I love Spring, it's a time of renewal... a great time to start a project, learn something new, or just get outside and connect a little with nature.
We've recently made the move to the beautiful hinterland. So we've been busy prepping the gardens for warmer weather and as a result of our new farm life, I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like. But I have been making these delicious, super quick and easy pancakes on the weekend. The kids LOVE them and I can have them mixed, cooked and ready to eat in less than 10 minutes. Click on the link below for the recipe. Enjoy!
Beautiful Buckwheat Pancakes
I've been on a mission to create a healthy, yet tasty grain free anzac biscuit. My poor kids have been eating the failures for the past month... but I've finally made a cookie that tastes great... and nothing like an anzac bikkie!
But they're good... simple to make... and the perfect morning tea snack. They're crunchy and chewy and I've just had 4 to make sure they're good enough to post. And I think they are!
Coffee + Breakfast to Go
I've also added an unbelievably delicious banana coffee breakfast smoothie... the perfect breakfast. It's delicious (and not in that healthed up way that can sometimes seem a little compromised - but ridiculously good), highly nutritious and will take you just a few minutes to prepare. You could even take it in the car and clean your teeth at the office. It's worth the effort.
I'm a breakast addict, but I know plenty of people that still skip breakfast despite knowing it does them harm. I know... you don't have time... you aren't hungry at breakfast... you can't stomach a heavy meal so early in the day. I have the solution!
It's one of the tastiest breakfasts ever and you'll soon notice increased energy, an ability to focus throughout the day and perhaps enjoy a little weight loss. Eating a protein rich meal for breakfast not only curbs your desire for high carb snacks but it kick starts your metabolism in a big way.
This is also the perfect early morning pre-training meal (if it's eaten within 45 minutes of starting your workout, I'd suggest leaving out the milk and adding in 1/2 cup of water).
Here's a link to both recipes...
Crunchy Honey Cookies
Banana Coffee Smoothie
A guest blog post by
Karen McElroy Naturopath.
A person who lives in accordance with the rules of nature is likely to be a healthy person. This is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice...nature know best! I have been immersing myself in the old naturopathic philosophy books and the Nature Cure approach at the moment, as I am writing a seminar for practitioners on the energetics of herbs and healing.
So what are these mysterious Laws or Rules of Nature? Like most creatures in the world we are blessed with an innate capacity to maintain health through a complex system of feedback loops. Basically our body is a wonderful self-regulating organism that really is a marvel of nature. From the moment of conception when two cells collide, the mysterious force of creation takes over and before long we are a fully-formed and functioning human being. This same creative vital force of nature, is what keeps us healthy – it is what heals a scratch, and repairs a damaged nerve – without any conscious effort on our part!
When you think about it, the capacity to self-heal is quite remarkable and one that we mostly take for granted. After all, it is only when we get sick that many of us even become aware of our body. The breakdown in order gives rise to symptoms – which grab our attention because they are mostly inconvenient to us busy humans. Symptoms often bring pain, discomfort or irritation and in some cases threaten our very existence. In reality though, symptoms are just signposts that something in the natural order of our system is out of balance. They are not the culprit and should not be ignored or suppressed as they are part of the body’s defence mechanism – and they generally herald an imbalance that is deeper or further afield.
All natural systems must maintain homoeostasis or balance to remain healthy and sustainable. Whether you are looking at an eco-system or our human body, the principles are the same. If something gets out of whack, the system suffers. We are a natural ‘mammalian’ species (even if we don’t identify ourselves as such) and living close to nature, feeds and nourishes us on all levels. We cannot survive without nature, but most of us live disconnected from nature, oblivious to the fact that our existence is totally reliant on products from nature – whether it be the food on our plate, to the clothes we wear and the shelter of our homes.
So what does it look like to live close to nature, and follow her laws? When we support the body with the basics of fresh air, clean water, nourishing whole foods, regular exercise and proper rest & relaxation and the fostering of healthy emotions and relationships - it is amazing what level of health we can achieve. It really can't get much simpler than that - but just because it is simple, doesn't mean it is easy to achieve, especially in our modern lives!
It seems crazy that many of us no longer experience our natural birth right of good health and vitality. The laws of nature are not complicated, but it does require effort and a little bit of discipline to live according to them. So many people would rather buy a box of processed cereal for breakfast than cook up some whole grain porridge. Or buy a jar of pasta sauce than make their own fresh one. When I suggest to patients to scramble some eggs to have with their morning toast, they often claim they don’t have time. In reality – it only takes a few minutes to scramble eggs – as long as it takes to cook the toast!
We have become lazy in the kitchen and we have so many convenient options that tempt us – especially when we are time poor and tired. But when we buy these processed convenience foods, we are getting more than we bargained for. Laden with chemicals and preservatives and devoid of any vital nutrition – these foods offer nothing, and indeed rob us of other aspects of our health and nutrition and overload our detoxification pathways. We are not just lazy in the kitchen though, but we are also too tired to exercise, too busy to take a holiday and too distracted to notice the sunset at dusk. We take our relationships for granted, and would rather watch some senseless TV show than spend time talking to our partners or going to bed early with a good book. Many of us are often disconnected from our soul life and rarely take the time and effort to contemplate life, write a poem or explore our inner realms with a journal.
So it is all these things that I would say foster good health and constitute living a rich and natural life. It is not just eating good food – though that is of course important. It is attending to our health on all levels of our being – body, mind and spirit – that allows us to self-heal and self-regulate. So instead of next time reaching for the paracetamol to ease some pain, why not take the opportunity to reflect on what is out of balance and make some positive changes. Your commitment to good health will require a bit of discipline to get started (and often a bit of education and support from natural healthcare providers), but you will soon be richly rewarded with wonderful vitality, peace and happiness.
About The Author
Read about Karen McElroy here. You can also follow Karen on Facebook or check out her website and sign up for her blog.
I've been playing around with this chocolate muffin recipe for weeks now... and I think I've got it! This has to be the easiest, most foolproof, kid friendly recipe so far. My kids adore this tasty treat and except for melting the butter, can whip up a batch themselves in minutes. If you have two kids, put one in charge of the muffin mix and the other in charge of the icing... and put the kettle on!
You'll see there are only a few ingredients required and the process is simple. So play around with it and let me know if you can improve the result, while keeping the recipe just as simple.
I decided to make something from one of my favourite blogs. The result was insanely good, so I needed to share.
Don't get me wrong, everything on this site is delicious, but this recipe is also super quick and easy... and that's essential for me. It's the perfect lunchbox snack... coffee snack... after dinner snack. These tasty little morsels are sweet, sour, crunchy and the whole family have given them the big thumbs up. I generally like to play around with recipes and simplify them, or replace ingredients with healthier options. But I honestly believe this one is perfect. I've added a quick pic of my version, but for a visual treat check out David and Luise's blog - Green Kitchen Stories. They also have a bunch of great recipes worth exploring. I don't have the time or talent to deliver the level of beauty they create, but I can tell you, for the busy parent, this one's a winner. I have cut my bars into bite sized pieces to support self control... it's been pretty ineffective!
We all know that healthy fats are an important part of our diet. Eating the right amount of healthy fat (approx. 1g fat - p/kg body weight - p/day) will help restore intramuscular fat (triglyceride) levels. It also helps control hunger, promote a healthy metabolism (read weight loss), transport fat soluble vitamins throughout your body, boost your immune system and protect your vital organs.
But which fats are the good ones?
Avocado, nuts, seeds and fish are great food sources of healthy fat. With oils, extra virgin olive oil and hemp seed oil are excellent additions to your diet BUT DON'T COOK WITH THEM! They aren't stable when heated to a medium/high heat and will breakdown to become a mess of toxic chemicals.
A great all rounder is cold pressed virgin coconut oil. You can eat it raw, cook with it or rub it on your skin (it's also an excellent makeup remover).
Unlike most other saturated fats, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides. Your body uses these medium-chain triglycerides differently from other fats. Digesting them is simple and within moments of being ingested they are converted by your liver to provide immediate energy. So they burn like a carbohydrate - making them an excellent source of fuel for exercise.
Solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a great addition to snack recipes. Not only is it nutritionally dense, it provides 'structure' to your bliss balls and other raw snacks when refrigerated. Plus coconut oil is the ideal fat to use for cooking as it can be heated to high temperatures without being converted into trans-fats.
And if you're cooking something that doesn't need the extra favour of coconut oil, use a flavourless variety like Sip of Paradise.
I often add a little coconut oil to my smoothies, plus it's a delicious addition in my choc-nut protein bites.
If you'd like to read more about this amazing superfood + beauty product, take a look at this link to a very comprehensive article on Dr Mercola's website.
Even if you're not training for Rio 2016, your food choices before, during and after exercise can have a huge impact on your health. And if you're anything like me and don't want to do all the hard work to then consume highly manufactured ingredients you can't even pronounce, then what are your options? There are actually plenty!
And if you don't feel this article is relevant to you, don't log off just yet... the same principles apply to your kids. So read on and help your family benefit fully from their sporting activities. If they enjoy it, they'll do more of it... and that's always a good thing!
I've had a keen interest in health and nutrition for years, but when I took up triathlon training at the start of this year I didn't have a clue about what or when to eat and drink to make the most of my training. Some days I'd have more energy than I knew what to do with... and others I'd be fast asleep at my laptop by 9am. As a time poor parent this just wasn't going to cut it. I needed to make every exercise session count... and make sure the training didn't impact on the rest of my day.
So I did some research and have put together a very simple summary for you...
What should you eat and when?
Whether you're exercising for weight loss, fitness or just sanity, you need to fuel right. Exercising on an empty stomach can mean a greater percentage of fat used as your primary fuel source, BUT your liver glycogen stores will be depleted after fasting (while you've been asleep), so the intensity and duration of your training may be compromised. In a nutshell... if you're exercising for performance, a light meal after fasting makes good sense. And if you're exercising for weight loss, you may be able to go without, but a light meal before training may also give you the energy you need for a more effective workout and contribute to the negative energy balance needed to cause fat loss.
You'll also need to fuel properly post exercise, or you could remain fatigued, develop an injury or illness and lose mental clarity... negating many of the reasons you're exercise in the first place!
You need adequate carbohydrate (glycogen) stores in your muscles and liver before you begin. If you're only exercising moderately, this is pretty easy to maintain. If you train more frequently or with greater intensity, it may require more focus. And unfortunately there isn't one ideal dietary plan to suit all. You need to experiment with different foods and drinks to see what works for you.
A light meal containing some carbohydrate prior to exercise goes a long way to replenishing liver glycogen, which helps to balance your blood glucose levels (see my Stop Making Excuses post for more info on blood glucose). Just remember though, it's only useful once digested and absorbed... so a high fibre, low GI, high carb meal 20 minutes prior to exercise isn't going to do much except make you feel like bringing it all back up again when you start. A banana 20 mins prior may be ok, but you'll probably want to allow about an hour for a more substantial snack... and 2 - 3hrs for a full meal.
Also don't get caught up with the idea that you need to carb load before training. Small quantities of carbs is all you need... plus it's all your body can manage. Your body can't store much in the way of glycogen, so excess will be stored as fat. You're better to replace depleted glycogen stores periodically throughout training... not attempt to reload in one hit.
We can generally store about 500 - 600g of glycogen (approx. 200g in the liver and 400g in muscle). At about 70%vo2max this will last you about 2hrs total. This is really only to be used as a guide, as numbers will vary from individual to individual. But it helps to demonstrate that we're simply not designed to maintain a high carb diet.
Here's a quick checklist for your pre exercise meal...
I find yoghurt with banana works really well. And I prefer to eat this about an hour before exercise. You may need a little longer. Just remember you should be comfortable - not too full and certainly not hungry. And remember your fluids!
If you're exercising for an hour or less, water will probably be enough (as long as you've eaten some carbohydrate rich food an hour or so before you start and your body is well hydrated).
If your session lasts longer than an hour; your intensity of training is super high; or it's extremely hot; carbohydrates and electrolytes with fluids are a good idea. This'll help to balance your blood sugar levels, reduce fatigue and maintain adequate muscle and liver glycogen stores. Approx. 30gms of CHO (carbohydrate) per hour is a good place to start (2 tbsp). But if you're doing ultra-endurance training, I'd recommend you find a good dietician with experience in your chosen sport to help you with a tailored plan.
Now I am not an ultra-endurance athlete, so choose my own lemon + lime electrolyte drink and for longer sessions I throw in a few choc-nut protein bites or one of my favourite all natural commercial bars, organic food bars. And remember the fluids... early in your session.
Refuelling after exercise is vital for rehydration and repair. Your recovery meal should be eaten as soon as possible post workout and contain some carbohydrate, protein, fluid and salt. A well balanced meal here will help to rehydrate, combat fatigue, support your immune system, rebuild damaged muscle tissue for a quicker recovery, aid synthesis and even balance stress hormones.
Here's a quick checklist for your post exercise meal...
I like to have a fruity kefir smoothie, or something more substantial like a cheese and salad sandwich on grain free bread or tuna salad and a banana. I also find one of the protein rich organic bars mentioned above can be a big help if I'm not close to a good food source after training. Of course there are also days that I am so damn hungry after training I eat anything and everything I can get my hands on, but never feel that great afterwards... so I don't recommend this approach to refueling.
Exercise should leave you feeling great. Be mindful of what you eat and drink and fully reap the rewards.
One of the best tips I have for you to stay happy healthy and sane... is to make time for exercise. I know you've heard it a zillion times before and we all know the benefits of exercise, so why do we keep making excuses?
Well interestingly, it may not be your fault. Research tells us that willpower or self control is a limited resource and a lack thereof comes about from mental exhaustion... not physical exhaustion as you may have thought.
So forget all the usual excuses, just blame the kids! Well actually, the good news is, you don't have to. You can improve your willpower so mental fatigue doesn't get the better of you. Then once you start exercising, the mental fatigue will lift so it becomes much easier to keep at it.
Regular exercise not only helps protect you from a plethora of disease, but it can also dramatically improve your mood and help you manage stress more effectively. And it provides 'you time'. Time to be present with yourself, paying attention to your breathing, how your body feels, the environment. It's your own little time out. As a parent, that's priceless!
So how do you strengthen your willpower and get active? Here are 4 simple steps...
1. Reduce the amount of unnecessary stress in your life
It's unlikely you're able to offload on to anyone else. So the next best thing is to dump stuff. Simply let it go! If the house isn't perfect, if your kids forget to unpack their school bags again, the world won't stop. Ask yourself, "will it matter in a year?" If the answer is no, don't worry about it today.
2. Play mind games
Now I don't mean the mind games you play with your partner, but instead, challenge your brain. Do crosswords, play memory card games with your kids or log on to one of the many great websites out there like www.fitbrains.com or www.lumosity.com. You'll improve your memory, attention span, problem solving skills and help combat mental fatigue.
3. Get more sleep
You know it's important for more reasons than I can fit into this blog, so turn off that TV a little sooner and hit the sack. And the bonus is that once you're exercising regularly, this one becomes a cinch.
4. Manage your blood sugar levels
Now this is a biggie... self control or discipline requires energy and if you have low blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels, this can diminish your ability to follow through with an act of self control.
But don't get out the chocolate just yet. High glycemic foods (foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream) can cause your glucose levels to spike. In response your body releases insulin, which causes the oversupply of glucose to be removed from the bloodstream and stored in the muscles and liver... and bingo, glucose in your bloodstream drops again. This type of energy boost immediately prior to, during or post exercise is great for sustained energy and refueling glycogen stores in your muscles, but not good at all if you're not using that extra supply of energy.
Just remember the glycemic index of a food is only the start to assessing its impact on your blood sugar levels. The glycemic load is a more comprehensive indicator as it goes beyond measuring how quickly that carbohydrate turns into sugar, but also factors in the complete carbohydrate content of the food. For more information on the GI and GL content of food, visit The University of Sydney's GI Website.
So don't put it off any longer - get out there. You don't need any fancy equipment, just dust off those old runners and head out the door. Even if you don't feel like it, set yourself a goal to just start.... say 5 minutes. If you're feeling ok at that point, continue for another 5. You'll soon be amazed at what you can achieve. The key is to set small goals at first. Don't overwhelm yourself with weekly or monthly goals until the habit's well established. Focus on today and see how you feel once you've achieved your goal. Soon enough you'll wonder how you lived without it!
Let me know what works to boost your own motivation and post a comment below.
Welcome to happyhealthysane... a resource site for busy parents with school aged kids. I know too well that family life can get crazy. There's just so much to do everyday... and simply not enough hours in the day to do it! Or is there?
Now I'm NOT going to tell you how to organise your life better or suggest tips for improved productivity. I couldn't even if I wanted to. I'm the person that's always deviating from the list. I start a project, then I'm distracted by an article, an image or the sunshine outside. My plans change frequently, but I still seem to get the important things done. I confess that sometimes my kids don't have enough clean clothes and I've been known to start baking when I should be filing. But it's ok... the world doesn't stop and no-one gets hurt in the process. And I'm happy. My family's happy. But it hasn't always been this way.
I used to write long lists, prioritise, then work at an insane pace to get it all done. I was amazing... organised, productive... a real achiever. But I was also miserable, difficult and still didn't get it ALL done. With such high expectations of myself and others, I was impossible to please. It was an illusion of order as my mind was a complete mess and I was constantly dissatisfied. I never gave myself permission to let go and enjoy life. I planned to... just as soon as I was at the end of my list!
If we could fit more in, we'd just be busier. The answer is to let go, share responsibilities so you do less and connect more. Then be ok with the outcome. When you share responsibilities it may not be done the way you would have done it. Be satisfied that YOU didn't have to do it. Trust me when you do, life is so much easier. And when you let go just a little, you make space for wonderful opportunities. If you're always focused on the next task, you'll hurry straight past the great things life has to offer.
I'd like to help by sharing with you. Not my responsibilities (unless anyone really wants to sort through the pile of clothes on my laundry floor), but what I've learned... and am learning along the way. I plan to post articles and ideas on how to create genuine happiness, health and sanity in your life... without having to run off to an ashram (although that would be nice too). And provide tried and tested resources via the website. So I'd also appreciate it if you'd share too... your ideas or questions for future posts. Add comments below or message me. Family life is precious. Make the space to enjoy it.