Monday, April 25, 2011

Simply Eleven Good Things

Hours of imaginative play with wooden fruit, vegetables and meats.

Finished knitting projects
And  just started knitting projects

A stack of good reading on my bedside table

A small boy asking for playdough, prompting mama to make scone dough

Plump scones for breakfast

Real cups of tea in real cups and saucers

Washing hanging in the sun to dry

Freedom for a 17 year old (and his parents)
Nighttime rain for the plants

And daytime sun to grow the new seedlings
 And one more...The  daily inspiration provided by SouleMama.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, Sans Chocolate

 Chocolate eggs were hidden in the garden, the driftwood and the sculptures.
 Even Buddha had an egg to give...
 Children, large and small, hunted for eggs.
 The most excitement was experienced by little Charlie, which made it much fun.
Then we took the stash inside, and I was asked about 15 times,"Can I have another egg?"

So, although the title says "sans" chocolate, the family still enjoyed chocolate eggs. However I didn't have a single egg, square of chocolate or chocolate substitute. I thought I might have to make something chocolaty with dextrose to get me through the day, but I didn't get to it, and honestly didn't feel like I had to. I had made some delicious cheesy biscuits the day before, which I enjoyed with my cup of tea. I'm sorry I don't have a recipe, it was all guesstimating. I threw  some butter and gluten free flour into the food processor, added some grated tasty and Parmesan cheeses, salt and paprika and some dried herbs. It made a lovely dough which I then rolled into balls and flattened with a fork.They took about 20 minutes to bake. Yum!

I'm sure a recipe could easily be found on the net.

We had a quiet day to celebrate Easter. Mike spent hours working in the garden, and I spent a couple of hours out there too. To my surprise I came face to face with a very beautiful carpet python in the garden shed. It gave me a bit of a fright, but they are so pretty, and thankfully not venomous, so best to leave it alone. I'll  have to go and check if it is still there and get a photo if it is.

We didn't do much else. Some years we'll do a special lunch, but yesterday we were happy to just take it easy.

How do you celebrate Easter?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Family Favourite Recipe Number Two

Easy Chicken and Rice

I love that this dish is cooked in the oven, it's so easy. Served with a green salad or just some steamed broccoli - delicious.

This recipe serves 4. I usually do one and a half the recipe to feed our big family.

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
8  Chicken drumsticks or thigh pieces with the bone in.(You can also use thighs without the bone, but the cooking time may be decreased and you'll need to check on the dish after 25 minutes.)
1 chopped onion
1 capsicum,chopped
2 garlic cloves,chopped
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons of mild paprika
2 cinnamon sticks
pinch saffron
1/4 tsp chili powder (I sometimes leave this out)
400gram can of tomatoes
1 and 1/2  cups chicken stock
1 cup arborio rice
 fresh parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine, or verjuice

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large oven proof dish. Brown the chicken pieces. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add remaining oil and cook the onion,capsicum and garlic for 2 - 3 mins.
  4. Add spices and cook a further minute.
  5. Add wine(or verjuice),tomato,stock and rice. Then add the chicken.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook 45-50 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
I use a large casserole dish than can go from the gas burner to the oven. If you don't have a dish like that, you could use a large fry-pan to start and transfer to an oven proof dish.

This is a lovely warming dish. Great for Autumn and Winter evenings. Everyone loves  it in our family. And it is even better the following day if you are lucky enough to have left-overs.

What are your family's favourite meals? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Great Cheap, Easy Family meals.

I thought I'd start a series of some of our favourite family meals - easy stand-bys.

Some, or most of these meals can be cooked earlier in the day. I love it when I make the effort to cook early in the day - it means that the "arsenic" hour will be so much more relaxed.

I cook everything gluten and sugar free, but you can use normal flour, breadcrumbs etc.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture for this meal.I did mean to photograph it before we ate, but didn't and now it is all gone!

So here is number one in the series:

Tuna Rice Bake:

Prep time : approx 10 mins, Cook 25 mins

Serves 4 - 6

1/4 cup finely chopped onion ( I actually use a whole medium onion)
1/4 chopped carrots ( I didn't have carrots and substituted with celery)
6 Tablespoons butter ( I use a mix of butter and olive oil sometimes)
3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Plain flour
A grinding of pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 cups of milk (or use half each of milk and cream - very delicious)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 large (425 grams)can of tuna
1 cup of frozen peas ( I used fresh spinach instead last night)
4 cups of cooked rice (brown rice is particularly nice, but any will do)
1/2 cup rice-crumbs or bread-crumbs

  1. Saute onion and carrot in butter for a couple of minutes.
  2. Stir in flour,pepper and mustard.
  3. Continue stirring until smooth and bubbly.
  4. Gradually add the milk, stirring.
  5. Cook, stirring until thickened.
  6. Add half the cheese.
  7. Add the tuna and peas.
  8. Mix the rice in to the creamy mixture.
  9. Spoon the mix into a lightly greased baking dish.
  10. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and spread over the mix.
  11. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 -30 minutes.
Delicious - a real family pleaser.

If you feel like making a salad, it will go quite nicely with the tuna bake, but I never bother.This dish is very satisfying on its own.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Staying Clean

 So it has been 5 weeks since giving up the evil stuff(sugar), and I haven't lapsed. I'm amazed at myself.I've never done anything like this before. I think I did weight watchers for 4 weeks once, and maybe easyslim for 6 weeks, but this feels like a revelation.

My only sort-of lapse was buying and eating chocolate that was labeled sugar-free at the health food shop. I asked the asssitant if it was okay because I was on a sugar-free, fructose free diet. She said yes, and that the local naturopathic guru suggests it to her patients.

Well, I thought, it must be fine, and proceeded to eat a strip of it. It tasted very good. I really enjoyed this little treat.

When I got home, I checked the label and checked it out in Gillespie's book. It is sweetened with maltitol.I'm such a silly billy (and I think perhaps hoping it would be okay despite having a feeling it might not be), because this is a sweetener best avoided. And I found out through personal experience later...

David Gillespie says of maltitol:"it is a sugar alcohol of maltose...we simply cannot digest more than one-half to two-thirds of a sugar alcohol...65 per cent...makes it into your bloodstream.The other 35 per cent feeds the bacteria in the large intestine, resulting in diarrhoea and gas...if fructose is what you are trying to avoid, you might as well be eating sugar for all you are achieving by eating [sugar alcohols] these...these products are metabolised to fructose anyway, you are not doing anything towards breaking your addiction by eating them."

So, I guess I did lapse, but it was kind of unknowingly (should have read the book more carefully!).
Having eaten the chocolate I paid for my sins with a belly full of gas and uncomfortable bloating and won't be going back there any time soon! I have really enjoyed the bloat-free-ness of being sugar free, so I plan to keep it that way.

I think I stay satiated because I'm eating full-fat foods, some of them pictured: nuts, full cream milk,cream,yoghurt, creme fraiche,cheese, hummus and crackers, as well as the usual meat and vegetables for meals.

I wonder if that is why the weight loss has stalled(too much fat)? But I'm not really all that bothered because I feel well. I know my body is being nourished.It feels happy and so do I.

Have you tried going sugar-free? What's your experience?How do you stay away from temptation?

I might need some tips on how to get through's just around the corner.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

 After my last blog entry I think I may have inspired myself to actually use one of the craft books and actually make something.Using a pattern from this book(sorry, no idea of its title, its written in Japanese), I traced the pants pattern, and cut two pairs to make reversal pants for Charlie.

 I used flannel (or brushed cotton, or flannelette)fabric from Anna Maria Horner's "folksy flannels" range. To sew the pants I used the instructions from Anna Maria Horner's book, Handmade Beginnings. Her instructions were very easy to follow. The book is full of gorgeous projects and I hope to make a few more things from the book.
 The quality of this photo isn't very good, but it gives you an idea of the finished product.
Unfortunately my darling son, in true two year old fashion, decided he really didn't want to try on  the pants. I didn't want to push it, because I'd like him to wear them one day. Double flannelette means they'll be super warm in winter. Now I just need to knit a cute little vest to match. Watch this space...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Japanese Crafting

Have you seen the fabulous Japanese craft books available? I had no idea they existed until I started checking out the blogging world. I think I first saw them at SouleMama.

I've since bought some and have spent many happy hours browsing the pages and dreaming of all the lovely things I'll make. I suppose dreaming is part of the creative process...I just wish I could actually make a few things! I have made a couple of items - some shorts for Freya, and the dress/top I have photographed.

 How sweet is this  embroidery book for babies?It is so gorgeous. Ahh...dreaming.

 All the instructions are in Japanese, but they are accompanied with great illustrations, so they aren't difficult to follow. I used a pattern to cut out the bodice of this dress/top. I found a wrap skirt at the thrift shop and loved the fabric, so bought it. I didn't like it as a skirt and thought I'd use the fabric for my quilt. In the end I thought it might make a nice maternity top. So I used the navy cotton lining for the bodice and the pleated skirt part as the skirt (I cut off the  waist band). The skirt even had some ties on it that I used for shoulder straps. It worked out well, but I actually haven't worn it. It can be worn without having to be maternity, but I thought it might be mistaken as a baby bump top, so haven't worn it as yet(waiting for a more flat tummy!).

I will probably spend many more hours looking over the fabulous patterns, and if that's all I do, I will still have got my money's worth!

If you'd like to buy some Japanese Pattern books you'll find a huge selection at Etsy.

Fructose Free Dinner Party

We had a lovely dinner on Saturday night with our lovely friends Carolyn and Mark. I don't like to get too ambitious with dinner parties because I get too stressed, so I stuck to an easy slow cooked lamb, potatoes and a big green salad (thank you lovely garden).

We followed that with a fructose free dessert. I can't say sugar free because I used dextrose, which is powdered glucose, and according to David Gillespie glucose will not make you fat and give you the health issues that fructose (which makes up half of the normal "sugar" we eat) does. Fructose will cause mineral depletion,blood triglyceride elevation,cortisol elevation, uric acid elevation, and fat accumulating around our organs, which is probably the worst kind of weight gain.

Sugar is also addictive and contributes to heart disease,stroke,fatty liver disease,cancer,infertility,impotence and depression.

Dextrose will still make you fat if you eat too much, but for an occasional sweet treat, it is the way to go.

So I made a lovely raspberry ice cream, using the dextrose ice cream recipe (from the Sweet Poison Quit Plan book) and a cup of pureed raspberries. We had that with a chocolate sauce (also from the book) and some raspberries sprinkled on top. I used frozen berries - they are much better value than buying fresh. I would have liked to put the recipe on the blog, but I'm not sure about copyright, so I'll just have to direct you to where I got it from.

My guests loved the desert and no one could tell I hadn't used normal sugar. I'm tempted to start cooking all sorts of treats with dextrose but I don't think it is a good idea. I'll remember what Gillespie's says: party food is for parties....

Here is a link to the wonderful slow cooked lamb. The potatoes taste so good when they are cooked like this.

I didn't take pictures of the food - I thought about it, then decided it was a bit weird to do that before we ate, so I left it!

I'm really feeling the benefits of being sugar fructose free for a month. Although I thought I might have lost more weight, I don't mind because this is more about health than weight. I feel better - not so tired, not bloated, and my sister tells me my skin has a healthy glow. So it has been worth it. And it is really nice to no longer be a slave to my taste buds!