Friday, May 31, 2013

friday links

(buckwheat porridge with figs, banana and almonds. more about that next week)

Hello and welcome to all the new readers this week and thank you to the loyal followers who have been visiting here for a while. I love that the internet makes it so easy for us to connect and be inspired by each others daily lives.

Very interesting...raw cacao: hype vs. science

These give fruit cake a whole new meaning

We are one day away from winter here in the southern hemisphere, to keep colds and flu at bay read Natalie's fantastic post with food remedies aplenty.

A comment from Max led me to her blog and this her entertaining post about making sourdough bread at home. While you're over at Max's if you are totally besotted with babies like I am take a look at this adorable photo of Max in bliss with her son when he was a newborn.

I let my husband into a secret and that is for his professional facebook page to be of benefit to anyone including him, he actually has to update it! So update he is. Click on over and like his page and you will receive a daily dose of visual beauty and culture. You can check out the campaign that Pete is working on to end self-harm and youth suicide in Indigenous communities at the website

Can't believe the traffic the budget series has brought here this week...eating well without going broke is an art we are all refining as we go. Thanks to all the contributors. Keep sharing tips and if you want some general budget advice I found this useful.

Come back next week and we'll talk about how to save that other precious resource in the kitchen: time.

Happy weekending. Thanks for joining me in living a wholefood life xx

Thursday, May 30, 2013

'b' is for (wholefood) budget - part 3

Who would have thought you'd be on the edge of your kitchen stool waiting for the next wholefood budget post? Well not me! This series has turned out to be the most read posts ever on my blog. So, thanks again to all contributors both in the post and the comments.

Today it is a pleasure and a treat to bring you kitchen table wisdom from Natalie who blogs at The Little Gnomes Home and a bonus contribution from Tammi who blogs at Dear Molly Handmade. Tammi emailed me during the week in response to the budget series and ever so humbly mentioned she is doing her best finding affordable ways to provide wholefood for her family of nine on one income!! Whoa hats off to Tammi. I immediately felt Tammi's story was so inspiring I asked her if I could share it here.


How many mouths do you feed in your house? Adults? Children? 
We are a family of four - 2 adults and 2 children. My littlest has just started eating solids so it would be fair to say I am really only feeding 2 adults and 1 child. 

What percentage of the food you buy is organic?
I would say all the food we buy is organic. We receive a weekly delivery of fresh fruit & vegetables from an organic delivery service, order meat every 2-3 weeks, and do a weekly shop at a local organic supermarket for dairy, eggs etc.  We do still use the major supermarkets for toilet paper and a few other non-perishables.

Most of our meat is organic, however we are just as happy to buy local, grass fed (and finished) meat when we know where it is coming from - that is why I like to purchase from feather and bone.

What would be your average weekly spend on food?
On average we would spend $300. We spend a significant part on (raw) dairy - usually about 12 litres per week. Dairy is a wonderful anti-inflammatory protein source. 

What are your top 3 tips on saving money on food? 
My biggest tip for saving money (which I am sure most of you have heard before) is meal planning. It really makes all the difference as it means that all the food in your fridge has a purpose and gets used up. 

Buying in bulk can make a big difference. For any item that you use frequently, do a Google search and see if you can locate it either wholesale or in a larger quantity. You will also be saving on all that unnecessary packaging. For example, we purchase coconut oil in 16L containers - this saves us about $6 per litre. Joining a local co-op is another great option for bulk buying.

Growing your own herbs also helps, given the cost of organic herbs per bunch, but a big difference in convenience and wastage.

I hope to share some of my other tips in my upcoming e-cookbook. Sign up to be notified of updates for Natalie's e-cookbook here. (from Nikki - "Natalie's book will be gorgeous and delicious I can't wait!")

To those who say eating wholefood is expensive what would you say?
There is a supermarket price for food and there is a real price for real food. For example, Australian readers will know that we can now buy milk at the supermarket for $1 per litre, this, I don’t believe is the fair price to the farmer – raw organic milk in Sydney costs $4 per litre.....Queenslanders can get it for $3! 

Eating good food can certainly be affordable for all budgets, but depending on the household income, this may mean spending less on other things. For us, real food comes first.  Being savvy and aware with what you buy (just like our Grandparents did!) - Buying cheaper cuts of meat, often on the bone, slow cooking and incorporating the broths into other meals, imparts good nutrition across many meals.  Asking your local fish monger for any scrap bones to make a stock (usually free), as well as buying food that is in season also helps to ensure affordability.

I also believe that food should be prioritised above supplements and vitamins. Of course some are necessary, however instead of multi-vitamins, fish oils and other ‘common’ supplements we prefer to start by eating the right foods grown in/ grazing on nutrient rich organic soil. 


Over the last year we have been trying to eat a more wholefood diet but my challenge is the amount of mouths we need to feed on our single income plus a small amount in board from our big boys.  

We are a large family consisting of myself and hubby, five children ages - 20, 18, 15, 10 and 3, an adult niece and our oldest son's girlfriend. 

Coming from a long line of passionate home cooks I've always cooked from scratch but have been mindfully moving away from the ingredients I habitually used to more healthier versions and to be honest, it has been a struggle.  Not only in sourcing organic products but also in changing the views of our older two who have been very resistant to making changes ie: they were huge white bread and commercial cereal eaters (cornflakes/rice bubbles) and still complain about the sourdough bread I make and the lack of cereal in the cupboard.

Towards the end of last year I joined a local co-op, that I source the majority of our grains this has helped significantly but with orders only being open every few months I am yet to learn the amounts I need to order to see us through.  

I've also started growing herbs and am trying to grow a small amount of veggies. A green thumb does not come naturally to me but I am determined to supplement our diet with what I can grow.  

Meat is another issue. Organic meat is so expensive! And hard to source here (coastal Western Australia) and even with drastically decreasing the amount of meat we eat, it's still a huge cost. We used to be your typical meat and three veg family, seven nights a week...that's changed over recent months to include more vegetarian meals..again met with resistance from a few family members but I feel good that slowly but surely we are making progress and are much better, health wise, for it.

When I first started learning about how detrimental processed food could be to our health I really beat myself up at what we had raised our children on and I was actually really angry that I had been mislead all these years.  I had always assumed that because I made a fair majority of what we consumed from scratch that it was better than packaged/commercial food. I guess it was better but not by much.  It wasn't until we started seeing less allergic reactions (less eczema flare ups, less tummy aches, more energy etc) that I came to realise just how valuable a wholefood diet is and that in turn has strengthened my resolve to continue learning all that I can in order to live a healthier life.

I do realise that eating a wholefood diet follows the same principles regardless of the amount of mouths one needs to feed but it would be wonderful to read of the experiences of someone else who has a large family like myself :)

THANK YOU Natalie and Tammi for taking the time to share your stories, I know that many people will be inspired by your commitment to feeding your family's well and your resourcefulness. Readers let Natalie and Tammi know in the comments what works for you, what has inspired you and if there are any readers out there with a large family like Tammi we would love to hear how you are managing your wholefood budget. Stay tuned for some hot tips from Meg at My Wholefood Romance next week. Happy wholefooding x

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

dandelion: the new coffee

My husband is on a mission (not unusual) to convert all who care to listen away from drinking coffee to drinking roasted dandelion 'coffee'. He carries a container of roasted dandelion granules with him wherever he goes and whether he is meeting with a prospective bride and groom about photographing their wedding or a supporter of one of his social justice campaigns he pulls out the dandelion and convinces the barista to make a brew.

If you haven't yet tried dandelion seek it out. You'll find it at the health food shop and I think some supermarkets now even stock it in tea bag form (dandelion with chicory root). Be sure to get the roasted dandelion root for the coffee like experience, not the dandelion leaf.

Why drink dandelion?

There is a lot to love about dandelion. Let's start with the taste because that's what most people wonder about. While it doesn't taste exactly like coffee, for anyone trying to give up or cut down on coffee this is the perfect substitute. Dandelion has a slight bitterness similar to coffee and lends itself well to being brewed with a milk of your choice, making it as satisfying as drinking a latte made with coffee. Well almost.

The health benefits of dandelion are what appeal to me most. A good friend for your liver, dandelion is detoxifying and good for aiding digestion.

As dandelion is caffeine-free it is a perfect warm drink before bed to settle digestion and prepare you for sleep.

How to prepare your cup of dandelion

If like my husband you have the gift of the gab and your local cafe doesn't serve dandelion you can ask the barista to prepare it for you exactly the same way they would coffee, placing the dandelion granules in the coffee machine in place of coffee.

At home there are a couple of ways you can make yourself a delicious, health-giving dandelion brew. First option is using teabags and making it just as you would a regular cup of tea, you can drink it black or with a splash of milk, with or without a spoon of honey.
The second option is the cafe-at-home option. Brew the granules in a pot with a cup of milk, or half water half milk.

In winter we like to do this on the wood heater

Once it has brewed to a good strength and temperature you can either just strain it straight into your cup or for a fancy, frothy option you can froth it using a very simple, inexpensive milk frother. A milk frother is basically a slim, tall version of a coffee plunger you'll find them at kitchen supply stores or you could probably just use your coffee plunger.

And voila there you have it a very satisfying alternative to coffee.

Have you tried dandelion? Giving up coffee? Share what your favorite brew is...

Monday, May 27, 2013

'b' is for (wholefood) budget - part 2

Budgets have a bad reputation for being boring but it seems these ladies who contributed to part one made them interesting! Thanks for leaving comments with your own tips and suggestions for how to put nourishing food on the table and keep some money in the bank at the same time.

Today I have pleasure in bringing you budget bliss from two of the loveliest wholefoodie mamas in blog town, Jay who blogs at and the trees and Steph who blogs at this brown wren. 

The series has grown to 3 parts with Natalie from the Little Gnomes Home and Megan from My Wholefood Romance still to come later in the week.

Let's get down to business:


How many mouths do you feed in your house? Adults? Children?  
2 adults and 2-3 children (a 3 year old, a 6 year old and 4 year old neighbour who is over everyday and definitely eats her fair share of food)

What percentage of the food you buy is organic? Very high, as much as we can, maybe 95%, we also factor in other things like sustainability, local, humane choice, or even spray free. Everything we buy has had a conscious thought attached to it.

What would be your average weekly spend on food? $150-$200

What are your top 3 tips on saving money on food? 
1. Buy in bulk, from a co-op or health food shop or do a group bulk order from an online store, it is a lot cheaper.
2. we are lucky enough to have some great growers markets around and the Bello food box, which both help to keep the food budget down, providing local, direct from the farmer, organic, biodynamic, and at worse spray free fruit and vegetables. Look around your area, there are so many of these popping up
3. No  waste, use everything you buy and if something goes a bit dodgy use it for some stock or for fruit a compote (depending on level of dodginess). This level of awareness of where your food goes ensures everything is treasured and used before buying more. 

To those who say eating wholefood is expensive what would you say?
Try it for yourself and you will see, not only is it healthier, you also end up (usually) with more than you think (perfect for freezing). Do a meal plan, if you are on a budget, there are so many meals that you can make that use wholefoods and produces a whole (ha ha) lot of food, just do a little research. Sure organic free range 'happy'  meat is more expensive than your regular factory farmed poor squashed and abused animals but that just means you eat it less and have more focus, intent and thanks when you do eat it. There are other products that are often used in wholefood cooking, ingredients like coconut oil, rapadura sugar, cacao, organic dried fruit and nuts, that may seem a bit pricier but they do last quite a long time (especially when buying in bulk) and the benefits to the body, to me is worth it. But these are the choices that we make.  

There are no rules to eating wholefood, the best you can do is start with what is manageable and affordable to you and your budget and then work up from there.  And then hopefully you will realise how beneficial and delicious it is eating whole food, your body will thank you and if done with sustainability in mind, so will our beautiful planet. 


I feed four mouths - myself and my beloved and our two babies (4 and 18 months) although it often feels like many more such is the amazing ability of my people (especially the little ones) to inhale food.

Most of our fruit and veg is organic and purchased online through as well as milk, butter, cream and sour cream (we love Barrambah), eggs and now meat. We have only made this switch to eat only organic meat in the last little while as it can be quite expensive and required a shift in the way we prepared and ate it.  We have started to buy our flours, grains and pulses in bulk at a local organic grocer ( and 

Our average food spend would be about $150. We have really returned to the earth with our eating and buy very little canned or packaged items. 

Top 3 tips:

1) Buying meat on the bone (roasts etc.) and making it stretch to three meals. An organic, free range roast chicken is slow cooked through the day with the juices retained to make a gorgeous gravy with wine and cornflour and is served with warm salads and roasted vegies. I serve up the portions and then we're more likely to have seconds of salads rather than pick away at the chicken. Every sliver of meat is then picked off the carcass and put aside for perhaps chicken and black bean burritos one night with homemade tortillas, guacamole and sour cream and then the small amount left is sprinkled on spelt pizzas with roast pumpkin, spinach and feta. The bones are all tossed into a large container in the freezer ready for stock making....and then there's soup! 

2) Meal planning has made a huge difference to the amount of food we waste. Our waste is now minimal to nil! I plan a weekly menu and a shopping list is created from this. Our fruit and vegie order is delivered on Friday afternoon so on Friday morning I empty the contents of the crisper and either make a soup using our homemade stock or perhaps a bolognaise sauce by grating up any leftover veg in the food processor along with garlic and onions and cooking this slowly in butter and oil I then add either mince or lentils and chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and a good splosh of masala or port. The vegies not only impart their delicious flavours and nutrients but bulk out the meal so I can freeze half for another night.

3) Making things from scratch saves us oodles of money. Any bickies or treats come out of our kitchen and packaged items are rare. Creating a "nude" lunchbox by initially investing in some fabulous stainless steel containers saves a lot on packaging also. I have also started cooking my own beans and freezing these in cup portions. A quick dinner is only a few minutes away when I can reach for these and one bag of dried beans (which makes many cups) is the same price as one can. We use some form of pulse almost every night for their filing protein and for their ability to make a meal go further. We occasionally have a weekend cook up where my beloved and I take turns in the kitchen to set aside batches of tortillas and spelt pizza bases for the freezer along with stewed fruits and compotes to have as desserts and snacks with yoghurt (usually the fruit on it's last legs from the fruit and vegie order). Keeping one step ahead seems to help with last minute dashes to the shops and budget blowouts.

Yes wholefoods are more expensive compared to their more refined alternatives but if there is a shift in the way we prepare and eat food it is more than manageable. We are all large eaters and manage to fill our bodies with nutrient dense, ethically produced food on one wage.  I have really looked to the past to see how I can stretch meals and make the most of every single morsel we buy. Our grandparents had some wonderfully frugal ways! 

How good does all that sound?! who said budgets were boring.

THANK YOU Jay and Steph for sharing in your honest and heartfelt ways. I feel inspired, how about you dear readers? What do you have to add? Tell us what you do to make ends meet even if you think it is basic or obvious, it may be just the answer someone else is looking for. Look out for part 3 later in the week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

friday links

Don't you just love tamarillos? In season now around here.

I'm not vegan but I liked the look of Wolf and Willow's new ebook 'The Sexy Sugar Free Vegan Project' enough to buy it. I'm glad I did. Beautiful photography but most importantly super delicious recipes including some from your favorite wholefood bloggers such as Meg at My Wholefood Romance.

It's curious that the Australian Organic newsletter includes so much information relating to the USA but anyway (perhaps Oz info is not available?) this article about conventional apples in the US topping the list of most pesticide-contaminated produce is worth reading.

Another sigh worthy moment over at Mimi's blog Manger.

Kale lovers go here now. Joanna Goddard shares The Best Kale Caesar Salad You'll Ever Have.

With all the talk of budgets recently I thought Scott Pape's article 'Manage your money in 10 minutes' might be useful.

Hello to all the new facebook likers! If you haven't liked The Wholefood Mama page yet you can find it here. And while you're there check out my Pete's photography page, like it and there will be plenty of beautiful photo posts coming your way.

I'm excited about a mammoth family celebration this weekend one party that covers 3 birthdays and a 60th wedding anniversary. 60 years wow! River and Sol are hoping there will be cake. Fair chance I'd say.

See you back here next week for part 2 of the budget :) and in another post I'll regale you with how Pete is on a mission to convert every cafe in Melbourne to serving dandelion 'coffee'.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend xx

Thursday, May 23, 2013

'b' is for (wholefood) budget - part 1

The Federal government budget announcements last week got me thinking about family finances and when my mind had enough of that my thoughts quickly turned to dinner :)

Thinking about money and food did though prompt me to put this post together. Many people I meet who want to make better food choices ie. eating less processed, switching to organic wholefoods say "But it's so expensive!" And yep if you shop in fancy organic foodstores in the city I'd have to agree. There are though a number of tricks and tips to eating well without going broke.

I asked some of my favorite wholefood bloggy mamas for their insights and valuable two cents worth (pun intended :) on wholefoods and budgeting. I think you'll find their stories honest, useful and inspiring. I have decided to post their answers in two posts, otherwise it would have been the longest post ever!

I'll go first with my wholefood budget story:

We are a family of four, two adults and two boys age 3 and 6 who have rapidly growing appetites. We spend on average around $100-$150 per week on food and I consider ourselves very lucky to be able to eat 95% organic on this budget.

How do we do it? Living outside of the city means that we have direct access to farm gates, this greatly reduces the cost of buying organic fruit and vegetables plus we grow some of our own. Not all of the fruit and veg we buy is certified organic but I know and trust the farmers, one farm gate we go to the farmer actually pulls the produce that you want out of the ground while you wait!

I am very fortunate to be married to a fisherman who actually comes home with a catch and not stories of the one that got away. Mussels, squid, scallops, flathead, whiting, Australian salmon and snapper are a regular part of our diet and I don't have to part with a cent.

Organic meat we usually buy on special either at the supermarket or the local fruit and veg shop stocks Cherry Tree Organic meat and more often than not I can pick up good discounted cuts of meat there. I do plan to look into buying meat direct from Cherry Tree. We also eat kangaroo from time to time.

We are part of a bulk buy co-op which means incredible savings - half price or more - on rolled oats, lentils, rice and rice milk.

My top 3 tips for saving money on wholefood:

1. Waste nothing. It is easy to fall into the habit of shopping on auto pilot ie. today is pay day let's go grocery shopping. Resist doing this. Instead, before you go look in the cupboard and fridge and make a meal plan based around what you already have and then fill in the gaps. Use what you have and you won't throw money and other resources in the bin.

2. Prioritise, and rotate buying expensive ingredients. I am a foodie, I love trying out new foods and products but eating a wholefoods diet doesn't mean my pantry needs to contain every wholefood there is. If I can't afford to buy coconut oil one week I cook in butter or ghee. I love raw cacao but can't justify the expense all the time so will use organic cocoa instead. Eating a wholefood diet is a priority for me and it doesn't feel like a sacrifice to spend money on food over expensive haircuts, lots of new clothes or other new things. Choosing to eat this way is about more than the food I eat, it is a way of life. It defines where I shop, how I shop, who I get to know and I like that. The wholefood way is about awareness, more awareness of what you are eating, where it comes from and how it makes you feel.

3. Seek out bulk buy co-ops and farm gates or farmer's markets.

Oh and beware the marketing machine - organics and wholefoods have become big business and they are looking for customers to buy products. Real food is from the earth not factories. Avocados, macadamias and spinach are all 'superfoods' and cheaper than something from the Amazon Rainforest not to mention the lower food miles.

How many mouths do you feed in your house? Adults? Children? Teenagers?

We have two adults, one teenager and one tween.

What percentage of the food you buy is organic?

At a guess around 80%

What would be your average weekly spend on food?

Between $300 and $350

What are your top 3 tips on saving money on food? 

1. We try to eat vegetarian every second night as it is cheaper than meat.
2. We buy in bulk where I we can - often online.
3. We look for marked down organic meat at the supermarket.

To those who say eating wholefood is expensive what would you say?

I would say that with a little menu planning and clever cooking, whole food eating is not that expensive. When you compare the cost per kilogram of apples to Mars Bars, you can see that fresh food comes out on top. We also save money in other areas by eating whole food. We rarely go to the doctor, specialists or chemists. We also look at whole food as an investment in our health and quality of life. You can't put a price tag on that!

For more inspiration from Sonia read her post 'Start Menu Planning to get Healthier and Save Money'

Catherine from A Time to Create

I have to admit that although I stick to a list and work to a weekly amount I am not necessarily really strict! I mostly manage our cash flow for grocery shopping. For me my best tips are, I write up a menu, stick to a list and buy what I need.  If I see things on special that we use regularly then I will put them in the shopping trolley as well making sure that I always have a back up. I always bake things for our lunch boxes too as it's much healthier and cheaper too.

Vanessa from Slow Heart Sing

How many mouths do you feed in your house? Adults? Children? 

Actual mouths? Five. Two adults, two children and one chocolate Labrador with a big appetite.

What percentage of the food you buy is organic?

Around 80-90 per cent. All fruit and vegetables are organic as are meat, eggs, milk, butter, coconut oil and grain. We catch our own fish and grow all our herbs and a few vegetables. Some things are just chemical-free (whole almonds), and others are not organic at all (spices, jars of passata, cheese, pulses, olive oil, jam etc).

What would be your average weekly spend on food?

Oh lordy, now you're asking. Anywhere between $200 and $300. It's hard to say exactly because it's not a weekly supermarket shop; I buy a lot of things in bulk once every few months (wholegrain, flours, dried fruit, nuts and seeds) and we've been ordering our meat once every 1-2 months from a butcher. 

What are your top 3 tips on saving money on food? 

Keep it simple, make it from scratch and buy in bulk. Saving money on food, whilst staying true to your values, takes time. It's not about throwing a few specials into the trolley each week. It's been a long journey finding my way to a local food co-op where I can get organic carrots for $1 a kilo and a separate sister co-op where I can get a big tub of virgin coconut oil for exactly half the price I had been paying for over a year. I buy $2 organic chicken carcasses and make broth each week in a big pot and then use it to make a silky pumpkin soup with softened onion and garlic. I used half a jap pumpkin this week and the boys devoured bowls of it more than once over dinner and lunch. The other thing is eggs! I will always make more rice than we need and use it the next day for egg fried rice with coconut oil, tamari and a few other bits and pieces. 

I still need to rein it in occasionally because I go weak at the knees for good cheese and good sourdough bread and I spend too much on both. I've gone through phases wanting to make my own sourdough (which would save us a fortune) and my own yogurt. But then the list I have in the kitchen gets overwhelming. I make yeasted spelt bread and we treat ourselves to a loaf of sourdough once a week or once a fortnight. Saving money is important, but it needs to be balanced. You can't do it all.

To those who say eating wholefood is expensive what would you say?

It's comes down to priorities. Do I think eating the way we do is expensive? No, it is what it is and there are ways to make it more affordable once you commit to that path. It isn't expensive to me because the alternative, the mainstream, the westernised way of eating isn't real food. It also comes at a huge price, not just for our health but for animals, farmers, our landscape, our planet. I think it comes down a lot to connection too. Some people are disconnected, disengaged from food, the way it is produced, the way it is raised and farmed – disconnected too from nature and our place here on the planet. When you're disconnected, it's a lack of education, I find, that means a cheap packet of sausages will happily end up in your trolley and you genuinely feel it's a good deal. I think education is key in many ways, but sadly most people believe what they see advertised and preached in the media. It's why, in order to change habits for the next generation, we ought to start with our children. We ought to be teaching them about food, about connection... It's a very complex issue, and yet it's really simple when you step off that noisy place driven by big names and hidden agendas. If you shut it all out, it all starts to make perfect sense. 

For more wise and honest words from Vanessa you can read a post on her blog about spending money on food (and not much else!) here.

THANK YOU ladies for sharing your stories here. For me the great thing about reading your honest words is that you each remind me we are all doing our best to nourish ourselves and our families with wholefood and it takes some effort and creativity but it is worth it. Bit by bit, step by step we are all doing our best and living well.

I look forward to sharing more wholefood budget wisdom from other bloggers in part two of this series next week. 

Over to you. Was this helpful? Anything to add? Tell us your tips and tricks. Thank you! xx

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

food + friendship: Liana's chicken and rice recipe

One of the things I love about spending time with friends in their home is cooking and sharing recipes. Meals that seem a bit everyday to them because they have cooked them so many times, are fresh to my senses. This dish from our beautiful friend Liana (pictured above with her son Maren who is proudly holding a trophy for being best player on ground in his first ever rugby game. His uncle is an international rubgy player so I think it is in the genes!) who we stayed with on our recent trip to Auckland fits that description. "Really, the recipe for my humble friday night dinner is blog worthy?" asked Liana. Yep. Because it is simple and scrumptious! Just what the mamas are looking for.

I love the memories that are tied to certain recipes. Now when I cook this recipe I will remember this trip. Pete and Liana's husband Marama are long time friends and this was the first time all of our children had met. On the first morning while the children whirled around us upstairs and down, making cubbies, dressing up, a bit of light saber action, Liana and I sat at the kitchen bench drinking tea and catching up. It has been almost seven years since we had seen each other. Liana and Marama came to visit us when River was about five months old and then in the meantime returned to Auckland and had Maren and then very soon after, like less than a year after had twin baby girls!!! Hearing the story of the twins early arrival in the world had us both welling up with tears as we looked at photos of them so incredibly tiny at 31 weeks, and now so robust.

Tea drunk, birth stories shared, tears dried it was time to round up the children and take them across the road to the park before heading to the local cafe for coffee for the mamas and fluffies for the children. (A fluffy is the New Zealand version of a baby cino :)

Dinner that night was this completely satisfying dish of tender chicken and fragrant rice served with perfectly steamed green veggies. Marama has a penchant for New Zealand Otago pinot which we were happy to enjoy with him.

Thank you Liana, Marama and family for sharing your home and your recipe. xx

Liana's Chicken & Rice Recipe

3 cups chicken stock
1.5 cups jasmine/basmati rice
6 chicken thigh fillets (organic preferably!)
4 cloves of garlic - cut in half
6 slices of ginger 
1 green chilli - chopped (optional of course if your children aren't up for chilli)

- add stock, garlic, ginger and chilli to a wide pot that has a lid (a deep frypan is ideal) and bring to boil
- add rice, stir to distribute rice evenly on bottom
- top with chicken thighs 
- turn stove to lowest heat and put a tight fitted lid on the pot
- cook 20 mins
- when cooked topped with chopped fresh spring onions and coriander 
- serve with soy sauce/tamari

Monday, May 20, 2013

apple, lemon, cinnamon and ginger quinoa porridge

This is my new favorite breakfast, so delicious. I couldn't wait to share it with you. The recipe came about because I am steering clear of oats for a while (I feel sooo sleepy right after I eat oats) but with the weather so crisp and cool here I wanted to eat porridge.

Quinoa was the answer. I looked around the kitchen for flavours to add and gathered lemon, ginger and cinnamon - all perfect winter medicine foods. Ginger and cinnamon for their warming properties, and I find anything with a lemony flavour to be so uplifting it is a great detoxifier.

Now, even though I said quinoa was the answer I have recently learned that for some quinoa is not that easy to digest. This was news to me! I was lucky enough to be invited to a cooking class at Feast Australia and it was there that Rachel van de Bosch chef and former naturopath shared with the class the dark side of quinoa. Quinoa is actually a seed not a grain that has a naturally occurring coating called saponin. Rachel explains, "It a bit of contentious issue, some saponins are good for you (help control cholesterol) and others can be mildly toxic, like thanes in quinoa.  Most suppliers would thoroughly wash them during processing, but just to be sure I always boil and strain my quinoa now rather than cooking by absorption. You will loose water soluble vitamins cooking this way but I make up for it with fresh veggies. The other option is to give it a good wash it under running water before cooking."

So while there is much to love about quinoa because of its versatility and its nutritional value containing essential amino acids, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and iron perhaps if you have weak digestion it might be a good food to go easy on.

I enjoyed this breakfast on a rainy saturday morning while River and Sol played in their pyjamas til lunchtime and I drank a pot of good chai. All. To. Myself!

Apple, Lemon, Cinnamon and Ginger quinoa porridge


1/2 cup quinoa (I used tri-colour quinoa that I buy in the health section at my local supermarket)
1.5 cups of water
1 cinnamon quill
1/2 an apple
the zest of one small lemon
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

Wash the quinoa thoroughly.
Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.
Simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked (you can tell because you will see an outer ring and the centre will look translucent.)

Serve with your choice of milk and if you like it sweeter add some honey. Try it first before adding sweetener because the cinnamon gives it a lovely natural sweetness. I also added a few chopped walnuts once it was cooked. There are endless other flavours you could try. Write your favorites in the comments.

Happy monday xx

Friday, May 17, 2013

friday: wholefood new zealand style

Spending five days with five children under the age of six as we have just done in Auckland, leaves little opportunity for exploring foodstores and markets as I did in my traveling solo days but nevertheless we were treated to beautiful meals in our friend's home and even a night out at ile de France with all five children on their best fancy-restaurant-behaviour.

For me there is nothing like travel to recharge and inspire. Some people baulk at traveling with small children but I have always loved it right from when my boys were babies. Traveling when children are little means all the same things - nappy changes, sleep deprivation, squabbles over favorite books/teddies/cars, seeking out parks and spaces to run around, regular mealtimes - but it also means new scenery, new friends to make and places to explore. You can read my tips for traveling with children here.

On with today's New Zealand inspired list of links:

Good coffee for me, pastries for the boys and chai for Pete in a comfortable booth at Cafe Vue at Melbourne Airport made for a good start to the trip. Particularly after Sol woke at 4.30am and did not go back to sleep. What was I saying about travel with children being fun?!

First stop once we landed Huckleberry Farms foodstore. I didn't even manage a squizz in here because my littlest angel who woke at 4.30am was now fast asleep with his head nestled into my shoulder so I waited in the car while Pete bought enough organic wholefoods to last a month! Not the cheapest place to shop but hey we were on holiday.

I've been a fan of New Zealand food mag Cuisine in the past, but at our friend's house between wrangling children I worked my way through their collection of Dish magazine and had to buy the latest edition to bring home.

I searched the shelves at Auckland airport to buy a copy of Good magazine I like the look of the content...greener though to read it online!

Robin I saw a story about this Community Supported Agriculture farm in West Auckland and thought of you.

Love this - a great story and great service - Angel Delivery a food delivery service started by a kiwi mum for when you can't deliver that new baby food hamper yourself.

Now we're back home and the winner of the gluten free giveaway was announced last night - congratulations Sonia from Natural New Age Mum!

I shared this anecdote on The Wholefood Mama facebook page it is going to keep me giggling for days...At school River is learning how to write persuasively. I was thrilled to hear the teacher had chosen 'junk food' as the topic talking with the children about the negatives of eating junk food and then asking them to write persuasively about it. River says "You should put that on your blog Mum. To everyone who eats junk food tell them to get on to healthy food because junk food makes you sick". Great idea I tell him. Sol chimes in with "And tell them no children should be drinking wine". Wholefood wisdom right there.

Happy weekending everyone xx

Sunday, May 12, 2013

happy mother's day

Happy Mother's Day mamas! 

This year I am lucky to be with my beautiful family and friends in Auckland for Mother's Day so I don't think I will be having the unexpected meltdown I had last year due to my mum not being alive...well here's hoping! You can read about that here if you really want to (recommended reading for grieving mothers).

A few days before we headed to Auckland we had an early Mother's Day celebration, afternoon tea hosted by my beautiful sister-in-law Davini (an incredible woman and wholefood mama who needs to be part of my interview series now I think of it!) I'm pictured here with my inspirational mother-in-law Peg and equally inspirational sister-in-law Davini. Not everyone can say that about their in-laws!

I was blessed to have Davini by my side for River's birth, Davini and I regularly count our blessings that we have each other as sister-in-laws because even if we weren't relatives we'd be friends.

This day needn't be a commercial gift giving fest (unless you want it to be!) it can be whatever you make it. I know too well that some mamas would prefer to skip it because they are without their mothers or their children, I'll be thinking especially of you mamas today (Kellie x). 

Mamas whatever you're up to today as long as there are endless cups of tea with your favorite people (preferably hot tea made by someone else that you get to drink before it goes cold) then all will be well. Because we all know a good cup of tea fixes everything.

I think I've made scones twice and they were fairly underwhelming I have to admit. Davini used Stephanie Alexander's scone recipe from The Cook's Companion and aside from choosing a recipe that works, her key to success was following the rule of making great scones and that is to handle the dough with a light touch and don't overwork it.

What's happening at your place today?

Friday, May 10, 2013

friday from afar

Before having children I was lucky enough to travel overseas at least once a year. Not surprisingly visiting markets and foodstores in other countries were major attractions for me. This trip to Auckland is my first overseas since having River almost seven years ago. When I was a new mum I couldn't imagine taking my precious baby bundle much further than the front gate let alone to another country! I am feeling very excited that my taste for travel is back and am looking forward to exploring the world now as a family.

I began researching foodstores in Auckland and this is what I found:

Huckleberry Farms
The Blue Bird vegetarian and vegan cafe - look at how glowing these people are!
Mairangi Bay Farmers Market

Auckland readers if you have any recommendations I'd love to hear in the comments.

If you want to loose yourself in blogland for oh about a week visit the Kidspot Voices of 2013 list

Quick click on over and enter this giveaway to win a Gorman rug entries close 10pm tonight.

Could Mimi's life be any more beautiful?! Oh those aubergines and roses.

A rich and energising raw cacao smoothie could be the go for Mother's Day breakfast.

Gorgeous gluten free desserts to make for Mother's Day on the beautiful blog What Katie Ate.

Have a wonderful weekend and a big happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful women!!

Thanks for reading xx

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

a giveaway: springhill farm gluten-free bake your own bread

Good gluten-free bread where are you hiding? If you've ever bought gluten free bread off the shelf you'll know what I'm talking about. First there are the additives (so many numbers!) and then there is the taste, or should that be lack of taste, or real bread texture. In my experience gluten free bread off the shelf is more like not very nice cake or like eating a rubber sponge.

Late last year I was in a foodstore in Melbourne and spied Springhill Farm gluten free bread baking flour. I bought a packet thinking it would be a handy thing to keep in the pantry for when we ran out of bread.

We are not a gluten free family but we don't buy any wheat products. We usually eat bread made from millet flour from our local health food store that does contain gluten. A quick lesson in which grains contain gluten: wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt. My friend Sam Gowing likens gluten to glue, it is the element that sticks things together. When you think of it that way it is little wonder that some people find gluten difficult or near impossible to digest.

Back to Springhill Farm gf bread. I baked the loaf and was really pleasantly surprised, the result was a dense real bread that compared to a sourdough loaf.

Fast forward to this month when I was contacted by a PR agency (this is part and parcel of being a food writer long before I was a blogger) asking if I would be interested in sampling the entire Springhill Farm gf bread mix range: original, seed and fruit. Yes please.

So sample we did and impressed again I am, impressed enough to share with you and even better to really share with you via a giveaway of the complete range of gf bread mixes (valued at $17.60) courtesy of Springhill Farm.

The packet contains the gluten free flour, along with the seeds or fruit depending on the loaf. To make, you supply the yeast and sweetener to activate the yeast (I used a spoon of honey), a pinch of salt and lukewarm water. The directions on the packet call for mixing using an electric mixer with a dough hook, if like me you don't have one of those I did it by hand and it worked out just fine.

You can enter the giveaway twice:
(sorry international readers this giveaway is only open to readers in Australia)

simply leave a comment below, particularly love to hear your gf bread experiences (entry one)
and/or like The Wholefood Mama on facebook (entry two. be sure to leave a comment saying you have hit the 'like' button)

The winner will be chosen using random number generator and will be announced in this post on Thursday 16th May 2013 at 8pm est.

COMMENTS CLOSED - The Winner is #1 Sonia from Natural New Age Mum. Congratulations!

Good luck!

Springhill Farm gluten free bread mixes are available for purchase online here

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