Thursday, November 29, 2012

a giveaway: the unexpected guest

Ah breakfast. How I love you so. And today breakfast is sweeter because I get to give away to one of you lovely readers, a totally delicious organic range of muesli, porridge, and maple roasted almonds that is lovingly made in Byron Bay; which happens to be one of my favorite places in Australia and my home away from home.

Before we get into the oaty details I have to declare that I think blog giveaways are a bit like anchovies - people either love them or loathe them - this is the first giveaway to happen here and while  considering whether to go down this path or not I figured one of my main missions is to encourage people to eat well and if I can send some nutritious, wholefoods your way then I am achieving my mission. So on we go with an exciting wholefood breakfast...

Thanks to Raw Materials and the unexpected guest for making this, the very first Wholefood Mama giveaway possible.

Adam Mander and Juniper Wikinson are the creative, breakfast loving duo behind 'the unexpected guest'. Their story of how it all began is a good one involving world travel, a talented ceramicist (Juniper), a mad keen surfer (Adam), falling in love and a darn fine breakfast.

Adam hails from the United Kingdom and Juniper from Canada. Their paths crossed in London and romance was born. Before meeting Juniper, Adam had travel on his mind and was about to pack up his surfboard and head to Australia in search of waves. "In the UK I was tired of traveling 5 hours to go surfing, we decided to travel together," says Adam. First stop was Sydney's famed Bondi where there are waves aplenty and as it happens cafes aplenty, cafes where unbeknownst to Juniper her homemade granuesli would soon be on the menu.

Adam says, "Juniper is a maker and a giver. The granuesli recipe is an age old Canadian one that Juniper tweaked, and when people would come to stay with us in Bondi they would leave with a bag of her granuesli." It didn't take long before Juniper was selling her gutsy toasted organic muesli mix of oats, nuts, seeds, and sultanas to 20 cafes. Adam who was working in advertising, prompted her to pick up the phone and sell some more. Once 50 cafes were on board it became clear they were in business.

"Pardon the pun but everything has happened very organically. In the beginning Juniper was traveling on the bus to hand deliver to the cafes in Bondi and around Sydney. She would step off the bus and walk around the corner to the cafe as if she had just parked her car. It has always been important to Juniper that what she makes is 100% organic, so the next step was certification which also meant a certified organic kitchen," says Adam. That's when the move to Byron happened. A friend in Byron who works in food had a certified organic kitchen that Juniper could work out of. And importantly, there's great surf in Byron too.

And the name? the unexpected guest, where does that come from? "Juniper is a ceramicist and when she was studying her art teacher said that 'one should always do an extra setting for the unexpected guest'. We liked that, for us food is about sharing and bringing people together, the more the merrier especially when you are traveling its all about making room at the table and meeting people," says Adam.

Go here and scroll down to see one of Juniper's hand made ceramic mugs and for her wicked extraordinarily delicious granuesli bar recipe.

(all of the beautiful photos in this post were styled and taken by Kara Rosenlund )

This delicious breakfast giveaway is open to Australian readers (sorry those reading from lands afar!)

The winner will receive the complete range:

1 x 300g certified organic gluten-free style muesli - sunflower kernals, dried cranberries, pepitas, sun dried Australian sultanas, maple roasted almonds, shredded coconut, cashew pieces, quinoa puffs, popped amaranth, brown rice puffs, buckwheat puffs and cinnamon. $14.95

1 x 400g certified organic freestyle granuesli - Premium rolled oats, wild Australian honey, mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts), sun dried sultanas, sunflower oil, seeds (sunflower kernals and pepitas) shredded coconut, oat bran, cinnamon and natural vanilla essence. $14.95

1 x 450g certified organic scrumptious porridge - Australian rolled oats, medjool dates, coconut, currants, slivered almonds, rolled quinoa, millet flakes, vanilla bean, ground ginger, cinnamon and sea salt. $14.95

1 x 75g maple roasted almonds - almonds slow roasted in maple syrup. $7.95

Total value: $52.80

You can enter a maximum of four times:
  • first entry - follow The Wholefood Mama (over there on the right)
  • second entry - like The Wholefood Mama on facebook
  • third entry - like the unexpected guest on facebook
  • fourth entry - share this giveaway on your blog/facebook
Once you have done one or all of those, leave a comment for each entry. The winners will be chosen by the random number generator and will be announced in this post on Thursday 6th of December 2012 at 6pm est.

Good luck!


Thanks everyone for entering.
The winner is #44 Kerry Santillo. Congratulations Kerry I have sent you an email.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

zucchini, chocolate and walnut brownies

The inspiration to create these came from an old cookbook I found at Sol's playgroup. It was a lunchbox and snacks kind of book that dated back to 1992. There was a recipe in there for zucchini chocolate cake that appealed to me except it had 1 cup of white sugar and 1.5 cups of brown sugar so that had to be changed. I scribbled the recipe into my notebook while the other mothers chatted, and the children squished playdough and wandered in and out from the back deck where they ride bikes and play in the sandpit. 

I like the use of vegetables in cakes. I like the moistness they bring to the mix. I won't kid myself or you  though that somehow cakes with vegetables are healthier, but I have managed to create a recipe using wholefoods that is both delicious and has some nutritional goodness in it too. 

Based on the recipe I found, my mind then went forward to brownies which are traditionally so rich and sweet that I don't make them or eat them but then I remembered Jude Blereau's fabulous wholefood brownie recipe in her book Coming Home to Eat. So I consulted Jude's recipe and between Jude's recipe, the playgroup recipe and my own pinch of stevia I think I'm on to something. 
Make a batch and you decide. Let me know!

And if you like a giveaway, do pop back tomorrow as I will be posting the very first Wholefood Mama giveaway. A breakfast delight for one lucky reader to win.

Too hot here today for baking brownies I'm off to the beach. Bye for now x

Zucchini, chocolate and walnut brownies

125g coconut oil
1/2 cup stevia
1/4 cup rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk (I used rice milk but you can use cow's, soy, almond...)
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 165C. Grease and line a baking tray (mine is 22cm x 16cm but whatever you have is fine it just means depending on the size of the tray you will either have thicker or thinner brownies).
In a mixing bowl combine spelt flour, rice flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia, cinnamon, walnuts and chocolate.
Then mix in zucchini.
Over a gentle heat melt coconut oil to liquid, add in rice malt syrup and vanilla.
Stir wet ingredients (including the milk) into dry ingredients until well combined.
Pour into lined baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes. The key to success with this is not to overcook it or it will be dry and crumbly. The edges will be just cooked and cake like and the centre will still be quite soft.
Remove it from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
Using the edges of the baking paper lift the brownie from the tin and cut into squares.
Can be stored in the fridge but it is best eaten at room temperature. And best in a disguised container from children and husband.
Serve as is or for a dessert serve with tangy natural yoghurt or for traditional decadence, cream or ice cream.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

beetroot, rocket, persian fetta and walnut salad

One of the fun challenges that comes with growing your own vegetables is coming up with ideas of what to create with bumper crops. All you veggie gardeners who have rocket and beetroot aplenty, I hope this recipe becomes a favorite to add to your collection. And even if you aren't growing your own veggies, get your hands on some rocket and beetroot and I am sure you will enjoy it too! This simple salad is basically four beautiful ingredients that come together to create a delicious lunch or dinner with a contrast of colours and textures and brimming with seasonal, wholefood goodness.  I love the reference to beetroot in Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion, as "the bossy vegetable" in the kitchen due to its striking colour that stains all that come into contact with it. We ate this for dinner tonight with roast chicken, it would work equally well with lentils in it. Enjoy!

Beetroot, rocket, persian fetta and walnut salad

Two medium beetroot
Two handfuls of rocket leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
100g persian fetta

for the dressing

1 medium lemon, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp dijon or grain mustard
1/2 tsp honey

I make this salad on a serving platter rather than in a bowl, the ingredients are layered.

Wrap beetroot in foil and roast in 180C oven til tender (about an hour and a half)
Allow to cool and then peel with your finger tips (just give the skin a little push and it will peel away)
Give the rocket a rinse and drain. Place in a mixing bowl.
Toast the walnuts in a dry hot pan (you don't need to use any oil, the oil from the nuts is enough. Keep tossing them, they burn easily). Remove from pan, allow to cool and then roughly chop.
Slice the beetroot into slices 1/2cm in thickness and place in a separate mixing bowl to the rocket.
Make the dressing by adding the lemon juice of 1 medium size lemon to a jar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp of dijon or grain mustard and half a teaspoon of honey. Shake until mixed, taste and adjust flavours to your liking.
Then, in the separate bowls dress the beetroot and the rocket.
Scatter 5 or 6 beetroot slices across a serving plate, then scatter with rocket, half the walnuts, dot with half the fetta and then repeat the layer.
Splash a touch more dressing over the top and your salad is done.

Monday, November 26, 2012

blog on

Before I started my blog, around a year and a half ago, I was sceptical about blogging and social media fullstop. I wasn't on facebook or twitter (I am yet to tweet! I have stage fright) and couldn't really see what the appeal was. Who wants to spend more hours at the computer than they already do for paid work, especially when working as a freelance writer? hmmm. Turns out I do. I still consider myself a baby blogger with a lot to learn. I love reading how other bloggers go about their blog and being the analytical, reflective gal I am, I like to reflect on the how and why I do things. So I hope today's little break from food gets a conversation started about the art and mystery of making a blog successful - whatever successful means to you.

Why I started my blog...

Having been a writer my whole life, the creative freedom of self-publishing has tremendous appeal. I don't have to fit into publication guidelines or 'sell' my story idea to an editor. That feels as good as a holiday!

When I began, I thought "I'll give it a go for six months to see if I like it" before I get 'serious' about it. By serious I mean posting regularly, spending time (and a bit of money on advertising and design) to grow my audience and in the long term monetizing my blog so I can earn some income. My biggest reason and motivation to blog, beyond creative freedom and business aspirations, is because I want people to eat well. I want everyone to have the high energy and great health that eating a diet with no or minimal processed foods gives you. I especially want that for children. But what I want and what the momentum of big food companies and advertising wants is two different things, so it appears I have my work cut out for me. I am up for the challenge and have decided social media is a fantastic way to reach people and share stories.

How I blog...

I started my blog with the title 'word for word' thinking a broad title would allow me to cover a range of topics. Fairly soon I thought "what am I doing?! food is my 'thing' always has been and looks like it always will be" so The Wholefood Mama was born. Added to this realisation, everything I read about 'problogging' recommended deciding on a niche. Wholefood and family is still a broad niche but it is a good start and I feel like I have found the happy place where I can write about what I love and not get bored. Writing my blog definitely doesn't feel like work which means my motivation to continue is high.

To get some more tips about the 'how' I attended a beginners blogging course at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne taught by Lady Melbourne , and scoured through Darren Rowse's Problogger site and this year bought a Virtual Pass to his Problogger training day. I would also recommend Darren's 31 days to building a better blog workbook, if like me you have young children to look after, a house to keep organised and a business to run I would re-title it to '3 months to a better blog' because I have not managed to find time to work through a task a day.

The midnight hour...

Finding time to blog means I stay up late. Like midnight late. I fantasise about having my posts planned out, dedicating a day or an afternoon to writing them and then scheduling them to be posted but I think that has only happened once in a year and half of blogging! The flow of family life is unpredictable. The flow of freelance writing work is unpredictable. So, I blog when the house is sleeping. The quiet is bliss and even the tiredness I feel the next day has a certain bliss to it because it is there from doing something I wanted to do.

On design...

Looking at other blogs is a great way to pick up ideas of what you do and don't like about certain designs. It also a great way to feel 'blog awe' which can translate to 'their blog is so beautiful/stylish...insert word of do they do it?!' Well I have learnt some things about this the expensive way. The first thing I would say before you spend any money on blog design is make sure that blogging is something that you really want to do. Once you are dedicated then you can consider if you want to work with a designer and spend some money. I started with having a logo designed by Melbourne based graphic designer Fiona McKerrill. Love my logo thanks Fiona. Then I went a step further and decided to switch from Blogger to a professionally designed Wordpress site because that seemed to be what all the 'probloggers' were saying is the way to go as Wordpress has more flexibility etc; Therein was my first mistake.

I didn't really have a need to switch. The Blogger platform was already capable of all I wanted to do which basically is write and post photos. Bloggers who have inspired me from the beginning such as Allison Tait, Jodi Wilson, Joanna Goddard, are doing very nicely on their blogspot blogs. Why? not because of any fancy design work (they have all paid attention to their visual design but nothing over the top) but because they deliver what their audiences have come to expect from them and they do it consistently. The switch to wordpress for me was short lived. I didn't enjoy the process of working with the 'back end' of wordpress and was inundated with spam in the comments. Not wanting to deter people from wordpress but this was my experience. So, I cut my losses and reverted back to my simple blogspot space that I have put together with my limited design knowledge and for now while I am building my audience (& design budget) I am happy.

That my friends is where I will leave my blogging story thus far, (for fear of boring you!) I hope this post was helpful or interesting and would love to hear where you are at with your blogging ways, whether you just read them, want to start one or are a big time blogger (surprise me if you are reading!) leave a comment or a tip.

If you are still hungry for more read Allison Tait's  top 10 tips for writing your best blog
...update: just found another good link on Fat Mum Slim...Finding readers: how to get the people to your blog

Friday, November 23, 2012

friday fishing

Big day here today for River. After school he is going out in the boat with Pete for the first time, to go fishing. Until now, Pete has taken River fishing off the beach or the pier. Having two sons who are keen to fish and surf with their dad means two things for me...fresh fish and quiet time!

On with the list...

Words to live by. Thanks Mamabake - 16 Ways to Thrive in Motherhood.

Ok. So perhaps this is not one for vegetarians 'The Girls Guide to Guns and Butter', if you can somehow look past the deer hunting there is interesting real food reading to be found on this blog.

To keep things balanced (as I like to do) here's a link to The Messy Vegetarian Cook

Love this - The Leftover Queen

Healthy sweetie

Raw inspiration

This weekend the boys and I will be heading to the Balnarring Community Sustainability Fair where my wholefood mama friend Robin will speak about Community Supported Agriculture.

Looking ahead to next week, I am excited about bringing you the first Wholefood Mama giveaway a delicious little something for your wholefood pantry, a recipe for zucchini and chocolate brownies, plus a super salad. Anything else you'd like? I take requests :)

Happy weekending x

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

wholefood mama:jay black

I am very excited to be bringing you this post for two reasons, one because it is the second post in an on-going series about mamas (& hopefully some papas too) who love wholefoods, be they just beginning their wholefood discovery or deep into the heart of it, but I am most excited because today's wholefood mama is my newest delightful friend who I met through blogging, someone that many of you already know and love, it is the very talented and lovely Jay Black creator of 'and the trees'.

Jay and her musically talented man Scott and their two beautiful children Ilo and Poe moved from Sydney to Bellingen in search of a more simple, creative and family focused life, "Where we can shift the work/life balance and aim for a more sustainable way of living in many different ways," says Jay.  

When Jay is not sewing her fabulous upcycled women's clothing or adding her completely charming photography and words to her blog, Jay's favorite way to relax is by doing weekly yoga for some dedicated down time, reading (in stolen moments), embroidering, it is very meditative, or spending some time with her lovely, listening or chatting.

Now, on to the cooking!

I believe our experiences during childhood of food and cooking lay the foundations for our tastes and attitudes to food, what were you taught about food and cooking as a child and what did you grow up eating? 

My mum is Malay Indian, which meant loads of delicious homemade meals; dahls, curries, rice dishes, etc, we also had the usual fare but we were definitely never a meat and three veg family.  I think that because of the diversity of flavours in our home as well as the utter passion and inclusion that we felt around food as we grew up I am still very passionate about food. I love the communal aspect, the sharing of meals from each others plates, the analysing of flavours, eating with hands, this was the way I was raised, very connected with food, this was the main way in which my mother's culture was expressed, through food.  So many memories of my childhood, involve the smell of curry and the joy of sharing this food with friends, it conjures, warmth, joy and yes, hunger.  

We lived on a couple of acres, we had chickens and we grew a lot of our own food which meant we were aware where food came from, it wasn't a novelty, it was were we got our vegetables and fruit from.

My parents awareness and passion for food has definitely led to my aware, healthy and passionate approach to food, such great and fun foundations. I also love that this passion has continued with them, my dad has recently set up an aquaponics system, growing his own fish and still has a thriving veggie patch, countless fruit trees and oodles of berries and trees with the best oranges I have ever tasted. 

Now that you are all grown up with a family of your own, tell us about your family's food philosophy? (ie. do you eat only organic food/ some organic/ what values are you teaching your children around food? where you shop for your food, who cooks). 

In our home we do only eat organic food/ local, spray free unprocessed food. Previously, when we were in Sydney, we grew a lot of the vegetables and herbs that we would eat and we are in the stages of getting that happening again in our new place. Poe and Ilo know why we eat organic or local; they are aware of why we try not to buy things that have travelled in an airplane to get here and will often ask questions about it or question why other people don't eat like we do. We try to teach them how important it is to have a balance within their body and how sweet things (depending on what kind) are okay sometimes but it has to be balanced with wholesome, strong healthy food. We do our shopping at our local organic food shop, Kombu, at the growers market and via the bello food box. I still do most of the cooking but Scott also does quite a bit as well, always with at least two very special helpers. 

The million dollar question, do your children enjoy eating vegetables and how do you encourage them to do so? Yes they do,  and they see no reason not to. There have always been vegetables on their plates, as part or the whole of their meals so there is no reason not to, or to question it. They particularly love broccoli and peas. I guess the one vegetable they don't like is pumpkin, and that is fine, we include it and sometimes they eat it, sometimes not. 

What are a couple of your favorite wholefood ingredients and what do you love about them? Quinoa - a delicious and versatile complete protein, eggs- again a great protein and such a delicious and quick fix when the little ones are needing a protein snack, sea vegetables - so diverse and amazingly good for you, a sprinkle of dulse, the inclusion of kombu, a snack of wakame, so rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and so much more. Butter, nuts and seeds are also favorites.

Which cookbooks, websites or people do you look to for inspiration with cooking? 
All of Jude Blereau's books 
The Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans
World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey


What are your favorite things to cook that your family enjoy? 
Beans and rice, tempeh bolognaise, lentil and potato stew and vege koftas.

What is one of your fondest food memories? 
Having my mother and her mother make rice balls out of rice with some fried fish and a bit of butter for me when I was a child. They would, with one hand, form a perfect ball and using just their thumb pop it into my waiting mouth, so delicious, nutritious and comforting. oh my goodness. 

If you could change one thing about our world in relation to food what would it be? 
Wow, what a question, I guess keeping it real; no gm foods, no numbers in foods, having people understand the importance of 'whole' food and having all foods fall under the heading: 'local, organic, sustainable'.

Can you share a favorite recipe? 
Oh, this was tough. I ended up with an eggplant pickle recipe and my yellow rice recipe, two elements, that once partnered with a curry of sorts would make an amazing meal. Actually I am totally addicted to this pickle and have it on everything. 

Spicy Eggplant Pickle

1 red capsicum
1 large eggplant 
1 large red onion, cut in chunks
1/2 tsp grated garlic
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp dry chilli flakes 
1tsp chopped fresh coriander root
1/2cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
150mL apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp rapadura sugar
sea salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil

Either roast eggplant and capsicum in the oven or over a flame until soft (I sometimes cut mine - eggplant lengthways and halved capsicum and roast in oven, as I don't have a gas burner). 
Bake for around 25mins or until soft. When cooled down, scrape the flesh from the eggplant halves. Discard the skin and chop the flesh into very small pieces. Peel the skin off the capsicums and also chop into small pieces (it isn't that big a deal if you still have bits of skin left on capsicum).
In a saucepan, heat up the oil and add the onions. Stir around until very very soft, then add the spices, coriander, cumin,cinnamon and chilli flakes. Keep stirring so that they don't stick to the pan. 
Then add the coriander root, ginger and garlic. Stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggplant and capsicum. Stir around to coat with the oil and spices. 
Add the vinegar and sugar. Let simmer on low heat for around 30 minutes. 
Stir frequently to avoid sticking to the pan. 
Add half of the coriander leaves and half of the mint leaves. Season with salt and pepper. 
Leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

You can either leave this to cool or have still a little warm. Just before serving, mix in the rest of the coriander leaves and mint leaves. Any left overs pop in a jar to have on EVERYTHING. 

Yellow Rice
Wash 2 cups of rice and rinse, then to a saucepan (or rice cooker, if you are that way inclined) add two cups of water, then two teaspoons of tumeric (or more if you wish), 6-8 (or more) cardamon pods, stir and bring to boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes or until rice is cooked. Fluff and try to remove pods. 
Enjoy. xx

Thank you so much Jay for sharing your wholefood story and for your as usual fabulous photos. xx

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

miniature salmon patties

Salmon patties are a nostalgic food for most Australians. I remember my mum making them and now I'm all grown up and have my very own mother-in-law they are one of my mother-in-law's favorites to make and share with our family.

They are oh so simple to make and fantastic for smuggling in extra veggies, the variations are endless.

For those yet to enjoy the simple pleasure of this Aussie staple a salmon pattie is basically made with mashed potato and tinned salmon bound together with a beaten egg, rolled in flour or breadcrumbs and then fried in oil or butter. Last night I stumbled across a significant discovery in making them even more appealing to the little people at your dining table...make the patties miniature.

It seems so obvious that small people like small pieces of food but it is something I regularly overlook.
Last night I had River and Sol on kitchen duty with me and they were in charge of rolling the salmon patties, of course their small hands made small patties.

Whether it was that they had a hand in making them or it was the miniature size that appealed I can't be sure, either way they ate their dinner with gusto.

Here is the very basic recipe:

3 small or 2 medium potatoes
1 medium orange sweet potato (kumara)
1 210gram tin of pink salmon
1 egg beaten
flour of choice for dusting
2tbsp of oil or a knob of butter

Boil or steam potato and sweet potato until mashable.
Mash potato with a knob of butter (butter optional).
Flake the salmon using a fork and mix into potato.
Stir in the beaten egg.
Shape into patties of desired size.
Roll in flour until lightly coated.
Fry in oil or butter until golden (be sure to have enough oil in pan so they don't stick or burn. Once they are cooked you can place them on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil).

With a salad or some vegies on the side, dinner is ready!

As for the endless variations here is a start...for vegetarians use lentils in place of the salmon, grated zucchini, chopped herbs, chopped onion, chopped spring onion, chopped spinach or kale, corn, mashed pumpkin, grated carrot...and so on.

I hope that is a simple solution to dinner tonight and that they are a hit with your family xx

Friday, November 16, 2012

friday fun

(River age 3. Veggie gardener in the making)

At River's school 'friday fun' is their regular way to end the week. The last hour of the afternoon is dedicated to playing and some awards are given out for the table who has the most stars for the week. They all love it. Friday fun sounds like a good way to me to end the week.

Next week my plan is to magic up more time to write and put more posts up here. Fingers crossed everyone else is my house sticks to my plan :)

For now, here are some links to get you inspired about eating and living well:

If you only click on one of these links make it this one - The Top 10 Nutritional Mistakes listed on Nora Gedgaudas site are so compelling and accurate, reading them has made me rethink my daily coffee. Sigh.

Time to share some blog love...this is a beautiful post by Brenda @ Mira Narnie wrote at our table a wonderful reminder of the importance of making time to share food together and some good ideas for making meals time pleasant even with fussy eaters.

I always love finding other wholefood friends, visit Natalie's lovely blog the spaces between where she writes about slowing down, wholefoods and living a simple life where less is more.

I love babies and I am very excited for three friends who have welcomed new little babes into the world over the last few months. All three have totally gorgeous names: a boy called Dusty, a girl named Izzy and another girl whose name is Clover. While I was clicking around looking for gifts I came across The Mother's Wisdom Deck on a beautiful blog Mothering with Soul. I thought you would like it too.

If you are looking to start your Christmas gift shopping, visit Jay's online store where you'll find cute handmade headbands and great tops n skirts. Only trick will be buying for others and not yourself!

I was the last among my friends to get a mobile phone way back when, and recently I have been about the last among my friends to sign up to Facebook but I've done it mainly to bring more readers here. You can visit The Wholefood Mama Facebook page here and if you like it, feel free to Like it and share it with your friends.

Thanks for reading. I hope your Friday is fun and your weekend too x

food as medicine

Spring can be the season for sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses. And in my case this year, a combination of sinus congestion and an earache. It has been years since I have had a series of minor colds but this year there have been a few. Perhaps three years of broken sleep is starting to catch up with me, added to that River starting school has seen all manner of new bugs coming home with him. 

A visit to my local Chinese medicine practitioner this week provided me with a couple of food as medicine recipes that I want to share. 
  • Ginger and cinnamon tea was the suggestion, especially good at the first sign of a cold. Just chop some fresh ginger add it to a teapot with boiling water and either a cinnamon quill or a teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

  • Barley water, made by steeping a small handful of barley grains in a teapot with boiling water is good for drying up mucus.

  • I couldn't resist a photo of that gorgeous garlic that Pete grew in our garden and harvested this week. We have been crushing cloves and spreading it on toast to keep our immune systems alert. My friend Bronwyn made up a remedy for my ear using the garlic in olive oil. I let it brew for a few hours and then put a couple of drops in my ear before bed. ** I don't recommend doing this unless you have seen a doctor who has confirmed your ear drum is not perforated. ** I will add the disclaimer here - I am not a natural medicine practitioner these remedies are based on my personal use. Please consult a health practitioner before trying them yourself.
  • My aunty Karen put me on to the Australian Harvest organic horseradish vinegar with bio-grape (grape seed extract), fresh garlic, curcumax (tumeric extract) and spices. Made with apple cider vinegar and fresh horseradish the flavour is both sharp and sweet. I found it at my local health food store. The label on the bottle reads "The combination of these therapeutic herbs made in a beautiful tasting spicy herb vinegar helps to dry the sinuses and reduce inflammation helping you breathe freely". I have been drinking a teaspoon three times a day in some warm water, the taste is surprisingly delicious and it does feel very medicinal.
  • I also picked up a container of local honey from the organic farm where we shop and I mix a teaspoon of honey with lemon juice, a splash of echinacea and boiling water for medicine tea.
I did have to see a general medicine doctor (GP) about my ear that after a week is still not better. He asked me if I usually get hayfever, I said I have had it in the past but not for a few years and it is usually mild. His immediate response was to ask me which brand of over the counter hayfever medicine do I usually use before looking in my ear telling me it is inflamed and writing me a prescription for antibiotics. Hmmm. If I were a hayfever sufferer I would consult a homeopath. I have resorted to the antibiotics and at day 3 they have had little effect.

Since moving out of the city, finding a GP who respects my natural medicine beliefs has not been an easy task. I can't remember where I read or heard this comment over the past week but it was one that I wholeheartedly agree with and a fact that I am bewildered by "isn't it interesting that so many pharmaceutical medicines are heavily subsidised while preventative health care such as massage and chiropractic are not?" 

So, I paid $5.80 for the antibiotics that haven't helped. Tomorrow I will pay $44 for a chiropractic treatment in hope of clearing my ear.

I am grateful for Western medicine. I do wish though that the approach to health care in Australia was more preventative and holistic.

How about you? Any good health remedies or practices you'd like to share?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

roll up roll up

Last weekend we quietly celebrated Pete's birthday. When it comes to birthdays he is a very low fuss kind of guy. I on the other hand love celebrating birthdays as you can see here and here. For Pete's day of days we had a couple of friends over, ate nori rolls, of course made a cake and enjoyed the sunshine.

Making the nori rolls got me thinking. Do you like making your own? What do you fill them with?
If you have never rolled your own nori rolls before once you do you will be thinking "this is so easy! why haven't I ever done this?!" All the ingredients are so readily available, even if like me you are living out of the city and don't have access to Asian grocery stores you will find seaweed sheets, sushi vinegar and sushi mats in supermarkets and health food stores.

We like to make ours with brown rice and then the fillings vary according to what I have in the cupboard, fridge and garden. Jars filled with alfalfa and fenugreek seeds at various stages of sprouting are on high rotation on our benchtop right now so sprouts were in some, along with carrot, cucumber, tuna, smoked salmon, avocado, white onion in some, lettuce in others, a scrape of mayo here and there. I used sushi vinegar on the rice this time but sometimes I use a splash of apple cider vinegar in its place, the sushi vinegar is fairly sweet. Nori rolls are a great way of smuggling veggies into any fussy eaters in your life.

If you are in a grain free zone you can of course make them without rice and instead just roll the seaweed around salad and protein of your choice.

I came across this delicious recipe for nori rolls with sticky brown rice and ginger plum sauce on a totally fabulous blog called The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. Serious case of blog envy!

So if you've never rolled your own nori rolls go on its fun. Tell me how it goes. 
What are your favorite fillings?

Friday, November 09, 2012

friday links

Loquats are bursting forth from trees all around my neighbourhood. Pete has named them bush lollies enticing River and Sol with them for breakfast each morning. Not that they need much enticing, this fruit is so sweet and drip with sticky juice as we munch into them to start the day.

Here is the Friday list of books, blogs and stories that have caught my eye this week:

Some people either have more hours in their day, never sleep or are just supremely efficient, Melbourne chef, restauranteur and author Shannon Bennett is one of those people. Shannon has just released his fifth book, 28 days in Provence. Shannon took his wife and three children to stay in a farmhouse in Provence for a month with the mission to eat only non-processed food from local producers. Mission accomplished and another beautiful book produced. Just like that. Journalist Jane Holroyd writes in her review of this book, "...Bennett explains that the trip was inspired partly by a desire to save his children ''from the capitalist manipulation of food for profit''. He says he would become irritated by the year-round availability of produce in Melbourne. ''Even my parents were giving the kids strawberries from the Vic Market in July. Someone from Provence would never ever eat strawberries in winter. Why would you?'' Love your work Shannon!

And while we're talking cookbooks, Kris Carr's latest book Crazy Sexy Kitchen is on my wishlist too.

More on the French theme...if you love a produce market live vicariously through Michelle Shoeps, an Aussie food lover who blogs about eating organic ...Michelle was recently in Paris and snapped up these swoon worthy market images.

Thanks Luna for leaving your comments this week and leading me to the following two links...

This is such a beautiful life story of a man called Stamitis Moraitis, his veggie garden and new found health and vitality. It is worth clicking here just for the delightful photo of 96 year old Moratai.

All you crafty mamas who are sewing for Christmas consider stitching a toy and sending it along to Softies for Mirabel this is a cause close to my heart as I had the pleasure of working and volunteering with the formidable Mirabel team many years ago.

Well that is a bit of a mixed bag of things to read.
Life is rich. Enjoy how you spend it :)
Happy weekending x

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Imagine having a weeks worth of home-cooked, nutritious, made with love dinners prepared ahead of cranky, hungry children o'clock. Couple that with the fact you had fun making said dinners with your girlfriends while your children played together. This is happening in kitchens all around the world thanks to a couple of smart thinking Aussie mums.

If you are familiar with the fun loving, big batch cooking Mamabake ladies you will know what I'm talking about. As their tagline says Mamabake is - "liberating mothers across the world through group big batch baking."

It all started with a gift of lasagne from one mama to another. That gift equalled more than a nutritious meal that Michelle Shearer didn't have to cook, it equalled something that is gold to all mothers - TIME TO HERSELF. 

Michelle writes on the Mamabake blog about receiving the lasagne and gaining time to surf:

"That got me thinking about sharing the domestic burden and sharing chores.  But, we couldn’t share everything, that would be too huge.  But we could take on one chore and share that.  Cooking. And so MamaBake was born."
So how does Mamabake work?
A group (generally 4-6 mamas but can be any number) of mamas come together and each cook a big batch meal that is then divided up so that everyone leaves with enough of each meal to feed their family.
(note handstand extraordinaire in the background)
For the bargain price of $4.95 you can buy a Mamabake Big Batch recipe ebook that includes not only big batch dinner recipes but lunch box ideas too for a week's worth of not thinking about what to put in school lunches. Yay for that.

Check out their site here  or go on over and like them on facebook and you'll be rewarded with an entertaining and informative stream of Mamabake goodness. If you sign up to become a Mamabake member you have the chance to win a holiday for 4 to Bali.

All sounds good to me!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

eat well now

Over the past few months I've been reading Kris Carr and Jessica Ainscough's blogs with interest. These green smoothie drinking, plant eating, life loving gals are inspiring people the world over to live well. Now! For those of you who don't know their stories, Kris is an American woman who was diagnosed with a rare, incurable (thankfully slow-growing) cancer and has gone on to write 5 books, make a film and write a blog about the path she has taken in confronting cancer. Jess is a 26 year old Australian woman who was diagnosed four years ago with a rare form of cancer in her arm and shoulder, the only option for survival offered to Jess was amputation. Jess declined having her arm amputated, said no thanks to chemo and set off on her own path of healing which she blogs about at the Wellness Warrior.

Jess and Kris are inspirations not just to people with cancer. I am so captivated by Jess and Kris' stories because intrinsic in their message is one that is close to my own heart and that is to "Live Well NOW!" or as some put it "Prevention is Hot!" The health odds are stacked against the majority of people living in developed countries who 'get by' on processed food, and are immersed in pollution and stress. Modern living is toxic on many levels and it takes consciousness and commitment to swim in a different more vibrant stream.

The seeds for my own inspiration to live well and inspire others to do so were planted in me early. The biggest catalyst occurred when I was 21 and my mother died suddenly of an unexpected heart attack. My mum was 44 years young and had no obvious symptoms of heart disease. Her father died at the same age of a heart attack and my mum certainly was not on the prevention is hot train. No. In many ways my dear mum was reckless with her life and her health. Mum was a smoker, drinker, didn't exercise, skipped meals and had plenty of stress to tie all that together. Now that I am a mother I understand my own mum at a deeper level. I miss her greatly. I am grateful for the time I had with her and grateful that I have the awareness and courage to live my life differently. Mum's death elevated my desire to look after myself. In the sixteen years since my mum passed I have made peace with my body image issues that plagued me since early childhood, I found yoga and I have committed myself to a diet and lifestyle that nourishes me. Sure I stray from my path but overall I feel so fortunate that I am living the life I am.

Since having my own family and trading restaurant meals for ones I cook myself my writing focus has shifted. When I was living in Melbourne, reviewing restaurants and writing about mainstream food I was up with the latest cafe, which chef was at which restaurant, which flavours and ingredients were the ones on everyone's lips; one of my editors referred to me as 'newshound Nikki' if there were sheets of newspaper covering a shopfront I'd be tapping on the door to see what was happening, hunting out the next cafe story. I had fun and wouldn't change a minute of it (well maybe the inedible duck rillettes at restaurant unmentionable that just about put me off eating duck for life) but I am glad that I have grown and moved forward in my health and ultimately my happiness.

To deepen my commitment to this path I've been researching nutrition courses, deciding which one to  enrol in next year. I am hungry for knowledge and hungry to share what I know and believe in. I've been tap tap tapping away writing my first ebook that will hopefully be ready early next year to inspire you to take, or keep your family on the wellness path.

So, my Wholefood Mama friends don't wait to get sick to get well! If you aren't already living as though your life and your health are gifts to be cherished and nurtured I ask you why? You deserve to. And your family and friends deserve to have you for a very long, healthy and happy lifetime.

Now its over to you. What are your thoughts on committing to the wellness path? Challenges? Triumphs? Do tell. Oh and if any readers have studied nutrition and would recommend the course I'd love to hear that too. Thanks for reading. x

Friday, November 02, 2012

fabulous friday

It's been a long week here with River home all week sick and Pete away working. Despite this, I've feel exceptionally grateful for 'the everyday'. Allison Tait writes about 'the everyday' so eloquently in this post.

Now on with the links:

If you are feeling like the odd one out because you don't condone stuffing children with processed food
be inspired by Sally Kuzemchak's nutrition mission

More whole food inspiration from those Health Talkin' ladies. Watch them whip up beetroot, pepita, rosewater and pomegranate salad. 

Veggie gardeners how fabulous is Swap Shuffle Share?

A few lovely blogs I have recently signed up to follow...
The Owl Outside My Door
Maitland St Meals
This Brown Wren

Brighten up your day and read this story on The Design Files about my friend Melanie who is obsessed  in the best possible way with all things flowers. Mel has opened a new little shop in Melbourne selling her floral creations, she is pictured in this story looking gorgeous with her super sweet new baby boy called Dusty. God I love babies. And flowers. And before you ask, as much as Sol and River keep asking for a baby sister no I won't be having any more babies :)

Happy weekend everyone. Thanks for reading. Xx
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