Welcome to my cyber sanctuary, Nourish By Ashlyn!
My name’s Ashlyn and I’m a 20-something Food & Nutrition Sciences student from Melbourne. In a nutshell, I’m a wild foodie, health nut, dreamer and an insufferable perfectionist. I’m obsessed with anything that’s visually gratifying, tastes amazing and makes me feel alive, and nothing encompasses all three obsessions like food does.
My first and greatest love was, is, and always will be food.
The first thing I’d like to note above all else in terms of the recipes on this site, is that while I cater to those with food intolerances (primarily fructose malabsorption), the recipes on Nourish By Ashlyn are for each and every one of you, whether you’re gastrointestinally ‘normal’, or not. I want to bring you recipes that are fructose friendly, FODMAP conscious (click here if you’re thinking, “what’s that strange acronym?!”), super nourishing, nutritionally balanced AND tasty as hell.
When I first started blogging in 2013, my goal was to share wholesome, delicious and fuss-free recipes in order to prove to people that the earth’s purest, healthiest and most nourishing food can also be the tastiest and the easiest to prepare. Now, I find myself on a more challenging quest; not only do I have to prove to people that whole foods are tastier than modern day’s full-of-crap counterparts, I have to make sure that my recipes are also fructose-friendly and FODMAP-conscious whilst still having that YUM factor, because someone in between Nourish By Ashlyn inception and now, I developed fructose malabsorption.
This website contains all sorts of wellness bits and pieces: mainly recipes which are fusions of my own ideas and gathered inspiration, as well as other health insights and tips, such as my experience with fructose malabsorption and the low FODMAP diet. Whether you’re embarking on a healthier lifestyle journey, seeking nourishing and balanced recipes to mix up your current meals, or in need of healthy, fructose friendly recipes that don’t compromise on flavour or your health, then Nourish By Ashlyn will have something for you.
If you want to know a bit about me, my lifestyle, beliefs and philosophies, then grab a cuppa, kick back and knock yourself out on the below paragraphs. If you couldn’t care less, then you might want to navigate to my recipes page or elsewhere, because I’m probably (definitely) about to bore you sideways…
A little about my life: Everything I do — how I spend my leisure time, every thought that stirs while I daydream and the direction every conversation will take if you let it — comes back to one of three things: food, health and styling/creating. When I’m not at uni, work or spending time with my friends and fam, I’m cooking, eating, taking photos of food, writing recipes, or exercising outdoors. And if I’m not doing any of that, then I’ll have my head in a book or be bogged down in some weird project. Or catching up on Pretty Little Liars.
I’ve always been obsessed with food and all it encompasses: the flavours, the aromas, the textures, the colours, the seasons, the cookware, the presentation, the photography, the writing, and the way foodies light up when they talk about their latest cafe or recipe discovery. I love the way feelings of gratitude, togetherness and love can be expressed just by sharing a meal with people you care about. There’s so much solace in the fact that, depending on your state of mind, food can either be deeply private or highly social. When I’m alone in my kitchen with an open mind, a bundle of fresh produce and a pile of my favourite cookbooks, I can just let my imagination wander off and do its thing. Or, when I’m cooking for others or dining out, it’s another experience altogether, but one that’s just as grounding. Food is far more to me than a substance of survival – it’s the way I express and deal with my emotions (not always such a great thing); it’s the primary medium through which I channel my creativity; and it’s the absolute core of obtaining a mind and body that’s nourished from the inside out.
Don’t be fooled: my outlook on food hasn’t always been this healthy.
Let’s rewind back to 2011 for a moment: throughout my childhood and most of my teenage years, I always loved food and hated exercise. At 17 I realised my puppy fat wasn’t gonna budge on its own, but exercising regularly was out of the question, so I lost almost 9 kilos simply by restricting my portions and calories to what I thought was ‘healthy’. Simply eating less became surprisingly easy (the stress of VCE had surprised my appetite), and within 3 months I was being called “skinny” for the first time in my life and fitting into the types of clothes I’d only dreamt of wearing before. It was exhilarating. I’d broken my 17 year-long emotional dependence on food and I was proud as punch. I was also determined to not put the weight back on. Looking back now, I want to give my 17 year old self a big loving hug, followed by a “wake the f*** up” punch in the face.
You couldn’t tell me at the time, but the way I lost weight was not healthy at all, and was driven by the burning desire to look a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, I was actually very happy and satisfied with life at the time, but I was very undernourished and it started to show. It’s rather funny – I remember feeling wonderful at my year 12 formal, but looking back at the bony, bobble-head photos now makes me feel ill and embarrassed. My daily diet consisted of processed ‘diet’ products, refined grain snacks, fruit, sweet yoghurt and the odd dollop of low-fat peanut butter (cringe). I ate minimal veggies and was tired all the time, not consuming anywhere near enough nutrients to sustain my study-all-week and party-all-weeknd lifestyle. It’s funny how “thin” translates to having a “good” body when you’re young and naive. Like so many others before me, I fell into the “low/no fat” diet trap and avoided all sources of fat — good and bad — thinking it had been the fat in my diet that had made my pudgy all along. I know now that it was the simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, unnecessarily large portions, fried snacks and sedentary lifestyle that saw me tipping the scales. I opted for “low fat” everything, and if the label read “no fat” I was all over it, regardless of whatever else was in it, good or bad. Nowadays, no health myth frustrates me more than the ‘low/no fat’ scam. As a result of depriving myself of essential fatty acids, my eczema and dermatitis was out of control and I wasn’t as alert or “with it”. If someone had told me back then that good fats would actually aid my weight loss and give me glowing, rash free skin, I would have laughed in their face. Ah, the mentality of the media-influenced.
A lover whose roots are not as deep-seated as food’s, my love for fitness has only come about in recent years.
Although I’ve always been quite confident and comfortable within myself as a person, I’d forever lacked confidence when it came to my body image. I wanted to be slim, taut and toned like the girls in the magazines (I’m so thankful that Instagram didn’t exist when I was a teen), and I thought I could achieve this through diet alone – by eating clean and lean foods (back then, I defined “clean and lean” as “low fat and in tiny portions”). I didn’t see exercise as a necessity because I simply didn’t enjoy it and figured that if I’d gotten slim without it, my body clearly didn’t need it. Once again, I’d like to punch my then-self square in the face.
After I finished high school, I started to become less flattered and more insulted by people’s “skinny” remarks, and finally realised that I’d taken it a bit too far. I eased off on the calorie counting, farewelled my other unhealthy eating habits, educated myself on proper nutrition and became increasingly interested and passionate about it. I was back to a “healthy” weight in no time, but I wasn’t happy with how it looked and my confidence plummeted again. I started becoming more aware of the ‘fit’ physiques around me (queue in Instagram and the #fitspo uprising). I began to wonder what it would be like to be able to run for more than a few hundred metres without collapsing in a puffed-out heap; to feel strong and athletic and to be able to wear cute shorts without freaking out about the cellulite that covered the backs of my legs. Yes, I looked fine in clothes, but I found myself wanting to feel confident no matter what I wore – clothed or unclothed. I also found myself wanting to feel great on the inside, with less focus on what that looked like to other people.
Doesn’t every girl want to feel confident in a bikini?
It’s something I’d never thought possible before.
At the beginning of 2012, I finally realised that no matter how how well I ate, I was never going to feel as healthy as possible and be comfortable with my body unless I moved my ass. And so I defied my hard-wired exercise hatred and gave the fitness thing a go. I didn’t so much crave to look fit as I did to feel healthy and genuinely comfortable in my own bare skin. It was time to educate myself on what it actually meant to live a healthily balanced lifestyle, and it was time to finally exercise the other half of the health equation (pardon the pun).
I started attending a ‘boxercise’ class once a week, then increased it to twice a week once I built up my fitness level (yup, one boxing class a week used to leave me sore for 5-6 days, that’s how unfit I was!). After just two months of boxing twice-weekly (about 4 months of exercising in total by this stage), I began to notice real results: I had far less cellulite around my thighs, my cardiovascular fitness and endurance levels had improved beyond belief, and I was actually beginning to develop muscle TONE in all the areas that had always just been soft. All that from 2 hours of exercise a week! I quickly became addicted to the post-exercise endorphin rush and learned to love the burn. The boxing classes became easier as I got fitter, and I joined the local gym to complement my boxing regime. The gym introduced me to weights for the first time, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and group circuit training. I was in love.
So I guess you could say that
my life is just a constant battle between my love of food and wanting abs.
I’ve had to learn how to turn my obsession with food in general into a passion for food that nourishes. I like to think that I follow an 80/20 diet (80% clean and wholesome, 20% whatever I like within reason – I will never, ever give up indulgences), and aim to workout about 4 times a week.
The biggest misconception out there is that healthy, organic and ‘clean’ food is bland, unpalatable and only suited to rabbits, hippies and fad followers. I’m on a mission to show people that
the world’s healthiest and most nourishing food can actually taste the best when you know what to use and how to use it.
I hate the term “clean eating” as much as the next person, but it’s funny because every person I’ve ever known to ridicule the actual practice of it has never given it a proper go, and has never experienced how truly rewarding it is, both in terms of your physical and mental health. I put it down to intentional ignorance: I guess it’s easier to eat from packets than it is to prepare each meal and snack from scratch; to order a parma and chips instead of bugging the waiter about cooking methods and asking for dressings to be put on the side; and to slump on the couch after a long day rather than drag yourself to the gym or outdoors for a walk. On days when all I want to do is sit on the couch for an entire day and demolish salty fries, a sausage roll and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked — and believe me, these cravings creep up often –I tell myself this: Never sacrifice what you want most for what you want in the moment.
But of course, we all need to indulge sometimes, too. It’s all about having a balance and never beating yourself up when you fall off the wagon. Who could enjoy life without indulgences? When you have great physical health and a healthy attitude towards food and exercise, your personal and professional life follows suit. Being healthy on the inside creates a domino effect for everything else around you, because you’ve got so much more enthusiasm for life, greater mental clarity and an infectious energy.
However, before you can truly nourish your mind and body, you must learn to have self-belief. The mind is an incredible thing – only you can see what you see and believe what you believe, and these views and beliefs are the products of your thoughts. Only YOU can think YOUR thoughts. You are ultimately the beholder of your entire universe. It is the thoughts you have about yourself and others in this very moment that shape your world and determine your future, not what happened in your past or what you perceive others to think about you. What you think of yourself and believe of yourself to be true, is true. By changing your thoughts, you instantly change your world. It’s up to you whether you create a vibrant, fulfilling and positive existence, having self-belief and remaining dedicated, or a negative and unfulfilling existence through pessimism, self-doubt and choosing not to change certain things you are unhappy about but have control over.
I define my health by how fulfilled I am mentally, how well I feel physically and how inspired I am by the environment around me. This is the major concept I want to develop throughout my blog: I want to show people how to live nourished and happy lives through eating well, staying active, being inspired by life and loving and appreciating the moment!
I really hope you enjoy my recipes and whatever other insights I have to offer.
If you have any questions, constructive feedback or would like to see something specific featured on here, I would LOVE to hear from you!
Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed on Nourishbyashlyn.com are exclusively just that – my views. I am not a credentialed journalist or qualified nutritionist or dietician. While all information provided on this blog has been researched thoroughly and is backed by empirical evidence, the data and recommendations are for informational purposes only. I make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. I will not be liable for any lack of accuracy or omissions in the information I provide, as I have stated I am not a qualified nutritionist or health scientist and all insights come from either thorough research or personal experience. I write about what I have found works for me and what I believe in. Unless otherwise specified, all photographs and images are my own.