Decent gluten free bread…does it exist?

As I have mentioned, I have cut out gluten from my diet. Occasionally when I’m away from home or out at a restaurant where there is no alternative, I think I’ll be fine and I go and eat a piece of sourdough bread only to find the side affects are still there. I haven’t been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease and I don’t believe I have it, but I do certainly have an intolerance to wheat in breads or pasta etc. Generally I get bloated and my digestion gets put on hold for a few days! Which is a shame because a great piece of bread with proper organic butter is a very simple delight in this very busy world.
A while ago I was driving and on the radio came a woman whose name I forget who explained that our bodies were never meant to eat the amount of gluten that we are now consuming and so our bodies are using the only voice they have saying  ‘no more’ with certain symptoms. Gluten used to be just in things like bread to hold it together, but it has now found its way into yoghurts, dips, most processed food, many sauces and more! Which is why our bodies are shouting out to us with symptoms (look for ingredients in the number 1400’s when it’s often described as a thickener). Since I have a very ‘healthy’ moderated diet I do question why this continues to plague me but I am sure that years of gluten over-consumption takes time to heal and I am not perfect!.
Which is why I am so excited about Matisse’s Bakery Gluten Free Sourdough. Amazing.
I discovered this one day at the South Melbourne market in the organic shop while looking for a ‘nice’ GF bread that didn’t fall to pieces the second you tried to actually do something with it. I haven’t looked back…!
Matisse’s sourdough has no additives, preservatives and they make fresh mixes everyday! It also has a great texture which stays together, and when you toast it the butter melts into the bread and holds it. Their fruit loaf is brilliant too, yummy with not too much fruit.
The only downside is that it is about $9 a loaf, but even if you just have it occasionally it it will be worth the treat!
I have spoken to them to see if they have distributors around Australia and there are none yet but you can call and order on the phone and they will pack and send it to you fresh! How good is that? Hope you get some gf bread joy!
Matisse Sourdough: 03 9532 6182

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Coffee

I used to be a big coffee lover. The smell, the caffeine hit and the ritual were all what led me to become obsessed with coffee. My parents are big coffee drinkers, my Dad has had a proper expresso machine for over 30 years before they were mainstream and at about 13 or 14 I started to have a little cappuccino with my parents occasionally on weekends. As I got older, a few girlfriends and I thought it was ‘cool’ to get a takeaway coffee on the way to school, and when I started my first full time job it became another daily ritual where I would get to my desk, check my emails and then I would go out to get a coffee so I could get my head in a ‘proper frame of mind to start the day’. Then, in my mid-twenties I met my now husband who was as in love with coffee as I was. And all of a sudden instead of it being a once a day mid-morning snack/ pick-me-up addiction, I started having it first in the morning too! This lovely man used to bring me a coffee in bed…wow he is definitely a keeper! His coffees were also really good. The crema was incredible and he had a coffee machine that would rival many baristas in Melbourne’s lane-way cafes. I was hooked. (on coffee and on him!). So then I would get on with my day like any other, have another coffee mid-morning and sometimes I’d have one in the afternoon if I hit a 3pm slump. Occasionally I would have an Affogato at home with him at night after dinner (A shot of espresso over a scoop of beautiful vanilla ice-cream). So, as you can read my coffee consumption was occasionally at 4 coffees a day. And I knew this was madness! I tried to cut back to only 2 a day, and I did a good job most of the time. But as soon as I was a bit tired or had a few big days it was all that would help me get through. Clearly a system not working to its full potential!

I then went and saw Dr Libby (drlibby.co.nz) in Auckland after hearing about a few people who were doing a 4-week detox (which varied person to person based on your personal health concerns). Libby must have so many clients like me, as when she told me that I needed to cut out coffee for a month, I nearly cried. I said that I would try but that it would be extremely challenging and compromised with her saying “how about I cut back to just one per day?”. As I look back and remember, I am embarrassed to even write this! It was just coffee!
So, I did the 4 week detox, firstly starting my day with lemon in hot water, and I cut back to only one coffee daily which I would have about mid-morning, then over the course of the month I cut back to just a couple a week.  I also eliminated dairy and had my coffee with either soy or almond milk. My coffee experience wasn’t quite the same, but got me over my headache at 10am and I got through the 4 week mark. I was having teas as well as they have a lower amount of caffeine, and suffice to say my husband was not that happy with me as he had lost his coffee partner! But then when the detox was over, life was busy again and the increasing coffee consumption slowly crept back into my life… “it’s Saturday and this barista is so good” I’d tell myself (I live in Melbourne after all!) and gradually I was back having coffee most days. I told myself -ignorantly- that it was better to have a skim-milk coffee than it was to have any food at that time and that the coffee would help get me through to lunch. How wrong I was!!!
Anyway, that was about 3 years ago and as my health journey continued, this year in February I did a real detox. No alcohol, coffee, dairy, red meat, infrared saunas and I tried my first colonic. I tried to wean my coffee habit in the weeks leading up to the month so I didn’t have to deal with everything at once, replacing my caffeine requirement with organic green tea. But then the strangest thing happened. At the end of the month, when I was ‘allowed’ coffee again…my body was literally my temple and it no longer could digest or cope with coffee. The first coffee I had made me feel dizzy, headachy and it went through me while feeling like I had had about 6 shots of coffee. I thought it may have been the milk so I cut out the dairy and tried soy…same thing only it didn’t go through me but I felt jittery for hours. “So it is the coffee” I declared, and again much disappointment ensured from my husband.
I have pretty much stayed off the coffee since then – it is now November – coming up a total of 10 months and I have never felt better. My diet has been pretty good for a while. I stay away from numbers, I have eliminated most glutens, I don’t eat much sugar and as I have mentioned I have also cut out dairy. But, all this still true and without changing much else in my diet, since the coffee has been cut from my diet I have lost weight around my tummy and changed shape. I have more energy and I am actually less tired and sluggish than when I drank my so-called ‘pick-me-up’.

Then when I attended a Health Seminar in September this year I properly learnt about the many fallacies I assumed to be true and I am going to share a couple of these with you here. (Credit here to Dr Libby in her book “Accidentally Overweight”, you can buy it through Allen & Unwin in Australia if you want to read more):
Caffeine acts on your adrenal glands by stimulating the production of adrenalin. Historically we made adrenaline when our life was threatened. A lion may have chased us,  or a member of another tribe may have come running after us. In that moment your body makes adrenalin to get out of danger and this is what we refer to the ‘fight or flight’ response. There are a number of biochemical changes that go on in your body at this time so that you can actively get yourself out of danger. A few of the bodies responses include; an increase in your blood sugar to provide more energy, your blood pressure and pulse rate rise to provide more oxygen to the muscles and your muscles tense providing readiness for ensuing action. Your pupils dilate to see more in less light, your immune system function is not firing as the bodies perception is that fighting infection is not essential and is unsafe at this point in time, blood is diverted away from digestion and reproductive function to deal with present ‘danger’- and your stress hormones are telling your body that life is in danger and that there is no more food left in the world so it should hold on to existing fat stores. As we know, our genetic makeup is around approximately 150,000 years old and for most of this time our bodies have dealt with pure adrenaline requiring situations such as running away from a tiger. Today these situations are much less frequent. We may get stressed at work, miss a bus for a meeting, have pressure put on us which causes our adrenalin to go up so we can deal with this, and in some instances caffeine can still have a place such in our diets (such as when you are about to go for a big run and so the adrenalin response wouldn’t be an issue as you would burn off the insulin). But most of us drink a coffee while we are sitting at our desks or out at a cafe reading the paper. Whether your adrenalin production is the result of real or perceived stress or simply the result of your caffeine intake this can lead to fat storage. The adrenalin surge will make you hold on to existing fat stores because of elevated blood sugar and subsequent insulin production. More simply, because the body perceives you are in ‘danger’ and that you need to store fat in case you have to deal with ‘famine’ you could possibly put on weight from drinking coffee. And I know it sounds mad but I am living proof. (Do read Libby’s book for a better explanation, this really is just a skim view).
I have also done a lot of reading about the acid-alkaline balance of the body and why it is important to our overall health. Simply put, coffee is acidic and the body can only burn fat when it is in an alkaline state. Cancer can also not grow in a body that is alkaline- but more on this later.

However, this morning I clearly didn’t remember my earlier lessons. I felt exhausted, sluggish and tired even after a dynamic pilates workout and a shower. Today is 33 degrees and there is a strong northerly wind, I’ve had a couple of late nights this week and I often find my mood is worse on days like today. Anyway, I’m also smart enough to know that a coffee every now and then isn’t the ‘end of the world’ and the machine was looking at me and so I made myself one with coconut milk. As you know I don’t eat dairy and I have just read Sarah Wilson’s eBook “I quit Sugar” http://www.sarahwilson.com.au so I have been supplementing coconut milk into my diet (also more on this later) in many ways.
But what a mistake that coffee was. 3 hours later I am still feeling jittery. The taste was delicious, but the adrenalin hit in my body is still going around and around. I have been to the toilet 3 times – clearly my digestion is not equipped to deal with this anymore! I have been doing some deep diaphragmatic breathing to try to help calm my stress hormones but it makes me wonder what kind of toxic state my body was in 3 years ago when I was having up to 4 coffees a day?!
What’s your coffee story? Does the information I told you scare you or make a whole lot of sense?


Running makes me happy!

Throwing on your runners and your iPod is one of the easiest and quickest ways to take off for some exercise. You only need 30minutes to have a great workout and for many of us, some days that is all the time we can afford in our busy lifestyles!
A few years ago I was living in Auckland in New Zealand and the winters were brutal. The only way I could talk myself into keeping fit was to book myself into a half marathon at the end of Winter and to make myself have something to start training for.
Looking back, it’s hard to remember not absolutely loving it. It may have been borne out of the forced nature of it from my school days, it may have been because I’d just never given it a proper go, but whatever it was then, I’m glad I’ve seen the other side now!
The first 10-15 mins are always hard for me as my body gets into a good rhythm and finds its breathing pattern. But generally once I hit that 20minute mark I begin to feel great and feel like I could keep running for ages. I find running gives me a chance to clear my head, to see things that I may not of otherwise seen when I am in a new city and a great way to get my heart pumping and metabolism going. I also set myself a goal to run the botanical gardens in every new city I visit. They are always beautiful and quite specific to the area I am in.
But then there are some days when I just can’t be bothered. Like those grey and often wet Winter days in Melbourne. When it is cold and blustery and windy running outside just seems crazy. So sometimes I just accept that I not going to go. And that’s ok. My body is not going to get out of condition because I don’t run one day. That’s what I have to remind myself! I normally run about 2 or 3 times a week, combined with my other training that’s a good balance for me.   However, sometimes you do just need to toughen up and get out there, and as Nike is famous for saying “Just do It”- don’t let your head get in the way and talk you out of something you know you will feel great from!
After another wet and cold Winter in Melbourne last year, this year I signed up to Melbourne’s half- marathon. It was just what I needed to (again) pull me out of my cold spell! For most of Winter my training was going really well. I combined it with a mix of pilates, yoga and stretching as well as a few walks and some swims. I knew I wasn’t going to break any records but I also knew I would enjoy the challenge of training for 21kms. Unfortunately I pushed my training up a notch a little too quickly and did some damage to my knee and had to pull out of this years run. And I can tell you I was not too happy about it!
But there’s always next year. Well, that’s what my physio and Chiro told me! Better to recover for all the fun runs over Summer than to persevere through pain and cause more damage. And had to agree. This time I listened to my head.  Are you a runner? Do you love it like me or do you just not enjoy it at all?


Olive Leaf Extract

Is this the best thing since echinacea?
I remember about 15 years ago, my mum was all about the echinacea. When we sneezed once, it’d be “take some echinacea”, it was the super herbal supplement of the 90’s. But now, there is a new force..it’s called Olive Leaf.
At Easter this year I was in New Zealand with friends and after much busy planning, finishing off work projects before we went away and with the international flight, as it so often happens, when I eventually got to my destination and relaxed my body tried to get sick. But I wasn’t armed with any of my normal ‘pills and potions’ and so I went into the local chemist and asked for some echinacea. It was a lucky day for me because I met a lovely sales person who knew all about what I had going on and who told me to buy the olive leaf extract, go home, take it, keep taking it and see how I felt.
I did as I was told and literally within 5 minsutes – I’m not kidding- my throat felt better. I drank water that night, no wine. And I did get an early night. The next morning I took some more ‘minty syrup’ as everyone was calling it and then I took it with every meal that day. And by the next morning it was a case of ‘what sickness?’. I was so much better that I too was hooked.
So, back to Melbourne it came with me. And there it stayed. My husband is notorious for getting sore tonsils EVERY single Winter. For the past 6 years we have been together. It is always the same deal, sore throat, red swollen tonsils, go to doctor, get antibiotics, they work for a week and then it comes back about 4 weeks later. This Winter I got him to try Olive Leaf extract every time he got a sore throat and I am pleased to report he did not need antibiotics once this whole Winter and his sickness from a sore throat was pipped at the post every time by the Olive Leaf extract ! Isn’t that amazing?
I have looked into it to see what is in this super syrup and this is what I have found: Oleuropein is the most important constituent in olive leaves and this has been ‘scientifically tested’ and shown to be effective against a number of diseases causing microbes including the viruses that cause influenza. Secondly, this can ‘interfere with the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate themselves and cause infection’. I’ve always preferred a more natural way to treat infection and now I’m convinced, give it a try and let me know what you think!