Nutrition Articles

Signature Foods

Signature foods are nature's way of letting us know what fruits are particularly good for the different parts of our body.

When you see the connection, which becomes obvious with the shape and colour of the fruits and vegetables, then you can help to heal different parts of your body, by eating the foods that best support that part of the body.

Explanations and examples are on the PDF

How to Make Kefir:

Kefir, like yogurt, is full of probiotic goodness. It is a refreshing beverage made from fermenting kefir grains in milk. These Kefir grains are little cauliflower-like grains that are the source of Kefir's probiotic goodness as it is filled with beneficial bacteria and yeasts mixed in proteins, lipids and sugars. To get the most out of Kefir, it is recommended you make your own Kefir with real live kefir grains.

1. Start with kefir ‘mother’ or grains. The best type of Kefir grains look like a rubbery cauliflower ball. It is a living organism and even small pieces will grow bigger. (The more kefir grains you use, the faster it will culture.)

NB You can buy Kefir grains in a packet but they only last for approximately 6-7 times of making kefir unlike the living Kefir ‘mother’.

2. Place in wide mouthed glass jar and cover with milk either skim or full cream. It is best to use the one type of milk consistently as it changes the taste particularly the first 2 or 3 times. Cold milk from the frig can be used as it reaches room temperature fairly quickly particularly in summer.

3. Cover the mason jar with a lid and set it out on the counter (or in a cupboard — NOT in the fridge!) for anywhere from 12-36 hours. I leave my milk to ferment for 12 to 24 hours. I know that when the kefir grains have risen to the surface the active fermentation is taking place.

As I prefer it to have a runny yoghurt texture, I wait until I begin to see a little clear liquid starting to form at the bottom of the jar – my kefir is now ready.

You can separate the grains from the kefir at this stage and use the grains to start another batch. Put your grains back into a clean jar, add some more milk and start all over again.
OR you can leave the grains with the kefir but refrigerate to stop the active fermentation process.

For the next batch some people like to rinse their grains. I don’t normally rinse mine. I find that my kefir grains grow more quickly when I do not rinse them. If you do rinse them, ONLY use filtered water. Do not use tap water as it could kill them.

Taste of Kefir

Kefir is able to be fermented for only a short time. And while a very short fermentation time will still charge the milk with beneficial bacteria, it will leave you with a smooth product that is very milky, silky and very mild in taste. If it is fermented until the kefir solids separate from the whey, then the final kefir product will be more acidic and sour.

Kefir Starter Culture:
Kefir is best make using real Kefir grains. However, there is another option of using a starter culture but it only lasts for approximately 6-7 times of making kefir unlike the living Kefir grains.
What can go wrong?
Making Kefir is very simple but it does require a little experimentation to find your perfect kefir texture and taste.
1. Obtaining kefir grains – the best way is to get it from a friend or someone local rather than by post. If you do get it that way the first couple of batches might taste funny until the grains have adapted to the milk you are using.
2. You might be using too much milk for the amount of grains. If it does not thicken use less milk in the next batch.
3. If you have not made kefir in months then test whether your grains are still living by making a batch with only a small amount of milk.
4. If you decide to make coconut or water kefir, your living grains will take some time to adapt. Don’t give up too easily.
5. It is better to use plastic sieves or spoons rather than metal implements.
6. When you sieve your grains from the jar, they can then be used to start the next batch. Leave the kefir out for a couple of hours to a day to firm up and then refrigerate.
7. When I go travelling for a while I just put them in some fresh milk in the fridge to put them to sleep. Normally after a few months of neglect I come back and culture and re-culture them for a few batches to make the kefir grain healthy again.
Just a reminder of the benefits of kefir

Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.


Coconut Oil - Healthy for your whole body

Coconuts are so nutritious that Tongans and Samoans were able to live on coconuts alone for 6 months of the year there were cyclones and no other food available.
In the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price found South Pacific Islanders whose diets were high in coconut to be healthy and trim despite high dietary fat, and heart disease was virtually non-existent.
The naturally occurring saturated fat in coconut oil provides a number of profound health benefits, such as:

• Improving your heart health.
• Boosting your thyroid.
• Increasing your metabolism.
• Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed.
• Supporting your immune system.

Coconut oil also benefits your skin and has been found to have anti-aging, regenerative effects.

Heating does not alter the goodness in coconut oil, it remains stable so you can use it hot or cold and can be used in all cooking instead of butter or any oils and below are 3 good reasons Dr. Mercola gives, for using coconut oil

1) Cooking your food in omega-6 vegetable oils produces a variety of very toxic chemicals, as well as forming trans-fats. Frying destroys the antioxidants in oil, actually oxidizing the oil, which causes even worse problems for your body than trans-fats.

2) Most vegetable oils are GM (genetically modified), including more than 90 percent of soy, corn and canola oils.

3) Vegetable oils contribute to the overabundance of damaged omega-6 fats in your diet, throwing off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio…

There is only the one oil that is stable enough to withstand the heat of cooking, and that's coconut oil.

Purchase an organic coconut oil and ask for ‘expeller pressed’ oil if you do not want a coconut smell and taste in your cooking.

Decoding nutritional panels and product claims

In an increasingly health conscious society, consumers are being bombarded with an excess of information and new products making it hard to know which products to choose and which to avoid. Here are some quick and handy tips to help you make the right choices in the supermarket aisle and walk away with the most nutritionally beneficial products for you and your family:

1. Read the ingredient list – Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight with the ingredient with the largest proportion listed first. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t understand or know the ingredient it is probably an additive of some kind and best to avoid.

2. Check the calories per serving and what the serving size is – often people think a packet of something represents a single serve when really the actual serving size is much smaller and therefore they end up consuming far more calories than they initially realised. If attempting to compare products, it is often easier to use the grams / mls per 100g/100mL which is listed on all products.

3. Don’t be fooled by nutrition claims – this is a cheeky way food companies market products to unknowing consumers. For people after a seemingly quick diet fix, low fat and light options may seem like the answer to your problems but in many cases the fat lost by lowering fat is made up with added sugar and salt.

4. Check calories from fat – divide calories from fat by total calories and calculate the percentage of calories from fat per serve. Low fat foods are those with 3g or less per 100g fat (3%), while high fat foods are those with greater than 20% fat. Food such as biscuits, cakes, fried foods, full fat dairy and fatty meat should be kept to a minimum as they contain high levels of saturated and trans fatty acids which are associated with heart disease.

5. Check the sodium – while salt is important for maintaining water balance and blood pressure, as well as its essential role in muscle and nerve activity, many of us end up eating much more than we need as it is packed into processed foods. When comparing packaged products opt for the low salt alternatives (or just avoid processed foods altogether) which contain less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.

6. Make sure grains are whole grains – this means you can actually sight the WHOLE grains, as opposed to a product being made of a whole-wheat flour which is still a refined and thus processed flour.

7. Check for sugar – people often get confused as sugar can appear as a number of different names, other than sugar for example maple syrup, honey, malted barley, molasses and any term ending in ‘ol’ (sorbitol or malititol) or ‘’ose’ (desxtrose, fructose, glucose).

Bearing all these tips in mind, may mean your supermarket trip takes a little longer but it will make you a more knowledgeable consumer and assist you in making healthier, nutritionally informed decisions.

In Australia Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for legislation regarding health and nutrition claims on packaging, however claims can still be confusing. Here are what some common nutrition claims really mean:

• 97% fat free: food contains 3% fat.
• Low fat: 3g or less of fat per 100g.
• Baked not fried: while it implies it is low in fact, for many products such as biscuits and cakes it usually means lower as opposed to LOW in fat.
• Cholesterol free: often assumed to mean low in fat but in fact does not mean that at all. Important to note that all plant derived products are in fact naturally free of cholesterol anyway.
• Cooked in vegetable oil: can be misleading as palm oil qualifies as vegetable oil yet it contains 50% saturated fat. Unless familiar vegetable oils such as canola, soy, sunflower or cottonseed are identified, assume product is cooked in palm oil.
• Gluten free: no wheat, oat, barley, rye, triticale or malt is present.
• High fibre: must contain 3g fibre per serve. Commonly seen on wholegrain cereals and mixed grain breads.
• Very high fibre: must contain 6g fibre per serve. Commonly seen on bran cereals, lentils and beans.
• High protein: must contain 6g + per serve or 12% kilojoules derived from protein. Products usually meeting these criteria are lean cuts of meat, eggs, milk and cheese.
• Light: commonly misconceived, this claim can refer to different parts of the food. For example light beer refers to the low alcohol content but not low fat while light cheese has less fat and salt and light ice cream has less fat but more sugar.
• No added sugar: no added cane sugar, honey, glucose, fructose, malt or maltose.
• Reduced fat: another commonly misconceived claim, this refers to a product having less fat than regular counterparts, usually 25% less. However this doesn’t necessarily mean a product is low in fat.
• Reduced salt: at least 25% less salt than counterparts.
• % DI (Dietary Intake) labels: while these seem like a great idea, be warned these are based on an average adult diet of 8700kJ. An individual may need more or less depending on age, weight, height, sex and activity level.

Olivia Bates Liv4Life Nutrition

An Organic Farmers family story

In Murrami, a sleepy village in south western NSW not far from Griffith, Peter and Jenny were starting a family. Peter, a farmer all his life, and Jenny, coming to live on the land after studying pathology, did not like the heavy chemical use for agriculture in the area and the effect it would have on their young ones.

For most of us the decision to decrease the amount of chemicals in their children’s lives does not involve a revolution of our business or occupation. But this was the case for Peter and Jenny Randall back in 1989.

Tom Randall, Peter's father had kept chemical usage the farm to a minimum and Peter followed suit. In 1989 the decision was made to switch to organic. This would eliminate chemical storage on the farm and reduce exposure to their kids. It was a four year struggle to grow conventional classified crops without the aid of chemicals, before the produce could be certified organic and sold at the premium due to the extra risks and efforts organics require.

Organic farming gives the farmer opportunity to work with the environment, and as a young family the Randall's planted trees around their farm to boost habitat and minimise off-spray from neighbouring farms.

As a young mother, Jenny’s youngest Timothy had behavioural problems. He would react with red food additives and become hyperactive. She changed his diet with the help of a naturopath and his behaviour improved. Tim's bountiful energy is still there and has been put to good use on the farm and off, helping his parents market their organic rice whilst studying full time.

There still is a visible impact on the community and environment from heavy use of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers in the Riverina area, such as high cancer rates and loss of biodiversity on farming land. Peter lost a friend at eighteen to lymphoma, and many friends since.

Randall Organic Rice is a venture the family started last year in an effort to earn enough to stay on the farm. After a crippling drought of ten years, and Sunrice purchasing their rice for a minimum, the laws changed. Twenty years in the waiting, Peter's dream of marketing his own rice has come true.

We all want the best for our children's health and development that is why Circles of learning exists. You can help this farming family provide healthy rice whilst caring for the environment? See and Facebook for their full story and rice ordering information.

Field of Dreams

Organic food shop owner Allison Findlay calls it a ''lovely, gentle rice''. Earthy chef Justin Small says it produces a ''nice creamy result''. But Peter Randall, who grows the stuff on his farm at Murrami in the northern Riverina, has been so flat out getting it out of the ground this past year he can barely think about what it's doing on the plate.

It has been a journey. Randall has grown organic rice for 23 years, but it was last year before he was able to sell it under his own label.

First he was blocked by the Sun Rice monopoly, which forced all rice farmers to sell their products through a single desk, and then by the drought, which had him living on an overdraft for nearly a decade, running not-so-fat lambs on his rice fields.

A third-generation rice farmer, Randall was a young man when he decided to stop using chemicals on his rice crop.

At 18, he lost a best friend to lymphoma. All around him, farmers were falling. Randall and his father watched neighbours dying of cancer and started to view their chemicals - or ''poisons'', as Randall calls them - with mistrust.

So when Sun Rice identified a market for organic rice and asked whether they wanted to convert the farm, it was an easy decision. ''Back then, we had a young family and I didn't want them exposed,'' Randall says. ''This area is definitely a hot spot. Unfortunately, I think a lot of modern farmers these days probably won't make old bones.''

So they purged the farm of herbicides and insecticides and started rotating the crop. It can be up to four years between rice crops on each paddock, with clover and sheep populating the fields in the intervening years, to fertilise and return nitrogen to the soil.

They also pursued new rice varieties, favouring long-stem types that would shade out the weeds.

The dream was to sell direct to consumers, without being forced to go through Sun Rice, which, until recently, was the only label permitted to market rice in NSW.

Randall's father didn't live to see it. Having worked with his father since his feet could reach the tractor pedals, Randall buried him a few years before the rice market was deregulated in 2007. By then, the Riverina was gripped by drought and there was no rice to be sold.

Last year, Randall finally got a licence to sell his own rice, which brought with it a massive shift in the way the farm operates. With no grain storage or mill, he had to buy the infrastructure and learn how to use it. ''We're starting from ground zero basically,'' Randall says. ''Last year it was a little bit crazy coming out of a drought to set up a rice business because it's pretty capital intensive. We're stretching our neck out a bit, but the way farming is at the moment, frankly it's the only way I can see to survive.''

Randall grows doongara, a low-GI rice loved by diabetics and athletes, and koshihikari, a sticky rice popular in Japan for making sushi. He also grows jasmine rice, and brown and white long-grain.

But there are 50,000 rice varieties in the world and Australia grows only eight or nine.
Randall's ambition is to propagate some older varieties held by the Department of Primary Industries seed bank in Leeton that haven't been grown in Australia in 20 or 30 years.

Randall has also developed a technique of polishing rice that renders it unique to this country.
By rubbing the rice grains against one another, he can produce a semi-brown rice of the type that is popular in Asia but virtually unknown here.

''We do a brown koshihikari and that's just gently polished a little bit and what that does is speeds up the cooking time of the rice, [but] still maintains that flavour,'' he says. ''The more you polish rice the more nutrition you take away, so you basically end up with starch. The brown is where all the goodness is.''

Randall Organic now supplies health shops in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, several farmers' markets and restaurants, including Den Sushi Dining in Rose Bay and Mates Gully in Wagga Wagga.

The head chef at Mates Gully, Justin Small, says: ''We use [the koshihikari] for our risottos because it's short to medium grain and it has a sweeter flavour than your general arborio rice. It has a very nice creamy result.''

The rice has also been received warmly by customers of Always Organic in Brookvale, which started stocking the products a few months ago.

Owner Allison Findlay tested the brown koshihikari in a risotto.
''It behaved really well,'' she says. ''It was just a lovely, gentle rice.''

Randall eats a lot of rice. One benefit of having an organic farm is ''wwoofers'' - willing workers on organic farms - who come from all over the world and exchange their labour for free food and board.

He remembers the rice pudding made by Louis, a French chef; the risotto made by a couple from Verona; and some delicious fried rice cooked by some wwoofers from Hong Kong, each dish demonstrating the versatility of the grain. So Randall gets to appreciate his crop on a plate after all.

Randall Organic Rice is stocked at Taste Organic in Crows Nest, Dr Earth in Newtown and Always Organic, Brookvale. It is also sold through

Source: Good Living
Read more:

Trading Chocolate and Sweets for Fruit and Vegetables over the Holiday Period

With Christmas and school holidays having already started, this time of the year often revolves around the excessive consumption of sweets and chocolates as children and adults alike partake in the festive season. However for us lucky Australians this time of year is also when the weather is heating up and a vast array of fruit and vegetables are appearing on our supermarket shelves, as they come back into season.

Fruit and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants which play a crucial role in improving the strength of our immune system. While all fruits and vegetables do contain some antioxidants, some have a much higher content with more colourful vegetables containing more antioxidants than their paler counterparts. In particular those of purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues are particularly beneficial. A few ways or encouraging your children to increase their fruit and vegetable intake (and decrease their sweet intake) are:

• ‘Eat from the rainbow’ – more colourful vegetables contain more antioxidants, with each colour associated with different vitamins and minerals – always offer a variety of colours at each meal

• ‘Teach by example’ – if kids see Mum and Dad munching on carrot sticks or enjoying fruit salad for dessert, they are more inclined to do the same as you are their role models

• ‘Teach by doing’ – school holidays are a great time to involve your child in some hands on cooking lessons, by getting them involved, they are more likely to want to enjoy the fruits of their labour

• Make fruit and vegetables easily visible and accessible at all times so they can pick them up easily and graze throughout the day and always offer

• Be organized – if heading out for the day pack containers of fruit, vegetables, trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, seeds) and be sure to pick foods that wont go brown or mushy, as the child will instantly be disgusted and try and coax you into that ice cream or sausage roll

• Last but not least be persistent and don’t give in!

Olivia Bates - Liv4Life Nutrition



Alkalising Forming Foods and Acid Forming Foods Chart

Healthy cells require around 80% alkaline foods and 20% acid foods daily (approx. everyone varies slightly). When our cells are out of balance this causes illnesses, both physical and mental. You can test your own ph daily using your saliva on liptnus paper purchased from a chemist. Remember that laughter and joy also alkalise the body, another reason why laughter is the best medicine. When your ph factor is in balance you feel great, look great and can maintain great health.

Download the chart here

Food cravings

When your body craves (insert vice!), this is what your body really wants, and these are the healthy foods that will give you what you need.

This valuable chart is a must have resource for your fridge or pin board. Find out how to manage, and eliminate, your cravings so you're never caught out again!

Download the chart here

Organically Grown - what does it really mean?

The principle of “organic” agriculture is that a healthy plant grows from healthy soil. The plant is therefore more resistant to pest and diseases. There is no need to use synthetic fertilisers or chemical pesticides.

Download the full article here

Why you need to go organic

The facts around the superiority of organic fresh foods are clear. From the use of pesticides to the welfare of animals and sustainability of the environment, the choices to go organic are personal and varied. Here, we look at how eliminating chemicals from our children’s diet plays a significant role in improving their health and wellbeing, and offset conditions such as ADD, ADHD and Autism. Surprised? You will be...

Download the full article here

Official: Organic really is better

The biggest study yet into organic food has found it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help lengthen people's lives.

Download the full article here


A natural part of life - how much a part of breakfast?

Since the connection between nutrition and behaviour has begun to be unravelled, the pendulum has swung from one side of this debate to the other, and tempers have often been frayed.

Download the full article here

Look beyond the tantrums and bad behaviour - you may find junk food

by Janine Quattromani, a committed mother
My own health deteriorated and after seeing many doctors I eventually turned to a naturopath who helped me realise that Candida was a real health problem for Danielle. Sugar, yeast, dairy products and wheat were contributing to her behavioural problems. I looked back over the previous years and realised that Danielle had a continual craving for sweet things. When sitting in a café she would eat the sugar out of the sachets, she would devour her lollies really quickly and bribe her sisters for their sweets and treats.

Download the full article here

Why genetic engineering won't feed the world's poor

In more than 70% of developing countries where hunger is prevalent, the exporting of commodity-based cash crops takes place, in most cases to provide animal feed for cattle in Europe. In these developing countries underlying inequities exist to deprive people, especially women of economic opportunity and security. If the native population cannot afford to buy food, the owners of land and capital orient their production to more lucrative export markets.

Download the full article here

Food for thought - ADHD and Nutrition

More than one-third of all children in Australia suffer from a disorder that could be rectified by a diet low in sugar and junk food. Wendy Champagne explores the good food guide for controlling ADHD.

Download the full article here

Sugar - Sweet, White & Deadly

This is a constant cry of mine...Sugar - Sweet, White & Deadly(1). I pass children’s parties and see cakes with pink frosted icing and hundred & thousands; glance my eyes over the picnic rug and not a piece of fruit, celery or carrot stick to be seen.

This is not an isolated situation and I hear the protests of, “oh, it’s a birthday party, you must let the children have some fun foods at a birthday”. Yet, is it just at party time? Look into children’s lunch boxes, check out what is on the breakfast table...these so called ‘occasional treats’ are there; the sugared cereals, the commercial fruit juices, the jams and bread.

Unless we stop feeding our children processed sugar we will continue to see hyperactivity, allergies, depressed immune systems, diabetes, cancer and all types of diseases. Processed sugar is not the only culprit but it is the main one, because it is in nearly all packaged foods and baked goods. Even our bread is now filled with sugar because people are so used to eating sweet foods that it is less palatable to eat something more savoury.

And do not believe that the words sugar free denote healthy. Artificial sugars mean aspartame is a key ingredient, and aspartame is equally damaging (if not worse) for our bodies.

You can easily sweeten foods with organic fruit, fruit concentrates and dates are especially good. Then slowly change your child’s diet to being a little more savoury. They may argue at first and even refuse to eat it, however your consistency will pay off and your strength rewarded. If children don’t eat what you give them, there are no other options. This is relevant for children at an age where you as parents are 100% in charge of their diet.

And guess what? When you eliminate sugar the immune system begins to rebuild and allergies and food intolerances lessen. There are some other ‘nasties’ around in our diet however start with the processed sugar as this is the biggest and most dangerous.

I recall meeting a Native American Indian in the middle of the Hopi Territory in the Arizona Desert. He said, “Candy, we don’t feed our children Candy, it is white man’s poison”.
So start today. Everything here that relates to sugar and children also relates to you, the adult. And it is you that the children will model themselves on, so you have to be strong yourself.

With less sugar in your diet you will discover more clarity in your thinking, you'll feel better and clearer, you can focus and concentrate and your children will improve their learning ability. We can turn diseases, illnesses and learning disorders around and this is just one starting point to act on. Do this for your children and help them reach their full potential.

(1) Sweet, White & Deadly relates to white sugar plus white flour and white rice.

Salt - Good or Bad

Salt has been painted as the bad guy, yet Salt is vital for a healthy body.

Salt is a vital for the survival of all living creatures, particularly humans.
Have you noticed how farmers give ‘salt licks’ to their cattle, horses, sheep and goats when they are sick?

This is because salt contains around 84 natural minerals and trace elements that our body needs. These include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine, sulfur and magnesium, plus minor mineral elements including iron, iodine, copper, manganese, zinc, cobalt, selenium and chromium.

Perhaps vets and farmers know more than we do about what is good for general health!
So why are we told that we should not eat Salt, and packages proudly announce that the product is ‘salt free’?

This is because the salt that is commonly used is refined salt which has no resemblance to the original unrefined crystal salts, found in the sea, oceans and in the mountains. Common salt is deficient in 81 of the minerals, and in the refining process the salt is chemically cleaned and reduced to sodium and chloride.

Good salt regulates the water content in our body. It assists water to reach the cells so that it can cleanse and extract toxic waste. The salt forces some water into the cells and stops other water from entering the cells, thereby creating a balance of water within the body.

Two ways to get healthy salt into your body is by having a crystal salt bath and by swimming the ocean.

Both of these activities make you feel great because the body absorbs minerals and is rejuvenated.

Enjoy your Good Salt!

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