I ditched being gluten free to save my social life

Eggs on GF toast

Homemade eggs Florentine on gluten-free toast, courtesy of my lovely man.

“I don’t think I need to be gluten free anymore.”

I announced this to my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago through mouthfuls of avocado smothered gluten-free toast.

Three months prior, my fabulous dietitian Marieke Rodenstein had recommended that I ditch gluten to see if it would help heal the gut issues I had been experiencing. The list of reasons Marieke gave for this suggestion were long and hard to refute (and I was sick of feeling sluggish, bloated and generally not great) so I happily accepted the idea and after leaving her clinic, headed straight to my local organic grocer to stock up on all things gluten free.

After about a week of my new diet I found that my symptoms were starting to lessen and I was feeling much more energetic. I was still getting bouts of nausea and bloating but over the following weeks, these symptoms also started to fade.

For the next couple of months, I continued to adhere to a gluten-free diet and reaped the benefits. I had more energy than I’ve had in years (albeit, my iron levels were also on the way up, which would absolutely have contributed to this) and I no longer had to struggle to button up my jeans over my bloated tummy. In short, I felt great!

So, why did I decide I no longer needed to live out my days sans gluten? At the time, I told myself it was because I was about to embark on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program and that I wanted to only eliminate one thing from my diet at a time to really determine the cause of my issues. Sounds reasonable, right? That’s what I convinced myself, too.

It actually wasn’t until a couple of days ago (yep, you can call me Laura “Ye Ol’ Slow On The Uptake” Miller) that I sat in discomfort (and not just from the Mexican wheat-flour burrito I had just devoured) with the realisation that I had been lying to myself. I didn’t revert to eating gluten because of any misguided nutritional belief that if I gave up both gluten and sugar I would never know what was causing me grief. No, I started scoffing the stuff again because I was scared of having yet another food label slapped across my name.

Social functions were already fraught with uncomfortable moments of not realising that the delicious-looking arancini ball actually contained mince meat until it was already in my mouth. Now, they’d be even more stressful as I faced the choice of either accidentally chowing down on something with gluten in it, or dealing with the embarrassing prospect of being handed a Glad wrapped plate of special-needs dried out food, while everyone else swanned around with canapes.

When eating out, not only would I have to scour the menu for that elusive little fella called ‘v’, I’d also have to hunt out his even more rare cousin ‘gf’. My friends would groan as I’d say to the poor waitress, “Yes, I know porridge is made of oats but are they gluten-free oats or just oat oats? I can see that the bacon dish is gluten free but I don’t eat meat.”

Not only would I be Laura: that vegetarian woman, I’d now be Laura: that vegetarian, gluten-free, pain-in-bum, can’t-take-her-anywhere woman. Me, dramatic? Surely not.

Nope, it wasn’t happening. Not on my watch. It turns out my desire not to be a social outcast was far stronger than any urge to rid myself of the physical discomfort I was experiencing – at least it was, until last week.

Last week, when I finally found the courage to dig a bit further into the real reason behind my decision, I was shocked (and if I’m being really honest, I was disappointed) at myself. Here I was, studying to be a naturopath, passionately espousing the importance of listening to your body and finding out which foods make it sing, and I was doing the opposite. The exact opposite.

Isn’t it funny how these contradictions creep into our lives without us noticing! I am endeavouring to be more aware of when this happens so that my reality more closely matches my ideal life. In psychological terms, this is called congruence and achieving it is an important part of being a natural therapist. It’s also kind of critical to living a happy life. Sticking to gluten-free fare for now is the right choice. I feel it within every cell of my body.

So, I’m back on the gluten-free bus. I’m still giving up sugar (more on that soon) but I’ll resume my gluten-free ways and then reassess once the I Quit Sugar program is finished. I’ll take an honest look at how I feel and decide then whether I truly can go back to eating gluten or not.

And this time, the decision will be based on love for myself, not fear.

Laura xx

I’m taking a break from blogging

I need some more time to be still.

I need to get back some space.

I don’t know whether it is the fact I’ve just started a new job, that my study has ramped up, that I’m about to move house or if my mind is just winding down after a busy year but every part of my being is shouting that I need to pull back my commitments a bit. This means taking a break from blogging.

At this stage, I don’t know how long this break will last. It could be one week or one year. All I know is that I need to stop pushing myself to meet the expectations that I imagine (because that’s all that is going on here: I’m imagining things) other people have of me. It has taken me a few days to even build up the courage to write this because I was worried that I’d be judged but I have finally realised that the only one judging me is me. So, it’s time to stop. Judging, that is.

I write about (and wholly believe in) living your truth, and putting your health and wellbeing at the top of your list of priorities. Lately I feel like I have been burning the candle at both ends just to keep up with everything I think I should be doing. I can’t keep the pace and that’s OK.

I want to really get stuck into my studies so that I can learn how to be the best naturopath going ’round and, to do that, I need to create some bigger pockets of space in my life and in my to-do list. I need to live my words and spread the truth that’s it alright to say, “I need a break”.

I need a break.

Thank you, dear readers, for your support and understanding. I’ll be back!


Manifesting: important life skill or total woo woo?

Look for the magic in life.

Look for the magic in life.

Note: Sorry for the late-in-the-day post!  A 5:30am wakeup call to get on an early flight to Sydney for a business trip isn’t conducive to inspired writing. I want to always give you my best and to do that, I need to be awake. So, from my hotel room in Surry Hills, here goes…

There’s this game that I play whenever I’m about to enter a busy car park. I take a deep breath and press pause on the running dialogue of thoughts, then I visualise a free car park right out the front of where I need to go. If I really let myself sink into the moment and trust in the system, it works. Every time. The times that I think, ‘Ugh, how stupid. As if this will result in there being a free car park!’ I end up spending 20 minutes driving around, trying to find a spot. Coincidence? Sure, it could be, but this technique has worked enough times for me to suspect that something more is going on.

I was first introduced to the idea that thoughts become things (i.e. you create your world in mind) in my teens but I was too caught up in partying and hanging out with my friends to really take the key message in. A few years later, I was chatting with my beauty therapist about how I felt like my life had completely derailed itself and was heading to disaster, and she asked if I knew of The Law of Attraction. If you haven’t heard of it, The Law of Attraction is the fleshed-out, predecessor of The Secret. The way that the information is presented is a bit… well, left of centre… but its premise is solid. If your mind is gunked up with negative thoughts, or even if you just aren’t focussing your thoughts well, your life will reflect that.

You see, manifesting isn’t a blind crusade to only think positive thoughts at all costs. That’s not realistic and pretending like reality doesn’t exist isn’t helpful. The key to manifesting is to rewire your brain which, if it’s anything like mine, will leap headfirst into catastrophising (is that a word? Who even knows!) a situation. What this does is to tune your frequency into the bad vibes and stops you from being able to identify the opportunity in a situation, because there is always opportunity for good in a situation.

For me, manifesting works best when I pre-pave my path; that is, before I enter a situation, be it an important call, a meeting, or driving through peak-hour traffic, I take 30 seconds to visualise how I want the scenario to play out. I’ll just take a couple of deep breaths to clear my mind, then run a mini movie in my mind where the scenario plays out how I want it to. If nothing else, this super speedy exercise puts me into the right frame of mind, and when I’m feeling (and thinking) positive, I respond better to challenges, which results in a better outcome: the desired result is manifested. This is manifesting 101. It really doesn’t have to be all hippy dippy; it’s just about putting the right foundation down to help me to see the good things in life (and there are lots of them).

That’s the thing about manifesting: even if its critics are right and it doesn’t actually work, it makes me feel so very supported as I navigate my way through this crazy ol’ baby called life that I actually don’t think it really matters one way or the other.

If it makes you feel good then go for it! Life is way, way, way too short to be missing out on the juicy stuff because logic tells you it can’t be real.

Go get juicy.


What the heck even is yerba mate tea?

Yerba Mate, pronounced mah-tay.

Iced Yerba Mate tea, from Peace Café in Honolulu.

Up until approximately one week ago, I was merrily going about my life with the firm understanding that there was a magical drink in existence that had the very Australian name Yerba Mate. I really liked the idea of drinking a tea that has ‘mate’ in its name so I was slightly (read: very) put out to realise it is actually pronounced mah-tay. Luckily for it, and me, its incredible health benefits exist regardless of what it’s called.
So, what’s the deal? It is traditionally a South American beverage that is made from the ground stems and leaves of the yerba mate plant. It is a safe nervous system stimulant (it contains about the same amount of caffeine as black tea) and it is jammed full of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
I first heard about yerba mate while I was in Bali on a health retreat. My fellow health retreaters were raving about the tea’s benefits, with the common theme being that it increased mental clarity and focus without the jitters and headaches that can come with drinking coffee. Upon arriving home, I promptly forgot about the conversations and the very existence of this magical tea. It wasn’t until I saw it on a menu in Hawaii that I finally gave it a go.
Yerba mate has a fairly neutral flavour and can be drunk hot or iced, flavoured or plain (such a versatile little fella, that tea). Within a few minutes of consuming it, I started to feel more energised and mentally clear. The energy lasted for hours and I didn’t get the shakes, which I quite often do when I have had a coffee.
Some of the other benefits include its ability to help digestive issues. It does this by stimulating increased production of gastric acids. Because it helps reduce the bacteria that is present in the stomach, it freshens your breath. The tea also helps you to feel full by slowing down your digestion, which means you eat less and lose weight (if that’s something you’re wanting to focus on but I think you look great, just sayin’). The final main benefit it offers is that it supports your cardiovascular health by helping fat and cholesterol move through the bloodstream, rather than it sticking to your artery’s walls.
Yerba mate is starting to become available at cafes and restaurants that have a healthy offering and you can also pick it up from any good health shop.
If you’re looking for a replacement to your regular caffeinated heart starter then yerba mate might just be the new mate (ha!) you’ve been waiting for.

1000 Blessings cafe. A short review.

Quiche with beetroot and rocket salad, and a green juice.

Quiche with beetroot and rocket salad, and a green juice.

If you’re looking for a breakfast or lunch spot that supports local suppliers, and offers a huge range of organic and vegetarian options, then 1000 Blessings is your place. This little gem is tucked away in a residential street of Richmond, between Victoria Street and Bridge Road. It has all the charm of a little cafe in a small country town but with an innovative menu that comes with being located in a big city.

The cafe is welcoming and, despite being quite spacious, gives the the impression of being intimate and cosy. If the weather is fine though, get there early to snag one of the coveted outdoor seats, which leads me to another benefit of the cafe’s location: you can sit outside without having to compete to have a conversation over the roar of cars driving past.

I went there with my mates, Elsa and Warren, for lunch on Saturday and, while it was busy, we were able to get a table straight away. The first thing we did was order a green juice each to start. Warren and I got the kale- and pear-based juice and Elsa got the celery- and green-apple-based juice. We all agreed the juice was fantastic and it was served in generous glasses. I’m a big fan of green juice so anywhere that can make a good one has my vote.

As for food, I ordered the quiche, which was delicate and crisp on the outside. I also got a side salad of beetroot, feta and rocket, which complemented the quiche well. Everything I ate was delicious and I believe a big part of that is due to the ingredients being mostly organic. There is just no substitute for organic produce. Its taste and quality is far superior to conventional produce. And the price of the meals at 1000 Blessings is comparable with that which you would pay at any other cafe. Win, win.

I will definitely be back.


Shoku Iku cafe. A review.

Not just your regular garden-variety salad.

Not just your regular garden-variety salad.

Despite being located in the bustling hub of Northcote’s High Street, Shoku Iku, Melbourne’s newest vegan eatery, somehow manages to remain unobtrusive. The only signage is small and white, and it is painted on the cafe’s front window. Shoku Iku’s reputation obviously precedes itself  though because there was a constant stream of people coming and going from the cafe the whole time my mate and I were there.

Shoku Iku offers a calm and inviting space to enjoy their organic, raw, whole menu options. They pride themselves on being sustainable and the cafe reflects this. All of the timber used in the cafe is recycled, which, according to Shoku Iku’s website, is from the Forest Stewardship Council, and they use biodegradable packaging where possible. I’ve been reading a lot about sustainability recently (mainly through the love-food, hate-waste campaign) so I was happy to find out Shoku Iku recognises the importance of reducing our footprint on the world.

I also liked their simple approach to the menu. It isn’t cluttered with space fillers; rather, it focusses on a list of superfood smoothies and hot drinks that are designed to give your health (and your tastebuds) a really good hit. In terms of food, they offer one lunch option per day, which consists of three explode-in-your-mouth-good salads. You can order the salad plate in a small or large size ($10 and $15 respectively), which is an absolute bargain in my eyes. They also offer a small brunch menu and serve dinner on Saturday nights.

We were there for lunch and were served up creamy carrot and celery salad, spicy rainbow salad and leafy salad with nut mince. We also ordered their $26 (yes, $26) Ultimate smoothie (to share), which can be most easily described as longevity in a glass. It is packed full of 15 superfoods, and a blend of medicinal mushrooms, and somehow manages to taste bitter, salty and sweet all at once. It’s incredible! Well worth the money if you’re looking for a wellness boost. Within half an hour of finishing it, we both noticed an increase in our energy levels. You can almost feel it getting into your cells and making you healthier.

Amazing raw dessert.

Amazing raw dessert.

As soon as we saw the dessert case, we knew we were going to need to save some stomach room. We ended up going for the pecan, caramel and date tart, and the beetroot and vanilla cake. Both were heavenly. My mouth is watering just looking at that photo!

If you like your food vibrant, healthy and full of life, then Shoku Iku is the place for you. I’ll definitely be back.


The cleanse (days two and three)

My bounty of fruit and veggies for juicing.

My bounty of fruit and veggies for juicing.

I finished my cleanse! It was actually a lot easier than I was expecting it to be. I had a lunch meeting on Monday with my new team mates (I got a promotion, woo!) and I was a bit concerned about what I was going to eat. I need not have worried though – the café had a beautiful sweet corn and basil soup. It was to die for!

The biggest challenge I faced was caffeine withdrawals. I had conveniently convinced myself that I wasn’t addicted! How wrong was I? So wrong.

I woke up on Monday with a thumping headache that wouldn’t dissipate, regardless of how much water I drank. It took all of my strength not to head to the coffee machine at 10am. I fought my impulses though the day (and through Tuesday) without caving in. By midday Tuesday, my headache had all but disappeared and the fuzziness I had been experiencing was gone too.

I was also wondering how I’d go drinking so much juice but this turned out to be the part I enjoyed the most about the cleanse. I started each day with about 700ml of juice and it gave me a lot of energy for the day. My juices were mostly based around greens, like celery, cucumber, kale, silver beet, and herbs. Juicing is a fantastic way to give your cells a nutrient soak because it is quickly absorbed into your system. This does, however, mean that you need to be careful about how much fruit you put in to ensure you don’t OD on sugar! While it’s natural sugar, too much sugar in any form is toxic and acid-forming (and acid = illness). Adding lemon to your juice is a good way to help alkalise it. If you are looking for a bit of sweetness, try adding some carrot or a bit of orange or green apple. Just make sure the majority of the juice is veggies and you will be fine.

I had soup again for dinner on Monday night and again for lunch on Tuesday. If I ever decided to do a longer cleanse, I think I would need to do a bit of research into what alternatives there are to soup. Don’t get me wrong, I love soup but there’s only so much one girl can consume. Tuesday night I had roast carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin, plus mushies and asparagus for dinner. I had just been for a run and was pretty hungry, so I also whizzed up a cacao, banana and hemp seed smoothie for dessert.

Would I do a cleanse again? Definitely! It was great to be able to give my body a bit of a break and to also top up my vitamin and mineral stores. I would recommend doing a cleanse if you are feeling a bit sluggish, always tired or just feel that your digestive system is having a bit of a hard time processing the food you eat. The only equipment you will need to do a cleanse is a blender and a juicer. I like the cold press slow-extraction juicers because they keep more of the nutrients intact.

If you decide to do a cleanse, I’d love to hear how you go!


The cleanse (day one)

Supergreens shots

Supergreens shots, from The Whole Pantry app.

The first valuable lesson I have learned from doing a cleanse is that starting it the day after a night out and one too many beers is probably not the ideal scenario. Nevertheless, this was the situation I put myself in and I was determined to still commence the cleanse as planned.

Upon re-reading my post last week where I announced I’d be doing a three-day cleanse, I realised that I had focussed entirely too much on the juice component, which may or may not have been the direct result of my excitement over finally getting a juicer. While juice is certainly a key feature of cleansing, I want to clarify that I am also consuming other food. I have simply stripped out anything that is processed so that my body can have a bit of a break.

Chia pudding: one of the non-juice components of the cleanse.

Chia pudding, with strawberries, cashews and cacao nibs: one of the non-juice components of the cleanse.

So, what did day one look like? The first thing I had was a throw-it-all-in juice that consisted of carrot, celery, silver beet, parsley, mint, orange and ginger. Starting the day with a freshly squeezed vegetable juice is a great way to alkalise your system and set your digestive tract up for the day. Consuming juice on an empty stomach also means that more of the nutrients get absorbed. You are practically soaking your cells with vitamins and minerals!

I then went and stocked up on all of the fruit and veggies I will need for the cleanse. While I was out, I decided that I wanted a blueberry and hemp seed smoothie for lunch. It was so tasty! I made enough so that I could have it for breakfast this morning too. Forward planning is the key to getting through a cleanse without starving yourself. The last thing you want is to be stuck out somewhere with no healthy options because you forgot to pack some food.

One for now and one for later.

One for now and one for later.

While I was preparing dinner, I sipped on a beetroot, carrot, green apple, celery and parsley juice to give my cells another vitamin soak. Dinner was veggie soup, consisting of leek, carrot, celery, zucchini, garlic and sweet potato. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a textbook example of someone is Vata dominant. This means I need to make sure I am including grounding foods in my diet, such as root vegetables. It also means I don’t do well on all-raw, all-cold-food diets. I need the warmth of cooked food to keep me energised and stop me from being so flighty. Soup is an easy way for me to ensure I’m balanced.

I am back and work today and have brought all of my juices and smoothies with me. The only challenge I see is that I love my morning coffee. I have it black to avoid the nasty effects of soy or cow milk but it still isn’t the best thing for my body and it definitely isn’t included on the list of cleanse-appropriate foods. I know my body will thank me for giving it a break from coffee.

Oh, I forgot to explain what the green shots are at the top of the post. They are intense nutrient bombs of juiced broccoli, parsley, mint, kale and lemon. These little guys are great additions to a cleanse (or to your regular diet) – your immune system will pay you back in spades for consuming them. Surprisingly, they’re actually quite nice to drink too. Give them a go if you feel like you need a vitamin boost.

Happy cleansing!


Why I drink clay

A glass of clay a day keeps the heavy-metal and radiation away.

A glass of clay a day keeps the heavy-metal and radiation away.

Yep, you read that right. About three months ago, I started drinking clay. Now, before you worry that I have developed a severe case of pica (a disease that is characterised by the desire to eat dirt), let me explain a couple of things: this isn’t just any old slimey garden-variety clay that you would find at a building site. It’s food-grade Bentonite clay and it is totally safe for consumption. The one pictured in this post is from Australian Healing Clay. It’s reasonably priced and is an Australian company, which means it gets extra points.

You’re probably wondering why on Earth I’m suggesting that drinking clay is a good idea. Clay is an excellent heavy-metal detoxifier. If you have ever been on an aeroplane, have metal fillings, put fuel in your car, had your hair dyed or, you know, just generally been alive for any period of time, chances are you have some level of heavy-metal build-up in your body. It also strips out other toxins, like fluoride (from our water supply), pesticides and fungicides, and chemicals like food dyes.

How does it work? The simplest way to think about it is that clay particles are negatively charged, whereas the toxins I outlined above (along with pretty much everything that is bad for your body) are positively charged. As the clay moves through your digestive system, the positively charged toxic particles stick to the clay. The toxins are then carried out of your body via a bowel movement. (And I was so sure I was going to get through this post without mentioning poo! Sorry guys.)

Clay has a surprisingly mild taste. It barely has any flavour at all, so if you are imagining digging into a gross-tasting glass of dirt, you can put your worries aside! I can actually barely even taste in.

The best time to drink clay is first thing in the morning (I drink it before my oil-pulling session), so that it can move through your system more easily. To take it, just mix one teaspoon of the powdered clay with a glass of filtered water. I use a wooden or plastic spoon to do this because I want to avoid the clay pulling anything from the spoon if I was to use a metal one. I don’t know what the likelihood of this happening is but I would rather not take my chances. Once you have finished the glass of clay, follow it up immediately with a plain glass of water. This will help flush the clay through. Easy.

If you want more information about the benefits of drinking clay, I suggest reading Ran Knishinsk’s The Clay Cure.

Still not convinced? All vegetarian mammals around the world have always eaten clay. It’s really not that weird.


A raw vegan take on the Snickers bar

The finished product.

The finished product. Holy Batman, yum!

Here’s my conundrum: I am a card carrying member of the chocolate fan club but I sure as heck want to avoid the nasty side-affects I get from eating heavily processed, nutrient-deficient versions of chocolate. What to do?

The answer came to me a few months ago when I stumbled across This Rawsome Vegan Life, a blog, run by the beautiful Em, which is dedicated to the amazing world of raw vegan desserts. The first time I visited the blog, I lost hours clicking through (read: drooling over) Em’s creations. My mind was spinning with ideas!

Since then, I have attempted a few raw vegan treats with varying levels of success but yesterday I hit the jackpot. The chocolate jackpot. This Raw Paleo Snickers Bar was super easy to make and tasted phenomenal.

The only equipment needed is a food processor to whizz together all of the ingredients.

The ingredients (minus the Medjool dates, which are sitting just outside of the shot).

The ingredients (minus the Medjool dates, which are sitting just outside of the shot).

The recipe says you can use macadamias for the caramel layer but I chose cashews because I had some available. Macadamias would make the caramel really creamy though so I think I’ll use them next time.

Preparing the filling.

Preparing the caramel and base layers (the caramel is on the left).

Once the three main elements (the caramel and base layers, and the chocolate) were finished, I began assembling it all.

Tip: use a hot knife to cut through the slice.

Tip: use a hot knife to cut through the slice.

I had to stop midway through to conduct some quality control tests.

Quality Control Officer.

Laura: Quality Control Officer.

I think I could have made the portions a bit smaller to make the finished product last longer… Ha! Who am I kidding? It still would have disappeared just as quickly. I would have made up for the smaller sizes by eating twice as many portions. I’m only human after all.

Coated in chocolate and ready to go in the freezer.

Coated in chocolate and ready to go in the freezer.

Once the chocolate layer was on, I popped the bars in the freezer for an hour (#longesthourofmylife) and then they were ready to be eaten. And eat them I did. My gosh.

I’m still coming down from a raw Snickers-induced high.

The best bit? There is one more left for my morning tea tomorrow. Monday just got a whole lot more bearable.