Vegan goodness

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So our latest culinary challenge, sorry, adventure has been delving into the world of veganism as our youngest has decided that he is now Vegan.  He has always been a bit of a picky eater around meat and is constantly worried about animal welfare so it really didn’t come as a huge shock when he announced a month ago that he was vegetarian and then followed up a week later with ‘ I think I’ll give being a vegan a try.’

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The last few pieces of our vegan shortbread.

It actually hasn’t been that bad and if anything it has been awesome not having him tempted by all the rubbishy chocolate treats that abound in every shop.  There are 2 main stumbling blocks I have hit so far though; 1) Eating out and 2) Baking.  Eating out is a bit of a mine field as it seems every thing is out on the children’s menu … have you noticed how every kid’s menu is deep fried meat of some description … and most things suitable on the adult menu are either too spicy or so expensive it makes us think twice. Thankfully we don’t eat out that much, the thought it takes is beyond my mental powers at the moment, and when we do venture out at least he is having a fairly healthy meal unlike before.

Which brings us to the second point ….. soooo many recipes rely on eggs (well the ones I currently make anyway) and even though we are pretty good at replacing the dairy it is taking me a while to get my head around using egg replacements (chia seeds and water is the main one I’m using at the moment).  I have been doing the research though to ensure that we get all the good bits into him and thanks to some great Vegan recipe books from the local library  I have found some great savoury and sweet baking ideas to keep everyone (well half of us to be honest) happy.  The one recipe that has been made the most so far is courtesy of Jennifer Katzinger’s Flying Apron Gluten Free and Vegan Baking Book.  This delicious ‘Vegan Shortbread’ (my name for it as I have returned the book and forgot the name sorry) is so easy and so delicious that I’m sure you’ll be whipping it up numerous times too.

flying apron

What I’m putting below is a half recipe of what is printed in the book as I found that was more than enough.  I also cut it into more squares than the recipe in the book indicates as we found it very rich and a little square of it was enough.  If you enjoy this recipe though I would recommend checking out the whole recipe book as has so many more delicious things to make. 😉

Vegan shortbread

  • 2 & 1/4 cups Rice Flour
  • a grind of salt
  • 1 Cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

– Preheat the oven to 190C (375F)

– Melt the coconut oil and then add the maple syrup

– Blend all the ingredients together.

– Pour and flatten the mixture into a baking paper lined baking dish

– Bake for 15 min or until the edges are slightly brown

– Remove from the oven and cut into squares while it is still warm in the tin

– Slide onto a cooling rack and break into separate peices when it is fully cooled.

– Enjoy!

Well that is it from me on a cold and snow predicted evening. I hope this finds you all warm, healthy and enjoying life at whatever temperature you have it at. 😉

Arohanui

Y

Coconutty Pumpkin Soup

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It is winter here in NZ, well almost, so what better way to warm up than making a big pot of yummy soup?  I do love soup it has to be said and I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and tea quite happily however lately it has been a bit of a necessity for me as a way to rest my digestive system.

We have been lucky enough to have a free place to park our bus for the past 9 weeks, while himself has been working to restore the railway after earthquakes last year, beside a large paddock of a local Irish Pub.  While we haven’t had to pay for the spot we have felt obliged to spend a bit of money here to keep in the owner’s good books so we have been going out for tea up at the pub at least once a week.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying not having to cook however my digestive system has had other thoughts.  Being a vegetarian in a small country area has its downsides … namely that there are only a few items on the menu you can have and of these few selections most contain gluten, dairy, a combination of both, or are deep fried.

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View from across the paddock back to our bus … the kids love it!

It has been an exercise in having the things that effect me least or trying to just have things sparingly.  Trouble is that I’m not that good at sparingly and I’m really not a have one and be satisfied kind of girl!  So let’s just say that over the past 9 weeks my eating has been very ‘off’ and I am now paying for that prolonged accumulation of foods that my body just doesn’t agree with.  Over the last few days I have been experiencing pain due to diverticulitis (flaring up of diverticular disease) and I completely know why it has reared up …. I only have myself to blame and myself to sort it out.

My main way, and this may not suit everyone, is to rest my system as much as I can until the pain subsides and my body feels ‘normal’ again.  I tend to go liquid for a few days so that my body isn’t having to deal with too much in the way of digestion in the hopes that it will have more time to deal with healing.  So far this has worked, on the few occasions that I have needed it, however the best plan is always to keep my diverticular disease at bay by eating well, exercising and having good fluids.

As it is pumpkin time here, and we New Zealanders love our pumpkins, I have been enjoying making up some pumpkin soup and my latest pots have been a little different after getting a few ideas at a local community dinner.  I usually just love pumpkin soup with a few onions and garlic thrown in, nothing fancy just yummy pumpkiny goodness, however I may have changed that for good after adding some coconut cream and ginger to the mix.  This recipe doesn’t really have any measurements, sorry, aside from 1 tin of coconut cream which you may want to increase if you are making  a large pot of soup. Experiment with what you like using this simple recipe as a base.

crown pumpkin

Crown Pumpkin

Coconutty Pumpkin Soup

  • 1/2 a large Crown Pumpkin (this is the best flavoured pumpkin for soups)
  • Ground or fresh ginger
  • Garlic
  • Veggie stock cube
  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • Water

– Fry off the garlic in a pot with a little oil

– Add in pumpkin chopped into cubes (should come to almost the top of the pot)

– Pour in coconut cream (should cover 1/2 – 3/4 of the pumpkin in the pot) and then cover the rest of the pumpkin with water

– Bring to the boil and add in the stock and ginger

– Boil until the pumpkin is all soft.

– Take off the heat and mash until you have a thick soup.  You can add more liquid if you like it runny or mash less if you like your soup chunky.

– Enjoy!!

 

Hope this finds you free of pain and full of life.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

 

Autumn breakfast options

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Here we are back in coverage, enjoying a beautiful autumn on the east coast while parking up for the next couple of months in Kaikoura while himself does some work to restore the local rail network after earthquakes last October. It has been a busy 2 weeks of travelling from the bottom of the South Island up to nearly the top of the South Island while catching up with friends and family along the way.

Many of the aspects in our life took a back seat (such as school work, blogging and journalling) to the travels and socialising however domestic life continues regardless of the location or dwelling.  Dishes still need to be done, floors swept – yes, swept as we lack any modern devices at the moment to assist … soon though my dreams may become reality 🙂 – and food prepared.

I have continued to make our bread, which is a bit of a staple food now, and as I let you know the other week our ferments are still on the go.  Another staple I have been making at the moment is muesli so that now that some of the other cereals have been used up we have an option besides toast in the morning.  Muesli is a great autumn transition food before the winter porridge appears and is also a fantastic way to get a few more nutrients into themselves without much effort on my behalf which makes it a very appealing plan!

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Warm and toasty out of the oven … hard for themselves to resist especially with some creamy raw milk we were given!

This muesli is super easy as it is really just chucking in what ever you like and then drizzling with oil before baking in the oven, of course you can also have a raw version by omitting the oil and oven part.  I have been making muesli for a few years with a honey and oil drizzle, then when the price of honey went up and we noticed the effects of honey on our youngest I began to just use oil without any objections.  What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you I say! 🙂  I do add a few dates chopped up and coconut so that is a fair bit of sweetness to soothe the soul.  Below is what I use to create our morning muesli however it is really just a guide for you to explore and create your own, dependent on tastes. I don’t use a measure either (sorry), rather I just chuck in a bit of everything with oats being the majority of the mix

Morning Muesli

Oats – largest portion

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Desiccated Coconut

Dates – chopped

Almonds -raw

Olive oil or similar (optional: omit if you want raw muesli)

  • Mix everything thoroughly, especially the chopped dates as they will clump together if not mixed into the dry ingredients.
  • Drizzle olive over the top and mix well again.
  • Bake in an oven at around 200 C, watching and mixing occasionally until it is golden brown.

Play and enjoy.  Until next time I hope this finds you all basking in the sunshine of life.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Date and Coconut Snackerballs

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It isn’t just living a minimalist life on a bus that has made me reluctant to part with money for things I could ‘have a go at’ rather it is a trait that I have had my whole life and a trait which many New Zealanders share.  We feel that we can do anything and to be honest a lot of the time it is true!  Not true just for New Zealanders of course … true that many products out there on the shelves are actually pretty quick and easy to make at home.

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They don’t last long in this bus!!

An example of this was the other day when we sampled some supermarket tastings.  The person promoting these healthy coconut and date treats was very good at her job, I have to say, and I was all ready to take some home until I asked the price …. $9!! $9 for some balls of date and coconut??!! $9 for what looked like 10 balls maximum??!!  Well, yes, I am a little tight with my money but lets face it, that $9 I was going to part with was clearly paying for the packaging and promotion of the aforementioned 2 ingredient treat more than the food itself.

So home I came and ‘gave it a go’.  The results are pretty good I have to say and super easy.  Themselves have all given the batches I have made over the last few weeks their seal of approval, by consuming them all, and the only pit-fall I can see is that I can’t seem to keep up with demand. 🙂  So here it is for you and I’m sure that many of you out there already have your own similar story and recipe …. so enjoy and experiment.

Date and Coconut Snackerballs

  • 1 Cup dried dates
  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • 2 Cups desiccated Coconut
  • 3 Tablespoons black chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon psyllium husks

-Soak the dates in the water for 10-15 mins and then mash into a smooth paste – of course if you have a blender this is easier 🙂

-Stir in the other ingredients and mix until fully blended

-Shape the mixture into small balls (makes around 45 with this recipe) and put into a container.

-Refrigerate and enjoy

 

Hope this finds you all enjoying tasty treats with your loved ones.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Living one day at a time

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So I had a good lesson last week in living in the present moment and not trying to rush ahead with life – my usual tactic- when my scheduled post only to have it disappear into cyber space. Today I had another reminder on the importance of living one day at a time so here I sit on a Monday night and type so that I know it will actually publish! 🙂

The truth is though that I am bloody impatient in life. There I’ve said it.  I’m the person who is always thinking 3 steps ahead while working on a task. I’m the one who literally can’t sit still because I have so many things that I could be doing.  I’m the one who hates waiting to do or say something which could be happening now.  I’d love to sugar coat my impatience as enthusiasm however it isn’t that sweet.  My impatience often turns to irritation at myself and others which is not the best look for someone advocating health and stress-less days! 🙂

Making the most of a snowy Porters Pass for a quick play

Making the most of a snowy Porters Pass for a quick play

I do however notice that the more I think and talk about stress-less tools, emotional release tools (EFT and Bach Flower Remedies) along with well-being, the more I am aware of my actions and the faster I am able to ‘nip’ my behaviour in the bud.  I bring my focus back to the here and now so that I can make that moment count.  Time is not renewable and actions speak louder than words.  I’m learning. I’m learning minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day to make the most of it all.

Extending our lunch time so the kids can enjoy make their own meal.

Extending our lunch time so the kids can enjoy make their own meal.

As I said today while out I was reminded of all of this as a woman shared her life story with me.  Everything can change in an instant so it is important to make sure I am living the life I want.  I am so fortunate to live the life I do.  I am also so fortunate to have a loving and supportive network around me, of both friends and family, and even though sometimes my hurried arse is too busy to show it I am so, so grateful for all of you and everything you bring to my life.

Sending you all lots of loving thoughts and reminders to make the most of each of your days with the ones you love.

Arohanui

Y

What is so good about Kombucha?

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I am being a bit lazy here and also sharing a good source that I found in the Food Renegade website.  Kristen Michaelis summed it all up so nicely that I have decided to repost on here.  Like a said a bit lazy but it is a good article with all the bits you need to know in it 😉 If you would like a copy of the quick and easy recipe which I have then feel free to message me.

Kombucha Health Benefits

by Kristen Michaelis (Copyright © 2014 Food Renegade)

Have you heard of Kombucha, the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.

Made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance), Kombucha didn’t gain prominence in the West until recently.

In the first half of the 20th century, extensive scientific research was done on Kombucha’s health benefits in Russia and Germany, mostly because of a push to find a cure for rising cancer rates. Russian scientists discovered that entire regions of their vast country were seemingly immune to cancer and hypothesized that the kombucha, called “tea kvass” there, was the cause. So, they began a series of experiments which not only verified the hypothesis, but began to pinpoint exactly what it is within kombucha which was so beneficial.

German scientists picked up on this research and continued it in their own direction. Then, with the onset of the Cold War, research and development started being diverted into other fields. It was only in the 1990s, when Kombucha first came to the U.S., that the West has done any studies on the effects of Kombucha, and those are quite few in number. As is typically the case in the U.S., no major medical studies are being done on Kombucha because no one in the drug industry stands to profit from researching a beverage that the average consumer can make for as little as 50 cents a gallon.

Thanks to it’s rising commercial popularity in the last decade, the older Russian and German research has been made available in English to Westerners, and a few wide-spread anecdotal surveys have been sponsored by Kombucha manufacturers, but that’s about it. While there are limited amounts of research done on the beverage, there has been lots of research done on many of the nutrients and acids it contains in large quantities (such as B-vitamins, antioxidants, and glucaric acids).

Regardless of the “lack” of scientific evidence, the fact remains that this beverage has 2,000 plus years of tradition behind it and an ardent and addicted following.

What are the health benefits of Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha Health Benefit #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention. One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces and/or uses to detox your system, thus reducing your pancreatic load and easing the burden on your liver. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer. I know 2 people in my immediate circle of friends who have had cancer (pancreatic and breast) and fought it into remission without any chemo or radiation therapy. Instead, they warded it off by detoxing their lives (going 100% organic, removing chemical cleaners and agents in their home, changing their diet to be at least 80% raw or fermented, etc.) Central to the detoxification process was drinking Kombucha regularly. Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recently deceased Russian author and nobel-prize winner, in his autobiography, claimed that kombucha tea cured his stomach cancer during his internment in soviet labor camps. (And because of this testimony, President Reagan used Kombucha to halt the spread of his cancer in 1987. You’ll note he didn’t die until 2004, and that was from old age, NOT cancer.)

Kombucha Health Benefit #2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamines, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis. Glucosamines increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid functions physiologically to aid preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain, with relief comparable to NSAIDs and advantage over glucocorticoids. Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, while associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.

Kombucha Health Benefit #3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability. As such, it’s noted for reducing or eliminating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, etc.

Kombucha Health Benefit #4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy levels.

Where can you learn more about kombucha health benefits?

Here are a few articles on the health benefits of kombucha:

http://www.kombu.de/val-gwf.htm
http://www.gaiaresearch.co.za/kombucha.html
http://www.acupuncture.com/herbs/kombucha1.htm
http://www.gokombucha.com/health_benefits.html

Are the health benefits of kombucha for real?

When I first read about the panacea of benefits, I was skeptical. How could one beverage do so many things? But then I realized that it’s not so much that the beverage does something to our bodies, like a medicine targeted at curing specific symptoms. It’s more that this beverage promotes health. It gives your body what it needs to heal itself by 1)aiding your liver in removing harmful substances, 2)promoting balance in your digestive system, and 3)being rich in health-promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids.

The general consensus seems to be that with regular, daily consumption, you’ll notice improvement in immune system functioning and energy levels within about a week, the healing of more minor ailments within a month or so, and the healing of more radical illnesses within a year or so.

Want to know more about kombucha tea?

Check out these other articles on kombucha tea I’ve written:

 

 

Six weeks in and ……

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So it has now been 6 weeks since I have begun this sugar free lifestyle.  I haven’t really keep count,  as it just feels like a nature part of life now, it’s  just that someone asked me the other day and I really had no idea so decided to count it up 😉  It has taken a bit of work to be sugar free at times especially in double checking labels of food that we had regularly and replacing them for homemade versions when I found they contained sugar, pre-made tortilla is a perfect example of this. However on the whole, with the cupboards set up with heaps of sugar free foods it has been pretty easy. 

I got through Easter sugar free (though not fructose free as I had some dried currents in our homemade hot cross buns) and a weekend away then last week a few bit of sugar did creep in.  Some as part of meals out (stewed fruit given to us, cream sweeten up and in a salad dressing) and some through choice (curry paste with less than 3gm per 100gm).  I have got to say that while there was a bit of guilt I do try to work on the 80/20 rule in life so figured that as long as the serves were small and I wasn’t making a habit of it, things were all good.  The thing is that I really noticed the difference in my moods on the day after having that wee bit of sugar.  I suddenly felt irritable and a bit volatile along with a mild headache which nagged ever so slightly at me. Thankfully I had a few Bach Flower Remedies to get me through along with a bit of tapping and by the following day I felt good as gold again 😉  Maybe it was coincidence that I had those feelings all in the same week as I had bits of sugar, maybe …….. and then again maybe not.  I certainly felt calmer when no sugar was in my diet that is for sure and it has been a good reminder of why I really began this – to improve my health and well-being (emotionally and physically).

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What was left of the second batch minus the crosses as little ones were eager to begin munching.

My journey to giving up sugar has been a gradual one in improving my health, until this final cutting off of all sugar (apart from fresh fruit) that is.  When we decided to have kids I gave up alcohol, luckily for me I was pregnant 2 weeks after that so I had to continue with that sugar loss 😉  From there a realisation that wheat was playing havoc with my stomach made me reduce baked goods. My daughter then developed eczema and while there were no allergies it seemed that the more processed i.e. the more ingredients in it, the more she flared up.  So that meant that I began reading labels more and once you read those labels it isn’t long before you are buying food stuffs without sugar.  I was however still a big fizzy bubbly (soda) drinker, tomato sauce user and a humongous honey hogger!  These were my staples for coping, and feeling normal, until I read an article last December about how fizzy drinks can deplete the calcium in your bones not to mention what it does to your teeth.  Being a runner – well that is what I call the thing I do in the mornings 😉 – I didn’t want to be breaking any bones so the fizzy bubbly was the next to go.

That left my trusty friends honey and tomato sauce (ketchup), along with fresh and dried fruit giving me most of my sugar hits.  It is at this point that I read about Sarah Wilson’s book. ‘What??!! Give up fruit and honey?’ ‘She must be mental’ I thought.  It planted a seed though. A seed that niggled at me and grew till I eventually went to the library to order her book.  It was then that I found and read David Gillespie’s book and the rest is history 😉  No more tomato sauce and no more honey!  I can hardly believe it some days.

I have kept in the fresh fruit for a snacks if needed (dried fruit has been left a bit abandoned on the shelf except of Easter buns)  and use this in baking. It just comes down to preferring to use naturally occurring products versus processed, like dextrose, for me.  I save the dextrose for those occasions, like my Mum’s birthday cake, when the receiver really just wants to taste a yummy sweet baked good and not banana dense wholemeal option 😉 My experiments with the glucose syrup, which I found out is made with completely GM free corn from NZ thanks Queen Fine Foods, have not been that successful so that has be ditched too.  I’m happy to have fresh fruit, mostly oranges, pears and kiwifruit now, as the sweeter in my life (baking  and raw) instead of all the other stuff.  I can go into shops and walk down the lollie (sweets) aisle with ease and even the chocolate section isn’t a big attraction anymore.  I do still have cravings for food however it is just that food, not the sweet sugar stuff that I used to think about.  Usually nuts can quell it pretty fast, thankfully, along with my trusty Bach Flower Remedies 😉

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The past 6 weeks have certainly been an interesting journey into what works best for my body and also just how much I don’t miss all those sugar laden foods when I am eating whole, nourishing foods. Here is to continued health, vitality and enjoying life.

Till next week.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz