Yearly Archives

2016

Date + Coconut Freezer Fudge

December 24, 2016

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Joan adores dates. I can totally appreciate why she does, as to me, they are nature’s ultimate candy. They’re sweet, rich and energising, and completely satisfying if I’m low on energy or craving something sweet. It tickles me to see that Joan feels the same way. Sultanas? Nope, she’s very dubious. Dried figs, yeah, she enjoys them…but dates…dates, she loves.

When making smoothies together I give her a little portion of date to nibble, and I always throw a few in my bag for emergencies, like if she’s grizzling in the car or if she hurts herself and is inconsolable. In our attempts to gradually and gently wean bubba, I am finding dates are a wonderful breastmilk replacement, offering comfort and distraction from whatever has made my babe upset.

One hot afternoon last week, I had an urge to make a sweet and refreshing snack that required very little preparation and no time in the oven. Dates are delicious on their own, even more so with a spoonful of tahini, but on this day I wanted to do something a little different. The week prior I had been gifted some festive cookie cutters that I was keen on trying out, and I imagined a fast, freezer fudge made with dates + nuts + coconut oil would satisfy both my appetite and my desire for gingerbread people-shaped treats. As it turns out the date fudge was insanely easy to make and tasty to eat, but it fell short in appearance, as the gingerbread-people didn’t resemble people at all, rather brown blobs. Delicious blobs, indeed, but blobs nonetheless. So I set the cookie cutters aside, fashioned the fudge into squares and took our plate of snacks into the garden, where Joan and I sat with our feet on the grass and stuffed our faces with our happy food.
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Happenings 19.12.16

December 19, 2016

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DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps. NEXT to me, this time. Not in the carrier. Big changes. See this post for details.

HEARING: The cicadas outside – boy are those things loud! It negates the need for a white noise app.

DRINKING: right now, a coffee. It’s 11:52am and until this dreamy cup of coffee I hadn’t had any caffeine. That’s weird for me, usually I need a cup of green tea to revive me. My smoothie must have done the job! We’ve been having smoothies practically every morning, mostly green or cacao+oat.

EATING + COOKING: it finally feels like SUMMERRRRRRRR. So we’ve been having a lot of salad bowls, as well as mangoes and cherries. Joan remains obsessed with sardines, so we’ve continued to eat a lot of those. We made fish tacos with friends, which included this corn and a fresh cabbage/carrot/ coriander slaw – perfect Summer entertaining food. Oh, and our Transition Farm seasonal box has started again (woop woop!), which is why we’ve been loving on salads so much. Their greens are divine, nothing else compares and I’m reminded of this every year when the weather warms up. Their spinach is fantastic in those green smoothies – I add spinach, frozen banana, oats, chia or hemp seeds, yoghurt and milk, and then blitz it up. I pour out a portion for Joan then jazz mine up a bit, adding a bit more spinach and milk to the blender, along with a Medjool date, a bigger portion of hemp powder or hemp seeds, coconut oil and then sometimes other things based on cravings and what I have on hand.

Oh, and we’ve also been nibbling on dried fruit (organic and preservative-free – always! I’m picky with my dried fruit). I decided to make fancy trail mix for gifts this year, which explains the picture at the top of this post. I wanted something that people could munch on that was a lighter alterntive to all the baked goods on offer during this time. It could be a car/plane trip snack, or sit in handbags for those pekish moments. Or obviously it can be used as hiking fuel too! Anyway, here’s the recipe mix, in case you feel like doing it too.
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Meal Prep

December 12, 2016

lentils-boiled-eggs

 

I’ve always known that vegetables make me feel good. Even as a kid I recall viewing my mum’s lentils as “power food”, and to this day my brother and I regularly request a serve when we’re run down or busy or just need a dose of home. As I grew, I continued to recognise that food was powerful stuff, and that what you eat acutely influences the way you feel and function. This became really apparent to me as I moved out of home and began preparing all my meals (well, except for those deliveries of lentils and bolognese), while at the same time diving into my University studies and all the funky projects we were required to do in order to become nutrition experts (like collecting our urine for an entire weekend and then analysing it in a lab. True story. People gagged). Being on a major student budget meant I had to get crafty about my vegetable consumption. Dinners looked like frozen peas + rice + chickpeas + soy sauce and and lunches were big salads with cans of tuna I “borrowed” from my parents’ pantry (and giant cheese cubes, too. Man, I love a good cheese cube) with bread. Sometimes I’d splurge on a turkey+ cranberry+spinach focaccia at the University cafe (remember the days of big, toasted focaccias?) and cheap sushi rolls (though let it be known, the words “cheap” and “sushi” should never follow each other), but mostly I saved my pennies and put them towards groceries (and overseas travel, but that’s another story). Only occasionally would I curse my inclination to buy vegetables and rice and “borrow” my roommate’s food (Pippa, I’m sorry for all the Pocky I took). I’ve just always been a vegetable girl.

In my early twenties I developed a mouth infection following my wisdom teeth removal (this isn’t a complete departure from the topic of vegetables, stay with me). Oh, that was a charming period! The pain killers I took messed up my bowels something shocking, which lead me to become committed to vegetables with more emergency (well, vegetables AND psyllium husks in water. Gag). I’m sorry, is this too much toilet talk? Come to think of it, is there ever an acceptable amount of poo talk? Dietitians are used to talking about this stuff so I find myself lacking social graces in that department. My point is that vegetables are my number one category of feel good foods for a well functioning mind and body, and my love for them only increases as the years go by. This isn’t news, I have spoken many times on this topic, but today I wanted to share a little on how I make sure I eat them. It’s easy to grab a carrot, and many days I do just that, but I mostly fancy meals that are slightly more interesting than straight up raw veg. This requires time. And so, to make sure I’m eating in my feel good way, I meal prep.

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Everything Bars

December 2, 2016

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Ok, folks, this will be a quick one. Joan is to my left, napping peacefully after 50 minutes in the bed. See my instagram posts here and here for some details as to why this is such a big deal for us. Actually, you know what? I am going to copy what I wrote and post it below and then throw a few more thoughts at you. I guess this won’t be a quick one anymore (surprise, surprise, the lady loves to talk).

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Happenings 18.11.16

November 18, 2016

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DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps.

HEARING: rain. Isn’t that the best sound, when you’re all snug and cozy indoors and it’s positively pelting outside?

EATING + COOKING: Other than smoothies I’ve been slow-roasting tomatoes and red onions with oregano, then eating them with salads, alongside meat and in quinoa bowls. Joan adores tomatoes and a big batch lasts us a while. We’ve also been eating a bit of rice with greens, fried eggs and chickpeas, and a few frittatas. Oh and I’ve been making sweet potato toast a bit. Lastly, I’ve recently come across Fish4Ever brand filleted sardines, and they are AMAZING. They’re a fabulous way to get in omega-3 fats if you are kinda squeamish about opening other sardine tins to find a head staring at you. My whole family loves them (Joan most of all) and on the weekend we have been sharing a tin in various preparations. I’ll share some recipes soon.

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Things we love

November 7, 2016

joan-and-mumma-2-months
It must come down to control. At least I think it did for me. With babies and birth, a great deal is unknown and unforeseeable. There is only so much you can prepare for and even less you can plan, and they’ll still surprise you and come out bottom first. And even though parents-to-be know this, that we really have no idea what is in store, before our babies are born many of us spend a huge amount of time researching and organising, doing our best to prepare for this new life we are about to find ourselves living. I don’t want to ever know how many hours I actually spent looking up cots and bedding and organic mattresses, because Joan slept in her cot all of three times. In hindsight, I wish I had just bought an IKEA cot and called it a day, but that’s easy to say now, isn’t it? At the time, “non-toxic finishings” and organic mattresses felt exceedingly important. And perhaps it was, for my peace of mind. I certainly don’t mean to patronise my past self or any parents-to-be out there who may be doing as I did. As I said, so much about this baby stuff is unpredictable that I think there’s some comfort in making sure you get a pram that ticks all your boxes and a cot that is safe and secure. It makes you feel safe and secure.

The thing is, and this is something Ben and I didn’t even consider while I was pregnant (though I wish we did), so much of what you find useful when your baby comes will depend on their personality, as well as your parenting style. And these are things you cannot possibly know before they arrive. Cots and prams were not really Joan’s thing, while baby carriers and a high chair that let her sit at the table were. And had we borrowed before buying, we would have saved a little money and our rooms would be less cluttered. So as I write this post on the things that we love and the things we have found most useful as first-time parents from birth-12 months old, keep in mind that this is a very personal thing and what helped us may not help you (and may not even help my next child!). In fact, I encourage you to do as many of my wise friends have done, and wait until after bubba gets here before you make some key purchases (ones that aren’t immediately important, like a car seat and some clothes) and borrow what you can. At least until you find your groove and know your baby. Now, having said all this, does anyone want to buy a cot? I’m not even kidding…

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Hot Cacao with Turmeric

October 29, 2016

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Every now and then, I get a mad craving for hot cocoa. There’s something special about a warm cup of chocolate that makes you feel at once comforted and energised. Years ago, in 2006, Ben and I took a trip to Europe. It was January, and verrry cold. In between brisk walks along boulevards we’d duck into heated cafes and order huge, hot mugs of thick, rich, sweeeeeet cocoa. We would take off our gloves, hug our mugs close and as we sipped we would write in our travel journals and discuss whether to go out for dinner or wander the streets with nutella crepes. Occasionally we would ordering a baguette or pastry to share alongside our drink, but more often than not it was all about le chocolat chaud.

Back home we continue to make this drink regularly, though our version is a little different. Rather than using super processed cocoa powders or chocolate with added sugar, I reach for raw cacao and honey to go with the milk. That’s it, three ingredients, warmed gently on the stove. It’s heavenly.

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Happenings 21.10.16

October 21, 2016

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DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps. I’m 2.5 days into a virus sickness thing and it’s kinda floored me. I’ve been out of action – not doing work besides replying to emails, not going on walks, not doing much of anything. I’m a firm believer in resting when unwell. But today I feel a little more up to things. I’m even typing, look at me go! Update: it’s been a week since I began this post, and I’m all better now. I wrote it mostly when I was unwell, with a few updates here and there.

HEARING: my neighbour take their bin down their driveway.

DRINKING: right now, a coffee with CoCo Quench.

EATING + COOKING: bleh, food has been highly unappealing during this sickness. My nausea was reminiscent of first trimester days, it REALLy took me back and got me both excited to hopefully fall pregnant in the coming years and curious as to how I will manage caring a little person while being sick. Update: over the weekend when my appetite returned I made my favourite banana pancakes and they were gooooooooooood.
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My Feel Good Bowl

October 17, 2016

feel-good-bowl
I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about their feel good foods. What foods give them the glow, help them thrive and allow them to be their best selves. These are foods that gift you energy, a clear mind and a flowing, well-functioning body, and the cool thing is, this is different for everyone. Some feel amazing eating pasta, others feel crap eating dairy, legumes are power food for some while others cannot even look at them. There’s more to it than just food alone, of course, our lifestyle (stress! exercise! sleep!) plays a huge part in how we feel and function. But I like to start by thinking about food and how it makes us feel.

Most of us know our bodies work well when we eat vegetables, and indeed along with veggies there are a few well-known “healthy” foods that research shows many benefit from including in our diets – oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, fermented foods, etc. But “feel good foods” can also include cake and other stuff that is not given superfood status, yet is important all the same. Tiramisu is most certainly on my feel good food list. However because of cultural diet rules and words like “clean eating” (which encourages all or nothing thinking and assigns a moral value to food, leaving people guilt-ridden any time they deviate), it can be hard to allow these foods into our lives and take them for what they are – something to be enjoyed in a quantity and frequency that truly makes us feel good – and then move on. Because our food choices are largely influenced by external forces (which often come in the form of people who have found something that works for them and who simply want others to feel similarly wonderful by following their path) it can be tricky to hear what our bodies are telling us. But by working on tuning out these voices and diet rules, we can quiet the noise and listen to our bodies…we can hear what it is telling us and figure out what our own, individual feel good foods are in our current season of life (because it does change)… and we can honour what our body is telling us and eat accordingly. It’s pretty neat.
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31

September 30, 2016

me-doughnut

 

I turned 31 last week. My birthday fell two days after moving into our new home. Rather than tackle the boxes that lay around us, I decided to take the day for me. The older I get the more I realise that birthdays are a really fabulous excuse to do all my favourite self-care practices and fill up my cup, provided I have an extra set of hands around to look after bubba. And because Ben had taken the week off, I could do just that. Upon waking early I snuck out of bed and left my two loves to snooze. This almost never happens, and I relished the opportunity to ready myself before being mumma. I stretched and saluted the sun while the coffee machine warmed up, and then, in my dressing gown and new, olive green slippers knitted by my sweet mother-in-law, I prepped breakfast. Avocado and frozen banana were blitzed in the food processor along with cacao powder, maple syrup and a little milk to make a dreamy morning mousse. Into the fridge it went and I set about selecting my prettiest bowls and spoons and placing them on the counter. Huh… the house was still quiet, despite the whizz of the food processor. I made myself a coffee and grabbed my book and curled up on the couch in our reading room, waiting for Ben and Joan to wake. After ten or so minutes of solitude I could hear my baby’s wobbly yet determined morning footsteps racing down our long hallway towards me, her eager, loud, indescribably sweet chatter disrupting the silence. At last.

Joan is settling into this new space well. Is this a benefit of a baby who prefers to sleep snuggled between her parents, perhaps? As long as we are there, she is home. There are so many rooms and cupboards and corners to explore in this house, and she is having a lot of fun getting to know it. We all are. It’ll take some time before we are set up with furniture in proper places, rugs on floors and pictures on walls, and we need to purchase a few big pieces like a couch and a large wall unit/book shelf thing, but I am so very happy to take my time with that, to save my pennies for special pieces and really consider our purchases. As the years go by, Ben and I are increasingly conscious of where we spend our money and who we are supporting. We like to source good producers who are employing sustainable practices in whatever field they work. I am still learning what this looks like and we are relying on a lot of recommendations from friends who know more than us, but we’re getting there. From food to furniture, from clothes to cleaning products, we’re trying to most of the time spend our money very wisely. It’s a less is more, quality over quantity kinda thing. And while often it may be initially more expensive, when we add up the years of value and the other, less easily seen benefits, it is unquestionably worth it. Interior design is entirely new to me, though, so I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’ve started following blogs and instagram accounts for inspiration and bookmarking producers that look wonderful and who also don’t charge $300 for a pillow.
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