All Posts by vitalassurance

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Let’s not underestimate the effect a lack of sleep has on us. Apart from feeling exhausted, lacking energy, being moody, having low tolerance and having difficulty concentrating, you probably notice that on the days that you are feeling like this, your cravings for sugar and carbs are almost uncontrollable. You will eat just about anything to give you that spike in sugar and energy you are so depleted of.

The research is clear: Lack of sleep, or poor sleep, stops your metabolism working efficiently. When this happens your cravings increase, which makes you eat more, increasing your weight and risk of developing chronic diseases. Getting enough sleep, and sleeping well, are essential for our health!

The optimal amount of sleep for an adult is between 7-9 hours each night. Now I know the first thing that will come to mind for a majority of you is the thought: I am a mum (or dad) with young children so how am I supposed to do that??? Let’s not forget that I am a mum of 2 young boys (10 and 8) too and I am very lucky that they do not disturb me during the night. However, there is plenty that needs to be done for them at the start and end of the day, which means that I definitely don’t have the luxury of staying in bed until mid-morning. But the one thing I make sure that I do religiously, in order for me to be able to function and do everything that needs to be done, is that I endeavour to climb into bed each night between 9:30 and 9:45 with the aim to have the lights off at 10:00/10:15.

There are many ways that we can assist our bodies in achieving our optimal sleep so I thought I would share some of those tips with you. Please keep in mind that you will have to be patient, because an improvement in your sleep pattern will not happen overnight, it may take a few weeks or months, but these strategies will eventually shift your sleep patterns.

1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time to create regular rhythms of sleep.

2. Create total darkness and quiet in the bedroom.

3. Avoid caffeine – although you feel as though you need this to keep you awake during the day, this may end up making your sleep worse at night.

4. Avoid alcohol – it helps you get to sleep but causes interruptions in your sleep and therefore leads to poor-quality sleep.

5. Do not eat within 2-3 hours of going to bed – going to bed on a full stomach can lead to poor-quality sleep.

6. Don’t exercise vigorously after dinner – this tends to excite the body and makes it more difficult for you to get to sleep.

7. Turn off IT technology 1 hour before bed – being stimulated right up until we go to sleep makes it difficult for our brains to switch off and therefore get a restful nights sleep.

8. Take a hot salt / aromatherapy bath – raising your body temperature before bed helps to induce sleep.

9. Stretch before bed as this helps to relax our bodies and makes it easier for us to fall asleep.

10. Practice relaxation breathing or meditation before sleep - this helps to relax the brain, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and have a restful sleep.

11. Before going to bed write down the things that are causing you anxiety and make plans for what you need to do the next day to reduce your worry. This will free up your mind, allowing you to have a deeper and more restful sleep.

12. Get 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight during the day – the light from the sun triggers your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones such as melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep, mood and ageing.

Remember, the key is to get both enough sleep as well as good quality sleep every night. Everything else will fall into place as a result. Your mood will improve, your energy will improve, your ability to concentrate will improve, but your sugar and carb cravings will reduce! You will feel more level throughout the day and you will find it much easier to cope with your work and family.

Dealing With Fussy Eaters

I am sure majority of you have had an encounter with the ‘Fussy Eater’, which has left you feeling frustrated, upset and stressed. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have taken the time out of your day to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal which you know will give your kids all the nutrients and energy they need, yet you are left feeling heart broken and frustrated when they reject this meal even to the point of not even trying it! You start to think, “what is the point” and “why do I bother”. Each mealtime becomes stressful and less enjoyable for you and your children.

Children learn by testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. They can be very strong willed when it comes to making decisions about food (to eat or not to eat, and what to eat). It’s all part of their social, intellectual and emotional development.

With our time being so precious and valuable, if your children aren’t going to even take the time to try the food that you are preparing, you start to offer them less nutritious options such as sugar laden cereal for breakfast, packaged foods for lunch and then fast food take away options for dinner because you know that it will get eaten. However without realising it, the food that we give our children can have a significant impact on their mood, energy and even ability to concentrate. Our children’s lives are so busy with their full days of school, extra-curricular activities after school and then social events and sporting games on the weekend, we need to fuel them correctly to be able to handle it all.

1. Model behaviour – Encourage healthy eating in your children by eating this way yourself. Children tend to mimic what we do, so if they see their parents eating vegetables such as broccoli and pumpkin with their meal, they will be more inclined to give that food a go. Where possible, share your meal.

2. Be sneaky – If your children do not eat a range of vegetables, pureeing soups or adding grated veggies to dishes such as Bolognese sauce, meatballs, burgers or casseroles are a great way to incorporate more vegetables into their meals. Smoothies are also a good way to incorporate different fruits and vegetables. Make a smoothie that turns out to be the colour that your child loves.

3. Encourage taste testing – Have 2 plates of food. Plate 1 has the food you know that your children are going to enjoy eating and Plate 2 has three different foods cut up into very small pieces that you would like them to try. The child takes alternating mouthfuls from each plate. If there is a food on Plate 2 that is too horrible for your child to contemplate, then there is always another option for them on that plate.

4. Take a relaxed approach – Setting expectations too high at mealtimes usually creates a more stressful experience for all. Make meal times a happy social occasion. Try not to worry about the spilt drink on the floor, or the food falling off the plate. Instead praise your child for trying new foods.

5. Make the food look attractive, make the plate colourful and cut the food into different shapes and sizes.

6. Avoid unhealthy foods – it’s very tempting to offer your child food treats just so she ‘eats something’. But if you offer fatty, sugary or salty snacks as substitutes, your child might start refusing healthier foods – after all, they’ll know there are tastier options!

7. Give your child some independence with their food – Get your child involved in preparing meals. They will feel proud and more inclined to try something that they have made. You can also try letting your child making choices within a range of healthier food options.

8. Ignore unwanted behaviour - If a child refuses to eat (or constantly spits out their food, or carries on with any bad behaviour) and receives attention for it, the end result is that they will continue to use the unwanted behaviour to get more attention. So, in these instances sometimes the best thing you can do is to ignore it.

9. Set regular meal times – On average a child needs to eat every 2.5-3 hours, so if they graze throughout the day and eat within 2-2.5 hours of a meal, it will take the edge off their hunger and they may be less likely to eat at mealtime. If they don’t eat at a particular meal time, take the plate away and make them wait until the next meal or snack time rather then allowing them to continue coming back and grazing off the plate.

10. Don’t give up – Fussy eaters can wear you down, but on average it takes 10 times for a child to try a particular food and get positive reinforcement.

So if you are dealing with a fussy eater, I hope you will find it comforting to know that you are not the only one that is experiencing these battles and keep in mind that it’s just a stage and IT WILL PASS!​

Some Truths about Dairy

As a female, I have always been told that it is extremely important for me to eat 2-3 serves of dairy a day in order to prevent getting Osteoporosis in the future. Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of either hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

However, when I had a bone density scan done a few years ago and it showed signs of thinning in the bones of my lower back, I was completely taken aback since dairy had always been an integral part of my diet, along with resistance-based exercises (another good preventative measure to take).

I immediately started asking myself why this was happening if I was doing all the ‘right’ things to prevent Osteoporosis, so I started to do research into the effects of dairy and I was shocked by some of the findings. I want to share these findings with you.

Dairy is comprised of 87% Casein. There are many studies that have strongly and consistently linked Casein with the development of cancer. Casein requires the enzyme lactase to break it down properly, and with more people becoming lactose intolerant, this results in the Casein coagulating in the stomach making it difficult for your body to digest. It ends up fermenting and can potentially lead to toxicity. Casein is actually such a strong binder that it has been used as an ingredient in some wood glues!!

Further to this, dairy is one of the most mucus-forming foods there is. Excessive mucus can begin to harden and build up along the walls of your intestines, adding to a build up of sludge, which slows down the food passing through the intestinal tract and therefore potentially leading to increased inflammation and toxicity in your blood.

There is some Casein present in human milk (20%-45%), which we are obviously encouraged to breastfeed our children at birth, but the level of Casein found in cow’s milk is 300% higher, to help the calves develop much larger bones. This is why there is the theory that we shouldn’t drink the milk of other species.

Looking at the relationship of dairy and calcium, cow’s milk does in fact have a lot of calcium in it, but much of the calcium in cow’s milk is not easily absorbed by the body. There is a lot of phosphorus in dairy products, which binds to the calcium in your digestive tract and makes most of the calcium impossible to absorb. The body actually absorbs the calcium found in dark, leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds far more easily.

There is also a strong relationship between dairy and increased acidity in the body. Consuming large amounts of dairy increases the acidic load in the body, and in order for the body to overcome this and attempt to neutralise the acidity, calcium is extracted from your bones, as it is an alkalising mineral.

So after doing all this research, I came to the conclusion that it was probably better for my health to completely eliminate dairy from my diet and get my RDI of calcium from the other sources as described above.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and a follow up bone density scan has shown that my previous bone thinning has been rectified. I thank this to the ongoing resistance-based exercises I do, removing dairy from diet and also including Vitamin D supplements in my daily routine.

How to Burn Fat Efficiently

Most people think that if you lose weight then you are losing fat. But in actual fact, this may not be accurate. Naturally there will be some fat loss when the numbers on those scales go down, however this can also represent a loss of fluids and muscle mass.

Burning fat efficiently is not only the best way for you to achieve your desired figure but it also reduces the risks involved in you developing long term chronic disease.

Here are SIX of the top ways you can burn more fat efficiently...

1) Eat more fats

In order to burn fat, you have to eat fat. Wait, what? How does that work?

The body requires energy to keep its metabolism functioning properly. This energy is sourced from the nutrients we eat, namely carbohydrates, protein and fat. Fat packs in twice as much energy as the other two, so if you don’t have fat in your diet, you won’t have enough fuel to burn those calories. Also, in order to burn “old” fat from those stubborn places such as your buttocks, thighs and stomach, “new” fat is required as part of the process.

Here is another reason to have fat in your diet: Fat isn’t easy to digest, therefore it sticks around and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which means it reduces those urges to raid the fridge.

Fat also assists in a process to increase muscle size, which as you read on you will understand that this assists in fat burning too.

Now this doesn’t mean running off to your local burger or pizza joint! The fat I am referring to is your good, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats not your bad and ugly saturated and trans fats. You can get your fat burning fats from olive oil, avocado, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds and salmon, just to name a few.

2) Lift weights

A common misconception is that bodybuilders are the only people who should strive to gain muscle mass. However, increasing muscle mass can benefit everyone’s health and appearance.

When talking about metabolism, muscle mass is the “engine” of the calorie-burning machine. Strength training increases your muscle mass, which results in a more efficient engine, which leads to burning more calories and thus leads to weight loss. The more muscle you have, the easier it is to maintain your weight and as a bonus, the more calories you burn whilst at rest.

3) Say no to sugar

Eating sugar is like flipping on a switch to tell your body to store fat. And sugar is everywhere, not just in lollies, sodas and desserts but it’s also hidden in refined carbohydrates like breads, pasta, rice and even milk. Your body will quickly digest and absorb these sugars as glucose. However, when we have eaten too many of these ‘sugar laden’ foods our body has too much glucose circulating and therefore it gets stored as fat to be used as energy at another time. So, the more sugar you consume at the one time, the greater the rise in blood glucose, and consequently insulin, so the longer you stay in fat storage mode.

4) Do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

This type of training is extremely efficient, especially when you are time poor. It involves alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and fixed periods of less intense exercise or even complete rest (eg; cycles of sprinting for 30 sec and then walking for 60 sec). You can get an unbelievable workout done in 8-10 minutes.

This form of intense exercise not only burns more calories during the session than a standard workout, but it also kicks your metabolism into overdrive. This kick-start allows your body to continue to burn fat and calories for 24 hours after you have completed the exercise.

5) Sleep more / balance hormones

Not having enough sleep can disrupt our metabolism and hormone balance, resulting in weight gain. This is caused by our night hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, and when these are out of balance our body has a difficult time in sending us the correct messages of when to stop eating, therefore resulting in weight gain.

Sleep deprivation can actually turn into a viscous cycle because when you are low on energy, you will naturally go for your comfort foods, but you then won’t have energy to exercise, resulting in a larger waist line and further sleep loss.

Most people need between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night in order for their metabolism to work efficiently.

6) Manage Stress

Stress triggers our brain-to-body connection which activates a series of hormones whenever we feel threatened. It causes your brain to release adrenaline, which taps into your stored energy so that you can either fight or flee. At the same time you get a surge of cortisol which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories. This can make you hungry, very hungry. Your body will keep on pumping out this cortisol as long as the stress continues and this can result in over eating. You may also find it more difficult to keep to healthy eating habits or exercise routines.

Managing your stress is so important for you to be able to take control of your life, stick to a healthy eating plan and continue with your exercise routine.

So, in summary if you combine eating well, exercising efficiently and looking after yourself, your body will thank you for it and do what ultimately is your goal: BURN FAT

Controlling Your Winter Cravings

Winter has come! It’s cold out there, the days are getting shorter and the seasonal blues have hit. Whatever the reason, when winter hits, cravings for comfort food increases.

We long for foods that will warm us up quickly and this message is usually played out as a craving for carbohydrate-rich foods. The sugars and starches in these foods provide the instant "heat" boost your body is longing for.

Unfortunately when we give in to those cravings for sugary, starchy foods, our blood sugar spikes and then just as quickly falls. As a result, it sets up a cycle that keeps the cravings in motion. We get hungrier quicker so we reach out for more carbohydrate-rich foods to satisfy that hunger.

Something else to consider is that with the days getting shorter, there are less daylight hours, which causes our bodies to have a lack of exposure to natural light. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD leads to problems with the body’s biological clock as well as reducing our levels of serotonin, also known as the ‘happy’ drug. With lower levels of serotonin in our blood, we look to ‘self-medicate’ with those carbohydrate-rich foods that give us a serotonin rush. Furthermore, when it’s dark and gloomy, we tend to generally eat more and go for stews, mashed potatoes, pasta dishes – the dishes that make us feel warm and cozy.

If the first two symptoms weren’t already working against us, winter can also cut into the amount of physical activity we do. Not only do shorter days and colder weather reduce our outdoor time, but also our motivation to exercise reduces. Exercise helps increase serotonin levels, so if we are not exercising, our appetite increases to increase the serotonin levels, which ultimately means we’re eating more and moving less - and that’s a disaster plan for weight gain.

Studies have shown that the population on average puts on between 4 – 8kg during the winter months and although having a heartier appetite for a few months of the year is not the end of the world, it can become detrimental when it happens year in year out. However with a little bit of planning, we can keep can take control and keep our life and appetite in harmony.

Here are some suggestions on how you can do this:

  1. Eat a healthy snack in between meals – try some nut butter on apple slices, rice crackers with avocado and sliced tomato, veggie sticks and hummus dip. Healthy snacking will fuel your body's heat mechanism, helping keep you warmer.
  2. Make a winter activity plan for your exercise regime. Set yourself some realistic goals about the number of times you can exercise and schedule those in as appointments in your diary.
  3. Create lower calorie alternatives to the food you are craving. For example, top your shepherd’s pie with pumpkin and sweet potato mash, make an almond flour dough for your pizza bases or make cauliflower rice to have with your curries.
  4. Get a daily dose of light. Make the effort to spend at least 10 minutes outdoors in sunlight everyday.
  5. Keep the temptation of sweet treats out of the house. As they say out of sight, out of mind.

I hope that these tips can help you beat those winter cravings, and keep you on track for your ‘summer body’! Remember, warmer weather is potentially only three months away!

Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

Are you finding it hard to get moving in the morning even after a full night’s sleep? Do you need two cups of coffee before you start to feel ‘awake’? Do you lack energy in the afternoon? Are you less tolerant of others, get easily frustrated or have trouble concentrating?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you could potentially be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms (known as a syndrome) that results in the adrenal glands functioning below their necessary level. It is most commonly associated with periods of prolonged stress, however it can also occur after acute or chronic chest infections or respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia. With winter having just arrived, this is something we need to be very mindful of.

Every case of Adrenal Fatigue will present differently, however there are many common symptoms:

  • Difficulty getting up each morning, even after a long sleep;
  • High levels of fatigue during the day;
  • Inability to handle stress;
  • Cravings for salty foods;
  • High energy levels in the evening;
  • A weakened immune system;
  • Asthma;
  • Dark circles under the eyes;
  • Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise;
  • Joint pain;
  • Low blood sugar;
  • Weight gain;
  • Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation;
  • Frequent urination.

Despite all this gloom and doom, Adrenal Fatigue is a condition that is easily treatable. The food you eat is your first line of defence. Create an adrenal-supportive nutritional plan whereby firstly you avoid the foods that make your Adrenal Fatigue worse and secondly you actively eat the foods that will aid your recovery. This means consuming nutritious whole foods and avoiding foods that you have sensitivities or intolerances to or foods that will increase inflammation within yourself.

In addition to food, addressing the state of your mind and body plays an enormous role in the road to recovery. We need to address the underlying cause of stress in our lives. Just as our mental state can cause illness, improving our emotional wellbeing can reverse this condition.

Ways to restore your emotional and physical health include:

- Doing the right type of exercise;
- Meditation and deep breathing;
- Reviewing your lifestyle, including family, relationships, work and spirituality.

So although Adrenal Fatigue may not be a commonly diagnosed syndrome within the medical world, this newsletter explains that someone that is suffering from it can have his or her life severely impacted by the condition. Making small changes within your food, mind and body can have a big impact on getting yourself back to a healthier and energised you!

Beating the Winter Blues

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t enjoy the months of May – September with the cooler temperatures and that biting chill in the air. We associate illnesses with these months, and with the additional stresses of our busy lives our immune system gets compromised, leading to many of us experiencing some sort of a cold, cough or sniffle during this time.

Although we would like to, we cannot escape most of what we are exposed to, therefore maintaining good health over the winter season is critical. There are many ways we can support our health during these colder months and strengthen our body’s response to the cooler weather. Basic needs such as sleep, good nutrients, hydration, stress management, keeping active and having exposure to sunlight are all imperative to be able to keep those winter illnesses away.

While most of us turn to over-the-counter medications to try and beat these illnesses, there is no purer ‘medicine’ than eating food rich in nutrients to strengthen and support our immune system, which will keep these bugs away. Over 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, and what you eat forms the foundation of your health. Therefore if it’s not supported with the right foods, it becomes susceptible to illness and disease.

When it comes to our immune system, the major nutrients that will assist it in performing at its best are: Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Omega 3, Ginger, and Probiotics.

Below outlines the ways we can get each of these through natural sources.

Vitamin C is used by the body to protect us when an infection enters the body and its anti-oxidant activity helps prevent inflammation and damage by bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons but is also present in capsicum, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi fruit, strawberries and potatoes.

Zinc acts as an anti-oxidant which not only strengthens our immune system but can also shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc is found mostly in red meat and poultry, so zinc supplements may be something you need to consider if you are a vegetarian/vegan or just don’t eat these foods regularly.

Foods rich in Vitamin E have anti-oxidants which help boosts the body’s defence against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Some examples are nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

As I was growing up there was nothing more comforting then a bowl of chicken soup when I wasn’t feeling well and I could not agree more that bone broths are a great inclusion in your daily diet. They are full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids which support our adrenal health, nervous system and immune system.

Oily fish rich in Omega 3 such as wild salmon, herring, and anchovies all help kick-start your immune system by reducing harmful inflammation in your body.

Ginger is a powerful anti-viral herb that helps the body get rid of toxins, stimulate circulation and boost your immune system. Ginger can be enjoyed in your juices, your cooking and even as simple as sipping on a lemon and ginger tea.

Probiotics are essential in the fight to prevent infection. Probiotics increase the balance of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut which helps to keep our gut healthy and boost our immune system to guard us against colds. Probiotics can be taken in the form of a supplement or are rich in foods such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, Kefir and Kombucha.

By adding the foods listed above into your weekly diet, you can properly support your immune system to hopefully get through this winter without those winter blues.

Achieving Ultimate Beauty

Beauty is something that is deep, lasting and grows from the inside out. Looking beautiful on the outside is a reflection of our internal health, and we require ongoing care and cleansing to keep our vibrant beauty. When your cells, organs and blood are clean, your body is able to function optimally and you are able to achieve your beauty and weight loss goals.

So how to we get to this position? Achieving our optimal beauty is tightly linked to the alkaline-acid principle. This principle takes us back to our school days where we learnt about pH in science lessons. The pH scale ranges from totally acidic at 0.0 to totally alkaline at 14.0, making 7.0 neutral. For the human body, the ideal blood pH is 7.365 and it must stay within a tight range for us to maintain optimal health.

In order to make ourselves the healthiest, most youthful and most beautiful we can be, we must support our body’s effort to stay at its perfect, slightly alkaline pH. We must make changes to our diet and become conscious of which foods leave an alkaline residue and which foods leave an acidic residue in our body. Maintaining the balance of alkalinity and acidity in our bodies and tissues is one of the most important roles of nutrition.

An overly acidic body greatly diminishes our beauty, and really who wants that??? Excess acidity can be a major contributing cause of premature ageing, along with premature lines and wrinkles; acne, dark under-eye circles; limp, bodiless or otherwise unhealthy hair; and brittle nails.

You may ask: “But how does the food we eat impact on this alkaline-acid principle and therefore what changes can we make?” All foods leave either an alkaline or acidic residue in the bloodstream due to whether they contain more alkaline or more acidic minerals.

What is important for our health and beauty is the way foods break down in our body and the residue that foods leave. For example, limes and lemons add an ‘acidic’ balance to a recipe, but when digested, they leave an alkaline residue in our bodies, however dairy milk in isolation has an alkaline pH, but when it is digested it leaves an extremely acidic residue in the body.

So in order to stay in alkaline state we must become conscious of which foods leave an alkaline residue and which foods leave an acidic residue in our body. Here’s a simple table for you to use as a guide:

Very Alkaline Foods

Very Acidic Foods

Ripe Fruits



Animal Protein


Artificial Sweeteners

Other Vegetables
(excluding starchy vegetables)


Dairy Products

Drugs, such as antibiotics/steroids


Refined Sugar


The more alkaline foods you can introduce into your diet, the more your body will be prepped to promote health, beauty and longevity and be able to fight disease, toxaemia and ageing.

Coconut Curried Cauliflower Soup

There’s nothing better then on a Winter’s day, when you are cold right through to the bone, to warm yourself up with a hearty, nourishing soup. The sweetness of the roasted vegetables balances out so nicely with the spice of the red curry paste. This is sure to be a soup that pleases everyone!

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
300g butternut pumpkin, chopped
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (depending on your level of spice)
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 x 420g can coconut milk
chilli oil / lime juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a tray with baking paper.

Place the chopped cauliflower and pumpkin on the tray and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Season with salt and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cauliflower and pumpkin have softened and begin to brown.

In the meantime, start preparing your soup by heating the remaining olive oil on medium heat.  Add your onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add your carrots and cook for a further 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add your garlic and ginger and stir to ensure they don't burn for a further minute.

Add your turmeric and red curry paste.  Maybe start with 1-2 tablespoons and you can always add more if you prefer it spicier. 

Stir for 1 minute and then deglaze the pan by adding some vegetable stock.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the dark bits.

Add your roasted vegetables and the remaining stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the stove and blend the soup until smooth by either using an immersion blender or transferring the soup to a blender in batches. 

Add your coconut milk to the soup and adjust your seasonings as required.

Serve with a squeeze of lime juice or some chilli oil

Serves 4-6

Key Tips When Eating Out

Eating out has always been something I have enjoyed. I have many fond memories, especially from when my father was still alive, of going to restaurants and eating beautifully prepared food.

Since changing my style of eating to be more clean and healthy, I get asked all the time whether I still eat out. Thankfully I am able to answer YES! There are so many restaurants now that cater for clean eating that it has really made this transition so easy. Some of my favourite places include Feast of Merit, Tokyo Tina, Ten Greek Plates, Zurouna, Foxes Den, Miss Ruben, Naked Chicks and the list goes on and on…. Restaurants are becoming more accustomed to customers needing to make changes and substitutions to their menu and the majority of the time they are extremely accommodating. Going out for meals is a great way to catch up with friends, and not something you should give up if you have switched to a clean eating lifestyle.

Here are my key tips for eating cleanly when eating out:

1. Don’t go out on an empty stomach. Have a small snack and a big glass of water about 30 minutes before you go out, so that when you get to the restaurant you won’t be starving, and end up ordering too much food. If you are going out for breakfast, perhaps have a piece of fruit or a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt with a handful of almonds before you leave. Before heading out for dinner, have some vegetable sticks with some dip or a small bowl of soup.

2. Don’t forget to add your greens. Order a side salad as a starter. Not only will this help you control the amount that you eat but greens are also very alkalising therefore it will aid in the digestion of your meal.

3. Order a healthier version. Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff how your meal is going to be prepared (ie. cooked, fried, baked, roasted etc.) and ask for it to be changed to make it healthier.

4. Dressings and sauces. Restaurants love to drown their foods (in a good way) with dressing and sauces. However, with this comes a lot of refined sugars, since most places will use sugar as a key ingredient in most dressings and sauces. To maintain the original flavour, ask for the dressing/sauce on the side so that you can moderate how much you consume. Or to eliminate it completely, simply ask for a basic alternative that will be sugar free.

5. Be mindful of your portion size. It’s all about portion control. You don’t have to say goodbye to the foods that you love, but being mindful about your portion size will allow you to continue to enjoy the foods that you love whilst maintaining your weight. Order two entrée meals or share a main to help keep you on track.

6. Eat mindfully and enjoy your meal. The part about going out that is most enjoyable is the different textures, flavours and smells. Ensure that you savour the moment, chew each mouthful thoroughly and take breaks, put your utensils down in between mouthfuls.

7. Don’t go overboard with alcohol. It can be easy to get carried away with the amount of alcohol that you drink while on a night out, however it has no nutritional value and is just empty calories. You can still enjoy your alcohol, but limit yourself to 1, or at the most 2, drinks. Your body will thank you the next morning.

Remember that eating cleanly is also about balance, and the 80/20 rule is one that comes in to play here. You can still go out and enjoy yourself, and the above tips are a guide to help you monitor what you eat.