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.

Uncategorized

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!

IMG_5415.JPG

IMG_5402.JPG

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!

IMG_5435.JPG

Uncategorized

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!

20140103-200036.jpg

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

<a href="http://florrieflower.files.

wordpress

.com/2014/01/20140103-200327.jpg”>20140103-200327.jpg
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!

Uncategorized

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!

20131222-162125.jpg

Product reviews

… My Vitamix!

20131025-074322.jpg
I have often stood in Costco and watched the Vitamix demonstration, wow, that is a fabulous blender, so many appliances in one machine… Hot soup, cold sorbets, thick smoothies, milkshakes, pizza dough and so much more! I could never justify the amount of money it cost though, instead I bought several blenders, each one returned because it did not live up to a great blender, I have bought a juicer, which is great but very time consuming making the juice then clean up is even more time consuming, and a food processor which sits unloved on my kitchen side… paul told me long ago to invest in the vitamix, you always pay for what you get, would I buy a cheap mixer instead of my beloved kitchen aid mixer… No, I most certainly would not, I love that machine and use it almost every day, so why is this vitamix any different, so after many hours of reading reviews and watching yet again another Costco roadshow demonstration I bit the bullet, what did I have to lose, with Costco’s fabulous return policy… Take it home and try it, if I don’t love it my money back in full!

So far so good, I have used this machine every day since the weekend, the soups are delicious and hot, if you don’t like smooth soups, save some of your ingredients and pulse at the end of the cycle for texture. I have also made fruit smoothies, this was a little more challenging as I have a freezer full of frozen fruit, I added the ingredients in the order their cookbook stated, but some of my fruit was frozen, I added carrots and kale, two vegetables I had in, switched my vitamix on, but I did have to use the muddler a few times to get my frozen products moving, I also then added a small amount of orange juice just to thin it out slightly, but my overall smoothie was delicious, packed with nutrients and went down well with my little 2 year old, who would never eat carrots or kale… So success, I am loving this vitamix!

I have not tried other features of the vitamix yet, the list is endless, pizza dough, muffins, cake breads, sorbets, ice cream, frozen cocktails… But so far for this season of warming soups I have a huge thumbs up, easy lunch time tomato soup in minutes is always a plus in my book, add a nutritious grilled cheese and avocado sandwich and then any leftovers can be used as a pizza topping later on for hungry children!

My lunchtime super easy tomato soup recipe… Courtesy of the Vitamix!
(Then use as a pizza sauce later… It worked well with no complaints)

1 can of organic chopped tomatoes
1/2 can of organic tomato purée
3/4 cup of vegetable stock/broth
1/2 chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
A small handful of fresh basil leaves sliced

Place the vegetable broth, followed by the tomatoes, purée and then onion into the vitamix set to the soup setting press start and let it run it’s cycle, when finished add salt, pepper and basil leaves, pulse several times… Then serve with whatever you fancy… Hot, yummy and nutritious!

20131025-090252.jpg

Uncategorized

Freezer love

I love my freezer, I love to freeze leftovers, I love to freeze an abundance of fruit and vegetables… I just love to have a freezer full of produce, but of course the trick is not to overfill your freezer so much that you never get to use the produce at the back or stored deeply below the current food in there, I love to virtually empty my freezer before restocking it, it gives me real pleasure to see an empty freezer just before I do my weekly grocery trip, of course my children are never too thrilled by this, but personally I love that feeling that I have used wisely all of my groceries before I restock… I just hate waste!

So, on the subject of freezers, I was thrilled this week whilst I was on my weekly trip to Costco, the fruit and vegetables in there looked so enticing and abundant I had to stock up, now I know everything in Costco comes in huge sizes and even for our larger than average family, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, we cannot get through the package sizes either, so with that in mind I still filled my cart with cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, asparagus and so on, I think my cart was mainly healthy fruit and vegetables this week, but I had a plan… Now this is where my freezer comes in, I bagged half of each container into ziplock bags and placed them into my freezer… Genius, right? I can hear you all saying but the fruit just does not taste the same after it is frozen and you are right, but it is perfect for smoothies, homemade ice cream, muffins, cheesecake, sauces, juicing, the list is endless… Of course it is great for adding to cocktails too! So now I not only have a refrigerator full of healthy fruit and vegetables but a freezer well stocked for all our summer favorites too… Not only healthy but budget friendly too!

Still on the subject of freezers, my new plan is to cook and freeze batches of beans, pulses and lentils… I love, love, love these ingredients but more often than not I find I just don’t have the time to cook them along with dinner or I just simply forget to, so after a little research I have discovered that all of these ingredients freeze and reheat well… So batch cooking these ingredients will mean I can always have them on hand in my beloved freezer, meaning that we will be eating much healthier too!

Recipe for chocolate covered strawberries

1 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I used Kirkland semi sweet)
1 1/2tablespoon of coconut oil ( I used Trader Joes)
20 fresh strawberries

There are two ways of melting your chocolate with the coconut oil, the first is taking a great amount of care in your microwave, they burn easily so melt them in 30 second bursts until they are smooth and melted, the other way, which is the method I used is to take about an inch of boiling water in a pan, place your bowl of chocolate and coconut oil over the water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water and then let your boiling water slowly melt your chocolate for a few minutes, once it is smooth and melted take it off the heat and wash and pat dry your strawberries, then coat each strawberry with the chocolate mixture, taking care not to cover the green leafy part, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, then place in refrigerator to chill then serve with anything you like… Delicious!

20130705-093009.jpg