There’s nothing quite like homemade Sauerkraut. Bought stuff just doesn’t cut it, especially not the supermarket kind. The rustic, farmer’s market kind come’s close. But homemade sauerkraut, made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, fermented in a dark cupboard or corner, really is the goods.

Why? My theory is that homemade sauerkraut has a wider variety of living bacteria in it. Commercially made products need (well, they think they need) to be the same every time, so to guarantee this they inoculate their sauerkraut with genetically pure strains of lactic acid bacteria. My sauerkraut on the other hand doesn’t need to be the same, so I’m fine with it having a mixture of different strains of bacteria – in fact, I welcome that as the more diversity I can get into my gut the better. I think this produces a far superior sauerkraut


  • 1 Whole Cabbage (approx 2.5-3kg)
  • Salt – Himalayan, Celtic Sea Salt, Murray River (1Tablespoon per 1kg of Cabbage) + 1/2-1 Tablespoon extra
  • 4 medium Carrots
  • 5cm knob of Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Caraway Seeds (optional)


Remove outer 4 leaves from the Cabbage, wash and set aside

Cabbage leaves

Weigh cabbage to determine how much salt you will require – this is important as too little salt will result in the sauerkraut going off

Weighing Cabbage

Cut cabbage in half and finely shred


Grate Carrot and Ginger (or if you have a thermomix, throw in the bowl and whizz on speed 4.5-5 for about 4-5 seconds, or until finely chopped)

  1. In a large bowl or food grade bucket, layer 1/3 of the cabbage with 1/3 of the carrot and ginger and then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt and some of the caraway seeds (if using). Massage together. Repeat with another 1/3, and then the final 1/3, remembering to sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt between each layer. Massage with hands, or use the end of a rolling pin to bring out the juices.
  2. Sprinkle final 1/2-1 tablespoon salt and allow to rest for a few hours.
  3. Sterilise jars in the oven at 120 degrees for 20mins  – preferably ones with spring lids so you can release the pressure each day as they are fermenting. Boil rubber seals in water on the stove.
  4. Massage/beat with rolling pin again. There should be a fair amount of brine in the bottom of the bowl/bucket.
  5. Fill jars with Sauerkraut and press down until brine covers it completely. Use the washed reserved leaves to press the sauerkraut down beneath the brine.

Nutrition for Life in the Slow Lane….

I’ve spent 4 1/2 years studying Diet and Nutrition to come to the conclusion that the more intuitively we eat, the better. Western countries (mainly the UK, the US and Australia) have tended to try and quantify and calculate how much we should eat, how much exercise we should do, label food with how many calories or kilojoules is in a serve, and have ended up with populations that are increasingly overweight or obese, chronically unwell, and have an incredibly messed up relationship with food. Countless people have eating disorders of all kinds (whether diagnosed or not) – the Butterfly Foundation estimate that 1 million Australians have a diagnosed Eating Disorder, while my guess is a fair few more have a dysfunctional relationship with food. When around 35% of the population is obese, not all of it can be blamed on sedentary lifestyles, bad genes, too much sugar or just not knowing how to cook. But I digress…

It is complex – our food environment is appalling. A quick wander through any supermarket reveals a plethora of packaged foods that are energy dense and nutrient poor. Likewise, a stroll through most busy shopping centres/precincts or food courts shows a similar story – fast food that sells. I guess the market provides what the consumer demands.

But at the same time there is so much confusion about what one needs to do to be healthy. I find this really interesting now, as I was a really overweight child and teenager in the 80’s and 90’s, when it was quite uncommon to for kids to be overweight, and I was teased incessantly. So much so that I did everything to lose that extra weight, and in turn, have tried to understand why our culture has got it SO wrong. Because food is such a fundamental aspect of human functioning (without food we die), I believe that our cultures attitude to food underlies some of the serious social issues our society is facing today. We are becoming so fractured as a society, so self-absorbed, so anxious, operating at a pace that is frantic, frenetic, never stopping, eating on the run, grabbing a coffee and muffin on our way to work and eating at our desk. If we do think about diet we think we need to quantify and weigh food, add it up on a smart phone, count each calorie, go for a quick jog in our lunch break and log it and calculate each calorie to make sure we’re expending more than we’re taking in.

Then there’s this whole movement of functional foods – margarines that help you absorb less cholesterol, broccoli sprout powder that might decrease your chances of developing cancer, acai berries and goji berries that possibly do something (I can’t remember what…). You might be interested to know that margarine is grey before they dye it yellow, and perhaps the sulforaphane in broccoli requires all the other phytonutrients to work synergistically with it to be any use. But I digress again….

When thinking about cultures that have got it right, i.e. have lived long, healthy lives, have healthy relationships with food, and have strong family relationships, you can’t look much further than the Mediterranean cultures. There are many, so defining “The Mediterranean Diet” could be difficult, but it really comes down to some broad principles.

  • Lots of Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits,
  • Lots of legumes and unprocessed grains (no white flour products allowed!!),
  • A fair amount of fish,
  • A moderate amount of poultry,
  • A little bit of red meat (1-2 times per week)
  • Low fat dairy – mainly fermented (i.e yoghurt)
  • About 1L of Olive oil per week,
  • Alcohol (as red wine mainly) consumed with meals
  • Minimal sweets (if any – really only on special occasions)

But the thing that stands out about the Mediterranean Diet(s) is not so much the food, but the culture(s) around it. There is so much happiness, and enjoyment, and appreciation of food. The love for food and what it signifies – usually bringing together family – and the love they have for each other. Recipes are nearly always “family treasures”. There is a “slowness” about Mediterranean cooking and eating, an earthiness that is lacking in the Australian approach to food. The Mediterraneans don’t count calories or portion out their meals – they don’t need to. Because they eat a huge amount of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, with a minimal amount of processed food, they don’t need to worry about  counting calories. They are getting a huge amount of fibre and nutrients with a minimal amount of energy and able to eat intuitively, so have no need to worry about the energy content. Because they’re not eating food out of tins, bottles or packets, they don’t need to worry about sodium, trans fats or added sugars, so it’s no wonder they have the lowest incidence of heart disease in the world. Yet they consume 1L of Olive oil a week.

When you think of Greek, Italian, and Turkish families eating, you also associate it with singing, dancing, and laughing. Often they have grown much of they are eating, and there is a sense that in these cultures there is a deep appreciation for nature, the land, and the environment. Nothing is ever wasted – what is not eaten now is preserved and bottled. In these cultures, food not only nourishes the body, it nourishes the soul, the mind, the family, and relationships.

As I said, after 4 1/2 years of studying Diet and Nutrition, I have come to the conclusion that Intuitive eating is the way to go. However, Intuitive eating needs to be based on a good model, with some good support structures in place to help you/us get started. I believe my own eating disorder grew out of a culture that is so at odds with itself when it comes to what is really important in life. I think we all know (deep down, somewhere) that our health and our relationships are the most important things to us, but we seem to do everything else but things to nurture our health and our relationships. From my observation (and experience), food is central to both – when my eating disorder has been at its’ worst my health and relationships have suffered the most.

Catherine Itsiopoulos has written 2 great books – “The Mediterranean Diet” and “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” if you need somewhere to start. They only really give ideas as to recipes though.



There is so much in the media about sugar, and why (or why not) it should be avoided. So, what’s my position and what do I base it on?

Firstly, let’s define exactly what I mean when I’m referring to “sugar” – because in reality, everything that is a carbohydrate eventually is broken down to glucose or fructose, and depending on the quantity of fructose consumed in 1 sitting, the fructose also may be converted to glucose (but more on fructose in another post!). Bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits, jam, lollies, fruit, fruit juice, potatoes, soft drinks, ice cream, honey, rice malt syrup, maple syrup, and chocolate are all different types of carbohydrate that ultimately contain the same types of sugars – but the effect on our metabolism, appetite regulation and ultimately the way we store and use energy is quite profound, especially if the type of bread, pasta, rice etc is wholegrain/wholemeal. In other words, it’s the highly processed forms of carbohydrate that are the problem – essentially anything that is white, plus the sweeteners like honey and agave syrup.

Of course it’s easy to see that we’re going to get the biggest and quickest hit of sugar from lollies, soft drink, cake, biscuits, potatoes, jam, fruit juice honey and other sweeteners because the sugar is easily digested and can pass quickly into our bloodstream. With foods like chocolate and ice cream, the sugar hit is slowed a little by the fat content in the food, whereas with wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and legumes the body has to work much harder and for much longer to break up the food to release the energy and nutrients and this releases the sugar much more slowly into the bloodstream.

So, when I’m talking about “sugar” I’m talking about the added sugar you find in processed stuff such as the obvious lollies, ice cream, cakes and soft drink, but also in the not so obvious things like sauces (tomato and hoi sin sauce), muesli bars and breakfast cereals. Not too far behind, in fact, almost as bad, is anything made from white flour, as the flour disintegrates into glucose almost as quickly as does sucrose – it just doesn’t taste sweet.

So, why then is too much glucose a problem? Or perhaps a better question is, why does eating too much glucose – especially in the form of processed sugar – cause a problem? A good way to illustrate this is by looking at what happens to a diabetic with uncontrolled diabetes – when their blood glucose levels are consistently too high, proteins become glycated (i.e. a glucose molecule attaches itself to a protein) which makes them unable to function: Nerves can no longer conduct properly, leading to diabetic neuropathy – loss of feeling, poor wound healing, gangrene and loss of limbs; Eyesight is affected and often lost due to cataract formation – this occurs because excess glucose is metabolised in the body to sorbitol which accumulates in the lens of the eye, causing water to be drawn into it osmotically (due to high osmotic pressure of the sorbitol, i.e. it wants to be diluted); Kidney disease due to excessive glucose in the urine, and the glucose glycating kidney cells, and the list goes on.

If we take this a step further and consider the role of insulin – in a healthy person – we see that if we eat a meal high in processed sugar, insulin immediately kicks in to make sure our blood glucose levels are kept below approx. 5mmol/L. But insulin isn’t exact and always overshoots, so our blood glucose levels drop low pretty quickly, making us feel irritable, shaky and hungry. This is because low blood glucose levels cause adrenaline and/or cortisol (our stress hormones) to be released to raise our blood glucose levels, leading us to go and search for something to eat – usually something that is sweet that will  give us a quick energy hit. And so the cycle starts again. This is how sugar drives appetite.

I do find it fascinating that while the brain requires approximately 120g of glucose per day to function, the fact that glucose is the only substrate the brain can use means that the body has ways of making glucose from other sources, namely the gluconeogenic amino acids. And if we can’t make enough glucose from those amino acids, our brain can operate off ketone bodies, a by-product of fat catabolism (i.e. breakdown). I’m not advocating a no or low carbohydrate diet, merely demonstrating that our carbohydrate, sugar saturated modern diet is not necessary, and is actually so far from anything that could be considered healthy.

Once upon a time “sometimes foods” were actually sometimes foods, not every meal foods. When cereals have 8, 10, 12 teaspoons of sugar in them per serve (and the serve is 30-40grams, but no one actually eats only 30-40g!), muesli bars have 3-4 teaspoons, Juice bars are selling “healthy”  “fruit” juices that have 25 teaspoons+ of added sugar and no “real” fruit in them, (and the list goes on), I think we have to start thinking what we are really eating and what we are feeding our children. My real concern comes when parents think they are feeding their child something that is healthy, but because of clever marketing, they are unaware of the fact that the food(s) they are buying are actually full of processed sugars and harmful colours and additives.

Regarding colours and additives in our food, who would eat, or feed their family coal tar? I suspect most of us would say never – well, I was stunned to discover that many of the worst colours known to be associated with behavioural problems and ADHD are derived from COAL TAR….

In my next blog post, I am going to discuss ADHD and behavioural issues in children and some simple steps you can take to help minimise these issues in your child/ren. This will include Phenol sensitivity, salicylate sensitivity, gut problems and maybe more. I might have to do a few posts – there is so much information!

Why diets don’t work.

This is a topic I need to address up front.

We are constantly bombarded with new miracle diets that make impossible promises, all the while making us feel unworthy, un-lovable and fat. Our society is obsessed with super thin women, or selling us products to help us achieve a certain body shape, while failing to tell us that the model is either severely anorexic or has been significantly air brushed. Either way what we are seeing isn’t real or healthy.

I spent many years trying new diets because I was overweight, to eventually discover that the only way I could be like a stick thin model was to starve like they did. My years of study have finally taught me that DIETS DON’T WORK, and that try as I might, I’ll never be 6 foot or 50kg. It was only when I changed my way of thinking to focus on being healthy, rather on being thin, that I achieved a healthier relationship with food, as well as a healthy weight. I also found that by focusing on being healthy I could do and achieve so many things – from singing, to running and cycling, to studying science, and most importantly, to being a mother and wife and running a household.

The word “diet” tends to imply a period of deprivation, followed by a return to “normal” (whatever that was). But if we want lasting change, then it makes sense to make lasting changes, and that can’t be done by following a diet. It seems obvious to say this, yet so many people go on diets for a set period of time, then return to their former way of eating, to then wonder why their former health problems or weight issues return.

It is my fundamental philosophy that if most of the time we are eating good, wholesome, unprocessed, seasonal, whole food, then the occasional piece of chocolate, or slice of cake is no big deal. Funnily though, because I eat deeply nutritious food, I rarely crave food that I would class as “indulgent” (I don’t like to call any food “bad”!). By eating food that gives your body all the nutrients it needs, while also not upsetting blood sugar levels and throwing hunger hormones out of balance, weight loss and weight maintenance become easier. In contrast, diets not only have a stigma of being hard work, they tend to deprive us of foods we enjoy, which only lead to cravings. This often results in us giving in, binging, feeling guilty, feeling like we’ve failed, and then giving up. I don’t know how many times I’ve been there. But no more.

The path to lasting health change – be it weight loss, or more energy, or better skin, or lower anxiety levels, or better thyroid function, or freedom from diabetes or metabolic syndrome …. the list goes on, is small changes to your existing diet and lifestyle. The hardest part is knowing where to start – but that’s where I come in!