Margarine vs Butter

It seems that margarine is the master of re-invention.

Whatever the latest health buzz is, you can be sure margarine is re-formulating to take advantage, whether it's "cholesterol free" or "added plant sterols for heart health"...

Meanwhile, butter is still...well, butter.

But which one is the healthiest, I hear you ask? Isn't butter full of that dreaded saturated fat? Don't doctors recommend margarine?

If you go to the website below, you'll be able to see how both butter and margarine are made...

I know which one I'd rather be eating...

Don't you?

Update: Raw Food Challenge


It's been over a month since I started my Raw Food Challenge. In the beginning, I was doing terrific and reaching my goal of eating at least 70% raw. But then...

I was REALLY busy, had visitors, and the weather turned cool, and...

[insert any other excuse that comes to mind] and I got a bit distracted.


The good news is that I'm still eating more raw than I normally would. On any given day, I estimate that I'm eating about half raw, half cooked, which is still an improvement, though not quite where I'd like to be.

As for my skin? Hmmmmmm.

As I type, every spare millimetre of chin and cheek area on my face is covered in break-outs. Worse than ever!! I am trying not to be disheartened by this turn of events. It is my experience that when making healthy changes, things get worse before they get better as the body cleanses itself.

After I started the raw challenge, I began oil-pulling (read this post if you are feeling thoroughly confused right now), and also drinking raw apple cider vinegar twice a day (mixed with water and a pinch of stevia), PLUS I'm due to give birth in the next week or two, so any or all of these could be making a contribution to the pimple problem.

On second thoughts, the skin breakouts might be caused by my guilty little secret!! My sugar-free diet has been hijacked by those little green packets of Aussie Drops hard-boiled eucalyptus lollies. Aaaarrrgh. My pregnancy cravings for these babies is bordering on obsession!!

Never mind. The other bit of good news is that I'm broadening my horizens in the kitchen. Some of the new recipes I've made so far:

 - Raw Almond Milk. The leftover nut meat that I strained out was turned into honey and almond muffins. Not raw, but my boys loved them for a mid-morning treat.

 - Raw Rice Milk

 - Raw Cashew Milk (my favourite so far)

 - Raw Almond and Sesame Balls. (These tasted just like those yummy, sticky sesame bars you can buy in the shops. I did take a photo, but some helpful little person seems to have erased it from my camera...)

 - Raw Lemon and Coconut Slice (this one is currently setting in the fridge so can't say how it turned out.....but it tasted pretty darned nice when I was licking the "dough" off my fingers...)

 - Raw Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies.

Oh. And I've also been dipping my spoon into this jar...

of raw chocolate on a regular basis, too. Very yummy, and no cane sugar either.

My next projects are making some of these divine-looking raw brownies, and also this raw chia pudding.

By the way, I've only just discovered The Rawtarian site. As a complete bumbling newbie at raw food "uncooking", I absolutely *heart* this girl! Her site is full of easy, fuss-free recipes, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Since stumbling across her site, I've had a renewed enthusiasm for my raw food challenge. Today I went and bought my first ever jar of agave syrup and my first ever packet of nutritional yeast. There is no stopping me, now!

I am soldiering on, pimples and all...

The Convenient Myth


In the beginning, I made changes to our lifestyle, purely for health reasons.

And the benefits were so noticeable and remarkable, that I stuck with it.

But over time, I've started to realise the other implications of our new simpler, less materialistic lifestyle. Every time I make something from scratch, instead of buying it pre-made and pre-packaged, I have taken a stand for the health of the Earth.

Think about it this way:

For every unnecessary item I buy, resources have been used up in order to make it, package it and ship it.

 - Chemicals have probably been used in the production. Those chemicals and other waste products have to go somewhere - most likely leaching into the soil or waterways downstream of where they are produced, or simply dumped into the ocean.

 - Energy has been used to produce it, and probably from coal-fired power plants, which happen to be the world's largest emitters of mercury air emissions. Mercury is the second most toxic substance known to man, and a human carcinogen, not to mention all it's other effects on the brain and vital organs.

Coal-fired power stations also emit arsenic and other toxic metals, acid gases and dioxin.

 - Transport has been used to get the product from the place of manufacture to the place of sale. In today's global marketplace, and with our obsession for cheap, foreign products, this often means the item is made in China, then shipped to Australia - a distance of roughly 8500 kilometres.

 - And then when I get tired of the product/use it up/break it/no longer need it, it ends it's life in landfill. One estimate is that every Australian produces an average of 3kgs of waste every day. I am not overly good at mathematics, but by my calculations, with a population of around 22 million, this equates to 66,000 tonnes - or 66 million kilos - of waste EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Apparently we are the second most wasteful nation on earth, coming in behind the United States. Hardly an achievement to be proud of...

The figures are just mind-boggling. And so obviously unsustainable. How long can we keep this up???

And when did humans start being referred to as "consumers", anyway?

The more I think about it, the more I believe that without a healthy planet, it is impossible to have healthy humans. It's all inter-connected. WE are all inter-connected.

And so...although I am only one amongst billions, and my contribution may seem small...I will continue to live as simply as I can, and not purchase things based on that notion we call "convenience".

After all, polluted water and soil and air are anything but "convenient"....

"Only when the last tree has been cut down, and the last river poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money" (Cree Indian Proverb)

An Octogenarian's Secret to a Long, Vibrant Life


I have a great-auntie who is an amazing, inspirational woman.

She is in her 80's now, takes no medications, lives on her own in a big house, bakes her own bread and tends a large, enviable garden of herbs and vegetables and flowers.

But the thing that everyone notices and comments on, is her zest for living, her seemingly boundless energy and love of fun. She is a little powerhouse of energy and fun! Everyone I know adores her. She is a surrogate "nanna" to a number of young people who admire her, and love to visit her.

One day, a few years ago, she was visiting and helping my brother do some renovations on his house. I was in my early 20's then, and struggling to keep up with her, as she washed and cleaned walls in readiness to paint

I asked her what was her secret for having so much energy and spark.

Her reply?

"Every time I eat a meal, or make a sandwich, I go into the garden and pick a whole heap of herbs to eat with it. My sandwiches are nearly all green."

I didn't appreciate the logic at the time, but as I've become more health-conscious, I've thought often of her words, and how some herbs, like parsley, are true super-foods, rich in all the nutrients that humans need to survive and thrive.

(Parsley has more vitamin C than any other vegetable, and rich in folic acid, iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, chlorophyll and beta-carotene, along with smaller amounts of just about every nutrient currently known to man....A true superfood, and not just on your plate for decoration!!)

Food for thought....

My Experience with "Oil-Pulling"

Recently, I was on a natural remedies website  and someone mentioned "oil-pulling". What on earth?!?! I'd never heard of this before...

My curiosity was too much to bear. I had to know all about this practice of "oil-pulling".

Turns out it's an ancient Ayurvedic practice, where you swish oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes - first thing in the morning, and apparently it "pulls" toxins out of the bloodstream, helps your body detox by stimulating the meridians of the major elimination organs, as well as killing harmful bacteria in your mouth.

It was still early in the morning, and I hadn't yet had breakfast, so I was keen to give it a try. I suspected that my body was trying to fight off some kind of virus as my stomach had been feeling "off" and for a few days I kept getting severe muscle weakness in my arms and legs.

The only oil I had was cold-pressed Sweet Almond Oil. I put a tablespoon in my mouth and swished it around gently, for 20 minutes, and then spat it into the toilet. (Note: Do NOT swallow, as it is now full of toxins and bacteria.)

The colour had changed to white, just like the instructions said it would.

Almost immediately, and for a few hours after, I could feel gunk (that's mucus to the faint-hearted...) coming down the back of my throat. Could it be, the oil was clearing out my sinuses???

All day, I felt unusually thirsty.

That night, I woke up no less than three times, and each time I was bathed in sweat. But I wasn't hot. I was just sweating like crazy.

The next day I noticed a definite improvement in the muscle weakness symptoms. That night, I again woke up sweating. By the third day the muscle weakness had gone.

I've continued to "oil-pull" each morning (about a week), and I aim to continue long-term. I've now got my eyes peeled for other changes.

Some of the testimonials online are really intriguing. Many people listed dental and gum problems improved, eyesight improved, sinus problems improved, and arthritic conditions improved although many had to persevere for a couple of months before joint problems eased. Several people said that their hair started to grow back as their original colour, instead of grey. And one woman said her husbands eyes became noticeably bluer!

Isn't that fascinating?!

I do not know HOW it works, from a scientific perspective, but then again, I've never belonged to the school of thought that says if it cannot be explained, then it cannot possibly work. I prefer to judge by results, and oil-pulling most definately caused a reaction for me....and I wasn't even using the oils that are generally recommended as most effective (sunflower or sesame).

If you want to learn more about this little-known practice, see here.

And if you decide to take up oil-pulling, do leave me a comment. I'd love to hear what others experience from it.

Why I Chose To Get Rid of The Microwave...

For a while now, I've felt uncomfortable about having a microwave in my kitchen.

Not only did it clutter up my small kitchen, and take up valuable bench space, but on the odd occasions I used it to reheat leftovers, it just didn't "feel right".

Because, all the while, I was thinking about how it works - by making water molecules in the food vibrate at high frequencies, turning it into steam, and thereby heating the food.

But it also changes the chemical structure of the food, by distorting and deforming the molecules. One scientist even proved that it can destroy DNA.

I couldn't help wondering what that food  would do inside my body? Inside my children's little bodies?

If the structure was changed, could our bodies even recognise that it was "food"?

I was remembering how one independant organisation (Powerwatch) says that even when a microwave is working correctly, the radiation levels in your kitchen are likely to be higher than those coming from the local mobile phone tower.

(See Dr Mercola's article for more info.)

And then there were those studies that showed a decrease in white blood cells after people ate microwaved food. Less white blood cells equals less immune function - not exactly something I aspire to...

And even though I used it less and less, I still held onto it...."just in case"....

But with our house going up for sale, I decided to take the plunge. The microwave with the chipped paintwork inside (who knows what fumes it was depositing into our food?) is gone! For good...

And so far, I haven't missed it at all. And I'm revelling in the extra bench space and lack of clutter!

I have reached the conclusion that there is nothing which cannot be heated by placing under a grill, put into boiling water, or warmed in the oven.

I rarely used the microwave for defrosting, but if you do, it just takes a little forethought to get around that issue. Simply take the food out of the freezer a day or two in advance, and defrost in the fridge.

I figure that we are already being bombarded with radiation from every angle, so any changes which equal less radiation inside our own home, can only be positive...

The Really Easy "Use-Up-All-Your-Leftovers" Quiche

This recipe came from my mum, who got it from someone, who got it from someone else...(You know the kind!!)

I have made so many variations of it, using whatever veggies I have on hand, and it has never failed me. I've made all kinds of substitutions, too, such as replacing milk with oat or rice milk, replacing flour with spelt flour plus 1 tsp of baking powder, replacing cheese with goats feta. They've all turned out fine...


3 eggs
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 chopped bacon rashers (nitrite free, if you can get it)
1 chopped onion
1 cup grated cheese

(You can make as above, or add in whatever veggies you please. Leftover cooked vegetables or meat, grated zucchini, chopped spinach, roast diced pumpkin, chopped capsicum, semi-dried tomatoes, tinned corn, whatever...!!)


Mix well. Pour into greased pie dish. Bake 30 - 40 mins in moderate oven, until slightly browned on top.

Then, enjoy. Hot or cold. :-)

A great way to use up leftovers, or clean out the fridge...

5 Easy DIY Fertilisers To Help Your Garden Thrive.

I can't remember the last time I bought a commercial fertiliser for my garden. Why pay for it....when there's so many ways you can recycle nutrients right back into your garden?

You probably already know about compost, worm juice and animal manures, but here's a few more tricks to get your garden healthy and blooming.

1. Weed Tea.
Next time you weed your garden, put young     weeds (not those with seeds) into a bucket, cover  with water and let to sit for 3 - 4 wks. You may not need this long in hot weather.

When you go back and take the lid off....remember to hold your nose! Yes, it will smell pretty funky, and look gruesome. That's ok. The weeds have broken down all their nutrients into the water. Strain, or put some gloves on and collect out any weed pieces , and put those into the compost.

Then use the weed tea as a liquid fertiliser, mixing 1 part tea, to 10 parts water.

2. Egg Shells.
Next time you use eggs, keep the eggshells and allow to dry. Crush them into a course grit (just using your hands is fine), and sprinkle around the garden.

Not only will they break down over time, and add their calcium to the soil, but they help to deter slugs and snails. These slithery little creatures do not like sharp eggshells on their soft underbellies....

3. Banana Peel.
Don't toss the banana peel! Next time you enjoy a banana (which, sadly, is a rarity for those of us in Australia recently, due to sky high prices) tear the peel into small pieces, and sprinkle onto the soil around your garden. They will break down and add their phosphorous and potassium to the soil.

Roses, in particular, seem to benefit from this. You can also dig the peel into the soil, when adding new plants.

4. Seaweed.
Next time you're at a beach, collect up some seaweed to bring home. Once home, rinse thoroughly in fresh water, then add to a bucket of water. Then follow the same process as for the weed tea listed above.

Watered onto plants every couple of weeks, it will help to green plants and stimulate root growth. The diluted mixture can also be sprayed directly onto the foliage of the plant.

5. Lawn/ Grass Clippings. Allow to dry in the sun for a couple of days, then sprinkle around your garden. They'll give your garden a nice boost of nitrogen.

Apparently, blackstrap molasses when used as a soil drench or foliar spray is great for conditioning the soil and feeding beneficial organisms, but I haven't personally tried it out yet.

If all else fails, and your plants are still looking lack-lustre, try doing a soil test which should give you an idea if any specific nutrients are lacking, or there is an over-supply of a certain nutrient which can impede the absorption of others.

A New, More Positive, Direction

Recently, after some soul-searching on my part, I made the following statement on my personal blog:

"I choose not to fight against all that is wrong with the world. Instead I choose to encourage all that is right with the world."

Over the past year or two, I've really devoted myself to learning about how food affects us, the tricks that big business use to make us buy their products (at the expense of our health), etc etc, and all of it made me so indignant, I just had to do something about it. I had to fight this!!

I threw myself into teaching others, building this website, raising awareness on social networks, researching, becoming involved in various social and political causes.

But it's taken me quite a while to see, that this approach has not only taken it's toll on my health, it also seems to have taken away my positive spirit.

I began to see the world in a cynical, critical way.

However, after a visit to a wonderful kinesiologist who put me back in touch with myself, and a recent serious medical situation with my husband, I began to feel that this just wasn't right approach for me.

I wanted to see the beauty in things again. To feel hopeful. To be an encourager.

I don't want to be the person who is constantly criticising the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the government, necessary though it is at times. There's plenty of people already doing that, and doing a fine job of it, too.

I want to be the person inspiring others to make the changes they need to, in order to be truly healthy. I want to be the person who is so high on health and full of life, that others around me will naturally want what I have.

But the lightbulb didn't really go on, until I read this article by the Raw Chef, where he so beautifully expressed what I wanted to change in my own attitude: 5 Things I Learnt by Opting Out of an Airport Body Scan.

So, I'm going to be taking this website into a new direction. I'll still be researching ingredients because I feel that awareness is the first step in the journey. But I don't want to stop there. I want to help my readers make better choices, which will then result in them feeling and being better.

After all, true health is about so much more than food (although that is important). It's about our mental wellbeing, our zest and vitality for living, and our spiritual health.

Perhaps you have already noticed this new approach in my last couple of blog posts...

Funnily, this change in focus has really given me a lot of inspiration and enthusiasm. I'm filled with ideas for blog posts and website updates.

Stay tuned!!

10 Tips For Staying Healthy On A Budget

There's just no two ways about it...

 Organic produce costs more than conventional. Good quality natural bodycare products are more expensive than those off the supermarket shelf, and avoiding fluoridated tap water can be a costly business.

So, how can you stay healthy by buying good quality products, while sticking to some semblence of a budget?

Below are my best 10 tips for doing just that!

1. Plan, Plan, Plan!!!
 I really can't stress this highly enough. A weekly or fortnightly menu plan is one of the best time and money savers you can utilise.

Yes, it takes some time and discipline to get into the routine, but the savings are so worthwhile.

Before I do my grocery shopping, I go through my fridge and pantry and see what I already have.

Then I sit down and write out my main meals for the next week. Any ingredients needed for those meals, that I don't already have, gets written on my shopping list, along with fruit and snacks/nuts/seeds.

During busy times when my routine has gone out the window and I don't bother planning the menu, I find myself rushing to the shops for one or two items (but leaving with 5 or 10...) because I don't have what I need to make dinner.

It will save you so much time, and eliminates those evenings when you stand, staring into the depths of the pantry, dithering over what to make for dinner.

On my menu plan, I also list jobs that I need to do on a certain day, in preparation for the following day(s). For instance, today when I'm cooking the fish, I need to bake some pumpkin for tomorrow's roast pumpkin salad.

2. Grow Your Own.
This is really the ultimate in saving. Not only is tending a garden great exercise, a source of relaxation and interest, uses less fossil fuels and resources, there really is no better feeling than picking straight from the garden and onto the plate.

I am far from being a green thumb, and where I live has cold Winters, and hot Summers. Not exactly ideal for growing things, especially leafy greens. But there are some things that are so easy to grow, that even I cannot screw it up! These are: potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchinis, rosemary, lavender, aloe vera and silverbeet.

Even if you don't have a backyard, a sunny windowsill will grow herbs and sprouts. You can grow a batch of wheatgrass on the windowsill quickly, easily, and for less than a dollar.

3. Make Your Own.
You pay for convenience. If you're willing to make things from scratch, there are so many savings to be made.

A yoghurt maker costs about $20, and making your own yoghurt is so quick and simple, it will pay for itself in no time. You don't need to buy the special yoghurt starter packs, just use a few tablespoons of a previous batch of yoghurt as a starter, then add 1 and 1/3 cup of milk powder and add water as per usual.

Rice and nut milks can be expensive if you use a lot, but they can be made at home, if you have a blender. There's plenty of instructions on the Internet for making your own.

Facial scrubs can be made with a little oil and sugar (or salt), with a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil added. Hair treatments which cost upwards of $5 in the shop, can be made using eggs or yoghurt (Wash the eggs out with lukewarm water only, or you may end up with a head full of scrambled eggs...Not pretty.). Face masks can be made using mashed up strawberries, or raw honey.

4. Make Use of Left-Overs.
Did you know that Australian homes and businesses throw out 7.5 million tonnes of food waste every year? That 7.5 million tonnes of food - quite apart from taking up vast areas of landfill - cost us about $7.8 billion. What a waste!!!

If you follow a menu plan, you should eliminate some of the food waste, as you will not be buying food on a whim, with no real plan for how you're going to use it up.

Spend your money on quality food, not quantity that will end up in the garbage.

Twice a week, go through the fridge and pull out anything that is going to be soon past it's prime, then work out how to use it up. Vegetables, both raw and leftover cooked vegetables, can be used up in quiches, pies, savoury muffins and fritters, stews, soups, fried rice, and casseroles. (See my "Really Easy Use-Up-All-Your-Leftovers Quiche")

On my weekly menu plan, I leave two meals for "easy" meals or leftover recipes.

Fruit and vegetable pulp left over from juicing can be used in muffins or desserts.

I recently discovered a great little product called "Forever Green" bags at my local market. Apparently these bags absorb the gases released from food, so that food stays fresher for longer. I bag all of my leafy greens and herbs in these bags now, and they last more than twice as long, so I rarely have to throw any out now. (I think they cost about $7 or $8 for a pack of 16 re-usable bags. They've more than paid for themselves already, with the added bonus that I now eat a lot more herbs because I can now buy herbs knowing I'll use them up before they spoil.)

If you steam vegetables, don't throw out the water underneath. Let it cool and either turn it into vegetable stock, or pour it onto your pot plants or herbs. They'll appreciate the nutrient boost.

Another thing never to throw out is banana peel. These are great little garden fertilisers, especially for roses and ferns. Rip them into pieces, and sprinkle on the soil. They will decompose and leach their minerals into the earth.

And lastly, invest in a compost bin or worm farm. Not only will you never have to buy garden fertiliser again, you'll be amazed at how much less waste ends up in the garbage.

5. Find Other Uses for Things.
Coconut Oil is an awesome cooking oil. But it's also a wonderful face and body moisteriser, lip balm and hair conditioner. I never buy body or facial moisterisers. I just use my organic cold-pressed coconut oil from the pantry.

Vinegar is not only great for salad dressings, it's the only thing I use for cleaning the house and the windows(along with a microfibre cloth). I use it in the washing machine, along with bicarb soda. I use it in hot water, to wash the dishes if I've run out of detergent.

Not only that, but you can double your amount of vinegar for free. Mix it half and half with water, and leave in a warm place for a day or two, and you get double the vinegar for the same amount of money.

I really cannot see the point in paying high prices for all-natural cleaning products or beauty products when you have all the ingredients in your pantry, for a fraction of the price. The only individual products I do buy are organic shampoo and natural dishwash detergent, because I still have not figured out how to make my own with satisfactory results.

6. Less Meat, More Vegetables.
As a general rule, vegetables are a lot cheaper per kilo, than meat. Especially if it's good quality, grass fed, organic meat. Use the meat sparingly, but fill out the meal with plenty of vegetables.

Not only that, but most vegetables can (and should) be eaten raw, and further save you money on energy costs.

7. Experiment With Different Grains and Pulses.
Pulses and grains like lentils, chickpeas, split peas, barley, and broad beans are not only cheap, they are highly filling and nutritious. Once or twice per week, replace a meat meal with a meal based on one of these.

If you've never tried rolled oats for breakfast, give it a go. It's just about the cheapest breakfast you can eat, and far better for you, than any of the sugary, highly processed boxed cereals. Sprinkle with ground nuts, cinnamon, sultanas, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, add some raw honey, or whatever takes your fancy. If you add the sultanas at the beginning of cooking, they swell up and become deliciously juicy.

Soak the oats overnight in water, then you really only need to warm it up in the morning, as the oats will have already absorbed the water.

8. Pack a Snack.
Any time I step out of the house, I throw into my handbag a.) a bottle of water b.) a piece of fruit and c.) a little container of nuts. Even if I'm only planning on going out for a little while.

You never can tell how long you'll be, and expensive fast food or packaged snacks are hard to resist when your stomach is grumbling.

When heading off to work for the day, I got into the habit of packing more food than I thought I needed. It was better to bring it back home again, then be caught out hungry and sneaking to the vending machine for a packet of chips.

9. Always Keep a Little Bit of Convenience Food Handy.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it actually works (for me, anyway). I don't mean keeping choc-chip cookies in the pantry, where your hand can keep sneaking in whenever you get the urge. No, that's not what I mean. I'm a big believer in winning the battle at the checkout. Once the junk food is in your house, the battle is all but lost.

But I have found that keeping things like some frozen fish and wedges, or tinned tuna on hand is a good idea. Unexpected things come up, people get sick, you run late, and let's face it....sometimes you just don't feel like preparing a meal. If you are running late with hungry children it is too easy to simply go to the nearest drive-thru, if you know that you still have a time-consuming dinner to prepare when you get home.

It's easier to resist the fast (but expensive) junk, if you know that you have a back-up at home, that can be on the table within 15 minutes. Sure they're not the most healthy thing you can eat, but it's gotta be better than KFC....

10. Take Advantage of Discounts.
I know it sounds like a mute point, but a little bit of organisation (see Point number 1!!!) can save you plenty of money.

My local health shop has 25% discount on the first Monday of every month, so during the month I make a note of any supplements and superfoods we need, and I wait to buy them on that Monday. (By the way, this discount is not advertised, I found out only by asking instore. It pays to ask!!)

Sometimes you can pick up good bargains in the last hour before closing at the local fruit and veg, or farmers markets. It can be mutually beneficial for you and the seller. You get a discount, and they would rather sell the produce for less, than taking them back home again, or having to throw them out.

Get together with friends to make the most of bulk discounts, or when buying products online. Many online stores offer discounts or free postage on orders over a certain amount.


Please feel free to leave your money-saving health tips in the comments section below. I believe that good health should be available to everyone, no matter what their income. Our current food system sometimes makes this hard to do. (Why, oh why, are imported 2-minute noodles cheaper than the fresh vegetables?) Let's see to it that good, nutritious food are within reach of everyone, including low-income earners.

The Raw Food Challenge

Not long ago, while holidaying on the Gold Coast, I stumbled across a gorgeous little raw-food restaurant. I was meeting up with an old friend for lunch, and we were both keen to try it out.

(Now let me just say that I have never been a huge fan of salads or sprouts. I love cooked carbohydrate foods, like pasta and breads. But for a while now, I've been thinking that I really need to increase the amount of raw foods I eat.)

So we tried it.

And it was awesome!! I loved it.

I had these spiced sweet-potato "pancakes" topped with avocado salad and macadamia feta, all displayed to perfection with tiny edible flowers and pomegranate seeds strewn over the plate.

Then we shared a raw choc-orange cheesecake for dessert.

I came away inspired to try out more raw food recipes at home.

However, working five days a week, studying part-time, with two young children and another on the way, while getting your home ready to sell, and - more recently - a husband in hospital, does not exactly lend itself to researching and trying out new recipes!!

But...I am now finished work, my husband is home from hospital, and our house is just about ready to go on the market, so....I am back with a vengeance.

The last few days, I've been having a look around at some of the raw food blogs and websites.

And if I wasn't already inspired to be more raw, I certainly was after reading through this raw-food blog by an absolutely stunning woman, radiating health and vitality at 53 years young.

I want to glow like that!!

I discovered the Raw Chef's thoughtful blog, and his divine-looking Choc Torte with Whipped Cashew Cream. He's even released his inner hippy, and is offering his full collection of e-books for whatever price you can afford. I'm terribly tempted to take up the offer...

So. I've come up with a challenge for myself (and for any other pasta lovers out there) to increase the amount of raw foods I eat.

Currently, on an average day, I eat probably 20 - 30% raw, mostly as snacks, such as fruit or raw nuts and seeds, and an occasional salad served with dinner, or on a lunchtime sandwich.

That is simply not good enough, for someone who wants to radiate with health!!

While I consider my diet to be an improvement over the "Standard Australian Diet", there are still a number of changes that can be made, including more raw and fermented foods in my diet.

My challenge is to increase the amount of raw foods in my daily diet, to around 70 - 80%. That's roughly all but one meal per day. Some of the things I'm really keen to try are: making kefir and rejuvelac, making nut cheeses, experimenting with sprouted essene bread (I tried it once, but it wasn't really to my taste. I'm keen to experiment and find ways to make it enjoyable.), making a raw cheesecake, and experimenting with different salads and dressings.

I'm giving myself 12 months to achieve my goal of 70-80% raw, seeing as there is a lot of major changes happening in the next 6 months, including a new baby and moving to a new town.

I have three conditions for my challenge.

1. I'm a busy mum, with a lot going on. I simply do not have time for food that requires a lot of fiddly preparation. Not on a regular basis anyway. The food must be relatively simple and easy, and won't keep me in the kitchen for hours on end, while hungry children hang off my legs, whining for dinner.

2. Since making the switch to healthier, better quality foods, our weekly grocery shopping bill has roughly doubled. Given our current situation, I really cannot stretch that budget any further. But eating more raw foods is probably going to cost a little bit extra, (especially with all those nuts). So, I'm going to need to be creative, and find other ways to save money. I'm going to be thinking over this, and my next post will be some of my ideas for being healthy on a budget.

3. Until I'm settled into my next home, which won't be for a number of months, I won't have a dehydrator, so recipes that require dehydrating are out. I know that you can use an oven on low temp with the door partly ajar, but a gas oven running for 8 or 9 hours seems like an awful waste of energy to me, so I'd rather prefer just to wait until I have a dehydrator.

I'd be thrilled if there are any cooked food lovers out there, who might join me on the challenge. You can amend it in any way, to suit your own circumstances and goals. Your goal might be to simply eat one salad every day. Or you might wish to become 100% raw. Whatever takes your fancy, as long as it gets people eating more raw foods, I'm happy.

And if you're not convinced that eating raw foods can take you to new levels of health and vitality, then just take a look at these unbelievable before and after photos. Actually, when I re-charge my camera, I'll add my very own "before" picture to this post, to keep me accountable, and give me a reference point.

The Cure For Cancer.....Is In Your Pantry???

About three months ago, my uncle was diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer. His doctor urged him to have surgery, before it spread to other parts of the body.

He refused.

His doctor warned him that if he did nothing, he would simply "walk off into the sunset".

As luck would have it (or perhaps, as God had arranged it) just a week or two before he was diagnosed, someone had passed along information to him about using bi-carb soda (yes, baking soda) to cure cancer. The friend who had passed on the information, had used baking soda to treat kidney cancer, after being sent home from hospital to die. One year later, she is still going strong.

He decided to try it first, before submitting to surgery. One teaspoon of (aluminium-free) bi-carb soda in a glass of water, morning and night, and each morning he tested his urinary pH level. His aim was to raise his pH level to 8.5 for 5 days straight, as cancer simply cannot thrive in such an alkaline environment. Meanwhile, he continued on with his daily life, as normal. He was not in any pain, in fact, he began to feel better than he had in ages.

After a month, his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigens) reading had come down by one full point.

Another month later he went for scans, which showed that the cancer had shrunk, but not completely.

Another month later, and his doctor has just given him the "all-clear". The ultrasound performed last week could find no evidence of any cancer.

Contrast this, with two of our other family friends and their recent battles with cancer. One recently passed away, after a couple of years of treatments - both conventional and natural - an unrecognisable shadow of her former self, aged just 54.

Our other friend, also in her 50's, began with lymphoma about 3 yrs ago. After some months of chemotherapy she went into remission. But last year, the cancer was back again, this time it was leukaemia. Her doctors admitted that this new cancer was caused by the previous chemotherapy treatment. Back down to Sydney she went, for more months in hospital, attached to a tube. She survived it, and came back home again.

Sadly, she is now in hospital again, fighting for her life. The leukemia is back again, and on top of it, she contracted swine flu while in hospital, which has now developed into pneumonia.

Now, can we say that my uncle's cancer won't come back? No. Only time will tell, if he has been cured permanently. But it does beg the question....

After decades of research, and over $200 billion in funding and public donations, the medical establishment can offer no better option, than A.) to cut you open B.) to burn your insides, with radiation, or C.) to poison you with chemotherapy?

Are we in the Dark Ages of Medicine, or something???

Where is the funding and research into something as cheap, and harmless, as bicarbonate of soda?

In Italy, Dr Tullio Simoncini treats cancer patients - many of them classified as "terminal" - by injecting bi-carb soda directly into the site of the cancer. His theory is that cancer is actually a fungus (quite possibly candida, which I've written about before), and bicarb soda is a very potent anti-fungal.

His success rate is somewhere around 90% (remember that many of his patients are "terminal", in other words, there is no hope for them...). Some cancers have a better success rate than others.

There's another school of thought which also helps to explain why baking soda is effective against cancer. Baking soda is highly alkaline. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment.

Unfortunately for us, today's diet and lifestyle promotes acidity. Stress, medications, antibiotics, processed food, yeast, dairy products, sugar, red meat, alcohol, smoking, chemicals and toxins - all of these make your body acidic. The ideal ratio of alkaline foods (fresh vegetables, whole grains) to acidic is about 80:20. Most of us are eating the opposite - 20% alkaline to 80% acidic, and wondering why we have aches and pains, low energy, hormonal disturbances, bad skin, digestion problems....
I do believe that the food you choose to eat has the potential to kill you. It also has the potential to heal you. Which is why I suspect that the cure for cancer, can indeed be found in our pantries....

There are some natural health practitioners that believe NO DISEASE KNOWN TO MAN, can survive in an alkaline environment. Do you realise what the ramifications of this could mean for society? The elimination of disease, cheaply and safely, without unnecessary procedures, vaccines or medications?

Just imagine... the new "Normal"?

Recently I was having a conversation with a work colleague which drifted onto the subject of hair dyes, and I mentioned to her (a frequent user of hair-dyes) about the link between cancer and permanent hair dyes.

Her reply: "Oh, well.....Everything gives you cancer these days..."

Another reaction I hear sometimes, is: "Oh well, I've got to die from something, I may as well enjoy myself while I can..."

I cannot help but wonder if they would say the same if their loved one was struggling with a disease that made life so painful, it was anything but enjoyable? Would they say the same if they were watching their child go through that horrendous torture they call "chemotherapy"?

Would they say the same if they realised how good they could feel without the constant bombardment of toxins and junk food?

I've started to think that our society's mindset - when it comes to health - has become terribly skewed.

Since when did illness and dis-ease become the new normal?

When did we come to accept that cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and a whole host of other disorders were a "normal" part of ageing?

Since when did childhood allergies and asthma become commonplace, and learning and behavioural disorders reach such epidemic levels that we have to come up with new names to label them?

Since when is a bout of influenza, and coughs and colds just something to be expected and endured every Winter?

I suspect we've forgotten the meaning of true health!

Our new version of "healthy" is a watered-down, diluted version where it is expected that a "healthy" person will get colds and flus in Winter, probably have some form of allergies or hayfever issues, and be on medication for blood pressure or diabetes by the time they are 50.

This is not true health.

I challenge you to list 5 people who:

a.) do not suffer from allergies or hayfever
b.) rarely, if ever, suffer from colds or flus
c.) do not need medication of any kind
d.) have clear and glowing skin, clear eyes, and thick, shiny hair
e.) maintains a healthy body weight without the need for "diets".
f.) is energetic and active.

Out of all the people I know, or have ever known, I can think of only one who ticks all of the above boxes. (Sadly that person is not me...but I'm working on it!!).

She was so unusual, that she stands out in my mind, when thinking about health, even though it's been 6 years since I last worked with her. You know those pictures in magazines that feature women with gorgeous white teeth, flawless glowing skin, and thick shiny hair, just bursting with (photo-shopped) radiance? Well, she was actually like that in real life - without the help of make-up. Glowing, happy and energetic.

(On a side note, she also drank more water than I've ever seen anyone drink, which kind of adds up now, since reading "Your Bodies Many Cries for Water" by Dr Batmanghelidj. Eye-opening book. Read it if you can get hold of a copy.)

Perhaps such a glowing state of health is not achievable for everyone, but I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of people are living far below their health potential, and many are suffering needlessly because of it, and that saddens me.

I want to see a completely new paradigm develop about health. Real health. Let's stop mis-using the word, because truly healthy people in the Western world are - sadly - a small minority. Our diets and environment full of toxins and poisons, has seen to that.

I want to see people start asking the question...why?

We now have a cancer rate of almost 1 in 2.....Why? Childhood asthma has reached epidemic proportions.....Why? Heart disease is the number one killer of women, even though we're eating more "low-fat" foods than ever.....Why? Autism and it's associated spectrum disorders have risen by 173% in the past two decades......Why? In Australia, 61% of all adults are overweight or obese, even though we are spending more on diet programs and gym memberships than ever before.....Why?

Aren't we doing our children, and our children's children, a disservice if we fail to ask these questions? We are clearly on the wrong path, when it comes to so many aspects of "health".

Illness is not normal. Anyone who has studied Anatomy and Physiology must surely marvel at the amazing way the human body is designed. Every system, and every system within the system, is intricately designed to keep you healthy - to ensure a state of "homeostasis".

Yet it's clear, that even the human body - so astounding in it's detail and design - cannot compete with the onslaught of toxins that we are eating, and rubbing onto our skin, and breathing into our lungs, and radiating through the atmosphere.

3 Ingredients For a Clean & Green Laundry.

I'll tell you a secret.

I have only 3 ingredients that I use in my laundry.

All of them are cheap.

And none of them are found in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket...

1. White vinegar
2. Bicarbonate of soda (bicarb soda)
3. Lavender Oil. (Or eucalyptus oil)

I have a top-loading washing machine. I put vinegar in the "wash softener" compartment, sprinkle approx 1 - 2 tbsp of bi-carb soda on top of the clothes, and then add a couple of drops of water-soluble lavender oil to the clothes.

That's it.

For persistent stains, a paste made from bicarb soda and water, and dabbed onto the stain for a while before washing. Or simply leave the garment in the sun for an hour or two.

A couple of months ago, I was sorting out some boxes and discovered some brand-name wash softener and washing liquid that I had been given for free, and decided to "use them up".

The first thing I noticed, was the lint and gunk filter in my washing machine needed cleaning a lot more. Almost every wash. (With the vinegar and bi-carb, it only needed cleaning every couple of weeks.)

The other thing I noticed, but did not link to the change in washing liquids, was that we had a "flea problem". I started breaking out in "bites" all over, but most especially in the areas where the hem of my clothing sat. Around my ankles, around my hips, around my chest and around my wrists and hands.

I went on using my fancy-smelling wash liquids (being the frugal soul I am, I didn't want to waste them!), while cursing the "fleas" in our house. The salt-in-the-carpet trick did not seem to work on the "fleas", so I repeated another application of salt. Still I scratched. No-one else in the family seemed to be affected.

Thinking about it one day, I was pondering how it seemed to be linked to my clothes.

Ah. Lightbulb moment!

The change in washing liquid. Of course! Why didn't I think of it?! The "fleas" only arrived after I changed my washing liquid.

The vinegar, bi-carb soda and lavendar oil were promptly restored to their rightful place on the laundry shelf.

That was a week ago. Our "flea problem" seems to be on the mend, already...

How To Stop Excessive Sweating.

This is rather embarrassing.

For almost all of my adult life, I have been a sweater.

You know, one of those people who constantly have damp patches under their arms, even when it's not hot??

Well, that was me. Except I was careful to wear clothes that hid my humiliating problem.

I first started to notice it as a problem when I was about 18. I thought it must be hormonal, and covered it up with anti-perspirants. After a while, they no longer did the trick, and I found out they contained aluminium so gave up using them anyway.

By the time I was around 20 or 21, it was impossible to wear a white shirt in Winter, much less Summer. Even when I was cold, I was still sweating, but only under my arms.

I even turned down a job once, because the uniform was a red fitted shirt and I just knew it would be disastrous.

I trawled the internet looking for the causes of excessive sweating and the cure. I even bought an e-book, which promised that the problem would eventually go away, if I just exfoliated under my arms every day in the shower.

Which I did. Faithfully and vigourously.

But still I sweated like a polecat...with exfoliated underarms.

I noticed that I sweated more during social occasions or when I was out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it was a self-conscious thing. That must be it!! I worked hard on gaining confidence.

But still I sweated on.

I asked my doctor if I might have an over-active thyroid. My doctor assured me I did not.

After 10 years of sweating, I resigned myself to wearing black shirts for the rest of my life.

Last year, when I started to research food and health issues, I made a commitment to cleaning up my diet. The sweating was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to get healthy and have more energy.

I stopped drinking fluoridated tap water, cut out sugar, cut out white flour and processed food almost entirely, cut down on yeast products, switched to completely natural skin and hair care products, swapped the table salt for Himalayan Crystal salt, and swapped the vegetable oil for pure unrefined coconut oil.

After a few months I was feeling so good and so mentally alert, I knew that these eating habits were something I wanted to stick to for the rest of my life.

It wasn't until Summer arrived, when I realised with a shock one day, that I wasn't sweating!! I checked under one arm. Nope. Nothing. Under the other arm. Nothing.

I could not believe it!! I could not stop checking under my arms, and revelling in how dry and how....normal they were.

The day I wore a white shirt and didn't get any damp patches was the best feeling!!

Looking back, I can see that the problem began after I moved away from home to study. I was brought up on a farm drinking rainwater, and eating home-cooked food.

When I moved to the city, I began drinking tap water that contained fluoride and chlorine (both toxins) and eating cheap packaged food. In fact, I recall living on white bread and margarine for one fortnight when there were too many bills to pay.

My only theory is that, while I was busy feeling rotten and hating my damp armpits, my body was desperately trying to rid itself of toxins, via the skin. Now that I have less toxins going in, there's less to come out.

It took around 4 months from the time of changing my diet, before I noticed my sweating had eased. No, it's not a quick-fix. It's not meant to be. It's meant to be a permanent solution and a permanent lifestyle change.

 I hope that any others who undertake the changes, will feel so good after a couple of months (the first couple of weeks you'll probably feel worse), and see so many other benefits such as increased energy, thicker hair, healthier skin, increased mental alertness, that you simply won't ever want to go back to your old dietary habits.

I have no special washing routine. I wash under my arms with pure Sunlight soap, and after showering and drying, I apply an all-natural, roll-on deodorant and get dressed and get on with my day.

If you know anyone who suffers from the same embarrassing problem, I encourage you to pass this article along to them.

I would be most interested to hear feedback or comments from others who have experienced this.

Please note: The aim is not to stop sweating altogether. It is natural to sweat when exercising, when sick, or nervous/ stressed. It is our bodies natural protective mechanism. The aim is to reduce excessive sweating, by reducing the amount of toxins entering your body.

Uncovered: The Secrets That Allow Dodgy Foods and Additives Onto Our Shelves

Ever since I began to investigate food and food additives, I've been puzzled over how some of these things were allowed into our food supply. Who on earth decided they were safe? And why?

After all, you don't need to be a genius to track down the nasty side-effects of some of these products, like MSG, or sodium nitrite, or aspartame.

So, how did they ever come to be approved?

I've been digging up some dirt on how the Australian approval process works, and I can't begin to tell you how thoroughly disgusted I am.

Which is why I'm writing it on my blog. I want the world to see this and be disgusted, too. This is my protest....

The Australian government body in charge of approving new foodstuffs, and ensuring the safety of our food, is called Food Standards Australia New Zealand (Henceforth referred to as FSANZ).

Their website reassures us that their vision is to ensure a safe food supply and a "well-informed" public.

(Yes! I agree! I am about to do my bit to inform the public.)

It may surprise you to know that when a company applies to get approval for their food/additive, FSANZ are allowed to accept a "fee" from that company to "expedite the approval process".

Their 2009 - 2010 budget estimate (which is available online if you do some digging around) reveals almost $1.5 million income from sources listed simply as "Other".

When questioned via Twitter, they conceded that companies may pay between $50,000 - $125,000 to "speed up the application process".

Now, $125,000 is probably peanuts when compared to the expense of developing the product, and the expected revenue once it hits the market, but...

How much pressure does this place on scientists to rule in favour of a company? Can they, in all honesty, claim to be "independant" when they are recieving funds from entities with a huge vested interest in their decisions?

Now, you would think that an organisation charged with the safety of our food supply, would be interested only in....the safety of our food supply!! But for some reason that I have yet to fathom, FSANZ must take into account World Trade Organisation obligations, such as "Barriers to Trade" when considering whether to approve novel foods (like Genetically Modified Foods) or food additives.

Now, lets think about this for a moment....

The World Trade Organisation's aim is to promote international trade, and to make sure that member countries do not "put up barriers" to trade from other member countries.

Right. So, when huge international corporations like Monsanto, apply to get their genetically modified crops approved in Australia, which is more important?? The safety of those crops, or worrying about whether we are "putting up trade barriers"....?

Apparently, refusing a product on the grounds that the public opposes it, is not a good enough excuse for the World Trade Organisation.

The body in charge of food safety needs to concern itself with food safety!! Please. Let someone else worry about WTO "obligations".

But the thing that infuriated me the most, was reading through their assessment for products currently seeking approval into Australia (At the time of writing, this includes two lines of genetically modified soybeans to be grown here in Australia, genetically modified corn for import, and a new artificial sweetener).

I have never taken it apon myself to read this literature before (but you can be assured that I will be, from here on in...) and I was shocked to discover that their assessment read more like a marketing proposal, than the unbiased, scientific assessment that I was expecting.

Just to give you an idea, here's a few things that I picked up from the application for the new artificial sweetener (it is no longer open for public submissions, but the Risk Assessment can still be found here.)

This new artificial sweetener, called Advantame, comes from the Ajinimoto Company (one of the world's largest suppliers of aspartame and MSG), and doubles as a flavour enhancer (how convenient.)

Advantame is 100 times sweeter than aspartame, and 20,000 times sweeter than sucrose. (Remember aspartame? The neurotoxin? You can refresh your memory here). It has been synthesised from aspartame and it's real name is: (Brace yourself...) L-Phenylalanine, N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) propyl]-L-alpha-aspartyl-, 2-methyl-ester, monohydrate.

 "According to the Applicant" there were several "related substances" that have been identified in the final product as "manufacturing impurities...These appear to include lead and arsenic. But only in trace amounts. (That's comforting.)

The toxicological database for Advantame is "extensive" and consists entirely of "unpublished studies sponsored by the applicant" (Even more comforting). In other words, the company did all the studies themselves, and have not published any, so none have been subjected to peer-review.

Among the issues brought up in the various animal studies, there was

  - lowered blood counts (including lowered Red Blood Cell count and T lymphocytes - possibly related to the point further down regarding the thymus gland - the site of T-Cell maturation),

 - mineralisation of the kidney's in females,

 - smaller weight of thymus gland (the thymus gland plays an important role in immune function - this sounds alarm bells to me...)

 - congestion of the lungs in males,

 - higher water consumption but lower urinary output (??? More alarm bells...)

 - lowered prothrombin times (this indicates how long it takes for blood to clot - an abnormal prothrombin time can be an indicator of liver disease).

- lowered spleen weight, and uterus and cervical weights in female dogs.

 - enlarged livers in male mice

 - rabbits appeared to be particularly sensitive to Advantame with female deaths reported, decreased ovarian weights, and also miscarriage.

Alarm bells getting louder and louder.

Many of these issues came up in several different studies involving different animals. The smaller thymus in males, for instance, was observed in studies with rats, and also with dogs. In fact, the male dogs being treated with high doses of Advantame, had thymus glands that were approximately half the size of the dogs in the control group!

Are you disturbed yet? I certainly am.

But here's what's even more disturbing....

For all of the problems mentioned above - every single one of them - there was an excuse for why these problems were not caused by the "treatment" (ie. feeding them Advantame). One of the excuses listed several times, was that the problem mustn't be treatment related, because it did not show up in both males AND females.

I am no scientist, but do we not make any allowances for differences between the sexes? Males and females are different! Some things may affect one sex more than the other, due to differences in body weight, metabolism or hormones.

Now, maybe they are right. Perhaps all of the problems mentioned are entirely coincidental...

But what if they're not...?

This product is proposed for use in flavoured milk products (among other things)....which are especially attractive to children. Would you take the risk? (No. Not me!)

The assessment concludes by saying: "There are no public health and safety issues associated with the proposed addition of Advantame to food". (Are you sure about that?!)

The assessments put forward for the genetically modified foods are no more reassuring, I'm afraid.

FSANZ does not take it apon themselves to perform any safety or toxicology studies. They rely apon the information given to them by the applicant.

And not only that, but once approved, FSANZ relies apon the applicant to inform them if any problems or health issues come to their attention. (Yes. Good luck with that!).

I am so outraged by this!! I believe this is too important to be taking risks with - we're talking about our food here, the very thing that sustains us - and it infuriates me to see our regulatory agencies glossing over problems.

I rang FSANZ and requested a meeting with their scientists. They told me this was not the "done thing", but changed their minds apon learning that I was planning to stand outside their building with a large sign.

After several attempts to organise a meeting, after which they did not return my calls, I decided I needed a new strategy. (I have since returned to work, so the standing out the front with a large sign plan has been put on the back-burner)

At first, I had a good mind to go to the Health Minister, however I've heard from several sources recently, that getting a hearing with the Health Minister is like "pulling hen's teeth".

I am now wondering if it would be more effective to go to my local Member of Parliament and voice my concerns. In my opinion, FSANZ needs a complete overhaul, not to mention more funding. It is embarrassing (not to mention puts them in a compromising position) that a government department needs to take fees from companies in order to run their agency.

Not good enough!!!

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