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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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.




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There’s something about Yoga…

Darwin Sunset

that just takes a hold and wont let go.  I have just spent only 10 minutes doing some very gentle yoga – with no intention at all other than to stretch.

I had spent the previous 2 hours doing some long overdue deep cleaning of bathrooms and floors  – and with the smell of fresh bleach in my head I took 10 minutes out for myself.

I don’t generally have a daily personal practice of yoga. I would really love to be one of those people who can wake up and get to business of a daily home practice but alas I usually get jumped on by a small child – kind of ruins the serenity.

Afterward I felt calm and at peace. There is a gentle warmth in my heart and a palpable  calm energy flowing through me. This is something new to me – perhaps I spend so much time trying and thinking my way through my Yoga sessions that I fail to notice the subtle changes in how I am feeling. Perhaps this is a way to renew my energy, to settle and feel more calm at the end of a long day.

Just ten minutes before I get myself ready for bed – to declutter the strain of my day away. To reset.

This week I am going to center all of my posts around how I envelope the principles of Yoga into my lifestyle wherever I can – I also have a special guest post on doing Yoga with Children.

I hope you can join me!

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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?


Juggling too many balls

I am just plain exhausted right now and I really feel as though I have too many balls in the air at the moment. I never seem to have a spare minute let alone a minute to myself. If I sit down to have a minute off I feel as though I should be doing something else entirely.

I have to get rid of some of these balls but I just don’t know how – there is one in particular that I’m not sure where to go with.

It is weighing quite heavily on my mind right now – when really all I want to do is sleep.

I get like this occasionally – this is why I need this blog to keep reminding me to find things and ways of being happy. If I keep going along this track I’m not going to be a happy mama for much longer.



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: Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Baby Bocconcini Stuffed Chicken and Garlic Mash

Wow – thats a bit of a mouthful – But it’s a tasty mouthful!! This is my third creation for the Gourmet Garden Blog Off Promotion. This is my favourite to date. It was a very grown up meal – so much so that I didn’t actually make any for the children. I gave them a box of vegetables to play with instead!

Aussie Farmers Direct, Gourmet Garden

You want me to eat what?

While we enjoyed this:

Gourmet Garden

Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Baby Bocconcini Stuffed Chicken and Garlic Mash

Serves 2             Preparation 20 mins Cooking 30 mins

2 Chicken Breast Fillets

2 – 3 Tblsp Gourmet Garden Basil

1 Tblsp Gourmet Garden Garlic

8 – 9  Sundried tomato halves in oil

3 – 4 Baby Bocconcini

3 Medium Potato’s

Milk to mash potatos (2 – 3 Tblsp), Butter to flavour (1 tsp)

Green Beans to serve

Spray Oil


Preheat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the sundried tomato’s and the basil and leave to marinate while preparing the other ingredients.

Chop the Bocconcini into small pieces (I cut rounds).

Take the chicken Breast fillets and remove the tenderloin neatly from the breast (the long thin part of the chicken breast that sometimes comes away). Taking a small sharp knife, cut a ‘pocket’ into the long side of the chicken breast. Repeat for the other piece of chicken.

Take the tomato and basil mix and using your fingers, push about 4 tomato pieces into each chicken pocket. Repeat with the Bocconi. Be careful not to overfill. It should look like this:

Peel and Chop Potato and Put a pot of water on to boil.

Spray an oven proof fry pan with oil and heat to medium high. Using tongs, carefully place the chicken into the pan to brown on both sides. When it comes time to turn the chicken to brown the other side, do so very carefully so as to not spill the stuffing. We aren’t really trying to cook the chicken at this point, just browning the flesh on both sides. Once this is done, place the whole pan in to the oven and cook for around 20 – 30 mins. (If you don’t have an oven proof fry pan you could transfer the chicken breasts to a tray carefully)

Meanwhile, boil the Potato until a fork can be easily pushed in and out of the potato without any resistance. Drain the potato and mash with the milk, Garlic and Butter.

Blanch the green beans in boiling water until bright green – around 2 mins.

Serve the Chicken on the bed of Garlic Mash with the green beans on the side.

Eat your tasty dinner with your lovely partner and tell your kids they can’t have any. Sure fire way to get them to eat the leftover Mash and Beans. Hehe.

What to do after dinner…

Go to pinterest and search after dinner treats and come up with this tasty recipe for Rasberry Coconut Muffins. Wait till the kids have gone to bed, cook said muffins and enjoy the peace!



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

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Gourmet Garden: Chinese Five Spice Noodle Soup

Welcome to Day 1 of my recipe contribution to the Gourmet Garden Blog Off/Cook Off Competition.

The Herbs arrived safely last week via Courier in these cute little cooler bags packed with ice – protecting the goodness inside. I received Basil, Coriander, Chilli, Garlic, Thyme, and Thai  Seasoning  in my package.

Over this week I will use all of them in a variety of recipes that all focus on putting a wide variety of veggies into our meals.

I really hope that you try the recipes yourself and see what you think!

This soup is one of my favourite Winter warmers – you can use whatever veggies you have in the fridge and once you have cut them up it takes about 15 minutes before you have tasty steaming hot soup on the table!

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Competition Gournet Garden Blog Off Cook Off

Chinese Chicken Five Spice Soup

Serves 4 – 6      Preparation time 15 min  Cooking time 10 mins. *Gluten Free* *Dairy Free*

1 Chicken Breast (around 300g) Chopped into bite sized pieces

1 Tablespoon Rice Bran Oil or any lightly flavoured oil

1 Tablespoon Gourmet Garden Minced Garlic

1/2 Tablespoon Gourmet Garden Chilli

1 Tablespoon Gourmet Garden Thai Seasoning

1 L Salt reduced Chicken Stock

1 cup Water

Any combination of the following vegetables cut into julienne slices – Carrot, Cabbage (Purple Cabbage looks great!), Capsicum, Shallots, Zucchini, Bok Choy – or any others you think you might like – Snow Peas are good too!

1 Tablespoon Light Soy Sauce

1/2 Tablespoon Fish sauce

2  Shakes of Chinese Five Spice Blend.

Bean Shoots for crunch and Fresh Coriander to garnish

Dried Egg Noodles or Thick rice noodles (For GF/DF)

Gourmet Garden Blog Off Cook Off Entry 1


Prepare the vegetables by chopping them into Julienne slices. Prepare the Chicken Breast by Chopping into bite size pieces. Prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions.

Put oil into a wok or large saucepan to heat through. Place Minced Garlic, Chilli and Thai Seasoning into the Wok and gook gently until fragrant. Add the stock and water and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down a little and add the chicken – once you add the chicken you want to cook it for just the right amount of time so that the chicken is nice and tender. Add the Soy sauce and Fish sauce, and the julienne vegetables. Allow to cook on a slow boil for around 2 minutes.

Drain the noodles and add to the pot. Cook for another minute or two.

Shake the Chinese Five spice into the Wok and give the whole soup a stir.

Serve the soup into bowls and sprinkle bean shoots and Coriander over the top.

Serve while steamy!

Chinese Five Spice Soup

Chinese Five Spice Soup