Monday, March 25, 2013

roll with it

I couldn't leave without saying goodbye. No it's not forever, just a week. We are heading up the coast to spend Easter with friends on their beautiful property complete with rolling hills and sparkling river.

So I am taking a break from the online world to immerse myself in real life. And I am 'rolling with' the spontaneous nature of this trip and having to change plans for writing posts this week.

Along with the tent and other camping gear I have packed ingredients to make hot cross buns with our friends. If you have never baked your own hot cross buns give it a go this year, go here for my favorite recipe. Wishing you all a wonderful Easter time, whatever it means to you and however you spend it - enjoy! xx

Friday, March 22, 2013

autumn friday

just picked greens at wholefoods cooking class hosted by Sorrento Cooking School

Eating well when you're traveling is an art in itself, for some fabulous and delicious inspiration and recipes take a look at Sarah Britton's recipes and tips for healthy travel

Looking for some natural sweetness? Check out the uber post of raw sweet treat recipes over on Michelle Schoeps Organic

Some of you may already have heard of Sandra Reynold's book 'The $120 Food Challenge' I took a look at her blog for the first time this week and think this how-to post is excellent, it details the steps to take to start feeding your family for $120 per week.

Continuing on the meal planning theme, I had the pleasure of finding Kasie's blog A Collection of Passions this week via a comment Kasie left on Jay's blog. Kasie has in incredible detail come up with a series of posts about how she plans meals for her family on a monthly basis. I was going to keep Kasie's blog a secret for a while because she has written about an excellent book that I too have almost finished reading and will post about in the next couple of weeks. The book is 'French Kids Eat Everything' I have found it to be fascinating reading. But more about that later.

Many of you enjoyed Robin's story last week about cereal wars, read about her thoughts on that other great meal time divider...tomato sauce.

Lucky me, I'm heading out for dinner tonight as a guest of Cafe Vue at Heide. Not only am I looking forward to the menu but also learning more about the life and art of Australian visual artist Fiona Hall who will be in attendance to talk about her upcoming exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art.

And now, for some sweet sweet on over to view 'Pot of Honey' performed by the fine vocalist and guitar man Scott Collins and filmed by his equally talented and lovely lady Jay Black. 

What do you have planned for the weekend? Something delicious and wonderful I hope! x

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

this week in my wholefood kitchen

"I love chicken soup" came the cry from Sol this morning when I placed a bowl before him to eat for breakfast. He devoured every last drop and then announced with a mixture of pride and surprise "I love carrots now!" Ordinarily he would do his best to drink the broth and leave the carrot in the bowl. Not an easy task.

The chicken soup for breakfast was for River's benefit as he is fending off a change of season cold. I didn't manage to whip the camera out this morning to photograph the soup but as you can see there are a series of photos above that I am hoping will give you a couple of inspired ideas for simple yet delicious real food options to enjoy with your family.

My whole aim with keeping this blog is to celebrate wholefood and show that eating well is easy with a little planning. Posting recipes regularly though is not my strong point. It occurred to me though that even just a series of photos or a list of meal and snack ideas can be enough to help when inspiration is low.

Sunday night we were very lucky to have calamari, mashed potato and ratatouille. I say very lucky because the calamari was fresh, Pete caught it in the bay. I sliced it into strips rolled it in flour and cooked it in butter. Pete made the ratatouille with eggplants and onions from our local farm and tomatoes and herbs from our garden. The calamari, mash and ratatouille was a memorable combination. I didn't photograph that meal either but wanted to share the idea.

Now, on to the photos.

1. Rice noodle salad. This was a classic case of "I have no idea what we are going to have for dinner tonight but whatever we're having, I am making it with ingredients we have". And those ingredients were: rice paper noodles, avocado, cherry tomatoes, mixed lettuce leaves, carrots cut into small dice, basil from garden, tuna and olives. Dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. The dressing might sound a little curious but as I said I was going with what was on hand and that was the combination I felt like, you could definitely be more adventurous.

2. Classic anzac biscuits. I made these as part of a meal hamper I put together for a school mama and her family, the mama has recently given birth to a beautiful little girl her third baby and I wholeheartedly believe in cooking for new mamas. In fact, any reason I can find to cook for people I'll take. New baby, moving house, sick children, sick dog. You get the picture. The joy for me yes is in the cooking but also the giving, I love giving presents and in this case it is more than the food it is the gift of time, the gift of not having to wash pots and pans. 

Speaking of giving, my friend Robin heard River was not well and messaged me offering to drop in carrots, celery, onions and thyme from her farm so I could make broth. I just love how we mamas find ways to support each other and how once we are on a wholefood path we connect with wholefood friends who know and value all the riches real food have to offer.

3. Spinach and fetta pie. Along with a garden salad, the pie was the main part of the new mama hamper. When I delivered it to my friend at school pick up she said, "It has been so nice today not having to think about what to cook for dinner." The thinking and deciding is often the hardest part!

4. This pretty as a flower squash arrived home with Pete from a friend's veggie garden. The basil leaves are from our garden and were waiting to be added to a salad.

5. We are about to harvest our remaining cherry tomatoes for this season. I love the process of growing vegetables of being as excited as a child, to see the tiny signs of first fruits appearing on the bush and then when the first fruit begin to ripen and then moving (hopefully) into an abundant crop where you can hardly bear to look at another tomato, and then tapering off to see the crop finish and savouring the last fruits as at the beginning of the cycle, as if they were gold. If you never grow food, you can never know the feeling of witnessing this cycle up close...back to the salad pictured...cherry tomatoes from our garden were halved and tossed into a bowl of mixed lettuce leaves, along with avocado, garlic chives, spring onions, red capsicum, green capsicum, and snow peas. It was a delicious salad that we enjoyed with organic beef schnitzel from Cherry Tree Organics.

The rest of the week will see more chicken soup, a spinach pie for us, whiting and salad and perhaps some dahl.

What's happening in your kitchen?

Friday, March 15, 2013

friday links

(in our garden)

It's been on my mind to write a post about filtered water. We have a Nikken Pi Mag filter at home and I love drinking our filtered water (and am amazed at how brown the filter becomes). Vanessa over at Slow Heart Sing has written a great post about drinking filtered water. Saves me writing one :)

If you are looking to discover blogs to fall in love with, you'll find a long list of nominees at Village Voices, Voices of 2013 for your favorites!

Find some stress-free, healthy birthday party tips in Sonia's series at Natural New Age Mum (thanks Sonia for the mention :)

Today is Sustainable Seafood Day, here are a couple of seafood friendly posts written by Melbourne food writer Hilary McNevin:

Hilary blogs at Food With Thought, I found Hilary's fabulous fish cooking chart  , it details sustainable fish and best ways to cook them. Fab!

Also on Hilary's blog - open and shut case

**update...unfortunately the Paleo link has been taken down which is a shame because it made some interesting points but perhaps it was attracting unwanted attention! I'm definitely not one for diet fads and this link probably won't appeal to Paleo fans but I found this post The Ugly Truth about Paleo a very interesting read. In my view, there is no one size fits all way to nourish ourselves, being highly restrictive may have some short term benefits but perhaps not the best for long-term health.

I'm looking forward to making pizzas with River and Sol tonight, having our little friend Rosie over for a sleepover and heading to the Emu Plains market tomorrow. Sunday we're off to a family birthday celebration (Happy Birthday Angus! Hi mama Sheri). I hope you have a fun weekend planned. As always thanks for reading and happy wholefood cooking xx

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

cereal wars

What is it with kids and packaged breakfast cereal?! One taste and they're hooked. Yes it is the sugar and salt. And the marketing. Mamas want their children to actually eat something in the morning, especially before they go to school so for many families they start their day with packaged cereal mainly because it is quick and children will eat it. But as we know, filling up on empty calories is not ideal for growing and learning. There must be another way.

My creative wholefood mama friend Robin emailed me her inspiring and creative approach to steering her school age children, Maya and Rye, to eating a nutritious wholefood breakfast I loved the story so much I asked Robin if I could share it here.

Robin writes:

"As far as my children’s eating goes, breakfast is one meal I feel is not as wholesome as it could be. I make my own muesli, but my husband prefers a packaged cereal which is predominately wheat based. 
I have been struggling with breakfast as there is “dad’s cereal” in the cupboard next to “mom’s” cereal and “dad’s” cereal keeps winning…hands down.

I thought about how I could try and persuade my children to eat something more wholesome for breakfast. Sure, we have egg morning, but on cereal morning, they kept going for “dad’s” cereal.

So about a week ago, I told them that they could make their own muesli. “Make our own muesli? What’s that mum?” 

“Well”, I explained, “I will take a bunch of jars from the pantry and you will choose what you want in your muesli, measure it, mix it and then jar it in your own jar.” 

The idea sat in their heads for a whole week until I started pulling jars from the pantry to make muesli bars for their lunch boxes. 

“Oh, mum. Are we going to make our own muesli now?” 

I was so happy- They had caught on to the idea of making their own personalised breakfast cereal.

On the day of the making, when Maya was almost done mixing she said “Ohhh mum, this looks so good.”

And about one hour after Rye bottled his, he came over and asked if he could eat some of his muesli now, “Just to make sure it is good for breakfast.”

SUCCESS!!! I sure hope so. I told them that they did have to finish what was in the jar that they made but if they did not like it, we could modify it for the next time. ”You could toast it, add more cinnamon, put more fruit in, more nuts, less of something you did not like.”

They both measured and wrote down their recipe so that they could remember what they put in the first go and then modify. Maybe we are on to something good! 

I personally believe that with all those jars open, their little bodies will tell them what they need to eat. And they were all great options! 

Here is the list…

Rolled Oats
Rice Puffs
Quinoa Puffs
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Flax Seeds
Oat Bran
Wheat Bran Sticks
Dried Figs
Dried Apricots
Goji Berries
Dried Cranberries

Parenting is a tight rope act…when is authoritative parenting the “right” answer, when are self-made choices the “best"? I really have no answer. But I am hoping that they will be excited for breakfast tomorrow because they made it, they chose what was in it, and because they can modify it. 

I really trust in their young intuition, their bodies, given the opportunity really will tell them what they need to be eating. And because I trust in that, I am happy to continually give them the space to modify.

When breakfast time came they both took the lids off their jars and smelled their muesli first.
"Oh Mama, smell mine!" "And Mine!!"

Thank you Robin for sharing your story so honestly. It is an inspiring read that shows how encouraging our children to eat well can be fun.

What's happening at the breakfast table in your house readers? Tell us your favorite breakfasts. 
Do you make your own muesli?

Monday, March 11, 2013

ginger chicken and quinoa salad

We're having an endless summer here in Victoria. Personally I'm quite happy if these hot days last til about oh June! Although, I'm convinced that our beach days are courtesy of climate change and global warming which is not a good thing.

I began this dish marinating the chicken and having no real idea of what I was going to do with it. My husband Pete has a theory "that whatever ingredients are in the fridge want to go in a dish together".
I have to admit, it has taken me a while to believe in Pete's theory but for the most part he is right and this salad is a good example. His theory is firmly based in not wasting a single morsel of food. In our house we love the challenge of coming up with a meal based on a few ingredients that need to eaten rather than buying more food because we don't feel like eating what's there and then seeing food go to waste. The meal is always more satisfying when I know we have made great use of what we have.

For instance there was cooked quinoa in the fridge and plenty of crisp delicious veggies, given the hot weather salad made sense. When it came time to dress the salad I was pondering whether it actually even needed a dressing Pete asked, "Is there any of the yoghurt dip left?" There were about 2 tablespoons leftover from an afternoon snack "Mix it in. It'll be great!" said Pete. He was right.

Ginger chicken and quinoa salad

250 grams organic chicken breast fillets sliced into bite size pieces. (slice long narrow pieces rather than in cubes or chunks)

For the marinade
2-3 cm piece ginger finely grated (depending on how strong you like the ginger flavor)
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp braggs (or tamari)
1 tbsp sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken. Put back in the fridge, for a minimum of an hour or you can prepare the day before you want to use and leave it in overnight.

Melt a knob of butter in a wok and cook chicken quickly over a high heat. Set aside to cool.

For the salad
Use whatever salad ingredients you have on hand and if you don't have quinoa, you could leave it out or substitute with rice or pasta.

12 cherry tomatoes, halved
garden herbs (I used garlic chives and basil)
1 cup sprouts (I used alfalfa and fenugreek)
1/2 red capsicum, sliced finely and chopped into 2 cm sticks
1 small carrot, julienned
1/2 small iceberg or cos lettuce finely sliced
a handful of rocket leaves
2 cups cooked quinoa

2 tbsp natural yoghurt or tzatziki

Combine all ingredients in salad bowl and toss.

We enjoyed this for a beach picnic dinner. I have to admit River and Sol aren't up to eating salads like this, I cut up veggie sticks and they eat those. While we're on the topic of children eating veggies, salad wraps have been a big hit here recently. I lay out the veggie sticks, some mashed avocado in a bowl and chicken, fish or tofu, alongside the wraps and the boys have fun making their own wrap. You could set some of the chicken aside in this recipe or marinate extra so your children can make chicken and salad wraps.

Where are you at with children eating veggies? Any favorite salad combos?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

sunday's harvest

thank you to my anonymous friend for sharing this photo of her delicious homegrown harvest

I'm reading 'Sunday's Kitchen - Food & Living at Heide' by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan. I am savouring every word, photograph, painting and recipe, feeling completely inspired to tend to our humble kitchen garden with even one ounce of the passion shown by Sunday Reed to her garden.

On page 107 of Harding and Morgan's book:

'I love my kitchen garden so much and I wonder sometimes if you relate me to it and can imagine me working in is true that all these flowers and herbs and veges and roses are my closest friends.' Sunday Reed to Jean Langley 1974

For those not familiar with Sunday Reed's story, Sunday was born into the Baillieu family, a Melbourne establishment family (Sunday was former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu's aunt), together with her husband John the couple supported a number of emerging Australian artists of their time including Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, Albert Tucker and Charles Blackman.  

In 1934 the Reeds bought a run-down dairy farm in Heidelberg with view to living a simple and self-sufficient life. Sunday's flourishing kitchen garden and the vibrant artistic community that gathered at the Reeds table and to stay in their home has been written about in many articles, books and journals. The property became affectionately known as Heide.

In 1981 Heide became a public museum when Heide Park and Art Gallery was opened and remains a popular destination for nature and art lovers today.

The beautiful harvest in the basket on today's post was grown by a wholefood mama friend (who is remaining anonymous by choice :), my friend emailed me the photo as I was reading the book about Sunday's kitchen garden. And this sparked an idea to invite you lovely readers who grow food to share your harvest photos here and if you are inspired to, share some growing tips, the story of your garden and a harvest recipe.

Silent Sunday will continue alternating perhaps with Sunday's Harvest.

What do you think? Share your harvest photos and story and inspire others to grow some of their food. If you want to take part email me at

Friday, March 08, 2013

friday heatwave

If like my friend Lucy you have been wondering about the lack of posts here this week (thanks Luce for checking in :)...being anaemic and having a few writing deadlines plus the usual family duties has slowed me down on the blog this week.

I'm taking Chinese herbs, drinking nettle tea, beetroot juice, chlorophyll...progress is slow but it is working! I am looking forward to having lots of energy again really soon to post all the posts I write in my head each day.

I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a productivity junkie this post by Pink Ronnie on how she manages her time made me gasp. I had to read it twice. Wow.

I love the ritual of my morning coffee, even though I can feel that for me the caffeine doesn't do great things for my nervous system (or my anaemia!). Read this from naturopath Saimaa Miller...The Truth About That Cup of Coffee

I'm not into the whole app thing but if you are here's one with lunchbox recipes that are all gluten free

Here are three easy tips from Shalom Mama to get you started on the wholefood path.

Speaking of starting out on the wholefood path I have a series planned specifically for readers who want to make changes to what their family is eating but don't know where to start or how to handle resistance from fussy eaters (children or husbands!) My aim is to make eating well easy and fun. I look forward to getting started with this very soon.

We are loving the beach days here and are looking forward to this Labor Day long weekend.
Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are in the world, autumn or spring. xx

Monday, March 04, 2013

wholefood mama: Catherine

I hope you are enjoying meeting wholefood mamas in this series as much as I am. Today it is a pleasure to share this interview with blogger and wholefood mama Catherine who blogs at A Time To Create. I love Catherine's gentle and honest way on her blog, her beautiful photos and her talent for crafting beautiful handmade gifts. One of the first things that drew me into Catherine's blog was that she puts her goals for the year right there on the sidebar for all to see, brave lady! 

Now, make yourself a cup of tea and settle in to read Catherine's wholefood story and enjoy her beautiful photos. Thank you Catherine for taking part in this and inspiring mamas on their wholefood path xx

A little bit about Catherine:

"I lead a simple life with my husband and two daughters age 13 and 8 years old and our cute little dog Molly in our little renovated Queenslander. My working life started out in the classroom teaching both in child care and in schools. Perhaps in time I may return but for now I'm embracing how my life has evolved to encompass different creative pursuits. My days are spent caring for my family, cooking, gardening with a goal to be more productive, creating gifts with my hands and my most recent passion photography which I hope to develop more."

1. How did you become interested in wholefood cooking? 
I think my interest in whole food cooking started with Meagan's blog This Whole Family.  It was through her posts that she opened up a whole new world for me such as fair trade, organic, environmental and ethical issues and also whole food.  It was also through Meagan's blog that I first learn about Heather.  I frequented her blog often, her pictures and calm words kept me returning.  When the next whole food workshop came up I decided to give it a try.  I love to try new recipes and I knew Heather's knowledge would be valuable to me for now and for a healthy future.

2. What are your favorite things to cook?
At home I cook a variety of different foods.  I like to balance up the week with meat and vegetarian dishes, if I had my way there would be more vegetarian but I try to keep all of us happy.  Each week I put aside a day where I will cook a cake, some biscuits and a slice, something healthy to put into our lunch boxes and for snacking on.  If I had to pick what I enjoy to cook the most it would have to be new vegetarian dishes especially when I find one that everyone likes, that one is then book marked and cooked often.  Our favourite vegetarian dish at the moment is pumpkin and feta rolls with a side of salad, it's always a hit.

3. Can you tell us about the online wholefood cooking course that you did over at Heather's blog Beauty That Moves? 
The whole food workshop was well worth every cent I spent to be a part of it.  Heather breaks down her course into weekly modules focussing on areas like grains, preparing your pantry, lunch boxes and enjoying the family. The course written by Heather gives you a concise and a detailed collection of information, recipes and resources to guide you when starting your whole food journey.  I found it to be one of the most valuable steps in our journey and I am so grateful for having that knowledge that I can now share with my husband and daughters.

4. Do you have any tips for encouraging children to eat well/dealing with fussy eaters?
I find this a tricky one, I do get some resistance from my family both small and big when it comes to food.  What I found with one of my fussy eaters is that she loves to eat finger food.  Foods like homemade nuggets, vegetable patties, soft tacos and homemade pizza.  Hiding vegetables and seeds in these dishes helps to make sure they are still being given the necessary nutrients they need.  I also try and provide things that are healthy that I know they like such as salads, fresh fruit, milkshakes hiding fruit and seeds and most of all just keep trying.

5. Who inspires you in the kitchen? any favorite cookbooks or websites?
My mother inspires me in the kitchen, she's always been someone who loves to try new dishes and always cooks from scratch, it's seldom that she buys takeaway.  The cookbooks that are my favourite go to are Feeding Fussy Kids, there are so many healthy dishes to choose from and many have been a hit with my girls especially the chicken nuggets.  Also my trusty Day to Day Cookery book that has simple old fashion favourite recipes that always work.  As I've mentioned I love photography, just recently I found a blog that combines both my love of food and photography called Honey and Jam, it's quite beautiful.

6. What is your go to meal when you are short on time? 
We have a few simple meals that we enjoy when we don't want to eat anything too complicated.  We have our own chickens so we often have an abundance of eggs in the fridge, we make scrambled eggs adding some herbs and tomato served with grain toast. Our other favourites are pasta with tomato sauce and a big hit here is vegetarian fried rice.

7. What are you loving about your life right now? 
I'm loving keeping things calm and simple in my life, I'm not one for lots of busy ness.  The time that my mother in law gives us to nurture our relationship as a couple and the interactions and relationship she has developed with the girls.  I'm loving watching my daughters grow and seeing them change and develop their own interests and lives. I'm loving my enthusiasm for the new year, my desire to grow and to try new things.

Here's one of our favourite recipes for you to share with your readers:

Vegetarian Fried Rice

- cooked rice (we love to use basmati)
- olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- soy sauce
- chilli sauce
- vegetables of your choice (we like carrot, corn, capsicum and peas)

1. Put rice onto to cook now using what method you feel comfortable with. We cook our rice in a rice cooker so I put this on first so when the vegetables are finished so too is the rice. 
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Crack eggs into a jug and beat till combined. Add eggs to frying pan and swirl to cover base.  Cook until egg is firm and brown.  Remove egg from pan and cut up into squares.
3. Heat some more oil in the frying pan and add garlic and ginger cook for 1 minute then add vegetables.  Cook vegetables until they are tender but not too soft.
4. Once your rice is cooked add to the vegetable mixture and stir through.
5. To add flavour to the rice we add soy sauce and chilli sauce.  I don't measure so add what ever amount you desire.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 01, 2013

friday's feast

We are harvesting cherry tomatoes by the kilo. Daily. Really! I don't know what Pete was thinking when he planted so many plants. Not that I'm complaining. Having a bumper crop of one vegetable or another is one of the many things that I love about having a backyard veggie garden. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with ideas of what to do with the harvest and having enough produce to gift or trade. So far this season we've traded cherry toms for beetroot, coriander, basil, sweet beets, cucumbers, onions and even the local health food store was happy to trade for our usual weekly order of millet bread.

Here is a little list of places I've enjoyed visiting this week:

If you weren't already convinced that eating processed food is bad for you then take a look at this post 'how to read a label' over on the delightful blog Dinner:A Love Story.

Read why Natalie from the little gnomes home didn't quit sugar. Love to hear your thoughts on this!

And via Natalie's post I found nutritionist Emma Sgourakis blog and so enjoyed her post: lose the labels listen to your body

Yipee! apples are in season 

Tired of porridge, toast or fruit for breakfast? Over on econest read Maria's 10 clever breakfast ideas sans grains or sugar

What's happening on the weekend for you? Are you harvesting tomatoes? What are you cooking with them? Happy days to all x 
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