MEAL-PREP GOODNESS + NATURAL WHOLEFOODS

If you’re a meal-prepper like I am, nothing beats a fridge full of pre-prepared meals on a Sunday night, ready for a week of nourishing goodness. I’m not the kind of person who will always have every meal, snack and smoothie ready to go, but I do try to set up for the week with at least breakfast, lunches and dinner for the first 3-4 days. After refining the process, I can normally bang this out in a 2-3 hour block on a Sunday afternoon. With tunes cranking and no “devices” in sight, this has become an enjoyable and successful part of my weekly routine.

From personal experience and working with clients aiming to alter body composition, I know that preparation is a big part of overall health, successful weight loss, muscle gains and performance. When we are caught out, it’s not only difficult to find healthy food, but it can also lead to poor food choices stemming from hunger, fatigue, emotions or stress. When you have snacks sitting in your purse or a delicious packed lunch, you’ll not only save money but you may even find some extra time on your lunch break to head out for a walk, sit quietly at the park or squeeze in some movement. #winning.

Is your food prep letting you down? Are you walking in to yet another week with an empty fridge? Here are some of my recipes that are easy to prepare and can help to set you up for the week.

If you find that you get to the weekend and would rather rest and de-stress or head away in search of adventure than chop veggies and clean dishes, there are other ways to get help and to make sure that your nutrition stays on track. Enter Natural Wholefoods. I have been fortunate to work with these guys on some Paleo challenges for our members at Workshop 3101, and more recently, helped them to develop and brainstorm their new macro-tailored meal plan. This came about because we both identified the need for healthy paleo-friendly food, with an added understanding of the macronutrient breakdown (protein, fat and carbohydrates) that is tailored to suit your goals - whether it's fat loss, performance or muscle gains. Can you imagine having your meals tailored to your individual macronutrient needs and delivered to your doorstep or gym? #mealprepheaven.

Whether you’re planning to get back on track with your cooking and meal-prep, or wanting to start the year off with a bang on the individualised Paleo Challenge at Natural Wholefoods, I’d love to know your thoughts! What are your favourite meal-prepping secrets? Do you know any time savers or recipes that you find yourself cooking every week?

SLOW DOWN, YOU'RE EATING TOO FAST

Slow down, you’re eating too fast:

 

First, ask yourself this: are you a fast, moderate or slow eater? Have you ever noticed your eating speed? Are you a slow eater with other people around and forget to chew when you are by yourself? Does eating allow you to “check out”?

These questions can provide some great insight into your relationship with food, your digestive health and even your body composition. Speed eating may explain why you experience bloating, feel blocked up or why you can’t shift those pesky pounds.

Why slow down?

 

CHECK IN, NOT OUT

For many of us, we eat to “check out”.  You may understand what I mean if you have ever consumed a large amount of food in a very short time and then realised that you didn’t taste anything, have any recollection of how much you were eating or even how you ended up with the food in the first place!

Many of us turn to food as a way to remove ourselves from a situation or feeling. It can be an escape mechanism to cope with stress, a bad day, negative or even positive emotions or simply a way to feel good.

 

FOOD IS GOOD!

Why rush something that you enjoy? Food should be delicious, enjoyable and long lasting! After all, it’s how we nourish our bodies and are able to live a healthy and fulfilling life. No matter what you’re eating, it’s important to slow down and enjoy it. Get what you need out of it! If you’re eating to reduce stress, slow down and focus on calming the body and bring your attention to your breath so that you can get the outcome you want and find calm. In many cultures, food is seen as a way to bring people together, celebrate events and traditions and to have fun. In parts of Europe, it’s normal for meals to take place over several hours, but with a focus on whole foods and social interaction, it leads to slow fulfilment, not overconsumption.

Whether you are enjoying a meal by yourself or with others, make a conscious choice to savour it. Notice how the food tastes, present it in on a beautiful plate or bowl and make it last!

 

KICK START DIGESTION

You may have heard the saying that “digestion begins in the mouth” and this is very true! We have both mechanical and chemical digestion that starts before you swallow a mouthful. Chewing, or mastication, is the mechanical breakdown of food into smaller pieces that can be more easily digested in future stages. The production of saliva is also very important and will facilitate the breakdown of starches in your food, as well as providing the right pH for these enzymes to do their work. When we inhale food without taking the appropriate time to chew and allow our saliva to do its job, we miss out on a critical stage in this complex process. The result: larger food particles in the stomach and intestines that take longer to break down (with possibly less nutrients absorbed) and the associated symptoms of bloating, gas, abdominal pain and diarrhoea or constipation.

 

INCREASE AWARENESS

Slowing down, chewing, and taking the time to taste and enjoy our food will not only provide a better experience, but it will help you to become more aware of the foods that you are eating, the reasons for selecting these foods and how they impact your body. Speed eating can be a way of distracting us from our emotions or stress, rather than the nourishing and life-giving experience that it should be.

For me, I know that when I’m under emotional or physical stress, I am much more likely to order another double espresso or find myself finishing off a block of chocolate with no awareness at all. If you are able to slow down and check in, you will at least be able to recognise that there is a reason why you might be searching for a hit of sugar, caffeine or food-based distraction. Not only will slowing down improve your self-awareness in times of stress, it will also allow you to tune into YOUR body and start to identify which foods might be making you feel lethargic, irritable, bloated or absolutely fantastic!

What do you think? Have you noticed if you’re a speed eater? I'd love to hear your experiences below.

CHEWY MOCHA BALLS

These chewy, chocolatey balls are a perfect mid-morning snack or a great treat to bring along to a party or morning tea. Tuck a couple in your riding jersey or running belt and benefit from the high quality fats and carbohydrates, as well as the small burst of caffeine that can help to reduce neuromuscular fatigue and assist with performance. 

Why fresh ginger? We love the flavour twist that stands these balls apart from others. Not only does ginger taste delicious, it is a broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory that may help to settle digestive problems, nausea and stomach pain. You can adapt the recipe to include as little or as much fresh ginger as you like!

INGREDIENTS 

(makes 15-18 balls)

  • 1 cup pre-soaked* raw nuts (I used a mix of macadamia and cashew, but almonds, walnuts and pecans would work too)
  • 8 fresh medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 cm chunk ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 heaping tbsp goji berries
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp finely ground coffee beans
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt (or other ground salt)

plus, for dusting ~1/4 cup of each:

  • raw cacao powder
  • sesame seeds
  • desiccated coconut

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, add the nuts and pulse until roughly ground, but still chunky.
  2. Add in the pitted dates, cacao powder, ginger, coconut oil, coconut flakes, cinnamon, salt, and coffee. Process until the mixture is consistent and starting to stick together (about 60 seconds on high).
  3. Add the goji berries and pulse again, for about 15 seconds (we don’t want to pulverize them).
  4. On 3 separate flat plates, pour the dusting sesame seeds, cacao and coconut.
  5. Using your hands, roll the mixture into small balls (about 3 cm across).
  6. Roll the balls in the toppings to coat the outer surface.
  7. Pop them in the freezer or fridge to set and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

* pre-soaking will help to reduce the anti-nutrients like phytic acids in the nuts. This will help with digestion, reducing inflammation and improving the uptake of nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Soak for at least 10 hours, then discard soaking liquid and wash the nuts well. You can leave them on a tray in the sun to dry, dehydrate, lightly roast or simply use when a little damp. 

TIP: If you're consuming these after 12 pm or making them for children, omit the ground coffee!

CLEAN ZUCCHINI SLICE

You’ll never know that this tasty zucchini slice isn’t filled with cheese and dairy! It’s the perfect mid-morning snack or on-the-go breakfast and can be enjoyed as a vegetarian option if the bacon is omitted.

I like to make a batch of this on the weekend and take a big slice with me for a morning snack. For athletes, this is the perfect snack during a competition or even out on a long bike ride or hike. 

INGREDIENTS

(serves 4-6)

  • 2⁄3 cup (150g) bacon (look for one without added sugar or artificial flavourings and colourings)
  • 3-4 cups (600g) grated zucchini (about 3 medium sized)
  • 2 small brown onions
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups (140g) raw almond meal
  • 1/3 cup (75g) macadamia nut oil
  • 1 small red chilli, finely diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F and line a 15 x 30 cm (6 x 12 inches) dish with baking paper.
  2. Dice the bacon and fry over high heat until brown and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and grate the zucchini and onions.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and then stir through the almond meal.
  5. Add the zucchini, onion, oil, chilli and pre-cooked bacon and mix well. The mixture should be just pourable.
  6. Pour into the lined baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Leave to cool before slicing into small squares. The slice should last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and will also freeze well. 

GET CREATIVE

Spice things up with added ingredients like diced sweet potato, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes or herbs. 

For a "cheesy" topping, sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top of the slice before baking. 

Gift ideas for health and happiness

Gift ideas for health and happiness

It's that time of year again. A time for family, feasting and sometimes gifting! I love to give DIY gifts, healthy activities or perishable goodies as a sustainable gesture to celebrate with your loved ones.

I've thrown together a little gift guide that celebrates health, happiness and high quality, local producers. Not only does this list include some of my favourite things, but all gifts are also supporting those in my local community who have supported me. Many of the small businesses below have provided for Primal Junction seminars and events or prizes and I know that every gift on this list is supporting an amazing team of human beings who work their butts off in small business! Shop local this holiday season and support those who support you.

Note: I did not receive any incentive for including these guys in this list - they just rock!

 

An organic fruit or vegetable box

Such an awesome gift idea! You can buy your loved ones a big, beautiful box of organic fruit or veggies and have it delivered directly to their door. If you're not sure when they would like it or don't know their address - grab them a gift voucher so they can order it when they like. Sarah and her team at Organic Angels will always provide an incredible customer experience and know their stuff. I love their veggie only box – it’s so exciting to open and see what’s on the menu for the week!

 

Ethical and grass-fed meat

I am constantly expressing the importance of sourcing high quality meat for a sustainable, ethical and healthier protein source.  Sam and his team at Cannings Butchers have been an incredible support to me individually and in business. Always open to brainstorm ideas to find ways to improve the health and education of our local community, Sam is one very knowledgeable, caring and ethical butcher! A voucher from Cannings (or your local grass-fed butcher) is an awesome gift if you know someone who cares about where food comes from (shouldn’t we all?) and especially if they won’t stop talking about bacon! Butcher shops also often stock some great little fine foods extras to pop into the hamper below.

 

A health-food hamper

Why pack a hamper with poor quality food like crackers, chocolate and wine? There is nothing better than a hamper jam-packed with local, delicious and guilt-free goodies. I love to hit up the local Op Shop for a recycled basket to fill with products that provide health and/or support local business. My favourites include:

Funch Foods ball mixes, Loving Earth raw chocolate, Pukka Tea or other organic herbal blends, Paleo Pure muesli, pink Himalayan salt, spice blends, Rumbles Paleo treats, nut mixes and freeze-dried berries, all topped off with a bottle of delicious biodynamic wine!

If you’re Hawthorn/Melbourne based, The Common Good Store is the perfect spot to stop in and stock up your hamper with Meneka and her team.

 

The gift of yoga

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A membership pass to a local yoga studio is an amazing gift that promotes relaxation, health and wellbeing. Our friends at Light Space Yoga are based in Balwyn and Mitcham (Melbourne) and have a fabulous range of classes and their 1 month unlimited membership is a great gift idea (I have been fortunate enough to receive this gift myself!). In my opinion, the gift of yoga at any studio is always welcomed with open arms and complete gratitude.

 

A float-tank experience

If you haven’t read my post about my floating experience at Gravity Float, be sure to check it out here. Floating is an amazing relaxation and stress-relieving experience. It’s SUCH a treat and perfect if you know someone who might forget to treat themselves to a little bliss-time every once and a while! If you’re Melbourne-based, I’d highly recommend Gravity Floatation Centre (in Northcote and Malvern) and Elevation Floatation and Yoga in Camberwell. If you’re finding a new place online, I’d recommend heading in to meet the team (and trying it yourself!) before purchasing a gift voucher.

 

Epic training gear from lululemon athletica

If you have any active friends (guys or gals), lululemon gear is ALWAYS appreciated! It's comfy, long-lasting and sweat-friendly. Did you know: lululemon gift vouchers never expire?!

 

Paleo recipe book (shameless plug!)

My little Paleo bookazine is the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer and is jam-packed with over 55 gluten, dairy and refined sugar free recipes that are beautifully photographed and SO easy to make. 

 

What are your favourite healthy gist ideas? Who do you love to support at this time of year? 

HUNT & GATHER | DITCH THE SUPERMARKET

Along with the real-food revolution, more and more people are looking to explore alternative shopping options and avoid the processed-food laden supermarket or grocery store. In my everyday life, I’ve managed to completely replace all large supermarket shopping and in the process, I have made new friends, learned more about where our food comes from and supported our local food providers along the way. 

WHY DITCH THE SUPERMARKET? 

Although extremely large and sometimes more convenient, the supermarket is not the best place to find real food. In fact, finding real, high quality, Paleo-friendly products within the fluorescent aisles can be like hunting for a needle in a haystack! For many supermarket products, shelf life is top priority, which generally has a negative correlation with nutrient density. You may have heard the tip to shop around the perimeter, but I’d rather you head outside, meet your local business owners and take control of your health.

VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR

One of the biggest questions that we come up against is “but isn’t eating healthy more expensive?” The answer is no. It is true that some organic products can have a higher price tag than supermarket items, but there are a number of ways to address this dilemma. When we transition to a whole food diet, many of the high ticket items from your supermarket are off the menu. Have you ever noticed that the most expensive items tend to be things like cereal, crackers, muesli, kids snacks, “healthy” treats and dairy products like yoghurt and cheese? When we take these items out of the budget, there is often a lot more to spend on fresh vegetables and high quality meats than you think!

By stepping out of the supermarket, you will be opening yourself to a world of choice. You can vote with your dollar to support individual families and business practices that you believe in. If we are all able to ask the right questions and support practices like the ethical treatment of animals, we will all play a role in changing the landscape of living for our families and for future generations.

As organic produce and grass-fed meat is becoming increasingly popular, this has helped to reduce the prices across the board. If you do your research, you can even purchase your seasonal and organic or spray-free produce for equal or even less than supermarket value. By taking out the middleman, you know exactly where your money is going, too. There’s no denying that grass-fed and organic meat is more expensive than meat from conventional farming. This is because it takes longer and uses higher quality resources and extra care to raise animals without high volume grain feeding and hormonal intervention. However, by making the switch you are also keeping these toxins out of your body and promoting a change in the way we treat and feed animals. A weekly budget is a great way to implement this change, and will allow you to see exactly where your money is allocated to feed your family. You can plan what you need to spend at the market for weekly fruit and vegetables, at the butcher or market for your key protein sources and any household extras that may need to be topped up at the grocer. Your investment in health now may mean huge savings in the future by preventing illness and disease for you and your family.

THE FARMERS' MARKET

A trip to the farmers’ market is one of the most fun, rewarding and delicious ways to spend your Saturday or Sunday morning. If you love getting up early to beat the crowds, you can always get your hands on a warm cup of tea or coffee and check out the daily offerings. I recommend that you prepare your shopping list ahead of time, do a lap of the market first and suss out the best value stalls or ask any questions that you have before you start buying. Every market will be a little different, and some will have vegetables, meat and eggs all in one spot while others will be more produce or even craft-based. Visiting different markets can also be a great way to travel in your city and is a great excuse for a road trip!

The farmers’ market is the best stop for fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s great to know which vegetables are better to buy organic (more likely to have chemical residues) and which ones have the lowest risk. In the US, The Environmental Working Group has released a “dirty dozen” list of vegetables and fruits with the highest potential for pesticide residue. Get as many of your fruits and veggies from a spray-free or organic provider, but keep the following in mind as high priority.

Go organic for: apples, peaches, strawberries, celery, spinach, capsicum, nectarines, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, grapes, snap peas and potatoes.

Less risk of chemical residue on: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas and sweet potatoes.

 

YOUR LOCAL BUTCHER

Ask your butcher questions! Where does the meat come from? What is it fed? Is it 100% grass-fed or grain finished? If they really care about their product and your wellbeing, they’ll be able to tell you what you need to know to make a fully informed choice for your meat supply. Your butcher can also help you with questions about how to cook specific cuts of meat and what meats might suit your favourite recipes.

Add a wide variety of cuts and animal types to your shopping list: lamb, chicken, beef, fish, pork, kangaroo, wild game, bones for broth and organ meats.

 

 

THE LOCAL CORNER STORE OR ORGANIC GROCER

If you get caught out during the week, it’s great to have a local corner store or organic grocer to stop in and pick up the necessities. Often, your high quality grocer or health food shop will have groceries like:

  • pasture-fed eggs
  • organic nuts 
  • seeds 
  • spices 
  • toiletries 
  • frozen foods 
  • healthy treats and snacks
  • preserves 
  • fermented foods
  • staples like sugar-free pasta sauce, tuna, tomato paste and coconut milk

Where are your favourite places to shop for meat, veggies and staples? Do you have a favourite market? Share below!

 

PRIMAL MEAL-PREP: DECONSTRUCTED SALAD

With so many incredible #nourishbowls making their way around Instagram, I couldn't help but be inspired to jump on board and create a bright and colourful collection of deconstructed salad ingredients for our lunches this week!

The best part about this type of meal-prep is that you can get creative and use whatever ingredients you have available to you. The key is to make sure that it includes an array of colourful veggies, some high quality protein and a little sauce or dip for texture. 

INGREDIENTS:

(serves 2)

  • 4 skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 tbsp each of paprika, ground cumin, salt and cayenne pepper (mixed together) OR 1 tbsp. cajun spice blend
  • 2 tbsp ghee, melted
  • 10-15 Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground salt
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 large dollop roast pumpkin dip (below)

 

FOR THE DIP:

(serves 6)

  • 400g pre-roasted butternut pumpkin chunks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/355F. Line a baking dish with tin foil. 
  2. Place the chicken thighs in the dish and brush with 1 tbsp of ghee. Sprinkle with the spice mix. Roast for 25 minutes, then set aside to cool before roughly chopping into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Meanwhile, add the Brussels sprouts to another baking dish with the remaining tbsp of ghee. Mix well and roast at the same temperature for 30-35 minutes, or until softened and browned. Some of the loose leaves should be crispy. Top with salt and mix well.
  4. For the dip, place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until well mixed. Store extra dip in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  5. In a bowl or containers, arrange the ingredients in a deconstructed circle. 

Have you made your own #nourishbowl variations? Share them in the comments below!

PRIMAL MEAL-PREP: SWEET POTATO LASAGNA

This week, we're taking a primal-spin on and old favourite. Lasagna. A beautiful vegetable packed, layered and easily re-heated option for a mid-week lunch or dinner. This recipe makes 8 servings. 

If you're avoiding dairy, simply omit the ricotta layer and add the cooked spinach into the vegetable and meat mixture.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (~220 g each), sliced lengthways into thin "sheets"
  • one brown onion, diced
  • 2 cups zucchini, diced into cubes
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, freshly ground
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp ghee, melted
  • 1 kg pasture-raised lean beef mince
  • 1 jar (700 g) passata sauce (with no added sugar)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 500 g organic ricotta
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/355F and line 2 large baking trays with aluminium foil.
  2. Lay the sweet potato "sheets" onto the trays in a single layer and brush lightly with a little of the melted ghee. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just soft and a little brown around the edges. You may need to do a couple of batches to create all of your sweet potato layers.
  3. In a medium pan, heat a tablespoon of the ghee and cook the onion for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, salt and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce immediately to a low simmer.
  5. Stir frequently and cook for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are soft. Set aside.
  6. In a clean pan, add the remainder of the ghee and heat over medium/high. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to chop into small pieces as it cooks. Once just browned, add the tomato passata and mix well. Simmer on low for 25 minutes. 
  7. Meanwhile, bring a small amount of water to the boil in a medium pot. Add the spinach and stir for a couple of seconds to coat the leaves. Cook for about 2 minutes, until wilted and dark green. Drain and set aside to cool.
  8. Once cooled, chop the spinach into small chunks and add to a mixing bowl with the ricotta. Stir until well combined*
  9. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the beef and vegetable mixture.
  10. Let the layering begin! Line a baking dish with aluminium foil.
  11. Using a ladle or 1/2 C measuring cup, spoon about 2 cups of the beef and vegetable mixture into the bottom of the dish. 
  12. Add a layer of sweet potato slices. Note: they may not cover the entire surface, make sure you save enough for the remaining layers. Save the best ones for the top!
  13. Add another layer of meat and vegetables, then using a spatula, evenly spread half of the ricotta mixture on top, followed by another layer of sweet potato. 
  14. Repeat for your final layer, with more meat and veggies and another layer of ricotta and spinach. 
  15. Place your final sweet potato sheets on top for the finishing touch. 
  16. Bake at 180C/355F for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing into 6 (large) or 8 (smaller) servings. 
  17. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for the perfect back up meal!

*If you're avoiding dairy, simply omit the ricotta layer and add the cooked spinach into the vegetable and meat mixture.

Estimations per serving (serves 8): 485 cal // 26 g carbs // 26 g fat // 36 g protein 

TOP TAKEAWAYS: MY FLOATING EXPERIENCE

Floating. Pod. Sensory deprivation. Have you heard of this relaxing and somewhat intriguing practice? Have you been fortunate enough to test it out yourself? I was lucky and very grateful to catch up with the team behind Gravity Float in Northcote, one of the first Float Tank centres in Melbourne and experience their introductory 3-float special.

Float "pods" or tanks are filled with water and ~600kg of magnesium sulphate Epsom salts dissolved into the water, creating the buoyancy that allows you to float effortlessly. The water is heated to your skin temperature and after a few minutes, you can’t feel it surrounding and supporting you. The tanks are light proof and sound proof too, so the combination of weightlessness and sensory deprivation is truly a unique experience. Floating is a tool with many benefits, from anxiety to arthritis, pain relief, and physiological reset. It’s a form of facilitated meditation, particularly helpful for those that find it difficult to sit comfortably and relax. 

Floating, AKA sensory deprivation, isolation or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) was developed in the fifties and gained popularity as both a therapeutic and spiritual experience in the 1970’s (often amplified with the use of drugs like LSD).  It was initially thought that if you could shut the mind off from all sensory input, the brain would switch off. It actually turned out to have the opposite affect: the brain became highly active and creative. 

Here are some of my top takeaways and why I can't wait to go back:

The tanks were surprisingly roomy.

This is one of the most commonly asked questions and reservations about floating and before I tried my first float, I pictured a coffin-sized, closed lid that wouldn't allow me to move freely, but this isn't the case at all! The tanks are 2.6 x 1.8 metres and very spacious, like the size of a small car. When lying in the tank, you can’t touch the roof above you and you can even leave the lid open if you want more light and space above you. Surprisingly, I found myself eager to shut the lid and get myself into total darkness as quickly as possible! Rather than feeling claustrophobic, I actually found that my sense of space changed in the darkness and I didn't feel anxious at all.

And hygienic...

The cleanliness of the pod and floating water was another concern of mine. I knew that floating was to be done in the nude, and this seemed a little eebie-jeebie at first. Before you float, you must take a shower in your private float tank room. It's like a large bathroom with new and open shower facilities. After a good wash, you can get straight into the tank. Ear plugs are provided and were great for keeping the salt out. The floating water is filtered and filtered and filtered continuously while the tank is not being used, and the water cleaned with high tech UV and particle filtration systems. The salt content of the water itself creates an environment that doesn't promote bacterial growth. 

 

It was difficult to relax, at first.

The salt content in the water creates a fluid-like medium that pops you right up onto the surface of the tank. At first, it was a little difficult for me to relax into it and I found my neck muscles were fighting to stay active and support my head. After a few moments of focussing on my breath, closing my eyes and sinking into the supportive water, I could really start to let go. Without hearing, seeing, feeling or doing anything, I was able to completely let go into the darkness and focus on the feeling and sound of "breathe in" and "breathe out" until finding total calm.

It's addictive.

I'm definitely the type of person who finds it difficult to switch off and relax. I can sleep very well, so I'm normally awake and "doing" or instantly asleep. There's very rarely an in-between state of relaxation. I've been wanting to incorporate a daily meditation or quiet practice for some time, but I find it difficult to hold this as a regular habit. For me, floating is a relaxation luxury. It's forced time without your phone, disruptions or an escape route. Not only does the sensory deprivation help to naturally calm the body - it's incredibly comfortable. For many, the sometimes uncomfortable act of sitting can be a barrier to a daily practice. Although still on my journey to realising my own form of meditation or quiet time, floating has facilitated this process and has helped me to bridge the gap between falling asleep and frantic activity!

Some tips I would pass on to my pre-float self:

  • Wear the provided ear-plugs
  • Wash your hair and body really well after the float to remove salt particles
  • Don't drink coffee straight before a float (or straight after)
  • Plan a quiet afternoon after your session (hold onto the blissful state for as long as possible!)
  • Relish every minute of peace and quiet! 
  • Go back. It can take a couple of floats to relax into the experience and tune into the benefits

Have you tried floating yet? What do you think? 

APPLE + RHUBARB CRUMBLE

This week, it's all about meal-prepping for breakfast, dessert or a pre-workout snack. This crumble is absolutely delicious, simple to make and features the Melbourne-made Paleo Pure Muesli. This is not a sponsored post, I just love this local, organic and delicious muesli made right here in Melbourne. 

INGREDIENTS

(makes 6 servings)

  • 800 g canned granny smith apples (100% fruit with no juice or syrup) or fresh, apples peeled and sliced. 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 500 g rhubarb, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp. coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/4 cups Paleo Pure muesli (or a high quality muesli)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
  2. Place the apple in a non metallic baking dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon and set aside.
  3. In a medium pot, add the water, rhubarb and 1/2 tsp. coconut sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce immediately to a low simmer for 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb softens. 
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb into the baking dish and spread evenly on top of the apple. 
  5. In a bowl, mix the almond meal and muesli together. Spread the mixture on top of the fruit and sprinkle with the remaining coconut sugar. 
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and the crumble top is slightly browned.
  7. Serve with your choice of yogurt or a high quality ice-cream for dessert!
  8. Transfer into glass, airtight containers and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.