I (have) Quit Sugar

Nearly 4 years ago, a friend told me about a new “diet” called “I Quit Sugar”. Pft, I thought, as if I could live without packets of sweets, jersey caramels & cake, especially with 2 young children draining my energy & working 3 days a week. But hey, I gave it a go & have never looked back. Granted my mouth may still water when I look at something, but then I remember I won’t enjoy it & I’ll feel crap afterwards. I happily say no to cake now & genuinely don’t feel I’m missing anything.

I’ve been an Ambassador for the program over a year now & it is still a thrill to see how much people’s lives are changed by the IQS 8WP.

I can genuinely tell you I LOVE the meals on the program. If you asked me to pick a favourite, I’d be hard pressed to choose between the Pad Thai, peanut butter & strawberry on toast, avo/feta/pea smash, turmeric haloumi bowl, zucchini & haloumi fritters, sweet potato/quinoa/kale/ginger. You get the idea.

The more you eat real foods & cook your own meals, the more confident you become in swapping ingredients & experimenting with tastes then you can either continue to use the recipes; or refine them based on your personal taste. I tend to substitute out all gluten & replace where required with gluten-free bread; zoodles in place of pasta.

I am thrilled to be able to give YOU $10 off if you sign up for the program, just click here

NOTE: I have never endorsed a product I don’t genuinely believe in. Having done over half a dozen of the IQS 8 Week Programs, trying the recipes, enjoying the meals & communicating with other people doing the program, I feel passionate about what a great way of life it is.



Ferinject | iron infusion

First of all, a huge thumbs up to the lovely team at Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Randwick, Sydney who were on morning shift on Thursday 25 August 2016. What a friendly, lovely team of ladies! I think it was Natalia, Justine & Christina (from Glasgow). I get this thing which is kind of the opposite of “white coat syndrome” where I go into a deep relaxation in hospital bc I feel that I’m surrounded by professionals who can help with almost any issue I may have. So in a way, I zone out. 

I was in hospital today to have an iron infusion (Ferinject) as my levels are so low  – measurement 12, at almost 29 weeks pregnant. This is new since having my last two sons – when I had to gag down revolting iron medicine daily.

They have to monitor baby for half an hour before giving the infusion – of course my baby refused to stay still & then got hiccups. They had to put a third monitor on to try to get an accurate heart rate from the little wriggler. So my monitoring period took longer than normal. After that it was smooth sailing – infusion, followed by saline, followed by more baby monitoring then I was out of there. 

As a side note, the elastic like belts that were used today were given to me & the Midwife asked that to minimise wastage that I bring them back when I have baby. Love to see a bit of sustainability! 

Although I haven’t had the chance to experience the outcome yet, I’m really hopeful I’ll feel more energetic as I have been exhausted. I also think I’ve been inadvertently eating more than I need to as my body seeks iron rich food. Perhaps it is just having an active 5 & 6 year old, along with working 4 days a week & managing a renovation. Life is full, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

I hope you’re having a great week 

The Dirty Dozen

I recently had a discussion with my Mum about organic & she was frustrated due to the perception that “organic = healthier” when there are plenty of organic products filled with sugar, or sugar substitutes crying the claim “sugar free”. This particularly annoys me when it is a product marketed to children & many parents feel they are making a healthier decision by purchasing this product.

I do believe we should be mindful of the so called “dirty dozen”, the fruits & vegetables which retain the most pesticides & chemicals, so ideally are purchased as organic:
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Capsicum
4. Peaches & nectarines
5. Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
6. Grapes
7. Spinach
8. Lettuce
9. Cucumbers10. Potatoes

The clean 15 doesn’t mean you always buy conventional, but if you’re always going organic on the Dirty Dozen, you can save some money buying conventional on these:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. sweet peas
  7. asparagus
  8. mangoes
  9. eggplant
  10. kiwi
  11. rockmelon
  12. sweet potato
  13. grapefruit
  14. watermelon
  15. mushrooms

Vegan vs plant based 

Let me start by saying I have not eaten meat in almost 19 years (over half my life). I eat seafood 3-6 times a month. A year ago I cut out dairy on the advice of a Naturopath & introduced organic eggs (after never really enjoying eggs previously). I am 85-90% vegan.

I feed my children organic beef, lamb, chicken & sustainable fish. I occasionally buy nitrate-free ham for them. Quality is extremely important to me & I am always willing to pay more for this. They have some non-organic meat (such as when we go to sushi or they get a bacon & egg roll at the Farmer’s Market). They also consume dairy – I ONLY give them organic milk & organic butter. As a side story, I bought my sons a different organic milk a few weeks ago & they refused it, saying they would only drink “the one with the green lid”. If they said they no longer wanted to eat meat, or consume dairy, I would support them but get the advice from a health professional as to what substitutions they may require.

Everyone could benefit from eating less meat.

I am stereotyping here but I don’t believe the extreme approach of some vegans is beneficial & actually encourages people away from a more vegan/vegetarian/plant-based diet. In fact, some omnivores just end up picking fights because of the inability of some vegans to see any different. Ironically a lot of the vegans I follow on Instagram, grew up eating meat & animal products; yet cannot see beyond being a strict vegan, despite having previously led this lifestyle. Let’s assist omnivores by showing them what amazing vegan combinations can work so well to create a delicious salad / curry / roast / soup. Invite your omnivore friends over & present them with a vegan meal & see if they think something is missing. Ask them to consciously write a food diary to see how many times they consume meat a week. Or like a brilliant lecture I watched in my IIN study, commit to being a vegan for certain time frames-  eg this lecturer committed to being “vegan til 6pm” every day, which he had committed to for over 5 years. That meant a plant-based breakfast & lunch, then when he came home for dinner, he could choose a vegan meal, but also wouldn’t feel guilty for consuming good quality meat.

Let’s work as a team – we know there are environmental benefits to consuming vegetables over meat such as what is needed in terms of water/food/land/antibiotics/cost to make an animal from birth to plate. We also know that many people can thrive on a vegetarian diet (although there aren’t as many lifetime vegans). We need to factor in bio-individuality, & what one person can thrive on, others can’t. There are some beautiful role models like @thebalancedblonde who was vegan, then admitted the lifestyle didn’t work for her & of course polarised opinions (I say you go girl & you have every right to eat what your body thrives on). Also @onehungrymami – who was raw vegan a while, then vegan with the odd egg thrown in (again, good on you for being you & your transparency). There is another babe whose name I’m annoyed I can’t currently recall who is predominately plant based but recently posted an image accompanied with a caption about the smell of the roast/bacon in her house. Instant outrage & vitriol was spewed by the ‘loving’ vegan followers. What about the fact this awesome human supports a vegan diet 95% of the time? Does that really not count for anything? I support vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians & omnivores. Not everyone thrives on a vegan lifestyle. Some people try diets including Paleo, eating for their blood type & Ayurveda, but the only thing that can really teach you what you will thrive on is trial & error. I dine out with friends & family, & am not offended by them eating meat. I am encouraging my Mum to try bone broth to assist in recovery from knee surgery. Ironically, vegans are not always the healthiest of people, with many enjoying a high-fructose diet; & monomeals of particular fruits. There is also debate over how healthy soy products are, with many experts encouraging us to avoid them.

I would like to encourage those who follow an omnivore diet to try at least 14 out of 21 meals per week to be plant-based. Part of why I post the food I enjoy is to show how easy this can be. I am not the type to eat 50 bananas a day, I don’t have a diet high in fructose, I don’t like potatoes or pasta.

So what do I eat?
I eat organic gluten-free bread because it makes me feel better than gluten-based bread (my absolute favourite is Naturis buckwheat bread).
In winter I love to make a buckwheat ‘porridge’ with apple, berries & of course, a big dollop of almond butter.
I eat nuts or nut butters, & seeds – almost every meal I have has sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds sprinkled over the top for a little protein hit.
I enjoy whole fruits – current favourites are strawberries & pink grapefruit (obsessed), as well as the occasional whole apple (usually slathered with peanut butter) & oranges (which were brilliant for morning sickness)
I love vegetables – sweet potato is a staple (we go through about 4 a week), I love lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin, celeriac, tomatoes, avocadoes, cucumber, beetroots, snow peas, eggplant, parsnip. I use tons of herbs & spices to add flavour – ginger, thyme, basil, parsley, mint, coriander, cumin. I can’t tolerate onion or garlic.
I have legumes a couple of times a month – in a chickpea fritter, or a curry.
I use a lot of olive oil (perhaps too much), & love organic mustard & apple cider vinegar, as well as salt, pepper & chilli to season.
I make my own chocolate from cacao butter, cacao, tahini with either stevia or rice malt syrup as a low-fructose sweetener.
I make my own muffins using usually a nut-based ‘flour’, carrots, banana, berries sometimes apples & do add organic eggs to them.
Sushi is a treat which I enjoy & I almost always have some form of seafood – tuna, salmon, prawns; but also happily enjoy avocado & veggie-based sushi. I don’t eat the soy sauce!
I don’t eat soy-based products often, but used to drink soy milk in my coffee from 2008-2015. I don’t eat store bought sweets or cakes but used to LOVE both & indulge regularly in my sweet tooth – like eating a whole pack of sweets on the way home from work.

We are fortunate that there is a growing community of vegan restaurants & nowadays the word ‘vegan’ is not just associated with tie-dye t-shirts, the smell of incense & dreadlocks. Being vegan is cool. It shows you care about your own health; but also the environment. Check out Sadhana Kitchen, Earth to Table, Nalini’s in Bondi Junction or many of the ‘healthy cafes’ like Paleo Cafe, Bondi Wholefoods & Henley’s Wholefoods, have vegan options.

I am not trying to spark debate here, as a predominately plant based person (I don’t want to label myself as vegan as I am not 100% vegan), I agree that steering towards plant-based is the way of the future. Let’s build people up, educate & help them be more imaginative about eating more vegan meals, not tear them down for doing things that many vegans used to do themselves….

I welcome your feedback.
Peas, love & healthiness xxx Alice

How do you vegan?

Often I watch a lecture in my IIN study & afterwards, wish I could sit down everyone I know in front of it. Tonight was one of those moments, watching a passionate Mark Bittman sing about policies very close to my heart:

He commenced a form of veganism 6 years ago. Before you non-vegans start rolling your eyes, just read on a little further. Mark is entirely plant based (fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds) from when he wakes until 6pm, every day. From 6pm, he gives himself carte blanche – whether that is a steak, cocktail, wine or a cheeky dessert.

Here are some of his beliefs:
1. Make it hard to sell junk food to children
2. Make it illegal to sell ‘soda’ to children
3. Stop dispensing junk, including soda, in schools
4. Subsidise production & sales of real foods, including fruit, vegetables, nuts & seeds.
5. Lead by example – encourage your friend
6. De-incentivize companies whose products have been shown to make people ill.

All of us have an opportunity to make a change to the earth, in the form of food consumption. Yours could be:
1. supporting small to medium farmers by purchasing at farmers markets, instead of purchasing processed foods built on mono-crops like corn & soy which are ineffective & have negative benefits on the soil.
2. Decrease global warming by having one less meal containing meat every week (or cut down more if you choose)
3. Decrease the amount of processed junk you eat each week & replace that with a plant-heavy meal.
4. A form of veganism – perhaps it is plant-based foods only Monday to Friday; or daily til 6pm; or you could decide to have lunch only containing meat.
5. Work on the above points regularly. Encourage your friends to do the same. Do you think if all consumers stopped buying GMO products or poor quality meat, it would continue to be produced? Supply & demand my friends. Help me on this journey to making the world a better place for our children, their children & for many more generations to come.

What am I doing?
1. 7 months ago I ditched dairy & despite having a bit of cheese on holidays in Scotland over Christmas, I am back to being dairy-free.
2. I read labels on everything I buy & make conscious choices to buy organic where possible.
3. I shop at Farmers Markets every weekend, & have done so for nearly 5 years.
4. I haven’t eaten meat in nearly 18 years
5. I give my children meat, which is 90% of the time organic & grass-fed. I also explain to them where the meat comes from, as I feel education is part of the issue that needs to be discussed.

I’ve attached images of vegan meals & foods I enjoy to show you that veganism is far from boring or unsatisfying. If you would like tips on replacing meals with vegan options, come say hi over on Facebook at 6cleaningredients & I would love to help you out x



Changing (eating) habits

I just read a great article by Leanne Cooper which reminded me how simple it can be to tackle our eating habits, one at a time, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
1. focus on one habit such as late night snacking, & once you have established a new habit of not doing this, move onto the next thing.
2. Changing the eating environment: having meals prepared in advance to stop you eating rubbish such as when you arrive home (I am guilty of rummaging through the pantry, stuffing in a handful of nuts, eating a piece of toast, picking at the kids leftovers when I get home from work, then not wanting to eat a full  ).
3. The golden rule (which I am yet to abide by, but maybe 2016 is my year): if you still feel hungry after a meal, wait 20 minutes, then if you’re still hungry, eat something else. This is how long the stomach takes to get the food into the intestinal canal which subsequently sends a message to us saying “Hey, I don’t actually need cheese & crackers / an apple / a block of chocolate” (ie satiety).
As a personal opinion, I also feel that eating too early in the morning; or too late at night doesn’t serve my body – so I don’t do it, unless on the odd occasion we are out to dinner & the meal doesn’t arrive until later.
Last, but definitely not least would be my recommendation to stay hydrated – if you feel hungry, choose a lovely herbal tea that my quench your de-hydration, masked as hunger. I am a huge fan of Clipper organic teas, who use unbleached bags. I always have a pack of their white tea, white tea with vanilla, lemon & ginger, & peppermint at home. If you feel like something a little sweeter, Higher Living makes a delicious organic white tea with strawberry. No added nasties & gives you a slight ‘sweet’ hit.

2 months gluten-free & dairy-free

Well a full 2 months has passed since I ditched gluten & dairy from my diet in the hopes of clearing up my skin.

  • My skin is not better but I feel that it has been a really great learning curve in many ways.
  • I have expanded my repertoire in the kitchen & have dined out in cafes/restaurants less than ever.
  • I buy limited products at the supermarket, a fair bit at health food shops & the balance at my local Farmer’s Market.
  • by crowding out gluten & dairy, I’ve been enjoying even more delicious meals – I’ve added in more raw greens (raw broccolini cut in salads is delicious), baby Tuscan kale is delicious, I’ve nearly perfected a gluten-free quiche crust. I’m nearly able to boil the perfect egg. I’ve eaten more avocadoes in the last 2 months than in my whole life combined.
  • I have realised how little alcohol I drink these days – just 4 times in the last 2 months & all on social occasions.

Doing this elimination diet concurrently with studying through IIN has been beneficial in so many ways – it has made me empathise more with what other people go through when dieting/eliminating/avoiding foods. I had never done a diet in my life before this (apart from one time as a teenager when me & my friend Katie decided to do a diet & lasted oh, about 40 minutes, before we decided burritos were a brilliant idea)
I can eat eggs most of the time without gagging (but often still struggle to eat them).
I am still not amazing at eating sustainable seafood every second day. If I had a personal chef & was served a piece of salmon, sardine fillets, oysters, squid, barramundi or prawns, I would be thrilled but it all seems like an effort at the end of a long day at work with tired children in tow. I don’t make it to the seafood shop even though it is only 100 metres from my home.

I’ve been taking zinc & Vitamin D supplements for one month.
I have been getting a little more sunlight on my forearms where possible – get in me Vitamin D!

There have been 3 mornings I have woken up with distinctly better skin:

  1. I was doing a live-in nanny job for a family whose kids I have looked after for 10 years. It was a peaceful night, I didn’t sleep long enough (about 6 hours)
  2. After a night out to dinner with friends. I had spices but no gluten or dairy. I had way too many drinks – which for me means about 3 glasses of wine & 2-3 vodka sodas with fresh lime. I slept at home this night, but it was a child-free night. I woke up feeling HORRENDOUS but with fabulous skin.
  3. a night out for a girl friend’s housewarming last week. I got home at 1am, much later than my normal bedtime, & slept about 7-8 hours. I drank vodka soda with fresh lime. I slept at my parents house.

So in conclusion, I had slept in three different houses, but the common theme was having a RELAXING night out. My conclusion, as an unqualified nobody, is that the ‘rash’ is caused by stress.

So the next issue / question is how to resolve this. I don’t think of myself as a ‘stressed’ person & I am always conscious that there are people out there much worse off than me. I have family. I have 2 beautiful sons who drive me mad daily. I have a (recently repaired) roof over my head. I have a job. I have lovely friends, many of whom I have known for close to 30 years. I am loving my study. I enjoy my morning run/walk to work (most days), despite always being in a rush. I love cooking meals every day. I love playing hockey for my club. So what is making me stressed?

Now can somebody pass me a piece of bread & wheel of cheese?