The TSL Soapbox: The One About the Media, Eating Paleo, and Simon Sinek…


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TSL Simon Sinek

(Simon Sinek image from here)

Recently, there has been quite the hullabaloo in the press – both here in Australia and in the UK – about the Paleo diet.

In fact, in its annual ‘Top Celebrity Diets To Avoid in the New Year’ list, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) ranked the Paleo Diet as the second worst regime (after ‘Urine Therapy’, which advocates drinking your own urine for apparently supposed health benefits). Incidentally, Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’, came in at number three (which blows my mind).

Now I’m not a massive fan of labelling the way I choose to eat, but you will know that for the past year I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This can loosely be described as ‘Paleo on Crack’! And, it is true that AIP is a restrictive diet.

BUT! The WHOLE point of both Paleo and AIP is that they are healthy and nutrient dense ways of eating

From where I sit, there are many (cynical) reasons organisations like the BDA and the Australian equivalent, the Dietitians’ Association of Australia are not fans of the new wave of lower-carbohydrate style eating. Despite increasing evidence that for many of us it is a more healthful approach to eating. Not least of these reasons is the question of where they get their funding.

What I do find fascinating – in a car crash kind of way – is the vitriol behind their extreme anti-Paleo stance. Is it a case of protesting too much…?

Car Crash

(Image from here)

Sure, you can interpret a Paleo-esque approach as an unhealthy meat-fest. And, there are probably people who do just that.

Alternatively, you can see it as a whole-foods approach which eliminates unhealthy processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats while encouraging a more sustainable nose-to-tail way of eating – along with an increased variety of local, seasonal and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. In my experience, eating like this has increased my vegetable intake by at least 200%. Whichever way you cut it, that has to be a good thing.

And, whether or not you choose to have dairy in your diet depends very much on your body’s ability to tolerate it.

Is this not a good thing?

There is a difference between giving directions and giving direction. (Simon Sinek)

Me – I’m a believer in personal choice. Especially when it comes to what you elect to eat. If you feel better with properly prepared whole grains in your diet, good for you. I really hope that eventually I will be able to indulge in some, too.

And, if you choose to have jam donuts for breakfast every day. That’s your choice, too. I won’t ever think its the best idea in the world, but I’ll defend your right to choose!

I do get that my extreme AIP caper is not for everyone. But, rather than focus on the excesses of a ‘Paleo approach’, can we not acknowledge a more moderate view on the benefits of cutting the crap, increasing veggies AND the other lifestyle aspects of this school of thought – improving sleep, more movement, introducing a mindfulness practice.

Paleo may not be for everyone, but it is equally clear that the average current lifestyle is not healthy, either.

What is Paleo

(Image from Dr Kate)

Did you know that according to the Australian Government, 3 in 5 Australians are either obese or overweight. Scarier still is that 1 in 4 children are obese or overweight.

Professor Alan Lopez, a researcher working in the area of health and weight, says Australia’s numbers should be of concern – “We are at the levels of overweight and obesity as the US is, three decades ago obesity levels in Australia were a half to a third of what they are now.”  And, if you live in New Zealand, the numbers are even worse.

The big picture doesn’t just come from distance; it also comes from time. (Simon Sinek)

I have personally experienced significant health improvements following an AIP approach. I hope to transition to a more moderate ‘Paleo-type’ way of eating eventually.

Along the way, I have come to believe that an holistic approach to my lifestyle, nutrition and exercise choices that are more compatible with my evolutionary past are key to my health. At the same time, it must also be said that I don’t believe that it is possible or even practical for me to exactly mimic life in the Paleolithic in today’s world.

Rather than maligning a style of eating that promotes overall health and well-being, would organisations advising the public on nutrition not be better served in advocating a reduction in the amount processed carbohydrates, sugars and trans-fats available in the majority of packaged food we consume?

SCRUMPTIOUS Loaded Banana Bread


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TSL Banana Bread

(Image by TSL)

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 nuts and eggs  – both ingredients that are part of the reintroduction phase of the protocol.

It’s been almost two years now, and – small confession – I still miss really good bread. You know the kind I mean – artisan-style sourdough made by bakers who take their bread-making very seriously. Here in Sydney, I mean bread like Iggy’s.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I may miss good bread, but I won’t be having any anytime soon. Probably never again. Gluten is not my friend. And, ‘gluten-free’ definitely does not cut it when it comes to bread.

Life is full of banana skins. You slip, you carry on. (Daphne Guinness)

But, this post is about banana bread. Not bread bread.

And, banana bread is not really bread in the true sense of the word. It’s not made with yeast, water and flour. Rather, its made with bananas. Doh! So, really it’s more like a cake or a loaf.

And, while banana bread can easily be made gluten-free, because it’s not bread (which requires kneading and proving to allow the lovely-yet-naughty gluten to work its magic), it still tastes AWESOME. Some might even say it tastes better…

Better still, (for me) the discovery that I have recently reintroduced eggs successfully back into my life after nine whole months without them.

So, I reckon I deserve a wee celebration!

Having eggs back in my cooking repertoire means the occasional baking treat is back on the table. As good as they are, a girl can only make so many Jaffa Balls!

I started thinking about banana bread at the markets last Saturday. The good peeps at  Kitchen Green, who offer the most delish’ gluten free banana bread, had me salivating. I would have bought some, too. Only, theirs features chia seeds. And I have recently discovered that chia seeds and me are ‘no bueno’. So, I resolved to make my own…

TSL Banana Bread

SCRUMPTIOUS Loaded Banana Bread
(Image by TSL)

Bananas lend themselves to healthy baking because they add a natural sweetness and they keep your baking moist.

The thing is, LM is not such a fan of bananas. So when I experimented with this wee number, I added some lemon zest to the batter. To offset the banana-ness of the loaf. And, I reckon it was a winner.

By now, you know that I’m not a particularly finicky cook. I like lots of flavour and not too much fuss. So, while I was playing with this wee baby, I threw in some of the activated (soaked) nuts I had in the pantry and, because I love it, some shredded coconut, too.

The end result is a beautifully moist and crumbly nutty loaf with a lovely citrus kick. YUM!

SCRUMPTIOUS Loaded Banana Bread

  • Servings: 8 - 10-ish
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TSL Banana Bread


1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 x cup shredded coconut
1 x teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
Pinch of salt
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used activated mixed nuts because that’s what I had!)
3 x very ripe medium bananas, mashed well
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 x cup honey
4 x happy eggs


1. Heat your oven to 180° C (that’s 350° F). Grease a loaf tin with coconut oil and line with a piece of baking paper (I leave a little overhang of baking paper to aid in removing the cooked loaf from the tin).

2. Using a fork, mix your dry ingredients – almond meal, coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and chopped nuts – in a medium-sized bowl.

3. Pop your eggs and honey into a separate bowl. Whisk. Add your mashed bananas and whisk until very well combined.

4. Pour your egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined. Add melted coconut oil and stir again until combined.

5. Pour batter into your loaf tin. Tap on the bench a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Cook for 40 – 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Once cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the loaf tin before turning it out onto a wire rack.

This loaf really is best eaten on the day it is cooked but will keep in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container. It also freezes well.

E N J O Y !

TSL’s Greatest Hits to Date


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Pink's Greatest Hits

…only I’m not NEARLY as fit. Or as flexible. And, I don’t have any tattoos. And, frankly, my singing voice sucks. But otherwise…
(Image from here)

Some posts just keep on giving. And, recently there’s been a bit of movement on my ‘Greatest Hits’ page…

Of course, these are the ‘All Time Greatest Hits’. So, depending on when something is posted may well have an impact on its popularity.

It’s interesting (to me, anyway!) just which posts make the top ten. Some of them are no brainers. Jamie and Luke tend to compete for 1st and 2nd place. But some, like my failed attempts to crochet (which is STILL holding firm at number 11) remain a mystery.

And, a couple of my own recipes – AIP compliant, no less, are fast moving up the ranks… Woop! The AIP movement is growing, too – two of my more ‘information oriented’ (and recent) posts on subjects like MTHFR and nightshades have surprised me in their popularity.

Hope you enjoy this wee trip down the memory lane of TSL’s most popular posts…

1. Luke Mangan’s SERIOUSLY GOOD Osso Buco

2. Jamie Oliver and His BEST EVER Pukka Spiced Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks

3. Sophie Digard & Her Creative Crochet

4. Not Quite Nigella (But Her Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe)

5. Heston’s Way to a Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

6. Pete Evans and His SERIOUSLY GOOD Bliss Balls…

7. What is This MTHFR I Keep Hearing About?

8. Osso Buco – AIP Style

9. Autoimmunity and the Removal of Nightshades from Your Diet

10. RIDICULOUSLY GOOD Herbed Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

(Image by TSL)

…and, in case you’re interested, THAT crochet post!

11. Learning to Crochet; a Lesson in Perseverance

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.