Turmeric Health Benefits

Turmeric, also know as Curcuma longa,  is a spicy perennial plant of the ginger family, (Zingiberaceae) with potent health benefits.

turmeric plantNative to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, Turmeric has been used for thousands of years for both medicinal, dyeing and culinary purposes in a range of cultures. Turmeric was often used as a cheap substitute for saffron to give fabrics or foods a bright yellow colour.

In recent years Turmeric has been under the spotlight and undergone much research. In particular the active ingredient Curcumin is the most potent agent of research. Curcumin is a polyphenol, a particularly beneficial molecule found in many fruits and vegetables. 

Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated in 1910. Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine has long used Turmeric for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, lung and digestion systems and for general aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. Extensive research within the last half century has proven that most of these activities, once associated with turmeric, are due to curcumin.

turmeric & gingerResearch has found that curcumin beneficially modulates many diseases including diabetes, fatty-liver disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer and neurological disorders such as depression, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. It's primary role is as a potent anti-inflammatory and many of the modern chronic diseases have an inflammatory component driving them. You can use curcumin for pain such as headaches, period pain and back or joint pain.

Curcumin also displays potent antimicrobial actions against different bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites and can play a role in antibiotic resistance. A synergy between curcumin and antibiotics has yielded favourable results in some studies, but caution is warranted against using it routinely with all antibiotics as curcumin has also been shown to decrease the efficacy of some classes antibiotics by mechanisms which protected the bacteria from the action of the drug. 1

Curcumin can be a bit difficult to absorb and the best results come from a supplement that is altered to ensure it is well absorbed. Specifically it needs the present of fat to aid absorption. While the absorption and bioavailability is something we always focus on, in some cases, turmeric still has a beneficial role even with poor absorption. Interesting new research has found that curcumin could maintain the intestinal integrity and improve the barrier of the gut and and thereby decrease the release of gut bacteria-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS), even with marginal absorption.   High levels of circulating LPS are linked to chronic inflammation and many metabolic disease. 2

Supplements v Dietary Intake?

While using Turmeric in cooking is a great idea, it may be difficult to get high amounts of the active ingredients in cooking.  Absorption is definitely enhanced by fats and black pepper - which is why these ingredients appear in the classic Golden Paste recipe. There will be many benefits from eating fresh or dried turmeric root as a regular part of your diet, but if you are after a superior action on inflammation, pain, bacteria or cancer, it will be more useful to take a quality supplement. Moreover, many people get sick of the turmeric taste in their cooking and may find it hard to get sufficient turmeric into their diet or regularly enough to have a big impact.

curcumin capsulesSupplements should have concentrated amounts of curcumin and also be combined in a way to enhance absorption - such as including the addition of liposomes or phospholipid complexes. Differences in absorption of different curcumin supplements can be as much as 10 fold, and you definitely pay for what you get! As practitioners, we source some of the best supplements, so come in and have a chat if you are interested in trying it out. In some cases we combine it with other herbs to give a more beneficial result.

All in all, Turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin are highly useful for many health conditions - both prevention and treatment.
It is so easy to include it in your diet, it also pares well with its sister plant, ginger, in cooking and medicine.  So try some of my Golden Paste and see how you go with this little gold nugget of a herb!





Spicy Rainbow Coleslaw

Spicy Rainbow Coleslaw

Ever heard the term "eat the rainbow?"

20170922_122641_resized[1]Coloured veggies are known to pack a potent punch of goodness providing plenty of plant based antioxidants that our bodies just love! The carotenoids that give vegetables particular colours can improve our cardiovascular health, prevent cancer and support eye and skin health. So us naturopaths are always encouraging our patients to get a wide variety of different coloured veggies into their diets - effectively eating a rainbow of colours!

I find lunch is the perfect meal for getting a good nutritious boost of salad into your day. I often have patients who have other family members who aren't as adventurous or health conscious as they are. The evening meal has to work for everyone, because who wants to cook more than one dinner, right?!

Whereas, many of us eat a separate lunch at work or home - especially once the kids are at school and take a packed lunch. So lunch time can be a handy way of getting an extra intake of salad or veggies that might be missing at dinner.  I recently created this super food salad bowl, a spicy coleslaw recipe, rich in the coloured goodness of veggies and protein and is a tasty way of getting tonnes of nutrients into you!  Herbs and spices should be added to as many of your foods as possible as they are potent sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - and they make everything taste more delicious!  


Spicy Rainbow Salad Recipe



Black Sapote

The black sapote fruit, is also commonly called chocolate pudding fruit, due to its resemblance to a sticky chocolate pudding!
This unusual fruit comes from the persimmon family and makes a delicious and healthy treat that is also very versatile in cooking. It is quite high in vitamin C and Vitamin A as well as containing potassium and a few other minerals.




We are blessed with a large established tree that rains down black sapotes throughout spring. They fall off the tree hard and green and then you must allow them to ripen on the bench for a few days (a bit like an avocado) until they get soft and the skin changes to a dark green/brown colour. They almost look like they are spoiled and over ripe at this point, but that is the best time for eating. You can then store them ripe in the fridge for a few more days if need be. You can sometimes see black sapotes at organic shops and locally at green grocers during their season in sub tropical and tropical areas.

The black sapote flesh is rich and creamy and it has a mildly sweet and chocolate flavour. I find it is delicious whipped into a chocolate mousse with some organic cream and a splash of maple syrup!  You can also add it to smoothies and make a simple chocolate ice cream by freezing the mashed up pulp.

sapote-cakeIt is great in cakes and brownies. You can use it much like you would a mashed banana in recipes and you can also add extra cacao or dark chocolate for a stronger chocolate flavour. I just created this recipe below for a chocolate banana cake!

Get my recipe for a banana and chocolate sapote cake


Chocolate as an aphrodisiac

Chocolate as an aphrodisiac

Love is in the air

choc hrtTo the ancient Aztec's, chocolate was much more than a comfort food or a treat, it was considered a sacred food and a powerful aphrodisiac. The emperor Montezuma was thought to be particularly fond of chocolate and its ability to boost his prowess amongst the women in his harem. The Spanish went on to introduce the humble cacao bean to Europe, were it was then prized for adding stamina and strength to all activities, including those of pleasure.

Well fast forward to modern times, and we now have scientific ways of proving or otherwise these claims about chocolate. There are active chemicals in chocolate that could be responsible for its famous aphrodisiac qualities.  Chocolate contains tryptophan, which is a precursor to our happy hormone serotonin. Serotonin is also involved in sexual arousal and libido. Another chemical in chocolate is phenylethylamine, which is a stimulant similar to amphetamine. This chemical is released in the brain when people fall in love.  Anandamide, which translated means internal bliss, is another constituent found in chocolate. This happy little chemical interacts with the cannabinoid receptors and gives us a feeling of euphoria and bliss.

happy chocResearchers have looked into these chemicals in an attempt to find a link between them and chocolate's reputation as a love drug. The results have been disappointing and perhaps the active ingredients are in insufficient amounts to have a big impact. While research has not shown any strong physical effects on our arousal from chocolate, it is thought that it may be an emotional response, which can be harder to measure in standardised tests. Many people report feeling more happy and uplifted when they eat chocolate. However, the positive affect may be due to previous experiences and memories of eating chocolate that were associated with happy feelings.

If you are going to indulge your loved one in the gift of a little chocolate, then stick to good quality chocolate and preferably make it the dark variety. Quality chocolate is higher in real food ingredients, has less sugar and artificial flavours. Aside from the possible effects on libido and feelings mentioned above, dark chocolate contains many health benefits. It is high in antioxidants and polyphenols that have been shown to lower blood pressure and insulin levels and can help keep blood sugar levels stable. It has also been shown to have anti-ageing effects and improve circulation, memory and brain function.

The other benefit of rich, dark chocolate varieties is that most people do not overindulge compared to the sweeter milk chocolate types! Choose varieties that are at least 70% dark chocolate for the most active ingredients and also try to choose fairtrade and organic varieties to support cocoa farmers and be eco-friendly. If you would like a healthy, paleo chocolate recipe check out my Chocolate Walnut Brownies.

benchIn any case, finding a way to share and celebrate your love for someone, beyond food is also a good idea! Last year, I bought my partner an apple tree to plant as a special gift that keeps on giving! Massages, baths, roses or a romantic beach or nature walk can all be special ways to share this day of celebrating love.

Happy Valentines Day!


creeping thyme.JPGTime for Thyme!

Thyme is one of my favourite herbs in the dispensary for complaints such as colds, coughs and bronchitis.

The medicinal benefits of thyme have been recognized for thousands of years in many different regions and countries throughout the world. Thyme has a range of medicinal actions including anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. In addition to thyme chest congestion remedies and using it for respiratory issues such as sore throats, thyme has also been used for arthritis and urinary tract complaints.

Thyme is rich in aromatic essential oils, which is another reason that aside from its use in my clinic, it is also a popular herb in my kitchen for cooking! It pairs well with roast vegetables and meats and the effects of its essential oils on the gut mean that it can also improve digestion. The powerful essential oil has even been shown to be a potent inhibitor of harmful bacterias such as Staph and the tincture of thyme has been found to be beneficial for acne.

balmThyme is an ingredient in my popular lung and cough tea. Another great way to use Thyme is by making a chest rub, that can be a wonderful addition to your winter medicine kit! It is much like the classic Vicks vaporub but uses natural oils and beeswax rather than petroleum jelly as a base (which like other mineral oils and paraffin can leach minerals out of your body). It is super easy to make and lovely to use.


gingerGinger is one of my favourite herbs and we are lucky to be able to grow it here in subtropical South East Queensland.  It sure loves the wet hot summers more than me!

Ginger is also known by the latin name, Zingiber officinale, and it is related to other species in the Zingiberaceae family including the well known turmeric and galangal.

The juicy roots and rhizomes are used in many cultures both as a medicinal plant and culinary favourite. Ginger adds a distinct, warm and spicy flavour to many different dishes and cuisines.  I like growing ginger because you can harvest the young juicy roots which are often hard to find in the grocery store. They are great to throw into vegetable and fruit smoothies to add some warmth and flavour!

Medicinally ginger is excellent for nausea and has been well studied with favourable results in particular for morning sickness and motion sickness. It is also good for other digestive disturbances, including bloating and wind. Some promising research has found that ginger may play a role in decreasing cancer growth.

Ginger is also excellent for improving the circulation and decreasing inflammation. You can add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to boiling water to make a tea that is helpful for colds and coughs. I like adding it to chicken broth for an Asian flavour and it is particularly good when feeling sick, along with garlic and a hint of chilli.  The dried spice can be used in baking and curries and is one of the important ingredient in ginger bread men and sweet baked goods.


gingercookieGrain Free Ginger Biscuits


  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar or rapadura sugar
  • 125g butter
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda mixed with 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (or molasses for a stronger flavour)



  • Combine the first 6 dry ingredients together in large bowel and mix thoroughly.
  • Melt butter, add bicarb & water mixture, mix thoroughly with honey until well combined.
  • Mix this wet ingredient mix into dry until well combined.
  • Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto greased baking trays with space between to allow for spreading. Flatten slightly with a fork.
  • Bake at 170C for about 15 mins or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on tray before removing.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Rice is one of those clever ways of using cauliflower when you are after a grain free rice substitute.

cauliCauliflower has a mild taste that easily takes on the flavour of what it is cooked with.  It holds its texture and shape well with short to medium term cooking and this makes it a useful carb alternative.  Some people will want to try cauliflower if they are looking for a low carb 'starchy' alternative to rice or potato. Other people following a grain free diet, will appreciate this faux rice, because sometimes you just want a recipe to have a bit of rice on the side!

Cauliflower is a very healthy vegetable to include in the diet. It contains anti-cancer compounds, it can promote oestrogen clearance and regulate hormones and also boost liver function.

For this recipe you will need a food processor....unless, of course you are really patient and fastidious and can chop your cauliflower into tiny evenly sized pieces!  

TIP: You can also vary this recipe and easily make an Asian inspired fried rice by adding some ginger and garlic to the oil and drizzle with some tamari and sprinkle on some coriander at the end.


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • water or chicken stock
Cauliflower RiceMethod
  • Chop up a head of cauliflower into small florets and add to food processor.
  • Pulse until the cauliflower is chopped into small grain sized pieces.
  • Heat the butter or oil in a shallow frying pan. Add cauliflower pieces and saute until coated.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of chicken or vegetable stock or water...the amount will depend on how big your cauliflower was.
  • Continue to stir fry the cauliflower in the liquid for a couple of minutes and then cover the pan with a lid and allow to cook further for a few minutes until the cauliflower is softened, but still has a little texture.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with your favourite side dish.



Paleo Chocolate Walnut Brownies


Paleo Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownies

These paleo chocolate walnut brownies are a wonderful treat that are super healthy compared to standard brownies that are laden with sugar and refined flours. Being grain free means they can be enjoyed by people following a grain free, paleo and GAPS diet.   I often make chocolate and date brownies with an almond meal base, but these just contain coconut flour which makes them extra fudgey and great for people with almond allergies.  I like cooking with coconut flour but I find it really does work best with lots of eggs, which lighten the texture. I hope you enjoy these chocolate fudgey treats!  Please let me know in the comments section if you have given them a go.  🙂



  • 50g coconut flour
  • 40g cocoa
  • 50g walnuts roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey



  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
  • Mix the coconut flour, cocoa and walnuts together in bowl, removing any lumps.
  • In separate bowl or in a food processor, beat together the eggs, melted butter, maple syrup, honey and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat together until well combined.  (Note: the final mixture is meant to be quite runny.)
  • Pour into a greased shallow ceramic/glass rectangular dish (approx. 30cm x 18cm).
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until set and cooked through (check skewer comes out clean)
  • Allow to cool in dish before cutting into squares.
  • Store at room temperature for about 3 days....if they last that long! 🙂


Bliss Balls


Bliss Balls

Bliss balls are popular favourites amongst adults and children alike. Easy and quick to make if you have a food processor, these tasty little treats are super healthy and packed with minerals, healthy fats, protein and natural sugars. I like to add them to school lunch boxes for a surprise treat and they are great for parties. You can easily double or triple this mixture for bigger quantities.



  • 100g nuts & seeds (any combination of almonds, hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts, sunflower, pumpkin seeds)
  • 100g dried fruit chopped (mixture of dates, apricots, peaches)
  • coconut or carob for rolling


  • Soften dried fruit in a very small amount of water and leave for 10 minutes or alternatively heat in saucepan very gently for a few minutes and allow to cool.
  • Grind nuts in a food processor or electric coffee grinder until they reach a smooth/mealy consistency. Then add dried fruit and process again until well combined.
  • Roll into small balls and then roll and cover with coconut or carob.
  • Refrigerate to allow to harden a little and store in the fridge.
  • They keep well for at least a week – though you will be lucky if they last that long!

NB: You can add some cocoa or carob for a chocolate variation. Or for a special occasion you can coat them in melted dark chocolate and they turn into healthy chocolate truffles.





Tuscan Kale Soup

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family which also includes veggies like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. It really is one of nature's super foods - packed full of calcium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants.

There are many different varieties of Kale - this recipe calls for Cavolo Nero (also known as Tuscan Kale - see picture) - but you can substitute curly kale or even silverbeet if that is all you can get hold of.  Ribollita is one of my favourite soups and it comes from the Tuscan region of Italy. It is one of those delicious peasant style soups that are so thick and hearty that it becomes a meal in itself.  I first had it years ago when I was staying at a beautiful rustic farmhouse outside Florence in Tuscany - and since then I have been hooked and I often make it on cold, wintery days.

Ribollita in Italian actually means "twice cooked" - owing to the fact that it is best to make this soup the day before and reheat it the next day when it will be more thick and flavoursome. My sister who lives in Italy, says that a good Ribollita should be thick enough to allow a spoon to stand up in the pot!  You can use up bread that is a bit stale and dry in this recipe or you can toast a fresher type of bread to achieve the right consistency.

But if you don't have time to make it the day before you can still make it on the day - it will be equally delicious!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • pinch of dried chili
  • pinch of fennel or aniseed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon organic tomato paste
  • 1 bunch organic Tuscan kale, washed and chopped finely
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300g dried cannellini beans soaked overnight (or 1 can beans)
  • optional 1 handful or two of hard/dry bread of your choice – gluten free or sourdough
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

  • Cook the soaked cannellini beans in lightly salted water with a bay leaf until soft.
  • Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables with fennel seeds and chilli and sauté over low heat for 10 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the cooked beans, stock and kale and allow to simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper and the bread to the soup (if using) and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Top with parmesan cheese and a good slurp of extra virgin olive oil.



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To me Karen is an absolute angel! I highly recommend Karen to anyone who is going through the whole ‘roller coaster’ journey of IVF. It was so lovely to actually have someone that actually listened to me, it was in 2010 when we decided we would give IVF one last go before having a break. Karen put me on a super tonic which I call her ‘magic potion’ and after a few weeks in taking this my FSH levels dropped dramatically and this was my lucky month and my dream had finally came true. I always feel so positive every time I leave Karen’s rooms, I’m so glad that I found her I can never thank her enough for my positive out come!
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