Can you believe 2015 is upon us? I swear it's true when they say the years fly by faster the older you get (not than I'm classifying myself as old, of course). 2014 has been such an amazing time. I wanted to start out by saying thank you so much for all the amazing support you've given me and our Be Good Organics community over the past two years, but in particular this last one. I originally started Be Good Organics as a personal blog to share with you the learnings from my health journey, but it's mind-blowing to think that now over 50,000 of you around the world are reading these posts every week.
For those of you who've only just recently joined me, the long and short of it is just over three years ago I was diagnosed with a serious form of Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease, which causes your thyroid and entire body to go into overdrive. Tachycardia (a rapid and irregular resting heartbeat of over 100 beats per minute), atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart palpitations), tremors, anxiety, insomnia, sweats, Graves' ophthalmopathy (an inflamed bulging and protruding eye), overactive digestive system, inability to maintain weight, reduced bone density, early onset osteoporosis and infertility... to name a few of the unfortunate symptoms. Left untreated it can lead to advanced osteoporosis, loss of vision, blindness, birth defects, heart complications and stroke.
Fast forward to now, and I've managed to successfully cure my Graves' disease, essentially through an organic plant-based whole foods diet and lifestyle. When I see doctors and specialists now, they're still flabbergasted that I've been off medication for over 18 months without radiotherapy or surgery, and haven't had a relapse as most sufferers do. Every time they say that I feel like the luckiest person in the world, that I didn't give in to the surgical/radiation options and discovered this wonderful holistic path that I'm on!
After I'd been writing the blog for a while, I found so many of you were asking - well what do you eat, what skincare do you use, what about chemicals around the home? So I decided to open a little online store to go along side the blog. I thought an online store would be a great way to give all of you the opportunity to access some of the wonderful organic, plant-based and cruelty free products I was using and loving.
Then I decided in 2014, study geek that I am, that I wanted to go back to university to learn more about the scientific background to how a plant-based organic diet and chemical-free lifestyle could cure disease, and how I could use that knowledge to help others. I already had two University degrees under my belt, as well as a 3-year postgraduate qualification, but I realised that learning and teaching others with that knowledge is what I truly love. So 2014 has seen me back studying full time, as well as managing the Be Good Organics community, with the help of some lovely new staff. My partner Tony has been a massive help with this, and we now have two lovely girls working for us on the store side of things who are just wonderful. Slowly, having them around is helping me move back to the blog which is what I truly love, providing information for you all, as well as fun ways to implement the same plant-based lifestyle I've fallen in love with.
During the process I've also learned a lot about the impacts that meat and dairy consumption has on animals and our environment. It's truly mind-blowing how much suffering is caused by our rapidly rising human desire to feast on meat and cheese. Now we're trying to ship out our bad habits to countries like China by telling them how healthy and wonderful it is to eat dairy and feed their babies milk powder! I must say that while dropping meat and dairy products started out as a health-related decision for me, it most certainly now is driven by a deep emotional attachment I have to animals, and love for the environment. Whilst bacon and cheese may have tasted mighty fine in a past life, now I know that making those choices is directly hurting innocent living creatures, and destroying our planet.
For example, the dairy industry alone causes the countless slaughter of day old male baby calves so that humans can consume their mothers' milk - in 2014 in New Zealand alone, 2 million baby calves were taken from their mothers within days of birth to be killed. Meanwhile pigs and layer chickens are kept in wire cages so tiny and filthy they can't even move their limbs. Even the free range egg industry partakes in the daily slaughter of 1 day old baby male chicks (popped casually into a waste disposal unit, whilst alive), and the killing of their sisters a mere 12 months later, as they become 'less efficient layers'. I would love to say there is a 'humane' way for this all to happen but unfortunately there's not. Even 'free range organic' meat still has to be prodded and shoved up the alleyway to the slaughter house, and if you've seen it happen you'll soon realise that these animals are ridiculously scared at the fate that awaits them.
Meanwhile on an environmental front, extreme requirements for water and grain to feed agricultural animals are causing mass deforestation, habitat loss, plant and animal species extinction, as well as an exploding carbon footprint and global warming. Sadly the people who are most affected by this are not our wealthy western nations, but the poorest countries in the world. 7 football fields of land are bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals. Someone who eats animal products creates seven times the greenhouse gases as someone who doesn't, and churns through 13 times the amount of water. In fact, animal agriculture (the raising of animals for human food) is the number one contributor to global warming, ahead of all the transport in the world combined. So while we're all riding our bikes, taking public transport, and buying hybrid cars, we could actually be making more of an impact by simply dropping the steak and cheese off our plate! It's also a horribly inefficient use of our global resources, with 1kg of meat requiring 16kgs of grain to produce. That means a non-meat eater could have 16 meals and have the same environmental impact as a meat-eater's single plate of bacon and eggs.
I know it's all rather heavy and horrible stuff, but I still wanted to share my thoughts with you because I feel so passionately about these issues. Going plant-based can make a massive impact on your health, but it also is the most selfless and giving thing you can do if you love animals and care about our planet. Of course I'm a major foodie and love good food, so most of my posts are about much more light hearted ways to make this change in your own life, AND love it while you're doing it. Even if you've joined this community just for the tasty raw treats and sumptuous dairy-free slices, I hope an ounce of your heart will have been twinged by these other important messages. That's my dream in any case.
So without further adieu, let me thank you for being here with me, riding along this journey, supporting our Be Good Organics community, and considering making the move towards a more plant-based, healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I wanted to celebrate by sharing with you five of your favourite recipes from the blog last year. If you haven't made them yet, I promise they are all absolute winners. Thank you for all your kind comments on social media and for sharing my posts with others - without you this movement wouldn't exist, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Now bring on the deliciousness...
Much love, bear-hugs and heart felt gratitude,
2014's clear winner so prepare yourself. This may well be the most delicious recipe I have ever created. If you've never tried Carob before, you should definitely test trial it on this. The malty sweet carob matches perfectly with the creamy coconut, and the chewy carob topping is divine. If you've tried my Chewy Choc Goji Crunch, then you'll absolutely love this (don't tell Choc Goji, but I think this version may actually even be better).
To get my Carob Coconut Rough Slice recipe, click here.
This is a delicious summery slice recipe, perfect for our current weather. It's a healthy take on the traditional Apricot and Coconut Fudge Slice you'll often see in your local bakery, slathered in creamy lemon icing. Yes this will definitely take you on a wee bakery throwback I reckon! Apricot and coconut is a classic combination, but it's the creamy lemon icing that really takes this to the next level. The tangy tartness from the lemon perfectly offsets the sweetness of the apricots, and the whole combo is, just, well divine.
Truffles, bliss balls, amaze balls, raw balls, fruit and nut balls or bites, whatever you like to call them, I truly love making these small round spheres of goodness. They're so simple, have so many variations, and all you need is a good food processor. They are a great way to get a whole lot of extra nutrients into your diet, and a lovely way to have healthy sweet treats on hand all the time. These particular balls are a take on the popular Ferrero Rocher and taste so good you'd never know the difference!
Here are just a couple of lovely things you guys had to say about these babies:
"Just made these, they are delish! They actually taste like Ferrero Rochers." ~Abbey
"I've just made a batch of these, and let me tell you.... so delicious, they won't be around for very long!" ~Kelly
To get my Ferrero Rocher Choc Hazelnut Truffles recipe, click here.
These bars are a delicious blend of cacao, coconut, cashews, raisins and a hint of vanilla. They have just the right level of sweetness (not too much), and are about a tenth of the cost of buying pre-made raw fruit and nut bars from the store. They're also super easy to make in your food processor, and if you have kids or grandkids you can get them involved too.
To get my Cacao Coconut Bars recipe, click here.
This delicious recipe and one of my own personal favourites is a take on the traditional Anzac biscuit. I've tried to honour the classic recipe, whilst also injecting a little bit of Be Good Organics plant-based love and healthfulness. The delicious rolled oats have remained, but I've removed most of the sugar and golden syrup and replaced what's left with low GI unrefined organic coconut sugar and dark coconut nectar. The butter has lovingly been swapped to organic coconut oil (which works an absolute treat in baking), and the white flour switched to unrefined spelt or quinoa. The result is a biscuit so healthy you could practically eat them for breakfast.
Here's what some of you said... "These were lovely! Great texture, perfect sweetness. Perfect as a lunch box treat." ~Astrid
To get my Healthy Anzac Biscuits recipe, click here.
Hope you enjoy recreating these, and as always I'd love you to share the plant-powered goodness with your friends. You can share your creations on Instagram and tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics, or share these recipes on Facebook (hit the like button below), Pinterest (hover over any of the images and click Pin It) or Twitter. Thank you!