Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vampire attack!!!

So, today I worked from home (yawn) and went to the clinic for my health MOT. Luckily - as it was a fasting blood test appointment - I managed to get a fairly early appointment (9:10 am) but I was still starving by the time I got there, fasting is definitely not my thing. The nurse made me get on a set of scales to be weighed (which was not a lot of fun for me) and took my blood pressure before draining my blood and asking a bunch of lifestyle questions that made me want to dive into a barrel of whiskey with a pound of chocolate... However, she said my blood pressure & weight (!!!!) were good so hopefully the blood test results will be ok... of course they won't be back for a week.
My ear is improving (less pain though not much more hearing) and between a little shopping & a trip to the clinic I got about 4 miles walking as well, so that was something.

Food today:
Breakfast: nothing until after my appointment, and then a protein flapjack
Lunch: sausage & sauerkraut soup and a little low carb grain free bread (homemade)
Dinner: sardine 'pasta' on courgette noodles
Snacks: gluten free hot cross bun (don't ask)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Big Chef AJ Giveaway--Winners and Bonus Winners Announced!

The are a lot of things that I love about Chef AJ, and one of them is her incredible level of generosity. Not only did AJ pick the three winners from our giveaway last week, she added four additional winners and an additional prize (a one hour coaching session from Sharon McRae who specializes in WFPB diets for young families). 

So if your name is on this list, be sure to read on and find out exactly what you have won! E-mail me at and I will make sure that you receive your prizes.

Gloria Caraballo
Jane Delaney
Jeff Searcy

Read on below to confirm if you are in fact a winner.

From Chef AJ: 
"Well, it took me hours to go through all 240 responses TWICE but I've chosen several winners.  5 additional ones in fact.  I appreciate everyone taking the time to write and since the most common answer was sugar addiction (a specialty of mine) I wold be happy to do a teleseminar on that subject with you.

For the book I choose from page 1:  I chose here because she says she can't eliminate sugar and oil and when she tries any of my desserts or my Disappearing Lasagna, she will see how delicious food can be when SOS FREE.


I do pretty well cooking for me and my husband but can�t seem to eliminate the small amounts of sugar and oil I still use. We eat out only once or at the most twice a month, so eating out is not a problem. My husband is not vegan but eats what I cook when at home. (He orders animal products when we eat out.) I think he will complain if I get rid of the small amounts of sugar and oil that I still cook with. I could use coaching to show me how to keep food tasty while eliminating the sugar and oil.

For the DVD I choose from page 1: I chose him because he was already able to commit to a program for 66 days and I think he would really be able to commit to our program for 30 days and be quite successful.
2) Chef AJ rocks! I'd like to learn from someone who has lived through it. I'm a Virgo and I want only the best :) 
I made it 66 days this year, broke a rib, and lost my resolve. Time to get back on track. And for good. 
Fingers crossed!

I am giving a 2nd DVD set to this person on page 5 because they are interested in disease prevention as well:

Gloria Caraballo

(1) What is your Number 1 struggle in adapting aWhole Foods, Plant Based diet (and by definition, that means SOS (salt, oil and sugar) free)? 

What I share, I do so by no exaggeration. Chronic, preventable death has been all around me my whole life. And today, I still carry this around with me. I no longer want to stand to the way side while a healthier life (which I intrinsically believe) is not out of reach. On the surface Whole Foods and Plant Based eating seems to go against so many ingrained culture (Puerto Rican) and social ideologies that I've been taught, produced and promoted. To go against that, walking/JUMPING into a new (scary) world ... THAT would be the struggle. 

(2) What difference would or could having a private coach mean in your life? 

I believe in family and the love that is shared between those special individuals. And just like the lives of those before me (my mother to diabetes, my father to stroke, my sister-in-law to heart disease AT 57!, countless others), I know what I am, who I am and what I do effects others. And today, by solely filling this out, I hope to take one step away from diabetes, high blood pressure, and being overweight and be one step closer to confidence, high genuine self esteem and literally BEING the change I pray for in my family's life. My husband (who deals with gout, diabetes and high blood pressure), who on the surface may not be the quickest to run towards change, will walk hand in hand with me to do this... together... as a family. So for us, like so many that have been helped and enlightened, this could literally extend and most importantly SAVE our lives.

For the consult I chose from page 1: I chose her because I felt that her reason for wanting the consult 'I want to be as healthy as possible after watching my mom die from breast cancer and my dad from heart disease," was the most compelling, as I lost both of my parents and grandparents at an early age from these diseases which were creating entirely out of their nutritional folly.'


(1) What is your Number 1 struggle in adapting a Whole Foods, Plant Based diet (and by definition, that means SOS (salt, oil and sugar) free)? 

I've been WFPB for 4 years but am still struggling with salt and sugar cravings. I find it extremely difficult to eat veggies without salt and it's hard for me to turn down sweet treats. Other than my husband, no one else I know personally follows a WFPB no SOS lifestyle. 

(2) What difference would or could having a private coach mean in your life? 

I think having Chef AJ give me a kick in the pants would help me improve my adherence to this lifestyle! I greatly admire her honest, no BS approach. Lately I've caught myself sabotaging my choices. Although I initially lost 36 lbs. doing McDougall, I still need to lose another 20-30 lbs. I want to be as healthy as possible after watching my mom die from breast cancer and my dad from heart disease. 

I am more than willing and able to write a guest post for HGK about the experience of coaching from Chef AJ should I be lucky enough to win that one! Thanks for the opportunity. Kim

I would also like to give an additional copy of my book to this fellow because he said his challenge is learning to cook tasty meals since his wife died and I believe my recipes are pretty darn tasty, especially the lasagna!
My number 1 struggle is learning to cook tasty meals that I enjoy. For over 40 years, my wife was the "chief cook and bottle washer" in our house. After she passed away last year, I was left struggling with what to eat and how to make it. I became resigned to eating TV dinners, which I thought would be my main staple for the rest of my life. But then a friend introduced me to the whole foods, plant-based diet. I decided to try it, but in the beginning I still stayed with a lot of frozen meals (Kashi and Amy's come to mind). They had no animal products, but I was still eating a lot of fats, salt and sugar. Today, I'm eating much better and following the no oil, whole foods, plant-based diet. As a result I've lost 85 pounds in 9 months and I've gotten off of all prescription medications. But I still struggle with cooking good meals. That is without a doubt my number 1 challenge. 

Having the success that I've had in the program, I want to make a difference in the lives of others as well. And I'm doing so through several avenues. I started a website at that helps other people understand this diet and how to do it. I also blog about my own experiences at And I maintain a listing of local restaurant foods that members of our 400 person Eat Smart, Live Longer (ESLL) Club can use when eating out. I believe that having the personal coaching from Chef AJ can help me to more effectively spread the word, help others to discover this great way of eating and also help me to learn to better cook for myself.

I would also like to give a copy of my book to this lady who struggles making tasty food without oil

Jane Delaney

My #1 problem is the use of olive oil. I use it for stir fries, salad dressings, and roasting vegetables. I have not been successful at my attempts to eliminate it. My husband is not vegan and he rejects a lot of food like salads and fruits. My friends and other family members complain too. I generally ignore their complaints but I would like to please them and improve their health too. I would love to have lots of tips, wonderful recipes, and alternatives to olive oil that Chef AJ could show me. I already know that she is a fantastic role model and so, of course, I would love to win such an opportunity. Also, in the near future, I plan to take classes through the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine to be certified as a cooking instructor and I have the passion for the plant-based whole foods lifestyle.

For a free coaching session with Sharon Mcrae who transitioned 3 kids to a WFPB SOS free diet, on page 4

Jeff Searcy
#1 I have been able to adopt a plant based diet pretty good, and meeting Chef AJ was really life changing because it was the first time I had heard of SOS free. Giving up Meat, Dairy and fast food was one thing but now Salt Oil and sugar. Its a struggle especially eating out but I'm doing my best. My biggest struggle though is being a single dad raising 4 daughters and trying to prepare plant based SOS free meals that my kids will eat. They are so brainwashed into the horrible diet that I had for so long and passed onto them. If I could learn to make better meals and that they wouldn't even think of as plant based. 
#2 Having a private coach would help me not only prepare better healthier meals for my children, but give me the confidence to know that I'm doing it correctly. I want to set a better example for them instead of what I have been doing for years."

Congratulations to all of the winners! And thank you to AJ and Sharon for your generosity and inspiration!!!

Eh? Whazzat?

I was back in the office today, very very bored and still very hard of hearing in my right ear but holding the pain at bay by taking pills every 4 hours instead of waiting till it started hurting. Prevention is better than cure, right? Well at least it's possible to function that way...
Tomorrow I'll be working from home again so I can go back to the doctors - this time to get blood drawn for a full set of 'MOT' health checks that will hopefully tell me if there's any underlying reason for my less than excellent health the last few weeks. Somehow I won't be amazed if everything comes back within normal ranges and I'm still left with 'just a bit run down' as the only explanation I can work with. (In the meantime, Diane, I am changing to a slightly more 'normal' diet in case of any deficiencies in what I generally do (not that I've been following my general diet with much success since falling repeatedly off the low carb wagon while recovering from my eye op - I think I've allowed myself to become re-addicted to sugar and poor quality carbs) For now I'm bringing back white rice and potatoes; gluten-containing grains remain mostly off the menu (though yesterday I did have a mainstream sandwich for lunch while in town trying to get some medicine for my ear) and so do the other grains that are often contaminated / have similar issues.)

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with mushrooms, potatoes & leek
Lunch: homemade sausage & sauerkraut soup followed by fresh melon & dried pineapple
Dinner: chicken, mushroom & spinach *risotto* yay rice!!!
Snacks: cashews, natural yogurt

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crappy day

I took today as a sick day after the pain in my ear kept me awake most of last night.
It took me the whole day to get a prescription for the ear infection now filling my life with such joy - a saga of getting a prescription for ear drops that have apparently been discontinued, making and awaiting phone calls to get an alternative prescription, and making multiple trips into town. Altogether - on a day when I was knackered & feeling lousy - I ended up walking over 6 miles in 26 degree heat at approximately 210% humidity because I didn't feel I should drive.

On the plus side, I walked over 6 miles on a day when I lacked the energy to train and, left to myself,would have stayed on the sofa all day. On the minus side, I was practically deaf in one ear, in pain apart from when I took ibuprofen, and it was really really hot - I think I caught the sun. And after all that, I'm not sure how much good my eventually acquired eardrops are doing - it certainly doesn't feel better right now.
Life sucks.
Someone should put me out of my misery - I'm pretty sure they would if I were a dog.
Woof woof grrr whimper

Chery818 is Back with a Hair Breakage Update!

So, I follow a lot of naturals on YouTube, and Chery818 is one of them.  She is known for her thick, long (BSL-ish all around), 4c hair and advocating finger detangling.  Her last video (before her recent update) was sad because she had discovered some serious breakage in certain areas and was debating whether to cut all her hair.  That was almost eight months ago.

Well, I'm happy to report that she is back to YouTube!  Check out her update below ... and also notice the higher video quality.  I'm loving it all!

Mixology || 3-Oil Nighttime Facial Moisturizer

So, I've been using this mix for weeks now, and I'm in love.  The thought of sleeping with oil on my face initially scared me (e.g., fear of pimples) but quickly went away as I noticed my face was doing just fine.

So, why the 3-oil mix?  Well, I wanted to get the researched benefits of avocado oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil all in one.  *smiles* So, without further ado, here is my recipe:

1 part pure avocado oil (helps heal wounds, improves elasticity)
1 part extra virgin olive oil (decelerates sun damage, potent antioxidant effect)
1 part grapeseed oil (may lighten UV-induced hyper pigmentation, may reduce blackheads and whiteheads)

Mix all ingredients into a spray bottle and use on face after your night time wash.

That is all!

Monday, July 28, 2014

I swear I'm falling. apart.

My recent infection is now pretty much as though it never happened, swelling & pain all gone. Literally 2 days after finishing the antibiotics for that, though, I woke up with an ear infection. I'm guessing the real reason is that the first infection (and 2 different antibiotics) knackered my immune system and it's not yet back up to speed, but I confess my less considered opinion is that my body is punishing me for something / dissolving into mush.  Either way I spent the weekend pumping OTC ear drops in there & apart from feeling extremely hard of hearing in that ear (like being half under water) it seems to be responding well. But still. Aaarrrggh.
On Saturday I had a fairly lazy day - I walked a couple of miles, but no more, put off by the heat. Having said that it was pretty much as hot on Sunday and I managed 5.25 miles - split between 2 slightly shorter walks so the heat didn't feel quite as exhausting & demotivating. I didn't train over the weekend and was too tired this morning for a pre-work session. I also ate too much of the wrong things - being pissed off when it's someone's birthday is a bad combo. Sigh.
Tomorrow is another day...

Friday, July 25, 2014


I'm knackered and lacking energy today but, having walked in total 4.07 miles yesterday (in hotter than hell temperatures, after walking a total of one mile in the preceding two WEEKS...) I'm feeling a lot happier. Almost human in fact. But sooo tired, and I don't know why given that I think I slept reasonably well last night (or at least I don't remember it being one of those nights when I wake up 35 times and take 6 hrs to fall asleep again each time)
I have been very hungry all day as well. By 11:15 am I'd eaten my breakfast, snack & lunch... For a change I wasn't craving sweet gluten-y baked goods or chocolate though. I just filled the gap by buying some natural yoghurt to also boost my gut recovery.
On the subject of that, I have sauerkraut at home & am making some water kefir as well to help with that. I've also been reading a lot about the probiotic properties of resistant starch so I'll be eating cold / chilled & reheated boiled potatoes & white rice for that as well.

Food today:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion & spinach
Lunch: cold pork sandwich - made with this no carb spinach 'bread' (forgot to link this the other day) and a natural yoghurt
Dinner: courgette pasta with homemade (slow cooker) marinara sauce to which I added a tin of sardines in olive oil for protein. With sauerkraut!
Snacks: cashews, cold meat

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Inspirational Power of Chef AJ & Big Giveways Post!

Illustration by the talented Meg Wilson/BUNtitled.

I have a small miracle to share with you.

We had a big pot luck at work yesterday. Pretty typical SAD food. I'm sure you can imagine it.

For the past few years, I had been "allowing" myself little "treats" full of sugar and oil and other such nonsense at my company wide functions. Even though I DID NOT WANT TO EAT THE STUFF. I was simply unable to say "no" to all of it. A cupcake here, a cookie there, some candy some of the time.

"Why, why, why?" I wondered. I consider the stuff to be crap.

So yesterday, when we were all enjoying our fun time together, it came to mind that in the not so distant past, I would have had some of the apple crumble. It would have tasted good, and I would have allowed myself a little more. And I always wanted more.

But that was then, and this is now.

Read more �


OK I overate a lot today. But after 2 weeks of total lack of movement, I also walked 4.07 miles today. So I don't care

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let me eat cake

Yesterday I started writing a post, got as far as the summary of food and couldn't think of anything at all to write beyond that. I know my life is never that exciting, but recently, while I haven't been going out or training, I really have fallen into a tv watching, cooking, eating sleeping rut - I can barely stay awake for it, let alone make it sound halfway interesting in a post. Of course that's been true for a while so I'm not sure why yesterday I finally couldn't be bothered to try...
So, all the above is still true. I've done a bit more housework since the pain and swelling from the infection (and the upset stomach from the antibiotics) have reduced but I've still walked less than a mile a day and not trained. And though I'm not quoting numbers, I weighed myself yesterday and discovered that the small amount of weight I'd lost over several weeks of struggling has found me again after only 2 weeks of feeling sorry for myself because of the infection - though I'm hoping at least some of that is down to water retention from the crappy carbs I've been eating. Even so, right now it looks like yet another holiday will be started with me being already overweight and dreaming of not adding yet more lbs while away. Hmph. Maybe that answers the question of why I wasn't motivated to post yesterday. And why I ate some cake today, because clearly what I need is more crappy carbs...
Food today:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with bacon, onion & spinach
Lunch: cold chicken sandwich - made with this no carb spinach 'bread'
Dinner: Sri Lankan beef mince curry with cauliflower rice
Snacks: Greek yogurt with strawberries, half an avocado. Cake

Monday, July 21, 2014

No Farms, No Food

David Dietz of Dietz Produce
"Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands� -Thomas Jefferson

As we get ready for this week's lunch, we'd like to do a shout out to some of the wonderful farmers who are central to our mission. They assist us with our menu planning, help us keep our costs low, tell us what veggies are at their peak, give us recipe ideas, and help us to coordinate pick up and payment through a network of volunteers. They donate food, time and expertise to our cause-- and they do it all quietly and behind the scenes. And they rarely have time to come to lunch because they are busy with the tasks that keep us all fed.
A look inside Brogue Hydroponics

Please consider patronizing our local farms whenever possible - their ongoing dedication to providing high quality, local foods makes our work possible!

Not bad for a Monday

Well, I'm feeling less depressed now. I've completed one course of antibiotics and the other one finishes Thursday. I'm not entirely happy that I still have a red swollen gland, but it's massively improved from it's worst, and my digestive side effects have settled down too.
I spent the weekend indoors most of the time, working on a software deployment Sunday morning. I had multiple salt baths and ate porridge for breakfast as Diane suggested (with yoghurt stirred in for a double whammy) We also watched two movies that we both enjoyed - World War Z and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Very different films, but both very watchable in their own way!
Today I was back in the office, freezing in the overactive air conditioning but quite enjoying being around people again. Won't last of course since I'm fundamentally antisocial but while it does last it's good.
At lunchtime I went into town briefly and quite enjoyed it for the first time in a week - no discomfort and it was nice and warm, but not so hot that I was worried about sweatiness. I hope to go further afield tomorrow.
Hopefully I'm out of the woods and moving forwards finally!

Food today:
Breakfast: eggs scrambled with bacon, leek & mushrooms
Lunch: cream of carrot & coriander soup and a natural yoghurt
Dinner: pork & vegetable stirfry
Snacks: homemade pork scratchings, cashews

Protective Style Lookbook || Textured Updo with a Scarf

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: VeePeeJay

Difficulty level: 1/5

Description: Chunky twist out into a textured updo with a scarf.

Study || Cherries Reduce Abdominal Fat?

I was eating some cherries a couple weeks ago and thought, "Hmm, I wonder if there is any research out there on cherries and fat".  Up until that point, I thought the fruit was pretty useless other than being a fix for my sweet tooth.  Well, guess what? There is research out there, one of which associates a regular intake of cherries with a reduction in abdominal fat weight, percentage fat mass, and more.  Check out the abstract: REGULAR TART CHERRY INTAKE ALTERS ABDOMINAL ADIPOSITY, ETC. (2009).

Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm a bit depressed at the moment

Taking 2 different antibiotics and not feeling fantastic - possibly because I dived head first into crappy carbs for comfort. Not really in the mood to post and generally a miserable git.
I'm pretty sure I'll feel better once I finish the meds and can start rebuilding my gut again.
I hope anyway

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

blonde protein cookies

So these are basically a 'blonde' version of my Chocolate Protein Cookies for anyone who can't handle cacao (the caffeine can be too much for some) or wants to mix things up a bit! I make them for my boyfriend regularly, so I've made a few adjustments to the recipe over time. This is actually my favourite version.
As I've said before, these cookies make a great breakfast on the run. The addition of good fats and protein makes them really satisfying. Also a good post-workout snack. 

I use Amazonia's raw natural protein powder in the cookies, but you could substitute another natural protein powder. When buying protein powders, just watch out for added sweeteners and fillers. I recommend always reading the ingredients list - if you're not familiar with an ingredient, ask someone at the store or Google it! (I have a slight obsession with reading ingredients lists and if there's something on there that I haven't heard of, it's straight to Google to find out; often whilst still standing in the store).
� cup natural peanut butter
� cup raw virgin coconut oil, softened
� cup rice malt syrup (or raw honey)
1 egg
2 cups raw cashews
2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
� cup plain protein powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 170�C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Pulse the cashews in a food processor until you get fine crumbs.

3. Combine the peanut butter, coconut oil and rice malt syrup in a large bowl, then beat in the egg until well combined.

4. Stir through the cashews and desiccated coconut, protein powder and vanilla.

5. Roll the mixture into balls and press into cookie shapes, then place on the lined tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.

Makes about 25 cookies.


I think the infection is fighting back... It's still about a million times better than last week before I got my prescription, both in terms of pain and swelling - but it seems to be more swollen today than it was yesterday. The doctor did say if the antibiotics didn't seem to be doing the job he could add something else so I guess it's not a massive shock if they're not enough on their own - but it's not the rapid healing and moving on I was hoping for. If I'm lucky it's just a temporary irritation because I popped into town at lunchtime - only about half a mile round trip, but more than I've been doing - and it will calm down over night. If not, I might have to contact the clinic again.

Hair Diary || From Copper-Blonde to Purple Haze

After my fun with copper-blonde highlights (see this previous post), I have gone to purple haze.  All I did was apply a color (from Manic Panic) on top of my previous highlights, and voila!  As for my hair routine?  It has basically consisted of weekly washes with twist outs and braid outs over the past month.  For now, I've returned to big twists.

And now for more hair pics:
After depositing the color.
After depositing the color. (Before twisting.)

After depositing the color.

Chunky twist out.

I believe this was a braid out.

Mixology || Castor and Coconut Moisturizing Mist

The beauty of distilled water is that it is �soft� water; it does not have the negative effects (e.g., stiffening of the hair strand[1]) like hard water.  Meanwhile, castor oil can improve the shine or sheen[2] of your natural hair, which is a plus for you castor oil lovers out there.  As for coconut oil?  Well, you all should know about its strengthening and moisturizing benefits by now.

2 oz distilled water
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp castor oil
a few drops of essential oil (e.g., lavender, jasmine, orange)

Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle, and shake vigorously to blend.  Store in a refrigerator until ready for use.  Shake before each use.  SHELF LIFE: ~2 weeks.

[1] Evans AO, Marsh JM, Wickett RR. �The structural implications of water hardness metal uptake by human hair.� Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Oct;33(5):477-82. 
[2] McMullen R, Jachowicz J. �Optical properties of hair: effect of treatments on luster as quantified by image analysis.� J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Jul-Aug;54(4):335-51.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Healthy World Cafe will be open for lunch Wednesday, July 23!

Healthy World Cafe will be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at First Moravian Church, 41 N. Duke St., York, where we'll be serving up delicious, locally sourced eats.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user
Tim Sackton)
Check out our menu!

-- Smoked Pulled Pork on Focaccia
-- Asian-inspired Coleslaw
-- Zucchini Basil Soup (Vegan)
-- Lentil, Tomato, Chickpea Soup
-- Quinoa Tabbouleh (A quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers)
-- Squash Blossom and Basil Quiche with Potato Crust 
-- Squash Hummus
-- Berry Salad

Of course, our menu is always based on what's available from our farmer friends, so check back for updates.

At Healthy World Cafe, we always feature our "eat what you want, pay how you can" philosophy. The ability to pay should never be a barrier to accessing delicious, unprocessed, healthy food.

Housekeeping items worth noting:

-- PARKING: When coming to the cafe for our Wednesday lunches, please DO NOT park in the private lots surrounding First Moravian Church. You may park on the street (metered), or you may park at First Presbyterian Church at E. Market and N. Queen streets in the un-numbered, yellow-lined parking spots, and please include a sign on your dashboard to indicate you are a Healthy World Cafe volunteer. Then, walk one block west down Clarke Avenue to First Moravian (and enter on north side)!

-- TAKE OUT: Take out orders for lunch are available by e-mailing your selections (by 10 a.m. July 23) to healthyworldcafe(at)gmail(dot)com.

-- VOLUNTEERING: In order to better respect our volunteers' time, we split the Wednesday lunch into two volunteer shifts: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and noon to 3 p.m. Feel free, of course, to sign up for both shifts, if you wish.

Here's a breakdown of our volunteer needs for this month's lunch:

-- 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, July 21 -- Food prep at First Moravian Church (FMC), 39 N. Duke St., York.
-- 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 -- Food prep at First Moravian Church (FMC), 39 N. Duke St., York.
-- 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 23 -- Food prep and serving at FMC. We're now splitting our lunch days into two volunteer shifts to better respect our volunteers' time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and noon to 3 p.m. Feel free to sign up for both, if you wish. If you can't work a full shift (say, you can be there 10 to 2, but not as early as 9), please email sarah.e.chain(at)gmail(dot)com and let us know when to expect you!

Find other upcoming dates, including construction and cleaning at our 24 S. George Street location, and sign up to volunteer through our calendar on VolunteerSpot.

meet Dr Hannah...

Dr Hannah Pickford is a former All-Australian Basketball player, chiropractor, martial artist and is currently completing a Masters in Human Nutrition (just a bit of an all-rounder!). When she isn�t seeing patients, kicking bags or lifting weights, she�s researching the current medical literature or recording episodes with the Vitality Hackers�a free podcast that is released weekly on iTunes (check it out here). 

One topic that has been on my mind recently is leaky gut. Sorry, what now? Yes. Your gut may be �leaking� and causing you a range of ailments. I asked Dr Hannah to explain.

Over to Dr H...

Have you noticed the rising incidence of chronic disease surrounding you and ever wondered�. What are we doing wrong?

Why are the disease rates rising�..? Why are we the most infertile, overweight and chronically ill humans to walk the earth? Why do conditions such as allergies, depression and auto-immunity seem to increase in incidence year after year?

Why will 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women be diagnosed with cancer this year? And why, in the last decade have heart disease rates increased over 18 precent (2)? Even more alarming is that depression affects over 2.1 million people in Australia and the numbers just keep on rising (1). So� What is driving it?

There is emerging evidence that the dramatic rise of these diseases is not due to genetics or random chance but instead might be due to changes within our current environment. One HUGE element to consider is the health of your gut: your internal environment.

Leading researchers are now suggesting that maintaining the integrity of the gut lining is instrumental for preventing the onset of several chronic conditions. The following is a brief list of conditions that are linked to poor gut health (there are over 600!!):

- Infertility
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Fatigue
- Acne
- Celiac Disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Lupus
- Narcolepsy
- Schizophrenia
- Autism
- Depression
- Huntington�s
- Non-Hodgkin�s lymphoma
- Hypothyroidism

For an extended period of time, within alternative medicine, �leaky gut� has been considered the main culprit for a wide range of human ailments, a theory that has been largely ignored by the western medical fraternity. However, the tide has turned with a recent explosion within the literature regarding �intestinal permeability� (fancy name for leaky gut) and its association with disease, and in particular auto-immunity.

Dr Alessio Fasano published some ground-breaking research that suggested autoimmune disease could have intestinal permeability as a PRE-CONDITION and that, in fact without it, the disease might not even manifest (5). Interesting stuff. Even more interesting is that it was found through rat research that any increase in permeability led to a DIRECT increase of auto-immune disease symptoms.

This explosion in gut research is compelling, however this concept is not actually new, after all it was Hippocrates himself who said some 2000 years ago that

                                  �� all disease begins in the gut.�

Well that�s awkward.

Anyway now that we have finally caught up� lets get down to business.

So leaky gut�. The what, the why and the how�.

1) What is Leaky Gut?

You are a big donut. Just a body, around a hollow tube, that runs all the way from your mouth to your butt. Now the lining of this tube separates you from the outside world and this is crucial because there is stuff that you definitely WANT to keep out, like pathogens, toxins, large proteins and, of course there is stuff you WANT to come in, like�. nutrients.

Now 75% of your immune system is comprised within this tube lining and this is your main defence from the outside world. Leaky gut is when the intestinal cell junctions become compromised, and the normally restricted net is loosened, thus allowing greater access of undesirable particles straight into your blood stream (3)!   

2) Why do you get it? 

There are many lifestyle factors at play but the main culprits are emotional stress and food, with grains playing a leading role. There is a protein called zonulin which when activated increases the �leakiness� of your gut, basically telling your intestinal cells to open up and let stuff in. Now this is works just fine until our friend GLIADIN comes into the body and activates zonulin release � artificially triggering your gut to OPEN UP. Gliadin makes up part of the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barely, and rye, a substance that is highly intolerable to people with celiac disease. Dr Fasano found that the rats with the highest permeability, meaning most �leakiest� also had the highest rates of intestinal levels of zonulin, all of which resulted from exposure to gliadin (5). In short, if you are eating lots of gluten containing grains, you have compromised this normally tightly regulated system!  

3) How to fix it!

So this gets a little more complicated but here is the dumbed down, abbreviated version�. (Please listen to the podcast here for more info).

- Stop eating gluten containing grains
- Identify other food triggers unique to you
- Reduce emotional stress
- Remove infections like parasites, bad bacteria, candida
- Put good bacteria back in � fermented foods, probiotics
- Consume a nutrient dense diet � vegetables, meats, good fats
- Increase Omega 3 fats intake � fish oils (anti-inflammatory)
- Decrease Omega 6 fat intake � Vegetable oils, Grains � (pro-inflammatory)
- Repair the Gut lining � bone broth, glutamine supplementation

Now if you are really broken, you might need to consider a GAPS style approach whereby you avoid any products that will further inflame your gut lining. Now this includes avoiding raw vegetables, fruits, nightshades and especially the non-starchy, fibrous vegies like broccoli and cabbage. This is trickier, so I would seek out a health care provider that is well versed in repairing your insides like an integrative general practitioner! I would also encourage you to read GAPS by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride which you can get here!

In summary, your gut is where you digest and absorb your nutrients, and the bacteria that reside within your body can determine your health status. The lining of your gut is your main immune defence from the outside world, so make sure you look after it with proper stress management, adequate sleep, a reduced or gluten-free diet and a high consumption of nutrient dense foods like fermented vegetables, liver and bone broths.

Remember, changing your lifestyle will always be the only way to avoid chronic disease, so keep informed, eat well, move often and live long.

Until next time,
Keep that gut plugged!

Dr H
Podcast: Vitality Hackers

5) A. Fasano : Zonulin, a newly discovered modulator of intestinal permeability and its expression in coeliac disease THE LANCET � Vol 355 � April 29, 2000 1519

Thank you Dr Hannah for breaking it down for us (no pun intended). You can find more from Hannah at, and you can follow her on Instagram.

Am I Orthorexic?

It's been a few weeks now since I received the following message on Facebook. I've been thinking about it daily ever since. While I thought that I could whip out a blog post response to the message, I have found that the issues are very complex, and it hasn't been so easy for me to get my thoughts "on paper." Here's the message that I received:

"I don't want to start a debate on your page but I do not agree that salt, sugar, and oil are the 'holy trinity of addictiveness.'

If those things are addicting and trigger foods for someone then that person needs ED therapy. I don't think that shaming someone for eating those things is at all helpful , constructive, or healthy. I see nothing wrong with having something processed every once in awhile. I don't believe that a bag of chips with oil will give you heart disease, that the sugar will give you diabetes, etc. Sure it probably isn't too healthy to consume nothing but processed foods, but in moderation I think it's fine.

I also don't think that fearing foods and putting them into categories as good or bad is healthy either. Your recent posts invoke so much fear mongering around certain foods and certain food groups. While I realize that your bio on your blog is outdated, there are a few lines that struck out at me not only when I first found your site, but even more so over the past few months. For example: 'Food and sugar are no longer the scary enemy that they once were.'

'That does not mean that I never eat anything with meat or dairy or sugar or oil. I'm not going to let myself play that orthorexic head game.'

These lines drew me to you because it seemed like you had a grasp on acknowledging that viewing certain foods as evil or scary is not a healthy way to think. The orthorexia part has been popping in my head after reading most of your recent posts these past few months. You've been eliminating so many foods and food groups. Fearing them, restricting them, thinking they are evil, harmful, etc. A lot of your actions, statements, and beliefs are concerning. I'm not trying to be confrontational or disrespectful. I realize that you won't agree with me, but I just felt the need to share my feelings."

Thank you dear reader, I welcome this discussion!

I am reminded of a quote by one of my favorite people, blogger and author Winnie Abramson:

Read more �


I felt well enough to go back to work this morning after doing NOTHING all weekend (or resting really hard depending how you look at it) except cooking & watching TV.
I've finally worked out what needs to change so I can lose weight.

I need to quit my job.

Over the weekend I had relatively little problem avoiding snacking so I could take my antibiotics at the prescribed separation from my meals. This morning my breakfast was the same as yesterday's and eaten at more or less the same time, and I was checking the clock to see if enough time had passed between pills and meals to allow me to snack. Boredom is the culprit, therefore if I could just win a fortune and retire I'd be as svelte as I could wish for.... Especially with all the great walking time that would be freed up.

Over the weekend my infection was responding really well to the antibiotics and rest. I have to admit I spent the whole time in nothing but a very soft, well worn, and loose  dressing gown to avoid anything rubbing of chafing it as well; I was less comfortable today being back in work from quite early in the day and even had to take a painkiller this afternoon. Even so it's roughly six steps forwards, one step back compared to how I felt last week when I was driven to see the doctor, though I'm not ready to risk getting sweaty yet, and I am frustrated by that. And very ready to stop watching the clock so I know when to take my next massive horse pill - it reminds me of the constant eye drops after my operation, although I can at least take the pills without a mirror and a tissue to hand.
Having basically not walked or trained for a week now I'm feeling bloated, unfit, and as boring as I am bored. So I apologise for seeming to talk about nothing but pills and infections; I really don't have anything else going on at the moment.
Oh yes, one thing occurred to me just then. If you like movies, do NOT watch Scary Movie 5. You probably don't need telling anyway, but seriously, don't. I don't care how old / young, fit / sick you are - life's too short. I'm so ashamed that I know this from personal experience. Seriously. If someone walks towards you holding out the disk, don't pause, just run. And if you can trample it into the ground in the process, so much the better. God, I wish I had...
Just to clarify, I was in the same room as the movie but I did not watch the whole thing, I swear it, don't stop reading on the grounds of my bad taste (im movies)

Food today:
Breakfast: cacao coffee chia coconut pudding (I omitted the vanilla extract in this recipe & added a brewed espresso coffee)
Lunch: cold meat & salad
Dinner: basil beef burgers in lettuce with fried potatoes
Snacks: Greek yoghurt with strawberries (chopped, frozen,  defrosted); cashew nuts

Construction update at 24 S. George Street!

We're excited this week to begin work on our space at 24 South George Street in downtown York!

On several dates in July and August, we'll be cleaning equipment, prepping the space and beginning to build shelving ahead of our larger construction planned for the late summer and early fall.

Please take a look at the below volunteer opportunities and sign up through VolunteerSpot if you're able! Many hands make light work!

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 17
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 19
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 28
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2
Questions? Email Sarah at sarah.e.chain(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

middle eastern spiced cauli-rice

Have you tried cauliflower 'rice'? I know I'm a bit late to the party (it's been a long-time favourite in the paleo community), but it's so good! It's made by whizzing cauliflower in a food processor to break it up into little rice-like pieces. If you cook it up in some coconut oil and spices, it's delicious. And great for soaking up juices from curries or stews. 

It's is a nice low starch alternative to normal rice. It also provides more nutrients. I'm happy to eat normal rice when I feel like it, but I'm just as happy with this spiced cauli-rice. And who's going to complain about getting some more vegetables into their diet?

As a side note, I'm careful not to go too low carb with my eating. I make sure I get enough starchy carbs from vegetables like sweet potato, peas, carrots and butternut squash (particularly when I'm exercising a lot). I don't mind a bit of quinoa or oats on occasion either.

In the recipe below, I've given approximate measurements for the spices and salt. The amount will depend on the size of your cauliflower (some are small, others are enormous). I would recommend starting with the lower measurement and then tasting and adjusting accordingly.

Turning the cauliflower florets into 'rice'.


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil
  • �-1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • �-1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp fine Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt
  • Fresh parsley or coriander to serve


1. Wash cauliflower and break it into florets. Throw the florets into a food processor and whiz until it resembles rice. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. If you have one of those killer fancy food processors, you can probably get away with leaving the florets pretty large. I only have a little stab mixer, so I chop the florets into slices before whizzing and do it in a few batches (see photo above).

2. Heat the coconut oil in a large frypan over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the spices and stir into the oil. Tip the cauliflower into the pan and move it around in the oil and spices until evenly coated. Season with the salt and stir again. I then leave it for about a minute, then come back and stir again, repeating this until the cauliflower has softened and lightly browned. Taste for seasoning (being careful not to burn your mouth) and add more salt or spices if needed.

3. Tip the cauliflower into a bowl and top with fresh herbs, such as parsley or coriander, to serve. It would also be nice with some chopped, toasted almonds stirred through for crunch. I store it covered in the fridge for a couple of days to add to my meals.

Avocado Chicken Salad

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 avocado - diced
  • 2-3 spring onions finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp basil - chopped 
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Grill chicken breasts until cooked through.
  2. Remove, allow to cool and chop up/slice.
  3. Mix together with avocado, spring onion, basil, lime and salt/pepper.

Grilled Cajun Salmon with Avocado and Tomato Salsa

  • 2 large salmon darnes , skin on (1/2 lb or 220g)
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Avocado Tomato Salsa
  • � medium ripe avocado
  • 4-5 baby plum tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander finely chopped
  • 1 small spring onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • Pinch of chili flakes or fresh finely chopped chili (optional)
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

    1. Rub olive oil over the flesh of the fish, rub with spices and set aside for an hour in the fridge or overnight
    2. Preheat grill.
    3. Cook fish skin side up for 3 minutes, flip and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the fish easily flakes.
    4. Mix together all salsa ingredients.
    5. Serve Salsa with Salmon and additional green vegetables.