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Category: Health + Wellness


A SNAPSHOT OF MY DAILY DIET

A SNAPSHOT OF MY DAILY DIET

Posted September 10, 2012

So right now, as I write this, my normal eating pattern is a little different because I’m in the middle of a juice/smoothie cleanse – with a little bit of healthy eating cheating! However, I was recently asked to share what I eat in a typical day so I thought I’d blog about it for you here. Firstly, it’s important to note that my food philosophy is ‘bio-individuality’ – basically what works for me might not work for you. That doesn’t mean you can get away with eating crap and I can’t, it just means that the balance of different types of healthy, whole foods is different for each of us. And balance is the key word here. It’s my favourite word in fact and it is the common thread in every area of my life. When it comes to food I first and foremost see it as fuel – energy to allow my body and brain to function at its best. And then I see it as an indulgence, something to get creative with, enjoy and savour. I try and be consistent and almost ritualistic with what I eat so that it’s not a headache and being healthy is just a way of life. I also allow space for rule breaking too. Part of being balanced is understanding that joy and passion is just as important as the food you are digesting. So if that means enjoying dessert over a girly dinner, or being relaxed about having takeaway at a friend’s house because we are having too much fun to cook, then so be it – although it doesn’t happen often! So here is what a normal day in my diet can look like: please note this is based on a day working from home. It’s obviously different if I’m out and have to eat in cafe’s etc. 1) Drink a big glass of filtered water – it’s the first thing to enter my body 2) Over a journal/affirmation session in bed I will enjoy a cup of hot water + lemon – I’ve been doing thing since I was a kid 3) After meditating/yoga I’ll have another big glass of water 4) Breakfast time – either: Poached eggs with lots of steam green veggies and whatever seasonal produce I have. Sometimes this is served on sourdough bread. Sugar-free quinoa, buckweat + barley porridge with coconut oil, nuts, seeds, homemade yoghurt and banana Syrian style bean + egg breakfast (recipe here!) 5) Between breakfast and lunch I’ll drink lots of water + herbal tea – green/black chai/lavendar. Sometimes I’ll have a smoothie here (less in winter) 6) Lunch time – either: A big green superfood salad – kale/silverbeet, tuna, goji berries, hemp seeds, sprouts, seasonal veggies, olive oil, lemon juice, ACV. Anything leftover from the right before – this might be a warm chickpea salad, roast chicken + veggies, baked fish – anything really. 7) If I get a craving for anything sweet in the afternoon I’ll have a warm tea and a small bowl of crushed nuts, coconut flakes + my homemade nutella. Or cacao bliss balls. 8) Dinner: usually quite protein based with a very generous serving of veggies again! Baked salmon + veggies, chicken stir fry, vegetarian chickpea + haloumi salad, vegetarian dhal, quinoa + veggie hash, slow cooked lamb. I cook with REAL fats: butter, coconut oil, olive oil and only use grass-fed/pastured/free range/ Of course, no two days are exactly the same. I trust my body and try to listen to what it needs. And hopefully this inspires you to do the same. If this seems daunting head over to my recipe section. All my recipes are easy and simple – I am not into fussy creations. And it’s not expensive to eat well. The higher up the food chain (animal based protein, dairy etc) the more $$ you should spend on quality and the lower down you can be a little more flexible with the quality. For example, if money is tight spend your dosh on the quality produce and only choose some organic fruit and veg. Eating well is possible, easier than you think, and worth SO much. Saha to you, Claire x Read more

THE SUGAR-FREE SYRIAN ‘FUL MEDAMES’ BREAKFAST

THE SUGAR-FREE SYRIAN ‘FUL MEDAMES’ BREAKFAST

Posted September 07, 2012

This will keep you going for hours. That is the best way to describe this breakfast. Some of you might already know through my blogging that my background is Lebanese and Syrian. Same-same but different. And there are just a enough differences, especially within the food, to enjoy a variety within a middle eastern culture. One of which is the different ways and dishes my dad makes to my mum. Both my parents get food. They understand flavours and they have the skill to put things together. But mostly, they understand the value of good, wholesome food. And they respect the power that food can have on your overall health and wellness. Which is a nice segue into the introduction of Ful Medamas. This is an incredibly hearty middle eastern breakfast dish – it varies depending on where you are in the ME, I prefer the Syrian version! My dad takes so much pride in making and serving this. He tends to hover over you like a helicopter whilst you are eating it to check if you are a) enjoying it as much as he think you should  b) finishing it all and c) want a 2nd or a 3rd helping. I love this dish even more because my dad serves it up with so much love. Love in a bowl. Now to the details. It is 100% savoury breakfast and not for the faint-hearted. There is nothing sweet about this. So read no further if you have a hardcore sweet tooth. But if you are looking for energy, sustenance, nourishment and healing all at the same time, read on my friend! So, what’s in it? 1 Garlic clove 1/4 cup Olive Oil 400gs/1 can Fava Beans 400gs/1 can Chickpeas 4 Pastured/free range Eggs 4 Tomatoes 2 Lemons 1/2 tsp Cumin Sprinkle of Himalayan Rock Salt Parsley A little tip: don’t eat this before a date. Like I said this is not for the faint-hearted. There is only 1 clove of garlic in this recipe but if you need some healing add more! It works. This will serve around 4 people What to do: Whether you are using dried or canned beans/peas simply chuck into water and bring to the boil. If canned take off the heat once it’s boiled and drain. If using dried you’ll have to simmer until the beans are soft – this is usually 40minutes or so Next, mix the crushed garlic, olive oil, cumin, salt, lemon juice. Place a small amount at the base of each of your serving bowls. Keep the rest aside. Meanwhile fry or poach 4 eggs as you like them. Dice up your tomatoes and Parsley . Place an even amount of the beans/peas in each bowl. Sprinkle the tomato and parsley on top. Dress with the remaining olive oil mixture. Place an egg on top. Serve hot. You can add Lebanese bread if you want it, but trust me, you don’t need it. I guarantee this will make you feel nourished and satisfied for HOURS. Saha to you! Claire x Read more

5 SUPER REASONS TO EAT YOGHURT

5 SUPER REASONS TO EAT YOGHURT

Posted September 05, 2012

I grew up with this stuff. Literally, there was never one day in my parent’s home that we didn’t have yoghurt. Or as we call it in Arabic, Laban or Labne. Being from the Middle East, my parents love this stuff, and now, so do I. There is no place for a dairy intolerance in a Middle Eastern upbringing. This delicious white gooey goodness reins kings as one of the old school superfoods. Not to mention the endless list of ways to include it in your diet – mixed with berries and granola, tossed with herbs and spread on toast, frozen yoghurt, added to soups, smoothies, curries, eaten as a dip or even as a broth to stew veggies in. But why so super? The list is long…but here are 5 reasons to get you over the line Rich in calcium, potassium and B Vitamins. This might just be ‘nutritionism’ stuff, but the reality is these are vital minerals and vitamins that the body needs on a daily basis Yoghurt strengthens the immune system helping the body fight off infections Yoghurt encourages a proper functioning gut that absorbs nutrients and kills off bad bugs. Yoghurt is an excellent source of Protein – up to 20% of your daily-recommended intake of Protein can come from yoghurt. Yoghurt is easier to digest than milk due to the culturing process leaving it with less lactose than milk. Convinced? Do you want to know how to make it yourself? Too easy. Here, I’d like to pass on my parent’s old school technique. You can look up Nourishing Traditions for a recipe there or use one of those special yoghurt makers. But me, personally, I like that I am making my yoghurt with a technique passed onto me from my parents, who learnt from there’s… and so on. It doesn’t get more authentic than this. Ingredients: 1 – 2 litres of milk (I use organic, raw milk from pastured cows or goats!) Start culture (You can use a store-bought high quality plain yoghurt for the first batch) How to: Place a very small dish on the base on your pot – this will make sense soon Pour in your milk Turn your stove to a simmer temperature Allow the milk to slowly heat – you can leave it and come back, but check every few minutes. Once the milk starts to ‘froth’ – something that resembles the top of a latte or cappuccino then turn the heat off. If you hear the plate at the bottom of the pot tinkle and rattle then you are almost in danger zone (boiling)… quickly turn off and remove from the stove. Allow to cool – do some laundry, read a book. This normally takes around 15 minutes. Remove the plate. Now, once you can place your pinkie finger into the milk (wash your hands!) for around 10 seconds then you are ready for the next stage Take your starter culture and stir in at least 2 tablespoons Place the lid on and wrap the pot with a cloth Either place the pot inside a pre-warmed oven (make sure it’s not on once the pot goes in) or in a warm spot (cupboard, near the water heater, cosy shelf). This is especially important during winter as the culturing process requires an even temperature and warmth Leave it overnight and come morning you will have yoghurt! If you like thicker ‘cheese-like’ yoghurt, strain through a muslin cloth into a bowl – keep the left over curds and whey (this keeps in the fridge for 3 months!) and use in smoothies, activating nuts, juices and more – this stuff is supercharged goodness. There you have it 100% real, old school styled yoghurt. Enjoy and Saha to you. Cx Read more

5 YOGA POSES TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BODY

5 YOGA POSES TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BODY

Posted September 02, 2012

Welcome Spring! I was actually in Melbourne as we switched over to spring this weekend gone by and  it certainly was a different experience to Sydney. Nevertheless you can sense the spring-cleaning in the air – the flowers are blooming, the wind and air has changed. The temperature slowly rising. Not to mention the actual cleaning going on inside many homes – dusting, clearing, scrubbing, dumping. There is a reason why we feel the need to clean our homes post-winter. There is alot of dampness, mould, dust and general waste that builds up when we are in a confined space taking shelter from the cold. Our bodies do much the same. There is alot of gunk stored within us that needs some detoxing. We cleanse through three of the body’s main systems. The circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body – taking oxygen to cells whilst carrying the waste away. The digestive system processes the food we eat – absorbing the nutrients we need and eliminating anything we don’t. And then we have the lymphatic system, which collects fluid from our cells and sends it to the lymph nodes to ditch any harmful bacteria.  The eliminatory organs (lower digestive system, liver, kidneys, lungs and skin) then help us to expel all of those nasty little toxins. That’s a pretty good system when it comes to detoxing! However, over the winter season, our diet is a little heavier, we’re a little less active than usual, and our eliminatory organs may be feeling a little sluggish. When Spring arrives, we often need a helping hand to assist the natural detoxification process. Yoga, like most forms of exercise, stimulates the three systems of cleansing, but it packs a little more punch. The systematic stretching and compressing action, coupled with calm breathing, is particularly good at enhancing waste-removal from the deep tissues and extremities (which some forms of exercises just can’t do). I was lucky enough to have some shots taken by my very talented friend and photographer, Titus Pengelly so I’m able to share a few of my favourite cleansing yoga poses to help you banish those winter cobwebs and kickstart detoxification. Here are our 5 cleansing yoga poses: Standing Forward Bend – calms the nervous system whilst gently compressing the abdomen to stimulate digestion and elimination   Downward Facing Dog – gently tones the belly, aids circulation of blood and lymph and stimulates digestion   Lunging Twist – strengthens the legs whilst deeply twisting through the abdomen to squeeze and release the digestive organs   Seated Twist– releases the hips whilst squeezing the abdominal organs   Meditation– helps you calm your breath, centre your focus and quieten your mind to reduce stress and enhance detoxification   I hope you enjoy these poses and start to feel light, open and clean! Saha to you Cx  *Originally written and published for Urban Remedy where I am the Resident Health Coach. Read more

L.S.D TRIPPING AT A YOGA CLASS

L.S.D TRIPPING AT A YOGA CLASS

Posted August 27, 2012

Did that title get your attention? I hope so. But you might be disappointed to find that this post isn’t about illicit drug use at a yoga class… although, I’m not entirely fibbing either. Just this weekend gone by I had the pleasure – I use that word loosely – of taking a trip down the L.S.D lane. And by L.S.D I mean a long, slow, deep yoga practice. It was fascinating and intense, for want of a better description. Let me set the context first. Bryan Kest, a renowned Power Yogi, was visiting Sydney to host a few masterclasses. In all honesty, I actually wasn’t that interested when I first heard he was coming…mostly because I have a little stigma towards Power Yoga. I have tried it many times and often enjoyed the practice but the ‘power’ behind the yoga – meaning the attitude – doesn’t always sit well with me, but that is another story! Despite not being that keen, after hearing that a few friends were going I decided to get involved with the Kest Fest and booked into two of his three masterclasses. The first being his Long, Slow, Deep class and the second being Power Flow. Let’s just say this, I didn’t make it to the flow class… What I did make it to was the most profound, intense experience on the mat in which my tooshie never actually left. In an almost three hour class some 70+ students never actually performed one warrior, salute, backbend or a simple standing pose. There was no flow. There was minimal movement. There was no talking. We spent every moment within the intense grip of very deep hip, hamstring and shoulder stretches for a very long time, in a very slow way. In short, it was a form of torture. Imagine this… you are asked to hold a very deep hamstring for 2 – 5 minutes straight. No fidgeting. No adjusting. No eye contact with your friends. No distractions. No excuses. Simply you. Your deep almost primal breath and journey into a place in your mind you don’t often face. This trip down the L.S.D lane most certainly wasn’t fun. But it was profound. We were challenged to push past our ego – the one tempting us to quit, to notice the itch, to respond to the struggle, to huff, puff and pander to distractions. We were asked to play at our edge and a little past it whilst still enacting loving-kindness towards ourselves – knowing how to challenge yourself whilst knowing when to ease back is a true test in self awareness, compassion and insight. I’ll be the first to admit that I was truly tested. Injuries flared up, the ego tapped away enticing me to give up or push harder and frustration arose from all sorts of places. I even got overwhelmed, anxious and a little emotional. But each time the breath brought me back. I was astounded, even as a yoga teacher who teaches and practices the art of the breath, at its ability to take me to my centre and create some stillness. By the end of the practice, as promised by Bryan, we were all literally yoga stoned. The pure relief from exiting the final 10 minute forward bend had fresh blood and oxygen flooding our system in reaction to what was surely a release of toxins. It wasn’t an easy drive home and my body opted out of his next class. Once I finally felt less stoned I got to thinking about how we constantly react to things (situations, people, experiences, thoughts, ideas) in our life by habit. We move habitually. And that is neither wrong or right – Bryan spoke alot about it – but we don’t always have to react in the way that we do. We are so busy, going, doing, being, everything is so important! We don’t just sit with it, what the experience or situation is, whether it is  good, bad or ugly. We always find a way to cut corners, rationalise, avoid, deflect, change. What’s wrong with just sitting with our frustration, our pain, our anxiety, the unknown? Why do we always have to react? What do we think we are avoiding…what are we afraid of? Whether I liked, loved or hated the LSD class is a moot point, because it got the wheels turning. It shook things up and gave me an entirely new perspective. I loved being challenged to think differently and I most certainly developed a deeper respect for my mind and breath. But mostly I discovered through Bryan’s guidance that we are so often wrapped in fear… despite the reality that being afraid is often worse than what we are afraid of. It’s fear that holds us back, and in turning and facing them we can watch them shift, change and melt away, revealing something we didn’t expect. I’d love to hear your thoughts on having to face fear, sit with pain in any form and being tested? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

3 WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR TIME IN THE SUN

3 WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR TIME IN THE SUN

Posted August 24, 2012

Recently I went to a yoga class at Yoga Village –  I don’t normally attend and I’m so glad I did. The beautiful teacher, Rachel Coopes, told a story about two cats. Stay with me here… this isn’t a homage to fluffy felines (although they are pretty sweet). It’s about how two cats taught me to stop trying so hard. Picture this. A tomcat – big, fluffy, ginger – sitting curled up in that cat-like way. Just chilling. And in front of Mr Tomcat was a pretty little Burmese cat. She wasn’t chilling, in fact, quite the opposite. Parading herself in front of the tom cat was all Miss Burmese cared about. ‘Look at me, look at me’…she purred as her tail swished, meowing and wriggling about trying to get Mr Tomcat’s attention. Do you think he noticed? Of course not. He was stoic, still and simply kept staring ahead. Unflappable. After much effort Miss Burmese eventually figured it out. She paused. Stretched out and curled up next to Mr Tomcat in a little patch of sunshine. And only then did the tomcat respond to his new companion. As the teacher told this story I couldn’t stop smiling. I could see myself in that Burmese. How many times had I ‘paraded’ myself around, trying to seek other’s approval, or my own? Often trying too hard to fill the hours, to be busy, to feel important and special. Working up a sweat, busting myself to achieve ‘something’ when all along the real achievement was right in front of me. Just let go. Stop. Be still. Find a little peace and quiet and just sit in the moment. Enjoy the patch of sunshine, just because… There are so many moments in our life when effort is needed – we have to put ourselves out there, raw and unashamed, ready to grow, evolve and achieve. I’m a huge fan of ‘effort’… it’s my middle name in fact. But lately, I’m starting to understand the profound power of letting go and trying less. And I’ve noticed when I do try less that some things come to me with a lot more ease. Mostly though, it’s those moments of pause and respite, soaking up the sun where we I refuel and keep on going. After this class I went home and wrote down three ways that would help me channel my inner tomcat. 1)    Consciously do nothing when I have a long list of to-dos – snooze, read, stare out the window, lay in the sunshine. 2)   Let someone else make the decisions for me. Stop trying to control the moment and literally go with the flow. 3)   Laugh at myself. Whenever I feel heavy with the weight of my own effort make a point to be irreverent with it and laugh at little at the ‘seriousness’ of it all. Give it a shot, be like the tomcat  – chill out a little and enjoy your time in the sun. Cx *Note: this was originally published on MindBodyGreen Read more

HAPPY HEMP SEEDS – GET THEM INTO YOU!

HAPPY HEMP SEEDS – GET THEM INTO YOU!

Posted August 22, 2012

I’ll admit. It took me a while to cotton onto hemp seeds. Mostly because I was under the impression that, as hemp is illegal in Australia that it would be impossible to find it. How very wrong I was. Just like raw milk, hemp products (seeds, milk, oil, powder) are readily available. You just need to know where to look. In Oz, unlike NZ, hemp can only be sold as a pet product. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy it and consume it yourself. Why so happy with hemp ? 1) Delicious taste – soft, slightly nutty, delicate   flavour and texture 2) High protein source – containing all 20 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids 3) Lots of fatty acids 4) A good dose of fibre 5) Nice balance of Omega 3 + 6s (3:1) – not the perfect ratio, but very close Check out this awesome article at Body Ecology for more information on the history of hemp seed and it’s used medicinally – for quite some time it seems! Now that I’ve tried it, I am not turning back. I’ve only tried the seeds and will be sticking with that – I would like like to flag here that just because, in its natural state, hemp has some amazing qualities doesn’t mean that when it’s turned into protein powder, milks, hemp cheese that it retains those qualities. We don’t have all these products readily available in Australia … yet… but sure enough they will come. So be mindful that you are choosing hemp and utilising it in a form that is less processed – or at least do some research around it. We shouldn’t just trust everything that hits the shelf labelled ‘healthy’ or ‘superfood’. Having said that, I feel totally comfortable to eat the seeds and have tried including it in a few ways. Tossed into my morning coconut/nut granola Sprinkled into stir-fries (after cooking) Added to my raw cacao bliss balls Blended into smoothies Chia + hemp pudding Mixed into banana breads/muffins (I haven’t done this one yet!) What do you think of hemp? Have you tried it and can you share your own recipes? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Claire Read more

4 TIPS ON THE BEST WAY TO INCLUDE MEAT IN YOUR DIET

4 TIPS ON THE BEST WAY TO INCLUDE MEAT IN YOUR DIET

Posted August 20, 2012

It wasn’t long ago that I posted about Michael Pollan who visited Sydney. His fresh, honest and simplistic view of food is very inspiring. So much so that I’m rereading all his books and buying them for many clients. One sunday evening I was flicking through a copy of Food Rules: An eater’s manual and came across quite a few ‘rules’ around eating meat. I’ve talked about meat many times on the saha space because it’s a topic that is so debatable and one that has often left me a little unsure. I love the idea, desperately, of being a vegetarian but my body doesn’t like it. Although I don’t eat beef, pork or lamb very often, I eat it enough to know that I respond well to it. I never really paid attention to how I ate meat growing up, but now when I visit my parents I’m noticing that meat is usually present but in very, very small portions. It is not the hero of the meal. Which got me thinking more and more about the healthiest way to be a meat-eater. . In Food Rules, Pollan as dished up a few gems to help answer this question which I’d like to share with you. 1) Treat meat as a flavouring or special occasion food: According to Pollan “flexitarians – people who eat meat only a couple of times per week are just as healthy as vegetarians. The difference is that meat is not the feature or your meal – it might be peppered through a green stir-fry, or stuffed into capsicums with brown rice. Perhaps you could enjoy meat as a 1/4 of your vegetarian meal. Or have a big beautiful roast as a treat and delight in it – fat and all! 2) Eat Animals that have themselves eaten well: It’s silly of us to disregard the impact that an animal’s diet (and treatment!) has on our health. Animals (cows, lamb etc) that graze on green grass produce a healthier fat rich in omega 3s and less omega 6s amongst other key vitamins. The higher up the food chain (animal based protein) the more important it is to pay the premium for grass-fed, pastured and organic produce. In comparison to animals fattened up on grain and corn which they aren’t designed to process which in turn affects the 3) If you have the space, buy a freezer: Now that you are getting picky about your meat sources you’ll want to buy in bulk to save some dosh. Pollan very smartly recommends buying an extra freezer to store your pastured and grass-fed animal products ready for when you need a protein hit. And one more just from me… 4) Only eat meat that you’ve bought and cooked: Not always possible but to avoid eating poor quality meat in a portion size you don’t need, choose to only enjoy meat cooked at home and become a vegetarian/pescetarian when eating out. It simplifies things and ensures you are eating meat in the right way. The reality is, in the western world we tend to eat meat more than once a day, which is probably unneccessary for most of us – of course, some cultures have a higher % of meat in their diet, so we do need to find what works best for us. So perhaps for many of us, rethinking our meat consumption so it’s healthier and more sustainable would be a good idea. love + light, Claire x Read more

SMOOTHIE TIME: TAHINI, CACAO + COCONUT

SMOOTHIE TIME: TAHINI, CACAO + COCONUT

Posted August 17, 2012

? Rainy. Cold. Windy. Three elements that make me one sleepy yogi. With a back-to-back teaching and coaching schedule last Saturday I knew I’d need some energy but really couldn’t be bothered cooked, or cleaning.Let me introduce you to this smoothie. Delicious, nourishing, energising and almost too naughty to be healthy. But it is! It’s also dairy-free and (added) sugar free).Check out this ingredients list and why I chose them!  3- 4 Medjool Dates – for fibre and natural sugar 2 tbls cacao – antioxdant boost + energy Coconut water + flesh from 1 coconut – for hydration and yumminess! 2 tbls chia seeds – protein source 2 tbls coconut oil (melted) – good fat with antimicrobial properties 1/4 cup of tahini – good fat and protein source Dash of cinnamon – flavour, digestion and good for blood sugar levels So, you know what to do – blend and serve. I didn’t use ice as it was too cold, but you can if you are after something refreshing. Eat and enjoy. Saha to you, Claire x Read more


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