I'm an Aussie living in L.A. I make my living as an actor and presenter, and spend the rest of my time here as an enabler, passing my addiction onto others. But, fear not, this way of life is healthy, fun, and comes with a blender load of positive benefits.
In our time-poor lives, the blender is the greatest culinary gifts the gods have bestowed on us since fire and spoons. The blender makes healthy fast food possible. You can easily blend up super easy, nutrient dense, delicious foods in minutes, and enjoy the rest of our day.
I receive countless requests for easy recipes that often come attached with an all-too-familiar disclaimer: “I don’t have time to eat healthy and I don’t know how to cook!” My friend Lyn has a witty retort, “Can you read?” Culinary aficionados would argue (rightly) that there is a little more to it, but this simple philosophy has always resonated with me, and I offer it to you as the only skill that is required to enjoy these recipes.
I don’t expect everybody to stop using their teeth! Yes, of course my recipes include a full repertoire of drinks, smoothies, puddings, and soups. But it’s not all pureed food you sip, glug, or scoop up in a spoon. I favor blender-inspired recipes – dishes with a blended component such as appetizers and snacks, salads, quick easy meals, breakfasts, cakes, muffins, pasta and pizza that you can attack with your trusty knife and fork, as well as staples like dips, sauces, and condiments such as a pesto or a homemade mayo that can transform a simple bowl of pasta, a plate of steamed vegetables, a salad, sandwich, wrap, veggie crisps, or other “sink your teeth into it” foods from bland to brilliant.
My recipes cater to the everyday needs of those of us on the run, who don’t want to compromise on nutrition and flavour just because we have something more pressing to do! The best thing is, these recipes are foolproof, and can be made by cooks with very little experience and even less time. I test all of my recipes on children. If a child can't make the recipe, it doesn't make it on the blog or in my cookbook or app.
My sister and I grew up with wild and wonderful parents, both airline crew and relentless adventurers. We lived and travelled all over the world, and tucked into any and all foods put in front of us. We were omnivores with a dilemma before Michael Pollan made that fashionable.
Until I hit my teens, when I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus. That was the impetus to a revolution of my diet. A naturopath suggested I forget gluten, dairy and meat, and embrace a diet high in plant-based foods and fish. Almost overnight, I felt better. It turned out I was gluten and dairy intolerant. This was my awakening to food as medicine, and the miracle was not lost on me.
I developed a keen interest in health and nutrition. I studied nutritional science, and began taking cooking classes to develop my culinary skills and knowledge. Only in my early twenties did I truly become inspired by the power of whole foods. My friend, Toni Hudson from Kerekt Living had been married to Dirk Benedict who had cured himself of life-threatening prostate cancer by following a macrobiotic diet. His book, Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy changed the course of my life.
Finding macrobiotics worked for me, and in sticking with it for many years, I embarked on a journey of discovery, searching for the perfect whole-foods diet to keep myself in a state of optimum health. As a perfectionist, I was going to master the art of my own health even if it killed me! I was obsessed.
My self-imposed crusade had me trying out every whole-foods diet known to man! I became vegetarian, then vegan. I discovered the benefits of raw foods, and dabbled in Ayurvedic philosophy, and Chinese yin and yang principles. Next, on to alkalinity, then Body Ecology anti-candida principles, green smoothies, and blood-group strategies. It was exhausting.
Alas, no one program completely fit my needs. I would feel really good, but eventually, symptoms of lethargy and fatigue, so familiar from my early experience of Epstein-Barr, would set back in.
A chance meeting with Steven Acuff introduced me to the concept of bio-individuality, which recognizes that a single blanket diet won’t work for everybody. Encouraged, I shifted to an intuitive approach to my health, listening to the signs in my body, and teaching myself a healthier way to move through the world with food. I discovered that flexibility and fluidity rather than rigidity were, for me, among the keys to health and happiness.
Monitoring myself over the past twenty years, I’ve discovered that each of those many diets did, indeed, have something valuable to offer. But, what I am really looking for is the “Tess Diet” where I can take what I like from each of these pillars of holistic health and work it into my “ideal” way of eating that can change with my needs.
I am a seasonal, intuitive eater. My plant based eating plan varies depending on climate, stress levels, emotions, physical activity, and overall health. In the hotter months I eat a high percentage of raw foods. When the weather turns cold, more cooked foods.
But, two things remain the same: green foods and alkalinity. I didn’t know ten years ago when I read The pH Miracle that Dr Robert O Young would play such a major role in my life. When my partner, Scott Brick, was diagnosed with cancer last year, Dr Young treated him and restored his health. You can read our story or listen to Scott's personal account here. You can also grab a copy of The pH Miracle and The pH Miracle for Diabetes audiobooks that Scott and I narrated for Hachette Audio.
Green smoothies and green juices are a vital part of our life. So, in 2010, when I starting my blog to share recipes with family and friends, I turned to my blender for inspiration. My mother, on the other hand, would say her food processor tops the list of kitchen can’t-live-withouts. Then my sister chimed in with her love of mixers, and the scope of the site widened. This trio of electrical, swirling perfection creates a magical cacophony in our kitchens which always leads to culinary bliss.
I love my blender, or more specifically, my Vitamix. She’s a s'blended mistress, and helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle with ease and great gustatory pleasure. As I explored blending as a method of food preparation to develop this site, it quickly became a metaphor for how I live. I tend to combine different ideas and concepts, notes and flavours, and philosophies and cultures, in order to find a healthy, enjoyable balance of food, exercise, work and fun. While it’s not a system, exactly, it does add up to a recipe for happiness and success.
The recipes, whole foods information, and ideas I share celebrate my love of plant based foods, the joy of eating, and the concept of all things well blended. Food should satiates us, but also nourishe our entire being with consideration for the environment. I use fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, gluten free wholegrains, pulses, legumes and sprouts, natural sweeteners, and good quality unrefined fats and cold pressed oils - foods that come as close as possible to their natural state without unnecessary processing.
I try to use biodynamic and organic ingredients, as well as whole foods that have been farmed and produced with fair trade practices wherever possible. However, we're all busy, and from time to time I might recommend convenience foods that are still within the bounds of a natural state. You can find my favourite ingredients in the Healthy Blender Glossary.
All of my recipes are wheat-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan. When I first started this blog, I was eating some organic eggs and organic butter. There are a few early recipes that contain these things. However, all the recipes posted in the last four years are vegan, and almost all of them are corn-free.
Whilst I am a plant based eater, and am convinced that a diet containing vast quantities and varieties of leafy greens, alkaline vegetables, raw sprouted nuts, seeds and grains, all combined with daily green juices and smoothies can be beneficial to anybody, I also believe that each person’s "perfect blend" (foods, exercise, joyful activities, fulfilling work, loving relationships, time with family, etc.) will add up to a unique combination, and so the ingredients each of us will put in the blender will also be a unique combination. We nourish our beings with many things, and so it only makes sense that we nourish our bodies in diverse ways, too. That's the great journey called life.
So “Blend and Live!” was born, and I will keep asking, “what’s your perfect blend?”
What’s up with the pigs?
Yes, any references to pigs in my earlier posts may seem strange. Check out the community page so you don’t think I've put my brain in the blender when you read my posts! My FAQ and press kit also contain more information about me.
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