Saturday, May 23, 2015

weekend reading

The sun is shining here in Brunswick Heads, I'm feeling grateful to have some time out of grey, cold Victoria. We're here for a week. Today I'm sharing some of the things I love about being here...

Our good friend David owns Brunswick Heads Health Food Store where there is a wholefood cafe serving beautiful vegetarian food and raw food cakes, you'll find us here most days!

Crystal Castle is a favorite. Lose yourself in the natural beauty of the gardens.

So many markets to go to

Find accommodation through swicki real estate

Little kids will enjoy the Macadamia Castle

Check out Spaghetti Circus for a show or class

And finally, nothing to do with northern rivers, here's a blog I think you'd like sent to me by my friend Jane is Bonnie Delicious.

Happy weekending everyone! x

Thursday, May 21, 2015

thursday recipe: oat & chia porridge with seeds

Pete and I came up with this porridge when we did our Dr Gruba cleanse recently (thank the cleansing Gods that's over).

The cleanse is over but porridge for breakfast continues on these cool Autumn mornings.

Not that we have to worry about cool Autumn mornings this week. We're in Byron Bay where the weather is humid! Sorry Victorian friends don't mean to rub it in. It is raining if that makes you feel better.

Long time readers know that the Northern Rivers Shire is a home away from home for me and my family. Pete and I have been escaping winter here since before River was born almost nine years ago.

Like so many who come to Byron Bay and surrounds , I fell instantly in love with its natural beauty, the light, and the cosmic souls who bring so much colour to the area. And we have dear friends here so there is always a sense of coming home when arrive here.

For now let's get back to the porridge that's lovable too, spiced with ground cinnamon and vanilla.
Served with coconut milk and if you like yoghurt and stewed fruit, breakfast like this is to me so luxurious I can't imagine that anyone who switched from processed food to wholefood would feel like they were missing out on something. I'm sorry there isn't a photo with this post, I have a beautiful shot of the porridge stuck on my camera, I'm yet to master blogging on the road! I'm working on it. I've just discovered posting on my phone! There's no stopping me now.

Oat & Chia porridge with seeds - serves 2


1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon pepitas
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground vanilla
1.5 cups water
Serve with
milk of choice
stewed fruit

(for those not eating grains you could try this combo with buckwheat or quinoa, cooking times and amount of water will vary)

To Make

Put all ingredients (except milk, yoghurt, stewed fruit) into a small pot and place on a low heat.
Stir occasionally until oats are soft about 10 minutes.
You may need to add more water as you go if it is looking too dry.
If you put it on a really low heat you will have time to go and have a quick shower while it's cooking!


Friday, May 15, 2015

weekend reading

It's been a long while since I've put together one of these posts. Somehow I fell out of blogging rhythm but hopefully it's come back starting with this post!

Have you seen Sophie's new look?

Check out Rachel Power's most excellent book The Divided Heart - Motherhood & Creativity, it's recently been re-released, I love it. Wish I'd written it myself! Rachel interviewed 22 artists who are also mothers about their creative process and how it fits (or not) with motherhood. Rachel blogs at The Rachel Papers

Pete and I recently heard Steve Biddulph author of 'Raising Boys' speak at a nearby school, Steve is an engaging speaker and still has some speaking dates left for this year that you can find here . I'll write a blog post soon about what I took away from his presentation.

With the weather cooling down here, if you're feeling crafty you might like to check Pip's latest book 'Craft for the Soul'

And while we're talking all things Pip, I bought a copy of Pip's great ebook about blogging: Shake it Up!  I'm inspired. Now to put all those good ideas into practice.

On the creative note, it's an oldie but a goodie, if you haven't ever picked up Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way it is a great one, it took me deeper into my writing path.

A Cup of Jo is one of the first blogs I started reading all those years ago when I discovered blogs.

Cakes and Ale in Sorrento who I work with on their marketing have a new website, and coming up on Sunday May 31st a beautiful Southern French dinner as part of Taste of Sorrento. The dinner honours LuLu Peyraud, matriarch of Domain Tempier vineyard in southern France.  LuLu's provencal cuisine was adored by many including Alice Waters who travelled to LuLu's kitchen to learn from her. LuLu was renowned for her sense of hospitality, her culinary skill and passion for selling her family's wine to restaurants all over France. Cakes and Ale chef, Leilani Wolfenden will create a three course dinner of Provencal cuisine to be served along with wine from the region LuLu made so famous. To book phone: 03. 5984 4995

It's cold here. Time to put on your slippers.

Stay cosy and enjoy your weekend x

Thursday, May 14, 2015

thursday recipe: rhubarb and vanilla cakes

We could call these muffins but really what is the difference between muffins and cake anyway? Is it that calling it a muffin tricks us into thinking they are somehow healthier? The ingredients are the same so let's call it as it is, today's recipe is rhubarb and vanilla cakes made with spelt flour. (I'm not using the word cupcake either because I have an aversion to the whole cupcake obsession that hopefully is over, sorry cupcake lovers).

Pete and I have been eating stewed rhubarb most mornings with natural yoghurt as is or with oat and chia porridge. River and Sol can't stand even the thought of eating rhubarb so I made some of these cakes with and some without, either way they are super delicious especially warm with butter.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Cakes - makes 8 in large muffin tray


100 grams butter, melted
2 cups white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi carb soda
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 cup milk of choice
2 eggs, whisked
1 tsp ground vanilla
stewed rhubarb

To make

Preheat oven to 180C
In a large mixing bowl put in flour, baking powder, bi carb soda, coconut sugar and stir to combine.
In a small bowl mix eggs and milk.
Pour egg and milk mixture into dry ingredients and add in cooled melted butter and stir to mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tray.
Make a little well in the top of each muffin and place a tablespoon of rhubarb in the centre, or leave some plain for those who don't like rhubarb.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and cooked through.

My boys enjoyed the plain vanilla ones warm with butter for an after school snack yesterday, and this morning after a bowl of warm stewed apple + pear with cinnamon and yoghurt River had one toasted! What a way to start the day. Winter is in the air here and we're dreaming of heading north. As regular readers know each year we head north for winter, last year we went to Cape York, this year we are heading to the desert spending time in Alice Springs where Pete will work on Culture is Life.

How about you? Any travel plans this year? Do you escape winter or travel and homeschool your children? I'd love to hear your stories and especially love to know of any blogs you follow of families who do this.

Stay warm. Or cool depending on where you are!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

thursday recipe: Lee Holmes red capsicum and hazelnut pesto & basil pesto

Lee Holmes' blog Supercharged Food is one of the first wholefoodie blogs I started reading when I discovered blogs about four years ago. 

I bought Lee's ebook Supercharged Food for Kids and have been following along ever since.

In recent times Lee has produced a collection of beautiful cookbooks all aimed at those looking for deliciousness to go with their nutrition. And today I have not one but two nutritious, delicious recipes to share with you from Lee's book 'Supercharged Food Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian'.

Before we get to the recipes, let's talk about the book. Well, as you can see it is beautiful to look and Lee is the picture of health so we're off to a good start! Between the covers you'll find an introduction that is supercharged in itself, it is jam packed with nutrition information, cooking tips, seasonal veg guides, great tips for getting more veggies into your diet, shopping list and meal planner.

The 120+ recipes are divided into chapters: Drink Your Vegetables, Breakfast, Salads & Soups, Main Meals, Desserts, Sides Dips Snacks & Nibbles, and Dollops Dressings and Sauces.

Chai chia breakfast pudding sounds like a great way to me to start the day. Moving on to lunch I'll have the eggplant, pomegranate and minted quinoa salad please. Throughout the recipe sections there are 'supercharged tips' and 'health benefits' explained, so if you are new to wholefoods and don't know your chia from your quinoa don't worry!

Fudgy black bean biscuits have me intrigued and worried at the same time, black beans in a biscuit? How is that texture going to work out? Tell me if you've given them a go.

For anyone transitioning to a wheat free, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free or vegan diet or who is already eating this way and wants inspiration this is the book for you.

Thanks to Lee and her publisher Murdoch Books for sharing not one but two recipes from this book, red capsicum and hazelnut pesto, and everyone's favorite basil pesto minus the pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Whip them up for an after school snack with veggie sticks or crackers, as a great healthy spread on toast, to have with grilled or roasted meats, on pasta if you're still loving pasta...there are lots of ways to enjoy these yummy, good for you, pestos. 
Let me know your favorite.

Published by Murdoch Books $34.99

Red Capsicum and Hazelnut Pesto
WF  DF  GF  SF  VEG  VG          Makes 2 cups
Homemade pesto is so easy to whip up yourself, that you’ll soon be waving goodbye to the citric acid, preservatives, additives and the high-sodium hit that can accompany a large proportion of supermarket varieties.

11/2 red capsicums (peppers), seeds and membrane removed, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2/3 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
135 g (43/4 oz/1 cup) lightly toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin
olive oil
pinch of Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it reaches the desired consistency. This pesto will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Supercharged Tip
For a delicious variation, try substituting the hazelnuts with blanched almonds, or sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Basil Pesto
WF  DF  GF  SF  VEG  VG          Makes 1 cup
My man loves this recipe — he calls it pesto with a twist. Basil is packed with iron and magnesium, which improves circulation, and the essential oil eugenol provides anti-inflammatory effects similar to that of aspirin, making it as good for you as it is delicious.

160 g (53/4 oz/1 cup) blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large handfuls of basil leaves
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
small pinch of Celtic sea salt

Place the almonds in a food processor and whizz until fine. Add the garlic and pulse, then add the basil and whizz again. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you have the desired consistency, then add the lemon juice, yeast flakes and salt.

This pesto will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week and can be refreshed with an extra splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

thursday recipe: Leilani Wolfenden's cianfotta

(photos by Peter McConchie)

Today I have a beautiful recipe for you from the humble and talented chef Leilani Wolfenden who heads up the kitchen at my favorite local bistro here in Sorrento, Cakes & Ale.

At the end of 2013 the Cakes & Ale team set about transforming the neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Sorrento's main street into an understated but inviting space to house their bistro.

The nosey journalist in me was immediately intrigued. What was this new place all about?
Would they survive the pace and attitude of summer in Sorrento? (Strange phenomenon happens here in summer, crowds of holidaymakers descend upon the town and despite the fact that they are on holiday they can be impatient and demanding!)

I snuck in for a coffee on Christmas Eve they'd been open just a few days, to scope it out and let's be honest have an extra half an hour to myself away from my darling family. There was an air of friendly confidence about the place that said the people behind it knew what they were doing. I was relieved for them and excited for me.

I love living on the Peninsula, I love that it is not the city, that the ocean beaches are wild and deserted for most of the year but there are many times that I yearn for a local cafe or restaurant with at least a pinch of the sophistication and personality found in Melbourne. Not to mention, a place that offers honest, skilfully prepared food, full of flavour and locally grown ingredients.

A year on, Cakes & Ale have settled into the neighborhood making friends with locals and weekend visitors. I've donned my PR hat and now work on the marketing and media of Cakes & Ale, which is easy because I was already a fan. And in case you're thinking this post is just a marketing ploy I think we know each other well enough by now to know I only write about things I actually use or would be happy to spend my money on. Also, I've been planning a series on 'wholefood' cafes and restaurants because the good ones are hard to find and I figure I might as well put to use my reviewing and food writing skills to share with you what I find.

Back to the story. My first inklings were correct, the team behind Cakes & Ale do know a thing or two about the restaurant game. Owner James Langley, Manager Mathew Guthrie and chef Leilani Wolfenden made a seachange from Melbourne where James set up Panama Dining Room and St Jude's Cellars, Mathew worked as manager at both, and Leilani honed her skills at notable restaurants including Est Est Est, Ondine, Comme, Petrus (London), The Square (London) and her own venture in Northcote, Next Door Diner.

They all grew up in the country, then after years of restaurant life in the city have come full circle returning to all that they enjoy about being out of the city. The slower pace, the proximity to local producers and growers, and being able to grow food themselves. James has established a kitchen garden up the road from Cakes & Ale to provide specialty or hard to find herbs and vegetables, this season roderique shallots, ciccio sprouting broccoli, rock samphire, broad beans and lots of green manure crops to help improve the sandy soil are being planted.

Thursday night at Cakes & Ale local seafood is a feature, Leilani creates beautiful classic bistro seafood dish for $20 from the catch of the day caught by White Fisheries who fish Port Phillip Bay. The fish caught that day arrives by ferry at Sorrento pier in time for dinner.

Tell me some of your favorite wholefood cafes and restaurants in the comments. Cafes and restaurants that are cooking for real, creating menus using locally grown and sourced produce. 

Enjoy Leilani's recipe!

Cakes & Ale
100 - 102 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento
for bookings ph: 03. 5984 4995

Leilani Wolfenden’s Cianfotta

100ml olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 2cm chunks doesn’t have to be perfect
2 kg ripe tomatoes cut into 2cm chunks, again doesn’t have to be perfect
1 large brown onion finely diced
½ head of garlic, finely sliced

750ml vegetable stock

1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
Slice zucchini on the angle 2mm wide
2 or 3 leaves of silverbeet and or black cabbage, slice thinly
Handful green beans, slice on diagonal into 4 or 5 pieces

100 gram green split peas
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
500 ml vegetable stock


In a heavy based large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Reduce to low heat, cover with lid and stir occasionally until transparent.

Add aubergine and stir. Put lid back on and cook until aubergine is a smooshy mess (approximately 45 minutes).

Add the tomatoes, season.

Add zucchini and leave the lid off and cook until the majority of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, check seasoning and set aside.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic, cook in the same way as above.

Keep on a low heat and add split peas. Make sure the peas are coated with onions and garlic before adding the veggie stock a ladle full at a time replacing the lid each time and allowing to cook slowly like making risotto (45-60 minutes).

When all the stock has been absorbed and the split peas are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.

To serve

Saute beans, zucchini, black cabbage and silverbeet in olive oil, seasoning generously.

When vegetables are starting to wilt add 4 tablespoons of eggplant mix and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and check if it needs seasoning.

In a serving bowl put 2 or 3 tablespoons of pea puree – cold is fine – it all gets mixed around.

Pour bean and zucchini vegetable mix over the top and scatter with fresh oregano leaves and a few fresh basil leaves.

A few drops of olive oil over the top won’t go amiss.



Tuesday, April 07, 2015

happy belated easter. no secrets, ok?

Happy belated Easter everyone.

I hope you've all recovered from the chocolate and hot x bun overload, not to mention daylight savings ending coupled with school holidays. I know, sugar high plus sleep deprivation what a combo.

Whether your eggs and buns were sugar loaded or spelt or paleo or fairtrade or organic, the main thing is I hope you all spent some good time with people you love because really that's what holidays should be about.

I've been pondering some things this Easter to do with parenting and food, I can actually give myself a headache thinking about this sort of thing so I thought I'd throw it over to you and get your thoughts and insights.

It all started with cheese balls and coke. Yep. Cheese balls and Coke, words I bet you never expected to read here.

My oldest son is 8 going on 9 and I can see his curiosity growing about many things, including food, how other families do things, their rules, what other kids eat and so on.

We spent some time with friends from Melbourne one day on the holidays and after a morning at the skatepark the three boys were hungry. I didn't have my usual snacks of dips and rice crackers with me so we walked to the nearby supermarket.

My friend who we were with has a different approach to food with her boys than we do with ours in that as long as her boys eat fruit and vegetables, they're allowed to eat a bit of 'junk', processed food.

My approach generally is that even the 'junk' has to be a good version of junk. I was curious as we entered the supermarket as to what the boys would go for. A packet of chips was the request.

Usually I would head for the 'health food' aisle and my boys could choose veggie chips or organic plain potato chips.

On this day we left the supermarket with cheese balls. I didn't look at the ingredients, I didn't make a big deal about it, I let them make their choice all the while knowing that they knew it wouldn't be something that we'd ever regularly do.

You see, I don't want to always say no. I don't want to set up a 'good' and 'bad' food battle that can later be used against me. At the moment with our boys aged 5 and 8, Pete and I are instilling our values in our them, guiding them, educating them. But when it comes down to it, they will grow into who they are and make their own decisions and I'm becoming more thoughtful about ways to raise them so that they do not make decisions out of defiance secret. Secrets = shame. (Unless the secret is a surprise party or a gift of course, that = fun!)

Over Easter I took the boys to Melbourne and we went out for lunch to a cafe. We ordered our meals and then my oldest boy asked, "Can drinking one coke make you sick?" I explained that Coke has a lot of sugar in it so if you're not used to having a lot of sugar it might make you feel sick in the tummy but it wouldn't make you really, really sick (he was meaning like heart attack or cancer sick). To my surprise he then asked, "Can Sol and I share a Coke?" I laughed. I thought he was joking.
But he wasn't. He explained in all seriousness that he wanted to taste Coke and could they have one.

This raised lots of questions in my mind. Will my boys feel like they have to hide junk food from us if they want to eat it when they are older and have their own money to pay for it?

Food is about so many things, not just health and nutrition. There is the emotional and social aspect and unfortunately for children and teenagers being raised to not eat processed foods, they can feel like the odd ones out. While this isn't a reason to just start eating processed food, to 'fit in', it is something I'm aware of and the challenges it can present to young people when all they want to do it fit in and be like their friends.

River and Sol didn't drink Coke that day, they had water with their lunch. I explained to River that I understood he was curious about Coke and that one day if he wanted to taste it he could but it wouldn't be today. He persisted, "Why not today?" So I added that along with all the sugar, Coke also has caffeine in it and caffeine isn't good for children. Thankfully he was happy to leave it at that!

At the Easter hat parade at school on the last day of term I was chatting to one of the teachers about all the Easter eggs being passed around, the teacher said "The kids who eat things like this all the time aren't fussed about them, the kids who don't get much of this sort of thing go crazy for them."

I'm interested to hear your thoughts and experiences. How do you handle requests for junk food?
Are you concerned that your child feels like they need to sneak or hide junk food because they know you won't approve? I'd love to hear and I'm sure others would too. Tell us in the comments.

Friday, March 27, 2015

weekend reading

So much to catch up on.

Easter holidays are here. We've made it through term 1. I'm breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward to putting away the school lunchboxes and having pyjama days.

The cold weather has set in today but there's promise of warm days next week, we'll see.

On with some links for you...

Rachel Power's fabulous book 'Motherhood & Creativity' hits the shelves this week. I bought the original edition in Mullumbimby many years ago now, when I was having a deflated motherhood day. The book contains a collection of interviews with creative mothers and details how these women find place in their hearts and lives to create their art and to raise their children. It is a book I wish I'd put together myself, I love it so much. Each interview transports me into the worlds of the creative women Rachel interviews.

I went to a Problogger event in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and had the pleasure of hearing Nicole from Planning with Kids, Erin from Travel with Bender and Alice from The Whole Daily speak. It was an inspiring day.

I have also since discovered Alice's fantastic blog Big Time Blogger for all you ambitious bloggers out there.

The other highlight was meeting Hannah from Nourish to Health

On the parenting front, I'm booking tickets for Pete and I to go and hear Steve Biddulph speak in May at Rosebud Secondary College. Have you been to one of Steve's talks before?

Moving on to Easter, here is a list within a list from Georgia at Well Nourished, many Easter recipes and ideas for fending off over indulgence

If you want something non chocolatey, Donna Hay's gingerbread bunnies look fun

Not Easter related but delicious looking, Veggie Mama's chipotle black bean tacos and jalapeno slaw

And for those of you who want to do some cooking with your kids on the holidays, Mamacino is having a school holiday sale of her Cooking with Kids book only $10

Happy weekend one and all. Thanks for stopping by here. See you next week!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

6 tips for loving your time in the kitchen

(this beautiful cauliflower salad was made by my friend Rachel who owns Feast Catering in Sorrento)

I'm not going to lie, cooking from scratch takes time. Yes there are short cuts you can take but there is a bit more to it than that. Here are some tips to help you fall in love with your time in the kitchen.

1. Change your mind

My nan always says 'attitude is everything' and she's right. Nan is a woman who pretty much single handedly raised four children and stayed up all night sewing to feed them. Lucky for them, processed food wasn't even invented in those days, cooking from scratch was the norm along with growing veggies in the backyard.

I hear you, it isn't the 1950's times have changed, women are in the workforce, life is busy but still we do have a choice about our attitude to cooking and nourishing ourselves and our family.

Switch off the moaning, groaning part of your brain and switch on the loving, creative side. Cooking is an act of love and creativity. Try it tonight. No matter how tired you are, no matter how much you are dreading your kids scrunching up their faces telling you they don't like carrots (when carrots were their favorite yesterday), cook with love and happiness.

**in the spirit of keeping things real and not sounding all Mary Poppins about it I have my 'I really can't be bothered cooking' days too! But by the next meal I have changed my mind and have my enthusiasm back.

2. Clean up your cupboards & pantry

Cooking in chaos is never fun. Spending precious time looking for that spice you know is in the back of the cupboard somewhere only to find it was meant to be used by 2010 is annoying.

Set aside an afternoon and go through your cupboards and pantry. Be ruthless! Say goodbye to those containers without lids, get rid of those appliances/gadgets you haven't used in years and are taking up valuable bench space. If there are items that could do with replacing or fixing get it done.

Make a list of your regular ingredients and make sure your pantry is well stocked, that way you will have a list to work from and know you will always have those ingredients on hand. Running to the shops costs time and usually more money because most shoppers go in to buy one thing and come out with ten.

3. Turn on some tunes

The power of music to lift your spirits can't be denied. Just take a look at Mamacino in her kitchen.

4. Meal plan

Deciding what to cook is generally harder than the actual cooking. If you have at least a rough idea of what you will cook for the week you can save brain power and just get on with the cooking. Ask your family for ideas, get them involved in the meal planning and hopefully that will mean they are more likely to happily eat it! Don't just plan dinners either, plan school lunches and after school snacks while you're at it.

5. Batch cook

One of the best ways to save time in the kitchen is to cook once and eat twice. The Mamabakers are the queens of this, have you heard about Mamabake? You can read more about them here, but in a nutshell they are groups of mamas who get together and cook up big batches of family meals then divide them up so you can stock your freezer with home made meals and give yourself some nights off cooking. Even if you don't cook in a group, you can do this on your own and spend an afternoon making a soup, spaghetti bolognaise sauce, casserole, banana bread, whatever you can freeze and you will have home made food at the ready for those times when you really, really can't muster any cooking love.

6. Cook in company

Following on from the Mamabake theme, cooking with others can be much more fun than cooking on your own. Get your family involved. I know with younger children this can take longer and be messier but they have to learn and think of it this way, if you start teaching them from a very young age by the age of 10 you should be able to allocate them a night to cook dinner, giving you the night off!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

wholefood mama: Joey De Backer

It's been a while since we've had an interview with a wholefood mama, so today I am very happy to introduce you to a Mornington Peninsula local wholefoodmama, Joey De Backer.

Joey is mama to Isla who is 1, and is also a dietician who is committed to holistic nutrition counselling. Amen to combining those two practices!

I first met Joey almost two years ago at a fermented foods workshop that she hosted through Living Nutrition, her holistic wellness business that she operates with Heidi Sze a nutritionist and dietician.

Joey was inspired to start Living Nutrition in 2011 after facing her own health struggle. In her final year of nutrition and dietetics study, on holidays after clinical placement in a hospital, Joey had a snowboarding accident that left her debilitated with sciatica and on heavy pain medication. 

"I then did a public health nutrition placement at Peninsula community health where I looked at breastfeeding support services on the peninsula (which has been so helpful for my own breastfeeding journey, knowing just how much support is available)! 

The effects of the snowboarding accident really intensified when I started my first job as a dietitian in Bairnsdale at the end of 2010. The stress of a new job and questioning my role and how I wanted to practise dietetics certainly played a part, it wasn't long before I decided that hospital work was not for me, although I learnt SO much that year!" 

Joey took some time off work and researched everything she could do better to heal her back, stop taking the pain medication and relieve the anxiety and depression she was feeling as a result of her injury and the treatment she was enduring but was not relieving her pain.

Joey's holistic recovery included meditation, emotional freedom technique, visualisation and an anti-inflammatory diet. Through Living Nutrition, Joey and Heidi now offer individual consultations and a range of wonderful workshops and courses such as an 8 week Healthy Habits program that walks participants through developing healthier eating and lifestyle habits.

I love Joey's common sense approach to eating well and living well so I thought I'd invite her to share more of her story here with you. Thankyou Joey! x

What prompted your interest in becoming a dietician?

It was mostly the influence of my mum who was always into healing with food and herbs instead of medicine. She'd take us to a naturopath or homeopath instead of to the doctor and I was always a super healthy kid, so that sparked my interest in natural health and food as medicine. 

During adolescence I became aware of my weight and started paying attention to the nutrition sections of women's magazines, you know where there's a little picture of a dietitian in the corner and some news bites like 'blueberries fight ageing'... I remember designing myself a diet to lose weight (which I didn't need to) and boost my brain power, collating everything I'd learned from these magazines! 

I wanted to know how to design the 'perfect' diet, hence my interest in studying nutrition. As I studied I of course realised that it's much more complex and the huuuuuuge role psychology plays in eating behaviour - it's not as simple as 'here's a diet for you to follow'!  

As the mother of a young child, what is your philosophy when it comes to feeding your family?

Isla is 1 year old now phew! We're practising baby led weaning with Isla so she breastfeeds on demand and eats family foods with us at the table (or running around, as she is not a fan of being restrained by a high chair HA!) 

We get a veg box weekly from Transition Farm in Rye who are a CSA that farm biodynamically and their produce is just beautiful! 

I also run the food coop in Balnarring so we get our non-perishables like grains, nuts, seeds etc; from organic suppliers such as Mount Zero and Honest to Goodness. Buying in bulk makes it a lot cheaper and it's a wonderful community of people! 

We go to the local farmers and craft markets for treats, fruit and meat and my partner goes hunting so we get wild rabbit, deer, pig and kangaroo. So I guess the philosophy is eat as much SLOW food as possible. 

We eat out a lot too, which has been made more challenging as Isla seems to be dairy and egg intolerant (off soy and wheat too but not sure about their effect yet), so we both avoid these foods but there's always something we can eat and I'm not fussy!

For many people when they decide to quit their processed diet one of the main hurdles they face is being challenged by friends and family members who argue 'everything in moderation' is ok, what are your thoughts on 'moderation' and what words of encouragement and advice do you offer your clients as they make change?

It's such a cliche phrase now hey, but I do agree with it in general. Imposing restrictions on your food choices usually leads to feeling of deprivation and then giving up all together and potentially bingeing on unhealthy foods. 

It really depends on the person and their relationship with food as to how they should approach making changes to their eating. Because it is something we do every day, I usually recommend changes are made gradually so that they are sustainable and become the new habit. It can be useful however to do something like a whole 30 for a specified period of time as an experiment. Then you can really tell what is the effect on your body and you build skills in being able to eat that way and say no to processed foods. 

You devote a little more energy to food preparation during that time, knowing its not forever and you learn the habits that you can easily continue in your normal lifestyle or the things that really pay off and you want to change as well as the things that don't work. 

Then when you have that slice of cake at a birthday party it isn't a big deal and you will feel the effects it has on your body. The main thing we all need to work on is listening to our body and heeding its messages. It can be hard to do because we're so used to heeding external indicators that tell us how much, what and when to eat - the clock, the packet size, the plate size, what our mother told us, what our friends do, advertising, processed foods that trick our body, is it cheaper to get a larger size (movie deals WHAAAT!)....   

So words of encouragement and advice:

1. Be kind to yourself. People who work on improving their self compassion end up eating better without trying.

2. Listen to your body. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals and your digestion and responses to eating different foods. What makes you feel really satisfied?

3. The point of power is in the present moment. There is no 'perfect' diet that you will one day achieve and maintain. Life is forever changing, as are you, as is food - Just do the best you can right now.

4. Look for real food. If you want a sweet treat, make it yourself or buy it from someone who made it themselves e.g. from a market not something processed made in a factory. 

If you're comfortable with what you're doing i.e. making diet changes it's easier to be assertive when others put pressure on you. Sometimes you need to be prepared with other food options. 

Were you raised to appreciate wholefood or is it something you have grown into in your adult years?

Yeah mum always cooked things like adzuki beans and artichokes and used herbs from the garden. 
I was the kid who brought a whole lemon or tomato to school for a snack. Being able to eat straight from the garden has made me appreciate the real flavour and vitality in fresh, organic food. I just can't eat supermarket apples, there is nothing in there for me. It's made me consider the energy in food - you can really tell when food is fresh and you get that nourished, buzzing feeling of satisfaction. I'm intrigued by flavour balance and how it nourishes us too - like chinese medicine beliefs that different flavours nourish different organ systems. 

Thanks Joey for a great interview, so much to think about in your answers. And now here is some inspiration for your cooking from Joey as she offers her tips on how to 'build' salads that your family and friends will love.

Salad Building by Joey De Backer

Forget ‘rabbit food’. Salads shouldn’t be boring or bland. Follow this 4 step formula to create well rounded salads that you will make friends with.

      Start with a solid foundation of leafy greens. These leaves should form the bulk of your salad because they’re jam packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The chewing factor and the fibre fills you up and keeps your gut happy.
Think roquette, radicchio, mizuno, mesclun, baby spinach, baby silverbeet, baby beet greens, lettuce (something darker than iceberg such as cos or oakleaf), cress, mustard greens, oh the list is endless!

2.     Build on this with something to add colour and texture. Your eyes, mouth and the rest of your body will thank you.
Veg – try sprouts (alfalfa, mung beans etc…), avocado, capsicum, fennel, radish, roasted pumpkin, beetroot, sweet potato…
Fruit – apple, pear, orange, pomegranate, berries, grapefruit, stone fruit are all delish in a salad – raw or grilled mmmm.
Grain – quinoa, grainy bread croutons, pasta, freekeh, cous cous, brown or wild rice…
3.     Stack in a source of protein (~90g) to fill you up.
Meat/fish/eggs – my faves are tinned sardines or salmon with the bones, grilled chicken, turkey or roo. This is where grilling/steaming/poaching in advance can be really handy.   
Cheese – good old cubes of tasty or maybe a soft goats cheese, crumbly feta or grilled haloumi.
Legume – lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans – easy peasy to add rinsed from a can or extra points for cooking from dried!

4.     Top it off with something for flavour.
Homemade dressing – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, S&P is my go-to, make in a minute dressing. Or try ¼ cup tahini, juice of 1 lemon, ½ cup water, 1 minced garlic clove + S&P all whisked together for a more creamy dressing. 
Herbs, edible flowers and spices – these can be used in cooking e.g. sprinkle ground cumin and coriander over your roast beetroot, or fresh green herbs and edible flowers such as parsley, basil, borage and nasturtium can be tossed through raw.
Antipasto - Olives, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes…
Dried fruit – currants, cranberries, apricots, crystallised ginger…
Toasted nuts or seeds – pine nuts, slivered almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas…

You can easily make these in advance so you’re ready to grab and go in the morning although it can help to keep soggy items separate until you eat, e.g. keep your dressing in a jar or try a mason jar layered salad! See Carolyn Kylstra's Mason Jar Salads for ideas!

Have fun experimenting and finding your favourite combinations!
Jar your dressing and drizzle it over before you eat so the greens stay fresh longer! Also handy if bringing a salad to a function. Each person can dress their own salad and this way if there’s leftovers they’ll last.
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