What I’ve Learnt from not Having a Car

It’s been about six months now that I’ve been living without a car. I mean, I do own one, its just sitting in a paddock somewhere in Wodonga quietly rusting until I save up enough to get it running again. Anyway, here in Brisbane I don’t have a car, so I’ve had to figure out how to get by without one.

20140710_004548000_iOS

It may seem like a completely daunting task for some (especially here in Brisbane, where most people I’ve spoken to would rather not use public transport), but honestly, it hasn’t been too bad. While I can’t just jump in a car and go to a shop, friend’s houses or restaurants on a whim, I’ve had to rely on public transport and my own two feet, and for the majority of the time its been a positive experience, so I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from it. Continue reading

Tea Fiend: Miranda’s Tea Guide – Ginger Tea

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I really really (REALLY) love tea. I love a hot cup of earl grey on a cold and slow morning, I love a bubbly and naturally sweet iced tea in the summer time, I love collecting new flavours and I even bathe in the stuff! But the thing I love most about tea is discovering the medicinal properties of the different herbs – meaning that you can drink specific teas to help your body do its thing!

From time to time, I’d like to explore with you these medicinal properties (goodness knows I need another reason to drink more tea, don’t I?) in my Tea Fiend series. Just remember, if you are going to explore these options, best to opt for organic tea (I’d be happy to give you a guide to my favourite brands within this series – just ask!), and don’t be afraid to try a pre-made blend (it will only taste better that way) or even experiment in blending stand-alone herbs that you like (you never know what you will come up with).

Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale)

(caffeine free)

Ginger is a gorgeous herb to drink in tea form – it’s got a sweetness and heat to it that can be matched easily with a variety of other teas, but on its own, it has fantastic medicinal properties.

For starters, the natural heat within ginger makes it a perfect natural winter warmer! If you get cold hands and toes, ginger is a fantastic herbal tea to drink throughout the day as it gets the blood flowing to really warm you from your head to your toes. This action of stimulating the blood flow can also stimulate the blood flow to your organs, such as those in your digestive system, to stimulate their function. The organs need an adequate blood supply in order to function properly, so stimulating the blood flow in your body can optimise the delivery of nutrients and removal of wastes to better the performance of your organs.

Ginger also benefits the digestive system by reducing nausea, (a safe and effective treatment for nausea in pregnancy) and motion sickness, and can reduce bloating by aiding the breakdown of food due to active digestive enzymes within the ginger. Drink some ginger tea in anticipation of motion sickness if it’s something you know you’re prone to, or as symptoms arise. If you’ve over eaten or haven’t properly chewed your food, or regularly feel bloated just below your rib cage (your stomach area), sipping ginger tea may be a beneficial remedy for you. It also stimulates digestive secretions required to breakdown food and as such has been shown to reduce reflux, flatulence and colic, as well as stimulate the appetite. To stimulate your appetite, brew yourself a cup 30 minutes before meals to gently get your digestive juices flowing, not only will you have an appetite, but you will be more able to breakdown and absorb those all-important nutrients I keep bangin on about!

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory food, meaning that it can be used to reduce the pain associated with common ailments, like period pain, headache, muscle pain and migraine. These conditions are associated with an overproduction of pro-inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins, which over-stimulate the natural inflammatory processes within the body, causing unnecessary damage to nearby tissues, and pain. Sipping on a brew with ginger in it throughout the day, may be of benefit.

[While ginger tea is a helpful tool for such conditions, an anti-inflammatory diet will have a more potent effect ('Ask Mira' at mirandaswellness@outlook.com or www.facebook.com/MirandasWellness if you'd like more info)]

The anti-inflammatory effect of ginger is also helpful during cold and flu, while the immune-boosting effects of ginger can help your body to fight off infections.

How to Brew

Infuse 4-6 fresh slices of ginger, or 3-9g dried ginger root in boiling water for 30 minutes and sip throughout the day. Best not to consume more than these amounts in one day.

Combinations

For nausea:

Brew a pot of 4-6 slices ginger with 1/4-1/2 cup fresh peppermint (or 3-9g dried ginger/6-12g dried peppermint), as both herbs are great for nausea. ***If prone to reflux however, leave out the peppermint as it will exacerbate symptoms***

For bloating/flatulence:

When feeling bloated after a meal or experiencing flatulence, a brew of 4-6 slices ginger and 1-2tsp chamomile can help the digestion of your food and to relieve the discomfort of bloating and flatulence

For inflammation:

Brew a ginger and turmeric chai tea, such as this gorgeous one from Reece Carter Naturopathy for relief within 30 minutes

For cold & flu:

Ginger slices, lemon slices, a sprig or two of thyme and a teaspoon of the strongest manuka honey you can buy (the bigger the number, the stronger it is) is a strong brew to boost your immune system and help to kill off microbes that are making you sick in the first place. The stronger the better for this tea, and best if sipped throughout the day. It may not be the most pleasant tea you’ve brewed, but it will definitely pack the punch you are after.

Thanks to Lyndal Martin from Life Loves Me Naturopathy, who was my resident herb-nerd for this piece.

Writer’s Block

I’m sitting here on my bed in my very messy room, coughing my guts up and struggling to come up with a topic for you guys. It’s 4.45pm on a Monday and I’ve walked the 50 minutes to The Valley, with a quick lunch break on the way, printed off resumes, spend 2 hours writing on a topic that I figured out will need more than a few hours to adequately cover (stay tuned), then walked the 50 minutes back home and I still don’t know what to write.

On my walk home I did come to the realisation that its been a while since I wrote something personal on here. In my goal to inspire you I forgot that this isn’t just about the way that I can help you, but (selfishly) the way that you can help me, which in its own way helps you.

Mira and Anna

The last year of my life has been a complete whirlwind, and while I’m enjoying the journey and learning and loving so much about myself along the way, I have to admit, it can get really hard. Now I’m not about to sit here and tell you hard my life is (because honestly, it really isn’t that bad), but it’s really important to me that I am my authentic self on here, because if I can’t do that, how can I possibly expect you to be interested in what I have to say? After all, this blog is called Miranda’s Wellness and my goal is to share my wellness journey with you as well as helping you with your own journey.

So lately, I have been rather disoriented. I finished a 4 1/2 year long chapter of my life, I’m unemployed, dirt poor, and still coming to terms with what it is to be single, as this is the first time I have really been single in my lifetime. I’m very lucky, because I have great friends, some who have also just finished the degree and truly are the only ones who get how I’m feeling, some who keep me company long-distance via text and social media, some who I live with and make me giggle every day, and some who are so generous with their time, their support, their love, their company and their listening. But despite all this, here I am, in the messy room I’ve been attempting to clean for a few weeks now, and still feeling stuck. The space of my room really is a representation of the space in my head – unorganized, cluttered and stagnant.

That’s not to say I’m not making progress, guys – on both my head and my room – slowly.

Strong feet

 

But when I say that you help me, I mean it! For starters, you ask for my help, my opinion and my knowledge, which helps because I’m forced to look at something new/unfamiliar or look at something from a new perspective. I don’t try to pretend that I know everything, I am and will always be learning, but when you engage with me it pushes my learning that bit further, which I love. Secondly, you make me accountable, because I know that if I want to help other people I must first help myself. Part of that is to make healthy choices, or have a healthy attitude about the choices that I do make, and it motivates me to make those choices if I can show them off on Instagram and Facebook (come on, we all do it!). And thirdly, I get to see the things you do or eat or make when you post them on my wall, use my Instagram tag (#mirandaswellness) or tag me, which not only gives me fab ideas, but it makes me proud to see that a. you associate the healthy things you do with me (very freakin cool) and b. you want to share these positive parts of your life with little ol’ me (even more freakin cool!) and it spurs me ever further.

The thing is that what I want to show you that, hey! I’m human too! And I think that so far I’ve been fairly successful with this. My Instagram account @mirandaswellness is my personal and only Instagram account, so I post everything on there, the green smoothies, the chocolate cake, the yoga, the tea, the festivals, the beer! Being congruent in my lifestyle is very important to me, but I refuse to pretend that I am perfect – it just doesn’t sit well with me because I know that I’m not. We all have an ideal person we can see ourselves being, and some people are better at being that person than others. All I know is that, for me, I’ve realised and accepted that every day there is a part of me that wants to sit in front of the TV eating piles of cheese and chocolate all day, and some days that part of me is very big, most days its small, but its always there. All I can do is force myself to remember the positive things that I feel when I make better choices and if I do give in, not to beat myself up about it or let it ruin my day, and also, not to let myself get away with too much *insert fatty cheeky gluttonous Miranda face here*.

Dorky tea face

Another thing I will also say is that I don’t buy in to those fitspo “what’s your excuse?” posts out there. If they work for you, that’s brilliant, but I’m not the sort of person who gets positive motivation out of stuff like that, and I just want to say that if you are also someone who ends up beating themselves up because you see posts like that, just don’t subscribe to that bullshit. You know you, you know what works for you and what doesn’t, and you know how to improve the things about yourself that you want to. I’m all for tough love, but I’d rather read something empowering about how you are a total babe just as you are and if you want to be healthy because its good for the person that you are, not for the way that you look, then please, go forth and run, squat, dance, cycle, lift, do whatever. And if you can’t find anything that says as much, then here:

YOU, my friend, are a TOTAL FREAKING BABE!

So there you go, I was lost, but I found my rant in the end. I hope it makes sense to you, or at the very least made you love yourself a little more.

Ballin Mira

Going With Your Gut – Caring for Your Digestive System Part 2: Your Oh-So Important Oesophagus

Your gut is one of the most important systems in your body (and let’s be honest, my personal favourite – you guys should know I’m nerdy enough to have a favourite system by now, surely!). Your gut (digestive system) is where your food is broken down from the delicious morsels you gobble up every day, into the nutrients that are then absorbed and used by your body to build every cell and perform every function.

The Oesophagus

 

Oesophagus lady 2

Your oesophagus is the tube responsible for the passage of food from your mouth to your stomach. While it seems like a pretty mundane function, the tube lies flat, behind your larynx (the tube you breathe through) and in order for the food to travel down it instead of your larynx, the complex function of swallowing has to occur.

Firstly, the tongue pushes the chewed food up and back in the mouth, while your uvula (the dongly looking thing at the back of your mouth) moves up to stop food going up the back of your nose, and the epiglottis (great word! And also a flap of cartilage) covers the entrance of the larynx to prevent you choking on it (what a handy dude, that epiglottis!). The food then moves from your oral cavity through the upper oesophageal sphincter into your oesophagus, where the smooth muscles in the wall of your oesophagus constrict in progression, pushing the food down toward the lower oesophageal sphincter – the entrance to your stomach – a muscle which relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach. If you put your hands on your throat and swallow, you will be able to feel the upper part of this in action.

Caring for Your Oesophagus

Bunny chews gif

- CHEW CHEW CHEW your food! As I talked about at length in Part 1 of the Going with Your Gut series chewing is an essential part of digestion. However for the oesophagus, it is important for different reasons. Chewing your food at least 15-20 times per mouthful and being mindful and aware of the food you are eating firstly will stop you from choking! Do you rush when you eat your food? And when you do, have you noticed it getting either stuck (corn chips are probably the worst culprit for this) or that you start choking on your food? Chewing and slowing down are great and simple ways to prevent this (and I’d rather you didn’t die guys, for some strange reason) and helps your saliva to bond to the food to make it slippery enough to make a smooth journey to your stomach.

Reflux

While the structure of the oesophagus is designed to withstand the regular friction of swallowing, it can be damaged when reflux allows the passage of food and stomach acid back up into the oesophagus from the stomach, which can irritate the wall of the oesophagus, resulting in a burning sensation – heartburn – and if left untreated, can permanently damage the oesophageal tissue. I have written an article on natural solutions for heart burn, which I wont repeat here, but if it is something you suffer from, be sure to take a look.

- SLIPPERY ELM is a powdered tree bark that contains fibre, vitamin C, zinc, other nutrients and tannins, and is incredibly soothing to any irritated and inflamed tissue in the digestive tract. If you suffer from reflux, drinking a large glass with 1 heaped teaspoon of slippery elm thoroughly mixed in, every day, can reduce the irritation and help the tissue to heal. The remedy was originally used by Native Americans and I’ve seen it in the health food section of supermarkets, as well as health food stores. I mean, it tastes like river water, but its a whole 5 seconds of your day to drink it, so wash the rest down with water and move on, its completely worth it!

- TURMERIC is a wonder herb that is hard not to love once you realise how powerful it is. I often use this when I have inflammation and have noticed results within 20 minutes of having it. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb, so it’s another one that is great for oesophageal inflammation (such as that from reflux, Barrett’s Oesophagitis, oesophageal ulcer), because it gets to work topically as soon as you swallow it down. My favourite way to include it is to brew a lovely chai on almond milk using freshly grated turmeric, or in curries, like chicken laksa. Make sure when you have turmeric to ensure you have it with some sort of fat (coconut oil/cream, milk, almond milk) and/or black pepper, to help it absorb.

Look out for next weeks Going with Your Gut blog, all about the stomach

Going with your Gut – Caring for your Digestive System Part 1: The Mouth

Your gut is one of the most important systems in your body (and let’s be honest, my personal favourite – you guys should know I’m nerdy enough to have a favourite system by now, surely!). Your gut (digestive system) is where your food is broken down from the delicious morsels you gobble up every day, into the nutrients that are then absorbed and used by your body to build every cell and perform every function.

The Mouth

The first section of this fabulous system, is the mouth. The digestion of food begins here in two main ways; mechanically and chemically.

Mechanical Digestion

Mechanical digestion refers to the breakdown of food by chewing. This vital process tears and chomps your food into smaller particles so that it is easier for the rest of your body to digest it into nutrients, ready for absorption. Chewing is unfortunately something that we often dismiss because in our busy lives, who has time to chew?! But in reality, if we don’t take that time to chew, the rest of our digestion has to work a lot harder to break down our food, and often, when we don’t, that beautiful food passes all the way through and the nutrients are wasted. 

Chemical Digestion

Chemical digestion refers to the enzymes in our saliva that start to digest our food in the mouth. When you think of the phrase “mouth-watering” that is your senses stimulating the release of these chemicals and getting your body ready for the food you are about to consume. This is an important process that is supported by giving yourself the time to enjoy and be aware of your food. By putting away the distractions of TV, smart phones, computers and tablets and instead sitting down with family and friends (or even on your own) to enjoy your meal, you are allowing your senses to anticipate and thoroughly relish the thought, sight, smell, taste and texture of your food, all of which encourage the release of digestive chemicals in your mouth (and the rest of your digestive system) and begin the breakdown of your food.

Caring for your Mouth

  • BRUSH YOUR TEETH – Morning and night. Your teeth are essential for chewing, aren’t they? So make sure you brush (and even floss) your teeth to remove all the chunks of food and sugar residue that will feed cavity causing bacteria. It’s basic advice because it should be! If you lose your teeth, you lose this vital process that begins the digestion of your food, and as delicious as smoothies can be, I sure don’t want to live on a liquid diet, do you? 

  • EAT IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT. Remember to give your attention to all your senses by being involved in the preparation of your food, letting yourself salivate about it and while eating, keep away from distractions like TV, computer and your smart phone that can get in the way of that all important stimulation of enzymes.
  • CHEW EACH MOUTHFUL at least 15-20 times. If you find this too difficult, put down your knife and fork after you put each mouthful in your gob and don’t pick them up again until you’ve chewed it properly. The rest of your digestive system will thank you. Here is a dorky video of me:

It’s broccoli and hummus, in case you are wondering – great snack!

  • REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE – in fact, cut out any sugar that isn’t a part of a whole food, like a fruit or a vegetable. Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Next time you’re craving a sugar fix, ask yourself if having teeth is important to you, then cut up an apple into wedges and dip it into some nut butter instead.
  • OIL PULLING– this is the Ayervedic practice of swooshing oil around your mouth for up to 20 minutes each morning (extra virgin unrefined coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and tastes lovely, so is a great one to try) to help the removal of toxins and bacteria. It can actually be quite an effort to swoosh it around, so you may need to slowly work up to 20 minutes. But if you have an issue with bacteria (gum disease, gingivitis) or would like to help detoxify your body, why not give it a try? See Mind Body Green for more information.
  • EAT FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN C AND ZINC, especially if you are prone to ulcers or colds! These lovely nutrients help the healing of tissues, and are especially required by those in the mouth due to the rapid regeneration of cells that make up the tissues there. Plenty of fresh and raw vegetables and fruits, such as red capsicum, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, berries, kiwi fruit and citrus fruits will provide you with vitamin C, while pumpkin seeds/pepitas, fish, oysters, beef, lamb, cashews, mushrooms and beans such as red kidney and black beans will give you plenty of zinc.

  • EAT A DIET FULL OF CALCIUM rich foods to keep your teeth nice and strong. Almonds, chia seeds, broccoli, dates, red kidney beans, tinned red salmon and sardines (including the bones), bone broth, sesame seeds and tahini, and full fat pot-set yoghurt are all delicious sources of calcium that can easily be added to your diet and give it plenty of flavour. Try adding 2tbl of chia seeds to a serve of homemade muesli, with some chopped raw almonds, pot-set yoghurt and plenty of fresh fruits.
  • REPLACE SOFT DRINKS AND JUICES with good old fashioned water or you could try teas, such as green tea, chamomile, liquorice, cinnamon, rose, clove, aniseed or thyme. These teas specifically have antimicrobial properties, meaning they discourage and wash away harmful bacteria that can contribute to cavities and infections. Soft drinks are highly acidic because of all those bubbles, which can erode the enamel of your teeth and break down the minerals that give them their strength. In addition, the sugar and high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks and fruit juices, again feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay, or the bacteria that can cause infection.

  • QUIT SMOKING – tar and cancer-causing chemicals inhaled from tobacco smoke can cause the growth of lesions in the mouth (some pre-cancerous). Smoking can also worsen gum disease by reducing blood flow to the gums which reduces the healing potential of the area. Tobacco smoking stains the teeth, which roughens the surfaces, allowing bacteria to build up on the teeth, further contributing to gum disease and cavities.

DON’T FORGET

Enter my competition to win one of TWELVE wellness packs, including massage, vegan skin care, personal training, naturopathy and my very own goodie bag!

Head to www.facebook.com/MirandasWellness to enter

photo(1)

The Truth About Milk Permeate

Wellspring Milk Permeate

I was asked  to another feature for Endeavour College of Natural Health’s Wellspring blog, this time for information on milk permeate. A few brands have come out lately advertising their milk as permeate-free, but I was never sure what it was permeate was referring to, and I was wondering whether or not there were any health benefits of opting for permeate free milk.

For all the info, check out the link by clicking the photo above.

Mira’s Salads Guide

How to create a healthy salad that tastes great!

Salads are one of the best ways to get lots of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other phytochemicals into your diet, that are all important for each process that occurs in your body. They are also low calorie, incredibly tasty and so, so easy to make!

When making your salad, keep in mind that it should take up at least half the size of your plate and be the majority of your meal. Your protein (meat, chicken, fish, legumes) should be the size of a deck of cards (double if you are a very active and athletic person), as should your carbohydrates.

This is a step-by-step guide to help you create a delicious salad with a range of different nutrients to give your health a boost.

Fresh salad with grilled kangaroo steak and sauerkraut

Fresh salad with grilled kangaroo steak and sauerkraut

1. Don’t be so radicchio – STEP AWAY from the iceberg lettuce!!

Start with your lettuces – rocket, spinach, radicchio, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, chinese broccoli, red cabbage, endive, wombok, green, red, whatever!

A nice mix of leaves will give you a variety of nutrients, and the more bitter they taste, the more stimulating they are to your digestion. Aim for at least a cup of these.

2. Add at least 3 fresh, raw vegetables

Choose fresh veggies you know that you enjoy and cut them into bite-sized pieces – the more colour the better! Experiment with how you cut your vegies to make them a bit more exciting, such as peeling long thin strips of zucchini or cucumber, grating some carrot or radish, melon balling some avocado or chopping your vegetables into matchsticks.

Cucumber, grated carrot (orange and purple), celery, snow peas, avocado, capsicum (any colour), broccoli, onion (red, spring, shallots, etc), red cabbage, tomato, sprouts (bean, alfalfa, garlic, onion, watercress, etc), orange, apple, pear, grated beetroot, green beans, wombok, kale, grapes, zucchini

My Asian Ribbon Salad with strips of carrot and zucchini, chicken breast and a spicy dressing

My Asian Ribbon Salad with strips of carrot and zucchini, chicken breast and a spicy dressing

3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of seeds and/or chopped raw nuts

Seeds and nuts provide more minerals, good fats, fibre and protein to your salad, and a crunchy texture.

Walnuts, chia seeds, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, flax/linseeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts, cashews, macadamia, pistachio, hazelnuts

4. Choose your protein

Protein should be a part of every meal, including snacks! Protein is essential for energy and neurotransmitter production (so it keeps you going and keeps you happy!) If you’re mixing this into your salad, don’t forget to chop it into bite-sized chunks.

Egg, mackerel, kangaroo steak, kidney beans, tempeh, tofu, chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb, beef, sardines, quinoa, crab, prawns, chickpeas, tinned or fresh tuna, lentils, smoked trout, smoked salmon, felafel

Don’t forget to add a carbohydrate source (1/2 cup)  (buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, barley, lentils, chickpeas, beans, potato, sweet potato) if you choose a vegetarian option, to make sure you provide your body with a complete amino acid profile.

5. Be adventurous

Now add at least 1 ingredient that you’ve either never tried before, wouldn’t usually think of as a salad ingredient, or haven’t eaten in a long time, because you think you don’t like it – you might surprise yourself! By doing this you are exposing your tastebuds to new flavours, and giving yourself more options for nourishing yourself in the future

Sauerkraut, sprouts, tomato, quinoa, cucumber, celery, pear, a new lettuce, radish, buckwheat, red onion, fennel, a new nut/seed/pulse/vegetable/fruit, chia seeds, tinned tuna, burghul wheat, parsley, olives, watermelon, raw zucchini

Tinned tuna gets friendly with avocado and fresh parsley, lemon juice and Australian extra virgin olive oil

Tinned tuna gets friendly with avocado and fresh parsley, lemon juice and Australian extra virgin olive oil

6. Get creative with herbs (and spices)

If you still aren’t convinced that your salad is going to be super delicious, play around with herbs, for more flavour (and nutrients) - fresh basil always goes well in a salad, but try something new:

Parsley, oregano, rosemary, coriander, chilli, garlic, marjoram, ginger, cracked pepper, chive, thyme, dill, fennel, horseradish, mint, lemon thyme, lemon, mustard, tumeric, lemongrass

You may like to add these straight into your salad, or spike your salad dressing to carry the flavour through.

7. Dress it up!

Always choose cold-pressed oil, and lightly drizzle with something acidic. You shouldn’t need more than 1Tbl of each.

My favourite combination is extra virgin olive oil (Aussie olive oil is always best!) with a wedge of lemon & cracked pepper.

You could also try:

OILS: chia oil, avocado oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil

ACIDS: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, verjuice, red wine vinegar, vino cotto, fresh lime, fresh orange, fresh lemon

DON’T FORGET!

While enjoying your salad, to chew it up adequately (aim for 20 chews per mouthful) so that you can get as much goodness out of it as possible.

So, start with something you know you like and add new ingredients to create your perfect salad – easy!

Good luck! And don’t forget to let me know how you go, and if you have any questions.