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
  • Print
TSL Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad Ingredients: 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) Method: 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

ROCKING Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote


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TSL Rhubarb abd Strawberry Compote

(Image by TSL)

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know. (Groucho Marx)

LM loves rhubarb. And, I mean really loves it. 

Rhubarb is fairly ubiquitous at our farmers market on Saturday mornings. But, for some reason, it has been a while since I bought some. Not sure why – it is so easy to cook.

…I guess the big thing about rhubarb is that it usually requires quite a bit of sugar to make it really sing. And, it is fair to say that this recipe is no exception. Just because I have used coconut syrup and strawberries doesn’t mean it isn’t still a pretty sugar-heavy choice. But, as with most things in life, it’s all relative!

We are pretty careful about our sugar intake here at Casa TSL.

Having said that, LM still has a seriously sweet tooth (I may have mentioned that once or twice before!) and I guess there are far worse options in the sugar stakes than my take on rhubarb and strawberry compote.

TSL Strawberries

Take a few strawb’s…

TSL Rhubarb

Add some chopped rhubarb…

TSL Strawberries and Rhubarb

And together you have a magical combination!
(Images by TSL)

Compote is really just a fancy way of saying ‘stewed fruit’. And, when I say stewed fruit, I always think of custard (another of LM’s favourites!). Guess I better hurry up and reintroduce eggs – successfully! – so that I can whip up a dairy-free custard to go with LM’s rhubarb and strawberries…

As with almost all of my recipes, this one is a doddle to make, but big on flavour. We’re heading into summer down here, but I bet it would taste fabulous in the winter-time made with frozen strawberries and served over a grain free porridge option for breakfast…

ROCKING Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

  • Servings: 6-ish
  • Time: 30 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: could not be more simple
  • Print

TSL Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote


1 x bunch organic rhubarb (approx. 450g when washed, trimmed and chopped)
1 x pun net organic strawberries (approx. 250g when washed, topped and chopped)
2 – 3 x Tablespoons coconut syrup (or maple syrup or honey)*
1/2 x teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 x Tablespoons filtered water
Fresh mint for garnish (optional)


1. Wash your rhubarb and then trim and chop into 3cm pieces. Wash your strawberries, and then top and quarter them. Throw into a sized medium pot. Add water, coconut syrup and cinnamon.

2. Bring to a simmer, stir, and then cook until the rhubarb softens (between 5 and 10 minutes).

3. That’s it! All done.

4. Serve your compote either warm or cold as a breakfast accompaniment to nutola and coconut yoghurt, or for dessert over vanilla ice cream (dairy free, of course!)

*I used 2 Tablespoons but you may prefer your compote sweeter

E N J O Y !

Autoimmunity and the Removal of Nightshades From Your Diet


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TSL Tomatoes Image

Three tomatoes are walking down the street – a papa tomato, a mama tomato and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Papa tomato get angry, goes over to Baby tomato and squishes him… and says ‘Ketchup!’ (Uma Thurman in ‘Pulp Fiction’)

Back in July, I detailed some of my autoimmune story in a post about
all disease beginning in the gut. Wow – I can’t believe that was almost 3 months ago.

I am absolutely convinced that my autoimmune issues stem from a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors over the years that have contributed to my unhealthy gut. And, while this year has been one of massive diet and lifestyle change, it has also been one of amazing discovery. And – the best bit – its working! And, it has is leading to a career change for me…

The Autoimmune Protocol premise of removing all potentially inflammatory foods from your diet to heal your gut, is one that most people seem to get their heads around quite easily. The idea of removing foods like ‘gluten’, ‘sugar’, ‘dairy’, ‘trans fats’, and – to some extent – even ‘grains’ and ‘legumes’ (pulses), while not yet mainstream, are at least concepts many people have at least heard of…

Not so, when it comes to foods from the nightshade family. What on earth is a nightshade? 

nightshade family
the plant family Solanaceae, characterised by herbaceous plants, trees, shrubs, and vines having alternate, simple or pinnate leaves, conspicuous flowers, and fruit in the form of a berry or capsule, and including belladonna, eggplant, nightshade, peppers of the genus Capsicum, petunia, potato, tobacco, and tomato.

Nightshades are e v e r y  w h e r e. And, because most people have no idea what a nightshade is, they don’t know what it means when you tell them you can’t eat them.

Forget about leaving tomatoes out of your salad or forgoing that baba ganoush at a party; sneaky nightshades slip into salad dressings, spice mixes (curry, anyone?), and even supplements without you ever knowing…

Want a wee list?

TSL Nightshades Graphic

(Graphic by TSL)

But, why should we be worried about nightshades? Aren’t they just vegetables?

Well, nightshades contain lectins, saponins and some contain capsaicin.

Let’s take these one by one.

All plants contain some lectins. Lectins are a group of sugar-binding proteins which protect them against being eaten. And, while not all lectins can cause problems, you want to remove the ones with the ability to increase intestinal permeability, especially while trying to heal your gut. According to Sarah Ballantyne, “there is huge variability the effect of different dietary lectins, from pro-inflammatory and promoting a leaky gut on one end of the spectrum to completely harmless and even potentially therapeutic on the other.”

She goes on to explain, “tomato lectin is known to enter the blood stream relatively quickly in humans, which suggests that tomato lectin can contribute to the development of a leaky gut”. So, sadly for me, tomatoes sit at the pro inflammatory end of the spectrum.

Saponins are often most concentrated in the seed of a plant. Nightshades are high in saponins and this compound is another way certain plants can contribute to a leaky gut. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, any saponins that have an adjuvant – a chemical that stimulates and exaggerates an immune response – you increase the chances that your body will attack itself.

Finally, capsaicin, is a stimulant found in heat-inducing foods like chilli peppers. Capsaicin can prove to be a strong irritant to many areas of your body, including (but definitely not limited to) your skin, your eyes and your mucous membranes. And, capsaicin can increase your intestinal permeability, too.

When you cut that eggplant up and you roast it in the oven and you make the tomato sauce and you put it on top, your soul is in that food, and there’s something about that that can never be made by a company that has three million employees.(Mario Batali)

I’m not so sure that removing nightshades affects the soul of my cooking in the way Mr Batali suggests, but it certainly changes it in a big way. Think of all the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South American-inspired recipes that contain tomatoes, chilli or eggplant?

Going nightshade free certainly forces a girl to get more creative in the kitchen. But, it is possible to adapt. I’m living proof of that!

If you’d like to learn more about the science behind why nightshades should be avoided on the autoimmune protocol, please head to Sarah Ballantyne’s site at The Paleo Mom.

If you’d like to check out some nightshade-free recipes, a couple that are on high rotation here at Casa TSL are my Ridiculously Good Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks and my Osso Buco – AIP Style.

Brothl – Melbourne’s Secret Weapon for Those on a Restricted Diet!


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TSL Brothl

(Image by TSL)

If you’re travelling to Melbourne while on the Autoimmune Protocol, have I got the BEST news for you?

I’ve just spent six days in gorgeous Melbourne. Every time I visit, I wonder why I don’t  go there more often. S U C H a great city.

This is the first time I have visited Melbourne (or travelled anywhere, really) while on a restricted diet. And, those of us who suffer from food intolerances and sensitivities know just how challenging it can be to find somewhere to eat that both meets your dietary needs AND – even more importantly – that you can trust to deliver on their promises.

Well. If you’re visiting Melbourne, look no further. I give you…


Hidden away in a wee lane way in central Melbourne is my new favourite place in all of the city. I’m not kidding – I ate here 4 times during the course of my six-day stay. And, I would have gone more often if possible. It’s THAT good! The only complaint I have about Brothl is that it’s not in Sydney. Right next to Casa TSL!

The brain child of Dutch-born Joost Bakker, Brothl’s premise is to ‘imagine a world without waste’… Using philosophies of both sustainability and providing nutrient dense-food, Brothl is a broth house.

You select from one of four different broths – vegetable, fish, chicken or beef – which provide a ‘base flavour’ as you then choose accompanying flavours to suit your mood and palate. Think braised beef brisket, happy bacon, offal of the day, foraged kelp, seasonal vegetables, sea water brined fish, house-made kim chi, native greens and weeds.

TSL Brothl Broth

Brothl Chicken Broth served with Beef Brisket, Kale and Mushrooms
(Image by Food Architect because when I finally remembered my camera, Brothl was closed!)

I cannot express how much I love this place!

The fish frames, organic free range chook frames and aged grass-fed cattle bones, along with other organic vegetable matter, are all sourced from some of Melbourne’s leading restaurant kitchens – Rockpool, Attica and the European. The broths are all made using rainwater. I suspect Joost actually does much of the foraging himself*.

On the communal table, jars of house made fermented chill sit waiting for those who need a bit of kick to their broth.

For me, it’s a toss-up whether my favourite dish was the fish broth served with sea bounty mussels, bacon and native greens and weeds or the beef broth served with braised beef brisket, kale and foraged seaweed. Either way – they were enhanced at lunchtime by a glass of house-made hibiscus kombucha.

Best of all, strict AIP followers can eat here with no issue. I only wish my homemade beef bone broth tasted as good…


TSL Brothl

(Image by TSL)

Do yourself a favour and check out Brothl when you’re next in Melbourne.

Brothl can be found at 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne 3000. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am – 10pm and it rocks!

 * I don’t actually know this for a fact, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Travelling Domestically on a Restricted Diet


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TSL Travel Planning

(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.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people. (Orson Welles)

I’m currently travelling interstate (I’m typing this from my hotel room).

More precisely, I’m having six lovely days in Melbourne catching up with study-buddies, touching base with old friends and – hopefully – establishing a few new connections. LM is not with me. I’m flying solo.

And, just like with my tendency to over-pack, I prepared w a y too much food to take with me. BUT! – I want to minimise the risk of contamination… (Turns out I was contaminated anyway, but at least I gave it a good hard go, yes?)

Travelling on a restricted diet is not so easy. Not by a rather huge margin. And, because it takes so much bloody work, LM thought I should share a few of the foods (and beverages) I carried with me.

First, if at all possible, book accommodation with a kitchen

Really. It will make life so much easier. A decent fridge, a sink to wash up, and basic cookware allows you the freedom to shop for fresh ingredients upon arrival and to store them easily.

I find having provisions on hand means I’m less likely to give into pressure to ‘fall off the wagon’ and, it’s definitely cheaper.

Then, prepare a few foods to take with you

In my case, since I have recently reintroduced coffee, I needed my dairy-free creamer.

I also figured that breakfast is a particularly difficult ask at a restaurant when eggs, grains and dairy are off the menu, so I prepared for that.

And of course, snacks are always welcome!

TSL Travel Haul

(Most of) My Interstate Travel Haul
L – R: Jaffa Balls, Mackerel in olive oil, Filtered Water (in red flask), Dark Chocolate, Organic Coconut Oil, Seeded crackers, Dairy-Free Creamer (in silver flask), AIP Reintroduction-compliant Breakfast Crunch.
(Image by TSL)

In case you have any interest, here are links to the recipes for some of the items above:

  • My choc-orange ‘Jaffa Balls’ are my current favourite snack ball. I reckon they’re a winner (and they went down a treat with the Melbourne crew)
  • The Dairy-Free Creamer is, I reckon’, my best invention ever. Especially if you want the milkiness of a flat white or a latte, but can’t do dairy or soy (and find straight almond milk too watery)
  • The very talented Alexx Stuart created this particular Breakfast Crunch recipe. It’s a nut & seed number with some cacao and cinnamon thrown in for added flavour. Frankly, it rocks! – Especially when eaten with coconut yoghurt and fresh berries
  • The seeded crackers are a wee number I’m still perfecting. Trust me – you’ll be the first to know when I’m happy with them.
TSL Travel Bag

Chilly Bin (NZ for cooler bag!) and my TSL House Fermented Vegetables
(Image by TSL)

 Next, when you arrive at your destination – head to the nearest organic or whole foods store

Seriously. Do not pass go. Have a shopping list prepared and make it a priority to get ‘compliant’ food into your temporary kitchen. I promise you won’t regret it.

Finally, should accidental contamination happen, try not to let it ruin your trip…

Dining out at restaurants (which I have not done in 9 months) means you will have less control over what goes into the pot or pan with your clean food – even with every precaution you can possibly take. If you do have a flare, try to pick yourself up and get back on the horse. Stressing about it will only make things worse.

And, as soon as you get home, you will be back in charge again.

Holy Alter-Ego, Batman! – The BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer EVER!


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TSL Dairy Free Creamer

(Image by TSL)

“What?” I lowered my cup hastily, wondering if maybe there was a stray hair, or worse, a newly boiled bug inside my cup.
You got to smell it first. It’s the proper way to cup coffee.”
“Cup coffee?”
“Taste it.”
“What? Are you the coffee police or something?”
(Justina Chen, North of Beautiful)

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.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

By far the BEST thing I have been able to reintroduce into my diet is coffee! I have missed my coffee like you wouldn’t believe. More than red wine, even. Truly.

And, when I say coffee, I mean the real deal. No Starbucks for this girl, thank you very much! We are serious about our coffee down here in this corner of the world. And, Casa TSL is no exception to this regional ‘passionate about our coffee’ rule.

Wanna’ know just how serious we are?

Here’s a pic’ of our particular brand of coffee machine here at Casa TSL…

TSL Image of Bezerra coffee machine

The Bezerra Galatea Domus
We are THIS serious about coffee around here!
(Image from here)

My beloved Bezerra machine has been pretty neglected since February. Nine entire months! She has only seen action when LM fires her up over the weekend for his espresso(s).

…and, I sit on the couch, with my nose in the air, to get my caffeine fix vicariously.

To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions. (Hugh Jackman)

The thing is, despite the fact that I adore my coffee, I can’t drink it black. Just can’t. And, before you say anything, I know this makes me a pseudo-coffee aficionado. I know purists drink their coffee black. Just not me.

So, what’s a flat white drinker to do?

flat white
a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino.

For a while there, before I started my autoimmune protocol adventure, I was drinking a long black with a healthy dollop of organic cream (raw if I could get it). YUM! And, occasionally, I had the odd bulletproof coffee.

But, any dairy is still off the menu here at my place. And, it may remain that way for a wee while. I’ve got a bad feeling about dairy. So…

…I tried coffee with almond milk. Meh. Too watery. And, there was the curdle factor.

…I tried coffee with coconut milk. Ughh. Too coconutt-y.

And then, lying in bed one night, wondering just how I was going to manage being a coffee-free ‘Chief Barista’ during my parents’ recent visit to Sydney, I had a small epiphany. As you do.

What if I combined the almond milk and the coconut milk to make a dairy-free coffee creamer?

So, I did. And I played around with the formula a little – tweaking it by adding a little maple syrup and vanilla for sweetness and balance. And the results were AMAZING! So amazing that I can honestly say that if I end up being off dairy forever, I can happily drink coffee with my special TSL Coffee Creamer. It’s THAT good!

I can’t express how happy that makes me. It’s quite difficult to limit myself to one cup a day!

And, here’s the recipe. Just for you.

The BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer EVER

  • Servings: depends on how you like your coffee (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • Time: Less than 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

TSL Dairy Free Creamer


1 x cup Almond Milk (here’s my recipe for awesome almond milk)
1 x cup coconut milk
1 x teaspoon vanilla essence
1 x Tablespoon maple syrup


1. Combine all ingredients into a large jar. Secure the lid and shake vigorously.

2. Pop in the fridge just like normal milk. It will last about 5 days. If your creamer separates, just give it a shake before pouring.

That’s it. Simples!

E N J O Y !

If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning. (Mae West)

AWESOME Almond Milk


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TSL Almond Milk

(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.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

I love nuts. I’m for nuts. I am nuts. (Penn Jillette, ‘God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales’)

The very first official thing I reintroduced, after adding a little fruit back into my food regime, were seeds. I had some of my Nut-Free Granola Crunch. When this didn’t appear to cause any reaction, seeds were pretty swiftly followed by almonds. Activated ones, no less.  And then, I added activated cashews and macadamias. Then activated pistachios and hazelnuts. I have yet to get to brazils or pecans – activated or otherwise. But, given the results of my early experiments with nuts, I’m not anticipating any issues. [insert smiley face here]

Don’t know about activated nuts?

TSL Activated Nuts

Activated Nuts TSL-Style
(Image by TSL)

All nuts contain pesky things called enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors act by binding to enzymes and decreasing or blocking them. In nature, enzyme inhibitors are of benefit to the humble nut – they prevent the nuts from prematurely sprouting. But, they can also act on our digestive enzymes, stopping their proper digestion and absorption. Especially important to consider when you have been working to fix your gut health!

Nuts and seeds also contain small amounts of phytic acid, which our digestive system can’t break down. Eating large amounts of raw nuts puts a huge strain on our digestive system. Phytic acid also reacts with many essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc, and stops their absorption in your intestines.

Soaking – or activating – your nuts (and seeds) before you eat them neutralises the enzyme inhibitors that are present, and starts the production of many beneficial enzymes. As they soak, the enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms break down and neutralise the phytic acid.

If you’d like to know more, Sally Fallon talks extensively about activating nuts in her book Nourishing Traditions. An invaluable resource.

So, why am I making almond milk?

Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk.

The main reason I’m experimenting with almond milk is that I suspect I may have an issue with dairy (although I’m hoping that I’m mistaken), so I’m not reintroducing that back into my diet just yet. Call me ‘chicken’…

Also, my homemade almond milk has 3 ingredients – almonds, vanilla essence and water. That’s it.

And, it’s ridiculously easy to make.

TSL Soaked Almonds

Soaked almonds waiting to be made into almond milk…
(Image by TSL)

Aside from the cost, commercial almond milks are full of other additives.

Here’s an example:

Sanitarium list the following ingredients in their So Good almond milk: Filtered water, cane sugar, almonds (2.5%), mineral salts (tricalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), natural flavours, emulsifier (lecithin), salt, vegetable gum (carrageenan).

Did you notice it has more cane sugar than actual almonds? And that’s before you add in the lecithin and carrageenan.

“What in god’s name happened to your nuts?”
“They met a jet-powered water hose.”
He grimaced.
“They’re already healing.”
A rare glint of amusement lit Lawrence’s eyes. “You have balls of steel.”
“You have inappropriate humour.”
(Dianna Hardy, ‘Releasing The Wolf‘)

And, if you’d like to learn more about different types of nut milk, The Raw Food Kitchen conveniently has a great post on this very subject. Saves me writing one!

AWESOME Almond Milk

  • Servings: depends on your appetite! (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • Time: 30 minutes + overnight soaking
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

TSL Almond Milk


1 x cup almonds
1 x teaspoon vanilla extract
2 x cups filtered water + water for soaking

You will also need a nut bag or cheesecloth for straining.


1. Pop your almonds in a small bowl and cover with filtered water. Leave to soak overnight.

2. Pour your soaked almonds into a sieve or colander and rinse thoroughly.

3. Pop your almonds into your blender (the higher powered your blender, the creamier your almond milk will be). Add your vanilla essence and 2 cups of filtered water. Blend on high for at least 90 seconds.

4. Strain your almond milk through your nut bag or cheesecloth. Take your time. You’ll get a good arm work out and the more patient you are, the creamier the milk will be. Set aside almond meal for adding to smoothies, thickening sauces or even drying into meal if you’re feeling adventurous, otherwise discard. 

5. Your almond milk is now ready to serve. It will last about 5 days in the fridge.

Serving suggestions: – can be substituted for any recipe you would use with dairy milk.

E N J O Y !

In my next post, I’ll tell you about the REAL reason I was so keen to experiment with almond milk…