Thursday, May 9, 2013

Coco-nutty Granola anyone?

I can't believe it's nearly halfway through May. I feel like I'm just settling into 'how' to study again, & they are talking exams! My first exam is in one month, & before exams I have essays, an oral presentation, a scientific poster, chem pracs, biology pracs, online tests, plus 3 more weeks of lectures (so much information to process)! Trying to do subjects without that Year 12 background is challenging to say the least, It will be an interesting month ahead!!
To help me have healthy easy snacks when I'm studying, I try to plan ahead. One of my current favourite snacks is fruit, greek yoghurt, and Coco-nutty Granola! If anyone has read any of Sarah Wilson's stuff you will have heard of her Coco-nutty Granola. There are also few different recipes around on the internet, & they are all pretty easy to adapt to ingredients that you like ! To see Sarah's recipe go here;

or get her I quit sugar cookbook (It's $22 in Big W). Here is my version, it's a bit simpler, as I find I don't tolerate seeds very well , so I leave out pepita seeds, chia seeds etc.

2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup almonds ( chopped roughly)

Optional - I tablespoon rice malt syrup. ( I don't add this, it is pretty yummy without it!)

Preheat oven to 120 deg, mix all ingredients in a bowl, spread evenly onto a baking paper lined tray. Bake for around 20 mins, until golden. Stir halfway.
Remove from oven & cool immediately.

Sarah's recipe is for a larger quantity, but the above amount is a good tester size.
Feel free to add some pepitas, chia seeds, more or less cinnamon etc as to your liking! If I make a double batch it takes about 30mins & you do need to stir every 10 mins to keep it cooking evenly!
I get the coconut flakes online from Organic road, ( ) or you can usually get them from Health food shops, using the big flakes are perfect in this recipe, (sarah uses just flakes, I use a mix of flakes & shredded coconut, just to make the flakes go a bit further).
The granola is delicious on stewed apples, with a little whipped cream or yogurt!

I have also made a variation on Sarah's choc/coconut/protein balls, & raspberry ripe, which I will share soon, these are my 'healthy' chocolate replacements, I love them so much more than chocolate now!

Hope you all have a great weekend, & a happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“If you're afraid of butter, use cream.” ― Julia Child

In my quest for a happier & healthier life, I have discovered the joys of butter! I have been convinced that saturated fats are not bad for you, & that highly processed margarine & seed oils (like canola oil) are pretty much toxic. There is lots of info on the net about this, here is part of a short article from 'nutritional weight & wellness site.

"There is not sound science behind the prevention message that reducing saturated fat in the diet lowers a person’s risk of unhealthy cholesterol and heart disease. A recent meta-analysis of twenty-one studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease."¹ Ironically, the foods that raise our cholesterol levels are the very foods we have been advised to consume—processed carbohydrates, margarine and vegetable oils. In an article entitled, "Are Refined Carbohydrates worse than Saturated Fats," Dr. Frank Hu from the Harvard Medical School said, "In this era of widespread obesity and insulin resistance, the time has come to shift the focus of the diet-heart paradigm away from restricted fat intake and toward reduced consumption of refined carbohydrates." ²"

To read the whole article go here:

A healthy fat whith each meal or snack also helps us to absorb the fat soluble vitamins, so butter on your veges or olive oil dressing on your salad makes your meal much healthier!

This is my new favourite kitchen tool, a julienne peeler! A great way to get extra vegetables with your meal, here we have used zucchini & carrot instead of pasta with our bolognaise! Yumm!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happiness (& Health) Project 2013

Happiness Project in 2013  & a healthier Pancake Recipe!

For Christmas I was given a copy of The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. (thanks Angela)  I had looked at this before, but I think being given the book now was perfect timing for me. I wanted to use it as part of what I think of as helping  'my new life'.  Which started  last year, after  I had enrolled in a class at Big  Picture Classes with Cathy Zeilske - called Move More Eat Well (MMEW), as I was wanting to lose weight and feel healthier. In this class Cathy mentioned Nutritional Weight and Wellness, which was a company that promoted health through eating Real Food in balance. I started listening to podcasts and was skeptical at first (after all it said to eat Butter not Margarine!!), but the more I listened and researched,  the more they said made sense.  At this stage (last June), I was tired, had so many aches and pains (which I blamed on leaning over a desk packing medications into webster packs at work) by IBS was very annoying, and my blood pressure and cholesterol were both considered borderline.  Anyway, for the rest of  last year I started gradually implementing the 'Real Food plan. Basically, eating foods that are Real, nutrient dense, and suited to me. I wanted my life to be in balance as well, and think improving my health, stress levels & sleep will all be part of this.   It was a slow gradual process, I tried lots of variations, and read LOTS of different "diet" books to try and get information. I've read Practical Paelo, the 'I Quit Sugar', & the' I didn't Quit Sugar' books, Good Calories Bad Calories, Fat Chance, It Starts with Food, Make Peace with your plate, to name a just a few.  These books all have different ideas of their version of the 'perfect diet' (or lifestyle) for Health and wellbeing. 

The most noticeable point was that they all had some  things in common, -  1) they all cut out refined sugar, 2) they all cut out seed oils (ie marjarine, canola & vegetable oils). 3) for most Gluten was pretty much eliminated, 4) 7-8 hours sleep is essential, 5) we need to reduce stress. 
These books had lots of information on the science of these things, and reasons why the nutrition research (sugar and seed oils especially)  has not yet been adopted as our dietry guideline (very interesting stuff!).
When we look at it though - Sugar, when it is refined has no real nutrients,  raises blood sugar levels, and feeds unhealthy gut bacteria. - Seed oils are considered toxic due to the way they are processed, and gluten is inflammatory and considered an anti nutrient for most people. I will have more information and some links about all these things in later posts!

Anyway, at the moment,  the way I aim to eat that feels right for me is - Minimal processed &  refined foods.  This means - no seed oils (I pretty much only use butter, coconut oil, olive oil) minimal grains (if needed, I use coconut flour, almond flour, or buckwheat flour,although I do have gluten free oats once a week in pancakes, my Sunday morning treat! recipe below, ), no refined sugar ( I use fruit,  dates, 100% maple syrup, or honey) , & I limit dairy (as at the moment I still have double cream, butter and make my own 24hr yoghurt). 
Basically, we have to cook everything! For example instead of pasta etc, we have more veges! I am no where near perfect at this, (and don't aim to be, it's not worth the stress!) but am soooo much healthier.  My blood pressure and cholesterol are fine, I rarely have aches and pains, IBS is gone, I am feeling so much better. Health wise,  is like I am a new person. I have lost 15 kilos, and I know I have a long way to go there, and at the moment have reached a plateau - I try not to let this get me down, as I am so much healthier, I know I will get there eventually.  This recipe is one that I found helped me when I started - helped me when I had intial 'carb' cravings!
 I have adapted it from a Biggest Loser recipe (horrible show, & I think it gives terrible nutrition info btw)!

Healthier Gluten free Oat Pancakes

I cup gluten free oats
4 eggs
200g cottage cheese (or greek yoghurt)
I teaspoon cinnamon
vanilla essence

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend well, cook in melted butter, turning when cooked about 2/3 through. 
Makes 4 large pancakes.  Serve with maple syrup,  whipped or double cream & fruit.
Each pancake will have protein (from the egg and cottage cheese or yoghurt)
Healthy carbohydrate from oats, and fruit topping, & the maple syrup (use 100% pure maple syrup, not a flavoured one, so that you are getting some good nutrients with your sweetness)
and Healthy fat from the whipped/double cream.
& the Cinnamon is good for balancing blood sugar.

Back to The Happiness Project, each month there are ideas of what to do as part of a year long, happiness journey, so here goes -  in January, it was to;
 - Go to Sleep earlier,
 - Exercise better,
 - Toss, restore, organise,
 - Tackle a nagging task,
 - Act more energetic.

I know the benefits of more sleep and exercise, am trying - this will be a year long journey for sure, I am basically still just walking for exercise, it's what I enjoy the most, so what I am what I am sticking to for now. I organised my bedroom, moving around a desk to get ready for the start of the school year, which was at the end of February, when I started a Bachelor of Health Sciences at Ballarat University, (it will be good to have a basis for the science of what I am reading and learning about food and nutrition!)
Anyway - I followed this through February as well, as the February month was about love and marriage, so skipped the whole chapter!

March was good - as University had started, and I thought it applied pretty well,
 - Enjoy the fun of failure,
 - Ask for help,
 - Work smart,
 - Enjoy now,
 - Launch a blog.
I will get my first Biology report (worth 15% of my grade) and a Health essay (worth 20% of my grade) back in the next week or so, so I will find out if I can/need to enjoy the fun of failure, lol! I do admit, I thought about giving up on the whole idea of Uni, I had no idea how to write a report, or an essay, and I'm finding Chemistry is pretty much a whole new language. 33 years since school isnt making it easy! Anyway, I know I need to work on the working smart, but hopefully I will get there. (thanks to Belinda, Laura , Nikki , Jo L, SaraLeanne for listening to all my complaining and telling me not to give up!).  Doing this Blog Post is part of Launch a Blog, and also I think, part of enjoying now - Hopefully writing this all down, will help me see how far I've come, and keep things in a positive light!

Now onto April - a bit late, but here it is
 - sing in the morning
 - acknowledge the reality of peoples feelings
 - be a treasure house of happy memories,
 - take time for projects.
I'm not a moring person, so will take putting music on while I have my warm water with lemon juice to start my day for the first one! Yep, will think about the second one, and  I think the last two for me mean that I need to look at some scrapbooking & project life catching up! I did the front page of my project life, but thats it so far - with Uni being a bit more full on than I anticipated, ( and work, and some silly idea that I need to cook ALL our food, no packaged stuff takes time!!, lol) time just flies by!

Here is my intro page -

I hope to be back in a week or so with more ramblings, some science & another 'healthier' recipe.


Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Back!

Ok, it has been a year of changes and I've done lots of things out of my comfort zone. Now I'm back to document some of the changes by blogging again.  I blog for me, so, I suppose it makes sense that sometimes I have times (months) where blogging just doesnt happen - & I know I'll get back to it when I'm ready!  My last entry was April, and since then I have hardly scrapbooked - here's one page I did about the walking tracks near us in Ballarat, I like it & I was keen to use the new scrapbooking 'badges' I had found!
In July I found (with the help of Nikki and her Real Estate App on her phone!) a house to buy in
Ballarat, which in itself was pretty scary. But I did it, and we moved in at the end of September. I actually had two houses for a couple of months while tenants were found for the house we were renting (which was also a bit scary!). 
Craft wise for the year the New House Announcement Card above and maybe 3 scrapbook layouts were all that happened (hopefully more next year?!),  I finished off two quilts that I found when packing to move to Ballarat ( I had finished the quilt tops, I paid someone to machine quilt them, and then just had  to bind them!). It actually felt good to sew, maybe I will do some more of this next year too?!

So thats some of what I have been up to in the last few months. I will be back to share what I have done in my Big Picture Online Classes, I have actually kept pretty much up with Move More Eat Well, and have followed my own outline for One Little Word this year.
Cheers for now,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week In the Life 2012

This year I'm participating in Ali Edwards Week In The Life Project again. This will be the third year that I have started this project, 2010 is nearly finished, 2011 is mostly still on the computer, as I was working on hybrid pages (although I did complete a layout using some of the pics).

 I still like this project as I find that I take lots of photos and often use the photos (that I wouldn't have usually taken) in other projects and layouts.
To try and help get this years finished, I have made a file folder as part of my Art Of Observation class at BPC, this lesson has two parts, the first was making a folder in anticipation of an event, and the second part (in 9 or so weeks time) will be about the actual event. I'm hoping that during this time that I will finish this years. And who knows maybe be inspired to finish the other two years!

Here is the front & back of the folder. I will make a photo stack for each day of the week, to go inside the folder. I am taking notes on my phone, using the One Day App, and am thinking I will simply take a screen shot of each days notes, and print it with my photos and include them with the photos!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Project Life April - Part 1

Project Life - each year I think "next year I won't have as much to document, the girls getting older, not as home much etc, etc", but - each year I use more pages! This year I have added an extra page or two nearly every month! April still consists of the basics, but has an extra couple of pages with pics etc that Laura sent while overseas for a couple of weeks.  The pages are a little less embellished than usual, but I didn't want to get behind, so have taken the easy way out!

To see more Project Life inspiration, go to  lots of different approaches to Project Life to discover.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Diptychs 2012

Diptych 14 of 52

My photo on the left - I visited Portland over easter break, and it was great to catch up with friends and go for a couple of walks along the beach. Nikki's photo shows the lovely bond between siblings - I love the lighting in this photo!

Diptych 15 of 52

My photo on the left (as always!), this is the Ballarat Railway station - we often pick up/drop off laura here when she visits, and if we need to go to melb the train is sooo much easier than driving, finding a park etc. Love that its such a majestic old building.  Nikki's photo shows Ella and her shadow at the beach, Ella is growing up so fast!