An Afternoon of Veggie Gardening With the Kids (and a bit of a how-to)

D-man had his cousin Ta Ta over for a play date so the two of them and Miss Moo enjoyed helping me prepare the soil and re-plant the veggie garden.  It was looking very sad after our initial 1st attempt at growing veggies last year which turned out quite well for a while but then eventually for one reason or another needed re-doing.  Here is a picture:      600From this garden we enjoyed spinach, lettuce, zucchini, a couple of cobs of corn(!) and the cucumbers did not really turn out so well.  There were also some herbs, salad cress  and small tomatoes.  The tomatoes had a tough time as Miss Moo frequently liked to get in there and pick them way too unripe.  The ripe ones she managed to pick she would like to munch on right there and then.

Compost in our compost bin

Compost in our compost bin

Lana is delivering the seedlings over to the garden bed (3 metres)

Miss Moo is hooking up the trailer and delivering the seedlings over to the garden bed  (2 metres away)

Miss Moo helping turn the soil

Helping turn the compost into the soil

No Miss Moo!  Not the chives!!

Nooo! Not the chives!!

Look what we have!  This is going to be fun!

Look what we have! This is going to be fun!

Planting

D-man and Ta Ta planting

Kids love getting their hands dirty!  Miss Moo loves getting in the garden bed. :-/

Kids love getting their hands dirty! Miss Moo loves getting in the garden bed. :-/

We did it and we loved it!

We did it and we had a great time!

Ta Daa!

Ta Daa!

That was a couple of weeks ago now, I’ll post an update photo soon!

This time we planted silverbeet, mixed kale and cos lettuce.  Our basil, parsley and chives are still going strong.  So I’ll always have nutritious organic greens for stir fries, green smoothies, kale chips and more!  That’s the plan, anyway 🙂

If you are thinking of starting a little veggie garden, go for it!   We picked up the raised garden bed from Aldi, but Bunnings would be a good place to go too.  Then we went to the nursery and ordered a trailer full of their ‘veggie garden soil’ to be dropped off at our house.  We got this as we have difficult clay soil and just wanted to increase our chances of success from the start.  We picked a nice sunny area in the backyard and set it all up.  Then we picked out some seedlings that we thought we would like to grow and eat, went home and planted them.  A bit of fertilizer every some fortnights and voila!  Well, not quite – we did get pests and overwatered the zucchini but hey, it’s all trial and error, right?

So that’s how we did it but it will be different for different people.  Some of you may have area of garden you could just dig up and put a few seedlings in.  Even if you just try one or two things.  Better than none.  For those of you with no area to do this there are many foods you can grow in pots (or containers).  For container growing ideas check out his article:  66  Things You Can Grow In A Container  I found that on a favourite facebook page Clean Eating With Kids

I really enjoyed having a compost bin to throw the scraps into – the stuff that the guinea pigs would not want.  It made me feel less wasteful and reduced the fullness of our council bin.  It was great to then use the nutritious soil that it turned into for the new seedlings to grow in.  Funnily, I have random mystery sprouts popping up.  I don’t think they’re weeds… not sure what to do… they will crowd the others if I leave them but I am too curious to see what I might be able to grow by accident!

As far as pest control goes, I have found a recipe for a natural repellant which I will try and then post the recipe if it works!  I have ALREADY noticed a few holes in one of the kales, so I should know pretty quickly if it is successful.

I hope I’ve inspired a few people to give veggie gardening a chance.  It’s a great thing for kids to learn too.  It may even help fussy eaters – if it is a novelty for them to help grow and pick the foods and then maybe even help cook them.  So there are benefits for your health, your family, the environment and your hip pocket!    I’ll post another couple of helpful sites to help you get started.  Have fun!!

http://www.survival.org.au/vegie_garden.php

http://www.homelife.com.au/gardening/features/how+to+start+a+vegetable+garden,4086

http://treescapers.citywide.com.au/10-tips-for-starting-your-own-veggie-garden/

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Banana Almond Flour Pancakes – 3 Ingredients

I’m so thrilled to hear the feedback about people making the almond milk and then the flour out of the leftover almond pulp!  And now the obvious thing to do would be to post a recipe for the almond flour!

This recipe is directly inspired by one I found on a beautiful website which I discovered only recently called The Tasty Alternative.  Amber does sugar, dairy and gluten free recipes, as well as other allergy friendly recipes and they look incredible.  http://www.thetastyalternative.com/2013/04/3-ingredient-grain-free-banana-pancakes.html  Once you start discovering resources like these any feelings of uncertainty about making healthy changes because it seems too daunting are replaced by excitement.  You see that all these other people can do it and are enjoying and benefiting from the lifestyle more than they ever could before!

Banana Almond Flour Pancakes

  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed until quite runny
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 heaped tbsp almond flour (or coconut flour)
  • Big tbsp coconut oil for frying
  1. Mix the eggs and the runny banana together well, then add the flour and mix that too.
  2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil on a medium heat.  Not too hot because these pancakes take a little extra cooking time through the middle than ordinary ones so you don’t want to burn the outside.
  4. Flip and cook the other side.
  5. Serve hot with real maple syrup, berries, whatever you like!3 Ingredient pancakes

So these pancakes were originally to be made with coconut flour but I did not have any, I had almond flour from all this almond milk!  Although I have just bought a bit of coconut flour and will try them with that instead too.  My version are quite ‘textured’ thanks to the almond flour so if you don’t like that, go with the coconut.  I thought they were quite yummy though, and it is a way to use your almond pulp and enjoy a very healthy pancake!

Also, I did use her suggested extra egg white in my first batch and I think it did probably help keep them together but personally they were a little ‘eggy’ for my taste so I left it out the next time and they still stayed together for me.

Hope you enjoy them, and I would be really interested to hear what you thought of them.  And by the way if you click on the link to her site, Amber has some great photos of the steps which may help 🙂

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How To Make Almond Flour With Leftover Almond Pulp

So you’ve made some almond milk and now you have leftover almond pulp.  What a perfect opportunity to make your own almond flour.  It’s high protein, low carb, low GI, high fibre, gluten free and alkalising.  Sounds like a good idea?  This is how to make it:

  1. Turn out the pulp from the nut milk bag or stocking onto a baking tray.almond pulp
  2. Spread out evenly, breaking down most of the lumps.spread evenly
  3. Bake on low heat until it is dried out.  I put my gas oven on about 130°C and it takes a couple of hours.  Then transfer it to your food processor.dry almond pulp
  4. Wizz it up until it is smooth.                                smooth
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  It should be good for a month.  Mine’s been in the cupboard for a couple of weeks and doing fine but will transfer to the fridge because I think it will last longer, and I think that’s what everyone else does!

I have searched around a bit on the net and yes, this is pretty much the same as almond meal.  Generally, gluten free biscuits and cakes are the types of recipes which this will be good for, but before you try an elaborate recipe which calls for almond meal or flour, maybe do your own research as to whether this is the best thing for that.  I have made ‘3 Ingredient Pancakes’ with this flour and they turned out pretty good.  Will post the recipe soon.  There is another recipe I want to try, ‘Raw Cookie Dough Bites’, they look divine!  Here is the link for those:  http://detoxinista.com/2013/03/raw-cookie-dough-bites-vegan/

Now, I want to make this blog as informative as possible and while I was looking into this almond flour I came across an article which admittedly annoyed me just to read the title:  ‘5 Reasons to Avoid Almond Flour’.  Rolling my eyes I thought why does there have to be someone trying to discredit everything, even almond flour??  (Hey you might think that about me and my post on dairy haha).  I clicked on the link anyway, thinking hoping that I could quickly dismiss this information and forget about it.  But damn.  She has a point so I will share the article with you so you too can make an informed choice.  http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-almond-flour/  I still say eat the almond flour… but just not too much all the time, and if you can find raw recipes like the one above, all the better.  😉

Edit 18/6/2013:  Here is another article on almond flour but one which does not put you off eating too much like the other one I posted the the link to.  I like this one better haha 😀  5 Reasons to Use Almond Flour in Baking

 

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Hot Maca: The Perfect Warm, Nourishing Nightcap For Winter

How would you like a warm creamy, malty drink which is good for balancing your hormones, assists weightloss, heals your digestive system, is good for your immune system, is alkalising, good for energy without being a stimulant, contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytochemicals, is an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, has antioxidants…  and is just plain yummy to drink?

Well there is such a thing and it’s called a Hot Maca!

Hot Maca

Hot Maca

Maca powder is what balances the endocrine system (think PMS, menopause and libido), and is good for an energy boost without being a stimulant. It also includes B vitamins including B12 – good for vegetarians, bioavailable calcium and magnesium, all amino acids and also phytochemicals.  For further reading go to: http://www.naturalnews.com/027797_maca_root_hormone_balance.html

Coconut oil is the other ingredient I add for a super nutrient boost.  It is good for increasing your metabolism, bone strength, weightloss, your digestive system, immune system, skin, hair, is an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, has antioxidants, is good for diabetes, HIV, cancer and candida… and it is the most stable oil for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures… and it tastes beautiful!  For more info go here: http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html

The Recipe:

On the stove gently heat the milk until it’s the temperature you like it.  Transfer it to your cup then add the maca powder and stir well with the coconut oil.  Add honey and cinnamon to taste.  The result is pleasant, creamy, malty, nutty, slightly coconutty and very comforting.

You will notice a nutty texture from the maca.  If you prefer it smoother you can blend the maca and milk before you heat.  This tends to make it creamier too, so if you don’t mind the washing up, I recommend it.  This also disguises the oil on the top which I don’t mind anyway, I find the coconut flavour very pleasant. I use the stove top because I think the microwave kills certain enzymes which I think if you are going to all this trouble to give you body healthy food, don’t ruin it by putting it in the microwave.  And if you want to add it to cows milk please read this first: https://towardstotalhealth.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/7-reasons-why-i-am-ditching-dairy/

Now curl up on the couch in your pj’s or try it instead of your morning coffee!  I enjoy mine when I come home from work around 10:00pm.  I am hungry then but if I eat much then I can’t sleep.  I have one of these and it is very satisfying, digested easily and feels very comfortable in my stomach to go to bed soon after.  Even though maca is an energy booster it is not a stimulant so I don’t have any trouble with it keeping me awake.  I also like knowing that my body is being nourished while I sleep.  Compare this to a hot chocolate with cow’s milk like I used to have; full of caffeine and sugar with a very acidic effect on the body and not a lot of nutritional value.

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Easy Delicious Homemade Almond Milk

Almonds have many nutritional benefits including being high in protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium,  potassium, phosphorus and iron.  A huge bonus is that almonds have an alkalising effect on our bodies which we need to be in a good state of health.  Cow’s milk has an acidic effect, which leaves your body vulnerable to disease.  The store-bought almond milk has a lot of sugar and additives so it’s best to stay away from that stuff.  The one I bought recently had sugar listed as the second ingredient after water with 2% almonds.  Never again, Bah!

Cost wise, I think it works out to be about the same price as the store-bought version as long as you but the 750g – 1kg bag or bigger.  Time wise, the whole process after soaking the almonds takes me about 10 mins maximum.  Very worth it!!

Here’s how to make your own delicious, nutritious, alkalising almond milk,

1.  Soak 1 cup of almonds in water for 6 hours or overnight.

Make sure the almonds are well covered with water.

Make sure the almonds are well covered with water.

2.  Rinse well.  This gets rid of inhibitor enzymes which prevent certain nutrients from being absorbed and makes it easier to digest.

Rinse almonds

3.  Put in blender with 4 cups of fresh water (purified is best), and blend for a few minutes.  You can add a bit of vanilla, some raw honey or I’ve seen the recipe with a couple of dates to sweeten a little bit.  Haven’t tried the dates though I am sure they would be nice.

almonds in blender

4.  I recently read a tip about leaving the almond milk to settle for a few minutes, then scraping the froth from the top before straining it making it easier to strain.  I tried that and yes it does make it easier.

DSC_0105[1]

5.  Strain through a nut milk bag or as I do, a (new!) stocking.  I did give it a thorough rinse beforehand, hoping any chemical residue would be washed away, but not sure about that at all so will be buying a nut milk bag.  Then just squeeze the pulp until you have as much milk as possible out of it.

straining almond milk

Can be used in recipes. try googling 'almond pulp recipes'

The remaining almond pulp can be used in recipes. Try googling ‘almond pulp recipes’.

6.  Enjoy by itself, on cereal, mixed with cacao for ‘chocolate milk’, in smoothies and even in coffee.  It will last 4-5 days in the fridge.  And just give it a shake or stir each time you use it as it may separate.

Delicious, nutritious, alkalising and refreshing.

D-man does not like this plain but he likes it blended again with some banana.  Miss Moo is quite accepting and hubby likes it but does not drink much milk anyway.  He is happy to have it in place of cows milk.  For anyone who is wondering why I am ditching dairy, here is my post:  https://towardstotalhealth.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/7-reasons-why-i-am-ditching-dairy/

As for the left over pulp, here is a website to get you started if you don’t want to throw it out 🙂  http://www.therawtarian.com/recipe-categories/raw-almond-pulp-recipes and these look soooo good I will try them asap: http://detoxinista.com/2013/03/raw-cookie-dough-bites-vegan/

Let me know if you try this, if you add something different and how you go with it, I’d love to know!

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7 Reasons Why I Am Ditching Dairy

As a family we have always enjoyed dairy as what I thought was a rather important part of our diet.  Even if it I thought it wasn’t important it would have still had a place in our fridge just because we enjoy consuming it.  Milkshakes, cheese and bikkies, yoghurt, milk in our coffee, it is such a normal part of life.  Not so long ago, before I knew what I know now I would have never thought that I would be working towards cutting dairy out of my family’s diet.  Here’s why:

  1. Dairy is not a good source of calcium:  Yes it contains calcium, but for it to be absorbed, calcium needs vitamin D and equal amounts of magnesium to be absorbed.  Milk has very little magnesium or vitamin D so most of the calcium is unused by our bodies.  http://www.enerex.ca/en/articles/calcium-to-magnesium-ratio
  2. Dairy weakens your bones:  Everything we consume creates a certain PH level in our bodies.  We need an alkaline environment to have a state of good health, when our bodies are acidic, we are vulnerable to disease.  Dairy is one food which creates an acid environment in your body.  To counteract this, your body will leach out calcium from your bones to neutralise it.  It seems no co-incidence that the countries which consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis.  http://actualcures.com/bone-loss-calcium-vitamin-low-ph.html  A good ph level food chart:  http://www.drscottgraves.com/naturopathic/alkaline-acid-diet/
  3. Dairy may cause cancer:  Casein, the protein in milk,  has been proven to promote cancer.  In ‘The China Study’ Dr, Colin Campbell fed 2 groups of rats either a 5% or 20% amount of casein in their diets.  The 20% group ALL developed liver cancers… and subsequently lost the cancers as the casein was decreased back down to 5%.  This was continued and used almost like an on/off switch for the cancer as the casein was increased and decreased.  There are people trying to disprove this theory.  Personally, I’d rather not take the chance if there is evidence like that supporting that it is true.  1 in 4 people get diagnosed with cancer these days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book)
  4. The inhumane treatment of dairy cows:  I cut meat out of my diet 6 or 7 months ago and decided at the time to keep dairy in my diet because dairy is not a dead animal.  Now I have learned that this does not mean the dairy industry is nothing short of abominable when it comes to the treatment of their cows.  The cows get artificially inseminated every year.  When born, the baby gets taken away within 12-24 hours, breaking the already strong bond between mother and baby.  The mother frantically bellows for her baby which she will never see again.  Dairy calves are considered a ‘waste product’ when they are not required for herd replacement and their meat is substandard to beef cows so they are not used as veal.  The baby then endures fear, bewilderment, rough handling and hunger as he gets transported to the slaughterhouse, and waits to be killed.  The mother is then left to a life of sorrow and agony from mutilation, the milking machines, ligament problems, mastitis and general mistreatment and then has to repeat the heartbreaking baby procedure over and over while the milk intended for her babies goes to us.  Please read more:   http://www.animalsaustralia.org/factsheets/dairy_cows.php
  5. Pus and blood and other stuff:  You may or may not be aware or care that there is blood and pus in your milk but it puts me off quite a bit.  Because of the extra hormones the cows are injected with (which are passed on to us) they produce 10 times more milk than they naturally would for their calves.  This leads to a lot of mastitis in the cow’s udders.  It is an infection of the breast tissue.  This delivers pus and blood to our milk.  We also get the antibiotics that the cows get injected with to counteract all the infection and disease they are so susceptible to… which is a whole other problem altogether!  This is no secret, google it and there are a lot of results, they just don’t include this information in the marketing campaigns:  ‘Got milk?’  should be ‘Got pus, blood, hormones and antibiotics?’  P.S.  Pasteurisation does kill the cells, but does not remove them, you still have up to 100 million dead pus cells floating around in one glass of milk.  Different areas have different standards but any is too much if you ask me.   http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/how-many-pus-cells-are-in-your-milk    http://www.livingsafe.com.au/food/262-milk-lactose-intolerance-and-more
  6. More reasons:  Dairy is linked with  iron deficiency, anemia, allergies, diarrhea,  heart disease, colic, cramps, gastrointestinal bleeding, sinusitis, skin  rashes, acne, increased frequency of colds and flues, arthritis,  diabetes, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and  more, possibly even lung cancer, multiple sclerosis and non-Hodgkin’s  lymphoma.  http://www.livingsafe.com.au/food/262-milk-lactose-intolerance-and-more
  7. And the environment:   Dairy cows produce a lot of methane, drink a lot of water, take up a lot of land and do a lot of poo.  Very bad for our environment.  http://www.animalsaustralia.org/factsheets/dairy_cows.php

Just want to say I think ghee, which is clarified butter from pasture fed cows, and probiotics from cultured yoghurt is good for you but this does not help those poor cows.  I will talk about ways to get probiotics from other sources and why they are so important in a future post.

Well, I hope this gives you something to think about, and lots of useful links for further reading to get you on your way if you are thinking it makes sense to give dairy the flick.  Feedback is welcome, but if you disagree, please keep it courteous.  I’m writing this with good intentions to help people make educated decisions about their and their family’s health and to provide awareness about the treatment of dairy cows.  I did not know any of this a few months ago.  I’m glad I do now.  I know more people would want to know too so I’m keeping the momentum happening.  Please do not think you have to cut all dairy out all at once immediately.  That might be too daunting.  Great if you decide to but making small changes was the way we went and it is working for us.  With 2 kids I was feeling overwhelmed at such a big dietry change.  But I’ll get there soon.

During our transitional stage I have been buying our dairy in smaller quantities from the local farmers markets.  The milk is organic and the cows have better lives, eat grass, less disease, but their babies still get taken away at 2 weeks old and usually are slaughtered and I don’t want to be a part of that, especially to consume a product which is not good for me.  There are also plenty of dairy alternatives these days so you can still enjoy most of the favourite meals you are used to.

Another article with different information on the regular milk from supermarkets:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/skip-milk-5-reasons-why.html?page=1

Please, please watch Earthlingshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce4DJh-L7Ys

Other good viewing:  Food Inc, Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated.

Have a look here to browse non dairy sources of calcium:    http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6611/Top-Sources-of-PlantBased-Calcium-Infographic.html

A great website whose recipes are all non dairy and also gluten-free and have no preservatives.  I have the kids recipe book, it is fantastic.  http://www.cutoutthecrap.com.au/

Lots of recipes which I think look beautiful:  http://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-free-recipes

A great Facebook page i follow, The Bloody Dairy Industry:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/BloodyDairy?fref=ts

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No-Bake Oat Balls – Very Nutritious

We made these Oat Balls which I posted the recipe for on my facebook page last week. Got the kids to help and they had a ball – literally ;-).  They turned out beautifully and are actually very nutritious with whole grain, protein, fibre, omega 3, antioxidants and are low GI. I used raw honey to sweeten them which is great in small amounts. I also added raw cacao powder which is full of nutrients and adds a chocolatey flavour.

Miss Moo and D-man love helping in the kitchen and having a little taste test...

Miss Moo and D-man love helping in the kitchen and having a little taste test…

Miss Moo approves!

Miss Moo approves!

The result, yum!

The result, yum!

  • 2 cups rolled oats (quick oats are high GI so don’t go there)
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of honey (raw is definitely best)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 heaped tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Mix all dry ingredients, then add the wet ones and mix thoroughly.  Roll into balls.  If the weather is warm you may need to refrigerate for 45 mins before rolling.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.  Pfff, if they last that long!

These don't last here.

These don’t last here.

I found this recipe from Amanda the Pinterest Baker on Pinterest… http://amandathepinterestbaker.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/no-bake-oatmeal-balls.html?showComment=1365492620698

Amanda had raisins in hers and suggested choc chips which I think sounds really yummy but I would rather keep the sugar content down as much as possible.

If you buy the peanut butter which has only peanuts and nothing else (usually from a health food store) then I’m pretty sure you got yourself and the kids a ‘clean’ snack!  I just had a thought that a splash of coconut oil (bit less honey and peanut butter) might be great… I’ll give it a go and update this post to tell you how it goes.

I really recommend getting the ground flax seed and not leaving it out as it a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which can be difficult to get into your diet, and adds in more precious fibre.  It may even help with asthma, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers!  You can also put it in smoothies, yoghurt and sprinkle it on cereal.  I found a really interesting article on the health benefits of flax seeds:  http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/flaxinfo.htm

It was nice to get the kids in the kitchen helping.  They had such a great time and so did I, good quality time.  I think it’s important for kids to be involved with the preparation of their food, even just sometimes.  D-man is a fussy eater from hell but I hope to bring him around by letting him cook with me, help with the veggie garden and come shopping with me.  We’ll see, it can certainly do no harm!

Enjoy 🙂

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