Monthly Archives: November 2012

What makes a treat?

A couple of weeks ago I had to take the car to the mechanics. The required new brakes, and the mechanic we love several suburbs away, conspired to mean I had to sit and wait hours for the car to be ready. With a toddler and a new born. Oh what fresh hell would this be?

The night before I packed a bag of toys, downloaded a Justine Clarke DVD onto the iPad, made toddler snacks and braced myself for the long day ahead (it was actually only going in for a service, but it was pretty obvious the brakes were in a bad way).

The only shops and entertainment nearby were a Bunnings, a fruit store, a service station and a park. We broke the day up by starting at Bunnings. My toddler helped me chose and carry seedlings. I must write about how awesome the Bunnings staff were. Baby decided she needed a feed while there. I asked a garden centre staff member if there was somewhere I could sit and feed. She not only told me to use the comfy outdoor setting displays, but came and checked I was okay. All the staff who passed me smiled warmly and a few asked if I needed anything. What a wonderful experience breast feeding in a store. Thanks Bunnings. After feeding, changing nappies and chasing the errant toddler, we purchased our herbs and returned to the mechanics.

The next trip out was around lunch. I wanted to get some fresh food and yoghurt and head to the park. I let Boo guide me on which fruit to buy, and she chose cherries, red grapes and a mandarin. We walked over to the park and opened our bounty.

Watching the pure enjoyment on Boo’s face as she tucked into juicy mandarins, then devoured those fresh seasonal cherries was just bliss. It brings up the question: what makes a treat? Why do we associate treats with junk food? To my toddler that day, running round a park while enjoying fresh fruit was every bit as delightful as eating a chocolate bar. Maybe more, as the energy and nutrients from the fruit provided her with lasting energy, instead of the crash from the processed sugars. One of my favourite treats is a bag full of lychees. I love peeling those little fruits and feeling the burst of juice and natural sweetness. So, so good.

Maybe what we need is to redefine the idea of a treat. And fresh, seasonal fruits are the perfect place to start.


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Filed under Nutrition, Seasonal eating, Snacks for Children, Toddler snacks

Pineapple and Mint Slushie

Today was a hot one in old Brisbane town. The girls were hot and bothered by the afternoon, and a sweaty husband looked very uncomfortable after working in the sun all day. I thought we all deserved a cooling treat.

The last of the pink grapefruit have been falling off the tree, and I thought these would make a lovely slushie. After cutting them open, I was dismayed to find fruit fly larvae. I’ll have to put some exclusion bags over the young fruit before they ripen to ensure this doesn’t happen again. For now, it’s back to the vegie crisper to search for fruit to go in my slushie.

At the back of the fridge was some chopped pineapple. Perfect. Pineapple and mint slushies for us!

I threw some pineapple, ice and mint leaves into the blender and processed until smooth and creamy. While still blending, I poured some filtered water through the chute to thin it out a little.

It was a lovely cold treat to cool the family down on a hot day.

I love that!

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Filed under Blender recipes, Recipes, Snacks for Children

Yummy, yummy, goodie balls

Now bub is 11 weeks old, I’m starting to think about shedding the extra weight I put on while pregnant. This is not easy for me, as while I’m breastfeeding I find I’m starving. Unfortunately when I’m feeling tired and busy with my two girls, I often find myself reaching for rubbishy sugary foods.

So, it’s time to hit the kitchen and whip up some super easy goodie balls. I pack mine full of good fats to provide the calories I’m craving in a vitamin and mineral dense little package. The fats are also good for my little baby’s developing brain. Fresh dates provide me with B vitamins and the sweetness my body desires. They really are an awesome treat.

2 cups fresh dates, seeds removed (approx. 16 dates)
2tbs coconut oil
2tbs tahini
1tbs chia seeds (optional, as they are a bit like bird seed)
1 capful vanilla
1tbs almond meal
1tbs ground flaxseed

Throw all ingredients into the food processor, and process well. Roll into little balls, then roll in coconut to coat.

I recommend storing these in a glass container to avoid the fats allowing chemicals from plastics to leach into your treats.

I’m enjoying a couple of these sweet treats with a cup of ginger tea right now. Yummy!

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Filed under Mummy health and wellbeing, Nutrition, Recipes, Weight loss

17 good reasons to buy secondhand

I have to show off my awesome purchase at the markets today. I got this pile of 17 organic bumgenius nappies, inserts and the nappy buckets for the bargain price of $20. Who says cloth has to be expensive.

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Filed under Eco baby, Nappies

A baby friendly birthday cake

At the beginning of the year, my baby girl had her first birthday. Like a lot of first time mums, I went a little crazy planning a party for her. However, there were a few things that were really important to me: eco friendly partyware, no excessive decorations, good healthy food and a baby friendly birthday cake. By this age little one had not even tried any sweeties; I did not want her first experience to be a cake laden with sugar and colourings. However, I still really wanted a lovely cake. This obviously presented some dilemmas.
My first issue was to hunt down a tasty cake recipe, that could be turned into a pretty shape, but had no sugar. After hunting through a few recipes I finally found the perfect one; wheat free, sugar free and an option for dairy free. It was even firm enough to turn into an owl. Perfect!

Vanilla and Coconut Cake
195g white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bi carb
45g desiccated coconut
2tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
185ml maple syrup
125ml coconut milk
1 egg (option to use 60ml rice milk here, but the egg helps if building a themed cake)
80ml melted butter or macadamia oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Grease the cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl. Whisk the coconut through
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut, egg and butter/oil. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined
  4. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes. Spoon into tin
  5. Bake for 25-30minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 20 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool.

This recipe comes from an amazing book called Wholefood for Children by Jude Blearu. It has beautiful recipes that kids love and all of them healthy. I recommend you buy a copy (and try the fish pie; it’s a huge hit in this house)

To ice the cake I combined butter and maple syrup, and tried to beat some air into it. It did the job and people seemed to like it but I think next time I’d use rapadura sugar or coconut sugar with the butter, or make a cream cheese icing instead.

The hardest part was making some colours. I didn’t want to use any commercial colourings, even natural ones. The natural ones are still extremely strong compounds isolated from odd natural products like beetles. It’s not uncommon for people to still have adverse reactions to these natural colours. I needed two colours, pink and brown, so I had to think outside the box. For the brown I mixed coconut with cocoa powder and shook it really well. For the pink I made a strong cup of hibiscus tea and mixed that through the icing and the coconut. The hibiscus made more of a purple pink, but it looked lovely and did the trick.

I did have to use some licorice straps and a jube for the nose and eyebrows, but the eyes we made out of kiwi fruit. All in all, it looked super cute and tasted great. All the kids that tried it loved it, and most went back for second or thirds! For some reason the adults were more uncertain, but once tasted everyone agreed it was super yum!

So that was it, a healthy cake that looked amazing and tasted great. You can’t get better than that!

I have recently found a brand of natural colours made from real food ingredients. You can get more info on them here

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Filed under Recipes, Sugar free