Category Archives: Health

A gift from a lawn liberator

A gift from a lawn liberator

I love the gifts that arrive in my life.

We won a fruit tree in a raffle!
The woman who was delivering it made a time to come and plant it.  I thought that seemed like a lot of work, but she said that is what she does.  So last week Vanessa turned up with mulch, compost, companion plants, newspaper and a Cox’s Orange apple tree.

I really enjoyed chatting to her as she liberated a patch of our lawn for our prize.  As a busy owner of a garden centre, mother and initiator of a transition town Vanessa decided last year that she would like to donate 30 fruit trees each year.  It is very simple, you just need to ask and she will come and plant it.  (She is based in Taihape, NZ, so within reason!!)
She has an inspiring vision, a sort of spread-out community garden.  She knows that each year she is planting future food sources around the community.  Plus the tree, 30 people (this year) have had the benefit of Vanessa’s knowledge and gardening wisdom.  So in this way her acts of kindness aren’t random. They are well placed, well intentioned and go  a long way to ensure a future of food production and even act as an introduction to gardening.


Our newly planted apple tree.  Thick wet newspaper was put down first, then thick barley straw, tucked around 5 different herbs that will spread out.
I have since surrounded the mini garden with bricks.

IMG_4271Each tree Vanessa plants has its own painted stone identifying it.
Trees for Homes is the  wonderful movement she has begun and you can find her at

Vanessa calls herself a “Lawn Liberator” and has inspired me to finally mulch around my other apple trees.  I have surrounded them with borage, calendulas, comfrey, nasturtiums and other bits from my garden.  They are mulched heavily and have a new border which affords them the importance they deserve in the garden…….


My two apple trees in the front garden, with their new companion flower bed, the outdoor bath behind and fire circle on the left….

Thank you!


All through Turkey and of course in Switzerland and France I ate bread.  It is pretty hard not to and as I don’t usually eat bread I was dreading the consequences…..but it was fine.  I know so many people that either have intolerances or think they do.  Maybe if you haven’t already  tried sour dough you may be interested in this article?
Can Sourdough Change the Gluten-Free Diet?
Donna Schwenk’s Cultured Food Life

About ten years ago I went to a class on “How to Make Sourdough Bread.” My daughter had gluten intolerance and we found that she could eat sprouted bread without the side effects created by regular bread. I had heard that sourdough bread achieved similar results to the sprouted bread, and I wanted to try it. What I learned shocked me. The man teaching the class explained that the process of making sourdough was an ancient art and one that had many benefits that we are unaware of today. Why do so many of us struggle with gluten today? There are all kinds of books and websites dedicated to gluten-free living, and rightfully so, because the bread we have today is very different from the bread we ate for hundreds of years. But why is gluten intolerance an epidemic in this day and age? What has changed?

Before the 1950’s, most bread bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow process using a culture that contained the lactobacillus bacteria. This slow process was necessary for bread to be properly digested. In the process of making sourdough bread, the bran in the flour is broken down during the long rising time, releasing nutrients into the dough. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted (to learn more about sprouted breads click here) is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. The phytic acid in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals to be absorbed by the human body. When you naturally ferment or sprout bread, you eliminate all phytic acid. About 90% of the phytic acid remains in breads made with instant yeasts, unless it is sprouted bread.

In their efforts to increase profits and speed up the the bread making process, bakers began using new techniques that took only three hours to make a loaf of bread – and now can even take only one hour. They used the new instant yeasts, which made the old way of making bread (using cultures and fermentation that not only help to preserve food, but also increase the nutrients available for our bodies) unnecessary.

During the making of sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are broken down into more digestible simple sugars, and protein is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during rising. These enzymes are not lost while baking since the center of the loaf remains at a lower temperature than the crust. This fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, also allows for a bread that is lower on the glycemic index, thus making it better for those with blood sugar issues. The fermentation also helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract, resulting in proper assimilation and elimination.

These changes in our bread have had devastating effects on our gut. I believe that along with the overly processed foods, soil depletion, and the loss of fermentation and probiotic foods that heal and protect our bodies, our diets are wreaking havoc on our guts. This, in turn, is causing the rise in all kinds of food allergies. Our diets are a dim reflection of the nutrient-dense whole foods we used to eat years ago. Someone at a recent class asked why we are living longer if our diets are so bad. But this is actually not the case any more; we are not living longer, this trend has stopped. Not only that, the quality of our lives is in sad shape. How often do you see someone living vibrantly and without sickness or ailments? It is increasingly becoming the exception and not the norm. Pharmaceuticals are the norm and not the exception, and food allergies and gut issues are rampant along with a host of other health issues. The average consumer is unaware of these changes in our food supply and then labels gluten and breads as the enemy, when they don’t realize the culprit is the dramatic changes in the actual process of making bread today.

A study done experimenting with sourdough fermentation as a means for making wheat bread safe for people with celiac disease had great results. While the study was small, it did show that individuals with celiac disease who ate specially prepared sourdough wheat bread over the course of 60 days experienced no ill effects.

It was my daughter Maci’s inability to digest wheat that started me on a journey learning about foods that were transformed when they were sprouted or made with sourdough. People who came to my classes and website were experiencing the same results when eating bread that was made with sourdough cultures or sprouted. Even some with Celiac disease seemed to do really well. Now, not everybody who is gluten intolerant can handle it right away. They need to heal their guts first with cultured foods on a regular basis. After this occurs, I have seen so many people thrive when eating breads as long as these breads were fermented or sprouted.

Sourdough bread, fermented for at least 7 hours or longer, is the time it takes to transform the bread. Then it not only easily digested, but often can be handled by those who are gluten intolerant. Here is a recipe to make my sourdough bread. It is the best one for beginners and the one I think tastes the best. Well… that’s not entirely true. I love so many, but this one has a great flavor and is easy. I have devised a slower, longer fermentation method that is even more effective for those who have severe gluten problems. This is my refrigerator method of making sourdough bread. My Refrigerated Sourdough Bread video can be found on my Biotic Pro membership site. It is the method I use regularly because not only is it easy, but it allows the bread to slowly ferment in the fridge for a longer period. This makes the bread even more delicious, and more digestible, than just fermenting it on the counter. It also seems to be the method that most people with severe gluten issues tolerate the best.

I hope I can shed some light on this problem that is facing so many. As always, I want to share with you what has changed my life and so many others.

Can Sourdough Change the Gluten-Free Diet?

Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted, is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods

Best foot forward


After a ten day sabatical from the rigours of travelling my right foot is itching to be on the road again…and I think it will be  OK to be pushing an acelerator even.

We have been well looked after, cossetted, loved and tended to  while my infection slowly heals.  After being so far away from extended family for so long this was just the perfect excuse to have quality time with some of them.



We chose this date to arrive in London because  the Trooping of the Colour was on, so in my pained state we made it up and were a part of all the pomp and excitement.


We were too late to get front row view but Charlie got a lift on someones shoulders and took some great photos….


We got a clear view of the whole family out on the balcony.   I hope they enjoyed the 21 gun salute and fly-over as much as the boys did!



While in London the boys were well loooked after.  They were taken out walking, picking strawberries and  deer spotting in Richmond Park.


Our lovely hostess, Ruth made us so welcome in Wimbledon and  looked after us so gently. Making pizzas with the boys here.


Because of my leg we changed our plans and I was happy to be looked after by my wonderful Aunt and Uncle who swept us off down to Devon for a bonus few days of beachside recovery..

One of the biggest treats has been to spend extra time with my Grandmother.


This involves bananagrams and always cups of tea and eating…Perfect convalescence activities.


Plus being by the sea is a balm.  We had a gorgeous sunset and managed a walk to check out such classical English scenes as these beach huts.



Charlie’s canine devotion has been transferred to Quiddy, Haze and Dave’s beautiful red labrador who will be our UK dog to walk and play with….



This first week or so in the UK has been different to what I planned and also so lovely.  Having to stop, rest and heal has meant  spending bonus time with our family here…and for that I am truly grateful.

Blighty beckons


It was so very exciting to fly in to England last week. To see the Thames snaking her way below, various landmarks appearing between the clouds.
I was surpirsed how wonderful it was to get on the tube and find an Evening Standard there.  I hadn’t realised how much I had missed reading…in English.

Apart from a wonderful day catching up with family, a visit to the theatre and a super quick trip to see The Trooping of the Colour, I have been enjoying an alternative experience to the regular tourist attractions.
St Georges Hospital (Tooting) has become my second home this last few days.
I feel as though I am in a TV drama although not sure why as I am very unfamiliar with both TV and hospitals.
Nothing life threatening, an infection which started as a blister on my leg  in Switzerland and turned into a boil.  An out-of-control, severly infected one at that.
Long story short (I am getting queasy just talking about it) walking is painful, wearing trousers is painful, standing is painful.
Lying in bed being fed strawberries, reading or watching movies…well that seems to be ok….
The extremely friendly and wonderful Doctors have given me three days of TLC and there is still more to come, hopefully just one day more.

It has been a strange sort of welcome to my country of birth, but no doubt my body was needing a well deserved rest after 6 weeks of ushering 3 offspring around Turkey. Holidays can be very tiring after all.

So I am feeling very spoiled and looked after by a small army of guardian angels here (and Guardian-reading angels….oh English newspapers!).
I am so lucky as this is exactly the right place to be.
And what a chance for me to practice patience (I am trying not to peek too much into the teetering pile of UK guidebooks by my bed and to start planning various trips….).
And flexibility.
And trust.

So much more than a boil really and for that I am truly grateful.

Triathalon time


Ollie has just competed in a big triathalon.  He did it last year, so this year was a lot easier as he knew the ropes.


The morning was quite surreal with thick fog everywhere!




By the time the racing started the sun had burnt through and it was a boiling day!
Ollie about to get into the pool  on the left, standing.



The only photo I managed to get of the cycle leg – an 8km ride.


The run was short (1.5 km) and relatively easy as Ollie had been training so much.


Ollie just loved it all so much!  He was as proud of himself as we were of him!


Ollie’s latest passion


Ollie’s passions have been so easy and so interesting to follow.
From the Army at age 4yrs, which still endures, he has expanded and diverted, taken side roads and unexpected detours.
Survival, the outdoors, tramping, fires, knots, firearms, weaponry, first aid, Civil Defence, any surival skill imaginable and now… prepping!

There is a TV series called Doomsday Preppers that has him fascinated as he has found a whole online world of  “Preppers”.
This is still survival.

Just survival on a large scale, in the event of a large scale disaster – solar flare, economic collapse, environmental disaster, an EMP (electrical magnetic pulse), earthquake, flood, global warming, pandemic.  Believe me I have heard about them all and Ollie is getting prepared for the lot.

(Being a Scout he really does live the motto of  “Be Prepared”)

So now he spends every spare cent on food.  Tinned food, rice, toilet paper.  His room is turning into a mini mart.  He tells me incredible stories of extreme preppers who manage to store (hide) their stashes in he most unimaginable places.


Somehow he has managed to get me to buy several items a week with our shopping, which make their way on to my list.  As he points out it is fair enough as he is really prepping for our whole family.


Rice is stored in plastic bottles and dated

He is already requesting supermarket vouchers for next Christmas!

He may be mad, but whatever he does he does with a passion, well researched, well thought out and well executed.

IMG_4483Chocolate bars, pasta, peanut butter (one of the best survival foods)

Luckily for him there is a whole online world of preppers (even raps made up).  He can hob nob with fellow preppers, then come and patiently explain to us why we need Avain flu masks and lots of them.

Many of these online doomsday preppers, being Amercian, have guns.  This has opened up some interesting discussion about firearms in general and about attitiudes of people in an emergency.  There seems to be an unhealthy competitiveness about stored supplies that goes against the idea that we should help our fellow human.  Interesting for Ollie to listen to these ideas and then talk to me (we are all one, love is  all there is, do unto others etc….)
Good questions to be grappling with at any age me thinks!

So while I continue to de-clutter and dream about our famiy living out  of a small back pack each, Ollie is planning to feed us all for 6 months of disaster induced isolation.  I totally support him and learn so much about his passions while he shares what he is doing.
It is an amazing file of knowledge he has stored away and I know he will be the best person to be around in the case of a disaster.

I just wonder though, what will come first….our world trip or  doomsday??


Ollie in one of his dust masks – good for after an earthquake.

Respectful eating – food at our place


I know I am really nosy about other peoples lives (natural journalistic instincts I call it).  So I am assuming there are plenty of folk who like to  hear about aspects of our lives too…..So here is a bit about our diet.

I am a vegetarian, and the kids are too. Wayne eats vegetarian at home.  I turned vegetarian at 7yrs old when I found out that meat came from animals, then ate only potato, peas and carrots with the occasional hunk of cheese for three years.  It was more of  a habit but still one based on a spiritual belief,  It was hard  to keep up through my teens, but as an adult it has become a conscious choice,  a choice, based on what is best for me and now for my children.  When I met Wayne his then 9 year daughter Kim became a vegetarian within 4 months of us meeting!

I have been vegan for ten years, well what I call vegan plus cake!   Currently I am eating  raw and loving that as I feel so energised.

We drink rice and soy milk, but the kids eat cheese and yogurt….weird,  I know!

I usually cook a range of things, put it out and  let them serve their own.  I don’t go on about ‘eat your greens’,  ‘have some more of this’  etc.  I respect them to know how their bodies are feeling and what they need.
Charlie is the first to say he isn’t hungry and therefore not going to eat at the moment thanks!  What innate wisdom.

We are pretty healthy eaters and the kids eat fruit all day, so I don’t stress about what they eat.
I have learned that stress  around food can make you sicker than not eating well.   I have also learned to eat when you are hungry, eat when you are calm, happy, relaxed.   I love to prepare food and do it with love.
If  I need a break from cooking I buy bread and tinned food and make it easy for myself/the kids. And enjoy the change.

So we have lots of good food, and a variety.  When I toast up sunflower seeds and mix with organic raisins the kids love it and will scoff a bowl each.   I love seeing the kids piling avocado, lemon juice and pepper onto homemade organic toast for breakfast,  I can give Hannah anything if it is covered in cheese…!  When Charlies helps make hummus he makes up a big platter of raw veges with the fresh hummus for us all.

I never waste food, it is something I just can’t do.  So now and then I make up individual meals based on leftovers & things lurking in the fridge and serve everyone up something they love, but that is also using up bits and pieces.   I get a lot of satisfaction from that.
I know habits change,  tastes change and fads pass.  I used to have to blend up anything with onions in for Hannah, that is a distant memory now…   When she is eating something I could possibly worry about, I just tell myself this will pass too  (and it does as she is a a fad eater – eats the same thing for months at a time).
I find preparing food and eating is a great time to educate them on what is good for them and why we eat what we do.

I definitely fought hard against junk/processed food for a long time.  I used to hate seeing my kids at parties and being exposed to things they never had at home.  But I have relaxed a lot over the years, although I don’t buy them junk food – occasional chippies on  holiday or an ice cream.

They can eat other substances (that pass for food) when away or out and I am glad for them to  come home and break out the fruit and veges.  They even crave healthy food too if  they have been away and not eating as much – yes this is true,  I remember one of them saying they just wanted to eat a bowl of broccoli  after a trip away!!

They totally love homemade healthy alternatives to junk food.
The boys have never had a soft drink, or been into the big fast food places.
Saying that I would not stop them and totally expect them to try everything the world has to offer as they grow up.   I feel they have had a good grounding in healthy eating and have seen the benefits  of it.
They haven’t ever been to a doctor.

They have never gotten into buying junk food with their own money, I guess they all love the money they have and want to use it to buy the things they really want.  Plus there is always an abundance of good food at home.

I must admit on the rare occasions I have seen one of them spend money on food I really feel proud and excited for them.
Very empowering.

I love seeing them eating piles of food that you know is good for them.
I am always grateful for the abundance of gorgeous food we have.