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We are what we eat…

Getting older sucks… I have gained weight and I haven’t changed the way I eat, your metabolism slows down and the middle age spread begins… are you kidding me? Really?

Ok, so I admit I really do need to excercise more, but I’m a busy Mom of 8 children, I include my older ones too, from first thing in the morning until I sit down with that much needed glass of wine I’m on my feet rushing from here to there, but according to my OBGYN that’s not the type of excercise that is going to burn off those calories at my ripe old age, well he didn’t mention the ripe old part, I’ve just added it in so you get the picture… he says I need at least a 20 minute cardio routine per day that will get my heart racing, so even my gentle morning yoga routine does not fit the bill for getting my heart racing I’m afraid. Food is also important and consistency, 4-6 healthy small meals a day, well the small portions are not a problem for me as I’ve never eaten large meals, but 4-6 is a huge problem, I can go hours and sometimes forget to eat… ok so here we go, new me, I am determined to beat this middle age spread.

I love healthy foods, I love salads, I love soups, I love fish, I love veggies, I even love radishes too, so how hard can this be? 4 to 6 small portion meals/snacks a day together with a low impact cardio workout, just to start me off and some yoga to keep my joints supple. The hardest part of a carefully thought through menu plan is the prepping, to have a healthy menu for Paul to go to work with is the planning a prepping the day before… this week we are keeping it simple and doing a ‘let’s see what we can make with what we have in’ using up supplies in our refrigerator, freezer and pantry… so next week we can start a fresh in an organized way… does anyone else do this once a month, to clear out the old ready for the new?

Let’s start with Breakfasts that I can easily prepare in advance… healthy banana, oats and honey waffles, perfectly preprepared and easily transported if you have to go out…

Serves 2
One cup of gluten free oats
I cup of dairy free milk, almond or coconut (if using coconut I suggest 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water)
1 egg
1/2 a banana
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon of extra virgin oil

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 1 minute… add 1/4 cup of the batter to a lightly oiled waffle maker and let it cook for 2-3 minute.
Serve with fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt or for a dairy free option a tablespoon of almond butter 😋

My next easy to prepare breakfast is raspberry, coconut chia pudding…

Serves 2
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of raw honey
2 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Take the first three ingredients place them in a blender and let them blend for 45 seconds, divide the blended fruit milk into two mason jars then add 2 1/4 tablespoons of chia seeds, place the lid onto the jar and shake to mix the chia seeds, place in the refrigerator over night… top with a few raspberries and a tablespoon of sliced almonds 😋

Now if I’m staying in I love a slice of whole grain gluten free bread with avocado and grape tomatoes drizzled with balsamic glaze and if Paul is going to work I make him a super healthy veggie omelette ready to cook in the microwave for a couple of minutes and a piece of fruit. Another healthy on the go breakfast is a smoothie served with a hard boiled egg for protein.

Lunches are much easier when you are at home, your choice is endless, I love salad, cheese, eggs, veggies, homemade hummus and steamed veggies, but planning a healthy portioned out work lunch takes a lot of prep… 5 meals, 5 healthy carbs, 5 healthy lean proteins and plenty of veggies ready for a busy week of working… quinoa, brown sprouted rice, sweet potatoes, ground turkey meatballs, oregano chicken and Cajun pork, all leftovers from a past week dinners and lots of veggies, but when you are home you can quickly bake some sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper, add in a little arugula and a lightly fried egg, finally whip up a Harrissa dressing… so good 😃

Heathy fish and chicken tacos are my favorite dinner option, polenta crisped salmon and chicken tenders served with warm corn tortillas, salad and a healthy mango salsa, easy healthy and filling. Dinners are always a challenge in my house, some of us need GF carb options, some of us don’t like veggies, some of us are mainly vegetarian, except for a little fish and some of us are such basic eaters that meat and plain pasta is all they will eat. Salad is my friend, I can add a protein and then a healthy carb and it covers most diets in my house… but soup season is on it’s way, although I love Summer, I personally love soups they are so versatile, healthy and can stretch your budget sideways.

Snacks are my biggest challenge for planning ahead, each time we eat we are meant to have a complex carbohydrate, a protein and a fat, so getting that right in a snack is a huge headache for me… protein bites were simple and nutritional for a snack, gf oats, almond butter, honey and then I added chopped nuts dried fruits and seeds. Another idea is brown rice cakes, and almond butter, or fruit and a handful of nuts… but with all the planning snacks still remain something I think about last and quite often forget to eat myself… I am working at it though… slowly 🙃

… and then we always need an occasional treat, I try my hardest to make these treats as healthy as possible, like lemon muffins made with yogurt and honey… light and delicious 😋

Whatever you eat, try to make it nutritional, delicious and make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

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To diet or not to diet?

When I was in my teens I was totally anorexic, I think it never really leaves you completely, I always count up my intake of food each day, and roughly count the calories I have had, even now I feel its pull, but with yoga and meditation I have managed to control the need a little bit better.  I realize now the need to fuel my body with the right foods to hopefully keep me healthy and I am trying to educate my family into thinking the same way.  I have so many picky eaters its hard to fully cook a complete clean eating menu plan for each week, but I definitely try.

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I am absolutely hopeless without menu planning, I've tried not menu planning and my grocery bill goes up, my clean eating plan goes out the window and I feel terrible in myself… so for me menu planning is a way of life and will continue to be even as our children eventually move out.  I love the organization of it, I am even planning breakfast, snacks and lunch now, as Paul and I are on a semi strict carb, protein and fat diet, each meal has to contain at least one of these in healthy form, even the in-between meal snacks.

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Each week I try to focus and use recipes from different cookbooks I own, this past week I have used the Gwyneth Paltrow It's all easy cook book, one of our most surprising favorites for almost everyone was her lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes, I adjusted the recipe slightly to accommodate everyones tastes, I added chopped broccoli first then added the pasta, and once I had served up the tomato haters in my house, I added them to the pan too… all in all it was a winner for the week.

 

I am all about fresh produce these days, I like to buy organic if I can, I have restarted my organic delivery just because it makes menu planning and organic shopping easier.

These rice paper wraps are a firm favorite at the moment…

Take a rice paper wrap and soak for two or three minutes in a bowl of cold water, making sure they are fully covered, whilst they are soaking chop up some crispy romaine lettuce leaves, cucumber, slice an avocado and grate some carrots, next crumble some feta cheese, and shred some chicken breast, if you want to add meat… once the wraps have softened place them onto a sheet of damp kitchen paper, fill with salad ingredients, feta and chicken if using it, wrap just like you would a burrito, keeping it as tight as you can. Serve with a dipping sauce, my favorite is sweet chili but Mabels is a balsamic glaze, the world is your dipping sauce 😋

My clean eating menu plan for this week…

Monday

Breakfast… kale, onion and feta scramble eggs

Lunch… chicken/feta Cobb style salad

Snack… fruit and almond butter

Dinner… taco style burrito bowl skillet (ground turkey and veggie version)

Tuesday

Breakfast… green smoothie with almond milk, kale and apple together with a boiled egg

Lunch… egg salad sandwich with chopped carrots on the side

Dinner vegan BBQ chili… for those meat lovers I will add shredded chicken

Snacks… Apple, celery and nuts

Wednesday

Breakfast… overnight Coconut oatmeal with berries

Lunch… protein salad

Dinner… zucchini pasta with bolognese (for those that do not like zucchini I will cook organic spaghetti

Snack… protein bites

Thursday

Breakfast… GF oatmeal blueberry waffles (easy to take out if made the day before)

Lunch… chicken quinoa salad (and a veggie version to take out with me)

Dinner… chicken/fish tacos with mango salsa and salad

Snack… protein bites

Friday

Breakfast… fruit smoothie using whatever berries and fruit I have in.

Lunch broccoli soup… yes I know it's summer, but I have a huge bag of frozen broccoli

Dinner… cheat day… Pizza Fridays

Snack fruit and nuts

Saturday

Breakfast… egg and Canadian bacon sandwiches or avaocado toast

Lunch… chickpea quinoa salad with a few fresh berries

Dinner… breakfast for dinner, GF waffles with eggs and sausages

Snack… black bean crackers and hummus

Sunday

Breakfast… overnight oats with coconut and ginger

Lunch… avocado and egg toast

Dinner… buffalo chicken and veggie pizza with salad

Snack… black bean crackers and hummus

I adapted my menu from one I found on Pinterest… wish me luck, I have never planned our eating so carefully and to every meal we eat, I am desperate to lose 10lbs, I have been doing a morning yoga session 3 days a week and now I found a simple workout program for two days, I like to give myself the weekend off, maybe just a little meditation to ease my mind and relax me… time to drink some water and start the week 😀

 

 

 

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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Slow cooker delight!

My new, all singing, all dancing slow cooker… Is something I’ve thought about buying for many many months since I saw it in Target $150, and now with a special offer last week in Costco $99 with $20 instant rebate, now it’s still cheaper than Target at $120, I finally bit the bullet and updated my much loved crock pot! This new slow cooker is by Ninja, it not only slow cooks, it can sear, stovetop cook, bake and roast, it is slightly smaller than my crock pot,but in my opinion looks more state of the art… Last night I broke open the box and gave it a try, I am a huge lover of risotto, so this was the perfect starter meal to try, I managed to heat the oil, sauté the rice and then cook the risotto without slowly stirring and constantly adding the stock, I placed cooked chicken in the pot to warm through and roasted vegetables in the oven to add later… Voila roasted vegetable and chicken risotto, warming and delicious! The recipe book is huge and has a section for one pot cooking, one of the recipes is a quick and easy lasagne, one of my family’s favorite dinners… This one is on the menu for tonight’s dinner, everything is placed into the pot, switch it on and let it cook… My kind of cooking!

It’s cold and snowing again here, so I plan on a day indoors again, I have knitting to complete, cushions to sew covers for and laundry to do, but first a coconut bundt cake to bake, I recently bought a huge bag of coconut from Costco, a bargain at $3.97, so I am frequently on the look out for recipes using coconut and this one looks delicious!

On the subject of delicious another food recipe I think I will add to my Christmas list this year, baked cranberry and pistachio Brie, now if I wasn’t 26 weeks pregnant I would dive into this delicious looking cheese, but unfortunately this year I will have to bake this for my family and watch as they tuck in and know that next year I will be enjoying this myself!

Finally on the subject of food, I made a delicious cream cheese apple bread on Saturday, well worth a try, delicious and puddingy, it was so yummy served with custard and topped with whipped cream!

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Follow me on Pinterest for more yummy recipe ideas and much more!

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Trying to stretch a dollar or two…

This year has certainly been financially difficult for us, we have had several car accidents costing us a lot of money not only with paying the first $1000 but also with insurance rates increasing dramatically. We also had a chimney fire and parts of our roof were damaged with the hurricane that came last year… All in all 2013 has been a little bit of a struggle in many ways… But on the positive side, we still have each other and I firmly believe that positive thoughts breed positive behavior!

With that said with things the way they are at the moment I am all in for trying to save a little bit of money, I particularly love this time of year food wise, you can really make your dollar stretch with hearty, healthy meals, soups and stews are perfect fall money saving meals, lots of root cheaper veggies fill out all those fall meals, last night I made a delicious potato, green bean and chicken soup, served together with a rustic sausage, apple and sage stuffing bake, I estimate the cost to feed a family of 6, and I say 6 as that is how many people ate this dinner was $2.65 per person… Hearty, warming, yummy and very cheap! With this in mind, I am challenging myself to make healthy fall meals for less than $15 a night… Can it be done? Who knows but I am going to try, I love a bargain and I do love a challenge!

Very quick chicken and potato soup… I found this recipe on the whole foods App, I did tweak it a bit, so no link…. I love this app for healthy recipes, I use it a lot!

2/3 packet of frozen hash brown potatoes ( a trick I got from the Pioneer woman, when you just don’t want to peel and grate potatoes or just do not have time)
1 finely chopped onion
1 stick of celery chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
4 cups of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ready cooked chicken tenderloins ( these are another of my short cuts, Costco have a large bag for $14, and are perfect for very quick healthy meals)
2/3 bag of frozen green beans ( the recipe actually said frozen peas and although I love peas my children do not, and as I wanted them to eat it, I changed to something we would all eat)

Place all of the ingredients into the pot, placing your chicken tenderloins on top, cover, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the chicken and chop or shred the meat, place to one side whilst you blend the contents in your pot, add in your green beans, top up with a little bit more water if you think the soup is too thick, bring back to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes then add your shredded chicken and simmer for a further 5 minutes… Time to serve… Delicious!
(Of course this recipe would also work well in your crock pot, I would place all the ingredients as stated in the slow cooker and cook on high for two hours, then follow the instructions for adding shredded chicken and beans but this time together, switch to a low setting and cook for a further hour).

I have always been a fan of repurposing things, I love Antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets, you can find so many hidden treasures… I don’t get to go nearly as much as I would like to these days. There was a time not so long ago when we used to spend Sunday afternoons in a little town called Lewis, near Brighton browsing the antique shops then drinking coffee in the quaint little coffee shops, of course this was when my boys were much younger and we just seemed to have far more time on our hands… Oh how I hunger for those lazy Sundays right now! I really think in this economy many people have turned to making and repurposing things within their homes… In the days of Margaret Thatcher, life became about the money and the possessions you had… Keeping up with the jones’ was the phrase of the day, and for some this is still very much the way things still are… I have never been like that, my style is shabby chic, I don’t care if something is designer and expensive or cheap and second hand… If I like it, that is all that counts! All this is a very fortunate trait , as right now I am very keen on making, creating and repurposing to create things I love for those that I love!

On a side note… Florrie’s Attic has taken a back seat in the last few months, due to the dreadful first trimester sickness, it was as much as I could do to get out of bed and cope with my family let alone think about my beloved Florrie’s Attic… But now 16 weeks later I think I am finally feeling a little bit better and my head is buzzing with all things Florrie’s Attic… First I have to complete some projects I had already started and post them up, then I will be moving on… Look out little boys things will be being added very soon… Some things are just meant to be!

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Menu planning again…

After many, many weeks of first trimester sickness, lack of sleep, tiredness and just plain feeling bad I need to get our menu planning back on track, the slow cooker is my best friend in the kitchen at the moment, I have so much to get done in the house and I’m always so tired in the evening, the slow cooker really is my savior! With a big, big shop on the horizon, I need to get slow cooker friendly meals lined up and ready to go for the next week… Pregnancy has made my brain like mush, I can’t even think of one thing I regularly cook apart from white turkey chili, so I need to have a refresher cooking course and quickly!

This past week has been using up what we have in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, all thrown into the slow cooker, I have had some weird concoctions cooking, chicken noodle soup with a Mexican twist, a weird bolognese risotto with orzo pasta instead of rice. And a potato and sausage soup… I still have a few things to use up, but I think tomorrow could be my big shop day!

Here is a rusty menu planners first menu plan of this fall:

TEX-MEX NOODLES
QUICK CHICKEN AND POTATO SOUP
TURKEY PUMPKIN CHILI
ONE POT CHILI CASSEROLE
SOUP WITH SAUSAGE AND GREEN BEANS
CHORIZO AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO RICE WITH SPINACH
TEMPEH CURRY WITH SWEET POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS (I think I may have to add chicken to this dish)
COCONUT, CARROT AND CHICKPEA SOUP and BLT PASTA SALAD

Today I am trying a slow cooker mac and cheese creation, I have taken the recipe from Food Networks Paula Dean’s Slow cooked Mac and Cheese recipe and I have just tweaked it a little bit… I’ll let you know how it turns out but for now here is the recipe:

8oz box uncooked macaroni elbow pasta shapes
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs beaten ( I will be using egg whites)
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pack of chopped frozen broccoli
1 pack of bacon

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box until just tender but not quite cooked! In a bowl mix together the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and broccoli, then add most of the grated cheeses leaving enough to just cover the top, mix then set aside! Add the chopped broccoli to the bottom of the crock pot, toss the pasta with the soup mixture then add to slow cooker layering over the broccoli, top with strips of bacon then sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese… Set the slow cooker on low for 3 hours and then serve with a salad and warm garlic bread… Now this is truly pregnancy food at its best!

Just a small note for those crock pot lovers like myself, I recently discovered that baked/jacket potatoes are fabulous cooked in the slow cooker… Ok, you don’t get the crispy jacket of skin, but the potato is delicious inside, it’s so easy too, you just wash and scrub your potatoes as usual, prick all over then place in your slow cooker, I set mine on high for five hours but I had 9, yes 9 huge potatoes stuffed in the pot, but I read that 6 hours on low is a good setting if you need to let them cook all day! Enjoy and serve them with all your favorite toppings… Mine is lashings of butter and grated cheddar cheese!

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Creating his own adventures…

Pad Thai noodle salad… So good, I had to blog about it, I added a couple of additions like chicken and noodles, personally I think this salad works well without the chicken but in my house a meal is not a meal without meat in it… Boys! I also used my favorite Costco super food salad and Trader Joes sesame seed butter instead of almond butter, but it worked well, so here is the link… Pad Thai salad… Enjoy, we definitely did!

It is a very strange life, that of an ex-pat… My Mum arrived, she stayed, we lunched out, drank some wine and of course coffee, chatted and had so much fun… Then she is gone home and life goes back to normal again, until the next time she is in town, then we get to do it all over again!

Who out there cannot believe how fast 2013 has flown by already, I know I definitely cannot! It seems like only yesterday Blu was bugging me to go the 8th grade trip for 3 days away, I finally gave in and paid the first installment in December… It’s not that I did not want him to go and have fun, it’s just I am a worrier… What if’s always come into my mind, he is my baby and I am not ready for a big trip like 3 days away with the school… Anyway the months have flown by, he is not only sitting on a coach on his way, as I type this, but he is graduating from his school in the next couple of weeks and then heading over to his new school very soon… Where have all the months this year gone to? And for that matter where have all those years gone to since I held my beautiful, blue eyed baby boy in my arms… All grown up and out there making his own adventures in this world… Scary, but so exciting too!

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