I'm beyond happy to this week bring you a very special lady in my life, Miss Amy Crawford. Amy is the brains and beauty behind the stellar sensation of a blog, The Holistic Ingredient. THI is Amy's personal (and often rather humorous) take on whole foods, clean living, and in her words, a new found "boundless energy".
Prior to diving head first into the health and wellness industry, Amy was running the treadmills of the corporate rat race. 17 years in recruitment had led her to become well accustomed with long hours and the heart pumping adrenaline associated with high stress – which almost became an addiction.
After years of highs and lows and a multitude of tests, she was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This illness brought with it debilitating fatigue where she often couldn't concentrate long enough to read an email or write a text message. There were days she couldn't hold her arms up to her laptop, certainly not above her head to wash her hair. Her right arm became limp, and she struggled to turn the wheel of her car without power steering.
Thankfully, her diagnosis was cause for change, big change. Amy moved back in with her parents at the ripe old age of 30 something; removed all processed food, sugar, chemicals, gluten, caffeine and alcohol from her diet; learned to meditate and slowly restart daily low intensity exercise; avoided fish at all costs given it's often high toxicity levels (a result of our suffering environment and too much pollution in our seas); and removed all toxins from her home in terms of skin care, beauty products, and household cleaning items. She started her blog and website as a way of sharing her findings with others, and more recently has published an incredibly successful clean eating recipe ebook entitled "A Nourishing Kitchen" (for more info click here).
Amy and I battle it out on the 100% plant-based vs majority plant-based field, but we also agree on a lot of things - that is that most people in the Western world could do well to reduce their reliance on animal products, and that everyone unequivocally would benefit from increasing their plant-based wholefoods intake.
As for smarts, Amy is a certified practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Hypnosis, Reiki (an eastern medicine approach to relaxation and healing) and CTC (Combined Therapy Cocktail), which is a combination of the previous therapies according to each client's individual issues. She's also a qualified health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology, and a graduate diploma in communications. After reading some of Amy's clients' rave reviews, you'll know this lady is the real healing deal.
Without further adieu, meet Amy...
Why did you decide to turn to a more plant-based organic lifestyle?
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in early 2011 after a slow decline in health over many years. As part of an ongoing process of elimination I had highly detailed toxicity readings taken and learnt that my toxic levels were off the Richter Scale. The upshot of that was the commencement of an organic, 100% natural lifestyle, as far as possible. I needed to decrease my toxic exposure as much as I could and in doing so, support a badly compromised digestive and immune system by eating more easily digestible, organic whole foods. Through my recovery period I continued to eat some animal protein, as without it I felt my already low energy levels suffered. However since my return to health my diet is leaning more heavily towards plant based.
How has your health (physical and emotional) changed since then?
Markedly! The result of eating organic, toxic free whole foods is that my immune system is no longer burdened as it once was. The food I eat is easily digestible. Processed foods (particularly those containing numbers on the back) are no longer a part of my diet. I am now free of CFS and my energy levels are fantastic. Emotionally I am stronger than I have been and I know my diet has a huge part to play in that.
If you had to give someone 3 reasons why they should switch to more plant-based organic products, what would they be?
What does a day on your plate look like:
There is definitely no one typical day though my diet is entirely whole food based – I eat as nature intended it, as far as possible. Most days I would eat free range certified organic eggs in a meal. I feel at my best with a good amount of protein in my diet, so organic free range eggs are my go-to. A favourite breakfast is my (self-proclaimed) signature dish, the sweet omelette. It sustains me through to lunch. A typical lunch would be a raw salad full of as many ingredients as I can squeeze in, including seeds and nuts, flaxseed oil and a protein source. Lately I have discovered tempeh and am really enjoying that. Dinner would be a combination of things but typically pretty simple. Steamed or roast vegetables with a piece of salmon or another protein source. Many days a week I would drink a green smoothie as a meal replacement.
Now, your favourite foodie indulgence...
Do you even need to ask?! Raw chocolate. Oh how I love raw chocolate. I make my own and it has a very short use by date!
What do you think the biggest fear or misconception is about an organic plant-based lifestyle?
I can relate well to this question. Personally, the fear is around flagging energy levels. I have had such a battle with energy during my CFS illness that I have been very cautious about my diet and omitting animal protein altogether. I think many would agree that the misconception is around whether you can sustain your energy on a 100% plant based diet. I believe in bio-individuality - what works for some does not work for others.
What's your approach to balance & moderation (in life, or food)
I sit somewhere between 80/20 or 90/10. That is, 80% or 90% of the time I am good, 10% or 20% I am not perfect! I find this sustainable given I work from home and can therefore easily prepare most of my meals. We set ourselves up for failure if we aim for perfection. I believe in ‘soul food’, food that is made with love and nourishes the soul. For example if I went to a friend’s house and they went out of their way to make me a sticky date pudding…why on earth would I say no to that? We deserve treats, just in moderation.
You've been given permission to raid the Be Good Organics stock room - what's one foodie product and one beauty product you'd nab...
Awesome! That’s hard but I’d go the bokashi composting system because I am very conscious of the amount of food scraps I throw out. I would then go the 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator because I purchased the 5 tray, quite regretfully!
Can you share your favourite plant-based organic recipe?
These are the most gorgeous raw broccoli and spinach balls from my brand new recipe eBook, "A Nourishing Kitchen" (to get yourself a copy - A$18/~NZ$21/~US$16, click here), they are the business!
Makes a tray full of 20-25 beautiful bites
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 8-15 hours dehydration
2 cups broccoli
2 cups English spinach
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
½ cup pine nuts
½ chopped onion
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 large garlic clove
½ - 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Process the sunflower seeds until fine. Add all remaining ingredients and blend well into a thick paste. Place teaspoon or tablespoon sized bites onto a teflex sheet or baking paper for your oven. Dehydrate for 8-15 hours on your pilot light in the oven (approximately 50*c) or 40*c in your dehydrator. Turn the bites over after approximately 5 hours.
These will keep in the fridge for up to a week or freeze and use as required.
To grab your copy of Amy's wholefoods recipe ebook "A Nourishing Kitchen", click here.
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If you love potatoes you are going to love this recipe. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and topped with the most divine caper aioli. I’ve made these 6 times the past few weeks and would happily eat them every night for the rest of my life!