The Inaugural Australian AIP Supper Club


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The Nutritionista, TSL and Paleo PI

This is a big post for me. HUGE! I’m stepping out from behind my TSL cloak after almost 3 years of being vaguely anonymous in blog-land, and here I am! Nope, not the tall, glam’ one on the left – that’s the lovely Kirstie of The Nutritionista fame. And no, not the cute happy-looking dude on the right – that’s Rory from the very cool The Paleo PI blog. Me, I’m the one with dimples in the middle. TSL in the flesh!

On Saturday evening, the three of us got together for the inaugural Australian AIP Supper Club. (If you’d like to learn more about the Autoimmune Protocol, check out this post.)

It was kind of big deal, too. While we had communicated in cyber-world for some time, we had never actually met. And, it involved a plane trip for Rory, who hails from Canberra. Bless him – he carefully packed his homemade and AIP-compliant guacamole and crudités to travel interstate. That’s dedication!

This AIP caper has been life changing for all of us. But, it’s fair to say it’s not the most well-travelled path to choose.

Although, that is changing as awareness of how diet and lifestyle affect our health grows.

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. (Oprah Winfrey)

And, being committed to a regime like the Autoimmune Protocol can be a little socially isolating. It is almost impossible to dine out when in the strict elimination phase. And, it’s not uncommon for even the closest of friends to become (understandably) a little frustrated with the dietary restrictions.

So, that makes it all the more exciting when you become part of a tribe who understands the challenges you face.

We had a super evening sharing our knowledge and experiences. And by ‘we’, I also mean LM and Wayland, partner to Kirstie.

So much so, that if sleep wasn’t such a priority for all of us, we might have talked all night!

TSL AIP Dinner

Kirstie – ‘the Nutritionista’, LM, Kirstie’s partner, Wayland and Rory – ‘the Paleo PI’ nearer the end of our inaugural AIP gab-fest!
(Image by TSL)

The idea for our supper club meet-up came directly from Sarah Ballantyne, the Paleo Mom herself. Sarah’s recently launched Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-book aims to address some of the feelings of isolation that are part and parcel of any elimination protocol.

And, if our wee group are anything to go by, it’s a fantastic concept.

There’s something quite lovely about being able to talk all things AIP with people who understand the challenges.

And, in case you’re wondering, here’s what we ate…

Rory made the flying Guacamole with crudités

The Paleo Mom Guacamole

Guacamole and crudités
(Recipe and Image from The Paleo Mom)

TSL made slow cooked pork with apple sauce and bone broth gravy, fennel, celery and pomegranate salad, kohlrabi ‘slaw, and roasted sweet potatoes (not shown)

TSL Slow Cooked Pork Neck

Easy-Peasy Slow Cooked Pork Neck
(Recipe and Image from This Sydney Life)

TSL Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad
(Recipe and image from This Sydney Life)

TSL Kohlrabi Slaw

Kohlrabi, Carrot & Apple ‘Slaw
(Recipe and image from This Sydney Life)

And, Kirstie whipped up some carob ganache served with mixed berries.

The Paleo Mom Carob Ganache

Carob Ganache with berries
(Recipe and image from the Paleo Mom)

We all agreed that this is the first of many get togethers.

If you are following the Autoimmune Protocol and live in Sydney or Canberra, and would like to join our next get together, please feel free to drop me a line via my contacts page.

Tom Tom’s Take on Aussie Burgers With Sweet Potato Fries


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TSL Tom Tom Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here. This recipe contains eggs, mustard and black pepper – all ingredients that are part of the reintroduction phase of the protocol.

The teenager is practically an adult.

A few weeks back, he indicated that it might be time that he expanded his cooking repertoire. As someone who loves to cook AND eat good food, I couldn’t have been happier.

I’ve been telling him for years that I don’t know a woman who isn’t impressed with a man who knows his way around a kitchen. And, I’m sure his girlfriend won’t mind me mentioning that I suspect she was a big motivator in this recent desire to cook.

Credit where it is due!

“If you knew how to cook, maybe I would eat,” Jace muttered.

Isabelle froze, her spoon poised dangerously. “What did you say?”

Jace edged toward the fridge. “I said I’m going to look for a snack to eat.”

That’s what I thought you said.” Isabelle turned her attention to the soup.”  (Cassandra Clare, ‘City of Bones’)

So, we locked in a night for a cooking session. That was Wednesday night. And, the girlfriend came, too. It was a lot of fun.

I figured that one of my staple slow cooked numbers wasn’t going to cut it this time. Easy to make – yes. Fast – nope. And, in my experience, most teenagers don’t have the longest of attention spans.

So, for this cooking lesson, I decided on burgers. What teenager doesn’t love a burger?

Mince (or ground beef) is an inexpensive and versatile choice of meat. Great for students. Burgers are quick to make and allow for lots of experimentation – classic beef burgers (a little like these babies); or perhaps – lamb mince with mint and a cucumber/yogurt topping for more of a Greek flavour; or even some chicken mince with coriander and a sweet chilli sauce for an Asian inspired burger.

The possibilities are almost endless!

Tom Tom (the teenager) is a big fan of my sweet potato fries. They are a much healthier choice than the traditional deep-fried version. They’re also a doddle to make.

And, what’s a burger without fries, really?

 I’m normally a burger and chips girl – such a cheap date. (Sheridan Smith)

So these burgers are made by Tom Tom. He did all the slicing and dicing. He made the burger patties and mashed the avocado. And, LM manned the barbecue. It was a male-dominated cooking affair at Casa TSL on Wednesday night. And, it was fantastic!

And, if you’re reading this Tom Tom, you’re welcome to cook for me anytime!

There is one small matter that I feel needs to be tabled before I give you Tom Tom’s burger recipe. Traditionally, an ‘Aussie burger’ will include sliced beetroot. Possibly a fried egg.

But, here’s the thing: I’m a Kiwi. And, in New Zealand, we reckon that’s called a ‘Kiwi burger’. So this burger is our version of an Aussie burger. The Tom Tom burger. We think it tastes great!

Tom Tom's Aussie Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: a teenager can make it!
  • Print

TSL Tom Tom Burger


For the burgers:

500g happy beef mince
500g happy pork or veal mince
1 x egg yolk
1 x large handful parsley, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 x small tin pineapple rounds
2 x ripe avocados
1 x lime, juiced
6 x rashers happy bacon

For the sweet potato fries:

6 large sweet potatoes
3 – 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon TSL House Sweet Potato Fries Seasoning (recipe follows)

TSL’s House Sweet Potato Fries Seasoning:

4 x Tablespoons salt
1 x Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 x Tablespoon garlic powder
1 x Tablespoon dried herbs (I used half basil, half oregano)


1. Heat your oven to 230°C (that’s 450°F). Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine your mince, egg yolk, parsley, red onion, garlic, and optional mustard. Get your hands in there and give it a good massage. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Form six patties out of the beef mixture. Pop into the fridge for while you prepare your fries. You can turn the barbecue on now to heat.

4. Peel and slice your sweet potatoes into 1/2 cm slices. Now, take the slices and cut into 1/2 cm wide fries. Throw your raw sweet potato fries into a large bowl. Toss with just enough coconut oil to coat. Sprinkle with House Seasoning and give the bowl a good jiggle to coat.

5. Spread your sweet potatoes in single layer on the lined baking trays. It’s important that you don’t overcrowd (soggy fries – no bueno!).

6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until your fries are tender and golden brown, turning and rotating the trays occasionally.

7. While the fries are baking, pop the patties onto your barbecue for 5 to 6 minutes per side over a medium-high heat. Now’s the time to cook the bacon, too.

8. If you’re having pineapple, grill slices for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

9. peel and mash your avocado. Add a squeeze of lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

10. To assemble the burgers, top each patty with the smashed avocado, grilled pineapple, fried eggs, and any other toppings you may choose.

For the House Seasoning:

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Will keep for up to 6 months.

E N J O Y !



SEXY-UGLY Prune and Orange Cookies


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TSL Prune and Orange Cookie

(Image by TSL)

sexy ugly
Someone not considered conventionally good-looking (or any kind of good-looking in some cases), but possesses an appealing personality, style, or talent, and is thus considered sexually attractive by many.

First coined by the movie, ‘Kissing Jessica Stein.’

Here’s the thing, I haven’t really done that much baking since I started this whole autoimmune protocol kick. When you’re off all grains, nuts, seeds AND eggs (among other things) – it does limit your options considerably when it comes to making sweet treats.

There is no education like adversity. (Benjamin Disraeli)

You have Healing Family Eats to thank for these wee babies. Earlier in the month she featured a gorgeous looking recipe for her Apricot N’Oatmeal Cookies. Frankly, I’ve been thinking about them on and off since I first saw the post.

I’ve become known as the ‘queen of balls’ in my neck of the woods, of late. Everybody asks for them.

And, just in case your wee mind is not on the same page as mine, I’m referring to those spherical objects commonly referred to as ‘Bliss Balls’. They’re a handy snack full of nuts and a bit of dried fruit, sometimes some flavouring like chocolate or coconut. Ever since I successfully reintroduced activated (soaked) nuts, I always have a few in the fridge. And, they’re both easy to make and seriously more-ish – when you get the ratios right. I think my most successful are my Jaffa Balls.

But sometimes a girl needs a change. And, I kept thinking about those cookies from over at Healing Family Eats

TSLSexy Ugly Prune and Orange Cookies

Sexy Ugly Prune and Orange Cookies
(Image by TSL)

The thing is, when I went to my pantry to check for all the ingredients, I was missing the dried apricots. Sometimes delayed gratification just won’t cut it. And, necessity apparently being the mother of all invention, and all – this is what I came up with.

My wee sexy-ugly cookies certainly don’t look as pretty as the originals. But, they taste fab’! And, they can be whipped up in no time.

And – they were my very first attempt at egg-free baking. Moderately excited about that!

Try them and tell me what you think?

SEXY UGLY Prune and Orange Cookies

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: SUPER easy.
  • Print

TSL Prune and Orange Cookies


1 x cup desiccated coconut
2 x Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup organic prunes
zest of an orange
1 x Tablespoon gelatine
1 x Tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 x Tablespoon very hot water


1. Heat your oven to 180° F/350° C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Pop your desiccated coconut, coconut oil, prunes and orange zest into your food processor. Blitz until thoroughly combined.

3. Pop the gelatine into a small bowl. Add your orange juice. Mix well until combined. Working quickly, add your hot water and whisk until the gelatine has completed melted.

4. Turn on your processor and pour the orange juice and gelatine mixture through the feeding tube. It will only take a couple of seconds to mix it through.

5. Using a tablespoon as a measure, take spoonfuls of the mixture and pop onto the baking sheet. Flatten carefully with a fork.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool completely (they will firm up as they cool).

E N J O Y !

If you don’t eat all your cookies at once, they will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.


FANTASTIC Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad


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TSL Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad

(Image by TSL)      

Fun fact #1 about pomegranates: Pomegranates are awesome.
Fun fact #2: Pomegranates are like little explosions of awesome in your mouth.
Fun fact #3: A lot of people think you’re not supposed to eat the seeds of a pomegranate – but that’s not true, people who tell you that are liars, and they don’t know anything about life, and they should never be trusted. (Tahereh Mafi)

This post comes to you largely because of the lovely Erin over at Enjoying This Journey.

Erin and I have never met in the real world. And, it is entirely possible that we never will. She lives with her family on a wee homestead in the U.S. And, I live in a wee townhouse in central Sydney. But, still – she is my friend. My blogging friend. And, we both happen to follow the Autoimmune Protocol.

I love this blogging world that has opened up to me over the past few years. I love the fact that I have connected with people all over the world. And, I love that I have connected with some who are not so far away, too. It’s bloody brilliant!

Back to Erin and her pomegranates. Erin loves pomegranates. I get the feeling they may even be her favourite food. And, I will admit that I find them hard to resist, too – their beautiful, jewel tones coupled with their bursts of intense flavour in your mouth (channelling Nigella Lawson!). There’s something festive about them, too.

And, they’re even good for you – arguably the most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits with seriously potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects. True!

A pomegranate is filled with rubies when you open it up. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend – but not for me. I love rubies; they’re great over necks, you know. (Lynda Resnick)

Erin is collecting pomegranate recipes.

And, even though it’s completely the wrong time of year for her to be thinking about summer salads up there in the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d give her a wee something to bookmark for later.

Because, I am definitely thinking of salads down here. We’re having a very hot start to summer…

This little number is fresh and crunchy. It’s the perfect counterpart to my Slow Cooked Pork Neck (which is on permanent rotation around here), but would be equally good at a barbecue, too.

TSLFennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad
(Image by TSL)

I picked up some gorgeous looking organic fennel at the markets on Saturday. And, rather than braising or roasting it, this time I thought fresh might just be best.

I got the LM two thumbs up. Always a good sign!

And, normally, I would have used my mandolin for all the slicing involved. But this time, I did all my chopping, slicing and dicing by hand. Just to see if I could. And it worked. Quite a calming process, really…

FANTASTIC Fennel, Celery, Apple & Pomegranate Salad

  • Servings: 4-ish
  • Time: 45 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: REALLY easy. Even easier with a mandolin
  • Print

TSL Fennel, Celery, Apple and Pomegranate Salad


3 x small/medium fennel bulbs
3 – 4 celery stalks
Leaves from 3 – 4 stalks of celery
1 x Fuji or Gala apple
1 x shallot
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate (or more if you’re greedy like me)
Zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper (omit black pepper for strict AIP)


1. Wash and thinly slice your fennel and celery. Peel and thinly slice your shallot. Wash, core and slice your apple into match sticks. Coarsely chop your celery leaves and parsley. Throw all your chopped ingredients and lime zest into a large salad bowl. Mix with your hands.

2. Add your lime juice and EVOO to the bowl. Toss through.

3. Check for seasoning. Top your salad with the pomegranate seeds.

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix recipe roundtable.

Why You Should Start Keeping a Food Journal to Improve Your Gut Health


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TSL Food Journal

So, I’m currently taking part in an online course through the University of Colorado – Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome. It’s fascinating.

Gut health is the key to overall health. (Kris Carr)

As a result of receiving some really poor health test results, I wrote about all disease beginning in the gut back in June. At around the same time, information about this wee course somehow magically turned up in my in-box. It seemed like someone, somewhere was sending me a message! So, I signed up.

Why do I care so much about my micro biome? – And why should you?

Well, it turns out our microbes train our immune system. They definitely affect our health and it is very likely they influence our behaviour, too.

As a human being, you have around 10 trillion human cells. Pretty amazing.

Even more amazing is that you have around 100 trillion microbial cells.

And, what’s even more amazing is that the differences in the human genome (the genes that make us human) between any two human beings are microscopic in comparison to the differences the microbiota of the same two human beings. How different? We share 99.99% of our human genome and only 10% of our microbiota. WOW.

THAT’S why I care so much about my microbiome.

But what can a lay person do to improve gut health?

Well, there are several factors which influence the make-up of your gut microbiota:-

- age
– diet
– antibiotic usage
– genetics
– physiology

There’s not much any of us can do about age. And, the same is true of our genetics and any previous antibiotic usage.

What we can control is what we eat and how we choose to live moving forward – which affects our physiology, too.

We all know the basics (and it is beyond the scope of this wee post to go into great detail about specifics) but, needless to say – increasing your fresh vegetable intake, choosing pasture raised animal protein, reducing processed food and sugar, swapping out soda for water, moving and getting some sun daily, and ensuring you’re getting quality sleep are all key.

All these bacteria that coat our skin and live in our intestines, they fend off bad bacteria. They protect us. And you can’t even digest your food without the bacteria that are in your gut. They have enzymes and proteins that allow you to metabolize foods you eat. (Bonnie Bassler)

And, conveniently, that brings me back in a lovely circle to why I’ve chosen to follow the autoimmune protocol. You already know that the protocol is a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system.

But, it’s more than that. It also helps break down other areas of your life into manageable chunks so that you can effect change that improves your health. And this includes gut health. Things like improving sleep, relaxing/managing stress, moving, improving your mood, and more…

As part of my AIP ‘reintroduction of food’ caper, I keep a food journal. In addition to tracking everything I eat, I also track my health, sleep, exercise, mood and stress levels and – at the risk of over-sharing – my bathroom habits, too.

Sure. In the beginning, like many new things, it was a drag. But now it has become almost second nature.

And, it is surprisingly helpful.

Want to know why you should keep a food journal?

Keeping a journal will show you exactly what goes into your mouth each day. You might think that you know exactly what you eat everyday. If so, I’m pretty confident you don’t. I can tell you that writing down what you eat guarantees you know exactly what you’re eating. Every little bit. 

A Food Journal Can Show You What You Need To Eat. Even if you think you’re getting enough vegetables, you may find you’re not. Conversely, you may find you’re really eating far more sugar or processed foods than you thought – and, now you need to cut back.

As part of the Uni of Colorado course, I tracked my average daily intake of foods for 10 days. This is what my food intake currently looks like:

TSL Food Intake

Keeping a Food Diary – My Average Food Intake After 10 Days
In terms of traditional food groups, I am off all grains, legumes, dairy and eggs. The ‘other’ splinter in pink is dark chocolate!
(Image by TSL)

Your Food Journal Can Help You Plan Your Meals. We all know we should be eating a variety of foods. Particularly vegetables. And, most of us are guilty of sticking to the tried and true. Keeping a food journal allows you to see just how ‘stuck in a rut you might be’. At first, you will use your food diary to keep track of the meals that you eat. But over time, I find I use my journal to plan out meals in order to create a more balanced diet. A good example of how this works is my effort to eat liver once a week. I can quickly tell how on target I am with that goal.

Your Food Journal Will Keep You on Honest. Strange but true. And, even better, over time, your food journal will actually make you want to eat healthier. Every time you write down a food you know is unhealthy, you’ll want to avoid doing it in the future.

Tracking allows you to monitor what’s working and what’s not. Over time, if you have a reaction to something, it is much easier to pin it down to the source when you can see what you have eaten on any given day. And, then you can effect change to prevent it happening again. This is especially true when reintroducing foods on the autoimmune protocol. It’s also how I worked out – very quickly that carob is not my friend.

What do you think about keeping a food journal?

Is it something you would consider?



Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi 2014


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TSL Sculpture by the Sea

‘Wind Stone the Threshold of Consciousness’ by Koichi Ishino
(Image by TSL)

If you’re new to Sculpture by the Sea – it’s well worth a look-see if you’re visiting Sydney. It’s held every October/November along the gorgeous Bondi – Tamarama coastal walk. The natural beauty of the coastline is majestic in itself, but then with the addition of large-scale pieces of sculptural art – just wow!

Small admission: LM took me to Sculpture by the Sea on our first ever date together. It was a scorching hot Sydney day. The kind that we’ve been experiencing again lately. Temperatures well into the 30’s (that’s 90’s if you think in fahrenheit!) 

We now go every year together. It has become one of our ‘traditions’. And, of course the fluff-bucket joins us, too. It would feel really weird not to go.

We get up early and go before the crowds arrive. I’m not so great with crowds.

And, just in case you’re wondering how this post fits in with my autoimmune protocol regime, well – it slots right in there under managing stress, protecting my circadian rhythms, getting low-intensity activity AND improving my environment! Checking out the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition makes me happy.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. (William James)

So, this year, LM took all the photos. He’s so much more patient than I about the increasing numbers of people who have the same idea as us – get up early to beat the crowds.

And so, without further ado, the annual TSL Sculpture by the Sea photo montage:

TSL Big Man

‘Big Man’ by Will Maggiore
Hot forged steel

TSL Currawong

‘Currawong’ by Lou Lambert
Hard woods, wire, rope, copper

TSL Crossing the Sky By Boat

TSL Crossing the Sky By Boat

Two Perspectives on ‘Crossing the Sky by Boat’ by Peter Tilley
Cast iron, corten Steel

A little perspective, like a little humour, goes a long way. (Allen Klein)

TSL Sentinels

‘Sentinels’ by Julie Donnelly

TSL Save Our Souls

‘Save Our Souls’ by Cave Urban
Bamboo, steel, rope, concrete, LED lights

TSL Ring + Permanent Sunrise

Foreground: ‘Ring’ by Peter Lundberg
Cast bronze
Background: ‘Permanent Sunrise’ by Alejandro Propato
Steel pipes, nylon wire, steel wire

TSL Ornithopter

‘Ornithopter’ by Sam Deal
Found objects, recycled material

TSL Sisyphus

‘Sisyphus’ by George Andric
316 grade stainless steel

TSL The Figure in the Landscape

‘The Figure in the Landscape’ by John Petrie

TSL Men Playing with Birds

‘Men Playing with Birds’ by Wang Shugang
Painted bronze

TSL Gift of the Rhinoceros

‘Gift of the Rhinoceros’ by Mikaela Castledine
Polypropylene fibre, aluminium

TSL Headrest

‘Headrest’ by Michael Le Grand
Painted Steel

TSL Evidence Based Research - Crossing the Line

‘Evidence Based Research – Crossing the Line’ by Julie Collins & Derek John
Timber, Steel, Industrial polyurethane

TSL Breaching

‘Breaching’ by Michael Greve
Redgum, spotted gum

TSL The Wanderer

‘The Wanderer’ by Sean Henry
Bronze, exterior paint

TSL House of Mirrors

‘House of Mirrors’ by Neon
Mirror, plywood, gabion cages

TSL Look Who's Here

‘Look who’s here’ by Janaki Lele
Paper mach, sand, exterior varnish

TSL M.140901

‘M.140901′ by Toshio Iezumi
Float glass

TSL Wind Stone the Threshold of Consciousness'

‘Wind Stone the Threshold of Consciousness’ by Koichi Ishino
Marine grade stainless steel, granite

TSL Wine Talk

‘Wine Talk’ by Richard Tipping
Reflective tape on aluminium, galvanised steel poles
(All images by TSL)

The eighteenth annual exhibition of Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi runs until the 9 November. It’s free. And, highly recommended!


What is This MTHFR That I Keep Hearing About?


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(Graphic by TSL)

As part of this health jaunt I have undertaken over the past couple of years, I was diagnosed as positive for the MTHFR gene mutation. It has not been my only diagnosis, but it has certainly contributed to my belief that:
1) gluten is the devil (for me, anyway). I will never knowingly eat gluten again, and;
2) along with careful supplementation prescribed by my functional health peeps, the autoimmune protocol is the foundation approach I am taking to reset my body’s equilibrium to ‘optimal’.

The Natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. (Hippocrates)

MTHFR is one of the more recent genetic buzzwords. And, I suspect we’ll be seeing a bit more of it as more and more people test positive for variations of the gene. It’s a bit of a minefield to work your way through, especially if you don’t have a science background. But, with approximately 1 in 2 people having a MTHFR defect, it’s a significant issue.

On Wednesday evening, LM and I tootled off to navigate our way through the pokies at the North Sydney Leagues Club. We went to listen to a talk about the MTHFR gene by naturopath and founder of MTHFR Support Australia, Carolyn Ledowsky.

Honestly? – Carolyn gave the clearest explanation of the very complex MTHFR process that I have come across to date. And, that is saying something, because as you know – I am no science nerd.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

MTHFR stands for methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase.

It is an important enzyme that converts the folate you eat, by way of all those leafy green vegetables, into the active form – called 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate. This conversion is called methylation. It is essential for our cells to function. All of them. Every single one.

Sidebar: It’s also important to recognise that folate is Vitamin B9 and is not the same as folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic, man-made substance and is not found in nature. In fact, if you have a MTHFR gene mutation, folic acid can be very bad for your health. And since most of the bread we eat is fortified with the stuff, it’s yet another reason to steer clear of gluten.

But, how do I know if I should get tested for MTHFR?

Good question. And, to be honest – there are far more capable people out there than me to answer it. In a nutshell, if you suffer from a variety of symptoms and – no matter what you do – nothing seems to work to make them better, you may have MTHFR. Perhaps something to discuss with your GP?

Here are just some of the illnesses associated with MTHFR:

TSL MTHFR Conditions

(Graphic by TSL. Original data sourced from here)

In my particular case, I had a chronic autoimmune condition, allergies, (unrealised) anxiety, poor detoxification AND some challenges shifting my weight.

Within the MTHFR gene, there can be a number of mutations. The two key deviations currently tested for are MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C.

If you test positive for the gene, you will have a permutation of the following:

TSL MTHFR Positive

(Graphic by TSL. Original data sourced from here)

I’m compound heterozygous. So for me, that means, with an estimated 50% loss of methylation function, I want to do everything I can to improve my methylation.

Working with your medical team is obviously the first step in working out what, if any, supplementation you may require. And, this is not the same for everyone.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

There are Other Factors that Affect Your Methylation Process…

Poor diet – Turns out your Mum was right. Eat your greens! You need to eat plenty of leafy greens to get adequate levels of vitamins. Long term vegan diets can be a problem because you’re not getting B12 from things like egg yolks, meat, liver, and oily fish. Another issue is raised levels of homocysteine (which depletes all those good B vitamins). This can be caused by excess animal protein, sugar, the wrong fats, too much coffee, and alcohol. And, of course – steer clear of foods that contain folic acid (that’s most packaged, gluten containing foods).

Smoking – I’m an ex smoker. Boy, do I regret that habit now. The carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke deactivates vitamin B6.

Toxins and Chemicals – unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that we are exposed to more and more toxins in everyday life. Making an effort to minimise these as far as possible – limit the use of plastics, eat more organic food, taking care with our household cleaning goods – are all small steps that can have a big impact on our health.

Malabsorption – Food allergies, digestive problems, and even getting older can affect our ability to absorb the nutrients from our food.

Decreased stomach acid – Aging and a variety other conditions (including vegetarianism) can reduce stomach acid — and therefore affect our ability to absorb vitamin B12

Medications – certain drugs can affect your levels of B vitamins. It is important that you discuss this with your doctor.

Stress - really bad for your methylation. REALLY. Start a regular yoga practise. Meditate. Start tai chi. Anything that works for you to mitigate stress.

As part of my journey back to optimal health, I’m following the autoimmune protocol - a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. It also involves actively working on stress management, improving my sleep, moving, spending time in nature and just getting a little more zen about life. It’s working for me, too.

If you would like to learn more about MTHFR or MTHFR Support Australia, they have a great (free!) video detailing how MTHFR can affect your life. They also hold monthly information evenings if you happen to live in Sydney.


LARDACEOUS Roasted Bone Marrow with a Side of Parsley Salad


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TSL Bone Marrow

(Image by TSL)

If you’re going to be alive and on this planet, you have to, like, suck the marrow out of every day and get the most out of it. (Drew Barrymore)

On Saturday evening I sucked on marrow. Literally. And it was good. Really, really good!

The Linga Longa team is expanding their offerings (Yay!) and Greg had some lovely bone marrow just begging to be taken home at the markets this week. So, I did. Take them home, that is.

And, then I cooked them. That night. I couldn’t wait!

Small sidebar: Did you know that lardaceous is actually a word? I swear I didn’t make it up. It’s another word for ‘unctuous’ or ‘fatty’. And, it’s accurate. Bone marrow is almost all fat.

And, because it’s almost all fat, its critical that you ensure you’re getting your bone marrow from pasture-raised, happy animals.

Why does that matter?

Well, two main reasons, really.

The first is a no-brainer. Increased vitamin density. When you compare a pasture-raised, happy animal to her more industrially raised wee sister, you’ll find she has many times more vitamins and minerals. For example, pasture-raised, happy meat can contain up to 3 times more Vitamin E (which reduces your chances of things like heart disease and cancer).

The second is a healthier balance of fats. It’s now widely accepted that Omega-3 is the good fat we need to decrease inflammation levels in our body. Certainly, Omega-6 has its place, too – but, in a western diet, most of us are taking in way too many Omega-3, which increase inflammation. In grain-fed beef, the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio can exceed 20 to 1. Pasture-raised, happy beef is a more balanced ratio of 3 to 1.

Kind of makes you question why you would ever eat grain-fed meat, doesn’t it?

Have you ever watched a dog chew on a bone?

Dogs know where the most nutrient dense parts of the bone are – the marrow.

When Bella gets a bone, the first thing she’ll do is try to crack it open to get at the healthy bone marrow inside.

Bella on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

An oldie but a goody!
(Image by TSL)

Roasted bone marrow is good for you, tastes great AND is another way to eat more sustainably. Nose to tail, if you will.

If you’re a newbie at cooking bone marrow, then I suggest soaking the fresh bones so as to remove the blood from the marrow. I don’t mind marrow bones in their natural state, but some do. It does give them a ‘cleaner’ appearance. 

All you need to do is pop your prepared bones in a bowl of ice water with a teaspoon or so of coarse sea salt for every cup water. Then, refrigerate your soaking bones for up to 24 hours, changing the salted water every 4 hours or so. 

When LM and I visited London back in 2012, we had a most memorable bone marrow course at St John Restaurant. I believe it may have been LM’s first ever experience with bone marrow. So, of course, recreating that was high on my agenda.

This recipe is adapted from a Fergus Henderson take on roasted bone marrow…

LARDACEOUS Roasted Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 30 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

TSL Bone Marrow


6 – 8 x 8 – 10 cm long pieces of happy beef marrow bones (sliced lengthways if possible)
1 x bunch flat leaf parsley
2 x shallots
2 x Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 x Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1/4 lemon
1 x Tablespoon capers
Himalayan sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (omit for strict AIP)


1. Heat your oven to 230°C/450°F. Line a roasting pan with baking paper. Pop your bones – marrow facing up – into the lined pan. Roast until the marrow is soft, but not melting everywhere! This is the most delicate part of the proceedings – I put the timer on for 15 minutes, and then use my judgment from there.

2. While the marrow is roasting, prepare your parsley salad. Roughly chop your parsley. Peel and finely slice your shallots. Chop your capers. Throw all your salad ingredients into a bowl and mix. Taste for seasoning.

3. When your marrow is ready, divide the bones and salad amongst plates. Make sure you don’t forget any fat that has melted into the pan! Serve with Himalayan sea salt on the side.

E N J O Y !

As I am currently in the reintroduction stage of the autoimmune protocol, I served a side of seeded crackers with the meal. I am still experimenting with the recipe. Watch this space!

TSL Bone Marrow

Bone marrow, parsley salad, and as yet un-perfected seeded crackers
(Image by TSL)

If you’d like to read more about lardaceous marrow, Mark’s Daily Apple has an awesome post on the unctuous goodness that are roasted marrow bones…

 This recipe feathers in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable

‘O for OARSOME’ Ottolenghi-Inspired Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad


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TSL Kolrabi, Carrot and Apple salad

(Image by TSL)

Ugly vegetables deserve love, too (TSL)

I may have mentioned before that this autoimmune protocol caper that I’m on has had a side benefit that I never expected. I am far more open to experimenting with new, previously unknown ingredients vegetables.

And, even before I committed to the full on elimination process, I was introducing less common veggies into my life. I’ll definitely be making my Simple Sorrel Pesto again, now that nuts have been successfully reintroduced. And, I have been waiting for my recently acquired plantains to ripen so that I can make Knock Out Plantain Hotcakes again, too…

This week I picked up some sexy-ugly looking kohlrabi at the farmers market. I see them sitting there every week and I have never bought one. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never actually tasted one, either. Until today, that is.

TSL Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi
(Image by TSL)

Have you ever eaten kohlrabi?

These bulbous-shaped vegetables come in green or purple. They can apparently be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a little like broccoli stems, although I think they are a wee bit sweeter.

I have always associated kohlrabi with my German heritage (my Mum grew up in Germany), and it turns out I was right to do so. The word kohlrabi is German for ‘cabbage turnip’ (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rübe for turnip). Don’t get confused, though – the kohlrabi is not a root vegetable. Rather, it’s a member of the Brassica family – like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale – which all grow above ground and are known for their antioxidant properties. In other words, kohlrabi is really good for you!

Specifically, fresh kohlrabi is a very rich source of vitamin-C which helps the body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gums. All pretty good stuff (says the girl with periodontal issues!)

As far as actual preparation goes, it transpires the humble kohlrabi is a rather versatile vegetable when it comes to how to eat it. They can be eaten raw—peeled, sliced and added to a salad or used for serving with a dip – or, they can be cooked. A truly multi-seasonal vegetable! They can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, mashed, stir-fried or roasted. You can even eat the leaves – think sautéed with a little bone broth and onions.

TSL Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad
(Image by TSL)

My first recipe for kohlrabi was inspired by the delicious Yotam Ottolenghi. He’s a big fan of this old-world vegetable. I wrote about my gorgeous piece of pork neck that I slow-cooked earlier in the week, and today I wanted a bit of crunch to go some of the porky leftovers. And so, this salad was born.

And, I have to say, this is definitely not the last time I’ll be cooking with kohlrabi. It may well be my new favourite thing…

O for Oarsome Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

  • Servings: 6-ish
  • Time: 30 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: REALLY easy with a mandolin
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TSL Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad


2 x large kohlrabi
2 x apples (I used granny smiths)
3 x medium carrots
1 x large handful coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish 1 garlic clove, crushed
50ml apple cider vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP)


1. Peel the kohlrabi, wash and core the apples, peel the carrots. Shred on a mandolin (preferred option!) or julienne into match sticks by hand.

2. Mix all the julienned vegetables together in a large bowl. Add the coriander, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Stir well. Taste and season generously. 

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezey Slow Cooked Pork Neck


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TSL Pork Neck

(Image by TSL)

This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal. (Joel Salatin, farmer and author of ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal; You Can Farm‘)

My lovely friends at Linga Longa had some beautiful looking pork neck at the markets on Saturday. So I bought a little piece to slow cook for LM and myself. Alright. That was a white lie.  I actually bought quite a lot. 2 kilos worth, in fact. That’s just under 4 1/2 pounds for those of you who don’t think ‘metric’.

The recipe we have on highest rotation here at Casa TSL is my Jamie Oliver Inspired Four Hour Lamb. Only now, instead of a leg, I usually pick up a couple of shoulders and slow cook them together, which gives us oodles of meat to play with for days…

But that’s another story for another time…

Today, I decided to play around with that 4-hour lamb number, only with my pork neck, instead. And, it ROCKED!

I’m a massive fan of slow cooking my animal protein. It’s easy. It’s a great way to batch cook. The flavour is incredible. And, did I mention it’s easy? 

TSL pork rub

Step 1: Prepare your rub by bashing 6-8 cloves of garlic with thyme leaves and lard.

TSL Pork Neck

Step 2: Massage garlic, herb and lard mix into your pork. Add bay leaves and pop into the oven.
That’s pretty much it.
(Images by TSL)

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezey Slow Cooked Pork Neck

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: Couldn't be easier
  • Print

TSL Pork Neck


2 x kilos of happy, hormone free pork neck
6-8 x cloves of garlic, peeled (I used 8, but I love garlic!)
1 x bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 x handful of bay leaves
1 x Tablespoon fat (I used lard)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (omit black pepper if on strict AIP)
1 x Tablespoon Tapioca starch/Arrowroot powder (If you’re not on AIP, use your preferred flour)
375 ml chicken bone broth (or stock)
1 x bunch herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and a little sage)
2 x Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


1. Heat your oven to 220°C/425°F.

2. Using a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the garlic cloves with the thyme, fat, salt and pepper. Place your piece of pork into an ovenproof roasting dish (I used my trusty Le Creuset), pierce all over with a sharp knife and rub all over with the garlic and herb mixture. Massage for a minute or two.

3. Place the bay leaves on top of the meat.

4. Cover your roasting dish – either with a lid or firmly with foil and pop it into the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce the heat to 160°C/320°F.

5. Walk away for four hours and let the meat, garlic and herbs work their magic.

6. Remove the pork from the roasting dish and onto a carving board. Cover with foil and allow to rest.

7. Discard the bay leaves. Put the roasting dish on the stove over a medium heat.

8. Mix the starch with a little bone broth and add to your roasting pan. Allow to bubble for a minute.

9. Add the rest of the bone broth, making sure you scrape all the meaty bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

10. While the gravy is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

11. Add the chopped herbs and vinegar to your sauce. Taste for seasoning. Serve!

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable