Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some new lunch box favourites...

I'm really proud to say that over 2 months after I set myself the challenge of our journey to more healthy & "natural" eating, we are still {mostly} still going "great guns."
{She says whilst sitting here eating chocolate. Ahem. ;) }
But despite my persistent sweet tooth we've been continuing to slowly change some ingredients in our pantries to more natural cousins...

I have already noticed some great health benefits for myself. I am feeling SO much more energetic and sleeping a lot better (when allowed by my children to that is ;) ). I've also lost 4 kgs without even trying. (Probably aided by high stress, but usually I put on weight when I'm stressed, so this really is a first!).

One of the areas I've been designating some time to recently are our packed lunches.
While I try not to buy heavily packaged food a lot of the time because I'm concious of the extra waste & expense they bring, it is nice to have a few on hand either for special treats for the kids or emergency situations where we've run out of home made/baked etc...

So these are some of my new favourite "natural" alternatives for Hannah's packed lunches:

I've found that it's amazing what you can find out when you actually stand there and read the packaging of things. Often the more natural choices (with less or no additives/numbers) are not even more expensive (than the other individually packaged food items) and some cases they're even cheaper.
But lets not kid myself, they are still more expensive than me making my own yoghurt or cutting up a block of cheese myself etc...

It's also really nice to see Woolworths dedicating more space in their supermarkets to both organic & wholefoods now too. It really makes it a lot easier to shop!

This is an example of the types of food Hannah takes for lunch...

Lucky for me she is a girl of routine and actually doesn't mind taking a sandwich every day.
I try and give her a good selection of at least 4 other things as well as her sandwich...
We call it a "treasure box". Usually she has a small piece of "treasure" in it (in this case it was the novelty of a "squeezy yoghurt") along with a selection of other things for example rice biscuits/corn thins, strawberries or other small berries, crackers, popcorn, dried fruit, home baking etc...

In addition they also have to take a piece of whole fruit for "sip & crunch" - Mid morning they all sit in a circle and they share all the fruit on platters that the teacher help has cut up along with a drink of water. So I tend not to go overboard on the fruit in her lunch box in addition to that.

I still feel like I could improve on the variety and things for the main portion of her lunch though. Especially for when she goes to school full time next year.

Have you got any great lunch box suggestions?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Alien Pasta - A recipe {kind of}

One of the things that I really struggle to get my girls to eat is green vegetables!!!
It doesn't seem to matter what the vegetable is, if it's green they won't seem to touch it.
Perhaps with the exception of broccoli... Sometimes they will eat broccoli & sometimes they won't.
But never the less it is not ideal since green vegetables are so good for them...

So, as with everything I want to manipulate them to do (ha - just keeping it real here), I have been trying to think of a fun way to present the idea to them.
And we seem to have cracked it -
May I present to you - Alien Pasta...

That's Hannah's dinner with a few leftovers. It actually looks more than it is
(only 2 short strands of pasta left).

Look appealing?
Not really... I won't be making it as a food stylist any time soon ;)
I guess you could just as easily call it snot pasta for the colour LOL
But do they eat it just because it has a fun name & the veges are semi disguised?
Every time!

So I thought I'd share how I made it:
{I need to say that this is off the top of my head because I vary the recipe depending on what green veges I have in my fridge/garden on the day. We quite often make it as "alien soup" instead of pasta.
Which Hannah actually requests now if I say I'm making soup.

{Also I should say that even though I made this in the Thermomix, the recipe could easily be adapted to a pot & blender version or whatever)

1 handful of broccoli florets
1 handful of cauliflower florets
1 handful of celery cut into short lengths
1 handful of green beans with the tops & tails taken off
1/2 handful of fresh parsley
1/2 handful of rocket/spinach
5-6+ leaves of fresh basil
1 1/2 Tbsp of garlic infused olive oil (or regular but I realised I'd forgotten to put in garlic so I used my garlic infused oil)
approx 1 cup of water
A dash of balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 heaped Tbsns of Parmesan cheese
2 tsp of flour or cornflour (optional)

Cooked Pasta to serve with
Diced cooked chicken (optional)

1. Put a couple of small cubes of parmesan cheese into the Thermomix bowl & whiz for about 10 seconds on speed 8 to grate. Set aside

2. Place all the vegetables & herbs into the bowl & whiz on speed 7-8 for about 10 seconds or until finely puréed.

3. Add your water, vinegar, oil, salt & pepper and cook for 13 mins on speed 2 at 80 degrees.

4. Add your flour & parmesan cheese & cook for a further 2 minutes (I didn't actually add flour today but I will from now on because it stops the water separating from the vegetables in the sauce and makes it creamier.).

5. Once finished cooking slowly go from speed 2 through to speed 8 for about 15 seconds to blend together.

6. Serve over cooked pasta & sprinkle with cooked chicken & extra cheese if desired.

Too quick & easy.

That amount was enough for the 3 of us for 2 meals so I would say that it would serve approx 4 adults.
As with all of my recipes the quantities are very "loose".
Sorry - Exact cooking is not my style unless I'm baking where it matters a bit more...

Next time I might try adding some pine nuts or cashews too.
So many possibilities.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Still here...

It's been a while since I dedicated any thought to this space...
There is good reason for that... For those that don't follow me over at Diary of a Flutter.Kat, Abbie my youngest daughter, has been very unwell recently with more than a few trips to hospital...

Yet again my brave girl visits the hospital...q

But that doesn't mean that our "natural eating" has fallen by the wayside.
If anything it's going far better than expected given everything that's been going on!

Yep, Tom has continued to have a great workout and we've been experimenting with many different recipes such as; healthy ice-cream alternatives, salads, risottos, steamed puddings, pizza, pasta sauces, loads of different baked goods and even sausages.
While eating at home we are {almost} additive free. While out we are doing the best we can. But sometimes we've been deviating from "the rules" where it suits...


Like rainbow cake & popcorn at a good friends party on the weekend. Somehow I don't think they were "natural" colours... but it was a one off & we enjoyed every bite.

Have I taken a photo of any of the good stuff though?
Not a chance.
How useless!
The only thing food I have taken a photo of recently was my home made Sunday brunch:

Sunday brunch

The wholemeal pancake batter was made by hand because I never use a recipe for pancakes, just adding the ingredients until the recipe "feels" right. But the berry & maple syrup sauce and whipped cream were both made in Tom.

There are no photos of the {actual good} food because I've been having a total holiday of the brain & only doing what's been absolutely necessary.
Which has not included thinking about blogging...

Now that I've had a few weeks break I will endeavour to continue to "diarise" things properly again though...
In other words I hope to be back :)

More soon...