May 31, 2011

I think too much

Well I was gonna do a post on the dreaded C word -

I’ve read a lot about it in the past. In text books, magazines and online blogs. I've watched videos and documentaries, heard it thrown around conversation at college and at work, even at home. It's something that not alot of people would associate with a raw food diet ...

So it might come as a surprise to you that I have infact been living with Candida this past week. Yep! The big bad C-word noone likes to talk about. Which is kinda funny as I think 9 out of 10 females have had it at some point – if not regularly, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post from someone saying “I’m suffering right now!” so here you go!

Whilst I was away in Cairns I was eating loads of fruit and not nearly as many greens, I was also drinking delicious espressos which I don’t normally do, and munching on some amazing handmade vegan dark chocolates -  more sugar.
Nikki’s house mate Chris was suffering from cold and flu symptoms whilst I was staying with them, so when I began sniffling, and coughing and getting headaches I figured I had just caught something from him…

Until I returned home and had SEVERE sugar cravings! Not just the “oh I feel like something sweet” (for me – that means a date or two stuffed with coconut oil)… it was more like “god damn it give me all the sweets available to man kind right now!!” I’d get out of bed and just want sugar; fruit and more fruit for brekkie followed by a dozen dates or so and then raw choccie, wanting even more… which is no problem for some people but knowing I don’t usually eat and crave that much sugar rings alarm bells.

And then there came the dreaded itching - you know what I mean girls. I had enough symptoms by now. So one morning whilst doing a few things online I decided to Google “candida diet” to see if anything showed up that I wasn’t already aware of… did you a blocked nose and headaches are also signs of Candida! I had no idea. I put those down to my “cold/flu/thing”…
Now I’m left wondering if I ever had a cold-flu-thingy? Was it just Candida all along?

It’s hard to say as for the past 4 days I’ve had splitting headaches come and go – a symptom of the flu, but also a symptom of candida. Hmmm… and what I'm hoping was the grand finale, last night I was HIT HARD with by far the WORST MIGRANE I have ever suffered in my life! And I've had a few. This was 100x the worst no exaggeration. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. And I had never actually been sick from a migrane but last night I was in and out of bed running to the porcelain bowl 6 or 7 times which only made trying to sleep even harder.

It's in my nature to try and work everything out and why things might be showing up the way they do; I like nutting it all out like a human puzzle, but one thing after the other lately has been driving me bonkas trying to understand!

What the f*#k is going on? 

So the twist...I began this blog a couple of days ago and wrote out my list of things to help with yeast infections and candida… but it doesn’t feel right to roll out that list now. I’m feeling more a pull to write about how I'm feeling right now. And looking after myself. Holistically. I’ve come to realize that I’m forever striving for PERFECT HEALTH. Not such a bad goal in reality – but I think my end goal in getting to such a destination is preventing me from enjoying the JOURNEY along the way.
I love my work, my studies, my blogging, my exercise, my kitchen fun… I'm doing, and doing and doing and feel (it’s all perspective right?) that I don’t often have time to just chill out. On the odd morning where I can actually have a sleep in, I still decide to bound out of bed to do yoga or go to the markets early. Clean the house or just get going! I'm a morning person and don't like lying in bed (much to the dislike of my partner on that odd day we do get a lie in together). When I’m given opportunities of rest I don’t take them. I know this. I've never taken the opportunities and usually suffer because of it.

Admitting there's a problem is the first step to recovery though!

Life always throws me something like a migrane when I literally have to rest (and desperatly need mind-rest) – no if's or but's (last year I suffered a pinched sciatic nerve after over-training and was on a walking stick!! Try working with that - I had too). I can’t even lie in down and read today. I've just gotta lie. I’m on the couch right now and have been snacking of red grapes, apples, and nuts which I'm happy to have kept down. My tummy is starving but my head is saying no to everything. Wanting all available energy to do the healings up top no doubt. Good body :) I've been watching day time TV (ie. no brain function needed) all day and now slowly slowly typing this up.

It's clear to me I needed rest but after a week in Cairns (rest capital) I had to wonder if it wasn't something else. Maybe it was? Maybe it wasn't? Who knows? Who will ever? Who cares? Noone but me obviously. It is what it is. Acceptance. Maybe now it will go...

So in all my ramlings and around-about-way at looking at things... I hear the old cliches in my head -

Life's a journey; it's not so much about the destination. I think of rushing to get somewhere to find out it's not what you expected and you've missed everything on the way. I'm a pretty darn healthy chic, I've just gotta believe it more. Be grateful for where I am and my health more and things flow. I know. I've been there. But it;s easy to get caught up in the yuckiness thinking everything could be better... only to later realise that's exactly when things started going down hill...

Food for thought...

as the afternoon sun is beginning to rear its head :)

May 25, 2011

Paradise in Cairns Part 2

The produce there was INCREDIBLE!
At RUSTYS MARKETS !! The 3-day markets that are on in the middle of town every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I absolutley LOVE this place! I literally spent 3 days there!

A short drive from Nikki's place, after we had our green smoothies and did our walk, we got out shopping bags and headed on in. Rusty's is un under-cover market selling mainly fresh local fruit and veg, but you can also find organic cheeses and yoghurts, coffees and teas, home made cakes, olives, hot food, books, clothes, even massage beds!  I was in Heaven!

Kang Kong! I had never seen it anywhere before and I LOVE it!

Organic bananas

So many beautiful apples - although I didnt buy any! I went all out on the troical fruits though :)

We wandered up and down the aisles as Nik showed me all her favourites stalls; where she usually gets her delicious bush grown local tomatoes from...
where she sometimes grabs a slice of cheese or two for some nibblies with her partner...
her favourite (and best priced) avocado guy (who lets you taste some sprinkled with a little chilli salt and a squeeze of lemon) omg...
We were tasting everything else as we walked around too coz all the growers have things cut up to taste which is AWESOME coz then you end up buying what you like the best!
But what I loved most was how Nikki was telling me about her weekly ritual when she comes down to the markets - after her initial wander to check out prices and produce, she grabs a vegie samosa with date and tamarind chutney nice and hot from the Hari Krishnas, having a short chin-wag with the beautiful woman that works there... Then she goes to Billy's (who's positioned perfectly next door) for her rice milk mocha and a laugh with him and the girls, before plonking her bum down to read the paper and watch the world go by...

So Nikki got her samosa, got her coffee, I ordered a short black from Billy, and we plonked our bums down watching the world go by...
I loved that :) I love rituals full stop! I love that they make us so happy regardless of what they are...

I know I loved my walk to the espresso bar for my quick shot and short Italian verbal exchange when I was living in Italy... I love that Thursday mornings is gym class at 6am coz it's my absolute favourite - regardless of how many others I do (or don't do), that one is my favourite... Getting down to the markets on a Sunday, followed by yoga (or post-beach when its warmer)... And for the past 2 weeks I'm really excited to say that one new ritual of mine is DAILY yoga, every morning before brekkie. That's huge for me! And I'm LOVING it!

The friendly exchange

We bought greens, fruits, vegies... chatted with local growers about their produce, whether or not they use chemicals (alot don't which is awesome!), tried and tasted their scruptious offerings, and had our thinking caps on over-drive as to what delicious creations we were going to come up with when we got home...

Cabbage and kale salad alongside one very very spicy papaya salad with lots of avo

Kang Kong salad baby!! Great Friday night movie dinner!

One of our green brekkie bowl/smoothies

Banana, coconut and brazil milk thickshake!! So good!

Fresh brekkie smoothies mmm
(We didn't make all that on Friday just so you know... these are our creations over a few days hehe)

Saturday morning instead of doing our own yoga at home we went to a class Nikki goes to each week in town. It was in a beautiful open room, the teacher was wonderful and very thorough in her instruction. After just over an hour of long held stratches, bends, and inversions, Nikki and I wafted out with a few organic passionfruits in tow... on our way to Rusty's again (I was ready for my espresso from Billy) ! I got me a BIG coconut as well (I think the coffee hurt my head a little - not surprising when you're not used to drinking it)

We bought more produce, did some more sampling (you can't resist), more smiles and laughter shared, more people-watching done, more love around... : ) It was my final full day in Cairns so for dinner we had a last minute ENTHUSIASM to do something different!

Nikki has a HUGE basil bush in her back yard... and eggplants growing... we had bought amazing local tomatoes... any ideas so far?
Well we decided in the afternoon sunshine beaming through the kitchen windows we would begin mucking about and come up with some sort of a lasagna/moussaka/layered vegie dish that would taste AMAZING!! (I've had cravings to make one for ages now - you can check out other throw-together ones I've done here and here)

Step 1 - throwing tomatoes, garlic, onion, bit of basil, splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt into the blender = napolitana sauce!

Step 2 - throw copious amounts of basil leaves from the garden into the blender along with garlic, macadamia nuts, olive oil and salt... to find nothing happens... (Nikki doesn't have a food processor)... and then move it to the mortar and pestle to grind it down with alot of loving elbow grease = pesto!

Pesto getting smooshed
Step 3 - an avocado with lemon and chilli mashed in a bowl = guac!

Step 4 - sliced garden eggplants marinated in olive oil = well, marinated eggplant!

Add some sliced broccoli, kale leaves, whatever you fancy and layer it all together! Nikki whipped up a cheesy sauce using nutirtional yeast flakes, drizzled it ontop. I threw together a side salad using our kang kong and extra brocc, then we took pretty picture before adding extra cheesy sauce, extra napolitana sauce, extra basil pesto... haha THE WORKS!

And god it was good! The perfect end to a brilliant week - but not before a quick last minute dash to Rusty's Sunday morning for coffee and some more fruit to smuggle back home !!

May 23, 2011

Paradise in Cairns Part 1

The Esplanade
This morning I was sitting in the living room with my trakkies and dressing gown on, slippers on my feet, heater warming the house up, sipping warm water with ginger and honey, feeling a little under the weather. Now I'm in a singlet, heater off, doors and windows open, fresh air flying around with the sun shining (this time with licorice in my warm water). Having just returned from a week up in Cairns visiting my big sister there for the first time, I could go so far to say I might just move there! Lucky for me I get to re-live it all again in blogging to you guys (and if you'd like a totally different spin on the series of fortunate events check out Nikki's blog here).

Morning walk down the Esplanade

Happily on college holidays right now, I was more than ready to get away for a week! The flight only takes a couple of hours and the views on flying when you get there are breathtaking! Over HUGE mountains that literally drop to nothing at sea level and snake around the coastline to what is Cairns. It's a very flat place which makes for great bike riding and walking tracks. Nikki greeted me at the airport early Monday morning, with great big hugs, warm sunshine, and an organic Cairns banana (noone knows you like your sisters). After a long-way-round-drive back to her place to take in the esplanade, we dumped my things and then ... well just chilled. I suppose that's all we did all week!

No real agenda set for the day (or any other), we ventured out to find fruit and veg! I wanted to see all the local organic places, stock up on supplies and start from there. The markets are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays but having arrived on Monday (note to self - next time fly in on Friday and stay till the following Monday for 2 weekends of markets), we had to shop at the local stores. And when Nikki took me here - um well exceitment central (she looks pretty excited too)!!

Nikki at Neils Organics
We stocked up on greens, kales, spinach, cabbage, vegies, and delicious fruits - dragonfruit, papaya, persimmons, pineapple, avocadoes, bananas...and later made a salad with a few bits n pieces...

But not before we drove to check out the "Fruit Bat"; a little side-of-the-road vendor a small Thai lady operates. Her prices are great, her produce even better, and when I spotted these babies I was close to hysterical!!


I had only ever heard amazing things about this fruit but never seen or had one myself. I am a HUGE fan of mamey saoptes which are in the same family so was sure I'd like these. They weren't ready to eat but that didn't stop me from buying half a dozen to wait until they were... until they turned BLACK!

Black Sapote deliciousness
And then OMG! The texture is like a mamey - which is kinda like an avocado. So it's really soft. Although a little softer even - like a really really ripe avo. It melts in your mouth.Think chocolate mousse. Nicknamed the "chocolate fruit" you can see why. It even smells a little like chocolate when it's ripening. The taste is probably as close as a fruit could get to tasting like chocolate, but having said that, it tastes nothing like a block you'd buy from the store. I was in Heaven slowly scooping out mouthful by mouthful...

Then decided to make somthing a little spesh for Nikki and I to enjoy for brekkie. I've made similar versions loads of times before but wanted to show Nik how quick and easy it is - whether it's brekkie, arvo tea or dessert - chia pudding is a staple recipe I use all the time, mixing up the fruits, spices, and added extra yummy bits I've got on hand to amke it different everytime.

Layers of chia-brazil nut milk-gel, cacao nibs, goji berries, sliced bananas, and BLACK SAPOTE!

The rest of our week was filled with warm weather, rain patches, and  starting our days with yoga each morning, then making green smoothies pondering where our day would take us...  We lazed about reading, and chatting in afternoon breezes that gently swept through the house when it was raining outside... We laughed hard about stupid little nothings that sisters do so easily when they've spent way too long apart... We got busy making amazing salads with new ingredients, experimenting in the kitchen with backyard produce (more to come!!)... We walked 'round town (to the point where I now know my way 'round town - sure sign I'm a local)... and spent quite a bit of time blissing out on locally made dark chocolates (ginger bark mmm, lemon myrtle buds, chilli warming chocolate pods omg, even cacao-covered-cacao-beans!!) whilst drinking coffee... wait what?!?!

(yep - you heard me - I said drinking COFFEE! Now neither Nikki or I drink coffee really. Well once in a blue moon for me, maybe a teeny bit more often for Nik, but on the whole it's very rare... despite my forever long deep immense LOVE for the stuff, and having worked as a barista for years... personally I have pros and cons in regards to coffee; alot of pros, and alot of cons, but whilst in Cairns with amazing local organic coffee, it is a bean after all, I only drink it straight up and black, we both indulged and loved loved LOVED our little coffee fixes every few days - one certain coffee fix took us down memory lane of our travels overseas and had us laughing so hard, we had the shop owner laughing with us, 5 shots of coffee between us and 2 or 3 hours later...).

We had lunch at The Lilypad mid-week (amazing little hippy cafe serving loads of colourful food, stax of vego options, an awesome hand painted tables, chairs and artwork floating about) and my taste buds were blissing out on this monstrosity of a salad splashed with an amazing soy sesame dressing. Nikki had a delicious lentil burger that you can see she thoroughly enjoyed also.

We took a road trip up the ranges to Kuranda and Mareeba on Wednesday I think... The drive is round and round, and turning, and a bend, and around...

we had to stop mid way to re-callibrate our brains, and take in the breathtaking views of course...

Looking down into Cairns 

When we got to Kuranda we got out to stretch our legs and have a wander. It's the cutest little town (rather touristy though). Small gift shops, local honey, markets, and everything (stereo)typically Australian to munch on - crocodile, emu, and kangaroo burgers and pies, anzac cookies, lamingtons, even banana mango smoothies! Yay for the fellow fruit munchers!

I was happy with my nashi pears and a few nuts, Nikki with a hot vegie pastie as we sat in the park, but it was kinda cool to see tourists really enjoying the local food - Aussie girl through and through, but I don't think I've ever seen an emu burger in my life!

We tried some honey (garlic infused!) and bought our favourites (avocado honey!) before we set off again, stopping at Coffee Works plantation for a sticky beak (they grow, mix, roast, pack and serve many different varieties of coffee along with some of the best tasting chocolates I've ever had the pleasure of tasting considering it's hard to find great vegan choccies). But a girl can't live off chocolate and coffee alone... and yes, we did try :)

Next stop was Skybury; a huge farm that grows papayas and bananas, as well as coffee (ever watch Farmer Wants A Wife? One of the farmers from the last season owns this joint - mum was a big fan).
We drove along a red dirt road for a bit, passing rows and rows and rows of beautiful papaya trees. There seemed to be noone in coo-ey it was so quiet when I stepped out of the car to take some piccies. Fresh country air and warm afternoon breeze...

We were only a 2 minute drive from the farm but I suppose mid-week there's not laot of people about (perfect). We parked the car, did the whole tourist stretch thing on hopping out, and headed over to the entry; already knowing we'd be spending time there. We wanted good coffee, some arvo tea, (which sure you can get anywhere) but we chose Skybury mainly for the view.

Not a bad spot to stop for coffee hey?

Not bad scones either I believe

On the way out I had to grab me some lady finger bananas and hand picked papayas - I mean at $2.50/kg how could you resist? I loved how they were sitting there in boxes with an old-fashioned scale and an "Honest Box" to throw your money in once you did your own weighing and calculations. I picked a few un-ripe-er nanas for late, but made sure I got a few ready-to-eat-me-now nanas too, coz (as expected) once I got to the car, it was nana time! Creamy, soft and so delicious!

But that's certaintly NOT where the banana fun stopped! When Friday morning rolled 'round it was MARKET TIME in town and boy-o-boy was I excited! You all know how much I love my markets! I live for markets! I could spend everyday at a different market I LOVE them! Only pity is I don't always have the time to get 'round to them all in Sydney.
And with fresh produce from local growers, buzz and chatter, conversations with friendly folk, tasting everyone's bounty they are more than happy to share... why wouldn't you love markets?

So I'm going to save them for another day! They deserve all the attention they can get (along with the delectable dishes we made from all our produce)... Keep your tongues in. Recipes to come...

May 19, 2011

Joy For Life Retreat - Part 3

One big happy family hey! Awww. I love it!
But in wrapping it all up (coz I'm itching to tell you guys about what I'm doing now) here are the last little tid-bits from my retreat away...

We continued the green smoothies of course, along with The Work with Tom which took us deeper and deeper into our own selves... the bare foot running crew were out in force each morning with Sergei getting the bodies moving and the fresh air into the lungs before yoga...

...even on the muddy days!

Valya did her smoothie demo which was FAB - letting us in on her hints and tips of GREAT smoothies versus those "don't serve them to anyone smoothies" we've all made at some point in time...

Psychadelic green pudding one evening... topped off with slices of kiwi and what's known to be the oldest citrus fruit in existence - Buddhas Hand.

Don't ask me why the "buddha" bit, but it does look like a freaky hand of some sort...

Sergei did a talk on wild edibles that got me SO PUMPED to go out and try more new greens that I've never had before (some I've never heard of)...

And before we knew it our wonderful week was over :(
We had our first "solid meal" of the week (minus the fruit binge at Tropical Fruit World) as our celebratory goodbye lunch; but to be honest I was feeling like a green smoothie! And then I saw the spread put before us and was more than happy to dig in!

It was perfect. Fresh. Crisp. Crunchy. And so so good!

There were hugs and kisses, songs of love and jokes of the week we all had and shared together.

Sergei, Valya and I. Beautiful beautiful people.

I will definatley be going again next year and already cannot wait! Joy for life. Friends for life. Health for life. Love for life.

May 17, 2011

Joy For Life Retreat - Part 2

Am I the world's slackest blogger? Life has been a whirlwind of finishing the college term, organising my holidays, still working etc etc etc that I've left you guys hanging with nothing but the lure of what tropical fruits I had during my trip to Tropical Fruit World...

It was Day 3 of retreat, we all jumped on the bus to head into town. I felt like I was on a school excursion! There was chatter and laughter as 60-odd of us sat and tried to split apples in half with our bare hands, as Sergei seemed to show us so effortlessly... I think maybe 3 of us managed to do it! Anyways, when we got into town and off-loaded from the bus, and like a kid in a lolly shop... I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into some of the things we were getting for our lunch...

 Ruby red dragonfruits...

Sweet and juicy custard apples...

Yellow dragonfruit! Yep I had never heard of it myself and I'm pretty sure it was everyone's favourite. Imagine passionfruit sorbet... YUM!

Then my favourite - and the one thing I knew was in season before heading north and the fruit I was telling Alex, Jain and Rosemary about all week. The mamey sapote. One of my all time favourite fruits. Put sweet potato/pumpkin pie together with the texture of avocadoes and you've got mamey sapotes. I absoultley LOVE this guy!

It was utter bliss :) The day was miserable, cold , wet and rainy but nothing could dampen my spirits as I sat there gorging on fresh tropical fruits. A few people didnt feel so good afterwards but being used to such a high fruit intake I felt AMAZING!

We were taken on a tour of the property after lunch and I had no idea how big this place was. I'm talking HUGE! We drove through checking out trees of fruits that I had never even heard of! Abiu, rollinias, babacos... amongst olive treees, manadrin trees, all different types of bananas, saoptes, apples, papayas, mangoes, massive jackfruits, coconuts... everything you could think of! There's even an entire undercover section devoted to Asian fruits alone!

We had a boat ride through the river watching ducks swim past, saw the Australian bush tucker fruit section, flew around on a mini train when we got to an island in the middle of the property... saw, patted and fed a horse, a donkey, chickens and a few other animals (yep, all still on the property), and then got back to the main entrance for one last hoorah - more fruit tastings!!
We all loaded back onto the bus, said goodbye to town, mobile phone reception, civilisation, and headed back to our little sanctuary to begin our Work again, and continue the detox (Grand Finale Part 3 still to come).