A passionate nutritionist, vegan, yogi, and seeker of truth! Not a bad personal philosophy, right?

Wholefood Nutritionist Fiona Halar is one of those people who just set you at ease. Her extensive knowledge of healing systems, natural health and her passion for ecologically sustainable and compassionate living is simply inspirational. Last weekend I sat down with Fiona over brunch at Rozelle’s About Life to discuss all things HEALTH.

Tell me a little about yourself, your practice and your workshops?
I’m a wholefood nutritionist, a passionate vegan and yoga practitioner, and living (raw) food enthusiast, whose aim is to inspire people to lead healthy and ecologically sustainable and compassionate lives.

My approach to good nutrition is based on using nutritionally dense, whole foods and living foods to provide our bodies with the complexity of nutrients required for optimal health and energy.

My consultations and workshops focus on helping people understand the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, and how a mindful approach to eating and living can help us make compassionate choices that have a profoundly positive affect, not only our own health and well being, but also on the well being of other animals and our planet.

What does it mean to you to eat a whole food diet?
Whole, unprocessed plant-based foods are full of vitamins, minerals, quality macronutrients, and antioxidants the body needs for optimum health and energy. Whole foods are also beneficial to the planet, using fewer natural resources. Eating a whole foods diet means avoiding artificial foods – the ones with ingredients you can’t pronounce!

My 5 top reasons to eat a whole food diet:

  • Super health
  • Mental ability and mental health
  • Optimal weight and beauty
  • Ecology
  • Longevity

What are the health benefits?
A whole food diet can offer impressive advantages, especially when it comes to weight loss and chronic disease. This is no surprise. After all, plant foods deliver nature’s most powerful beneficial compounds, like vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and a whole array of other phytochemicals. Also, a vast majority of harmful foods, like animal products and processed foods, are reduced or eliminated altogether.

What are your top ten tips for optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle?

    1. Choose organic, whole foods were possible.
    2. Drink at least 2 litres of pure (filtered or spring) water or herbal tea each day.
    3. Avoid processed foods, deep fried foods, and sugary foods and drinks.
    4. Avoid food additives with artificial sweeteners, colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
    5. Get 10-15 minutes sunshine every day, so you get some vitamin D.
    6. Exercise regularly, and choose activities that you enjoy so that you stick with it.
    7. Get a good nights sleep. A lack of sleep affects your memory, hormones, weight, mood, stress levels, immune system, and more.
    8. Take time out each week to relax and do something you enjoy.
    9. Don’t get toxic while making yourself beautiful! Lots personal hygiene and beauty products contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin – if you wouldn’t eat it don’t put it on your skin!
    10. Avoid using conventional household cleaners and opt for natural brands instead.

Do you have any favourite places for eating out in Sydney?
My favourite place in Sydney for eating out at the moment is Sadhana Kitchen. It’s a hidden gem, tucked away in a side street in Enmore. They serve delicious vegan living (raw) foods and whole foods that are super healthy. Their dishes look amazing and the food has so much flavour that you’ll find it hard to believe it’s actually really good for you!

Can you share with us the recipe for your signature dish?
Maca Goji Bliss Balls
These raw bliss balls are easy to make and are the perfect super nutritious sweet treat for when that sugar craving kicks in, or when you feel like a little pick me up. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Servings: Makes about 24 balls

Ingredients
2 cups raw cashews, ground up in a food processor
1/2 – 3/4 cup natural liquid sweetener (I like to use coconut nectar or yacon syrup)
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons maca powder
2 tablespoons goji berries
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (to roll the balls in)

Preparation
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground cashews, goji berries, cacao, and maca, and stir until the ingredients are mixed well. Add the liquid sweetener and olive oil to the bowl, and mix until a dough-like consistency is reached. Using your hands, roll the mixture into 2.5 cm (1 inch) sized balls, then roll the balls in the desiccated coconut to coat.

Serve as is, or cover and freeze before serving until a more solid consistency is achieved. Store in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

Nutrition Information
This recipe is high in antioxidants and is a very good source of copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Maca
Maca contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, all the essential amino acids and it contains nearly 60 phytochemicals. It also promotes optimal functioning of all our hormones, and remineralises the body, due to its high mineral content, making up for the lack of minerals in modern diets and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables.

Goji berries
In terms of overall nutrition goji berries are unmatched by any other food. They are a high quality protein and contain all 8 essential amino acids. They also contain up to 21 trace minerals. Goji berries are the richest source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (more beta carotene than carrots), of all known foods or plants on earth!

Cacao
Raw cacao contains a high amount of antioxidants and is a primary dietary source of magnesium, the most deficient mineral in western civilisation. Cacao also increases levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains that promote feelings of well being.