Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


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Christmas time…


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide  carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos… this is my vision of Christmas, growing up I loved to listen to Nat King Cole sing this song on our record player… we always had Christmas with family ate a huge roast turkey dinner, with Brussels sprouts (which I hated by the way… what was I thinking), drank snowballs, a treat as it contained a little alcohol… shhh don’t tell anyone, and opened presents all day long, or at least that is what it felt like back then.

 Now I’m an adult I love the tradition of Christmas but I also love to be different, a few years ago we took our family to Florida and California for Christmas, oh how magical it was… there is nothing like Christmas Day in Disneyland, Christmas music blasting out everywhere you go, decorations like you can only imagine and children running around in pure delight… I haven’t mentioned the torrential rain, the sea of ponchos and the crowds, because I didn’t see any of that… it was pure magic in my eyes and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Boxing Day was much slower, sunshine, swimming and drinking cocktails in an adirondack chair in Downtown Disney with Silver Bells being sang away in the distance… my brother could never quite see the vision of a Christmas not spent at home, but to me Christmas is exactly what you make it whether at home or away… I’m hoping his Christmas cruise this year will let him see my vision of A magical Christmas no matter where you are.


Santa Monica Pier, CA … Christmas 2005


Disneyland, Anaheim CA… Christmas Day 2005

This year was much more traditional for us… a few years ago we decided that we would put names of all the older members of our family in a jar, this included Paul and I, my Mum and Dad too this year… each person only bought for the name that came out of the jar, and we set a budget to spend too, this didn’t include Blu, Mabel and of course Florrie and Tate, they still got presents from everyone.  It gets harder and harder each year to think of presents for everyone, we all buy everything we need all year, life is so much more different from when I was growing up, we all have phones, laptops, clothes, toys that we just buy all year, so how do we make it special for that person we are buying gifts for… well the name in the jar gives you the opportunity to really think about that person, I must admit I was not very good this year but Jordan who pulled ‘Mom’ out of the jar really thought about what I might like, we had a little Antique shopping afternoon, he walked silently with me and just observed all the things I touched and loved… I was so delighted with his gifts he really put thought into each one… Kit Kats and mini Twix bars, because he knows they are my favorite, natural face wipes and Lush complexion soap, all natural just the way I like it, then my favorite and Florries too an old typewriter, taking me straight back to my childhood… he then gave me a card with money in it, just in case I didn’t like anything… well guess what Jord, your gift was so thoughtful, I love it… thank you ❤️

I am not usually a fan of going to the shops on Christmas Day, those poor people that have to work instead of being home with their families, but I was naughty this year, I’ve been running around so much organizing the day an hour in Starbucks with just my Mum seemed the perfect way to wind down before the festivities began, so that is exactly what we did…

Of course I can’t be too traditional, so I added a spin on the food… with our Thanksgiving feast just a few weeks ago I decided to change things up for Christmas… an Aussie style BBQ for breakfast, eggs, sauasages and warm bread, of course there was some smoked salmon too, then later in the day we had a gigantic charcuterie board, baked ham and fresh cooked dill butter salmon, cheesecake, mince pies and lots of chocolate… all of my favorite things… and as it turned out everyone else’s too!


After presents were opened, food was eaten we drank the best mulled wine I have ever had, made by Jord courtesy of Jamie Oliver and everything was cleared away, we opened the game Dom had bought us all… there is nothing like a good game of Cranium to inspire the creativity in you, or not in my case… we drew, acted, thought a little and drank more alcohol, ate more chocolate but mostly we just spent time with each other… peace, love ❤️ and happiness.

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Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.


I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.


I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 


I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!


Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

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Simplifying life…

When you are a mother of a large family you get to a point in life when it is time to simplify your chaotic crazy life.  The first step for me to do this was treating myself to the Romba vacuum, oh how I love this addition to the house, the Romba works hard, she never complains and always completes the task she has been given in good time, unlike some other members of our house, not to mention any names… Wink wink!

The next task in hand is a major de clutter of every room, over the years I have been known to collect and hoard unnecessary junk, you never know you may need it some day, but to make life simpler and easier I think that junk all around needs to go, simplifying everyday tasks and giving me more time to enjoy life.

The next thing I thought about was grocery shopping, it’s not a task I relish each week, but it is a necessity.  I am becoming more and more a natural, organic freak, if it’s not organic or gluten free it quite often doesn’t make my shopping cart, with this in mind I have decided to revisit online shopping, something I frequently did when we lived in the UK, Waitrose was my favorite delivery service giving me good quality products and great service, so I would like to replicate this over here, unfortunately due to our location I am restricted to two shops and there delivery options, not overly impressed I have decided to use a new service  Thrive Market in conjunction with an organic fruit and vegetable delivery.  I try to buy as much organic meat as I can, I have mentioned trying to use a local farm for my meat, but most of them are closed at the moment, so I will continue using Costco for now, they have some good quality organic meats and some nice nitrate free, gluten free sausages and bacon.  Hopefully shopping online will free up some much needed quality time for us.

Due to health issues in our house, gluten free is a diet we are adopting in the main, it’s been difficult finding recipes that live up to there claims and photos of being beautiful baked goods, so here is my recipe for a huge family favorite in our house… Gluten free skillet brownies

Ingredients 

A large skillet with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil coated on the bottom

1 cup of melted coconut oil or butter

2 cups of organic sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice, I’ve used Blu agave before and coconut sugar

4 organic large eggs

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chunks 
Add sugar and eggs to melted coconut oil and beat til completely combined.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chunks, stir until just combined, fold in the chocolate chunks until they are enemy distributed then pour into the oiled skillet, place in a pre-heated 350f oven and bake for 20-25 minutes… Take out of the oven and enjoy warm and sticky perfect gluten free brownies. 

  

Uncategorized

Simplifying life…

When you are a mother of a large family you get to a point in life when it is time to simplify your chaotic crazy life.  The first step for me to do this was treating myself to the Romba vacuum, oh how I love this addition to the house, the Romba works hard, she never complains and always completes the task she has been given in good time, unlike some other members of our house, not to mention any names… Wink wink!

The next task in hand is a major de clutter of every room, over the years I have been known to collect and hoard unnecessary junk, you never know you may need it some day, but to make life simpler and easier I think that junk all around needs to go, simplifying everyday tasks and giving me more time to enjoy life.

The next thing I thought about was grocery shopping, it’s not a task I relish each week, but it is a necessity.  I am becoming more and more a natural, organic freak, if it’s not organic or gluten free it quite often doesn’t make my shopping cart, with this in mind I have decided to revisit online shopping, something I frequently did when we lived in the UK, Waitrose was my favorite delivery service giving me good quality products and great service, so I would like to replicate this over here, unfortunately due to our location I am restricted to two shops and there delivery options, not overly impressed I have decided to use a new service  Thrive Market in conjunction with an organic fruit and vegetable delivery.  I try to buy as much organic meat as I can, I have mentioned trying to use a local farm for my meat, but most of them are closed at the moment, so I will continue using Costco for now, they have some good quality organic meats and some nice nitrate free, gluten free sausages and bacon.  Hopefully shopping online will free up some much needed quality time for us.

Due to health issues in our house, gluten free is a diet we are adopting in the main, it’s been difficult finding recipes that live up to there claims and photos of being beautiful baked goods, so here is my recipe for a huge family favorite in our house… Gluten free skillet brownies

Ingredients 

A large skillet with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil coated on the bottom

1 cup of melted coconut oil or butter

2 cups of organic sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice, I’ve used Blu agave before and coconut sugar

4 organic large eggs

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chunks 
Add sugar and eggs to melted coconut oil and beat til completely combined.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chunks, stir until just combined, fold in the chocolate chunks until they are enemy distributed then pour into the oiled skillet, place in a pre-heated 350f oven and bake for 20-25 minutes… Take out of the oven and enjoy warm and sticky perfect gluten free brownies. 

  

Diet and nutrition

Change can be a good thing…

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I always find starting a new way of eating difficult, but this time I’m thinking slowly but surely wins the race! Both Paul and I need to lose some weight, my see chocolate and eat it post pregnancy diet, hasn’t helped me to off load the pounds, so it’s time to get to it!

Now I’m not saying I want to be totally Paleo, I was thinking I would just incorporate this way of eating into a healthy regime… It would be difficult for me to fully incorporate the cave man diet into my eating plan as I’m not a huge fan of meat, but I do love fish! I’m trying to plan recipes that can be adapted for everyone else in the house, so it’s no easy feat! 

The first thing I need to do is educate myself to reach for fruit instead of chocolate, and then Paul really needs some work, he will always reach for chips instead of anything, it really is baby steps for both of us!  

 

I like the idea of the Paleo diet, but I don’t want to be totally tied to it, it would be difficult to totally commit, so I’m using it as a guide line.  I suffer with IBS,  but I’ve been noticing a few things recently, like the fact that I can’t eat a lot of wheat based products, brown wheat bread gives me horrible cramps for hours, eating lighter healthier meals means I do not feel so bloated all the time… It’s all an experiment but my stomach has been feeling a lot better as I’m taking note of the things that hurt and the things that don’t! 

I’ve also reduced my main dairy intake too, the dairy aspect of my life has been replaced by coconut milk products, it’s been made a lot easier of course by Starbucks introducing coconut milk on to their menu… Phew, that was a close one, I almost had to give it up!

Paul also has some stomach issues, we are starting to help him by eliminating certain things from his diet, the first one is gluten, I’ve tried to research some of his problems and a lot looks like it could be linked to gluten, I’m no doctor but a diet change could help, I’m a great believer that diet is very important to almost all ailments , and the digestive system problems just scream change what you are eating!  For years now food companies have added all sorts of nasty things to our foods, we have been oblivious, these kinds of additives must have had some knock on effects to our bodies, it’s time to try and correct these bad things and replace them with good things! So far we are enjoying the gluten free bread, the grain free chocolate cookies tasted good but the  gluten free beer was not a success… Two out of three is not too bad a result!

  
Of course a little cheating here and there is a good thing… So here was ours on Sunday afternoon!

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Naturally delicious…

Is it just me or has this world become just a little bit crazier than when we were children? It’s getting back to our roots that is important… Do we really need all the convenience of modern living… I think not in many cases!

Don’t get me wrong there are many modern conveniences I could not live without… the internet, what would we do without that these days, my trusty Kitchen-aid mixer, a must have in my kitchen and air conditioning, on those hot, hot humid days when you need to just cool off, but the convenience of pre packed food is fast becoming a nightmare, why oh why do companies feel it is perfectly ok to fill our food with chemicals and dyes! What happened to good old fashioned healthy food products? Farmed salmon is full of horrible dyes and chemicals, simple products like a loaf of bread has potential cancer producing chemicals added, canola oil is advertised as a healthy oil… Well guess what? it really is not, I try to avoid this oil at all costs, I always like to use an oil that is actually derived from a plant not something that is man made… It’s all a horrible maze that has become very scarey!

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In our house I have stepped up home baking, Bread making, muffins, cookies and my ultimate favorite, Brownies all get baked and disappear as fast as they come out of the oven.
My favorite recipes…
chocolate chip muffins
This is my go to muffin recipe, I adjust it to the muffins I want to make, strawberry, apple, coconut… The options are endless!
brownies
This is my ultimate brownie recipe… To this I add whatever I feel like I fancy, a caramel swirl topping, chunks of chocolate and crispy salt… Or just as they come… Delicious!
the Pioneer Woman’s brown sugar oatmeal cookies
I recently found this recipe… Now my favorite cookie recipe ever!
Ina Garten’s shortbread cookies
With or without the chocolate these cookies are oh so good, they don’t usually make it into the tin in our house!

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I want to thank another Mom of a large family of 7 children for my new found love of easy bread baking, I do not personally know her but I follow her on Instagram and she has her own blog that I have been using for my bread recipes… A Farmhouse full … She has made me realize how easy bread making really is, especially with my Kitchen Aid mixer! Her pizza dough recipe is not only easy but delicious too!

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With Fall just around the corner, the long summer days are now numbered, I really need to get back to menu planning too, these days I seem to buy less and less pre-packaged foods and when I do just for convenience I try to buy the more natural options when I can! Yesterday I planned my menu for the week and shopped too, so here is what we are having for dinner this week, bare in mind I have two Birthdays next week, so Mabel has asked for a Pioneer Woman’s Pasta bar and Blu can’t decide between steak or ribs on the grill…

Flatbread sandwiches … This turned into chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Homemade pizzas
Pasta bar and grilled lemon chicken
Ribs… Garlic bread sticks and wedges (or steak)
Polenta brats and salad
Cous cous chicken salad
Left overs

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Whatever you are cooking this week… Have fun!