A life of health and wellness…with kids!

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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?



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School Canteens and the Food Giants

evil food giants

Many of you may recall the recent *ahem* disagreement between certain high profile chefs and nutrition experts over the marketing of ‘liquid breakfast supplements’ as a healthy alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast.

It could certainly be easy to think that these food products have been created with the best interests of those who consume them in mind – especially considering that  Kelloggs is marketing their products in particular, directly at parents who are short on time and need a fast solution. Kelloggs marketing director John Broom is quoted in FoodMagazine saying “The new breakfast drinks are made with 90 percent low fat milk are low GI and contain around 10 percent sugar. They also score green on the Schools Canteens approval rating system, which indicates the drinks are among the best commercial products available for young children”. Sounds good right?

It’s true – they are BUT – and there is a big but – does this mean they are healthy and that it is perfectly OK for your child to consume these on a daily basis?

My question is How does a highly refined product such as this, without a skerrik of whole food (other than sugar) as an ingredient – even get onto the Green rating in the school canteens approval rating system?

Lets take a look at the ingredients?

cocopops ingredients

The reason it is allowed under the green category is because it is a low fat milk product – and low fat milk products under 375ml are considered to be in the green category. See below:

Canteen guidelines

However, what is alarming is that plain old full fat milk – the type that was forced upon our parents and grandparents at primary school on a daily basis – falls into the Amber category – Why is this so? Because of the FAT content.

Yes I understand that our current Australian Dietary Guidelines place an emphasis on the consumption of low fat food but in doing this, the green light has been given to food companies to change the composition (read increase the amount of added sugar) of their foods to ensure that the flavours, taste and textures remain unchanged. What alarms me most is that the same serving of full fat milk contains less calories than the example given above.  Remembering that it is consuming more calories than our bodies expend that causes excess weight gain – when food companies are telling us that it is OK too feed this manufactured ‘food’ to our children on a daily basis – it is not surprising that we have an obesity epidemic.  I haven’t even mentioned how the conversion of unnecessary (added) sugar in our diet actually contributes to fat gain metabolically – because others have done it far more eloquently than I. While I am not generally an advocate of Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar tirade I do agree with her on the topic of ‘quitting  added sugar. If you are feeling scientific and would like to watch a video on the topic go and have a look at this talk by Dr Kieron Rooney from the University of Sydney speaking on the topic – it is truly fascinating.

Back to the milk.


You will see that a 250ml serving of Full Cream milk contains 703kj, 12.3g Carbohydrate (which is all Lactose – no added sugar) and 9.5g Fat. In comparison, the product above contains 740kj, 24.3g of Sugar (of which 13.8g is Lactose) and 3.3g of Fat. Yes the full cream milk has more fat, however it also has approximately half the sugar – and none of it is added sugar – assuming you are not lactose intolerant – our bodies can metabolise Lactose very well. So in the flavoured liquid breakfast you get extra sugar  AND extra calories – not to mention extra chemicals in all those stabiliser and enhancer numbers.

I know that I would much rather my children to have plain old full cream milk with half the sugar (and I don’t know about your children but mine go a bit cray cray when they have extra sugar) and a little bit extra fat than the chemical laden liquid breakfast substitute.

We as parent have to wise up to the evil marketing that the big food giants use to appeal to parents and children if we are to win the battle against childhood obesity. If you think – who am I to be able to do something about this? Actually, you can!

Sarah Wilson has teamed up with Kieron Rooney to lobby the NSW government to make changes to the NSW School Canteen guidelines – and they need 10 000 in person signatures to make it happen. If you live in NSW and the food your children have access to in school is something that you feel passionate about then do your best to try and sign this petition. Every little bit of effort from an individual helps.

What else could you do? If you see a food item in your school canteen that you are unhappy with – let your P&C know, have a look at the healthy school canteen strategy (Other states have similar guidelines/strategies) – to back up your lobbying efforts. Many small efforts add up to results and your opinion can make a difference!

As a disclaimer to this post – I am not in any way affiliated with Sarah Wilson or her petition – it is simply a topic that I feel passionate about. Real food is more important than processed food and it is only though people power that we will get any government to take on multinational corporations. Additionally, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 conference last week and saw Dr Kieron Rooney’s key note presentation on this very topic – but it is the type on information that all parents should know – so if it enrages you too – please share!!


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2014 – All About ME!


So I have spent the past 5 years giving every part of myself over to others – to children and family, to work and employers – I have decided that 2014 is going to be all about me – at least for the first 6 months.

I am going to get myself back to a point of fitness and health – two things that I have been severely neglecting for the past few years – the past two in particular. IT is time to change that so that I am back to where I was fitness and health wise by the time 2015 rolls around.

First cab off the rank is losing the excess weight I am carrying right now. 10 kilos to be exact. It doesn’t sound like much right? But go and find something that weighs ten kilos, pick it up and carry it around for a while and you’ll find that it gets pretty heavy after a while. This is something that I have been working on finding the right head space for for some time – most of last year actually. Then I read something somewhere on the internet that said something along the lines of…it’s going to be difficult and challenging at times…get over it now. As soon as I came to terms with this my head space changed and I got going.

So rather than waiting until new years day  and being all cliched – I decided to start on boxing day. So I am now 1 week in.

What have I been eating this week?

After much research (and a year of experimenting) I have decided to set my calorie intake a little higher than the golden number of 1200 calories – Why? The simple answer is because I know that 1200 leaves me cranky, tired and extraordinarily binge prone. When I binge I get negative self talk, when I get negative self talk I give up – ‘it’s all too hard’…’I can’t be this hungry for the next 12 weeks’…’how on earth am I going to get through the next 12 weeks being this hungry’ and so it goes on….bottom line is the extra weight loss that I *might* get from the lower calories is not worth feeling like crap. The more complex answer that goes into the science of the higher calorie choice? That’s for another post!

How have I been active this week?

Given that I have had the week off work due to the Christmas break, I have been  trying very hard to set up some good routines and planning so that being more active can fit into my life on a normal week where there is work and school drop offs to consider. The first thing I did was change to a gym that was more convenient to me – it has a creche and it is close to my work – I can go to the gym in my lunch break if I need to. The second thing I did was exercise everyday between boxing day and new years day – even though for some of those days I could barely walk due to muscle soreness. Here is a summary of the week:

Thurs 26 – 1 hour walk

Fri 27 – Gym (Shoulders, Chest, Tri, Abs) + 30 minutes cardio on treadmill (10 HIIT)

Sat 28 – Parkrun (5km – pb 31.55) + leisurely bike ride

Sun 29 – Gym (Legs, Abs) + cardio

Mon 30 – Road Bike 26km (1 hr 34 min)

Tue 31 – Gym (Back, Biceps, Chest) + 30 min cardio

Wed Jan 1 – easy 3km walk

At the start of the week I weighed 76.2, this morning I weighed 74.7 – so a drop of 1.5kg this week.

I don’t expect that there will be a drop like this every week – I am hoping for more in the vicinity of 0.5 – 0.7 kg per week. At that rate it should take me another 14 – 16 weeks. So you know that there should be at least another 14 – 16 posts here in this space over that time!



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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



What is your favourite sometimes food dinner?


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


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)


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


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


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?


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!



Gourmet Garden Blog off/CooK Off Competition

Gourmet Garden Blog off/Cook off

So I’ve entered this little contest and I’m awaiting my special package of goodies to arrive in the mail. In the mean time I am letting ideas froth to the surface of my brain about what exciting things I can whip up using these gourmet garden herbs.

So keep an eye out next week as I see what magic I can create in my kitchen.

I will have a week of tasty and healthy recipes showing how I use my gourmet garden herbs and spices.

I have a busy week next week too – it all makes me a little nervous. But I do love a good challenge  – especially of the cooking variety!


5 Tips to Help Deal with the Mess of Baby Led Solids

Baby Led weaning

Want some spaghetti? Perhaps some yoghurt?

Baby Led Solids or Baby Led Weaning?

Really they are the same thing but I prefer the term Baby led solids over Baby Led Weaning for the reason that commencing solids is not really an indicator for complete weaning from milk and nor should it be. All babies require milk whether it be Breast Milk or Artificial Baby Milk (Infant Formula) until they are at least 12 months. You may have heard the phrase “Food is Fun before they are One”  – and it is true. Before 12 months, eating is all about learning how to use the mouth and teeth and tongue to manipulate food and figure out what the baby likes and doesn’t like. Many Breastfed babies who are introduced to solids this way will continue to have a strong reliance on Breastmilk for the first three to four months of eating so. The key thing to remember when you are first starting out is that it doesn’t really matter how much goes in initially – it is all about learning for the bub!

I am going to do a series of posts on Baby Led Solids followed by a range of ideas and recipes on how to cook so that your food is baby led solids friendly and fuss free.

I said fuss free – not mess free!

I’m going to start the series by talking about Mess because lets face it – Baby Led Solids is messy! Across the series I will also touch on the safety aspects of Baby Led Solids, Dealing with Eating Out, How to approach Baby Led Solids and more! But for today I’m going to talk about the mess.

How do I deal with the mess?

The pic above of H-Boy when he was a baby is only a glimpse of how messy Baby Led Solids can be. He used to drop things on the floor, rub it in his eyes, run his hands through his hair – anything you could imagine really.

Needless to say we didn’t do bathtime before dinner 🙂

Initially I was a little pedantic and had a plastic mat down on the floor and was wiping his hands every 5 seconds. I gave those away pretty fast and learnt to just go with the flow of it all.

I found that having a good supply of old fashioned terry washers was the best thing to deal with the baby mess. I have around 12 – 15 of them and use one a day. In between meals I give the washer a good rinse out with hot water and leave it on a sunny windowsill to get some UV rays. At the end of the day I toss it in the washing basket.

As for clothes – I also invested in a large stockpile of bibs from The Reject Shop. They aren’t the cutest of bibs but they are big and cover most of the front of the baby. If he was wearing long sleeves I would roll his sleeves up to reduce the mess to a degree.  As H-boy got older I bought a bib that had a scoop in the design that could catch the food that he dropped. I found this to be great with H-boy but it didn’t work so well for baby B – he was more interested in playing with the bib! The smock style bibs like in the picture above are great at keeping the clothes clean but I found the bib itself was difficult to clean.

I guess that depending on the menu you need to be prepared for a certain number of clothing changes. I would tend to feed them breakfast while they were still in their PJ’s, be prepared for a change after lunch and then not have a bath until after dinner.

The floor and the high chair were bigger issues for me than the baby when it came to the mess.

Initially I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I was going to need to sweep and sometimes scrub the floor after every single meal. But I learnt pretty fast that weetbix set like rock when they dry on the floor and are much harder to deal with so it is easier just to leave bub in the high chair while you give the floor under him a quick wipe over. Needless to say having the high chair over tiles or wooden floors makes cleaning up a lot easier. If you had carpet I would suggest buying a large thick plastic sheet to put under the table. It is truly amazing the distance that babies can make some of that food travel!

If you are planning on taking the baby led solids route then ensure that you choose a high chair that is easy to wipe down. No fabric and minimal nooks and crannies is ideal because they really do take a beating in terms of food debris. I would normally wipe down the high chair with cleaning spray and a cloth after each meal. Occasionally I needed to take the whole tray off and wash it with soapy water – this was usually after we had food that had a tomato based sauce.

There is something amazing in the fact that you can’t get the red pasta sauce colour out of the high chair tray when you wash it in soapy water and yet when you come out the next morning it is bright and white again. We have a high chair with woven straps and these can get quite grubby. I give them a wipe down each day and every few weeks I chuck them in the dishwasher for a thorough clean.

Don’t be put off by the mess!

Baby Led Solids is fun for both you and the baby so don’t be put off by the thought of the mess. It is so tactile and a lovely sensory experience for the baby that the mess is entirely worth it. Just remember:

  • Schedule bath time for after dinner
  • Use terry washers to clean up the baby
  • Choose bibs that cover a large portion of the baby’s clothing
  • Choose a basic highchair with nowhere for the food to hide that is easy to clean
  • Get used to the idea of cleaning up straight after the meal is finished

and remember – getting messy is half the fun!



::Daily Meditation:: Practice mindfulness when you are doing a mundane task like the washing up or the ironing.