Let’s get this issue cleared up.

Let’s get this issue cleared up.

I’m talking about The Big Issue. A not-for-profit organisation that provides employment for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people around the world.

I didn’t know much about The Big Issue until earlier this year when I had the opportunity to work at The Big Issue Street Soccer Festival in January. I got to meet some great people and hear some inspiring stories. The people you see on the streets aren’t just homeless people trying to flog you a crappy paper, they are people who are working a real job, just like you and I.

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This week I saved 3 lives, no biggie…

This week I saved 3 lives, no biggie…

I’m not one of those wonderful people who work as a nurse, paramedic or a heart surgeon for example. BUT I do donate blood and that’s how I help to save 3 lives every time I do so.

There are so many people who generously donate their blood on a regular basis however the demand is still there so I encourage everyone to read on and give it some thought if you’ve ever been inclined to donate before.

I hate needles. I can’t even look at the blood streaming out of my arm and I often faint after my donation (don’t worry, nothing major – I’m just weird). Have I convinced you yet? Ha, probably not! Aside from all this and despite my vampire theories (ask me later on that one), what makes me keep going back every 3 months is that even though it’s slightly uncomfortable, it’s so important to so many others. It’s such a little thing that could mean so much for someone else.

Now I’ll bring out the big draw card, FREE FOOD! Oh Lordy, I can’t get enough of the little cheese and biscuits and don’t even get me started on the chocolate milk. It’s a glorious feast and a little reward for taking some time out to donate.

There’s another advantage too. Every time you donate you get a little health check. Your iron levels get checked and other important health things that I can’t list. I also learnt my blood type (O negative, FYI) which then led me to do some research on different blood types. Do you know that it’s said your blood type determines your personality? In Japan, blood type has big implications for life, work and love. Read about what your blood type says about you.

There’s a few boxes you need to tick before you can donate blood. Check to see if you’re eligible to donate.

Lastly, thanks to the kind people who work in the blood banks. Thanks for always ensuring I don’t faint and making sure I get home okay. You’re kindness is appreciated!

PS. Well done to Jay Tapscott who donated for the first time and drank two chocolate milks. That’s an example of getting. it. done.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy – Green Smoothies

Easy peasy lemon squeezy – Green Smoothies

Over the past year, I have developed a routine of having a green smoothie on an almost daily basis. I’ve recently had a few people ask me what I put in my smoothies so I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipes.

I can’t take all the credit for these delicious smoothies however. I joined a “30 day green smoothie challenge” about this time last year in which you were sent a different recipe everyday, along with shopping lists and facts on ingredients. Since then, I have developed quite a taste for strange vegetable and fruit concoctions.

What I’ve learnt about green smoothies..

  • It really doesn’t matter what you put in them! Just chuck in veggies and  a piece of fruit, like an apple or pear for some sweetness.
  • Although I’ve used measurements in the below recipes, it’s not entirely necessary. Just go with the flow!
  • Green smoothies are great for a meal replacement. I mostly have mine with breakfast or morning tea at work.
  • Although I love to use coconut water because it adds some sweetness, you can just use regular, tap water.
  • I bought a Cuisinart Compact Blender Stainless Steel which came with a variety of different sized  jars, including chopping cups (for making dips or chopping nuts, etc) and travel cups. The travel cups are great because you can make the smoothies to-go without even needing to pour it in to a different cup. Needless to say,  I am very happy with my selection.
  • I use a blender as oppose to a juicer because, 1) juicers are hard to clean – who can be bothered? 2) the majority of nutrients comes from the peel of fruit and veg.
  • After completing my 30 day challenge, I continue to have green smoothies regularly as I feel fuller and healthier.
  • I love adding ginger and garlic for a kick. They’re incredibly good for you and help when you’re feeling under the weather.
  • Lastly, I find making smoothies is really fun, especially mixing different ingredients together!

So here’s my top 6 favourite smoothies. If you’re missing an ingredient, don’t worry about it. Experimenting is half the fun.

Let me know which ones you like best!

Bright Citrus Berry (my favourite)

1 cup blueberries
1 orange
1 cup spinach
1 handful parsley
1 cup coconut or regular water

Apple Cleanse

1 apple
2 cups spinach
1 handful basil
1 lime
1 cup coconut water

Alison’s regular

1/4 Cucumber
1 Celery stick
1 Apple
1 Lime
Handful of Spinach
Cup of Coconut water

Healing Detox Smoothie 

1 banana
½ cucumber
1 rib celery
1 handful parsley
1 knuckle ginger
1 cup coconut or regular water

Berry Green Smoothie

1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
2 cups greens of choice
1 handful mint
1 cup coconut water

Young & Raw Smoothie

2 cups mango – fresh or frozen
1 lime
4 leaves kale
1 inch knuckle ginger
1 cup coconut or regular water

The challenge is a great way to get healthy and explore new ingredients. If you’re interested in green smoothies and health foods generally, head on over to Young and Raw.

That’s it from me..
Sending you love, light & health, Alison

PS. some picture of ingredients that I already had in the house – might provide some inspiration!

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The lazy persons guide to saving the earth

The lazy persons guide to saving the earth

captain planet

I had a look at my Facebook profile the other week and realised that 4 of
my last posts were in relation to animals and/or planet earth. At first I thought the inevitable had happened and I had turned in to a crazy animal activist that was saving the planet one plastic bag at a time. Although this is true, I realised I’ve always been cautious of pollution, global warming and the welfare of the worlds environment and the wildlife that inhabit it. But in recent times I had been paying more attention to these issues and it got me thinking of all the simple things you can do everyday to help look after our environment.

I’ve developed 10 tips that I try to do. It’s what I like to call the ‘lazy persons guide to saving the earth’ and if everyone was to follow these little things, hey! It might just help out the earth?

1. You don’t need a receipt once you’ve used an ATM. I might be speaking for myself here but I don’t need a little piece of paper reminding me of how little money I have remaining in my bank account that inevitably ends up in the bin. Plus, we are in the age of internet banking. If you want to see how much you do or don’t have, go online.

2. Confession. I carry fold-able shopping bags in my handbag. Yep, that’s right, I’m one of those people that pack my own groceries in my own shopping bags and take a million hours to do so. Say no to plastic bags and you’ll help save a whale (true story).

3. Use a KeepCup. They’re so trendy right now and perfect for coffee lovers! If you have two take away coffees a day, that’s two paper cups a day or 730 in a year that end up in the bin. You can choose heaps of cool colours and in general be a better person by having one on you at all times. You never know when you’ll need an emergency coffee.

4. Like number 3, buying a good drink bottle is a really cool* thing to do. My personal favourite drink bottle is the Frida Kahlo one I bought from Ishka. I feel slightly more superior drinking from a bottle with a strong feminist icon printed on it. Two other things also, 1) drinking from reused plastic bottles isn’t that good for you and 2) plastic bottles are incredibly bad for the environment.

5. Remove bottle caps and jar lids before putting them in the recycling. Although technology has improved over recent years and able to sort through large lids (bigger than a business card), you are still required to undo those lids so they can be sorted. Bottle caps from beer and wine are too small to sort so keep them separate.

6. Throw your gum away responsibly, e.g. put it in a bin. A little bird may think it’s some kind of delicious, gooey worm and try to eat it and instead choke to death (in the most serious cases). Could you really live with that?

7. I have often been guilty of this, but for those of you that take public transport, ‘accidentally’ leaving your newspaper on the seat next to you or your empty drink bottle between the seats isn’t fooling anyone but yourself. If you used it, pick it up and throw it away properly.

8. Really easy one here folks, actually follow the instructions on the bins that tell you what does and doesn’t go in recycling. I have often been caught standing by bins trying to figure out if fruit scraps go in recycling or regular rubbish. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

9. Have you ever purchased 4 pairs of shoes at once? I have and it does not hide the fact you have a shopping addiction because you walk out of a shop with 4 plastic bags with a box of shoes in each. When I splurge on shoes, I now ask if I can take the shoes without the boxes so they fit in one (reusable) bag. This is of course hoping that the nice environmentally aware shopping assistants reuse the boxes or dispose of them correctly.

10. It’s summer time here in Australia and that of course means a lot of of time spent on the beach. Similar to number 7, burying your rubbish in the sand doesn’t mean it has disappeared. It will eventually be swept up in the sea and some poor sea turtle will try to eat your leftover Twisties which will not end well (for both the Twisties and turtle; no one likes soggy Twisties).

So there’s 10 tips that you easily adopt. They may be obvious and you may already do them, but it’s always nice to have a reminder. As Captain Planet once said, “the power is yours!”

*my version of ‘cool’ will most likely differ from yours.

A day in the life of a coeliac

A day in the life of a coeliac

Cassia and I

Meet Cassia. She’s one of my best friends. We have a lot in common including breathy laughs, boring conversation starters (including window cleaning, cats and politics) and we both DO NOT find Jackass movies funny. Yep – you read it right (ground breaking, I know). We do have our differences, however. For example, Cassia is in the small percentage of Australians who have coeliac disease. I am in the large percentage that doesn’t.

FYI.
When people with coeliac disease consume gluten, an abnormal immune reaction occurs causing inflammation and damage to the small bowel lining. This impairs absorption of nutrients and can lead to a wide range of symptoms and medical complications(so I’ve been told..).

Aside from having some faint memories of stealing Cassia’s gluten-free pretzels at lunch time during school and them being strangely addictive, I’ve never really known too much about the disease. So I did some investigation!

The Facts.
One in 100 Australians have the disease.
80% of Australians remain undiagnosed.
Symptoms include lethargy, anaemia, nutrient deficiencies, loss of fertility, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
People are generally born with the disease.

The Expo.
As Cassia is a member of the Coeliac Society (lol), we got discounted entry in to the Melbourne Gluten Free Expo so we had began the day on a high! We made a beeline for the hot jam doughnuts I had heard so much about, and they did not disappoint! They were delicious and didn’t taste much different from the regular kind, same with the bread samples. According to Cassia, these have made a big improvement compared to what they used to be. The chocolate eclairs however (aside from the cream of course) weren’t that great. Safe to say gluten-free pastry has a long way to go still. I also tried gluten free beer, brownies, cereal, pasta, chips and other various gluten free things that I didn’t even know usually contained gluten. It was all very educational, and most importantly tasty!

The Fad.
10% of Australians are currently following a strict or significantly reduced gluten diet.
This is 10 times greater than the total number of Australians thought to have coeliac disease.
The gluten-free industry is booming with a global market estimated to make US$4 billion over the next few years.

I am ALL about fads so I’m by no means hatin’ on anyone who’s adopted the gluten-free approach. Speaking to Cassia about this however, I did find it interesting that gluten-free diets aren’t actually recommended to everyone as there’s minimal evidence that people without the disease will get any benefits. I guess though with beautiful people like Gwyneth Paltrow endorsing gluten free diets, it’s bound to take off. As they say, each to their own.

It was a very fattening, interesting and delicious experience but I have to say I’m grateful I don’t have the disease. From what Cassia says, the food can still be a bit hit and miss and quite often expensive. But good on the gluten free society for being so cute and welcoming. And thanks to Cassia for showing me the ropes and letting me blog about her!

Cassia and Jessie

Coles expo

Beer

Cakes


References
1. Everything you need to know about coeliac disease (and whether you really have it), The Conversation.

World War Sugar

World War Sugar

World War Sugar

Since finishing up my 8 week no sugar stint a couple of weeks ago, I have dived head first back in to sugar. Among other things, my 8 week challenge highlighted the fact that I’m an extremist and find it difficult to keep a balance.

The second half of my no sugar challenge was a lot easier. I had less sugar cravings and had developed a habit of appropriately avoiding these cravings when they did attack. I introduced fruit back in to my diet, yippee! And people had been commenting that I looked healthier, my skin was glowing and most importantly, I definitely felt a lot better.

By week 5 and 6, I think I began to get a bit cocky and thought I had my cravings under control. Until, one night at my friends place, I turned in to an absolute maniac. I entered her room to find sugar everywhere, in particular a very large container of lollies which included my kryptonite – coke bottles. I thought I might try to challenge myself and just have one. Well, all self control went out the window to the extent that when my friend went to the bathroom, I ran to her room and shoved as many coke bottles in my mouth as humanly possible. Embarrassingly, I was busted when she walked back in to find me inhaling vast quantities of coke bottles at a rapid speed. I imagine this would have looked like a deer in the head lights of an oncoming truck, both sights as equally as tragic.

Unfortunately, somewhere towards the very end I gave in, threw the towel in, bowed out ungraciously and started saluting to the all-mighty sugar Gods. Which is really strange because I was determined to try to keep off sugar. I guess between the manipulative voices in my head and the enormous amounts of sugar everywhere, it became hard to fight the temptations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a firm believer that sugar is evil and plan to reinforce this to myself again soon (riiiiiiiiiiiight after I finish this bowl of ice cream). And despite some people saying sugar isn’t all that bad, my verdict is in and since being back on sugar, I feel crap! I’m far more tired, I’m lethargic and I’ve been feeling quite ill and nauseous. Since feeling this way, I’ve remembered that I used to feel like this prior to quitting sugar, and while being off it, I didn’t. To me – there seems to be an obvious correlation here.

I’m currently reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie which is proving to be very interesting and reinforcing my current evil suspicions about sugar. I guess there’s only one thing to do – steer clear from sugar and see what changes again. Oh! And most importantly.. find a healthy balance!

I quit sugar!

Four weeks ago, I quit sugar! Chocolate, lollies, fruit, juice, soft drink, tomato sauce – I’ve quit it all. Inspired by Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar, I decided to lay off the sugar for 8 weeks. Half way through the program now, I’m feeling pretty good and quite impressed I’ve come this far – and I’m determined to finish the last four weeks too! It’s been really interesting learning about everything sugar-related and actually being mindful of what I was shoving down my throat. Why I’m doing it? I was a) curious b) bored c) wanted to improve my energy levels and avoid the 3.30 slump and rush to 7/11 and finally, d) to see if my skin improved.

Week 1 and 2 were pretty easy, I aimed to slowly work myself off sugar. It was really just beginning to be conscious of what contained sugar and being aware of what I was putting in to my body. Week 3 marked the absolutely NO SUGAR part of the program. That surprisingly went fairly well too. But then, day one of week 4… BANG! I was feeling dizzy, sweaty and faint – the lack of sugar in my diet had finally hit me. I went straight to my filing cabinet at work and pulled out my saladas and vegemite – I’m not sure what you file at work but my cabinet consists of mostly food. The rest of week 4 improved, thankfully. I had my first visit to a health food shop which was super exciting! I found lots of organic and sugar-less alternatives including cacao nibs, raw cacao powder and coconut butter and oil. The cooking so far has been a bit bland but it’s slowly improving. According to Sarah Wilson, week 5 is when you really start to notice the lack of sugar so I should be in for a ride this week.

What I’ve noticed so far? My energy levels seem to be improving, less up and down than usual, especially in the afternoons at work. I also feel a lot less bloated. My concerns? As I’ve cut out fruit, I’m really conscious of eating well. I’m trying to eat as much vegetables as I can, it’s tough though! Another concern is that I’m replacing sugar with more (bad) fats. I’ll try to eat less of these in the coming weeks.

I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to anyone who has witnessed my mood swings, particularly my brother and his girlfriend. They’ve seen some award winning tantrums!

Four weeks to go – wish me luck! I’ll report back with the rest of my findings soon.