Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


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Resolutions for a mindful New Year

Resolutions are a difficult things to keep, we start each new year with things we want to change, things we want to achieve and just things that would make a little difference, but usually we don’t last very long and easily revert back to our old ways, so that is why I started earlier this year… 2016 is the last full year I will be in my forties, something I have struggled with enormously, but it has made me very critical of who I am and what I want to change in my life… I believe in peace, love and happiness, I believe you get what you give out, if you are a kind generous person, you will get those things back in return.

I began my journey of resolutions in my life with positivity, instead of being angry at everything and everyone I looked at the positives of what I had, my family, my home, who I am as a person… I let go of anger and replaced it with love, I began to decluttering my mind and my life of things that make me unhappy, it means that I have thrown away many years of possessions that I mindlessly purchased,  I have been  decluttering my home, I have a long way to go, but if I don’t love it, or use it, I toss it, well not literally, I recycle, I donate… I do not believe in trashing this world we live in, one mans trash is another mans treasure.


I have always been a person who believes in natural remedies before anything else, I discovered my love of essential oils a few years ago, I love to rub lavender oil into my babies feet, to boost their immunity, if I have an ache or just feel blue I rub my oils into my joints… I believe in a pure life, less chemicals more nature in all things. The same can be said for the food that we eat, now don’t get me wrong we eat junk food like anyone else, pizza fridays, chocolate Saturdays… but in general 95% of the time I believe we eat very cleanly, my grocery shopping is 45% fresh organic produce, I buy as much organic, natural meat as I can find and I look at ingredients in every product I buy, pasta is gluten free, rice is organic, I make a weekly batch of my own broth either bone or vegetarian and starting the first week of January I will be making a hidden ingredients pasta sauce in bulk ready for homemade pizzas and pasta dishes.

As for my home, I have looked at a new kitchen as a new start in decluttering my life, we boxed our kitchen up months ago, before Memorial Day, I tossed a lot of old broken things, and then I evaluated whether I would want them in my new kitchen… doing this felt so good I decided to carry on through everything, the funny thing is I tossed a lot of my old things and recently I have been buying someone else’s old things… #gotanaddictiontoantiques.  I found a life changing post on Pinterest for a cleaning routine in my home, I adapted it to suit my needs and implemented it, it works for me and has changed how I view my home, I get my babies to help and they love it.

For my family… I have always been a person to want to get out there and see things, I am homeschooling my babies right now and I love to visit new places, show them new things, so I plan to continue this incorporating field trips into their learning… hopefully we will be doing a snowy winters beach trip very soon, getting back to the zoo and visiting a local museum.  I love to take photos and I have started to learn far more about what my camera can do, that is something I plan to continue with too.

Yoga and Meditation have entered my life and I love them, I want to find more time to develop them in the coming year, to have a healthy mind, body and spirit, but none of these things are my Resolutions for the coming year, I just want to do them and enjoy them… I have one simple New Years Resolution this year, once a week when I buy my groceries I am going to buy a bunch of flowers for my home, I love flowers 🌺 they brighten everything around you, so I want to fill my family home with the beauty of nature.


Happy New Year to each and everyone of you 🌟

Diet and nutrition, Kitchen renovation, Kitchen renovation

No kitchen, eight children and trying to eat healthy. 

What do you do when your kitchen is demolished and awaiting renovation, you have eight children who need to eat, your Mum is staying with you and you still want to eat healthily… You change up your menu planning and cheat just a little bit! 

As you all know I love to eat healthily and having a limited, very limited kitchen does not mean I want to eat out all the time, I’m useless when we dine out, I always feel it’s like a treat and eat the worst foods, I can’t justify a salad as I could easily make that myself at home and sometimes I wonder if salads are as full of calories as some of the other dishes… I love me some dressing.

So that’s when my menu plan idea struck me, why not cheat a little… And Costco is the best place for that, they make great ready cooked meals that I could add a simple healthy side to.  So with my limited cooking aids I set about a healthy’ish menu plan for this week…

Today… Chicken curry, jasmine rice and naan bread

Costco have a great chicken curry dish, I add a little more rotisserie chicken breast and some frozen organic veggies into the slow cooker to heat through slowly, I can then warm the naan breads on the grill and serve with a simple green salad of spring mix and cucumber sticks.

Monday… Chicken and cheese quesadilla with healthy hemp and sweet potato chips, guacamole and organic fresh salsa

Costco’s are now selling a pack of fresh rotisserie chicken breast, it’s not organic but it’s fresh, lean and moist chicken breast that is easy to use in many dishes, we will chop up the chicken, add ready shredded Mexican cheese blends, again from Costco, place into warm flour and corn tortillas for the gluten free people in my house, I will then add the fresh organic salsa and warm on the grill until the cheese is nice and melted.  This will be served with ready made guacamole and my new favorite from Costco sweet potato and hemp chips, also add a bowl of salsa into the mix too.

Tuesday… Chicken, kale and mozzarella burgers, green salad and salsa

Costco has a good choice of fresh burgers, these are new, organic and gluten free, these go on the grill, served with a green salad, cucumber sticks and fresh salsa… So easy.

Wednesday… Chicken kebabs and salad

This one is quite possibly the easiest meal of the week, ready cooked chicken kebabs, again Costco’s finest, served with a green salad, more chips and salsa… Easy Peasy and very healthy.

Thursday… Turkey burgers served in rolls with grilled corn on the Cobb.

Costco sells a pretty good frozen turkey patty, cooked on the grill together with cheese and salad, and also some grilled corn on the Cobb… Lean, delicious and healthy.

Friday… Meatball subs and salad

Have you tried Costco’s fresh organic chicken, basil meatballs, if you haven’t you should, they are yummy and make delicious sub sandwiches, just heat and add your favorite jarred marinara sauce, warm your rolls on the grill… Then add saucy meatballs,top with shredded cheese and serve with a fresh green salad and some salsa… A favorite in my house!

Saturday… Tortellini and fresh pesto with grilled chicken

I always like to keep a jar of Costco fresh pesto in my refrigerator, it tastes so fresh, it’s a lovely bright green color and adds flavor to so many dishes and sandwiches, I have bought fresh tortellini from Costco, and for those of us that are GF, plain pasta is a good alternative with the pesto and grilled ready cooked chicken, throw in some organic peas and top with a little shredded cheese… Another healthy easy dish.

I have to add I hate disposable plates and cutlery, but needs must when you don’t have a sink in your kitchen and washing up space is at a minimum, it makes life so much easier, so I have relented and bought disposable everything.  

Living through a kitchen renovation is never easy, especially when you have a large family who all need feeding but I feel my foolproof plan for continuing to eat healthily is working, it may be difficult on the days we have the floors refinished and the cabinets go in, but for now it’s working, we are still healthy and it’s making me happy 😍

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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Simplifying life…

When you are a mother of a large family you get to a point in life when it is time to simplify your chaotic crazy life.  The first step for me to do this was treating myself to the Romba vacuum, oh how I love this addition to the house, the Romba works hard, she never complains and always completes the task she has been given in good time, unlike some other members of our house, not to mention any names… Wink wink!

The next task in hand is a major de clutter of every room, over the years I have been known to collect and hoard unnecessary junk, you never know you may need it some day, but to make life simpler and easier I think that junk all around needs to go, simplifying everyday tasks and giving me more time to enjoy life.

The next thing I thought about was grocery shopping, it’s not a task I relish each week, but it is a necessity.  I am becoming more and more a natural, organic freak, if it’s not organic or gluten free it quite often doesn’t make my shopping cart, with this in mind I have decided to revisit online shopping, something I frequently did when we lived in the UK, Waitrose was my favorite delivery service giving me good quality products and great service, so I would like to replicate this over here, unfortunately due to our location I am restricted to two shops and there delivery options, not overly impressed I have decided to use a new service  Thrive Market in conjunction with an organic fruit and vegetable delivery.  I try to buy as much organic meat as I can, I have mentioned trying to use a local farm for my meat, but most of them are closed at the moment, so I will continue using Costco for now, they have some good quality organic meats and some nice nitrate free, gluten free sausages and bacon.  Hopefully shopping online will free up some much needed quality time for us.

Due to health issues in our house, gluten free is a diet we are adopting in the main, it’s been difficult finding recipes that live up to there claims and photos of being beautiful baked goods, so here is my recipe for a huge family favorite in our house… Gluten free skillet brownies

Ingredients 

A large skillet with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil coated on the bottom

1 cup of melted coconut oil or butter

2 cups of organic sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice, I’ve used Blu agave before and coconut sugar

4 organic large eggs

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chunks 
Add sugar and eggs to melted coconut oil and beat til completely combined.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chunks, stir until just combined, fold in the chocolate chunks until they are enemy distributed then pour into the oiled skillet, place in a pre-heated 350f oven and bake for 20-25 minutes… Take out of the oven and enjoy warm and sticky perfect gluten free brownies. 

  

Uncategorized

Simplifying life…

When you are a mother of a large family you get to a point in life when it is time to simplify your chaotic crazy life.  The first step for me to do this was treating myself to the Romba vacuum, oh how I love this addition to the house, the Romba works hard, she never complains and always completes the task she has been given in good time, unlike some other members of our house, not to mention any names… Wink wink!

The next task in hand is a major de clutter of every room, over the years I have been known to collect and hoard unnecessary junk, you never know you may need it some day, but to make life simpler and easier I think that junk all around needs to go, simplifying everyday tasks and giving me more time to enjoy life.

The next thing I thought about was grocery shopping, it’s not a task I relish each week, but it is a necessity.  I am becoming more and more a natural, organic freak, if it’s not organic or gluten free it quite often doesn’t make my shopping cart, with this in mind I have decided to revisit online shopping, something I frequently did when we lived in the UK, Waitrose was my favorite delivery service giving me good quality products and great service, so I would like to replicate this over here, unfortunately due to our location I am restricted to two shops and there delivery options, not overly impressed I have decided to use a new service  Thrive Market in conjunction with an organic fruit and vegetable delivery.  I try to buy as much organic meat as I can, I have mentioned trying to use a local farm for my meat, but most of them are closed at the moment, so I will continue using Costco for now, they have some good quality organic meats and some nice nitrate free, gluten free sausages and bacon.  Hopefully shopping online will free up some much needed quality time for us.

Due to health issues in our house, gluten free is a diet we are adopting in the main, it’s been difficult finding recipes that live up to there claims and photos of being beautiful baked goods, so here is my recipe for a huge family favorite in our house… Gluten free skillet brownies

Ingredients 

A large skillet with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil coated on the bottom

1 cup of melted coconut oil or butter

2 cups of organic sugar or a sugar substitute of your choice, I’ve used Blu agave before and coconut sugar

4 organic large eggs

2/3 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chunks 
Add sugar and eggs to melted coconut oil and beat til completely combined.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chunks, stir until just combined, fold in the chocolate chunks until they are enemy distributed then pour into the oiled skillet, place in a pre-heated 350f oven and bake for 20-25 minutes… Take out of the oven and enjoy warm and sticky perfect gluten free brownies. 

  

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First snow day of the year…

Now what shall I do with a whole day trapped in the house by the falling snow outside… I am definitely not a winter person, but there is something totally beautiful about a snow day at home, photos of an excited Florrie and Lewis trying to build a snowman,  the fire roaring, a stock pot cooking away with natural ingredients smelling through the house and Disney Junior playing on the tv, and that’s all before 9am.

  
In the past year health has become a very important issue to me, two members of our house were diagnosed with long term health issues, I am not a huge fan of taking medicines but when you are faced with health issues then you have to do what is best for you, but I do believe that we can do more natural things to help us get better and stay that way, hopefully… And that is why I have been manic about a healthier lifestyle.

We are not totally gluten free in our house but with autoimmune diseases, gluten could be an issue causing leaky gut, these problems need to be addressed to help our bodies heal naturally, and that is something I am trying to do.  With so many people living in our house I always get comments about any new way of eating, but gluten free products are becoming more regular products in my shopping cart each week, of course clean eating with natural good quality products mean that less gluten appears in our meals.  

Bone broth is meant to have fantastic health benefits for every one, even if you do not have on going health issues, bone broth is a fantastic food to add to meals or simply drink alone, so that is why right now on the first snow day of 2016 I have a slow cooker simmering away with bones and vegetables making my first ever pot of healthy goodness… Believe me though, the thought of eating the marrow from those bones grosses me out totally, I know that the health benefits for my family far out way my feeling about this, so I think this will now be a weekly routine for me.  

A friend of mine recently told me of a farm she uses for her natural healthy meat she purchases in bulk, I love this idea, even with a large family I think I could make this work. Buying natural grass fed, organic meat is getting easier these days as I think more and more people are becoming more health conscious, but I really like the idea of knowing exactly where my meat comes from and how the animals are looked after, I am also hoping they can include bone marrow in the meat order too, although all the bones I cook with will be used anyway, it seems you need good quality bones for a really good quality broth.

My new kitchen is on the horizon after 8 months of planning and researching I think I have finally made a decision… IKEA it will be in March when they have 15% off all kitchens, I’ve waited this long I may as well get the discount, it’s a must when you are spending so much money.  I will finally be getting back into baking, cooking and just fun, fun, fun in my kitchen again.  IKEA kitchens are well thought out, the combinations are endless and with a few design touches here and there I feel they can be made to look custom not flat packed and boring.  I have looked at many, many kitchen cupboards, and although the IKEA cabinets are not that much cheaper than other places they do offer flexibility and they look stylish… The only downside that I can see is that they come flat packed, so that is a lot of IKEA instructions, cabinet parts and time needed to assemble them.

  
  
I guess today is going to be spent writing a blog, drinking coffee and of course some wine, cooking and eating, on today’s menu is nitrate free organic bacon sandwiches, of course GF bread, with eggs and avocados, dinner will be grilled sausages, creamy potatoes and a warm winter salad.  Florrie has plans to bake some cookies for everyone and maybe we will read a book or two together… But to me snow days mean chilling out with family safe and warm indoors… Whatever your plans today, stay warm, safe and happy.