Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The food pyramid

I have been reading Michael Pollan's book 'In Defence of Food' which looks at the american government policies about food. Obviously this advice comes from nutrition scientists so generally reflects the thinking in Australia and our subsequent policies about 'healthy eating'.
He reflects on the nutrition scientists history of discovering the elements of our food, the discovery of protein, carbs and fats marked the point where they thought they knew 'everything' in food. Then when certain diseases did not seem to fit this model, such as scurvy then scientists discovered a whole new set of hidden elements of our food - vitamins. Well! They thought they knew it all then!

Out thinking about lipids or at that particular time animal fats came out of post war observations. During rationing the rates of heart disease etc dropped significantly. On the surface it would seem that the limited supplies of meats, butters, lard etc dropped those pesky rates of lifestyle diseases? So what was the result of this observation?

Don't know if anyone remembers the song that used to play on Australian television from 'Life Be In It' ♪♫ eat less fat, eat less salt, eat less sugar!! ♫♪
Here's a reminder remember Norm?
But what was the result? Did we get thinner? Did rates of lifestyle diseases drop?
Big fat NO! The got worse and while they did, we started learning new things about food, such as Carbohydrates can make you fat too. Did the government revise the food pyramid? No - they just started telling the public they are not exercising enough! Its our fault!
Looking at the pyramid....if you ate like this there is NO way you could stay slim and lifestyle disease free.
Along came Atkins type diets...Carbs are the enemy, meats, dairy, cheeses are great!! Green leafy vegetables are great!! Sugar is bad!! While it is a 'little' extreme many people have followed this diet with amazing results, so are they on to something here? And why are we not seeing changes in the food pyramid?
Well look at the bottom  of the pyramid - processed foods. Cereals, pasta, breads all able to be manufactured and made a profit from PLUS you can 'tinker' with them as the latest diet crazes hit such as Omega 3? Now in breads, cereals and pastas. Low carb? yup you can get low carb pasta. Low GI? yup you have all these products including some biscuits declaring their low carb status from the shelves.
So what is the solution? Step back for a moment, consider the way traditional diets are - generally animal products, meats, cheeses, butter, yogurt, fruits and vegetables with some wholegrains for good measure. Generally low carb.
Consider this as an alternative food pyramid.....

Don't know about you but this seems like the pyramid of least processing?
I tell you what this journey is opening my eyes a LOT, there are a lot of entrenched habits we need to sort through. Guilt is a big one for me - especially if I 'break' what the government calls 'healthy food'

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sausage Ragu

Just like bangers and mash but much more interesting!!
Sausages are a very reasonably priced dinner but who only wants them barbecued???
Give this a try...

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 teaspoons olive oil
375g Italian-style sausages
1 brown onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
800g potatoes, peeled, chopped
1/3 cup milk
40g butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Small basil leaves, to serve

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook sausages, turning, for 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Cut into 3cm pieces.
Add onion and garlic to pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Add stock and tomato. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return sausage to pan. Add chopped basil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, cook potato in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return to pan. Mash. Add milk, butter and parmesan. Stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve mash with sausage mixture and basil.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ways to increase your incidental exercise

Just a short one today - I have been struggling to find the time to get more than a small amount of scheduled exercise in so have been thinking of ways to add in incidental exercises.
If you are in the same situation as me consider giving some of these a all adds up!

To make a habit out of increasing activity in your day, you can:

Take the stairs instead of the lift.
Park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
Walk or cycle instead of using the car for short trips.
Take your dog (or a neighbour’s dog) for a walk.
Walk rather than rest on escalators or travelators.
Get off the bus/train/tram one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
Pull some weeds/work in the garden.
Play with children in an active way.
Catch up with friends by walking together rather than going for coffee.
Try a new sport or go back to one you have played before.
Do some simple exercises (eg jog on the spot) while waiting for the kettle to boil or for food to cook in the microwave.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Are we a product of where we live? Can we break the 'mould'?

I was considering the comments another student mentioned today while we were discussing the ethics of a junk food advertising ban. He pointed out that were he came from in Port Pirie (a regional centre in SA but a country town none the less) the road to the local school was a junk food strip. McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway (not too bad) all on the one road, right next door to one another.
What does this say about what we find acceptable? I have heard a few times in the past about country townspeople getting up in arms about junk food stores coming to their town - they didn't want them.
I can see why - without the choice, people can't have it! I know this may sound paternalistic but if there is a fast food outlet on every corner you options for 'convenience' are very strong.
It used to be just a fish and chip shop on the corner - with that limited choice you would get sick of them pretty quick. I understand now what country people are desperate to keep fast food chains out of their towns.......they breed.

Where we live and our social demographic with regards to health and obesity, I think stems from the socio-economic status of that suburb - and junk food chains know this!
Walking down The Parade Norwood I think you would only find a subway store and oooodles and oooodles of specialised food outlets with spices, organics fruit and vege, boutique butchers, cafes with gourmet foods etc.
If you head to Munno Para in the Northern suburbs both the external and internal shopping area are littered with junk food! Is this fair?!?! Your options at Munno Para are as follows......Boost Juice, Donut King, Go Fish, Mamma Mia's, Subway (Internal), Tasty Asian, Wendy's, Yiros Club 2, Barnacle Bills, Caffe Primo, Cheesecake Shop Cafe, Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar, Hungry Jacks, McDonald's, Noodle Box, Pizza Hut,
Red Rooster, Subway (External), The Pretzel Zone, Time-Out Cafe, Tores Snack Bar, Vili's Mini Cafe

That is a LOT of junk food and only a few healthy(ish) options - but guess which are cheaper?
We have made it rational to eat bad based on price - and the fast food outlets know it! Why else do they set up shop in the low socio-economic suburbs? The cheapest option always wins when you are short of money
This is not fair! Why is it only the 'norm' in affluent suburbs to eat 'healthy'?
We have made it 'normal' to have these foods in our diets - now how did that happen?
Well, advertising
Pester power is one of the greatest forces (on earth?)
Advertisers directly target children to get them to pester you enough to give in - but is it ethical to advertise to children at all?
They lack the cognitive power to process and advertisement and don't understand the complex psychological tactics used in advertising to entice them. Is it fair to 'trick' someone who doesn't understand the trick at all?
I say no.
As adults we understand we are being advertised too - children find adverts entertaining and gauge social norms from what they see. They have no idea that someone in the world has an agenda that doesn't take their welfare into account.

So what of it then? consider this - if ALL children regardless of socio-economic status are growing up in a world where fast food is bombarded at them during TV (and sponsorship of their sporting programs) how do they see the world? Consider it - put yourself in the shoes of your child, what do they see? What is 'normal'? To have LCM's in your lunchbox? To have fruit roll-ups instead of fruit? To have fun times like birthdays at McDonald's? Consider what their world looks like - then consider if you want to do something about it - or be happy with it.
Consider what that will look like when they are adults - what decisions will they make based on what is 'normal'?

For more information.....Coalition on Food Advertising to Children

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Picnic Cob Loaf/Loaves

Perfect to take for a (pretty much) mess free picnic with the family. Can be served cold or warm in small individual or large cob.
I little indulgent but this recipe would lend well to changes on the basic idea for example ham or salami instead of prosciutto or cheddar cheese or ricotta instead of brie. You get the idea....enjoy!
Cob loaf accompanying image
Picnic cob loaves
Serves 4

1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
1 tsp olive oil
1 zucchini, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthways
1 small (about 300g) orange sweet potato (kumara), peeled, thinly sliced
4 small sourdough rolls
¼ cup (70g) green olive tapenade or pesto
½ cup basil leaves
4 prosciutto slices
50g brie, thinly sliced
50g semi-dried cherry tomatoes

Preheat grill on high. Cook capsicums, turning occasionally, under grill for 8-10minutes or until charred and blistered.
Transfer capsicums to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes (this helps lift the skin).
Use a knife to peel, then cut lengthways into quarters and remove seeds.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the zucchini and sweet potato and cook for 2 minutes each side or until tender. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini and sweet potato.
Use a small serrated knife to cut the top third off each sourdough roll. Reserve tops. Scoop out bread, leaving 1cm-thick shells. Spread the inside of each roll with tapenade, then arrange half the basil leaves over the bases. Place a layer of sweet potato over the basil, then top with prosciutto. Continue layering with brie, zucchini, capsicum, tomato and the remaining basil. Replace tops of rolls and press down firmly to compress filling.
Place rolls on an oven tray and top with another oven tray. Place cans ontop to weigh down. Place in the fridge overnight to develop the fl avours.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake rolls for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Part 2

Spring Cleaning Guide

Try to look at the whole room and one room at a time only.

Grab two baskets. Toss - Wrong Room - Put back away 
Get your cleaning gear ready. Vacuum - duster - damp cloth - bucket warm soapy water - paper towel - vinegar/water mix in spray bottle - multipurpose cleaner (such as EcoStore Products found in most supermarkets) - sponge with net cover


1. Start at the ceiling

          - dust light fittings
          - dust ceiling for cobwebs or fluff
          - wipe over cornices in wet areas with damp cloth
          - remove and clean any exhaust fans
2. Look at each wall individually
          - clean light switches/power points with well wrung out cloth
          - clean architraves and skirting boards with damp cloth
          - remove and wash curtains or wipe over blinds with damp cloth
          - clean windows with vinegar and paper towel
          - clean exterior of cupboards with cleaner and cloth
3. Tackle each fixture individually
          - remove any items from inside cupboards, sort into boxes where necessary, or clean items and  place outside room
          - clean inside cupboards with whatever necessary (cleaner/cloth) or
          - clean fixture with cleaner and sponge
          - Move to next fixture
4. Flooring
          - mop hard floors
5. Finish off the baskets
          - put it in the room it belongs
          - throw it in the rubbish
          - consider storage containers for small grouped items (e.g hair box, nails box, shaving box)
          - replace larger items in grouped usage (e.g beauty, suncream/mozzie, tissues and scenting, cleaning products, washing machine products)

6. Open up the windows and let the fresh air in!

Spring Cleaning - Part 1

I love the idea of spring cleaning but to be perfectly honest - I have never done the 'spring cleaning' you see in magazines. But doesn't it look wonderful?
Airing out the house, cleaning the veil of filth from winter, organizing your house to be fresh and clean....that's it! I am doing it this time!

I am a nutter of an organiser! I have been accused of some OCD tendancies so have what I think is the perfect spring cleaning system. I know, I know I said I haven't 'spring cleaned' before but I have done whole rooms before - just not in spring!

Spring Cleaning Room Guide

Try to look at the whole room and one room only.
Grab three baskets. Toss - Wrong Room - Charity
Get your cleaning gear ready. Vacuum - duster - damp cloth - bucket warm soapy water - paper towel - vinegar/water mix in spray bottle

Lounge/Dining/Family Rooms

1. Start at the ceiling
         - dust light fittings
         - dust ceiling for cobwebs or fluff
2. Look at each wall individually
         - wipe over any picture frames/mirrors/hangings, clean glass with vinegar and paper towel
         - clean light switches/power points with well wrung out cloth
         - clean architraves and skirting boards with damp cloth
         - remove and wash curtains or wipe over blinds with damp cloth
         - clean windows with vinegar and paper towel
3. Tackle each large item of furniture individually
         - remove any items from furniture, sort into boxes where necessary, or clean items and place aside
         - clean item of furniture with whatever necessary (vacuum/cloth/vinegar)
         - replace items to keep. Move to next piece of furniture
4. Flooring
         - vaccum any rugs and roll up
         - vaccum carpeting or mop hard floors
5. Finish off the baskets
         - take it to charity
         - put it in the room it belongs
         - throw it in the rubbish
6. Open up the windows and let the fresh air in!

Voila! See that wasn't so hard?!?

Next - bathroom - laundry

2 Guest Blogs coming soon....

We have a guest blogger coming soon!

Hopefully we can drag him away from his busy career to write two blogs.

Ricky Muller has a Bachelor of Science in Biodiversity and Conservaton from Flinders University.
He takes a keen interest in sustainable, organic farming practices such as using permaculture and biodynamic methods to improve and maintain agricultural soil condition.

One of his blogs is going to give us a life-cycle story which follows the journey of chemicals used in farming. He will describe the impacts of such practices to demonstrate how we end up ingesting them in ways we *hadn't* thought of as well as what these practices do to our land and the future of farming in this country.

Blog number two will be about the journey the chemicals we use in our homes and on our gardens take. He will discribe just where these chemicals end up and also look at how they end up on our plates!

I don't know about YOU but I can't wait to have a real example of how each of us contributes to our environment and our own food.
I will be nice to be able to understand how our choices affect ourselves and others - good or bad and know what we can do about it.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Muesli Slice

50g butter

1/2 cup raw sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) honey
200g pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 Weet-bix, crushed
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 170°C.
Line a 20cm square cake pan with non-stick baking paper.
Place the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine the pepitas, Weet-bix, sultanas, oats and flour in a large bowl. Add the butter mixture and stir until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the lined pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden. Set aside in the pan for 30 minutes to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.

Savoury Muffin Snacks (Choose your own adventure!)

Basic version - variations at the end

2 cups self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
75g shaved salami, thinly sliced (mild for kids, hot if you like)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
125g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease 2 x 12 hole muffin pan (or mini muffin pan/x-large muffin pan). Line base of each hole with rounds of baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
After grating veggies, squeeze out excess moisture.
Add vegetables, salami and 1/2 cup cheese to flour. Stir.
Whisk eggs, milk and butter in a jug. Add to dry ingredients. Using a large metal spoon, stir until combined.
Two-thirds fill muffin holes with mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. When done, leave to cool on bench for 5-10mins before turning onto wire rack

These freeze amazingly well, wrapped individually in cling wrap and are perfect for morning of afternoon tea!

Remember just to watch the quantities - and be aware of the final consistency of the mixture.

Substitute the meat:
  • Ham instead or with the salami, bacon
replace some of the veggie mix with any combinations of the following:
  • sliced olives, capsicum, mushrooms, wilted spinach, onion, sun dried tomato, corn
consider adding herbs:
  • Chives, chilli, paprika, oregano
Substitute the cheese:
  • mozzarella, Parmesan

Friday, September 3, 2010


Ahhh this time of year starts to wake everyone up again. Blue skys and fresh air (albeit sometimes chilly) just makes me want to open the windows and invite everyone over for a dinner on the deck!
(Obviously not talking about the mini hurricane in Adelaide today)

entertaining HAS to be one of my favourite things and licence to try out new recipes - I have heard sooo many times that you should *never* try out a new recipe when you have guests.....pfffftt! I rarely do the same thing twice, but I do have a few favourites that I will share with you.
Prawns Saganaki is one of my all time favourites to share with friends - love the fact it uses seafood (Australia has the best of course) it can all be pre-chopped and just requires one pan and takes 10 mins to cook!
Another is what I call 'french chicken'. It is basically a sauce I invented, which is French inspired

"French Chicken"

4 chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic (you actually need cloves for this one)
1 onion, quartered
Mushrooms, chopped (not neatly they are just for flavour)
Tub of Creme Fraiche (think about 300g??)
Dry white wine
Can add herbs, I like sage or thyme OR add a bouquet garni

In very large fry pan melt a tablespoon of butter, add onion, garlic and mushrooms. When onions soft, add chicken breasts, brown both sides. Add about a cup or two of white wine, simmer to reduce (just a little). Add tub of creme fraiche, salt and pepper to taste, simmer until chicken cooked through.
Place chicken breasts on serving plates. Strain sauce through sieve, into jug. Pour over chicken.

Best served with green beans and carrots.

Another one dish wonder to 'share' at the table
"Pasta bake with Pumpkin, Feta and Lamb"

1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (or tblspn minced garlic)
500g lamb mince
2 tsp ground cumin
1-1 1/2 cups, diced tomatoes (or use whole can, diced tomatoes)
150g baby spinach leaves
200g Home Brand dried bow tie pasta
1 Butternut, cubed (approx 2cm pieces)
100g - 200g feta, crumbled
Sprinkling shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat a splash of oil or butter, in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the mince and cook, break up any lumps, until mince changes colour. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato.
Meanwhile, reserve 40g (1 cup) of the spinach. Place the remaining spinach in a large colander in the sink. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin half way through cooking. Pour the pasta mixture over the spinach in the colander to drain. Return the pasta mixture to the pan.
Add the mince mixture and half the feta to the pasta mixture or vice versa (depending on how big each pan is!). Stir until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a 2L (8-cup) capacity baking dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan and remaining feta. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Top with the reserved spinach.

And for those who love olives and chicken married together...
"Mediterranean Chicken"

6 small (about 600g) chicken drumsticks

6 (about 1.5kg) chicken thigh cutlets
1kg chat (small coliban) potatoes, halved
2-4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
95g (1/2 cup) kalamata olives (or more depending if you like them)
2 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced (or 2 tblspns minced garlic)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat oil or butter in a 3L (12-cup capacity) metal roasting dish, over medium heat. Add the chicken drumsticks and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the chicken thigh cutlets.
Add a little more butter if needed then add the potato to the dish and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat.
Add the chicken to the potato in the dish and top with tomato, olives and garlic. Sprinkle with rosemary. Pour over the wine. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and potato is tender. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

bout time I put a dessert up! Bread and Butter Pudding (not the soggy one)

Back to basics - bread and butter pudding (not the soggy one)

8 slices of bread, buttered
1/2 cup sultanas
3 level tablespoons caster sugar
Ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Heat oven to 160 degrees. Cut each slice of bread and butter into 4 triangles. Arrange bread in the base of a lightly greased baking dish. Add the sultanas between the bread slices (so they don't get burned). Sprinkle with the sugar and dust with some cinnamon.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together. Carefully pour over the bread. Sprinkle on a little more cinnamon (if required/desired).
Let stand for half an hour. Don't worry if the top pieces of bread are not submerged under the milk - these are going to be the nice crispy bits. Bake until the "custard" has set and the pudding is golden brown on the top. this will take about 40 minutes.

Variations: The sky is the limit really - replace sultanas and cinnamon with whatever takes your fancy, just member to be aware of protecting any fruit that may burn in the oven. Here are some ideas:

Raspberry and White chocolate
Banana and walnut/pecan
Apple (tinned cooking apples), walnut and cinnamon
Marmalade, jam or lemon curd on the bread slices
Something I haven't tried but might work - melted chocolate in the egg mixture with Kahlua, mmmm
Coffee to the egg mixture with whatever between the bread!
Any fruits from tin and nuts or chocolate.
Basically what ever you want - add alcohol, add chocolate, add nuts, add fruit, add spices!

So I bought a bike

green pedal power PLUS exercise!
funny story though as I can't actually ride a bike - apparently I learnt (sort of) as a kid and in my Mum's words "sucked" at it.
So I have gone all out and bought a beautiful bike that I was unsure if I could actually ride - but how hard could it be?
I *can* ride a fitness bike, right?
That was a joke which had a very dear friend in fits of laughter, we used to go to the gym together and one day told her I couldn't ride a bike - she just about we herself laughing as I got on the stationary bike offering me helmuts to crash mats...just in case I fell off. Who needs enemys when you have friends like that! ;)

So I have this lovely bike which my dad helped me select (he is an avid cyclist) and we are on the street teaching me to ride - jokes about training wheels aside - my poor Dad is holding the seat of the bike and pushing me up the hill till I get some momentum mumbling "this brings back memories"

I am off! Up the hill, doing fine, shit...I have to turn around.
I look back for cars and see the terrified faces of my Dad and Stepmum as I wobble turn the bike around (without falling off!) YAY!!! does that mean I am a pro yet?

Long story short I *can* now ride a bike (I had faith in me!) just need a bit of practice before I hitch the kiddies trailer on the back and start riding to the library or the shops.
Good thing about taking the kids in the trailer is, if they are under the age of 12 you can ride on the footpath. Much safer for us....and any vehicles *I* am likely to hit

Monday, August 30, 2010

fallen off the rails

All up shit creek without a paddle for me. I have slipped back into junk food and not cooking - this has had dire consequences! 7kgs but I can't just blame this on junk food I stopped breastfeeding and the weight has crept on.
Urgh! Well what to do?
Motiviation boost! Reality check!
I am going to get off my ass and cook! This is ridiculous I have plenty of food, plenty of recipes so what is the problem? Why do I keep heading to junk food? Convenience?
I can't stand the thought of my daughter ever eating it - so why am I happy to eat it myself?
Monkey see, monkey do - time for me to wake up

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Sorry for the delay in my blog...think it was about time I told you about the homemade pie episode.
First of all, I was shocked at how quick the whole process was! I always assumed that doing ANYTHING that required homemade pastry was an epic journey! But surprisingly it is not.

The recipe I am going to share with you is for a 'Mushroom Beef Pie' there is lots of flexibility for this recipe depending on what meats/spices/veggies etc you have available. The recipe for the meat filling with be under 'Beef Recipes' whereas the recipe for the pastry will be under 'misc recipes', k?

Mushroom Beef Pie Filling

1 onion diced
90g fat (butter/lard/margarine)
350g beef (mince/diced/leftover roast)
30g flour (maybe more)
140mls beef stock
280mls milk
120g mushrooms, sliced
230g peas (approx)
seasonings/flavourings of your choice (I used splash of worchesershire sauce, tomato paste and a bay leaf)
Quantity of short crust pastry
TO GLAZE: with milk or egg

fry onion in a third of the butter in a large frypan,  add the meat and cook until browned. Stir in flour (should look gluggy) and cook for several minutes. Gradually blend in the stock and the milk. Bring to the boil and cook until reduced to a smooth sauce.
Meanwhile fry sliced mushrooms in the remaining butter. Stir the mushrooms and peas into the sauce, season and put into pie dish/ramekin. Cover with pastry, brush with a little milk/egg and cook in med oven 180/160 degrees until browned pastry. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Words of wisdom

"breakfast is the most important meal of the day"
"eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper" (Adelle Davis)

Perhaps these words of wisdom have some scientific basis?
Several studies have found that people who eat breakfast have better weight outcomes and are often of a normal weight, less irritable, more alert and productive, and are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods.

Quite often I have heard friends who do no eat breakfast cite reasons such as time or saying they feel hungry sooner in the morning.

The hunger is your metabolism at work and is most likely an 'overreaction' at first because you have famined for so long! I found that when I re-introduced breakfast, I needed a mid-morning snack but that need soon went away.

As for time, well, come on! I am not talking about a three course meal! Muesli is a great breakfast and super quick.
Other more elaborate options may take some creative strategies to achieve.
Consider preparing the night before. Set the table and pre-cut/layout the items you need for the morning. Put the coffee and sugar in the cup on the side with the in your pre-coffee daze you can prepare breakfast 'production line' style!

Some of the better options for breakfast:

Baked Beans on toast
Cheese and tomato grilled on toast
Vegemite and cheese on toast
Ham and tomato on toast
Porridge (sorry guys, the real stuff not processed instant!)
Scrambled eggs/poached eggs/boiled eggs

If you feel the need for that mid morning snack - a piece of fruit is super portable and refreshing.
A handful of nuts such as cashews of almonds
Could do a 'trail mix' of nuts fruit
Piece of cheese

Most importantly make it small, make it real. This is not to replace a meal - just bridge it

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hearty Tuna Mornay

How about something which is super filling and in one pot?
I have served this at parties and it always ends up empty! ~ now that is saying something.
The adding of the milk to the flour to make the roux is a bit touchy feely. You have to use your best judgement as to what the best consistency is for you. I prefer it to be quite thick like white sauce but you may prefer thinner?
To anyone who has never made the roux mix before (butter, flour, milk) you must ensure that when you add the flour to the butter/onion mix that the flour gets stirred for the minute indicated to 'cook' it. Otherwise the mix will taste 'powdery/floury'.

Hearty Tuna Mornay

90g butter
1 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons flour
2 – 3 cups milk
1 x 425g tin tuna in springwater
1 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or dry)
Juice of 1 lemon (or equivalent bottled lemon juice) – Optional, works fine without.
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped
½ cup grated cheese

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add chopped onion and cook in pan until transparent. Stir in flour and cook for 1 min. Remove pan from heat and stir in milk, a splash at a time until all combined into thick cream consistency. Return pan to heat and bring mixture to the boil, stirring until thickened. Add cheese and tuna and stir until broken up. Add breadcrumbs, lemon, eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined and heated till hot for serving.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Incidental exercise - Creating new habits

I have been thinking about the differences in our physical activity in the past and now. Our parents/grandparents would have been unlikely to have been members of gyms so where did they get their exercise from?
I have heard it mentioned by some that it is because we do less 'manual labor' around the home but ask any mum how often they are sitting on their behinds drinking wine whilst manicuring their nails and you will probably be met with laughter!
I know that in my family and my husband's family our parents were part of sporting clubs at least until their thirties, so this *may* have something to it. But unlikely to explain everyone back then.
Walking is the only exercise I can see that was very normal in past generations. Not everyone had a car (or two!) so were reliant on public transport and walking.

In my house I have made a conscious effort to consider if walking somewhere or catching the bus is a possibility and have found with the food/lifestyle choices I have made, allows me to make quick trips to the supermarket for washing powder or toilet paper. These times I usually walk.
If there is a little bit more to get (but not urgent) I will spread the trips out over 2-3 days.
For some reason I find having a 'purpose' for walking makes it seem less like exercise and *more* like an 'eco-choice' not to use the car. Which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
I am somewhat pleased also that I am teaching my daughter that even though we have a car, it isn't the only choice of transport.
Similarly, I make an incidental exercise choice when I go to the shopping centre. You won't find me circling for 10 mins trying to find the closest parking space....I simply pull in to the first available and walk the extra 90 seconds from my car. All the while saving the time it would take to find that 'close' park.
If you actually critically think about how much longer it would take for you to walk the extra 300 metres, you feel a little bit of a twit for circling.

And now to public transport. Here is where I had a little bit of a problem.
For worries! Catch it to uni everyday. Fantastic! Someone else drives and I read. Perfect arrangement.
Child in a pram...not so good. Sorry.
I struggled with my nephew in the city sooooo much I nearly cried! I was struggling with the nappy bag that kept sliding off my shoulder as I tried to pick up the pram (with no help from the friggen driver!) AND have my nephew on the other hip - urgh!
I guess for me, baby + pram + bus = hassle and all depends on the day and the driver.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Reading lables

Over the last few years I have been checking the labels on the food I buy. I realise now I had no 'method' to deciding what was good or bad food.
Now that we have decided to head down the wholefoods path the distinction is a lot clearer about what is real food and what has been fiddled with too much.
Here is a little test for you. Most people have soy sauce in their cupboard, go grab yours. Read the ingredients...quite a few right? Now, I have done this little test myself and have since found an organic soy sauce - 1. water 2. organic soybeans (22%) 3. organic wheat 4. salt
Got any more than that on your label? How many?
While I don't subscribe to thinking that organic = magical health benefits, the restrictions placed on organic foods means there are no unnecessary ingredients or preservatives which results in a more natural, whole food.
But you don't have to just grab organic versions of everything (unless you want to make an easy choice without looking too much) start reading labels and comparing the ingredients of your families foods. Less ingredients is generally better as less has been done to it. Look at labels critically, ask yourself the question, could I make this myself from ingredients in a normal pantry? If the answer is no, I tend to put it back either because it is not 'real food' i.e. fruit roll-ups or there isn't a great option in the selection i.e. pasta.
Start reading the labels and decide for yourself if consuming all those extra ingredients is necessary when another brand can do it with less? Every time you purchase one of these products you send a message to your supermarket that this is the type of food you want them to stock - keep voting this way and more choice WILL come your way.
I have noticed Coles is coming out with their own line of organic Coles brand foods - I don't think they did this without their customers constantly purchasing the organic foods already available and hence they roll out their own to compete.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Remember this from school?

I know that when I was in school we learnt about the healthy food pyramid, so I decided to have a little look at it now - with the journey in mind....
Notice the 'eat most' section? Atkins would have a heart attack! Look at all those 'naughty' carbs!!
Well thinking back to an earlier blog I did about the demonising of many 'real' foods and can probably add carbs to that as well.
I question though whether this is because of the 'Atkins' movement or because manufacturers have added too much sugar, preservatives etc that this has now become a bad food. In the real world I remember we always used to have a slice of bread with dinner (to mop up the gravy, duh!) and potatos were on the menu too. Carbs help fill you up and the lack of them now days probably makes us snack a lot more - generally on sugar for that quick, replacement 'carb hit'.
While I emplore you to buy wholegrain and wholemeal rather than white (that does defeat the purpose) and don't be fooled into buying white carbs trying to masquerade as brown (eg. added fibre, omega 3 etc) it all adds to the processing of the foods away from their natural state.
Perhaps buy from an actual bakery? Consider making your own pasta? Add some pearl barley or beans to your soups of casseroles to increase the good carbs AND make it a more filling meal.
Heaven knows, if we start adding in some good carbs perhaps we will all start eating less of the bad ones. Remember if you start demonising certain foods, you give another a free pass...but at what cost?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super duper, easy (and cheap) Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole

1kg chicken pieces
1 ½ level tablespoons flour
2 level tablespoons butter
2 rashers bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 level teaspoon salt
200 -250g mushrooms, sliced
Roll chicken pieces in flour and brown slowly in butter in large frypan. Remove from pan and place in large casserole dish. Put chopped bacon and onion into frypan and cook over low heat until glossy and transparent. Pour over chicken. Add salt and pepper and sliced mushrooms. Cover and cook in oven (160c) until tender – about 2 hours. Remove any excess fat from casserole. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with rice and freshly cooked vegetables and salad.

Savoury Curry for all those 'bad' cuts of meat

Savoury Curry

 perfect for the nasty cuts of meat like chuck/gravy/casserole beef and equiv. lamb

1kg budget cut beef (or lamb), diced
Pinch salt
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup (approximately) milk
1 dessertspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
Grated cheese

Place diced meat in saucepan with salt, chopped onion and a little water. Simmer until cooked, stirring now and then. Place meat aside in casserole dish.
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir for a few minutes. Add sufficient milk to make a thick paste. Mix curry with a little water. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar. Add to paste and stir. Pour over meat and stir, top with grated cheese.
Place in oven (180-200c) until mixture is heated through and cheese topping is brown. Serve with rice and green vegetables.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lamb Chop Casserole mmmmmmmm

Lamb Casserole

A good use for 'boring' lamb chops!
2 tablespoons butter
6 lamb chops
2 onions, sliced
1 cup rice
1 x 425g tin tomatoes
Chicken or beef stock
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 slices bread
½ cup grated cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a big pan. Remove fat from chops. Brown chops on both sides and put aside. Fry sliced onions until just cooked. Remove. Place rice in a greased ovenproof dish, drain tomatoes and reserve juice, add sufficient stock to tomato juice to make up 2 cups. Bring stock to boiling point. Add to rice. Add salt and pepper. Place chops on rice, top with cooked onion, tomatoes and brown sugar. Cover and cook in oven (180-200c) for 35 mins or until chops and rice are tender. Cut bread into small pieces. Combine bread, cheese and remaining butter, sprinkle over chops and bake in oven until cheese is melted.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Apricot Chicken Casserole

Remember these recipes are also accessible on the 'recipes' links!

Apricot Chicken Casserole

1 kg chicken pieces
1/3 cup oil
1 packet French onion soup mix
¼ cup plain flour
1 x 470g tin apricot nectar
2 chicken stock cubes
Salt and pepper
Cream (optional)

Brown chicken in a pan with oil. Remove pieces and place in casserole dish. In pan, add soup mix and flour. Stir until flour is golden brown. Remove pan from heat. Add apricot nectar, 2 cups water, chicken stock cubes, salt and pepper to taste. Return pan to heat and stir until sauce thickens. (stir in optional cream). Pour sauce over chicken in casserole dish. Bake in oven (180-200c) for 1 hour. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Candice's "simmer the day away" Beef Casserole

Candice’s ‘simmer away the day’ Beef Casserole

Great if you are heading out for the day.... or just wanting to get dinner ‘out the way’ before lunch!
1kg round or chuck steak, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons gravy powder

Put steak into a plastic bag with 1 tablespoon flour and shake well.
Put steak into a stovetop casserole dish (cast iron/saucepan with lid).
Add onions, tomatoes, sauces, salt and pepper. Add 1 ½ cups water. Cook on high until boiling, then turn down to low.
Leave to cook very slowly for about 8 hours.
Finally, thicken casserole with a mixture of 2 tablespoons plain flour, 2 tablespoons gravy mix and a pinch of salt blended in a small amount of water.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back to uni

Well seems the start of uni got the better of me again. Bit slack (sorry)
How 'bout I make it up to you with a great big pile of recipes to try?
Please leave comment if you try them or especially leave comments if you have done something to improve them in any way.
This knowledge needs to be shared if we are to cook for ourselves easily and stop relying on corporations to do it for us (which they kinda suck at)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yummy Prawn dish

I am going to share with you one of my favourite dishes, Prawns Saganaki.
It is a Greek dish (yes I know what I said about sticking to cultures) but this is a one pan wonder with only fresh ingredients, very impressive, quick to make, and perfect for when guests come over.

This is a great warm weather dish (I think I am really missing summer right now) but I do make it in winter. The benefit of summer is the fresher tomatoes which really pack a punch in this dish.

I have on many occasions enjoyed this with friends, sitting on the back deck with some crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a crusty loaf of bread, torn up to share.

Geeez I miss summer!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What to serve a friend for lunch?

So I had a darling friend come over for a 'ladies lunch' which is code for '2 bottles of wine with food'
Her baby is 2 days older than my daughter so it is nice to have a conversation that doesn't start with "if your happy and you know it!"

She has been here for lunch before and with my love of cooking I have done some specky meals for us to dine on. But she mentioned she was going out to dinner that night so I decided to tone it down to a 'real' lunch.
Well of course this got me thinking...what is a normal lunch?

I mean at home it could be a sandwich or leftovers from dinner but you can't serve that to someone you like!
So I was thinking some soup would be a nice lunch but this never flies without some carbs to go with, buttery toast on the side, mmmm (real butter of course)

Well she *told* me it was a lovely lunch and sufficiently filling, which is good to hear!
So here it Curried Cauliflower Soup it is a staple in this house and is SUPER cheap to make!!
It also freezes well for future lunches.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More from Grandma's cookbooks

WOW! I'll say it again, WOW!

I now know how to make pastry - and who knew it was that friggen easy?!?!
This is the best book from the lot of cookbooks I was given (the scary thing is mine isn't in colour!)

One of the most notable things about this book is that it is made to be a complete book of every recipe you need to know to feed your family and make whatever you want - but there's a catch!

Something that I have been pondering on with our confusion about food, in Australia we don't stick to cooking from one culture.

We dabble in English, Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, French, Thai, get my drift?

No wonder our cupboards are filled to bursting point with 'jars of this' and 'packets of that', are we trying to do too much?
My thoughts are, for everyday family cooking - pick a culture and stick to it! One thing I noticed from this cookbook is the continuity of ingredients from one dish to the next. They are just rearranged in varying techniques depending on what you are making.
While this would have been an English based cookbook, there are basic curries (probably because of England's occupation of India) and pasta (which really made its way into *everywhere*)
What it does not try to capture, like many modern cookbooks, is the nuances of the region's cooking, like the more complex curries and dishes from India.

Is this where we have gone wrong? Are we trying to do too much?

We are so time poor these days why do we try to cook Thai food like a home grown Thai person would? I know Thai food is delicious but does having your pantry 'bulging' at the hinges to the point that when you come to cook Thai food next time the ingredients you bought are out of date make it worthwhile to keep 80 different cultures in your pantry?

While reflecting on this I was thinking about Indian and Chinese foods - have you noticed that they utilise similar ingredients for every recipe? The same spices, sauces, vegetables and dry goods come up recipe after recipe - we are trying to do to much - the turnover in the pantry is too slow and we are wasting food just because we have too much choice in food cultures

If you want to feed your family wholefoods (vegetables, grains and meats) then I for one are going to 'pare back' on the different cultural foods - it is NOT because I don't like them, but because it is costing this family too much because it is expensive to waste food.
We should know how to do our own culture's food well, you only have to go to Italy, China, or India to see that they DO their foods with expertise and ease

Keep it simple - pick a culture and stick to it! Branch out to differring cultures by dining out or on special occasions, borrowing ingredients from a non-savvy friend ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grandma's recipe books

I was quizzing my 86 year old grandmother (who is/was the queen of kitchen management and cooking) about how she used to make her gorgeous lamb curry - but being an old lady (and actually knowing how to cook) she told me that she can't remember exactly and besides "it used to change depending on the ingredients I had available", Urgh!

Damn you people who can cook!

All was not lost though...because she doesn't cook very much anymore she said she probably has a couple of cookbooks in the cupboard that I can have....there's me thinking "yeah whatever probably crap ones, I have tonnes of cookbooks each one having 'one' good recipe!"
So about a week later I am there for her birthday and suddenly remember the promise of cookbooks! On hands and knees trawling through the back of the cupboard I come across some *uuuuuuugly!* looking cookbooks, "thanks grandma" I say with as much excitement as I can muster and take them home


They are *faaaaantastic*!!!!!! Needless to say grandma got a much more excited telephone call to say "thank you VERY much"!

They are filled with 'normal' recipes, using stuff from the cupboard and no 'one teaspoon' from a large jar of processed condiments! Oh relief - this is *exactly* what I have been looking for!

Be prepared for many, many more recipes to feed your family!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adelaide Showgrounds Farmer's Market

Well, what can I say?!? I have died and gone to food shopping heaven!
My sister our friend and our babies all ventured out one fine sunday morning to this market that I had heard about on the grapevine but had never visited (right down to the strange fact that I have been on their mailing list for over a year!)
What we found was a beautifully organised food shopping experience.
The entrance area served breakfasts/lunches and coffee with families and friends eating together and chatting - wow I couldn't wait to get in the door, this place is popular! so it *must* be good!

The first stall I encounter is selling Australian native bush flavoured ice cream, flavours like macadamia and lemon myrtle mmmmmmmmmmm *drool*
The next is selling organic wines....yes we got to taste them all! Next is homemade cordial with the *exact* same ingredients as my recipe (click on condiment recipes)
The entire market *is* wholefoods - some organic others just homegrown and homemade with ingredients you would find in a human's pantry :)

I did my weekly shopping and it was surprisingly cheap! One of the big benefits of heading out to a farmers market - especially as a family - it you have the ability to share bulk purchases
Crystal and I went halves in a 30 tray of organic eggs with worked out to about $3.50 for 15 eggs, now for organic eggs that *is* a bargain!

Us girls returned home to watch a scary movie and polish off out latest organic wine purchases


Monday, July 12, 2010

sorry for the delay

So sorry for the hiatus I have been finishing a minor thesis for uni and ment all my computer time was spent not blogging!
I apologise and will be much more regular now I am on holidays!!!
Please enjoy some new recipes.....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This is one of my favourite 'easy, cheap eats'. Originally this was a recipe to use up leftover roast meat, gravy, veggies and potato BUT times have changed a little.
Unfortunately now because we are eating pasture fed meats the roast meats are much more expensive than mince, so we tend not to buy roast with the view of having left overs. So, economically this dish is probably cheaper to create with mince!
Please enjoy my classic Shepherd's Pie, everything is from the pantry, remember this also purees well for baby (freeze in ice cube trays or portion tubs). If it is a little to thick for baby just add some puree veggies when reheating.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Interesting thoughts from an episode of "Cheese Slices"

I have recently started watching a program on the ABC called Cheese Slices. The host who is a master of cheese takes you to different parts of the world and explains the hows and why's of artisan cheese. I had to have a small giggle to myself checking out the website as there are 'cheese photos' which are like cheese lover's porn....seriously have a look!
This week's episode was on Parmigiano-Reggiano, coming from the north of Italy from the town(s) also famous for parma ham. It was actually facinating to hear how this process has not changed for hundreds of years - what was really interesting is the government regulations on how the cheese is made, to keep its authenticity and quality.
The cows only come from certain areas close by and only certain slopes on the countryside - they are also only fed grass and hay from the local area!
Interesting that in one country they value the differences between grain and grass fed cows milk yet most westerners would be hard pressed to know there WAS a difference!
This was very interesting that quality went hand in hand with natural-ness - now that IS food for thought.

The other interesting part of the episode is when the host sits down with the cheese maker's family and eats a pasta lunch with lots of grated parmigano-reggiano on top. The comment is made about "eating like this everyday" to which the family replied "we eat this for lunch everyday".
This to me shows the difference in western diets again,  we are so hung up on choices! I am starting to wonder what is really so wrong with eating only a small selection of foods everyday?? (providing they are good...of course!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baby Food

I don't know how anyone else likes to feed their babies but I like to cook most of my daughter's food. There is of course definite need for baby food in the shops and I do utilise the fruits to give for desserts because lets face it, I ain't going to find stone fruits right now to stew and apples get a little boring after a while!
The way I usually do it is making large portion dinners and freezing them in those little portion 'ice cube' trays, then removing the amount of cubes I need for her lunch or dinner. I also tend to freeze plain cauliflower or pumpkin etc to 'add' to meals I make that are too thick or to jazz things up.
Some of my favourites meal combinations are 'sweet potato, tuna and creamed corn' this is sort of like tuna mornay without the fuss. I also do Ratatouille, I saute tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, onion (sometimes capsicum if I have it) until it is soft - sometimes to this I add some tomato sauce and puree just as a veggie mash or add tuna, chicken or mince OR rice or small pasta! - it really goes nice with any of these.
Another favourite is to start with a mash base like potato or sweet potato then steam any other veggies I can get my hands on broccoli, cauli, carrots, peas - this is the best way I find to use some veggies that really won't last another day (sounds bad but why waste them if they are still good?!?). This base also works because I tend just to make extra veggies or mash at dinner so I am not cooking twice for baby and us - she especially likes it when I add some of our gravy from dinner to the puree, mmmmmm
This homemade food ensures that I know what she is eating - as for her 'sweets' I am now buying "Only Organic" as it is cheaper than the Heinz organic version, I have seen the Only Organic brand in Coles and Foodland but haven't been to Woolworths to see if it is there.
As for breakfasts I use the Bellamy's Organic range of cereals and porridges to which I add a few tablespoons of the Only Organic fruits to change the flavour, they really are easy to use and I use far less than the other brands making it cheaper overall.
Something else which I have recently had to buy since I stopped breastfeeding is formula - man that is an expensive exercise!!! I wish she hadn't decided to wean herself! But, there is an organic formula now! This is again done by Bellamy's which have 3 stages the price is comparable to the S26 range so no big deal - but one small bonus that I noticed between the two is the scoop. In the S26 range the scoop has one hole in the top and when I tried to put it into a bottle of boiling water it would always get stuck in the scoop and on the rim of the bottle! I haven't had this with the Bellamys one as there are 2 holes in the scoop so it always seems to fall out easily - I know its not much but these things frustrate the hell out of you at 5/6am!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

GM foods

So I don't pretend to know everything but I will give you my take on genetically modified foods and what the big deal is.
I am most definitely pro-science and GM foods are an amazing achievement to be able to produce high yeild, low disease crops - just by shifting around a few genes!
In essence, if we think of this in 'human' terms it is like moving/changing genes around to ensure the 'child' is strong, has healthy bones, skin, eyes, and low probability for disease. So what is wrong with that? Nothing really, if something is less likely to get disease there is less need for pesticides, if there are higher yeilds in crops then farmers are ensured good crops every year.
The problem with GM foods is not the food but the politics. One has to think logically about the investment of money to make a you beaut' 'perfect' crop - who owns that GM seed?
Large companies will invest money to make the perfect seed then have farmers grow it for them. The farmer is locking into using that seed and selling to that company - only! If the seed it the property of one company the farmers cannot shop for the 'best price' for their goods they are stuck with what the company contracts the price to be.
Takes a lot of the competition out of the market, further more, I think it takes a lot of the 'farming' out of farming. While GM crops are the way of the future to feed out ever increasing population the seed that is produced from it 'should' be public property, rather than private.
Otherwise those 'perfect' crops will always sell to the company who made it and who else is left to sell to - the best price should really go to the best crops, but at what cost?

Friday, June 18, 2010

make-up (a bit off the subject, but relevent to me)

For the longest time I've had heyfever, ALL YEAR ROUND. I take every possible drug to feel 'normal' everyday, it rarely works. Recently i've gone back to work as a Dental Assisstant, I have to wear a sugical mask most of the day. My allergies seemed to have gotten worse when I re-started back at work. It just occurred to me the other day, it might have something to do with my make-up, foundation mainly. So I didn't wear any for a whole day. This was extremely hard, as I have promenant dark circles all around my eyes.
Guess what?
NO HAYFEVER! and my dark circles faded dramatically. Speaking to someone who knows a little about chemicals revealed, it was probably the micro-minerals in the foundation that soaked into my pores and caused the allergic reactions I was having. Isn't it crazy?!?
One little change of thought can create a whole new life for yourself!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Burrr its cold outside

I am sitting here blogging while I am enjoying a bowl of my Pea and Ham Soup.
I made it last night and was surprised how simple it was compared to some of the recipes for it I have encountered over the years. 5 ingredients and minimal preparation I actually got the soup on while my daughter was awake! I just made a small version of it so you can increase as you see fit rather than the other way around. Two tips though, don't use stock instead of water because effectively the bacon bones are the 'stock' and for the love of God DON'T add salt - again the bacon bones will take care of that!
I added some thyme to my mixture, but it is really up to you which herbs you put in.
I might add some more peas next time to thicken it up some more, some of the best pea and ham soups I have had one could practically stand your spoon up in!
Anyway must get back to mopping up the bottom of the bowl with my buttered toast, mmmmmmmmmm

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thought on cordial...

Just had a thought about cordials, I remember when I was little and had cordial that the top was always sticky (like the one I just made) - oh that's right we had sugar in our cordial then!
The other interesting thing I noticed is when we used to get invaded by ants they would always be swarming over the cordial bottle, funny how they don't touch it anymore...

When life hands you citrus fruit, make cordial!

mmmm, mmm, mmm, mmm
I finally ran out of bought cordial so I made some of my own!!
Orange and Lemon Cordial is my first attempt at cordial and I am so chuffed with the results. It took a total of 30mins to make and was soooo simple even kids could make it.
In my haste to taste, the fact that it is a concentrate slipped my mind and I had a great big spoonful, much coughing and spluttering later.....
The recipe I got ended up making 3 litres which I think is a bit much for one family so I am going to put a halved version up for everyone. If you have family who will take some lovely fresh cordial off your hands by all means double the recipe.
I am not sure how long something like this would keep so please let me know if you find out (or drink it before then!) - I am going to keep mine in the fridge just in case.
Now I know there is a lot of sugar in there but look at the label on your 'normal' cordial - I certainly don't know half of it AND this was how cordial was originally made! My 'label' says fruit, sugar, acids and water. The actual amount I used in the glass was slightly less than 'normal' cordial - it is pretty strong, oh and wait till you see the colour! It looks like it IS already diluted! Made me think about the amount of colour in commercial cordial which is nearly opaque!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eating Organic Meat

Dinner tonight was with my first purchase of 'ethically produced' meat. I bought Chicken to make Enchiladas. It was pretty expensive, but I realised with this meal, the meat was the main dish basically.
I can honestly say, the chicken really did seem different, not as fatty when cutting it, not as slippery and I kind of felt 'happier' when I was eating it. Don't think my partner can really tell the difference, but he's just eating the food!! Tomorrow night is Spag Bog with grass fed mince. Can't wait!
Suppose I should post the recipe....

Friday, June 11, 2010

First visit to Feast! Fine Foods

I did my grocery shopping this week - much lighter without all the processed foods, but it felt like forever reading the labels to see what is least processed etc -  I got to the last aisle looked at my trolley and wondered what I had been doing for the last 2 hours!!
Anyway I went to the butcher and started taking it all in - I hear a lovely 'hello' and I meet a lady affectionately called "nanna" by the other staff.
She told me she was new and still learning so I bought mainly based on the things she was sure about. We got chatting and she told me she has been on a diet for a few weeks and only lost a couple of kilos, I started telling her our story of wanting to eat like our grandparents and she shared some wonderful anecdotal snippets from her childhood. Neither of her parents were fat - yet when her mum cook chops in the pan WITH DRIPPING her and her dad would come and mop up the fatty meat flavoured leftovers with bread! Even she said she can't understand why she looks this way and proceeded to tell me she had only 2 cruskits with avocado for lunch - blerk! How boring.
For one thing no one can say we aren't trying - women especially. The crap we *torture* ourselves with to be healthy and a healthy weight is ridiculous!
Our grandparents never tortured themselves, they ate well, with pleasure and without guilt.
I for one would love to go through life never seeing a cruskit or rice cake again.
Even if I don't lose any weight - I would be happy to stay the same if it meant eating good, whole food without guilt. Just a subnote though I have lost 2 kilos...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Food Inc - movie

hmmmm...what can I it!!
It really makes you think, feel and take action.
We all 'really' know how animals are treated, we just keep it way, way back in our minds. But this movie really shows you how unethically animals are being treated, before they get slaughtered and sent to our plates.
Besides this being one focus point in the movie, it also shows how the meat is treated after its been killed. This is almost scarier, as cows for example are sent to slaughter covered in their own faeces, it doesn't get washed off!! It basically goes straight into our beef hamburgers! Oh but wait, they wash the meat in chlorine and amonia to clean it! mmmmm tasty.
Then my partner walks in with maccas in his hand, and I'm balling my eyes out!! Organic chicken was on the menu tonight.
Please watch this movie...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Demonised 'real' foods...

Was just thinking now about some of the natural foods which have been 'blacklisted' for one reason or another...

Avocados springs to mind as 'too much fat', hmmm I LOVE avos and since beginning this journey a few weeks ago I put them on my 'approved' list. Since they are cheap at the moment I am having one almost everyday! I have possibly noticed a difference to my skin (which could also be due to the journey we are on too) it seems smoother and plumper, not so rough/dry to the touch.

Eggs are another 'too high in cholesterol' yet they are also high in protein which makes you feel full so, what a great breakfast!!!

Milk is one I have mentioned before, processing has probably removed the magic that made milk so healthy. Have you noticed they are adding things to milk now? Additional calcium - is that because you processed it all out? Omega 3 - if the cows were free range eating grass, milk 'should' already be rich in omega 3.
...and just on omega 3 did you know that cows who eat grains produce meat rich in omega 6 (bad) and cows who eat grass produce meat rich in omega 3? I saw that on catalyst can also google it!

Cheese, cream, fact most dairy has a bad wrap now! But why? We ate this for centuries without western diseases. Could it be what we are feeding the animals now changes the structure of the products we produce? This is why I am going to organics - although it is not simple, it is 'simpler' like what you used to get many years ago.

Tuna got the ol' 'high in mercury' label but again been eating it for years - just because we 'know' something doesn't mean we demonise it.

Meats - have had sooo much fat removed to make them 'lean' they are basically tasteless in my opinion, dry bits of cardboard we punish ourselves with in our quest to be healthy. What perplexes me though is why they are eating grains to fatten them up, subsequently make the meat Omega 6 rich then leaning the meat up to make it healthy? We are punishing ourselves with lean meat that is STILL bad for us.
This link will tell you the benefits of grass fed beef (it is even lower in calories!!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fruit and Vegetables

This is a hard one for me at the moment - I want to buy organic but it just isn't that convenient right now.
So I have decided, when I happen to see it I will buy as a preference but until I have transitioned the panty into the "pantry from heaven" I am not going to give myself any additional worry of finding an organic fruit and veg shop.
We do have a supplier who we are going to use at Lewiston called Joyeata Organics who deliver anywhere in Adelaide metro for $5.00 anyday of the week! Except for the lucky buggers in Gawler who get free delivery. But I want to get a lot more stock from them anyway so while I can find stuff in the supermarket and close by I will transition to wholefoods this way.
So for now while I am still learning - fruit and vegetables will probably be my last transition. I may change my mind in a week's time. Who knows?!?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Not so hungry

I just noticed something today. Because I am drinking milk again I am not snacking.
Seems the western world switch from milk and water to soft drink may have made us hungry.
Why don't we drink milk anymore? I must admit even when I had the agreeable lactose free milk I NEVER poured and glass of milk more than say, once a month.
Did you know there is actual cream in my milk!?!
It seems that by making milk skim or fat free we have decided milk is unhealthy as an everyday drink - maybe we should start getting friendly with milk again. The organic stuff is as natural as you can get!
So why are we more likely to pour a glass of diet soft drink instead of full cream milk?
Along with the discovery of vitamins, fat, carbohydrates, etc we have 'demonised' certain ingredients rather than just appreciating that people have been eating this stuff for centuries without diabetes, heart disease and an obesity epidemic!
My interpretation as a lay person is that in our hast to 'discover' what was in our food and then manufacturing food with the 'good bits' added to them - we have lost the balance of nature.
What makes a carrot a carrot? You can't just 'take' those components and add them to another food to make them healthier - just eat a friggen carrot!
Check out this webpage for some information on the benefits of milk

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The HARDEST blow to my sanity

I realised I don't drink anything except soft drink! The diet stuff of course I don't want the "unhealthy" stuff - WTF?? There we all go again demonising sugar as the bad guy - but have you looked at the rest of the ingredients on the label? We may think we know what sugar does but perhaps it only does that when combined with the rest of the additives?

I swear I went through withdrawls! I even did a stupid little protest where I just didn't drink anything for a day - idiot. So I got forced to drink water again and the occasional cordial (which I will make myself when this one runs out). I thought I hated water, apparently it was more along the lines of 'why would I drink water when I have soft drink I have paid for?' - therein lies the problem.
Stop buying it and you won't feel guilty for wasting it!
Funny though since I got rid of soft drink I enjoy it more, as a treat when I go out - go figure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The pantry from heaven

I am a nut when it comes to home magazines, I am like the hoarder lady with newspapers from the 50s (I think I can tear out what I want when I get the chance)
Anyhoo I saw the most *perfect* pantry!! All neatly lined up storage jars and tupperware filled with all sorts of food - then I wondered why my pantry doesn't look like this...

Then I started thinking about pantrys in general, is it just me or have they gotten bigger over the years?
I seems that with highly processed foods that last forever, we need somewhere to put them!
Have we become obsessed with choice? Why do we need 8 different cereals when we have even more choices than that for breakfast anyway? Eggs, toast, baked beans and 8 different cereals - and if you are one of those familys who buys more than this, your pantry must be huge!!!
I studied the items in this 'perfect pantry', not a processed food in sight! There was no glass jar filled with poptarts or packets of recipe bases. It was flour, sugar, beans, muesli, spices - catch my drift?
Look in your own pantry and imagine what it would look like if you took out all the processed foods...
pretty empty huh?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Have we forgotten the science of cooking?

I tried to make my first batch of mayonnaise today, hmm not so good. I took the recipe from masterchef because it uses a whole egg rather than the egg yolk because I was using the food processer to make it. (I have heard you can't hand whisk mayonnaise with a whole egg and dito on the egg yolk for food processer)
All the elements came together perfectly the thickness was exactly what I wanted - but, on tasting it had a 'wrongness' about the flavour, then I noticed the vegetable oil was 2 months past its used by and decided that was the problem.
Batch 2: with no vegetable oil I decided to try the recipe with olive oil like EVERY modern recipe says. I can't help thinking I have heard somewhere (probably from a wrinkly) that one should never use olive oil because the flavours are all wrong!
I made it anyway, again it had that 'wrongness' so this is the point I thought "I have no idea how to fix this" this I where I think I realised this generation has forgotten the science of cooking. Older generations would have a solution depending on the flavour - they would add a pinch of sugar or decide the mayonnaise needs more mustard. I have noooo idea so I added a pinch of sugar, yeah not sure if it helped but it didn't hurt. Then a bit more mustard - same result, think it may be a little better. The problem is I could be doing the right thing just in the wrong amount OR I am way off base, who knows.
In the end it was *ok* so I put it in my little sterilised jar and in the fridge.
I had some on a sandwich for lunch and it did the job - but not perfect
I am going to put the recipe under 'condiment recipes' please try it for yourself and see if ANYONE can fix it!?! Better yet grab a wrinkly without Alzheimer's and get them to give you the perfect 'food processer' mayonnaise recipe.
:leave any hints under comments section of recipes

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Real" Camping with extras

So went camping at Mt Crawford, I mean "real" camping...
No electricity and a long drop for a toilet! It was awesome fun and we'll be doing it again!!
So I went camping with family and family friends. The couple's names were Allan and Ray. This is very interesting because it seems since I've started taking this new path of Organic and whole foods, information seems to fall into my lap.
This couple, I found out, are Organic eaters and are growing Bio-dynamic vegies in their garden. "What's Bio-dynamic, exactly?" I ask.
The way I understand it is, the vegies are grown with compost preparations, only a few times a year. The vegies also have an inground worm farm! I had a fantastic chat with Ray mainly and has made me really consider a type of worm farm or compost bin.

The purge

ewww not that kind of purge!
I have been wondering how I am going to get rid of the 'edible food like substances' from my pantry and fridge and decided to cook with them, one by one.
So it began with a lasagne which I used up the last of my instant cheese sauce. While stirring the mix I thought I might take a look at the label - *face palm*!
The only ingredient that WASN'T in the cheese sauce was CHEESE! The closest it came was 'cheese flavoured powder' - is that cheese?
I'm going to go

Something I have come to notice while looking for my next pantry victim is all the 'once only' use stuff I have in there. I came to realise that a lot of the recipes I cook from need a 'tablespoon of this' generally from a large jar - what the hell are we supposed to do with the rest of the jar?!
Talk about a waste of money - and food! Those jars are a couple of dollars each - so what am I teaching my family about cooking? "Take what you need, don't worry about the price, throw the rest away"
urgh! I never thought of my pantry or cooking in this way, I think I realise now this type of cooking should only be reserved for special occasions or special guests.
I am starting to see the bigger picture.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cleopatra is not not the only one who loves milk!

I have been drinking lactose free milk for years - anytime I try the full stuff I have shocking cramps and get full of gas. So I heard a lot of people have been able to drink A2 milk because of the high levels of A2 beta casein milk protein - while this product is not organic, you must understand this is not what we are trying to do.
We are just trying to eat the types of foods and quality of foods that would have been available to our grandparents.
So I gave it a try and not the 'unleaded' skim version - the full cream stuff!
I was totally concerned for my guts and the greenhouse gas emissions which may have resulted from the full cream experience...this was not the case
Not even a gurgle! A rumble? NOPE
That was my cereal experiment - all seems good.
The *real* test would be if I could drink a glass of the stuff on an empty stomach.
Day 2 - 1 glass of milk + no breakfast (till a bit later) = again! no problem.
To say I am shocked is an understatement. I have now gone a bit milk crazy - and finished the 2 litres very quickly.
I decide to try the Organic stuff and purchase B D Farm Paris Creek organic and biodynamic full cream milk - no worries.
I am now concerned as to what is in our 'normal' supermarket milk which makes me feel so bad?!?
I guess I will never know, but from now on I am a full cream milk drinker!!
I am like an addict now, I can't wait for my next glass...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Adelaide Central Market AND New Meat supplier

Hubby and I decided to go to the organic fruit and veggie shops at the Adelaide Central Markets to check things out.
I must say I was a little disappointed with the quality of the produce, very hit and miss in the particular shop we went in - it was also very expensive. So we bought our produce and headed round the different stalls where we discovered several stalls with fantastic quality produce for about the same prices - why didn't we just go there!?!
This trip wasn't to find a supplier because it is inhibitive to travel to the city everytime I need veggies but to try what was on offer.
Our most interesting discovery was a butcher which had Barossa Farm Produce chickens by Saskia Beer, they were free range AND chemical, hormone and antibiotic free - and the price was pretty good too. So we bought a whole chicken and chicken breasts and headed home with much excitement. Perhaps there is more produce out there - we just have to ask!
So I did.
I rang Barossa Farm Produce and asked who stocks their produce and if they know of anywhere that sell the red meats we are after also. Well I could just kiss her! She instructed me that Feast! Fine Foods stocks their produce and EXACTLY what we were after. She is telling me the closest one is in Norwood, hmmm not to bad.
So, I check out the website and *shock horror* there is a Feast! 3kms from my house!
Amazing you can find what you want when you ask some questions!
I am on cloud nine right now....must call Crystal...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good meat is hard to find!

Wow 'organic' meat is a hard task to accomplish! You'd think finding beef which grew up eating grass like it is supposed to would be easy - well it isn't! The term 'free range' leaves soooo much room for interpretation it is crazy. Finally, I found a butcher which is all organic and certified so (This means there is an organisation which checks up on their operation so the consumer can be sure everything is what it says it is).
This lovely butcher is about 15kms from my house which means it will be about 25kms from my sister, so not the best location for the old "I think we'll have sausages for dinner tonight". Anyway we went, we saw, we liked - then we be *shocked* at the price! Well this is not to say everything was expensive for example the mince and sausages were about $3.00 more expensive than the supermarket and chickens were about $4.00 dearer, so all in all not bad for normal meals. Steak was the killer! It was almost double the price - my reaction at first was one of 'get stuffed' but after my initial reaction I decided the price 'should' dictate how much we 'should' be eating of each meat.
This is exactly what Michael Pollan was saying - we eat way too much meat.
The cheap prices of steak in the supermarket mean we could almost eat this way every night.
I also found myself being VERY cavalier with meats that I had purchased which sat in the fridge long enough not to be fit for human consumption - I would throw these out without so much as a blink!
Buying organic meat has made me realise how wasteful I am with cheap meat - which then makes me feel worse because those animals had a pretty crap, short life and I am also treating their life like crap by not respecting the produce.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


After watching Michael Pollan on Oprah, and pausing it many times to discuss things with Candice, we decided to take this scary and new journey together. We're only just starting out and looking into different ways to incorporate whole and organic foods in our lifestyle.

Many questions came up with my partner when we discussed it, as you can imagine.
How much more does this cost? Why is it better?
Well at this stage I don't know all the ins and outs. It does cost more (especially meat) but we're supposed to be eating a lot less meat than we do now. Non-Organic is worse because the meat is pumped full of antibiotics, steroids, feed the wrong foods, living like dolls on a shelf. Its really horrible and inhuman to see - we were upset and angry!!
One of my 360 turning points happened only the other week. Candice, Catherine (our younger sister) Natalie (Best-friend) and I went to a small rural market close by. It had only been open a couple of weeks. We looked around, the veggies weren't that crash hot but still fine, we veggie shopped for our babies dinners. Now at this market, eggs were for sale, I really wanted to try organic eggs. I love eggs! But I'm kind of intolerant to them, I get a really bad stomach ache for and hour or so. I've had this since I was about 15 and still give them a try every so often.
We spoke to the "egg guy" he was selling organic eggs. I saw pics of the chickens running around eating grass, scratching around. What I found out really shocked me, I didn't know that they gave chickens chemicals to make them lay eggs with a more yellow yolk!! Hey maybe this is what makes me sick!!?? Guess what, organic eggs DON'T make me SICK!!
Yeah there's a change a coming.....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

why don't we blog about this

I guess I apparently don't have enough things to keep me busy because we decided to blog about our journey of household change. My husband is only home 2 out of 4 weeks, I am writing a 12,000 word essay for university, oh and I have a 7 month old baby - lets not forget the 'usual' list of household chores, our journey of household change so, hell yes! Lets blog about it also!
This is my first blog so I guess for me at least it is like the meetings you go to when you are trying to lose weight, you have to go to keep you motivated. Although I have my sister on this journey perhaps this blog will be a motivator for us also.
Hmm, would like to lay out now what my hopes and dreams for this journey...
First of all - to lose some weight! Well of course that is my first goal I am a woman after all. This is not the main focus though but a much, much welcomed outcome at least.
I think for me I would like to not feel guilty anymore. I find each time I eat fast food the following meals have an air of additional guilt about them, like nothing can 'make up' for what I have already eaten because it is now only adding to it! The guilt of fast food lingers for days with me because even if the next day is a 'good day' I am acutely aware of the 3 bad days before it.
I can never get ahead while I am always looking at my food past - I want to be able to eat and not have to 'think' about it. Generations never thought about what they were eating and how much. I can't imagine some meditteranean mummy serving her family thinking about whether or not it is 'healthy' - she just cooked real food and everyone was happy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

to start bloggin....

So, I'm addicted to McDonalds and its time for change, a big one!! I have a partner and 11 month old son I need to consider, when I cook dinner. After watching Michael Pollan on Oprah, I wondered how have I become so lazy!? In the way I shop, cook and eat!? I LOVE food, Love it!! But I could be so much better at everything when it comes to food! Dont get me wrong, I cook - quick and easy meals... sometimes.
I never feel great, I think it is mainly because I eat badly but I also think there's a lot to organic food and what they're saying.

Monday, May 17, 2010

AH-HA moment

After watching Oprah's "Food 101" episode with my sister the conversation we had was very exciting. We talked about how we never feel 'well'. I cannot remember a time where I physically felt like skipping down the street, mentally well, I have many days like this but the body just never feels like it is firing on all cylinders.
At 29 years old, this should not be the case! I should be able to look back at this time in my life and gush about how 'skinny I was back then' but if I feel this bad now I am scared at how much worse I will feel in the future.
Much of the conversation was about how our grandmother would have lived and the things we remember from our childhood. The standouts for me were that we didn't have softdrink in the fridge - in fact the only time soft drink was bought was for a party. I also remember that my grandma never counted calories, had full foods cooked in lard, ate full breakfasts of eggs or porridge, and baked cakes and pies FULL of sugar and butter. Yet I never saw any photos from the 50's, 60's, or 70's of my family or friends looking anything short of well, skinny.
We also lamented on the fact that neither one of us knows how to cook much from memory - yet we are both fantastic (if I do say so myself) 'recipe cooks'.
I just wonder what I am going to teach my daughter about food - what sort of culture am I going to impart on her? What is she going to think about when she looks back on her childhood?
Dads who have their 'man caves' have their projects which allow men to talk and bond - I have my kitchen!
Hmm, must think of a name...

Look out labels, I am on a mission...