The Planet-Friendly Series: Why quit plastic?

I recently watched the documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (a must watch by the way) and also attended a beach clean-up at my local beach. Though I have been consciously aware of the harmful effects of plastic, it really hit home the other week. I was inspired to research and find out more about plastics, and more about plastic-free living – so that’s what I have been doing, and I want to share it all with you. I hope that this series will provide you with simple solutions to help you quit plastics so that you can live a happier, healthier, and more planet-friendly life 🙂 

So.. firstly, let’s talk about why quitting plastic is so important… 

I recently watched the documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (a must watch by the way) and also attended a beach clean-up at my local beach. Though I have been consciously aware of the harmful effects of plastic, it really hit home the other week. I was inspired to research and find out more about plastics, and more about plastic-free living – so that’s what I have been doing, and I want to share it all with you. I hope that this series will provide you with simple solutions to help you quit plastics so that you can live a happier, healthier, and more planet-friendly life 🙂

So.. firstly, let’s talk about why quitting plastic is so important…

Currently, we produce 300 billion kilograms of plastic in the world every year. In the last ten years, we have produced MORE plastic than the whole of the last century. More than 8 billion kilograms of this plastic ends up in our oceans and it is predicted that in 32 years, in 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than there is ocean life.

I went through my whole childhood not even blinking an eye at the thought of food wrapped in plastic, or when using plastic cups, bags, straws, cutlery, bottles, etc.

 

 

Plastic is such a widely used material because it is very durable – but because it is so good at being durable, it is also indestructible. This means that it will never biodegrade; never break down. It will only ever break apart into smaller and smaller and smaller pieces until they are about only a one-one thousandth of a one-one thousandth of a millimeter. Scary, huh? What is even scarier, is that all these pieces of plastic we use need to go somewhere – putting them in the trash, unfortunately, doesn’t make them magically disappear.

So, how can we call plastic items ‘disposable’ when they never go away? Where do they go? …

The answer is into the ocean. Washing up on small islands – destroying the health of communities and villages. Into the stomachs of sea animals, which leads to many diseases and death as a result. And finally… plastic ends up in the stomachs of us, humans.

Beach clean up rubbish.jpg

Did you know that there are toxic chemicals in microplastics associated with serious health conditions such as cancer? And when fish or mammals consume these microplastics, the toxins release into their fatty tissues?

Toxic chemicals. Yikes.

Micro-plastics have been found in many of the sea animals that humans consume, and so humans basically consume the toxins that have dissolved into the fatty tissues of these sea animals.

Meaning, if you eat seafood, there is a definite chance you’re also eating harmful chemicals from plastics.

While there is evidence that seafood is not necessary for a healthy diet [15], there is not yet enough evidence to show the exact long-term effects that plastics are having on our bodies, as it is still considered an emerging factor of concern.

We do, however, have some research showing the current health implications that the use of plastics has on our health, including associations with:

  • Cardiovascular, liver, urologic, genital and endocrine (hormone-related) diseases [14] :
    • Endocrine disruption and Infertility in humans, from the chemical BPA, found in plastics [1]
    • Lower quality of sperm in males [4,6]
    • Increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and liver dysfunction in humans [2]
    • Cardiovascular disease and hypertension [3]
    • Developmental and reproductive toxic effects [12]
  • Genital, prostatic, endometrial, ovarian and breast diseases from affected biochemical and toxicogenomic mechanisms [13]
  • Affects childhood behavioural outcomes [5]
  • Development of the brain [7]
  • Asthma and allergies [8, 9, 10, 11]

And lots, lots more…. but I think you get the point.

It is not only eating seafood that puts us at risk of getting toxic chemicals in our systems. Other ways that these chemicals from plastics transport into our body include from:

  • Plastic food containers
  • Food wrapped in plastic
  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Flooring and wall coverings
  • Medical devices (tubing and blood gags)
  • Varnishes
( [1] and more info can be found on http://www.plasticoceans.org website )

For all these reasons, it is urgently important that we reduce our plastic use – or better yet eliminate it. On the next couple of posts, I will be doing a Planet-Friendly series; all about simple ways that you can reduce your plastic use and waste in your daily life.

Join me in saying no to plastic! Together we can make a difference to our oceans, our health, our planet – and most importantly our home, and the home of our future generations.

xx

Neli

beach clean up 1

The research papers + references:

  1. Rochester, J.R. (2013). Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature. Reproductive Toxicology 42132-55.
  2. Ropero, A.B., Alonso-Magdalena, P., García-García, E., Ripoll, C., Fuentes, E., Nadal, A. (2008). Bisphenol-A disruption of the endocrine pancreas and blood glucose homeostasis. International Journal. Androl. 31, 194-9.
  3. Shankar, A., S. Teppala, C. Sabanayagam. (2012). Bisphenol A and Peripheral Arterial Disease: Results from the NHANES. Environmental Health Perspectives 120 pp: 1297-1300.
  4. Meeker, J.D., S. Ehrlich, T.L. Toth, D.L. Wright, A.M. Calafat, A.T. Trisini, Ye, R. Hauser. (2010). Semen quality and sperm DNA damage in relation to urinary bisphenol A among men from an infertility clinic. Reprod. Toxicology 30 532–539.
  5. Braun, J. M., K. Yolton, K.N. Dietrich, R.Hornung, X. Ye, A.M. Calafat, B.P. Lanphear.(2009). Prenatal bisphenol A exposure and early childhood behaviour. Environmental Health Perspective, 117, 1945-1952.
  6. Rozati, R., P.P. Reddy, P Reddanna, R. Mujtaba. (2002). Role of environmental estrogens in the deterioration of male factor fertility Fertility and Sterility 78 Pages: 1187-1194. 
  7. Miodovnik A, A. Edwards, D.C. Bellinger, R Hauser. (2014). Developmental neurotoxicity of ortho-phthalate diesters: Review of human and experimental evidence. Neurotoxicology 41 112-122.  
  8. Bornehag, C.G., J. Sundell, C.J. Weschler, T. Sigsgaard, B. Lundgren, M. Hasselgren, L. Hägerhed-Engman. (2004). The Association between Asthma and Allergic Symptoms in Children and Phthalates in House Dust: A Nested Case-Control Study. Environmental Health Perspectives. 112 1393–1397.
  9. Jaakkola, JJK; Verkasalo, PK; Jaakkola, N. (2000). Plastic wall materials in the home and respiratory health in young children 90 pp: 797-799.
  10. Kimber, I., Dearman, R.J. (2010). An assessment of the ability of phthalates to influence immune and allergic responses. Toxicology 271, 73–82.
  11. Tsai, M. J. P. L. Kuo, and Y.C. Ko. (2012). The association between phthalate exposure and asthma. Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences 52 528-536.
  12. Skakkebaek NE, Rajpert-De Meyts E, Main KM. (2001). Testicular dysgenesis syndrome: an increasingly common developmental disorder with environmental aspects. Human Reproduction 16 972–978.
  13. Singh, S. and S.S.L Li .(2011). Bisphenol A and phthalates exhibit similar toxicogenomics and health effects. Gene 494 85-9.
  14. Singh, S. and S.S.L. Li (2010) Phthalates: Toxicogenomics and inferred human diseases Genomics 97 148-157.
  15. Nutritionfacts.org (2015, August 13). Food as medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Common Diseases with Diet [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0IhZ-R1O8g

For more research papers check out:

https://www.plasticoceans.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Plastic-Oceans-High-Level-Science-Summary-Version-4.pdf

https://www.plasticoceans.org

https://nutritionfacts.org

Top 7 Gluten-free & Vegan eats in Sydney

Check out my Top 7 gluten-free and vegan places you HAVE to try when you are traveling in Sydney!

My Top 7 gluten-free & vegan eats in Sydney. Make sure to scribble these down in your journal for when you are ever traveling there!

Tip: If you are new to the gluten-free life make sure you always ask about the gluten-free options at restaurants, and when you place your order, always say you want it to be gluten-free. Some items on the menu have gluten-free symbols and sometimes they just mean there is a gluten-free option, so it is always safest (for your tummy) to just ask for the meal to be made gluten-free.

Golden Lotus (lunch, dinner)

Golden Lotus spread

We ate here about three times because it was so delicious. Golden Lotus has both fresh healthy dishes and the more indulgent style dishes. My favourite was the tofu coconut curry (bottom dish in the photo).

Soul Burger (lunch, dinner)

Soul Burger Spread

Ever since having to cut gluten out of my life, I have been craving a burger that wasn’t going to crumble into tiny pieces before my first bite – and Soul burger definitely satisfied that craving. Just be aware that Soul burger notes on their menu that they cannot guarantee a gluten-free environment, and I did feel slight gluten pains in my stomach after eating here, but luckily it was bearable and well worth it!

However, if you are really really sensitive to gluten, I would recommend you get a bun-less burger or maybe don’t eat here as there would most probably be some cross contamination happening.

Gathered (breakfast, lunch)

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Gathered toast

Gathered is a beautiful little place to have breakfast or lunch (or brunch). They have a few gluten-free options and those waffles in the first pic were delish! If you are not gluten-free, they also do vegan croissants (which looked so yum).

Bodhi (lunch, early dinner)

Bodhi spread

Vegan Yum Cha! They have heaps of gluten-free options, just ask for the gluten-free menu and see for yourself. My personal favourite was the green-tea dumplings.

Earth to table (breakfast, lunch)

Earth to table spreadEarth to table BLT

You can relax here because everything on this menu is gluten-free and plant-based. A local told me that this was Sydney’s best raw-vegan restaurant. They have plenty of delicious raw vegan dishes, my personal favourite was the BLT sandwich. My boyfriend even said it was the best sandwich he had ever had.

Gigi’s Pizzeria (dinner)

Gigi’s Pizzeria

Unfortunately, Gigi’s don’t do gluten-free bases for their pizzas, but they do however do plenty of gluten-free antipasti dishes. Make sure to ask about their gluten-free options when you go as they sometimes have a gluten-free special which is not noted on the menu. I had the Parmigiana Di melanzane special, which was kind of like an eggplant parmigiana.  My personal favourite antipasti is their Crocchette di patate (a.k.a almond-crusted potatoes that taste like garlic bread) – you HAVE to get this when you go.

If you are traveling with gluten eating pals then they have got to check out Gigi’s, it is the best pizza place in Sydney, and all vegan.

Nutié Donuts (treats!)

Nutie Donuts

Nothing that some tasty gluten-free vegan donuts can’t fix. These were super sweet and super tasty. My personal favourites were the cookie monster and the blueberry flavoured donuts (top two in the photo above). I would recommend having them with a glass of plant-based mylk nearby – only so you can refresh your palate and eat more of course.

Let me know if you have tried any of these in the comments below, I would love to know your thoughts.

xx

Neli

Check out my granola recipe here!

Gluten free vegan granola + how to create your own granola recipe

Find out my favourite gluten free, vegan granola & how you can make your own too!

Granola! One of the kings of breakfast world. I am well and truly currently obsessed with it -crunchy, salty, sweet, and perfect with all my favourite breakfasts.

The thing I love most about granola is when it makes those beautiful golden crunchy clusters. In most granola recipes, Oats is the main base ingredient – so when I had to cut out gluten in my diet (thus, oats) finding a good granola in-store was either way too expensive or just not all that satisfying.

Luckily, after playing around some more in the kitchen, I came up with this champion of a gluten free, oat-less, crunchy granola.

Gluten free vegan granola - Crunchy, delicious, clustery goodness! Click through to see the recipe and find out how to make your very own granola recipe.
Gluten free vegan granola

Cooking, baking and creating meals in the kitchen is one of the ways I like to express my creativity and it really helps to calm my mind. Happy mind = happier body = happier day = happier me. I guess to me it’s kind of like another form of meditation – but BETTER because I usually get rewarded by delicious tasting foods afterwards.

Gluten free vegan granola - Crunchy, delicious, clustery goodness! Click through to see the recipe and find out how to make your very own granola recipe.
Gluten free vegan granola served with coconut yoghurt and fresh fruit

Granola is one of those things where you can really have a lot of fun with. So I really encourage you to give this recipe a go and also not to be afraid of mixing it up a bit as well – get creative! Fun and creativity, after all, is the best recipe to a happy mind and a happy mind leads to a happy body.

My favourite ways to eat granola is:

• On top of some nice-cream (banana ice cream)

• With coconut yoghurt, fresh fruit and maple syrup

• As cereal with some plant milk and bananas

Gluten free vegan granola
Dry ingredients for granola

Here are some things you need to know about Granola (and how to have fun with it)

  1. Choose your base(s):
  • Quinoa flakes
  • Rice flakes
  • Activated/ raw buckwheat
  • Rice puffs
  • If you are fortunate enough that gluten agrees with your stomach then go ahead and use raw or rolled oats if you so wish – or certified gluten free oats if your stomach doesn’t and you are lucky enough to find them.

2. Add some crunch with nuts and seeds ( you just use a variety of seeds if nuts don’t agree with you)

3. Add some sweetness

  • Dried fruits: dried apricots, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc etc. ( i could go on – this is where you can really experiment)
  • Grated apple or grated lemon/orange rind
  • Liquid sweetener of your choice (Maple syrup, agave, molasses, coconut nectar, apple sauce coconut sugar,etc.)

4. Add your coating

  • Coconut oil
  • Liquid sweetener
  • Nut butter / sunflower seed butter
Gluten free granola recipe
Wet mixture for granola recipe

Notes:

  1. For an oil free option you can exclude the oil and add a little extra of your liquid sweetener.
  2. Other additional options you can add for flavour:
  • Spices: all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Chocolate
  • Essential oils: lemon, lime, orange, peppermint (mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with come dark chocolate in there would be delish!)
  • PB2 Powder – this adds an amazing nutty flavour to the granola – it is honestly the best ingredient in my opinion – it’s an absolute game changer. You can buy it online here: https://au.iherb.com/pr/Bell-Plantation-PB2-Powdered-Peanut-Butter-6-5-oz-184-g/38245
Gluten free vegan granola
Gluten free vegan granola

My vegan granola recipe:

Makes two large mason jars full (and makes for full happy tummies too!)

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients:

1 cup quinoa flakes

2 1/2 cups rice puffs

1 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup golden flaxmeal (+ 1 TBSP for the flax egg)

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup seeds of your choice – I used a sunflower, pepita and pine nut mix.

1/4 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit of your choice)

1/4 cup PB2 powder – THIS!!! is an absolute game changer and MUST in your granola ( You can buy it from most health supermarkets or on iHerb – check the notes for the link).

Wet ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

Optional:

1/4 cup grated apple

1 tsp cinnamon (add to dry ingredients mix)

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan forced).
  2. Mix together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cinnamon and mix.
  3. Grate your apple and squeeze out the juices of the apple. Do this a couple times to make sure the apple is as dry as possible. Add to dry mix.
  4. Add your wet ingredients to a pot on medium heat and whisk together to get rid of any clumps in the coconut oil (chunky bits of peanut butter are accepted and recommended).
  5. Let mixture of wet ingredients cool slightly before adding to dry ingredients.
  6. To make the flax egg mix together 1 TBSP of golden flaxmeal and 3 TBSP of water. Let sit for approximately 3 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
  7. Mix together ingredients to allow for everything to be coated evenly. Be careful not to over stir it or the ingredients wont clump together to form clusters!
  8. Once the ingredients are all coated, evenly spread the mixture on a baking tray ( I used two) lined with baking paper.
  9. Place tray(s) in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until crunchy and a dark golden colour.
  10. Once golden and crunchy, take out the trays and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  11. Now (only now!) break apart granola. This will help to form large clusters and keep them from falling apart.

 

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you do try the recipe let me know by commenting down below or sharing your creation with me by tagging me in your instagram shares 🙂 I would love to see your creations.

Much love

xx

Neli

Want more? Check out my previous post here.