Thursday, April 16, 2015

thursday recipe: Leilani Wolfenden's cianfotta

(photos by Peter McConchie)

Today I have a beautiful recipe for you from the humble and talented chef Leilani Wolfenden who heads up the kitchen at my favorite local bistro here in Sorrento, Cakes & Ale.

At the end of 2013 the Cakes & Ale team set about transforming the neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Sorrento's main street into an understated but inviting space to house their bistro.

The nosey journalist in me was immediately intrigued. What was this new place all about?
Would they survive the pace and attitude of summer in Sorrento? (Strange phenomenon happens here in summer, crowds of holidaymakers descend upon the town and despite the fact that they are on holiday they can be impatient and demanding!)

I snuck in for a coffee on Christmas Eve they'd been open just a few days, to scope it out and let's be honest have an extra half an hour to myself away from my darling family. There was an air of friendly confidence about the place that said the people behind it knew what they were doing. I was relieved for them and excited for me.

I love living on the Peninsula, I love that it is not the city, that the ocean beaches are wild and deserted for most of the year but there are many times that I yearn for a local cafe or restaurant with at least a pinch of the sophistication and personality found in Melbourne. Not to mention, a place that offers honest, skilfully prepared food, full of flavour and locally grown ingredients.

A year on, Cakes & Ale have settled into the neighborhood making friends with locals and weekend visitors. I've donned my PR hat and now work on the marketing and media of Cakes & Ale, which is easy because I was already a fan. And in case you're thinking this post is just a marketing ploy I think we know each other well enough by now to know I only write about things I actually use or would be happy to spend my money on. Also, I've been planning a series on 'wholefood' cafes and restaurants because the good ones are hard to find and I figure I might as well put to use my reviewing and food writing skills to share with you what I find.

Back to the story. My first inklings were correct, the team behind Cakes & Ale do know a thing or two about the restaurant game. Owner James Langley, Manager Mathew Guthrie and chef Leilani Wolfenden made a seachange from Melbourne where James set up Panama Dining Room and St Jude's Cellars, Mathew worked as manager at both, and Leilani honed her skills at notable restaurants including Est Est Est, Ondine, Comme, Petrus (London), The Square (London) and her own venture in Northcote, Next Door Diner.

They all grew up in the country, then after years of restaurant life in the city have come full circle returning to all that they enjoy about being out of the city. The slower pace, the proximity to local producers and growers, and being able to grow food themselves. James has established a kitchen garden up the road from Cakes & Ale to provide specialty or hard to find herbs and vegetables, this season roderique shallots, ciccio sprouting broccoli, rock samphire, broad beans and lots of green manure crops to help improve the sandy soil are being planted.

Thursday night at Cakes & Ale local seafood is a feature, Leilani creates beautiful classic bistro seafood dish for $20 from the catch of the day caught by White Fisheries who fish Port Phillip Bay. The fish caught that day arrives by ferry at Sorrento pier in time for dinner.

Tell me some of your favorite wholefood cafes and restaurants in the comments. Cafes and restaurants that are cooking for real, creating menus using locally grown and sourced produce. 

Enjoy Leilani's recipe!

Cakes & Ale
100 - 102 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento
for bookings ph: 03. 5984 4995

Leilani Wolfenden’s Cianfotta

100ml olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 2cm chunks doesn’t have to be perfect
2 kg ripe tomatoes cut into 2cm chunks, again doesn’t have to be perfect
1 large brown onion finely diced
½ head of garlic, finely sliced

750ml vegetable stock

1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
Slice zucchini on the angle 2mm wide
2 or 3 leaves of silverbeet and or black cabbage, slice thinly
Handful green beans, slice on diagonal into 4 or 5 pieces

100 gram green split peas
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
500 ml vegetable stock


In a heavy based large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Reduce to low heat, cover with lid and stir occasionally until transparent.

Add aubergine and stir. Put lid back on and cook until aubergine is a smooshy mess (approximately 45 minutes).

Add the tomatoes, season.

Add zucchini and leave the lid off and cook until the majority of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, check seasoning and set aside.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic, cook in the same way as above.

Keep on a low heat and add split peas. Make sure the peas are coated with onions and garlic before adding the veggie stock a ladle full at a time replacing the lid each time and allowing to cook slowly like making risotto (45-60 minutes).

When all the stock has been absorbed and the split peas are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.

To serve

Saute beans, zucchini, black cabbage and silverbeet in olive oil, seasoning generously.

When vegetables are starting to wilt add 4 tablespoons of eggplant mix and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and check if it needs seasoning.

In a serving bowl put 2 or 3 tablespoons of pea puree – cold is fine – it all gets mixed around.

Pour bean and zucchini vegetable mix over the top and scatter with fresh oregano leaves and a few fresh basil leaves.

A few drops of olive oil over the top won’t go amiss.



Tuesday, April 07, 2015

happy belated easter. no secrets, ok?

Happy belated Easter everyone.

I hope you've all recovered from the chocolate and hot x bun overload, not to mention daylight savings ending coupled with school holidays. I know, sugar high plus sleep deprivation what a combo.

Whether your eggs and buns were sugar loaded or spelt or paleo or fairtrade or organic, the main thing is I hope you all spent some good time with people you love because really that's what holidays should be about.

I've been pondering some things this Easter to do with parenting and food, I can actually give myself a headache thinking about this sort of thing so I thought I'd throw it over to you and get your thoughts and insights.

It all started with cheese balls and coke. Yep. Cheese balls and Coke, words I bet you never expected to read here.

My oldest son is 8 going on 9 and I can see his curiosity growing about many things, including food, how other families do things, their rules, what other kids eat and so on.

We spent some time with friends from Melbourne one day on the holidays and after a morning at the skatepark the three boys were hungry. I didn't have my usual snacks of dips and rice crackers with me so we walked to the nearby supermarket.

My friend who we were with has a different approach to food with her boys than we do with ours in that as long as her boys eat fruit and vegetables, they're allowed to eat a bit of 'junk', processed food.

My approach generally is that even the 'junk' has to be a good version of junk. I was curious as we entered the supermarket as to what the boys would go for. A packet of chips was the request.

Usually I would head for the 'health food' aisle and my boys could choose veggie chips or organic plain potato chips.

On this day we left the supermarket with cheese balls. I didn't look at the ingredients, I didn't make a big deal about it, I let them make their choice all the while knowing that they knew it wouldn't be something that we'd ever regularly do.

You see, I don't want to always say no. I don't want to set up a 'good' and 'bad' food battle that can later be used against me. At the moment with our boys aged 5 and 8, Pete and I are instilling our values in our them, guiding them, educating them. But when it comes down to it, they will grow into who they are and make their own decisions and I'm becoming more thoughtful about ways to raise them so that they do not make decisions out of defiance secret. Secrets = shame. (Unless the secret is a surprise party or a gift of course, that = fun!)

Over Easter I took the boys to Melbourne and we went out for lunch to a cafe. We ordered our meals and then my oldest boy asked, "Can drinking one coke make you sick?" I explained that Coke has a lot of sugar in it so if you're not used to having a lot of sugar it might make you feel sick in the tummy but it wouldn't make you really, really sick (he was meaning like heart attack or cancer sick). To my surprise he then asked, "Can Sol and I share a Coke?" I laughed. I thought he was joking.
But he wasn't. He explained in all seriousness that he wanted to taste Coke and could they have one.

This raised lots of questions in my mind. Will my boys feel like they have to hide junk food from us if they want to eat it when they are older and have their own money to pay for it?

Food is about so many things, not just health and nutrition. There is the emotional and social aspect and unfortunately for children and teenagers being raised to not eat processed foods, they can feel like the odd ones out. While this isn't a reason to just start eating processed food, to 'fit in', it is something I'm aware of and the challenges it can present to young people when all they want to do it fit in and be like their friends.

River and Sol didn't drink Coke that day, they had water with their lunch. I explained to River that I understood he was curious about Coke and that one day if he wanted to taste it he could but it wouldn't be today. He persisted, "Why not today?" So I added that along with all the sugar, Coke also has caffeine in it and caffeine isn't good for children. Thankfully he was happy to leave it at that!

At the Easter hat parade at school on the last day of term I was chatting to one of the teachers about all the Easter eggs being passed around, the teacher said "The kids who eat things like this all the time aren't fussed about them, the kids who don't get much of this sort of thing go crazy for them."

I'm interested to hear your thoughts and experiences. How do you handle requests for junk food?
Are you concerned that your child feels like they need to sneak or hide junk food because they know you won't approve? I'd love to hear and I'm sure others would too. Tell us in the comments.

Friday, March 27, 2015

weekend reading

So much to catch up on.

Easter holidays are here. We've made it through term 1. I'm breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward to putting away the school lunchboxes and having pyjama days.

The cold weather has set in today but there's promise of warm days next week, we'll see.

On with some links for you...

Rachel Power's fabulous book 'Motherhood & Creativity' hits the shelves this week. I bought the original edition in Mullumbimby many years ago now, when I was having a deflated motherhood day. The book contains a collection of interviews with creative mothers and details how these women find place in their hearts and lives to create their art and to raise their children. It is a book I wish I'd put together myself, I love it so much. Each interview transports me into the worlds of the creative women Rachel interviews.

I went to a Problogger event in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and had the pleasure of hearing Nicole from Planning with Kids, Erin from Travel with Bender and Alice from The Whole Daily speak. It was an inspiring day.

I have also since discovered Alice's fantastic blog Big Time Blogger for all you ambitious bloggers out there.

The other highlight was meeting Hannah from Nourish to Health

On the parenting front, I'm booking tickets for Pete and I to go and hear Steve Biddulph speak in May at Rosebud Secondary College. Have you been to one of Steve's talks before?

Moving on to Easter, here is a list within a list from Georgia at Well Nourished, many Easter recipes and ideas for fending off over indulgence

If you want something non chocolatey, Donna Hay's gingerbread bunnies look fun

Not Easter related but delicious looking, Veggie Mama's chipotle black bean tacos and jalapeno slaw

And for those of you who want to do some cooking with your kids on the holidays, Mamacino is having a school holiday sale of her Cooking with Kids book only $10

Happy weekend one and all. Thanks for stopping by here. See you next week!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

6 tips for loving your time in the kitchen

(this beautiful cauliflower salad was made by my friend Rachel who owns Feast Catering in Sorrento)

I'm not going to lie, cooking from scratch takes time. Yes there are short cuts you can take but there is a bit more to it than that. Here are some tips to help you fall in love with your time in the kitchen.

1. Change your mind

My nan always says 'attitude is everything' and she's right. Nan is a woman who pretty much single handedly raised four children and stayed up all night sewing to feed them. Lucky for them, processed food wasn't even invented in those days, cooking from scratch was the norm along with growing veggies in the backyard.

I hear you, it isn't the 1950's times have changed, women are in the workforce, life is busy but still we do have a choice about our attitude to cooking and nourishing ourselves and our family.

Switch off the moaning, groaning part of your brain and switch on the loving, creative side. Cooking is an act of love and creativity. Try it tonight. No matter how tired you are, no matter how much you are dreading your kids scrunching up their faces telling you they don't like carrots (when carrots were their favorite yesterday), cook with love and happiness.

**in the spirit of keeping things real and not sounding all Mary Poppins about it I have my 'I really can't be bothered cooking' days too! But by the next meal I have changed my mind and have my enthusiasm back.

2. Clean up your cupboards & pantry

Cooking in chaos is never fun. Spending precious time looking for that spice you know is in the back of the cupboard somewhere only to find it was meant to be used by 2010 is annoying.

Set aside an afternoon and go through your cupboards and pantry. Be ruthless! Say goodbye to those containers without lids, get rid of those appliances/gadgets you haven't used in years and are taking up valuable bench space. If there are items that could do with replacing or fixing get it done.

Make a list of your regular ingredients and make sure your pantry is well stocked, that way you will have a list to work from and know you will always have those ingredients on hand. Running to the shops costs time and usually more money because most shoppers go in to buy one thing and come out with ten.

3. Turn on some tunes

The power of music to lift your spirits can't be denied. Just take a look at Mamacino in her kitchen.

4. Meal plan

Deciding what to cook is generally harder than the actual cooking. If you have at least a rough idea of what you will cook for the week you can save brain power and just get on with the cooking. Ask your family for ideas, get them involved in the meal planning and hopefully that will mean they are more likely to happily eat it! Don't just plan dinners either, plan school lunches and after school snacks while you're at it.

5. Batch cook

One of the best ways to save time in the kitchen is to cook once and eat twice. The Mamabakers are the queens of this, have you heard about Mamabake? You can read more about them here, but in a nutshell they are groups of mamas who get together and cook up big batches of family meals then divide them up so you can stock your freezer with home made meals and give yourself some nights off cooking. Even if you don't cook in a group, you can do this on your own and spend an afternoon making a soup, spaghetti bolognaise sauce, casserole, banana bread, whatever you can freeze and you will have home made food at the ready for those times when you really, really can't muster any cooking love.

6. Cook in company

Following on from the Mamabake theme, cooking with others can be much more fun than cooking on your own. Get your family involved. I know with younger children this can take longer and be messier but they have to learn and think of it this way, if you start teaching them from a very young age by the age of 10 you should be able to allocate them a night to cook dinner, giving you the night off!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

wholefood mama: Joey De Backer

It's been a while since we've had an interview with a wholefood mama, so today I am very happy to introduce you to a Mornington Peninsula local wholefoodmama, Joey De Backer.

Joey is mama to Isla who is 1, and is also a dietician who is committed to holistic nutrition counselling. Amen to combining those two practices!

I first met Joey almost two years ago at a fermented foods workshop that she hosted through Living Nutrition, her holistic wellness business that she operates with Heidi Sze a nutritionist and dietician.

Joey was inspired to start Living Nutrition in 2011 after facing her own health struggle. In her final year of nutrition and dietetics study, on holidays after clinical placement in a hospital, Joey had a snowboarding accident that left her debilitated with sciatica and on heavy pain medication. 

"I then did a public health nutrition placement at Peninsula community health where I looked at breastfeeding support services on the peninsula (which has been so helpful for my own breastfeeding journey, knowing just how much support is available)! 

The effects of the snowboarding accident really intensified when I started my first job as a dietitian in Bairnsdale at the end of 2010. The stress of a new job and questioning my role and how I wanted to practise dietetics certainly played a part, it wasn't long before I decided that hospital work was not for me, although I learnt SO much that year!" 

Joey took some time off work and researched everything she could do better to heal her back, stop taking the pain medication and relieve the anxiety and depression she was feeling as a result of her injury and the treatment she was enduring but was not relieving her pain.

Joey's holistic recovery included meditation, emotional freedom technique, visualisation and an anti-inflammatory diet. Through Living Nutrition, Joey and Heidi now offer individual consultations and a range of wonderful workshops and courses such as an 8 week Healthy Habits program that walks participants through developing healthier eating and lifestyle habits.

I love Joey's common sense approach to eating well and living well so I thought I'd invite her to share more of her story here with you. Thankyou Joey! x

What prompted your interest in becoming a dietician?

It was mostly the influence of my mum who was always into healing with food and herbs instead of medicine. She'd take us to a naturopath or homeopath instead of to the doctor and I was always a super healthy kid, so that sparked my interest in natural health and food as medicine. 

During adolescence I became aware of my weight and started paying attention to the nutrition sections of women's magazines, you know where there's a little picture of a dietitian in the corner and some news bites like 'blueberries fight ageing'... I remember designing myself a diet to lose weight (which I didn't need to) and boost my brain power, collating everything I'd learned from these magazines! 

I wanted to know how to design the 'perfect' diet, hence my interest in studying nutrition. As I studied I of course realised that it's much more complex and the huuuuuuge role psychology plays in eating behaviour - it's not as simple as 'here's a diet for you to follow'!  

As the mother of a young child, what is your philosophy when it comes to feeding your family?

Isla is 1 year old now phew! We're practising baby led weaning with Isla so she breastfeeds on demand and eats family foods with us at the table (or running around, as she is not a fan of being restrained by a high chair HA!) 

We get a veg box weekly from Transition Farm in Rye who are a CSA that farm biodynamically and their produce is just beautiful! 

I also run the food coop in Balnarring so we get our non-perishables like grains, nuts, seeds etc; from organic suppliers such as Mount Zero and Honest to Goodness. Buying in bulk makes it a lot cheaper and it's a wonderful community of people! 

We go to the local farmers and craft markets for treats, fruit and meat and my partner goes hunting so we get wild rabbit, deer, pig and kangaroo. So I guess the philosophy is eat as much SLOW food as possible. 

We eat out a lot too, which has been made more challenging as Isla seems to be dairy and egg intolerant (off soy and wheat too but not sure about their effect yet), so we both avoid these foods but there's always something we can eat and I'm not fussy!

For many people when they decide to quit their processed diet one of the main hurdles they face is being challenged by friends and family members who argue 'everything in moderation' is ok, what are your thoughts on 'moderation' and what words of encouragement and advice do you offer your clients as they make change?

It's such a cliche phrase now hey, but I do agree with it in general. Imposing restrictions on your food choices usually leads to feeling of deprivation and then giving up all together and potentially bingeing on unhealthy foods. 

It really depends on the person and their relationship with food as to how they should approach making changes to their eating. Because it is something we do every day, I usually recommend changes are made gradually so that they are sustainable and become the new habit. It can be useful however to do something like a whole 30 for a specified period of time as an experiment. Then you can really tell what is the effect on your body and you build skills in being able to eat that way and say no to processed foods. 

You devote a little more energy to food preparation during that time, knowing its not forever and you learn the habits that you can easily continue in your normal lifestyle or the things that really pay off and you want to change as well as the things that don't work. 

Then when you have that slice of cake at a birthday party it isn't a big deal and you will feel the effects it has on your body. The main thing we all need to work on is listening to our body and heeding its messages. It can be hard to do because we're so used to heeding external indicators that tell us how much, what and when to eat - the clock, the packet size, the plate size, what our mother told us, what our friends do, advertising, processed foods that trick our body, is it cheaper to get a larger size (movie deals WHAAAT!)....   

So words of encouragement and advice:

1. Be kind to yourself. People who work on improving their self compassion end up eating better without trying.

2. Listen to your body. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals and your digestion and responses to eating different foods. What makes you feel really satisfied?

3. The point of power is in the present moment. There is no 'perfect' diet that you will one day achieve and maintain. Life is forever changing, as are you, as is food - Just do the best you can right now.

4. Look for real food. If you want a sweet treat, make it yourself or buy it from someone who made it themselves e.g. from a market not something processed made in a factory. 

If you're comfortable with what you're doing i.e. making diet changes it's easier to be assertive when others put pressure on you. Sometimes you need to be prepared with other food options. 

Were you raised to appreciate wholefood or is it something you have grown into in your adult years?

Yeah mum always cooked things like adzuki beans and artichokes and used herbs from the garden. 
I was the kid who brought a whole lemon or tomato to school for a snack. Being able to eat straight from the garden has made me appreciate the real flavour and vitality in fresh, organic food. I just can't eat supermarket apples, there is nothing in there for me. It's made me consider the energy in food - you can really tell when food is fresh and you get that nourished, buzzing feeling of satisfaction. I'm intrigued by flavour balance and how it nourishes us too - like chinese medicine beliefs that different flavours nourish different organ systems. 

Thanks Joey for a great interview, so much to think about in your answers. And now here is some inspiration for your cooking from Joey as she offers her tips on how to 'build' salads that your family and friends will love.

Salad Building by Joey De Backer

Forget ‘rabbit food’. Salads shouldn’t be boring or bland. Follow this 4 step formula to create well rounded salads that you will make friends with.

      Start with a solid foundation of leafy greens. These leaves should form the bulk of your salad because they’re jam packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The chewing factor and the fibre fills you up and keeps your gut happy.
Think roquette, radicchio, mizuno, mesclun, baby spinach, baby silverbeet, baby beet greens, lettuce (something darker than iceberg such as cos or oakleaf), cress, mustard greens, oh the list is endless!

2.     Build on this with something to add colour and texture. Your eyes, mouth and the rest of your body will thank you.
Veg – try sprouts (alfalfa, mung beans etc…), avocado, capsicum, fennel, radish, roasted pumpkin, beetroot, sweet potato…
Fruit – apple, pear, orange, pomegranate, berries, grapefruit, stone fruit are all delish in a salad – raw or grilled mmmm.
Grain – quinoa, grainy bread croutons, pasta, freekeh, cous cous, brown or wild rice…
3.     Stack in a source of protein (~90g) to fill you up.
Meat/fish/eggs – my faves are tinned sardines or salmon with the bones, grilled chicken, turkey or roo. This is where grilling/steaming/poaching in advance can be really handy.   
Cheese – good old cubes of tasty or maybe a soft goats cheese, crumbly feta or grilled haloumi.
Legume – lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans – easy peasy to add rinsed from a can or extra points for cooking from dried!

4.     Top it off with something for flavour.
Homemade dressing – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, S&P is my go-to, make in a minute dressing. Or try ¼ cup tahini, juice of 1 lemon, ½ cup water, 1 minced garlic clove + S&P all whisked together for a more creamy dressing. 
Herbs, edible flowers and spices – these can be used in cooking e.g. sprinkle ground cumin and coriander over your roast beetroot, or fresh green herbs and edible flowers such as parsley, basil, borage and nasturtium can be tossed through raw.
Antipasto - Olives, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes…
Dried fruit – currants, cranberries, apricots, crystallised ginger…
Toasted nuts or seeds – pine nuts, slivered almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas…

You can easily make these in advance so you’re ready to grab and go in the morning although it can help to keep soggy items separate until you eat, e.g. keep your dressing in a jar or try a mason jar layered salad! See Carolyn Kylstra's Mason Jar Salads for ideas!

Have fun experimenting and finding your favourite combinations!
Jar your dressing and drizzle it over before you eat so the greens stay fresh longer! Also handy if bringing a salad to a function. Each person can dress their own salad and this way if there’s leftovers they’ll last.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

weekend reading

I've been going through computer files and photos this weekend making space for new files and new photos. I took this photo almost a year ago in my friend Robin's kitchen. So many photos that haven't seen the light of day. I find keeping on top of digital photo filing so time consuming. You too?

I signed up to do Anna Lovind's free mini ecourse on creative brilliance. Without giving too much away, I love what she says in week 2 of the course - "everything starts with no", essentially it is about creating space in your life to be creative and guarding your time by saying no.

In case you missed the link in my post on Thursday, I can relate to Kate Northrup's most read post 'It's not going to turn out the way you thought'

Still time to enrol in my Blogging for Beginners course next Saturday at Sorrento Community Centre. I'd love to meet you! We'll cover all the basics to get you started, choosing a blogging platform, finding your topic/niche, building your audience, social media, design elements, photo tips, organising your content and touch on monetisation too.
Saturday March 21st, 10am-3pm. cost: $60. Phone to book: 5984 3360

Still in Sorrento, I've been doing some marketing work for Cakes and Ale my favorite local place for delicious food and wine. It was a favorite place before it became my job, I'm pretty lucky I've tended to work that way my whole life doing things I genuinely love to do, hasn't been a fast track to fortune mind you but satisfying none the less. I'm rambling now, if you want to receive a beautiful recipe from Cakes & Ale chef Leilani Wolfenden straight to your inbox each month click the link and sign up to their newsletter.

I'm going to the Problogger photography and blogging workshop on Tuesday in Melbourne. Can't wait for a 'day off' in town. Anyone else going?

Sorry for the brief list this weekend but I am determined to stop going to bed at midnight so I will finish here.

Here's to a great week! Only two more weeks until school holidays. Again. How does that happen so quickly?! Looking forward to this term being over. Bring on the holidays. x

Thursday, March 12, 2015

thursday recipe: pumpkin, fetta and quinoa bites with pesto

I made these delicious little bites for a party at a friend's house. They were a hit, even with the kids. Pesto makes everything better. Even pumpkin and quinoa apparently for those who need convincing.
They're super simple to make and come to think of it probably a good dish to teach kids to cook!

I'll get on with the recipe in a minute but first let's catch up a bit. I'm really not sure where time goes but that's probably very normal in these modern times. Memo to technology creators: we are no better off time wise!

There I was thinking, I will have long stretches of time this year now with both boys at school. Time to blog more frequently, time to finish my ebook, time to work and earn some extra dollars after all these years of babies, breastfeeding and living on the breadline (well, not quite but most of you know the drill once you stop working full time to have babies) but no. Life has other plans. Doesn't it always?

We are nearing the end of term one and Sol still has not settled into school life, it is consuming my days, thoughts and emotions in many ways. Motherhood is just one continuous surrender, constantly testing us to trust our instinct, to speak our minds (with grace of course :), to follow our hearts, to have more patience than we thought possible. At the core of it we just want to 'get it right' for our children. But there's no guarantee is there? Doubt is a crappy place to dwell so I try not to indulge myself there and press on instead following my heart and trusting my instinct.

This post from Kate Northrup seems kind of apt 'It's not going to turn out the way you thought'

Anyway, I just wanted to fill you in a little on what's happening here. And by the way if you're wondering how I made that photo look so over the top: picmonkey.

How are things with you?

I hope you enjoy these yummy pumpkin, fetta and quinoa bites with the all important pesto.

Pumpking, fetta and quinoa bites with pesto


800 grams cooked and mashed pumpkin
100 grams fetta
1/4 tsp ground cumin
10 fresh basil leaves finely sliced
1 cup cooked quinoa
rice crumbs for rolling
pesto for topping
oil or butter for frying

To make

It couldn't be simpler.
Bung the pumpkin, fetta, cumin, basil and quinoa in a bowl and mix together well with a fork.
Using either a dessertspoon full or heaped teaspoon full of the mixture, shape it into balls and roll in the rice crumbs.
Heat oil or butter in a frypan (you'll need a good amount depending on the size of the balls), test that it is nice and hot by adding a pinch of the bread crumbs, if it sizzles you know it is hot enough and then gently fry until golden.
Place on paper towel as you cook them to absorb any excess oil and then top with pesto and serve.
Share with friends and try them out on fussy kids.

Enjoy x

Monday, March 09, 2015

weekend reading

rocket harvest

It's a long weekend here so I feel quite fine about posting this on a Monday :)

A couple of weeks ago my five year old, Sol, said to me out of the blue, "Anything can happen mum".

And right he is.

Last week started out like any other, Monday rolled around and Sol didn't go to school because he had a cough and sore throat. I took him to the doctors in the afternoon, throat infection confirmed and home we went with antibiotics.

10.30pm he awoke with fever and strong stomach pain. We had a very restless night and by morning the fever continued as did stomach pain and then came a bad headache. He looked really unwell.

I decided to take him to the local emergency department at 8am. To cut a longish story short we spent 30 nervous hours in hospital, including an ambulance drive to a larger hospital, where there were blood tests done to rule out serious bacterial infection, chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, abdominal exams to rule out appendicitis, intravenous antibiotics, and saline to treat dehydration - all bases were being covered.

Thankfully, it was a nasty virus that lifted as quickly as it arrived.

I am beyond grateful for the medical care we received and that we have available in this country. Spending 24 hours in a paediatric ward is a very humbling experience, meeting seriously ill children and their parents is a stark reminder of how fortunate I am to have two healthy sons.

The nurses and doctors who work with these children and their families are well, earth angels. Their heartfelt care, and dedication to their work that involves supporting children and families through physical and emotional pain was remarkable to witness.

Now we're home. Enjoying the little things - fresh clothes, hot tea, catching up on sleep, a quiet house to work in, cuddling up and reading books, painting pictures, playing and of course cooking.

Sol is feeling wonderfully better, not fully back to himself (needing to have daytime naps!!) but definitely a million miles from where he was last Tuesday. Yes Sol, anything can happen. And for that reason it is so important we keep ourselves in check, don't sweat the small stuff, be grateful for the things that matter and remember to have fun! Don't let life become too serious.

Let's look at some links...

If you've ever cooked a meal that your child has turned their nose up at this post is for you.
That would be everyone who has ever cooked a meal for a child.

I LOVE this from Gourmet Girlfriend: 'Let's practice less comparison and more compassion'

It's no secret. I love Sarah Britton and I'm counting the days to get my hands on her cookbook

I made this apple cinnamon bread and butter pudding during the week and served it with custard. No faces pulled about that! I made a couple of substitutes to the recipe, I used spelt bread, and honey as the sweetener, and added a smattering of sultanas. But hey, knock yourself out and use the suggested 2 tablespoons of sugar :)

Holy nut milk! This is the only post you will ever need to read on DIY dairy free milk

I visited The Selby over the weekend for the first time in a long time. You could lose days over there.

A friend introduced me to a little slice of food blogging humour and happiness Lottie + Doof

And totally off the topic of food, if you need some help with getting the clutter out of your home this is a good place to start

Ok. A new week. Let's see what it brings!

ps Thanks for your patience with my inconsistent blogging. I'm going to a Problogger photography and blogging event in Melbourne next week - excited! Maybe I'll meet some of you there?

Friday, February 27, 2015

weekend reading

So sad to read of the passing this week of the beautiful, vibrant and inspirational Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough.  Such a loss to so many people. Jess certainly lived her life to the fullest and leaves a lasting legacy of inspiration. Wishing peace to her family and friends in their grief.


I made this list earlier today before reading the news of Jess, some of it seems trivial to post in comparison to what I have written above but I post it for you to read another time or to take your mind somewhere else if it's been one of those weeks...

If you're a fan of Practicing Simplicity, click on over to Violet Journal  and read an interview with Jodi about creativity and motherhood, plus a giveaway of Jodi's new book.

Anyone done Marie Forleo's B School or considering it? I haven't but I'm curious every year!

Writers, I've enjoyed discovering Canadian writer Sarah Selecky's site this week.

And more on writing, here's 10 Terrific Creative Writing Blogs from Copyblogger

Have you seen nutritionist Lola Berry's new book? The Happy Cookbook all recipes are sugar-free and gluten-free

I'm dreaming about a little blog design overhaul, any thoughts on Squarespace?

I love visiting Erin's blog

Pete and I enjoyed a lunch date today at Cakes & Ale in Sorrento, a bistro I am very happy to have in my neighborhood and to be doing some writing work for. More about that soon.

There's still time to sign up for Brenda and Naomi's Break Through program

And, if you're new to blogging I'd love to meet you at my Blogging for Beginners course on Saturday March 21st at Sorrento Community Centre. 10am-3pm. Cost: $60. Bookings: 03. 5984 3360

That's all for today. Wishing you all a beautiful weekend. Xx

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

something for you: break through

First of all, I can't take credit for this beautiful food photography I have to hand that to the talented Kristin Mamacino.  In between making granola and all her other wholefood goodies, writing ebooks, blogging, raising her family, she has added a new string to her business bow: food styling + photography. I think she's on to something!

Now, if you like the look of that yummy chia pudding, the anti-oxidant smoothie and the colourful roasted veggie salad you might be surprised to learn that they are actually on the menu of my friend and health coach Brenda Janschek's holistic weight loss program, Break Through!, that she put together with her friend and naturopath Naomi Judge.

Brenda and Naomi developed the 28 day program for women who were having trouble shifting stubborn weight and more than that, Brenda and Naomi want help women identify their individual barriers to weight loss and to feeling vital and energised.

After a successful launch program last year Brenda and Naomi are excited to offer their program again this year. I was an affiliate last year and didn't hesitate to recommend their program to you again this year for a number of reasons:

- I love the holistic, supportive approach of this program
- The emphasis is not calories in, calories out it is about balancing hormones, correcting digestion and identifying lifestyle factors such as stress and poor sleep that contribute to stubborn weight loss
- The recipes are delicious, easy to prepare and family friendly
- This program is not just for people who want to lose weight, it is also a great program for people who want to get on track with cutting processed food out of their diet
- Brenda and Naomi are both highly experienced and knowledgable when it comes to supporting women to make healthy changes in their lives that are realistic and achievable

If you are feeling like you'd like to do something just for you, to lift your energy, gain mental clarity, get your glow back, and yes lose a few kilos too then I highly recommend taking a look at Break Through!

Considering that an initial consultation with a naturopath or health coach can be between $80 and $100 or more, this program offers excellent value. Brenda and Naomi are on hand for the whole 28 day program to answer your questions, guide and encourage you, along with the support you get from the private facebook group.

The program kicks off on Monday 2nd of March for 28 days. To take advantage of the early bird offer of $99 you'll need to sign up quick as the offer ends on February 25th, but even if you miss that you can register between February 26th and March 1st and the program is still excellent value at $147. Read more or sign up here.

You'll learn how to balance hormones, detoxify, reduce stress, reset your thyroid, combat overeating, understand the connection between your emotions and the foods you eat, create a positive mindset, identify foods that are compromising your goals, feel comfortable and excited about your body (really!), and understand how to maintain your optimum weight.

Really this is a wellness program as much as it a weight loss program.

I wanted to share this here because we mamas spend a lot of time caring for the other people in our lives and this is one way that you can do something just for you! Something that you may have been putting off, been frustrated by, at a loss for what the next step is, or just wanting to get your energy back.

I hope this is just the thing that some of you have been looking for! x

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