HQ MUSE // Hannah Buttigieg, Nutritionist – Food Intelligence


Our HQ Muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness community, supporting you on the path to good health, a sustainable lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing.




We are so excited to introduce you to Hannah Buttigieg, our guest Nutritionist who will be joining our team at next month’s HQ Getaway (18th – 20th August 2017) at Amarant Retreat in the beautiful Yarra Valley.

Hannah has always had an avid passion for health and fitness, so it became a natural career progression for her to establish a business based on whole foods and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Drawing on her skills of years working in the field of addictions, Hannah understands how difficult it can be to change habits and therefore brings a wealth of knowledge to her work as a behaviour change nutritionist, exploring ways to change old habits and form new, healthier habits.

It is Hannah’s aim as the owner of Food Intelligence to educate people about the benefits of eating the right foods and demonstrate that food can not only give you the body you want but make you feel amazing.

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You have a very unique approach to your work as a nutritionist, shaped by your long career in the field of addictions. How have your past experiences working as a drug and alcohol counsellor influenced your approach as a behaviour change nutritionist?


Working with people who experience alcohol and other drug (AOD) addictions, especially in the forensic sector, are hands down one of the most challenging client demographics there is. In our society, we are taught that a person is either well or unwell, an addict or recovered. However, through my work in this sector, I was on a continual learning curve that showed me that this is not the case at all, not even a little bit – addiction is incredibly complex and all shades of grey. It may have been out of self-preservation, or it may have been because I am ever the optimist and try to seek the best out of people, but I learned very early on in my career to celebrate the small wins.

What is important to me is most likely totally irrelevant to my client, because their circumstances and situation is totally different from mine. The most important thing I have taken from my work in AOD is to never be judgemental. Through this work, you are witness and privy to some very raw, often brutal and truly horrific things, and being able to detach yourself from the situation while still being empathetic is a skill that took me a very, very long time to master.  

Based on these experiences, I’ve built Food Intelligence on the following foundations – genuinely celebrating the small wins, because these accrue to the overall big win, and approaching each client from a place of empathy and non-judgement – it’s never our job to judge.




What prompted you to start Food Intelligence as your own business? Was there an obvious gap for what you do that you could see in the market?


Food Intelligence came about when I was at a peak stress levels in a previous AOD job. I wasn’t looking after myself well, I was totally burnt out and not coping too well mentally. I enrolled in a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition as a way to learn to look after myself better. During my studies, friends and family kept saying to me that I should start my own business because my unique skill-set from AOD married together with my interest and studies in nutrition perfectly. From there, Food Intelligence came to life!

Well I should say, the idea of it anyway. I was still working full time in the AOD sector and knew nothing about business so it took about 18 months of research and development before I launched the business in March 2016. And yes, I did notice a gap in the market regarding what I do. I found there was a plethora of options for people who needed acute treatment for eating disorders, however for the general population there was very little out there. That’s where I step in as your one-stop shop for achieving your health and wellness goals.


You’ve travelled a lot, both locally and internationally! What have been your favourite places to visit, and what special food moments or rituals have stayed with you from your travels?


Travel is a part of me. I feel anxious and edgy if I don’t have at least several plane tickets booked, or know I can take off at the drop of a hat. Which is probably why doing the Monday to Friday 9-5 thing never worked well for me! In Australia, my favourite place that I’ve spent time (other than the Surf Coast) is the Kimberley in Western Australia.

I was fortunate enough to have worked in a rehabilitation clinic funded by an Aboriginal Corporation. During my time there I was taken to remote places that had pristine beaches, deserts and amazing oases without any people in sight, except maybe the traditional land owners.

Reflecting back on it, the food I ate during these trips was pretty incredible and totally illegal to eat if it wasn’t from an Indigenous person! We often feasted on sea turtle, dugong and stingray. On weekends I’d go mud crabbing and fishing with friends. It was like living in paradise and I very much miss that lifestyle.

With my travels overseas, I don’t think I could say one place has been my favourite. Every place I have been holds a special place in my heart and I’d love to go back to each one of them, except there are too many other places to explore!! My one food moment that stands out in my overseas adventures would be when I was 21 or 22 I was backpacking through Egypt. The girl I was travelling with and I were walking through a tiny town, I can’t even remember its name, when we were walking past a Mosque.

There was a group of women, all dressed in burkas, sitting down on the grass in the shade having a picnic. My eyes met with theirs and I smiled. They called us over and invited us to join their picnic. We could not speak a word of each other’s language, but we managed to ‘talk’ non stop throughout lunch. We feasted on tabbouleh, pita bread, hummus and falafels.

When I think of food and what it means to me this story is exactly that. Food is what brings people together, it breaks down barriers, it gives us common ground, it allows for mutual respect and a snap shot, however small, into other incredibly beautiful cultures.

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You grew up on the Surf Coast and Geelong. What does the area represent to you, and how has the coastal life influenced you as a person?


Its home! Its where I come to rest, to be with family, to be with friends who have known me for most of my life. Its where I recharge my batteries after travels. Its where I flop on my mum’s couch when I’m sick. It’s a little piece of paradise that makes up my entire world. Without daily walks on the beach, surfing and diving at every opportunity, road trips down the coast in search of waves or crayfish, I really have no idea who I’d be!

I guess it has also been a big influence on me being an environmentally conscious person, seeing the damage done to our oceans horrifies me and the fact that I can’t stand pollution makes me live my life in a certain way. For example, I make sure I’m energy conscious at home, I take my own bags to the supermarket, I try not to buy packaged food to minimise my waste, because I see the direct result of those choices every time I am in or near the ocean.


Who are your biggest influences when it comes to cooking in the kitchen? What are your favourite go-to recipes?


One of my biggest influences is Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef, to me she was well ahead of the whole health food movement and seeing her career grow has been hugely inspiring. I also love how she has stayed up to date with new nutrition research and includes that in her work. I have one of her cookbooks from over 10 years ago and all recipes call on artificial sweetner which makes me chuckle as these days she’s evolved to only use wholefoods. I just find it so inspiring watching someone grow like that as a person, a chef and an influencer.



How has your approach towards self-care changed over the years? What are your favourite rituals for self-care now?


It has changed dramatically that’s for sure. In my late teens and early 20’s, self care consisted of partying hard two or three nights a week, working out as much as possible and calorie counting. I was a bit of a wild-child back in my heyday, but these days nothing pleases me more than a night in with a cup of tea and either a good book or a Netflix binge. I also prioritise sleep, if I don’t get enough I am not a nice person to be around, I’m grumpy and overeat which then makes me even more grumpy! Daily movement is also mandatory for my self care, whether it’s yoga, pilates or walking, I make sure I move daily.


What does your ideal day look like?


My ideal day is having a little sleep in and then heading to my favourite hot yoga studio for a 9:30am class, followed by brunch with the girls. Then depending on the mood of the ocean, I’d go for a dive, surf or fish. The best way to finish up the day would be with friends having a big cook-up for dinner. Even thinking about it makes me smile.


As our guest nutritionist, what are you most looking forward to on your first HQ Getaway this August?


I’m so pumped for this retreat! From experience the main thing I’m looking forward to is getting to know the guests. The women who attend these types of retreats I find so inspiring. I think it takes so much courage to say to the world, “I’m dedicating a weekend to myself, and I’m going to disconnect from the world, and reconnect with myself”.

The exchange of energy and wisdom is something I am also really looking forward to as well. Exploring the Yarra Valley will be fun. It’s not somewhere I’ve spent a lot of time and I mean, how could it not be an incredible weekend when the backdrop is so gorgeous…?!  




You are currently creating a really exciting addition to the Food Intelligence portfolio – a blog featuring all of your favourite nutrition and lifestyle tips. What kind of things can people expect, and (equally important!) – when will this be launched, and how can people sign up?


This is equally exciting as it is terrifying! It’s something I’ve been working on for a few years now and have never been brave enough to put it out there. I’m also in the process of launching a monthly Food Intelligence newsletter which will have recipes, blogs and other goodies.

At the moment I’m having some website work done so it’s best just to email me at info@foodintelligence.international and I’ll sign you up to the newsletter where you can easily access the blog. Once my website is all sorted there will be a sign-up page.




What advice would you give your younger self in pursuing your dreams?


Don’t be so hard on yourself and take more breaks! I’m my own worst critic, which has certainly helped me at times to push myself, but has also seriously stressed me out unnecessarily at others. I’m also known to work to the point of burnout and only then will I take a break. This is something I’m working on and is most definitely still a work in progress!


Instagram: @food_intelligence

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foodintelligence1/

Website: http://www.foodintelligence.international





RECIPE // Make Your Own Pickled Carrots


We made these purple pickled beauties on our Summer HQ Getaway back in January, and are just about ready to be unbottled and enjoyed in our favourite salads, or as a gut-friendly snack on the go. Our resident nutritionist Abby led our Getaway group through each step on how to make these pretty jars of goodness, but you can recreate these at home using the recipe below.

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 large carrots, cut into 1cm thick batons
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 sachet of vegetable starter culture
Filtered water for vegetable culture starter
1 orange zest peeled in long strips
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small cabbage leaf washed
1 tea towel

rubber bands

You will need a 1.5 litre preserving jar (or a similar volume of smaller jars) with an airlock lid for this recipe. Wash the jar and all the utensils you will be using in very hot water. Place the carrots in a stainless steel bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Mix well and set aside.

Dissolve the starter culture in water according to the packet instructions (the amount of water will depend on the brand you are using). Add to the carrot along with the peppercorns, cinnamon and orange strips.  Mix well.

Fill the prepared jar with the carrot mixture, pressing down well with a large spoon to remove any air pockets and leave 2cm of room free at the top. Pour the water culture liquid to the jar and completely submerge the carrots in the liquid. If not enough water just add it bit more. Take a clean cabbage leaf and fold it up and place on top of the carrot mixture (this ensures the mixture stays submerged).

Put lid on and wrap the teatowel around the container to block light. Store in a dark place with a temperature of 16-23 degrees for 14 – 21 days. You can also place the jar in an esky for a more consistent temperature control. The longer you leave it, the higher the good bacteria count and also the tanginess increases the longer it is left.


Once open place in fridge. They will last up to 2 months in the fridge when kept submerged in the liquid.

Skin Benefit Smoothie


I was going through my fridge this morning and had some pineapple left over, so I figured to make a skin supporting (and immunity) breakfast.  It’s super filling from the fibre, and there is an abundance of vitamins and minerals to support cell function – especially for your skin, assisting with collagen formation for beautiful glowing skin. This smoothie contains vitamin A, B group, C, iron and is a great source of fibre.

It’s also an immune booster, which is perfect as today is the start of Autumn, fending off sniffles and keeping your immune system strong.


  • A couple of handfuls of spinach leaves (I used 4 big silverbeet leaves from the garden)
  • 1/4 medium pineapple
  • Handful of mint
  • Thumb size piece of ginger
  • half a lemon with skin removed
  • half an apple

Blend in a high power blender and sip away!


HQ MUSE // Laura Sides, Holistic HQ Chef


Our HQ Getaway Chef, the super-talented Miss Laura Sides, trained as an apprentice at the Andalusian-inspired Añada in Fitzroy, and has worked in some of Melbourne’s top restaurants as part of the front of house management team: Lucy Liu and Taxi Dining Room in the CBD, and La Luna in Carlton. Laura’s passion for cooking was something that developed almost by accident.

“My mum wouldn’t let me cook because I’d make a terrible mess. I didn’t really grow up with an interest in food at all. When I moved out of home I started playing around with food, and I found that I really enjoyed cooking and people seemed to really enjoy eating it! Moving to Melbourne [from England] and working with food is where my passion was really cemented.

I arrived in Melbourne with just a backpack and not knowing a single soul. All I knew was that I wanted to work with food and wine and this seemed like the best place in the world to do that.

I unwittingly managed to secure a job in a very prestigious restaurant within 12 hrs of arriving off the plane. When I googled the restaurant later that evening, I saw it had just won Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year. I was absolutely petrified, but I turned up for day one and things rolled from there.

I later moved to Taxi Dining Room, where I started as a food runner and finished four and a half years later as part of the management team. During that time I also studied and qualified as a chef. I had the privilege of working my apprenticeship at Anada Restaurant in Fitzroy, where I would do all the food prep from 7am until mid afternoon, then race down to Taxi and work on the restaurant floor. It was an absolutely crazy time.

I then went back into management and have recently finished eighteen wonderful months as part of the opening team at Lucy Liu. I have never been hugely drawn to the confines of a restaurant kitchen, I crave creativity and being able to do my own thing. I have always known I would come back to food in the right way, and here I am!



1. What is your most memorable meal? Why does it hold such a firm place in your memory?

My favourite meal as a child was kedgeree, which is smoked haddock and spiced rice. Coming from Norwich in Northern England, you’re not really exposed to exotic foods, and I remember thinking, ‘… this is exciting’. Mum made it for us every Christmas Eve. I had it every year from four years old until I was twenty-five.

2. What was the hardest thing about your apprenticeship?

The combination of studying, going into class, doing the contact hours in a kitchen and working as a section waiter was pretty difficult to juggle. I would often leave Taxi Dining Room at 1am, needing to be back in the kitchen at 7am then back to Taxi for 4pm, it took its’ toll!

I also struggled with the Patisseries semester. I’m not one to follow a recipe and with patisserie cooking you really have to be diligent. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth and struggle to cook anything I don’t really want to eat.

3. You’ve worked as the face of some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. How does working on the floor compare to working behind the kitchen?

I love the theatre of working on a restaurant floor, I love the intensity and high pressured environment of service. I love that you really never know who may walk through the door and having the joy of meeting such a broad range of people who all turn up for the same reason – the love of food.


4. What’s your favourite dish to prepare when you have friends over?

I so enjoy cooking at other people’s houses – it’s like the ‘mystery box’ on Masterchef, you open the fridge and cupboards and just make something. My favourite dish to cook is my version of steamed ginger and spring onion chicken. It’s one of my favourite dishes in Melbourne, originating from Ling Nam in Chinatown.

5. What do you do to eat healthy?

I never, ever eat anything out of the packet. It doesn’t excite me and it doesn’t involve any sort of interaction with the food. So I think that’s a good start. I have also become very aware of the power of water over the past couple of years and try to drink sh*$t loads of the stuff.

6. Who do you look up to in the industry? Why do you love what they’re doing?

The reason I started on this journey, across the world from Norwich to Melbourne was Rick Stein. I’d been through a big upheaval back home, and was ready for a change. I didn’t know where to go first until I saw Rick Stein cook a suckling pig in Ubud, and then realized that’s exactly where I wanted to go. So that’s where I went, and that’s what I ate, and that’s why I’m here now. I love how rustic and simple his food is.

7. If you could cook anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

If I could cook anywhere and for anyone, it would probably be for my Mum and Dad. I never got the chance to cook for them together, so perhaps that’s a step back in time rather than a specific location.


8. What are you looking forward to on our HQ Getaway in January?

I’m looking forward to the challenge of cooking for so many en masse, and I’m looking forward to using all the gadgets in the retreat kitchen which i don’t have at home but wish i did (ie. Thermomix!!!!!!).

I’m also looking forward to being in a beautiful space with like-minded ladies, away from the rat-race of day to day life.

9. You currently do Crossfit – why does it appeal to you?

I love Crossfit, because I know if I go 3 times a week I can pretty much get away with anything for the rest of the week! I like feeling strong and pushing myself to my absolute maximum capacity (which I simply couldn’t do on my own).

I love turning up with anxious anticipation of the workout ahead, then working out like a crazy person in a hot and sweaty industrial box, high fiving someone and going home being barely able to walk.

10. What do you dream of in 2016?

Channelling all things things I love and have learnt into the career I have always wanted x

Seasonal eating and how to get the most from it


Now that we are well into summer, there is an abundance of juicy stone fruit, you can smell mangoes everywhere, the salads are out in force in cafes and eateries, and avocados are added to almost every breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Although it may be harder these days to spot the foods which are out of season, because most foods are now grown all year round, there are many benefits to eating for each season. You get the chance to experiment with foods you otherwise would not have considered before.  Here are a few reasons to eat seasonally:


The taste of fresh fruit and vegetables at their peak compare to nothing else. Their juiciness and flavour are out of this world. I’m sure you know how much better the flavour is of a tomato in Summer or a vibrant juicy mango compared to eating it in other seasons. What’s not to love about biting into a fresh watermelon on a hot Summer’s day!


When you choose to stick to seasonal foods, you naturally lean towards produce which is grown locally. Seasonal eating also encourages you to get out and explore farmers markets as the local growers will have an array of fruits and vegetables.  This also means the food you are eating will have lower carbon miles and as a bonus, you get to know who grows your food.


Best of all if you incorporate seasonal produce into your eating it will be cost effective too! Prices will naturally be lower as fruits, vegetables and herbs come into season due to transport costs being significantly less.  This is good news as the savings get passed onto you.


Foods that are grown in season are at less risk of  nutrient loss such as vitamin C.  Long term storage of fresh food reduces vitamins and other antioxidants and phytochemicals which are protective and help support cellular metabolism.  Choosing a seasonal diet ensures you are maximising the nutrition content of those foods.

Eating for the seasons enables you to consider your eating habits if you tend to buy the same fruit and vegetables week in week out.  Below are some great reference charts for checking what is growing in season for Melbourne.  If you are living in any other region in Australia simply go to seasonalfoodguide.com.

Get out there and start exploring some new fruits, vegetables and herbs that you may not have cooked with or eaten before.

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Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 4.48.31 pmImages: seasonalfoodguide.com

RECIPE // The Mothers Day Smoothie Edit

My beautiful mum is the proud owner of a Nutribullet (YES! They actually work. and YES! They make the smoothest of smoothies, time and time again. Oh, how I want one.)

After our last delicious adventure back at home making ‘Noosa Coolers’, she’s been asking me for a few simple yet tasty recipes that she can whizz up quickly, without too much hassle. I’m with her – who has time to get fussy with smoothies?!

So here it is — a carefully curated selection of special smoothies from some of our favourite friends on the interweb, just for mum. Oh, and for you too! Enjoy xx

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Bangin’ Breakfast Smoothie
{by the gorgeous Hannah Buttigieg of @food_intelligence}
[serves one]

– 1 cup of spinach or kale
– 1 medium banana
– 2/3 small mango
– 1 cup water
– 10 macadamia nuts (or almonds if you prefer. Macadamia nuts give it a creamier flavour)
– 2 teaspoons chia seeds
– 2 teaspoons good quality raw honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Why this smoothie is good for you:

*Leafy greens are high in iron, calcium, vitamins A & C and have anti-inflammatory properties;

*Banana is a good source of carbohydrates, aid digestion, potassium and aid in the production of serotonin (the feel good chemical naturally produced by the brain);

*Mangos are full of vitamin A & C, beta-carotene and potassium;

*Nuts are full of monounsaturated (healthy) fats and protein;

*Chia seeds are a complete protein, full of vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium. They also act as a thickening agent in smoothies as they absorb liquid;

*Honey is a good anti-inflammatory to aid recovery after training and boosts the immune system.

** Check out more of Hannah’s gorgeous pics, recipes + more over on Instagram: @food_intelligence **

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Berry Kiss Smoothie
{by the lovely Kat Harding of @yogakiss}
[serves one]

~ 1/2 cup almond milk
~ 1 banana
~ 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
~ 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
~ 1 teaspoon Arbonne fibre (or LSA, or similar fibre supplement)
~ 1 tablespoon Arbonne vanilla protein (or similar high-quality protein powder)

Blend together, add some ice if you want it extra cold and enjoy!

Why this smoothie is good for you:

*Bananas are high in fibre, a great source of vitamin C, and full of happy-making potassium, magnesium and tryptophan.

*Berries are good for your heart and high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which help fight chronic disease and cancer.

*Almond milk can help with weight management, often containing half the calories of full-cream milk. It also contains 25 per cent of your daily vitamin D requirements, reducing your risk for arthritis and osteoporosis and improving your immune function.

*Arbonne fibre supplements and vanilla protein powder are vegan, gluten-free and in recyclable packaging.

** you can download Kat’s e-book “Get Active, Nourish and Be Grateful”, a collaboration with Nicole De Valter, via her website at www.kathardingyoga.com or visit her instagram: @yogakiss for yoga, SUP and more!! **

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Abby’s Perfect Skin Smoothie
{by our resident nutritionist, Abby McLennan! @_thegoodegg_}
[serves 1]

– 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
– 1 banana
– 3-4 fresh dates
– 1/2 small avocado
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 3 cups of water

Combine all together and blend, blend, blend!

Why this smoothie is good for you:

* Great dose of monounsaturated fat, zinc, fibre, potassium and antioxidants – guaranteed to give you beautifully plump, luminous, happy skin by supporting your cells!

* Just the lovely delicious lift my beautiful mum (and your beautiful mum!) needs xx

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NB: This post is really just a (thinly veiled) special little shout-out to my mum in the lead-up to Mothers’ Day this weekend. You’re the most beautiful person, and I’m so lucky to have you in my life! LOVE YOU, MUM ❤

…and a Happy Mothers Day to all the mamas out there!

V xx

DIY Harissa Paste


>> THIS FIERY RED PASTE is the ultimate baste for chicken, or on the side as a condiment. The chilli/garlic combo is an awesome boost for your metabolism and immune system, too.

– 4 long fresh red chillies
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
– 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 handful fresh coriander, chopped
– 1 tsp lemon rind

Halve chillies, remove the seeds and discard. Finely chop remaining chilli. Combine the chillies with all other ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Add lemon juice to make a smoother paste.

Voila — ready to eat, packed full of nutrients and so simple to make! Enjoy x