeds removed
3/4 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
110g frozen butter, roughly chopped
3/4 cup (130g) activated nuts of choice eg almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias
1/3 cup (65g) activated hulled buckwheat

Directions:

Melt coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add rest of filling ingredients and cook on low heat, covered, until fruit is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove star anise. Add cooked fruit mixture to a large rectangular oven proof dish.

To make crumble, pulse ingredients in food processor until it resembles a coarse crumbly mixture. Spread crumble mixture on top of fruit mixture and bake at 120 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.

Serve with cream, cream fraiche or home-made vanilla or macadamia nut ice-cream.

Variations:IMG_9647

  • add 2 teaspoons (or more) of raw cacao powder to filling ingredients for a hint of warm runny chocolately goodness
  • substitute or include pears in the fruit filling

It’s time to end the war. New science confirms saturated fats are not to blame.

From this…..

time magazine

to this……..

fat-cover

 

60 years on the war against saturated fats is taking a new turn as more and more scientists around the globe are realising that saturated fats are not what’s hurting our health. The latest cover of  Time Magazine encouraging us to “Eat Butter” is a complete contrast from the cover several decades earlier  when Ancel Keys led the war vilifying saturated fats and encouraging us to hold the bacon, eggs and butter.

I grew up on a diet of margarine, white refined bread and low fat dairy. I dutifully cut all the fat off my meat, cursed at my mum for liberally pouring olive oil into salads, and felt ever so guilty if even a morsel of chicken skin or fat from a lamb chop passed my lips. Why? Because conventional wisdom told us that saturated fat and cholesterol caused heart disease so ergo we should eat less high fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with vegetable oils, margarine and more carbohydrates especially in the form of grains and cereals. Sugar replaced fat in packaged goods and refined grains replaced animal protein as a daily staple.  Why would be even doubt what the government, the Australian Dietetics Association, the Australian Heart Foundation and the Australian Medical Establishment tells us? In them we trust. And one would be forgiven for thinking, rightly so.

But what happened 60 years on in this “vast nutritional experiment” (as it has been called) has been nothing short of a dismal failure. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses and degenerative diseases have all skyrocketed and reached epidemic levels in our recent past. With nearly 1 million Americans a year dropping dead from heart disease and the western world growing sicker and fatter each year, the most curious amoing us can’t help but stop and ponder whether we somehow, just maybe, got it wrong.

Here’s a potted summary (from the Time magazine article) of how we detoured off path:

  • historical records suggest that for most of our history on this planet humans were voracious omnivores, feasting on plentiful wild game.
  • a guy called Dr Ancel Keys back in the early 1950s put forward the idea that high levels of cholesterol would clog arteries leading to heart disease. His solution was to reduce saturated fat intake. His landmark Seven Countries Study found that people who ate a diet low in saturated fats had lower levels of heart disease. Keys landed a front cover on Time magazine in 1961 in which he admonished Americans to reduce fat consumption.
  • the vegetable oil industry jumped in step and, with Ancel Keys as their poster boy, promoted replacing butter with margarine and vegetable oils.
  • the American Heart Foundation followed suit and codified dietary guidelines advising Americans for the very first time in history to cut down on saturated fats.
  • sadly for humanity, it transpired (a little too late) that Keys was a fraud and his research was dodgy from the start. He cherry-picked his data leaving out countries that didn’t fit his hypothesis. But the anti-fat message went mainstream (largely thanks to the clever marketing of big business and their sugar-laden fat-free advertising campaigns) and by the 1980s it was so embedded in modern medicine and nutrition that it became nearly impossible to challenge the consensus.
  • the research that challenges the idea that fat makes people fat and is a dire risk factor for heart disease is mounting. New research suggests that it’s the consumption of carbohydrates, sugar and sweeteners that is chiefly responsible for the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Refined carbohydrates – like those in “wheat” bread, hidden sugar, low-fat crackers and pasta – cause changes in blood chemistry that encourage the body to store the calories as fat and intensify hunger, making it much more difficult to lose weight. A 2010 meta-analysis- basically a study of other studies- concluded that there was no significant evidence that saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Those results were echoed by another meta-analysis published in March in the Annals of Internal Medicine that drew on nearly 80 studies involving more than half a million subjects.
  • There is also a massive public misunderstanding of cholesterol and its role in the body. There are 2 types of LDL particles that carry cholesterol around the body- small, dense ones and large, fluffy ones. The large ones are mostly harmless – and its the levels of those particles that fat intake raises. Carb intake (and I would also add excess omega 6 intake and stress) seem to increase the small, dense particles that now appear to be linked to heart disease. When people get their cholesterol checked, I query whether their GPs are really checking the right markers. This is why having a GP with an excellent understanding of cholesterol is really important and to that end the only GPs I recommend and trust here in Sydney are the integrative medical practitioners at the U-Clinic in Surry Hills, being Dr Kate Norris (who I have blogged about before here) and Dr Min Yeo. If your GPs is not across this, you could be walking out of your GPs office with a lecture on needing to unnecessarily lower your cholesterol or, worse yet, a script for statins.

The article discusses the host of issues we face in overturning our vilification of fat:

  • First, one of the issues we face is that the demonisation of fats is so deeply embedded in western culture that even the mere words themselves “saturated fat” and “cholesterol” have become ingrained as dirty words. I try to use these words positively around my children (so a positive association is all they know) and to educate them and my clients on what the specific roles of saturated fat and cholesterol are in the human body and why they are essential to our growth and function and to perform our best. The best place to start changing perception is always education and leading by example.
  • Secondly it is going to take much time and education to dislodge the notion that eating fat will make you fat. It doesn’t take much of an imaginative leap to think that this is true because fat is the very thing that jiggles around our waist and thighs. But this mantra needs to be overturned through an understanding of physiology and the role of fats in the body. In the same way that eating broccoli doesn’t make you green, eating fat from natural sources doesn’t make you fat. We are what we metabolise, not what we eat. Saturated fats from natural sources are used by the body for a host of important functions rather than just making a beeline straight for our waist. An excess of sugar and carbs get stored as fat, not an excess of fat per say that makes you fat. Look at the bodies of traditional populations (past and present eg Masaai warriors) who ate liberal amounts of saturated fats from natural sources- their bodies are lean and strong. Look at modern day proponents of traditional wholefoods – are they overweigh? And trial it yourself- what happens to your body mass index when you replace sugar and gluten with natural fats and animal protein? And lastly look at scientific studies like the 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at more than 300 subjects and found that those on a low fat diet lost less weight than those on high fat diets.
  • A third notion that needs to be dislodged is the calories in versus calories out. That is too simplistic a view. All calories are not created equal. Fats are calorically dense, yes, but they are also very satiating which means that you don’t need to rape the fridge and pantry door every 5 minutes to feel full.

I salute the author of article for raising these issues even though the explanations presented might not have been as full or scientific as the issues deserve.

The Time Magazine article is a refreshing step in the right direction. It does not however adequately discuss the importance of source and processing of fats ie that not all fat is created equal. It does not make a distinction between saturated fats from natural sources (eg coconut oil and dairy, egg yolks, and meat from pastured animals)  on the one hand and processed/industrialised fats on the other  (eg vegetable oils, and unnatural saturated fats in the form of trans-fats found in margarine). Nor is there an explanation of the differences between saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and in particular the importance of the balance between omega 3 and omega 6  polyunsaturated fats. However one step at a time is a good step in the right direction. Let’s first plant the seed that it is sugar and refined grains, not saturated fats, that are the nutritional culprits to ill health. And the rest will all unfold in due course, one would hope.

It remains to be seen whether more and more articles like this will penetrate the walls of our government agencies and result in any formal change in dietary guidelines. What would be required is tremendous public pressure of a type that I am not sure that I will witness in my lifetime although I remain hopeful that at least this next generation of children will be exposed to an alternative point of view – a ground-swell of action that simply can’t be ignored.  And I often wonder if the government fears what legal repercussions lie in store in turning dietary guidelines on their head. In our litigation-loving society, it’s not a far stretch to foresee a plethora of law suits being taken by millions of Australians whose diet mostly consists of the Heart Foundation ‘tick of approval’ packaged foods laden with sugar and refined grains that largely contributed to their obesity and Type 2 diabetes. However, in a breadth of fresh air,  last year Sweden took the momentous step in becoming the first nation to reject low-fat diet dogma in favour or low-carb high-fat nutrition. Sweden’s switch in dietary advice followed the publication of a two-year study by the independent Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment. The committee reviewed 16,000 studies published through May 31, 2013. The committee found that “Butter, olive oil, heavy cream, and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.” When more and more progressive countries hopefully follow in Sweden’s footsteps, maybe America and Australia will sit up and take note. But as Brian Shilhavy (Health Impact News Editor) so eloquently put it “the USDA nutritional guidelines favor the heavily subsidized crops of wheat, soy, and corn. The political forces are just too strong in the U.S. right now to allow any dietary advice that would cut into corporate profits and their production of cheap food to dominate world food supplies.” Indeed.

sugarLast year Time Magazine published an article on the dangers of sugar which I blogged about here. Now all we need is for Time Magazine to publish an article on the dangers of gluten and industrialised oils and will we have public health largely back on track if the recommendations are implemented by the masses.

The war over fat is far from over. Consumer habits are deeply formed formed and entire industries are based on demonising fat. But here’s what I think we (especially the parents among us) can do:

  • Question everything and encourage your children to question everything: Simply because a government or some regularity body or a teacher tells us something or legalises something (eg tobacco) doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right or that the product is safe. Do you own research and make up your own mind. And get your kids to do the same when they are old enough. Don’t hand over something as precious as your health to a third body. Take responsibility for it.
  • Question the validity of “studies” that are freely touted as gospel truth and toask whether the study was robust,  properly conducted and grounded in real science. Popular health magazines recycle mainstream dogma and flawed studies which become sticky and hard to debunk.
  • Consider whether what we are eating and drinking (and how we move, sleep, breathe, connect and play)  is broadly consistent with how our Palaeolithic ancestors or pre-industrialised populations lived, because we know (from anthropological evidence and the work of nutritional pioneers like Dr A Weston A Price) that traditional societies lived (in fact thrived) in a state of perfect robust health, free of all chronic illness and degenerative disease.
  • Encourage your kids to listen to their own bodies and ask how they feel after eating certain foods. I personally know how I felt and looked on a grain-based low-fat vegetarian diet versus a nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods omnivores diet.

When these things come together- when modern science backs up the wisdom of our ancestors and it accords with ones own personal experience-  what results is powerful shift in realisation and consequential action that can pull humanity out of our physiological demise and back to reclaiming and harnessing the beauty and potential of our species.

The difference between probiotics and prebiotics plus recipe for Brussels Sprouts (a prebiotic) with bacon and potato

IMG_9486

I have written a lot about the importance of probiotics (friendly bacteria that inhibit our gut / digestive tract) and if any of you have come to one of my lacto-fermentation workshops which I run on a regular basis then you would have heard me talk at length about probiotics and their importance in our immunity, digestion, metabolism, brain function and skin function to name a few of their tremendous health benefits. We can even go so far to say that without probiotics we could not survive. In the absence of specific advice from a health care professional, probiotic supplementation is not necessary for fairly healthy people and the regular consumption of home-made fermented foods (eg kefir, sauerkraut, beet kvass, kombucha etc) will provide all the probiotics bacteria you need. There may be instances where probiotic supplementation might be recommended (eg after a course of antibiotics).

So what are PREbiotics? In sum they are food for the probiotics that already exist in your gut so that these little essential critters stay alive and healthy.  What you feed your intestinal microbiota significantly determines how they populate. So while probiotics provide a better balance of bacteria in the gut by stimulating the growth of different strains of beneficial bacteria that are not already present in your gut, prebiotic foods selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria already inhibiting the gut especially in the large intestine. These foods include onions, jerusalem artichokes, and fruits and vegetables that are high in soluable fibre eg sweet potato, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, turnips, mango, avocados, strawberries and aprocots. Hence another reason to not go too low carb!!!

Brussels Sprouts and potatoes are both prebiotic foods. While potatoes are generally not a hardship for most people and kids to consume (refer to one of my earlier blogs on my 5 favourite ways to eat root vegetables) Brussels sprouts are another kettle of fish. I personally don’t find Brussels Sprouts unpalatable but they seem to get a bad wrap by most kids. Most parents I talk to struggle to get their kids to eat them. If your kids refuse to eat them here is a fail-safe recipe I crafted with bacon and potato and lots of butter to hopefully tempt even the fussiest of eaters! My son Will liked this dish so much that he requested it 2 nights in a row and put in a weekly standing order. Bacon sure does make even the most unpalatable or bland foods taste great!

Brussels Sprouts with bacon and potato

This can be served as a side or as a complete meal as pastured bacon is a source of healthy saturated fats and protein, and the vegetables are a source of carbohydrates.

 Ingredients:

Brussels sprouts, allow 4 per person
Potatoes, allow 1 small potato per person
300g pack of pastured bacon, diced
2 tablespoons butter
handful of roughly chopped parsley (optional)
unrefined salt
cracked pepper

Directions:

Peel potatoes. Chop Brussels sprouts and potatoes into roughly equal sized chunks. I tend to chop Brussels sprouts in half then half again. Steam potatoes and Brussels sprouts until soft then add to a bowl with one tablespoon butter and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, while the vegetables are steaming, sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of butter in a covered frying pan on low heat stirring occasionally until cooked (about 5-10 mins). Add to bowl with vegetables and mix well. Serve with a scattering of parsley if desired.

Serves 2-3 as a main or 4-5 as a side.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 811 other followers