Why Breakfast Cereal Ruins Your Day…AND Your Health

Why Breakfast Cereal Ruins Your Day and Your Health

Does this sound familiar?

After a good 8-hour night’s sleep, it’s 7:30 am and you’re headed to the kitchen to ‘grab’ breakfast before running off to work. You’re trying to eat well, so you have a new ‘healthy’ selection of breakfast cereals to choose from. Names like ‘Just Right’, ‘Sustain’, and ‘Weetbix’ make you feel like you are sustaining your body with just the right amount of wheat or grains for a ‘healthy’ start to the day. You even have soy milk or low-fat milk to pour over, as everyone has said those are the ‘healthiest’. During your morning commute, you are feeling proud of your new diet, but soon after you arrive at work, you are craving banana bread and muffins from the cafe next door, and are dying for your morning coffee. By mid-morning, you are feeling sleepy and can’t concentrate, already watching the clock for a lunch break. By lunchtime, you haven’t finished much of your morning work and are so famished that you gorge yourself on fast food. What went wrong?

Aren’t many breakfast cereals healthy?

Contrary to what the slick marketing would have you believe, boxed breakfast cereals provide little to no nutrition, are extremely indigestible, and are therefore not fit for human consumption. Cereal is made through the extrusion process, in which little flakes and shapes are formed at high temperatures and pressures. This processing destroys many valuable nutrients in grains, causes the oils to become rancid and renders certain proteins toxic. And this is what we are attempting to fuel our bodies with first thing in the morning.

Why Breakfast Cereal Ruins Your Day and Your Health

Breakfast = BREAK the FAST

The 8-12 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast is the longest period your body goes without food. This daily ‘fast’ is required so our bodies can rest, repair and grow during sleep. However, soon after sunrise, our bodily systems ‘wake up’ by releasing cortisol hormones to get us ready for daily physical and mental activity, and we need nutritious food to sustain this, just as a car needs petrol to run. If we break the ‘fast’ with indigestible, nutrient lacking breakfast cereals, our bodies will still be hungry for real food, lacking physical energy and mental clarity.

It Gets Worse…

On top of that, the body may store existing fat to prepare for famine, as it continues to go without proper food. We throw down pills for the headaches, depression, anxiety, moodiness and muscle aches that are actually just symptoms of our growing lack of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. And all the while, the digestive system is taking a beating, getting more ineffective and bogged down with indigestible food until things like Bloating, Constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Parasites and Bowel Cancer finally show us what’s going on inside.

But my breakfast cereal is fortified with iron!

What if I told you that your cereal was fortified with metal iron shavings? Does that change things? Science is amazing, but it is still a far stretch to think that we can replicate the vitamins and minerals that naturally occur within our plant and animal foods, and simply add them to a de-natured over-processed food like cereal to get proper nutrition.

Our children are suffering

I have heard several mums tell me lately that their toddler just wants to eat all morning, and never seems satisfied until lunch. I have seen too many school-age children struggle to learn or be labelled ADHD because they can’t concentrate during their morning lessons. We all know children who have allergies, ear infections, sinus problems and other symptoms of poor nutrition. Could one answer to all these problems actually be as simple as a proper breakfast?

Then what should I eat for breakfast?

Whatever other nutritious foods you eat the rest of the day! Who decided we could only eat ‘breakfast foods’ in the morning? Oh yeah, the giant companies that sell packaged breakfast foods. Why not steak, potatoes and vegetables? Why not real, whole foods comprised of protein, fat and carbohydrates that come from plants and animals and have not been processed?

What about my 4-5 daily serves of whole grains?

The short answer is that the people who created The Food Pyramid are the same people who decided we could only eat packaged breakfast foods in the morning. Think Kellogg, General Mills…

What about the milk?

The short answer is that the milk is just as detrimental. For the long answer, read How Milk Became So Dangerous.

Old habits die hard

For decades, it has been ingrained into our thoughts that breakfast = cereal. We are addicted to the ritual, the crunch, the variety, the convenience. And we are suffering the consequences. It may take time to get used to a breakfast of whole, real, unprocessed food, but it will be a habit worth changing.

Yours in health,

Bex

P.S. My favourite breakfast: Leftovers from dinner reheated under the grill. Just as quick to prepare as breakfast cereal, and the flavours are even better the next day!)

What’s your favourite breakfast? Comment below…


Resources:

– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.

Vegetable Cheat Sheet L – Z

Continued from Vegetable Cheat Cheet A-K

Leeks
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Saute / Bake
Tips: Trim off ends before cooking. Split lengthwise for baking. Finished when tender.

Lima Beans
Season: Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Boil
Tips: While dried lima beans are a legume, the fresh beans are a vegetable. Hull your own or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly hulled beans into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and serve.

Kaiya checking out squash varieties for Mum's cooking

Mushrooms
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Saute / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be very fresh. Delicious idea is to remove stem and stuff with butter, cheese, herbs, bacon, etc. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Onion
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-cooker / Raw
Tips: Usually partnered with other veg, but also tasty on its own! Use butter, olive oil and/or water to caramelise onions when sauteing or baking. Red onion is nice as a raw salad veg.

Parsnips
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Slow-cooker
Tips: Trim, peel and cut into sticks or chunks before cooking. Boil and mash with butter and cream just like potatoes. Or bake or saute just like carrots. Oven-baked parsnip sticks look like French fries!

Peas (Garden or Shell / Sugar Snap / Snow)
Season: Spring / Summer
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Stir-fry
Tips: Peas belong to the legume family and can be eaten fresh or dried. Shell your own fresh peas or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly shelled peas into boiling water for a few minutes, until just tender. Drain and serve. Chinese or Sugar Snap Pea varieties can be trimmed and steamed for one minute and do not need butter as they are naturally buttery.

Potatoes
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Brush the skin with oil for crispy baked potatoes. Alternatively, wrapping in foil helps bake nicely. The smaller the potato chunks in the slow cooker, the mushier the finished potato. Can also slow-cook potatoes whole.

Pumpkin ( many varieties including butternut [see winter squash])
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Steam / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Roast seeds for a delicious snack: toss in oil and salt and bake on a baking sheet at 120 C until dry.

Rutabaga (Swede)
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake
Tips: Great lower-starch/lower GI alternative to potatoes. Dice, grate, or mash like you would a potato. Like other root vegetables, roasting in the oven brings out the sweetness.

Spinach
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake
Tips: Always have some of this versatile leafy green in the fridge. Baby spinach best for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.

Summer Squash (Zucchini, Yellow)
Season: Autumn
Cooking: Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Seeds and skin are edible. Never steam or boil. Easily overcooked, so finish cooking when just soft.

Sweet Potato (Kumara/Yams)
Season: Year-round or cooler months
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Cook like potatoes. Roasting (baking) brings out the sweet flavour. Be sure to eat with butter (or egg yolks or cream) for highest fat-soluble nutrient absorption. Related to the morning glory family, not the potato! Comes in yellow, white and purple flesh, in addition to the popular orange variety.

Tomatoes
Season: Late Spring / Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Technically a fruit but usually eaten like a vegetable, tomatoes are incredibly versatile. Can be served both hot and cold.

Turnips
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Raw
Tips: A cousin of the rutabaga (swede). Lower-starch alternative to potatoes and can be cooked similarly. Baby turnips can keep their skin, otherwise tough skin can be peeled or cut off. Can also be grated raw in salads or sliced and eaten with dip or nut butter.

Winter Squash ( Butternut Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash)
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Pumpkin seeds can be dried or roasted to eat as a snack.

Happy Cooking!

References:

– Simply in Season Website: http://simplyinseason.org/season/guide/pumpkins.html
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.


Vegetable Cheat Sheet A – K

Vegetable Cheat Sheet - A to K

Arugula (Rocket)
Season: Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Raw / Saute
Tips: Great for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.

Asparagus
Season: Late Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be fresh; don’t buy if the tips have gone mushy. Before cooking, snap off hard ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when stalks turn bright green. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.

Cooking is easy once you get to know your veggies

Beans, Green
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Raw
Tips: Before cooking, trim ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 8 minutes). Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Beets (Beetroot)
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Boil / Raw (grated)
Tips: Baking takes a bit longer but retains more nutrients and flavour. Finished cooking when sharp knife or skewer goes through easily (1-2 hours depending on size). Skin peels off easily after beets are cooked and cooled. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Great with drizzled olive oil. Leaves are slightly bitter but can be prepared and eaten like kale (below).

Bell Peppers (Capsicum)
Season: Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Saute / Stir-fry
Tips: Great raw as a snack or in salads. Skin peels off easily after char-grilled and cooled. To keep fresh longer, store remaining cut pieces wrapped in paper towel in fridge drawer. Grilled or roasted bell peppers (capsicum) can be used to make sauces.

Broccoli
Season: Autumn / Winter / Early Spring
Cooking: Steam / Stir-fry / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Cooks quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when flowerets turn bright green and tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.

Brussel Sprouts
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Saute
Tips: Cut off ends and remove loose outer leaves. Make a little cross in the end to help cook evenly. Steams in about 5-10 minutes. Or steam for 1-2 minutes then saute to finish. Finished when tender.

Cabbage
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw
Tips: Remove outer leaves and hard core. Shred or grate cabbage finely for best results (food processor makes it easy). Steam with minimal water for about 5 minutes. Finished when just wilted. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg (slaw).

Carrots
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Raw / Steam / Saute / Boil / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Most convenient raw snack veg as doesn’t need cutting. Peeling skin off does not remove nutrients. Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Cauliflower
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Steams in about 10 minutes. Finished cooking when flowerets are tender. Makes nice soup, or mashed as an alternative to mashed potato.

Celery
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Raw / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Convenient raw veg snack; nice with nut butter or homemade dip. Breaks down nicely in slow-cooked meals. Leaves and top of stalks can be used in making stocks, broths and soups.

Corn
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Grill
Tips: Remove husks (shuck) before steaming. Steam covered in small amount of water for about 5-10 minutes until just tender. When baking, corn is finished when green husks turn straw colour. Cold cooked corn works well as a salad ingredient or as a snack.

Eggplant
Season: Summer/ Early Autumn
Cooking: Grill / Saute / Bake
Tips: Easiest cooking method is to slice lengthwise or into rounds, put under grill until hot, rub on butter, then grill until golden (one or both sides). Eggplant slices make nice layers in veggie stacks, or used to pile meat and veg on as an alternative to bread.

Kale
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw (in shakes/juice)
Tips: Remove stems and tear leaves off ribs. Steam with minimal water for about 8 minutes until wilted. Then squeeze out liquid in a strainer before serving. Can be used raw in green shakes or veggie juices.

The rest of the veggie alphabet is at Vegetable Cheat Sheet L-Z

Happy Cooking!

References:

– Simply in Season Website: http://simplyinseason.org/season/guide/
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.

How Milk Became So Dangerous

Danger: Wholesome Milk!

The conflicting information is driving us all mad!! On the one hand we hear: Milk Does a Body Good!. It’s essential for calcium requirements, Vitamin D, strong bones and healthy children. On the other hand we hear: Milk causes mucus. It leads to lactose intolerance and ear infections. It’s too fatty. It contains Bovine Growth Hormone. Our societal response to this confusion is low-fat milk, skim milk, no-fat milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, organic milk, BGH-free milk, no milk. Just more confusion. So what’s gone wrong and where do we go from here?

Once Upon a Time…The Milk Was Raw

As far back as 9,000 years ago, cows, sheep, goats, water buffalo and camels munched exclusively on the rapidly growing green grass of early spring and fall. Milk was squeezed from the healthy animals udders, then drunk fresh by humans. The fresh milk these animals produced provided animal protein and fat, a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, and other life-giving enzymes and nutrients to the healthy nomadic and agricultural societies of some parts of the world. When the milk sat out for too long, it didn’t go off, but instead, it simply soured and became cream cheese and whey. Many of these traditional societies further fermented or soured the milk to produce yoghurt, cheese, buttermilk, kefir and sour cream… foods full of friendly bacteria and digestive enzymes.

Today the Milk is Diseased and Processed

In today’s industrial society, dairy cows have little or no access to their proper diet of green grass. Instead, they are fed high-protein soybean meal which stimulates them to produce more milk but in turn leads to high rates of mastitis, liver problems and other illnesses. The cows are given genetically engineered growth hormones so that they will produce huge amounts of milk, but too much growth hormones leads to growth abnormalities and possibly tumour formations and cancers. With her new diet and hormones, today’s cow is prone to so many diseases that she almost always excretes pus into her milk and needs frequent doses of antibiotics. Needless to say, her milk is just as diseased as she is.

Louis Pasteur

Pasteurisation: Processing the Milk

So in an attempt to protect himself against disease, man pasteurises the diseased milk, subjecting it to extremely high heats. This actually further degrades the milk in numerous ways:

  • Pasteurisation is no guarantee of cleanliness: In recent decades, all outbreaks of salmonella (and there have been many) have occurred in pasteurised milk.
  • Pasteurisation destroys all the enzymes in milk, including lactase, which helps digest lactose (contributing to lactose intolerance), and numerous enzymes which help the body absorb calcium and other minerals. This puts a strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes.
  • Pasteurisation destroys friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria in milk which aid digestion and protect against pathogens (making it vulnerable to rancidity and salmonella).
  • Pasteurisation promotes rancidity of milk’s fatty acids and alters the amino acids (proteins).
  • Pasteurisation promotes destruction of vitamins. Vitamin loss is usually 50-80%.

The Final Touches: Toxification

The milk is not quite ready for the supermarket shelves yet. Next, chemicals may be added to suppress the bad odour and bring back the normal taste (both a result of the pasteurisation). Synthetic vitamin D3 is added, which is hard for the body to absorb, and synthetic D2 is added, which has been linked to heart disease among other things. Powdered skim milk is added to certain varieties, which contains rancid fats harmful to the arteries, nitrate compounds that are potent carcinogens, and a neurotoxin called free glutamic acid. Lastly, the milk is homogenised, which has also been linked to heart disease.

Which Types of Milk Should We Drink?

X Non-fat and Low-fat Milk: Diseased and Pasteurised. Plus, these are the varieties that powdered skim milk is added to, which I just described in the last paragraph as a toxic mess.
X Soy Milk: Most soybeans are genetically modified. Unfermented soy can greatly disrupt the hormonal and digestive system. Most soy milks contain sugar.
X Oat Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk: Processed and/or unsoaked grains and nuts strain the digestive system. The extrusion process used to get milk from grains or nuts often involves high heat and pressure which renders the food rancid and devoid of nutrients.
X Organic Milk:Healthy cows, healthy milk but then what a shame pasteurised! If you absolutely must have milk and can’t get it raw, this is the better bad choice.
v Raw Milk:Healthy, life-giving milk like our ancient ancestors drank. The bad news: thanks to pasteurisation laws in Australia and America, it is illegal to sell raw milk as food. The good news: you can buy delicious raw milk sold as bath milk for cosmetic purposes. Contact me to find out where!
v No Milk:If you don’t have access to good quality raw milk, remove milk from your diet altogether. Milk’s main partners in crime cereal and coffee aren’t doing your health many favours either.

Cleopatra Milk

What About Calcium?

Many of us are determined to drink milk because we’ve been led to believe that it is the only way to get enough calcium in our diet (by the dairy companies marketing). However, hasn’t anyone noticed that Western nations with high dairy consumption still have high rates of osteoporosis and tooth decay? Reasons for this include:

  • Pasteurisation thwarts all the body’s chances of absorbing calcium from milk.
  • Sugar consumption and stress (both rampant in our society) both pull calcium from the bones.
  • Phytic acid in unsoaked grains (consumed recklessly in our society) inhibits calcium absorption.
  • Sufficient Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. Yet we shy away from some of the best sources of
    Vit D: the sun, organ meats, eggs, and butterfat.
  • Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Potassium and other nutrients need to be obtained in proper balance
    to provide optimal bone health (the average Western diet is often lacking).

In many Asian countries and other societies where dairy is not consumed, bone broth is a diet staple. This is a highly nutritious addition to any diet.Other good sources of calcium include leafy greens, nuts, oranges, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sardines and wild salmon.

RAW Cheese Ingredient List

Other Dairy: Yoghurt, Cheese, Butter and more

Only in the West is milk consumed in an unfermented or uncultured state. Pre-industrial societies consumed milk as yoghurt, cheese, butter, sour cream, buttermilk, kefir, curds and whey. If made properly from good-quality dairy, these foods have tremendous health benefits. Raw is still best, but these foods can still be beneficial when pasteurised. The process of fermenting or souring milk partially breaks down lactose (milk sugar), predigests casein (one of the most difficult proteins for the body to digest), and increases vitamin content. Adding a culture to the milk (such as with yoghurt) restores many of the enzymes destroyed during pasteurisation and provides friendly bacteria and lactic acid to keep pathogens away, guard against infectious illnesses and aid in digestion of all food intake.

Your Final Decision

Since we have veered so far from our ancestral ways, food choices are an increasingly confusing and stressful issue. After all you have read here, you will also find lots of articles and people telling you that raw milk is unsafe and pasteurisation is very safe. My advice: instead of following the pack or stressing (both detrimental), do some reading, gather some information and make the right choice for you. If you need guidance in doing this, just give me a shout !

Yours in health, Bex

Resources:

– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.
– The Primal Blueprint; Mark Sisson. California: Primal Nutrition, Inc. 2009.
– How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy; Paul Chek. California: C.H.E.K. Institiute. 2006
– The Bovine: Freedom of Choice. http://thebovine.wordpress.com/

Rebecca Rasmus – How Milk Became So Dangerous – July 2012

What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet

What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet

We’ve all heard about how healthy the Mediterranean Diet is, but besides lots of fish and olive oil, what actually makes it so healthy? Spending the last month in Greece, we found ourselves in real food heaven and discovered some of the real secrets behind this primal diet.

 

 

 

 

What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet

Traditional, organic food is a matter of national pride

The Greeks are extremely proud of their cuisine, and their cultural knowledge and passion for fresh, local and traditionally made foods is astounding.

The first day we were in Greece, both our young café waiter and middle-aged taxi driver spoke passionately about how foods used to be grown and prepared and how the modern way was inferior and they must not lose their food traditions. And we hadn’t even said anything to provoke these rants! Many people showed their disgust of pesticides and other chemicals used in farming, bewildered why anyone would ‘ruin’ the food and water supply with such things.

Organic is easy to find in Greece
Organic is easy to find in Greece

The food is fresh, local and wild

And it didn’t stop there. Restaurant menus boast “village” sausage, which is made fresh from local pigs (with no fillers – just meat, herbs and spices). An asterisk next to a menu item means it has been frozen, and the waiters often confirm this apologetically, “Sorry, that one we don’t have fresh. You still want?”

Every village, town and city proudly sells its own local olive oil, honey, herbs, salt, dairy products, meat and/or produce. Even the wine and spirits are touted as special ones from the local region.

Local food is king in Greece
Local food is king in Greece

Local food is king in Greece

Bee boxes dot the hillsides, where the bees create various types of honey from different plants and trees. The honey is never processed or pasteurised, and for some reason it is noticeably less sweet and more delicious than what we are used to.

Local staples like olives, nuts, beans, yogurt, and cheese are often unpackaged in the shops, sitting in bulk ready for customers to order by the kilo. It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that foods have started to line the shelves pre-packaged.

Fresh herbs for Greek cooking
Pre-packaged foods are only a recent innovation in Greece.

Food grows everywhere. We ate apricots, plums, figs and nectarines off the trees. Tomato plants covered in juicy fruit sprout up through cracks in the sidewalk. Every terrace, patio, balcony, rooftop and carport is covered not with a roof, but a carpet of vine leaves with bunches of grapes hanging down for plucking and eating. Wild greens, known as horta, are picked from random bushes on the way home, then boiled and eaten for their vast nutritional benefits.

The famous Greek salad of olives, onion, cucumber and tomato is always cut fresh to order, right before it’s eaten. This maintains high nutritional content AND taste. Salad, along with most other foods, is dressed simply in fresh dried oregano, sometimes a splash of wine vinegar (from all those grapes), and of course olive oil.

Not all olive oil is created equal

Olive oil is the most famous component of the Mediterranean Diet, and in Greece it is of the highest quality and taste. Unrefined, or extra virgin, is expected as the norm, and the beautiful flavour is like nothing we’d ever had in other countries. This is probably due to the freshness.

You see, olive trees grow like weeds all over the country, ensuring a plentiful supply of fresh olives. People we stayed with boasted how many olive trees they had on their land, and how in season, they pick their olives and take it to the local press to make their own oil.

Fermented & Raw Dairy

The other famous topping on the Greek Salad is a thick slice of feta cheese, usually made the traditional way from sheep and/or goat’s milk. Unprocessed cheeses are a staple food in Greece, displayed in huge rounds and cut to order, and eaten with other foods or used as a common ingredient in various dishes.

Greek Yoghurt is also made from these animal’s milk, and rarely pasteurised, unlike the greek yoghurt imitations around the world. The taste is incomparable, and as the Greek’s main fermented food eaten with most meals, its rawness ensures a wealth of probiotics.

Greek goat and sheep dairy is fresh and often unpasteurised
Greek goat and sheep dairy is fresh and often unpasteurised
Greek goat and sheep dairy is fresh and often unpasteurised
Local animals’ meat, eggs and dairy feature on Greek menus

Meat is not the main event, Seafood is not what you think

I think we can learn a lot from the Greek approach to eating animal foods. First of all, local is king, so you will rarely find beef dishes on all those Greek Islands where there are no cows. Pork, goat, chicken and rabbit dishes are common, as these are usual ‘backyard animals’ which are raised and eaten locally, instead of factory farmed.

Snails are another, lesser known animal food staple of the Mediterranean diet, which you can find wild everywhere, so you know they are fresh. Some diet experts believe this is one of the key components to long, healthy lives in the Mediterranean, as snails are highly nutritious.

Snails are a nutritious part of the Mediterranean diet
Snails are a nutritious, lesser-known part of the Mediterranean diet

Secondly, meat is traditionally an addition to the mainly salad and vegetable dishes, instead of the other way around. And meat is mostly reserved for wintertime meals, when there is not as much fresh produce to eat. In the summer, fruit and vegetables are traditionally the focus, with some fish or a bit of meat sometimes.

And of course there’s plenty of seafood, a famous component of their healthful diet, especially in a country with so many islands and coastline. But instead of farmed salmon and white fish filets like we eat in America and Australia, Greek menus feature plenty of octopus, squid, whole local wild fish, and tiny fish like sardines, which are less toxic and full of nutritious oils.

Octopus is widely consumed in Greece
Octopus is widely consumed in Greece

What about dessert?

It’s true that Greek women pride themselves on their baking skills, and Greek bakeries are plentiful, full of various pastries, cookies, chocolates, ice creams and even candies. If you’ve ever had the famous baklava, you know how sweet Greek deserts can be, the filo dough dripping with honey and sugar syrup.

However, it seems that the Greeks don’t eat a huge amount of desserts. Like the French approach, they savour and appreciate these traditional sweets in moderation, never overdoing it.

Dessert after a meal, especially in the spring and summer, is usually fresh fruit. At almost every restaurant we went to, we were served a free plate of watermelon or honeydew as soon as we asked for the bill.

Even dessert can be healthier when traditionally made, as in much of Greece
Even dessert can be healthier when traditionally made, as in much of Greece

So are the Greeks really healthy?

However, we were still bewildered by the alarming amount of fully-stocked bakeries and the amount of bread being eaten. Though the Greek people rank high on the list for longest life-span, the average Greek body shape didn’t seem to reflect these tenants of the Mediterranean Diet and some of the lifestyle habits are far from what we’d consider healthy.

And so we explore smoking, drinking, coffee and other favourite Greek pastimes in our next article, Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle, and discover that it’s when we look beyond diet, that we can truly be healthy.

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

According to the WHO stats, the Japanese are some of the longest living people in the world. But a long life doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy one. Personally, we would rather add life to our years than years to our life, so we like to study healthy people and copy what they do. Here’s what we found when we lived in and visited Japan and analysed their diet and lifestyle…

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World

Is the Japanese diet really that healthy?

Seafood and processed food

Most people attribute the long average lifespan of the Japanese to a mostly primal diet rich in seafood. While it is true that the Japanese do eat a good amount of seafood, including various types of nutrient-rich seaweeds, these days their traditional foods are very processed and often replaced with modern commercial western foods.

Breakfast gone bad

We have only lived in the Tokyo area, and I would assume the big cities suffer more from this food commercialisation than the rural villages and countryside towns. However, in the Tokyo area, Japanese people often eat a breakfast not unlike the SAD (Standard American Diet) breakfast: boxed cereals, processed milk, bakery goods, or just coffee and toast. There are bakeries absolutely everywhere, offering sugary processed alternatives to the traditional Japanese breakfast of rice, fermented soybeans, fish and vegetables for many city-dwelling Japanese.

Dessert

In addition to fancy cakes, crepes, profiteroles and other European sweets, there are plenty of traditional Japanese desserts, mostly made from rice and beans, which makes them seem much healthier, even though they are sweetened with sugar. When not homemade, however, they are laden with the usual preservatives, additives, and processed sugars and syrups.

Traditional Japanese food is processed and packaged all over Tokyo
We thought there were healthy food selections at 7-11, like this spinach and pork, until we translated the long ingredient list on the back of the package.

Traditional foods all wrapped in plastic

The same goes with pre-packaged bento boxes, sushi rolls, rice balls, and even salads. At a glance, they are traditional healthy goodness. Fish, seaweed, rice, radish, ginger, fermented veggies and the like. And yes, if Japanese meals are home-cooked with traditional ingredients, they are surely the staples of long-living, healthy people. But in bustling Tokyo and its sprawling suburbs, these traditional meals are packaged up with long ingredient lists that include stabilisers, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, MSG, and various sugars. I talk about this in my article about eating gluten-free in Japan, as many traditionally gluten-free Japanese foods are now full of processed wheat. As in many other societies, traditions are not being passed onto the new generations, who only know a world of ready-made food.

Organic food in Japan

Driving or taking a train through rural Japan, you can see plot after plot of home-grown and community-grown fruits and vegetables. I have no doubt this is a key factor in Japanese longevity. These days, however, a great number of Japanese buy most of their food from the supermarket, where the produce comes from heavily chemical sprayed farms and the meat is mostly factory farmed. There is also tons of imported food in the shops – American pork, bananas from the Philippines, Aussie beef, Vietnamese farmed fish – which our Japanese friends say is because it’s just so much cheaper to import.

Trying to find local or organic produce in a Japanese supermarket
One Tokyo suburb supermarket had a section showing pictures and locations of the farmers who grew the food. But no information on chemical use.

Our few health-conscious Japanese friends have sourced organic or spray-free produce, through a weekly farm box delivery, but properly raised meat is hard to find and very expensive, so they just don’t eat too much of it. There doesn’t seem to be many places to buy organically grown/raised plant and animal food in Tokyo, though the magazine for the English-speaking community lists 4 weekly farmers markets, touting either organic, farm fresh or just local.

One friend is very vigilant not to buy fish caught anywhere near Fukushima, for fear of radiation levels from the nuclear plant. Other people, however, say they heard on the news that people over 20 years old are not affected by radiation, so they don’t think about it. Hmm…

Finding certified organic food in a Japanese supermarket
The symbol at the bottom is one of the logos for Japanese certified organic food

My lifestyle determines my death style

Ok, that line is a bit dramatic, but it’s a favourite from a Metallica song and has a great ring of truth to it. For the Japanese, just as with the contradiction between their traditional and modern diet, there is a great gap between the traditional lifestyle which clearly promotes longevity, and the modern lifestyle which leads to rampant disease and untimely death.

How the Japanese live so long

The traditional lifestyle, still followed by millions of rural Japanese, is one of organic farming, affirming spiritual beliefs, and strong family ties. The elderly are cared for by their families, and continue to proudly work in their gardens and fields despite their age. With a traditional, unprocessed Japanese diet, you have a winning combination for a long, healthy life.

And why so many die young

Modern times, however, has brought great economic and social pressures. The Japanese are very proud people, who would rather die than feel as if they have disgraced their company with poor performance or let their family down with less than the best success. Consequently, Japanese mothers feel it their duty to push their children hard into academic excellence. From a very young age, study hours are long, tutors are many and pressure is high.

Once in the workforce, businessmen are slaves to their company, if only shackled by pride and obligation. After long work hours and uncompensated overtime, workers are expected to socialise with colleagues over drinks long into the night. After a long train ride home, and a short sleep, they do it all over again, usually 6 days a week.

Japanese people sleep everywhere, probably due to overwork and stress.
Japanese people sleep everywhere throughout the day, probably due to overwork and stress.

This lifestyle doesn’t allow much time at all for sleep, self-nurturing, exercise, or for family bonds to develop. Many times the pressure, fatigue and loneliness are so great, it leads to suicide. There is even a Japanese term that translates as “death from overwork”.

Learning from a land of contradictions

It’s all these contradictions that make Japan so interesting and mysterious. The crossing over of ancient tradition and high technology, quiet rituals and chaotic cities, primal vs. modern diet and lifestyles.

It’s really never enough to look at a list of the longest living peoples and make assumptions, as each country and culture is so complex, and true health is gained from a combination of factors which are never clear cut. However, by looking at the various cultures of the world – their traditions, daily habits and contradictions – we can begin to learn what may be best for our own health.

 

Do you think the Japanese diet and lifestyle are good models of health of longevity? Why?

 

 

The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free In Japan

The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free in Japan

Gluten-free in Japan? Good luck. Trying to avoid gluten in Japan is like trying to avoid glitter at Mardi Gras. It goes completely undetected until you get home and find glitter hiding in your hair and the folds of your clothes. Well, you can’t even imagine all the places that gluten hides in Japanese food…

The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free in Japan

Writing to you from Japan now, I’ve learned quite a bit about what it takes to eat truly gluten-free in this land of culinary wonders. I did my research before coming and thought I was prepared, but still ended up accidentally eating gluten. Fortunately for me, I am not highly symptomatic and don’t suffer much when I eat gluten, but my leaky gut does. If you are highly gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, you will definitely need to read this article before eating in Japan.

Where gluten hides in Japanese food

The 4 Offenders

Nearly every type of Japanese dish is made with at least one of 4 glutinous suspects: soy sauce, miso, dashi, and MSG.

Soy Sauce: Most all the soy sauce is made from wheat and my Japanese friends in Tokyo area have never even heard of Tamari, the wheat-free soy sauce we eat in Australia. Soy sauce is definitely not just for dipping in Japan. It is used as liberally as salt and pepper in other countries, added to everything! It’s even on that seemingly gluten-free steak, mixed in with those seaweed snacks, and added to even the most plain-looking soups. Japanese for soy sauce is SHOYU (しょうゆ) pronounced ‘show you’.

Miso is a flavourful paste traditionally made from soy beans, but also often made from wheat, barley, or any combination of grains. Just like soy sauce, miso is usually one of the essential ingredients in most Japanese foods, and even if you knew it was there, you wouldn’t know if it’s the kind of miso made from glutinous grains or not.

Dashi is Japanese stock. Just like broth and stock around the world, the traditional form is highly nutritious (dashi is traditionally made from bonito fish flakes) but the modern commercial version is often just MSG-filled powder. Just like soy sauce and miso, dashi is in nearly every restaurant dish or packaged food.

MSG: In China and Japan MSG is made from real gluten! But instead of MSG on the labels, you will see ‘amino’ (in Japanese characters: アミノ), which stands for amino acid or amino flavouring. The majority of food labels I’ve seen this week in Japan say ‘amino’, and my Japanese friends confirm that it is everywhere. As if MSG didn’t make you feel bad enough, in Japan you get the effects of MSG and gluten all in one.

Even the rice has been ‘glutened’!

Sadly, this favourite grain for gluten avoiders is not guaranteed to be gluten-free in Japan. The vinegar added to sushi rice and the rice used for those delicious onigiri snacks at the convenience stores usually has gluten in it. At a restaurant, a bowl of rice may very well be safe, but always best to enquire first. Read below to find out how.

Don’t drink the brown tea

After your meal at a restaurant or when visiting Japanese hosts, you will usually be offered tea that’s either green or brown. The brown tea is usually mugi-cha, or wheat/barley tea, so politely decline!

Salted cucumbers on a stick, gluten-free street treat
Salted cucumbers on a stick, gluten-free street treat

How to eat completely gluten-free in Japan

1/ Buy your own food from the shops or markets
No matter where you are in the world, the absolute best way to control what you eat is to go to the shops or markets, buy real primal food – meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits – and prepare your own meals.

Make your own food in Japan
My homemade sashimi salad in Japan

If you can’t cook because you’re visiting Japan and staying in hotels, then buy fresh produce daily that can be enjoyed raw, and the pre-packaged green salads are also yummy and safe, as long as you don’t use the separately packaged salad dressing. For meats, your best bet if you’re not cooking is raw or grilled (non-marinated) fish from the supermarket. All of the sashimi (raw fish) has nothing on it and is very cheap and delicious. For the grilled fish, look for the one that doesn’t have an ingredient list, then you know there’s nothing on it.

gluten-free-in-japan10 gluten-free-in-japan13 gluten-free-in-japan12 gluten-free-in-japan2 gluten-free-in-japan7 Buying gluten-free food in Japan

Japanese convenience stores like 7-11, Lawsons and Sunkus have a wide array of healthy-looking food but with long and dubious ingredient lists. There are some salads like at the supermarket, but the safest healthy food I’ve found here is tinned fish with no sauce. I found some very delicious canned saba fish and tuna fish with only salt, and the best sardines I’ve ever had in my life, in only olive oil.

You may need a Japanese friend or basic Japanese phrases to check if the canned fish has any of the 4 offenders on it, or if it only has salt. I often point and ask “Shio dake?” (she-o daw-kay), meaning “Only salt?”.

As mentioned above, don’t eat the sushi or rice balls and beware of the harmless-looking hard-boiled eggs. I was so excited to have that healthy option, but as soon as I tasted it knew something was fishy. Sure enough, my Japanese friend confirmed the hard boiled eggs are cooked in at least 3 of the 4 offenders. I had a hard-core MSG racing pulse the next day. 🙁

Avoiding gluten in Japan
Don’t eat the hard-boiled eggs at the convenience store.

2/ Stay with a Japanese host
Finding a local to stay with in Japan might be as easy as getting onto airbnb or couchsurfing.com, and you’ll not only then have someone to translate food labels for you (invaluable!), but you may also get some Japanese style home-cooking catered to your dietary needs! Japanese people are incredibly generous hosts and will be curious and eager to cook their dishes for you with traditional versions of the 4 offenders that don’t contain gluten.

Gluten-free breakfast at our Japanese friend's house
Gluten-free breakfast at our Japanese friend’s house

3/ Print out and carry gluten-free restaurant cards
Some wonderful gluten-free folk on the internet have been kind enough to create gluten-free restaurant cards in various languages and give them away for free. I printed and laminated mine before leaving for Japan and have found them invaluable when eating out here. The best I found are these restaurant cards from glutenfreeeasy.com.

When I gave the card to waiters at both a sushi train and restaurant, they took the cards to the chefs and came back with the menu, pointing to things they could make for me without gluten. Sushi train options were limited to sashimi and plain asparagus, but at the traditional restaurant, I had a delicious grilled whole fish flavoured only with salt, and a raw veggie platter to share with my friends.

Gluten-free order at the sushi train
Gluten-free order at the sushi train

4/ Eat at international restaurants
Even though Japanese food is one of the most glutinous cuisines, it is also a very delicious and traditional cuisine that is one of the best aspects of visiting Japan. So unless you live in Japan, I recommend this option the least. However, if you’re eating out a lot, consider going out for an Indian curry or an Aussie steak now and then to give you more menu options. The Japanese love international cuisine, so you’re still doing as the locals do. Definitely still bring your restaurant cards though!

5/ Go out for yaki-niku
Yaki-niku, or grilled meat restaurants are really fun and so easy to avoid gluten that you just might be able to eat the same food as everyone else at your table! You cook your own meat and vegetables on the grill in the middle of the table, and the menu gives the option of ordering your meat with only salt and no marinade. Just avoid the dipping sauce after you grill your meat, or bring your own little bottle of safe sauce. Use your restaurant card and ask about the rice if you want to have some on the side. Yum!

Fresh fruit on a stick, gluten-free street treat
Fresh fruit on a stick, gluten-free street treat

More info and resources:

– Informative blog post ‘Eating Gluten Free in Japan’
– A list of the different types of miso
‘Your Guide to Gluten Free Adventuring in Japan’ by Ctrl Alt Eat

 

Please share any other tips you have for eating gluten-free in Japan!

Kombucha: Everyone is Doing It, Should You?

What is this weirdly-named drink that everyone is into lately? Kombucha, pronouced COMB-BOO-CHA, is the hottest drink in the health food shops and many people are even making it at home. But what actually is it and is it really that good for you?

Kombucha: Everyone is Doing It, Should You?

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is tea with sugar that has been fermented. That simply means that a culture has been added to the tea and then it has been left to sit out at room temperate for about a week. During that time, the culture feeds off the sugar and the nutrients in the tea and produces tons of healthy bacteria. Kinda like yoghurt, but a drink!

The culture for kombucha is called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) Of Bacteria & Yeast. Sounds gross, and definitely looks gross, but as we’ve all been slowly re-learning from our wise ancestors, good bacteria is your gut’s best friend. And a happy gut means a healthy body.

As with many fermented foods and drinks, Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, and many cultures including the ancient Chinese, have used it as a health elixir.

Kombucha SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast
Kombucha SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast

Is Kombucha really good for you?

The Chinese knew what they were talking about. In addition to all of the beneficial bacteria, Kombucha also contains B-vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and large quantities of detoxifying acids. So yes, it’s a very healthy drink!

Though some like to debate over exactly which ailments kombucha can help ‘cure’, I look at it this way: If a naturally fermented drink can boost your digestive system and immune system in a variety of ways, it will surely be a factor in prevention and/or healing of any kind. It’s not like medicine which targets one thing in particular, but rather is an overall health booster and supporter. And that’s the holistic, primal way. 🙂

Health Benefits of Kombucha by Dr. Axe
Health Benefits of Kombucha by Dr. Axe

Isn’t Kombucha full of sugar?

Some wonder how something with so much sugar in it can be good for you. And what about the caffeine in the tea? However, most all of the caffeine and sugar is ‘pre-digested’ by the scoby and bacteria, so as long as you wait 7 – 30 days before drinking, the sugar content will be very very low. The longer you wait to drink it, the less sugar will be left. You can even tell this by tasting it, as the sweet tea will become more and more sour.

What does Kombucha taste like?

Just like with yoghurt and sauerkraut, the fermentation process produces a sour or vinegary taste. For some people, that takes getting used to, and for others it’s divine (usually the same people who love olives and pickles!). Because of the sour taste, kombucha is often flavoured with fresh fruit, herbs, and spices. It can also be used as a ‘mixer’ – diluted with water, sparkling water, fresh juice, or put into a shake or smoothie. Or drunk strong and straight in smaller quantities. We drink ours out of a big shot glass.

The fermentation process also produces natural carbonation, which gives kombucha that refreshing fizziness. Goodbye soda, hello kombucha!

Why make Kombucha at home?

As with most things – especially trendy health foods – making your own kombucha at home can save you a fortune. Kombucha is right there with chicken broth as one of the absolute cheapest ‘superfoods’ you can make at home. And it takes only a few minutes of your time!

The cost of homemade Kombucha

Once you get a scoby culture, you can use it for the rest of your life. And if you know someone who makes kombucha, you’ll get a scoby for free because they multiply at each batch. Then all you need for 1 litre (1 quart) of kombucha is 2 tea bags, 1/4 cup of white sugar, 1 litre of filtered water, and a 1/2 cup of already fermented kombucha (from your last batch or your friend’s) or distilled white vinegar (if it’s your first batch).

So your costs per litre (quart) of homemade kombucha is 2 tea bags and a scoop of sugar. Even if you make sure to get organic tea and sugar, that’s hardly 20 cents I would guess! Compare that to several dollars to buy kombucha at the store, or even more money to buy probiotic, vitamin and supplement pills.

Our adventures in Kombucha

We first fell in love with the bubbly yummy taste of Kombucha through buying it at our farmer’s markets. However it was a big expense each week, and we’d run out of it quick. Especially now that I’m healing my leaky gut, I wanted to have some to drink every day without breaking the bank.

So now we’ve been making our own kombucha for about 6 months, and have a continuous brew on the kitchen counter which only requires my attention about once a week for 10 minutes. This provides us with more than enough kombucha, always there in our fridge. And we still haven’t run out of delicious flavours ideas to make.

Other great links:

https://www.healthambition.com/kombucha-tea-health-benefits/ 

17 Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

17 Real-Food Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

Healthy protein snacks keep your energy and metabolism thriving all day long (no mid-afternoon slump!), help you avoid cravings, and ensure that you’re never left hungry when there’s only junk food options around. Forget expensive and fake packaged protein bars, and get primal with these 17 real-food portable protein snacks (they are all naturally gluten-free, too!).

17 Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

1. Leftover chicken wings or drumettes: Chicken is yummy cold and full of protein to satisfy you for longer. Always make extras when you cook meals, so you have leftovers to pack for easy snacks. Just remember to take a small ice block to keep the chicken cold, especially in warm weather. Here’s an easy and yummy way to cook your wings and drumettes.

2. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Hard-boil at least half a dozen eggs once a week, so you always have this protein and nutrient rich snack to grab on your way out the door. You can even pre-peel them at home for no egg shell mess at work or on the train. Here’s a novel way of making hard-boiled eggs without boiling.

3. Mixed Nuts: One of the easiest snacks to throw in your bag and eat virtually anywhere, and you’ll never get bored with the wide variety of nuts available. Nuts have a pretty good protein content, plus some healthy fats to satiate you. Just be sure to not eat too many nuts that haven’t been activated (soaked and dried). Here’s how to easily activate your nuts at home (no dehydrator required!). I love to toss my finished nuts in oil and sea salt. Yum!

4. Rocky Shake: Thinking about Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs during boxing training may make you gag, but if you put those raw eggs in a delicious shake, you get the protein and nutrition benefits without any egg taste whatsoever. Shakes become  portable snacks when you make them in the morning and pour into a glass jar with screw-top lid to take with you! Never ever use cage eggs, only the finest quality eggs you can get (worth the extra money, if you value your health), and have fun with a variety of primal shake recipes.

5. Meatballs: Again, the best way to continually eat well when time-poor is to love your leftovers. Whether you’ve used beef, pork, lamb or chicken mince (ground meat), you will be guaranteed a huge amount of protein for snacks. So this is an especially good snack for after a workout, when you have to go long periods between meals, and for insatiable kids. Try my original Coconut Meatballs, which are delicious cold the next day, or get a basic meatball recipe.

6. Pumpkin Seeds: Half a cup of these tasty seeds have about 14 grams of protein! One popular variety called Pepitas can be found in many health food stores, or you can make your own at home by rinsing and oven-roasting the seeds from your pumpkin. You can mix these with your nuts if you like, and add oil, sea salt, tamari or spices for varied flavour.

7. Canned seafood: Clearly, tinned food is not the most primal option, but it might be worth the exception now and then for convenient protein-filled and highly nutritious snacks. Just be sure that the fish is packed in spring water or olive oil, never vegetable oil. Though salmon and tuna are the most common, sardines, mussels and oysters are especially nutritious, or try mackerel (kippers) for a less fishy taste.

8. Two-Ingredient Pancakes: These banana and egg pancakes are making the rounds on the internet because how awesome is it to have a pancake with no flour at all! And the eggs will give you protein. They are small size pancakes, so they’re perfect for taking as snacks in your bag.

9. Jerky: Native peoples were snacking on beef jerky and salmon jerky long before it came in a package, and today most commercial jerky contains horrors like MSG and corn syrup. If you can’t find a brand that has nothing but meat and spices, here’s how to make your own jerky without a dehydrator.

10. Mini Fish Cakes: A more primal and delicious version of the canned seafood, this just takes a little bit more prep time, or you can again just use your awesome leftovers. You can make fish cakes a million ways to suit your tastes, including veggies or herbs to add even more nutrition to these protein and fatty-acid filled snacks.

11. Mini Egg Muffins: We are a huge fan of egg-muffins for breakfast and lunches so how about making them in mini-muffin tins to take for snack time? Simply throw your leftover chopped veggies in a bowl with 4-6 eggs and salt and pepper, mix it up and ladle into the mini muffin tins. After 20 minutes in a 180C (350F) oven, you have a bunch of real food protein snacks ready to go.

12. Raw Cheese: Who doesn’t love cheese?! Just make sure it’s always raw, never pasteurised! We have found two types of unpasteurised cheese in our Sydney supermarket and I saw loads of raw cheeses in the health food supermarkets in America. A little cheese goes a long way to satisfy your hunger, cravings and energy needs.

13. Spinach Bars: This awesome snack food has the protein of eggs plus the nutrition of spinach, garlic and herbs. Plus, it’s easy to take with you and not messy to eat. Make a big batch of spinach bars to enjoy throughout the week!

14. Nut Butter Spread: Nuts again, but now you’ve got a protein-rich dip or spread which adds variety and fun options for your daily snacks. Our favourite foods to dip or spread our nut butter on are apples, pears, bananas and raw carrots and celery. We pack the fruit or veg whole with our jar of nut butter and a little covered knife, then cut, dip and/or spread on the yummy nut butter at snack time. Or make any variety of ‘ants on a log’. Peanut butter is so old school, and legumes (yes, peanuts are not nuts!) don’t digest well for everyone, so try out some almond butter, cashew butter, mixed nut butter, or make your own at home in a food processor or Vitamix with your activated nuts!

15. Meat Rollup: On the night you make roast beef for dinner, cut a few thin slices of the roast beef and use them to roll up some thin veggies like capsicum (bell pepper) strips, carrot sticks or asparagus. Mustard, pesto or sauerkraut makes delicious meat rollups too, and if you eat dairy, you can throw in some raw cheese. Put the meat rollups in a small container to pack for snacks.

16. Homemade Sushi: More roll-up fun. Buy a pack of sushi nori from the supermarket or health food shop and have fun rolling up leftover meat and veg, avocado, whatever you like for your snacks. Rice or quinoa is totally optional. Here’s an easy lesson from me on how to make your own sushi.

17. Bliss balls or bars: If you’ve bought any of those date and nut bars or balls from the shop, you know they are amazingly delicious snacks. But did you know how easy they are to make at home? And SO much cheaper! Just mix in your food processor: 2 cups dried fruit to 1 cup nuts/seeds, plus your choice of cocoa, cacao, peppermint oil, coconut flakes, whatever you fancy. Roll into balls and keep in fridge or freezer until you’re ready to pop them into your snack bag. Just as yummy as those fake chocolate protein bars, but only real primal ingredients.

What’s your favourite real-food snack?