Monday, September 30, 2013

monday musings: on buying a new camera

Monday is the day I veer off topic and muse about something other than wholefood...

Ever since I was a child I have loved taking photos. At about age nine I was given my first camera, a red hanimex slimline instamatic. I then graduated to an automatic point and shoot zoom lens Pentax which saw me through my teens. In my early twenties my dad sent me a birthday gift my first SLR, made by Minolta. I loved the feel of this camera, it felt like a real camera and I felt like a real photographer. I had that camera for about ten years before it jammed up and stopped working. I'm grateful to have taken photos of River as a baby on real black and white film using the Minolta. Once that camera was broken, it was time for me to enter the world of digital photography.

Fortunately Pete, my professional photographer husbo, did the camera shopping for me. The guys at the camera shop Pete regularly deals with for his work sold him a basic Canon Ixus point and shoot number quite a step down in size from my Minolta SLR but a very simple way to step into digital. Fast forward seven years and on this last trip to Byron I managed to get sand inside the Canon and the lens jammed. "Sand is the worst", were the words of the assistant at the camera repair shop, "$60 just to look at it. At least $200 if you need a new lens".

The best part about a camera breaking are the upgrade possibilities. Fortunately the expense part was covered by some gifted birthday money - good timing!

That was a very long introduction to my guide for buying a new camera...

1. Consider what you need your camera for, and your level of interest in learning about photography.
In my case I need a camera to take photos for my blog and to photograph my children. Yes a point and shoot would suffice (in fact many people get by nowadays using their mobile phone camera) but I am ready to immerse myself back into understanding a bit more about the art of photography and want a camera that allows me to switch from auto to manual exposure. This means having control over shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

2. Ask some friends for their recommendations both for camera make and model and for where to buy.
I had it in my mind that an SLR was definitely what I wanted but after talking to Pete and another professional photographer friend I decided I really didn't need to spend a heap of money to get a camera that would give me quality shots and some creative freedom. As my photographer friend pointed out "You pay a lot of money to make that little mirror go up and down", he has a point!

I was considering the most basic Canon SLR EOS 1100D and I asked Jay where she had recently purchased her camera. Jay gave me some great advice and that was that the lens that comes with a 'kit' camera is often not that great so it can be best to buy the body and lens separately, and directed me to e-global digital cameras.

I also asked Jodi what type of camera she uses, Jodi loves her camera and highly recommended the Panasonic gf1 with 20mm 1.7 lens. It was while researching the gf1 that I learnt about bridge cameras. For those like me who have no idea what a bridge camera is, basically it is a camera that is not an SLR but offers more capabilities than a point and shoot camera meaning you have the option to have control over exposure and on some bridge cameras you have the option to change lenses. Here is a buying guide to bridge cameras.

This led me to think that Pete and my other photographer friend were right that I probably didn't really need an SLR camera so after a bit more searching online I decided that before any purchasing happened I needed to actually hold some of the cameras I was considering so I headed off to Ted's cameras and got some old-fashioned face to face customer service. Some very good customer service I might add! This helped me to narrow my options down and I was choosing between a Canon Powershot SX 510 and a Fuji Finepix S4000.

More trawling on the internet followed and this is potentially where I have made a mistake. I stumbled upon a site with cameras at prices that well, seemed too good to be true. I ordered a Fuji Finepix S4300 for $98...I placed the order 9 days ago and I haven't received the camera yet. I am sceptical because the day after I ordered the camera I received an email from the company saying that they had received my order but not my payment (my bank account showed payment was out of my account) and would I like to cancel my order or when would I be sending payment? Hmmm. I emailed and let them know that payment had been sent but perhaps we needed to allow another 24 hours before it hit their bank account. Mid last week they confirmed payment had been received and that I would receive a tracking number and my camera would be on the way. I haven't received the tracking number, the camera nor a reply to my email asking where the tracking number is. And there is no phone number on their website. So friends watch this space!

3. Purchase the camera from a reputable dealer or one that at least has a phone number on their website.

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I hate to think I have been had so I am holding out hope that my camera will arrive. I am counting my golden dollars that I decided not to spend $500 or more on an SLR. I hope there is something useful within this long post for those of you who are looking to buy a new camera. Good luck and please share your camera buying stories in the comments, it is a fairly overwhelming task sifting through so many options!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

hot off the press (almost)...


I'm hoping you're not hungry because this post isn't about food. I have so many food related posts brewing in my mind, recipes too, but I am still waiting on my camera to arrive and food blogging without photos is no fun for me or you dear readers!

So, instead today I share something else I have been up to, and that is setting up a crowdfunding page for the publication of my talented and inspiring husband's seventh book - Fire & the Story of Burning Country. For those of you who don't know, my husband Pete is a photographer and author who specialises in recording books about the environment and culture.


Between the covers of this book is a captivating story that demonstrates the positive power of fire on the Australian landscape told by the Cape York Elders and their Community Leaders. This natural process of managing the land with fire sits in stark contrast to the widely held view that fire is destructive and to be feared.

Pete has worked for close to two decades with Elders and their communities across Australia photographing and recording their culture so that it may reach a wider audience. Fire and the Story of Burning Country is a response from Elders to the devastating Black Saturday fires in Victoria during the summer of 2009.

Dr Don Hankins, a specialist in fire ecology/pyrogeography, Indigenous land management practices and conservation of Indigenous cultural practices writes in the book’s foreword: 

“This book offers a unique opportunity to see fire through the lens of accompanying Indigenous cultural practitioners as they restore fire to landscapes across Australia. The chapters offer a perspective and voice largely absent in existing literature about Indigenous fire; that is the Indigenous perspective and voice. These are the stories and experiences of Australia’s fire knowledge keepers.”

If you would like to learn more about the powerful and wise cultural practice of managing the land with fire, or you know someone who would love this book please head on over to the crowdfunding page where you can buy the book or some beautiful photographic prints. With your help this story can reach a wide audience. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

ice cream friday

Last day of the school term here today. River has only been at school for 3 weeks this term because of our extended trip to Byron Bay but I am looking forward to the holidays! Easy mornings no rushing out the door, no school lunch to pack. It is a last day of term tradition that we go with friends to the local ice cream shop to celebrate the end of term. Is it school holiday time where you are?...

Today's list...

I have oranges on the boil to make this cake to take to our friend's house for dessert tonight

going home to roost is a blog I found this week. prepare to lose yourself for hours go here

so many beautiful images and recipes over at this rawsome vegan life

feeling a bit scattered? centre yourself at mama here now

LOVING Heather's wholefood online course. Registration is still open if you want to sign up (I'm not affiliated in anyway with this course just recommending it because I love Heather's grounded approach and accessible recipes)

this is the camera I have ordered. I'll share on monday my tips for buying a new camera. Having said that, I am a bit nervous about the camera actually arriving from this website!! 8-10 days they say, you'll be the first to know how this story turns out. Not sure why but something feels shonky, perhaps it is the rock bottom price. Oh dear. Fingers crossed.

What's caught your eye on the web this week? share a link in the comments or share a favorite post from your blog this week. Happy weekending to you, put your feet up you deserve it :) Thanks for reading xx

Thursday, September 19, 2013

interview: farmer liz

We are in for a treat today. Some of us are just starting out on our wholefood journey, others in the middle and others are immersed in a wholefood way of life at every level. Blogger and hobby farmer Liz is featured here today sharing her wholefood story that is nothing short of inspirational. Settle in for a good read that by the end you'll be wishing you owned a cow to milk, and made your own cheese with the raw milk.


Liz is pictured on her farm with Bella the cow

Liz lives on eight acres in south east Queensland, Australia, with her husband Peter and two dogs. They have a passion for small-scale organic farming and producing and eating real food.  They keep chickens, beef steers, two jersey cows and a big vegetable garden. Liz writes a blog, called eight-acres, about their farm to both inspire and help others interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability and permaculture.  Pete and Liz both work full-time and spend their spare time on farm work, its a hobby that keeps them both occupied and fed.


harvest from Liz's garden

Who or what started you down your wholefood/organic/sustainable path?

Its been a long and slow transition!  I started about 5 years ago with a visit to a naturopath for help with stubborn acne.  At the age of 24, I really thought it was time I had clear skin.  The naturopath was great, she considered my health holistically and suggested many changes to my diet, including removing all processed foods, eating more vegetables and fruits and trying different grains.  I also cut out sugar and caffeine.  I felt so much better and my skin cleared in a few months, so I was convinced that diet was an important component of overall health (I started eating sugar again, but I can’t handle caffeine, it makes me shake).

When I moved to a small farm with my husband about a year later, we started a garden and got chickens, I gradually began to eat more and more of what we were growing.  It wasn’t until we got our cow and did a cheese-making course that I first heard about the book Nourishing Traditions, and when I read that amazing book, I started to get into fermented foods, sprouting and making my own stock.  I now also make all our bread.  At the moment I’m learning more about herbs and how to grow and use them every day.  No doubt I will continue to learn and change how I eat accordingly.


Liz's tea cupboard, many teas are from her garden
Liz's homegrown, home made sauerkraut with seaweed

What do you enjoy most about sustainable living?

I love growing my own food.  I love knowing that we have everything we need right here on the farm and that it is grown organically.  It is a lot of work, but it's usually enjoyable and always rewarding!

What do you find challenging when it comes to following a wholefood/sustainable path?

The hardest thing for me is living in a rural community, my nearest health food shop is a 2 hour drive away, so anything that we don’t grow and have to buy (such as organic flour) has to be bought in bulk.  There is also nowhere to go out and eat real food.  Everything is fried here.

What would you say to someone who says they don't have enough time or money to eat organically and prepare meals from scratch?

Eating whole foods doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive, in fact it can be quicker and cheaper than eating processed foods if you know how.  Firstly the time issue.  You need to set up systems that work for you.  A few weekends spent creating a garden, and then allowing plants to self-seed will result in a garden that produces endless vegetables for very little ongoing maintenance time.  If you spend the time at first setting up good soil and an easy watering system, the garden will almost look after itself.



This philosophy applies to so many whole food concepts.  At first I thought that making real stock would be a lot of work, but then I figured out that I could use my slow cooker, I set up a system where I put vege off-cuts and bones in a bag in the freezer and when I need more stock, I can just tip the whole lot in the slow cooker, add some extra veges, top up with water and turn it on.  Learning and setting up a system takes time, but once its done, you will be surprised how quick it can be to prepare whole food.  My main advice is to choose one thing at a time and perfect it, for example, when I decided to make bread, I just focussed on getting that right for several months, I didn’t try anything else new in that time, until I had bread sorted.

As for money, again the set-up costs can be expensive, but they don’t have to be and the more you can grow yourself or buy in bulk, the more you will save.  You don’t always have to buy something new or the latest gadget or superfood in order to eat well.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.  I bought a new worm farm to make compost for my garden, but many people make great worm farms from found materials.  I bought a second-hand ice-cream maker very cheaply from ebay so that we could use our own cream to make ice cream without all the additives.  I have a stick mixer that does EVERYTHING, so I don’t need a blender or food-processor, and I don’t have a thermomix (sigh!) 


Liz's home made ice cream and chocolate cake

Once you get a good system going and you’re producing much of your own vegetables (and eggs if you have space for chickens), you will find that your food bill reduces and that the initial investment was worth it.  Even if you still have to buy many staples like flour or dried beans in bulk, it will be cheaper than buying processed foods, I promise you! And for me, ducking out to the garden to pick fresh vegetables and collect the eggs is quicker than going to the supermarket.

Who is your wholefood/sustainability hero and why?

I follow an amazing blog called Throwback from Trapper Creek, Nita has a farm, a dairy cow and a massive garden.  She cooks from scratch, including canning and fermenting what she grows.  She has a great system to produce most of her own wonderful whole food and she is generous enough to share some insights into how she gets everything done.

Your three favorite ingredients and why?

Homemade stock – apart from being nutrient dense, the flavour of stock improves any meal
Herbs – I am just starting to learn about the healing properties of herbs, and I try to include some in every meal, which also adds wonderful flavour
Garlic – again, amazing health properties and tastes great

Sugar or salt, which do you crave? And when you do, what satisfies you?

Sugar!  I don’t actually like sweet things necessarily, but I love chocolate.  I eat it even though I know I shouldn’t (because when I did manage to not eat it for a few months, I felt great, but the short-term enjoyment always wins).  I try to eat the darkest chocolate I can buy, then I don’t scoff it so quickly.

Favorite books and blogs you'd like to share...

For books I have to recommend Nourishing Traditions.  I know that its tricky to follow some of the recipes if you don’t have your own cow or access to raw milk, but if you at least understand the principles, you can then adjust what you eat depending on what ingredients you can source.  
Also Gaia’s Garden, or the Permaculture Home Garden, which I think are two of the more accessible permaculture books, that will help you think more about setting up systems that are self-maintaining (particularly your organic vege garden!).
There are so many blogs that I love to follow, and they change all the time as new ones appear and others are neglected.  Throwback fromTrapper Creek is a favourite, and the others worth a mention are LindaWoodrow’s Witches Kitchen, and Emma from Craving Fresh, who both share some wonderful recipes from their own produce.

What inspired you to start your blog and what do you enjoy about blogging?

I started my blog because things that I wanted to know about were not on the internet.  When we got our first poddy calf, we had trouble getting him to take a bottle, and I found very little information to help us.  Also when we wanted to tan a steer hide, we couldn’t find any first-hand instructions.  That’s when I realised that the things that we do and the things that we learn through trial and error may be of interest to others.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I at least want to start the conversation and get some information and ideas out there for other people to use if they need it.


What are you loving about your life right now?

Owning two dairy cows and starting to feel more confident about milking, managing the calves, weaning and making cheese!  Getting closer to self-sufficiency and constantly learning new skills along the way.



I mentioned that I bake my own bread.  I make a loaf once a week, and I’ve learnt the recipe by heart, because I just do the same every week.  I have tried sourdough, but I never got the hang of it, so I use a technique called “soaking” the flour and add normal bakers yeast.  I also use a bread maker for the mixing and first rise, but do second rise and cook the loaf in either the wood stove in winter or the BBQ in summer.

Here’s what I do:
Ingredients
330 mL rainwater
0.25-0.5 cup sunflower seeds and chia seeds
2-3 tablespoons of kefir (or whey or yoghurt)
1tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of raw honey
3.25 cup flour (I use 2 cups organic white wheat and the rest wholemeal wheat or spelt)
½ tablespoon of yeast
½ tablespoon of sea salt

Combine everything apart from the last two ingredients in the bread maker bowl first thing in the morning.  Shut the lid and walk away.

In the afternoon, around 4pm, add the yeast and salt and start the breadmaker.  I have modified a program so that the machine kneads the dough for 30 mins, then lets it rise for an hour, then kneads it again for 30 minutes, then stops.

Pour the dough into an oiled bread tin and cover with a damp tea towel, allow to rise in a warm spot for up to an hour. 

Bake in a hot oven for up to an hour.  You might have to experiment with some of the times!  And you could just cook it in the bread maker, we just don’t like the shape of the loaf. 


The time between mixing the dough in the morning and rising/baking allows the microbes in the kefir to start to work on the proteins in the flour.  The result is lighter bread without any bread improver and is similar to sourdough, except this recipe using bakers yeast instead of relying on wild yeast to rise the bread.  We have a slice each every morning with our breakfast egg, so one loaf lasts about a week.

Read more about how Liz bakes bread on her blog.

**if you don't have a bread machine, knead the bread by hand until it is elastic like.

Thank you so much Liz for taking the time to share your wholefood story with us. Now, where to start? Homemade sauerkraut has been on my to-do list for a while, how about you? I love Liz's tip to tackle one change at a time. What will yours be? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

monday musings: on birthday party lolly bags

What is it with lolly bags?! Kids love them, parents loathe them. Well most parents! Before we unpack the contents of those sweet little bags let's consider why they are given...habit? tradition? because it is expected? as a thank you? Possibly a little bit of each reason. But surely there are other ways to say thank you and if you like the lolly tradition surely the bags don't have to be so big and full. Personally I love it when no lolly bags are handed out, it is rare but it does happen.

On Sunday our boys River and Sol were invited to a fourth birthday party, the son of a close friend. My husband Pete phoned our friend and asked in his usual direct manner, "Will you be handing out bags of poison at the party today?" The answer as expected was "Yes". "I'd prefer River and Sol didn't get one, can you give them something else?" A box of sultanas was the agreed alternative.

Now this is where Pete and I disagree. Sultanas are still 'sugary', they are a concentrated form of fructose and lolly bags are the absolute only time that River and Sol ever see lollies, we never buy them. Ever. Not even their sweet loving grandparents are allowed to supply them with lollies. So, I wouldn't have actually minded if they were given the lolly bags and then I could have rationed out the contents.

River overheard the conversation Pete had with our friend. Tears ensued, "You are so mean dad. That is so unfair, all the other kids get lollies and we get sultanas". "I'm not doing it to be mean," Pete tried to explain, "I'm doing it because I care about you and don't want you to eat all that sugar". That is not how it felt to seven year old River.

The boys and I went to the party and Pete went off to photograph a wedding. I was dreading the end of the party before we had even arrived. At the party, two tables were set with chicken sandwiches, zucchini slice, fruit salad and sausage rolls - not a piece of sugary food in sight.

The children ran about and played in the sun while the adults stood by chatting. "How do you handle the lolly bag thing?" I asked one mum. "I take them off my children straight after the party, they can eat a couple of lollies and then I keep the bags in a cupboard and when they forget about them I throw them out," she told me.

Time for the pinata. It was a cleverly designed pinata, no stick and blindfold instead there was an array of ribbons hanging from the bottom looking like streamers, each child took it in turns to pull one ribbon until 'jackpot!' the bottom fell out and so did the lollies. There was a scramble as handfuls of lolly snakes, jubes, jelly babies and mini chocolate bars were grabbed and later shared with smaller children who were not as experienced being in a pinata lolly scrum.

Next up were the cakes. Yes plural. There were two birthday cakes plus cupcakes. Sol true to form ate the icing off the top and gave me the plain cake. River skipped having cake and opted to get back to running around with his friends.

Fifteen minutes before the party was due to end a friend came running up to me beaming, "Yes! I've got them out (her two children) without lolly bags we're leaving now and they haven't even asked for them. Bye!" It was as if she had achieved a minor miracle. I was uncharacteristically jealous.

We stayed for a game of pass the parcel. Our departure could not be delayed any longer. The sighting by River and Sol of other children with lolly bags was inevitable. "Mum can we have a lolly bag?" they asked. "C'mon let's go I have your lolly bags" I replied. We starting heading for the door, after a bit more asking I handed over their custom filled 'lolly' bags. Outside the party venue River asked his friend is he could see  inside his bag, his friend had lollies, River had a box of sultanas and a packet of sesame snaps (very sweet honey sesame 'biscuits). I haven't worked it out exactly but I am sure the sugar content of both bags would have been on par.

After some sulking River got in the car and we headed home. "Dad's mean", he uttered a few times. I reminded both River and Sol about the lollies they had eaten out of the pinata. Neither of them ate the sultanas, River took one bit of the sesame snap and decided he didn't like it, Sol didn't even want to try it.

I feel like banning lollies makes them more attractive and I don't really think a bag of sultanas is all that much better. Having said that, River and Sol ate lollies at the party and didn't need a bag of them to take home and didn't eat the sultanas anyway.

I'd love it if we could all take a united front and skip handing out lollies at the end of a party. One great idea I heard was a party where children were given a punnet of strawberry seedlings to take home to plant. Now that's my kind of party.

What are your thoughts? Am I being a party pooper? Or are you over the lolly fest too? Love to hear how you handle kids birthday party lolly bags in your family. Share in the comments.

Friday, September 13, 2013

friday the 13th - a day of celebration

It's my birthday today! I love birthdays. Today I've had time with old friends, savoured some chocolate flourless cake and now looking forward to champagne! We were going to give the local Thai restaurant a try for the first time tonight but a beautiful friend phoned and offered to cook us a birthday dinner - feeling lucky and loved.

Here's a nourishing little list for you. It's short and sweet today:

Looking for grain-free, naturally sweet brownie recipe? Go here

For some yogi calm, join Heather on her 108 days of living yoga

Still in Heather's space, to keep me feeling super inspired I've signed up to Heather's Wholefood Kitchen online course

I hope you've had a fun Friday and are looking forward to the weekend.
See you back here next week and thanks to some birthday present money a new camera is not far away! x

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

a recipe to cure fussy eaters

I am regularly asked by exasperated mamas for tips to deal with fussy eaters. I've written about this topic before but it is time to re-visit it. I don't have all the answers (sorry about that!) My boys aged 7 and 3 don't eat every variety of fruit and vegetable I put in front of them but they don't complain and they are willing to try everything, this is half the battle in my opinion.

Here are my latest thoughts on dealing with fussy eaters:

- for starters I don't like the term fussy eater. It is a label, a bit like telling a child they are clumsy if we refer to our child as a fussy eater we are affirming that. Being mindful of the words we choose can make a big difference.

- keep a well-stocked wholefood pantry and fridge minus processed snacks that will sabotage your greatest efforts to get your children to eat well. If children are going to snack, which most like to do, then nutrient dense snacks are important opportunities for getting fruit and veg into them, such as banana or berry smoothie, mashed avocado dip, carrot hummous, if your child likes soup that makes an excellent snack.

- a solid set of loving boundaries when it comes to food and eating - sit down to eat, no snacking before dinner, turn off all screens when eating, zero tolerance on complaining and whining when food is presented explain with love that you understand your child may not like X food but the meal was prepared with love and out of respect to the food and to the person who made it don't screw your face up or you will have to leave the table.

- a positive attitude - we have a children's picture book titled Jasper McFlee Will Not Eat His Tea written by Lee Fox, it is one of our favorites about a boy named Jasper who as the title suggests will not eat his tea, or any other meal for that matter. Jasper ends up at the doctors who tells him "you don't have to like food you just have to try it". Jasper works on trying all kinds of foods and by the end of the book he is eating up all his meals. I know it can get tedious but remaining positive and encouraging is important "good on you for trying it perhaps next time you will like it more."

- remember - this too shall pass. Unless you are an adult fussy eater :) your child will grow out of this. Young children love hearing stories about their parents childhood, talk to them at mealtimes about foods that you loved when you were a child and also foods that you were resistant to but then tried and found out you liked them and now are some of your favorites - for me one of those foods is mangos!

The Wellness Mama has written an excellent, lengthy and detailed post on this topic. I particularly love her 'one bite' approach where she serves one bite of each dinner item (one bite of green bean, one bite of sweet potato and one bite of chicken) once the bites are all eaten more food can be served. Genius! This encourages tasting which is important for developing the sense of taste and developing an attitude of openness to trying new things which is key along with having a healthy appetite.

Excellent ideas also to be found on the Better Health Channel.

Some hard questions to ask yourself...

Am I a fussy eater?

Do I give my child only the foods I know he/she will eat because I don't want to deal with their emotional responses?

Do I keep buying nutritionally empty foods because "they are the only foods my child will eat"?

Could I stop buying those foods and explain to my child that those foods are made in a factory and don't help build a strong and healthy body and brain?

Does the thought of my child going hungry feel so mean that I give them what they want to eat?

Could we start eating as a family and turn off screens at least a few meals a week?

How could I involve my children more in meal preparation?

Share your thoughts and experiences. We are all in this one together. Leave a comment, your tip might just make another mamas life that bit easier or your experience might help them to see they are not alone with this challenge.

Monday, September 09, 2013

monday musings: on gratitude

There was a time in my twenties where I didn't really know which way was up and couldn't see the way out of how I was feeling. During this time I was house sitting for a friend and found a book on her shelf that helped to turn those feelings around. Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance showed me the way forward, starting with the simple practice of giving thanks. Reflecting on what I was grateful for in my life was such a potent exercise, in moments it transformed how I felt: from overwhelmed to calm. I continue this reflection daily, just before I go to sleep I take a few moments to be grateful.

Believe it or not being grateful relates to raising happy healthy eaters. Before dinner each night at our table we say a blessing on our meal, giving thanks to the people who grew the vegetables or thanks to the fish who gave their lives, it changes each night and we take it in turns at saying the blessing. We are not of a particular religious faith and I don't believe you have to be to give thanks for your meal. To me it teaches children to be grateful for the food they have in front of them and gives them a connection to the bigger picture of how the food came to be on the table. Our meal blessing ritual began when River was at Steiner playgroup and learnt this song that the class sang before they had their morning tea:

Blessing on the blossom
Blessing on the fruit
Blessing on the leaf and stem
and blessing on the root
and blessing on our meal

We still sing this song from time to time, I love the connection to nature that it evokes.

We live in times where expectations can easily run high. Children, teenagers, adults often expect that they can have what they want, when they want it with little grace shown for what they already have in their lives. Showing children how to be grateful, how to live with grace is more powerful than telling them, 'you should be grateful for that meal'.

Natalie and many other bloggers dedicate some of their posts each week to being grateful by joining in with the 52 weeks of grateful project.

Are you feeling grateful? Or tired and struggling, wondering where grace has gone? And what about teaching your children to be grateful, how are you going with that? Love to hear in the comments.

Friday, September 06, 2013

friday it's spring!

Yes it is officially Spring time! Although the scene outside my window is rather grey and gloomy, overcast and no sign of sun, there is pink and white blossom on the trees I marvel at the beauty of blossom every spring it is as if I have never seen it before.

This is an excellent read: How strict should a child's healthy diet be?

The kitchen can be a dangerous place. Read more about safe food handling here

This recipe for chocolate chickpea cake has me intrigued. I think I'll give it a go

Some simple tips and reminders for getting more fruit and veg into meals and snacks

Speaking of veggies if you grow your own and are wondering what to plant take a look at The Little Veggie Patch Company's fantastic list

If you're looking for family friendly, gluten free dairy free, refined sugar free recipes this is a great site

On to the weekend. I'm reluctant to utter the 'e' word here (election) but that is what is happening here in Australia on Saturday so it is on my mind. I don't really want to get into political discussion here but I want to say this: regardless of who is elected on Saturday there is much work to be done with regard to healing our environmental and humanitarian problems in Australia (and indeed the world) I have no confidence in any government to restore harmony in nature and with people so we must take matters into our own hands, it is the only way forward and the only way to not feel despairing. We can all make a difference in our daily lives. Be the change you want to see in the world.

On that note I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Soak up the Spring or Autumn depending on where in the world you are and I'll see you back here next with a post on dealing with fussy eaters plus more.

Thanks for being part of positive change for planet and people - less processed and packaged food consumed = better health for planet and people xx

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

lunch box love

We are heading down the home straight toward the end of term 3 and I am guessing your 'what to put in the school lunchbox' mojo is fading. Yes? Well, since I have been on a 6 week vacation from filling lunchboxes I am feeling all enthusiastic about not falling into my old end of term fruit and a sandwich rut. I thought I'd share my progress coming up with lunch box goodness...

Day one: River went off to school with a brown rice nori roll filled with tuna and avocado, seaweed rice crackers, mandarin, dried apricots and two pieces of Natalie's excellent apple, oat and maple syrup slice (one piece for River, one piece to share with a friend).

Day two: egg and carrot sandwich made with millet sourdough, 1/2 a dragonfruit, mango and strawberry fruit flat (dehydrated fruit), red capsicum sticks and seaweed rice crackers.

Day three: corn thins spread with butter and topped with parmesan cheese, pitted kalamata olives, apple, raw chocolate brownie from our local raw food cafe (raw on rye).

Day four: cheese and vege spread wrap, seaweed rice crackers, mandarine, carrot sticks, 1/2 raw chocolate and date bar.

Day five: cucumber and cheese wholegrain roll, an apple, a coconut date roll, corn thin with vege spread.

Happy to report completely empty lunch box coming home. yay!

For more inspiration take a look at Mona Hecke's book The Lunchbox Revolution and please share your lunch box faves in the comments, it helps if we think for each other :)

Monday, September 02, 2013

monday musings: on sugar: don't shoot the messenger

The quit-sugar message promoted by Sarah Wilson, David Gillespie, Robert Lustig is fairly unpalatable in that the majority of people want to have their cake and eat it too. Me included!

The language used in getting their message across ie. sugar is poison, addictive, toxic, sounds dramatic and some may wonder if it is necessary to use these words. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. I believe to some degree the language is tied up in marketing the message. The 'I Eat More Wholefoods' 8 week program doesn't sound as catchy as 'I Quit Sugar' does it? And titling a book 'Sweet Poison' is clever word play and makes good marketing sense: there isn't meant to be anything sweet about poison now is there? The title alone is cause for intrigue.

I was prompted to write this post after reading a series of posts on the quit sugar topic. First I read two well considered posts on the sugar topic over on naturopath Georgia Harding's blog, Well Nourished go here and here. Then I read Sarah Wilson's post about her 'lapse' when she ate two chocolate croissants, I read the post and each of the comments. A number of commenters on Sarah's post made reference to how banning certain foods or ingredients such as sugar can, for some people, lead to a cycle of binging and purging and an emotional and physical roller-coaster, that for some can be a symptom of an eating disorder. This thought has crossed my mind a number of times when considering the quit sugar message. I don't think in any way though it is Sarah's intention to set people up for developing or fuelling an eating disorder.

There is a problem though as I see it and that is the quit sugar program is promoted as 'one size fits all' so to speak, when in fact it doesn't really account too much for individual psychology and physiology. Sarah's reason for quitting sugar was to address her auto-immune disorder, from what I have read in the comments of Sarah's blog people go on her program for a wide range of reasons, including weight loss, and what might be working for Sarah may not be right for others and can result in a feeling of 'failure' for some that can then feed into self-esteem and body image issues. For another take on this aspect read this post on Mamamia.

I agree that in no amount does refined sugar provide nutritional value, however by my observation sugar is not addictive to every single person. There are people who can take or leave sweet food, people who can open a packet of biscuits or chocolate eat one and still have the packet in the cupboard a week later untouched. These people exist really they do!

I have written before that the positive side to the quit sugar message is that it is raising people's awareness about hidden sugars and encouraging people to include more real food and less processed food in their diet which is precisely the way to go for good health and longevity there is no arguing about that.

It was a National Geographic article Sugar Love (a not so sweet story) found via Georgia's blog that made the most impact on me. At the end of reading it I felt sad. Sad about the children included in the article who represent a generation of children being fed processed food and the diet related diseases and shorter lifespans they will experience as a result. I also feel motivated. Really motivated, to continue adding my thoughts to the sugar issue and to keep on finding ways to encourage and support people to eat real food and to especially feed their children real food even when it means going against the tide of a massive, dominating fake food culture.

Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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