Healthy Cookie Cutter Cookies (with a sugar free option)

This recipe is an adaption of the Butternut Cookies on the I Quit Sugar blog. The original recipe was okay, but the coconut flour gives it that horrid dry mouth feel, and the recipe uses a whole jar of cashew butter. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to spend $6 on just one ingredient for a batch of cookies.

This adaption makes a flaky, buttery, pastry-like cookie. The girls devoured them, so that’s always a good sign.

Ingredients

  • 300g spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp rapadura sugar (or xylitol for sugar free)
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g cashew butter
  • 100g butter (or nutlex for dairy free)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2.5 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c, and get a baking tray ready
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the cashew butter, butter and coconut oil. Make sure it is over a very low heat.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the butter mix, eggs and vanilla essence. Stir well.
  5. At this stage you should probably rest the dough in the fridge a little bit, but we just went right ahead and rolled it. Up to you.
  6. Roll out half the dough between two sheets of baking paper, until it is about 4mm thick
  7. Using cookie cutters, cut out the biscuits and use an egg flip to lift them gently onto the baking tray.
  8. Bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy. (Sorry I didn’t time it. We did a basic clean-up and read two books if it helps)
  9. Allow to cool on the tray

NOTE: I froze the other half of the dough so we have some ready for another day.

 

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A yummy and healthy cookie cutter cookie. Yes we added sprinkles to this batch

 

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Filed under Activities for Toddlers, Snacks for Children, Sugar free, Toddler snacks

Routine lemon tree care, and potato trenches.

I am loving my veggie patch at the moment, but after such a long period of neglect there are a lot of jobs to do.

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I think it is a Meyer lemon, but the tag got lost a long time ago. It’s such a good tree, but will need a prune to shape her after this growing season.

Today I spent some time caring for the Grand Lady of our garden: the lemon tree. Our tree produces beautiful sweet juicy lemons, nearly year round. We bought her for our first wedding anniversary, so clearly she is special to us. 3 or so years of neglect have left her nutrient depleted, and suffering several bug afflictions.

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Those big lumps are from gall wasp. It was a pretty bad case, and those holes mean the adult wasps have escaped.

My first job was to give her a light pruning. Gall wasp has gotten into several branches, so I pruned them off. Gall wasp causes lumps in the branches, as the wasp lays it’s eggs into the branch itself. These lumps can lead to a reduction in fruit, so I pruned them all off and threw them into the green bin. Pruning is the only real way to control the wasp. I had to chop a few branches that had growing lemons on them too, but if you take them with a little piece of stem attach, they will still ripen nicely.

We also have a bit of citrus leaf miner, some scale and a sooty looking mould. These can all be treated with organic controls, but since none of them are seriously attacking the plant I am on watch and wait alert. A good feed, and some repeated deep watering, might allow the plant to control this herself

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Multiple diseases can be seen here

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Leaving some stem helps the lemons ripen. Baby hands adds some cute factor too.

Next, the girls and I cleared all the grass and weeds from beneath the tree so we could fertilise her. A light hoe got all the growth out pretty easily , and I actually left it piled around the outside to make a little moat. This will stop the water and fertiliser from running down the slope away from the tree.

Lemons need to be fed three times a year: March, July and November (yes, I’m a little late!). I always use a commercial citrus food, but I’m sure you could find some amazing organic options. I choose one with trace elements as well, but you could use rock minerals in combination with a standard NPK fertiliser. There is a dose of fertiliser for lemons, which is 125g per year of plants age. I’m a little less exact than this though, and just toss a couple of handfuls under the tree. It seems to work alright :)

Lastly, I mulched with straw from the chicken coop, which provides both manure and soil cover.

Today’s other job was the potatoes. I never buy seed potatoes, as I nearly always have some growing in the potato box anyway. Potatoes are so easy to grow. I wait until a few eyes sprout, then I cut them into pieces, making sure each piece has an eye. I dug a big trench this time, and then planted them into holes at the bottom of each trench. The plants have now sprouted above the top of the trench, so I had to push all the hilled up dirt back into the trench. This will give a better yield then just planting them at ground level (which I’ve done before too). I think next autumn I will do an even deeper ditch, as these plants are doing so well I could use more soil over them.

Tomorrow I will have to start training the unruly beans and peas.

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You can see the tops of the potatoes sticking above the trench here.

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All filled in, and mulched up!

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Filed under Green living, Kitchen garden

6 of my must-have baby products

This blog post was supposed to be 5 products, but I really couldn’t choose which one to cull! These are all tried and tested on my own kids, and are products I truly love.  Continue reading

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Filed under Eco baby, Green living, Natural Remedies, Teething

The joy of a kitchen garden

For the first time since having my girls I have a productive garden. I didn’t come from a gardening family, but in my early 20s I developed a real passion for it. There were a couple of events that occurred in my life that started this passion. The first was coming across a Women’s Weekly book called The Kitchen Garden. This lovely book contains gardening information, storage tips and recipes, and I delighted in it. It seemed such a dream though; the sort of thing women on farms had. The second event occurred when we were living in inner-City Adelaide. In my opinion Adelaide has the best produce in Australia. The Tradie and I were completely inspired by food while there. We moved into this tiny unit in a fancy area and our back veranda overlooked the house of an old Italian man. He had transformed his tiny backyard into a market garden. The variety was amazing, and it was the first time I realised you didn’t need a lot of space to grow enough food to feed you (and more!).

You can always compost your mistakes

Over the years I have learned quite a lot about gardening, most of it through trial and error. I live by the quote above. Today when I ran to the garden to get a couple of things for dinner, I felt so inspired and happy. So, I’ve decided to blog a little about my adventures in the garden too. Life is always good in the garden.

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What its really like to be a parent

It’s a common question to new parents: what is it like to be a parent? I find the answers tend to fall into one of two categories. The first is the category that reflects the love of the parents to their offspring. It’s usually profuse, and magical sounding: ‘It just amazing, I couldn’t imagine how much I love them. You just can’t understand it until you have your own’. The other response is the one that reflects the difficulties: ‘I’m so tired, it’s so demanding, I had no idea how many nappies they go through’. The real truth is somewhere in between, and I’m going to attempt to illustrate it with an example…

Imagine you got a job as a personal assistant to a musician you love. You adore this person, their music really speaks to you and you feel they are a genius of their time. Despite the crummy salary, you are overjoyed to have this opportunity to work with this person. You turn up on the first day, and are completely overwhelmed at being in this person’s life. You soon realise though, that this artist has NO concept of a routine life, and is completely egocentric. As the day progresses it becomes very clear that they expect you to be at their beck and call all day. You go to the toilet and they start yelling for you. Hastily you wipe your bum, and exit to see what the huge issue is only to find their special blanket fell off, and they wanted it back on, just so. You adjust said blanket, and start organizing their lunch (apparently you are now a gourmet chef too – no extra pay). You prepare an amazing meal, and are convinced your adored artist will be so pleased at your efforts, but all of a sudden they are not hungry. You return the untouched meal to the kitchen, and head home for the night. Exhausted, a little disillusioned, but still in love with your idol. 

At 3am, you get a phone call. You are needed immediately. You throw on your old T-shirt and head over to their hotel room. Your much adored musician has gotten totally high and is having a meltdown. They are screaming, yelling and completely inconsolable. They are also covered in vomit and their own shit. You calm them down, clean them up and eventually get them off to sleep. It’s now 5:00 and you are exhausted. You finally get some sleep on the couch, only to be woken an hour later by a bright-eyed and chirpy person who is completely oblivious to the drama of last night.  This repeats on a regular basis.

Your friends tell you to quit, but the truth is you adore this person. They are inspired and interesting. For every shit-covered meltdown there are amazing moments when you sit around listening to them make music, and you are pulled into their magical world. Just when you think you can’t handle the yelling and tantrums, they turn their full attention onto you and smile in a way that you know how important they are to you. 

So you stay in the job, and as much as you never want to wipe shit from someone’s bum even again, you truly wouldn’t want it any other way.

THAT’s what it is like to be a parent. 

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Quitting sugar: week 3 and beyond

I must apologize for dropping the ball on my sugar free diary. It has been really popular, and friends have now resorted to calling me to see how I am going. Life got busy, Easter came and we went away, I got exhausted and depressed, so yeah the diary went out the window. At long last I present you with week 3 and beyond…

Week 3 was the last week of super-strict sugar free eating. I found it quite challenging again, and I am sure that Easter chocolates bombarding me anytime I left the house didn’t help. When you quit sugar, you really see how much these foods are in your face every time you go to the shops. It’s a little depressing, and enough to make a ranty lady like myself get angry. Anyway, I stuck to my guns and arrived on the other side of Easter having completed 3 (intense) weeks of no sugar AT ALL! High 5′s to me please! I am really proud I achieved that, and I must thank the Tradie for his support in making it happen.

So what now? I have decided to stay fairly strict. Whenever I add some fruit in, or allow myself to use rice malt syrup, I find I have a lot more cravings. It is actually easier for me to be strict. These are my guidelines now.

  • No foods with more than 6 grams of sugar per 100g (although I really try for under 4g/100g)
  • The only sweeteners I use are xylitol and rice malt syrup – nothing else
  • Very limited fruit. One piece every couple of days

My taste buds have changed, and I have lots of interesting experiences with food now. Pre-quitting I LOVED sweet, strong black tea. Once the 3 weeks was over I added some xylitol to my tea, and sat back ready to savour it. And it was nice. I found that I wanted more. Badly. What I wanted was the sweet taste. If I drink my tea with no sweetener, then I am satisfied after 1 cup. Add some sweetness and I am hooked again, and need more. So back to plain tea and milk for me.

I love being sugar free. It suits me perfectly, and is something I will continue with. I thoroughly recommend trying it, and the Sarah Wilson book is a great reference to have. Do I think it suits everyone? No. I think it best suits true sugar addicts. If you eat an entire block of chocolate in one sitting, if you can have ridiculously sweet dessert and want more, if a tub of ice cream is a one sitting event, then yup I think you should give it a try. If you can eat half a slice of cake and be satisfied, then you are probably okay with sugar.

My last little comment is on anxiety and sugar. When I got back from Melbourne I had terrible anxiety and depression again. Desperately seeking anything to make me feel better I ate half a bag of mini-mars bars the Tradie had in the cupboard. It actually fueled shocking panic attacks. If you have anxiety, it is well worth remembering that the effects sugar has on your blood sugar can exacerbate your moods.

So now I can proudly say I live a sugar free life. I promise to not turn into a smug wanker when we have coffee though.

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Antidepressants are just tops!

If there is one question about my PND that drives me totally batty, it’s when people ask when I can come off my antidepressants. It always comes with the best intentions, but it makes me feel like shit. There are two answers to this question. Usually I give this friendly, socially acceptable one: oh, I don’t know. When LillyPilly sleeps through, then my doc and I will review it. This is not untrue. When my little girl is weaned and sleeping through we will review my meds.

You know why this question drives me nuts though? It unintentionally implies that there is something wrong with me taking medication. It says that because I look well now, I should be thinking about coming off the evil medication, and getting on with my life.

I think we can all agree that antidepressants are over-prescribed, and that there are effective natural remedies and counselling-based therapies that could be used as a front line treatment. But I didn’t start taking medication as a front line treatment. I started taking it when all else had failed. I freaking love my meds. They saved my life; literally. I function most days pretty well now. Sometimes I even do awesome stuff, and am totally together. If I miss a dose, I fall into a crying useless heap for a few days. They allow me to get on with my life, and be the best Mum and person I can be. Why would I be in a rush to stop that. Do I want to be on meds forever? No. When will I be stopping them? No bloody idea, and that is totally okay. Antidepressants are tops.

 

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