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Updated… almost Vegan, but not quite.

I’ve made a lot of vegan meals and experimented with vegan ingredients in old favorite recipes since I’ve been back from vacation… I have to say without a doubt they have all been delicious, using egg substitutes in waffles and baking was easy, and cutting down on oil in cakes using apple sauce has worked well, although I have been doing that for quite a while… I can even say the vegan, soy free provolone cheese is ok as long as it’s melted, but it’s good for that odd craving of something melty over your pasta or in a sandwich.

I plan nutritional breakfasts for Paul to take to work with him every day, this is one of my favorites gluten free, now vegan waffles, of course if you add dairy chocolate it makes it not vegan but as Paul is in no way vegan I treated him to a few chocolate nibbles to go with the unsweetened coconut on top of his waffles. I have made him vegan, dairy and gluten free breakfast every morning for the past two weeks including a vegan omelette and he has not complained once. I try to make my breakfast for the day with enough for two then Paul has it the next day… it’s worked well so far.

I have been almost dairy free for many years now, using nut or plant based milks in everything, but I had never thought to make it myself… until I started researching this Vegan trend, it was a complete surprise just how easy it was, you take your nuts or seeds and soak them for a few hours then you blend them in a blender with water, the amount of water depends on the consistency you require, I was making a cashew nut cream so obviously the liquid was less, but the outcome was delicious and I have used it in all my recipes instead of cream or yogurt. I also made a broccoli cream soup using the same technique, as you cooked your broccoli in broth you had sunflower seeds cooking with it soaking in the broth, once the broccoli was cooked you blended everything together including the sunflower seeds giving a nice creamy soup consistency… just delicious.

Now as any Vegetarian/Vegan knows a plant based diet includes a lot of chopping and prepping and when you have a super large family you need a little helping hand… I was on Facebook one day and this super fast chopping machine was being advertised, well I’m not usually one to watch the shopping channel or get hooked into buying something on screen, but this had me hooked, Paul was trying to tell me he found chopping therapeutic, but I guess when you do it once in a while it could be, but day after day, it really is not so much fun, or indeed therapeutic, so I took the plunge and ordered it… Paul was worried I would slice my finger on the blades and his worries were not unfounded as within the first 24 hours of owning my Veggie Bullet I have sliced my thumb twice, but you learn very quickly from your mistakes. After a shaky start, slicing my thumb, using the wrong lids for slicing and spiralizing, I have finally mastered my veggie bullet and I love it, there is quite a bit to wash up but my plan is to prep my veggies once a week looking at all my recipes… onions sliced thinly in seconds, eggplant sliced in less seconds than it took me to wash it, sweet potatoes spiralized before I could even heat the oil… it’s crazy and I will use it for a weeks worth of chopping preparation each week, with only one wash up required for the whole week.

So far each recipe I have made has been very tasty and nutritious, we have had Vietnamese noodle bowls, roasted veggie bowls, green lentil and spinach curry, roasted tomato soup with roasted rosemary potatoes, creamy broccoli soup, super easy green pasta and tonight we are having black bean taquitos with an enchilada sauce… each meal I make has to be planned with precision, gluten free, dairy free and a meat protein to accompany the dish, as I cannot make everyone give up meat, even though I would secretly love that and my food budget would sigh with relief if I didn’t have to include meat. Even when I made a creamy broccoli pasta no one guessed it did not contain milk or cheese, the roasted tomato soup was full of flavor and the broccoli soup was creamy just by using sunflower seeds, so even the veggie haters in my house have enjoyed the vegan dishes plus a little meat on the side for good measure.

On a final note… I came across this Pumpkin oatmeal cookie recipe when baking with my children the other day, I’ve never used arrowroot in my baking before and I wasn’t sure about it, but these gluten free, dairy free, vegan cookies were so delicious not one person guessed quite how healthy they actually were.

Am I going to declare myself a Vegan? Not quite, my love of sushi and a good cheeseboard occasionally are something I just don’t want to give up… but on the whole, day to day it feels good to eat like this, healthy, nutrition that is plant based, it is definitely much easier than I thought to leave out the dairy, including cheese and eggs, the recipes are delicious and flavorful… so almost a Vegan is just good enough for me.

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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.


Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Paleo lifestyle

Ive been playing around with a Paleo lifestyle for a while, it’s hard when you have no kitchen to be fully into it, it’s so easy to say I’ll grill some sausages and stick them in a bun just because you don’t have countertops, an oven, Stove top or dishwasher, but really right now I’m a little more equipped to start it full time, I have some countertops, soon to be a a lot of countertop space, I have the grill, a microwave and a multi task slow cooker, what more does a girl want?  My kitchen stuff is all still packed away, but I now have pantry space to buy and store ingredients like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and all the staples for nutrition that I have there to hand usually, and my refrigerator is looking more sparse now I have cleared out all the pantry stuff I had no storage space for.

Against all grains blueberry pancakes.

I am resuming my organic delivery once again this week Door to Door Organics, I love  to buy organic when I can and this delivery service is great for all things organic, I’ve been putting it on hold most weeks but it’s time to get my Paleo lifestyle kicked up a notch.

I’ve also cheated a little bit with my menu planning, I found a website with some Paleo recipes and I have just used these, so here we go, here is my menu plan for the coming week…

Deconstructed hamburger salad

Mexican breakfast for dinner

Easy taco soup

Loaded nachos 

Tomato basil chicken

Spicy sausage soup

Left over night… My favorite night.

As with everything in life, things are never easy, and my family don’t make cooking for them easy at all, I have several picky eaters, myself who doesn’t really eat meat and then others who eat everything.  How do I cope with this I hear you ask when you are cooking for such a large family, well I have just learnt to adapt my cooking technique, meat cooked separately and added after to soups and some casseroles, veggies added after I’m dished up certain meals… You do what you can, and I will try to simplify this menu and make it work for everyone and their tastes as I go along.

Of course not everyone in my family wants to be Paleo, and although I think everyone will benefit from a little of this in their diet, I fully understand that I need to add a carbohydrate to our protein and veggies, so I will serve up a separate side dish with every meal, sometimes it will be noodles, other times rice, tortilla chips or even bread, whatever suits the meal I’m serving and also makes my life easier.

Feeding a large family the healthy way can be a challenge sometimes, but with a little planning it can work out in the end.

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This and that…

Routine makes the world a more organized place… I’ve always fought against routine, but I am discovering the older I get that having a routine is the way to live, of course there is always room for something you don’t normally do, but you need routine for an organized life!

Back to school for me means setting a new routine for myself and my little ones, keeping the house clean and tidy with only an hours worth of housework a day, doing some yoga and getting some homeschooling schedule set in place for Florrie… These are just a few things I have been gradually working on, taking my time to work out the best schedule around Tate’s nap times!

As you all know I am also a huge fan of healthy home cooking and menu planning, I have been working on improving and incorporating this full time into our lives… My older children frequently look in the pantry and fridge and declare we have nothing in, I have finally worked out why… Because I do not buy junk food at all anymore, my grocery list is made up of healthy fruit and veggies, grains and protein, I also include lots of home baking ingredients, so I guess our cupboards are bare… Of junk food!

This week I bought two cast iron skillets from Costco, these are something I have been looking at for a while, they are a chemical free way to cook, which I really like, hopefully they will last me for years to come and they were cheap $36 for two… A bargain! Of course I had to try them out so I decided to make homemade flour tortillas… They were a huge success and so were my skillets for making them in! I don’t think I will ever buy flour tortillas again, they were so easy to make with very few ingredients and they tasted delicious!

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Smoothies have become an almost every day way of life, you could say we are addicted… my freezer is filled with frozen fruit… Freezing bananas is a perfect way to keep bananas ready for smoothies, I’ve bought flax seed, chia seeds and wheat germ to add in for extra nutrients and I always try to add coconut water, so good for digestion and your stomach! When I make smoothies for just Florrie and I, I add lots of fresh spinach and veggies, unfortunately when I make them for my older children they can detect the slightest amount of non fruit products and then they protest… Best to keep to fruit… At least they drink them that way!

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Boosting our immune systems to get through the winter months…

Back in my twenties I would run to the doctors office at any sign of a cough or sniffles for either my children or myself, these days I am a firm believer in trying natural remedies and you are what you put into your body! I do believe there is a time and a place for medicines, but I also believe in the power of human nature and we are all too quick to pop pills for an instant magic cure! My Dad is. very good example of this, for years and years now he pops magic pills to help his high blood pressure, and maybe at the end of the day that is the answer for him, but on closer inspection there are many many things he could try to help himself more naturally, but he is a stubborn man, well that is an understatement and thinks he knows better, but just a simple de-stressing could help, he is one of the most stressed people I know, the way he speaks is so stressed, he never looks happy, if he could just learn to chill out , I’m sure it would help! Another thing that would definitely help is drinking water, back to the stubbornness, he drinks barely two cups of coffee a day, that is his only hydration, now we all know that water is the key to life, it leads to a lot of medical problems, problems in your urinary tract, blood issues, headaches, digestive problems, the list is endless, as I said water is the key to life, and I firmly believe this! He also chooses bad food choices, high blood pressure can be helped with diet, like adding a rich nutrient food like spinach to your plain chicken sandwich, an easy fix to helping yourself… I often use my Dad as an example of what not to do, to my children when I want to encourage them into a healthy diet!

So with that said I have been in full research mode, each morning I am waking up with a sore throat and ear ache, in the next two months of bitterly cold weather I want to boost our immune systems by adding foods that will help with that… So far so good, everything I have read seems simple enough to add into our meals… Honey is a natural antibiotic, easy to add to breakfast oatmeal, casseroles, warm drinks… Something we can all be deficient in according to my research is zinc, this is a powerful booster for our immune system, pumpkin seeds are rich in this and again are easy to incorporate into meals, casseroles, breakfast, warm winter salads or just as a snack! Turmeric, ginger and garlic are all powerful immune boosters and extremely easily incorporated into warm comforting winter meals! Vitamin c is a major factor to helping us fight those winter germs, but what I did not know was, that just one kiwi fruit a day gives us our daily allowance and help keep those bugs at bay! These things were all added to my shopping list and menu for this week!

Another thing I have to take into account with diet is my flare ups of IBS, anyone suffering from any Gastro tract disease will know how painful flare ups can be, so I am much more aware and careful of my diet than I used to be! I am a huge fan of baked oatmeal for breakfast these days and for people with Gastro tract disease oatmeal is the perfect carb, slow releasing and the easiest of carbs to digest… According to my research it can be a good food for people suffering from IBS, colitis, crohns and much more… (But of course each individual is different and can tolerate different food items). Here is today’s breakfast recipe of pear and cranberry baked oatmeal, easy and made in 20 minutes in my new Ninja cooker!

1 cup of steel cut oatmeal
4 cups of any milk you would like (I used non fat organic and water, but coconut or almond milk would work fine too)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A sprinkling of grated nutmeg
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries (mine were organic left over from Christmas)
1 fresh pear, cubed
3-4 tablespoons of honey (my husband moaned it wasn’t sweet enough, so feel free to add more honey, after all it is good as a boost for your immune system)

Add all the ingredients into your Ninja, stir, turn to stove top medium setting, place the lid on and cook for 20 minutes… Mix in thoroughly and serve… Healthy and nutritious!

Alternatively add all the ingredients into a pan, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally, cook until oats and fruit are softened!

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A very quick side note, Costco is becoming the ultimate place for healthy organic ingredients, today was a bitterly cold after the snow storm day and perfect to go shopping in day, the roads were clear and Costco was unusually quiet… Perfect for browsing and discovering new items… Here is one I discovered today

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This product is organic, high in fibre, protein and iron… It was a huge success with my fussy family, some said it tasted like rice others likened it to cous cous or quinoa, but it was definitely a success I even managed to get ultra fussy Blu to eat it, in my book that makes it a good buy! It would also be good to add to the baked oatmeal too!