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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Baking…

I love to bake, I love making sweet treats for my family… but with a new oven to deal with it’s been difficult getting those cakes to rise and stay risen, so finally yesterday I googled the reason that cakes keep sinking in the middle, one of the causes could be the oven is too hot, the cake cooks from the outside in, so the cake is cooked and browned outside but the middle is not so it sinks… makes perfect sense, so I’m thinking a little experimentation is in order. 

With three Birthdays this month I needed to enlist my little bakers help, the first one was  this weekend, so we set about a nice easy Victoria Sponge recipe from Mary Berry, an easy mix all ingredients go in, mix together then divide equally into two 8 inch baking tins, bake at 350f for 25 minutes… both cakes looked good in the oven they rose nicely then just before they were due to come out they both sank in the middle… REALLY, I couldn’t believe it.  I sent Blu out for more eggs and started again.

I decided to switch recipes, this time a Victoria sandwich recipe from Jamie Oliver, his cake was a little more in ingredient weight and dial up the heat on the oven to 375f… this time the butter and sugar were beat together then the eggs added one by one, finally a gentle mixing in of the dry ingredients… once again both cakes looked good in the oven but just as the timer went off both cakes sunk in the middle… REALLY again!


Time to get GOOGLE working for me… ‘why are my cakes sinking in the middle?’


I had to use one set of cakes and after I added strawberry buttercream, fresh chopped strawberries and grated chocolate it really didn’t look so bad… my little helpers did a fantastic job of adding ingredients, counting the eggs, mixing, chopping strawberries, making chocolate drizzled strawberries and most importantly eating all the strawberries before they had a chance of going in the cake, that was the best part of all of this… for now I see a lot of experimentation of cake temperatures in my new oven… Happy Baking 🎂

Diet and nutrition

Change can be a good thing…

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I always find starting a new way of eating difficult, but this time I’m thinking slowly but surely wins the race! Both Paul and I need to lose some weight, my see chocolate and eat it post pregnancy diet, hasn’t helped me to off load the pounds, so it’s time to get to it!

Now I’m not saying I want to be totally Paleo, I was thinking I would just incorporate this way of eating into a healthy regime… It would be difficult for me to fully incorporate the cave man diet into my eating plan as I’m not a huge fan of meat, but I do love fish! I’m trying to plan recipes that can be adapted for everyone else in the house, so it’s no easy feat! 

The first thing I need to do is educate myself to reach for fruit instead of chocolate, and then Paul really needs some work, he will always reach for chips instead of anything, it really is baby steps for both of us!  

 

I like the idea of the Paleo diet, but I don’t want to be totally tied to it, it would be difficult to totally commit, so I’m using it as a guide line.  I suffer with IBS,  but I’ve been noticing a few things recently, like the fact that I can’t eat a lot of wheat based products, brown wheat bread gives me horrible cramps for hours, eating lighter healthier meals means I do not feel so bloated all the time… It’s all an experiment but my stomach has been feeling a lot better as I’m taking note of the things that hurt and the things that don’t! 

I’ve also reduced my main dairy intake too, the dairy aspect of my life has been replaced by coconut milk products, it’s been made a lot easier of course by Starbucks introducing coconut milk on to their menu… Phew, that was a close one, I almost had to give it up!

Paul also has some stomach issues, we are starting to help him by eliminating certain things from his diet, the first one is gluten, I’ve tried to research some of his problems and a lot looks like it could be linked to gluten, I’m no doctor but a diet change could help, I’m a great believer that diet is very important to almost all ailments , and the digestive system problems just scream change what you are eating!  For years now food companies have added all sorts of nasty things to our foods, we have been oblivious, these kinds of additives must have had some knock on effects to our bodies, it’s time to try and correct these bad things and replace them with good things! So far we are enjoying the gluten free bread, the grain free chocolate cookies tasted good but the  gluten free beer was not a success… Two out of three is not too bad a result!

  
Of course a little cheating here and there is a good thing… So here was ours on Sunday afternoon!

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Naturally delicious…

Is it just me or has this world become just a little bit crazier than when we were children? It’s getting back to our roots that is important… Do we really need all the convenience of modern living… I think not in many cases!

Don’t get me wrong there are many modern conveniences I could not live without… the internet, what would we do without that these days, my trusty Kitchen-aid mixer, a must have in my kitchen and air conditioning, on those hot, hot humid days when you need to just cool off, but the convenience of pre packed food is fast becoming a nightmare, why oh why do companies feel it is perfectly ok to fill our food with chemicals and dyes! What happened to good old fashioned healthy food products? Farmed salmon is full of horrible dyes and chemicals, simple products like a loaf of bread has potential cancer producing chemicals added, canola oil is advertised as a healthy oil… Well guess what? it really is not, I try to avoid this oil at all costs, I always like to use an oil that is actually derived from a plant not something that is man made… It’s all a horrible maze that has become very scarey!

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In our house I have stepped up home baking, Bread making, muffins, cookies and my ultimate favorite, Brownies all get baked and disappear as fast as they come out of the oven.
My favorite recipes…
chocolate chip muffins
This is my go to muffin recipe, I adjust it to the muffins I want to make, strawberry, apple, coconut… The options are endless!
brownies
This is my ultimate brownie recipe… To this I add whatever I feel like I fancy, a caramel swirl topping, chunks of chocolate and crispy salt… Or just as they come… Delicious!
the Pioneer Woman’s brown sugar oatmeal cookies
I recently found this recipe… Now my favorite cookie recipe ever!
Ina Garten’s shortbread cookies
With or without the chocolate these cookies are oh so good, they don’t usually make it into the tin in our house!

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I want to thank another Mom of a large family of 7 children for my new found love of easy bread baking, I do not personally know her but I follow her on Instagram and she has her own blog that I have been using for my bread recipes… A Farmhouse full … She has made me realize how easy bread making really is, especially with my Kitchen Aid mixer! Her pizza dough recipe is not only easy but delicious too!

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With Fall just around the corner, the long summer days are now numbered, I really need to get back to menu planning too, these days I seem to buy less and less pre-packaged foods and when I do just for convenience I try to buy the more natural options when I can! Yesterday I planned my menu for the week and shopped too, so here is what we are having for dinner this week, bare in mind I have two Birthdays next week, so Mabel has asked for a Pioneer Woman’s Pasta bar and Blu can’t decide between steak or ribs on the grill…

Flatbread sandwiches … This turned into chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Homemade pizzas
Pasta bar and grilled lemon chicken
Ribs… Garlic bread sticks and wedges (or steak)
Polenta brats and salad
Cous cous chicken salad
Left overs

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Whatever you are cooking this week… Have fun!

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Bye bye January…

I am wondering how I am meant to be resting up at 32 weeks pregnant with 35 minute drives twice weekly for iron infusions, Ultrasound appointments and two weekly OBGYN appointments… I’m doctored out right now, Florrie is fed up of being in the car and I’m really fed up of not being able to wear my normal warm clothing for this time of the year… Moan over!

Everyone says I look a lot better from the iron infusions, thankfully, but I’m still waiting for this magic drug to burst into the much needed energy I need to finish the projects I wanted to complete before this little man arrives, on the plus side I think all this iron is giving this baby super strength, he is a real wriggler and loves head butting my rib cage (he is breach at the moment) and kicking my bladder… All the fun moments of pregnancy… Ha, ha!

I am in love with the Baby Gap at the moment, the baby bargains have been in abundance this January, I think I have managed to get a whole newborn baby boy wardrobe for less than $100, he has long sleeve and short sleeve vests and cute little onesies, I love newborn babies in nighties, boy or girl they look so cute, so I have a few nighties too! I have very cute long johns in a variety of colors and I have my Mum and a close friend on knitting duty, cute little cardigans as I am sure the weather will be chilly and I love newborn hand knitted sweaters… All in all he will be the best dressed March newborn baby boy!

Of course I cannot forget my little Florrie’s spring closet, so I have been picking up a few bargains for her too, I love the Target Osh Kosh girls clothes… They recently had a very Cath Kidston raincoat and boots in there, of course a must for every toddler girls Spring wardrobe, they also have just reduced a few Osh Kosh items by 30%, so I got her a little spring jacket and red spotty dress… With Spring clothes appearing in the shops now, I just cannot wait for the warmer weather to arrive!

I have a small list of need to get items before the birth, but I’m very pleased with my bargain baby buys so far, we got 20% off the stroller! a super cheap managers clearance on our Chicco car seat $60 from $199, lots of clearance items from the Baby Gap, we already have the crib, it just needs converting from a baby girl to a cute boy crib! On my list still to get are little socks, some swaddle blankets, a head comforter for the car seat and a small nesting bassinet that can be used in the crib and our bed if needed… Not too many things left to get, so I am happy!

On a totally different subject, I am now going totally green with my dishwasher, I am totally addicted to Pinterest and have found a recipe for making your own dishwasher powder, I have bought the ingredients and am very keen to try it, our dishwasher does not seem to clean well and items do not sparkle, so in an effort to use less chemicals, be more economical and get the dishes cleaner, I’m trying out this recipe…
dishwasher powder recipe
Wish me luck, I will let you know how it works and report back here with my findings!

Just a few free pattern ideas for all you crafters out there… These are the ones I am loving!
crochet moose beanie… very cute?
crochet striped beanie… various sizes!
crib sheets… they look easy peasy!

Just a few recipes you might want to try this weekend…
The best broccoli and cauliflower cheese… Jamie Oliver style… thanks to friend sending me the link!
Super Bowl Sunday guacamole
Of course the Super Bowl would not be complete without chips and Queso… skinny style!

Happy first weekend in February… Hopefully this means the temperatures will get a little bit warmer, and we will see the grass again soon!

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Project runway…

I am going to mumble on today about a few of my favorite new foods we have tried recently… The first and my most favorite is a new salad mix from Costco, I am totally in love with this one, but unfortunately I have not been able to get it now for 2 weeks… Boo hoo! It is a super food salad made up of kale, shredded brussel sprouts and other great green leafy veggies, you add to that dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a poppy seed dressing… I am telling you, it is out of this world delicious!

Another first try for us is the puffed and lightly sweetened rice rolls from Trader Joes, OMG, so good for a light low calorie snack, especially when you are craving something sweet! They are the right amount of sweet and fill an empty hole in your tummy with only 45 calories per roll… Delicious and good for you!

A favorite in our house, especially with Mabel is quinoa, this has now replaced her love of cous, cous! Quinoa is a fabulous healthy grain that is so versatile and delicious mixed with salads and endless other dishes, last night I paired it with a warm chicken curry salad… Super healthy!

On the subject of new favorites, but on a slightly different subject… Cooking, I am loving making warm summer salads at the moment… with our BBQ not working at the moment, we are still deciding which direction to go with this one… An overhaul and service or a brand spanking new one? Anyway warm summer salads have been a food direction I have come to love, especially with this new salad mix made up of my hardy green leafy vegetables and raw sugar snap peas, add to that whatever you choose, beans, pulses, healthy grains then I have been topping the whole thing with the warm casserole I have made, last night it was chicken curry, the sauce acts as a warm dressing for the hardy raw salad and tossed together is delicious, slightly strange I know, but it really does work well!

Changing the subject now… Crafting has become a big addiction in my life, I have sewn a tepee playhouse for my Florrie’s 2nd Birthday, crocheted three sun hats and knitted a cocoon blanket in the last month. My ongoing project is a granny square blanket and now my new sewing project is an outdoor seat cushion for my old wicker sofa for the new deck area… I am loving discovering how much I love to create handmade things for the people I love in my life! Happy crafting!

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My favorite things to eat…

I am going to try and post my favorite recipe of the meal we have eaten in the last week, each Wednesday… This week I have two favorite recipes to share with you, both were very delicious and super healthy, I am trying to add chia seeds to all of our meals, more often than not I forget as I am usually doing my normal multi tasking Mommy act at this time of the day, but I will get into the habit soon… Fingers crossed!

Black bean and arugula salad with creamy avocado dressing

1/2 can of drained and rinsed black beans
5 small sweet baby peppers sliced
1 bag of arugula
1 small red onion finely sliced
1 handful of pea shoots chopped
1 handful of Cilantro chopped
1 avacado
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the first 6 items, then take a ripe avacado and mash or blend in a blender for a few minutes with lime juice and about 1/4 cup of water then add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, stir then coat your salad with your creamy dressing… Serve fresh with whatever takes your fancy, we had spicy Mexican pork with ours then a huge bowl of fresh strawberries for dessert… Healthy and very delicious!

White turkey chili with a twist

1 packet of ground turkey
Small amount of oil, I used spray coconut oil from Trader Joes
2 cups of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of cumin
1-2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes
1 small red onion finely chopped
3 small sweet peppers slice
2 large handfuls of spinach
1 can of cannellini beans drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 pack of orzo

Sauté the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, then add peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding ground turkey… Cook until browned then add spinach, let it slightly wilt before adding chicken broth, red pepper flakes, cumin and cannellini beans, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer then cover and cook for 30 minutes. Cook orzo according to the packet instructions, add the feta cheese, stir until slightly melted then when the turkey chili is cooked, combine it with the orzo and cheese mixture… Serve and enjoy!

It is Florrie’s second Birthday this coming Saturday, so after a long weekend filled with Anniversary, Mothers Day and Birthday celebrations, I am trying to concentrate on getting everything ready for my little flower to have a wonderful day too… This has meant finishing off her wigwam playhouse (tutorial to follow soon), shopping for cupcake supplies… Guess what cake she is having? and of course getting her some fabulous new princess pink toys! In a family as large as ours, parties don’t really need to be more than the people that are living in our house, well at the tender age of 2 anyway and that is about all I can cope with at the moment, I am sure next year maybe a different story!

Have a wonderful day… Sunny spring wishes for everyone!

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