New Beginnings!

I have a new home!

So I had gone a little MIA over the last 6 months being busy organising a move into clinical practice and building my new website. For anyone that was following me previously and would like to continue I have now taken a step up in the big, wide world and have created my own website http://www.lovingwellness.com.au.

I would love for you to join me in my recipe creating escapades and perhaps learn a thing or two while I ramble about holistic health and wellbeing, feeding my love for creativity and writing. Perhaps, if you’re in Melbourne somewhere, I could even offer you some nutritional assistance. We shall see.

Until then, take care, and I thank you for all of your support!

The Diet Trap

For the emotional eaters…

diet

You’re on a DIET! Until….

It’s a Friday afternoon and it’s been a long day at work. At the beginning of this week you had endeavoured to only eat ‘clean and healthy in perfect portions.’ Acting like a true saint, the only things that have passed your lips have been in the form of fruit, veggies, lean protein, water and herbal tea. So empowered and strong-willed you have been in your ambition that you had even said no to the slices of cake being passed around for yet another office birthday party, much to the disgust of the ‘junkie’s’ (junk food addicts) surrounding you (“god, she’s making us look bad”).

Suddenly, when you thought that you had finally conquered your bad eating habits and reached the holy grail of clean-eating and good health an emotional trigger causes you to be caught by that little, sneaky chocolate craving that had ruled…

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Fussy Eaters and Chicken Nuggets (gluten free/dairy free)

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You only have a few strands of hair left after pulling it out left right and centre while trying to get your fussy kids (or partner) to eat well.

Dinners are exhausting, your kids (and/or partner) are complaining and just like the steam from their untouched food you find yourself dissipate into the air.

Finally, you CRACK IT!!! The family stares silently as you get up and make your way over to the oven to turn it onto high temperature. Your kids (and/or partner) watch you intently with curiosity. “What’s she going to do?” they think to themselves.

You pull out the oven tray and dramatically slam it down on the bench for emphasis. Your audience at the dinner table gasp. At this point they are a little bit frightened. “Has she gone mad?” Finally, opening the freezer door you pull out a big bag of “chicken” (we’re assuming) nuggets. Your audience squeals and claps with delight! You let out a deep, heaving sigh because you just don’t care anymore. All that matters to you right now is that the little (or big if referring to your partner) s***s to eat SOMETHING!!!!

Well I hear ya sister (or brother, men have this issue too). There is nothing more frustrating than a fussy eater when you have put your heart and soul into the cooking process. Sometimes it takes all of your will power not to pick up the dinner plate and place it on top of their head. The only thing stopping you is the mess that you would have to clean up afterwards (let’s be honest).

However, if you’ve got fussy eaters to deal with, sometimes you need to let go of your worry and frustration surrounding their limited food range and work with what you can. Often the fussy eating isn’t even about the food itself as most children are merely exercising their need to be independent.

For others, particularly those that fall along that autism spectrum, fussy eating isn’t so much “fussy eating” but more to do with a feeding issue. This could be related to their highly sensitive sensory system being overwhelmed and dysregulated by taste, textures, colours and sounds of the food that they are eating and/or the environment that they’re eating in (stressful?), or it could be due to motility issues and lack of muscle tone necessary for effective chewing and swallowing of food. If you want to read more about feeding issues and autism, then I strongly recommend that you click here http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/docs/sciencedocs/atn/feeding_guide.pdf

Working with Fussy Eaters

Knowing the underlying causes of fussy eating can empower you to change tactics. If your child has a particular food that they absolutely love (say chicken nuggets), think about how can you alter that food to make it enjoyable for them yet healthy enough that they are at least getting some quality protein, vitamins and minerals into their system.

For other foods like fruits and vegetables, continue offering them to your children at meal times but do it with a change of game plan. Rather than forcing your child to eat these types of foods and panic when they don’t, offer them in small portions and make meal time a happy time by allowing your child to exercise their curiosity by touching, playing with and tasting the food. Any small step in broadening their food horizons should be rewarded with much encouragement and praise, even when it doesn’t make it into their mouth. Sometimes it can take 10-15 times of seeing the food on their plate before the child begins to accept it, so please don’t lose hope!

Another great tactic is getting to know what food textures your child loves and trying to create the same with fruit or vegetables. Do they like crunchy textures? Try making home-made veggie chips! Do they prefer soft and mushy? Get out your food processor (or go buy one) and start pureeing! Encourage your kids to get involved in with the cooking process and empower them by allowing them to make choices about what to create. Not only will your kids love being in the kitchen, it also enables some beautiful bonding between you as well.

Want more handy tips on fussy eating? Check out this link http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/fussy_eating.html

Back to Nuggets

If you want to make a start on changing up your child’s food journey, then have a crack at transforming an old favourite, ‘The Chicken Nugget,’ into a more nourishing form filled with quality protein, vitamins and minerals. I’m sure your fussy kids (and partner) will love them! I know some fussy eaters who did! Check out my recipe below.

Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets (Gluten free and Dairy free)

Ingredients

500g of free range chicken breast, sliced into 2-3cm pieces

Crumb Coating

1 cup of almonds
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

Honey Mustard Sauce

1 tb of virgin olive oil
1 tb of honey (raw is even better)
2 tsp of mustard
2 free range eggs
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of apple cider vinegar

Method

Turn oven onto 180C (fan forced)

Throw almonds and coconut into a food processor and process into a meal. Remove and scoop into a separate bowl.

Throw honey mustard ingredients into the food processor and mix into a smooth liquid. Scoop into another separate bowl.

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Dip and coat individual chicken pieces into the honey mustard sauce first and then coat with the almond/coconut meal.

Lay chicken pieces out onto the oven tray and then chuck into the oven. Bake for 15-20min until cooked through.

Serve up with a small side of salad or cooked veggies. If your kids don’t eat the salad/veggies the first time around, try and try and try again. Enjoy! 🙂

Creamy Roast Pumpkin Dip (Gluten free. Dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options available)

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A ridiculously easy dip that’s more than cracker worthy. Filled with heart healthy oils (that’s you unhulled tahini) and anti-inflammatory (thanks turmeric) and antioxidant phytonutrients, you can use it as a condiment for:

  • Flavour enhancing your plain old scrambled eggs
  • For lining the base of your mountain bread wrap filled with salad and chicken breast or falafel balls
  • To tantalise  and glamourise your cooked basmati rice, buckwheat kernels or quinoa
  • For “dressing up”  or leaving the pumpkin pieces undipped to throw onto your warmed rocket and goats fetta salad
  • For dipping chopped celery, capsicum and carrot for an antioxidant rich healthy snack
  • For hiding in the corner with your teaspoon hoping that no one will catch you dig into the glorious creaminess that is this roast pumpkin dip (that wasn’t me!)

Or you can just make up a batch to serve to your friends while entertaining. Ahhh the possibilities are endless!

Creamy Roast Pumpkin Dip

 

Ingredients

500 g of pumpkin, chopped into 2cm pieces

2 cloves of garlic, peeled, not crushed

Dried rosemary, for seasoning

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tbs of unhulled tahini

1 tsp of apple cider vinegar

Sea salt + black pepper for seasoning

2 tsp of organic butter/ghee or coconut oil

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees fahrenheit)

Cut up pumpkin and peel away skin of garlic cloves

Melt chosen fat/oil on low heat in a saucepan, remove from heat and allow a few minutes to cool

Line an oven tray with baking paper

Using clean fingers, rub melted oil onto the pieces of pumpkin and garlic cloves and then spread over the oven tray

Season with dried rosemary, sea salt and black pepper

Place tray into the oven and leave to bake for 25-30min, keeping an eye on it in the last 10min

Once baked, remove tray from oven and allow the pumpkin and garlic to cool.

Throw them into a food processor along with the other ingredients, and process away. Wholah!

Now you have a beautifully creamy roast pumpkin dip. Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin and Date Muffins (gluten free/dairy free)

It’s been a pumpkin-ish kind of week. I don’t know why but lately all of my recipe experiments have included pumpkin as the recipe’s “vegetable star.” Maybe it’s because they are so damn versatile that you can incorporate them into both savoury and sweet dishes. Or maybe it’s because they are so rich in skin illuminating beta-carotene that I’m trying to achieve some kind of glow through all of this cold, grey and bleak weather we’ve been having here in Melbourne. Mental note: Must set up a travel savings account so that I can take off somewhere North during every winter season.

Today’s recipe: Pumpkin and Date Muffins.

This recipe followed another recipe that I played around with called Pumpkin Nachos. That recipe, although very tasty, was a fail. Unfortunately you just can’t scoop up salsa and guacamole with limp pumpkin pieces, the physics just don’t work, and I wouldn’t dare to work against the whole point of the glorious nacho (but I’ll keep trying to come up with something). This recipe was originally supposed to be Pumpkin and Date Scones but somehow along the way they became muffins. And not just any muffin, mind you. It is a muffin that is so filling that it can be eaten like a meal! Handy to make and keep in the fridge so that you can quickly grab one for breaky as you’re rushing out the door, or to pop in the kid’s school lunch boxes.

Pumpkin and Date Muffins

Ingredients

  • 500g of pumpkin, chopped
  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of water (for the chia seeds)
  • 3 organic, free range eggs
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tbs of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (360 degrees F)
  • Throw pumpkin pieces into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil. Cook for 5-10min (or until cooked through) and allow to cool. You can pop it in the fridge to speed up this process if you wish.
  • Place chia seeds in a bowl and cover with the water, leaving to soak and gel up for about 10-15min.
  • Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. This will take a few minutes.
  • If you find the end result to be too liquidy you can add a little bit more coconut flour to thicken it up.
  • Using baking paper (non-stick or pre-greased), cut into small squares to line each cup in a muffin oven tray. Scoop mixture into each paper-lined cup.
  • Place tray into the oven and leave to bake for 25-30min, keeping a close eye on it during the last 10min. They are ready when they are golden on top and there is no residue left with poked with a skewer.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Keep refrigerated. Enjoy 🙂

Mix makes up to 12

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Flourless Banana and Carrot Bread (gluten free/dairy free)

Banana bread, carrot bread – both favourites of mine ever since I was little. I have good memories of sharing a slice with my mum and sister while sitting in a cafe, my barbie doll seated next to me, sipping our frothy cappuccinos (well, at that age mine was of the chocolate variety).

Fast forward 20 years. That little girl (me) has moved away from barbie dolls and has grown into a health nut obsessed with all things clean and healthy. But does that mean with all of the nutritional knowledge that I have now accumulated about wheat and sugars and the like – I won’t ever eat banana/carrot bread again? Pfft, no way!

You can’t kill a love like a love for banana/carrot bread and with love comes deep desire. And despite the obstacles that I had faced while setting out on a journey to recreate my childhood memories without the guilt (taste/wow factor), my love and desire to get it right had kept me going. I even went a little bit crazy risque by combining the two into one super Banana and Carrot Bread along with other super healthy ingredients like quinoa and tahini (you did whaaaat?). Yeah I know, living on the edge right here!

Well, in my own personal opinion I think I succeeded, at least my taste buds thought so while enjoying a slice alongside a cup of hot cocoa. My sister thought so too. But I’ll leave you be the judge, let me know what you think 🙂

Flourless Banana Carrot Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pre-cooked white quinoa

(you could prepare this the night before if you prefer. If doing on the day, allow quinoa to cool before using for this recipe)

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 whole, very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 tbs of unhulled tahini
  • 1/2 of baking soda
  • Lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Water 1/2 cup for chia, 1/4 for bread mix

Method

  • Add chia seeds to a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of water. Leave for 30min so it can gel.
  • Pre-heat oven to 160C/320F (fan-forced)
  • Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until all smooth. This will take a few min with occasional scraping down the sides.
  • Add mix to a baking dish lined with oiled baking paper. Spread out evenly and pop into the oven. Leave to bake for 1h 15- 1h 30mins, until all cooked through.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Enjoy with your favourite cup of tea/hot cocoa/coffee or even pack into your kids school lunches for a healthy baked treat…yum!
Keep refrigerated, will keep for 4-5 days.

 

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Raw Protein Bliss Balls (gluten free/dairy free)

Had a crack at making your own almond milk but are now unsure of what to do with the pulp? Waste not want not I say. Try giving these recipes a go – a completely natural and nutrient dense alternative to the ultra artificial protein bars that have exploded throughout our supermarkets and health food stores (how is that food?)

Packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fibre, these little beauties are super nourishing and appetite-suppressing, but remember that enjoying them in small portion sizes is key. Tasty enough to be enjoyed by anyone along the age spectrum (except infants of course), keep in the fridge and enjoy one or two as a snack to keep you tracking throughout your busy day 🙂

 

Raw Protein Bliss Balls (gluten free, dairy free)

If you would like the complete almond milk recipe along with some info on the health benefits of soaking/activating nuts then click on this link http://bit.ly/1mBaoKX . Alternatively, for this recipe soak 1 cup of raw almonds in filtered water with a pinch of sea salt overnight. Drain and use for this recipe.

 

Plain/Chocolate

Ingredients

1 cup of almond pulp/soaked almonds

1 cup of dates

1/2 cup of almond milk (or water if not making almond milk)

1 tbs of chia seeds

2 tsp of organic cocoa powder (optional)

 

Raspberry/Choc Berry

Ingredients

1 cup of almond pulp/almonds soaked overnight

1 cup of dates

1 cup of raspberries, frozen or fresh

1/4 cup of chia seeds

1/4 cup of almond milk (or water if not making almond milk)

Desiccated coconut (for coating)

2 tsp of organic cocoa powder (optional)

 

Method

Throw all of these ingredients into a food processor and process until smoothish, occasionally scraping down the sides. This may take a few minutes. If using soaked whole almonds instead of almond pulp, ground them in the food processor on their own before adding other ingredients.

Once mix is done, roll into small balls, coat with desiccated coconut (optional) and refrigerate. You can even freeze and save for another time if need be.

Please note that if trying the raspberry option the texture will be quite moist, if you prefer them firmer add an extra 1/4 of a cup of chia seeds and coat with desiccated coconut. If you want to get a little creative with the ingredients, cut down to 1/2 cup of dates and superfood them up by adding 1/2 a cup of goji berries, mulberries, inca berries, etc, throw in some cacao nibs, or try using dried fig instead of dates, strawberries instead of raspberries, brazil nuts instead of almonds, etc, etc, etc. Whatever works best for you.

Savour and enjoy 🙂

 

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Celebrate How Imperfectly Perfect You Are!

better-person-motivational-quotes

In today’s society it is extremely common to suffer from the disorder that I like to call ‘Inadequate Syndrome’ i.e the tendency to constantly (and unrealistically) compare ourselves to others. These comparisons may be based on:

• Physical appearance
• Intelligence
• Personal achievements
• Personal experiences (travel, lifestyle choices, etc)
• Talents
• Many more

These unfair comparisons evoke a feeling of being ‘less than’ and in response we unrealistically place pressure onto ourselves to try and adapt to meet a delusional ‘ideal,’ yet in doing so we become further and further removed from who we really are.

As a nutritionist I mostly use my Facebook page and blog as a tool to educate on how food as medicine can help you to stay well, prevent disease and be the healthiest version of yourself. However, after dealing with my own demons of feeling ‘less than’ (it still catches me…

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Mild Indian Dhal (gluten free, dairy free – vegetarian/vegan option available)

Feed your heart with some Indian Dhal, the third and final recipe I’ll post utilising a portion of the chicken broth I had made the previous week (check out recipe under the ‘soups and broths’ category.  This recipe is kind to both the hip pocket and your health with chickpeas and lentils forming the bulk of it.

 

These mighty legumes not only supply you with an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering, blood sugar-balancing, appetite-suppressing, bowel-regulating, friendly-bacteria nourishing and nurturing fibre, they are also a great source of protein and many vitamins and minerals including molybdenum, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium (minerals), folate, B1, B6 (vitamins) that are utilised for many various functions within the body, including energy metabolism. Mix that in with the highly bioavailable elemental minerals provided by the chicken broth* and potent blend of cell-protecting antioxidants provided by the pumpkin, celery, carrot, chilli, garlic and herbs and spices, and you have one powerful (and economical) pot of tasty goodness. Who said that eating super foods had to be expensive?

* For vegans and vegetarians, you can opt for using an organic, MSG free veggie broth/stock instead.

 

Mild Indian Dhal 

Ingredients 

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

500g of pumpkin, chopped

3 sticks of celery, chopped

4 cups of chicken broth (veggie stock for vegetarians and vegans)

2 spring onions, chopped (or 1 whole brown onion chopped if they agree with you)

1.5 cups of dried red lentils, rinsed

200g of dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) or 400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cans of diced tomatoes

1 birds eye chilli, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp of freshly grated ginger

1 tsp of dried turmeric

2 tsp of curry powder

Cracked pepper to season with

Organic butter/ghee/chicken fat from broth/or coconut oil to fry with

 

Method 

Using a large pot, melt oil and fry onion, garlic, chilli and ginger for a few minutes, stirring vigourously. Add curry powder and turmeric and fry for a further 2 min.

Add broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, celery, pumpkin and carrot. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer and cover.

Allow to simmer for 25-30min.

When ready, serve up with cooked quinoa or brown/basmati rice. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or portion out into separate containers and freeze for future meals.  Savour and enjoy 🙂

Serves 6-8

 

Handy tip: To improve the absorption of the iron and zinc from the chickpeas and lentils, give the dhal a squeeze of lemon juice prior to serving.

 

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