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

Gestational diabetes? Maybe…

I have to say this pregnancy has not been one of my best, I don’t think it’s my age because when I had Farrel at 27, I remember feeling the same… I blame those boys, I seemed to sail through both of my girls pregnancies! I have been waiting patiently for my pregnancy bloom, but it just hasn’t happened, so at 30 weeks I am resigned to 9 more weeks (c section at 39 weeks) of just making the best of how I feel!

Last week after taking the glucose test I was urgently called into my doctors office… Low iron and a high sugar in my blood… Alarm bells… Gestational diabetes… That explains exactly how I have been feeling and looking! Thankfully my OB wanted me to try the diet route first, I was happy about that… High protein, low sugar, low carbs… Basically limited whole wheat carbs or gluten free, lots of protein and very little sugar, fruit included! Now I thought this would be easy, but the first few days were tough… It is surprising how many things we buy and eat that are bad carbs and very sugary, but thankfully we have the internet and Pinterest these days… Life on a special diet does not have to boring, the recipes are endless, and as I am making everyone in my house eat these foods, for ease of planning and cooking, I am getting into full swing… Tonight we have a delicious egg and baked tomato with pesto with a spinach salad and quinoa mix… Lots of protein and iron rich spinach!

After a lot of research over the weekend I have bought blue agave as a sweetener, tofu, I love tofu, very low sugar nut bars for a snack, blue corn chips are meant to be good for blood sugar levels as long as they are not fried, but baked… It has been very interesting to understand how the body works… Protein seems to be a key ingredient along with lots of veggies in most special diets, so this is my thoughts on planning my diet over the coming weeks!

Breakfast seems to be the most difficult to plan and eat well, as I am usually rushing out somewhere, so with this in my mind I have researched one of my favorites baked oatmeal, I can place all the ingredients for a pumpkin baked oatmeal into the Ninja and just switch it on in the morning! Pumpkin is meant to be a super food for diabetics, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, of course we all know that oatmeal is a very slow release complex carb that is good for all diets, making this a perfect breakfast, full of energy and nutrition, it can be made dairy free by using coconut or almond milk and by simply using gluten free oats it becomes gluten free!

Pumpkin pie oatmeal in the slow cooker
My changes to this recipe are… instead of the brown sugar I will add only 1/4 cup of blue agave sweetener, and to replace the pumpkin pie spices I will add cinnamon and nutmeg. Also an addition of a tablespoon of non fat Greek yoghurt adds much needed protein to your nutritious breakfast too!

The moral of this story is when you are feeling very sorry for yourself, as I was last week and finding it difficult to cope with diet changes… Positive thinking and lots of research can make you feel much better, after not eating well on Saturday and feeling dreadful and ending up in bed early on Saturday evening, I am determined to get my blood sugars reduced by just diet alone, I hate taking medication and feel it should definitely be used after trying natural methods for most things… On the plus side we are eating really well now, lots of raw vegetables and complex carbs, paired with lean proteins… Delicious!

On a quick side note… If you are trying to live your life more healthier, or have been diagnosed with a disease that requires a special diet… Go grocery shopping in Costco, over the past few months they have introduced so many new organic healthy choices, all at good competitive prices. Over the past few weeks the new items I have bought are, freekah, a healthy grain like quinoa, very low sugar snacking nut bites, ancient grain spelt flour pretzels, a quinoa and healthy rice mix… Everything has been organic too, which is a big plus in my book! My other faves are their baby kale mixed salad, their own fat free Greek yoghurt, full of protein and now they actually have a very reasonably priced large bottle of avocado oil! There is so much more organic choices to choose from… It’s well worth a visit!

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Recipes to try…
Black and wild rice salad with roasted squash
Olive rosemary bread

Product reviews

… My Vitamix!

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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!

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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!

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Juice with me…

Organizing tip number 1… Do not pick up your crochet hook and begin another granny square… Bad, bad idea as you really don’t get a lot of organizing actually done, but your granny square pile grows nearer to becoming an actual blanket!
Organizing tip number 2… Stick to your list… Your plan of action is your key to all things organized!
And finally, organizing tip number 3…actually start your week with a positive attitude and the thought in your mind that your Mum will be arriving one week from tomorrow… Ahhhhhhh!

Guess what I am going to be doing this week?

Several weeks ago I bought a set of new plates and bowls, it’s time to get rid of all those chipped, mismatching plates that I have hanging around, so with that thought in mind, I decided it was time to do exactly the same with all our odd, well dishwashed glasses, so I bought a sparkling set of 10 tall and 10 short matching glasses from Costco last week! Finally my cupboards will have sets of nice new china and glassware sitting on the shelves!

Spring arrived here over this past weekend, things are changing today again, but I think it’s definitely time to give my closet a spring makeover… Time to put away all my grey winter clothes and bring forward the bright colors of summer!

As far as food goes, we have already been in the salad mode for a while, my fridge remains ultra organized, clean and healthy, my pantry is exactly the same… So no organizing required there! But my actual kitchen is in need of a spring clean and re-organizing, so I’m onto that this week, I am definitely the type of person that does not cope well in a messy kitchen, I also have a brand new juicer to fit into a cupboard somewhere so that I can free up my kitchen side where it is currently residing!

Super Healthy Smoothie Recipe
Serves 2

Freshly juiced fruit and veggies (I used a handful of spinach, 3 strawberries, a few slices of pineapple, 3 satsumas, an apple and 1 orange)
2 Activia yogurt
2 teaspoons of chia seeds

Freshly juice your fruit and veggies, then add two yogurts, flavor of your choice to the blender, add your freshly pressed juice and blend together… Serve in a tall glass then stir in your chia seeds! (Super tip of the week, chia seeds are the best value in Costco $14.99 for a huge bag… So for someone like me who uses them all the time, it’s a bargain!)

I have bought some preserving jars to store my juice in, and also to make up smoothies for Paul to take to work with him… A quick shake and his smoothie will be ready to drink!

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Changes…

Wow… It’s only taken me 45 years to realize how important our diet really is to our well being, after being an anorexic teenager and suffering from IBS on and off for many years, I am finally understanding binge eating chocolate and chips, then starving yourself is so bad for you… Duh! With recent events in our household the stress levels meant I did not eat for over a week, this has triggered the horrible symptoms of IBS to rear its ugly head again… So it’s time to squash this thing once and for all… I am very good at preaching a healthy diet to others, but to actually practice it for myself is another thing… Every morning I make an ultra healthy salad for Paul’s lunch, but then when it comes to lunch time I binge snack on all the bad things I can find because I cannot be bothered to throw a simple healthy lunch together for myself… Well it’s time to change the bad habits of a lifetime!

One of my thoughts in rehabilitating myself is to buy a juicer, it’s a thought at the moment, but maybe I will find it easier to drink lots of fruit instead of just looking at it in the bottom of my fridge … Thoughts from everyone would be appreciated here… Good, bad or just a complete waste of money? When I’m hungry and in need of a snack, I automatically reach for something unhealthy, whatever is easiest really, I don’t think oh that apple looks yummy, I will eat that!

One of the things recommended to Jordan recently by his Gastro doctor for good digestive health was Activia, probiotic yogurts, I often look at them in stop and shop, but this week I actually bought them, I am trying to have one for breakfast every day, this is my second day and I do have to say yesterday I did feel less bloated, but that may have just been my imagination because I want them to help… I will continue to have them for breakfast and see if it does help and make me feel better!

My grocery shopping has changed over recent years, we went to Trader Joes last weekend and I noted that almost half of my bill was actually organic fruit and vegetables, also my dry goods were mainly brown organic rice products or fully gluten free, our snacks were more healthy granola bars… In years past the refined processed products would have filled my cart… Much to my older children’s frustration our pantry and refrigerator is now 80% healthy organic produce and grains… Now I need to really start eating this stuff myself, not just giving it to my family, then binge eating all day on the cheese that sits in the fridge door!

I am also trying hard to reduce my stress levels… Difficult in our house, believe me… My Mum’s brother has always said ‘don’t worry about things that may never happen’, well this is my new motto in life, I have spent my whole life worrying about anything and everything, so now I am trying to live one day at a time, deal with that day and then move on… Easier said than done, but I am trying!

Have a great day… Look for the positives and not the negatives around you… And just be happy!

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