Monday, September 01, 2014

spring cleanse

Happy first day of Spring!

I feel very lucky to have escaped the bleak Victorian winter this year.

I'm celebrating the arrival of Spring with a cleanse - body, mind and spirit - and I invite you to join me.

I did a quiet cleanse last year from the 1st of September to the 13th (my birthday, turning 40 this year! But that's another story), the main change I made was switching my daily cup of coffee to a vegetable juice. Radical I know.

This year I am stepping things up a little and decided on Friday to ask The Wholefood Mama facebook page readers to join me and am very happy with the keen response.

If you'd like to take part read on, (sorry for the short notice! but it isn't too late to start and you don't have to be on facebook, I will be posting updates and tips here on the blog)

The Wholefood Mama Spring cleanse guidelines:

Spring is a traditional time of cleansing and renewal in nature and in many cultural practices as we say farewell to the darkness and inner nature of winter and welcome the lightness of the new season.

For me a cleanse is not about an extreme detoxification, rather it is about bringing my awareness to what I am eating and drinking, how I am spending my time, the things I have in my space and making changes in a direction that is nourishing and makes me feel lighter.

I don't have qualifications as a health practitioner so please bear this in mind if you are joining me, my suggestions will be gentle and doable wherever you are at on your health and wellness path, but do check things out if you are in doubt.

The cleanse will look like this:

- caffeine free
- refined sugar free
- grain free
- dairy free
- vegetarian
- alcohol free
- 2 litres of water per day
- daily yoga and meditation or walking
- reading and writing affirmations
- setting new intentions
- practicing gratitude

If I were at home I would cleanse my surroundings too, sending anything I no longer use off to the op shop.
Here is a little shopping list to get you started:

- in season fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic): best bought every few days, enough for breakfast smoothies, salads and soups
- lemons, so you can start your day with the juice of 1/2 a lemon in warm water
- miso so you can have miso soup for breakfast or as a 'snack' between meals
- dandelion and/or herbal teas to replace caffeinated drinks
- macadamias, brazil nuts and almonds
- pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and linseeds
- coconut water
- fresh ginger, garlic, herbs and spices

Breakfast ideas: fresh vegetable juice, fresh fruit, green smoothie, miso and vegetable soup

Lunch ideas: soup, salad, stir-fry, veggie curry, green smoothie

Dinner: see lunch

Snacks: 6-8 nuts (chewed very well!), a piece of fruit, veggie sticks

As I have already mentioned I am not a medical practitioner, I am sharing the cleanse that I am doing and invite you to join me making adjustments that are right for your energy and activity levels. If this outline feels too drastic to you, ease it back a little and include chicken soup, or some dahl or similar.

One of the main reasons for doing a cleanse is to rest our often overworked digestion, so simple light meals are best.
I will be doing the cleanse for 12 days, completing it on the 13th in time for wholefood cake and champagne with my family and friends for my birthday! 

I'd love you to join me for the 12 days but as little as two days will renew your energy and focus.

If there are other things you would add to the shopping list or other meal ideas please share them in the comments. Are you in?

(the beautiful photo was taken by my husband Peter McConchie)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

stills collection

1. Yoke. A friend gifted me this new mag which made for great reading at our camp.

2. Cooktown stole our hearts.

3. Home made pasta is the best!

4. My man Pete with the beautiful Dr Tommy George Snr of the Kuku Thypan clan, in Cairns at the launch of the book they worked on together: Fire & the Story of Burning Country.

5. The beautiful Natalia Mann (home made pasta maker extraordinaire!) tuning up to play harp at the Fire book launch. Thankyou Natalia.

6. As we drove south out of Cairns we followed this cutie.

Friday, August 29, 2014

weekend reading

It's been months since I've had the time and internet access to put a weekend reading list together.

Last night I enjoyed catching up on what's been happening online while I've been away immersed in real life.

Here are some things that caught my eye...

I love magazines. Have you seen chickpea?

Georgia from Well Nourished is taking a well earned break from social media until October. If you haven't already seen her recently released ebook Rise + Shine click on over

While I've been on the road I was very happy to be asked to be part of Samantha Gowing's Rockin' Women Wednesday series. Thanks Sam!

I spotted this Salted Super Caramel Slice via Kristin Mamacino's page and though you might like it too

There's a backlog of beautiful recipes I've missed from Nicola's Homegrown Kitchen including a home made sinus clearing chest rub that may be handy for those of you in colder climates

Ditto in Eleanor's Petite Kitchen

And finally, Sarah's raw chocolate brownie with cashew chocolate topping looks like a good one to try!

Happy weekending everyone. I am very happy to be spending mine in Byron Bay catching up with friends and after driving from Cairns to Byron this week (1866 kms) I am very happy to not drive further than 20 kms in any direction!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

more from the road plus thursday recipe: sweet potato + haloumi salad

The heat from our days at Elim Beach is already merely a memory as I sit here in a coat today writing in Byron Bay where the weather is wintery.

I'm sorry these photos hardly do justice to the magnificence of the Cape York coastline. The best way to truly feel the magic of this place is to go there!

We set up camp at Traditional Owner Eddie Deemal's camp for one week. Eddie's camp is remote and therefore blissfully quiet. There were never more than four camp sites occupied at a time while we were there. To camp here a permit is required for details go here.

The days were hot, so we were thankful for the cold showers available because the crocodiles meant no swimming in the beautiful sea.

There is no hot running water at Eddie's camp, cold water is pumped up through some 97 underground springs where the water is filtered by the sand. A natural wonder!

The fish were plentiful. And when out in the boat catching the fish, the sandflies were plentiful too. After one fishing trip up the mangroves River returned with at least 100 bites on his bare calves and shins. Lesson learned: long sleeves and pants are a must as well as a good repellent.

For those who have never encountered a sandfly, the itch from the bite is intense and relentless. Sandflies are not like mosquitos in that you don't see them as they are so small and the itch lasts for days. Multiply that by 100 and you have a recipe for madness!

The night that River's itching was insufferable I put him under a cold shower and knew that taking his mind away from itch was just as important as relieving the itch with the cooling water. So, I told him to sing. His song choice was from Oliver, a movie we picked up in an op shop for $2 that he had watched over and over on long drives in the back of the car. Soon he was singing and soothed by the cool water and the Itch Eze cream I had picked up in Cooktown. tip: the remedy that really settled the bites down was to heat a pot with a few litres of water in it and add two capfuls of dettol and one capful of tea tree oil and soak the affected area.

Uncle Dave, our friend from Byron Bay, flew up to join us at Eddie's camp which was a treat for all of us to enjoy this place together and to introduce Dave to our friends in Hope Vale. 

Fresh fish was our staple over the week, while for Dave who eats a vegetarian diet I made sure the salads we ate had some protein punch in them in the form of nuts, seeds and haloumi. We also enjoyed dahl and a roasted vegetable pasta by the campfire.

I'd love to hear some of your travel tales. Are you on the road? Or dreaming of hitting the road? Tell us in the comments.

Sweet potato and Haloumi Salad


1 medium size sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 1/2cm slices
200g haloumi, sliced and fried til golden, cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons of tamari pepitas and sunflower seeds
mixed lettuce leaves
1 lebanese cucumber roughly chopped
1 tomato sliced and then each slice cut into quarters

To make

Roast or pan fry sweet potato until cooked, allow to cool.
Place all ingredients in a salad bowl, drizzle macadamia oil over the salad and splash on apple cider vinegar then toss salad and serve.

(To make tamari pepitas and sunflower seeds, dry roast seeds in a fry pan and at the end splash some tamari over and cook for a minute longer).

Monday, August 25, 2014

hello from the road

Regular readers here know that my family and I are on a road trip that has taken us to Far North Queensland, to Cape York where we've had some magical moments with our friends in Hope Vale.

I took this series of photos on a day when we went out mud crabbing.

The big orange crab pots you can see in the photos were tied into the mangroves with bait inside, when the tide came in so did dinner.

As you can see from the first photo, the sky is bigger out there. No houses, no skyscrapers just endless blue, and on this day bright white clouds.

We have all grown in ways that only travel can stretch you to do.

My travels began at age 19 when I put myself on a plane to Europe to go and start exploring the world.

I've traveled ever since. This journey has been special to take as a family for many reasons.

Many reasons that will filter through my posts over the coming weeks.

I've been collecting recipes as we've travelled along, I'm looking forward to sharing those with you and to catching up with what's been happening here online.

The break has been great but I've missed being here so I'll be back soon!

Thanks for your patience while I've been away. I hope you are enjoying seeing the stories from our travels. Recipes soon I promise! x

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


River turned eight while we were in Hope Vale.

Originally we planned to be in Mareeba, until Aunty Estelle's granddaughter, Hazel, heard River's birthday was coming up and asked, "Are we having the party here?"

And so we did. It made much more sense to celebrate with River's new friends and have lots of kids around rather than spend it just the four of us in a town we didn't know.

I made pizzas and two cakes: one chocolate, one banana.

Aunty Estelle's grand daughter Fenice made a big pot of spaghetti bolognaise. Aunty Estelle set the table with bbq shapes and bowls of jaffas and later served the cake with big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Plus lemon cordial.

Not usual birthday fare you are used to seeing here but the love behind what our hosts provided was heartfelt and outweighed worrying about any processed food overload.

The kids played in the street while the pizza and pasta were cooking. Once it was ready Aunty Estelle dished out the pasta, some kids coming back for seconds.

No one sat still for very long, quickly gobbling up their food before running back to the street to play.

As the sun went down and the sky grew dark it was time for cake, I was glad I made two so there was enough to go round.

Once the cake was eaten most kids ran out into the night making their way home. Two of Aunty's grandchildren stayed for a sleepover much to River and Sol's delight, the games and laughing continued under the light of the back porch.

So now I have an eight year old. A funny, charismatic, entertaining, fiesty, musical, creative, loving, thoughtful eight year old son who I treasure and find joy in watching him grow and in nurturing him in every sense of the word.

We are back in Hope Vale this week (with no internet access) I will post more next week.

Happy wholefood days to you all.

If you have a children's birthday coming up take a look at this post for some wholefood menu ideas and a carrot cake recipe.

The photos in this post were taken by my husband Peter McConchie.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

stills collection

1. Being in crocodile country has taken some getting used to. It is strange being in a warm climate where there are such beautiful waterways and knowing there is no chance you can swim in them.

2. Sol having fun at sunset.

3. "Please mum can we keep him?" The pressure to get a dog is growing!

4. Home made carrot cake in Hope Vale. Anything to get everyone eating more veggies.

5. Hope Vale streetscape.

6. Aunt Estelle preparing to cook the mudcrabs at a local beach camp.

7. Hot potato, hot potato.

8. Sol and one of his new little buddies, Markeesha. She has won our hearts!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

hope vale: hot chips, fresh fish and healing

Two weeks ago I logged off here and we headed to Hope Vale, a remote Aboriginal community 46kms north-west of Cairns.

The plan was to stay about six days, but as I explain regularly to River and Sol on this trip, plans change. Especially on the road.

Six days in Hope Vale turned into twelve. And in one week we will be going back for more. There was a timelessness as days rolled into nights and we settled into the home of our friends Uncle Des and Aunty Estelle Bowen getting to know their family and community.

The kettle never stopped boiling. I drank more cups of tea in twelve days than I have my 39 years. I loved every cup because with tea comes a yarn, seemingly endless yarns, at the kitchen table or around a campfire. (For readers wondering why you would have yarn with tea, in this instance yarn is another word for story not wool!)

A deep friendship was born between our families or as Aunty Estelle said to my mother-in-law on the phone one morning “they family now”.

Uncle Des and Aunty Estelle are such beautiful people. Their strength, humility, pride and commitment to their family and community inspire me greatly.

It is hard for me to find precisely the right words to paint a picture of life in Hope Vale to you. 
There is so much to say. This post is a beginning.

Adventures to local beaches to catch fish and mudcrabs happened every couple of days. Despite the heat there was no swimming of course because the waterways here are home to crocodiles.

(Aunty Estelle fishing with a handline, her great great grandaughter playing by her side)

While the fresh seafood was wonderful, the dominant diet in the community is white bread, hot chips, ice cream, weet bix, sweet biscuits, soft drink, cordial and convenience food bought from the small supermarket/convenience store.

Kids not eating enough nutritious food is not unique to Hope Vale of course, what is unique is the remoteness which limits access to top quality fresh produce and also that before the introduction of sugar, salt and grain based diet Indigenous people lived with health and strength on a natural diet.

If you are interested in the work my husband Pete is doing with Elders you can read more about it at Culture is Life and Be Part of the Healing.

We are back in Mossman for a week where I have internet access so I will post more soon. 

Thanks for reading! x

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Today we head to Hopevale.

Hopevale is an Aboriginal community about 46 kms north-west of Cooktown.

We are fortunate to be connected to the Bowen family in this community through our late great brother-in-law Peter Malcolm.

Peter Malcolm was one of life's adventurers in every sense of the word, never shying away from challenge whether it was flying a helicopter in Antarctica or finding means to sail Pelican a 63ft catamaran to Hopevale to take the community out on to the sea, Pete worked tirelessly to make it happen.

How the Bowen family and Peter came to be connected, and for Pelican to make the trip is a story of great loss and sadness, but also one of hope and healing. You can read more about that here.

My family and I are traveling to Hopevale so that my husband Pete can continue work with the Elders and community leaders on the project Culture is Life, aimed at ending the alarming incidence of self-harm and youth suicide in Indigenous communities through Elders led healing. You can sign a petition to support Elders led healing at Be Part of the Healing.

I will have no internet access while we are on this part of our journey so I will 'see' you back in here in a week or so with stories from this time that will no doubt be a mix of emotions.

Thanks for reading xx

ps. I had this lovely series of photographs to go with this post but my card reader decided not to work and I couldn't upload them, so I am sorry about that! I will sort it out asap. Ah life on the road!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

stills collection

1. 7am Cooktown. The backdrop for this small town in Far North Queensland where just over 2000 people live is the sea and this stunning mountain range.

2. Main street Cooktown. No swimming in this water, that's reserved for crocodiles! I am completely terrified about the whole croc thing, the one time in my life I feel helicopter parenting is totally justifiable!!

3. Who needs toys when you have a shopping trolley to play with?

4. Buses, caravans, campervans, tents, red dust covered 4 wheel drives, they're all in the camping ground

5. Camp kitchen

6. Sun set over the laundry

7. If you're visiting Cooktown, book a table at The Italian Restaurant (yes that's what it is called). John the owner hails from Lygon Street Melbourne where he was in the restaurant biz for years before setting up shop here in the sun

8. Yes this seafood spaghetti tasted as good as it looks

9. On country learning for River and Sol, looking on as Aunty Estelle Bowen from Hopevale community shows them how to cast a hand line into the Starke River

10. Sol looks tired in this shot but he was so thrilled about being the only one to catch a fish this day. He has decided that fishing with a hand line is better than with a rod :)

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