Yoga can reduce cancer risk

You probably know that yoga is a great for relaxation, de-stressing, stretching and better balance. But did you know that it yoga can also reverse molecular reactions cause cancers, depression[i] and more?


It all begins with your reaction to stress. Stress (fear, irritation, annoyance) triggers your fight or flight response. Hormones are released which raise your heart rate and cause glucose to surge into your blood ready for you to fight or take flight. Another important action is the releases of chemical, which cause inflammation. Inflammation is important in the short-term because it enhances wound healing – very important in our hunter-gatherer days. And it is still important.

The trouble is that the hectic pace of 21st century living and the huge number of demands on us everyday means that we’re exposed to stress in the form of little niggles throughout the day. And little irritations add up to big daily doses of stress.

The continuous release of stress hormones leads to which is at the heart of chronic (degenerative) conditions such as heart disease and cancers as well as depression and accelerated ageing.

According to scientists from the University of Coventry in the UK, yoga and other mind-body interventions (MBI), such as meditation and Tai Chi, reduces inflammation at the moeclucalr or DNA level.


So as well as aerobic exercise which reduces stress hormones, think about practicing yoga (and/or meditation and Tai Chi). Take a look at this free yoga routine that you can try in the privacy of your home here.



Herby sweet potato wedges

They’re not just delicious, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch – just one medium sweet potato provides 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A! These special spuds are also rich in the antioxidant lycopene and fibre providing a whopping 6g per medium veggie. And, the potassium they contain can counteract sodium and may help to promote a healthy blood pressure. More and more research suggests that getting enough potassium from a diet rich in veggies and fruits could be just as important as reducing sodium intake as far as preventing high blood pressure is concerned. Yes, they contain more sugars but they actually have a low glycaemic index so they won’t spike your blood glucose levels. nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are a fab choice.

Tasty herby sweet potato wedges


Try this tasty recipe for herby sweet potato wedges.



2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp fresh thyme or rosemary leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Cut the washed potatoes into wedges and place in a roasting tin.

Drizzle with oil and use your hands to ensure they’re coated well.

Sprinkle with herbs and season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Four ways to boost your probiotic pals

Veggie-based foods are good for the planet and better for animals. Yep, we all know that. But did you know it’s also better for the animals that live inside you?

We’re talking about the 100 trillion microbes that live on and in you – and particularly live in the intestines. And just like you need to eat, so do your gut bacteria.


IMG_0719 (6)
A delicious way to boost your probiotic pals!



More and more research is proving what ancient cultures have known since history began. That feeding the right bacteria can have profound effects on your health – from your body weight to your mood , reducing the production of compounds that trigger with inflammation and a vital part of your immune system. Plus, certain foods, the ones that contain resistant starch, are favourite foods for your probiotic people. Resistant starch might even help the body absorb more minerals .

Fibre only comes from plant foods – it is a range of plant materials that your body can’t digest. So, they reach the large intestine virtually unchanged and here, they provide food for gut bacteria.

Here’s how you can boost the fibre and the nourishment for your little guys:
1. Eat fewer white flour foods (which have had the fibre and nutrients removed from the unprocessed, natural flour). These don’t feed your probiotic microbes. And without food, they won’t survive and this can have major effects on your health and mood.
2. Love your legumes. Pulses and lentils contain soluble fibre, which probiotics love to eat . Add lentils and beans to your salads, soups and more.
3. Treat your probiotics with special starch. Some foods are especially rich in resistant starch including artichokes, asparagus, leeks, chicory, onions, garlic, bananas, oats, wheat, lentils and pulses – chickpeas and beans.
4. Love chocolate Dark chocolate (fair trade and organic please) are rich a great snack – rich in antioxidant flavonoids for you, rich in resistant start for your probiotic pals.

Okra sabsi

Okra may have originated in Africa West Africa or Ethiopia) or south Asia and history tells us that the ancient Egyptians cultivated it in the 12th century BC. Known as ladies fingers (or gumbo in the Americas), okra is a member of the mallow family. You can find dishes that feature in the cuisines in many counties around the world.


Okra sabsi – lovely and a little bit different


400g fresh okra

6-8 tbsp light olive oil

1 large onion, finely sliced lengthwise

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ teaspoon fennel seeds ground

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

Salt to taste

2 green chilies, sliced lengthwise

Wash the okra, drain and dry really well (otherwise the veggies can feel a little slimy – yuck!). Cut off the ends and slice into 2cm pieces.

1 tsp ground pomegranate powder or a splash of lime juice.


In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onion. Stir and cook until golden.

Add the spices to the pan (except the pomegranate powder or lime juice) and roast for a minute or so to allow the spices to become fragrant.

Add the okra, stir to coat and cook, uncovered on a medium heat for about 20 minutes (the veggies should simmer). Don’t add water but do stir occasionally so the mixture doesn’t stick. The dish is done when the veggies are tender.

Sprinkle with the pomegranate powder or lime juice and serve with naan, pitta or roti.

Eight kinder ways to step into a healthy new spring

Think of spring cleaning when you think of spring? This time, why not go one better and spring clean your body, your mind and our precious planet?


  1. Clean out your cupboards

Want to eat more healthily? Studies show that if they’re in your cupboards, you’re more likely to succumb to treats and less-than-healthy eats. So get cleaning. Clearing and reorganising will help put you in the mood for a more upbeat attitude and more positive routines.

Get processed picks such as chips chocolates and other junk out of your sight and your reach. And replace with healthier alternatives – unsalted nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit such as plums and mango, dark fair trade chocolate, natural popcorn, wholegrains, extra virgin olive oil, tapenades.


  1. Go seasonal

As well as being better value, seasonal veggies and fruits haven’t been hanging around in dark places for months on end. S so they’re more likely to be higher in delicate vitamins such as C and folate (which are easily lost by exposure to air) – and that includes being stored for long periods. Buying local when you can is a great choice as it also means that your food has not had to travel as far as it might have to get to you with the potential large fuel miles and associated pollution.


  1. Drink veggie juices

Not all juices are created equal. And juices tend to get a bad rap because they tend to be high in sugar and lack fibre. But juice made from cold vegetables and low sugar fruits are rich in protective antioxidants without a sugar hike.  If your tastebuds are expecting sweetness, these kinds of juice may not appeal. Tomato juice will give you a healthy kick of lycopene and there’s plenty of beta carotene in carrots. Try adding kale, spinach, pear, lemon, lime, and ginger. Like a bit more sweetness? Add a little pomegranate, prune or your favourite fruit juice. If your drink is sweet or very acidic though, swish around your mouth with water after drinking to remove sugar/acids and help your saliva do its mouth-cleansing work. Don’t brush, though – if enamel has been softened by acids, you could literally brush it away.


  1. Look at the label

Manufacturers can be sneaky – add all sorts of ingredients to your food. Even healthy options can include unwanted nasties. Take palm oil, for example. Around 80 per cent of this is harvested from Malaysia and Indonesia and the massive demand for it is causing deforestation on a massive scale. Beautiful animals such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Asian rhinoceros are under threat of extinction because of it. Any label on a food – including vegetarian food  –  that contains saturated fat may contain either coconut oil or palm oil. Another name to watch out for is palmitic acid. If your food contains this, the safest option – for endangered animals – is to avoid it. Read more here.


  1. Get organised

Could you set aside half an hour on a Sunday morning to plan meals and make up a shopping list? Allowing another hour or two to prepare/cook foods ready for the working week ahead. Curries are a great option – Indian types get better after a day or two as it gives the spices a chance to suffuse. For a delish dish, find out more here. Or, make up a batch of curry paste for a quick dish. Or,


  1. Enjoy fresh herbs

As far as quantities are concerned, you don’t tend to consume as much herbs as green veggies. But they do pack a powerful nutritional punch. For example, coriander has been shown to remove heavy metals from the body, parsley is rich in immune boosting vitamin C, rosemary contains Rosmarinic acid which has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion (studies use extracts of Rosmarinic acid[i]). So add gorgeous fresh flavour with fresh herbs.


  1. Search out seeds

Growing just a little of your own foods is easy – and can be surprisingly quick.  You probably have seeds in your cupboard for cooking purposes – from coriander to fenugreek and mustard seeds, mung beans and chickpeas – all can be sprouted in a little damp soil on your windowsill. Sprouted seeds are very rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and protective plant pigments. Spring is a great time to start growing tomato seedlings. Either from seeds in the tomatoes you love or from the garden centre. Keeping them in the kitchen means they are always in your sight and can help you grow delicious, organic, healthy tomatoes in the comfort of your kitchen.


  1. Vote for kindness

If you eat meat/eggs try to buy only humanely treated, pasture-raised meat and eggs. Try to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals – every choice you make can have a positive impact. Select only sustainable seafood. When selecting chocolate and coffee, look for the Fairtrade symbol. A kind word of compliment can make someone’s day. A kind deed can help them live a happier life. Or just live.




Spicy carrot pickle

Enjoy as an accompaniment to Indian breads such as parathas or with rice. Or enjoy on its own or with a cold beer. For me, this spicy carrot pickle is just right when you fancy chips. I go carrot pickle instead!



2 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 tsp black mustard seeds

Half a teaspoon nigella seeds

Quarter of a teaspoon of asafoetida

Quarter of a teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder

Half a tsp salt

Three carrots, peeled and cut into batons

1 and a half tablespoons olive oil, heated

1 tbsp olive oil, heated

2 tbsp red wine vinegar


Roughly grind the fenugreek, mustard and nigella seeds in a pestle and mortar then pour into a mixing bowl.

Ad the asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder and salt.

Add the carrots.

Add the hot oil and stir to mix.

Add the vinegar and stir to combine.

Serve immediately or stop in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.


Could your vegetarian foods be backing deforestation?

You already know that many food products contain palm oil. And the logging of the trees that produce this kind of oil is destroying the homes of great apes such as the orangutan, the magnificent Sumatran tiger, the majestic Asian rhinoceros and more. But did you know that vegetarian and vegan food products can contain palm oil, too? Scarily, even if you’re choosing more vegetarian/vegan foods, manufactured foods could be destroying your ethics because of the palm oil they contain – 80% of which is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.


Why manufacturers pick palm oil

From edibles to personal hygiene products, palm oil is used extensively by manufactures – it’s found in around half of all products in your local supermarket.


Manufacturers use palm oil for lots of reasons. Including that:

  • It helps products retain their just-produced properties even after heating and cooking
  • It’s stable for long periods
  • It helps to extend the shelf life of foods
  • It has a neutral taste and a creamy texture
  • It’s quite cheap so much sought-after by manufacturers wanting to maximise profit.

How you can spot palm oil

In Australia, manufacturers only have to label three vegetable oils on food labels –  peanut, sesame oil and soy bean oil.  This is because these are common allergens – consuming these can obviously be dangerous for people who are allergic to these foods. A manufactured food does not have to state that it contains palm oil. But you can find it if you can spot the signs.

Look for saturated fat in vegetable oil

Take vegetable oil, for example. Vegetable oils don’t contain saturated fat – except for two of them. So, if a label that says a food product contains vegetable oil and then lists the concentration of saturated fat in that oil, then the oil may be derived from either coconut oil or palm oil.

If palm oil is used in cosmetics, it does need to be stated per se. But look for the term Elaeis guineensis which is the name for palm oil as stated by the cosmetics governing body, the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients.

Palm oil and your health

As well as avoiding palm oil as much as you can for the sake of wildlife and habitat, there’s another reason to reduce your intake of palm oil – for the sake of your health. The World Health Organization says that the fatty acid palmitic acid in palm oil raises your risk of cardiovascular disease. WHO recommends that you avoid consuming palm and coconut oil (the only two vegetable oils that contain saturated fat).


Protecting against deforestation 

Want to protect against deforestation, global warming and destruction of homes for the remaining wild animals? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Avoid products that contain palm oil as much as you can. Download a palm oil free shopping guide here:
  2. Go to Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia for more alternatives to palm oil here
  3. Look for palm oil from Identity Preserved Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). CSPO is oil certified sustainable and fully traceable to a single source. Or choose segregated CSPO which is oil that’s 100% certified sustainable from mixed sources. Palm oil that comes from the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is vetted by an organisation that encourages members to buy palm oil from sustainable sources. The RSPO certifies a range of palm oil supply options which vary in their degree of sustainability and environmental impact.

Every choice you make makes a difference – not just to you but to the lives of others.

Rum and coconut bananas

Cooking bananas brings about a caramel sweetness

Although this dessert dish doesn’t use a great deal of sugar, you can reduce it further – just choose sweet ripe bananas for a natural sweetness. It’s also full of potassium – which helps to balance sodium in your body (too much can raise blood pressure).



2 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp vegetarian margarine or coconut oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 small bananas, peeled and sliced as thinly as you can

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Splash of rum (optional) or use Cointreau



Heat a large pan and gently toast the coconut until lightly golden.

Heat the bananas in the coconut oil and using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar – allow to melt.

Add the bananas and coat with the coconut oil and sugar mix. Pour in the alcohol if using and cook for five minutes until softened (the heat will burn off the alcohol or you can flambé it if it’s safe.

Finish with the cinnamon and coconut and serve with coconut ice or nice cream.

Cinnamon and raspberry doughnuts

OK, not the healthiest of dishes ..

An occasional vegan and gluten free treat


¼ cup + 1 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup warm water

½ tbsp dried yeast

2 tbsp margarie (e.g. Nuttelex, Earth Balance)

3 cups plain or buckwheat flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup caster sugar to roll

Jam to fill (try the raspberry chia fruit spread (

Peanut oil to fry



Mix 1 tbsp sugar with yeast and water and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ¼ cup sugar.

Mix in melted margarine and the yeast mixture (which should be foamy by now). Set aside the soft dough in covered bowl to rise for two hours.

Gently roll dough to 2.5cm thick, cut out rings about 5cm across and leave to rise for another twenty minutes.

Heat the oil and drop in the doughnuts two or three at a time, making sure they don’t touch. Turn once.

When golden browned remove and lay on a plate covered in kitchen paper.

Roll the doughnuts in sugar and set aside. Repeat until all doughnuts are cooked and sugared,

Make a small hole on the side of each doughnut and pipe in the jam. If you don’t have a piping bag, just cut in two and sandwich them together with jam.


Best eaten that day.


Turmeric: the spice that could benefit your life!


In 2010, scientists examining ancient pottery from the site of an ancient civilisation near Delhi found traces of eggplant with ginger and turmeric in clay pots. They dubbed it the world’s first curry. So, Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used the vibrant yellow spice, currently starring in teas, smoothies and dinner dishes in café and homes near you, for four thousand years or more. So what did the ancient food doctors in India know about turmeric that we’re only just learning? And can this flavour and colour boost also come with health benefits?

Amazingly effective anti-inflammaotry action

Botanist Dr James A. Duke, writing in Alternative & Complementary Therapies, has reviewed around 700 studies examining the benefits of turmeric (curcuma longa). He found that in some studies, turmeric has been show to be even more effective than a number of pharmaceutical where it comes to anti-inflammatory action – and with virtually no adverse effects.


Turmeric gives a vibrant colour to mustard and curry powder and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects


Here’s where ancient wisdom and modern knowledge combine and just a few fast facts about this surprisingly beneficial spice …

Turmeric contains over 20 active medicinal compounds called curcumunoids; the most important of these is curcumin and this may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties according to Harvard University[i].

  1. The plant compound in pepper (which gives pepper its bite) is called piperine and this boosts your body’s ability to absorb turmeric by 2000 times[ii].
  2. Because curcumin is fat-soluble, it needs fat to dissolve in before it can be absorbed. Could be one reason why many curries begin with the frying of onions and garlic in oil? Try using olive oil – it contains a unique range of beneficial phenolic compounds that aren’t found in any other food.
  3. Turmeric may have a role to play in the prevention of dementia. It does this by reducing the formation of a substance called beta-amyloid (responsible for the formation of plaques that obstruct brain) in Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Curcumin fights oxidative damage and inflammation which both contribute to dementia. This may be especially important since curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier – i.e. it can pass from the blood into the brain helping to keep blood vessels clear and in this way, allow for oxygen and nutrients in blood to nourish the brain.
  5. Turmeric contains six different COX-2-inhibitors. COX-2 enzymes promote pain, swelling and inflammation but COX-2-inhibitors selectively block this enzyme. Because of this, it may be able to play a role in keeping blood vessels clear. In one study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug[iii].
  6. Powdered turmeric root contains around three per cent curcumin[iv]. Many of the newer studies examine the effect of 1gram of curcumin extract so you may want to consider a supplement as well as upping your intake from dishes that contain turmeric.
  7. Turmeric may have a role in fighting depression, again due to its potent anti-inflammatory action. In one small study of 60 people, one group took a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), called Prozac (fluoxetine), another took a 1g dose of curcumin daily while a third group took both the SSRI and 1g curcumin. After six weeks, the results showed that the group that took both curcumin and fluoxetine displayed the best results where it came to mood and depression[v]. The severity of depression was assessed using a common test for depression called the Hamilton Rating Scale (HAM-D). This evaluates mood, guilt, suicidal ideation, sleep problems, agitation anxiety, and more. Results showed that overall, the average change in the HAM-D scores was similar for curcumin and fluoxetine i.e. curcumin worked as well as fluoxetine in terms of improvements in the severity of depression. One of the ways in which curcumin may exert its effect is by boosting the feel-good brain transmitters serotonin and dopamine[vi].
  8. Raw turmeric may have greater anti-inflammatory effects than cooked turmeric.
  9. Cooked turmeric may have greater antioxidant effects than raw.



Ready to give it a go? The University of Maryland recommends a dose of 1.5 to 3 g cut root per day, 1-3 g dried turmeric or 400 to 600 mg standardised powder (curcumin) three times per day[vii].

Buy fresh turmeric from groceries and dried ginger from grocers and supermarkets.

Five ways to enjoy turmeric:

  1. Yellow curry
  2. On vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (which contain the powerful anti-cancer compound sulphurophane)
  3. In soups and dahl



[i] Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Can everyday spice make you healthier?

[ii] Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.

[iii] A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

[iv] Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):126-31. Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders.

[v]Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research. Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 579–585, April 2014

[vi] Psychopharmacology December 2008, 201:435. Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system.

[vii] University of Maryland Medical Center. Turmeric