A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Why I won’t be buying a Thermomix

THermomix free zone

Thermomix Free Zone

Yes – you heard me correctly – this post is all about why I decided not to buy a Thermomix.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to go along to a Thermomix demonstration – and let me tell you I was hooked. I came away from the demo and I desperately wanted one of those things. It was just amazing…You could do so many things with it and it was so speedy…and such little amounts of washing up…

So off I went an began to plot how on earth I could possibly begin to afford one of these gadgets. But here’s the thing..in my life right now I could simply not justify the near $2000 cost for a machine that did everything I could already do with the gadgets I already had at home.

I still wanted one.

But as the weeks of my obesession wore on I started to do some research into people who had a Thermomix and did not like it or didn’t use it as much as they thought they would. I started reading things that I found myself nodding along to. What kind of cooking did I do? Lots of quick things – stir frys and grilled meats; lots of long slow cooked things – set and forget stews etc; baking baking baking…using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Real cooking with real ingredients that I chop by hand because I enjoy the process of chopping and stirring and cooking.

How would this gadget fit into the way that I cook right now? It just wouldn’t. I had a multi function cooker that is a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and risotto maker in one. I had a Kitchen Aid food processer and Stand Mixer, I have a Vitamix blender with the dry blending canister for making nut flours and other grain processing. I already made my own yoghurt with the Easiyo. I can make Custard on the stovetop. I can make bread dough by hand. There was nothing  that I needed to spend $2000 on a machine to do for me that I didn’t already have the capacity to do.

I completely understand the value if you do not already have all of these gadgets in your kitchen, or if you have a very small kitchen and need to maximise gadget for space capacity, or you didn’t already cook most things from scratch and you were wanting to learn – but for me – the investment would have simply been one of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’. So I came to my senses and decided against it.

I think they are a great gadget for the right person – just not for me.

So that’s why I won’t be buying a Thermomix.

Andjxx

 

 


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What I ate Wednesday

Food Diary 12wbt

 

I must admit that this isn’t exactly “What I ate Wednesday” – but more a selection of things I ate in the past few days….   I decided to sign up for the Michelle Bridges 12wbt again, mainly to get access to the menu plans – because the Exercise plans really haven’t changed all that much since I last did it a few years ago. They are OK (the exercise plans) but I find some of the exercises fussy and using too much equipment – so I switch them out for something that works the same muscle group.

About two months ago I commenced “Operation Get Andjxx fit again” and I was going really well for the first month and lost about 5kg – I was feeling great and really  on top of things. They I had a crash off my bike, shortly followed by another accident at  home that left me with a big gash on my leg (Which is really really ugly), and well I basically lost all momentum and just stopped exercising and eating well for the who second month. I kept telling myself I would get back on top of it and kept feeling like it was all too hard. But it was all in my head – just the simple act of telling myself it was all too hard was enough to stop me from starting. So after starting to read the book “If not dieting then what?” by Dr Rick Kausman, I talked some of my cognitions and am back on top of things again. The book is actually really good because it helps me to tackle some of my “black or white’ thinking behaviors – and also my tendency to become obsessive about every little morsel I eat.

The bottom line is I know that I feel better when I eat healthy foods the majority of the time… and I still need to lose about 7 kg to be at a good healthy weight for my body…and exercising helps with my Anxiety – all excellent reasons to get back on the wagon!

I have been pretty happy with the 12wbt food choices this week – I just changed up a couple of things to match more with things that we already had in the house. One of the things I dislike about the 12wbt food plan is that it often requires you to buy things that expensive just for one or two meals – so I will often substitute – because frankly I just can’t afford $200 a week on shopping!

This week I have been eating Banana Porridge and eggs (on separate days) for breakfasts; chicken and salad pita pockets for lunch and a variety of things for dinner – Lamb kebabs with Cous cous salad; Lemon and garlic marinate chicken and salad, Roast chicken with Asian vegetables and my favourite – Asian BBQ  cooker chicken with chinese broccoli. For snacks I have been alternating Chobani yoghurt (Coconut or banana) with Hummus and vegetable cruidites or an APple and about 10 almonds.

I will say up front that the food on the 1200 calorie MB plan does not keep me full…in fact I would wake up starving at 3am most nights (and it’s not head hunger – it is real stomach grumbling, anger causing hunger) – so I do actually consume around 1300 – 1400 calories per day on a typical day. I lost weight on this amount of calories and it basically means I have a snack after dinner – I know that if I don’t do this it is a sure fire way to a binge – so I see it as better to eat slightly more than what she recommends and reduce the risks of a binge session.

The other thing that I do to make it fit into our family lifestyle is I often will cook something different for my children – or provide them with an alternative side dish. I have fussy eaters and I would much rather they eat dinner than have the fight with them about eating at all. I will do a post about this next week actually!

Is anyone else who reads my blog following the MB program at the moment?

Andjxx


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Cooking From Scratch

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** This post originally appeared on one of my blogs from well back in the day – this week I am doing a retrospective of some past writing – I hope you enjoy!**

We had a little lunch gathering for a few friends yesterday – not quite like the picture above – but hey I am dreaming of summer and being able to spend serious amounts of time outdoors!

We cooked up a  bit of an Indian feast including a couple of vegetarian curries (Eggplant and Chickpea as well as this Aloo Gobi ). We also made a Goat Madras – yes you read right – Goat.

Back in our pre-children days we regularly went to a great Indian restaurant in Brisbane called A Night in India (High st, Toowong – I thoroughly recommend!). My husband and his friends regularly ordered a goat dish for the novelty factor – and really it is a novelty. It doesn’t taste all that different to Lamb!

For the first time I went to a specialty spice store and bought a authentic Indian madras spice blend. If you have never been to one of these places they are quite an eye opener – all the things you can buy in bulk! Rice and Spices…. but I digress. I think that doing this made such a big difference to the flavour of the curry – it was perfect!  Add rice and poppadums – we were all very happy! If anyone is interested I improvised basing the curry on a combination of this Goat curry recipe and this one.

I found it interesting to hear one of our friends telling the other girl (Who I had only met once before briefly) that I make everything from scratch (she was referring to the pumpkin hummus that I made). Is it that strange to cook from scratch? Is that a reflection of the quick and easy society that we live in?

I cook most things from scratch for a number of reasons:

– so that I know what has gone into the food – no chemicals, additives or preservatives.

– so that my children see cooking and preparing food as a normal part of growing up and that we don’t always just go to the shop when we want something.

– value for money!

So I’ll leave you with the Eggplant and Chickpea curry recipe – but tell me –

Do you prefer to make things from scratch???

Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

Serves 4 as a main

2 medium Eggplant

200g Green Beans

1 onion – diced

1 Tin chickpeas

1 tin Lentils

1.5 tbls Tamarind paste

2 Cups water

1 tbls yellow mustard seeds

2 tbls Garam marsala

200ml Coconut milk

Rogan Josh curry spice blend

2 tbls minced ginger

1 tblsp minced garlic

Method

Chop eggplant into 3 – 4 cm cubes, spray with olive oil spray and cook in a 200 degree celcius (180 fan forced) oven for 20mins.

Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a pan with approx 2 tbls olive oil – cook gently until the onion starts to  brown. Add the mustard seeds and Garam Marsala and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Add spice blend and mix through thoroughly. Add tamarind and water and stir through. Allow to cook down and reduce slightly. Add eggplant, lentils, chickpeas and beans and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut milk in the last 5 minutes.

Serve with Basmati rice!

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:: Healthy Dinners:: The story of a Pizza thats Amore

Pizza is a fairly regular meal choice in our home – which you may think is a strange choice for someone who supposedly encourages a healthy lifestyle. I actually think that Pizza done well is an excellent and wholesome meal. Let me elaborate further.

When you make your own pizza from scratch or you purchase it from someone else who you know also makes their pizzas in a traditional manner and from scratch, using fresh ingredients – you can usually find that particular pizza is full of fresh goodness. Whole foods and the absolute freshest ingredients are key. As is making your dough from scratch. And not using TOO much cheese.

I really enjoy the whole process of the pizza coming together. Making Pizza dough – like bread is a bit of an art and every recipe you find seems to be slightly different. Also like bread, it does take a little practice before you begin to get the feel for the dough.

Pizza This dough is so needy!

This dough is so needy!

Kneading the dough in itself can be a challenge sometimes – it is always a balance between the stickiness of the dough before the gluten starts to take effect and makes it become all stretch and smooth and lovely and not using too much flour on your hads to stop the said stick doug from, well… sticking.

Then you walk away and let all that yeasty goodness do it’s work.

Pizza Dough Rising

Dough Rising

I actually drove all the way over to the other side of town to pick something up while this dough was rising! Talk about multitasking!

Punch it down, give it another knead, lightly spray some oil on the pizza tray and the roll and stretch out the dough to fit. I just love the organic-ness of homemade Pizza dough.

Pizza Rolled and Ready

Rolled and Ready

Add your toppings of choice – a good guide is a little meat and a lot of vege! Then a smattering of cheese (I *may* have had more than a smattering here given that bocconcini was one of my toppings.)

Pizza Nearly Ready

Nearly Ready

We did have a slight pause at this point as I discovered that while I thought I had turned the oven on, the little munchkin had actually pre-programmed it by randomly pressing buttons and it hadn’t preheated at all. So 45 minutes and a little bit of gardening later, here you have it!

Pizza Yum

Yum!

xxAndj

What is your favourite sometimes food dinner?


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Where did my Apricot and Yoghurt Cookies go?

Apricot and yoghurt  cookies

Photo credits to the cookbook author – my bikkies were eaten so fast that I didn’t get a pic!

I decided prior to H boy starting preschool that each week I would make him a small home made treat to go in his lunch box. Last week I made museli bars and they were a bit of a fail. I thought they were great – a bit crumbly but very tasty. The museli bars came home again in the lunch box each day looking a little sad.

This morning I decided to make some Apricot and Yoghurt Cookies from the cookbook Veggie Smugglers.

I substituted Spelt flour for the white flour indicated in the recipe and they turned out beautifully – just like the picture in fact. I also substituted vanilla yoghurt as indicated in the original recipe for some Organic natural yoghurt with a drizzle of vanilla extract.  These were fast and simple to put together. So simple in fact that I managed to dress two children, myself and organise us all to go out to a picnic in the time I was cooking them. I took some along with me to the picnic and all of the small people murmered sounds of approval through their cookie stuffed mouths and then promptly asked for more.

I returned home to discover that there were only 4 cookies left from the 16 I had made ( I took 6 with me). Needless to say that H Boy is now not having cookies in his lunch this week 🙂

Healthy Apricot and Yoghurt Cookies

Makes approx 16 – 20

1 1/4 cups Spelt flour (can use a mix of wholemeal and white but wholemeal alone makes cookies very dense)
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup Firmly packed Brown sugar
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 Tbsp LSA or Almond meal
2/3 cup Organic natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Coconut oil melted;      Dememera sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat oven to 170C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the oats, sugar, apricots and LSA and mix together well.

In another bowl mix together the coconut oil, yoghurt and vanilla extract.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix together well with a wooden spoon. If the mix is too dry, add a little more yoghurt. But check first as it would be easy to add too much.

Form the mixture into ping-pong sized balls and place evenly spaced on the baking tray. Flattening with a fork slightly then sprinkling the demamera sugar on top. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until browned on top.

(Set a couple aside in a sneaky hiding spot for you to have with your cup of tea later when you get a chance to relax – quick before they are all gone)

xxAndj

What is your favourite treat for the school lunchbox?


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A win in the kitchen: Chicken and Mango Salad (Wraps)

Part of the reason for my lack of blogging recently has been that my children decided to stop eating. The two who would normally eat anything that was placed in front of them suddenly refused anything that was put in front of them. Given that I wanted this blog to be about feeding kids in a way that enabled working mums to make just one meal at dinner time – this provided me with quite a challenge – as you might imagine.

The other reason is that my husband has been working away and I have been doing the single mum thing – it is incredibly hard just to get the everyday done in these circumstances so I haven’t worried too much and have just been feeding them ravioli and veggie laden pasta sauce, the ‘hidden veggie’ sausages that one of our local butchers does and toasted sandwiches.

However I was trawling through some of my old cooking magazine during the week which often has a cooking with kids section – and it got me thinking. I decided that I wanted to have this yum looking Mango Chicken Salad during the week – but I knew that telling them we were having salad would go down like a lead balloon.

Mango Chicken Salad

Mango Chicken Salad

How could I market it to them as something they might like to eat????

Then it came to me….. put it in a wrap.

H Boy just loves eating taco’s or anything that comes packaged in a wrap. I was bang on – it worked a treat. He ate two whole wraps filled with salad and mango. He didn’t want any chicken – but that was fine – he ate and there was no tears.

That is a win in my book!

Mango Chicken Salad (Wraps)

adapted from Australian Healthy Food Guide March 2010 edition. Serves 4

Ingredients

400g Canned Mango slices in Juice

1 tsp Tamari soy sauce

1 Tblsp sweet chilli sauce

cooking oil spray

300 gram Skinless chicken breast fillet, cut into small strips

Cajun seasoning

1 baby cos lettuce – shredded

1 punnet cherry tomato – halved/quartered

red capsicum – diced

Cucumber – sliced thinly

Shredded Cheese

Wholegrain wraps

Method

1. Dice 1/4 of the mangoes. Set aside. In a food processor, process the remaining mango, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.

2. Coat chicken in a dusting of the Cajun seasoning. Spray a pan with oil and cook chicken over medium – high heat  5 -6  mins or until cooked through.

3. Place all the salad ingredients on a platter.

4 Serve at the table as a  ‘serve yourself’ arrangement with the wraps, mango and sauce.

(For those 12wbt’s reading – this recipe is “Mish friendly” I didn’t have the wrap – I just had the meal as a Chicken and Mango salad with a small drizzle of the dressing and a very light sprinkle of the shredded cheese: Nutritional info, per serve: 270 Cal; 29g protein; 8g fat; 18g carbs)

Why I chose to have salad for dinner on the day it snowed in Canberra is beyond me!

Any tips for ‘marketing’ food to your kids?


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This Week in the Kitchen

Here is a little visual of some of the happenings in my kitchen this past week…

My food prep of dinners and Snacks for the week

My food prep of dinners and Snacks for the week

Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise – last Sunday’s lunch

Steel cut oats with strawberries

Steel cut oats with strawberries

                            How was your week?


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Miss American Pie it’s the 4th of July!

Pumpkin Pie, 4th of July

My first attempt at Pumpkin Pie went quite smoothly. It was sweet without being super sweet and as you can see above, the vultures were eyeing it off well before dinner had commenced. The only problem being that he has to actually eat his dinner to achieve the goal of the Pie.

Although I thoroughly believe he was a Labrador in a past life – as he is entirely food motivated – it makes no difference what the allure of dessert holds – dinner is normally still a fight. After many attempts at excuses and numerous threats of being sent to his bedroom, dinner was consumed and his pie was devoured.

Pie Victory !

The recipe was from this months Super Food Ideas and while I detest making Pastry from scratch, it is worth it. The only thing I would do differently is use a glass Pie dish next time.

Pumpkin Pie

(super food ideas July 2012 p 81)

Pumpkin Pie

Filling

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1 Tblsp cornflour

2 Eggs

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups cold mashed Kent Pumpkin (about 500g before mashing)

2 tblsp maple syrup

1 tsp mixed spice

icing sugar and whipped cream to serve

Pastry

1 1/2 cups Plain Flour

1/4 cup caster sugar

125g chilled butter

1 egg yolk

1 tblsp iced water

Method

1. To make the Pastry; place flour, sugar and chilled butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and water. Process until dough just comes together. Turn pastry out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.

2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/180 degrees C fan-forced. Place an oven tray in oven. Grease a 4-cm deep, 20cm (base) round pie dish. Roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line base and sides of prepared dish (about 30cm). Line dish with pastry. Trim edge. Refrigerate for 15 min. Line pastry case with baking paper, fill with uncooked rice and blind bake for 10 mins. Remove paper with rice and bake for a further 10 mins. Set aside to cool.

3. Reduce over to 180 degree C/160 degrees fan-forced

. Combine brown sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl. Whisk in eggs, evaporated milk, pumpkin, maple syrup and mixed spice. Pour into pastry andbake for 45 – 50 mins or until filling has set. Cool and refrigerate until Chilled.

Dust pie with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

xxAndj

Did you do anything special for the 4th of July?


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Absence Makes the Heart Grow fonder?

 

Sorry for my absence this second half of the week – but what can I say? I have been off gallivanting in Melbourne at a work conference. Melbourne put on the best of the weather in the first day and then by the last day it was pouring and I understood the reason why Melbournians wear boots 🙂

A little bit of exciting news came through this week – I have been chosen as one of the bloggers to go through to the next round of the Gourmet Garden Blog Off/Cook Off.

Gourmet Garden Blog-Off-Cook-Off

If you click on the picture or the link about you can have a look at some of the other bloggers who will be progressing through to the next round.

So what does this mean for me? I have to spend the next month or so preparing a new tantalising dish to wow the judges at the Good Food and Wine show in Sydney at the end of June. I will be cooking off against another one of the winning bloggers at the Good Food and Wine Show to determine whether I go through to the final round.

I’m a bit excited to come up with something else that is within the ethos of my blog – something healthy and simple to put together on a week night after work that the entire family can eat – without me – the mama needing to make something entirely different for the kids!

It’s all about keeping this mama happy you see 🙂 Watch this space for more info and wish me luck – I have some pretty tough competition!

xxAndj


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Divine MidWeek Treat: Blueberry Crumble Torte

A little sweet treat for your Wednesday night. This Cake is like a giant muffin to put together but has a gorgeous crunchy topping and is just perfect for an after dinner treat.

If fact it would also be perfect for an afternoon tea treat.

If you were being really naughty it could be breakfast…..Well it does have Blueberries in it!

Blueberry Torte

Blueberry Crumble Torte

Serves 8 – 10 Preparation 15 mins Cooking 55 mins  (This is not in anyway allergy friendly – Sorry 😦 )

1 Cup Plain Flour

3/4 Cup Wholemeal plain Flour

1 Cup Caster Sugar

2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Cup Blueberries (frozen is fine)

1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

3/4 Cup  Milk

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tblsp Lemon Juice

1 Egg

For Crunchy Topping

1 cup Blueberries (frozen is fine)

1/4 Cup plain flour

1/3 Cup Sugar

2 Tblsp Oil

1/2 cup Pecans – Chopped

Method

Turn the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius and prepare a 20cm diameter cake tin (Springform is best for this one).

Place all dry ingredients (Flours, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon) in a sifter and sift into a large mixing bowl ( I didn’t do this because my sifter is rubbish – I just put them all in there and gave it a good stir). Add the blueberries and stir to coat with the flour mixture.

Mix all the wet ingredients (egg, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon juice) together in a separate bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon until just combined.

Pour this into the prepared cake tin.

To make the crumble topping; mix together the pecans, sugar and flour and spread evenly over the top of the cake mix prior to cooking. Drizzle the oil over the top of the crumble mix.

Place the cake in the oven for 55 min.

Serve with a nice dollop of heavy cream and enjoy your after  dinner anytime of day treat.

xxAndj

** This is a recipe adapted from the  Family Circle cookbook Baking: A common sense guide