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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Filtering by Tag: Weston A Price

The Perfect Human Diet- DVD review


NEW_PHD_Movie_posterI recently watched a documentary film (rented from iTunes) called ‘The Perfect Human Diet’ (not to be confused with the book called ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ by Paul Jaminet, although the subject matter is very similar). The film was released as a DVD on 1 January 2013.

The film looks at evolutionary and scientific factors to determine what we are biologically designed to eat. The upshot: we are genetically programmed to eat a diet of the type eaten by our paleolithic (hunger gatherer) ancestors 2+ million years ago- essentially a diet rich in animals (muscle meat, organ meat and fat) and plants (including nuts and berries).

On the whole I give this DVD a big thumbs up. It’s is a terrific introduction for anyone new to ancestral (primal, paleo) diets who would prefer to watch a DVD instead of reading a text or scouring websites. It’s also great for anyone who is familiar with a paleo diet but would like confirmation of it from an evolutionary and scientific basis. And of course paleo-anthropology geeks like me would relish it.

Here are some of the salient points that emerged from the DVD:

  • Journalist CJ Hunt (the narrator) suffered from a near death experience (heart attack) at 24 while running. At the time he was eating according to the USA food pyramid guidelines (ie a conventional diet) and felt constantly hungry. He then embarked on a quest over the next 10 years to find, in his words, “the perfect human diet”. To this end he experimented with a range of nutritional philosophies such as vegetarianism, blood type diet, vegan diets etc (does this journey sound familiar to you?? Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt….). He then came across the paleo diet and started doing his own research. What transpires is a marriage of science and evolution in determining what we are biologically designed to eat.
  • Modern diseases and illnesses are a result of a departure from what our genes are biologically designed for (including a departure from an ancestral diet). “We are so far off base from what we are genetically designed to eat”.
  • The film features many international paleo heavyweights including Loren Cordain (author of The Paelo Diet), Robb Wolf (author of The Paleo Solution), Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad calories), Michael Eades (author of Protein Power),  and the work of Price Pottenger Nutritional Foundation (which supports the work of nutritional pioneer Weston A Price).
  • The paleo diet is not a fad or a trendy movement. Or, if it is, it is a 2.6 million year diet- in fact the oldest human diet.
  • There’s been a steady decline in human health since the agricultural revolution (which started 10,000) with the introduction of grains into the human diet for the very first time. Much emphasis was given to the fact that wholegrains are just as bad as, if not worse than, refined grains because they block the absorption of minerals.
  • Early dietary advice from medical and scientific community (about 100 years ago) was a low carb/sugar/starch diet. However that nutritional philosophy was turned on its head with the low fat movement starting 50 odd years ago. When fats are reduced, carbohydrates inevitable increase. With this change in macronutrient emphasis, human health really started deteriorating.
  •  There was great myth busting around the notion that dietary fat doesn’t make you fat and in fact high carbohydrate loads are responsible for fat gain.
  • The conventional food pyramid is essentially a “feedlot pyramid” as farmers follow it to fatten up cattle.
  • Nutrient-dense animal foods doubled early human brain size.
  • Good discussion on protein releasing slow steady state energy throughout the day in contrast to carbohydrates which cause energy spikes and crashes.
  • A tour of a supermarket showed that most of what is sold is not consistent with what our genes are designed to eat. Boxed cereal in particular is no better than eating straight sugar and you would only do so if there was nothing else to eat and you were on your death bed and imminently needed glucose to the brain. Man, and to think I grew up on the stuff thinking that all that granola and puffed wheat was good for me.

Here are what I thought were the 2 main shortcomings of the film or what I thought needed further clarification:evolution picture

1. While it was great to see the film really emphasising the dangers of sugar and refined grains, there was interestingly no mention at all of what I call public enemy number 3: industrial seed oils (eg canola, cottonseed, vegetable oil, margarine etc). Maybe it’s case of “slowly slowly catchy monkey” i.e. let’s get the public comfortable with the dangers of sugar and refined grains first before we explode their brains with another ubiquitous component of modern diets- processed oils. It would, however, have been prudent in my view to have had at least passing mention to this third category of dietary toxins.

2. The film takes what I call a very strict paleo view of the human diet ie no milk post weaning, lean meat, no grains even if properly prepared. Taking  each of these in turn:

  • on the issue of milk, the strict paleo view is that hunter gatherers did not drink milk post weaning and ergo humans are not designed to drink milk. I have thought long and hard over the past few years about the relevance of milk in the modern human diet and after much research I concur with the views of Chris Kresser on this subject: just because our paleolithic ancestors didn’t consume a certain type of food doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t consume it if 4 conditions are met: (a) it’s nutrient dense (b) it’s non toxic (c) you have the relevant enzymes to digest it and (d) you enjoy consuming it (the last condition is my contribution!). In relation to milk, like all food, everything come down to its source and processing as not all milk sold on the market is the same. For more information on this issue I suggest you speak to me in person or click here and here.
  • there was mention a few times to the importance of eating “lean” meat. I find the reference to lean meats (which often pops up in the paleo text books) confusing and contradicts the references to the importance of eating fat and in particular the brain and other organ meats of animals which are naturally high in saturated fat. Hearing references to lean meats might confuse the public into thinking that we should be eating a low fat diet. Perhaps the reference to lean meat might have something to do with the fact that the wild animals hunted down by our hunter gatherer ancestors were leaner than the farmed cattle we consume today. Or perhaps lean meat refers to muscle meat as opposed to fat and organ meats and bones which should also be consumed. My view is that if you eat the whole of the animal – like our ancestors did-  then you can’t go wrong. If anyone can explain to me why paleo heavyweights refer to lean meats I’d love to hear it.
  • Grains, even whole grains, are touted as being strictly out on a paleo diet for they were cultivated as part of the agricultural revolution a mere 10,000 years ago when our hunter gatherer ancestors abandoned nomadic lifestyle to an agrarian one. The film explains that grains block the absorption of minerals leading to bone density loss (there was no mention in the film that “phytates” primarily found in the outer husk of grains are responsible for this damage to our osteo skeletal structure).  However, nuts get a tick on a paleo diet but there was no mention of the fact that nuts also contain phytates. Phytates are significantly reduced by proper preparation through long soaking and dehydrating (today called activating nuts), sprouting or fermenting. Dr Weston A Price in the earlier part of last century discovered that all traditional societies the world over prepared grains, legumes, seeds and nuts through one or more of these proper preparation techniques to reduce the phytate content. My view is that if nuts are going to be consumed, they too must be properly prepared otherwise I wouldn’t recommend their consumption. Secondly while I don’t personally consume grains (as I don’t think they are very nutrition dense for all the effort involved to properly prepare them) I do think that the occasional consumption of properly prepared grains (eg sourdough, sprouted, long soaked) is fine if you don’t have blood sugar issues or allergies and if you favour the gluten-free grains (eg rice, buckwheat). In this regard my nutritional philosophy is more aligned with the Weston A Price foundation than strict paleo.

1One of my favourite quotes from the film:

Q: Is a paleo diet convenient? A: It’s hell of a lot more convenient than diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease.

Click here to view the film’s website including trailer.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Have you seen The Perfect Human Diet? If so what was your view? Do you agree with my comments?

Pork - interesting news plus recipes


I apologise in advance to all my kosher friends out there, and those of you who do not eat pork.

For me, however, pork would have to be one of my favourite meats. When faced with a slow cooked pork shoulder with crispy cracking……I instantly ascend into heaven. But a while ago I read in one of the Weston A Price quarterly journals something new about pork that I didn’t know that I would like to share with you.

The results of a pilot study show unequivocally that consuming unmarinated cooked fresh pork has a significant coagulation and clotting effect on the blood.

Apparently traditional preparation of pork involved either (a) salt curing following by smoking to preserve it (to make bacon, ham, prosciutto) or (b) marinating fresh pork in an acidic medium, usually vinegar, prior to cooking.

Yet like most people I simply cook (or used to cook) fresh pork without necessarily marinating it in an acidic medium.

In the pilot study an investigation was done via live blood analysis on 3 adult volunteers who normally eat a traditional wholefoods diet. They came into a lab once a week to consume pork prepared in various ways and to have their blood examined before and after eating it. Microphotos of their blood showed unexpected results:

-       5 hours after consuming unmarinated cooked fresh pastured pork chops the subjects showed extremely coagulated blood. Prior to consumption, their blood looked very healthy. 2 of the 3 subjects felt      considerable fatigue after eating the pork chop (suggesting reduced peripheral blood circulation due to red blood cell stickiness and aggregation).

-       after consuming a pork chop that had been marinating completely submerged in apple cider vinegar for 24 hours the subjects showed essentially no change in their blood.

-       After consuming pastured bacon and prosciutto the subjects showed essentially no change in their blood.

-       As an additional control, after consuming unmarinated cooked fresh pastured lamb chops the subjects showed no change in their blood.

fall2011 rubikfig1

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The top Microphotograph shows blood of male, 52, before consuming the unmarinated cooked pork chop. Red blood cells are seen as round cells, and small white patches of platelet aggregates are seen. This is the picture of normal, healthy blood. In contrast the bottom microphotograph shows his blood five hours after consuming the unmarinated cooked pork chop. Red blood cells are entirely stuck together in rouleaux (stacks of coins) formations, and a high level of fibrin, white threads, means that early blood clotting has transpired.

So the bottom line is if you are going to eat pork make sure that:

(a) it is preserved as per bacon, ham or prosciutto (preferably nitrate-free as nitrates are carcinogens); or

(b) you marinate fresh pork in an acidic medium such as apple cider vinegar for 24 hours prior to cooking to prevent blood coagulation, clotting and fatigue. Pork may be unique in this regard as other meats such as unmarinated lamb does not have blood coagulating and clotting effects.

What is it about unmarinated cooked pork that produces biochemical inflammation and early blood clotting? In searching the modern scientific and medical literature for clues nothing was uncovered that might explain the results of this study. The authors of the study speculate that raw pork contains a toxin unidentified to date and that heat alone from cooking cannot destroy it, but that salt curing/fermentation or marinating in acid plus cooking, do so. What is most notable is that the results of the study demonstrate the wisdom of traditional food preparation. The preparing of pork in customary ways by salts and acid marinades makes pork safe for consumption not only by killing parasites and bacteria but preventing inflammatory and blood clotting effects as observed through the live blood analysis of this pilot study.

To read the full article in the Weston A Price journal (‘Wise Traditions’ Fall 2011, Vol 12, No 3, p 24) click here.

Below I set out my simple slow cooked pork shoulder casserole recipe now modified to include apple cider vinegar in the marinade mixture. Marinating also tenderizes the meat, improves its texture and imbues it with more flavour.

Recently I bought from Feather & Bone on line a whole salami for only $35/kg and whole leg of ham at $26.50 (plus $9 delivery fee). These were served with a raw cheese platter at my son’s birthday party recently and the platter was demolished by young and old alike. Excess ham was sliced and frozen in between baking paper for school/work lunches.

Happy pork eating!!!

Slow cooked pork with crispy crackling


1 pork shoulder (approx 1.75 kg) or pork belly or rolled pork belly

2 cups beef or chicken stock

¾ cup white wine

1 cup raw apple cider vinegar

12 cloves, ground

1 tablespoon maple syrup

cinnamon powder

unrefined salt



Place pork in Le Creuset or other casserole dish. Add stock, wine, apple cider vinegar, cloves, a sprinkling of cinnamon powder and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper. The pork should be almost submerged.  Marinate in fridge for 24 hours.

Slow cook covered at 80 degrees for 12- 24 hours. Keep shoulder covered in Le Creuset out of oven until crackling is ready.

To make the crackling, remove fat from the top of the shoulder (it should slide off easily in one piece after slow cooking) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Add liberal amounts of further salt to the fat. Turn oven temperature up to very high heat (eg 200 degrees) and cook fat on both sides until crispy. This should take approx 15 minutes.

Cut crackling in pieces and place on top of shoulder which should be so tender than it falls off the shoulder bone.

The stock in the bottom of casserole dish can be drizzled over the meat and/or consumed separately as a broth.

Serve with a fresh salad of sliced apple, rocket, activated hazelnuts and shaved parmesan or goats curd. If desired you can make a traditional apple sauce by steaming 4 chopped cored apples (I leave the skin on) until very soft then mixing with a hand held blender with generous amounts of butter and/or cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon powder. The sauce can be thinned with whole milk if it is too thick. Any left over apple sauce can be refrigerated and is delicious served as a side dish for breakfast with yogurt or as a dessert in its own right.

Any left over pork can be sliced and thrown into a salad the following day. Simply add sliced apples, lettuce greens, snow peas, avocado, parsley, cucumber, strips of carrots and capsicum,  drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt and pepper..... and enjoy (preferably with friends)!

What I’m currently reading and listening to….on my bookshelf!


Over the past few months I've been enjoying reading the insights of my traditional wholefoods gurus Chris Kresser (, Chris Masterjohn ( and  Mark Sisson ( If you are enjoying my blog and want to get into some "meatier" stuff I recommend you look at their websites and subscribe to their daily blogs which are a wealth of great info. I’m listening to Chris Kresser’s podcasts in iTunes when driving in the car, walking or working away in the kitchen. On your i-phone go to iTunes, search for Chris Kresser and start listening to various nutrition and health related topics in 25 different podcasts (no downloading required)! Of course you can never go wrong with the website which was my introduction into ancestral eating (just be weary of overdoing the grains/legumes though). I know we live in a world of information overload and it’s impossible to read everything on any given subject (and why would you want to?) but these sites are at the top of my list.