Sunday, July 29, 2012

my (not so) wholefood superheroes

Six years ago today I gave birth to my very own little superhero, named River. He is fun and funny, thoughtful, curious, observant, insightful, musical, beach loving and life loving. Today we had a party to celebrate him. 

I remember taking River home from the hospital and being so enraptured with him (still am). After loving other people's babies all my life since I was a little girl, at age 31 I was thrilled to have a baby of my very own that I didn't have to give back to parents.

River's birth was also the birth of Pete and I as parents. Still so much to learn but I feel so blessed to be parenting with Pete and to have our beautiful boys.

Happy Birthday sweet River.

I had been wanting to start a birthday tradition that went beyond cake and presents. This year the idea came to me to make a birthday 'flag' (see below) I have sewn six hearts on this one, one for each of River's years and I plan to bring it out each birthday and add another heart or a star or some other symbol from that year, a drawing or treasure. And by the time he is a teenager perhaps me and my birthday flag will become embarrassing and I will love that part of the tradition and parenting too.

The cake. This year River requested a spiderman cake. Despite not watching commercial television and being part of a Steiner community from his birth, those 'outside' influences are creeping in. I was very happy to create his dream birthday cake, though it meant breaking the wholefood rules and using wait for food coloring! Beetroot juice colouring would just not give this brilliant red result:

I cut the whites of the eyes out of paper, spun a licorice web and it was done. Simple but effective, yes? Beneath that scarlet red buttercream icing is a dense and decadent chocolate cake that Pete and I tussled over the timing of when it should be removed from the oven. No one likes a dry cake agreed. But my dear Pete, raw cake does not really make for good eating either. I'm happy to say that between us we got the timing right and the cake was fudgy in the centre without being raw.

The recipe comes from a friend's mum who makes the cake each year for her grandson's birthday. It is so simple and a winner every time. This is the recipe as I received it:

1 cup of drinking chocolate
1.5 cups of caster sugar
2 cups self raising flour
1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
125 grams butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all together.

I amended it because most drinking chocolate has sugar in it, the one I used is sweetened with stevia, so I reduced the sugar to half a cup (I used golden unrefined caster sugar). I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa and I also chopped up 100 grams of dark chocolate and through the chips into the mix. I wanted to make a bigger cake to I added another egg, 1 more cup of flour, took the butter up to 200g and added another half cup of milk. And then yes, mixed it all together. Poured into a greased and lined tin and baked at 180C for around 45 minutes.

We set the guest list at six children, one for each year and it was perfect. They played in the treehouse, played with musical instruments, enjoyed a treasure hunt and pinata, ate home made dips, spinach and ricotta pies, mini beef pies followed by cake and jelly orange quarters, washed down with homemade lemonade. Two hours of excitement and fun with his new school buddies. Part of me felt sad that his 'old' friends weren't there, his kinder buddies whose mums are my closest friends here on the Peninsula. But hey, he's growing up and I have to move with that.

And as the last 'lolly' bag (containing yoghurt frog, carob licorice and honey lollipop) was handed out and River's guests were all waved goodbye, the rain that had held off began to fall and I savoured the day as I washed dishes, picked up balloons and sorted gifts of magic kits, paints and games. Quiet fell on the house. River and Sol settled in to watch a movie and when I had happily restored our surrounds to order I sat down to a sweet moment of my first piece of birthday cake and a cup of tea with Pete feeling completely satisfied with the day. As evening neared River's words, "I never want this day to end" said it all. Blissfully he is six :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

globesity: fat's new frontier

Watching babies drink coca cola from the bottle is not easy viewing but if you missed Foreign Correspondent's special on global obesity and want to witness the damage processed foods coupled with powerful marketing are doing in some of the world's developing countries you can watch the episode here.

Viewing the program strengthened my commitment to eating wholefoods and my resolve to grow this blog and do anything and everything I can to spread the word about wholefoods, to inspire people to eat well, to treasure their health and to campaign to change the world one bite at a time.

Don't even get me started on the Olympic sponsorship by unmentionable fast food company and already mentioned soft drink company. Really. The gods must sit back and laugh at human stupidity.

Not my usual sunny way to finish the week I know but it had to be said. And there's more to say but I'll leave that for next week.

For now my thoughts turn to putting the finishing touches on gifts and treasures for River's birthday celebration this weekend as he turns six. I wish you all a happy weekend. I hope it is nourishing in every sense of the word. x

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

fill your cup

Six women, a newborn, a toddler and a preschooler, we gathered in a local cafe by the sea for morning tea to celebrate a friend's birthday. The gathering started and ended with tears, not from the children, from the mothers. That's how it is sometimes when we women get together. Over coffee, chai and decadent housemade lamingtons standing tall covered with chocolate icing and shredded coconut, we talked, shared, remembered, laughed and cried. My friend Luci and I say its not a catch up unless one of us cries. And then through tears we crack up laughing at ourselves. 

An hour or almost two spent together at a long wooden table, our chatter ranged from children starting school, new leather carry bag show and tell, to making cheese, milking goats, making bread, marvellous mother in laws, numerology, technology, television, cookbooks, Byron Bay, healing cancer, babysitting, massage...and it was time for me to leave and head back to my day with Sol. Thanks ladies for filling me up with your friendship and stories. And that goes for you online ladies too my new friends whose words and pictures I think of at various mummy moments in the day, when I'm washing the dishes, planning a story in my head, working out what to cook for dinner, dashing out the door to do the school run. It fills me up to know we're all in this together.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

flourless mandarine cake

River requested I make Mette's apple pie to take for dessert when we were having dinner at a friend's house on Saturday night. I had only two apples and there were no more organic apples to be found in Sorrento on Saturday morning.

I couldn't justify the 25km round trip to the organic farm so I thought about what was in the fruit bowl. Lemons aplenty meant lemon tart was an option, but we took that last time and I'm happy it was off the list because I would never have made this sublime flourless mandarine cake.

With 7 mandarines, almond meal, Billington's unrefined caster sugar, 6 eggs and a teaspoon of baking powder we had a simple and deliciously seasonal dessert to share and enjoy. 

Flourless mandarine cake


7 small or 4 large mandarines
250 grams almond meal
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 eggs

To make

Grease a 22cm springform tin
Preheat oven to 170C
Place mandarines (skin on) in a saucepan and cover with boiling water, gently boil until soft
Drain mandarines, cut in half (as pictured above) and de-seed 
Puree mandarines with skin on in a food processor or blender. Allow to cool.
In a mixing bowl combine almond meal, sugar and baking powder
In a separate bowl beat eggs until pale and fluffy
Fold eggs into dry ingredients with mandarine puree
When all ingredients are combined pour into tin
Bake for 50-60 minutes

For the syrup

Juice two mandarines and save the peel from one
Slice peel into long fine strips and boil in water until soft (5-7 minutes)

In a small saucepan combine 3/4 cup caster sugar, mandarine juice and peel. Simmer gently until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens.

Using a skewer pierce top of cake to allow syrup to run into cake. Spoon syrup and rind over.

Serve with cream or ice cream.

Monday, July 23, 2012

green is good

I drank my first green smoothie probably three years ago during one of our winters in Byron Bay. I was hooked on the sweet and cleansing drink from the first one. And I was thrilled that River liked them too. Getting green vegetables into children just became easy. I don't usually drink them in winter but Jodi's post about green monster juice reminded me of how good they are and I couldn't wait until Spring!

The smoothie pictured above is a 'cheat's' version that I blended last night when we arrived home from the first of the celebrations for River who turns six next sunday. We had spent the day at my aunt's with extended family, we had lots of fun playing in the winter sun and enjoyed ample birthday food including kangaroo pies and of course birthday cake. No one felt like dinner. Pete had a pot of ginger tea while River and I had green smoothie and played with his birthday games. (Sol fell asleep at 5.30pm in the car on the way home and I put him straight into bed when we arrived home. So yes I have been awake with him since 5.30am today :) joy)

I say the smoothie is a cheat's version because I used coconut water that is mixed with banana and instead of fossicking around in the vegie garden in the dark looking for leafy greens, I put in two heaped spoons of Supergreens powder (spirulina, barley grass, chlorella and wheat grass) and whizzed it in the blender. Dinner was served.

If you want to read up on the goodness of green smoothies I recommend Victoria Boutenko's inspiring and informative book Green for Life. You can visit her site here.

Happy Monday to you all x

ps for those who noticed my photo update on the right there it shows my new 'accidental' hair cut from shoulder length to crop top! I had a bad haircut at a hairdresser and Pete then 'fixed' it for me. He did a better job than the hairdresser. Fortunately my hair grows fast :) Thanks aunty Karen for taking the photo in your fabulous magenta bathroom.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jude Blereau's fabulous chocolate chip cookies

The weekend is here again which means I like to bake something. I planned to post Jude Blereau's fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe during the school holidays but sickness and travel mean it was delayed until today. It is no less delicious though! Thanks Jude for kindly agreeing to me sharing your recipe with Wholefood Mama readers. 

This recipe is in Jude's book 'Coming home to eat - wholefood for the family', published by Murdoch Books, Australia (p.175). And if you love this and want to know more about Jude, her wonderful wholefood cookbooks and her cooking school visit her website and blog.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
wheat free/dairy free/vegan

Makes 20

Jude writes "A deliciously sustaining choc chip cookie, and a great way to enjoy a wholesome treat. These cookies will last for a couple of weeks in an airtight container."


150g (5 1/2 oz / 1 1/2 cups) rolled (porridge) oats
155g (5 1/2 oz / 1 cup) raw almonds (skin on)
125g (4 1/2 oz / 1 cup) plain (all purpose) white spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
170g (5 3/4 oz / 1 cup) chocolate chips
125ml (4 fl oz / 1/2 cup) almond oil or flavourless coconut oil (melted for measuring, if solid)
125ml (4 fl oz / 1/2 cup) maple syrup
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

To make

Preheat oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Spread the oats on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately tip into a bowl to stop the cooking process. Spread the almonds on the same baking tray and bake for 7-10 minutes, taking care they don't burn.

Put the oats in a food processor of blender and grind to a coarse meal. Tip into a mixing bowl. Roughly grind the almonds and add to the oats. Add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips and whisk through to combine.

Mix together the almond oil, maple syrup and vanilla, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough.

Spoon tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking tray, then flatten and shape into neat circles 8mm-1cm (3/8 - 1/2 inch) thick.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until ever so slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the tray for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

So delicious!

In Jude's words, "shouldn't all food combine deliciousness and nutrition?" Yes indeed. If only it were so.

Have a happy, healthy and delicious weekend. x

Thursday, July 19, 2012

start 'em young

Developing a love of nutritious food at a young age goes a long way to setting people up (hopefully) for a lifetime of health and happiness. With rates of childhood obesity and diabetes sadly on the rise there is much to be done to put children and their parents on a positive path when it comes to eating well. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has inspired more children to eat well than any food pyramid ever will, and Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation is taking children back to the source teaching them that real food comes from the earth not from packets. I think independent, innovative programs like these are fantastic because they engage children in a meaningful way and that is the true way to make a difference.

So, when a newsletter from my old friends at The Pantry in Church Street Brighton arrived in my inbox I read with interest that they have started a program called 'Pantry Garden Kitchen'.

I worked at The Pantry on and off for almost ten years, starting when I was 19 (where did that time go?!). The Pantry has grown from a bustling corner cafe into an award winning restaurant. Families with young children have always been a big part of their regular clientele and now that the owners and managers have young children it made sense to start a program that inspired children to eat well.

The Pantry's General Manager Tim Purton-Smith says, "The program is in its infancy but we are really excited about its potential. We are looking at ways to make teaching kids about healthy food the most appealing it can be, making it fun. We had a great morning at a local primary school recently with the take home message for the kids being they need to be eating twice as many vegetables as they are now. The feedback from parents and staff has been really positive. The kids had fun and are asking to eat more vegies!"

If you live in Melbourne and are interested in having The Pantry visit your school give Tim a call on 9591 0393.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

top 10 ways to beat the winter blues

Here in the southern hemisphere we're just about half way through winter! Woo hoo. I know for some of you, me included, getting through winter is tough.

One of the mums at school was telling me how winter is getting her down and her favorite time of the day was after school when she lit their open fire "That makes me happy,"she said. I can relate to that. Nothing beats the glow and warmth of an open fire to lift your spirit.

Go on get happy with these ideas:

1.Take a winter getaway Sure a month on a beach in Thailand might be ideal but if budget doesn't allow that, do anything you can to get a change of scene for even a couple of nights. And it doesn't even have to be in a hot climate. Spend a weekend in the country or on the coast at a house with an openfire. Getting away, changing the routine is a great way to recharge. The photo of the stunning ocean beach was taken by my friend Mette last week when she was enjoying a mid winter break with her family at Cape Shanck.

2.Dry skin brushing This is one of the simplest ways to do something food for you. Buy yourself a dry skin brush made from a natural fibre not synthetic and before you step into the shower use the brush to slough off all those dead skin cells. The results are instant - smooth skin and an energised feeling. 

3. Declutter Why wait til Spring for a spring clean? We spend so much time inside on cold and rainy days makes more sense to me to clear out those cupboards and shelves now and then when that sunshine shows up again you can head outside knowing you're all sorted.

4.Dose up on Vitamin D since our exposure to the sun is reduced during to summer to protect our skin from skin cancer and reduced during winter as a result of less daylight hours, Vitamin D deficiency is common and affects mood and bone density. Salmon, tuna, eggs, cheese are all good food sources of vitamin D but they may not be enough. Talk to your health practitioner if you think you'd benefit from a supplement.

5.Move your body get those happy chemicals (endorphins) pumping by moving your body. Getting outside in the cold weather may not be that appealing but it is excuse or reason to become a couch potato. Go to an indoor swim centre, go to a class - yoga, dance, circuit, use an exercise DVD. This one also fits with my 'prevention is better than cure' theory, that is don't wait until Spring to exercise it will be time to wear bathers sooner than you think the time is now!

6. Have a massage the healing power of massage is well recognised in countries such as India and China where it is an integral part of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it is not seen as a mere luxurious indulgence. A good massage can balance the energy systems in your body, your nervous system and bring a deep sense of peace and relaxation. Having a massage doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Give yourself a head and face massage or a foot massage or do an exchange with a friend or someone in your family.

7. Soak in a hot spring If you are lucky enough to live near a hot mineral spring like we are make use of it. It will warm you to the core and leave you feeling relaxed and renewed. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. And if a hot spring isn't near by try a steam room or sauna.

8. Eat well This applies year round of course but during winter the best foods to eat to keep you happy and healthy are those rich in zinc, vitamin C and the B vitamins. Porridge is a great way to start the day as it is a slow release complex carbohydrate so it won't have your sugar levels rising and crashing. Enjoy some oysters to boost your zinc levels. Citrus fruits are in season for a reason! Good fats (avocado, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, nut butter) and lean protein (tuna, salmon, kangaroo, eggs) are nourishing and satisfying. Resist overloading on 'comfort' foods made with flour and sugars as they will add to your winter 'coat' and send your mood up and down. Bone soups are the best source of nourishment and comfort.

9. Learn to knit Learning a new skill is good for keeping our brains happy and there's nothing cuter than a homemade knit for children. Your local library is a great place to find books on learning to knit.

10. Embrace the season This is a case of if you can't beat it enjoy it. In just over six weeks it will be Spring time so enjoy the things that say Winter - walking in the rain, jumping in puddles, have a bonfire, going to the snow, slow cooking.

We're almost there!

Monday, July 16, 2012

more on the sugar thing...

We spent the first week of the school holidays sick with a virus which meant chicken broth and quiet times. The second week was action packed and...sugar fuelled. As a result, River is suffering today and missing the first day back at school.

I don't intend the 'sugar thing' to become a focus of this blog (or my life for that matter) it is on my mind again though hence this post. My usual approach to how much sugar my children eat is that we don't have any at home - no honey, no sugar, no processed foods containing sugar, that means no breakfast cereals, muesli bars, tomato sauce, no fruit juice and so on - we bake something most weekends and I have been using Natvia (a stevia product) as the sweetener, and then going to a birthday party and visiting grandparents are the times when River and Sol can eat sugar foods.

It just so happens that these holidays visiting Pepe (Pete's mum), my nan, and going to a birthday party happened all in a row which equalled sugar overload. Sometimes I wonder if having no sugar in the house, not even honey on porridge or sultanas is too extreme. But then before we quit having sugar at home the boys would always choose honey on toast or honey on a cracker so perhaps it is better not to have it all the time and only buy it occasionally. I am all for teaching River and Sol self-restraint when it comes to sweet food. I think it is an important lesson because in so many social situations we are presented with processed and sugar laden foods it is about learning to make good choices.

Driving home from the party River was in the back seat with a tummy ache and said, "I feel silly for eating so much sweet food. I should have listened to my tummy but I listened to myself." I told him not to worry, to remember for next time he is at a party or somewhere with a lot of sweet food that he can eat a couple of things and then enjoy other things about the party but not eat so much that he would feel sick. I explained that even grown ups have to practice doing that and that we have all over-eaten at a party. "Even Dad?" he asked. "Even Dad" I said.

I've written before about the sugar thing here and here. If you want to read more the following links are interesting with ideas on how much and how to cut back.

Should you raise a sugar-free baby?

How much sugar is okay?

Seven steps to reducing sugar in your child's diet

For more inspiration visit Sarah Wilson's blog and in particular her I Quit Sugar Cookbook

I'd love to hear where you are at with reducing sugar in your life or keeping it to a minimum. What do you teach your children about sugar? Do they seek 'treats' and sweet food daily? Are you and your partner on the same page about giving your children sugar and treats?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

kangaroo pies and home made tomato sauce

The pie theme continues. As the pumpkin pie wasn't a hit I thought I'd give meat pies and a go. Kangaroo is the red meat of choice in our house so I picked up some kangaroo mince (sold in the supermarket if you are looking for it) and created 'party' pie size pies plus a few empanada shaped pies. I used a muffin tray to make the party pies, having never done this before I was a little nervous it wouldn't work out but it worked perfectly. I made 8 mini pies and 6 empanadas with the recipe below.

I also tried out a sugar free tomato sauce recipe that I adapted from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar cookbook. Both the pies and the sauce were winners. So much so that the leftovers were requested for breakfast the day. We've come a long way from our chicken noodle soup breakfast of last week. On to the recipes.

Kangaroo Pies and Home-made tomato sauce 

For the pies
Buy or make pastry

Pastry (make 2 batches - one for bottoms and one for tops)
2 cups flour (I use white spelt)
100 grams chilled butter cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk, whisked
2-3 tbsp chilled water

In a large mixing bowl rub butter into flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and drizzle in egg yolk and add water 2 tablespoons first, then using a butter knife start to cut the water into the flour until it starts coming together in clumps, you will be able to tell here if you need to add more water, if it is coming together easily then keep going and don't worry about adding more but if it is looking very dry and crumbly and like there is no way all the flour will come together then add more water. Then using your hands lightly bring it together into a ball. And set it aside in the fridge to rest for an hour.

On a lightly floured surface roll out pastry. Grease muffin tins with butter. Cut muffin tray size circles of pastry and line tin with pastry. Don't worry if you need to crimp it in a bit to make it fit it will work out. Bake pastry at 190C for 8-10 minutes until just crisp.

For the filling
Half an onion finely diced (really finely if any fussy little people are going to be eating them)
1 kg minced meat (I used kangaroo but organic beef mince would be good too)
1 dessertspoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon plain or cornflour
a sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
splash of Bragg's all purpose seasoning
black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and gently fry the onion.
Add the mince and brown.
Pour in enough water to just cover (you could use some wine with the water).
Add in rosemary, bayleaf and seasoning.
Bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.
In a cup, make a paste of cornflour and water then stir into meat to create a gravy. If it is too runny looking mix up a bit more flour and water and stir in.
Cook for a further 10 minutes then remove rosemary sprig and bay leaves and leave to cool.

Assemble the pies
Roll out second batch of dough and cut out lids for pies.
Spoon meat filling into each pie case.
Dip your finger into a glass of water and run it around the edge of the pie lid and then cover the pie filling and pinch the lid into place with your finger tips. Repeat until all pies are done.
Prick the top of the pies with a fork a few times so steam can escape.
Place in oven at 180C and cook for 20-25 minutes until pastry is crisp.

To make the empanada shape pies cut out circles of pastry (I used the lid of a round plastic take away food container) and place a spoon or two of meat on one side leaving a 1 cm seam at edge (don't overfill with meat). Wet your fingertip with water and run around edge then fold pastry over and crimp together with your fingers or a fork. Prick the side with a fork a couple of times then bake in oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes.

Sugar free tomato sauce (adapted from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar cookbook)
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes (of course fresh would be great when in season)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons rice malt syrup depending on how sweet you like
1/4 of brown onion very finely chopped
Season with Bragg's all purpose seasoning and black pepper

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and then cook until reduced and thick. Cool then place in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

If you put this sauce in a squeezy bottle your children will never know the difference. That said, I am a huge believer in educating rather than tricking children into eating real food. Tell your children proudly, we make our own tomato sauce because the one you can buy at the shop is full of sugar and salt and that is not good for our health. And besides home made is sooo much better because you can taste the love.

I do hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family did. Stay warm winter folk. We're almost halfway through!

Monday, July 09, 2012

pumpkin pie

Let's start the week off on a sweet note. I had half a small pumpkin in the fridge for almost too many days and announced I'd make pumpkin and lentil soup. "Why don't you turn it into pumpkin pie?" asked Pete. Hmmmm. Ok. I've never really been sold on pumpkin pie. It's a textural thing.
I was willing though to give it a go and hopefully create a new family favorite.

So, I scoured the net and my cookbook collection for pumpkin pie recipes. I took what I liked from each of them, plussed and minused ingredients here and there and...ta da! Pumpkin pie, sweet and spicy. I've decided that really, pumpkin pie is just like a custard tart only orange.

When I pulled it out of the oven and admired the golden caramel looking top I wished I'd had pecans to press into the smooth finish, they would have been a nice touch visually and added some much needed crunch to custardy texture.

As far as sweet pies and recipes go I am very happy with the outcome of this one. My family though were not. Knowing it was made with pumpkin River wouldn't even try it. Sol spat it out and Peter after eating a generous serve suggested I "donate the rest to the op shop". I do love his humour. Last I checked our local op shop wasn't accepting perishable food items, home made with love or otherwise.

Perhaps northern hemisphere readers, where pumpkin pie originates, may enjoy this recipe. Just because my family weren't keen, perhaps it will become a new family favorite in your house.

Oh and if you are phobic about making your own pastry give it a go. You really do get a feel for it after a few goes and nothing beats the satisfaction of getting better at it.

Enjoy! And let me know if it gets the thumbs up or down.

Pumpkin Pie



2 cups flour (I use white spelt)
100 grams chilled butter cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk, whisked
a sprinkle of sugar (depends how sweet you like it, anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon and if you've quit sugar you can use natvia stevia powder)
2-3 tbsp chilled water
1 tsp ground ginger


2 cups pureed pumpkin, cooled
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tbsp molasses brown sugar
4 tbsp plain yoghurt (most recipes use cream here which you could use 1/2 cup if you prefer)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs



Mix flour, ginger and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then rub butter in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and drizzle in egg yolk and add water 2 tablespoons first, then using a butter knife start to cut the water into the flour until it starts coming together in clumps, you will be able to tell here if you need to add more water, if it is coming together easily then keep going and don't worry about adding more but if it is looking very dry and crumbly and like there is no way all the flour will come together then add more water. Then using your hands lightly bring it together into a ball. And set it aside in the fridge to rest for an hour.

On a lightly floured surface roll out pastry and line pie dish. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights to bake blind at 190C for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove rice and baking paper. Return pie case to oven, reduce temperature to 170C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until base is crisp.


In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin, spices (you can use any combo and amount you like ie. more cinnamon, no nutmeg, cloves, ginger, whatever your tastebuds like), sugar, honey, yoghurt, flour and milk. Last of all mix in eggs.

Pour filling into prepared pastry case and bake in oven at 180C for 35-45 minutes until set and golden.

Can be served warm or cold. If you're feeling totally decadent, one recipe I looked at suggested it be served with cream whipped with a dash of maple syrup.

Friday, July 06, 2012

village life

I was flying solo in the supermarket last week loading my items from the trolley to the register. I noticed the mother and son next in line behind me, the little boy in his school uniform leaping about all over the trolley, his mother had a great, artist type look about her, wild blonde hair tamed back in a loose low ponytail, no make up save bright red lipstick colour matched perfectly with her wide framed glasses.

As I was paying for my shopping she smiled at me and came forth with a burst of confessional conversation, "I couldn't help but notice all your 'good' food and then look at what I'm buying, we don't normally eat this sort of food (packs of iced cupcakes, frozen salt and pepper squid, chips, lollies etc;) its his birthday tomorrow you see, and well you know you just get pressured into buying all this sort of stuff." She stood looking at me apologetically and then looking at her son who was so excited about all the loot on the counter, said to him "We normally eat carrot sticks and tzatziki, don't we?" 

I smiled and quickly wanted to reassure her that she wasn't doing the most terrible thing in world. I said, "Oh I understand. I have a little boy the same ages as yours, I know how it goes at parties. Don't worry about it, have a great party and you can get back to the carrot sticks on Monday." She laughed and said thanks. I gave her another reassuring smile and walked away smiling to myself at the strangeness of the exchange, that she felt the need to confess to me.

I really liked this lady from the five minutes I spent in her company. It was clear she loved her little boy and wanted to give him a birthday party that he would love, but she seemed torn. Torn between being 'pressured' into buying 'party food' and knowing it wasn't really 'good' (nourishing) food and tying that up with wanting to give her little boy the party he wanted. If I had more time with her I would have loved to have talked about party food that is fun and REAL. And guilt-free. No need to apologise or confess to strangers in the supermarket.

A few days later I was at the organic farm we go to to buy fruit and vegies. I bumped into a friend and we were chatting, as we chatted my attention was drawn to a young mum who came through the door as she juggled her shopping bag, wallet, keys and bundle of baby. I remember those new days so well. The mother and baby looked dreamy, contained in a bubble of love and bliss.

Once fully inside the door she stopped as the baby sneezed and then coughed, she turned him to face her and there was bit more coughing and what seemed like a bit of a milk vomit happening. I was paying for my vegies and still chatting to my friend while keeping an eye on what was happening with mother and baby. Before I had finished paying the new mum had spun around and whisked her baby back out to the car. Sol and I trundled out soon after heading to our car I saw the mum driving past my car. I waved her down. She stopped with a concerned look on her face and wound down her window, probably thinking who is this woman I can't stop now something is up with my baby!

"Is everything ok?" I asked walking over to her car. "I don't know. My little boy was just sick and his color changed a bit and I've never seen him do that before," she said. I looked over her seat to see the baby looking happy enough and pink cheeked in his capsule. "He looks like he is ok now. Perhaps he just needed to get something out to feel better. Is he your first baby?" I asked. "Yes he is" she said looking a little more relaxed, "and I just thought I'd better take him home." "Can I get your vegies for you while you stay with your baby?" I offered. "Oh no. Thanks so much but that's ok. I might come back later. I just feel like I should take him home."  "Ok I don't mind really, you're here now I just thought it might be easier for you." Her face had uncreased and she was smiling, "Thanks anyway." And off she drove.

The distance between me and these women in my village felt wide because we'd not met before, I didn't know their names or phone numbers, the names of their children, but at the same time the distance felt short because we stand in the same tribe as women and mothers going about our day-to-day work nurturing, protecting and providing for our children.

My husband is always talking to me about 'it takes a village to raise a child' (usually when the house is in complete disarray and he is bringing in or taking out washing, or cooking dinner, or washing the dishes and lamenting the ridiculousness of western society where the majority of families live separately rather than communally or inter-generationally). And I agree with him. Reflecting on my exchanges with these women I think it takes a village to raise a family. It takes a village to support parents, and grandparents and aunties and uncles too.

How is life in your village? Are you in a good one? A nourishing, supportive one?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

mothers know best

My plans of ice-skating, catching up with kinder friends, visiting my nan in the country have all been thwarted by a very nasty, hard hitting dose of winter ills and chills. Pow. With little warning, River, Sol and I have spent the past four days with fever, chills, hacking coughs, head and body aches. Somehow Pete has escaped the bug and remained well to deal with the mountain of washing that always accompanies sickness and to make us soup and tea.

River and I are steadily climbing our way towards wellness on soup, tea and vitamin C (plus an excellent herbal cough relief concoction by Greenridge). When I placed (pictured) bowl of soup in front of River at 8am yesterday his response was "Chicken noodle soup! For breakfast?!" Yes, today that is breakfast.

Our little buddy Sol's temperature had been hovering around 39.5 for two days and by the third morning even though his temperature had dropped he was still wanting to sleep a lot and was whimpering, I didn't feel at all comfortable with this so I took him off to the doctor who confirmed he has a chest infection. Boo hoo. Poor little man.

As much as I am a food-as-medicine, natural remedy kinda gal and prefer not to give my children antibiotics at the first sign of a sniffle, I do value a diagnosis from a medical doctor for my peace of mind and I am thankful that pharmaceutical medicine exists for times when we need it most. Unfortunately, it is the 'for times when we need it most' part that is lost in the power of advertising and on those driving pharmaceutical company profit lines. 

Like all mothers I find it difficult to see my children unwell and want to make them comfortable and have them in good health again asap. And if I can do that using rest, natural remedies and TLC all the better. If my boys are really unwell and showing no sign of improving, I take them to the doctor. After many years of learning about food as medicine and natural remedies, I trust my judgement and when in doubt I call on like minded friends and family to compare notes and have my trusted natural therapies practitioners I consult too. There is still a lot more learning for me to do and more growing in confidence with caring for my sick children. Making decisions about how to care for your child when they are unwell is one of the many things that there is no preparation for when you become a parent.

Trusting your instinct is of course the most important thing to do. When River was 3 and woke in the night with a cough I had never heard from him before my instinct was to immediately ring an ambulance. And I was so glad I did. He had a severe bout of croup, he had never had croup before, and was taken to hospital in the ambulance with Pete where he had to have oxygen and steroid medication and stay under observation. When I arrived at the hospital later the nurse said never to feel like I was over-reacting, it was always better to seek help than wait and see. This particularly applies to anything to do with breathing!

So, back to Sol and his chest infection. I went to the chemist with a prescription for antibiotics and asked for some children's ibuprofen (brand here is Nurofen). Sol is susceptible to ear infections and in the past when he has had an ear infection if I give him paracetamol he vomits. I talked this over with the doctor and he suggested I try children's ibuprofen if his temperature rose again and he was in pain. An interesting discussion followed with the pharmacist who does not recommend Nurofen for children (she does though stock it) due to the fact is too harsh on their tummies and she has seen an increased incidence Nurofen induced asthma in children, which she said "no one is talking about". Well we are now. The marketing for paracetamol and ibuprofen aimed at treating children is completely irresponsible in my opinion (and that of the pharmacist's), it plays totally on the vulnerability of parent's of sick children. The truth about fever is that it is a natural response to fighting infection and is not in and of itself dangerous, and therefore in the vast majority of cases does not need treating with said products.

If you want to read up on fever in children this fact sheet from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne provides a good summary of what to look for and what to do or not do, and for a more in-depth article go to this pdf file of Kindred magazine and scroll down to page 20 where you will find 'Fever - your child's best friend'.

If you're still reading I hope it was a helpful post, it turned out to be a long one but there are so many things to navigate out there when it comes to health and wellbeing I always think it is worthwhile sharing experience and comparing notes. Here's to good health and good advice when it comes to health care.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...