Monday, September 03, 2012

springing into spring

I basked in the Spring sunshine this weekend, it was heavenly! Here is a Spring inspired story I wrote recently for The Pantry's online publication. Hooray for the warmth of the sun and the feeling of endless possibility floating in the breeze.

Samantha Gowing - Springing into Spring

If you’re feeling like you’ve indulged in one too many bowls of pasta this winter let me introduce you to someone who will inspire you to a good spring cleanse. Samantha Gowing is a former publican and hat-winning restaurateur turned Therapeutic Chef who has spent the past 14 years learning, teaching and celebrating the ancient wisdom of food as medicine.

In her restaurant heyday in the nineties, Samantha and friends would leave Gowings Restaurant in Collingwood after dinner service and head to Chinatown’s Supper Inn to devour chilli quail, lap chong (Chinese sausage), BBQ pork and Peking duck pancakes sending it all south with lots of wine. Samantha laughs at the memory now, and while she hasn’t lost her appetite for a good time she has though changed her lifestyle and diet dramatically since becoming a clinical nutritionist, cooking teacher and wellness coach. And of her old ways she says, “I don’t miss anything. I am much happier, fitter and healthier.”
            These days Samantha is delighted to call Byron Bay home, the perfect location to hone her newfound love of surfing and continue her work helping others increase their energy and wellness through food. From her menu at Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat where she is Head Chef, Samantha’s signature Spa Cuisine “Surf Spa Food” includes dishes such as Japanese salad of kelp noodles with nori, arame, dulse, house pickled ginger, red cabbage with sprouts and snow pea tendrils; or chickpea tagine with tomato, red capsicum, ginger, paprika, preserved lemons and olives with wilted kale leaves and fennel puree. Samantha has the enviable job of consulting to luxury spas, hotels and health retreats internationally developing their menus and training staff. September sees her head to Bali where she will work with The Four Seasons Sayan, Ubud.

Her recipes shatter any notion that nutritious food is boring and limited to chicken broth and carrot sticks. Her blog Bitter Sweet Sour attracts a loyal following who visit for nutrient dense, organic and mostly gluten free recipes that are original and satisfying such as quinoa, minted pea and truffle salad, or adzuki bean with black jasmine rice, red slaw and crunchy pepitas and for dessert raw pecan cacao brownies. Yes dessert. Samantha’s approach is not one of deprivation, she is a realist with a great sense of humour and the aim of her game is health and wellness not starvation and misery!
In her work with private clients all over Australia, Samantha says the biggest hurdle she sees people face when making changes to their diet and lifestyle is accountability, taking ownership of their choices,  "Many people expect their trainer or health coach to do all the work, when they really need to embrace the change to reap their rewards. Nutrition is 75% and exercise is 25%, however I firmly believe that visualization is the key. Focus on what you do want rather than what you don't want."

Samantha shares her top 5 tips for Springing into Spring:

 1. Kickstart your spring with a gentle 3 day cleanse of superfood smoothies, warm vegetable soups and/or miso soup to take some of the workload off your digestive system. Not too much cold food, just broths and room temperature drinks – it’s easier than you think.

2. Gift yourself 5 AFDs and each night have a mini spa ritual at home like a bath with scented oil, a late massage or yoga class, a DIY foot rub or a facemask, then go to bed before 10 pm with no TV or phone. Read a book. Remember them?!

3. Create a digital detox for your sacred space at home – no TV, ipad, iphone in your bedroom for 5 days and witness the improvement in your sleep. Then avoid connecting until you get to your workplace. Make space in your morning.

4. Kick the caffeine for 5 days – beware the detox headache on day 3ish – so be prepared with natural anti-inflammatory supplements like krill oil or fish oil, magnesium and ginger tea.

5. Detox your pantry and supplement box – discard any out of date supplements or prescription meds that you never finished like that pesky course of antibiotics! Throw out the old dried herbs and spices, buy yourself small amounts of beautiful organic cayenne, turmeric, cumin and coriander and take pride in every item in your pantry. Piff the pasta and get on some wholegrains like basmati and brown rice, seeds like quinoa and amaranth and grasses like buckwheat and soba noodles.

photos courtesy Nigel Carboon

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