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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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New Year… new food.

Meat eaters, vegetarians, gluten free or just plain picky eaters… I’ve devised a new way to plan a weekly menu for a large family there is every type of eater.


For a long, long time I’ve suffered to all the meat eaters in my family, I cook them the main meal every night, I cook the picky eaters a basic meal then when it comes to me, I just can’t be bothered, so I just grab anything that’s easy, usually it is not that healthy, I try but I just can’t cook 3 separate meals a night.  For anyone that knows me well, I love healthy eating, I make sure my family have healthy meals involving bone broth, lots of super grains and veggies, I even disguise the veggies in sauces and casseroles by pureeing them.  Well it’s time for change, I want to be inspired by food again, eat things I enjoy not just what the meat eaters in my family love, I hate beef in Guinness, I hate chicken noodle soup, or even chicken pot pie, it’s just not who I am… I love lots of healthy salads, eggs, lots of eggs, avocado toast and warm winter soups creamy and full of veggies, so I have devised a new strategy for menu planning for a large family of picky eaters, why I didn’t think of this sooner is beyond me. 

I have been researching lots of vegetarian recipes, the kind I like to eat, then I plan a meat to compliment that dish, hopefully it is plain enough for those that are plain eaters, I then add a carbohydrate for those that want it and voila… basically one meal three ways.

This weeks menu plan… 

Sunday – lemon chicken for some, Salmon for others, baked potatoes for some, baked sweet potatoes for others and salad

Monday – Jamie Oliver’s aubergine daal served with rice and salad and roasted chicken

Tuesday – Jamie Oliver’s blue cheese and sweet potato frittata served with salad, sausages and bread for those that want it.

Wednesday – Jamie Oliver’s chopped salad with a pasta bake.

Thursday – Jamie Oliver’s baked squash with quinoa and meatballs for those that want it.

Friday is always cheat day… no cooking, pizza day!

I always try to buy as much organic foods as my budget will allow or I can get, I am planning on some homemade bread baking this week too, clean eating is not always as easy as it sounds especially if you eat out, but I try very hard to keep my shopping very healthy with a large proportion of my budget going to fruit and vegetables and organic meat.

And so you have it, a menu planned for a very large family, three ways, meat for the meat eaters, grains for the carbohydrate fans, basic and plain for the picky eaters and the perfect vegetarian meal as the core of the plan… simple and hopefully delicious.

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‘Joy to the World…’

I always feel that this time of year is chaotic, the shops are full of crazy people filling their carts with anything and everything they can find, they spend as much money as they can on their loved ones… well my friends that used to be me, but not this year, I’m simplifying my life, I have set a limit for each child, all year they get things they need, I do not need to break my bank account to prove I love them with gifts and possessions, there are more important things in life like experiences, family time and love.


I want to teach my children about giving, not just about receiving, I want them to learn that this season is not just about what they want or need.  I don’t think anyone of my children actually need anything, they are loved, we live in a nice house that has running water, heat and a new kitchen (wink, wink), each one of them has a closet filled with clothes and we eat good healthy meals, most of the time, anyway.  In addition to all of the basics of life we have phones, iPads, computers and a lot of the luxuries in life many people just dream of… so I ask myself what can I really buy each of them that they don’t already have in one form or another…


What we do need from time to time is a vacation, not just a trip away but a vacation from just our day to day life, a day trip to the zoo, an hour in a coffee shop sipping a hot drink and just talking to each other, or even a longer stay in a new place, somewhere to rewind, relax and recharge… and all these things are really what Christmas should be about, not who spent the most money.


My plan this year is not to get stressed, my two younger children have been told Santa can only give five presents to each child, big or small, so Florrie wants a Baby Alive doll, Baby Alive diapers, a kitten… and then she struggles to think of anything else, Tate wants a Tonka cement truck, that is all… so really five gifts each is more than enough.  My teenage daughter’s list is the most difficult and the longest, trying to make her understand has proved the hardest, her list of four makeup products is $200 in itself, that’s without the rest of the list, usually I would stress myself out getting every item on her list but this year she has had to prioritize the things she wants most, and Blu is easy, computer games, a couple of items of clothes, even an IOU for future games that are coming out next year and he’s done.


As for my older children, well a few years ago we all decided to put names in a hat and just buy one larger gift for the name you pulled out, at first I was opposed to this but as time has gone on it has simplified my Christmas a little so I just have to think about Lewis this year, of course he is the most difficult to buy for, I just need a few hints… now if I can ignore everyone else asking me for ideas for their person it will be truly easier for me to concentrate on my one present I have to buy.

We will also be donating a gift this year at our local library, I feel we are truly blessed and there are so many people out there who are not as fortunate as our family… whatever your plans this Christmas, just remember the most important part of this festive time of year is spending time with your loved ones, not money, and if you can’t get that most wanted gift it really doesn’t matter, it will all be forgotten this time next year and they will want something else… just have FUN 🎄🎄🎄

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Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.


I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.


I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 


I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!


Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

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Anything your heart desires 💟

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to get my self organized, I’m not fully there yet, but I’m getting there.  Yesterday was the first time in a very long time that I got to sit down in a reasonably clean and tidy house and watch tv, I caught up on the show Welcome back Potter, Tate slept on my lap, Florrie was playing at her friends house across the garden from us, Paul was working and everyone else was out… peace and quiet time just for me… that is exactly what getting myself organized is all about.


I have realized I am just not happy and contented in disorganized chaos, I have no time as I’m always feeling there is something to do, which there normally is, but right now I’m content to look at toys sitting there as I know it’s a five minute job to clear it up, I’m happy to do my laundry as I’m so organized there is only a tiny pile, washed, dried and put away each day.  I have a lot to still do, but I can feel my house slowly returning to my true self.


My biggest problem is training my older children, shoes and clothes left anywhere and everywhere, food remnants scraped from their plates left in the sink… am I being too picky here? they are putting their plates in the dishwasher after all, but the clothes and shoes drive me crazy.  Florrie has discovered she likes things tidy and is my biggest helper, she loves emptying the dishwasher and knows exactly where everything goes, she loves cleaning, sweeping and mopping the floors, she could teach my older children a thing or two.


Anyway, the point of my story, enough of this rambling… I’m so organized this year I’ve actually organized my Christmas cards, they were ordered, printed and have arrived and it’s not even the middle of November yet, now this may seem pretty normal to all my organized friends out there, but to me it’s just so impressive, I am giving myself a huge pat on the back for this one… now all I’ve got to do is address the envelopes and mail them in good time for Christmas… fingers crossed I can get this done on my new organized schedule 🎅 

I think when all is said and done we can all change who we are, who we have been our whole lives it just takes a little work and belief in yourself that you can do it… I’ve even managed to fit in yoga and meditation into my busy schedule, I love it and hope I can continue the way things are right now.

Have faith, peace and love in your life and you can achieve anything your heart desires 💟

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Schedules, organization and new found happiness.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that it is not only the food we eat that is poisoned with chemicals, the the products we clean our house with is even worse… cleaning and tidying our house is a hazard breathing in the fumes from the cleaning products we have to use, in recent years I have switched over to more natural cleaners, laundry detergent and dishwashing products, Target is my favorite place to buy these products they have a great selection and I definitely feel better not breathing in all those chemicals found in conventional cleaners.

It has taken me a lot of years to find a cleaning schedule that works for me, I’ve always been a huge do all your housework in one day person, but I end up grumpy, exhausted and dislike everyone around me as I’ve scrubbed everything all in one day and it’s their fault. I’ve  never been very good at organizing and decluttering my life, but right now I seem to have hit on a system that works for me… decluttering is part of the schedule, the less cluttered a space is the easier and quicker it is to clean, freeing my time up for other things… always the best side of life.

I have read several articles about decluttering your life in 30 days, 365 days, but my system just requires decluttering in the normal course of my cleaning routine, so far I have cleaned up both bathrooms, Florries bedroom, our bedroom, the kitchen, our entryway and our front living room, next stop the closets… do I love it? do I really need it? Keep it or toss?

I do not proclaim to be perfect, of course there will always be things I can’t live without, but changing the way I think is changing our lives, I’ve struggled for the past couple of years in our house, I felt I just couldn’t get on top of our mess, I would go out rather than stay in and face the mess, but finally I’m sorting my life out, I’m meditating, fitting yoga into my schedule, organizing  with my household schedules and getting the hang of teaching my little ones myself.


So here is a glimpse at my week, before the fun starts…

Everyday tasks…

Wipe down the countertops

Wipe down the kitchen sink

Sweep the floors

Take out the trash

Do the laundry… being a large family means clothes need washing every day
Once a week tasks…

Wipe down the appliances MONDAY

Scrub the toilets showers and sinks TUESDAY

Clean the mirrors WEDNESDAY

Dust the furniture and shelving WEDNESDAY

Change the bed linens THURSDAY … two beds every week, this may seem like I only wash my bedding every 10 weeks, but I only wash 3 1/2 beds at the moment.

Vacuum carpets rugs and upholstery THURSDAY… IROBOT ON EVERY DAY

Mop the floors FRIDAY

Clean and check fridge for expired items FRIDAY

Grocery  shopping  FRIDAY
I have always been a huge menu planner, you have to be with a large family… now I am taking this approach to running my house, plan, plan, plan, this may not work for everyone but right now it really is working for me and I feel so much happier, of course I always have my little or slightly bigger saboteurs, but now I feel armed with the knowledge how to combat this And it seems to be working so far.