Whether it's diet or exercise, a lifestyle change is easier done when it is taken in small practical steps which can be integrated into your existing lifestyle. It has to make sense to what you intuitively do.

This concept applies if you want to do a 100% turn-around to a gluten-free diet.

Going from wheat-eating to a complete gluten free lifestyle is not as complicated as you think. You only have to start by making small, simple and pragmatic changes to what you are currently doing.

The key to beginning a gluten-free diet is to take a wholefoods approach. This means eating a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, proteins and grains. Simple. There's no tricks to it.

You see, you probably have been eating gluten-free unknowingly for a big chunk of your life. Remember those sunday roasts? Grilled steak, skewered veggies? Tacos? Stews and soups? Risottos and baked fish? Omelettes, porridges, smoothies?

The point is there are a LOT of food and home-cooked meals which are gluten-free by default. Intuitively or by habit, you probably cooked gluten-free food many times before. You likely won't have to make drastic changes to the food that you eat in order to be gluten-free. Rather, you can simply eat more of the same food you already enjoy.

It's common for people, upon hearing or deciding that they should go GF, to run to the store first thing and buy gluten-free alternatives to everything- bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, chips, crackers, pies, pastries, cereal, protein bars, flatbreads and biscuits.

I feel this method can backfire in two ways. First, it's costly. Gluten-free products have a mark-up of at least 30-50% compared to the same wheat-based ones. It can make you feel pretty guilty about spending that extra money. Secondly, processed gluten-free food don't nearly taste as good as its wheat-based counterpart. Anyone who's not gluten-free can tell you that gluten-free bread or gluten-free pasta just don't taste the same. The overall picture shows a pretty rotten deal of you trying something new for your health but ending up spending a premium on a whole bunch of new products that just don't taste as nice as the ones you had before. When your experience is this bad, it would hardly be a surprise if you don't stick to your new gluten-free diet.

By taking a wholefoods approach to changing your diet around, you can see that it is much simpler and more sustainable in the long run. Moreoever, wholesome, home-cooked, gluten-free meals are tastier (and healthier) than processed gluten-free food.

Vegetable and bean minestrone. Easy to cook and naturally gluten-free!
If you are new to the gluten-free diet, I recommend starting with the basics: eat the type of food you already eat which are traditionally prepared gluten-free.

For instance, you can have for...

Breakfast: poached eggs, fried eggs, omelettes, smoothies, porridges, yogurt with fruits, frittatas, hashbrowns, bacon, smoked salmon, baked beans, protein shakes and fruits
Lunch: salads, sushi, soups, veggies and dips, and left-overs
Dinner: grilled meat, stuffed baked potatoes, baked yams, thai curries with rice, indian curries, pad thai, pho, a roast with veggies, risottos, meat stews, nachos, tacos, chicken noodle soup, bean chili, minestrone, roast chicken, lamb cutlets, bolognese, stir-fry, burgers, zoodles, baked stuffed capsicums, beans and salads

With minimal modifications, such as getting GF varieties of bread and pasta, you can continue to enjoy whatever it is you like eating while following a gluten-free diet successfully.

The wholefoods approach to eating gluten-free is the best way to begin your gluten-free journey. Not to mention, a healthy sustainable one. Once you start, soon you'll realize how easy it is to go 100% gluten-free.

This peanut butter chocolate slice is raw, vegan, paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free. It is so easy to make!



What I love about this recipe is that it uses freshly grounded peanut butter, which I get from a health food shop in Adelaide Central Market

This health food shop, House of Health, sells raw ingredients in bulk. You can get various grains, pulses, flours and edible colours sold by the gram. 

One of the best part about this shop is its nut grinder machine, where you get a container and grind your own nut butter. There are three options for the coarseness of your grind: smooth, medium and crunchy. After you fill your container, the staff weighs it and you only pay for the amount you get.

The prices are better than buying a jar of peanut butter at the supermarket. But more importantly, the health value of a 100% nut butter that is oil-free, sugar-free and salt-free can not be overstated!

Enjoy. X




Raw, Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice
by NellyBelly



Base
1 cup raw buckwheat groats
1 scoop 180 Nutrition Superfood Protein (Vegan Chocolate)*
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoon rice malt syrup

Filling
1 cup dates, soaked**
250g sugar free, smooth 100% peanut butter
pinch of himalayan salt, optional

Top
1/4 cup raw mixed nuts, chopped
Dairy free white chocolate (Sweet William brand), melted
Coconut chocolate sauce (Pureharvest brand)

Directions
1) In a food processor, pulse buckwheat groats until coarse flour form. Blend in Superfood protein and cacao powder. Add melted coconut oil and rice malt syrup. Mix well and pour into a Tupperware container lined with saran wrap. Press down evenly to form base.
2) Using the food processor again, blend all the ingredients for filling until smooth. Pour onto the base and spread evenly. Freeze for 1 hour until solid.
3) When the base is solid, take it out and spread mixed nut topping and chocolate sauce on top.

Serves 6.

*No worries if you don't have it. You can increase buckwheat groats by 1 tablespoon. 
**Soak dried dates until soften and drain of liquid before use.


St. Petersburg, a city built by the Tsar, is nothing short of awe and splendor.

Imagine Vienna combined with Paris, Hungary and a little bit of Venice. It is a city rich with art, cosmopolitan, culture and history mashed with colorful odds and curios, relics of its ethnic diversity.


I didn't know what to expect of this city and country. After all, it has been made so exclusive by its government and hardly anyone I know has been. Truth to be told, the application process for the tourist visa left me feeling a bit dismayed with the country and its bureaucracy at first. So it was with complete surprise that I fell in absolute fascination with the city soon after a few days of being there.

Bureaucracy aside, Russia is a stunning country and St. Petersburg is its heart and soul. I visited St. Petersburg for 5 nights/6 days, and I just loved walking around and feeling unreal about the city the entire time.

Dostoevsky St. He lived here, and his statue overlooks the avenue.
If you are into arts, neo-classical architecture,  dense yet incredible history, then St. Petersburg might be just the place for you.

Here are my top 7 reasons why you should put St. Petersburg onto of your bucketlist today:

1) Cityscape and Architecture
Empire, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romanticist- style architecture make up St. Petersburg's landscape. The feel is a 18th-19th century European city, where you can easily imagine women in ballgowns and horse carriages parading down the street.




Walk around and you might notice the similarity of architecture to another European city. You might not be wrong in suspecting the same architect or design plan behind the works.

When St. Petersburg was being built, Peter the Great hired architects to build his palaces, mansions, churches, and playhouses after some of  his favorite infrastructures across Western Europe. It is because of this and the fact that foreign influences are restricted, St. Petersburg has much more of an Old World European vibe compared to another major European city.


2) The Hermitage and Priceless Art
Catherine the Great was an avid collector of arts, and her museum is the BEST in the world. Honestly, I feel with any museums I'd find something interesting in a collection with a success rate of 100:1. At the Hermitage, my interest and engagement with its collection improved up to 10:1.


Not only were the pieces of art beautiful, the physical characters of the galleries themselves, room after room, were absolutely stunning.

3) Kunstkamera Natural Museum of Human Curiosities and Rarities
Peter the Great was a collector of fine arts and a self-professed nautical junkie. He was also a collector of 'fantastic'  things. This museum houses his vast collection of "scientific findings." These include, and not limited to, baby fetuses in jars, pickled animals, two-headed beasts, more corpses and dissection of things and much much more.

It's popular with tourists and is especially a great attraction for children. Think of it as a grotesque fun-house and imagine the hours of entertainment you will have!

For people with lesser appetite, head next door to the Zoological Museum. It's got an extensive and an excellent collection of taxidermied animals, including the only WOOLY MAMMOTH in the world.

4) The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
This building is commonly mistaken for Moscow's Saint Basil's Cathedral, and you can see why. It's got that unique onion-bulbs-of-domes that we have long associated Moscow with. Upon closer inspection however, you will see many artistic differences between the Church and Saint Basil's.


The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is located on the second inner ring of the city, right on the banks of the Griboyedov Channel. The view from the main street, Nevsky Avenue, is positively arresting. You can't help but gravitate towards it.


As this is one of the top tourist sights, you can imagine the hustle and bustle surrounding the Church. The embankment is lined with restaurants, cafes, gift shops, colorful vendors and buskers. It's a really fun and energetic place, and you nearly forget the troubled history of the split blood.

5) World Class Ballet and Live Theatres
Once in a while, you've got to hang up your jeans and Merrill boots and experience something classé. What better place than St. Petersburg, cultural capital of Russia!

Like you wouldn't miss the opera house in Vienna, you couldn't possibly leave St. Petersburg without seeing one of its world class ballet recitals.

The concept of formal ballet training and academy for performance art was born in St. Petersburg. Russia's best ballet companies would be so lucky to perform at the Mariinsky Theatre, one the oldest and most prominent theatres in the world.

Tickets average $60-$100pp and what you get out of it is priceless.

6) The Underground
Public transit in St. Petersburg is impeachable. The underground runs on schedule like 99.9% of the time. Seriously, there's actually a timer at the platform counting up to 90 seconds.

Predictably, at each 90 sec, you feel the floor tremor as a tank of a train come hurtling down the tunnel. It is FAST and really super aggressive. It's a tad scary too the way the door clangs shut so hurriedly. It's a mechanic door, and there is no sensor to save your straggling friend.

It is soviet-era efficiency and pragmatism, and you feel it all the way down to the rough fibers and dimpled-plastic benches.


In contrast to the ironclad metro, the upper -level interiors of the train stations can be positively exquisite. The decoration can be likened to a palace or museum, where there are  marble statues, bronze sculptures and murals made from mosaics.

Each metro station has a theme, and it is possible to take a guided tour to visit the most beautiful metro stations in the world.

It's a quintessential Russian experience to ride the metro in St. Petersburg. Do it!

7) Popular Culture
St. Petersburg has a modern side, and this shouldn't come as a surprise. It's got upmarket malls and chic restaurants, hipster soviet-era themed cafes and self-time bars.

What's a self-time bar, you ask? It's a bar where you pay a fee for the amount of time that you spent in the place. When you first check-in with reception, you are given a card with a barcode on it. It logs in the minutes and hours you stayed in the bar.

A self-time bar like this can have many rooms, each with different functions happening. One could be a board game room, another could have live-music and one big chill-out space with 'nearly' wholesale price drinks to boot.

The reason why I say nearly is because I didn't completely understand the Russian guy. All I know is that the drinks and food are discounted heavily, because you pay for your time being there.

The view from Commode onto Nevsky Ave. 
The one I went to is Commode. Getting to this place can be a bit cryptic, and you have to be buzzed in. So, at the very least, learn how to say 'Spasiba!'

A pair of ancient sphinx from Egypt sits at the northshore quay. They are 3500 years old. 
St. Petersburg is really one of the most fascinating travel destinations in the 21st century. The extra planning and details going into making a trip like this possible are completely worth it.

Go before everything changes!

Me, in front of the Hermitage. FYI, there is no air conditioning in the museum, so wear light clothes! 

I kid you not when I say I made three batches of waffles in one sitting. All due to the ease of my new favorite kitchen appliance, a Breville Waffle Maker, and a waffle recipe that I developed. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan! Brilliant right?! 


Previously, I had been making waffles with eggs and think they're just fine. But I didn't want to stop there. This is such a good and adaptable recipe, I sensed there was room for alternatives. Through my batch testings, I found that silken tofu makes for an excellent replacement for eggs in this recipe.

Blended silken tofu has a consistency that helps with the batter structure and effectively replaces eggs. One clear bonus to this alternative is that it makes the waffles vegan-friendly. I turned out perfectly heart-shaped waffles one after another, and as you can imagine, my enthusiasm soared.

Gluten free, vegan waffles with coconut yogurt and blueberry sauce +NellyBelly in Melbourne 


I made a third batch of waffles for pure indulgence. I love the look of a neatly stacked, beautifully-cooked waffles- crisp and butter gold, piled on high. It took a lot of self-control to stop myself from pecking at the waffles while cooking. Look how gorgeous they turned out! 


Do you have a waffle iron?

Please DO give  this a go. I know you will simply love this recipe. Not to mention the healthy goodness of a protein boost from the clean and healthy vegan protein powder maker, 180 Nutrition

Enjoy! X.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Superfood Protein Gluten Free, Vegan Waffles by NellyBelly

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup self-rising gluten-free flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup silken tofu
3/4 cup light soymilk or almond milk 
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
Water as required*

Directions:
1. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk in Superfood Protein. Mix until well blended.
2. In a blender or food processor, blend silken tofu, soymilk and lemon juice until smooth.
3. Add wet ingredients into dry. Whisk in melted coconut oil. Mix well until the batter is smooth. 
4. When the waffle iron is ready, pour 1/2 cup of batter per waffle and spread evenly across. Cook 3 minutes or until desired crispness.

Makes 6 Waffles.

*As the batter sits, it gets thicker. Add a tablespoon of water to the batter when required to lighten the batter. 

Notes + Inspiration
Skip the maple syrup. Top waffles with berries and yogurt for a refreshing and guilt-free treat. 
Enjoy with PB & J. 
Don't have silken tofu? Replace the liquid portion (tofu, almond milk, lemon juice) with a mixture of 1 1/2 cup yogurt with 1/2 cup milk. Or simply 2 cups Buttermilk.
Don't have Buttermilk? Make your own! Mix 1 3/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let stand 5 minutes to curdle before use.
Freeze to keep leftovers and enjoy waffles for future use.

Who is 180 Nutrition?! Read my blog post on these Aussome Aussie Vegan Protein Powders HERE
Want more from 180 Nutrition??? Visit Their Webpage >>> 180 Nutrition 


Sometimes, inspiration hits you and you can't stop at one thing. This week, I baked these muffins three times. Two batches of jumbo muffins and one batch of mini-ones which yielded a total of 48 muffins! I have been stuffing my face quite righteously.


These glorious little ones are Apple Cinnamon Muffins. They are gluten free, dairy free, and have NO ADDED FATS. Let's right. No Fats, such as oil, butter nor margarine were used. Instead, I chose a healthier alternative: Apple Sauce!


Apple sauce behaves in the same way as oil in this recipe. It emulsifies and stabilizes the baked goods. Even without added fats, these muffins remain light, moist and fluffy.


Another good thing about this recipe is that it has a half cup of LSA mix. LSA stands for
Linseed, Sunflower and Almond. This mealy mix of grounded wholefoods is naturally rich in fibre and essential fatty acids. The addition of a wholemeal ingredient like LSA ensures the tasty muffin bites are fibre-conscious. 




I having nothing against fats and oil. In fact, I am a proponent of the inclusion of healthy fats and oil as part of a balance diet. Finding apple sauce as a suitable substitute for oil in the muffin recipe was out of pure curiosity; I like to experiment with alternatives in my baking and cooking. And when the result is just as amazing and yummy, why not have the diversity?

Hope you will take to baking with apple sauce after trying this one out! Enjoy. 
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Apple Cinnamon Gluten-Free Muffins by NellyBelly

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1/2 cup LSA
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 apple, chopped (at least 1 cup)
1/2 cup Apple sauce
1/2 cup Soymilk 
2 eggs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 175C or 350F. Grease muffin pan.
2. In a big bowl, mix together gluten-free flour, LSA, raw sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon.
3. Add apple chunks to dry mix and blend well in flour mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk apple sauce and soymilk until well blended. Add two large eggs. Whisk thoroughly. 
5. Add wet to dry ingredients, mix until just combined.

6. Scoop batter into muffin pan and bake for 13-15min for mini-muffins, 18-23min for normal size to jumbo muffins. 

Makes 12 standard sized muffins or 6 jumbo muffins
Local food markets are the best for discovering niche food and artisan products. Wholey Day’s Flour Market was no exception, and it was to my delight in finding No Grainer- Australia’s first commercially-available paleo bread, made in Melbourne no less- and meeting the dynamic sister duo, Jo and Sally Godfrey, behind the World's Best Grain-Free Paleo Bread.


For years, Jo and Sally have self-navigated a diet appropriate for their health conditions; Jo, being a coeliac, and Sally, having diabetes and dairy-intolerance. You can imagine the level of their concentration and efforts when it comes to sourcing the ‘right’ food.

Jo and Sally's personal journey with gluten-free, dairy-free, and diabetic-friendly diet led to a sizable research and experimental cooking. In November 2015, they successfully developed a grain-free, yeast-free paleo bread that is perfectly artisanal and tasty as can be!

No Grainer paleo breads are:

✓ Grain-free
✓ Free of pseudo-grains and modified starches
✓ Dairy-free
✓ Yeast free
✓ Preservative free
 Low carb
Local & Organic ingredients


Not to mention, a bread slicer’s dream! No Grainer bread loafs slice up beautifully- the bread doesn’t crumb and each slice stays firm and intact when you take a bread knife through it.


No Grainer breads come in: Classic Almond Loaf, Mixed Seed Loaf, and Date, Raisin & Walnut Loaf. Also available are Pizza-bases, Sweet Scrolls and Grain-Free Cookies.

The Classic Almond Loaf has a smooth and medium-firm texture. It springs to the touch, while not being porous. The Mixed Seed Loaf is liberally seeded with organic pumpkin seed and organic sesame seeds, which when toasted, a nice aroma develops.

Jo and Sally bake their bread the day before market morning, and you can expect No Grainer loafs to arrive very fresh. Being preservative free, the breads are best kept in the fridge.

No Grainer breads taste great! I love the texture of healthy seeds. 
One more thing that I like about No Grainer is learning that the company engages in environmentally sustainable practices. The almond meal they use is from Australian-grown almonds. Organic ingredients come from wholesaler Terra Madre Organics in Northcote. Further, as their paleo bread uses organic egg whites only, No Grainer partners with Billy Van Creamy Ice Creamery- whereby an exchange of egg yolks for egg whites ensure that no part of an organic egg is wasted.

It is very clever and resourceful of them. And in turn, we indirectly support another local business. Just think, the more No Grainer breads we eat, the more ice cream gets made! 

No Grainer Cranberry and Chocolate Grain-Free Cookies are chewy, moist and delicious!!! Also- dairy-free chocolate is from Loving Earth. Raw Chocolate.
Finally, I like No Grainer for their products and, especially, for their people. Jo and Sally are truly lovely folks. They are genuine, bright and sparky, excellent to talk to about food intolerance, and their enthusiasm working on No Grainer is positively awesome.

Good food, good people, good energy. Now that's what I am talking about!


You can find No Grainer breads at specialty food stores. To find a stockist near you, visit No Grainer here.
Visit their website! No Grainer
Like them on Facebook! No Grainer Melbourne 
New to gluten-free and dairy-free living? I hope you like cooking because you are going to do heaps of that.

I have compiled a list of important ingredients that can make living on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet easier. I am going to skip the obvious, such as fruits, veggies, spices, pulses, oils, dried nuts, dried fruits, meat and proteins, cereal angluten-free bread.

I want to focus on are pantry items that enable to you make a wide range of delicious gluten-free food; from stir-fries, risottos, cakes, muffins, cookies and waffles. Read on!



1. GRAINS, RICE AND PASTA
Going gluten-free and dairy-free does not equate to health unless you choose the healthier food option. Whether you are having rice or pasta, I highly recommend going with the wholegrain option. 

Many gluten-free and dairy-free food and products are highly processed and stripped of the grain's natural fibre, vitamin and minerals. Going wholegrain is much healthier for you because it provides the most of the grains nutrients. It is also one of the best ways to ensure you are meeting your dietary recommendation of fibre. 


BUCKWHEAT GROATS
2. BAKING 
The following ingredients make up a really good gluten-free flour blend, which I use at home for all of my baking needs. The recipe for the gluten-free flour blend can be found HERE.


NATURE'S FIRST WHEAT-FREE ROLLED OATS
Why I love this product: These oats are wheat-free. Aside from eating them as a porridge, I use them in my baking. I grind up the oats in a spice grinder to make oat flour. I have made mugffins, cakes, pancakes and raw cookie bases using these wheat-free oats. 

What is the Australian standard for wheat-free oats? Find out HERE. 

3. SAUCES, NON-DAIRY MILK AND SPREADS
Wheat grain and wheat starches are sneaky ingredients that find their way into a lot of food products. Many are food items, such as sauces, condiments, stocks and broths, canned foods, which you wouldn't have thought to contain wheat. It takes a bit of patience, but to avoid any encounter with wheat, you will have to be diligent and read product labels and ingredients!

BRAGG'S AMINO SEASONING

Why I love this product: It is made from soy aminos and water. No preservatives and added salt or sugar. It acts as a great soy sauce alternative for all-purpose seasoning. I use it in stir-frys and as part of a ingredient for homemade worcestershire sauce. 

MAE PLOY SWEET CHILLI SAUCE

PUREHARVEST RICE MALT SYRUP

Why I love this product: Rice malt syrup has a viscosity similar to honey, maple syrup, golden syrup and treacle- kind of thick and sticky. Comparatively, it has the lowest in sugar content. In baking and cooking, rice malt syrup is a great alternative to reduce sugar while not compromising the consistency and texture of the finished dish. 
NUTTELEX

Why I love this product: Nuttelex is the BEST dairy-free butter-like spreadable in Australia. It is silky smooth, melts and tastes great. I use it in my cooking and baking which requires butter.


VITASOY SOY MILKY LITE

Why I love this product: Soy Milky Lite is very tasty. I have it with my coffee, cereal and use it in baking. In terms of all the non-dairy milk options in the supermarket, this is considered to be in the mid-range. Not the cheapest but not expensive either. More importantly, it is not full of crappy ingredients. 

4. Others


Why I love this product: Not all stocks are gluten-free, but Campbell's Real Chicken Stock is. I like this one as well as the low-sodium version. I make risottos, stews and soups with it.