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!!



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?


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: Greek Lamb Wraps

This little creation came together beautifully – again using the Gourmet Garden Herbs – I have so much left I need to use them up! LOL.

Beautifully simple and Baby Led Solids friendly, it is an easy Saturday night meal with minimal fuss.

Gourmet Garden Herbs

Greek Lamb Wraps

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Children Preparation time 25 mins Cooking time 20 mins

500g Lamb mince (lean)

1 small onion – diced

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 egg – lightly beaten

1 Tsp Gourmet Garden Minced Garlic

1 Tsp Ground Cumin

1 Tblsp Lemon Juice + 1 Tblsp fined grated lemon zest

1 Tblsp Chopped Mint (Fresh or Gourmet Garden)

1 Tblsp Gourmet Garden Coriander

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato, Feta, Kalamata Olives to serve; Greek Yoghurt to serve

Tortilla or Wraps to serve – the ones I used were a wholewheat Barley blend and they were delish!


Prepare the Meatballs ahead of time. I did mine about 2 hours before I needed to cook them but you could do it the night before if you needed to.

Mix together the Lamb, Onion, Egg, Breadcrumbs, Coriander, Garlic, Cumin, Lemon and Mint in a bowl. Take tablespoon amounts of mixture and roll into balls. Place these on a plate and put them into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

Chop up all of your salad ingredients and place on a serving plate.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Spray a pan with oil and cook the meatballs over a gentle heat, being careful not to burn. Cook until browned and then place onto a baking tray. Place the meatballs in the oven to cook through for around 10 minutes.

Lamb Meatballs

Serve with the salad in a wrap drizzled with Greek yoghurt. Yum!

Hope that you are all having a lovely weekend!



Gourmet Garden: Fast Friday Fettuccine

Friday nights are our ‘fast food’ night – but ‘fast food doesn’t always have to mean takeaway! By Friday I find I am just entirely over cooking and washing up!   It is day 4 of the Gourmet Garden Blog Off and having herbs in the fridge on a day like today is very handy!

I grabbed a cooked chicken today so I could add it to some creamy sauce and fettucine and dinner would be done in minutes!

Gourmet Garden Blog Off

Creamy Chicken Fettuccine with Broccoli and Peas

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Children  Prep and Cook time 20 mins

1 Chicken breast from a pre-cooked store bought chicken – skin removed and separated into pieces

1 Leek – white part sliced thinly

1 Head of Broccoli cut into florets

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 tblsp honey wholegrain mustard

1 tsp Gourmet Garden  Garlic

1 tsp Gourmet Garden Thyme

300ml Light pouring cream

Fettuccine enough for 4 (I use the one that comes in the polystyrene tray and just use the whole lot)


Heat some olive oil in a pan and cook the leek until it has softened. Add the Garlic and stir through. Add the mustard and stir through. Add the cream and Thyme and put on a low simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile lightly steam the broccoli. Once this has been cooked lightly add this to the cream mix. Also add the chicken pieces and frozen peas. Turn the heat right down and leave to simmer on the stove while the pasta cooks.

Gourmet GArden Blog Off

Place the pasta in boiling water and cook until al dente.


Drain the pasta and then place in a bowl big enough to toss through the sauce. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat with a set of tongs.

Serve immediately!

Look – there is even evidence that the 3 year CAN eat dinner!!

3 year olds do eat!

3 year old eats his dinner!

xx Andj


Gourmet Garden: Tomato Basil and Bacon Tri-Colour Pasta

Night two for the Gourmet Garden Blog Off !

Tonight’s offering is a simple yet tasty pasta dish with just a smattering of hidden vegetables. This dish – as you will see is also baby friendly!

In this Tomato, Basil and Bacon Tri Colour Pasta I have used  the Gourmet Garden Basil and Garlic. I have added some *hidden* vegetables to get some veggies into those tiny tummies. We have a daily dinnertime fight with the 3 year old about eating dinner at all – but pasta usually isn’t a problem – so if he eats the Vege without even knowing – that’s a bonus!

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Competition

Tomato, Basil and Bacon Tri Colour Pasta

serves 4 – 6 Cooking time approx 40 mins Preparation Time Approx 20 mins


Spray Oil

5 – 6 Rashers of Short Cut Bacon ( I like to use short cut bacon to keep the fat content down)

2 Tsp Gourmet Garden Garlic

3 Tblsp Gourmet Garden Basil

1 700g Jar Passata

1 Tin Crushed Tomato

1 Onion – Diced

1 medium Carrot – grated with a small grater

1 medium Zucchini – grated with a small grater

1/2 cup steamed and blended Cauliflower. (Optional)


Place the diced bacon in a frypan spayed with oil to brown and crisp slightly – then remove from pan and set aside once cooked.

Place the chopped onion in the frypan and cook gently for about 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Add the Gourmet Garden Garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the Tomato and Passata, Carrot, Zucchini and Cauliflower (If you are using it) to the pan. Season with salt and Pepper to taste and add the Basil. Stir through the turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. Add the bacon back into the pan when there is around 10 minutes to go.

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Competition

I used a tri colour pasta for this dish because it appeals to my children – however and large pasta such as Rigatoni or Penne would work just as well.  Put the pasta onto boil after you have added the bacon into the sauce and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta.

Place a serve of pasta in a bowl and pour a good dollop of sauce over the top – serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Competition

This dish was thoroughly enjoyed by the smallest member of our house – he just loves anything he can get into with his hands. The chunky pasta pieces are the perfect size for grabbing. Perfect Baby Led Solids food!

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Competition


Toddler Treats: Date and Almond Balls

Date and Almond Balls

My boys just love Dates – given the chance they would most likely eat an entire packet between the three of them (I am including Mr HKHM in boys for this post). Given they are a healthy snack, but full of natural sugar – and lets face it – sugar is sugar once it is broken down in the bloodstream! (Dates are high in Fructose – or Fruit Sugar) – a limited intake is preferable for little ones who just don’t need that amount of sugar in their diets. They are however a nice sweet treat alternative to lollies (as is Dried Mango for Adults……mmmnnnn Dried Mango).

These sweet little morsels are not something I make regularly, but for some reason the boys will consume far less of these than they will of the dates themselves – so they work in a way to reduce consumption!

Date and Almond Balls

Gluten free, Dairy free

makes about 18

2.5- 3 cups chopped Dates

2/3 Cup of blanched almonds – I used Slivered almonds

1 tblsp Honey

Finely grated orange zest from 1 orange

good sprinkle of mixed spice

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

Place the chopped dates and almonds in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the honey, orange zest and mixed spice and process until the mixture has a paste like consistency. Take tablespoon sized amounts of the mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the coconut to coat.

H-Boy loved helping to make these as I gave him the special job of rolling the balls in the coconut.



My first green smoothie.

In the words of the 3 year old. “What is that Mama?”

“It’s a green smoothie”

“Can I have some”….’Sure’

…. (waiting for a response)

“It’s very yummy….I like it. I like your green smoothie.”

What I put in:

3handfuls baby spinach

1 stick celery (Chopped)

1 Apple – skin removed and chopped

1 frozen banana

2 frozen mango cheeks

1 cup Water

This made enough for 2 serves – I put some in a jar for tomorrow.  It really was very good!



::Daily Meditation:: Keep those who have fought for you in war or in peace in your thoughts