Angela: No doubt about it, kombucha is a fantastic alternative to sugar loaded fizzy drinks for the whole family. I was gifted a scoby (looks like a slimy giant mushroom) a few months ago to start brewing my own kombucha. I was super excited. I had no idea it would be so easy. I picked up my scoby ready to start and carried it home like a prize cow…
What is Kombucha?
What is Kombucha I hear you say! It’s a fizzy and fermented cold tea historically drunk in China, Russia and Germany. It’s made by feeding a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) sugar and caffeine which produces a fermented tea drink. The drink contains B vitamins and loads of bacteria and yeast which promotes good gut health by balancing gut flora. Our gut flora is so important. 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut, so an important one to nurture. It’s easy to make and tastes awesome, a bit like ginger beer (slightly sweet and vinegary).
Why is it Good for You?
There are no conclusive studies confirming the health benefits of Kombucha. A research conducted in Russia at the beginning of the century and testimonials indicate that Kombucha can:
Improve resistance against cancer
Prevent cardiovascular diseases
Promote digestive functions
Stimulate the immune system
Reduce inflammatory problems
I find it really good for sugar cravings. A glass of the goodness makes them go away.
Things to Note
There have been reports of adverse effects, such as stomach upset, infections and allergic reactions. I think this comes down to home brewed kombucha. If making it at home, be sure they are under sterile conditions. Also always use a glass jar, not ceramic pots as the acid in the tea may leach lead from the ceramic glaze. One study I read noted that if you have immunosuppression you should preferably consume controlled commercial Kombucha.
The 8 Simple Steps to Making Kombucha
These instructions are for a 4 litre jar:
1. Wash your hands (be sure there is no soap left on your hands)
2. Take the scoby out of the jar and place in a bowl, cover with a few cups of the liquid
3. With the rest of the liquid strain into glass jars/bottles, you can leave out of the fridge in airtight containers to become fizzier if you want, I usually leave out for one-to-two days for this reason
4. Sterilise the jar and make sure you rinse all the soap off
5. Place the jar into the sink (just in case it breaks with the boiling hot water), fill up the jar with boiling hot water leave enough room for the scoby and the liquid
6. Add 9 tea bags (normal black tea) and 3/4 cup sugar give it a good stir
7. After about 5- 10 mins take out the bags and once COOL or room temp place the scoby and liquid back in and cover with a breathable cloth
8. Leave for 7 days and repeat
Once brewed, you can add things like lemon and ginger to taste, but I like it as is.
Things to be aware of:
If your scoby becomes mouldy then you should throw it away.
The stringy dark strands are waste from the fermentation process.
If you see globules they are new scobies trying to form.
Kombucha is a great healthy alternative to fizzy drinks, good for your health, cheap and easy to make. If you are struggling to give up fizzy drinks give it ago. You can buy scoby’s on the internet, be gifted one or even cultivate one from a store bought bottle of kombucha.
Guy:In all honesty, I don’t prescribe to any diet. There are simply foods I eat and foods I avoid for long lasting health. The Paleo diet or the ‘clean eating’ framework are great starting points but can be easily misinterpreted. Use the guide below to see if you are falling into any of these traps.
Note: You can download this in pdf format for printing here.
Note: You can download this in pdf format for printing here.
Stu: When asked about my line of work I’m always prepared for the questions that typically follow. Much like the personal trainer who’s routinely interrogated on the magic formula to achieve the illusive six pack, questions directed at me are usually focused around food and more specifically what to eat (or avoid) to achieve first-rate health.
If you didn’t already know, I have the fortune of discussing these topics with some of the brightest brains on the planet each week through our podcast series. Want to know why we get fat? no problem… let me ask a metabolic scientist, a geneticist, longevity specialist or how about a best selling author, the list goes on.
So back to my original point, what do I say to those interested in becoming the best versions of themselves? I’ve outlined a short list of tips and ticks below that have taken me in the right direction to better health. Some of them may be a bit left field but surely you didn’t think that I was going to tell you to eat less takeaway and lace up your running shoes each morning?
The 5 Unusual Things I do Everyday to Improve My Health:
1) Eat Dinner For Breakfast I’m a big fan of the ‘cook once – eat twice’ principal so I always prepare a little more food in the evening. This works in my favour at breakfast time as I can feast on a meal loaded with nutrients in under 5 minutes (even less if eaten cold – yes, I do this sometimes). Typical breakfast options resemble party foods with sugary juices, processed breads and cereals not to mention the vast array of muffins, pastries and assorted dairy delights. Think you’re on the right track with your tropical low-fat yogurt drizzled over honey-roasted granola? If this sounds like you then perhaps you’re on the sugar train. Try this tip to overcome your sugar cravings and embrace dinner for breakfast – cold pizza excluded!
2) Reduce My Exercise Plan to 6 Minutes I love exercise but used to get fixated on working all major body parts in the gym before finishing with a rigorous cardio blast. This didn’t give me the results I was expecting, it increased my cortisol levels (stress hormones) and ruined my sleep. I’m now an advocate of quality over quantity and have seen great benefits in radically reducing my exercise into super short, high intensity workouts. One of my favourites includes 1 minute of overhead kettlebell swings followed immediately by 1 minute of burpees x 3 rounds, 6 minutes in total. Still think that you don’t have time to exercise? This plan doesn’t replace incidental exercise, like walking to the supermarket or admiring my newly buffed body in the shop windows but does give me more time to focus on the other unusual things that I do each day, like…
3) Hack My Carbohydrates I’m super-lean, have a fast metabolism and find it impossible to gain weight. Lucky perhaps, but recent genetic testing revealed that I carry an increased risk for diabetes if not addressed by diet and lifestyle. The big-brains in the medical world have now demonstrated that carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels and eating them alone can send blood sugars rising, so it makes sense to minimise this. I’ll work towards this every time I eat by adding fat and protein to my carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes (a personal favourite) will always be mashed with avocado and/or coconut oil, starchy vegetables drizzled with olive oil or butter and my favourite chocolate smoothie is upgraded with avocado, coconut cream and cinnamon – yes cinnamon is a BIG hitter in lowering blood sugar. I’ve recently put this strategy to the test by using a personal blood glucose monitor (full blog post coming soon) and the results speak for themselves with dramatically lower blood sugar readings. Still can’t get over toast in the morning? Upgrade it with nut butter and cinnamon or mashed avocado and smoked salmon :)
4) Carry My iPhone in a Sock
I live by the mantra ‘Prevention is the Cure’ and I carry this rule over to my beloved iPhone. I’ve always questioned whether we’ll look back in twenty years at the pursuits we’re enjoying right now in bemusement (wasn’t smoking initially advocated by doctors?). After spending time with an Electro Magnetic expert I decided to take a few precautions with my mobile usage given the fact that it follows me everywhere. These two strategies give me peace of mind as I’m not going to revert back my mobile-less days or wrap tin foil around my head for added protection:
Always – did I say always – use my earphones when talking on the phone
Place the phone in a Bloc Sock to shield the absorption of Electro Magnetic Radiation into my soft body (which actually isn’t that soft any more given my 6 minute exercise plan)
Call me alarmist, perhaps, but I won’t be able to hear you anyway as I’ve got my earplugs in listening to a podcast!
5) Wear Builders Glasses Before Bed No I don’t like dressing up as the construction worker from the Village People in the evening but I do favour quality sleep. I’ve written about this in a sleep post recently and the glasses in mention are orange (blue blocking) which filter out the blue light from the vast array of electrical devices that most of use before bed. We really don’t want to inhibit the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone which the blue light from our TV’s, computers and phone actually does. I’ll happily trade in my pride if it means a better night’s sleep and always put the glasses on at around 7:30 before I listen to my favourite YMCA album on iTunes.
So that’s it, an unconventional list of tips and tricks that really work for me. Would love to hear some of your strategies below in the comments box below – Cheers.
Stu: Mayonnaise is right up there as the king of condiments but store-bought versions are loaded with nasties. Ingredients like vegetable oil, sugar and natural flavours (whatever that means) can easily be replaced with healthy, simple and tasty alternatives…
Ingredients (Serves 2 cups)
2 eggs (organic & free-range is best)
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon works well)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ¾ cups olive oil (light works better than extra virgin)
The juice of ¼ lemon
We recommend a food processor for this one, you can use a hand whisk but it’ll feel like an upper body workout :)
Combine all ingredients (except the olive oil) together in a food processor and blend slowly.
Keep mixing and add the oil little-by-little until you get your desired mayonnaise consistency.
That’s it, done. You can store this in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Got a homemade mayonnaise recipe that you’d like to share? Simply drop the details in the comments box below.
Stu:Who doesn’t like sweet potatoes? I’m a huge fan as they are high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and my favourite clean-burning starch. So when our good mates at Primal-Life in NZ shared their Kumara (Maori name for sweet potato) chips recipe with us, I just had to pass it on.
This process takes about 15 mins to prep and will give you a healthy chip alternative without the crazy chemicals and damaging oils. Enjoy…
4 sweet potatoes (the longer ones are easier to work with)
About 2 cups animal fat or coconut oil
Peel the sweet potatoes using a potato peeler or mandolin slicer, very thinly slice onto a paper towel (helps to absorb the moisture)
Pat dry with another paper towel
Heat fat on medium/high in a pot (I usually make the fat about 4cm deep)
Cook chips in batches until crispy and golden (watch them carefully because once cooked they burn easily)
Remove from pot and place onto a baking tray lined with paper towels (this will help absorb any excess fat)
Sprinkle with salt.
Either eat fresh or put the tray they are on into the oven for 30 mins on 150c – this will dry them out a bit more and help them to stay crispy.
If you look at all elite athletes in competition, there’s barely anything that can separate them from who comes first or second. With the professionalism that goes into their training, months of disciplined preparation, nutritional plans, will power and dedication, is there any wonder there’s nothing separating these top performers? Or is there an unspoken secret that allows the forward thinking athlete to come out on top?
We asked NY Times best-selling author Dr Joe Dispenza (You Are the Placebo, Evolve the Brain) what’s the difference between winning and losing? And his answer he believes has EVERYTHING to do with that outcome. So if you want to get the edge over your competitors with this one very powerful technique, then check out the video below.
Guy Lawrence: When it comes to athletes, because we actually deal; our podcasts gets listened by a lot of people that do CrossFit and elite end performance. And there’s always just slight variables that seem to cut between first, second, third, fourth, fifth; like, these guys are so phenomenal.
From your experience and what you know, the power of thought and attention applied there, like how much of that would that play in outcome of the; between winning and coming in second, do you think?
Dr. Joe Dispenza: It has everything to do with the outcome. It does. We can; I’ve worked with so many professional athletes and I can show you that you can take a person who’s never played the piano before and you can teach them one-handed finger exercises, scales and chords. They can practice for two hours a day for five days and at the end of five days you can scan their brain and they’ll have new circuits that grow on their opposite side of the brain.
It makes sense. You learn something new. You make new connections. You get some instruction. You get your body involved. Experience enriches the brain. You pay attention to what you do. You have to pay attention, repeat it. You’re going to grow new circuits on the opposite side of the brain.
Well, you can take another person, have them close their eyes and mentally rehearse playing those scales and chords for two hours a day for five days. At the end of the five days, their brain is going to look like they’ve been playing the piano for five days and they never lifted a finger.
Now, what that means is, their brain is beginning to change and they’re beginning to install the hardware in their brain to look like their experience has already happened. In other words, you’re changing your brain to do the activity better.
You take that person that’s never played the piano, you put them in front of the piano and they can play the piano, because now the hardware program is turning into a software program.
Why is that important for athletes? Because the more circuits you have in place, the more you can get your behaviours to match your intention. Point number one.
Point number two: You can take a group of people and you can have them pull a spring for an hour a day for four weeks. At the end of four weeks, 30 percent increase in muscle strength. You know the physiology behind that?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. Joe Dispenza: Muscles will break down and they grow back bigger. Proteins change.
You can take another group of people and have them close their eyes and mentally rehearse pulling that spring and saying “harder, stronger,” never lifting a finger. At the end of four weeks they have 22 percent increase in muscle strength just by thought alone.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, wow.
Dr. Joe Dispenza: So, the body begins to respond to the mind by mental rehearsal.
So, we work with; I don’t care if they’re Tour de France cyclists or professional golfers, the mental game in rehearsing the activity; rehearsal begins to align the brain and body into the future.
And any great athlete will tell you, when they are getting ready for an activity, they’re reviewing what they’re doing enough times and when they get in there, they’re no longer thinking about what they’re doing, they’re going to let their body take over, because their brain and body have been primed into the activity.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. That’s fantastic. And would you sit there and mediate on that and just visualize it over and over, I’m thinking? Or would that be something you just run over your head as you’re …
Dr. Joe Dispenza: Oh, no, I mean, there’s a CrossFit activity and you’re doing pull ups or you’re doing clings or whatever it is. The more the person can rehearse lifting that weight and begin to feel how much it’s going to weigh and what’s going to happen if their body wobbles and how they have to straighten it out and how they have to set themselves and you can take them through every single step. Pause. Breathe. Hold. Now exert. Come on keep exerting. And you get the person involved in it mentally; they will get their behaviors to match their intentions when they actually do the activity, because they’re loading the brain and body for the event.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. That’s just fantastic.
Do you practise visualisation techniques? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below… Guy
Beans scraped from 1⁄2 a vanilla bean pod or ½ tsp vanilla bean powder
Pinch of ground cloves
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend well. Press mixture into cupcake moulds or baking pan. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours.
Coconut cream icing
Blend all ingredients together and pop in freezer to chill for 30 minutes. Spread on top of cakes and enjoy. Makes around 8 cupcakes
This recipe is brought to you by Lynda. She is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry. Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.
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Stu: Big thanks to Emma from Primal Life who made three batches of her delicious healthy nut fudge slice in the last two weeks. Apparently they went down well with both adults and kids (not surprising). Anyway, enough rambling from me, the recipe’s below:
Melt together in a medium pot:
100g butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa
1/8 tsp powdered stevia (optional)
2 tbs rice malt syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put in a bag and smash with a rolling pin (or use a food processor) until crushed into chunky and small pieces:
3/4 cup mixed nuts (I use almonds, walnuts and cashews)
Add 1/4 cup coconut cream (the solid stuff at the bottom of one of the can after you have put it in the fridge)
Stir well, shouldn’t be too wet, just nice and sticky
Transfer to a lined dish (18 x 26cm), press down hard and refrigerate until firm
Slice and enjoy
Optional: Drizzle with melted dark chocolate :)
Tip: This is best kept in the fridge and will be fine in lunch boxes if they are chilled. If you would like a version that stays more solid at room temperature then replace half of the butter/coconut oil with cocoa butter.
Angela: As a mum of two young boys I totally relate to Angeline’s post. I think this is a good post to read whether you are trying to lose weight or not. Being a mum can be a bit of a juggling act and one that can leave you tired and looking for sugar which you can avoid if you choose the right foods. Over to Angeline…
Angeline: Well let me start by saying that being a new mum is the most rewarding and challenging thing I’ve done with my life so far. Women’s bodies are absolutely amazing and it’s out of this world that we can grow our own babies and feed them, it’s a very special journey and one that was totally alien to me. I embraced the changes that happened with my body (well almost!) and really enjoyed tracking my progress with pictures and monitored my weight gain. At first it was very daunting to see those numbers go up but after a few weeks. I embraced the belly and just made sure I kept active throughout my pregnancy.
Keeping Healthy and Staying Active
I know every woman is different with their pregnancies but I loved being pregnant and can attribute my great experience to keeping healthy and active throughout the 9 month journey. I modified my training and cut back a little on the weight I was lifting but still enjoyed working out 4-5 times a week.
How to Lose Your Post Pregnancy Weight
And that brings me to my blog title which is how do you lose your post pregnancy weight and I believe it starts during pregnancy. I think keeping active and healthy during my pregnancy really helped me lose the weight after. After I gave birth I definitely gave my body enough time to recover after what felt like a marathon labour of 31 hours! I went to see the Physio at the hospital and she told me I had a slight gap or separation of my abs of one finger so it was recommended I take 6 weeks of rest and recovery before beginning any exercise. I gave myself 8 weeks and slowly introduced exercise.
Just because I’m a personal trainer did not mean I went all guns blazing smashing out exercise, I actually listened to my body and started off with walking and then introduced a yoga class once a week and then slowly began weight training 1-2 times a week and also a Pilates class to help build back my inner core strength which was very weak after giving birth. It’s true your priorities do change once you have a baby but it’s no reason to give up exercise due to lack of time, I just got a little smarter with my training and instead of having 4 days of weight training splitting up different muscle groups I just try to focus on compound exercises which work a few different muscles at the same time and get my exercise session done in about 30 minutes. It can be very stressful having a newborn and it was and is important to me to get that small amount of time to myself to focus on me so that I can project my positive energy on to my little boy.
It does feel like a juggling act sometimes but I have a very supportive partner who knows how important it is to me to get my exercise in and I think that does help a lot. I hope I’m a good role model for mums out there who want to get back into shape after having their little baby and that it is possible to feel good and have a healthy pregnancy and recover well and get back into a healthy and active routine.
Forming Healthy Eating Habits Again
The advice I would give to newbie mums is to not be too hard on yourself during the first couple of weeks as it is a very challenging time and not to be stressing out about your diet. If people come round and bring you treats, enjoy them. It makes the sleep deprivation a little easier and it’s all about balance so as long as your making sure all your other meals are nutritious it’s ok to have a treat every now and again with guests coming over to see your new addition to the family.
I do think that after the first couple of weeks it is important to make sure your forming those healthy eating habits again and whenever you or your partner cooks to make sure you make double so there’s plenty of leftovers for another meal the next day.
If it’s winter, making stews, soups and casseroles are ideal as most of the ingredients can be chucked into a pot in the morning and you have an amazing smelling dinner by the time you put your little one to bed. If it’s summer I love making different types of salads and having the ingredients on hand to throw together. Cooking up a large batch of quinoa, buckwheat or any other gluten free grains and storing in the fridge to have with some frozen green beans, goats feta and some crushed activated almonds, walnuts or macadamias. I’d have a roast chicken with any of these yummy salads and again make a soup or sandwich with the extra meat the next day. Roasting a lamb shoulder or roast beef is great too as you can have a pulled lamb or beef salad the next day or a pumpkin, chick pea and rocket salad with it. The possibilities are endless and I love getting inspired by what people are serving in cafés and trying to recreate them at home.
When it comes to sweet cravings, there’s no doubt that once I’ve finished my dinner you can bet that I’ll want something sweet afterwards, it’s just making sure you have the right foods in your cupboard so you don’t undo all the good work you did throughout the day to eat healthy. I love having some coconut yogurt with some nuts and seeds and a little stevia and cinnamon dusted on top or some milk kefir (fermented yogurt! with some blueberries and homemade activated granola. I also love to bake so taking the time to whip up a batch of muffins while your little one sleeps during the day will definitely help you keep on track. People think it’s too much effort to bake your own muffins or cakes but once you have a few staple ingredients on hand it can take as little as 10 minutes to make a lovely batch of Raspberry Millet Muffins, try it and you’ll see!
I hope that I can show pregnant and new moms that it is possible to keep active and healthy throughout your pregnancy and that even though motherhood can be challenging at times it is still achievable to eat healthy and drop your post baby weight.
Angela: How amazing does this look! So pretty. Another awesome recipe from our ambassador Angeline. It’s high in protein, good fats, gluten free and paleo friendly. I can’t wait to make it…over to you Angeline :)
Angeline: I’ve wanted to make a slice like this for a while now but thought it must too complicated to make but I can’t believe how easy it was. I must admit I did plan to make some protein balls but then decided to change my mind and make a raw slice instead so this recipe was a last minute creation. What makes this recipe different from others is that I’ve made this slice using gelatine which is very good for gut health so that’s an added bonus! I’ve also used some dried fruit which I don’t normally use in my recipes but I came across a brand called Table Top Grapes and they have no added sugar or sulphites which is hard to come across so I decided to use them to help bind the slice.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and it was a hit with my mum and family so that’s a guarantee that others will love it too and they are a tough crowd to please!