Today’s post is about the Whole 30 experience that my girlfriend and fellow blogger Ashley Collins from www.nourishmemum.com just went trough, together with her little crew of 2 beautiful kids and a supportive, loving husband. Read along, I am sure you’ll fall in love with her and you’ll learn a lot from her experience!!!
AMBRA: Ashley, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get to Australia?
ASHLEY: Ambra, thank you so much for having me. You share my passion for living a love-filled, delicious life and it’s such a joy to have connected with you!
Well, I am Canadian from a beautiful little town in Ontario called Elora. It is a quaint place on a river, full of tourists, cafes, ice cream shops and markets. After University, I was an event-coordinator for a Children’s Hospital before taking a sabbatical and heading off to Europe, just me, my backpack and a food journal. It was on that trip in 2009 that I met my Aussie husband.
I was backpacking solo, staying in a hostels and on this particular stop I had signed up for a city/bar tour. I was standing in this little hazy Spanish bar in Valencia with a group of strangers and in walked Chris. The second I laid eyes on him I knew he was my husband. I actually turned to someone and said ‘I need to talk to the guy in the grey T-shirt…He’s my husband’. Needless to say they thought I was crazy!
Lucky for me, when we caught eyes moments later, he felt the same way and we haven’t been apart a day since. Later that night, in a Spanish disco we found the only two seats in the bar and discussed what country we would live in, how many children we would have (6!) and how we were going to break it to my family that I was moving to Australia. All while most people were dancing on tables. It was all very romantic!
That night we decided to live in Australia and here we are. Seven years and two children later, I still feel very lucky in love. We live in a cool climate wine region just outside of Melbourne, where my Husband grew up. It is a wonderful place to raise children. We have a few acres, but we are so close to Melbourne, the great Australian food capital!
When I first arrived in Australia, I went back to event-coordination and then in 2013 I became a full time Mum to Charlotte and most recently James this past November.
AMBRA: Where does your nickname “Nourish Me Mum” come from?
ASHLEY: Nourish Me Mum came about when I was starting my Instagram account for my friends and family. I was having a bit of fun scribbling on paper trying to think of something to call the account. I kept asking myself what word represents my food? How I feed, share and express my love through food… Nourish just kept coming to mind.
Being a Mum of 2 it just kind of evolved into this idea of Nourishing Children. A child asking for nourishment. A Mum nourishing herself to take care of her child. Somehow it all became “Nourish Me Mum”
AMBRA: You just launched an interesting challenge on your social media: the #Whole30. Can you tell us a little bit more about your Whole 30 experience?
ASHLEY: I am a huge fan of the Whole30 and the book that started it all, ‘It Starts With Food’ by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. I consider my Whole30 experience as a dietary reset where you follow a few ‘rules’ over a 30 day period eliminating grains, dairy, sugar, soy, alcohol and preservatives from your diet. It is excellent for anyone who is trying to identify food sensitivities or who is feeling a bit lethargic or lack lustre.
I have been taking on Whole 30 challenges since 2013 and find it to be a great experience to check in with my body and evaluate its needs. I know it can sound extreme, but for me it is very beneficial and a great way to challenge your cooking and creativity in the kitchen as well!
AMBRA: Why do you eat the way you eat? What brought you to your current dietary lifestyle?
ASHLEY: I grew up in a household where both of my parents cooked and they were mindful of food quality and what we now call ’healthy’ eating. It wasn’t Whole 30 back then, it was just food. What we now call ‘real food’ I guess. Lots of fresh produce, local meats, and homemade cakes and muffins too. Family favorites definitely included traditional baked goods, pasta and bread.
I began my experience as an adult out of the house the same way: cooking meals in my dorm, share house or studio apartment for friends and family. No ill equipped tiny kitchen could stop me! I was making traditional “healthy” meals and I was also baking with white flour, white sugar and all of the usual suspects.
Looking back, I never really felt as good as I should have being in my 20’s eating well and exercising. I was forever in what I called a “carb coma” I always felt like I needed a nap after a meal. I had a heavy tummy and foggy mind but I never put two and two together.
Having an interest in health and wellbeing, I was always reading the latest wellness books and magazines. In 2011 after reading the book ‘Wheat Belly’ by Dr. William Davis, I visited my Doctor to explore what was really going on with my symptoms and I was diagnosed with NCGS: Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity. Around the same time, I eliminated dairy from my diet and refined sugar as I found those to be inflammatory for my system as well.
My husband followed suit, partially because I do all of the cooking and also because he felt better without gluten, dairy and sugar in his diet. We essentially changed our eating habits overnight and 5 years later feel fantastic for it.
I learned to cook and bake in a new way. It was fun and exciting to create new gluten free versions of the foods we loved. I never looked back. Now as a family we share one meal, one table all gluten and dairy free.
If you wanted to sum it up our diet is 80/20 paleo and heavily plant based. It includes organic local pasture raised meats, free-range eggs and some grains/seeds such as quinoa, teff and buckwheat.
What’s important to me is not labelling my diet but listening to my body and follow its que’s to feel my best.
AMBRA: What are your tips for someone who wants to eat a healthier diet, but still keep it fun and tasty?
ASHLEY: Be honest with yourself about what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Unfortunately not all things that taste good make us feel good. If you listen and tune-in I believe your body will guide you to feel your best.
Food needs to nourish the body and the soul. I am not into strict rules. I have just found a way that I feel best through trial and error, so I encourage people to explore their own bodies and tummies to see how they feel their best!
For me my bodies ‘messages’ include headaches, skin breakouts, upset stomach and lack of energy. If I feel these things after eating a specific food or combination of foods, I might look at taking it out of my diet for at least a little while or having it in moderation.
Experiment with more nutritious flours in place of white or even gluten free flour when baking. Some of my favourites are buckwheat, teff and almond flours. Small swaps add-up and can make a huge difference.
AMBRA: You are the Mom of 2 kids. How do you manage to create magic in the kitchen, be a successful food blogger and take care of your little duo at the same time?
ASHLEY: I’ve found what works for me to fit it all in is to involving the kids. I don’t try and separate my passion from my daily life. I just embrace the chaos!
My daughter Charlotte is my number one taste-tester and helper. The kids spend hours in the kitchen with me mixing, stirring and banging pots and pans. They also love the grocery store and farmers markets. Learning about food, sounds, smells, colors and having fun together. I love that they are discovering what real food is and where it comes from.
I have adapted to later nights as well as I am mindful of my computer and phone usage during the day with the kids. I tend to allocate time in the evening to blog and comment and keep up with my fellow foodies. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who reaps the benefits of my recipe testing as well so he is a happy man!
AMBRA: How is the healthy food scene in Australia? Can you name some of your favourite healthy food spots in Melbourne?
ASHLEY: Melbourne is a health food Mecca! It is full of every culinary delight you could imagine and I believe at the forefront of the holistic health food scene.
- For the best nourishing wholefood organic eats I head straight to Healthy Self Co. in Yarraville.
- For raw desserts and smoothie bowls you can not go past Combi in Elwood
- For the most creative paleo menu Patch Cafe in Richmond leaves me on cloud nine every time with dishes like cauliflower steak and turmeric lattes.
- For lunch or dinner Mamasita has a great fresh, glutenfree-friendly modern take on Mexican in the CBD.
I could go on and on but those few would never disappoint!
AMBRA: What are you future plans with NourishMeMum.com? Can you share some of your upcoming foodie projects!
Nourish Me Mum started this past February as a digital recipe repository for my friends and family who wanted my baked goods and raw dessert recipes for their children’s parties and friends. I could not have imagined the response from others!
I am 6 months into my studies to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I would like to work with other Women and Mothers to balance their lives through food, relationships, movement and spirituality to feel their best and live life to the fullest!
I am such a believer that when you eat well, nourish your body, have rest and balance, add in a bit of self love and good old fresh air and you are unstoppable!
Mums need energy and support to take on the massive task of raising littles. Furthermore, ALL women need to feel their best to take on their dreams and day to day lives in todays fast paced society.
As far as projects go, this month I contributed to Nourish Magazine discussing children and dessert as their Feature foodie. I also hope to release a collection of Whole30 approved recipes this (Aussie) summer and a little ebook project I have been working on.
AMBRA: If you could pick one of your best recipes, what would it be? Can you tell a little fun fact about it?
ASHLEY: I would have to say my nut butter cookies. I think I have made every version possible, Strawberry + Almond Butter, Cashew Butter and Blueberry, Almond Butter Chocolate Chip, Hot Cross Bun. They were a fluke that was born out of desperation in the kitchen, but are my go-to for a quick snack or dessert for unexpected company.
Also my grain free granola and 5 minute breakfast cereal are very popular. I think having healthy options to replace boxed sugar laden store bough cereals is appealing to people!
AMBRA: Not sure about you guys, but I am totally sold on these cookies… Can’t wait to head over to www.nourishmemum.com and grab the recipe!!
And if you have questions on the Whole 30 diet and you’d like to experience it too, make sure to leave a comment below and Ashley will be more than happy to help you!!