Anzac biscuits … vegan, GF and delicious…

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If you’re looking for something to have with a cup of tea you can’t go past Anzac biscuits.
This recipe has been adapted to suit vegans and those who are wheat intolerant without losing any of the traditional yumminess.

Chewy, wholesome, perfect for lunch boxes or to share around.

To up the nutritional content I’ve included some almond and flax meal and reduced the sugar. These are so easy to make and would be great way for kids to have a go at baking !

Recipe makes about 20 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats (check to make sure these are GF if intolerant)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar if you don’t have this)
2/3 cup coconut flakes (or desiccated coconut)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
1/4 cup maple, golden or rice malt syrup
125g butter or butter substitute eg Nuttelex, coconut butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Method

Mix together all dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
Melt butter and syrup in *medium sized saucepan over low heat. When butter has melted turn off heat and stir in bicarbonate of soda.

*The butter mixture will froth up and bubble to about double its size when the bicarbonate of soda is added so make sure your saucepan is able to hold this volume of liquid.

Roll together dessert spoon sized balls of mixture and place on baking trays allowing some room to spread during baking. Flatten slightly and bake at 170 degrees celsius for about 20 minutes till lightly browned.

 

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The CSIRO Survey – How do you rate ?

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The CSIRO recently conducted a survey on the dietary habits of 12,000 people. The results are not great. Sadly the survey had to specify that hot chips are not counted as a serve of vegetables. Only 1 in 20 respondents was found to eat a healthy amount of vegetables.

The average score for most respondents was around 50 – 60/100. I took the test and held my breath as I waited for my results. There were a few questions about eating meat and animal based products which I thought may (in their eyes) drop my score. I feel good about how and what I eat and that was reflected in my score of 86/100.

I was not really all that surprised by the findings of the CSIRO survey. I see people all the time who think their diet is good but on questioning is actually lacking in some basic sources of protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit.
Fruit and vegetables are incredibly important for so many body functions. They supply nutrients, fibre and a healthy source of carbohydrate.

If you’re game take the test here –  https://my.totalwellbeingdiet.com/healthy-diet-score

I find it particularly hard when this involves babies and children. Often parents and carers are well meaning and doing their best with what they have but just a little bit of basic diet information goes a long way towards growing healthy kids.  Let’s just set the record straight once and for all – potato chips, hash browns, jelly fruit cups, fruit drinks, pop tarts etc DO NOT count as servings of fruit and veg. By the same token chicken nuggets, processed meats, sausage rolls, fish fingers DO NOT count as healthy proteins. White bread, cakes, biscuits, muesli bars DO NOT count as good sources of carbohydrate.

I hear all the time “But this is what my child eats – if I don’t give them this they wont eat anything”. I promise you that if you don’t have these things in your home and explain to your children why you’re not going to buy them anymore they will find other better things to eat. There may be a few transition grumbles but ultimately they will thank you for it.

There are lots of great alternatives to these ‘non foods’ that I am sure you and your children will grow to love. They will be healthier, happier, a good weight and likely to live longer  –   isn’t that what we all want for our children and ourselves ?

Take a stroll through my recipes for some inspiration and get your kids involved in the cooking process. If they are cooking too they are much more likely to try what you have made.

Good luck and happy eating !

Something for Cate…

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Firstly, apologies for my absence. I have been feeling heartbroken. My very dear friend of many, many years died a week or so ago and I am feeling the loss of her keenly. I have been feeling quiet and blue thinking of her and missing her presence. I’ve been remembering how she lived her life and how incredibly brave she was. It was complicated, colourful, loving, passionate, opinionated and messy at times. It was motherhood, friendship, moving all over the country, big heartfelt hugs, bright lipstick. It was real, brave and a little bit crazy at times. In other words, a memorable, meaningful life which may have only lasted 50 years but she sure packed a lot in. Even in the last few weeks when the prognosis was dire she was still sitting at my kitchen bench cracking jokes and telling me she was liking how good she was getting at saying f**k whenever she felt it all overwhelming her. We drank tea and chatted with our kids like old times and my heart was feeling thankful and broken all at the same time.

Some of my most treasured memories of Cate are about kids and food. Our children were little ones together and there were LOTS of days of hanging out with our tribe of kids, making play dough and changing nappies. We made sandwiches and pancakes for the hungry hoard we had created. She transformed what could have been quite an isolating time (I was a young Mum and none of my other friends had babies yet) into something entirely different. With Cate I found my way. Tie dyeing onesies and cloth nappies, going apple picking with a bunch of preschoolers, sewing up a storm and generally feeling reassured that this simple, loving, maternal life I had so desperately yearned for was something she understood too.

One of my strongest memories is sitting on Cate’s front step with a big mug of tea, no doubt some strange brew that she had recently taken a shine to – I remember a liquorice tea stage that lasted way too long for me – and a bowl of her burghul salad. For Mums running around after six kids under six the idea that we could actually carve out a few minutes to sit in the sun with something other than toast for lunch felt like an afternoon at a day spa. For a woman who was never blessed with great wealth she sure lived a rich life and I feel incredibly lucky that she shared some of it with me.

In honour of my darling friend and all she gave to me I share with you Cate’s perfect lunch time salad. May you all have a friend like her and hold them dear…..

Cate’s Salad

1 cup bulgur ( cracked wheat )
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley ( dill and basil is also good, or a mixture of all three )
1 can lentils or chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the burghul in a bowl and pour over 1 1/4 C boiling water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with cling wrap. Leave for 30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the burghul is soaking cut up all the other veggies and herbs and mix together your dressing ingredients. We liked to soak the red onion in cold water for about 10-15 minutes to lessen the rawness of the onion.

Mix together all ingredients and stir through dressing adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a nice chunk of good bread if you have it and of course, a cup of hippy tea.

Feel free to change the vege and herb ingredients according to what you have in the fridge. Cate’s version was always a surprise and usually involved whatever herbs she had growing in a pot on her back steps. It was always yummy but that may have been the love in it.

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Ho, Ho, Ho

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Well this week has been an eye opener for me.

I have seen people deeply grateful for a fancy lunch at a restaurant which offers free food and presents as a grand gesture of Christmas community cheer. I have eaten yummy food and played with my gorgeous one year old niece who has single handedly bought back all the ooh and ahhh of Christmas again. There’s nothing quite like a baby to make you smile especially when she is babbling away and playing with her new toys.

I have seen a family benefit from a donation of toys and other goodies from a dear friend of mine. It’s incredibly heart warming to see complete strangers impacting in such a lovely way on each others lives.
I have said cheerio to clients till next year and watched them walk off with their arms loaded up with herbal medicines knowing that no amount of naturopathy is going to negate all the pudding they are going to eat ha ha ha.

I have spent hours in various supermarkets and fruit shops stocking up the pantry for the big day. I have listened to people get cranky and yell at their children. I’ve heard them threaten to call Santa and tell him to not bring the presents. I have seen people getting pushy and frustrated and not very cheery at all. To those people I say ” Bah Humbug!” and I also say that if the shops are trying your patience imagine how it feels when you are three years old.  So just stop buying into the hype and be gentle with the little souls entrusted to you.

I have been busy playing with my baby chickens, cleaning the house, planning the food and wrapping the presents.

I have been feeling hugely grateful for the fact that I can afford to do this and that I have a beautiful family to share it all with.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

 

How to eat protein balls and still be able to pay your mortgage….

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I have been working at a women’s health centre for a couple of years now and I love it. I love the women I get to meet and treat, their inspiring stories and strength and the opportunity to spread the joy about how eating well is not about denial or living on brussell sprouts and goji berries.

I have recently started running a 10 week course on our relationship with food. We’re covering all sorts of things like emotional eating, eating well on a budget, making better choices for ourselves and our children.

A couple of weeks ago I made some hippy lamingtons to share. One lovely woman I have had the pleasure of working with promptly went home, whipped up a batch and got her young family hooked on a snack that is doing them good.

In honour of her incredible dedication and willingness to embrace new things I have been dabbling in the kitchen coming up with some variations on this theme of healthy snacks.

I was recently sent a few samples of some Bounce Protein Balls from a company I deal with and I gave them a go. They were yummy but at around $3.60 per ball it isn’t really a sustainable option for feeding growing kids.

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Here’s my take. These ones are full of nuts, healthy oils, fruit, protein and other yummy stuff. I made about 45 balls and this costs out at 26 cents a ball. Not a bad saving and certainly cheaper and healthier than muesli bars and bags of chips.

 

The basic mixture 

4 tablespoons of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of nut butter – I used almond but any nut butter will work
3 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoons of vanilla
2 heaped tablespoons of vanilla protein powder
6 tablespoons of desiccated coconut

Flavour options

option 1

10 dates
3/4 cup raw almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

option 2

20 dried apricots
3/4 cup of pecans
1 tablespoon of LSA mix (linseed, soy and almond mix)
1 tablespoon chia seeds

option 3

10 dried figs
3/4 cup raw cashews
3-4 pieces of crystallised ginger or 1 teaspoon of dried ginger

For all variations whiz up nuts in a food processor until they are a fine crumble. Add all other ingredients in the option you have chosen and whiz together. Add all ingredients from your basic mixture and process till combined. If the mixture feels too dry you can add more honey or vanilla or even a splash of soy milk.

Roll heaped teaspoons full of mixture into balls and refrigerate. If you like you can coat them with coconut, cocoa powder or nuts.

Wellness for everyone, not just the wealthy….

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I was listening to ABC radio this morning… I know, I know I used to be such a triple j girl…. and there was an incredibly disturbing program about the latest ACOSS ( Australian Council of Social Services) report on poverty in Australia.

One in eight adults and one in six children are currently living in poverty in this country – one of the richest countries in the world. I know that a first world view of poverty is distinctly different and far less life threatening than a third world one but it still makes me incredibly sad to think that 1 in 6 children often goes without meals, is under threat of or is actually homeless and is generally missing out on opportunities they deserve.

Some of the most striking things about poverty is the lack of access to healthy nourishing food, good health care and safe housing. When so many of us, myself included, are so incredibly fortunate to feel secure and supported it seems wrong that as a society we are allowing some of our most vulnerable suffer like this. How can we accept that one child come to school after a safe and comfortable nights sleep with a lunchbox full of food and another arrives hungry, tired and homeless ?

During the show someone mentioned that they wished that they had the option to direct their compulsary superannuation funds to more worthwhile and community minded areas than the stock exchange. He suggested a pooling of funds for community housing, childcare and education. Huzzah I say. What a great idea and where do I sign ???

I guess what I am trying to say is that I think we need a shift. Why is McDonald’s a more financially viable meal than a fresh home cooked meal ? Why do we think it’s ok to fill our children with highly processed, health destroying foods and then expect them to function well ? Why do we import foods from thousands of miles away and have so few community gardens? Why can you go to a medical centre and receive often poor health care and a script for drugs and yet not be able to see another type of health professional who is interested and willing to help you learn about health and disease prevention at a more functional and practical level ?

While I was listening to the program I was watching a council worker planting more annuals into garden beds. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers and think they provide a little heart warming and bee food wherever they are, but if we area going to plant water hungry plants in public spaces can we not at least make them edible? How about a glorious bed of silvery beautiful artichokes, parsley borders and carrots for kids to pull up and eat after they finish on the swings.

I know some people say this is all a bit pie in the sky but I say it is fundamental to our health and happiness. Many years ago my mother, a psychiatric nurse, told me that we are all just a few choices or mishaps away from the gutter and she was right. Meeting those clients of hers – from all walks of life and society – and seeing them all in the same struggles taught me to never take what we have for granted.

Gratitude and compassion – these things will take us all a long way.