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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 😀

 

 

 

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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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March madness…

Today is the first day in March, which means I’m running out of time… My to do list is long and as of tomorrow I will have two weeks until I’m 39 weeks pregnant and in the week I will have my c section! Hopefully by the end of this weekend Florrie and Baby’s room will be finished, when I say finished, I mean painted, blinds and curtain rails hung, toys put away and bed up and ready to use… There will still be lots to do, but it will be one thing checked off my list and an ongoing project! I have some fabric for her drapes but it needs something added to it for length and a lining fabric, so I see a trip to Jo Ann’s in my future, this week! I also need to repaint Mabel’s little Ikea closet, it’s time it gets a makeover so that it matches Florrie’s new room!

Of course my nesting instincts are kicking in, my car needs cleaning out ready and clean for a little newborn to ride in it, but of course the weather is not co-operating, it’s too cold to be out cleaning out my car, let’s hope the forecast warms up before the middle of this month! The house is ready for it’s annual spring clean so after this weekend I’m on a schedule of cleaning and organizing each room! Ideally I would like to replan and redecorate our family room/kitchen, but it is a large room and I’m thinking, well I know this will never happen in two weeks, so I have to sit back and accept that will have to be a job for after this little man arrives, but I do have lots of shabby chic ideas for a complete makeover of this room!

Menu planning is not on the agenda at the moment, I find it hard to concentrate on the here and now, let alone plan a menu for a whole week… Our meals have mainly consisted of casseroles cooked in my crock pot… I think we will all look like pasta soon! We did manage a grocery trip to Trader Joes, which means we have lots of green leafy vegetables for dinners and creamy yogurts for breakfast each morning, much better than binging on coffee, decaf of course and chocolate chip cookies, delicious but not so healthy!

Pregnancy in your 40’s definitely makes you realize each phase of the nine months, I think when I was younger I never fully realized the changes both body and mind go through to prepare you to be a mother… Older and wiser me, can see now how each phase is as important as conception , and I still think pregnancy should be 8 months, this last month is not only uncomfortable but mentally exhausting, as all I can think about is this baby 24/7!

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Rambling on…

Is it me or does everything in the winter seem far worse than when Spring arrives… Is the corporate world taking advantage of it’s employees, is there real justification behind cutting salaries 2 years in a row and absolutely no pay rises in 6 years now, is all the bank bashing having detrimental effects on hard working individuals… In a world where everything has rising costs almost daily, companies feel it is ok to reduce incomes for hardworking individuals… In my book, it all seems wrong that in this day and age it’s not how hard you work, it seems to be if you are in favor with your boss, has all the fairness gone out of pay rises and bonuses, it seems to me some people do well year after year, whilst others suffer because of the unfairness created by corporate greed!

Moan over… Back to menu planning again, it’s been a while, but this time I’m planning a baking day, breakfast, lunch and dinner… My iron levels are still low, so I want to make my life easier by keeping everything easy and simple. My Ninja super cooker is the key to simplicity, pasta cooks perfectly in it, dinners can easily be switched from slow cook to oven for finishing off, it’s even great if you don’t have time or have forgotten to set your slowcooker, just add the ingredients as you would have to slow cook, set to stove top and cook in no time at all… I can honestly say I’m in love!

Here is my budget friendly menu plan and baking day recipes…

Breakfast

Yoghurt with fruit x2
Oatmeal x2
Eggs with toast x2

Lunches

Pasta salad x2
Soup x2
Grilled panini sandwiches

Dinner

Pasta bolognese
Chili with roasted veggies
Pasta with winter pesto and chicken
Cobb salad
Baked penne with ricotta
Meatball noodle soup

Leftover night

Baking day

Brownies

Coconut tea loaf

Chocolate chip muffins

Banana bread

Easy quick oatmeal breakfast bars

I feel I am missing something after watching Extreme Couponing… Wow how do they save so much money, on one episode I watched this week, one woman spent $2700 on groceries, after swiping her store card the total was $1700, then after using her many, many, MANY coupons the total was $187… Crazy! Granted I do not need 100 bottles of gatoraid, although I am sure my children would love them, and I do not want 100 bottles of coke, but I am sure I could incorporate this into my grocery shopping, so after a little bit of research, I kind of get how it works, you collect the manufacturers coupons, they are worth double in most grocery stores up to 99c, then you wait for that item to go on sale, there is a schedule by all accounts in each grocery store and they rotate the discounts, then you use your coupon, giving you not only the stores savings but double the manufacturers discount too, sometimes the item can be free or an extremely low price, you don’t just buy one item you buy enough to see you through until the next rotation of the sale… Very clever, so although you will never see me on the next episode of Extreme Couponing, I think I could give it a try on a much smaller scale… Why give your money to these over priced grocery stores when you could save just a little bit!

This is the link for a fabulous Coupon website that makes it easy to save on your shopping!

Like menu planning, I think couponing takes time to organize too, but in the end being smart and organized is the key to making your money work for you, and true happiness, it’s only taken me 46 years to realize any of this, but we only grow as people when we learn new things and change is good, so this year I plan on lots of change, living healthier, lots of exercise and being just a little bit cleverer with our finances, you cannot rely on companies to help you out, the only way forward is to make your money work for you, I honestly believe the key to true happiness lies behind true organization and the true love you hold within…

Happy Weekend to everyone, let’s hope all this freaky weather we all seem to be having goes away soon, leaving us with a happy, sunny Spring!

I will leave you with my little miracle, kicking and wiggling inside me this week at my amazing ultrasound…

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The Magic of Christmas…

In this crazy world of bigger and better, must haves and technology, I really do believe we have forgotten the true meaning and magic of Christmas… As people crowd into the shops, they lose all sense of decency, manners and just plain respect… I was listening to some of the old Christmas songs on Lite Fm, my favorite at this time of year, I was listening to the words and I realized that Christmas really isn’t about the huge pile of presents we get, but really it once was a magical time of year, with warm glowing lights, trees tall and bright, food, family and love… We really have forgotten these values as we barge from one shop to another trying to get as many presents as we can… Well my advice to you all, is stop, take a huge step back and look around you, we should take more value in the love we have, just because we get the biggest present or spend the most money doesn’t mean we are the best person, it’s all about love, family, friendship and life… And just remember those that are less fortunate than ourselves… True Christmas magic is only held within and can only shine through when we are truly happy… Gifts come and go, next year there will always be something bigger and better to buy!

On that note… I am spending this last Sunday before Christmas at home… I got up extra early yesterday to get into the mall before the dreaded crowds of people appeared, we arrived outside the Mall at 8.30am, 30 minutes later than I had planned, but still I got a perfect parking place right outside Macy’s, Starbucks was quiet and civilized, we left after getting everything we needed just as the crowds began to appear. So today is a quiet make the mince pies kind of day, the home made mincemeat is made and in jars, my Mum has just made the pastry and everything is ready for the putting together of the tiny pies!

Dinner is cooking in my new Ninja slow cooker, for the first time in a very long time we have lamb… Costco’s had a very good deal on a joint of lamb, so I found a recipe crock pot lamb, so far it smells delicious… Together with baked potatoes cooking away in my second slow cooker!

The weather is very mild for December in New Jersey, all the snow of last week has melted away, so I’m guessing all hopes of a white Christmas this year are gone, still I’m not moaning as I am enjoying the milder temperatures… Long may they continue!
Merry Christmas to one and All!

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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!