Monday, September 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I am so thankful that Spring has arrived.  I do love Winter but am more than ready for things to start heating up and getting us back outside and in the ocean.

There is something about the smell, the warmth, the hope and promise of idyllic days of spring that gets you motivated to start freshening up.  I don't just mean spring-cleaning the house, but spring-cleaning yourself!  A lot of people find it the perfect time to do a cleanse or detox but this doesn't have to necessarily mean an intensive fast or very strict restrictive diet.  Just by introducing a few new things into your routine can give your body a nice little kick-start and a healthy dose of energy to get revitalised for Spring.

1.  ALKILIZE your body (lemon/apple cider vinegar)

Start the day with the perfect rev up for your digestive system - a glass of warm/cool water with 2 or 3 tsps of freshly squeezed lemon juice, or a non-pasteurised apple cider vinegar.  I keep my lemons right near my filter tap so they are always there ready to go.

Why do we want to alkilize our bodies?  Most diseases and health problems are caused by an over-acidic body.  Also, our bodies store excess fat to try and help neutralize the acid in our bodies, which can result in extra body fat, and then extra weight.  And who wants that?  It seems strange that lemon/vinegar (such acidic tasting ingredients) help to alkilize - but they do!  However, a word of warning, after drinking your lemon/acv water, rinse your mouth well so that your not leaving this liquid in your mouth to corrode your teeth.

Other alkilizing tips:  eat more celery (only organic as it is one of the most heavily pesticide-laden veg around), eliminate processed foods, eat more greens, cut down on cow's milk & try to avoid alcohol.

2.  Get more GREENS!

Besides the obvious ones (spinach, kale, broccoli, avos, rocket, etc, etc), it can be quite easy to forget how AMAZING green stuff is.  Try to incorporate more of these into your diet:

* Lots of Herbs - add a handful of fresh herbs to your salads, make up pestos & eat them with vege sticks,  add some parsley to your smoothees, and use them to top off stir fries, curries or casseroles for a zesty finish.  A lot of these are good for chelating (getting rid of heavy metals in your body) so what better start for making you feel a lot "lighter"?

*Chlorella- this stuff is super!  It helps detoxify, cleanse the blood, aids wound healing, strengthens your immune system, alkilizes, fights infection, I could go on and on.  I have discovered a Supergreens supplement that contains 4 fantastic ingredients:  Chlorella, Wheatgrass, Barleygrass and Spirulina - everyone needs some of this to add to their smoothees and help give their bodies a nice clean out.

* Salads - these don't need to be the boring old lettuce, tomato & cuke salad.  Try some different greens to spice up your salad life:
- buckwheat or sunflower shoots topped with sliced avo, sliced apple, shaved parmesan, walnuts and a spritz of lemon juice and sea salt;
- or water cress mixed with cubed fresh p'apple, red capsicum, toasted almonds & a drizzle of olive oil & sea salt.

Embrace warm salads too:
- grilled zucchini (marinaded in olive oil, lemon zest & crushed garlic before & after grilling) with crumbled fetta & some thinly sliced basil leaves;
- and gently sauted garlic in olive oil with a pile of sliced kale or spinach slowly wilted in the heat, topped with a little lemon juice and sea salt - I can eat massive bowls of this!


Both of these help to cleanse your body and detoxify it, adding either to your daily routine and will help you feel heaps better.

*Oil Pulling - is an ancient process that gets to the root of your problems and is not an overnight miracle cure.  In fact, chances are, as your body begins to release toxins in this process, things will get worse before better, as I discovered.  I found out about OPing in my search for strengthening my teeth.  I'd had some fillings done & was told I needed a mouth guard at night to stop me from teeth-grinding which had begun loosening my teeth from their roots.  What I read initially turned my stomach, but as I tried it, it was actually very easy to incorporate and I am beginning to see improvements.

Oil Pulling involves swishing a tbsp of cold pressed sesame/sunflower oil through your mouth, and between your teeth for around 15 - 20 minutes.  This effectively stimulates your body's eliminatory systems and can begin a healing process by getting rid of toxic waste.

*Dry Skin Brushing - this helps to release toxins from under your skin (your largest organ) by encouraging your lymph glands to cleanse itself of any toxicity.  It improves your circulation and keeps your pores open  to encourage your body's elimination of metabolic waste.  This is best done before your morning shower with dry skin and a brush made of natural, not synthetic fibres.  Start with vigorous brushing on your feet and work your way up, finishing with your arms and hands.  Finish with a warm shower and then a cool rinse to get your body invigorated and to strenghten your immune system, help digestion, tighten skin, stimulate glands and remove dead skin cells.  For more on dry skin brushing, see here.

4.  NOURISH your body.

It's time to be really considerate in what you are feeding yourself.  Eliminate the stuff that will cause you more harm than good and swap it for something that will help improve your inner workings.  Don't look at it as "GIVING UP" something but as "CARING & NOURISHING" yourself.

Some things to swap:
  * refined sugars for natural, unprocessed sugars found in fruit, raw honey, pure maple syrup, etc.
  * cut down on your bread habit - try to switch to buckwheat crispbread, corn mountain bread, or sprouted spelt loaves to cut down on all the wheat and refined flours, additives & preservatives.

  * ditch the white pasta & rice and try to serve up saucy meals on top of cauliflower rice, shredded or spiralled veg, quinoa, or mashed sweet potato.
  * change your beverage choices:  soft drink for natural sparkling mineral water;  wine for Appletiser,  peppermint tea instead of black tea/coffee.
  * steer away from some of the cow milk products (very acidic & very little nutrition) and instead try coconut yoghurt (soooo creamy), goats milk and chevre, or nut milks.
  * check your oils:  olive oil should not be used for high heat frying, only for dressings & gentle sauteing.  Instead, use coconut oil or organic ghee as these are the ONLY ones that can stand high heat and will not go rancid, or turn into a trans-fat.  All polyunsaturated oils (eg sunflower) are usually rancid before they even leave the processing plant as they are heated to unnaturally high temps for extraction and then deoderised & bleached so you can't tell.  ICK!  And don't ask about Canola - it's genetically modified to begin with and then treated to the same routine as the other oils.  You can use cold-pressed nut, seed, veg oils but don't ever heat them too much either.  To read more, see here.

5. Get MOVING!

Best way to get the gunk in your body moving out, is exercise!  Make a decision to walk to school a couple of days with your kids, or with bub in the stroller in the early morning or late arvo.  Join one of the many personal training groups that have started up in a lot of the parks nearby.  If you already  do this, try to incorporate something a little more exciting into your weekends that'll push your physical limits:  stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, indoor rock climbing, anything the kids'll love to do with you.

It's so important to look at this as a way of nourishing yourself, not a means of deprivation or punishment.  Focus on putting in the best, and the output will most definitely match it.  However, don't forget it can take a little time for your body to adjust to changes and there can be a time of withdrawal symptoms before you begin to see improvements.

Hope to see you all at the beach!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Blog: Food Wastage Project (Vikki Kay)

The Four Pounds of Cheese Project was started by Online Pastry Chef Jenni Field (blog ‘The Balanced Pastry Chef’) as a way to raise awareness about food waste in the United States and around the world. The project name comes from an article in the July, 2011 issue ‘National Geographic Magazine’ entitled ‘How to Feed A Growing Planet’. In the article, there is graphical representation of an average of how much of several categories of food Americans purchase (and waste) each year. The average American purchases 28 pounds of cheese per year, and ends up throwing away four pounds, or about 14% of what they purchase.

During the week of August 1-7, 2011, participants took photographs of all the food waste they created every day and then posted it to a blog. Because I haven’t got a blog, I am hijacking my sister’s! The goal is to help us all to be aware of the issue of food waste and to encourage us all to reduce our waste as much as possible.

For me, this is a matter of money wastage. I try to buy organic, or if this is too expensive, reach for unsprayed, local produce as often as I can. Although our fruit and vege scraps go into the compost bin (and some will soon be going to our new hens when their taj mahal is constructed), the food scraps are clearly worth more money as food than compost. On the other hand, as another blogger has pointed out, finishing off the plate when you are already full, is also wasting food, so it is better to reuse leftovers in the next meal/s than finishing a plate for the sake of it (see here).

Day 1: Was disappointed to have to compost one feral lemonade and one rotten apple. Also regretting celery stalks and carrot ends which were organic, and could’ve been made into vege stock or soup if I had a system of storage for the stock ingredients or a soup on the menu for today or tomorrow. Cleaned out the egg shell to go to sister’s chooks (baked, and ground fine, and added to their scraps).

Day 2: Once again found rotten fruit; it means I’m not checking the fruit bowls to use the oldest pieces first. Whole kiwifruit and half an apple. Thinking about the amount of citrus skins that are going in: there are lots of things I could use them for, too. See for example: and here.  Although, maybe a pomelo peel is taking it a bit far (that baby is THICK!).

Day 3:  Today success – ate the cucumber end, and a tomato end, and roasted potatoes without trimming off the eyes. And we didn’t *die*. Some apple and pear cores went into our smoothie, as did one baby cos lettuce stalk; one citrus skin went onto the meat as a marinade. My husband cut up our bulk meat tonight. The tough gristle he trimmed is going next-door to our neighbour’s dog with 2 bits of cartilage from our y-bone dinner. I thought I could take the y-bones to dad’s place because he buries bones, but apparently, he doesn’t do it anymore because unless they are buried very deeply dogs, scrub turkeys and other scavengers dig them up. Due to council regulations we cannot burn bones. Some more advanced composters will add them to compost, but we don’t fall into that category. So they were ‘wasted’.

Day 4: Tricky day as we were not at home, and had to box up our scraps to bring home with us! However, the orange and lemon peels and pith were all blitzed up and put into the freezer for future baking use (or meat marinade, which made the meat taste very gourmet in my opinion!).

Day 5: Sadly, I bought sourdough multi-grain bread that was right on its used-by date and it developed mold even though I stuck it straight in the freezer. Perhaps I didn’t check it closely enough at the shop. Some pieces I trimmed the mold off before toasting and eating, but the last slice I just gave up on. Another over-ripe lemonade. The coriander scraps I actually ate the next day. We had people over, and the chunk of cake and the bread crusts were their left-overs. I do not count cake as ‘food’, due to the anti-nutrient qualities of the sugar. It went in the rubbish bin. I did compost the white bread, but again, I don’t believe that its combination of over-processed ingredients (and chemicals) should be regarded as ‘food’, and as such I did not reuse the leftovers as I would’ve with fruit discarded by another child for example.

The eggshells I had left-over from my baking, and I did bother to wash them, but it is a very annoying job.

Day 6: A few things that you will *not* find in my scraps... Root vegetables and tubers are never peeled in my kitchen. Even when potatoes are mashed, you hardly notice the skins, and I prefer the taste. Carrots, turnips, and Swedes just get washed and diced. Pumpkin skin can be a bit tough (I call it *crunchy*), but for a long time it’s only been visitors to our table leaving the skin behind on the plate (which will end up in a stew or stock). Naturally, I am careful to wash all my fruit and and vegetables when I am using the peel. I had a great natural-bristle scrubbing brush, but it deteriorated eventually, and I am happy to use my Enjo Fruit & Veg Cloth (although any microfibre cloth is good for removing surface ick). My Vitamix helps reduce wastage, too: I blend kiwifruit fuzz, and apple and pear cores into smoothies (their seeds are very healthful in small quantities), and after roasting whole pumpkins, I blitz them seeds’n’all into soup (tastes nuttier). Broccoli and cauliflower stems are diced into stir-fries, and the hard cabbage and silverbeet stems, and the thick cauliflower outer leaves can be added to stocks (I have tried various methods of cooking them, but they were too tough) and blitzed after a LONG time in the pot. Cheese that is tasting too mature goes into cheese sauce, and milk goes into potato bake, custard, or rice pudding before it goes off.

These eggshells I didn’t bother washing, but I will crush up and put in my compost.

Today I made another heap of lemonade and orange peel into a citrus butter that I spread on my homemade sourdough rye bread – delicious!!!  Recipe: In Vitamix I blitzed one whole orange with three other lots of citrus peel (I used peel from two oranges and a lemonade fruit). Add honey to taste.

Day 7: We spent the day with friends, and I couldn’t fit the wasted food in a photo: there was too much of it. I didn’t offer to take the compostables with me, so they all went in the rubbish bin, as did too many outer leaves of lettuce, *generous* trimmings from other salad veges, prawn shells (dubious as to whether I would have made stock out of this, but apparently chooks love them), large amounts of strawberry tops (instead of just the greenery), and, (my biggest wince factor) the food that our hosts’ children did not finish off their plates. But, as with all habits, changing the public perception is a big part of producing less waste, and as we all try to get the word out and lead by example, hopefully there will be more impetus to get better value for our money, waste less food and be kinder to the environment.

My Conclusions:

1. I waste a lot of water in my kitchen! I am going to set up a medium-sized bucket in my sink to catch the water while I wait (interminably) for it to turn hot. This *may* mean that I actually water my vege garden more regularly (another source of waste – if I don’t look after my plants, they die!!!). I can also use steamer water, soaking pots water and (just quietly) kettle emptying water (which does go on… I won’t name any names…).

2. I make bone broth/stock at least once a month, so I will put another empty (yoghurt) bucket in the freezer for my organic vege scraps and peels. Other bloggers use a snap-lock bag for the same purpose. When I whack the bones in the saucepan, I can chuck the scraps in, too.

3. As the weather is getting warmer, we will be having smoothies every day. Cores and greens scraps can go daily into the smoothies; will probably keep a smaller container in the fridge so these bits aren’t left out overnight. Citrus peels are still an issue, I can’t add too much to a smoothie because they are way too strongly flavoured; I am going to use more of the ideas in the websites above.

I don’t think these three ideas will add substantially to my cooking prep or clean-up time, but will cut my food waste by up to a half. Then later on I can think about what to do with other areas of waste that irk me – bones, and pineapple skins (blitz and strain??) for example, and work on reducing the plastic bag/bottle/container usage and wastage somehow!!!

Well, it was fun sharing briefly with you all, and thanks Kathie, for letting me blather on.

(You're welcome Vikki - I found this all very interesting and although I am quite happy in the knowledge that I have no compulsion to eat cucumber/tomato ends, I really do need to be more vigilant in checking scraps for further use.  I know watermelon rind is actually extremely high in good stuff & can be juiced, so will look forward to trying that!  Also, Nigella always adds strips of lemon peel to her chicken/meat marinades.  I must try to get into the habit of zesting or peeling a lemon/orange/lime before juicing it so as to get the maximum out of it.  Thank VIK!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chocolicious Delights

In deference to my older sister who gently chides me for occasionally overdoing the chocolate experimentation, I have deliberately been withholding some of my recent chocolate epiphanies.  However, I now send her a very respectful raspberry as I finally get to share my totally rocking raw chocolate recipe!  I do believe I stole this off a Thermomix website, but it works just as well in my Vitamix and it is the closest I've tasted, to normal chocolate.  Bear in mind, though, that I've been eating 70% dark chocolate for quite a while now so it still may not be as heavenly to you as to me.

Why make your own chocolate?  Ummm ..... because you can!  And of course, this recipe is actually full of ingredients that are actually great for your health, so can be eaten with a lot less guilt than normal crappy chocolate that is full of refined sugar, feral fats, detrimental soy derivatives and heavily processed milk (if you're lucky ;-)).  All the ingredients needed in this recipe will not normally be found in your pantry but are readily available in most health food shops, and once in your pantry - will absolutely, positively be used - and not just for cooking:

Raw Cacao Butter - this is just the natural fat of the chocolate bean, cold-pressed so as to retain all it's goodness.  It's high in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids - all very good for your body.   It is not just good to "cook" with but it is the most amazingly nourishing moisturiser to use on your body.  Read more about it here.  It's not cheap, but you will use all of it and how nice is it to smear on a natural lip balm that actually smells like chocolate!

Raw Cacao Powder - this is what is left of the chocolate bean, once the cacao butter is extracted.  It is nothing like cocoa as this is processed to the point of tasting like dust and having no nutritional value whatsoever.  Raw cacao however is considered a Super Food as it is sky-high in antioxidants, amino acids, feel-good (phyto) chemicals & minerals, especially magnesium which is well know for it's muscle-relaxing and stress relieving properties ...... need I say more????  Yes, it does contain caffeine - only a minute amount in relation to tea or coffee, but enough to still be aware of giving your kids gobs & gobs of it, and of course to maybe not imbibe in masses of it before bedtime.

Raw Agave Syrup - this is a natural sweetener extracted from the Agave cactus at low temps.  It has a lower GI than cane sugar but is sweeter, so you can use less of it.  Read labels carefully as Agave Syrup that is not raw, can be overly processed and have little or no nutritional value.

Vanilla Bean - Did you know that Vanilla Extract contains preservatives that aren't great for you?  I do now make my own Vanilla Extract with just vanilla beans and Bourbon for baking, but it ain't so good for plonking in the raw stuff (that you're not cooking) and handing it round to the kiddies.  So, I always have a stash of whole organic vanilla beans so that I can just scrape out when necessary.  For this recipe I actually just grind up half of the whole bean (not just scrape it) with sea salt till very fine - no waste!

High Quality Sea Salt - Himalayan, Celtic - you must have a salt that is extremely high in essential minerals as this is necessary for your bodily functions.  You can't live without salt, however, normal table salt is B.A.D. for you.  It is soooo processed that your poor body doesn't know how to deal with it.

OK, so now that you have some beautiful ingredients, extract the maximum benefit out of them, and keep them raw!  Cacao butter comes in a solid state so to get it liquid for this recipe, shave off and weigh out the amount you need, place into a bowl, and then place this bowl into a larger bowl of hot water.  It will take about 10 mins to become liquid.

 Be very careful not to get any water in with the cacao butter!  And then you are ready to start.

100g raw cacao butter, liquified (see above)
35g raw cacao powder
45g raw agave syrup
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch of whole ground vanilla bean

Pour cacao butter into a blender or food processor (I use my Vitamix) and add cacao powder to it.   Blend this on the gentlest speed available for 10 - 15 minutes.  This is incredibly important to get the high quality smoothness you want.

Add agave, salt and vanilla & blend well again. Taste, add more sweetener if you want.  Line a small tray with baking paper or grease a mould and pour mixture onto it, and refrigerate.  Feel free to add any further flavours to your chocolate before you set it.  I have only added roasted whole almonds so far - and that is to die for.

And my other great achievement is coming up with a "healthy" chocolate spread for my kids:  Coconutella!  I doubt they'll spread this on bread but it is fantastic drizzled over Cocolicious Icecream or  to dip your strawberries into.  Me:  I was just slurping it up in spoonfuls.

1 cup softened Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil (you don't want this in liquid form as you want to be able to beat it up like butter)

2 cups sifted Raw Organic Cacao Powder (you need the chocolateyness to take away any chance of it being too overwhelmingly coconutty)
1/3 cup raw agave syrup (that's all the sweetness I needed, but you can add more if you want)
Pinch of sea salt (this just enhances the flavour)

Put it all together and whip it up!  I chose not to use my Vitamix because I find it hard to scrape every last bit of goodness out of it, and I wasn't wasting any of this.  I actually just used a hand-held beater, but any stand mixer or food processor would be fine.  Store in a very clean glass jar in the cupboard.  Just like coconut oil, it will harden when cool, and soften when warmed.  I prefer it drippy like chocolate sauce so will often warm it before use.


For normal people, this Coconutella should last you a couple of months.  However, for us, I'm hoping it lasts the week.  Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yummy Rawness (and how grows my garden .......)

I have been meaning to be a little more adventurous in making some more raw meals, and for this I needed and acquired 2 very beautiful items:

My Vitamix

My Spirooli
 It makes raw cooking so much more exciting and a lot easier.  The Spirooli makes the most gorgeous spirals out of fruit and veg and I've found I've been using it a lot more for the kids than for myself.  Apples and carrots are definitely their favourites.  But my main purpose for this was creating my own raw pasta out of zucchini - sooooooo easy.  And when softened in hot water (not boiling, as this would "cook" it) it does actually take on a lot of the characteriestics of al dente pasta.

And for a luscious raw tomato sauce to go on top, I used this recipe:

6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 2 hours
6 chopped fresh roma tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil leaves
4 medjool dates, soaked for 2 hours
1 garlic clove
generous pinch of sea salt & splash of cold-pressed olive oil

Throw all into the Vitamix and blend till smooth.

This recipe has everything you need:  intensity from the s-d toms, the zestiness of the basil, sweetness from the dates & the depth from the garlic.  Totally delicious and you can basically use this as a dip if you wanted or just eat it straight out of the Vitamix. To go over my pasta, I warmed it gently (place the amount of tomato sauce you need in a small bowl and place that in a bowl of hot water, that comes up the side of yr first bowl.  Stir).  A meal that is not just vibrant with colour and freshness, but bursting with flavour and goodness.  Give it a try!

The other thing I cannot live without my Vitamix for, is my morning Green Smoothie.  Yes, I've become a little more adventurous with my morning juices, and am now inovlving a hearty dose of green stuff in there as well.  Kale is my first choice, and a couple of leaves in with my banana & pineapple juice and it goes a ludicrous green!

You do not taste the kale, but man, do you feel the benefits - it's like an adrenalin shot!  It is the perfect energiser to start your day with.

And now, for a progress report on my garden. 

If not for my spectacular peas, things would have been a little more dire.

I've enjoyed picking the leaves off of my kale and rocket and lettuce, but to say there's been a bumper crop, would be a massive understatement!  I haven't dared to dig out a carrot yet, and my poor leeks look quite peak-ed.  It may not be good news on that front either.  However, I have managed another capsicum off of my hard-working bush, and another glorious tomato bush has sprung up.  Maybe next winter I'll just stick with peas ......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fasting ......

Phew!  Feeling pumped today and I know it's cause I made it through 3.5 days (do not discount that .5 thank you) of Fasting.  I was prepared to allow my self some juices and did have 1 or 2 a day when I knew I needed a little kick of energy to get me through.  But most of the time it was water, water with lemon, hot water with lemon, more water and then some peppermint tea! 

Fasting differs for everyone.  The purist form of fasting is abstaining from food and liquid. This is pretty insane to do unless needed for a medical reason or if you're Jesus.  The most usual type of fasting is just abstaining from all food and just having water.  On the first day of my fast I made it through to dinner quite easily (you'll hear why later) without anything but water.  I probably could've gone the whole day but I knew I had training the next morning and wanted to have enough energy to get me through.  (I did, and felt great afterwards although my PT did take it a little easier on me knowing I was fasting). 

There are a whole variety of "fasts" where you just exclude certain foods or liquids that you know are a struggle, temptation or unhealthful to you:  such as a chocoate fast, soft drink fast, coffee fast, sweets fast, meat fast, and a popular one is the Daniel fast (no meat, delicacies, etc - just fruit and veg).  All of us have probably tried one or two of these over the years as an accompaniament to diets we've been on and whether they've been successful or not, they are a good excercise in discipline and leaving the desires of the flesh behind you.

Juice or liquid fasts are very popular because they still provide you with a fair amount of nutrition to help you get through your normal day while still denying yourself the foods you'd normally "chew".  And this would be the one I would recommend for a 2 - 3 day fast.  It's not easy but it's totally possible and incredibly healing to your body and mind. 

So why did I decide a fast was needed?  There were a few reasons.  The main one (and which got me started on the whole idea) was that our church was having 40 days of intermittent fasting and prayer as things have been pretty heavy going there for awhile, and this is an incredible way of really focussing on God and putting other junk out of the way to clear your head, mind and spirit to hear His Word.  It's a very biblical practice and so I wanted to be a part of it.  (See this link for more info on Fasting and Praying)  Everyone was encouraged to fast for all of the last Saturday in the lead up to a time of thanksgiving and celebratory lunch on Sunday.  So I wanted to do all of Saturday but I knew I would need a little more time than that to "clear" my mind and totally turn my back on my utter obsession with food to even hope to hear a whisper from God!  Besides, my body needed a good detox to boot as well!

So, yes, I also wanted to fast for Health reasons as well.  I knew that with the holidays and probably over the last few months I hadn't been eating as well as I could have been and had let some rotten things creep back in.  I was experiencing a little pain again in my hands and feet and knew that if I didn't intervene in my diet again, I could maybe slide back into some nasty symptoms.  The reason why water fasting is so great, is that it gives your poor overworked body a chance to use all its effort on healing your body, organs, blood etc where needed and doesn't have to use energy to digest, eliminate food.  (For further info see this link.)

On Wednesday, we went to Seaworld and I had my first ice cream in like FOREVER.  It was Norgen Daas and it was delish but it only took a little while before I had a raging sugar headache.  We had great fun but I was exhausted by the time we got home and seeing it was State of Origin night (3rd deciding game - very exciting) we ordered pizzas for tea.  I don't know how much I ate but around 9pm that night I started thinking "this is disgusting!  Just eating for the sake of eating, and then eating way too much. I've had enough food to last me a few days .... easy."  Hence, I began to toss round the idea of starting the fast on Thursday and carrying through till Sunday.  I was so sick of not reading my body's signs well and ignoring the "full" feelings and just getting lost in that whole "eat whatever, whenever" ideal.  So that was settled!

How did I survive?  The toughest times were definitely at night when I had to cook dinner.  The first night I was all inspired and it didn't bother me planning lamb chops & mashed potato for dinner, but then while watching that sizzling fat - I almost grabbed one and started chomping.  Let me tell you there was lots of finger-licking during the dishing up and clearing up.  Friday night I copped out & told hubby to take the kids to Subway.  Meanwhile I imbibed in a mousse/juice:  lime zest & juice, lemon zest & juice, avocado and banana - HEAVEN!  On Saturday night it was just baked beans & toast (had a HUGE day) but I think I snuck in 5 beans when unconsciously licking the spoon after dishing them out.  Gosh, it's hard.  And I do believe the trick to this is maybe having a nice thick juice just before the meal time so at least you're not feeling massively ravenous.

During the day it's easy to be distracted so I would just take my glass of lemon water around the house with me wherever I went so I could fill up on that whenever I felt hunger pangs.  However, you do feel VERY tired ....... oh, the tiredness on the first day is almost crippling.  The second day is also hard, but by the 3rd & 4th day I felt heaps better.  So, the trick NOTHING!  Make sure you haven't scheduled a whole lot in and make sure you get to laze around a little.  The best thing I found was having a quick snooze in the sun, and every day I did this on the lounge by our pool.  The sunshine seems to really reenergize you.  I would also use this time to soak in God's presence and meditate on Him and listen for anything I was meant to hear.  Of course your mind wanders, but I did still get a lot out of these "quiet" times.

And don't forget to go to bed earlier, this isn't actually very hard as you really are waning by the time the kids get in.  I'm normally a 10:30/11pm bedtimer but for all 3 days (and the 2 after) I was very happily esconced in bed by 9:30 at the latest.  And boy, did I sleep.  Blissful.  I do have to admit that on the 2nd and 3rd day we fit in a lot because the kids were still on holidays, and I found my exhaustion caught up with me on the Sunday and Monday.  I literally couldn't operate after 8pm both nights so still enjoyed early nights.

And of course you need prayer and continual mind conversations to keep reminding yourself:  "IT'S JUST FOOD!"  You must concentrate on the fact that you are putting the needs of your spiritual life ahead of the desires of your flesh.  It pays to be prepared and even though we had a birthday party, a trip to the movies (I just brought along a peppermint tea) and various outings with the kids:  they were probably the easiest because you could mentally prepare yourself for what was ahead and "gird up your loins"! 

I also had to stop watching cooking shows ...... I readily admit I am food-obsessed so this was all part of breaking the "addiction" so to speak.  It wouldn't have helped anyway, but I still found my mind constantly wandering ahead with excitement as to what I could cook for our next meal.  Oh, it was quite crushing to know I didn't have that to look forward to ..... but, "IT'S JUST FOOD!"  I filled up those times with listening to worship music, and reading.  I did away with cookbooks & magazines and immersed myself in a fascinating Francine River's novel that actually, even more, enveloped me in bible stories I totally drank in, learnt from, and really found incredibly encouraging.  So, it's also wise to prepare ahead for your leisure time as well!

Breaking the Fast.  For me, lunchtime was the perfect time to break the fast.  I usually fast during the morning anyway, so I could really look forward to a delicious lunch.  I went to the organic markets in the morning and revelled in picking up lots of glorious goodies (fruit and veg) to imbibe in once the fast was over & to also create some dishes I was taking to the church lunch:  roast veg cous cous (not for me) and a strawberry and spinach salad (just for me!).  I knew my stomach probably couldn't cope with anything crazy greasy or heavy afterwards, and besides, I wanted to be really mindful as I went back into eating.  So this is what I broke my fast with:

Fresh, light & zingy.  It was just 1 punnet of organic strawberries (YAY!  They are in season) sliced, 1 bag of organic baby spinach leaves, a handful of chopped walnuts, 80g of crumbled goats chevre or fetta cheese, and a normal olive oil & lemon juice & dijon mustard dressing with some poppy seeds added for some crunch.  Perfect end to the fast, and introduction to eating again.  I kept it light-ish for dinner as well with a beef thai salad, minus the noodles, plus some avocado.  And I'm yet to have a coffee ...... still!

I cannot tell you how alive and energetic I felt on Monday morning.  I went off to gym no troubles at 5:15am, and then planned and executed a fantastic interval walk/run around Burleigh National Park - 2.5kms in total. I'm still trying to listen closely to my body and heed it's hue and cry.  And the biggest thing I learnt:  don't let idols creep into your lives and take over time from God - even if it is JUST FOOD!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A day in the Life of ......

This post is purely in the form of "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" , as I copy the posts I am addicted to on one of my fave blogs:  Table Tonic.  I love it for the fashion, interiors, ideas and plenty of eye-candy!  (Of course, this post will have very little of any of those ......)

What I wore:

Pull-On Ponte Pants from Witchery, long sleeve v-neck top (cypress) also from Witchery, Long line, long sleeve black cardigan from Country Road.

My EasyFit Boots - I have had these boots now for nearly 5 years, and they still look AMAZING!

What I bought:

How cute is this stroller?  QuickSmart Easy Fold Stroller .

Thank you Myers for having 40% off:  $219, down to $132!  I thought my last stroller (bought 2.5 yrs ago) would last the distance, but no, the wheels are cactus, the hand grips have disintegrated and the frame is hammered from No 3 (5yrs old) standing on the back basket.  This one is sleek, folds quick and flat, has it's own carry bag, and there is no frame on the back so I don't have to push 30kg worth of kiddy flesh.  And pushes like a dream ...... *sigh*.

Kiddy Heaven:

Grateful to Myers for providing Free Kids entertainment!  Not only were there plenty of Little Tikes Trucks out for them to race round in, but there was also this Jumping Castle (next to the Furniture Dept, so I also got a comfy chair to sit in) that No 3 & 4 had loads of fun in for agggggggggggggges.  And yes, that's my 3 yr old's Witchery-clad bottom.

The Lunch:

Home for h-made Socca wraps
Socca:  1/2 cup of besan/chickpea flour, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tbsp olive oil, pinch of sea salt, pinch of cumin.  Whisk together.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan to sizzling, pour in batter, let cook till golden, flip and do other side. 

Today's effort cracked so made 2 "mini" wraps, loaded with leftover lamb kofta, grated raw beetroot, cucumber, tomato, mashed avo, and some tzatziki (yes, I am aware I am mixing cuisines here).  So delish and very filling.

Soup's UP:

My soup addiction continues:  Chicken Mulligatawny & Pumpkin & Macadamia.


Yes, she cooks, and Yes, her recipes are GOOD!


We are reading through Esther at night with the kids and are getting SOOOOO much out of it!  I'm really feeling encouraged about how God's plans will ALWAYS come to be, even if everything seems to be on the brink of destruction.  How many times was Jesus' lineage threatened? - oh so many!  Yet, always, God's purpose was fulfilled and there were bountiful blessings.  Nothing's an accident or a mistake, God is in control.  :-)

Good News

I lost the 2 kgs that I'd put on.  It's all about the Mindful Eating People!!!  And lots of this ......

Super Fruit Smoothee of the Week:  Custard Apple, Banana, Coconut Water & Passionfruit, totally decadent!

And we leave for Fraser Island on Saturday and I cannot wait to chill out, do some 4wdriving, dune toboganning, and just hang with the fam.  So, see you when we get back!!!!  MWAH to you all.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'tis the season for Fennel!

I don't know why I love fennel, but I do.  It's just one of those mysterious veg that I adore the taste of and love to incorporate into meals.  I'm not an aniseed flavour fan but I love that when you roast fennel it gets sweetness & depth, and when it's raw in salads it's really zesty and picquant & completely different.

I had a couple of fennel bulbs in my fridge, waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect recipe discovery, and I finally found it.  And it ROCKED!   I stole the recipe off of Roarfood and am over the moon I discovered this dressing, it is one of the most unctious, delicious creations I've ever tasted!  And yes, it goes perfectly over thinly sliced raw fennel bulb.

Dressing:  1 tbsp tahini, juice & rind of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tsp agave, 1/4 cup of olive oil, dozen leaves of basil (blitz in blender or food processor).  And ...... ta da!

It's a fantastic way to get a massive dose of Vit C and potassium for this Winter Season.  And did I mention how delectable it tastes?  I had this for lunch one day and cannot rave enough about the feeling of wellness afterwards, and how much it perked me up.  You must try it.

The other way I am getting use out of the fennel plant is with it's seeds.  A girlfriend told me about it's magical use at settling sick tummies when I was feeling particularly seedy one morning.  I put 8 - 10 of the seeds in my tea infuser, covered it in boiling water and then added a slice of lemon. 

Some people may not find the flavour very pleasant, but I quite enjoy it and it really does work.  Unfortunately, i have been putting it into practice a little too often lately ...... me bad.

So, get a little adventurous, make the most of the season and enjoy  a little fennel!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Walking with a headache

Doesn't sound like a very victorious heading, but believe me, I am glad the 20 km walk is over!

I was pretty excited to be truthful, about starting the walk.  I was really looking forward to doing the first 10kms on my own, at my own speed, listening to my IPOD, and enjoying the walk for what it was - raising money for the work of school chaplains. 

I dressed in what I thought would be my comfiest pants (and they were) and was relieved that the official Ks for Kids tee felt nice to wear.  I had packed an alternative outfit in the car to change into if need be at the 2nd 10 kms.  There is nothing worse or more distracting then having painful chafing occuring anywhere .......

I love my new Nike pack that I wore very comfortably and was just the right size for what I wanted to carry:

A special pocket for my Iphone so I could follow my progress on Pedometer Pro and listen to my tunes.  And then a slim pocket behind that to fit a couple of tissues, bandaids, lip balm & panadol. 

Started the day with a quick juice:

Pomegranate, Apple & Banana - nice start to the day!

I had a quick sip of water at the checkpoint before setting off on the first 10 kms at 9am.  The first stretch was actually up and over Nth Burleigh Hill so it was a good gee up to get moving.  I set a great pace and kept up with a young teen who was determined to stay in front of me, so we set a great challenge for each other, the whole way.  I then caught up with another 2 girls from an earlier group and so up Burleigh headland and through the National Park, it was the 4 of us.  We kept to a track as much as possible, and avoided hitting the beach until after Tallebudgera (such amazing scenery too).  This was when I finally succumbed to hitting a few panadol as my head had been wildly throbbing.  Thank goodness for beach bubblers, as even though there were a few officials along the route, handing out lollies - there was no water stops.  I was very aware of not guzzling water as from gym training I knew that was the quickest way to make me feel nauseous. 

The beach slowed us down and so by now there were a few more people round.  We tried to detour from the beach as soon as possible and then it got a little confusing as there were not enough markers to show us where to go.  But i made it to the next checkpoint in 1 hour 15mins - quickest 10 kms I'd done so far.

Toilet stop before a quick drink, a piece of orange and collecting the rest of the crew for the next 10 kms:

Ocean, Amber, Annabel, Eden, me & Anna
And then the fun began.  I was a drill seargeant at the start as I knew I had to get them moving from the beginning so that there was opportunity to slow down a little later and still get in sometime before the sun set.  We left at 10:30.  The first blister complaint came at around 10:40.  Sigh.

By 11 we'd hit the beach and there was nothing but beach till we reached the end at Coolangatta.  Thankfully my headache had subsided, and it was low tide so the sand was pretty hard.

By 11:15 I caved and let all the kids take their shoes off, they were way more used to walking in bare feet so this to them, was like freedom.  It certainly upped their energy levels, although we then had to carry those shoes and were definitely lagging somewhere in the middle of the group now.

On the home stretch we thankfully caught up with some guys from our church, so this pepped the kids up a bit, and gave me some scintillating adult conversation for a bit.  Awesome!

We all had to take our shoes off to cross a gushing water run-off river cut through the beach, but by then I think we were all a little relieved to have our shoes off and get some saltwater therapy.  And then it was up the stairs (ooooo very wobbly legs) to the boardwalk & into Queen Elizabeth Park.  YAY!

I just collapsed onto the grass as I was feeling pretty hot, tired and dehydrated by then.  I'd had to give my hat to one of the other girls and I could not see water being handed out anywhere so Luke had to get my water from the car while the kids feasted on sno cones and free snags on bread. 

At one stage I do remember turning to Luke and saying:  "remind me to never do this again"  but now, in hindsight, I reckone I could do it all over again next year!!

Oh yeh, and my girls & I raised just under $1500!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dark days .....

While "training" for my 20 km walk in a weeks time, I took off this morning north from where I live up towards Surfers Paradise.  I've not walked this way in FOREVER, and gosh, it took me down memory lane.  Too bad it wasn't all good memories.

The first property we bought after having our first child was an older 2 bedroom appartment on the 2nd floor of a walk-up complex on the outskirts of SP.  It had spacious bedrooms, a cosy kitchen, a lovely balconette from which to watch the toing and froing of society, and was straight across the road from an easement that took you straight to the beach.   *sigh*  It was the perfect first "home" and was in such a great location that we did very well on the resale. 

I'd probably had my first daughter just over a year before and unfortunately at that time I almost went thru a total breakdown when a delayed bout of  post-natal depressin hit good and strong.  I had recieved a letter from my cousin detailing the traumatic birth she'd had with her first son, and it brought back a tidal wave of emotions that threatened to totally drown me in reliving how disappointing and disheartening my own experiences had been.  So totally distraught and depressed by these thoughts, there were quite a few occasions I considered suicide, one night even running away from home and trying to decide where the best place was to be hit by a passing car.  That was a dark dark night, especially for my husband, who was driving round the suburb madly, with the baby in the back, trying to find where I'd gone. 

And that was the first memory that hit me while walking past our old unit:  "Oh look, that's where we used to live, oh, yes, and that's where I hid that night L was driving round trying to find me ......"  It actually literally stopped me in my tracks, because it's not often I think about that time, and there's probably only a handful of people in this world who I'd even told.  It's easy to avoid these sad, dreadful tales but to be honest, the more it's brought out into the open, the more healing it can be.

There were so many contributing factors to this state I found myself in:

a) I'd had a less than smooth birthing experience that ended in a ceasarean.

b) I lived away from my family and was the first of all my friends and family to have a baby - so literally NO ONE knew how to help or could give good advice based on experience.  Even my mum was unsure as to what was expected or what or how she should help.  Thankfully, her default position was always to ring a good friend of her's who was a mid-wife and who gave life-saving advice and help.

c) I believed it was easier to stay at home and look after the baby, rather than going out and having to go through the hassles of packing an overnighter full of "just in case" stuff.

d) we moved twice in 6 months and the last place we lived had been in the gold coast hinterland where the weather was the worst in decades and kept me housebound with a small baby for days on end.  (I could not drive at this time & my husband worked 45 mins away so I literally had no escape atop a mountain where the nearest neighbours were a few paddocks away). 

e) we were involved in a church where we were the youngest adults and had just started having kids, whereas the others were just finishing.  Although the mothers there were very nice, they almost loathed to
encourage, instead just talked about how bad They had had it, and how I had it all very easy. I felt so completely alone.

It was around that time that I saw an article in Women's Weeekly about PND and I took it to my GP and pointed to the "symptoms" column and said "I have all of these and I need something to help".  She rather quickly gave me a script for an anti-depressant and off I went.  It was only when I started taking them (knowing they wouldn't kick in for a couple of weeks) that I started thinking whether I had actually done all I could BEFORE resigning myself to medication. 

Now, I am not opposed to medication, after having Ava I also suffered PND and at that stage I knew there was absolutely nothing in my power to change what I was doing or how I was feeling.  I had 4 kids, a colicky baby who barely slept all day, no energy, no nothing, I didn't particularly want to kill myself this time, I was just filled with such pessimism and hopelessness all the time  - I knew I needed the medication to help balance my head again and stop all the dreadful sadness so I could start looking around and hopefully start participating in life again.  There was no great rush of elation or super human powers that came with the tablets, but wow, I wasn't crying all day, I started actually seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I could actually achieve something in a day, and yes, I just maybe would keep all my 4 children.  Knowing what I know today, I now realise there are even MORE options out there to investigate in regards to PND and medication but I am always relieved I made it through that period and was able to easily wean off the medication and start living a much healthier life, so that (God willing) I may never need them again. 

But back to Baby no.1 ..

I suppose considering the violent feelings I was having at the time (towards myself, very rarely towards the baby - which I also know to be quite "normal" in PND sufferers) it may have been wiser to give the meds a try first, but being from such a "can do" kinda family;  I really did feel like I needed to try to get control of this situation myself first.  This in itself can be very dangerous thinking, because really, I don't believe myself to be capable of controlling anything successful while relying on my own fallibility,  but I think a great many people were praying and I was filled with an extra dose of strength that God had meted out to help me get going again.  So, here are some of the things I decided to do:

a)  Get the heck out of the apartment!!!!!  Being in a confined space with a small child is mentally dangerous (especially if they are crying).  Just to go for a quick walk up the street, buy a drink at the corner shop, and walk back was so LIBERATING!  Remember, I couldn't drive so this ended up being an absolute God-send, cause I had to walk & got a good dose of excercise and fresh air - so valuable for one's mental and physical health. 

b) invite over or visit similarly minded friends (or strangers if need be).  My best friend lived in Toowoomba at the time, and I remember a few times she came down with her baby and stayed with me, and oh, the relief of having someone to share my trials with and who could relate and encourage me.  Her sister had also had a baby at a similar time and so one night they all stayed the night in our small 2 bedroom appartment (4 adults, 3 babies) - and that still rates as one of the best memories of our time there.

c)   Changed churches.  Growing up in the one church for most of my life (my father is a pastor) makes me very much a loyal church-goer, so it's not really inbuilt into my system to chop and change whenever I get bored or think I'm not being "fed" enough.  It was very painful to leave that church, and we did it with much prayer and with much consideration to the pastor and his family (cause I know what it can be like!)  But, oh the joy and relief we felt when attending a bigger church for the first time and were swamped with couples our own age who were at the same stage as us and where there were lots of different kids groups to be involved in.  Some of those couples we met there are still our closest friends and have also gone on to have 3 or 4 kids.

d) Told my friends and family what I wanted them to do.  My mum still comes and does my ironing for me every few weeks.  It's what she enjoys & is good at, and to me it's a huge blessing!  Also, everytime someone would come down to see us, I would straight out ask them to bring something for lunch or dinner so that I did not have the added burden of having to entertain and hostess as well.  I remember my sister packing a hamper for me (back in the days when none of us really understood the implications of additives, etc) with packet sauce mixes and other easy things to cut down on my cooking time.  These days, I go out of my way to cook meals for my girlfriends after they've had a baby so I can now fill them up with loads of good stuff without them worrying about cooking it themselves.

e) Make peace with your birthing history.  I went on to have another 3 Ceasareans so I had to come to grips with not being a member of the "natural birthing" club pretty quick.  It was only with my 4th pregnancy that I was told I had a bi-cornuate womb, (heart-shaped) so the chance of me ever having a natural birth was actually quite slim.  Man, that really would have been great to know a little earlier!  But after each time, I would make sure I was much better prepared for the next one to come:  2 out of my 4 C-sections had complications afterwards, I had one baby I couldn't breastfeed, and I required a D & C after one due to retained placenta.  A lot of reading & prayer, supportive friends and family made things a lot more doable after each and I have to say that C-sections have changed a lot for the better since my first one over 10 years ago. 

I could go on & on with a 1000 more tips on how to make it all easier but these were just the main ones I know saved my sanity.  I know, this seems a strange blog topic as it's normally all about food, but I suppose I just write 'em as I sees 'em!  Also, the more I learn, the more I am thankful for the mercies God shows me in my ever-continuing journey.  And there's no way I would ever go back and change a thing: