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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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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.

Photographic diary

Spring Break 

With Spring break already behind us, I am left mulling over photos of our first trip back to the UK in four years… It was exhausting to say the least, Florrie got sick two days into our trip, she started with a sore throat and fever, it then led to an upset tummy and a day before we were due to fly back she was complaining her ear was hurting.  On the flight  back Tate was not his usual self he slept most of the flight, then when we arrived home his fever started, he became very lethargic and sleepy which after an exhausting walk in doctor visit it was determined he was dehydrated, a couple of days later I visited our pediatricians office and was told he had a virus and an ear infection… As I said an exhausting time. 

 
Four years is a long time to be away, a lot had changed… But it was nice to be back, even if it was only for a short while.  We got to catch up with lots of family and great friends… Tate was a star meeting people for the first time.  It was a time for me to reflect on the person I once was, my values and pleasures in life.  I loved to shop in Windsor, take my children into Legoland, I loved to cook and create, these are all things I feel I have lost along the way recently, my life feels so crazy and chaotic I sometimes don’t even have time to tidy the house, enjoy what I am cooking or even look at the people around me.  Well it’s time to slow life down a tad, stop and smell the roses, organize and conquer. 

 We tried to balance out our time with family and friends, but what we forgot about was our own time, time to eat the foods we had been missing, time to enjoy the places we visited and mull over old times… I wish I had eaten the cakes in the window, instead of just taking a photo of them.  On further reflection we had a wonderful time, it was just like four years had not passed with friends and family, of course we had all aged, but our laughter was the same, our connections were the same… It was just fantastic to see everyone.   

 There is no denying I spent way too much money… But what do expect when you have Cath Kidston, M&S and Next to name a few, I didn’t manage to get to Cabbages and Roses, which made me sad, next time hopefully though, I also wanted some Emma Bridgewater China, but again that will have to wait for another time, hopefully by then I will have my new kitchen. 

 To all our family and friends we managed to see, thank you for an amazing Spring Break, it was so much fun, and to everyone we did not manage to see on this trip hopefully we will be back soon to catch up with you all x

Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

This, that and everything else.

IMG_3486I have always been a person that hates waste, I am known as queen of the leftovers in our house, I am constantly checking dates on food in the pantry, fridge and freezer and trying to use up all the food we have before I restock, well now I am even worse than I was before, I have reorganized my pantry and have itemized each category so that I know each time I use it I need to replace my staple items, pasta sauces, jars of tomatoes, pastas, rices and any grains are just a few items that have made my itinerary.  Another way I have reduced waste in my kitchen is by making bone broth once a week, I have a bag in my freezer for all my veggie scraps, onions, celery, carrots, ginger, anything really that I can throw in that pot of simmering bone broth, I also now try to shop for meat with bones and save any bones from any meat that I buy and cook up.

Friday is the day I throw all my scraps in the slow cooker covered with water and leave to simmer for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, the reason I chose Friday was because Friday night is always pizza night in our house, so that means my crock pot is always free, as each person comes home in the evening they smell the broth cooking and go over to the pot to see whats for dinner, they lift the lid and pull a face as they look at a pot of scraps of food… its quite funny to watch.

I am a firm believer that we are what we eat, I may not have always practiced this, but as I grow older I want to keep my body in the best possible condition and that includes diet and exercise.  I have never really been one for intense exercise, I had a regular routine of step aerobics before I moved to the US, I had also dabbled in some yoga, and when I established myself here in the US I used to walk a lot around the town I lived in.  Since moving to our house we live in now 7 years ago and having had my two babies I have struggled to get into any routine of exercise, I am the type of person who puts a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, I have had to learn to let this go, as I strive for perfection I create an image that is hard to maintain so I fail before I even try, and that is so often the case.  I want to be healthy, live in a nice environment and just be happy… but today I have learnt to just be happy with everything I am, and every day is a new learning day, and that is why when I am learning yoga I am not putting any pressure on myself I just do what I can, when I can, I am the same way about most things these days, homeschooling is the same, we do all the things we love to do, when we want to do them, Florence has taken a real interest in mermaids so this week we will look at under the ocean, and if the weather is kind to us we will go visit the zoo again and look in more details at the sea lions and other aquatic creatures that they have there.

I realize in life we need balance in all things, our health, our minds, our bodies and our spiritual well being, so I have decided to look more deeply into Holistic healing… I want to be balanced and it seems that together with learning yoga, holistic health could help balance not only me but make me a better person for each person in my family.  IMG_0635

 

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MIA…

This summer has not really gone as planned, it’s been quieter than usual, explanations coming later! The food we have eaten has been oh so bad, junk food to the max, we have been at home a lot, just a few days out and about, and then this last week we did finally organize ourselves enough to vacation for a week… And that really was an oh so much needed break away!

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got our acts together and booked a week away in North Carolina… I was not looking forward to the 8 hour drive to Raleigh, but with 3 drivers, Dom came along with us, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t really know what I was expecting from this southern state but it more than lived up to my expectations, so much so, I think I could easily live there! Everyone was extremely friendly, the roads were easy to drive on, clean, wide and the best thing no traffic or police hanging around in every nook waiting to get you for silly things! The whole place seem to be thriving, new and again so clean, no empty, closed down buildings in sight, everywhere seemed to be booming unlike here in New Jersey! Now if you wanted to eat out there was everything you could imagine and things you hadn’t even thought of, every shop you wanted was all within an easy driving distance… Each town had it’s own identity, Raleigh was more a smaller city with thriving business’ everywhere, Apex was the cutest small quiet town and my absolute favorite Chapel Hill, a thriving college town with lots of bars, shops and a great feel about it!

A two hour easy drive took us to Wilmington NC, home to Dawson’s Creek… Who knew? Here in Wilmington are three beautiful sandy beaches… Wrightsville Beach was the nearest to our hotel, clean, gorgeous blue water and well worth a visit, we spent 6 hours on this beach, Florrie even took a dip in the water here, but she still did not like the sand! I think the beast thing about this beach for us was the Starbucks situated just off the road just before you got to the beach! Carolina beach was a little bit more vibrant with a boardwalk and shops, this beach was beautiful, very clean and the most gorgeous view out to sea, we were on the beach for about 4 hours when a storm came across the beach, it was amazing to see, we maybe stayed too long taking photos of the amazing sky, because when the rain came, it really came hard and we got absolutely soaked… It was fun though! There is also another beach within Wilmington, Kure beach, unfortunately we did not manage to get to that one… Maybe next time!

Downtown historic Wilmington was my perfect town, a gorgeous boardwalk along the water, cute restaurants and shops, antiques, homemade ice cream and lots more for the avid photographer and her camera, unfortunately my younger children did not feel the same so we cut our tour short of this must visit town!

All in all I am totally in love with North Carolina… There was one tiny thing I was not so impressed with though… I do not like pumping my own gas, thankfully on this trip I did not have to do it, I am guessing I have turned into a Jersey girl… As they say Jersey girls don’t pump gas, and this Jersey girl has forgotten how to pump her own gas!

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Help… The laundry basket is sucking me in!

I am becoming a crafting blog addict, so I wanted to share with you all my latest blog find love this link…, I love all her ideas, it inspires me to get my sewing machine out and perfect my skills… Now all I need is more hours in my day to make my ideas into actual creations!

This week menu plan is on a new board on my Pinterest, for all of you Pinterest lovers out there… I am using the food network website this week, after entering twice daily to win the dream home on HGTV, I am now getting sent daily recipe emails from food network so I thought why not plan a menu around them so here it is…

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
Dumpling Soup
Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth
Broccoli-Cheddar Potatoes
Beef and Cheddar Casserole

Add to that a stir fry noodle a pot sticker home creation meal and a tortellini pesto and rotisserie chicken meal and that is what we will be eating for the next 7 days… What yummy dinner ideas have you got planned for next week?

My washing machine is once again working, for how long I’m not really sure, but for now Karen’s Chinese laundry is open and in service… I washed all day yesterday and I still have mounds of washing left to go… Bed linen from my parents stay, clothes from all 7 of my children, towels and of course Paul and my own pile of dirty clothes… I’m not sure I’m loving the machine working again, sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting it all away, that is how I will be spending my next couple of days… If you don’t hear from me again I’m lost under a huge pile of dirty laundry… Please send help!

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