5 MINUTES WITH SOULLA FROM STAR ANISE ORGANIC WHOLEFOODS
Posted on 12 December 2014
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a beach-going, sun-seeking, fun-loving, movement-devoted 41 year old mother of 2 children. I’m passionate about educating people on how, by better aligning our genes with our environment, we can function properly and perform our best. I do this through focusing on a number of foundations or pillars of health including eating a nutrient-dense diet, being properly hydrated, getting adequate sleep and rest, moving our bodies the way we are designed, breathing properly, managing our stress, getting adequate exposure to sunshine and having enough play, fun and connection in our lives.
My passion in health lead me to create Star Anise Organic Wholefoods- a small business through which I conduct personal nutritional consultations and cooking classes as well as making a range of nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods. My products are sold direct to the public from my workshop in Waverly and to select organic stores.
My clients mostly include parents wanting to raise healthy well-adjusted children, elite athletes needing to stay on top of their game, people with digestive/gut issues and anyone confused about what we should and shouldn’t be eating and how to source it.
What inspired you to start Star Anise Organic Wholefoods?
It was my desperation to improve my ailing mental and physical health after many years on a macrobiotic vegetarian diet as well as my love of crafting simple, delicious and nutritious recipes and my passion in sharing what I know so others can benefit as much as I and my family have. When I first learnt about traditional wholefoods 10 years ago through my natropath Anthia Koullouros (whom I remain extremely grateful to) it was simply not possible to buy nutrient-dense wholefoods using only clean ingredients including bone broth and pate from pastured animals, raw sauerkraut, sweets without refined sugar or agave syrup, properly prepared (activated) nuts that were super crispy or lacto-fermented beverages. Desperation breeds creativity so I had no choice but start making these products from scratch for myself and family, then my friends wanted to buy them and then their friends and the circle kept expanding all through word of mouth. Then people were interested in learning why and how I made these foods so the nutritional consultations and cooking classes started. Then retail shops approached me to stock my products. In 2012 I was approached by the Sydney Roosters to be their nutrition coach and through changing their diet from a conventional one to a nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods one devoid of all processed foods (including sports foods/gels) the Roosters moved from the bottom to the top of the ladder culminating in winning the 2013 NRL premiership and remaining super strong in 2014.
Why do you think eating whole nutritious and organic food is important?
All of the structure, systems and functions of the human body are built from and run on nutrients. So the more nutrient-dense foods we eat, the more our body can fire on all cylinders so we can grow and function properly and perform our very best. Conversely toxins- whether dietary or environmental- harm the body and detract from our form and function. These two things- nutrients and toxins- directly affect the expression of our genes ie whether certain genes get turned on or off. On a practical level this means that nutrients and toxins directly affect how tall, beautiful, intelligent, calm, strong, fast and immune from illnesses and disease your children will become, and whether they will become more or less susceptible to chronic illness or degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immunity, depression or digestive issues like leaky gut. So it’s a big deal.
As a nutrition coach what are the biggest misconceptions you hear from people who think they’re eating well but might not be.
50 or so years of conventional dietetics based on outdated science have led many people to mistakenly believe the many foods are healthy when in fact they are not including:
- industrial seed oils (eg canola, vegetable oil)
- margarines (and spreadable butters)
- lean meats
- wholegrains that are not properly prepared (soaked, sprouted, or fermented) especially the gluten-ones (eg wheat, rye, barley, oats)
- nuts and seeds that are not properly prepared
- conventional breakfast cereals/muesli
- muesli bars
- dried fruits
- low-fat/skim/no-fat dairy products or low-fat products in general that are typically sugar-laden
- soy bean products that are not long fermented especially certain ‘gluten-free’ products that use soy flour or other processed ingredients
In addition, latest fads including raw food diets, raw spinach salads, and juicing (esp fruit juices or green leafy juices) are not nutritionally sustainable and can lead to long-term digestive issues.
You have a large range of fermented products, why do you think eating fermented food is important?
Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kim chi, kefir) and drinks (like kombucha and beet kvass) contain natural probiotics (friendly bacteria) that are essential to our survival. We need probiotics for strong immunity, healthy digestion, good brain function, clear skin, calm nervous system, and a well-functioning metabolism.
All your nuts are activated, why should we activate our nuts, what benefits will it give us?
“Activated” has become an industry term to describe nuts and seeds that have been long-soaked and dehydrated at low temperatures. The reason we do this is because all nuts and seeds (as well as grains and legumes) contain phytic acid and other anti-nutrients that block the absorption of essential minerals, damage the lining of the gut making it leaky, as well as inhibiting enzymes essential to digest our foods. A diet high in phytic acid can lead to many health problems including nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems (eg bloating and gas), bone loss and tooth decay. This is particularly so for growing children.
Soaking nuts overnight in filtered water (plus adding an acidic medium like apple cider vinegar) and then dehydrating at low temperatures (50 degrees Celsius) for several days until they are light and crispy has been shown to reduce phytic acid. Heating nuts above 50 degrees for an extended period destroys the enzymes in the nuts.
Do you have a healthy recipe you could share with us?
I would like to share both a savoury and a sweet recipe:
Wild white fish ceviche
This is a great one for summer, I advocate eating a combination or both raw and cooked meat. I fell in love with wild kingfish ceviche at North Bondi Italian before it closed down so I re-created my own version using theirs as my inspiration. I tend to use snapper or barramundi and get the ever-helpful staff at David Jones seafood counter to remove the skin from the fillets for me to save me doing it at home
- 2 fillets of a large wild white firm fish eg snapper, barramundi, kingfish
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons Niu’s coconut balsamic (or balsamic vinegar)
- a pinch of dried chilli flakes/powder
- 6g garlic, diced
- 2 tablespoons (6g) fresh coriander leaves and stem, chopped
- 2 tablespoons (6g) fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (unless leaves are small then leave whole)
- 2 tablespoon (25g) red capsicum, diced
- 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
- unrefined salt
- cracked pepper
- Firstly, the skin from fish fillets needs to be removed. To do this either ask the fish monger to do it for you when you purchase the fish, or to do it yourself from home it is easiest done when the fillets are frozen. To remove skin from the frozen fillets place fillets skin side up on a chopping board. Insert a long sharp knife between the flesh and the skin cutting along one end of the fish. Once a bit of skin has been cut away with the knife you can use your hands to pull the rest of the skin off. Discard skin.
- Place fish directly on a serving platter or in a large glass storage container and keep refrigerated until ready to dress.
- Dress the fillets with lime/lemon juice, vinegar and 1 tablespoon only of the olive oil. Add garlic, herbs, capsicum, chilli and kiwi into a bowl and mix then spoon over the fillets.
- Cover and refrigerate for 4-8 hours. The acid in the lime/lemon juice and kiwi fruit serves to ‘cook’ the fish (and kill any parasites). (If you are time poor, simply add the lemon/lime juice only and add the other ingredients prior to serving).
Chocolate hazelnut slice “brownies”
I love this recipe because I always have all of the ingredients on hand and can whip in up at a moment’s notice by sticking all of the ingredients in a food processor, PLUS there’s no cooking involved!
- 300g medjool dates (approx 16. Weigh with seeds then remove seeds)
- 100g activated hazelnuts
- 130g raw cacao powder
- 90g desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
- 80g raw cacao butter
- 80g coconut oil
- ½ tsp vanilla bean powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- Process the hazelnuts in the food processor until well ground.
- Add all other all ingredients into the food processor and process until well mixed. How much to process depends on how you like to eat your slice- if you like it more dense/compact process it more or if you prefer it more light/crumbly then process it less.
- Press the mixture into a rectangular glass dish coated with coconut oil or lined with baking paper. Sprinkle top of slice with desiccated coconut. Cut into rectangle pieces.
- Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
It’s coming up to the holiday season, what are your tips for staying healthy and active around Christmas time?
- Stay well hydrated with filtered water at room temperature and add a pinch of unrefined salt to your drinking water to add back a lot of the minerals lost through filtration and to keep the salt concentration of the blood constant. Carry a water bottle everywhere especially in the car.
- When drinking alcohol opt for the cleaner spirits like gin, vodka, tequila or sake and drink lots of water in between alcoholic drinks. Kombucha with lemon or lime and ice (or even plain carbonated water) makes a beautiful and refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Avoid cocktails, juices and energy drinks.
- With food opt for eggs, meat and veggies over pasta, bread, cereals and grains and avoid anything deep fried (which are cooked in industrial seed oils). Fill up on savoury nutrient-dense foods so you don’t need dessert or don’t need as much of it.
What’s your active life mantra? How do you live an active life?
Move everyday the way we are designed to!
Walking, stretching, releasing facsia via foam rollers or rubber balls, strength and interval training are all brilliant. Science shows that long slow steady-state exercise like treadmills or long distance running do more harm than good.
Inject as much fun into your exercise as possible. For me that’s slack-lining, water skiing, dancing, rock scrambling, hula hoop, and rough and tumbling with my kids. If at the playground (or passing a playground!) I always take the opportunity to do a few rounds of the monkey bars for building upper body strength.
Sadly, exercise alone doesn’t counteract the ill effects of extended sitting so recently I switched to a standing bench by putting my PC, keyboard and mouse on 2 Kmart 3-tired shelving units laid on their side (for a sum total of $34). I now stand more and sit less.
Tag your own tasty treats and healthy adventures with #teamvieactive