A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Holiday Hapennings

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Now that the christmas period is over and we are getting back into the swing of the daily happenings of life I thought that I should come back to giving this space more attention. The garden is overflowing with produce, not completely providing us with everything we need but doing a fine job of supplementing our fresh (organic!) vegetable intake. There is art and craft happening on a daily basis and we are enjoying the outdoors during this not too hot high summer.

I haven’t made any formal resolutions for 2015 but over the past few weeks I have definitely had some goals beginning to formulate in my mind about the direction I want 2015 to take for our family. Rhythm and health need to be the main focus as we have one boy heading into grade one and one boy heading into preschool. Healthy living with less (less than we already do) reliance on processed and packaged foods in our diets. Fortifying our mental health with more crafting and time spent doing introspective artistic pursuits. Reading…novels and more intellectual tomes, and Rhythm, instilling that daily ebb and flow that helps us all to be more calm and get everything done that we need to do.

So in light of that the goals that I have set for myself include the following:

  • Read 12 books in 2015 – one per month
  • Sew (or knit) – 12 garments in 2015 – one per month
  • Try one new whole foods based recipe each week – and share it in this space!
  • Take a weekend getaway – or two – this year (We already have one planned for March!!!)
  • Learn form our work in the garden over the past year and implement these learnings so our organic produce is even better in 2015 – I’ll write about this more over the next week or so.
  • Focus on the sentiment that we have everything we need to live this life – we do not need to spend money on unnecessary wants and desires – just the things we need. (This is a hard one for me but something I need to work on!)

And thats it!! If I achieve all of these things then 2015 will have been an awesome year!

These too are the things that I will be focused on writing about this year, I really hope that anyone who does read my blog continues to do so and that I might even see some new readers hop on bard this year!!

Happy 2015!

xxAndj


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How does my Garden Grow November 3 – 16

Garden progress

Ii has been a few weeks since I have posted any garden pictures – I have been absolutely flat out with work and during those times the blog has to take second place. The garden however still gets the normal level of attention. It is my therapy to be able to go outside when I get home from work and check the progress of all my little plants. These photos are actually about  2 – 3 weeks old – the garden looks very different now. I will take some pictures this weekend.

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Tomatos and Capsicum

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Zucchini and Eggplants

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Kipfler potatos at the front and a larger variety at the back

This is the first time in a while that I have grown potato’s. When we first moved in there were lots of potato’s in the garden beds but then we renovated and all those beds had a house built over them. I will be interested to see how they go in this spot. I have buried them about 10 – 15 centimeters deep and then hilled up around the stem of the plant about 20 cm.

I didn’t have good luck with the tomato’s last year so I am hoping that this year they will be a bit better. I have done a few things differently with the tomato’s also. Enriched the holes they were planted into and had them started in pots early in spring.

Zuccini’s usually go alright here but I haven’t grown eggplant in about 5 years. Mainly because we didn’t really eat eggplant but I figure it might be nice to have some variety. I have planted Lebanese eggplants here and have a different variety growing from seed on the windowsill.

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The other thing I have done differently this year is planted some companion flowers and let some of the Coriander and Parsley go to seed – just to invite some more critters into to help with pollination.

It will be interesting to see what the result is of all these variations.

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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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.

milknutr

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!!

Andjxx


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How does my Garden Grow? October 13th – 19th

homegrown peas

The Garden is making me so Happy right now!

I know that the beginning of spring is usually a time when people feel a bit despondent about the produce (or lack there of) that is coming from the garden but as this is the first time in 3 years that I have had a productive vegetable garden, it is making my heart sing.

homegrown produce

 

I brought in the last of the Broccolli this week – a crop which I planted with no expectations of actually eating anything from the planting – purely just to fill a gap in the garden over winter. The peas are being extra abundant this year – and the chickens are still warming up to the fact that it is spring. We getting 3 – 4 eggs every two days at the moment.

The greens garden is now empty of Kale – which all went to seed at the first hint of heat – and was fed to the chickens, but the spinach is still going very well and I am enjoying it in my green smoothies.

spinach

I planted Calendula all through the veggie garden – both for a touch of colour and to attract some beneficial insects to the garden. They are just starting to flower now and while I should be collecting the flowers to save the petals for Calendula Salve (For Little B’s eczema) – I am just enjoying the flowers right now.

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I have been very organised this year and have created a fenced area for the veggie garden – just in case those pesky chickens escape – at least they won’t be able to get in to the main veggie beds. I am planting my pumpkin plants into compost at the far end of the picture also. The cabbages at the top of the picture have been totally eaten by cabbage moth caterpillars and have also gone to seed – so they will be being pulled out soon and replaced with something else – not 100% sure what yet.

seedlings

Last but not least are the babies – waiting patiently to be put into the garden one the chances of frost have passed. I planted a few tomato plants into big pots to allow them to grow big prior to planting out this year and it has been a successful strategy so far. The plants are doing really well. In there I also have some Chilli, Capsicums, and eggplant. I may end up keeping one or two eggplant in a pot – just to see how they go. I have a few varieties of Tomato planned this year. I will save that for a future post.

How is your garden growing this spring? Trying your hand at something new?

Andjxx

 


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and so I bought a Dehydrator…

Aldi Dehydrator

I have been waiting and waiting for Aldi to stock these Lumina Dehydrators again so that I could justify buying one – just to have a go and see if I like the result. So last week when I saw these in the Aldi catalogue, I put it in my diary so that I didn’t forget to go and grab one.

So far I have only used it a couple of times and having absolutely no experience whatsoever with food dehydrating – I had no expectations of what it should perform like.

My low expectations aside – I think that if you want a basic dehydrator for dried fruit and nuts that you make yourself – then this is  probably a very good option – at least until you out grow it and need something bigger and more comprehensive – by which time, I dare say you could probably justify spending more money on an expensive dehydrator.

On  the first day I bought a punnet of Cherry Tomatos and I had some strawberries in the fridge and I thought that I would just give it a go. I put them in at 70 degrees and the strawberries were done at about the 7 hour point and the tomato’s ‘semi-dried’ by the 10 hour point. The strawberries were great – like tasty little lolly treats. The tomatos were a bit tart – and I have since discovered that certain varieties of tomato make for a better ‘sun-dried’ affect than others.

On Saturday I put in some pineapple, banana, apple and kiwi fruit. The apple, kiwi and banana were all dried enough for our liking at the 10 hour point, the pineapple had an extra 4 hours the next day and probably needed longer – however, the little ones wanted to eat it so it didn’t really matter.

Dehydrated pineapple

The key is to choose good tasting fruit to start with – as if the fruit is sour then this is only intensified. The kiwi fruit tasted a little bit like sour lollies. The pineapple and banana were divine and the apple tasted like – well – dried apple.

I look forward to doing some more experimenting with it and to being able to use it to preserve any excess that we might have rather than it going to waste or simply to have another preservation option available. It is definitely a good feeling to be able to put these things into the school lunch box knowing that it is just fruit and nothing else.

On the downside, I had to say goodbye to my bread machine as a trade off to getting the dehydrator. It went to a good home though and will see many more loaves yet I am sure.

Andjxx

 

 


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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?