Friday, February 28, 2014

weekend reading

We are about to slip into Autumn. Summer you are gone too soon. Mangoes we'll miss you.

Are your kids driving you crazy asking for treats? Read Georgia's great post on how she handles it.

And if you are worried that you are being too strict when it comes to junk food and that your children will rebel as teens read this.

You can't eat these but they're kind of fun!

If you think happiness, healthiness and creativity should be the foundation of education watch this

Michelle's latest video is up, always so much beautiful food! Go see her make chicken in a pot and spicy meatballs

I loved Ronnie's post - motherhood is...

Don't forget to join me on instagram @wholefoodmama or should that be follow. You know what I mean.

Wishing you all a delicious weekend. Not much planned here which is just the way I like it!

Thanks for reading xx oh and if you like what you find here, tell your friends they might like to visit too the more wholefoodies we have in the world the better I say!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

what's for dinner?

Wouldn't it be nice if when your children asked, 'What's for dinner mum?' you actually knew the answer!!

Well, thanks to a recent chat with my friend Renee who is hungry for some fresh ideas of what to cook for her family I came up with this new series: a weekly recipe link list. I am happy to do the research and find recipes for you that look family and budget friendly, are straight-forward, healthy and sound delicious. Every Tuesday I will post a list of links to 5 recipes that will hopefully give you a boost in inspiration.

We'll try it for a month and see how it goes. If you like it and find it helpful I will keep it going. Let me know what you think.

1. Japanese Beef Rolls - I like the fun presentation of these, the fun factor always helps when feeding children
2.Cauliflower Crust Pizza - Even the most resistant to cauliflower could be won over with this
3.Liana's Chicken and Rice - My friend Liana shared this one pot wonderful recipe with me
4. Red lentil and sweet potato pate - a good snack recipe
5. Chewy apricot muesli bars - some lunchbox love

Happy cooking! x

Monday, February 24, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #8 broth is your new best friend

The weather cooled rapidly here last week and with the changing breeze came a few sniffles and coughs, my first thought was to cook chicken broth.

Home made broth is one of the most nutritionally dense wholefoods that you can add to your diet. It is made by simmering bones of chicken, fish or beef with vegetable scraps, traditionally carrot, celery and onion and herbs such as parsley, thyme and bay leaves. (The difference between broth and stock in case you are wondering, according to this post on The Kitchn, is seasoning - broth is seasoned with salt and pepper, stock is not).

Wholefoods legend and cookbook author, Sally Fallon, dedicates a whole chapter to stocks in her wholefoods bible Nourishing Traditions. On page 116 she writes, "Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth."

Need I say more? Well yes I had because I know there will some of you out there who are phobic about the process of making stock, "it's time consuming", "the straining is messy" and so on. Changing your mindset is as important when embarking down this wholefood path as changing what is in your pantry.

It is so important to replace thoughts about cooking from scratch as time consuming with reminders of how nourishing real food is and how vital it is for long term good health of people and planet. Processed food cannot do this. The cost of convenience in the long term is often illness. Pre made stocks found on the supermarket shelf are generally full of nasties, lots of numbers, flavour enhancers and way too much salt. To really get the low down on this check out Claire's excellent post on her Real Food Real Change facebook post about commercially made stock. And don't miss Australia's Queen of Stock, Alexx Stuart's post 10 reasons to make your own stock.

Bone stock in my kitchen takes the form of chicken broth or lamb shank soup. A cup of chicken broth is a great alternative to having a cup of tea or coffee, it is perfect for an after school snack on cooler days and if your kids are reluctant to eat it add some gluten free noodles and watch them slurp it up!

Wholefood chef Jude Blereau writes about stock in her excellent book Wholefood for Children:

"Bone stocks have been used by just about all traditional cultures for nourishment and healing - Dr Alfred Vogel, one of the early organic, wholefood and natural food advocates, describes their use in Europe for healing; in New York, chicken soup is known as Jewish penicillin (chicken fat contains palmitoleic acid - a powerful immune-boosting monosaturated fat); and throughout Asia, fish stock is believed to be the restorer of chi (life force), and is also a rich source of iodine."

This is how I make my chicken stock:

2 organic chicken carcasses (and yes it does make a difference whether they are organic or not)
1 medium brown onion chopped
1 large carrot chopped
2 sticks celery with leaves chopped
4 whole black peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
filtered water

Place all ingredients in a large heavy based pot and cover with filtered water. Bring to the boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 6-12 hours. The longer the better. You will need to add more water during the cooking process.
Once your stock is made and cooled you can freeze it in one cup portions to have on hand for soups, casseroles, risotto or as a healing, cleansing broth to drink on its own with some seasoning. Drinking a warm cup of this is an instant pick me up. These pictures and recipe were taken from a previous post I wrote about stock, you can read it here.

For a nourishing vegetarian stock or broth, simmer some celery, carrot, onion, ginger, garlic and shitake mushrooms in a pot with filtered water.

Go on, give this a go during the week.

Happy cooking! Tune in on Tuesday for a new series - what's for dinner?

Share your thoughts and stories about stock in the comments below.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

stills on sunday

1. A little gift to myself to start recording notes for our upcoming road trip in May

2. Pete and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary this week with a walk on the beach and after a coffee for me and chai for him. All. By. Ourselves! I love the concentration on Sol's face in this photo

3. My favorites from Byron Bay I wear nearly every day

4. Another day, another dish. Domestic bliss

5. Our backyard veggie patch is crazy with corn.

Friday, February 21, 2014

weekend reading

The weather has cooled dramatically here (I am not ready in any way for summer to be over), we have all had the beginnings of colds so chicken soup laden with onions, garlic and ginger is on the boil. We have no plans at all for the weekend which I am thrilled about, a bit of nesting and mooching at home is precisely what I need. River on the other hand will no doubt have other plans in mind, such a social being that boy!

Here are just some of the posts from around the web that captured my attention this week:

Top 20 tips for food bloggers from Cookie + Kate

Chia seed muesli bars from Eat This My Friend

I am yet to buy a copy but Sarah Wilson's latest ebook I Quit Sugar Kids will no doubt be a great resource for reducing sugar in children's diets

Have you visited the Lunch Lady lately?

Oh and pop over and visit Kristin at Mamacino's freshly polished space, while you're there sign up for her free ebook 'Simple ways for smoother mornings'

Jodi summed it up for me in her post about de-cluttering when she asked - do you want stuff or space?

I can't get enough of Erin's Blue Bird Baby

I had the pleasure during the week of presenting a Blogging for Beginners workshop at our local community centre, such an inspiring group of people came along including Bridget, Alysia and June. If you are new to blogging or don't know where to start, and you will be on the Mornington Peninsula on Saturday March 15th I am presenting the same workshop at Sorrento Community Centre I would love to see you there. Cost $60 lunch included, 9.30am- 2.30pm.

Ok, that's it from me for today. Wishing you all a happy, healthy weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday for the next step in the wholefood step-by-step series. Thanks for reading! Xx

Thursday, February 20, 2014

thursday recipe: banana and watermelon smoothie

Ok, so this is hardly a recipe I know. Hopefully though you will find some tips and inspiration in this post that will get you or keep you on track with healthy breakfasts and snacks which is what nutrient dense smoothies are perfect for!

Over summer our fridge has rarely been without watermelon, so great for rehydrating on those hot hot days when your appetite is low and thirst is high. My boys, River and Sol decided it would be fun if we put some watermelon in the freezer, watermelon that we promptly forgot about for a few days.

When my husband Pete found the watermelon, into a smoothie it went with frozen banana that we always have in ready supply. Pete's biggest annoyance in the kitchen is waste! Sometimes Pete puts ingredients together just so they are not wasted, ingredients that I think are going to be a very weird combo only to find out they are perfect together. This watermelon banana smoothie is a perfect example. Pete made this smoothie using rice milk, if you like coconut water that would be a great alternative.

I am yet to meet a child who doesn't like drinking a smoothie of some description, they really are a fantastic way of boosting nutrient intake.

Here are my tips for making great nourishing smoothies:

- keep a store of frozen bananas, mangos and berries in your freezer (peel the bananas before freezing them). Stock up when these fruits are in peak season and put them in the freezer

- try out different milks or coconut water rather than using the same milk all the time, some smoothies are good made just with filtered water. River and I like, frozen banana, filtered water and baby spinach.

- add natural unsweetened yoghurt, good fermented dairy is great to add to your family's diet

- if you don't have a high speed blender, use baby spinach leaves when making a green smoothie because they blend to a very smooth consistency even without the high speed. There is nothing appealing about a pulpy, thick green smoothie that will not help your 'eat more greens' cause!

- add in a few brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, sunflower or chia seeds to increase the nutrient and protein value

- if you want to add a sweetener use raw honey or rice bran syrup or medjool dates

- spice things up - nutmeg is calming and good for concentration, cinnamon is balanced blood sugar and is good for digestion

- add a spoon of coconut oil for some healthy fat which is so important for regulating hormones and for children good fats are vital brain development food

- add in a fresh, organic raw egg for a protein boost (**raw egg is widely not recommended for pregnant women, young children, elderly or ill people due to risk of salmonella poisoning. Vitally important if you do eat raw eggs that they are fresh and that the shells are not damaged in any way before use)

- if your family is making the switch from commercial flavoured milk try this chocolate banana smoothie - 1 cup of milk of your choice, I forzen banana, 2 teaspoons raw cacao, sweetener of choice. Blend and serve.

Watermelon + banana smoothie

I frozen banana
2 wedges frozen watermelon
2 cups milk of your choice

Place in a blender and whizz until smooth. Enjoy!

I'd love it if you share some of your favorite smoothie combos in the comments.

Monday, February 17, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #7 aluminium free baking powder

Today's post is for all you wholefood bakers. Hooray for you baking from scratch so you know exactly what ingredients go into your cakes, biscuits and muffins. But did you know that most baking powders contain aluminium. Yes, aluminium. Nice huh?

As it is widely known, aluminium exposure has been linked with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. If you are thinking 'oh but a pinch here and there surely can't hurt' and 'if it is dangerous for our health the food regulators wouldn't allow it to be sold.' Well, this is the problem with many foods sold today. It is the cumulative effect that is the problem, the toxic build up in our bodies that occurs as we are exposed to chemicals from different sources - polluted air, cleaning products, factory food, skin care products, deodorants and so on. The more we can minimise our exposure the better it is for our long term health.

Click over to Whole New Mom for a great post on this topic and a recipe to make your own baking powder. And if making your own baking powder is way down your list of priorities (mine too!) then you can buy aluminium free baking powder in most supermarkets and health food stores.

Every little change adds up to a big difference to your health and happiness.

If you want to catch up on the previous steps in this series go here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

thursday recipe: a how to...make rice paper rolls

There's no real recipe to making rice paper rolls but there are a few little tips that can mean the difference between a memorable healthy bite to eat and a soggy mess. Here is your step-by-step guide to rice paper roll perfection!

Step 1: Boil the kettle. Place rice noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand for 8-10 minutes until soft (break apart with a fork). Drain and stand aside.

Step 2: Prepare your filling. The possibilities are endless here. Julienne (finely sliced 'sticks') carrot, cucumber, capsicum. You can add lettuce if you like and fresh herbs such as Vietnamese mint and or coriander mean the difference between tasty and bland. Choose your protein and cook it to your liking - fish, prawns, chicken, tofu, tempeh. For this batch I used chicken, I dusted it lightly in flour, salt and pepper and pan fried it. A winner! Avocado is a favorite addition at our place.

Step 3: In a flat shallow dish pour in a few centimetres of lukewarm water ready to dip your rice paper.

Step 4: (see below) A quick dip this is one of the keys to success. Don't be fooled into thinking you need to soak the paper until it is soggy. Just dip it through the water, ensuring it is completely wet to the edges but don't leave it sitting in the water.

Step 5: Lay your rice paper on a clean surface, the bench top is fine. We have a large wooden board that runs the length of our bench, the rice paper sticks slightly but it is manageable.

Step 6: Place your filling at the top end away from your body. The key here is not to overstuff the rice paper. The other tip is place the colourful ingredients on first so that you finish up with pretty rice paper rolls where you can see the colours through the paper. If you put the noodles down first you will end up with white rolls which will still taste yummy but not look as good. You will get better with practice at working out the ratio of noodles. Think less not more.

Step 7: Gently peel the top edge off your bench and fold it over your filling ingredients, tucking them in as you go.

Step 8: Gently peel the right hand edge off the bench and fold over to the centre.

 Step 9: Gently peel the left hand edge off the bench and fold to the centre.

Step 10: Roll towards you.

Step 11: Celebrate. Your rice paper roll is complete.

For a quick dipping sauce I mix a few big spoons of peanut butter and sweet chilli sauce together and thin it out with some water. Again you can be as imaginative as you like when it comes to making a dipping sauce. For two recipes - hoisin and peanut dipping sauce, or Vietnamese dipping sauce, check out One Handed Cooks.

These are best eaten close to the time you make them but if you are making them ahead of time store them in the fridge and cover with a damp cloth to keep them fresh. They are great for an afterschool snack.


Monday, February 10, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: # 6 milk it

Milk is a great example of how processed food has become. Once upon a time people drank milk fresh from a cow (or goat or sheep). 'Milk the cow' would have been an item on your to do list. Not so these days.

Let's take a look at the different milks available and see if I can make it a little easier for you to sort your almond milk, from your soy, cow, goat, rice, oat, A2, skinny milk, raw, pastuerised and homogenised. Oh add coconut milk to that list.

Cow's milk
First, a couple of terms explained. You've probably noticed the words 'pasteurised' and 'homogenised' on the side of cow's milk cartons, essentially this means that the milk has been processed - read changed - from its natural state.

What is pasteurisation?
Pasteurisation is when milk is heated to approximately 72 degrees celcius for 15-20 seconds. The reason milk is treated in this way is to kill all disease-causing microbes.

What is homogenisation?
Basically homogenisation keeps the components of milk together. That is the cream, the fat, does not rise to the top as it did in an old-fashioned bottle of milk. 

Cow's milk (or goat or sheep milk) that hasn't been processed is known as raw milk and is illegal to sell in Australia. The reason it is illegal is because the pasteurisation process destroys any potentially harmful bacteria, the problem is the pasteurisation also destroys the enzymes in the milk and alters the composition making it difficult for many people to digest and leaving it devoid of its natural nourishing properties. I have many friends who seek raw milk out usually through their local health food stores where it is sold as 'bath milk' this gets around the legalities. For more about raw milk read this post I wrote last year, or this post from Sally Fallon author of Nourishing Traditions.

The name of this milk, A2, refers to the type of protein in the milk of Jersey and Guernsey cows. Whereas the milk from Holstein cows, the main breed of dairy cow in Australia, is A1. The key difference between A1 and A2 beta casein proteins is their digestibility, A2 is reported to be much easier to digest this is why it has become increasingly popular. Blogger and nutritionist Katie 180 has written this convincing post in support of switching to A2 milk. And this post from The Food Intolerance Network is worth a look.

Goat's Milk 
Goat's milk has a very distinctive flavour and smell that for most people is quite overpowering in comparison to cow's milk. Some people who find the proteins in cow's milk difficult to digest, find the protein in goat's milk easier on their digestion. Again, the raw form of this milk is the most nutritionally dense. For more detailed information on goat's milk go here.

Rice Milk and Oat Milk
Milk from rice or oats? Yes when I stop and think about that it definitely does not seem right! If eating a low or no processed diet is your aim, then it is best to steer clear of milk substitutes such as these.
I started having rice milk on my porridge or muesli, or in a smoothie, a few years ago when I began weaning myself off soy milk (still a work in progress, I drink soy in my daily coffee). It is very important to read the ingredients on these milks, you might be surprised to learn that most contain oil of some kind such as sunflower and some also contain sweeteners and salt.

Soy Milk
The subject of soy milk probably warrants a whole post of its own but keeping in context of this post if you are going to include soy milk in your diet look for organic, GMO, additive free and be mindful of the quantity you are consuming. There have been many links made between drinking soy milk and hormonal imbalance, namely relating to thyroid regulation. For more info read
The Myths and Facts about soy milk  and my previous post on soy milk.

Coconut Milk
To say coconut anything is flavour of the month would be an understatement! I'm not sure about coconut milk in a morning cup of tea but definitely coconut milk is a great addition to your cooking be it in curries or in baking, or in your favorite smoothie. Here is an excellent article on coconut milk that includes directions to make your own.

Almond Milk
As with rice and oat milk, milk from nuts? I'm not convinced. Once in a while I think almond milk is fine in your smoothie or if you like a warm milk drink. If you want to have a go at making almond milk at home here is a terrific post from The Kitchn on how to do it.

In my house we have rice milk for muesli or porridge and soy milk for chai. The bottle of A2 in the picture above I bought to use in a cake recipe, I am tempted to give A2 a go in place of the rice milk and soy milk but I don't like that it is not organic.

A friend who is a naturopath and agrees that deciding what to eat is difficult especially when there is so much conflicting information available, when it comes to milk she switches the variety around regularly, one week buying rice milk, raw milk the next, oat milk another time and so on.

Things to consider when it comes to choosing the right milk for you and your family
- Is it organic?
- Free of genetically modified ingredients?
- Monitor the quantity consumed
- Look for symptoms - such as congestion, tummy upsets, skin rashes - that could be related to the type and quantity of milk you are drinking.
- Switch milks around to see which one is the most compatible with your digestion and nutritional needs.

** remember, I am not a doctor or health practitioner if you require health or dietary advice please see a qualified professional who comes well recommended.

Further reading

Choice magazine review of alternative milks
Coconut and almond milk in cartons not a healthy buy

Tell me, I am fascinated to know how many different kinds of milk you have in your fridge right now! Share your milk stories in the comments, it may well help someone else.

Friday, February 07, 2014

weekend reading

How are you mamas? I hope it's been a smooth start to the school term. I'm looking forward to an afternoon at the beach! Here's a little weekend reading for you...

How good do Soulemama's home made crackers look?!

Carrying on from my post about fats & oils  if you are hungry for a lot more info on this topic I found this: Fats and Oils for Optimum Health

Have you seen We Don't Eat Animals? It is Ruby Roth's virtual home, Ruby is a vegan and according to her website 'the world's leading author and illustrator of vegetarian and vegan books for children'. Her passion for what she believes in is inspirational.

I'm not convinced about the nut overload popular with the raw food movement but I have to say this raw raspberry cheesecake looks pretty good!

And while we're over at My New Roots, how good does this coconut black rice breakfast pudding look?!

Totally off topic of food for a moment, this week I've been emailing River's Godmother Rachel who lives in the UK and inspires me because of the work she does with The Girls Home in Nicaragua, and a new initiative she has launched with her friend Sascha Havlicek. VIP is the name of their project, Rachel and Sascha are concerned about girls growing up in an appearance obsessed society and perhaps not fulfilling their true potential. The aim of VIP is to encourage girls to love what who they are and to celebrate their own uniqueness. Good plan!

And in other news, on Tuesday 18th of February I'm presenting a blogging for beginners workshop!
If you are keen to start a blog or have just begun and now feel overwhelmed, I'd love to share with you practical tips on setting up and growing your blog. Phone Sorrento Community Centre to book your place: 5984 3360. The workshop runs from 9.30am-2.30pm $60 lunch included. And if you can't make it on the 18th a second workshop is scheduled for Saturday 15th March, 9.30am-2.30pm.

Have a great weekend! See you back here Monday for the next instalment of wholefood step-by-step.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

thursday recipe: coconut, seed lunchbox bikkies

These energy packed little morsels came about because Pete brought home a couple of coconuts and I had to think of something to do with the flesh. I grated some up in the food processor and decided to come up with some biscuits and they turned out deliciously enough to share with you.

Pete was watching me make them and as I poured the whole cup of coconut oil in he said, "That's a lot of oil if I eat the whole batch." True. "You won't be eating the whole batch," I assured him in a you-won't-be-eating-the-whole-batch tone.

He's right though it is a lot of oil and as a result the biscuits are quite rich which is a good thing because if you eat more than one you'll instantly feel you've over done it and won't do that again. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

They are good ones to pack for school lunches and are oh so simple to make.

Coconut, seed lunchbox bikkies

1 cup gluten free self-raising flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup liquid coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

If your coconut oil is solid, melt it on the stove.

Pour the coconut oil into the mixing bowl and combine with dry ingredients until well mixed.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Allow roughly one tablespoon of mixture per biscuit, shape into rounds and place on tray.

Bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden.

Cool on wire rack. Hide them from husband and children.

Monday, February 03, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #5 switch to real honey

Here we are, step number 5. How are you going with putting the steps into practice?
One little change each week is pretty easy, yes?

The next step is saying goodbye to heat treated, filtered honey you find on the supermarket shelf and seeking out the real stuff. Gorgeous, golden, raw, unfiltered honey is nutritionally wonderful food. (update 21st Feb 2014 - Bee farmer Stephen Lechner has pointed out in the comments that all honey is indeed filtered and it is the 'raw' part that is the most important as far as health benefits are concerned. Thankyou Stephen!)

That said, honey is still a form of sugar, mainly fructose, so keep the quantity you eat in perspective and balance with the rest of your diet - don't go crazy with it!

Savour a spoon on your porridge or buckwheat pancakes, in your favorite smoothie or eat a spoon alongside a cup of ginger and lemon tea when you have a cold. In her fabulous wholefoods book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon writes that honey is "an ideal sweetener for porridge or toast, as the amylases in raw honey help digest grains". (p.536)

Let's take a look at the differences between raw honey and heated honey.

From hive to shelf - raw honey compared to heat treated honey

Bees work really hard to make honey. One bee flies between 100 to 1500 flowers to get their fill of nectar before returning to the hive to deposit it with the 'worker' bees who chew it, and fan it with their wings to turn it from runny nectar into the thick consistency we know as honey.

Ideally, we would all buy honey directly from the apiarist, the person who looks after the bees. If you shop at a farmers market there is a good chance you can do this, but if you miss the farmer's market and don't know someone with hives in their backyard then head to your local health food store and see what's on offer there. Even some health food stores stock local honey, the main thing is you want it to be raw, not treated with heat.

Commercially processed honey is heat treated to kill any naturally present bacteria, to make it easier to filter and pour, and to delay natural crystallisation. The problem with pasteurising and heating honey, is that it kills the natural enzymes, antioxidants, minerals, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties present in raw honey so you are left with an inferior version with no nutritional value:
empty calories.

Why eat raw honey?

For me the answer to this is because if you are going to include sweetener in your diet, raw honey is a natural food. It is a food that traditional hunters and gatherers have eaten for thousands of years and has been celebrated for its rejuvenating and healing properties as listed above; natural enzymes, antioxidants, minerals, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Is raw honey safe for everyone?

Honey, raw or heated, is not recommended for children under 12 months of age. This is because their digestive systems are too immature to digest any potentially harmful bacteria that may be present in minimal quantity in honey, whereas children and adults are able to digest honey safely because their digestive systems are stronger.

For a detailed explanation of the differences between raw honey and heated treated honey and how it is processed go here.

Do you eat raw honey? What is your favorite way to include honey in your wholefood diet? Do you have bee hives in your backyard? Talk to me, tell me your thoughts about honey - yes or no?
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