About Me

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I love finding new worlds through writing and reading. I am excited by creating new flavours and tastes in the kitchen. I am fascinated by nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. I adore my my dog, family and friends.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Glimpse into brain fog

Something that a lot of people ask me about or don't understand, is the feeling of "brain fog", which is so prevalent in conditions like Myalgic Encephalmyeltis. Obviously, brain fog is not a scientific term, but it so clearly depicts the feeling.
                                                                  Pic taken from here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Glimpse into spiced pineapple syrup cake

With the wet weather recently, I have fancied a spiced fruity teacake! After an unsuccessful search with Mum one day for an open café that sold cake I could tolerate, I decided to sit at the kitchen bench and create one.
This cake is moist, gooey and tropical! It is delicious and decadent warm, and great cold!

Spiced Pineapple Syrup Cake.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Glimpse into Gembles' ultimate bowl of goodness

I very often talk about the fantastic breakfast I eat daily (and sometimes twice a day!), and have mentioned the basis of it on this blog before. Hence, I can't believe it that I haven't actually gone into detail about it on the blog!! So here it is; you are in for a treat!
This bowl of amazingness has converted yours truly from the ultimate non-morning person, who has always resisted breakfast and only eaten it as a necessity, to someone who pulls their heavy body out of bed with one thing in mind: GET A BOWL OF THAT AMAZING, ULTIMATE BOWL OF GOODNESS...NOW!!!!

Glimpse into my thoughts about chronic illness

I have chosen to write 5 things I hate about having a chronic illness, 5 things that help put a positive spin on chronic illness, and 5 things I still need to learn from or about living with chronic illness. I hope this helps people feel less alone, get some ideas, or understand other people's situation...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Glimpse into choc banana quinoa cookies

You can probably tell, I love to bake, and I love the ease of cookies! This week, I wanted to make a treat that is packed with nutrition, so healthy that I could eat it for breakfast without guilt, and that was super easy to whip up! This is what I developed...a choc banana quinoa cookie!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Glimpse into green pudding

Happy Hump Day! You have made it to Wednesday; the weekend is on its way! This, of course, has no relevance to me, as I have been too unwell to work since November, but I know a lot of you will be celebrating that you are over halfway!!
With my body at the level of health that it is, I need to eat regularly. Even if I am not hungry or being active, if I do not eat every 2-3 hours, I plummet quickly, and it takes me quite some time to recover. So I have learnt to eat, whether I am feeling physical hunger or not. So this means, a lot of snacks!! I love coming up with new things for my morning and afternoon teas! I have been loving the ease and chocolatey goodness of my choc nut smoothies this week, but today I was in the mood for a change!
I have seen a few blog posts of people eating their chunky green smoothies rather than blending them further into a drink, and I thought I would work on that idea today!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Glimpse into berry oat bars & a useful recipe book

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of an eye opening recipe book that was so exciting for me to discover! It is called "Flying Apron's Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book", and is written by Jennifer Katzinger, who owns a bakery in Seattle. Oh how I would love to live near her bakery!! If anyone wants to take me to Seattle, I will assure you that we will be dining in her bakery daily, possibly multiple times per day! Her recipe book is inspiring; not just for me, as someone who enjoys creating recipes, and dreams of releasing a recipe book one day, but also for those of us who have multiple food intolerances or allergies. Her recipes, like mine, cater for people who are avoiding gluten, wheat, dairy, soy and egg. Some recipes involve fructose, but are easily adapted. I thought I would share with you this book discovery so that you can enjoy it too. I will also show you the first recipe I used from the book recently. I was not feeling too well, so when we both craved sweetness, Mum made it while I directed! It was a delicious success!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Glimpse into choc nut cookies & choc nut smoothies

Cookies make me think of my little (well, not so little, but younger) brother, who lives in France, who has the nick name, among several others,  the Cookie Monster. He is the family's sweet tooth, but I am finding that I am also developing quite the sweet tooth these days, which is ironic now that I eat a low fructose diet!
I made up a batch of these cookies last week as a last minute, quick throw together for a treat for friends. This week, I have been in short supply of sweet treats, so this morning, my energy was dedicated to making another batch of these cookies.
I was not feeling fantastic this morning though, so to help me to power through while I made the cookies, I whipped up my latest favourite smoothie. I am absolutely a green smoothie convert, and love the additional serve of greens it gives you in the day. However, I have also discovered recently the wonder of adding nut butter to a smoothie! So my recent fav does not have greens, but is packed full of goodies; perfect for those moments when you want to trick your tastebuds into thinking you are having a decadent, naughty treat, but it is actually filled with great things to make your body happy!

Glimpse into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my doctor, and came out feeling like we had had a break though. I have been seeing him for close to a year now, and he has tested me for so many conditions in an attempt to explain my symptoms. I have had several tests come back out of whack, and now, along with a new result showing that I have had Ebstein Barr Virus in the past, combined with my symptoms and ruling out other similar conditions, he has officially diagnosed Myalgic Encephalitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Along with that I already knew I also have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition), multiple food intolerances, Fructose Malabsorption, low parathyroid function, and a couple of other things I will have to monitor.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Glimpse into nut & seed, banana power bread

Last night, as I lay wide awake with my usual night time companion, insomnia, I brainstormed ideas to make a cake/bread which contained healthy ingredients. I wanted to create something that I didn't need to feel guilty about eating, but tasted good, and would give me a hit of nutrition, energy and keep me feeling full, which is important to everyone, especially those with chronic fatigue issues. This morning, I woke with enough energy to hit the kitchen and experiment. A friend who doubted the flavour potential has taste tested, and he has given the tick of approval!
I think it would be nice toasted, with some dairy free butter or nut butter for breakfast or a snack.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Glimpse into gluten free & vegan fruity waffles

On the weekend, I treated myself to a waffle machine (and a dehydrator...posts on that to come!). I could probably count on one hand the times that I ate waffles before I had to restrict my diet, however, the idea of creating something yummy, crunchy on the outside and soft inside, and a winter meal change from my usual delicious quinoa porridge, made me excited to get my hands on a waffle iron and create! I sieved through multiple recipes and came up with a combination of ingredients which I can tolerate, and what I had in the kitchen. This is what resulted! (And I had to make them again this morning; they were so good!).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Glimpse into defining ourselves through illness

I read some advice recently about not letting your illness define you. This initially sounded logical, and quite a basic instinct. However upon mulling it over, I started questioning the feasibility of this concept, when you are deep in the throws of a chronic condition.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Glimpse into low FODMAP power balls

I am sure that on your quest for healthy recipes, you've probably come across nutritious balls made of an assortment of good ingredients. Most of these contain sticky, dried fruits however, and when you have fructose malabsorption, dried dates, apricots and the like are a big no no. So I decided that I wanted to come up with a mixture that is fructose friendly, delicious and provides the nutritious energy hit of these powerful super balls!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Glimpse into the misconceptions surrounding pushing through chronic illness

This morning, my mum and I were talking about people's perceptions of you when you have a chronic health problem. I know that I have touched on this before, but when you are living with an ongoing issue, it is tough enough without having to deal with people's misconceptions and judgements. We came to the conclusion that no one can really understand the situation unless they actually live through it, or are very close to someone living with it. Mum is the closest person to me in this process, and she even admits to sometimes not understanding, but she truly gets the roller coaster, the hard times, and the frustrations.

The most difficult thing I find that people don't understand, is that some days I can push through, and others I can't. I am one of the lucky ones. Some people with chronic fatigue, pain and fainting issues are in bed all day, every day, and basic things become mammoth tasks. Yes, I can sometimes have a couple of hours where I can put on a brave face, smile, and have fun, or do gentle chores. But what some people don't see, or don't choose to acknowledge, is that the process of getting myself ready, out of the house and to that point was a huge effort. They also do not see that during those smiles I am often feeling bad, and afterwards, I rest on the couch or in bed for hours or days. Sometimes, I do have to cancel plans, because I just feel too bad that there is no pushing through. But on days I can manage to push through, and hide my paleness and dark eyes with makeup, I don't miraculously feel 100%! Maybe that is part of the problem, because I do not voice and make known the invisible symptoms to people around me, or I will say that I am feeling better than I actually am. But I don't want to be "that sick girl who is always complaining"!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Glimpse into choc chip quinoa cookies

My craving for chocolate chip cookies has persisted this week, so I made these sweet treats. They are super quick and easy, and of course, a healthy choice for a treat! 
I eat whole quinoa and quinoa flakes every day in my diet. I have been keen to try quinoa flour, so decided to try it out in this recipe. It turned these cookies, with help from the dark chocolate, into quite an adult, bitter flavour, which I like. If you are looking for a softer, more sweet flavour, try milk chocolate, or substitute the flour for almond flour. Having fructose malabsorption, I was keen to try quinoa flour as I tolerate quinoa well, and although I do tolerate almond meal/flour well, I am always wary of eating nut products as I don't tolerate some very well, such as almond milk. Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrients and protein, and is such a great way to turn a sweet treat into a healthy snack.
Choc chip quinoa cookies

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Glimpse into the world of blogs

I have a lot of time on my hands these days while I am unable to work or socialise because of my health. Sometimes, I waste this time, watching trashy sitcoms, or mindlessly flipping through magazines, and that is what I need at those times. Then other times, I make use of brain fog free moments, and read amazing blogs, articles and books about such a range of topics that interest me. We truly are blessed with what we can access. This post is my 100th in blogland, and to celebrate, I have been reflecting on how fantastic blogs can be.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Glimpse into a life transformation

As I deal with a chronic illness that prevents me from taking part in activities that I once loved to do, I take inspiration from people who have managed to change their bodies into something amazing. Whether it is due to chronic illness, a busy and hectic lifestyle, poor choices, or a lack of resources and opportunity, there are so many reasons why people can find themselves in a body that they are less than happy with. I believe that we can all work with what we have and improve the fantastic homes that we live in - after all, it is the only one we will ever get! Whether this means that you will be able to get out of bed for a few hours a day, or whether it means taking part in an ironman, there is a level for everyone that we can aim for, and do everything in our power to reach.

I was lucky enough to interview a woman who has turned her body and life around. She describes her health in the past to have been appalling. She spent years heavily binge drinking two to three times a week, as well as smoking two to seven cigarettes a day, plus an extra pack on a night out. She ate fast and processed foods regularly and took no notice of what was in the food, such as additives and sugars. Her name is Gabrielle, and she decided, while sitting in the smoking area of a pub, intoxicated, that it was time to make a change. She is not only improving her body for her health, but will be competing in the INBA 2013 QLD State Championships for Body Building. What a goal!


This is where Gabe found her body to be when she decided enough was enough! These are photos that have motivated her to keep going with her change.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Glimpse into a spicy banana nut slab

I got up this afternoon after a morning of resting with a craving for cookies. I managed to pull together some ingredients and came up with a spicy banana nut biscuit.

It was a fairly random effort, and though they taste pretty good (though super sweet!), they are not your normal cookie! They merged into a flat blob in the oven!! But hey, it says on my blog description that there will be some disasters! I put in a tablespoon of rice syrup too, but it made it super sweet, so I wouldn't put that in again. I think you could actually enjoy this fresh from the oven like a pudding, with a raspberry or strawberry purée, or a dollop of goat or lactose free yogurt! :-)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Glimpse into chronic fatigue guilt - it's a fine line.

This chronic illness thing can really get you feeling ticked off at times! I feel like I get a grasp on how to handle things, and then something happens and bam, I am back to feeling alone, and unsure of how to get out of this never ending tunnel. I am not writing this for pity. I want people in similar situations to hear this and know they aren't alone. And maybe our shared experiences can come up with a way of dealing with it all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Glimpse into ginger cake

I have been craving ginger cake for the past few days, and so when energy struck this afternoon, I gathered up any possible ingredients that I had around that could satisfy my desire! I have come up with a cake that is gluten free, egg free and low in fructose, and hopefully, tastes good (the smells of ginger are wafting past me as I type!). Today, I have tried out using carrot with my usual chia seeds as my egg substitute, as something different and healthy. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Glimpse into zuchinni brownies

Using vegetables in sweet baking is an intriguing prospect! The idea of consuming one of your daily veggie serves while eating chocolatey goodness is exciting! So, I have come up with a simple, low fructose, gluten free, dairy free, egg free recipe for brownies using zucchinis!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Glimpse into socialising with chronic illness

I had an invitation to join a not to be missed, important and happy family celebration in the form of a high tea at a hotel on Sunday. This posed many problems for my body...preparation to get ready for a fancy tea, a long train trip to get to the hotel, an unknown in terms of the food, and hours spent away from my rest inducing couch. I was however, determined and optimistic to make it to this special do.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Glimpse into low FODMAP/fructose berries

I have always loved fruit. Having to avoid it was one of the major blows that came with a diagnosis of fructose malabsorption. Even more so than having to skip chocolate! Luckily, there are some of these yummy and nutritious treats that remain available to us Fruct Mals, or those avoiding fructose for other health benefits.
Bear in mind as always, that what works for me may not work for you, but this list of fruits that I still enjoy may give you an idea of what you can trial. This post will cover berries, another will cover other fruits, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Glimpse into "The Art of Racing in the Rain" book review

**Book one of ten for Project 29.** (Delayed post as I was giving the book as a gift, and did not want to alert the receiver to the book before their birthday!!)


Monday, May 20, 2013

Glimpse into the briefest of updates

The redo of my parathyroid hormone level came back on Friday super low again. However, the other levels that usually are effected with this problem were not as out of whack as you might expect. So today, after advice from my specialist, I had more bloods taken, and will test my parathyroid level again...third time is a charm! I have even stumped the endocrinologist specialist! More waiting...more tests...more unknowns...
On the upside, the test for arthritis of the spine came back negative, so that is a win right there.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Glimpse into Sardines

I might not be up to sharing extravagant low FODMAP and allergy friendly recipes with you just yet (as I mentioned here), but I can show you glimpses into the easy snacks and treats I have during the day!
Today's lunch? Sardines on toast! Super easy and quick, perfect on a wintery day, and I could even manage to throw it together myself while feeling achey and gross. I can feel the goodness and vitality from it oozing into my veins as I type! Definitely one to keep in the archives for days like these.

I toasted two slices of Country Life Bakery gluten and dairy free white bread. (I save gluten free bread for now and again treats, as it still has egg in it).

I toasted some pine nuts (I just placed them on the nearly cooked toast under the grill).

I used John West's Sardines in tomato sauce (in oil is also delcious) and smashed them over the warm toast.

Serve with spinach, or whatever you have around.

What is so good about eating Sardines?!....

They are packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron,  and potassium. They are quite low in salt content, they are low in mercury and toxins for a fish, and are low in calories. They are cheap to buy, can be bought fresh or tinned, are simple to prepare, and they just taste so darn good!! Get them into you!!

Glimpse into future recipes

I am very excited about bringing you more and more healthy and delicious recipes. At the moment, I struggle to cook due to my chronic health issues, such as fatigue and light headedness, so I don't often have the opportunity to blog about meals (thanks to my fantastic family who have become my personal cooks for the moment!). I will bring this part of the blog to you with full enthusiasm however, when I am more healthy, and able to look after myself in the kitchen!

I have so many ideas to share with you, including exciting ingredients such as quiona, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, and almond meal! A restricted diet DOES NOT mean tasteless, bland food! I will show you what I have learned along the way, and how I turn simple, low allergen foods into delicious and healthy meals, snacks and desserts! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Glimpse into insomnia

Lying in bed, exhausted but wide eyed. Tossing and turning. Waking at 4am and not returning to sleep. Rising in the morning feeling exhausted and unrefreshed.
Whichever way it is that you are effected, being unable to sleep properly is a horrendous experience for everyone.
And believe it or not, chronic fatigue and insomnia can coexist!
 Ironically, I have tried to write this post several times, and have been too tired and brain foggy to think about it properly, so have put it off!
Insomnia...why can't it start in the morning?
There can be several reasons why we can be so exhausted, yet fail to sleep.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Glimpse into Gembles; smiling from the inside

I have had postural hypotension for so long that for the majority of the time, I can be losing my vision or feeling dizzy and lightheaded, and people around me do not know! In the same sense, I am realising that I can be feeling nauseous, aching, and exhausted inside these days, but people will comment on how well I am managing a task, and that I am having such a good day! I give them a shocked reaction, thinking "what?! But I feel gross!"

Today, I am thinking that this may indicate:
1.) That I am getting a little better, slowly slowly! Yay!
2.) That I am dealing with what I am faced with, and learning how to manage my gentle activities without giving into the discomfort (because I am so lucky and have so much help and support throughout the day).
3.) That I am risking slipping back into my old thinking of pushing myself so that I can do the things I want to do, and so the things that will make others happy are done, and I could overdo it.
4.) That my positivity and attempt to keep my attitude strong and happy is starting to take effect.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glimpse into Gembles; working on a good attitude for the week!

The past couple of weeks have been filled with more bad health days than good. I have, however, been able to meet a friend's gorgeous newborn son, managed to treat myself to a beautiful new dress, sat in the sun with a good friend who I have not seen in months, and had some relaxed girl time with the bestie, and Mum. These lovely events broke up the hours of nausea, stiffness, head aches, fatigue, brain fog, some personal sadness, and blood tests.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Glimpse into our driving forces

I have a post, about dealing with insomnia, ready to put up on my blog, but right now, as I lie on the couch feeling very unwell, and needing to distract myself from my body, I find myself writing another.
I am worried that I am not reacting well to the latest medication addition. I really hope not. It is hard to tell sometimes, whether I am just having a particularly bad week in the life of being in this body, or whether the symptoms are caused by something else! So it will be off to get blood tests done soon, to see if anything can be identified.

Days like these make me think about what gets us going. What pulls our eyelids open, enables us to swing our aching legs around to the side of the bed, and put one slow foot in front of another?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Glimpse into listening to the lessons

Having a body that is not working to its full ability is frustrating beyond description. To begin to explain the feelings that it creates, the words sadness, disappointment, anger, self pity, jealousy, self loathing, and disbelief spring to mind. However, it can also have a positive side. Sometimes, in my low moments, I think of the upbeat things I say about this faulty body of mine, and I roll my eyes at my pathetic optimism! But as hard as it is to see, there has to be something good to come from these situations.

 Illness, be my mentor.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Glimpse into fructose malabsorption

I feel that I have brushed over the explanation of fructose malabsorption, and that you are well over due for a full description and definition, as it is, after all, a main feature of this blog!! So here goes...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Glimpse into white tea

I love tea. Thank the Food Intolerance Gods for letting me still be able to drink tea!! I keep mindful around fruit teas (monitoring for FODMAPs), but to be honest, fruit teas don't do it for me as much as other teas do! I also watch the caffeine content because as we all know, this is just another thing the body has to process, and when you're unwell, really it is an unnecessary pressure. This still leaves me with a wide range of teas to choose from and I can't get enough! I drink at least 4 cups a day on an average day, and now that we in the Southern Hemisphere are coming into winter, that will soon increase!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Glimpse into movement; every bit counts!

During the evening of Tuesday April 16th, Mum and I went to a two hour seminar held at the Hilton Hotel by Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. The topic of the talk was the concept of using movement to be healthy.

The main message of the evening was perhaps an obvious one, but very overlooked due to our society's current mindset; move. Push, pull, bend, lift, take the stairs, park further away, stand when answering the phone, move, move, move. We have had it drilled into us over the past few years that if we do a session of exercise most days, we will be fit, a healthy weight and live longer, despite sitting at a computer all day, and carrying out tasks in the most convenient, time and energy efficient way. However, the research that is now coming out is that people who do this do not beat the health benefits (hip and waist measurments, lifespan, fitness) gained by the people who just keep moving throughout the day. It does not have to be much; just incidental movement, as much as possible throughout the day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Glimpse into dizziness; my hypotension progress.

I have been playing the waiting game for the past few weeks, so have not posted about my personal health progress lately. I have been monitoring to see if the new medication would assist me. It has been six weeks since I started it so it is still a little too early to tell, but it is possible that I am having some positive effects from it! I have had some bad side effects from the drug; headaches and nausea most days, and trouble sleeping, but hopefully they will ease.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Glimpse into the Boston Marathon bombing

We need to stop waking up like this; waking to news from overseas of something horrible happening.

I woke this morning to the sound of my parents' phone ringing. It was missed, and then it rang again. I heard Dad get up and answer it, and say hello to my aunt. Then after a little while I heard him say ''Oh my gawd", the words and tone he uses when something bad shocks him. He said this and then walked downstairs, still talking to my aunt, so I was left unable to hear if something was wrong. I rolled over and found a text on my phone from Mum, saying my brother and his fiance were ok, so that made me get out of bed, needing to know what was going on. I am glad at least that I was staying at my parents' house.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Glimpse into sweet and sour pork

I love gooey, sticky, comforting meals with sauce and rice and deliciousness! This can actually be achieved when eating clean, healthy, low allergen foods!
One of my favourite meals is sweet and sour pork with rice. This was what was on the menu last night, on a cold and rainy day, so I will share the recipe with you. I hope that you enjoy it as much as my family and I do!


Just Like Mum's Sweet and Sour Pork Hot Pot

(for 4 people)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Glimpse into a "Welcome To Your New Life" book review

(Book two of ten for Project 29.)

On a rainy Sunday afternoon on April 7th, I started to read Anna Goldworthy's book, "Welcome To Your New Life". I had found it that day in one of my favourite bookstores (Mary Ryan's in Brisbane) after a morning filled with yoga and breakfast with a friend. Bliss.
The first pages easily pulled me in (in case the amazingly gorgeous cover photo hadn't already), and I could tell that this book was written in a funny and interesting way. The subject matter is not one I would normally purchase a book about. Pregnancy, birth plans and welcoming a new family member are all things that I would love to experience, and hope to one day, but they won't be part of my life any time soon. That said, it seemed an odd book choice for me, but good reviews and the light and humerous way in which it appeared to be written intrigued me. And hey, a girl can dream.
I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud; it made me sad and anxious for the family; it made me desperately want to experience having a child; it made me thankful that I am child free! It was a simple read, but well written and kept me wanting to read more. Goldworthy looks into the many aspects of pregnancy, child birth, and the difficult and love filled event that is raising a child. The book also looks into attempting to combine adult life with children. It even contemplates life, death and the important questions in between.
I recommend this to anyone who is pregnant or plans to be, anyone who has had children, and anyone who has an interest in life and the making and ending of it. Even if you have no thoughts of having children but you want a good laugh, grab a copy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Glimpse into the world of eating out with food intolerances

My diet restrictions involve the avoidance of fructose, egg, dairy, gluten, wheat, some nuts, and grains. As you can imagine, that list can make eating out rather difficult! I have always loved food, and I love the social side and the excitement that comes with eating out and trying new restaurants and delicacies. Unfortunately, my freedom with this activity is a distant memory to me. I do find it quite disheartening when I think about trying out a new fancy restaurant or a particularly tasty sounding dish, and then realising that I can not. It is frustrating, but of course, I have it far better than some, and I am thankful for what I can enjoy.
If you are like me, or have friends or family in this boat, do not despair! There are ways around it! You can still go out!

I have found a few places that are either really great at accommodating food intolerances and allergies, or provide foods that are simple and avoid a lot of the foods that I can not eat.

The places that I have learnt where I can eat at include:

Grill'd -The healthy burger joint. They provide gluten free bread buns (they still have egg and milk no doubt), and can cater to a range of specifications with their "build a burger" option, which allows you to specify meat, sauce and salad variations.

Fish and chip shops - This is such an easy staple for me. A bag of chips and grilled fish, and some salad without dressing and I am set! No cooking, no washing up, no pesky food reactions. Perfect.

Steak houses - I have eaten so much steak since changing my diet! Steak and chips and salad or vegetables is my go-to option; you will be hard pressed to find a basic restaurant which does not serve this option!

Pubs & cafes - Pub and cafe food allows you to find basic food, like chicken or steak and pair it with vegetables, salad and chips. Be careful, because these places might not stay as mindful of food intolerance specifications, but as long as you are direct about your needs, I find they do pretty well.

Sushi restaurants -  Staying clear of the marinades and fried foods, I can enjoy sashimi and rice and plain sushi. Delicious and healthy! Remember to ask for wheat free soy sauce!

Pizza capers - Pizza Capers now do an amazing gluten free base. They also are very open about their ingredients in their sauces, which makes avoidance of onions and garlic so easy, and they are very helpful in removing certain toppings and adding in others. I have waited for fix ups when they have done normal pizza bases and not gluten free, but aside from this, they are great.

Chips - If you are looking for a quick snack, hit Maccas or a fish and chip shop up for chips. If you buy hot chips from other places, make sure they are gluten free, or not seasoned with garlic. This might not be a healthy snack, but when you need to eat regularly like me, they can be a life saver when there a limited choices around.

Meat and salad from kebab shops - Here is a nifty trick! Ask for a plate of the meat from a kebab shop, and combine with salad with no dressing or chips. Make sure you choose the meat that does not contain added products, such as gluten, garlic and marinades.

Speciality restaurants - Gone are my visits to Indian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese and similar restaurants. However, my restrictions have opened up to me options that I may not have been aware of previously. Organic restaurants are becoming more popular as healthy foods become the preference, and they often provide options for allergies. I love the Mondo Organics restaurant in Brisbane's West End. Their menu specifies which meals are gluten or dairy free or vegetarian, and their food is so fresh and healthy. I even ate a meal of duck once! A delicious duck dinner which I did not have to create by altering a recipe, eating it in a restaurant! What a happy night that was! Look out for organic cafes and restaurants for menus that are mindful of food variations.

The things I have learnt that you need to remember when eating out:

People do not understand the complexities of multiple food intolerances until they have had personal experience with it. If you say "a milkshake with just banana and soy milk", somehow most people don't understand that you don't want other flavours to jazz it up. I have lost count how many times I have received a milkshake that has had honey, ice cream and yogurt in it, when I specifically said just banana and soy milk!! I understand that this seems bland, but for me it is amazing to have a drink other than water or tea, so the excitement gets kind of ruined when I take a big mouthful of flavours that are going to make me sick!!

Asking for no sauce or marinades seems simple enough. Multiple times though I have been presented with a meal that is drowning in sauce. One time I ended up in tears because of sauce! We had gone to Vanuatu on holiday, and I had been very apprehensive about how I would manage the foods there. On the first night there, I asked for steak and vegetables, no sauce or gravy, and it came out covered in sauce! I think I was just tired and overwhelmed, but the prospect of nearly two weeks in a country where they were not going to understand my needs left me embarrassingly in tears at the dinner table on the first night of a holiday! (It did turn out though that I could manage, and the rest of the fantastic holiday was spent eating yummy foods.) Be specific and clear, say that what you are asking to avoid will make you sick, and make sure they repeat your order back to you.

These days I usually say that I have allergies when I am eating out. It is more easily and readily understood, and makes people more vigilant than saying food intolerances.

Check the meal before you bite! You may look like a fussy five year old, but it is much better to be safe. So often sauce is hiding in the burger bun! I have had to return many meals before the first bite (or worse, after the first bite, when the damage has started!).
I always forget to say no butter on gluten free bread! This is something I need to remember, because it is very often slathered on before it arrives at the table.

Restaurant staff are often horrified and apologetic at the bland state that my meal comes to the table in, after all my specific requests. They don't understand how exciting it is to have a meal in a restaurant; a meal that I didn't have to prepare; a meal that means I can enjoy a social occasion out!! It does not matter if it doesn't look like it would in a magazine! Not at all! Enjoy the experience of eating out, learn what works for you, be descriptive and vocal and ensure the directions are clear and have been understood. Eating out is an important part of life in our society, and having food intolerances or allergies does not have to mean you miss out!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Glimpse into life's forks on Monday April 8th, 2013

As I sit here at my laptop, the rain bellowing above me on the tin roof, the beautiful sounds of Vivaldi, Handel and their fellow genius composers accompanying my keyboard taps beside me, and the contents from my mug of hot tea warming my belly, I am contemplating that we call life, and the intention behind it. Deep, I know. Maybe a little too deep for a Monday afternoon. But what is one to contemplate when alone on a rainy day? I have no other plans for the day, let alone the week, due to unpredictable health issues that can one minute give my body its freedom, and the next have it falling deeply between the couch cushions, hoping the world will stop its noisy spinning.
Early last year something happened to some people who are very special to me, and it really made me question my beliefs of the notion that there is something, someone, bigger than us all, leading and guiding us through our journey. As most people do at some stage or another, I questioned that if there is such a being, then how can it bear to have us all suffer so much.
After the past few months however, I suddenly feel like so much has changed for me that I can not ignore the idea that something is guiding me. Everything that I have worked for, planned, lived and fought for was placed in a big metaphorical cardboard box, and shaken until there were only shattered splinters left inside. It feels like I had put myself on the wrong path, and someone or something was hinting and warning me, but I was ignoring its whispers, so it resorted to wiping my entire slate clean. Ignore me will you, it said. Take that.
So I suddenly find myself at the fork of a new path. The old one stretched temptingly to the left, the new one panning frighteningly to the right. It is impossible to ignore the upheaval and pass it off as a bump in the road.
I have decided I will take the road to the right. It is horrifying and exhilarating. But what I am learning is that when that fork does slam us in the face with its sharp prongs, we don't have to smash the old path up and throw it in a giant skip. We can take the pieces we choose with us. We can pick the memories, the lessons, the hopes and the people, and pack them up with us in our bags, and wear them on our backs, and their weight will keep us grounded and warned, warmed and strengthened.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Glimpse into challenge 13; Sunday April 7th, 2013

                                                                                                       Stretching it all out in a child's pose.

Today I managed a second yoga class for the week! It was even followed by a delicous pineapple and mint frappe and gluten free toast with jam (and no ill effects!) with the bestie!! Throw in a book purchase, and it was a downright blissful morning, followed by a rainy afternoon spent reading on the couch.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Glimpse into what I can eat

This post is directed at my friends and family, as requested by my friends Joel & Junna, and is basically so Joel stops asking me what I can eat every time he sees me!! ;-) 
To all those reading who have fructose malabsorption, my list may help you explore your intolerance. Be aware though that everyone has different tolerance levels to different fructose containing foods. So please experiment for yourself; what works for me could make you unwell, and vise versa!

To narrow it down, the list of what I can not eat first!....:

Gluten (not even a whiff!; staying clear due to my autoimmune condition)
Grains (a little corn from time to time is ok. Quinoa and rice are fine)
Dairy (a very small amount very occasionally; i.e. the amount in gluten free bread is ok)
Eggs ("                                                 as above                                                                   ")
High fructose foods

Fructose is where it gets tricky!!

There are some foods that contain such high amounts of fructose that they are not worth even a lick! (or the other FODMAPs which cause reactions in people with fructose malabsorption {Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols - these are sugar molecules in foods}).
I can not eat: honey, wheat, onion, garlic, artificial and natural sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, dried fruits, pistachios, stone fruits, apple, pear, inulin (artificial fibre).

Moving on to the foods that I can eat!......

There are foods that I can have in small to tiny amounts, watching what I combine them with so as to not OD on FODMAPs! (For example, even safe fruits need to be small serves, spaced 2-3 hours from other fructose foods).
These are: mushrooms, beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes, leeks (green part only), lettuce, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, avocado, celery, fresh figs, dried cranberries and blueberries, melons, grapes, caster sugar, nuts, coconut, corn flour, Powerade drink, dry wine, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, lemonade.

Then there are foods that I can eat fairly freely, but still need to be aware of amounts and combinations! These are: potato, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, cucumber, berries, lemons, limes, bananas, pineapple, grapefruit, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, passion fruit,  rhubarb, dried pineapple, quiona, gluten free pastas, rice, gluten free flours, rice flour, almond meal, dark chocolate, dairy free chocolate (with caster sugar, not sweeteners), dextrose, rice syrup, vegemite, Lucozade drink, vodka, rum, rice milk, decaffeinated teas.

Then the foods that I don't need to monitor amounts with (not any more than anyone else has to anyway!):
All meat and fish. (Slow cooked, stewed lamb seems to be no good for me though).
Yep, this one is a big list.... ;-)

So....clear as mud?! Yep, I am the worst possible dinner guest. Ever.

Essentially, I am a gluten and peanut free, low fructose consuming vegan who eats meat!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Glimpse into challenge number 13

In February, my good friend and I started a six week beginner's yoga course. I have always thought yoga was gentle stretching and meditation, and would be too boring and slow to keep me interested. How wrong I was! I decided to give it a go because I have such a low tolerance for exercise at the moment, but am feeling the effects of being so unfit and inflexible due to so much of my time spent resting.
Within the six week course, I missed two classes due to dizziness and feeling unwell, and I have gone to two normal classes since we completed the beginner's course. I love it! I can feel my body being stretched and strengthened, and challenged! Sometimes the up and down repetition is not good with my postural hypotension, but I feel comfortable trying as my friend is nearby! The class is hard work for me, and I am sweating and exhausted by the end, but feel loose, stronger and invigorated.

As part of my Project 29, I plan to keep with it for the year (at least!). At the moment, making one class a week is an achievement, and I will gradually increase to doing two when I can. I will post pictures of my progress, to show that I am progressively achieving challenge number 13 - learn yoga!

This is my downward dog after six classes. There is a lot of improvement needed that I can see in the photo, but it is better than in week one!
How it is meant to look! (and how I intend to look when I do a downward dog by my 30th birthday!)......

The real pros! ;-)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Glimpse into berry and poppy seed cake

This is such a delicious cake. My mum and I have tweaked and altered til we got to this combination, which is wheat, dairy and egg free, and fructose friendly. It is sweet but tangy, and the poppy seeds provide such a great pop to the texture! For a cake, this is amazingly guilt free and nutritious!

Berry and poppyseed cake

125ml vegetable oil or coconut oil
3 lemons
125ml rice syrup
9tbsp water
400g almond meal
3tbsp poppy seeds
1/2tsp sea salt
1tsp gluten free baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
3tbsp chia seeds
300g blueberries or raspberries

Powdered dextrose
Vanilla extract

**Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.**

1. Combine the chia seeds and water in a bowl, and let sit for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, poppy seeds, salt, baking power and baking soda.
3. On a very low heat, warm the oil and rice syrup in a sauce pan until combined.
4. Add the zest from two lemons into the oil and syrup mixture.
5. Squeeze the juice of one and a half lemons into the mixture.
6. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.
7. Fold in the soaked chia seeds. Add in half the berries and combine.
8. Grease a cake tin and pour in the batter.
9. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out dry.
10. Let the cake cool before removing from tin.
11. In a small bowl, combine the dextrose with water, lemon juice and a splash of vanilla extract until a runny but slightly thick consistency, to the taste that you like.
12. While the cake is still warm, make holes with a skewer through the cake, and pour the glaze over the top.
13. Decorate with the fresh berries.

This was even my birthday cake a few weeks ago, because it is so yummy; courtesy of my mum!
 It just goes to prove, you can have multiple food intolerances and eat your cake too!