Monday, August 2, 2010

Walking towards a cure for diabetes

While many of us believe that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle will keep us in the clear zone when it comes to diabetes, around 150,000 (and counting) Australians currently live with unpreventable and mostly unmanageable type 1 diabetes. Thankfully, there is something we can all do to help. In a committed effort to raise awareness and funds for research, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes will be held on October 17 at 20 locations around the nation.

The Walk to Cure Diabetes brings together 40,000 members of the type 1 diabetes community with a shared goal of raising $2 million for research. President of the Australian Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Susan Alberti, believes that raising awareness is the key to finding a cure for this devastating disease. “The Walk to Cure Diabetes is much more than a fundraising event, it’s a chance to share hopes for a cure. Something special happens when JDRF brings together all those people who live with, care for or know someone who has type 1 diabetes,” says Alberti.

Having delivered it’s strong message of hope for a cure for 18 years, the Walk to Cure Diabetes is now one of Australia’s oldest and largest charity events, and has influenced much vital progress in the field of research. “Researchers have made incredible breakthroughs as a result of the investment made by JDRF and today, there are more treatments and therapies in the final stages of research than ever before,” says Alberti. “The Walk to Cure Diabetes brings the type 1 diabetes community together here in Australia to help find the cure that scientists tell us is possible.”

With six more Australians of all ages being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes every single day, the funds raised at the Walk to Cure Diabetes are part of a critical investment in Australian research. The situation is in urgent need of attention, and the Walk to Cure Diabetes is our chance to offer support to fellow Australians!

To donate your time and stride for a cure, visit or call 1300 363 126 for more information.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do normal household chemicals get into our bodies?

“I think that people have the idea that pollution is this thing that exists outside our homes, it’s kind of floating around in the air and that once we get inside our home, we are safe from pollution.”

According to Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, authors of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, we need to be just as concerned with what is floating around within our own four walls as we are with the pollution that occurs outside our homes. (As it turns out, the President’s Cancer Panel, agrees).

In this video, Smith and Bruce lock themselves in an average apartment for two days and expose themselves to all the chemicals you would likely find in your own home. Things like:
  • Mercury
  • Non-stick chemicals
  • Pthalates
  • Tricolsan
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
The lads compare the blood and urine samples that were taken before and after the experiment to find out what has entered their systems and to what degree. Even they are shocked by the results.

Watch the video above to find out what happens.

Want to reduce your toxic load in the home? Here are some ideas.

This article shows how easy it is to eliminate BPA from your home too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

President’s Cancer Panel comes around to WellBeing way of thinking

In a piece headed New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof does the hard work for us and wades through the 200-page report released by the President’s Cancer Panel on May 5. Their main findings? That the amount of chemicals present in our lifestyle may be detrimental to our health.

WellBeing is one of many, many voices that have been saying precisely the same thing for more than a decade, quoting various studies and research findings to support our beliefs. So it’s not exactly new news, but it is wonderful news – to have such a well-supported and well-known research body reinforce our statements.

It also presents us with a great amount of hope; if the President’s Cancer Panel are advising us to reduce the number of chemicals in our homes (here’s how you can do that), eat organically (here’s why), protect our unborn babies from chemicals while in utero (this is a must-read for expectant mums & dads) and microwave our food in glass or ceramic (we’d also suggest eliminating BPA in other areas), then we as consumers will be presented with more, easier ways to make these changes.

The greater the number of people who become educated about, and convinced of, the risks of chemicals in our lifestyle, the louder will be the call for alternatives. The market place will respond and soon enough, living a healthier lifestyle will be so much easier for all of us. More importantly, it is likely we will see a reduction in the percentage of men, women and children diagnosed with cancer every year. That's something worth hoping and striving for.

Some salient quotes to leave you with:
“Noting that 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, the study warns that: “to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’ ”

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

“Some 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.” In Australia an estimated 114,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2010. Click here for more facts and figures.

You may also want to read:
Does technology cause cancer
Seven steps to reduce your cancer risk

You can read the full report here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is pay-what-you-can yoga the way forward?

According to this story in the New York Times, the latest and greatest in yoga is pay-what-you-can. I haven’t heard of any donation-based yoga classes here in Australia (feel free to correct me in the comments), but having read this piece I’m not entirely convinced I’d want to try it. I like the idea of each student paying for a class according to what their budget can allow but do we risk devaluing the time, money and dedication that yoga teachers have put into their training?

And what if one yoga studio adopts this payment method, while the studio down the road, which may have fewer teachers or a smaller space and can’t afford to go down this path, is forced out of business as a result?

“There’s a brewing resistance to the expense, the cult of personality, the membership fees,” the NYTimes writes of yoga, and I agree that it’s good to pull back on the showiness and expense associated with some yoga schools. But is this the way?

I must confess, that some of my attitude is coloured by the revelation that these New York classes pack many, many students into the one studio. “Yoga isn’t about a pristine environment — yogis can work downward dog to downward dog, no matter where they are, even if in a crowded, unadorned studio,” Gumucio explains.

His reasoning can’t be faulted but as a very visual person I like to see lovely, calming or inspiring things around me, it’s one of the reasons I go to a class in summer that practices on the beach – you can’t get a more wonderful environment than that! Would I want to swap it for a cramped studio? I’m not so sure. But perhaps I’m just allowing the class/teacher to influence my experience instead of being in charge of it myself.

It seems, then, that I’m sitting on the fence with this idea. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions on the matter. Maybe I could be convinced to pick a side!

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Money management isn’t about the numbers; it’s about goals and dreams."

The area of finance has always been a little intimidating for me. I didn’t particularly pay much attention in maths class so when I have to deal with numbers I get a little toey. I was fortunate, though, that my mum taught me how to create a basic budget and a savings plan when I was young, so those skills have served me well as an adult. I’m actually quite proud of myself in that area and when I was reflecting on it earlier this year I realised that the reason I don’t get anxious around budgets and savings plans is because I feel confident. Anything beyond that (in the world of finance), however, is a different matter. So this year is about taking the fear out of money issues by arming myself with knowledge.

Part of my research and reading has lead me to JD Roth, author of Get Rich Slowly. I read this interview with him recently and loved what he had to say about finances and lifestyle:

“Q: I think the problem for some people is they feel stuck – at a job they hate, or in a lifestyle of a certain type (with spouse and kids expecting certain things, perhaps). How do you change from this, so that you’re not sacrificing your happiness for money?

A: That’s a great question, and I think it gets at the heart of personal finance. Money management isn’t about the numbers; it’s about goals and dreams. That sounds a little new-agey, but it’s true.

If you feel stuck, the first step is to figure out why you feel stuck. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t identify it. One way to help achieve some clarity is to take some time to actually set some financial goals. From my own experience, I know that if you don’t create a map for yourself, it’s easy to get lost; and when you get lost, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Also, I think that when many people feel trapped, they just sort of freeze. They don’t do anything. That’s how I was for a long time. When this happens, the best thing you can do is take small steps toward what you really want. If you’re stuck at a job you hate, then maybe take night classes in something that interests you. Start moving slowly in the direction of your dreams. Even a little bit of change can help you relieve some of the pressure.”

Such a lovely, considered response. Take a step and then another step until you find yourself where you want to be. It may not be sexy, headline-catching advice, but it’s sensible and it works.

I also like that Roth doesn’t offer us get rich quick schemes or “be debt free in five days” advice. I generally don’t trust anything that panders to our Must Have it Now! mentality. I think the key to conquering most fears or difficulties is to research, get to know your topic and see what works best for you. No single answer is going to work for everyone.

I think I’m currently at the second of five stages that Roth believes we all go through in our financial maturity. Read the rest of the article and enjoy his insight, especially if money has been on your mind lately.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alone (and loving it!)

I love this post on solitude. As an only child I've always found it easy to spend time by myself and as an adult I sometimes have to remind myself to maintain balance and also spend time with friends, interacting and enjoying the exchange of thoughts, stories and ideas instead of quietly thinking by myself.

I realised in my early twenties how much I enjoyed having time to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or gazing through the window, thinking about nothing in particular but enjoying the thoughts that popped up. I'd follow them to see where they led, let them go and see what came up next. I could spend a long time doing this and usually felt more able to cope with the stresses of uni life (and the abject poverty that came with it!) after some "alone time".*

I gradually became aware, though, that this was not a pasttime that many of my friends indulged in and I began to feel a little odd, to say the least. I briefly considered forcing myself to become more social, to always be around friends or speaking with friends on the phone, but I knew it wouldn't stick. I generally tend to feel mentally exhausted after spending long periods of time being stimulated by too many conversations, too much noise or too much activity (give me a quiet, intimate dinner party over a loud house party any day!). So I decided to just embrace my love of alone time and accept that it's part of what makes me, me. No need to apologise or explain, it's just what I do.

I can understand why solitude may not be considered a desirable state of being - certainly, carving out alone time may be the toughest part - but I can't encourage people enough to seek it out and enjoy it. In his post (linked above), Leo Babauta writes:

Just a few of the benefits I’ve found from solitude:

  • time for thought
  • in being alone, we get to know ourselves
  • we face our demons, and deal with them
  • space to create
  • space to unwind, and find peace
  • time to reflect on what we’ve done, and learn from it
  • isolation from the influences of other helps us to find our own voice
  • quiet helps us to appreciate the smaller things that get lost in the roar
I absolutely agree with his assessment. For me, the greatest benefit was getting to know myself during the wierdness that was my early-20s (I'm not the only one who had a hard time of it, right?). My alone time gave me grounding and allowed me to figure out why I did or didn't do things, assess if that was OK or needed to be changed and, most importantly, to dream big dreams. Huge dreams. Some of which I've completely forgotten about, some of which have come to pass and some that need to be reassessed.

Your alone time will give you something completely different, something you absolutely need, so try to make time to spend time alone. Leo also has tips on how to find solitude in an extremely busy life, so head on over and read what he has to say. You'll benefit from it!

*As I type this I'm beginning to wonder if staring at the wall or ceiling may be my form of meditation. It's possible, right?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Marriage or career for lasting happiness?

Which would you choose? This op-ed piece in the New York Times starts out with the example of Sandra Bullock who in the space of a week or so went from the high of winning a best actress Oscar, to the depths of despair upon finding out that her husband had had a number of affairs. The piece then goes on to ask, which would you choose - and let's hope none of us have to make this decision - a happy marriage or a successful career?

The columnist, David Brooks, then goes on to outline recent research that highlights the life choices that can bring us lasting happiness, namely that nurturing close relationships is the key to finding fufillment. "Worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through," he writes.

"According to one study, joining a group that meets even just once a month produces the same happiness gain as doubling your income. According to another, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year."

All of which is wonderful to hear and a great impetus to go home after work tonight and give your loved ones an extra big squeeze (or a surprise phone call if they live away from you)!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

World's largest simultaneous massage - Australia now holds the record!

Boy, do I wish I had been in Daylesford, Victoria this morning. My sore legs could have benefitted from a rub down after last night's jogging efforts!

Earlier today Daylesford, undoubtedly Australia’s spa capital, broke the Guinness World Record for the largest ever simultaneous massage. Check out the image above, don't you wish you were one of the 263 lucky people blissing out on one of those purple mats this morning while being massaged by a local massage therapist?

The previous record was set in Wshington DC in 2009, which involved a measly 167 people. Pah! Daylesford's efforts included a massive 526 people, all up.

If all this has put you in the mood for a massage, but you're not quite sure what type you need, pop over here for a breakdown of massage styles and how they can help different problems.

Curious about what's on offer in Dayelsford? Here's our review of Hepburn Springs, one of the many, many spa accommodations available there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

simple meditation for newbies

I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, but I really struggle with meditation. What makes it worse is that every time I try to learn the skill, I get distracted, discouraged and give up. I’ve made feeble attempts a couple of times this year; I’ve read the first few pages of the book Hurry Up and Meditate a few times, each time putting it back in my handbag thinking to myself, I’ll delve into it when I have more time / am feeling more settled / see a cute piglet flitting past my window.

I’ve taken matters into my own hands, sat down at the beach, made myself comfortable and started to still my mind, only to be distracted by a real-life Bondi Rescue happening right in front of my eyes. It’s very hard to stay focussed with a TV crew and two bedraggled girls in bikinis not 10 metres away. (Fortunately, they weren’t injured, just attractive and caught off-guard by the power of the waves – perfect TV fodder!)

So I’ve been on the lookout for meditation tips and guidelines to help me get into the habit of a regular practise. I figure I need to start simple and with no expectations (very important, according to the article on mindfulness meditation we have coming up in issue 127, due out April 21) then build up as I gain confidence and experience.

Coming across this meditation by Ed & Deb Shapiro, then, was just the thing I needed. If you’re just starting out on the path, like myself, you might like it too. Let me know if you try it and how your journey is progressing.

"Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed, breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale...exhale...count one; inhale...exhale...two; inhale...exhale...three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths and back to one. Simply following each breath in and silently counting. So simple."

Update: I found these meditative phrases, also by Ed & Deb Shapiro, that might also be useful, if counting isn't your thing.
* "Soft belly, open heart" with each in- and out-breath
* "Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile."
* "I am easeful and peaceful, I am love."

I also really appreciated this perspective: "If your purpose is to try to achieve a quiet mind, then the trying itself will create tension and failure. Instead, you are just with whatever is happening in the moment, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. No judgment, no right or wrong. Watching whatever arises and letting it go is all that is required. It is more of an undoing than a doing." [Emphasis mine.]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Studio Oat

At the risk of causing a stampede as you all rush to order this series of gorgeous prints, thus creating a shortage before I've had a chance to buy it myself, I'd like to introduce you to Studio Oat.

I saw these illustrations - obviously created by a whimsical soul with oodles of talent - on Sunday at the markets and fell in love. Instantly.

The description that accompanies this series is equally as moving. "The Buddha Collection is about realising that through the ages there were a handful of those who truly know the heart of heaven. They are the link between heaven and earth. Living by their true virtue, they have proven that within every being there is a true nature. When realizing that the true nature is free of attachments, one can find true happiness – true peace. To have this awakening in this life, one will redirect one’s journey not only working for this physical life but focus on the permanent state of the spirit. Life then becomes a find balance between this world and the world beyond life and death."

I also have a soft spot for this image, it makes my heart sing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Linky Goodness

Need a diversion? Check out the sites that have been lifting our spirits this week.

The World Needs all Kinds of Minds
Temple Grandin suffers from autism and in her talk at the 2010 TED (Technology, Entertinment, Design) conference raises the point that this diagnosis should not be regarded as a negative, but as something to be embraced. “She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.”

This nearly 20-minute video is a life-changer and well worth your time/download usage. Make yourself a cuppa and prepare to have your ideas challenged.

Top 20 salads
I love bringing my lunch to work with me but I find it a challenge to keep things interesting as well as quick and easy. I went through a phase of making sandwiches in the morning before work, but I may have overdone it a little because the thought of a sandwich has been incredibly unappealing for many months now, so I’ve been looking for salads that I can put together in the office kitchen without too much fuss. My favourite at the moment is cannellini beans, basil, feta and cherry tomatoes with a balsamic/olive oil dressing. It tastes like summer and is incredibly filling. I was worried that I was going to get sick of this salad, too, and started looking around for other ideas when voila! I stumbled on this wonderful site.

20 incredibly nutritious and easy to prepare salads that can be made at home before work or in the office kitchen. I love the chickpea, rocket and parmesan salad – my go to favourite for summer BBQs – and altered it slightly for today’s lunch by replacing parmesan with tuna, and I have to say I enjoyed it just as much. The lemon brings out the nutty flavour of the chickpeas and gives the rocket extra pow!

You’ll definitely find something you love here.

The Cove
I’m so pleased that The Cove won an Oscar for Best Documentary feature. I finally got around to watching it over the weekend and was incredibly impressed with the crew’s ingenuity and dedication. It’s not a film for the weepy though, as the dolphin slaughter in the final 15 minutes is breathtaking in its barbarism. Ric O’Barry, the man behind the movement to put a stop to this annual cull in Taiji – for “pest control” reasons (rubbish!!) – as well as the cruelty of whale and dolphin shows, has said that he hopes the attention the film will now garner will help spread the message in Japan, where many remain oblivious to dolphin hunting.

If you can bear it, I recommend watching The Cove. It is a riveting and eye-opening doco. If the plight of the dolphins moves you, go here and sign the petition.

Or go here for more information.

For Australian readers, you may also want to copy and paste the petition and send it to Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, who has discussed taking Japan to the International Court of Justice if it does not agree to cease whaling in the Southern Ocean by November.
You can also contact Environment Minister Peter Garret who has spoken out at the International Whaling Commission previously. You can email him via a form on this page.

This Too Shall Pass – OK Go
This video clip has already had over 5 million views in the past week? Why? Because it’s bright, ingenious, uplifting and irrepressibly joyful. Come join the fun!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dealing with the emotions of Black Saturday

In place of our regular Regional Profile this issue, we have an incredibly moving account of one man's journey as he deals with the emotional aftermath of the Victorian bushfires that occurred this time last year.

I had to read Stephen Andrew's account in bits and pieces because his writing was so articulate and emotionally aware that I started to experience some of the emotions he was writing about and often became a little overwhelmed - it is such a wonderful, valuable piece.

He writes at the beginning of; "I didn’t cry during the fire weeks. Now, I am teary often. Oddly, abundance will set me off, like when I was deeply moved recently by a green grocer’s shop full of fresh produce. (“For me? Can I have this?”) Perhaps it’s another reminder that I didn’t die. The fires have pulled me much more into the light of the world. My eyes are struggling to adjust to the glow."

He writes about the various events that led him to healing and understanding, including a visit to his town by a group of Tibetan monks who created a sand mandala (we also have a wonderful article about such mandalas in the new issue) and ends with some further insight.

"I note the movement in my psyche over recent months. Post-fire, my mind is stronger, more direct and clearer when it comes to choice. Emotionally, I am more open and accepting, especially of my heart’s own peculiar beat. My soul seems a little softer. Abundance still makes me cry. Time, too, seems different: perhaps the present has asserted itself as a more dominant part of my life. I waste less time than I used to. Like the landscape of the Kinglake Ranges, the fire has revealed what was always already there. I am feeling my finitude and am more awake and more alive.

"My background in psychology takes me to Carl Jung’s fascination with the transformational fires of alchemy. Responding to detractors who declared alchemy to be fictitious, Jung said: “The alchemical operations were real, only the reality was not physical but psychological.” I think he is half right. This ancient and mysterious process had played itself out in an all too literal manner on Black Saturday and in the days that followed. In the fires, the physical and the psychological were deeply entwined. Months after the end of the fires, the environment and the people in it continue to change."

I write about all of this, not just to share with you a piece I'm proud to have in our magazine, but because the anniversary is likely to bring up many, many emotions. Some we will be able to experience then let go, some may be more powerful and difficult to deal with.

If you feel the need to talk, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website There are people there 24/7 who will listen and know how to help.

“In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, whether the floods or the bushfires, for many people the immediate need is survival; shelter, food, clothing and the like,” Lifeline Australia CEO Dawn O’Neil said today. “However, it can be many months later, even a year later, when they begin to feel the emotional impact of the event, and so when that happens it’s important to seek some support.

“Support can be speaking with a close friend or family member, a trusted colleague, a professional or a service like Lifeline. We have a 24 hour telephone support service on 13 11 14, as well as a range of online resources and discussion forums for people to utilise.”

The issue with this article will be on stands February 17.
Image: Getty Images

Monday, February 1, 2010

All You Need is La

The lovely Rebecca Cavalt recently wrote a two-part feature for WellBeing about how music can help to heal our bodies as well as the planet.

"Recent discoveries show that the whole universe is alive with melody. In 2003, NASA studied the Perseus Cluster black hole and found it has murmured a B-flat for the past 2.5 billion years. In 2006, Professor Adam Burrows of the University of Arizona found that stars sing a “death knell” in middle C before they explode as supernovae. Even Earth has its own song. In 2008, Discovery News reported on a subtle and mysterious global hum detected by seismologists. If you’re curious, you can download the MP3 from the internet. Earth’s hum is deep and rhythmic, like the sound of heavy drums or the didgeridoo. It seems to work its way into the pit of the stomach. The feeling that comes with listening to it is grounding — the sound promotes a sense of connection to the body. It’s the kind of music you could imagine listening to while meditating."

You can visit Rebecca's website to read more. She also has some interesting entries on her blog.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Carbon Conundrum

Sustainable Living expert Michael Grosvenor wrote about carbon credits for us in the latest issue (on stands now).

"One of the dilemmas for those seeking to live a more sustainable lifestyle is working out how to have a sustainable holiday. How do you visit all those great places around the world, support the local communities by doing so, learn about and appreciate the beautiful yet fragile cultures and ecosystems we have on this planet and ... avoid generating all those greenhouse gas emissions in getting there on a plane?" he writes.

Read his answer here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spaghetti with pesto & zucchini

I love a good pasta. It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, I can be easily convinced to whip up a pasta dish for dinner … and even more easily convinced to dig in when my husband cooks! This summer I’ve found a recipe that has quickly become my favourite go-to dish on those occasions I’d much rather spend the cool of the evening outside enjoying the twilight and the cool breeze than inside cooking.

Spaghetti with pesto & zucchini
Serves 2

2 medium zucchinis
½ cup of pesto (see recipe below)
enough spaghetti for 2 (170 grams feeds my husband and myself)
olive oil

Cook your pasta according to instructions. Slice zucchini into ribbons lengthways, I use our mandolin to achieve thin, consistent results. Heat oil in a fry pan and cook your zucchini so it is slightly soft but retains a bit of crunch and texture, usually about 4 minutes, then add your spaghetti and pesto. Toss for a few more minutes until the pesto covers everything in the pan and serve up.

Home-made pesto
I found this wonderful pesto recipe and used it for the first time when cooking the zucchini pasta and I couldn’t be more happy with the results. It has a full flavour, but doesn’t overpower the soft, buttery taste of cooked zucchini. In fact, they’re prefect partners! I make a batch and freeze half to use next time, which cuts down on prep time.

Recipe via:

How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother

One key to perfect pesto is chopping all the ingredients by hand, preferably with a sharp mezzaluna or knife. I gave my double-bladed mezzaluna to a friend last year because it was collecting dust (I also didn't like how ingredients would get stuck between the blades), but have a large half-moon shaped pizza cutter that works like a dream. Francesca's mom even approved and said it cut her chopping time in half. This pesto will keep a bit in the refrigerator, but it really hits its peak when served soon after it is made.

The technique here is: chop a bit, add some ingredients, chop some more. I think part of the reason she does it this way (instead of chopping everything all at once) is because some things get chopped into oblivion, while some not as much - it encourages specturm of cut sizes throughout the pesto contributing to the overall texture. All told, the chopping took me a leisurely twenty to thirty minutes, I wasn't in any particular rush.

You'll notice this recipe doesn't have any added salt (just the saltiness from the cheese), make sure your pasta water is well salted if you are going to use this pesto on pasta or the overall flavor profile will fall flat. Also, be sure to adjust for seasoning before serving. With food this simple, you need to get the seasoning right.

1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
one small handful of raw pine nuts
roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Special equipment: large mezzaluna for chopping

Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil "cake" - see the photo up above. Transfer the pesto "cake" to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake). Cover with a bit of olive oil, it doesn't take much, just a few tablespoons.

You can set this aside or place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just before serving give the pesto a quick stir to incorporate some of the oil into the basil. She occasionally thins the pesto with a splash of pasta water for more coverage, but for our gnocchi this wasn't necessary.

Makes about 1 cup.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do you know the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and Ovarian Cancer Australia have provided a few facts on the disease and symptoms that, if recognised and followed up with a medical appointment, might just save your life.

What Are The Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer?

The four most frequently reported symptoms from women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer are:
  • Persistent abdominal pain or pelvic (lower abdominal) pain.
  • A noticeable increase in abdominal size or abdominal bloating.
  • Needing to rush to the toilet to urinate often or urgently.
  • Feeling full quickly or finding it difficult to eat.
Other symptoms that have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer include:
  • Vague but persistent stomach upsets such as wind, nausea, heart burn or indigestion
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Excessive fatigue
Did you know?
  • In 2010, more than 1500 Australia women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • More than 850 will die from the disease – that’s 1 woman every 11 hours.
  • 75% of women are diagnosed in the advanced stages and will not live beyond 5 years.
  • Ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cause of death in Australian women.
  • Ovarian cancer can affect women of all ages – girls as young as 7 have been diagnosed. But the risk of getting ovarian cancer increases with age. The average age for an ovarian cancer diagnosis is 64.
  • There is no detection test – a Pap smear does NOT detect ovarian cancer.
  • The majority of Australian women DON’T know the symptoms of ovarian cancer but almost all women with ovarian cancer suffer symptoms.
  • To ensure a good chance of survival it is essential that ovarian cancer is caught in the early stages.
  • If found in the early stages, the majority of women will be alive and well after five years.
  • Awareness of symptoms is the principle means of early diagnosis to save lives!
  • With the help of the media, we aim to save lives by educating women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. We aim to inform them about what to do if they have symptoms, empowering them to manage their health.
Pass this link on to all your female friends - education about the disease and its symptoms is a powerful tool.