The magic of creating a feast rich in aromas and vibrant colours, both satisfying to the mouth and belly is the aim for most who dabble in the culinary arts. But for some, the spice rack remains a herbal curiosity—a mysterious collection of powders and twigs reserved for an alchemist with knowledge of the botanical. Heston Blumenthal for one would know what to do with exotics like: Kala Jeera (a member of the parsley family) or Anardana (the dried seed of wild pomegranate) and the magically named Grains of Paradise (related to both ginger and cardamom).

For a considerable many (myself included) our list of ingredients (those we are familiar and confident in administering) is typically far less extensive—perhaps some garlic, basil, salt and pepper…and when we are feeling adventurous chilli or cumin. This go-to selection of staples will work in a pinch, but hardly reflects the fabulous diversity of herbs and spices that our world has to offer.

Enter our gastronomic guide, not a five star chef but a curious dabbler and DIY cook unafraid to follow her instincts in the kitchen.

Devyn Sisson, a self-taught chef and self-declared foodie extraordinaire, teaches you how to cultivate a mindful approach to eating—getting acquainted with your body’s nutritional needs, your palate’s likes and dislikes, and the emotional elements that shape your cravings and deep satisfactions with meals. Sisson elegantly chronicles her personal journey of healing her body through healthful eating, and how you can build health, confidence, and self-esteem from intuitive cooking that transfers into all other areas of life. Grab a copy of her first book Kitchen Intuition and follow her @KitchenIntuition.

What does it mean to be an intuitive cook?

Being an intuitive cook is learning to use your body, senses, and gut-feeling, to prepare food in the kitchen. Intuitive cooking is getting in touch with your likes and dislikes, being willing to TRY new things, to accept failure as a lesson, and to understand and love your relationship with food. Intuitive cooking is literally asking yourself and your body what to eat and how to prepare it. Intuitive cooking implies creativity, experimentation, and awareness.  

How does this style of cooking fit alongside carefully planned performance nutrition?

Carefully planned performance nutrition can absolutely include intuitive cooking. Using your intuition to try new spices, new combinations of flavors and new ways of preparing food all require your intuition (and willingness to create, experiment and learn). Something as simple as exploring new ways to season your chicken breast and broccoli florets, can benefit greatly from getting in touch with your gut. Science is useful when it comes to food but the body knows best, understanding your relationship with food can help to maximize performance and JOY when it comes to nourishing the body.    

How universal is this approach—will it work for never-cooked-before or can’t-boil-an-egg cooks?

This approach is universal, you only get to experience confidence in the kitchen when you’ve given yourself the opportunity to TRY. How do you know you don’t like cooking (or aren’t good at it) when you haven’t given yourself the freedom and fun to mess up? Ideally, this approach helps to increase the awareness and success in the kitchen for those who already know how to cook and love doing so, but also helps to peak interest and open doors for those who haven’t even boiled an egg.  

Can you share your vision for the Primal Kitchen and Intuitive Cooking movement?

My visions for the Primal Kitchen restaurant and Intuitive Cooking movement are different in some ways but converge in others. I want to continue to grow this community of health-conscious mindful individuals. The Restaurant provides a space where people from all different lifestyles and diets can come to eat good quality, quickly prepared, DELICIOUS, nutrient-dense food. The restaurant will give healthy eaters a place to rest easy eating clean yummy food, while opening the doors for unhealthy/picky eaters to come and experience (and hopefully learn to love) healthy dishes. My vision for my intuitive cooking movement is to do the same….To provide a way for cooks/chefs to loosen up and expand their awareness, while hopefully introducing new techniques and ideas for those pizza-delivery-eaters to prepare BETTER food and have fun doing it. Both go beyond athletes, chefs, foodies and food-lovers, I want children to love spaghetti squash and for their parents to get them sitting on counters tossing a colorful salad.

What has influenced your understanding and passion for food the most?

My passion for food has been influenced by my relationships. As I have learned more about people, social psychology, health, and relationships, I have learned to understand how much I love people and how much I love enjoying food with them. Historically, families/communities have connected each night at the dinner table, romantic relationships often begin on a first dinner date, a baby’s connection to its mother often revolves around feeding time/direct eye contact (nursing), work meetings happen in coffee shops, children are treated with ice-cream, we use food to celebrate life. Not only is the act of eating what keeps us physically alive, but the act of eating socializes humans. I have fallen in love through the act of cooking, met some of my greatest friends, and survived break-up because of food. We use food to celebrate life and noticing that has influenced my love for food.

Top three takeaways from the book?

EXPERIMENT: allow yourself to create, and also to mess up.
TRUST: your body get your hands dirty and listen to your gut.
LAUGH: don’t take life OR cooking so seriously. Find ways to enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. 

Circling back to the opening topic, here is Devyn’s advice on herb and spice…

A Brief Breakdown: Spices are the aromatic parts of plants used for flavoring and coloring food. They are the seed, fruit, bark, berry, bud, or vegetable parts of plants and include the spices cinnamon, nut- meg, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and onion powder, to name a few. Herbs are the leafy green, often aromatic parts of plants used as medicinals or for seasoning. Examples of herbs include rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley.

A Short History: We’ve come to identify certain regional food with particular flavors and seasonings. Curry, cumin, and turmeric underlie many Indian recipes. Oregano, basil, and thyme inform many Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Cardamom, five-spice, and certainly cinnamon flavor fond memories of many favorite Asian dishes. But human migration and the spice trade spread the use and cultivation of herbs and spices across cultural boundaries. Many of these ingredients, as we studied in elementary school, originated in China and Asia, and thanks to Marco Polo and other explorers along the spice trade routes, then spread into the Roman Empire and beyond. There were no hard and fast rules about how to use these new, fragrant spices and herbs—people experimented and incorporated them into their own regional dishes. Many touted some ingredients’ medicinal benefits. Ginger originated in China and was used to counter gastrointestinal concerns and motion sickness. Horseradish was used in ancient Greece to treat food poisoning, among other things, and as a cough expectorant in Europe in the middle ages. Many of these natural herbal remedies are still used today.

Devyn’s Herb and Spice Rack

The following list of herbs and spices are ones I use regularly when experimenting in my own kitchen. Learning how different cuisines combine different spices and herbs and which ones work best in their particular dishes gives me a great starting point to jump off and explore.

Rosemary: Mediterranean shrub in mint family; the narrow gray-green leaves are great for grilling or roasting meat and also in soups and casseroles.

Thyme: Eurasian herb or low shrub, also in mint family; leaves used as seasoning (though not much is needed); goes well with lamb, chicken, and pork.

Oregano: Eurasian herb, also in mint family; leaves used as seasoning in tomato sauces, Mediterranean, Italian, and Greek dishes.

Basil: native to Asia and Africa, also in mint family; leaves used as seasoning, but should be added to sauces near the end of cooking to preserve their flavor.

Parsley: Eurasian herb; leaves used as seasoning or garnish; try in soups, sauces, and salads.

Cilantro: the fresh stems and leaves of the coriander plant; a nice balance to the spicy ingredients in Mexican dishes.

Dill: native to Eurasia; leaves and seeds are often used as seasoning in seafood dishes, salads and dips.

Turmeric: strong, bitter flavor, used for color in mustards and curries, but can be added to many dishes.

Nutmeg: nutty, sweet flavor often used to make desserts like pies, puddings, cakes, and cookies.

Cinnamon: described as a sweet-spicy taste, it partners with chocolate and apples and works well in some vegetable and fruit dishes.

Allspice: tastes like a mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg; good in savory dishes and with beef and lamb.

Garlic powder: less strong than fresh garlic, with sweeter undertones.

Onion powder: good substitute for onions in some soups and dips; 1 teaspoon is about the same as a small onion.

Cumin: slightly earthy, nutty flavor; used in curries and in taco seasoning.

Cayenne: the spiciest of chili pepper powders (after paprika and chili powder) Paprika – a milder, sweeter, and often smoky version of the chili pepper powders.

Curry: a mix of spices generally including cumin, coriander, turmeric (for the yellow color), pepper, mustard, ginger, clove, cardamom, bay leaf, and fenugreek; the spiciness of the curry depends on the level of hot pepper used in the powder.

Pine nuts: the seed of the Mediterranean stone pine; used in Spanish and Italian dishes, such as pesto.

Distinctive Flavours of Other Cultures

The spice trade forever opened borders and minds to new cuisines and cultures, yet even today there are distinctive flavors that underlie many regional dishes. These are just a few, but certainly not all the flavors you might recognize in some of your favorite dishes from abroad.

Mexican: chili (many varieties), chipotle, Mexican oregano, cumin, cilantro, coriander, and clove.

Italian: oregano, parsley, garlic, pepper flakes, basil, thyme.

Greek: dill, parsley, saffron, lemon, thyme, rosemary, sage.

Asian: ginger, garlic, cardamom, fenugreek, five-spice, turmeric, cloves.

Indian: cumin, turmeric, coriander, curry, garam masala (usually a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and peppercorns).

Words when chosen wisely, have profound impact and can lead to authentic insights—yet prose just as easily lends itself to pointless rant and even diatribe should we write without restraint. Of course, the extreme opposite of this is also subject to imprecise drivel—texting with auto-correct for one, and writing with emoji’s rather than letters for another. But like an athlete, writers can sharpen their skills and transform their words into lean, mean(ingful) tools of exploration, expression and even persuasion. We asked locution expert and author of ‘The Writer’s Diet’, Helen Sword, to reveal how.

Like any guide to diet and fitness, The Writer’s Diet offers advice and exercises designed to help you become stronger and leaner without sacrificing your pleasure and well-being. Here, however, the focus is on your sentences, not your body. Just as athletes build up their strength and agility by eating nutritious food and performing targeted exercises, good writers build strong sentences by nourishing them with high-quality ingredients and then putting them through a workout.

A core feature of the book is the WritersDiet Test, a diagnostic exercise that you can perform manually using paper and coloured pencils or electronically via the Writer’s Diet website ( Simply cut and paste a passage of between 100 and 1,000 words into the online text box, click the Run the Test button and find out whether your writing sample is ‘flabby or fit’. Whatever your diagnosis, I advise you take the test with a sense of humour and a grain of salt: it offers recommendations, not a prescription; a set of core principles, not a one-size-fits-all formula. Remember, too, that the online test is intended to supplement the book, not to replace it. The book explores all the stylistic subtleties and exceptions that the test cannot.

Chapter One, ‘Verbal verve’, focuses on verbs, which power our sentences as surely as muscles propel our bodies. Robust action verbs infuse your writing with vigour and metaphorical zing; they put legs on your prose. As a rule of thumb, I like to make sure that every paragraph I write contains at least two or three vivid verbs (here, I’ve used power, propel and infuse) to move things along.

If verbs function as the muscles of language, nouns are its bones. Chapter Two, ‘Noun density’, teaches you to anchor complex ideas in concrete nouns. Sentences with ‘strong bones’ convey meaning and emotion through objects that we can visualise: muscles and bones. Sentences with ‘weak bones’ rely mostly on abstract nouns, which express intangible ideas remote from the world of the human senses. In particular, I caution readers against lumbering multi-syllabic monsters that I call ‘zombie nouns’, which can suck the life-blood and energy from your prose.

The remaining chapters of the book explore how other types of words can help or hinder clear communication. For example, prepositions supply our sentences with directional thrust; when used in excess, however, they can slow things down instead. Adjectives and adverbs lend colour and flavour to our writing, but they may also end up sugar-coating weak sentences that would benefit from more active verbs and concrete nouns. And the four little inkblots that I call the ‘waste words’—it, this, that and there—can clog up your prose as surely as cholesterol clogs your arteries.

I wrote The Writer’s Diet because I got tired of reading long-winded, stodgy sentences that I had to work hard to decipher. Whether you write for a general audience or a highly specialised one, this book can help you do so more clearly, energetically and persuasively—with sleek prose your readers will remember.

Have you ever seen a heart beating on a glacier, in pitch-black arctic darkness?

This is exactly what commercial photographer Vaughan Brookfield brought to life, in the latest installment of his series titled The Nameless Project. Canon Australia is excited to launch Vaughan’s stunning series through its ‘Show Us What’s Possible’ platform that supports professional photographers in turning their ideas into reality.

Vaughan takes us on a journey through Tasman Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island where he seeks to raise awareness of man’s impact on the planet, evidenced by the drastically vanishing ice sheet.

The project consisted of a four-day expedition, where Brookfield and light projectionist Tom Lynch projected stunning visuals onto the glacier. The imagery was shot using the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses, and was carefully chosen to highlight the dramatic reduction of Tasman Glacier over the past ten years.

To reinforce their message of environmental threat, the duo projected imagery, using the Canon XEED WUX6010 projector, of a heart beating onto the glacier, bringing it to life. The still projections were then captured by Brookfield and documented by filmmaker Heath Patterson using Canon’s EOS C300 Mark II cinema camera.

Vaughan’s images reflect a new creative frontier—integrative art installations which employ conceptual imagery as a tool for conservation. Projecting photos of nature in our cities is a popular form of urban art, but Vaughn’s concept reverses this on a much grander scale—casting a vision of human impact onto a melting glacier to capture a photograph which strongly evokes a connection and responsibility to nature.

The artists vision in his own words…

Why did you call this photographic series ‘The Nameless Project’, especially given the concepts strong environmental message?

We started projecting imagery a few years ago now, and at first we were just doing it to see what we could create with the projectors. People started to love our work and asked us what it was called. We didn’t have a name so we just called our work ‘The Nameless’ and it stuck.

What inspired the concept of integrating projected imagery onto a glacier?

We had been projecting on to natural landscapes for some time and a glacier had been in the back on my mind for a while. For projecting in the natural environment we need a flat vertical surface that’s dramatic to make it all work. I had done location work on the glaciers before and knew it was a perfect place to bring this project to life and send the right message.

What made the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand the perfect location to highlight our human footprint?

I visited the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand when I was a kid and I was astounded at how far back the glacier had receded. I hope in choosing the Tasman Glacier as the location for our adventure we can remind people of the effects humans are having on the environment.

What were the practicalities of bringing your concept to life?

I captured these images by projecting still images and moving animations onto the landscape, then once the light was perfect, I shot using a Canon 1DX Mark II and Canon 24-70 2.8mm and Canon 70-200 2.8mm. At an altitude of 2,200 metres, our campsite was ferociously cold. We were lucky to get a solid good weather window for 24 hours as it was constantly changing. Night time temperatures drop to below -13C, making it difficult to keep the water in our drink bottles from freezing, let alone trying to run projectors that were made to be used indoors. So many things could have gone wrong but we got extremely lucky. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time one of these large projectors would have been taken out onto a glacier at 2,200 meters altitude in -13 degrees C.

Have you pioneered an original form of photography with this method?

No, I don’t think so. People have been using projectors in photography for a while now. A big part of creating photographs is light, so a light projector is a great tool to have. I haven’t seen anyone use them the way we have and we are trying to be original with our work.

Which photo best reflects your vision, and embodies the story you hope to tell?

The best photo from this incredible adventure was capturing the projection of a beating heart. It conveys a strong direct message that the glacier is alive which ties back to exactly what we want to depict.

How do you foresee conceptual photography evolving?

I think in general there are more and more creatives out there doing amazing work. Who knows how conceptual photography will evolve, but I’m sure people will keep pushing the limits and creating more interesting and intriguing work.

The project is part of Canon’s ‘Show Us What’s Possible’, what possibilities does your project reveal?

This was quite a challenging project technically. We need really powerful projectors that are only just becoming available on the market, and cameras capable of operating in low light, to make this work. We have to push all the equipment to its limits in this environment. We are trying to extend the boundaries and create interesting works that are original.

What equipment and techniques did you use to produce the series?

I shot using a Canon 1DX Mark II and Canon 24-70 2.8mm and Canon 70-200 2.8mm. My friend and projectionist Tom used the Canon XEED WUX6010 projector. While we were shooting it took a lot of work to look after our gear; cameras were pushing really high ISO, meaning they were extremely sensitive to the light and projectors were running at ridiculously low temps.

How is Canon and this platform helping innovate conservation and visual-storytelling?

It is great having Canon back us on this project. They gave me complete creative freedom, they are not just in it to promote their brand. Chris and the team there have been very supportive and helpful. They let me tell my story in the way I wanted, and I feel that comes through in the short film we created.

What do you love about Canon (equipment, support, innovation)?

I have been using Canon equipment for a long time now. Their cameras are perfect for a lot of my work. The 1DX is amazing in low light and can handle the harsh conditions I shoot in. It’s a workhorse and performs so well, and you can capture those magic moments in low light without having to worry about quality loss.

Brookfield’s short documentary film on creating his installation can be viewed online on the Canon Stories website, along with a gallery of these breathtaking images.

Australia and New Zealand based professional image makers are urged to be part of ‘Show Us What’s Possible’ by submitting an idea to Chris Macleod, Pro Marketing Manager via For details, please visit:

For more information, visit:

Courage lies outside our comfort zone.

Age is not a factor of Adventure, Fear is—but not a limiting one!

The human need to explore runs deep, it rises from a driving instinct to know what is possible, what we are made of, what undiscovered potential lies beyond our fears.

Exploration not only expands our understanding of the world but of ourselves.

Since 1905 The Explorers Club has served as a meeting point for adventurous spirits—from it’s origins in New York city the multidisciplinary society now includes international chapters, most recently hosting an event in Melbourne.

‘An Evening of Adventure’ representing the first of an ongoing series of Australia & New Zealand Chapter of the Explorers Club (ANZEC) meetings, especially for Victorian Members. The guest speakers included two pioneering circumnavigators, Jessica Watson and Michael Smith.

BE Journal caught-up with Jessica and asked her about how adventure and exploration helped her circumnavigate fear and achieve bold new heights.

What excites you most about the topics and initiatives the Explorers Club support?

There’s something special and a little tricky to explain about bringing together a group of like-minded explorers. Of course, all the explorers club members are really interesting people, so the club is a sort of treasure trove of great stories and fascinating people. It’s the supportive and inspiring environment that I love most.

How has exploration influenced your awareness for nature?

I don’t think I’ve ever met an explorer that doesn’t have a great appreciation for nature and conservation. It’s impossible not to appreciate and want to protect our environment. It probably comes as no surprise that the ocean will always have a special meaning for me. I spent some time last year travelling with a group of young ocean conservationists from around the world, and while the challenges are huge, it is heartening to see that is at least a growing focus on our oceans and an appreciation of their importance.

With hindsight what one thing would you take on your next adventure?

I was really happy with just about all of the technical equipment onboard my boat and my supplies of important things like chocolate lasted well! Looking back, I suppose I would have taken more camera equipment, while I thought I had plenty I learnt that on a voyage like that you can never have enough. I wish I’d captured more of the day to day life of the voyage.

Top characteristics of a great explorer?

Over the years, I’ve constantly been surprised to realize that explorers are not the adrenalin junky risk takers that many people think they are. So many of the explorers I know are carefully considered, planning obsessed types. One of my mentor’s Don McIntyre introduced me to the term ‘responsible risk taking’, and I think it’s an idea that does a great job of explaining the approach that most explorers take.

What’s your next great adventure?

These day’s I’ve taken on a few challenges that see me spending a lot of time behind my desk. I’m finishing an MBA this year and working on a book for young adults that will be published early next year. Other challenges like my role as a youth representative for the UN’s World Food Programme and as a partner in marine review website have also been keeping me busy. It’s been important for me to put myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in new ways.

I still love sailing as much as ever and enjoy sharing it with friends. Plan’s for my next voyage around the world, stopping at all the amazing places along the way this time, are also becoming clearer.

After 210 days at sea navigating some of the world’s most challenging oceans and surviving seven knockdowns, Jessica Watson sailed back into Sydney Harbour in May 2010. Age 16, she became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world. Watson sailed her vessel, Ella’s Pink Lady, across more than 20,000 nautical miles of ocean, including around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, surviving knockdowns, 10m high waves and winds of up to 70 knots.

She went from one adventure to the next, skippering the youngest crew ever to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in December 2011. They finished second in their category.

Watson was named the Australian Geographic Young Adventurer of the Year 2010, Young Australian of the Year 2011, and in 2012, she received an OAM (Order of Australia Medal).

Follow Jessica’s Adventures @

Discover what the Explorer’s Club is all about @

Sera Wright’s stunning shots of pastel pink sunsets, pristine beaches and glittering seas have earned her a legion of Instagram fans.

But the self-taught landscape and travel photographer doesn’t just want to share pretty pictures—she’s sending an important conservation message.

Through her striking images taken around Australia and overseas, the digital influencer from Byron Bay hopes to inspire others to appreciate and protect nature.

“I hope that my photos will inspire people to get outside, explore and travel to as many destinations as possible,” she says.

“I am extremely passionate about nature and conservation, and I use my photography to raise awareness and educate people on why it’s so important to care for our amazing country and planet.”

It’s this environmental ethos, combined with her creative talents, that lead to her appointment on the judging panel for The Nature Conservancy’s 2017 photo competition.

The competition aims to inspire Australians to engage with nature through photography and celebrate Australia’s natural beauty, and Sera is looking forward to being on the other side of the fence as a judge this year.

“I am a big believer in photography inspiring people to get outside and appreciate nature, so I can’t wait to see what the Australian public deliver in this year’s competition.”

One of Australia’s top social media influencers, Wright boasts more than 54,000 Instagram followers and has worked on tourism campaigns for the likes of Olympus Australia, Canon Australia, Intrepid Travel, Singapore Airlines and Destination NSW.

Her beautifully-crafted web and Instagram pages are filled with pastel-hued summer skies in Byron Bay, turtles swimming on the Great Barrier Reef, Samoan waterfalls and unexpected pockets of natural beauty.

For Sera, one of the biggest keys to innovative nature photography is ensuring optimum lighting conditions, and advises shooting close to sunrise and sunset.

Other tips include using people in landscape shots to add an extra element of interest, photographing scenes you personally connect to, and finding a point of difference, like a new angle or perspective.

She dismisses the two thirds rule of conventional composition as not essential, but says “leading lines”, which draw the eye to the subject of the photo, is a good technique.

Wright believes photography can be a valuable tool in creating change and educating the community, particularly on issues like the environment and conservation.

“With social media, you can reshare and repost photos, articles, videos, and other digital content around the world and create a movement.”

More and more people are jumping onboard and realising what an important role photography has in helping create awareness of the environmental issues around the world—especially when it comes to climate change, the decline in the Great Barrier Reef, and endangered species and their habitats.

But she is concerned that there’s not enough respect for the environment in the quest for the ultimate, Instagram-able photo.

“I believe that as photographers, influencers and visual artists we have a responsibility to encourage others to do the right thing,” she says.

I see a lot of photos on social media of people or photographers standing in a location which is restricted or prohibited entry due to the fragile environment (Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, Queensland for example) just to get ‘the shot’. We should be promoting the right thing to do, how to help conserve the ecosystem and environment and planet on which we live.

Wright became interested in landscapes and wildlife at an early age, watching David Attenborough documentaries on repeat and flicking through National Geographic magazines at home.

Now 35 years old, Sera owned her first camera at the age of 10 and learned the basics at high school, but only taught herself the rest when photography turned digital.

Sera feels blessed to have grown up in the nature lover’s paradise of Byron Bay, and has fond memories of spending her childhood exploring the great outdoors.

“I think being brought up camping and out in nature most weekends and school holidays, instead of going on holidays to resorts or cities, made a massive impact on me at an early age. I’m so thankful to my parents for bringing me up this way. It made me appreciate the natural world and learn the importance of protecting and conserving the world around us early on.

“Without a healthy environment, ecosystem and planet, we won’t have a world to live on. Every species on this planet has a role, a purpose and needs to be saved. The Nature Conservancy’s photo competition is a great opportunity for photographers of all levels to raise awareness on these important issues.”

Categories for the photo competition include landscape, wildlife, water, urban, nature, people in nature and whacky wildlife. There will also be a People’s Choice winner, so even if you’re not a photographer, you will still be able to participate by voting for your favourite photo.

The photo competition runs from September 18 – October 27, 2017.

To learn more or enter a photo, visit and for more information on Sera visit