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Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Doing Junk Free June

MiNDFOOD associate editor Carolyn Enting is a Junk Free June ambassador and made a pledge to ditch all processed foods. So far so good.

Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Doing Junk Free June

Several months ago I happily agreed to be a Junk Free June ambassador.

Over the past 18 months I’ve been on an incredible fitness journey with GetRunning, combining exercise with a mostly whole food diet, which has also coincided with the release of fantastic films That Sugar Film, and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2. I’ve come to believe that processed food is to blame for many diseases, not just obesity and diabetes, but cancer too, and that the way to go is fresh, whole foods (including lots of vegetables).

Since embarking on my fitness journey to reclaim wellness I’ve mostly ditched junk food so for Junk Food June I needed an extra challenge, so I pledged to not eat any processed foods too, and to increase my intake of vegetables. So far so good.

This has meant staying away from pre-packaged sauces as well as crackers, even a favourite snack of organic corn chips. But as long as something is made from scratch, from real food, it’s all good.

It’s been surprisingly easy and provided some personal new discoveries too.

1. Persimmons. It astounds me that until this month I have never eaten one of these. This divine fruit is in season in June and makes a wonderful snack. If you don’t like the skin, just cut it off and dice it up. It’s like eating cubes of nectar. Other in-season fruits include feijoas (my all time favourite fruit). June may herald in winter but it brings with it a bounty of treats to look forward to.


2. Rice flour. It’s a great substitute, and also brilliant for dusting tofu (thanks chef Ray McVinnie for that tip) before pan frying. It gives the tofu a lovely golden colour and improved texture.

3. Coconut oil. When I was initially presented with a tub of this stuff it looked like lard to me and I wasn’t overly keen to try it. But wow, one teaspoon of it, when added to a hot pan, instantly transforms into a clear as well as healthy cooking oil, and adds a wonderful flavour to dishes.

4. Marinate Meat. Marinating meat always improves the flavour as well as the result but it turns out it is healthier for us too. There is evidence that high-temperature cooking reinforces the negative effects of red meat by increasing the levels of carcinogenic molecules. However, marinating meat before cooking in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs such as thyme an rosemary eliminates nearly all of these harmful molecules.

5. Recently published recipe book Real Food Pledge: Strategies for cutting out processed food, getting off the diet roller coaster and living a real food lifestyle by Caralee Caldwell is brilliant. It has reminded me that it is easy to throw together a delicious nicoise salad where key ingredients are a hard boiled egg and smoked salmon. I’ve tried out several of her recipes and one of my favourites is Pumpkin Pancakes (see recipe below). They were super easy to make and incredibly delicious, and they don’t leave you feeling bloated. I used rice flour as I didn’t have coconut flour at the time.

Pumpkin for web

Caralee’s Pumpkin Pancakes

Serves 4


6 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon of coconut oil


In a large bowl or blender, mix together eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Adding baking soda, salt and coconut flour, mix until combined.

Heat a pan over a medium heat and grease with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Pour the batter into the pan to make a pancake. Allow the pancake to cook for a few minutes, and flip it once bubbles start to appear. Cook the other side for 1-2 more minutes. Repeat until all of the batter is made into pancakes.

Serve with a slice of bacon, fresh berries, coconut yoghurt or natural maple syrup.

Caralee’s recipe elevates pancakes to new realm in my book. And, yes, I topped my pancake (above) with bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup before eating it. Delish!

One of the great things about Junk Free June, organised by the New Zealand Cancer Society, is that raises awareness about junk food but in a positive way. What we do know about cancer prevention is that a balanced diet of real foods (including a variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains) helps.

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