Wednesday, April 30, 2014

wholefood mama: meagan from this whole family

Remember the interview series with wholefood mamas? Well today I am very pleased and grateful to welcome Meagan from This Whole Family to share her wholefood story. I know you are going to be inspired by this! Thankyou so much Meagan for taking part. Over to you...

Hi, I’m Meagan, wife to supportive husband, Brad and mother to a vivacious 5 year old, North, feisty 3 year old, Indigo and bubbly baby Juniper. I began researching play-based and natural early childhood learning over four years ago when I stumbled across some Waldorf inspired blogs that resonated with me deeply. Since then I have passionately shared my parenting journey including our transition to a TV-free home, our parenting style and beliefs, and some delicious holistic recipes on my blog This Whole Family. You can also browse my series of seasonal and Waldorf-inspired Family Rhythm Guides at www.wholefamilyrhythms.com


What do you remember being taught about food when you were a child?
I have a mixture of helpful and not so helpful food memories. I can remember baking with my Grandmother and Mother at an early age- things like apple pie and oatmeal cookies. But I also grew up at the time that calorie counting was a huge fad and have memories of my Dad constantly wanting to lose weight and meticulously counting calories. Although we ate a pretty well rounded diet, for better of for worse, from a very young age I was conscious of the relationship between foods and words like “good”, “bad”, “fattening”,  and “low-cal”.


How would you describe your approach to raising a wholefood family?
My approach to our family’s eating is how I would describe every other aspect of my life and beliefs- a journey. I am constantly reading research, articles and books about whole foods, what they are and whether they are even good for us. For example, since reading a lot of Ray Peat inspired articles I am very wary of minimising our Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) intake as a family and this means minimising most nuts and seeds (and their oils) which are generally considered ‘health' and ‘whole’  foods.

Has there been a wholefood 'turning point' for you, or is it a way you have always eaten? A turning point would definitely be my daughter’s fish allergy diagnosis. My entire family was pescatarian (we ate only fish) and ate very little dairy up until my second child, Indigo turned one. Although she had been eating fish from around 6 months to 1 year, just after her first birthday she had an anaphylactic reaction to white fish and we rushed to the hospital. I was then faced with the decision to raise my children completely vegetarian or to begin eating meat. I did a lot of reading about immunological disorders (which in a nutshell are what allergies are) and came across the GAPs diet which emphasises a lot of homemade bone broths and minimises starches and grains. So, we dove into as close to “ethical meat-eating” as you can get. You can read more about that journey here. 

What changes have you made to your diet in recent years that have made the biggest impact on how you feel? 
When my daughter was diagnosed we began to slowly incorporate meat and especially broths into our diets. I also switched from using wholewheat flour at the time to only using spelt flours and added in some raw goat’s milk to her diet. At that time we were still consuming soy milk, almond milk, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes. As time has gone by I have seen that my daughter’s digestive system (and mine, and my husband’s) is extremely sensitive and I began cutting out the majority of nuts and seeds, all soy products (I am horrified at how much soy I ate at one point) and legumes. 
My third daughter, Juniper is almost one and she has also developed terrible eczema since before she even started solids. This in combination with a few more allergic reactions to foods and environmental triggers from Indigo, has catapulted us recently into what I would call the Full GAPs diet with Ray Peat inspired themes. Essentially, we eat meat, including offal once a week, homemade broths and gelatin almost everyday, lots of vegetables raw, cooked and fermented, we combine our fats and proteins with freshly squeezed OJ, a lot of ripe, tropical fruits or stewed fruits and lots and lots of honey. Currently we avoid all grains, starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes) nuts, seeds, legumes and refined sugars. We also take a daily probiotic and eat a generous amount of dairy, but Indigo is not having milk at this time, only yoghurt and butter. 
This is not totally in line with Ray Peat because he advocates no probiotics or fermented foods, lots of fresh cow’s milk, minimal amounts of dietary fibre (ie. vegetables or shredded coconut) and a good serving of white refined sugar everyday in combination with a nutrient-rich diet. We are also occasionally eating almond flour just so Indigo has some kind of a ‘treat’ option at a birthday party or holiday etc which is not ideal, but a temporary compromise. 

(Note: my son is eating grains everyday at school and has strong digestion and I will likely start Juniper on well cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes soon). 


With so much information available on what to eat and not to eat, how do you make sense of it all?
As you can see from my answer above I am experimenting constantly. I am trying to find what works for each of us individually and part of our food journey is healing with food. I am trying to heal Indigo’s gut, at which point (maybe in a year or so?) I am hoping we can slowly introduce small amounts of properly prepared grains and starches. 



Which cookbooks, food blogs or websites do you turn to for inspiration? 

Links
The Nutrition Coach (Ray Peat inspired nutrition advice) www.thenutritioncoach.com
Ray Peat’s site www.raypeat.com
180 Degree Health www.180degreehealth.com
Digestible Kitchen (Ray Peat inspired cooking) www.digestiblekitchen.com
101 Cookbooks ww.101cookbooks.com
Holistic Squid www.holisticsquid.com
Cheeseslave www.cheeseslave.com
Nourished Kitchen www.nourishedkitchen.com
Against All Grain www.againstallgrain.com
All of my ‘whole food’ pins on Pinterest

Books
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morrell
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell 
All of Jude Blereau’s Cookbooks.



I noticed in one of your posts that you have a thermomix. I don't have one and am not convinced that they offer value for their big price tag, also I think they take something away from the intuitive aspect of cooking. I would love to hear your thoughts, what do you like about it and do you consider it has provided value for money?
I totally understand the idea that the thermomix takes away the 'intuitive aspect of cooking’. I do believe there is something to be said about slowly, mindfully and lovingly preparing your meals. We eat a lot of slow-cooked stews and broths which are prepared from scratch. However, the thermomix has been a life-saver for things like pureed soups, gluten-free baking, pasta sauces, custards, puddings, bliss balls, daily smoothies and pate. When we weren’t completely grain -free or sugar-free it also makes an amazing risotto, fluffy marshmallows and kneads dough beautifully. What I love is a) the convenience (I don’t need to lug and clean 2-3 appliances out all day long) b) the speed when you’re flat for time and need to make something healthy and delicious c) the quick and easy clean-up. 

Sweet or savoury? Which do you crave and what satisfies you?
Both. I love pate with vegetables. But I always need to end a meal with something sweet and I like to go to bed with a cup of warm milk and honey. 

Any tips for mamas starting out on their wholefood path or who are dealing with 'fussy eaters’?
I have a whole post on this, see here. An excerpt from the post: Children need to try a new food 10-15 times before they acquire a taste for it. My children know they only have to try one bite of their meal and after that bite, if they still don't want it, they can instead choose to have it taken away and to sit quietly at the table while everyone else eats. Their meal waits for them in the fridge and of course nothing else is offered until the next mealtime.

Yes, it can be exhausting and quite depressing to have worked so hard to cook a beautiful meal only to have your children take one bite and then walk away but for me this is an indication that perhaps they have been snacking a bit too close to mealtime. In my experience if they're hungry, they'll eat. 



A favorite recipe to share?

Hearty Yang Stew 

This is a hearty meal. It is deliciously satisfying especially on a cold day. According to Chinese philosophy and medicine, “yin” and “yang” are two opposing, but interconnected forces. The cold and wet winter is a yin time of year, so this yang infused stew will balance you out, warming you to the bone. 

Ingredients

coconut oil
500g diced beef chuck
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
homemade beef bone broth
Grated zest and juice of one orange
150ml red wine
sprig of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste 

Directions

Preheat oven to 180˚.
In a large, oven-proof dutch oven brown the meat with a bit of coconut oil.
Add the onions, garlic and celery.
Add the carrots sauté for about three minutes.
Return the meat to the saucepan and add the stock, orange zest, orange juice, wine to cover.
Add the rosemary and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer.

Cover with lid and and cook in the oven for about 2-3 hours.

You'll find more inspiration over on Meagan's blog, here are some posts and recipes to get you started:



Recipes:






Thank you Meagan xx

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

soul food: incredible life, incredible business workbooks + making money from blogging




Ever since I was a child I have loved keeping journals. It is where my love of writing (and stationery) began. In a few months I turn 40 and my love of journals and writing hasn't faded nor has my love of goal setting and visualisation.

So, today I thought I'd share with you something I discovered last year (yes its taken me a while to get around to sharing this!) that ticks all the boxes for a bit of soul nourishment. It covers journalling, writing, being creative, goal setting, visualisation and affirmations. All things I love and believe in.

These workbooks won't be everyone's cup of tea but I think some of you will LOVE them. In fact I like them so much I signed up to become an affiliate (which means that if you buy them via link on my site I receive a commission on the sale). I am slowly, slowly about to begin monetising my blog, feeling my way seeing what works and feels right. You'll never find an ad for Subway here but you will start to see affiliate links to resources that I use and am happy to recommend because I think they will be helpful to you too.

The workbooks are created by artist and business mentor Leonie Dawson, who I discovered through reading about her on Problogger (I think), for a start the workbooks are very well priced at $9.95 each but aside from that I like them because working through them is fun and as we mothers spend a lot of our time giving and thinking about other people it is so nice to sit down and think and dream and write about what it is that we actually want from life! And don't worry that it is no longer the start of the year, you can use these books at any time of the year and they will have the same impact.

It is a gift to myself to make this time and I do actually feel nourished by spending the time working through the questions and exercises, reflecting and focusing, gaining clarity on what is working or not in my life and business (not that I ever really think of myself as being in business by the way).

On the topic of business and money I like Leonie's approach to this as she is unashamedly a total hippy in her style and expression (she uses words like bonkerdoodles and gigglesnort don't say I didn't warn you that its not everyone's cup of tea, look past that though because what she has to offer is very useful!) aside from the woo woo hippy stuff, she is totally steeped in practicality to match it and speaks directly to the stumbling blocks that can trip people over if they are thinking that money and creativity or spirituality can only exist on separate pages. In fact they can all be very happily intertwined.

So, if as we move into the month of May you are drifting along thinking the year is vanishing through your fingertips and you are feeling a little lost beneath a never ending pile of washing then perhaps one or both of these workbooks could be just the soul food for you.

And if you do have a business or are thinking of starting one and want to step it up a notch I recommend Leonie's Business Goddess e-course. Through doing the course I came up with the idea of running Blogging for Beginners courses which I have loved doing and earned a good day's pay from too!

To buy Leonie's workbooks go here or to sign up for the e-course go here. And I hope you'll come back tomorrow for a great interview with wholefood mama Meagan from This Whole Family.

Tell me what is soul food for you? Journalling? Drawing? Writing? Have you monetised your blog? I'd love to hear about that too.

Monday, April 28, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: # 17 phase out processed snacks



Walking on to River's schoolground one afternoon I picked up the wrappers pictured above that were blowing around the oval. I picked them up not to put them in the bin but because I wanted to read the list of ingredients.

To the majority of  parents at River's school me doing this would seem weird and a bit over the top, after all, it isn't really a big deal that kids eat snack food is it? Well, of course I do think it is a big a deal. A really big deal that so many people, children and adults are eating mainly foods from packets and that they think that there will be no impact on their health and well-being and that they don't give a moments thought to the environmental impacts of the earth's resources that go into creating the products and the packaging that they come in.

The way I see it, the problem isn't eating these foods once, or if there was one snack food in the lunchbox and the rest of the time it is fruit, vegetables and protein, no there are two problems as I see it:

1. The Myth of Moderation - this is really a post in itself but I will touch on it here. The old 'everything in moderation' is full of problems because one person's moderation is another person's overload and vice versa. The most accurate way to work out if your family is consuming something moderately or occasionally is to keep a food journal, I think you would be surprised to see how many snacks and 'treats' are sneaking in that are full of processed ingredients such as wheat, refined sugar and damaged fats that are not nourishing in any way.

2. The second problem that goes with this is the cumulative effect of eating non-foods or factory made foods. Sure everyone might be able to get away with eating a packet of chips or some other processed snack from time to time but the problem is that ingredients such as wheat, sugar and damaged fats are in just about every processed food on the supermarket shelf, even in ones you don't expect them to be - who expects chocolate to have wheat in it? or muesli to have sugar and vegetable oil in it? So, without even trying people who include processed foods daily in their diets are overloading their bodies with ingredients that impact their digestion and immunity and ultimately their overall health.

Using these two snack foods as examples let's take a look at the ingredients:

Dominion Naturals - Ropes. Strawberry, raspberry and blueberry flavoured. No artificial colours or flavours. No preservatives, gluten free and 99% fat free. That is the list of selling points on the packaging. Many people would read this and think its good, it is 'natural' and free of artificial nasties, it contains fruit and it is fat free (inference is that you won't get fat by eating it). A the very bottom of the nutrition table in fine print are the words: Fruit juice based confectionery. So, really these are lollies dressed up by marketers as something healthy. (Makes me cross!!) The ingredients: glucose syrup, sugar, fruit juice concentrate (18%), Gelatine, Gelling Agent (406), Thickener (1401), Acidity Regulators (330,296), Natural colours (140, 163, 120), Natural Flavours, Glazing Agent (903).

Sun rice mini bites creepy cheese. Delicious mini brown rice cakes, seasoned with tasty natural flavours that are the perfect bite-size to munch and crunch. Made with wholegrain brown rice. No artificial colours or flavours. Gluten free. Wholegrain brown rice, consumers think that's good isn't it? Ingredients: wholegrain brown rice (84%), seasoning (milk solids, salt, natural flavour, hydrolysed corn protein, yeast extracts, cheese powder, sunflower oil, acidity regulators (270, 327), sunflower oil. This product also has a logo on it that reads 'National Healthy School Canteen - Amber Compliant' which would give some parents an added reassurance that they are buying healthy food.

Processed snacks may be quick to throw in the lunchbox but with some planning ahead so are homemade snacks. By making some time each week to bake some muffins, make muesli bars, bliss balls, or even to bake cake and then freezing them you are providing your family with wholesome wholefood snacks that are vastly better for their bodies and minds and for the planet.

I can hear some of you sighing and thinking oh no another thing to do but I think it is so worth the time and effort. Good health is such a precious gift that deserves to be protected every chance we have. The problem with having a processed diet is that the effects take time to show up. With the dominance of commercially produced food that is presented to us daily in various settings, there has never been a more important time to be proactive and stay ahead with good health. Many people wait until they get sick to make changes to their diet and lifestyle. Don't wait to get sick for that to be your reason to make changes, prevention is much better than cure.

Take a moment to ask yourself why do you buy processed snacks, for convenience? because kids like them or ask for them? as treats?

If you buy them because your children like them or have asked you to buy them explain to them that you have learnt more about the ingredients in them and that they are not nourishing for their bodies and they do not help them to think and concentrate at school and that instead you will be making your own snacks to put in lunchboxes. If you like, you can then get your children involved in choosing some recipes and preparing the lunchbox snacks. If you would prefer to phase out the snacks rather than going cold turkey perhaps you could include a processed snack twice a week, Tuesday and Friday and then reduce it to one day and eventually none.

Here are some links to recipes to get you started with alternatives to processed snacks, once you get into the mindset that this is totally doable and that it is so worth it you won't even notice that you are doing it and you won't miss the so called convenience of processed snacks.

Six Healthy Biscuits for Lunchboxes
Ten Healthy Muffin Recipes
Carrot Cake Slice
Spiced apricot, orange and quinoa muesli bars
Muesli bars with dried cranberries and seeds
Raw chocolate bliss balls

Oh and by the way never feel guilty or embarrassed about where you are at on your food journey. The most important thing is that we are all doing the best we can with the time, money and knowledge we have. Make small adjustments as you go along. Modern living can be stressful enough as it is, don't add guilt to your plate, do what you can making small adjustments as your knowledge grows.

I wish you well with making this change. I think you will find it so satisfying to stop buying processed snacks I know I have. Xx

Sunday, April 27, 2014

weekend wholefood reading



So, this is more sunday night reading than weekend reading but there's lots of good things to read and view either way!

A most beautiful seasonal fruit tart. Sadly there isn't a recipe to go with the photo...we'll have to invent one.

More help for dealing with fussy eaters...

Heather's 'kid-friendly pad thai' recipe comes with tips on how she managed to get fruit and veg into her fussy eater

I am working up to incorporating more homemade fermented foods into our diet and have found Cultured Food Life an interesting and informative resource

Sydneysiders if you are in business in the health, wellness or organics get yourself a ticket to my friend Sam Gowing's leadership event Lead Me to Success, on Wednesday May 21st 6pm-9pm. Sam and Therese Kerr will be talking all things business, organics, wealth, wellness and a whole lot more.

For those local to Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula, Living Nutrition is running their popular 8 week Healthy Habits program starting this Tuesday April 29th. Phone Heidi for more information or to book a place: 0434 999 518

I cooked this butter chicken on saturday night and served it with brown rice, dahl, minted yoghurt, fresh coriander, lime pickle and papadams it was a hit. Everyone happy.

A few memorable quotes from my boys this week I want to share:

Sol who is 4, announces at dinner - "I'm a meatatarian. I like meat." Pause. "And ice-cream".

Sol crinkling his face on the verge of tears when he heard me say to River, "It's Anzac Day on Friday". "No fair" Sol wailed "River gets Anzacs (biscuits) at school and I don't". River explains, "Oh no Sol, it's about war and stuff".

I heard River use the term bucket-list for the first time so I asked him what it means, his reply "Mum it is when people make a list of things they want to do wearing a bucket on their head".

Funny!

I'll be back tomorrow with the next step in the step-by-step series, some soul food on tuesday, an interview with Meagan from This Whole Family, and a recipe on Thursday.

Happy wholefood week everyone. Xx


Thursday, April 24, 2014

stills collection






(joining in with Em at The Beetleshack)

1. First time bowling for River and Sol on the school holidays.

2. Morning light my favorite. I'm a morning person.

3. Kind of looks like L.A. but its not, its downtown Safety Beach, Provincia foodstore.

4. Our woodfired hot cross bun minus the cross.

5. The last harvest of cherry tomatoes for the season.

thursday recipe: spag bol with a twist


During the school holidays River and Pete headed out for an early morning bike ride that didn't go as planned. They arrived home shaken and sorry, a caring passerby had given them a lift home as River had come off his bike hard. He went flying down a hill that in the past he had walked his bike down but decided that day was the day he would give it a go. Fortunately he escaped serious injury despite the fact that he went over his bike, became airborne and landed with a thud. He walked away with a blackened bruised thumb nail, sore back and elbow accompanied with a confidence crash when it comes to getting back on the bike.

I let the shock subside and in the afternoon took River to get checked over by our wonderful family chiropractor Carmel Whelan who has been treating all of us since River was six weeks old. On the way home from visiting Carmel, who gave River the ok after sending us for an xray of his elbow (just to be sure), we stopped in at Provincia a newish local foodstore/deli and picked up ingredients for a pasta dinner, quick(ish), easy, a dish the whole family enjoys = comfort food.

If you are a bit tired of your spag bol recipe I thought you might enjoy this one. I always grate zucchini and carrot into my version, yes to get more veggies into everyone but also because the carrot provides a nice sweetness. The twist in this version comes from our friend Robin, we enjoyed dinner at her house one night and had spaghetti bolognaise with a delicious flavour I note that I wasn't quite expecting. I asked Robin what it was and she revealed...star anise. A little trick she picked up off her brother-in-law. (correct me in the comments Robin if you're reading and I got brother-in-law part wrong!) Whoever came up with the idea of adding star anise it is a good one. I think you'll enjoy it too. Xx

Spaghetti bolognaise with star anise

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter or ghee
500g organic mince beef
1 brown onion finely chopped
2-4 garlic cloves depending on clove size and your flavour preference, crushed
1 tin diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water or stock
salt + pepper to taste
3 teaspoons Italian dried herbs
1 bay leaf
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 medium zucchini, finely grated
1 whole star anise
pasta of your choice or zucchini spirals

Parmesan
I added fresh spring onions and parsley from our garden to the top of this bowl

To make:

Heat butter or ghee in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat, gently fry onion til transparent.
Add meat and garlic, cook until meat is brown.
Add all other ingredients, bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes (an hour if you have time).
Cook pasta towards end of sauce cooking time.

Dinner is ready! (Watch out for the star anise and remove it, not that pleasant to chomp into)


Monday, April 21, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: # 16 choose the best quality tomato sauce you can find


Most kids love tomato sauce. Well, truth be known it is probably the high amounts of salt and sugar in it that has them hooked. Rather than tell you to stop buying it completely my approach is always to help you make better choices, I want this wholefood thing to feel easy.

The Ingredients

So, when it comes to buying any processed food the first step is to read the ingredients. Don't be lured in by marketing claims on the front sticker with words like 'natural', '50% less salt' and so on, read the actual ingredients and if you see lots of numbers or don't recognise the names of the ingredients, take that as a clear sign to put it back on the shelf and find one that contains only real food.

For example the tomato sauce in the picture above, the ingredients are organic and are listed as follows: tomato paste, vinegar, agave syrup, rice flour, sea salt, pectin, onion powder, garlic, paprika powder.

Agave is something I don't typically use but as tomato sauce is an occasional food for us I looked past it in this case, and onion powder sounds a bit weird and processed but again as our consumption of this is minimal I am not being pedantic.

The Nutrition Info

Once you've read the ingredients, look at the nutrition panel. Reading this info takes a bit of concentration but once you know what you're looking for it becomes quicker. The information contained in the nutrition label is useful for making comparisons between brands, the key is to make sure you are comparing the same quantity in serving sizes.

For example, 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. The sugar content in the sauce pictured is 3.7g per 34g serving. When I compared that to one of the big brands the sugar content in the big brand was 4.4g per 15g serving. So you can see that the big brand sauce contains over double the amount of sugar per serve. You can do the same comparison for salt which is listed as sodium.

The Cost 

The Absolute Organic tomato sauce I purchased cost $5.96 for 340g, compared to $2.96 for 500ml for the big brand. I bought the sauce at a small independent grocer so the prices are higher than if I bought it in a bigger store, and because it costs more it is good incentive to use it sparingly!

Make Your Own

The other option of course, is to make your own then you know exactly what is in it. A quick and easy way, inspired by Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar tomato sauce recipe is to use one can of tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of sweetener of your choice such as rice malt syrup or honey and simmer this over a low heat for about 10 minutes, allow to cool and then blend until smooth. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Last week I had half a jar of tomato paste left over (about 200g) and I added some apple cider vinegar and simmered it, I didn't add any sweetener and I served that on a vegetable pie, my boys loved it.

Tips for reducing the amount of sauce your family eats

If your family is in the habit of eating tomato sauce at most meals and you would like to change that habit, here are a couple of ways you can go about it.

1. You can explain that tomato sauce has a lot of sugar and salt in it and that eating a lot of sugar and salt is not helpful for our bodies to be the best that they can be. Tell your family that as the parent, it is your job to make sure everyone eats great food that helps our bodies be the best that they can be. Then explain that tomato sauce is a sometimes food and they can choose two or three foods that they would like to eat it with.

2. If tomato sauce has become a problem - ie. there are regular tears and tantrums about it - I suggest to stop buying it for a while. If that feels like a bold move and makes you anxious, I understand! Too much sauce hasn't been a problem in my house but other behaviours come up that have to change, and the change has been accompanied by tears. That is all part of the less fun side of parenting! In my experience with this what generally happens is there is a want - ie. tomato sauce, snack before dinner or bed, ice cream, insert your own words -  and if the answer is 'no' and the response is tears, it brings up emotion in me, I have had to learn to just let the emotion wash over me and know it will pass. As we know in parenting, the key to success is making your stand, knowing your decision is for the best and sticking to it. Children let go of emotions very quickly, they move through them (it is we adults that become good at hanging on to our feelings!) We have all witnessed our children go from laughing to crying back to laughing in minutes, you can witness the same response when changing food 'rules'.
They will get over not having sauce on everything and it will give them a chance to experience the real taste of the food, get them excited about making their own!

I hope this is helpful. If you have a friend who may benefit from reading this please share it with them and as always tell us your experiences in the comments.

*Oh and a tip about leaving comments, a few friends have mentioned they haven't a clue how to do it so I thought I'd explain...go to the end of the post and click where you see comments it will either say 'No comments' or have a number ' 2 comments' this will take you to the comment box, enter your comment and then where it says 'comment as' click on the drop down box and if you don't have a Google account just select 'anonymous' (you can type your name at the end of your comment if you want to) then hit publish.

**disclosure - if you buy Sarah's cookbook via the link I get a small commission. While I'm not into an all or nothing approach to sugar, I do have this book and am happy to recommend it for its recipes that are useful when transitioning to a wholefoods way of life.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

weekend reading - happy easter!



So I made Sophie's delicious version of hot cross buns, they turned out to be hot striped buns (piping did not go as planned) yummy anyway, shared with friends in the park with cups of hot chai.
Chai in the park is worth the effort of preparing and putting in a thermos by the way, must take real cups though definitely not the same out of picnic plastic.

I am stuffed with chocolate purely from seeing the endless stream of pictures and recipes on social media at the moment! So let's change the topic...

I really liked Sarah Wilson's post this week - just show up.

I won't be in Melbourne on Saturday June 14th but if I was I'd be buying a ticket to Publish your Passion

Discovering Emily's blog Littlest Lunch this week was a plus, I love her philosophy -
'Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can'. Amen to that.

My husband Pete has been working on a project with Indigenous Elders for the past two years, the culmination of the work was released this week 'The Elders' Report into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm and Youth Suicide' the launch of the report has been widely covered in the media. To read more about this and to support the campaign for Elders to lead the healing in their communities please take a moment to sign the petition at www.bepartofthehealing.org

You can watch an interview about the report on SBS world news here

If you are on the Mornington Peninsula on Tuesday 29th of April and want to join me for a
Wholefood Mama workshop at Sorrento Community Centre I'd love to see you!
We'll talk about making over your pantry, dealing with fussy eaters, saving time and money and of course eat some yummy food and share recipes.
9.30am-11.30am Cost: $35.00 For bookings phone: 5984 3360

Make the biggest pot of tea you can and settle in to read through Kidspot's Top 30 food and wellness bloggers...

Happy Easter everyone x

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ask the expert: do kids need vitamin supplements?




With so many self-proclaimed experts and authorities on the internet I came up with the idea for an occasional series where I ask an actual expert (ie. someone with tertiary qualifications and experience as a practitioner) a question about nutrition or health and wellness.

Thankyou Georgia Harding, naturopath and blogger at Well Nourished for agreeing to answer:

Do kids need to take vitamins and mineral supplements or any other regular supplement?  

Over to Georgia...

This is a question I'm frequently asked and the answer is yes… no… maybe… sometimes!  Let me explain.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine said 'let food be thy medicine' - this is a wisdom I value greatly and the very reason I started Well Nourished and not an online supplement company (though I'm sure the supplement business is way more lucrative)! 

The 'cover all bases' multivitamin

There are no short cuts when it comes to health.  Therefore I believe that your time, energy and focus needs to be firmly grounded in making every mouthful count with whole, nourishing foods.  No supplement can replicate the life force and balanced nutrition in real food.

However, I'm a realist and I understand that for many reasons, sometimes things go a little pear shaped and some not-so-nourishing foods are handed out to 'fill a gap.'  A good quality multivitamin may be something you'd like to consider on these days. I see it as a bit of an insurance policy, offering perhaps a little protection (but that's your call).  Practitioner only products from your naturopath are best.  Other brands I'd consider are Blackmores or Swisse kids multis.  The 'lolly' or gummy bear type supplements I've looked at so far are a complete waste of money.

Supplement to correct deficiency ?

I'm a naturopath and well versed in the art of supplementation.  Supplementation for frank deficiency is important and necessary to avert or treat disease and disorder.  For example if a child has a blood test and is found to be suffering iron deficiency anaemia, then iron supplementation will be necessary for a period of time.

However, it is important to understand that there is ALWAYS an underlying cause that predisposed the child to any deficiency and this needs to be identified and corrected (whilst supplementing).  It may be dietary or it maybe something else like poor digestive function.  It is NEVER enough to simply supplement in the hope that the cause will correct itself. 

Also a word about iron - a lot of parents give their kids iron to 'pep' them up.  Iron supplements should ONLY be given if a blood test confirms deficiency.  Excess amounts of supplemental iron is very toxic.

You are what you eat, but also what you absorb.

One of the most common underlying causes of nutritional deficiency in children is poor absorption and assimilation of nutrients.  If you suspect that your child's digestion is below par, if they have taken antibiotics or other medications including pain relief in their lifetime, if they suffer with allergies or they aren't eating a nourishing whole foods diet, then a regular probiotic supplement can also be enormously helpful.  Practitioner only probiotics or Inner Health are your best bet.  All probiotics (at least the good ones, need refrigeration).  Of course consuming daily serves of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, natural full fat yogurt or labne are wonderful ways to maintain your child's important gut flora too.

Disclaimer - Please always seek the advice of your health care professional before supplementing.

Do visit Georgia's site if you haven't already, it is full of wonderful recipes and health tips and for serious lunchbox inspiration her facebook page is the place to look. Thanks Georgia!

Was this helpful? Tell us about your experiences with children and supplements. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: # 15 eat more veggies


Before we get on to kids eating veggies let's take a look at how many veggies you eat each day.
Yes you! (And me!) Our actions speak volumes beyond our words, it is important that our kids see us eating vegetables throughout the day, most of us could do with including vegetables in all our meals and snacks instead of just saving them for dinnertime.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recommended minimum daily intake of vegetables for adults is 5 serves: one serve equals half a cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad.

The recommended amounts for children varies depending on age but in general terms for toddlers 2.5 serves, pre-schoolers 4.5 serves and then from age 9 onwards, five serves.

If you are looking at these figures thinking your family's intake needs to increase, below are some suggestions for ways to get more veggies in.

The main thing to remember is not to get too hung up on whether your kids eat a specific vegetable or not and to just keep presenting vegetables to them in different ways, steamed, mashed, baked, in curries, casseroles, pasta sauce and so on. Encourage your children to at the very least taste vegetables, tell them they don't have to eat the whole thing but you do expect them to taste them.

11 ways to get more veggies in 

 - Break the cereal or toast habit at breakfast and instead start the day with a handful of spinach in a green smoothie or in scrambled eggs, alongside the eggs add a serve of cooked tomato and mushrooms or some avocado.

- Have a breakfast salad of lettuce or spinach, grated carrot, beetroot, capsicum, whatever veggies you have on hand add in a boiled egg or two and your favorite dressing.

- Soup is also a great way to start the day especially with the weather cooling here in Victoria.

- Zucchini slice is popular with most kids and is perfect for breakfast.

- Salads and/or soups are the way to go at lunchtime, the combinations are endless!...try my quick lunch salad or Robin's quinoa, roasted veggie, marinated chickpea and fetta salad.

Mid morning or afternoon snacks:

- carrot and celery sticks with home made hoummos, tzatziki or avocado dip.

- Veggie sticks and a handful of nuts

- Savoury muffin with lots of veggies grated in

- a cup of minestrone

Dinner

- grate vegetables into every dish you possibly can: home made hamburgers, spaghetti bolognese, curries, casseroles, lasagne, tacos, all of these dishes are great opportunities to sneak more veggies in. Having said that, I don't believe that vegetables should always be hidden, children need to see veggies in various forms and encouraged to try them.

- I serve a salad plate of veggie sticks, avocado, cherry tomatoes, whatever is in season, before dinner when my boys start telling me they are hungry. Part of the key to children eating vegetables is they must have an appetite, so when they tell you they are hungry before dinner if it is still a while away put together a salad plate and let them eat that instead of filling up on processed snacks or carbs.

The other keys to veggie success is of course to make sure your fridge is well stocked with a seasonal variety, having easy access to them means you will eat them! My friend Anthea washes and chops veggies into sticks and keeps them in a container of water in her fridge so her boys can easily snack on them.

You'll find plenty more inspiration over at Veggie Mama, and at Veggie Smugglers and I highly recommend reading French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon.

And if you really want to dive in, sign up for Heather's 30 day vegan course.

Where are you at with veggies? What would you add to this list?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

stills collection

























































1. School holiday adventure to Melbourne, highlight for River and Sol = going on the tram for the first time.

2. As if we hadn't had enough water with all the rain, the water wall at the National Gallery is always fun.

3. Oh my lovely mother-in-law and her sweet tooth, she does make me smile. On our trip to Melbourne Pepe as she is known, took the boys and I out for breakfast. Banana pancakes with maple syrup and Persian fairy floss are her number one pick at Ernest V (432 Glenhuntly Road Elsternwick).

4. Journal Cafe one of my old Melbourne faves.

5. Was so happy to finally get to my friend Mel's beautiful flower shop, Cecilia Fox (221b Blyth Street Brunswick).

6. Back at home, the last tomatoes of the season from our garden along with parsley and chilli that went into risotto. I only make risotto a few times a year and love it every time.

7. A lot of flowers here today, they are my other love aside from wholefood. This little teapot filled with flowers is bringing me joy on my kitchen windowsill. It's the simple things that matter!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

weekend reading



Although this list didn't quite make it up on Friday as per usual it is still the weekend and hopefully you will have a moment or two on Sunday to read through these links...

If you are in the mood for cake, Jude's walnut and yoghurt one sounds delish.

Take a look at Wholefood Hub's Easter packs for making your own raw chocolates this Easter.

We can always count on Sonia to have holiday cooking covered, here's her comprehensive guide to hot cross bun recipes. Thanks Sonia! And I'll add my spelt hot cross bun recipe here.

Off Easter for a moment, this list of 10 ways to heal a leaky gut is worth a read.

I flicked through My Darling Lemon Thyme the cookbook in my local newsagent this week it looks fantastic can't wait to buy one (like I need another cookbook!)

Simply Wholefoods is a new discovery for me I thought you might like it too.

Thinking of Kellie this weekend as she is at the waiting stage for baby number 2 to arrive. She could be in labour now! Blessings on a beautiful birth xx

I thought this post 'Rainy day activities to keep you sane' might come in handy next week if the weather is anything like this week was.

I hope you are enjoying the school holiday weekend. See you back here next week xx

Thursday, April 10, 2014

thursday recipe: back-to-basics fritatta



Sometimes, you just have to cook what you want to eat even when you know your kids aren't going to eat it. I broke my own 'I only cook one meal at dinner' rule. There was a bunch of kale in the fridge starting to look a bit wilty and a dozen eggs, the perfect beginning of a frittata that I knew my boys wouldn't really love and I didn't have the energy to do any convincing. So I set out black olives, boiled eggs, cucumber and capsicum sticks for River and Sol and if they got through that there were nori rolls with avocado coming their way. In the end everyone was fed. Vegetables were eaten. Nothing was wasted. And money was saved by not going out to buy more ingredients to cook something different.

Do you cook frittata? If you haven't before it is so simple and a great way to use up veggies, I make a simple one with baby spinach and fetta River and Sol are happy to eat it, this version was made with the following:

1 small bunch of kale roughly chopped
2 spring onions chopped
a handful of cherry tomatoes halved
a few tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped parsley
6 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Combine veggies and herbs in a bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and add in the cheese.
Heat a fry pan and add a knob of butter, stir fry the vegetables in the butter for 2 minutes then pour in the egg and cheese mixture.
Cook over a low heat until the frittata is starting to set, to finish either bake in the oven for 5 - 8 minutes or place under a grill to finish cooking and brown the top.

Serve with a salad and you have a quick nourishing meal.

For more fritatta inspiration see:

Stonesoup

The Kitchn

Allrecipes

What's your favorite combo in a fritatta?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

soul food: on vulnerability



Two years ago I had a mentoring session with wonderful woman Samantha Gowing and yes we talked vision and strategy but it was the clanger that Sam dropped in my lap, that I wasn't expecting that rang in my ears and in my being for days...and still does.

Going into the session I knew if I was to get the most out of it, I had to be brutally honest and share what I was scared to share and face up to what I had to do differently to get the results I wanted. In short, I had to render myself vulnerable which is not something I do easily (does anyone?) I have at times in my life been a slave to perfectionism and to being overly independent: "I must do it all perfectly and do it all by myself" which ironically is something that my dear mum modelled to me and really I should have been able to see very clearly that it made her life harder.

In my mind, to ask for help means I have failed, means I am not good enough; in being perfect I prove my worthiness. When in reality I know I am perfectly imperfect but that is the trickery of the mind isn't it?!

I'm sharing this with you today for two reasons: the first one is a selfish reason I am working on changing my ways and what better place to practice than on the internet! And on a less selfish note I'm fairly sure I'm not alone on this one and figure sharing my experience and thoughts on this might be helpful to someone else.

So on we go. Even though my style is boho and my plate runneth over with lentils: I am in truth intensely ambitious. I want to be my best, I want to do more, achieve more, deliver more. I question this sometimes. Is it that I am trying to prove something, and who to? Or is it that I just want to live my life to its fullest capacity and not let a moment glide by?

In my session with Sam I took a deep breath and told her the number one thing I wanted to change: my tendency to play small. In essence my tendency, to hide. And then in bright flashing lights Sam beamed back to me, "You are modelling this to your children." OMG! moment. I had never for a second considered that.

I read once that we need a reason bigger than ourselves to change. My children are my reason.

What do I mean by playing small? I mean holding back, not revealing my truth because that would render me vulnerable and that is not something I want to be. This habit started young for me, growing up in a single parent family as the oldest child I took on the role of making life easy for others, even if it meant putting my dreams and desires on hold or to the side. It's not my intention to sound like a martyr or sound woe is me, I am just sharing where I noticed the pattern began. Without awareness there can be no change. This habit continued for me into my adult life and career.

Here I am a few months off turning 40 and it is time to come out of hiding, stop playing small and to live more truthfully by rendering myself vulnerable to rejection and criticism yes, but the flip-side of that is rendering myself more open to joy and success.

So, how to make the change? Well I have grappled with this over the last two years because playing small had become such an ingrained habit that I haven't really known how to change it.

But now I do. The answer my friends is to be honest, in every moment. To be quiet and listen and trust the voice within you that whispers quietly until you hear it loudly guiding you in every moment, it wants to be heard and more than that it wants to be revealed. Voicing your needs, dreams and desires and having them met does not mean that someone else misses out and suffers. We do no one any favours hiding our authentic selves, least our children.

Thank you Sam for shining a light on this for me x

If you relate to what I have written here take a look at Brene Brown's TED talks The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.

Can you relate to this? I'd love you to share your stories in the comments.

Monday, April 07, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #14 keep food guilt in check



With the school holidays and Easter upon us I thought it was timely to write about this topic. Today I am delving into the emotional heart of wholefood living because there's a whole lot more to this than what's on your shopping list. Warning, I delve deep!

In an ideal world, guilt, blame and shame would in no way be part of anyone's relationship with food but the reality is that these emotions around food are common for lots of people. Especially I would say, people who are either wanting to or are in the process of transitioning to a wholefood way of eating. Because you see, it can very much be a two steps forward one step back experience as you learn new recipes, new places to buy food, better ways to be organised and so on. There will be some days where you will revert back to old 'comfort' foods or as is the case with school holidays and Easter there will be so many 'opportunities' to eat less nourishing foods that it can potentially feel overwhelming and like you have somehow failed if fish and chips, ice creams and chocolate eggs are eaten. Hello guilt, blame, shame.

Send those emotions packing I say. Progress not perfection is our mantra here.

On the school holidays I maintain our wholefood way at home and do my best when we go out, by taking food with me, sharing a wholefood picnic with friends that sort of thing. However, when the times arise that my boys eat 'junk' food most likely in the form of hot chips, a treat from their grandparents, Easter eggs, an ice cream with friends I don't get hung up about it and if I feel like eating some of that sort of food too I join them!

I am very mindful of the range of emotional aspects of eating because I spent twenty years of my life with an exceptionally poor body image - including much of my childhood - self-loathing at times for my poor food choices was chronic and unrelenting. I am beyond grateful to have moved through that (by doing lots of emotional healing work) and I wish that no one else ever had to feel that way - especially children.

If you are still carrying around negative emotions and thoughts about food and your relationship with it from your childhood and you are now a parent, it really is time to work on letting them go because consciously or unconsciously you can be sharing them with your children. I warned you I was delving deep!

This holidays keep things in perspective, certainly make your offerings to your children nutritious and delicious and fun but if things veer off track here and there be kind to yourself and know that you will get back on track soon and over the years you will naturally veer off less and less.

Alexx Stuart posted this sweet reminder on this topic on her facebook page.

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comments I'd love to hear them and your story may just be the inspiration someone else needs.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

stills collection






                                                           (Joining in with Beetleshack Em)                                                                                                           

1. Even the sewing box looks like an artwork in afternoon light.

2. This is our family jobs chart, instead of just having the children's names on it we all add our initial after we complete a job. My thinking behind it is to show that we all contribute to the house (Sol is still to get into the swing of this and River on the other hand LOVES seeing his initial up there so it is a big motivator I am hoping it still works when he is 16).

3. Loving that we are still getting some beach days. Sol put his sweet little arm around my neck and said "Take a photo of us mum" quite happy and relieved that 'selfie' is not yet part of his vocab.

4. Sol has found a new use for food colouring: paint. I keep some for colouring playdough. He spent three hours throughout the course of the day mixing paint and adding to his masterpiece "It's for River". Beautiful to see.

5. And River, our guitar man trying out his big cousin's guitar. He has been cracking me up each week when I ask "how was your guitar lesson?" "Good! I'm learning a song, it's called something like Hotel California". And the next week, "Yeah it was a good lesson, this week I think the song is called something like Smoke on the Water". Stares at me in amazement when I tell him I know the songs. I love being a parent.

No food pics here in this post sorry about that! Save your appetite for next week :)

Friday, April 04, 2014

weekend reading



Have you seen The Raw Food Family? Wow. 5 kids! Even if you're not 100% raw foodie like I'm not their yummy recipes and inspiring passion are worth clicking over to see.

Look at Virginia's veggie garden! You'll be green with envy.

I love the sound of Heather's 30 Days Vegan online course. If you sign up before April 6 you can bring a friend for free.

Erin is giving away a place in her online photography course. I've entered and am hoping to win but you can enter too :)

Hands up who'd like a slice of chilled chocolate espresso torte with hazelnut crust?

Are you loving Lola Berry's new book?

I'm not convinced about muffins masquerading as hot cross buns but they do sound like good muffins! And great alternatives for those who can't stomach regular hot X buns. Good on you ladies for coming up with these, see Bianca's Slap Dash Hot Cross Buns and Georgia's Hot Cross Buffins

And for a laugh, read Joy the Bakers post How to be the best food blogger of all. Funny!

Next week, another step in wholefood step-by-step, a little bit of soul food for mamas, and a great guest post from Georgia about whether or not to give children vitamin supplements.

Happy weekend everyone and start of the school holidays. I'm looking forward to baking hot cross buns with River and Sol in a couple of weeks and no doubt they are looking forward to chocolate!

Happy wholefood cooking! x

Thursday, April 03, 2014

thursday recipe: sweet and crunchy parsley, apple, capsicum salad




This salad is a classic example of my commitment to using what's in the fridge and garden to create a meal rather than heading out to buy something more or different.

We had this for a beautiful lunch last Sunday with dahl, rice, tuna and black olives. Weird sounding combo I know but that's what we had on hand so that's what we ate. In our kitchen there are two main aims: to eat really well and to waste nothing.

The salad though was so sweet, crunchy and scrumptious I wanted to share it with you.

It is super simple.

I plucked a big handful of parsley from the garden, it is nice to use herbs as a feature in a salad from time to time rather than just as a smattering or garnish. And I also like making salads where leaves aren't the dominant ingredient.

Ingredients + method

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/2 crisp capsicum (must be a fresh one, soggy won't do)
royal gala apple skin on, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
splash of apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy alongside your favorite meal. If you'd like to make dahl you can find my recipe here.

Happy cooking x

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #13 upgrade your chocolate fix



Tough step I know. The problem with the majority of commercial chocolate is that it is...you guessed it, highly processed and can contain unhealthy ingredients like huge amounts of refined cane sugar, hydrogenated fats and palm oil.

And as you know, processing strips ingredients, such as the cocoa bean, of any natural, nourishing qualities they may have began with and the end result is a product rather than a food. A product that can be marketed and lots of sales and advertising dollars made, meanwhile what's sold is actually really bad for human health. I'm sounding cynical now. Sorry about that! Back on track.

The story of chocolate begins with the cocoa bean. In its natural state the cocoa bean is a bitter little pill to swallow so, it is fermented, then roasted, then ground into cocoa mass which is further processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter before being mixed with sweetener and fat to create chocolate in the form you know and love.

Tips for buying wholefood chocolate

* Go for dark or raw
Dark and raw chocolate contain the highest percentage of cocoa compared to milk or white chocolate, it is the cocoa that holds health benefits such as flavonoids that fight free radicals. Studies have shown that eating a few squares of dark chocolate a week as part of a healthy diet can be beneficial to heart health plus it can keep you happy by stimulating the production of endorphins which are 'happy' hormones.  

Raw cacao, as the name suggests is made from cocoa beans that are cold pressed therefore their nourishing properties remain in tact. In addition, raw chocolate is made with few ingredients all of which have nourishing properties, typically cacao, cacoa butter and wholefood sweetener. To read more about raw cacao and its health benefits head over to this post on Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar site.

Loving Earth is my fave raw chocolate range, notice I said range! I can't really decide which one I like most. Having said that, I'm not a huge fan of raw chocolate it doesn't satisfy in the way dark does.

* Avoid soy lecithin
What on earth is soy lecithin anyway? It is a highly processed ingredient derived from soybeans so part of the problem with it is the likelihood of it being made from genetically modified soy. And what is it doing in chocolate? (and in soooo many other processed foods) it serves as an emulsifier in chocolate, an emulsifier helps oil/fat and water bind together to become the smooth and velvety texture we so love about chocolate. Alexx Stuart posted about this on her facebook page and nominates Alter Eco 85% as her soy lecithin free choc of choice.

* Avoid palm oil and hydrogenated fats
These ingredients are used in some chocolates because they cost less than cocoa butter.

Palm oil is problematic for a number of environmental and humanitarian reasons including deforestation and Indigenous rights abuses. For a detailed explanation of the palm oil industry and its associated problems go here. As is the case with soy lecithin, palm oil is a very sneaky little ingredient included in many different food stuffs so do check those labels.

Hydrogenated fats are bad news because they have been heated and processed and are essentially damaged, digesting these is in no way good for you.

For some chocolate coated fun try Michelle's ice magic or Nicola's raw chocolate hearts and if you need more then I think Sarah Wilson's IQS chocolate cookbook is the one for you.

And for those of you whose chocolate obsession is out of hand I have a post brewing especially for you. More soon!

Do you love chocolate? What is your favorite brand or wholefood choc inspired recipe? Tell us in the comments.
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