What Have I Been Up To This Week?

My new herb garden!

My new herb garden!

Goodness I’ve been terrible at updating on my weekly activities! I store up all the juicy stuff but never get around to actually writing up about them! I’m still spending my time shuffling between home, hospital, work, college and grandparents’ house so I’m short on time in front of the computer. However, that means I’ve had LOTS of time to read. Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

What Have I Been Reading?

I found this article on the Guardian about clutter really struck a chord with me. I have been bothered by how much time I spend fiddling around my phone for a while now. It’s almost like a nervous tic, and nothing has shown that to me more starkly than the time I’ve been visiting my grandad at the hospital. Even though I’m there to visit I find myself checking Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, almost without thinking! So after reading the article I instantly deleted Amazon, YouTube, Skype, BeyondPod, Candy Crush Saga (I was on level 400!!) and Facebook and de-linked my Gmail account. I couldn’t do it with Twitter and Instagram (how will you all know what I’m up to!) but it’s a good start. I’m planning to move on to my horror of a clothes cupboard and I took photos of the ‘before’ of my spice cupboard in anticipation of being able to have an ‘after’ photo (and potentially a blog post!). I haven’t got much further than that…

Favourite brunch from M1lk: Baked eggs with chorizo, spinach and labneh. Ignore the bread!

Favourite brunch from M1lk: Baked eggs with chorizo, spinach and labneh. Ignore the bread!

As you know, articles on the gut ALWAYS fascinate me, and hand in hand with the gut goes going to the loo. Being British
we’re quite reticent about such delicate matters so I was surprised to see it being discussed so frankly on the Guardian website. We have actually had a squatty potty for about two years now and absolutely love it. I grew up in Malaysia, where squatting loos are the norm so I am pretty unfazed by it all and unsurprised by the suggestion that squatting is better for you. It’s interesting though, because as people become more affluent in Malaysia, they are replacing their squat loos with seat ones, and I bet that’s having a knock on effect on their gut. Of course, I was so grateful for my early training in the art of using squat loos when I was at Glastonbury. In fact the best loos I came across were the squat loos — after the whole weekend it looked like noone had even attempted to use them! Anyway, the more I read about the gut the more I realise it’s GOT to be the next big thing in research, as Emma Mihil said at Fitter Food Academy last weekend, it’s the new stem cell research!

I absolutely love this article on the primal origin of the human diet. It goes WAY back to what DNA and RNA are. I was vaguely aware of the theory that mitochondria (AKA the power house of all human cells; they make energy for everything we do) may have originally been an independent living bacteria, but reading the explanation here is absolutely fascinating. The post goes on to explain what macro- and micro-nutrients are. He’s fairly strongly anti-carbs, arguing that the body is quite happy running solely on ketones. I’m ambiguous about this and I wish he had provided links to the studies he mentions in passing as it would be good to have the opportunity to follow up. If there’s one thing the paleo community can’t agree on, it’s whether or not, and how much, we should be eating carbs.

After getting the e-version of the Zenbelly cookbook for very cheap a couple of months ago, I finally got around to reading it. It has some great recipes, although it’s a bit like The Ancestral Table in that they often have long list of ingredients and wouldn’t really be what I consider an everyday cookbook like I do Well Fed and Nom Nom Paleo. However, I love the photography, especially the photograph of the raw ingredients at the beginning of the recipes (you may have noticed me imitating that in my photographs sometimes!) and, since she’s an actual chef, there are some great tips and techniques. The one that I really took away and have been trying to implement is mise en place. I KNOW about this already…my dad always does it, and I always MEAN to do it but always fall into the trap of ‘oh but I can chop that while this is cooking’ but I always get caught out with stuff not being ready in time. Anyway, I promise you, it really does make a huge difference to be able to just chuck things in when the pan is ready.

What Have I Been Listening To?

I haven’t had a chance to listen to my usual podcasts but I was fascinated to catch a little snippet on BBC Radio 4 last Monday about the British Gut Project. Researchers at King’s College are trying to build up a bigger picture of how the British gut looks so for £75 you can send out a sample of your poo to be analysed and compared against the rest of Britain. Considering private stool testing is about £300 this is a pretty good deal, although they’re a bit reticent about what actual results you’ll get. Anyway, it sounds like an interesting way to be a part of a research project on a national scale so if you fancy pooing into a bag for three days, get on it!

What Have I Been Learning?

Keris Marsden talking about vitamin deficiencies at the Fitter Food Academy

Keris Marsden talking about vitamin deficiencies at the Fitter Food Academy

I attended the Fitter Food Academy last weekend on Fat Loss and Fuelling Health, featuring talks by Matt Whitmore on
training, Keris Marsden on hormones and supplements, Emma Mihill on the gut (yay!) and Paul Watson on mindfulness. It was a great day out in Leamington Spa, with lunch included and dinner afterwards at Paleo. I learnt A LOT although I need to go back over my notes as I seem to have forgotten most of it! My biggest takeaway was to eat more bitter greens and use more herbs in my cooking so I went out and bought a pot each of basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and mint with the determination to add them to ALL THE FOOD. I also wrote down ‘lungs’ and circled it a few times — look out for a recipe, as soon as I can get hold of some!

What Has Got Me Excited?

I was SO excited to see the new food guidelines coming out of Brazil. I particularly love the idea of ‘culinary preparations’. I’m not sure whether this is a slightly odd translation of simply ‘cooking’ in portugues, but I love the distinction between ‘culinary preparation’ and ‘processed’ food. Every now and then you get a paleo-hater saying ‘but as soon as you cook an onion you’ve started processing it.’ ‘Culinary preparation’ captures the ‘process’ the food goes through when you take an onion out of your veg basket, chop it, and throw it in a pan with some oil. Plus it makes you sound like a pro chef. Point number 5 — the CONTEXT in which you eat — reminded me very much of our trip to Copenhagen earlier this year when we realised that people rarely have their phones on show. Talking to some friends they talked about hygge, a sort of code of social conduct when you’re with friends and family, which includes NOT having your phone on the table during dinner!

Australian food pyramidOn a similar subject, the Australian Food Pyramid has recently been updated, showing a greater proportion (the bottom layer) dedicated to vegetables, with a smaller section within that layer for fruit. The second layer is allocated to grains, although they have widened the representation to include things like quinoa and soba noodles to reflect the cultural diversity and range of food available. It’s a major step forward as it places emphasis on unprocessed and plant-based food, although I find it strange that they have legumes both as ‘vegetables’ AND as a ‘protein’ source. ‘Healthy Fats’ at the top of the pyramid (with a slightly ambiguous picture of a bottle full of yellow liquid — what is a healthy fat in their opinion?!) replaces the previous recommendation to eat oil, margarine and low-fat spread. Clearly the low-fat pseudo-oils of yore are finally being considered to be what they are — highly processed junk food! Chicken skin is back on the menu and grains have at least been given their own layer, meaning that we should focus first on vegetables and then grains. I have been following Chef Pete Evans for a while and he has caused a lot of controversy in Australia for advocating a Paleo diet so I’m sure the reference to ‘celebrity fad diets’ are in part referring to him. Anyway, it’s not perfect but it’s way better than it was, and shows that government guidelines do respond to research, and perhaps a little bit to pressure from ‘celebrity fad diets!’ Now if only the British guidelines will follow suit…

I was notified of this awesome sounding Forest Playgroup at Myatt’s Field Park, near Oval. A friend of mine talks about forest schooling a lot and I envy the kids that get to go outside and learn while exploring. It does make me a tad sad, though, that kids need this sort of thing to be structured — if Enid Blyton is anything to go by, 60 years ago we were getting our knees dirty at any opportunity. This playgroup is only once a month; if it were up to me it would be every day! But…better than nothing and I hope it does well.

That’s all for now folks! Thanks for reading and hope you’ve had a great week!



  1. larobby · · Reply

    Loving your post, so many leads to explore!

    1. Thanks Roberta, glad you’re enjoying it!

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