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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Glimpse into Lamingtons

This weekend in Australia is a long weekend, because on Monday, January 26th it is Australia Day. On this day in 1788, the arrival of the First Fleet of the British Ships occurred. It is now a celebration of our diverse country, our history and this beautiful land.

As with all celebrations, iconic food is a must! One such treat is the humble Lamington. Typically, this is a square of sponge cake, covered in chocolate sauce and desiccated coconut. I decided that I must create a grain/gluten/egg/dairy free version, which is also low in FODMAPs, and simple to make. Here is what I came up with, and from all accounts, it is reasonably close considering the limitations!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glimpse into finding the right foods for you

Recently, I received a comment that stated that the raw vegetable juices I drink are full of anti-nutrients and cause my autoimmune diseases, and that I eat too many sweet tasting foods. To be honest, this sent me into a bit of a spin.

Trust me, I have read about the fact green leaves might impact my thyroid condition. I have researched about fructose like there is no tomorrow. I have learned as much as I can about what foods are good and bad for autoimmune issues.

When you bounce from one recommendation to another, desperately trying to find a way to heal your body, sometimes it can feel like every element of our lifestyle is against you and how on earth are you ever going to become healthy? I have so many food intolerances that a lot of foods are taken from my diet whether they are healthy or not. I also now avoid some foods because of research which shows their contribution to autoimmune symptoms. So when someone comes along and says that the foods that remain on a short and precious list are bad for you (in their opinion), the only reaction available is a melt down, envisaging starvation and banging your head up against a brick wall!

At some point, you have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each food, and decide what to eat. Most foods actually contain anti-nutrients or toxins; they contain something which could cause some type of reaction in the body which is not considered good. However, a lot of those foods are also bursting with amazing qualities which keep your body functioning. Can you imagine avoiding anti-nutrients completely?! You would starve to death. That does not seem to be conducive to good health to me! Take into consideration pre-existing conditions, determine which foods can cause issues because of these conditions and adjust your diet accordingly, and then continue to eat a healthy, wide variety of whole foods.

I recently learned of a condition called orthorexia. It is an eating disorder which focuses on eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy foods to an excessive level. This stunned me, because I think that it would be quite easy to find yourself on this track when you are so desperate to heal from chronic health issues, and you begin to use food as a healing method. When you read that even a mouthful of gluten can set off an autoimmune flare, and that more than 2-3 serves of even low fructose fruit a day can hinder your healing, and thousands of other facts and opinions to consider, it can be quite stifling and stressful. Throw in that your body is not doing what you want it to do, or looking the way you want it to because you are unwell, and this could be a recipe for disaster.

Our society is starting to realise how important food is in the process of healing our bodies, instead of instantly reaching for medication or surgery. In this time, there is so much information circulating that we can easily obtain. This can be highly empowering and useful, but it can also be overwhelming and debilitating. Reach out for help from nutritionists, dieticians, naturopaths and doctors if you need help to find your way. Do your best to feed your body healthy and enriching foods, and then relax. I still feel stressed about the comment made by someone who does not know me or my situation, but I know that I am doing the best I can for my body. I am constantly learning and looking for better ways to improve my health, and will continue to do so. Giving into the negative scare tactics and debate which is rife will only render your health into an even worse state. Make informed, educated decisions about your health, and know that you are doing the best you can.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Glimpse into blueberry and coconut cake

For my family's Christmas Eve dessert, I made a blueberry and coconut cake. It is like a fruity, coconut cheese cake, without the dairy!

This was the perfect cake in terms of preparation, because I was able to make it the day before, and as it is a raw cake which is set in stages, you can do it a little at a time for an even lower energy consuming cake!

It was also great for a summer time treat. I had left it in the freezer til a half hour before we wanted to eat it, however, we had to keep waiting for it to thaw, and eventually ate it quite hard and frozen! It was still good, but the leftovers revealed that it was much nicer and easier to eat when left in the fridge rather than the freezer. I suggest that you set it in the freezer, but store it in the fridge so that it is soft when you come to eat it.
It can be kept in an airtight container for several days in the fridge, or will keep well for a later date in the freezer.

My recipes are usually my own creations because I rarely come across recipes which I can use that contain ingredients that I can tolerate. However, this recipe is a result of the inspiration from a recipe from The Merry Sisters. You can find it here: http://themerrymakersisters.com.au/paleo-choc-blueberry-cake-epic/. I have made changes to it, to make it more appropriate for my low fructose, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, and egg free diet. I find I have trouble tolerating too many nuts, so I went for more coconut than nuts, but if you prefer nuts, feel free to swap the 2 cups of coconut in the middle to soaked cashews.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Glimpse into our next book club book

Dean Mayes's first book, 'The Hambledown Dream" is our next book for the online Glimpsing Gembles Book Club. This is a very special book by a great, Australian author.

The author is giving readers the chance to own a FREE digital copy of this story. All you need to do is comment on the announcement blog post (link below) by Friday 16th!


I really hope that you will you join us. Everyone welcome. Whether you rarely read, or have never taken part in a book club, or you are bed ridden, or you are busy with life, this is your chance to take part in a group who chat about a variety of books. Your input in the discussion can be tiny or in depth, it is completely up to you. Just enjoy the chance to read stories you may not have thought to otherwise, and enjoy some book banter!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Glimpse into Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

In March last year, I wrote a post about my recent diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). You can read it here. I did not go into great depth with an explanation of what this syndrome is, as I was still taking it all in. I was fortunate to have learned a lot about this condition prior to my own diagnosis as a family friend has suffered from it for years, however I had a lot to learn about how it affected me. I want to share more of my experience with this now, and what POTS is.
POTS covers quite a broad array of symptoms. What is prominent for one person, may not be such an issue for another. Treatment options are also extensive. There is no cure for POTS, and what works well for one patient, may actually make another worse. Subsequently, experiences of dealing with POTS can be varied, so what I may write might not be suitable or relevant for you.

As the name suggests, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome revolves around an issue with an abnormally increased heart rate when changing position, typically from supine to upright.
When all humans stand, gravity causes a shift in blood from the head to the lower parts of the body. In a healthy person, the heart rate increases slightly, the heart pumps stronger, and the vessels in the lower part of the body constrict, all ensuring the blood is pushed back up to maintain a healthy blood flow in all parts of the body. This all occurs in about 2 heart beats.
In someone with POTS, the heart rate increase does not result in improved blood flow, the vessels often do not contract efficiently, the blood pressure may drop drastically, and the heart rate continues to increase. There is then a decrease in cerebral blood flow, resulting in light headedness or fainting. The high heart rate is considered to be a sign of POTS when it is increased by more than 30 beats per minute upon standing, or to a heart rate greater than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing still.

Although POTS is an issue which results in a heart rate and blood pressure issue, it is not actually a problem with the heart. The problem is with the autonomic system, which is the body's involuntary nervous system that controls the actions that we do not need to think about, such as sweating, breathing and heart rate.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Glimpse into fighting for the life you want to live

Having chronic illnesses is like being a tightrope walker, juggling twenty different balls, with one arm tied behind your back and a blind fold over your eyes.


You are forever fighting against losing every aspect of your life which is important to you, while at the same time finding the delicate balance of where to step so as to not over do it and make yourself more unwell. Sometimes I fear that I have dropped too many things - I do not work, I can not study, I do not exercise, I barely attend social functions, I often can not do my hobbies, I have moved back in with my parents; so much of what makes me me is currently not part of my life. Sometimes I feel so shaken and distraught by the thought that I am getting older and I am missing out a crucial part of my life. I know that I have fought; every day I work towards better health. I know that I do not make excuses, I have definite goals, and I am determined to reach them. The body's weaknesses are hard to beat though, and I am on a long, slow road. Finding that happy medium, where you do not give up, where you battle against the odds to reach your goals, and where you do not push too far that you create damage; that is the real challenge of living with chronic illness.

Reassessing what you want from your life is often part of the answer. Making realistic goals will get you further. I have posters on my wall with my goals written on them. These goals are not the same as the ones I had 2, 5, or 10 years ago. Some are smaller versions of them. Some are completely new ones, born out of the rediscovery of myself through the shake up that illness is to life. Some seem huge to me now, but I know that if I can keep fighting, I can keep working towards them.

While you work towards these goals, find something that you find rewarding that is within your capabilities. Try so hard to not be the illness. You are you, and there are so many things that make you you, and only you can fight to keep them within. Every little step in the right direction, as small as it is, takes you a step closer to good health, and a step closer to getting back the life you want and deserve.
I am thankful for what my body still allows me to do, but there is so much that I miss out on and I want to do everything in my power to do all that I want to do with my life. Look deep into yourself and find what it is you want to fight for, and claw back to that point with every fibre of your being. We can do it.

 *In trying to find tight rope walking photos, I stumbled across this photo of Chinese acrobat, Aisikaier, who tight rope walked 656 feet over a ravine, blind folded. Moments before the reaching the end, he felt dizzy and fell. Amazingly, he walked away from it with barely a scratch! Everyone has to give what they are passionate about a go, no matter how crazy it may seem!