“What you feed in yourself that grows.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We know that autoimmune diseases affect at least 5% of Australians and New Zealanders and are more common than cancer or heart disease. And, we know that autoimmune disease is on the rise.
According to The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, allergy and immune diseases are among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia.
Almost 1 in 5 Australians has an allergic disease and this is increasing.
While we don’t know the exact cause of autoimmune disease, we do know that genetics, lifestyle and diet play a huge role in determining it’s progress.
With that in mind, it makes absolute sense to make every effort to make healthy choices, doesn’t it?
As part of this Autoimmune Protocol health caper that I’ve been on for some years now, I’ve been making a focus on nutrient density a bit of a personal mission. In other words, what I can add to my life rather than what I must remove.
But, of all these tips and tricks, one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is this: Make nutrient density your hobby.
There are oodles of options to think about when considering a new ‘nutrient dense’ hobby. And, the best thing about many of them is that they will probably end up saving you money, too.
One thing about this way of life is that it takes time. Time to effect positive health change. Time to slow down and just be. Time to prepare food following traditional methods.
This has been a good thing for me. Often, nutrient dense foods take time – nature doesn’t rush. So, making nutrient density your hobby can have other, unexpected health benefits, too.
If you are (still) following a strict AIP elimination diet, (or even if you’re not!) consider these options:
- Establish a regular habit of shopping at your local farmers’ maket. Get to know your local farmers and understand the provenance of your food.
- Start a herb garden. Herbs add all sorts of nutrient density to your diet. Many of them are easy to grow and they don’t require much space. A great option for those new to gardening or those with a small garden or balcony.
- Grow your own vegetables. What could be better than eating vegetables plucked from your very own garden?
- Ferment your vegetables. See below!
- Make your own kombucha. My lovely buddy Eileen from Phoenix Helix has a whole series dedicated to the mighty ‘buch!
- Make your own additive-free coconut yogurt. When you start playing around with your own homemade dairy-free yogurt, you open up a whole new world of AIP-friendly food options… Tzatziki, anyone?
- Prepare your own seasoned salts. A great way to get more nutrient density into your meals – especially minerals. I’m partial to seaweed salt. They make great gifts, too!
- Create your own morning ritual. It’s great for stress management and improving productivity. It also feels great!
- Make a hobby of finding mindfulness techniques that work for you. Your future self will thank you. Here’s one of my personal favourites!
My Favourite Nutrient Dense Hobby: Fermenting My Vegetables (lactofermentation)
I’m a bit of a fermentation queen. That’s queen with a small ‘q’ because it’s very much a hobby that I’ve embraced to fit my lifestyle… Fermentation allows me to produce foods in my kitchen that are full of living probiotic bacteria, yeasts and enzymes that enhance my health. They taste great, too!
Why I love fermenting my veggies:
Let me count the ways!
– Never one for science at school, I love the feeling that I’m regularly conducting a mini-science experiment on my kitchen bench. The nature of fermentation is such that each batch of ferment is different. Variables like the quality, type and freshness of my produce (always organic!), the temperature and humidity of the kitchen, how much salt I add – all ensure that I never quite know what I’ll find as I lift the lid on my crock.
– I love that fermentation takes time. It’s impossible to rush nature. I follow a wild fermentation approach. This is the age-old process of allowing the right environment and the right amount of time to let nature take it’s course.
– Fermenting my vegetables provides me with a creative outlet. As you can see from the examples above, I can play with flavours in my ferments
– It’s both seasonal and economical. While I usually create a ferment with cabbage as the base, I add other seasonal ingredients that I find at the markets.
– Fermented foods are great for my gut. The process of lactofermentation where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creates lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
– A great little side benefit is that jars of fermented vegetables make for wonderful gifts!
How to eat fermented veggies (kraut):
– Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to every savoury meal
– Mix it into salads and slaws. Here’s my recipe for Superfood Hauskraut Slaw)
– Stir a generous spoonful through your mash
– Stir a spoonful into your cooled apples sauce to serve with pork
– Add leftover kraut juice to salad dressings and sauces (like guacamole)
– Garnish a bowl of soup with a big spoonful of kraut
– Once you’ve successfully reintroduced eggs, add kraut to any egg dish. Great with moeletted and fried eggs!