Halloween is just as exciting in our house as Christmas, which is kind of bizarre since it's Australia and generally not a huge deal here. However, this is certainly changing. Maybe it's about the treats (candy as those of you in the Northern Hemisphere like to call it), but I don't think it's all about that.
My kids absolutely love that they can make their own costumes and the uglier, more gruesome the better. I guess it's that one time where kids get to go against the grain and bend some rules and they love it! Their creativity has really come out and they have all had fun together getting their outfits together. No mean feat when you have 4 kids that are usually bickering with each other.
They are also super excited getting to go out at night with their friends, again something only adults ever get to do right? Hopefully the weather gets better here in Melbourne. It's truly creepy cold and winter like.
To add to the scare factor I've been tv bingeing which I don't normally do. Stranger Things 2 is out (funnily enough set around Halloween!) and Mindhunters. Strictly adults only, but scaring the pants off me! Happy Halloween everyone!
Bad Melbourne weather + Sunday mornings means a hot breakfast and my kids just love it when we make pancakes. I have a super easy way of making pancakes that is my go to recipe, but I was getting a little bored of this so I tried a new recipe that I got from my new cookbook 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous.
These pancakes are called "Applesauce and Oatmeal Pancakes". Oatmeal in the USA is just plain oats, the ones you buy in the cereal aisle that you cook in the pan with milk to make porridge.
I think they are delicious and quite filling. My boys wipe me out with my usual pancake recipe - even when I make double!
Here is the recipe:
Applesauce and oatmeal Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce (store bought ok)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons honey
Mix all together until just combined and as per normal pancakes cook in a pan over a medium heat until bubbles form and then flip. Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit and cream!
Who else loves berries? They are so good for us but so damn expensive! Especially when it comes to organic, pesticide and herbicide free berries! Blueberries are currently in season and a little cheaper at the moment, plus Aussie grown, but what do you do for the rest of the year when they aren't in season?
Berries are full of antioxidants and help so much in improving your mental sharpness, can help manage diabetes, can assist in weight control, they are nutrient dense, can help fight inflammation and so much more.
If you have trouble consuming enough organic berries each week I might have the perfect solution. I Would love to help you get started on your health journey today!
PM me for the info or head to the Join the Movement page link in my bio to get more info about eating additive free foods.
Below is my favourite Blueberry Muffin recipe. This is a staple in my house. A funny story, when my 5 year old started Prep this year we found he was raiding his money box to go to the school canteen. Rather than buying icy poles or chips, he was buying their hand baked muffins as he was missing my Blueberry Muffins that I hadn't made since I started back at work full-time (insert awww sad face here!)Talk about a guilty working mum moment! Your 5 year old will love them too!
Blueberry Muffin Recipe
I've been thinking a lot about trying to get more veggies into the kids, but until the veggie Patch is up and running I'm learning about alternatives. Veggies are important because of all the micronutrients they have.
Micronutrients are those that our body needs in 'micro' doses. But don't let that mislead you into thinking their roll is small. You may have heard of vitamins and minerals. But have you heard of phytochemicals? When you bite into an apple, there are approximately 400 key nutrients and over 10,000 phytochemicals (science doesn't quite know how to count them yet).
So back to that bite, while you chomp, there are hundreds of chemical reactions occurring to create the magic that we all choose to call 'health benefits'. This is the magic. Every little phytochemical, every vitamin, every trace element, every mineral is working in synergy with your own enzymes to perfectly fuel each different cell in your body!! You know, that thing you throw around and expect the world from all these amazing explosions and collisions occurring in our bodies without us even feeling a twitch! All this can't happen without those mighty micronutrients. So I've got 2 words for you, eatya veggies!
I think most Victorians would agree that this year in particular it has felt like it is the Winter that will never end! Don't get me wrong, Winter actually is one of my favourite seasons, but this one is just going and going and going ...
Maybe it is because I am now back being a full time employee and have to leave the house at ungodly morning hours, travel vast distances and traverse muddy school yards that I didn't have to do when I was being mum at home.
Maybe it's because I am again stuck inside with a damned flu! Again, universally agreed to be the worst flu season ever! Either way, I am here now thinking about you, my blog. Thinking about how aspirational it was, how determined it was and how much time I had to devote to it.
Somewhere along the way with our move to the seaside and 4 small children becoming larger, busier ones, I let something go in my life. And this was it. I want it back now. I have so much to say and not just about food anymore. I want to talk about cutting all sorts of crap from life, as this is starting to clog up my existence. So, let's start the conversation again shall we?
Below are the books that have once again been my inspiration. I have eagerly been awaiting these to come in the mail. I borrowed Rhonda's books from the library and thought them so worth the money I ordered them so I had copies for myself.
I have been diving head first into these during my convalescence and they are telling me the answer to the question I didn't know I was asking. My Winter wasn't just lasting all this year, it's been going for many years and yes it's time to shake off the grey clouds and start living life again how I want to. Without guilt, without time constraints, without nay-saying.
If you want to get a sense of what I mean head to these two authors, and feel the cold of Winter blowing away for yourself:
There has been a lot in the media lately about how families are finding it difficult to make weekly wages stretch further; in a sense pay more with the same or less!
I wanted to share with you what my general grocery bill for the week looks like. I too am on a budget, but I wanted to demonstrate that even though we are trying to eat a special diet in our home our food bills are still quite low.
This bill is from Coles Online - if Aldi delivered my food straight to my table for free at 7am and rewarded me with Flybuys, gave me free samples and upgraded my items if they are out of stock of my usual I might consider buying from them, but they don't so there we are.
Your reasons for shopping elsewhere may be different to mine, and that's cool, I'm not endorsing Coles over any other grocery store. In my opinion despite recent media attention they are all a much of a muchness in the price department.
Why do I say this? I mainly buy staples and pantry basics, and Coles has price matched theirs to Aldi anyway. And even beat them in some items i.e. spaghetti pasta. I do prefer Coles for two other reason however, they are Australian owned and their products have less additives and preservatives than the South African owned Woolworths. And that's important to me too.
So, on today's grocery bill I have everything I need to make my meals and and school lunches for 6 people for the next week. It doesn't include meat however, as I buy this every 4 months from the butcher as a side of beef. It does have bacon and tuna however. My total bill was $109.52 and it includes loads of fruit like pears and oranges as these are in season and cost just $1.60 and $1.70 per kilo respectively. I also added potatoes, apples and 14 litres of milk - yes we drink and bake with a lot of milk!
There is butter, sugar, eggs, cream, bread, milk, pasta and tuna. I added to my baking goods with Baking Powder as its getting low and of course I needed nappies and tissues (it's that time of year after all!). Milo was on special too so I bought a large 1.25kg tin for back up. I could have even lowered the bill further if I hadn't succumbed to my chocolate cravings, didn't buy a lemon but thought it would look better in our Coronas when our visitors come for dinner Saturday night (yes I'm also feeding another 3 people Saturday), and not bought the bananas, which weren't on special but its nice to have on our pancakes.
All these items simply top up my basics pantry to create all my meals. Next week I may need some frozen vegies or berries for instance, top up my flours but again my bill will be roughly the same. In fact I get upset if my bills go over $120 a week. So, what could I possibly be cooking for that little, well here is my meal plan:
- Friday - Schnitzel and Salad (salad from garden and last weeks onions, eggs).
- Saturday - Paprika Chicken, Rice and slaw and pear crumble for dessert (with Corona and lemons of course!)
- Sunday - Roast Pork with roast vegetables and gravy (made from scratch).
- Monday - Pork Sliders with Coleslaw (using left over roast pork)
- Tuesday - Thai Fish Cakes and Salad (using tuna)
- Wednesday - Steak, Mash and vegies
- Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas (using pasta, cream and bacon).
I'll also make Whole Orange Cake, biscuits, popcorn and muffins for lunchboxes. I'll make pancakes, bacon and eggs and french toast for breakfasts. Leftovers, BLTS and toasted surprise sandwiches for lunch for those of us who are at home. The Milo will be the only other drink besides milk and water that my children will drink and will be sprinkled over the occasional bowl of Peters Vanilla Ice-cream.
All of these foods are additive free, mostly low in fat and sugar, are made from wholefoods and I know what is in absolutely everything. So you see, by buying ingredients I keep my bills down and the emotional meltdowns as well!
Can you believe tomorrow is Winter? Where has the year gone? I have been very busy with everything else but my blogging unfortunately and I feel that my life is starting to get far too complicated. I am loving reading other bloggers who write about simpler lifestyles and as I come across these I'd like to share them with you, as I honestly think they suit my ideas about food and family perfectly.
One thing I have been working on in a small way is breakfast time. I have 4 children and they all wake up hungry, at different times and with different tastes. Its always been easy to grab the box, especially for the older children while I was busy with the babies. I do think though this is a bad habit that we need to break.
Breakfast time can be a stressful time of the day, but it's also the most important meal for your kids. Its easy to grab a box load of sugary, chemically laden breakfast cereal, but could we do better? And of course just as quickly and easily?
I am a terrible creature of habit. I eat 3 weet bix warmed up in the microwave most mornings, so I'm not saying to ditch the cereal altogether. In fact weet bix help me keep 'regular' if you know what I mean and form a staple part of my baking ingredients as well. We also have corn flakes and rice bubbles too.
I of course would like to eat a lot less processed foods, so I have been slowly introducing a few cooked breakfasts a week to help break up the box grab. Before you even think about doing some cooking in the morning though I have a few tips:
- Wake up before the kids, about half an hour before them. *Groan* I hear you say, but honestly that lovely quiet house where you can have a hot uninterrupted cuppa before the bombardment really does help you get in a good frame of mind to cook and create for the little cherubs.
- Make sure you don't choose a morning where you have to be out the door by 8am. Why put the extra pressure on yourself? So, if you work everyday and need to get out the door that early save your cooked breaky days for the weekend.
- Start with a clean kitchen. If I come into a kitchen first thing in the morning and I have clean benches and no dishes then it puts me in a better mental state to want to cook for the family - after I've boiled the kettle of course!
- Keep it simple. Don't go all Masterchef on your creations. Keep it simple i.e. if your doing pancakes just put out one topping like a bowl of frozen berries and some pure maple syrup.
- You can put leftovers in the kids school lunchbox. If there is some French toast left over I cut it up into smaller bite size pieces and put in a container and into the lunchbox it goes! Butter a pancake or two, spread some jam and there is their play time snack.
So what have I found is the best to cook quickly and easily? Here is the list and some recipes to get you started:
- Porridge - Grab a bag of $2 whole oats from the supermarket and follow the instructions on the back. I use my Thermomix so I can walk away and put some washing on, but before I had it I used the stove top. In 10 minutes you have a large pot to feed 5 hungry mouths. Add some maple syrup, frozen berries, cut up banana or cinnamon sugar to entice fussy eaters.
- Pancakes - A real crowd pleaser. I have a large fry pan so I make 4 at a time, about saucer size. They cook quickly and I just pop in the oven to keep warm until I have a large enough pile to serve up. I put out maple syrup, berries, bananas, cream, honey, whatever I have really. My recipe is this, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp of caster sugar, pinch of salt, self raising flour and milk. Mix all together into a batter consistency there you have it. I don't measure the milk and flour as I just make up enough to fill my 2 ltr jug and add more of either ingredient to get the pouring consistency I want. The longer your batter stands as well the more it will thicken.
- French Toast - savoury or sweet the concept is the same, in a bowl crack 3-4 eggs, add some milk, stir and then dip in your bread until just coated in the mixture (not sopping wet) and then fry in a buttered fry pan. Make it sweet by adding some castor sugar and then after its fried sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while still warm. Add maple syrup or honey and cream with berries.
To make savoury add salt and pepper. I like onion salt. You can also sprinkle with a little Parmesan while it is frying in the pan - yum!
To make cinnamon sugar add a tablespoon of cinnamon to a small container of caster sugar and shake. I leave some cinnamon quills in the container as well.
- Scrambled Eggs - this literally takes as long as it takes to toast some bread and then breaky is ready. In a small pan melt some butter and when the butter is frothing add your mixture of 2-3 beaten eggs ( I use the ratio of 1 egg per person), a splash of cream and some onion salt. Stir around in the hot butter until your mixture starts to curdle and cook together. Don't over cook. It's much nicer under done when the eggs look shiny and silky not dry. Serve on top of hot buttered toast.
- Grilled Toasties - if you have a sandwich maker and are familiar with these make up some toasties with cheese and onion and tomato - try to avoid the processed hams. Or you could put last nights left spag bol inside. You can also make sweet ones with some chopped bananas and a sprinkle of brown sugar on the inside. You can even make a load of these on the weekend and freeze them, ready to grab and re-heat quickly on a busy morning.
- Got an extra 10 minutes? Try some Texas Size Muffins. A whole muffin would be a could grab and go breaky food. My go to recipe is:
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Add sugar and blueberries.
In a separate bowl, mix milk, eggs and oil.
Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon into 12 hole muffin tin or 6 Texas Muffin holes. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar if desired.
You don't have to use blueberries, use any berries you like, some chopped pear or apple, tin peaches, even a bit of milk swished around the last of the jam jar!
Then bang the dishes in the dishwasher and your done!
I hope these have given you some ideas and to help you realise that kicking the box habit isn't as daunting as you would think.
It's the baby's birthday this weekend. Valentines Day to be exact and he is a sweetheart. When I look at the picture at the top of this blog it's hard to believe that so much time has passed that he is now turning 2!
We are having a small BBQ get together to mark the occasion and it was easy to pick a theme for this party ... Balls! He just loves them. Which is great as I only have to make all the food round then. So, what am I serving at my 2 year olds preservative and additive free party?
Well a lot of thought has gone into this party as after Christmas we needed a bit of a detox. Yes, sometimes we fall off the wagon, but I am quick to get us back on again believe me. We live in a small house and with 4 children lurching from highs to lows with a tanti or two chucked in it's a great incentive to throw away those coloured icy poles that snuck their way into the freezer!
So here is what is on the menu, I also am trying to make the food very little finger friendly. Easy to hold hand size portions. How about you? What would you serve at your two year olds party?
Sausages made special by my local butcher
Marinated Chicken pieces in homemade marinade
Salad in a lettuce cup (individual mini salads that are in a lettuce leaf that you just pick up and put on your plate)
Individual dips in a cup with sliced vegetables and homemade dip
Homemade pull apart
savoury treats (from my store) Vege Chips and Snackers
SWEET (yes it's still a party after all!)
Birthday Cake made from cake pops - homemade of course or you can get an additive free cake mix here
Home popped popped corn (not the icky microwave stuff!)
Tim Tam balls (Just crushed plain Tim Tams mixed with condensed milk formed into a ball)
Natural Lollies (from my store)
A large self serve jug with Schweppes Lemonade (not diet) with a Hoppers food colour added.
And the lolly bags are showbags with snack size portions of foods from the Cut the Chemicals Store with a few little balls in them as playthings.
For more Birthday Party ideas why not subscribe and receive a free tip sheet or head to the store to order your treats online and delivered straight to your door!
Bec Taylor is a lover of all things quick, convenient and tasty. Her favorite foods are sloppy, cheesy and hopefully cooked in one pot as she hates doing the dishes!