Eat for Free, Reduce Waste, Change the World

Hi! Those of you who follow me on Facebook would have seen that I rescue excess/seconds fresh fruit and veg, that would otherwise be sent to landfill, and that I then donate and trade what I don’t eat in order to reduce waste and change the world by supporting two charities (and this website to a small extent). This process is incredibly easy and I’d like to share it with you in a step by step ‘How To’ so that you can do it yourself too. Can you imagine how much waste we can save, and how much we can change the world if people everywhere start eating more fresh produce, giving it to people who are struggling financially and using the rest to support charities? It would be wild!!!

So here goes…

STEP 1: Choose Your Charity

Select a charity that provides for funds transfer into their account on an ad hoc basis so you aren’t tied into having to raise a set value every month.

STEP 2: Find the Food

Approach the owner of your local greengrocer store and ask them if they ever throw out any bananas just because they are single pieces of fruit or have gone a little spotty? If they say yes then ask whether they would be willing to hold these for you to pick up twice a week for free, since they were just going to toss them anyway, so you can then give these bananas to the poor or pass them on in return for donations to raise money for ________ (insert name of charity).

If they refuse; don’t argue, just leave and try another grocer, market, grower or supermarket.

If they agree then ask them if they have already contacted any food relief charities. If they haven’t you could coordinate setting up a relationship, in return for some fresh excess produce for yourself. If they’ve tried but had no luck getting a charity to pick up from them then ask what days and times would be most convenient to them for YOU to pick up the excess. Sometimes the amount they have is too little and too variable for the food relief charities to be bothered with pick up. Agree pick up days/times between you and the grocer. Send them a text message a couple of hours before each pickup to check if they have anything for you to take and to confirm that you are coming. Then make sure you turn up when you say you will.

Start with bananas only for the first couple of weeks as these are the most likely fruit they will give you. If all is then going well ask them if there is also other produce they toss out such as bruised avocados and wilted greens etc and whether they would hold these for you as well. If you pick up from their loading dock you are likely to see what they are discarding anyway but do not take from their waste/bins and make sure you only take what is offered to you.

Do not take anything that looks rotten or improperly stored/handled. Do not take green potatoes. Do not take anything past its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date or any perishable items such as bread, eggs or animal proteins as these could poison someone if they haven’t been kept in cold storage or are on the turn.

Before long you will likely find that you are receiving a variety of produce.

STEP 3: Sort the Produce and Put Aside Your Food

Transport the produce according to your local Food Safety/Food Standards guidelines. Ensure the produce is all in good edible condition, compost anything that isn’t. Bag and refrigerate the produce and put aside what you will need for your own personal use. Ensure that the excess produce that you will give or trade is properly stored according to the Food Standards and Food Donation codes for your state (these are not generally onerous for fruit and veg).

STEP 4: Give

Give what you can to anyone you know is doing is tough such as those who are sick, new mums, those who are struggling financially etc. There may be a local soup kitchen or food relief organisation that will accept produce from you.

STEP 5: Trade for Optional Donation

Whatever you can’t give away to good causes can now go to trade by optional donation. Photograph the produce and post a list of what you have onto social media. Explain that you are helping ___________ (insert name) grocer to save waste by trading their excess/seconds and raising money for ___________ (insert charity) in doing so. Invite people to just donate what they feel the produce is worth, if anything. Invite them to pick up from you at your home, or office, and to donate cash if they feel appropriate (they will). Try to avoid electronic transfer of funds as this is a headache to track and account for. Do not offer to deliver to people unless you are able to keep produce properly cold in your car (read the Food Standards and Food Donation codes for your state) and you have a lot of time on your hands.

STEP 6: Reconcile and Transfer Funds

Count the donations every month and announce how much you have raised onto social media (also announce how many people have been helped by what you are doing). Notify the grocer of how much they have helped you raise for your good cause and how many struggling people they have helped by supporting you. Thank the grocer and those who have donated. Write and tell me about what you’re up to and how it’s going for you!

Bank the money directly into your charity’s account. Don’t feel bad if it isn’t much. Every little bit counts! Request a receipt for each deposit and speak to your accountant as to what to do with these.

Then give yourself a pat on the back for reducing waste, promoting health and actively supporting a charitable cause!



What if my grocer gives me way too much produce?

  • Clean the produce, bag it up into portions and freeze it for your own later use
  • Invite others to volunteer to help you distribute it
  • Try again to find a food relief organisation that will pick up from your grocer (yes you may lose your own personal free supply). and are just two such organisations in Australia but there are many more
  • Start a juice or soup supply initiative with your family and friends
  • Donate the produce to an animal sanctuary, or local farm, as feed and compost
  • Compost it yourself and then trade the compost for donations to your charity

What if I raise large amounts of money?

  • Speak to an accountant as you may have an issue if you bank this money into your own account first before transferring it to the charity. It is better to bank direct to the charity to avoid the money being regarded as part of your taxable income
  • You may have just inadvertently created your own viable social enterprise! Congratulations! Now send me an email to tell me all about it! You’re also going to need advice from a solicitor and accountant to take this forward and set up a more professional structure

Will I get sued if someone says they got sick from eating the produce they received from me?

  • This is unlikely to occur if you only take and pass on produce that is fresh, produce that is customarily washed/peeled/cooked, and has been stored and handled properly according to good common sense and the Food Codes. If you are concerned or unsure please consult your local Council Health Inspector or a solicitor
  • In NSW, ‘…the protection of food donors is covered under the Civil Liability Amendment (Food Donations) Act 2002. The act limits the liability of individuals and businesses that donate food, providing certain food safety conditions have been met.As the NSW Food Authorityexternal link advises, food donors must ensure that:
    • the food is donated in good faith for a charitable or benevolent purpose
    • the food is donated with the intention that the receiver of food does not have to pay for the food
    • the food is safe to eat when it leaves the possession or control of the donor
    • the donor gives the charity any information it needs to ensure the ongoing safety of the food’

  • Ensure that it is clear to those receiving food that they aren’t expected to pay for the food and that donation of what they feel it is worth, to your selected charity, is optional
  • Please check your own local legislation regarding this matter prior to undertaking this initiative


© | 2016


‘Love Life & Gluten Free’ Recipe Book Review

You know that moment when your eye is caught by an attractive gluten free cookbook cover, you pick it up, excitedly flick through it and then your heart sinks because the food is all really unhealthy, the recipes are long and complicated and the ingredients list requires you to take out a new mortgage on your home?

Well, I am very please to say that ‘Love Life & Gluten Free’ by Angie Cowen is NOT one of those books! Yes, it has a beautiful cover featuring the adorable Angie herself, and sure the photography and quotes inside are lovely, but the real treat here is how accessible the recipes are. It’s like gluten free cooking for idiots!..Or for busy and hungry business owners/triathletes like me!


Angie’s recipes are no fuss, quick, clean, healthy, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and predominantly vegetarian. There are many low FODMAP and vegan options and most of the recipes can be converted if need be. You will need a food processor and a good oven although there’s a sizable portion of raw vegan goodness also waiting to be discovered. Most of the recipes use only eight ingredients or less and are broken down into just as many simple, one sentence long steps. The treats keep well as lunchbox fillers and as long ride sustenance. Angie has included plenty of nice ‘technique’ recipes for simple basics and sauces/condiments to elevate even the quickest salad to trendy cafe menu level.

I’ve ‘cooked’ the ‘Raw Chocolate Coconut Balls’ (TIP: if you find the mix too dry, add more dates), ‘Vanilla Coconut Rough’, ‘Cacao Nib Fudge’, ‘Chewy Coconut Stuffed Apples’ and most of the teas, smoothies, savoury dressings and condiments without any issues. So far, my favourite recipe has been the unusual ‘Cinnamon Tahini Coconut Bliss Balls’. I’ve tried my fair share of bliss balls but the flavour of these little treasures is unique, surprising and down-right addictive.


Angie’s ‘Chocolate Avocado Pudding’ will be featuring in the dessert tasting plate I am presenting to my family at Christmas lunch this year (shhh, don’t tell them it’s gluten free and vegan!). I am certain this decadent chocolaty goodness will be a winner!

If you too would like to fall in love with this 167 beautiful pages of gluten free joy, then head over to and grab yourself a copy of ‘Love Life & Gluten Free’. This book also makes a great gift that is sure to even convert your most ardent of wheat loving family and friends.


book 2

Disclaimer: I came to write this review by way of Angie gifting me a signed copy of her book. I paid for my ticket to her book launch and was not paid for this review.


© | 2015

What I Eat – Simple, Plant-Based, Clean

I am not a health professional and the below is in no way a prescription. This post simply aims to answer the question that I am asked most often on the online forums, and in real life, which is “What do you eat/What can you eat?”

The simple answer is that: It has taken me years of trial and error, learning to listen to my body, to find that I feel and perform my best on an alkaline, plant based, gluten free wholefoods diet. What’s that in English you say?… It means that my blood work results, general wellbeing, comfort, emotional/mental and fitness performance have all shown to be optimised when I eat a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, activated nuts (I activate them myself at home as the ones you can buy are too expensive), seeds, healthy fats (avocado, coconut), legumes and gluten free wholegrains.

This way of eating reflects the common factors of the world’s healthiest long-living cultures (societies where most people live with great health and vitality until ages significantly greater than the average across the world’s developed nations). The most famous example being the Okinawans of Japan whom you can read more about in books such as ‘Healthy at 100’ by John Robbins and ‘The Okinawan Way’ by Makoto Suzuki. I also recommend the book ‘No Meat Athlete’ by Matt Frazier even if your fitness intentions only stretch so far as completing one short walk a day.

Prior to finding my sustainable fit with a plant-based diet, I experimented on myself, with everything from following the Australian government’s food pyramid and healthy eating guidelines (awful), to High Protein/Low Carb/Low Fat (before diagnosis with PKD), raw vegan, High Fat Low Carb, shake based weight loss plans, ‘cutting diets’, carb loading… you name it I’ve probably tried it. I undertook each method scientifically using weights and measures, skin fold and fitness tests, food and performance diaries and ensured near 100% adherence for at least 3 months at a time. Some of these methods were effective at triggering weight loss and meeting certain body image and/or composition and performance goals I had at the time but none have proven as easy, healthy, energising, balancing, practical and cost-effective long term as a dead set simple wholefoods plant based diet.

The best things about this nutrition methodology are that it is a ‘no-brainer’, low-stress, kidney friendly way of life and totally adaptable to both my training routines and to managing my IBS/food sensitivities and restrictions.

It involves eating little to no processed/packaged foods, no refined sugar (kick sugar and even broccoli will start to taste great) and no refined flours and instead just shopping for ‘ingredients’ ie. ‘real’ fresh food and then preparing this simply. Who has time to slave away in the kitchen for hours? Not me!

Regular readers will already know that I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gastritis, as well as PKD. To manage my symptoms for the best chance of being able to complete my twice daily triathlon training and generally live a happy, comfortable and sociable life, I have lists of foods that I religiously avoid. Some I avoid only before racing or certain types of training (because they will produce wind and mild discomfort) right through to ‘never’ foods that I can’t ever touch because they will keep me in the bathroom all day. Some of my trigger foods have been identified as a result of medical diagnosis whereas others I have placed self-imposed restrictions upon because they make me feel less than 100%. Going through the FODMAP elimination process (via Monash University – info here) helped me find many of the culprits but I felt that this method was incomplete without also trialing animal protein and individual grain elimination/re-introductions. I therefore extended this elimination experiment to create a more complete tolerance profile for myself. Afterall, you don’t need a Dietician’s supervision in order to identify that something gives you diarrhea every time you eat it!

The everyday staple foods that form the basis of my diet are:

Zucchini Banana Rice Lentils Almonds Avocado Raw Carob
Pumpkin Citrus Buckwheat Raw Cacao (in very small amounts as it contains caffeine which is suspected as being bad for PKD) Pecans Olive Herbs especially peppermint, basil and coriander
Potato Kiwi Sorghum Tofu Walnuts Coconut Tumeric, Cinnamon (real, not Cassia), Nutmeg, Cardamon
Carrot Berries Amaranth Peanut Butter Chia Macadamia Water
Sweet Potato Dates Sesame/Tahini Herbal (Caffeine free) Teas
Leafy Greens Avocado Coconut Organic decaf coffee (max 1 per day)
Seaweeds Flaxseeds Real Maple Syrup
Brazil Nuts

*Note for people with PKD: I am in Stage 2 with good function and no issues with Potassium, Phosphorous or blood pressure as yet. The only medication I am on is 1 daily Pantoprazole to treat my Gastritis.

My IBS preventative ‘safest’ foods to eat prior to/during training or racing are:

  • Bananas
  • Steamed potato
  • Dates
  • Iddly/Idli (steamed fermented rice/lentil ‘breads’)
  • Gu Gels
  • Almond and Date based homemade ‘energy’ bars (no refined sugars)

I religiously eat inside of the critical 30minute window after each work out when the body will most quickly absorb and utilise the nutrients towards recovery. Doing so markedly improves my energy levels and reduces muscle soreness the next day. Typically I will eat one type of fresh fruit, iddly or dates and a big green smoothie straight after training. I make the smoothies the night before and store them in big recycled jars in the fridge and then take them in a cold pack to training. They typically consist of one type of fruit blended with leafy greens, water and sometimes one spoonful of Endura Low Carb Rehydration electrolyte powder. As a treat I will sometimes have a decaf cappuccino or dandelion tea on soy, almond or rice milk if I stick around to socialise after training.

On top of my ‘base’ foods listed above, I add in my ‘sometimes’ and ‘not within 8 hrs before running’ foods (for managing IBS) as appropriate:

Macadamia Sesame Ginger
Parsnip (home grown only) Mango and other stone fruits (in small amounts) Kidney Beans, Black Beans and Hummus (in small amounts) Cashew Chai
Broccoli Custard Apple Edamame Pistachio Coconut Kefir
Tomato Passionfruit Peanuts Pumpkin Parsley
Cucumber Figs Tempeh Pepitas Molasses
Sprouts Olives Chilli
Artichoke Papaya and Paw Paw Apple Cider Vinegar
Eggplant Balsamic Vinegar
Asian Greens Rice Vinegar
Bamboo Shoots Agar Agar
Fermented Probiotic Veg Coconut Vinegar, Coconut Nectar
Swede Marmite


And my NEVER foods are:

Garlic Starfruit (no good for PKD) Wheat Whole Chickpeas Alcohol
Onion Apples Gluten Coffee
Cabbage Under-ripe Fruits Barley Sugar Alcohols
Cauliflower Melons Chewing Gum
Green Capsicum Pineapple (am allergic) Dairy, Meat, Fish, Eggs
Brussel Sprouts Artificial Sweeteners
Refined White Sugar


I don’t buy expensive supplements and ‘superfoods’ because when you eat fresh produce everything you consume becomes nutrient dense and totally ‘super’ in so many ways! I access FREE fresh produce by arranging to ‘rescue’ fruit and veg that would otherwise be thrown out as surplus/imperfect by my local greengrocer (my sponsor Nature’s Fresh 4 Less). I eat out at least once a week (mostly Asian foods, Australian fusion or raw vegan) and when I do buy food I seek out organic, local, direct from the grower and the freshest/healthiest I can find. The most nutritious food is always going to be the deformed carrots out of my own garden, the dirty looking oranges from the local organic citrus farm and the big box of discarded black spotted individual bananas that your local fruit and veg shop will sell you for next to nothing.

For me (a 5’2” 56kg female office worker and triathlete), a typical day of eating tends to look like:

FIRST BREAKFAST 4.30am: 2 Bananas, herbal tea (no caffeine)

TRIATHLON TRAINING 1-2HRS (with water only)

SECOND BREAKFAST 8:00am: Fresh fruit (one type of fruit at each meal) followed by green smoothie (typically 1 head of greens, one type of seasonal fruit, lemon and/or lime juice, ginger or turmeric or fresh mint etc) straight after training. Then an almond, rice or soy milk decaf cappuccino, 1-2 pieces raw vegan dark chocolate (no dairy and sweetened only with coconut sugar)

SNACKS: Raw and/or steamed vegetables OR 1 type of fruit and 1tbsp peanut butter or tahini, water/herbal tea

LUNCH 12:00pm: Massive amounts of steamed/fresh veggies/salad plain or sometimes drizzled/topped with spices, mustard, dried seaweed, home-made dressing, rice or idly, water/herbal tea

SNACKS: Raw and/or steamed vegetables OR bananas OR couple of dates OR an avocado OR green smoothie

TRIATHLON TRAINING 1-2HRS (with water only generally)

DINNER either at 4:00pm or 7:00pm depending on training schedule: tofu, tempeh, lentils and/or rice, steamed and/or raw veggies, 1tbsp peanut butter or tahini or other nuts/seeds, green smoothie without fruit

DESSERT (if needed): Bananas (blended frozen as icecream is my favourite) OR citrus OR raw vegan icecream (cashew/coconut base), OR 1 piece raw vegan dark chocolate

When I plan a meal I don’t select my protein first and then the ‘sides’ to accompany this, like we tend to do in our overly ‘protein’ focussed Western diet. Instead I choose my main fruit or veg for the meal and then plan around that, as it will be the main bulk and focus. Any accompanying fats, proteins and flavours are added ‘wow’ factor and/or included according to scientific evidence of beneficial nutrient pairing (I will write another blog just on this in future).

You’ll notice that I eat very frequently throughout the day and in a somewhat ‘mono-meal’ style. The frequent eating pattern has stuck with me since I experimented with body sculpting because I found it the best method to keep hunger at bay and to control my portion sizes and food choices. The term ‘mono-meal’ means to eat just one main ingredient for that meal ie. You might only eat bananas for a meal or have a meal of only roast pumpkin. The ‘experts’ say you shouldn’t eat anything else for 2-3hours after a mono meal in order to allow your body a clear burn in metabolising this food, but I take a loose approach to this. I have fallen into the habit of mono meals often as a result of being too busy to prepare ‘recipes’ and because food is so easy to digest this way. I throw loads of uncut veggies and some rice, into my cheap, automatic multi-basket steamer twice a week and that keeps me sorted without the fuss of complicated cooking.

Mono meals also allow you to really savour the particular flavours of just one item of produce, which is particularly enjoyable if the food in question happens to be truly fresh and in the peak of its season. Dwelling on the nuances of flavour in just one item is an exercise in eating mindfully and leads you to truly appreciate the taste, texture, aroma and colour of simple ingredients.

But how do I get enough protein? Calcium? Iron? From all this veg?

I will write another future post to address this question in detail (with research references) but for now it’s enough to say that a vast body of reputable scientific evidence shows that it is a complete myth that humans need to consume animal proteins in order to obtain sufficient protein, calcium and iron. Eating a varied, balanced plant-based diet can provide you with the nutrients you need, if it is properly balanced. My blood and urine test results are all within the average healthy ranges, my weight and body composition are fine and I feel fantastic!

Do I ever break my food rules?

Never the ones about what I eat/don’t eat before training but otherwise yes, albeit rarely and becoming less often as I become more and more aware of how negatively these foods affect me, and how contrary they are to supporting my goals for sports performance, healthy body composition, strong immunity and general well-being.

What about treats?

I have a sweet tooth and love cooking so I often indulge in the afternoon after my big blocks of weekend morning training. I’ll make small batches of bliss balls, GF banana bread, cookies or ‘icecream’ but it’s all ever only made of my ‘yes’ foods and is always GF, SF, DF, wholefoods and plant based. My friends and family seem to agree that these treats taste every bit as good as, if not better than, the ‘standard’ store-bought options!

It has been a long journey of experimentation to get here now but I’m so glad to have finally realised that eating clean doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. My nutritional needs are being met by a completely plant based lifestyle and I feel better than ever before!


© | 2015