Like many people, I don’t know what to eat anymore. Having decided to renovate my diet at the start of the new year, I now go around in circles before every meal. Do I eat too many carbs? Should I give up sugar? More protein? Less protein? Gluten Free? Are oats gluten? Is quinoa a carb? Should I go paleo? At least I had the good sense to not even consider intermittent fasting. There is no way I can go on short rations two days a week.
To consolidate the change I went to the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Tallebudgera Valley for four days. Their food ethos is based around fresh, organic produce with low levels of human intervention. The eggs and most of the vegetables are grown on the site and the chef produced food was the highlight of the stay. Breakfast started with two big bowls on the table, one with porridge and one with stewed fruits. The porridge was different every morning with versions with millet, polenta and quinoa. Then some protein appeared. Usually poached eggs, frittata or baked beans.
Lunch was the main meal of the day with choices such as a chicken or fish Thai style curry, with a big bowl of salad and one of vegetables to share. Dinner was smaller with a tasting plate for entree, soup and vegetables. The idea was to have your main meal in the middle of the day and a smaller meal at night when you needed the energy less.
This is a great way to eat if you have a team of chefs in your kitchen to start the prep work for lunch right after breakfast service. I did buy the cookbook and have expanded my repertoire to include some of their dishes, accompanied beforehand to a visit to the health food shop for organic vegetables.
For further research, I headed down to Primal Pantry, a paleo cafe in Florence Street, Newstead, for some breakfast. The breakfast menu seemed familiar but filled with dishes which were artfully contrived to remove all grains, sugar, dairy and legumes. So the pancakes were made from cauliflower and the paleo toast I ordered tasted of coconut and hazelnut meal. There are more exotic choices like Nasi Goreng Style Sweet Sticky Pork ($21.50) but I had the more traditional poached eggs with avocado ($16.50). Paleo eating seems to involve a lot of work to recreate dishes that are recognisable to all of us carb lovers, but this becomes an expensive way to eat. $20 for some poached eggs and coffee seems a tad excessive, and really, it is hard to believe lentils aren’t good for you.
So back home in my kitchen, what have I learned? From Gwinganna, I have kept up the warm breakfasts, such as the poached fruit and porridge and moved away from muesli and yoghurt. I have put more attention into lunch and try and make sure I have some protein in the middle of the day and pretty much cut out pasta and other carbfests for dinner. The ritual I particularly liked at Gwinganna was after dinner when pots of digestive tea were put on the table. These simple teas are made from fresh herbs and fruit. For instance a slice of lime with some lemon myrtle, or ginger and mint. Very soothing after dinner.
I still don’t know what to eat but at least I now have a long hard think about it before I put it in my mouth. What are you eating?
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
192 Syndicate Road
Ph: 07 5589 5000
Cnr Florence and Macquarie Sts
Ph: 07 3252 5960
Open Monday to Sunday 7am – 3pm