Today, I’m delighted to share with you my interview with Kim Armstrong, a certified wellness coach, yoga practitioner and published cookbook author. Her regularly updated website, which you can visit at Your Abundant Wellness, is full of mouth watering recipes — all gluten and dairy free. Think salmon pate, chocolate, smoothies, and more. The photos are stunning!
Joanna Steven: Kim, thank you for sharing your story with us today! Let’s dive in…
People don’t often start blogging about gluten free or dairy free diets just because they love the food. There’s often a story behind it all. What diet did you follow growing up, and how did it evolve to become the one you thrive on today?
Kim Armstrong: I have always had a love/hate relationship with food. I was a fussy eater and ate little amounts at a time. As I moved in to my teens, this was replaced a fixation on eating low fat food with the primary goal to be thinner. By the time I was in early my early twenties, I was mainly living off low fat, prepackaged foods and the result was that I was skinny but extremely unhealthy with continuing symptoms of tired, headaches, bloated and uncomfortable stomach complaints.
After rounds of tests with various doctors they come to the conclusion that I had IBS. I had no idea how to manage my illness or what foods to cook that would not aggravate my IBS. After much trial and error I worked out that trigger foods for my IBS are lactose and wheat, especially highly processed wheat and dairy foods like cakes, sweets and cream based sauces.
I slowly began to change my diet to include more fresh fruit, vegetables, gluten-free grains, lactose free alternatives such as nut milks and cheese, sustainable organic fish and lean meat. I have also reduced the amount of processed foods and refined sugars in my diet. I am not 100 percent raw foodist, but I do like to include raw foods in my diet – they make delectable desserts. This is not a process that happened overnight, and I still continue to research and try new foods as I move forward. I do wish that I had found my insights earlier. That is why I am passionate about sharing my health and wellness journey with my nutrition clients and on my website.
Joanna Steven: Can you share a few stumbling blocks you encountered on your journey to abundant health, and what you did to overcome them?
Kim Armstrong: One of my biggest stumbling blocks was having to re-learning how to select and prepare food that was IBS friendly. I needed to go back to the basics of diet and nutrition, so I went and studied human nutrition and raw food cooking. Through my studies I reconnect with food in a new and positive way. It has also led me to focus my nutritionist services on working with clients that have food intolerances.
Joanna Steven: Where does yoga fit into it?
Kim Armstrong: Yoga is one of my passions. I do yoga every day, usually first thing in the morning. It wasn’t until I embraced yoga and began listening to my body that I discovered how to make lifestyle changes that resulted in positive health outcomes. Yoga postures assist with toning and strengthening my internal organs. While breath work taught me how to breathe and release tension. Digestion and IBS symptoms are made worst by stress and anxiety, so maintaining a balanced lifestyle is important to me.
Joanna Steven: Today, what would you say are the top 5 foods that keep you nourished and happy?
Kim Armstrong: My approach to abundant health is to eat real food – ie: food that your grandparents would recognize as something safe to eat. My top five go-to foods would have to be:
- Kale. Kale is full of essential vitamins A, C and K, plus mineral like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. A cup of kale packs in 3 grams of protein and only has about 40 calories. Kale can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in soups and casseroles.
- Almonds – they are high in monounsaturated fats and protein but low in carbohydrates (great for regulating blood sugar levels). Ground almonds are great to use in cooking to thicken sauces and in baking to substitute for wheat flour to create tasty gluten-free meals.
- Quinoa – is a super versatile gluten-free grain that has a slight nutty taste. It is a complete food, containing all essential amino acids, is high in protein, iron, potassium and is easily digestible.
- Chia seeds contain calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, are high in fiber and are a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. They also help to regulate your appetite, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, improve your sleep and elevate your mood.
- Cacao is chocolate in its raw form. Raw Cacao powder is packed with antioxidants, calcium and potassium. In fact, raw cacao contains three times more antioxidants than green tea. Cacao powder is preservative free and it is not highly processed which is why it is much healthier for you then low-grade hot chocolate which has been highly processed and had sugar and preservatives added to it.
Joanna Steven: There are so many amazing recipes on your blog! Can you share a couple with us?
Kim Armstrong: Sometime you really just need a yummy dessert. One of the first raw food desserts that I learnt to make was a gluten and dairy free ice cream. It is so rich and creamy that you don’t feel like you are missing out. http://www.yourabundantwellness.com/bliss-ice-cream-raw-gluten-free-and-dairy-free/
Breakfast can be one of the hardest meals to go gluten-free. By default most people’s breakfast is cereal or toast. My banana granola recipe is one of my most popular and it is so tasty that I have managed to convert several of my friends with this recipe. You can get the full recipe HERE.
You can find more recipe inspiration in my latest cookbook containing 20 show stopping gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. Get it HERE, and enter the code ‘friends’ to receive a 20% discount (discount valid to 7 April 2015).
Joanna Steven: Thank you Kim for this inspiring interview!