Wednesday, 14 September 2011

We've been sick...

Our home has been a site of illness for the last 4 weeks, but the last two weeks were the worst. 
Due to the needs of my unwell family members, and my own battle with a cold and conjunctivitis, I chose to opt out of posting on this blog until life settles once more.
I'll be back when I can finally say that it has. 
Hope all of your own homes are places of healing and health right now! :-)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Week 3+....

I've lost track of days - well, let me count. is day 24. 
That's not a bad thing, you know. 

Good habits take time and gradually I am changing things for the better. Some positive improvements I have made in these last 3+ weeks are:

* Portions are smaller.
* When I put food in my mouth I ask myself if I am genuinely hungry. If not, I put what's left on my plate in the bin or on the garden.
* I walk! Every day, and almost everywhere - even to the supermarket. 
* The 16 steps from the back decking down to the yard (and the car, and the laundry, and the clothesline) are fast becoming my fitness ally because I walk briskly up and down them around 20 times a day.
* We had takeaway tonight and I chose a 6 inch Sub from Subway and loaded it with salad. 
* My husband and 17yo have been sick and have decided they'd like to eat healthier! \o/\o/ (I almost cried with relief and joy)
* My weight  didn't change from last week, but my cargo pants have room in the waist so I think there is a lot of muscle forming from those steps every day! 
* I'm more conscious of what groceries, fruit and veg I buy, and how to use them better.
* Basic meals are my husband's favourite, nothing fancy. How's that for simplifying life?

To be food conscious means a lot of things to me - what is in season? What has the least packaging? What is local? What can I preserve for later? What can we afford?
Strawberries are so cheap and plentiful up here in the tropics at the moment that they feature daily in my menu and the extras I make. 
Strawberry & Almond Milk Smoothies are a favourite 11am and 3pm snack...
They make up part of a lunch time fruit plate...(the passionfruits are also pentiful right now)
Instead of buying jam I am making my own every week. It's much nicer and not as sweet as the bought jars. Last week's Strawberry & Vanilla Jam was used to bake two oat-laden Matrimonial Slices today. My family still enjoy a sweet treat so I choose to make them as wholesome as possible...
With no more jam left after making the slices it was time to cook up another couple of jars - this time Strawberry & Apple, and as is usual these days, I took some over to eldest daughter Kezzie's along with one of the Matrimonial Slices, and a container full of my yummy dhal...
 Kezzie and Blossom love my dhal because it's very spicy and perfect with a dry curry - although Blossom likes it just poured over rice. 
Bread is another thing I like to bake, and this Carrot and Sultana Loaf is made for Blossom. She cuts thick slices and melts cheese over the top.
The original recipe asked for cinnamon to be added to the dough but I grate in the zest of an orange instead. Yum!
 The recipe for the bread can be found HERE.
I recently read that people who make and drink raw vegetable/fruit juices more than 3 times per week have a 76% lower risk of developing Alzheimers Disease. Apparently you need to have things like carrot, beetroot, apples, red grapes, and celery in the juices for maxiumum benefit. The juice I make has everythng except the grapes, so once they come into season again I'll add them in.
Do you have any interesting and helpful health tips to share?
Healthy Hugs

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Days17 & 18

I've eaten some lovely food this weekend, but I'm pleased to say I stayed on portion control. 
We had dinner at a friend's home on Saturday night, and were blessed with the yummiest sweet potato soup. I could have eaten another bowl it was so good! Think I'll play around with making one myself this week.
Breakfasts are still Buckwheat Granola, and lunch is usually some form of salad with avocado. I'm avoiding morning and afternoon teas without any problem, which is a good habit to break. In the past that is where my over-calorific (that is not a word, I know) daily intake occured.
Hubby and I did a lot of walking on Saturday and he really wanted a meat pie from our award winning bakery along the way. It was lunch out together so I ordered one too, but only ate a half. I figured that was ok as an occasional thing, after all if I deny myself everything then I will fail at this. It's about being wise with choices outside the home, and still enjoying a treat once in a while. 
Today I made another home-made jelly. Apple this time for the grandsons...
Tomorrow will be a big day with bread to bake, jam to make, and some sunflower snacks to dehydrate. 
I'd also like to have a big bowl of fruit salad on hand for when I need a sweet hit about 3.30pm; it's been a month since I quit caffeine completely and I get very tired mid afternoon. Perhaps I should make a carrot, beetroot, celery and apple juice instead? When I make these in the morningI feel like Roger Ramjet does after swallowing a super proton energy pill! The energy rush is incredible! 
Tonight was the family dinner night at our place and the spread was delicious. I had small portions of everything, and as long as I can keep that side of things under control I know these Sunday dinners won't mess with my weight loss journey. 
You can read about our dinner HERE.
Now to plan the week's, fun, fun. ;-)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Days 14, 15 & 16

Let me start by asking "how are you going?"
Have you joined in with me on the 30 day Accountability? If so, are you seeing results? Please share what's happening with you. :-)
The last few days have rushed by in a bit of a blur, but I know I've been doing fairly well by mostly making good food choices. I'm loving all the time spent in the kitchen, but have had to step back a wee bit to get back and work on Elefantz HOME magazine, as well as other designs for a few print magazines.
Mostly I am sticking with the Buckwheat Granola for breakfast, but today it was so cold that I cooked up a bowl of hot porridge with cranberries and a sprinkle of brown sugar...
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy porridge so this may be on the menu often in the week ahead. 
Blossom loves my orange and currant muffins so I baked a good supply of them today, using the buttermilk I made last weekend....
An hour later my daughter Kezzie dropped by and when she left there were six muffins mysteriously missing. Mmmm....
I have been looking for healthy desserts to make the family and today I made my very first fresh jelly. 
I can't believe how simple this was!
400 ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 100 ml boiling water, and 1 tablespoon of gelatine. 
Sun-dried tomato bread was the next kitchen project to take up my morning. I'm going to use slices as a pizza base for the family's lunch tomorrow.
I have been craving Sushi so may make more of that tomorrow - it's the nori. I love it!
On the whole I've stayed with fresh salads, a little wholegrain bread, grilled meat, and plenty of fruit and veg this week, but I can tell by the weight loss that too many grains have been on my menu. 
Over the next week they'll only appear sporadically, and I'll see how that shows on the scales. 

By the way, the jelly was good. :-)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Days 12 & 13...

Remember I showed you how I soak my rice with water and lemon juice the morning before I want to cook it? If you don't do this already, I'd like to encourage you to try it. The rice takes on a beautiful softness - so smooth in texture and tasting better than I can communicate in words. My family notice it, and that's a big statement from them! ;-)
Last night's dinner was this wonderful rice with a simple chicken stir fry...
Even 18yo son ate it, so I was impressed. To bless him for giving this a go (he's never been keen on stir fry), today I made one of his favourite foods - sushi with smoked salmon. 
 I also made sushi for myself, but omitted the smoked salmon (yuk!) and added avocado and wasabi to the carrots and cucumber instead.

We've had a glut of strawberries this month and I can't stop myself from buying them each time I pass through the fresh produce aisle at the supermarket because they are so cheap! 
Of course, there are only so many fresh strawberries we can eat, and I needed to use up the overflow of red pretties, so today I made a couple of jars of Strawberry & Vanilla Jam. 
The thing with jam (jelly if you're in the USA) is that most people only make it if they are going to be preserving a large number of jars, but I like to make it even if there's only enough fruit for one or two jars. It gets eaten very quickly here, so I only have to pour boiling water into the glass jars and don't have to seal them.
Today I had 341g of sliced strawberries...
...and I added 225g extra fine (castor) sugar that I've had in  jar with 2 vanilla beans for a few months. 
I put the sugar and strawberries in a saucepan with the vanilla beans, and added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice...
Mash the strawberries in the pot, then bring it all to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium and stir frequently. When the fruit becomes quite rich in colour, take a little onto a teaspoon to see if it gels and doesn't run. If it sets quickly it is ready. This took around 12 minutes for me today.
Pour into jars and cool...
I added a paper lid and some ribbon to one jar and gave it to my daughter, Kezzie. 
I also took some Pumpernickel Bread to Kezzie's. This is such an easy recipe and the bread is delicious - especially with my Strawberry and Vanilla jam!
So how am I feeling at almost the end of 2 weeks of Accountability?
Maybe you can tell by my photo...
I have established the habit of daily granola, lots of salad (we had steak and a large salad for dinner tonight), no caffeine, choosing a variety of grains other than wheat, and walking everywhere I can. 
Tomorrow is day 14, so time to start some serious exercise. (the Zumba Basics dvd might actually find it's way into the dvd player!)
I'll let you know how I go.
So tell me, how are *you* going??

Monday, 15 August 2011

Days 10 & 11

The weekend was a good one - lots of family time, and things to do.
Mr E and I rode down to Ravenswood on Saturday morning, after a nourishing bowl of my breakfast tapioca. 
We arrived back home before lunch so I baked the scone mix I'd been soaking in buttermilk since Friday morning. I added cranberries and orange zest for flavour and sweetness....
...they were mouthwateringly delicious indeed, and a big hit with all the family and one of Blossom's friends who came to visit. 
Just a smear of butter is all that's needed, and of course a pot of tea.

For dinner there was only the two of us at home so we opted for simple tea and toast with a few strawberries on the side. 
On Sunday,  after a breakfast of banana/blueberry almond milk smoothies we strolled through the markets with our eldest daughter, her hubby and children, before heading home for sour dough salad sandwiches. 
I baked jam drop biscuits (cookies) for the boys and we all nibbled on them over afternoon tea. 
Even though these are a sweet treat, and I am avoiding that as much as possible during this 30 Day Accountability, I am pleased that I know every ingredient used in their making and my grandsons are not being filled with artificial additives and chemicals. 
My eldest girl, Kezzie, is a wonderful home cook and prides herself on making foods from scratch for her children and husband.
Both our families had dinner together last night and this time we chose to buy some take-away from the fish and chip shop. I had a piece of fish (Red Emperor) and made my own salad for a side dish. 
Today I was back to my Granola and freshly made yoghurt for breakfast, and have rice for tonight's dinner soaking in lemon juice and water...
I'm making an Asian style chicken and serving it over rice with salad on the side. I don't think I can get through the day without one or two salads!
As I have mentioned before, having a bit of soy each day has made a huge difference to the number of hot flushes that bombard my body. 
For me, this has been a bit of a miracle as nothing else has curbed them. I went from 40 flushes a day to about 8. 
However, over the last week I haven't had any flushes at all! Deciding that after 4 years this could well mean I am on the tail end of menopause, I quit having soy about 5 days ago.  Soy is not good for people like me with thyroid conditions, but I made the decision to use it this last year or so because the pain of those flushes had to be felt to be believed, and I needed relief, and I had no intention of using HRT. I saw soy as the lesser of two evils.
I also never used soy in my productive years as it can cause all sorts of problems with pregnancy and fertility. 
Due to a few comments and emails about my use of soy I wanted to clarify my reasons for doing so. 
For insight into soy, so that you can make your own decision, read THIS informative article. 

So for me, I'm enjoying flush-free days and nights, especially with the tropical summer almost knocking on our door again, and I'm also pleased that I can opt out soy for good now. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Days 8 & 9

Day 8 included a surprise birthday dinner for my eldest daughter, Kezzie, who moved to town on Monday with her family. You can read all about it HERE
I started the day with Granola again, and a big salad for lunch. Kezzie loves my Granola and sour dough bread so I made extra for her to take home and now she's having the Granola each morning too. She is so eager to eat healthy!
I made a chicken and rice dish with plenty of vegetables for her belated birthday dinner, and this simple passionfruit cheesecake for dessert. 
This has been the first totally sweet treat I've had since starting the detox and 30 day accountability, and I only had a small slice. It was lovely, but I was quite satisfied with my portion and did not desire more. \o/ 
Last night I soaked tapioca in coconut cream and water so I could cook it when I woke this morning. I love how the solid white pearls become translucent after cooking....
Today I mixed it with grated apple, flaked almonds, maple syrup, and natural yoghurt before serving with my two favourite fruits at the moment - passionfruit and strawberries.
(Don't you love the tablecloth? A vintage $2 find at the opshop yesterday with Kezzie)
This recipe is from....
...and I have shared it and method HERE.
After dehydrating a fresh batch of Sprouted Buckwheat Granola I refilled the dehydrator with cherry tomatoes. These were a bargain at $1 for a huge bag, and I was able to fill two trays! We had them with dinner tonight and I will never buy dried tomatoes from the supermarket again - this was cheap, easy, and so much nicer. Tomorrow I will be planting a few cherry tomato plants in pots so I can have my own supply on hand in a couple of months.
Last year I did an online course with Nourished Kitchen and I still re-watch the videos and go through my recipe sheets regularly for ideas. Today I soaked a mix of wheat, spelt, and rye flour in buttermilk for making scones tomorrow...
The mix sits out on the bench for 12-24 hours, then I add the remaining ingredients to bake into scones. This is such a healthy way to eat grains as the enzyme inhibitors in the flours are broken down to make the scones more digestible.  I'll add some orange zest and cranberries, and we'll have these freshly baked in the morning for breakfast.
I also soak rice with lemon juice (or whey) and water for about 6-8 hours before I rinse it and cook by the absorption method. Last night Kezzie and the family commented on how incredibly fluffy the rice was and it was because of the pre-soaking with an acidic medium. 
Regarding buttermilk, I make my own. I use the Food Renegade's recipe HERE, and have never had a problem. This is today's litre already forming a thick head of creme fraiche after just an hour in our very warm tropical winter air...
Lunch today was a tossed salad with thin slices of the roast beef from earlier in the week. I played around and invented my own salad dressing - it was scrumtpious, so I am sharing it with you. Just mix equal parts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Tamari, and Sweet Chilli Sauce. 
Tonight we finished off the roast beef with another salad (which included my dried tomatoes) and some hard boiled organic free range eggs. Some toasted sour dough bread from Wednesday's baking, and we were quite satisfied. I am still smiling at having my husband eat the same meals as me lately. Who would have thought he'd catch on after all these years? Although I must confess he doesn't like sour dough so he has plain white bread instead. Little by little, step by step...patience. :-)
Before I go I promised African Aussie the Lime & Lemongrass Chicken recipe, so just click on the photo below and it will come up on your screen. Alternate click on the enlarged photo and save it to your computer. 

PS: Jenny from the Nourished Kitchen has shared many of her wonderful recipes online. Have a browse HERE for some healthy ideas!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Day 6 & 7

What a busy week! My plans for Monday evening changed at the last moment because my eldest daughter, her hubby and sons all arrived at 5pm - two days early! They had made the mammoth drive from the bottom to the top of Australia in just 4 days. 
I cannot even tell you how wonderful it was to hug them all, and to sit around the table and share our first meal together as a family in years. :-)
I had those leftover rissoles, plus I bought a BBQ chicken. I made three fresh salads, some of my famous chick pea patties and fresh hummous, grabbed fresh rolls from the supermarket, and we finally gathered around the table and thanked the Lord for the bounty of family members and food gathered before us. What a wonderful meal! And I never once thought to bring out the camera. ;-)
Tuesday I baked fresh raspberry muffins for the extended family, but for myself I have stuck to fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of salads, a bit of yoghurt, and still my granola each morning. 
Last night Kezzie and her family had dinner in their new home. They were very tired and wanted to get back to some routine with the children, so I sent them home with a big pot of leftover beef and potato curry that I'd made for Blossom on Friday. 
Blossom finished off the chick pea patties, while hubby and I shared a chicken stir fry with rice noodles. I made the same raw cacao sauce from the other night, but this time I poured it over blackberries. 
I also baked my Sour Dough Bread last night, but waited until this morning to have some. It was delicious! 
Avocados are numerous and cheap right now so for breakfast I smeared some on the sour dough bread and added a little salad and some marinated Feta that I'd done the night before. With some strawberries and a freshly squeezed orange juiceto finish off, I was full of energy all day. 
 The ground under my kitchen window was scattered with fallen passionfruit from the blustery wind last night and I was able to gather a bowl full. I love having passionfruit with my granola and yoghurt!
 Because Kezzie and her family were coming for breakfast I also baked up some fresh orange and currant muffins. I did not eat any, but they loved them!
Kezzie also tried my sour dough bread and the granola - she loved them both so has taken some home for her breakfast tomorrow. The boys didn't want to try them as they were too hooked on the muffins! 
All the while we were sitting on the deck having breakfast, drinking tea and sharing from the Bible, we had a visitor watching us...
...a kookaburra!
It's almost spring so many birds come nesting in the huge trees that fill our back yard. We are all hoping this one stays. Kookaburras are my favourite bird, you see. :-)
For dinner tonight there was just hubby and I so we had roast beef  with a warm potato salad and a tossed green salad. It was yummy!
Honestly, I can say that I am feeling wonderful! This has been a good lesson for me in staying true to the goal, but I still have 24 days to go in the challenge. It's not hard to avoid treats, and it's not hard to make interesting and tasty meals. It just takes planning , motivation, and some good cookbooks/un-cooking books.
The best thing, though, has been eliminating caffeine. \o/
PS: I will share the Lemongrass Chicken recipe next time for AfricanAussie. :-)