How To Make Your Own Rainbow Bowl

I'm sure you've heard the saying 'eat the rainbow.' Well it's very true that the more variety of different colours, textures and macronutrients we get into our bodies from plant-based sources, THE BETTER!

These bowls have a thousand different names - you might have heard them called Buddha bowls, nourish bowls, poke bowls, macronutrient bowls, eden bowls and the list goes on! Although some of these may have more traditional principles (like the Hawaiian poke bowl), simply put, these bowls are nutrient super stars that combine a variety of fresh, cooked or cultured foods into one meal. 

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My personal take on rainbow bowls always follows a few simple principles:

  1. Include a mix of plant-based fibre, fat and protein sources
  2. Add as many different colours and textures as possible
  3. Include something cultured e.g. sauerkraut or tempeh whenever possible
  4. Use lemon or apple cider vinegar in the dressing
  5. Add fresh herbs
  6. Always include dark leafy greens
  7. Use as much organic stuff as possible
  8. Use whatever I have in the fridge and garden
  9. Make it look pretty 
My latest rainbow bowl creation

My latest rainbow bowl creation

The cool thing about making rainbow bowls is that it usually ends up different every time! Here's most recent rainbow bowl recipe.

Wednesdays Rainbow Bowl

  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, cut in matchsticks
  • 2 handfuls of salad greens (mizuna and cos ruby)
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, chopped
  • 1 handful of dark cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (peanut butter works great too)
  • 1 small handful of green & kalamata olives
  • 100g organic hard tofu (I slow fried 500g of tofu in 1 tablespoon each x soya sauce, sweet soy, & sesame oil)

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of unhulled tahini
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed

When making a rainbow bowl, besides getting as many different colours as possible, the other main goal is to get good sources of fibre, fat and protein. Here's a list of different ideas I've used before for each:

Fibre Foods

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  • Sweet potato (cooked)
  • Corn
  • Sprouts
  • Lettuce varieties
  • Kale and spinach
  • Capsicum (red & yellow)
  • Cabbage (purple & white)
  • Fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, basil, oregano)
  • Snow peas
  • Raddish
  • Tomato

Protein Foods

  • Organic tofu
  • Organic tempeh
  • Organic free range hard boiled eggs (for the non-vegan)
  • Legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans)
  • Cooked quinoa

Healthy Fats

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  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds (chia, hemp, sesame, pepitas, sunflower seeds)
  • Extra virgin oils (coconut, olive, macadamia, avocado)

Whatever you decide, be sure to include foods you enjoy eating (even if one or two aren't your favourites but you know your body will love you for it). 

 

I would LOVE to hear what creations you've made and other ingredient ideas you have for making rainbow bowls - so please comment below! 

If you would like MORE plant-based recipes from my kitchen, subscribe below to get much more than just recipes to help you live your best holistic healthy life!

My First Pregnancy Blog

It was Monday December 11th, and I’d just finished my busy morning of running two group sessions, and doing a couple of coaching calls with clients. I’d realised the day before that my period was about 5 days late, and thought, ‘I can just keep waiting to see if it arrives, ORRRR I can see if I still have that old pregnancy test in the bathroom, and bite the bullet.’ 

Ahhhhh!! It's for real!!!!

Ahhhhh!! It's for real!!!!

So I checked, and I still had it. Dan wasn’t home, so I thought now’s a perfect time. No one tells you how weird it is to be holding something to pee on, while trying not to pee on your hand! I sit, I wait. The ClearBlue digital stick flashes PREGNANT. Immediately my heart beat rises, and I can’t help but smile. I just sat there on the toilet stunned with a thousand thoughts flying through my head - ‘oh my goodness, it’s real! It could be wrong, don’t get too excited yet Alisha…it now says 2-3 weeks pregnant, well that makes sense (as I was secretly tracking when we were having sex in a ovulation app called Kindara)…how will I tell Dan…when will this make me due…it’s still really early…what do I do next…this is awesome! …this is the BIGGEST change that will ever happen to me…are we ready…too late now if we’re not!

It’s crazy how immediately you start imagining your life with the new person in it who you’ve never met before, but that you know you will love like nothing else. Dan didn’t get home for another few hours, and by then, I’d had about an hour of sitting on the couch trying to do work, but completely distracted by the new revelation of the stick. But when he did arrive, I’d composed myself enough (happy tears dry and massive smile back to normal smile) to keep on with my day. I didn’t tell him straight away. I was waiting for the right moment, but things came up and we ended up going to the gym together, then hanging out with some friends for a swim. All the while this one phrase kept repeating itself over and over in my head: I’M PREGNANT…I’M PREGNANT…I’M ACTUALLY PREGNANT! 

The day I surprised my mum and sister with their Christmas "presents"

The day I surprised my mum and sister with their Christmas "presents"

Finally we had a moment to ourselves back home between socialising, so while Dan was chilling on the lounge, I nonchalantly said, “Hey wait here I have something for you.” As I went to the bathroom to get the pregnancy test, my heart rate again began to rise as I had no idea how he was going to react. Before I walked back out I said, “Close your eyes.” I walked over, knelt in front of him and held the test saying “Pregnant 2-3 weeks” in front of him. He opened his eyes, looked down, then said “What? You’re pregnant? Wow that’s great!” with a big smile on his face. We hugged, I cried, and we sat there kinda stunned together. And so began a whole new adventure for us!

 

PRE-PREGNANCY PREP

Although we hadn’t been actively “tracking and trying” to conceive, about 6 months earlier we had begun checking in with our health professionals about our health with the purpose of being as healthy as possible before starting to try falling pregnant. I’d found out that my iron was quite low, as was my zinc, vitamin D and B12. 

So with the help of my amazing naturopath Tennelle Sibarani from the Urban Wellness Project, I started supplementing and eating more specifically to improve my vitamin and mineral levels. 

I re-tested my iron and zinc levels in mid-November (having no idea that’s when I actually fell pregnant) and my iron had only risen one count in 4 months. I was pretty shattered, as my prayer had been that we would fall pregnant before the end of the year (2017). So in my mind, I let go of all expectations of when we might start trying, and decided to just keep focusing on getting as healthy as possible. Well, God was onto answering my prayer, and even though my health wasn't 100% where I wanted it, it was pretty close. 

In retrospect I’m now SO happy that we made the decision to be proactive about checking our hormones, bloods and micronutrient levels because I believe it’s helped my body be ready to grow this little bubba better than if I hadn’t. I highly recommend to anyone wanting to start a family in the future to give yourself a minimum of 6 months, and more like 12 months to prepare your bodies and your relationship for giving your bubs the best chance of growing healthy and strong in a loving family.

 

FIRST TRIMESTER FEELS

The first week or so after finding out I was pregnant I really didn’t feel that different. Things I started to notice were the need to pee more often, growing boobs, and I began to feel more tired. I downloaded the Baby2BodyOvia Pregnancy and the Baby Centre apps to track what changes were happening in my body and my baby, and found everything I was experiencing was pretty normal. Then around Christmas time, I began getting SUPER tired, little bouts of nausea, frustration about figuring out what I actually felt like eating, and then being bloated half the time from eating so much fruit (and some actual naughties I’ll get to later). This mix of tiredness, bouts of nausea, and taking forever to figure out what I wanted to eat lasted probably about a month or so. So really, I’ve been super blessed and can’t complain about my first trimester feels.

 

THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D DO

I always imagined (like most of us probably) that I’d be the picture of perfection and health during my pregnancies….well, that hasn’t really been reality if I’m honest. Especially when it comes to food. I’d thought I would eat mostly vegan, avoid all sugary and processed foods and diary, while still eating good quality eggs.  Well, I found for a while there that my go-to breakfast was gluten free Weetbix with Chobani yoghurt. Now you might think ‘what’s wrong with that’ but for me this was massively out of character from my usual green smoothie, chia pudding, buckwheat porridge, or vegetable omelette for breakfast. When I told my naturopath, she cringed and said ‘at least add some bee pollen to it so you’re getting some high-nutrient food in your breakfast.’ Hahaha, so one more week of weetbix with bee pollen, then I kicked the habit. Back to buckwheat or quinoa and oat porridge and I was good again. 

One afternoon I was driving home from work and caught the whiff of fish and chips. That was enough to see me pull into the next fish and chip shop and order Barramundi and chips for dinner. What the heck!

Then one day I ducked into Officeworks to get something, and on the way out they were giving out free Chuppa-Chups. I literally haven’t had one since high school, but when the lovely cashier offered me one, I didn’t even give it a second thought! Strawberry and cream thank you very much!

All in all, I definitely had my moments of making choices I normally wouldn’t, but instead of beating myself up about it, I just accepted it, chose to be kind to myself, apologised to my baby, and moved on for the most part keeping it clean and healthy. I’m a huge believer in the effects of your nutrition on your baby during pregnancy, so I don’t want to just excuse away being lazy and promoting “eating for two” because that’s a load of crap, however I accept that none of us are perfect, and every choice can be learnt from and better choices made from there on out. So that’s what I’ve aimed to do. In fact I came across an excellent little mantra for eating during pregnancy that rings much more true: ‘I need nutrients for two’ - I’m sticking with that one. 

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WHAT EXERCISE HAS LOOKED LIKE

I’ve always been curious to know how I’d go with keeping up my regular exercise while I’m pregnant. And I honestly think especially in the first trimester it really does come down to your energy levels and how sick you feel. So for me, tiredness being the main enemy, I’ve still basically been able to keep up my normal exercise routine. This has comprised of 3 cardio workouts a week and 3 strength/weights workouts a week of about 30-45 minutes per workout. And I’ve probably averaged 4 out of 6 workouts a week during my first trimester. Some days I just really wasn’t feeling it, so I didn’t do anything. Most of the time I aimed to get my workout done in the morning before 9am so that it was done and even if I was tired after, I could nap and know my exercise was done. 

In terms of doing weights, I haven’t really changed much at all. I’ve just been listening to my body, and not trying to overdo it with heavier weights, but I've kept up a good 3-4 sets per exercise or circuits, and focused mainly on full-body functional training. 

My husband bought me an Apple watch for my birthday, so it has been so helpful with tracking everything. I noticed in the early weeks of the first trimester my heart rate would rise very quickly and I’d get puffed really easily. But by about week 9 or so it was back to normal. 

I also started reading and researching exercising during pregnancy (currently reading Your Fit Pregnancy by Erica Willick and Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, the classic by James F. Clapp & Catherine Cram). I was surprised to find that for the most part you can pretty much continue with your exercise program with only a few modifications particularly later in the pregnancy. This is a big area I’m loving exploring and experimenting with myself, and I’m finding it to be true. Aside from what I mentioned above (sickness, and fatigue), exercising through your pregnancy should be a priority and can be done safely with only some basic modifications. 

 

FEARS I'VE HAD

In the first few weeks, I was really aware that miscarriage is a very common thing, and tried to hold my excitement about the pregnancy in check, in case I experienced it. I still told all our family and friends however, as I’m the kind of person who would want the support and care of my family and community if I did experience that trauma and loss. 

I also remember doing hip extensions one day at the gym (glute raises) with the bar across my abdomen, then freaking out that I might have squashed my baby!

Around the same time, I accidentally ate some soft cheese, then remembered I wasn’t supposed to! Same with kombucha, then read that you should be careful with fermented foods and drinks.

One morning I was running a HIIT class and was doing some of the exercises along with the class to demonstrate, and felt really wrong about the jumping. I felt a little wetness in my undies and excused myself to run to the bathroom and check if it was blood, as I freaked out that I’d somehow ripped the baby from its safe secure spot from the jumping! All was good, just wetting my pants (something to get used to I hear?!).

After some of these instances, I messaged a close friend who's a mum of two littlies and shared my concerns that I thought I'd harmed my baby and I was a bit worried. She replied, 'Welcome to motherhood!' Haha so true hey, the worrying has begun. But she also shared some wise words of wisdom with me, that stressing isn't a good thing either, and that I just need to rest easy and remember that I'm healthy and fit and the baby will be fine (thanks Dee). 

Another fear I’ve had is how I will go balancing bringing up our child while running and growing a business. Both require a lot of my time and energy, and I can foresee that overbalancing on one or the other will be to the other’s detriment. The day I found out I was pregnant, though, I decided that I would still aim for the goals I have for my business, but, if I find I can only do 10% of what I want to achieve, that it’s ok. Because more than anything, I want to bring up my child being a present and intentional parent in helping them become a beautiful, God-loving, human-loving person. 

Probably the biggest fear, however, and one I’ve had even before falling pregnant, is whether I will be a good enough mum. I have very high ideals and expectations on myself, because I truly believe that parenting is the highest calling and largest responsibility we can have in this life, which has been part of the reason Dan and I held off for years having kids. We both come from broken homes and have seen the devastation of that in our own lives and many others, and we just don’t want to repeat our parents mistakes or screw up our kids like so many others in society today. So, knowing that we’re imperfect, and won’t make the best choices every time, we plan to do our best, with guidance from our Heavenly Father every step of the way. This child we believe is a gift from Him, so we need all the help we can get from his Creator. 

 

THE MOMENT IT BECAME REAL

From early on, we had decided we wanted to do the 12 week scan just to be sure everything was okay and if there were any health concerns we could be prepared for it. 

The moment it became real...

The moment it became real...

However from about week 9 or so, as my symptoms started to subside and my energy levels started picking up again, I started to wonder if I’d just imagined this whole thing! Was I really pregnant? Could I have just fluked the pregnancy test, the blood test, the skipping periods, and the symptoms?? It was this weird few weeks where I didn’t feel pregnant.

So Monday February 5th finally came and we were off to Queensland Ultrasound For Women (best reputation on the Gold Coast for pregnancy ultrasounds). The moment the screen came on, there right in the centre, just chilling out, was our little baby! I’m tearing up just thinking about it again, because in that instant that I saw bubs, I realised this whole thing was FOR REAL! Somehow, a miracle had taken place, and this tiny human already so developed only in 12 weeks (no wonder we are SO tired!!) was kicking and squirming and having a good old time right there somewhere under my belly button! I instantly fell in love. Dan grabbed my hand, and it really became real for us.

 

WHAT I’VE LEARNT SO FAR

So pregnancy, wow! What a truly unique, wonderful experience it is! I’m blessed to have a mum who is a doula (birth coach - check out her website to learn more), which has really instilled in me what an exhilarating experience pregnancy and birth is meant to be. 

Some the books in my reading pile.

Some the books in my reading pile.

I’ve learnt so far that our society paints pregnancy and birth in a terrible light - we most often hear the horror stories, all the bad things that happen, all the negatives of the experience, and are made to think that pregnancy and birth is something only achievable and do-able with medical intervention, and any of those wonder stories are just flukes and freaks of nature. Well I totally reject that! 

I believe we were designed to procreate and bring healthy, beautiful babies into the world with love and joy. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years, and for most of that time, pregnancy and birth were sacred, honoured experiences, almost deified. 

So I have learnt that if I want to experience a truly amazing natural pregnancy and birth, I must educate myself and not rely on the medical system to do it for me. 

I’m learning to strongly believe in my body’s ability to birth naturally on it’s own terms, and that pregnancy and childbirth are normal, natural processes, NOT a disease! Our bodies were made for this! If we support it and our little bubs with the right environment, nutrition, exercise, love, and positive, empowered mindset, it can be the most amazing thing we ever experience as women!

I just love this mantra from a book I’m reading that says (I’ve slightly modified), “Better mindset, better food, better exercise = better pregnancy = better baby!”

I'm excited to share the journey with you going forward over the next several months, and into the new world of motherhood! I know it's not all going to be roses, and I won't pretend that it is (I'm a pretty real, upfront person, so if you like that, you'll like what I share). I plan to share how I'm going with my nutrition, exercise, mindset, some behind the scenes stuff of ultrasounds, nursery set-up and more. I'm also super happy to share what I'm reading and learning about doing this as naturally as possible along the way too.

If you would like to follow my pregnancy and mumma journey, please subscribe to my emails (don’t worry I share LOADS of other helpful stuff on thinking, eating & moving well for busy women in general), and you can find me on Instagram @unleashfitliving and Facebook at Unleash Fit Living.

If you have any questions or just want to connect, I would love to hear from you - especially those experienced mumma’s AND if you’re also pregnant with your first! Get in touch here: alisha@unleashfitliving.com 

Should Women Lift Weights to Lose Weight?

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Why Lifting Weights & Fat Loss Go Together!

Download Your FREE Weights For Women Guide Below

Ladies! This is one of the top exercise myths I love to bust. I’ve had so many friends and clients ask me with this worried look on their faces, ‘If I lift weights won’t I get bulky?’ Well I’m here to tell you the truth: Lifting weights will not make you big and bulky! You won’t look like a man, because you don’t produce enough testosterone. Weight training will actually enhance your feminine curves. You can now stop believing those false rumours.

Iris Kyle, 8 times Ms. Olympia female bodybuilding champion. Professional bodybuilder. Courtesy of www.bodybuilding.com 

Iris Kyle, 8 times Ms. Olympia female bodybuilding champion. Professional bodybuilder. Courtesy of www.bodybuilding.com 

A lot of women think professional bodybuilders are the only women who lift weights, and this is often where the “weights = bulky and manly” myth comes from. Let’s get a few things straight. Professional female bodybuilders who you see on stage:

 

  • Have trained professionally & follow strict dieting regimes

  • Have often taken ‘enhancing’ substances to get their muscle gains

  • Are at a ridiculously low body fat percentage that’s unmaintainable post-competition time

  • Have dehydrated themselves extremely for stagein order to enhance the appearance of their muscle size

Jamie Allen, swimwear designer and model. She lifts weights. Courtesy of www.jamieallen.com

Jamie Allen, swimwear designer and model. She lifts weights. Courtesy of www.jamieallen.com

So unless you are doing any of the above, it is very unlikely you will get the body of a female bodybuilder. It’s actually really hard for women to build large amounts of muscle because we weren’t designed to. Even if looking like Iris Kyle is not up your alley (it's not up mine!), I do have total respect for her and the extremely dedicated & hard work it takes to get a body like that.

However, there are many lean, fit and strong women who predominantly weight train and don’t look bulky. So don't let weights scare you. Check out Emily Skye, Jamie Allen, and Heidi Powell. They all train lifting weights to have lean, strong and feminine bodies.

Here’s a list of proven benefits of strength/resistance training:

  1. You will actually burn more fat lifting weights than doing traditional cardio.

  2. You will burn more calories after your workout. The more muscle you have, the more energy your body expends.

  3. You will strengthen your bones.

  4. You will be leaner. The more of your body weight that comes from muscle rather than fat, the smaller you’ll actually be.

  5. You will ease joint pain.

  6. You will have a healthier heart. Lifting weights is just as good as traditional cardio for your heart health.

  7. It might be obvious, but you will be stronger! Muscular strength and endurance increases, which relates to better movement in everyday life.

In fact, one of the best ways to decrease body fat is to increase lean muscle mass by using resistance (weight) training. Why? The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate (your ability to burn fuel). When your metabolism is working efficiently, you will burn more fat as fuel.

If you’re wondering where to start with weight training, download my Weights For Women Guide and start burning more fat for fuel this week!

Furthermore, another unknown fact is that weight training can even be used solely for fat loss. Studies have shown that after a weight training workout, metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours. For example, after a weights workout, rather than burning roughly 60 calories an hour while sitting and watching TV, you’ll be burning 70. You might think, ‘Big deal - 10 extra calories,’ but when you multiply this by 36 hours, you can see what a big difference that makes in your daily calorie expenditure over a day and a half. Then when you multiply how much extra expenditure that is for a month, it becomes clear that regular weight lifting will really increase your calorie burning and thus fat burning capacity.

Unlike strict cardio training, resistance training (using weights or body weight) continues to elevate your metabolism long after the training session has ended. Cardio training may burn more calories if only comparing expenditure during workout times, but when you compare the next 36 hours, weight training wins out! This can also be achieved through high intensity interval training.

Another reason why I encourage women to lift weights is because as we get older, our bodies start to lose muscle mass. Therefore it’s super important to include resistance training in your workouts in order to maintain muscle mass for everyday strength and living with ease.

If you’re starting out with weight training, here’s a few tips:

  1. Seek instruction from a professional trainer to ensure you learn correct technique and form. See my Weights For Women guide.

  2. If you have access to a gym, begin on the weights machines as they offer the most stability through the movements. If not, you can begin with light to medium resistance bands, dumbbells or kettlebells at home.

  3. Begin using a weight that is do-able for 12-15 repetitions per exercise. Gradually increase either the amount of weight, repetitions, sets, or time under tension.

  4. Create interval training workouts using weights. This will amplify your body’s ability to burn more fat post-workout. For example, set your timer for 30 seconds per exercise with 15 seconds rest inbetween each set. Once you finish each round, minimise your rest to 60 seconds before starting round two.

  5. Incorporate bodyweight exercises into your training. Using your own bodyweight as resistance is a great way to increase your strength. My favourite bodyweight exercises are push-ups, pull-ups, glute raises and plank.

So what are you waiting for? Download my Weights For Women guide and get started today! P.S. If you’re looking for a personalised program with support of a professional trainer, I am at your service wherever you are in the world via my online training programs.

 

 

Can I Get Enough Protein If I Don't Eat Meat?

FREE Plant-Based Protein Cheatsheet

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I'm sure you've probably heard a thousand times that we need animal products to get enough protein, right? Could it be possible that this is a myth, and simply not true? Many people today are choosing to eat less animal products for many reasons, but the question coming to mind is: can I get enough protein if I don't eat meat?

Why protein is important 

Before we get into what type of protein fuels our bodies better, it’s important to lay the foundation as to why protein is important in the first place. 

Protein is an essential nutrient to health. Its role is to build, maintain and repair all our body systems. In fact, the membrane of every cell in the body is 50% fat and 50% protein. We, therefore, should be consuming protein in every meal we eat. 

How much protein do we need?

The amount of protein needed is different for everyone, based on bodyweight.  In 2006 Australia and New Zealand published the Recommended Daily Intake of protein. For males, the RDI between 0.68g - 0.84g per kilo of body weight, and for females the RDI is between 0.60g - 0.75g per kilogram of body weight (Wahlqvist, 2011, p. 303).

Here’s an example: for a 60kg woman, her RDI of adequate protein would be between (0.60 x 60 and 0.75 x 60) 40.8g and 45g per day. Is that surprisingly lower than you thought? Well, consider this. Protein supplements have become a multimillion dollar business due to the huge boom of the “health and fitness” industry and the popular desire to be buff, ripped, lean and bikini-body sexy. So what’s one way you can ensure your product continues to sell? Use your marketing to push the myth that you need more protein than you actually do.

Now don’t get me wrong, athletes and others specifically needing/wanting to increase muscle mass do require more protein for muscle growth and repair, and thus require an increase in protein consumption. However, for the every day busy woman who just wants to be fit, lean and strong, it is simply not necessary to eat a high protein diet.

In fact, according to the Australian Food and Nutrition textbook, “Under normal circumstances, dietary supply of protein (amino acids) is in excess of requirements and the excess amino acids must be broken down and excreted” (2011, p. 298).  Dr Michael Greger also backs this up, sharing that studies indicate most people in the Western world get more than enough protein.

Problem with animal protein

What kind of protein should we be eating? More specifically, can you get enough protein without eating meat?

According to the largest study in history (The China Study) on people groups that eat plant-based diets, vegetarians actually consume about 70% more protein than the RDI (which averages about 40g-50g per day). Non-vegetarians, of course get way more than that again, but it's worth considering whether animal-based protein consumption is worthwhile. 

The infamous China Study indicates diets with high animal protein intake are associated with increased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Wahlqvist states that vegetarian diets, on the other hand, that are generally lower in protein (than high-animal protein diets) are often associated with better health (2011, p 310). This tells us that although meat and animal products clearly contain protein, there are many other factors that are associated with eating meat that are simply detrimental to our health. 

Dr Dean Ornish also points out that the research indicates animal protein may significantly increase the risk (up to 75% increase) of premature mortality from all causes.

When you think about it, cows milk (the basis of dairy products) is 'baby-cow growth food' not primarily a human food. I watched Cowspiracy last night and the documentary mentioned that the purpose of cows milk is to turn a 65 pound calf into a 400+ pound cow, yet we treat milk as the next best thing since sliced bread!

Why plant-based whole food protein is better

So why is plant-based protein superior? We get the answer from the animal themselves. Where did the dead animals that humans consume get their protein from? Most animals that are consumed for meat get their protein from eating plants (chicken, cows, fish etc)! They get their protein first-hand, and then humans eat their meat to get secondary-source protein. Is it just me, or does that seem illogical?

Don Tolman shares insight about the word ‘protein’ itself, demonstrating that it comes from the Greek word ‘proteos’ which means ‘first source.’ First source protein can only be gained from eating plants and whole foods. It is these plant foods that contain the building blocks of cellular health and life for our bodies.

What else we need to absorb and digest protein 

There’s a common myth out there that by eating large amounts of protein it will help increase muscle building. However studies have shown that the body can only absorb a certain amount of protein at a time. An article published in the "International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" in 2006 recommends getting no more than 25 percent of your calories from protein to minimize the risk of protein toxicity. Amounts will vary of course from person to person, but it is worth being cautious not to eat too much protein (animal protein in particular) because it can lead to toxicity, acidity and kidney problems, according to Dr Michael Greger.

In order for our bodies to break down, digest and absorb the amino acids in protein, our digestive system needs to be producing HCl (hydrochloric acid) and enzymes. For your gut to produce these elements, however, your body's acid-alkaline pH balance must be adequate. If the balance isn’t right, whole molecules of protein can pass through the stomach into the small intestine undigested, thus not absorbing the amino acids in the protein. Taking probiotics can definitely improve your gut bacteria and help your body produce the right acids and enzymes to absorb dietary intake. Alternatively, eating plant-based fermented proteins like pea protein or tempeh will be easier to digest because they are already pre-digested foods in a sense.

Examples of plant-based protein

Many plant-foods contain protein, but not only that, when eaten in their whole-food form, you are also gaining other super-nutrients like fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. For a specific list of plant-based foods and their protein amounts, download my free cheatsheet. Here is a general list of plant-based foods that contain good amounts of protein:

Grains - wheat, rye, spelt, barley, oats, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth

Legumes (beans) - lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, soybeans, black eyed beans, lima beans, split peas

Nuts - almonds, brazil, pecans, macadamia, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts

Seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed, chia, sesame, hemp

Greens - broccoli, spinach, dark leafy greens, spirulina

Why I still eat eggs

As a plant-based whole foods advocate, I do still eat eggs, however I am VERY picky about what eggs I eat. I buy eggs from a local farm where I know the chickens are healthy, organic and free-range, and when I eat out I choose restaurants that source free-range local eggs when I choose an egg meal. Eggs are a whole-protein food source, and I still choose to eat them currently because I live a fairly active life and currently my B12 is lower than it should be. However, I would choose not to eat them if it was not possible to get the best quality from small local farmers. 

Take home message

In answer to the question of whether you can get enough protein without eating meat: YES you can! How and why:

  • We don't need as much protein as we're often told
  • We can only digest and absorb a certain amount per meal
  • Plant-based proteins come without the risk of premature death and disease
  • Plant-based proteins also come with a range of other nutritional benefits when consumed in their wholefood form

Don't forget to download your free copy of my Plant-Based Protein Cheatsheet for examples of the foods I eat regularly to get an adequate intake of protein in my diet.

The One Thing I Wish I Could Change

Reflections From A Women's Personal Trainer

Download Your FREE Self-Care Menu Below

After working with many women as their personal trainer, I've noticed some common themes:

  • Feelings of "not-enoughness"
  • A lack of confidence
  • Lack of time for their own health & wellbeing
  • Negative self-talk
  • Lack of self-belief
  • Lack of self-love 

I always knew that food habits would be essential for helping women reach their goals, but I learnt very quickly that mindset habits and self-perception was even more important.

Over and over I’ve heard from women that when they lose weight, or feel confident in that bikini, or their partner is happy with them - THEN they’ll value themselves and think they’re worthy or 'enough' and feel happy. This stems from a negative self-perception based on the beliefs held about oneself. Whatever the thoughts you allow to repeat over and over in your head are, will become the beliefs you hold about yourself.

And what did I learn from all these women? Many of them hold negative, unkind and and toxic beliefs about themselves. One of the questions I often ask in my coaching sessions is, 'If I asked you to list all the things you love, how long would it take for you to mention yourself?'

It’s a sobering question, hey.

So what does it mean to love yourself? Being able to love yourself is not about selfishness. It is all about having a healthy self-worth. Self-worth is “characterised by a quiet sense of self-respect and a feeling of satisfaction of who we are. True self-worth, unlike pride, is not based on our performance.” It is based on our value as a unique individual whose purpose in this universe no one else can fill. It's the belief that because you've been created uniquely (there is no other YOU on this planet), you are super special and are here for a reason. Your personality, gifts, talents and abilities are a gift to the world, and without you, the world would be missing out on something special only you can bring. 

Once we start believing this truth about ourselves, this healthy self-love manifests into benevolent self-care. I say 'benevolent,' because I believe true self-care is never at the expense of others, or because we are better than others. True self-care is an awareness of the need of taking care of oneself so that you can best serve others around you. This kind of self-care includes sowing into your mental, emotional, spiritual, relational and physical health, as well as taking time to rest, relax and rejuvenate.


If there was one thing I could change about the women I so often see, know and work with, it would be their self-perception.
— Alisha Christie

And second to noticing the lack of self-love amongst women I train and coach, the second most common theme is a lack of time and priority put on self-care. We women are very good at putting everyone else first and our needs last. Mothers especially are in a time of life when the demands of bringing up the kids makes it difficult to practice self-care. Healthy meals are forgotten in the rush of daily life, exercise is a luxury, and simple alone-time ends up being spent scrolling Facebook whilst being sprawled on the lounge, because it seems like too much energy to run a hot bath, relax with some essential oils and candles, and be still. 

So why make the effort for self-care? Because the benefits are amazing. And by serving ourselves, we can better serve others (our kids, our spouse, our work, our friends) because we are in a better mental state.

Why is self-perception the one thing I wish I could change in women? Because everything else stems from this. A healthy self-concept (self-love) leads to seeing the need for self-care, which in turn will better not only our own lives but our interactions with those around us.

If you are needing some guidance on improving your self-concept, Amy Kate from The Mindful Collective is a great resource. She has also kindly shared her Self Care Menu (below) with us to spark many ideas for how you can practically start self-caring. Download your free copy below.

Also if you would like to share how you practice self-care, leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.