Monday, February 04, 2013

wholefood mama: Renee McCready

I'm excited today to introduce you to wholefood mama Renée McCready. I know I say that every time I introduce a wholefood mama interview, but it is true! I find it very inspiring to hear how other mamas live the wholefood way and in this case it is a joy for me to see how much my friend Renée has accomplished, learnt and shared living her health and wellness path since we first met 13 years ago. Renée moved with her young family into the block of flats I was living in in Elwood, she was studying shiatsu around that time one shiatsu with her and I was hooked! We lost contact over the years but thanks to social media we have reconnected and I am so happy we have, firstly because I remember how dedicated she was to her healing work and it is really wonderful to see where Renée has gone with it but also because as you will read, Renée has some really wonderful information and ideas to share with us here about starting out on a healthy path, to coping when a child has allergies to how to get your children and teenagers to eat well. Plus a delicious raw food chocolate torte recipe. Thank you Renée! xx

Let's get into the interview...

Renée McCready is a wholefood raw foodie mama who owns a Yoga and Healing Studio in Elwood Melbourne, Victoria. She is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, Shiatsu Therapist, Intuitive Healer, Educator and Author. Renée runs regular classes, workshops and intensives in her own unique therapeutic somatic based yoga style, called KI FLOW yoga. Renée lives in the beachy relaxed bayside suburb of Elwood, cycling distance from her studio (which is a bonus as a non driver) with
her 15 year old son Dylan, her designer/artist partner Aaron and their cat Fernando. 

1. Tell us about the food and wellness path you have taken to where you are now? 
My mum was a wholefood 70's mama. I grew up with jars of lentils and mung beans sprouting on the kitchen window sill, freshly baked wholemeal bread, homemade tofu, brown rice, and LSA (linseeds, sunflowers and almonds) in a jar in the fridge before it became the norm and you could find it on supermarket shelves, home grown organic veggies, being a vegetarian kid created an interesting twist.
I mostly loved being different from the norm, but would occasionally feel just a little embarrassed at school lunch time, as I opened up my steaming lentil and veggie soup. As you can imagine my path to wellness was well groomed with a clear view, it was innate, after finishing school and doing a stint in theatre school I studied herbal medicine, then went onto studying to become a Therapist of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies with a specialty in Oriental Dietary Energetics, at the same time completed a traditional apprenticeship in Japanese Yoga (Oki-Do) all when Dylan was a toddler. Then in the last few years my study has been in the realm of Meditation, Health and Well-being Coaching and the Esoteric Sciences, and in the last 12 months raw plant based living foods.

2. Judging from your photos and recipes you have a definite flair for uncooking. How did you learn about raw food uncooking?
I feel when your passionate about something the learning bit is easy, for me plant based eating is like I'm remembering something I've already known before, and just rediscovering. In saying that I have a slightly obsessive nature so I will totally throw myself into whatever my focus is. With the raw plant based diet it became this thing, I would go to bed and dream about - what flavours go with what? how can I take my favourite cooked recipe and turn it into a raw based one? Some days, my entire day revolves around food, thinking about it, going to my local organic shop and health food shop and buying the food, and then getting into the kitchen and bringing it all together. With some raw food the preparation starts days in advance, like my raw cashew fermented lebneh cheese that I recently mastered, flax crackers or raw bread I make in the dehydrator, raw vegan walnut nut meat balls, a raw vegan cheese and spinach pie or a raw vegan lasagne that needs to be warmed for a few hours before consuming. I spend hours trawling the internet for raw recipes based on ideas I have, sometimes I create from scratch, raw flow alchemy in my kitchen :) sometimes I take a recipe I find that's irresistible and maybe just tweak it a little. 

3.What do you love most about your work? 
Helping create change in others lives, assisting people to move from that point of feeling inspired to embodying it into everyday life, assisting people to discover their authentic self, and become empowered.  I love watching the light switch on in people, that quiet inner moment, when I just know that they know, whether it be about the value in an aspect of raw plant based eating, or a deeper understanding of the breath, or the subtle movement in a posture, of feeling the energy move through a meridian (energy channel). I feel what I'm here to do is help pull information and knowledge together, and find a tidy way to relay it back to people as if it was designed especially just for them, move them into their integrity and heart space to be the best version of themselves. 

4. Food allergies in children are a common experience in this day and age, I know you have had some experience with this when Dylan was a child can you share any tips for parents who are struggling with managing their child's diet and allergies?
When Dylan was about 18 months old he had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs, I knew instantly what it was and it was hands down the scariest experience of my life. He was 10 years old before he was retested and cleared by the Children's Allergy Clinic, it still took me at least a year after to feel safe, even though logically I knew it was ok emotionally I just couldn't find common ground. In retrospect, I would say if you have kids with allergies get them retested earlier than I did, don't wait years, we would have saved ourselves a few years of heartache and worry as it was probable he had grown out of his allergy way sooner then we thought. Seek alternative therapies for healing, we did and this assisted in helping his vital force become stronger and I believe this is one of the main reasons for his healing. Be open to possibility, like us you may just get the result.

5. Being the mum of a teenager, do you have any tips for readers whose teenagers only want to eat junk food?
I think for my 15 year old son, being around real organic living foods, is one of the best set up gifts I can give him for when he leaves home. I have to say most of his friends love coming around to eat, and in fact a few of them are my taste testers for my raw alchemy recipe whims - desserts, cakes, cheesecakes and tarts are their favourites. If your kids are younger you have more control with what's going in their mouths, set up good habits now, it will last. If they are older, its all about honesty and communication, be real, show them the facts, start with a food or drink they relate to like soft drinks, show them how much sugar is in one can, then show them the value of freshly made organic juices, buy a juicer make them together. There are some awesome doco/films out there, like Food Matters, Hungry for change, Let Me Be Frank, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, watch them with your teens it will open up a channel of communication. Make changes together, get them in the kitchen creating. Lead by example, get in and clean out your pantry, go shopping with them and together replace with only wholefood versions, clean out the fridge and fill with fresh organic vegetables, have the biggest and best looking fruit bowl in easy access filled with seasonal produce, they will reach for it, if its there and its the only choice available. Talk about it, I will say to Dylan, "There's raspberries and blueberries in the fridge for a snack when you feel peckish" plant the seed so to speak that way when the teen hunger strikes its the only thing they remember. They will start to believe that they made that healthy choice on their own. Grow a garden together, even if you live in an apartment with just a balcony, grow pots with tomatoes, lettuces, some fresh herbs. 

6. Some of your favorite books or links to do with food, health, nutrition.
At the moment I'm reading "Spiritual Nutrition" by Dr Gabriel Cousens, its pretty intense, mind bending but an incredible read. One of my revelation books is called "Support the Mountain" by Mikio Sankey, for me it tied together my background in Chinese Medicine and put it into a format with nutritional material and the value of raw living foods.
There are so many incredible resources out there, but here are just a few of some my favourite sites: The Raw Chef
Mimi Kirk, she is 73, wait till you see her!
Matthew Kenney, his food is raw gourmet, love his un cook books!
Scott Mathias, he lives in Queensland and is a digestive specialist with great plant based recipes.
I just love Girl on Raw, she is a down to earth ex-pat Australia and Mum living in Saudi Arabia
and Carmella's Sunny Raw Kitchen 
A few must watch Film/Doco's are; Food Matters, Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Food Inc, Let Me Be Frank, Simply Raw - reversing Diabetes in 30 days, Thrive. 

7.What would you say to anyone reading who is at the beginning of making changes in the way they cook and eat and may be feeling like it is all too hard or that they don't have time or money to cook and eat the way they think they would like to?
Start with the basics:
Select a day that suits and make that a preparation day, menu plan for the week ahead.
Have a big bowl of fruit in easy access.
Make a big container of kale salad (just kale and brocolli cut up into small pieces) massage some olive oil, salt and lemon juice into it) to last a few days in the fridge, that's your salad base to then add in everything else fresh.
Remember as you become more plant based you tend to let go of other habits in your life, your priorities change with what you choose to spend your money on.
Shop local and seasonal, go to your farmers market, get to know your local health food and organic shop, many health food shops have speciality days once per month where you can buy anything in the store for 15-20% discount, so wait and only shop on those days.
Go to your organic shop and get the brown bananas and freeze them for smoothies and raw ice creams, and I can't stress enough eating seasonally so you get fresh produce at the best prices.

8. Three simple things mamas can easily do, drink or eat when they are feeling frazzled or low on energy? 
1. One of the easiest and most nutritious things I can recommend for well-being, daily energy levels, weight maintenance and dense nutrition is a green smoothie. One a day will make a change even if your regular diet doesn't move into mainly plant based. All you need is a blender and fresh seasonal produce. There are many recipes on the internet but here's a simple one for the summer months -
1 or 2 frozen bananas (I always have a container in the freezer full for making smoothies and raw vegan 'ice creams') about 500mls purified water, 1 fresh or frozen mango, a big handful of baby spinach, and a few kale leaves, a sprig of fresh mint and blend.  I always add in superfood extras as I have mine post workout and as one of my daily meals, I add any combination of coconut oil, maca and lucuma powder, spirulina, wheatgrass, raw vegan sprouted rice protein powder, goji chia and hemp seeds, macqui and acâi powder and E3live (a bio available algae)
 2. Doing a yoga posture or making geometry with your body everyday is imperative. Have a stretch, make a shape and do it intuitively, move through it, imagine breathing into your cells as you do it, do it whenever you have a moment, it doesn't have to be a 90 minute yoga class for you to reap the benefits, and for you to take the learning into your life. 
3. To me the breath is our greatest tool, it can centre you in a moment, bring you back, reignite your energy, settle frazzled nerves and ground you back into the earth. 

Thank you Renée for this great interview! I don't know about everyone else but I am feeling inspired to try out some raw food recipes and to go further on my health and healing path. Readers, I'd love to hear your thoughts - what did you enjoy most about Renée's story? We haven't finished yet though, below is a delicious recipe for Renée's raw chocolate torte and you'll find 50+ recipes in her ebook 'Awakening to Raw'.

For readers in Melbourne if you are interested in having a treatment with Renée you can phone her on 0416 873 599 or email her at

And if facebook and twitter are your thing you can find Renée on facebook here and twitter here.

Raw Chocolate Torte 
Renée says, "If you are a chocolate lover like I am, this will become a staple in your raw dessert making. Raw cacao is unlike other chocolate in that is retains all the nutritional benefits of pure cacao; antioxidants, magnesium, phytochemicals its good for heart, and a great mood stabilizer."

2 cups mix of brazil and walnuts 
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch salt 

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until it has a cookie type consistency. Press into 9” spring form cake pan and place into the freezer until you have the rich chocolate batter ready to pour.

1 cup cashews soaked 1-2 hours
1/2 cup purified water
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2-3/4 cup melted cacao butter
(place over a double boiler or a bowl over a pan or heated water untill the oil melts, it will turn from pale yellow & solid to clear & liquid)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until batter is smooth and velvety, pour onto solid cookie base, place in freezer till solid then keep in fridge for up to 5 days.
Can be served with a raspberry or strawberry coulis, or cashew cream. 

more in the wholefood mamas series:

wholefood mama: Robin Koster-Carlyon
wholefood mama: Jay Black
wholefood mama: Rachel Pitts


  1. Ah, how amazing is she. Wonderfully inspiring, passionate and enthusiastic. Loved the bit about getting teenagers to eat well and all those great links. Thanks so much Nikki and Renee.

    1. Indeed she is! Aside from the delicious food, I love the people I have in my life that are dedicated to the wholefood way such as yourself and Renee, it is about more than food. xx

  2. Yummy foods wonderful tongue tastic stuff thanks for sharing.

    1. Wow Emma, tongue tastic now there's a new expression! Thanks for reading x

  3. Hi Nikki. Love this post, so inspiring! xx

  4. What a lovely interview Nikki. Particularly like the advice for a teenager - good sound advice (even though I don't have any teenagers yet!). x

    1. Thanks for your comment Vanessa. I agree it is great advice to file away for when our littles become teenagers! Have a good weekend x


Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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