Monday, October 13, 2014

HEALTH: The Good, The Bad, The Rather Unfortunate

You may ask yourself: "Why is this post on this blog?" (cue the cringe factor)

Because the hip bone is connected to the ankle bone, my friend.

Allergies come from somewhere, and gut health is crucial to fending off the ever impending somewhere, especially for immune compromised individuals (hey, you with coeliac - that's YOU!)

And down the rabbit hole we go...

For those of you who have never found yourselves smearing vaginal thrush cream on your eyelids, face and neck in your life (so far), consider yourself lucky.

How did I arrive at this rather unfortunate happening?

A round of amoxycillin for a respiratory tract infection (the downsides of air travel, jet lag, stress, and close quarters contact with sick and coughing children when you have an autoimmune disorder).

The good: Antibiotics.
The bad: Antibiotics.

So good things sometimes go wrong.
This much we know.

This, however, was a first for me.
Cutaneous candidiasis.

Yes, that's right. Candida on your face, neck, eyelids that flares up in hair follicules, causing a terrible red rash that itches like crazy mad (charming, I know).

When the overgrowth ("Yay, we're winning now!") of fungi normally found in the body is caused by upsetting the (apparently) rather delicate balance of bacteria to fungi ratios.

You see, antibiotics kill bacterias.
The good along with the bad.

If you have never before thought of yourself as an ecosystem, now is the time to start.

From the bacterial colonies that thrive in the gut to the fungi which cruise around with them to the little mites which live on our eye lashes. They need us. We need them. For everything from conferring immunity to helping with digestion.

Now, what the hell do you do about cutaneous candidiasis if you should find yourself the bearer of this nasty arse red face rash?

Multi-pronged approach.

Internal? An anti-fungal like diflucan (fluconazole) (prescription necessary).

More internal? Balance that homeostasis as fast as possible!

Cut back the sugars and refined carbs. Load up on green leafy vegetables and proteins.

And get thee hence to a shop for:

PROBIOTICS - build up the healthy gut bacteria again

Watch out for allergens. Find a brand that is made without gluten, etc.
KEFIR - cultured dairy or coconut water which contains natural probiotics

YOGHURT - more edible probiotics, best eaten on prebiotics (the foods that the good bacteria love so that they make more of themselves)

External? Yup, you guessed it. Vaginal cream containing an antifungal like clotrimazole.

CREAM ARSENAL - turns out that fungi are adaptable bastards and you need to attack them from various directions. Also, vaginal cream isn't exactly a facial moisturiser now is it. So maintaining facial moisture levels while attacking a fungus which is attacking your skin is, how shall I put it, tricky. P.S. You may want to forego make-up during this process. Your vanity will scream NOOOO! Your skin, however, will thank you.

Thyme Heal Anti-Fungal Cream
Naturally by Trisha's Fungus Salve
So there you go. The fung-us among-us.

Corny, but oh so true.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

FOOD: Coconut Yoghurt + A Tasty Recipe

Yellow Split Peas with Coconut Yoghurt and Wile Rocket Leaves

Fierce Wellington Winds A Blowin'...
Wellington winds gust strong.
Damn strong.

All well and fine if you can stay in doors, and watch the view above from the safety and comfort of an insulated studio apartment with heating. 

Not so great if you have to head out to walk around, catch buses, etc.

This weather calls for a hearty meal.
The kind that warms the cockles of your thawing bones and is healthy to boot.

Enter coconut yoghurt.
And may I say: GENIUS idea!

Dairy-free. Gluten-free. Lactose-free.
Probiotics = affirmative.
No added sugar.
Tastes? Excellent!

Picked up a tub of this beauty at Commonsense Organics in Wakefield Street, Wellington City.

Boy-oh-boy, is that a fun place to visit!

For those working at a rather extreme exchange rate disadvantage (*cough*), watch yourself in this place. You will burn through a whole lotta cash before you even blink!

Yellow Split Peas with Coconut Yoghurt and Wild Rocket

This is really more about assembly than a "recipe" per se.

Substitute a thick, creamy yoghurt for the coconut yoghurt if it isn't available in your location.  

The tangy tartness of yoghurt balances the richer flavours of the split peas, while the peppery textured crunch of wild rocket seals the deal on a hearty meal. 

Step 1: Rocket (arugula).
Step 2: Warm, soft, freshly cooked yellow split peas seasoned with salt.
Step 3: Dollop of creamy (coconut) yoghurt to finish off a delightful dish.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

TRAVEL: Epic Adventures - Te Anau and Doubtful Sound

Shores of Lake Te Anau at the start of the 67km Kepler Track on New Zealand's South Island.

I'm one of those people who used to cry as a child when holidays were over because I didn't want the fun to end.

I still don't.

And sometimes I still cry at the end of holidays.

When undertaking an epic nine week adventure, as I currently am, one has to shift one's perspective on leaving places slightly, because you are doing it (a lot).

Of course, leavings are juxtaposed with arrivings, so things even out.

But still, I found myself on the deck of a boat, cruising one of the most remote and inaccessible locations of New Zealand's South Island on the weekend - Doubtful Sound.

Accessed only by a boat ride across lake Manapouri, a bus ride along a private road (owned and maintained by Meridian Energy) through a treacherous (snow covered!!!) pass, down to the water's edge of Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound was, apparently, shrouded in doubt when Captain Cook was't sure if his ship's sails would fit through the Sound.

This place is remote. And magical.

It is not often in one's life when one feels one is truly in a wild place, with a hint of OMG freedom attached to the thought of being at such a remote and southern location that the inevitable thought arises:
Is this the most remote and isolated place I will ever be in my life? Is this it in terms of experiences like this?

I am OCD that way. Way too much forward thinking.

Enter a case of the feels.

Boo hoo. I am having this amazing life experience that has a time frame attached. Call the Waaaambulance.

Ag, anyway. That's the way I roll.

It was epic. The moment(s) were epic. 

This trip is epic.

And hopefully, I will get to see some more cool and remote and wild and free shit still as long as I am riding this merry-go-round.

After all, if you're here, you already won the genetic lottery ticket.

May as well ride that horsey till it wears out (or you do). 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FOOD: Chia Pods

Love this sugar-free, dairy-free, high fibre, energy boosting little snack I came across in a Woolworths in Newcastle, AU.

While they might not be available in South Africa (yet), the ingredients are simple enough that you could make them at home quite easily (and probably a whole lot cheaper per portion as well).

These would be perfect for a quick brekkie, lunchbox snack or anytime you were craving a little something for flagging (jet lagging) energy levels.

Homemade version: 
Soak chia seeds in coconut milk overnight. Add vanilla seeds and cinnamon to taste. A little natural sweetner like coconut sugar or honey wouldn't go amiss either. Store in the fridge.

Did you know?
Chia seeds are the super food referred to in Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

FOOD: By Nature (preservative free)

Dried olives, mangoes, raisins and raw walnuts.
I have been adoring medjool dates of late, which have turned my tastebuds up to full volume in craving dried fruits.

Cue the search for preservative-free dried fruits that don't cost a ton.

Enter By Nature and Tierhoek.

Tierhoek I've known and loved for a while now (OMG their dark chocolate covered apricots!), but By Nature is new to me (maybe not so much to Capetonians). 

I just got my stash delivered from the online shop Faithful-to-Nature and called the supplier to make 100% sure there are no preservatives in the fruits. Peter assured me that they cater for the preservative-free demographic (aka. those people who hack and cough-up their pleura/turn red/whose throats close-up/who have asthma/etc. who are allergic to preservatives). In addition, most of their products are organic as well. Bonza!

Honest to goodness preservative free dried fruits!

I've started-in on the dried mangoes. I don't know if I will be able to stop. Deeeeelish!

Nature's sweeties :)

Dried plums and mixed fruit (apples, peaches, apricots and such).