Sarah Short Circuit

Heal, Nourish, Nurture

Category: Nourish (page 2 of 3)

Money Tree

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but in tight times I so wish it did. Times are tight financially for my family at present with last Friday being the tightest we have been with $0.05 remaining the joint account (until the following Tuesday!). The fridge was bare, we were down to our last reheat meal and we were due to visit the farmers market on Saturday to restock on fresh produce and meat. How were we going to manage to live for the next fortnight?

Not having money is a huge stress for me and having a mere 5 cents in our joint account made me pause and reflect on our situation. Finances have been exceptionally tight for the past 3 years after I was made redundant at work when I was 30 weeks pregnant. This was a huge challenge for us during the most exciting time of bringing our first child into the world and was further compounded when I developed Postpartum Psychosis. Like the average Australian we carried a credit card debt and we tended to spend more than we earned. We are living pay check to pay check, and at times I am checking the account balances daily to monitor the ever occurring whirlwinds of money comes in and money goes out.

I reassessed our financial predicament:

  • Pay yourself first

In working out a budget system that works for my family I came across Melissa at Frugal and Thriving. I love her concept of paying yourself first. Each week I allocate money aside for different expenses and whatever is left (usually not much) is what we have to spend. The beauty of paying yourself first is that you set up automatic payments so it’s money you can’t see and therefore can’t spend on everyday expenses. Each week we allocate money for things like upcoming bill expenses (transferred into a savings account), health insurance, transport and savings for my son for future expenses.

Last week I had paid our selves first, then had some unexpected but necessary expenses and therefore was left with nothing left to spend for the rest of the week.

  • Earning tips

My husband works in an industry where he earns tips. Tips have given us the space to breath during these tight times. The luxury of getting take away or a meal out. Or buying a lush bottle of wine (or two). Or simply adding some extra cash to our coin jar to stretch the budget. Recently I was reading Cait’s story at Blonde on a Budget, and I got an aha moment. You should not be reliant on tips to pay your fixed expenses. We are not reliant on these tips, particularly as we never know when and how much tips will be.  Something to work on though is to put some tips towards our debt repayments.

Last week husband was paid tips and it went towards fixed expenses rather than stretching the budget.

  • Debt Repayment

I got the shock of my life a while back when I looked at the credit card statement; if we were paying the minimum repayments each month it would take up 112 years to pay it off. While we always paid more than the minimums anyway, this hustled me in banning the use of the credit card. I worked through No Spend January and Frugal February with the help of the group from Slow your Home, even got through most of March even with large car expenses. However by April the wheels fell off with a budget blow out and the use of the credit card crept back into our lives.  Melissa at Frugal and Thriving has some great tips on debt busting and  I have used many different ways of paying off debt by choosing what works best for me. Whilst paying off debt we are also building up a small savings at the same time. I can’t get on top of the credit card debt if I continue to keep swiping it any chance I get.

I declared July a no spend credit card month.

  • Christmas crunch

Each year Christmas rolls around and the credit card gets a work out. By January we suffer with the credit card hangover. Each year we kept saying we should save up for next year’s Christmas but never do. This year I decided to do things differently. I came across this brilliant 52 week money challenge from Jan at A Gluttonous Wife and thought it was something I would challenge myself with in the lead up to this year’s Christmas.

Starting with $1 in Week 1, each week I add a dollar more than the previous week, so Week 2 is $2, Week 3 is $3 and so forth.  The first 6 months have sailed by without any challenge and have allowed me the extra cash to put towards debt repayments. Week 30 is $30 and will only continue to increase, plus I still am working on paying off debt. I am hanging in there as the $1300 incentive by Christmas will be a nice present to myself of a stress free Christmas period.

Now I am in July, 30 weeks into the challenge, I am starting to feel the burn.

  • Cash versus (debit) card

Part of paying ourselves first is allocating how much we can spend on groceries each week. I find I am better able to track expenses when we use our debit card, particularly as we have a joint account and we both do the shopping at different times during the week. The exception to using our debit card is each week I withdraw a set amount of cash to spend at the farmers markets. Having cash only to spend at the markets makes us take note of what we are spending and what our priorities are.

While there was only $0.05 in our joint account, we had $100 cash for the farmers market.

So we changed our plan of attack. Instead of going to the farmers market with a supermarket top up we opted for the local fruit store and Aldi for our entire shop. I had to slacken my priority of health buying organic, or spray free fruit and vegetables where possible for everything conventional. I chose price over packaging and selected vegetables that were pre-wrapped in the foam trays and plastic wrap or bundles together in plastic mesh bags, trying not to think about Plastic Free July. I was still supporting small local business by shopping at the local fruit store plus I was able to pick up some great bargains though in the reduced section. To stretch the grocery budget further we bought our meat from Aldi rather than the local butchers, but was still able to get grass-fed meat or free-range chicken which are on my list of priorities for health. I was proud of myself of putting food on our plate for less this fortnight. Husband and I did a huge cook up on Saturday night to start us off with a bang for our buck!

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Our cook up

Do you live week to week? Have you got debt to repay? What are some of the tricks and tips you do to manage your finances?

 

Wipe Out

At a recent birthday celebration my son managed to spread icing down his pants while eating a cup cake. Being at someone’s else home I hesitated at first on how to deal with the mess. ‘Go grab a baby wipe from inside’ someone suggested. Now that our kids are getting older and are all out of nappies I would never have thought to go get a baby wipe. I quickly went inside and grabbed a wipe. Opening the packet took my breath away with the overpowering, fake fragrance. The baby wipe was great to clean up the icing but I thought to myself how can anyone use these on their children with all those chemicals in it?

You know you're a mom when you use baby wipes

Baby wipes are an essential item for parents and tend to be used for everything, not just on babies bottoms. However, people are starting to become more aware of the hidden nasties lurking in seeming innocent products like baby wipes. The latest headline “The South Australian Government said national figures showed 15 per cent of people tested this year had reacted to the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI), which is used in some brands of wipes.”. I have heard numerous stories of children developing a rash around their mouth from their parents using baby wipes to wipe their faces. This preservative MI was reported last year to being linked in an increase in allergic reactions and dermatitis and was what prompted me to look at the ingredients listed on the baby wipes I was using at the time as my son had a bad case of nappy rash. Jo at Down to Earth mother has recently blogged a great post on 10 ingredients to look out for in baby wipes.

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My cloth wipes and Wot Not wipes

As I learnt more about the chemical toxins in our personal care products, as well as the issue of the fatberg in our sewers, I phased out conventional baby wipes. Being a cloth nappy family we used cloth wipes with a splash of water at home rather than baby wipes. Our family found that cloth wipes tend to get most poo-namis cleaned up using a 2-3 wipes rather 10 or more baby wipes that you feel are smearing everywhere. Husband tends to still prefer the cloth wipes even now we are in the toilet training phase as the cloth wipes are even better than toilet paper. Cloth wipes are also a more frugal alternative to conventional baby wipes. If we happened to need a baby wipe while out and about or for use at Day Care I have a packet of Wot Not baby wipes. Wot Nots contain no parabens, 100% chlorine free, no synthetic fragrances, organic as well as an Australian product.

Have you had an allergic reaction to baby wipes? Have you thought about what is in the products, like baby wipes, that you are using on your children every day?

 

Towards slowing down

Last couple of weeks I have been listening to the new podcast The Slow Home by one of my favourite bloggers Brooke at Slow Your Home. I loved episode 6 with Cybele Masterman; really needed to hear this lately. Brooke and Cybele discussed shifting your thought process during making something and stop feeling resentful, rather, think I am choosing to make it because I want to. I make the choice to live this way, I can enjoy the process of making it and that act benefits me. So felt this the other night making home-made yoghurt! Be in the moment, choose to view it differently. It’s ok to be content. Be mindful of what you include in your life, create space and time to things that bring you joy. To me this is what living a slow life is all about. My daily motivation for continuing to declutter is Brooke’s facebook group where members post about the highlights and the challenges they face in working towards living a slow life, filled with lots of support and encouragement. It is a continual journey slowing down my home.

Last month I had a freak out moment. I went to a concert and went to our spot where I keep tickets to realise that the next shows tickets were not there. Since my episode of Postpartum Psychosis I have this annoying tendency to move things in tidying up and not remember moving it. Luckily I have gotten on top of my paper piles so double checking everything was a 15 minute task and not a weeks job. Husband thought it was unusual for me not to put tickets in its spot. I had the ticket invoice filed easily in my email so I called the box office & the tickets were not posted out, hence why we couldn’t find them. Crisis averted! Grateful for a decluttered slow home.

Over the Easter long weekend I thought is was a great idea to pull apart all my wardrobe and drawers full of clothes and sort through it all. Not a fun task when you have a toddler jumping around pulling things out too! The bed looked like Mount Everest with clothes piled high. Though I haven’t read the book (waiting to borrow it from the library), this method of pulling everything out in piles is the ‘Konmari’ method based on the popular book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing. However, my motivation was to go through my clothes, particularly stuff to wear for winter as it has turned cooler and see what now fits after losing 30kgs to date. After sifting through all my clothes I rearranged my piles to better suit the space, and was able to part with two bags of clothes to charity that either no longer sparked joy or no longer fit. Another bag of clothes was put aside as rags, lots of old t-shirts especially. I have the vision of turning the t-shirts into a rag rug one day soon. My absolute favourite pair of track pants came to the end of their life as I cut it up for rags, it was sad day for me but they have gone on to another life.

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Goodbye favourite pants!

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a mammoth task all jam packed into a day. All it takes is 10 minutes a day and pick a simple, small, manageable task. Like the other day while waiting for dinner simmering on the stove I pulled apart my tupperware cupboard (I have done this several times before over the past 18 months so there was no avalanche of containers). I made sure each of the containers had a matching lid and that is still functional. I pulled out a entertainment serving ware set still in its box and popped in the charity donation bag. I have plenty of other plates that can serve as suitable entertainment ware rather than hang onto something that would only get used less than monthly at best.

Lurking at the back of the tupperware cupboard was a pasta serving set that we had received as a wedding present and I don’t think we have used as I had been saving it for a ‘special occasion’. Why wait when every day is a special occasion! I had been thinking of getting some more bowls for the family for a while as all our plates and bowls are hand-me-downs from husband’s bachelor pad days with the bowls limited in number unlike the forty thousand plates we seem to have. Now I have four beautiful bowls I can use everyday.

Late last year I purchased new low-tox pots and pans and the order came with a free Scanpan steak knife. I had held onto it till now, even still in the packaging, thinking to myself but is was free! I reasoned with myself that someone else would make better use of it so popped it into the donation bag. One can only own so many kitchen knives and husband has his favourite knife that he uses all the time so it tends to be the knife of choice in our kitchen.

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My cook books new home.

Making rice for dinner during the week I noticed that our rice cooker had started to flake and peel. Not wanting to think about the possibility of ingesting flakes of Teflon, the rice cooker left the building. With me not being a cook I am hoping that cooking rice on the stove is as easy as it looks on River Cottage. The space vacated by the rice cooker has given me a easy to access space for my cook books to live. This is the third rearrangement of my cook books as they originally started off living in the laundry kitchen as there was no room in the kitchen cupboards. I love the new home for my cook books. Now looking at the cupboard that steam machine cleaner’s days are numbered.

Are you working towards slowing your home? Decluttered anything recently?

 

What’s on our plate? April 2015

April has flown by and I got experimenting this month with new challenges in the kitchen.

First challenge of the month was creating my first ever batch of sauerkraut! I followed the recipe for Changing Habits sauerkraut, minus the carrots, and adapting the method to blend by hand (good old fashioned way to create the brine). Tucked away in the back of the cupboard we let the fermentation process do its magic, only disturbing it to burp off the gases every couple of days. We allowed it ferment for 2-3 weeks and husband had the job of taste testing to check when it was ready for our taste buds. Sauerkraut makes a lovely addition to our meals.

Saurerkraut

Sauerkraut

I started off the month with an explosion of cooking over the Easter long weekend. Borrowing mum’s thermomix I cooked up a storm. The challenge I had set myself was to cook up Alexx Stuart’s key lime pie, a tantalising dessert taking time to put together but oh so worth it!

Alexx Stuart Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

While the thermomix was in use I made a batch of spelt hot cross buns with cranberries in my KitchenAid. Nothing beats a hot cross bun freshly out of the oven with a lashing of Pepe butter. Yum!

Easter

Hot cross buns

My sister stayed over on the long weekend and a treat for us is homemade spelt based pizza. My sister loved the ham and pineapple pizza and husband loves being in control of how much cheese he can pile on the pizza.

Pizza

Pizza

With mum’s thermomix I created my first ever batch of yoghurt. Following the recipe in the Thermomix EDC cookbook and leaving it to set for about 7 hours I was quite impressed with how easy it was to make yoghurt.

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Thermomix yoghurt

I also made Thermomix ricotta using apple cider vinegar. Ricotta is also a very easy thing to make; once you know how you think why have I been buying ricotta from the supermarket for this long?

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Thermomix ricotta

A throw together salad of roast lamb and veges, homemade ricotta and fresh avocados from the farmers markets.

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Lamb salad

I have been waiting for ‘I am Mightly’ to come in stock at my local health food store. I am not sure how I first found out about this product, however, it is a great substitute to Vegemite without the nasties like MSG. Husband and I were hesitant at first but we are quite impressed with the taste.

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I am Mighty spread

Picking up a bargain at the supermarket of grass fed veal schnitzel we cooked up Miguel’s beefoloni from The Living Room. I have missed pasta cannelloni since reducing eating wheat and this meal was fantastic substitute.

Beefoloni

Beefoloni

Loving fresh organic rainbow spinach from the farmers markets.

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Fresh rainbow spinach

I have been wanting to buy the River Cottage Everyday cookbook since watching the series a while ago, so I didn’t miss my chance during the Easter sales in bringing it home. First thing out of the cook book was wholemeal honey cake. An absolute perfect recipe to go with the jar of honey I picked up from the farmers markets.

Honey cake

Honey cake

Another bargain we picked up from the supermarket was reduced organic chicken mince. We cooked up Penne Primavera from Survival from the Fittest. Only one problem, I didn’t meal plan in advance for this meal and checking the cupboard for evaporated milk, well I had a slight problem, no can available. So luckily I had a few hours up my sleeve before dinner time and not wanting to venture to the shops for one can of evaporated milk I turned to my friend Google. I had in mind that making evaporated milk was difficult and some how complicated. Well the challenge with this meal was overcoming my perceptions on how to make evaporated milk. All you do is bring a saucepan of milk to the boil, reduce to low and simmer for about 30 minutes till you have reduced the milk by 60%. So simple! Bonus is that I get to avoid the nasty stabilizers and additives in canned evaporated milk.

Penne

Penne Primavera

A quick pumpkin and feta frittata for lunch.

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Pumpkin and feta frittata

My son thought all his wishes had come at once with nachos for dinner using Keys to Fine Food Mexican Taco mix. Mince, cheese and sour cream plus organic corn chips, my son didn’t know what to eat first. The best part of nachos is that the mix makes up 4 batches so great to freeze up for another time.

Tacos

Nachos

Blitzed up Twenty8 Paleo ANZAC Cookies using my Vitamix over the ANZAC weekend. So delicious!

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Twenty8 Paleo ANZACs

Baked snapper on a bed of veges for a quick dinner.

Snapper

Baked snapper

Yeah! My Changing Habits order arrived. I ordered the new Organic Emmer Wheat Flour and Organic Chia Seeds and received the complimentary All Natural Seaweed Salt! Plus I added the All Natural Probiotics. Can’t wait to try the Emmer Wheat for my baking. Just in time too as I had run out of Chia seeds and they are great to add to the curry for dinner.

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Changing Habits order

Recalling watching Hugh on River Cottage making yoghurt I flicked through my new River Cottage Every Day cookbook to find the recipe. The first batch I made was quite runny. The second batch set perfectly after I warmed the milk up to 90 degrees from looking at Rhonda’s recipe from Down to Earth. After buying a thermometer, yoghurt is so achievable to make and so cheap to. We pay between $5 for a supermarket organic yoghurt to $9 for a biodynamic yoghurt from the farmers markets, so make a batch for $1 for 500g certainly helps stretch the budget.

Yoghurt

Homemade yoghurt

What have you challenged yourself to cook this month?

Changing Habits Chia Seeds

Sweet like chocolate

Hands up who quite willingly can polish off a block of chocolate without thinking twice? Pick me, pick me. Everyone loves a piece or two of chocolate melting in your mouth, savouring every last morsel. I love chocolate as much as the next person, and over the last 12 months I have changed my ways with chocolate.

I have grown up with an appreciation for dark chocolate (thanks Dad!). In changing my ways with chocolate I started to enjoy better quality dark chocolate less often rather than any milk chocolate I could lay my hands on (which seemed to be every night or when I opened the pantry and laid my eyes on the chocolate tin). I would turn over each block in the store scouring the list of ingredients to see what hidden sugars it contained, what artificial numbers were lurking or if it had natural flavouring (what on earth was this?). I wanted to enjoy the goodness of chocolate so tended to steer clear of soy emulsifiers (the chocolate was not going to last that long in our household to go powdery), vegetable oils (causing inflammation) and palm oil (to save the orang-utans).

Peacock

Peacock Chocolates Wagon Wheel and Rocky Road

As the months became cooler in 2014 I noticed a wonderful stall holder at the markets Peacock Chocolates. We fast became friends and treated ourselves to scrumptious artisan chocolate, our favourite is the wagon wheels. Once it was gone, we had to wait till we next went to the markets; supermarket chocolate was not an option. In 2014 we spoiled our family for Easter with everyone receiving a divine chocolate egg from Peacock Chocolates whilst we indulged in Peacock Chocolate cream filled goose eggs and a bunny for our son. This year we indulged again with the rich chocolate eggs for Easter and were grateful for our last minute order of the Peacock goose eggs.

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

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Easter 2015

Over time I was finding I was no longer ravenous for my daily fix of chocolate, and if I was, a square or two would suffice. Once it got warmer again, it became too warm for Peacock Chocolates to be at the markets. We discovered great organic cacao chocolate block, Vivandi Chocolate, at our local supermarket. This became out go to for satisfying the chocolate urge, though it wasn’t always in stock.

I then took the leap down the real food gauntlet, and decided to make my own chocolate. Cyndi at Changing Habits made it look so simple to make Changing Habits healthy home made chocolate. All I needed was Changing Habits Cacao Melts, rapadura sugar and coconut oil as well as the patience to stir over a double boiler. Caution try to do this when toddler is asleep or pre-occupied with another adult. Alternatively you can make Changing Habits chocolate in a thermomix if you have one.

DIY Chocolate

Home made Chocolate

Home made chocolate is so divine and seems to last longer as I savour it knowing the love and time I put into making it. Have you made chocolate at home?

Changing Habits Cacao Melts

DIY Lunch Bags

In a way to reduce the amount of plastic we use around the home I have been looking at ways to swap from the plastic zip lock lunch bags to a more environmentally friendly option. Our first step was to reuse the plastic bags where possible by washing them, not always a fun task. Another option was switching to the humble brown paper bag, however this was still a disposable alternative. I was wanting a reuseable product that was easy to use. I had my eye on the Biome sandwich wraps and have popped a few on my wish list.

I then stumbled across Frugal and Thriving’s two posts (here and here) on free bag making tutorials. I spotted the Sandwich bag tutorial and thought to myself I can do that. Mum had some fabric I could use including some rubber backed upholstery fabric swatches. Over the next two hours I whipped up a very impressive DIY lunch bag.

You will need cotton fabric for the outer material, nylon fabric for the lining, and a sewing machine plus sewing accessories.

1. Cut a rectangle from both the cotton and the nylon fabric.

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Step 1

2. Fold cotton fabric right sides together. On one side mark from the top approx. of third of the way down. Sew from this mark down towards the middle fold. Repeat for the other side. Repeat process on nylon fabric.

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Step 2

3. Create a box corners on both the cotton and nylon fabric by folding each corner into a 90 degree triangle and sewing across the tip. Cut off the excess leaving a seam allowance.

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Step 3

4. Turn the nylon bag now right side out and insert into the cotton bag so that right sides are together.

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Step 4

5. Sew around one one flap starting from divide around to the other divide, leaving an opening in one spot.

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Step 5

6. Turn the bags right side out ensuring the nylon fabric is turned to the inside as the lining.

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Step 6

7. Top stitch around both flaps.

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Step 7

8. Fold one flap down and sew this down through the side seams, reinforcing at the join points (areas of stress).

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Step 8

9. To close the bag, flip the folded flap over the upper flap

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Finished product!

I did not follow the dimensions in the tutorial as my size was dictated by the size of the pre-cut swatches I had for the inner lining. Note to self: rubber backed fabric is difficult to work with, especially if you are new to using a sewing machine. Husband was so keen to use them after they were made I had not even had a chance to pre-wash them (don’t worry I didn’t let him use it till it was washed). Please remember these bags are not watertight or waterproof.

Now all I have to do is make a few more lunch bags and perhaps play around with the dimensions to create different sizes. I still have some rubber backed swatches so I may go looking for the Green Lifestyle Magazine I have somewhere with the bowl covers tutorial. Keep you posted if I find it!

 

What’s on our plate? March 2015

Where did March disappear to? And we already flying through April. Here is a snap shot of what was on our plates during March.

Husband came home from work with this stash from the local Health Food shop. Kombucha and ACV to help us recover from being sick. Plus a sneaky treat of coconut water and vodka, yum!

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Health Food shopping!

Cooking up another batch of Changing Habits Chicken Broth, this time with the addition of Keys to Fine Food broth spice mix. The aromas wafting from the pot were divine!

Chicken Broth Spice

Chicken Broth

Date night to see That Sugar Film at Dendy Newtown. Salmon Choo Chee curry for dinner at one of the many Thai restaurants. Some snacks for the movie from the newly open Naked Foods, what an eye opener this was, so many things to look at.  Absolutely loved the documentary That Sugar Film, a must see for everyone!

Sugar Film Netown

Night out at Newtown

Grilling up some pork chops that my son chose from Wootton Valley Meats at the farmers markets. It was so funny to see my son gnaw on the bone getting every last morsel, he loved them!

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Pork Chops

Husband threw together a quick quinoa salad after I remembered to soak the beans the night before.

Quinoa salad

Quinoa Salad

Lunches for us during the week tend to be a quick and easy frittata which whatever we have on hand or in this case frozen vegetables and left over ham. Whisk 5-6 eggs with a dash of cream or milk, tumeric, salt and herbs, pour over vegetables/fillings, and bake for 25 minutes in 180 degrees oven.

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Frittata

It was the first time I roasted peanuts, so thought this would be hard. How wrong was I! Drizzle with a bit of coconut oil, cook for 15 minutes in the oven at 160 degrees and they are done. Don’t cook any longer as they continue to cook whilst they are cooling on the bench. Then blitz them up with a dash of Changing Habits Seaweed Salt, and you have peanut butter. Nothing beats fresh home made peanut butter.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

While I was on a roll soaking beans over night I soaked some chickpeas to make hummus.

Hummus

Hummus

Creative meal planning turned the leftover quinoa salad into a different meal. Add some mince and spice and you are done. Easy as!

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Quinoa Mince

It had been a while since I had made a batch of bliss balls. Found Natural New Age Mum’s list of amaze balls recipes and loved the look of the Strawberry Ripe Balls from Jane at Marinya Cottage Kitchen. So easy to make and a nice change from bliss balls made with dates. Warning these are highly addictive particularly if you are a fan of Cherry Ripe bars.

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Strawberry Ripe Bliss Balls

Sunday afternoon baking muffins and bread with my son getting ready for the week.

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Afternoon Baking

My first attempt at Changing Habits Bone Broth.

Bone Broth 1

Preparing bone broth

Adding some vegetables to simmer in the broth.

Bone Broth 2

Adding vegetables to bone broth

A successful broth should form jelly and a good layer of fat. My first bone broth did both so much so it was solid.

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Bone broth jelly!

A very nutritious dinner of broth and vegetables. Yum!

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Bone broth for dinner

Lunch out at Circular Quay with my son and mum after we enjoyed the Babies Prom at the Sydney Opera House. Great value salads whilst enjoying the harbour views.

Circular Quay

Lunch at Circular Quay

Some of my haul from the local farmers markets. Hard to beat 6 avocados for $5!

Markets

Fresh from the markets

Using the scrumptious bone broth into a mushroom risotto.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Picked up some great chuck steak from Wootton Valley Meats at the markets and turned it into a amazing beef and beer pie. I was doing a massive cook up this weekend and even cooked a pumpkin and bean curry on the same night, this made the week night meals a lot easier.

Pie and curry

Beef pie and a curry

What have you been up to in the kitchen? Did you see That Sugar Film? Any creative meal planning?

Changing Habits Seaweed Salt

Beautiful Bread

The other day I was out shopping and overheard a mother say to her young son of similar age to mine “Let’s go get some beautiful bread”. The mother and son then walked into Subway. I cringed at their choice of ‘beautiful bread’.

One the first changes we made as a family was our bread. I started to look into other bread options as a way to be eco-friendly. I had started to explore the local farmers markets and other local retailers as a way to break up with the supermarkets. I was also looking into ways to reduce the amount of plastic our family consumes and had the bread bag in my sights. To me it was better to reduce rather than recycle bread bags.

I started off buying bread from local bakeries rather than the supermarket as these local loves would be fresher having not contained the preservatives to be able to be transported from factory to store and to be able to sit on the shelf longer. When we could we would indulge in artisan spelt bread from the local farmers markets. There was such a difference in taste with the fresh local bread as well as my tummy felt not as bloated. Cutting down on the additives and preservatives had to be a good thing.

After researching options into how I could make home-made bread and looking at various bread making machines we decided a Kitchen Aid would be a worthy investment on our real food journey. Having never made bread in my life and armed with a dough hook I set about baking my first loaf. The first few months we used a store bought packet of bread flour. It was great as the quantities were already measured out and the instructions on the box were easy to follow. Once I got my confidence up we progressed to a bulk bag of the same bread flour and I was able to adapt the quantities of flour to the size of the loaf I wished to bake. We found smaller loaves were easier to bake and less wastage as bread only stays fresh a couple of days.

DSC_0802 bread packet

Fresh home made bread

I discovered this little image that really resonated with me 10 signs You’re Gluten Intolerant. Bloating – Yes; Keratosis Pilaris – Yes; Feeling tired after gluten meal – Yes; Hormone imbalances – Yes; Migraines – Yes; Inflammation – Yes; Mood issues – Yes = 8/10. I never had considered that my fatty acid deficiency be secondary to a gluten intolerance. As I learned more and more about real food and how the food industry has manipulated our food, I started looking alternatives to the refined wheat flour. I got my hands on books like Grain Brain by Dr Perlmutter and Wheat Belly by Dr Davis; they were a game changer for me.

Gluten intolerance - JERF

(via Just Eat Real Food Facebook)

Reading the Changing Habits, Changing Lives Book made me question how often was I really eating this refined wheat flour? It turns out that most of my diet was wheat, breakfast, lunch and dinner. So change was needed and I slowly transitioned from refined wheat to ancient grains like spelt and Einkorn, I choose foods that didn’t contain wheat like rice pasta or gluten-free pasta, and I became conscious as to how often I was eating refined wheat.

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Changing Habits Einkorn Flour

We continue to eat bread in our household, however it is no longer two loaves or more a week from the supermarket. I will bake a small loaf of either spelt or Einkorn bread as a treat for the weekend. I didn’t think I would be able to live without bread as a staple in my diet but I don’t miss the 2 hour food cravings and upset tummy from eating refined wheat. My chicken skin is improving and I rarely have a migraine. I am grateful to enjoy the freshly baked beautiful bread made with love in my kitchen.

And there is so much more delicious food out there to eat other than refined wheat!

 

What's With Wheat Documentary - opt-in page

What’s on our plate? February 2015

Another month gone full of cooking and dining out.

A flash of flambé as husband cooks up another bosicola, yum!

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Flambé

Gorgeous fruit from the farmers markets. We have never seen a Galaxy Gala apple before and it was named for the white specks on the skin, very tasty!

PicMonkey Collage fruit

Fruit from the markets

A quick throw together lunch of a rustic tuna nicoise salad topped with kimchi.

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Tuna nicoise salad

We enjoyed a night out on the town at King Street Wharf. There so many options to pick from we ended doing a progressive dinner, hopping from one restaurant to another. Loved trying out a marrow bone as entrée.

PicMonkey Collage King St Wharf

Night out at King St Wharf

A easy meal of risotto loving mixed by my kitchen helper son. He loved stirring the pot and was so proud to tell daddy that he made dins.

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Risotto

Long gone are the days making potato bake with a packet mix. Cook up a white sauce mix and pour over then bake. This potato bake has ricotta and bacon for added flavour. An all time favourite especially as we used Royal Blue potatoes, don’t let the purple skin turn you away from enjoying these golden potatoes.

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Potato bake

We love cooking up yellow curry by Keys to Fine Food. Keys spice mixes are so simple and a little goes a long way, we normally get 3-4 nights meals worth. We used chicken marylands for the first time (they were on reduced clearance at bargain price of $2.50 for 700g, we bought 2 as the receipe needs at least 1kg of chicken). Also whipped up a quick batch of cauli rice in the Vitamix.

PicMonkey Collage cauli rice

Yellow curry and cauli rice

With fresh salmon from the farmers markets we cooked up Baked salmon with corn and spices. This one is always a winner especially with sweet summer corn.

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Baked salmon with corn and spices

Another first for us roast pork belly. We needed to be a more organised as it took some time to slow roast however well worth it as was so delicious. Pork belly is a cheaper cut of meat so you get more bang for your buck. We sat at the dining table thinking why had we never tried this before, we had been missing out big time.

PicMonkey Collage pork belly

Slow roast pork belly

After some creative meal planning to use up the remainder of the cauliflower we cooked up Pork and cauliflower pie. However we used beef mince as we had forgotten to label which was which in the freezer. The apples in the mix added a lovely taste and the cauliflower was a great change from the usual potato topping. We will have to make this pie again.

PicMonkey Collage mince pie

Mince and Cauliflower pie

Since investing in our Vitamix we no longer buy passata from the shops. It a matter of seconds we whizz together home-made passata. The added bonus is it already has onion, garlic and seasoning mixed in making a quick meal option during the week for things like pasta or cottage pie. Simply pour, heat through and serve. It works about about $10 for 3 jars of organic passata. Store passata jars in freezer until your next cook up.

PicMonkey Collage pasta sauce

Passata Sauce

What has been cooking in your kitchen this month?

Changing Habits Dulse Flakes

My addiction

My name is Sarah and I am addicted to Milo.

My weakness is 3-4 heaped teaspoons added to either a glass of milk or mixed in with ice cream plus one extra for my gob. Everyday breakfast would have to include a glass of Milo. Any chance I got I would indulge in a bowl of ice cream topped with Milo. A staple of my diet, heaven on a spoon. There was only one time in my life I can recall not having Milo, my first trimester of pregnancy, Milo made me want to gag.

Correction: I was addicted.

After reading Alexx Stuart’s post on the ingredient list of Milo, as well as a recipe, and I had second thoughts about all the artificial ingredients contained in Milo not to mention the amount of sugar. I loved the idea of making my own Milo and stumbled across Natural New Age Mum’s post about a Milo alternative recipe.

At first I thought it was all too much effort to make my own, so I slowly reduced the frequency of my Milo consumption. Enter the Vitamix! Now having a quick effortless way of nut crushing I gave the Natural New Age Mum recipe a go.

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Our nut crushing Vitamix

I have varied the recipe by adding 1/4 cup of Maca powder, and reducing the rapadura sugar to 3/4 cup as I found I didn’t need it as sweet. To make it easier in a Vitamix, I blend the seeds first and add to a large bowl, second blend the nuts and add to the bowl, and finally mix cacao powder, Maca and sugar in together with seeds and nuts using a potato masher. This achieves the perfect consistency for our tastes.

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Two of our favourite unhomogenised full cream milks and a mug of Milo! (Our cat photo bombed the photo)

I had wanted to find a way to add Maca into my diet as I had read Changing Habits – Wacky Hormones recommending Maca, as well as cacao and pumpkin seeds, as food to help with hormone health. So what better way to eat all these nutritious foods but in glass of full cream milk and my home made Milo alternative. Yum!!

 

Changing Habits Rapadura Sugar

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